Archive for the ‘Neitzsche’ tag
I took this photo about a week before I left Canada for China. The scene is in a historical reconstruction of a Métis settlement in north-central Saskatchewan, a tiny Catholic community. In the past this community was the site of a battle between those trying desperately to hold on to an older vision versus the modern (at that time) power that wanted these old ways buried. Today, this site is a tourist stop. One can see evidence from the past which speaks of what was. Yet, not matter how much nostalgia might press, one can never reverse time to return to the way it was.
As a diversion from thinking too much, I am reading a novel called “The Alchemyst,” by Michael Scott. It is a book borrowed from my local library back in Canada, an ebook. Just over half way through the book I came across these words that I immediately knew should become part of my next post, this one. ”Once begun, change cannot be reversed.” Of course, I immediately thought of this line from a “Jungian” point of view. And, I thought of my “changes.” As a youth, the earliest memories are of a “belief” in God and how I was going to be a “Soldier of Christ.” I didn’t live in a “religious” family; somehow, the spiritual drive was evident early and most in my family thought I was going to be a priest. But, I saw too much that didn’t fit with spirituality in the “church” as I experienced it, and moved away. I visited other churches of other faiths hoping somehow that I would see what I wanted and needed. What I found was that I was all on my own. At seventeen years of age, I came to believe that Neitzsche’s “Zarathustra” had it right, that God was dead. Music had replaced religion for me. It sometimes echoed my pain, my longing, my questions.
God – John Lennon
God is a concept,
By which we can measure,
I’ll say it again,
God is a concept,
By which we can measure,
I don’t believe in magic,
I don’t believe in I-ching,
I don’t believe in bible,
I don’t believe in tarot,
I don’t believe in Hitler,
I don’t believe in Jesus,
I don’t believe in Kennedy,
I don’t believe in Buddha,
I don’t believe in mantra,
I don’t believe in Gita,
I don’t believe in yoga,
I don’t believe in kings,
I don’t believe in Elvis,
I don’t believe in Zimmerman,
I don’t believe in Beatles,
I just believe in me,
Yoko and me,
And that’s reality.
The dream is over,
What can I say?
The dream is over,
I was dreamweaver,
But now I’m reborn,
I was the walrus,
But now I’m John,
And so dear friends,
You just have to carry on,
The dream is over.
I can’t go back, even to the days of the music and John Lennon. Yet, in the past was something that I found, something that still exists, a state of “grace.” It was and is a gift that somehow wasn’t limited to a time or place or creed. It was and is something that I found and continue to find, within my “self.”
“In Jung’s view, the psychological experience of unconscious compensation, which demonstrably moves toward wholeness, is comparable to the experience of God; indeed, he argues that the two are virtually indistinguishable. The experience of this wholeness or psychic integration Jung came to equate with the concept of grace . . .” (Dourley, The Illness That We Are, p. 13)
Yesterday I flew over the Rocky Mountains that border Alberta and British Columbia here in Canada. It was one of those flight days when the sky conditions were right for decent photography. Often the photos are not worth saving, but I continue to take the photos just in case. As you can see, this time, the effort was rewarded. The sharp peaks covered in snow appeared as though they were layer after layer of teeth. The terrain was not “friendly” though it was beautiful. As I looked down on the mountains my thoughts drifted to my adolescence when I first met Zarathustra. The image of Zarathustra in the mountains was forever carved into my psyche, an image based not so much on the text of Zarathustra, but on my finding Neitzsche while trying to scale what seemed to be personal mountains, mountains that were higher than anything one could ever face in the Himalayas.
Why Zarathustra as I flew over the mountains? Well, these mountains are as they appear, almost untouched by the hand of man. The recent disaster in the Gulf of Mexico involving BP oil is in sharp contrast. I am including a link to an image of another BP oil spill, in Alaska as a contrast to the photo. Now, for words from Zarathustra on the subject, words written about 125 years ago:
“Once the sin against God was the greatest sin; but God died, and these sinners died with him. To sin against the earth is now the most dreadful thing, and to esteem the entrails of the unknowable higher than the meaning of the earth.” (Neitzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra)
Moments before dawn the moon descends behind the trees on a hill to the west. With the dawn and sunlight, the ghosts and presences that hint at evil are banished so that the good will rightfully claim its place in the light of day. As a child and in all the years since, the world has taught me that there is good and evil. Good wears white and evil wears black. Evil feeds at night while good celebrates in the sunshine. Think of the white knight versus the black night. Then I learned that what is called good and evil is just a view of the world. One’s position in the world provides us with different understandings of good and evil. Then I learned that the two aren’t really separate things, but polarities of the same thing.
One thing that highlights this good and evil as a perspective is found in the world of religion. Each religion, by definition, sees is theology, its belief system based on good. The value of the religion is as serving as a guide to living and being good. The value of the church is found in its providing a place of temenos, a place of sacred safety for the soul of its people. Knowing this, that each religion is based on these basic principles, why do we have these “good” religions go to war against each other? Why is the “other” religion seen as being the holder of “evil?” Why? I think it has to do with seeing the world in black and white – “Either we are right, we are good, we are going in the direction of heaven, or else we are wrong and heading straight to hell.”
Again, it is the classic situation of projection. only this time it is a collective projection. Withdraw the projections and everyone becomes ordinary with ordinary needs, living in patterns that transcend local place and time.
And for me? Well, there is good and evil, of this I have no doubt. But, both are hosted in my full self. My conscious self is seen, for the most part as good and aware that I am able to be even better if …
And then there is my shadow. The more I deny this shadow, the more damage I do to myself and others, the more that darkness, unconsciousness, controls and guides. I am aware that I have a shadow, a heart of darkness buried deep within. Being aware of that shadow and acknowledging its rightful place seems to lessen the pressure. The shadow becomes less of a shadow, less of a chaotic negative force in my outer life.
While this happens, I give up the need to be saintly. I know that I am neither a saint nor a demon. I move beyond good and evil into a place of balance weighted down with both the dark and the light as I journey through life.
This is a detail from an old Ukrainian Catholic church which is found in countryside in east-central Saskatchewan. The church was built during a Ukrainian immigration period in order to meet the needs of those who settled as homesteaders in the region. More modern churches in urban centres have drawn the children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. Fewer families live in the rural settings. Yet, the church still stands and for now, a few make it their spiritual home.
When I was a youth, I had believed that I would become a priest. I was a serious young person that seemed to have an old soul, a soul that hungered for spirituality, hungered for something more than the day-to-day life that a child experienced. By the time I was an adolescent, I had come to the conclusion that the church didn’t have enough answers for the questions that I had, and for the questions I sensed were waiting to be asked. And so, I gave up on the idea of becoming a priest. I knew that I would not be a good priest – I just didn’t believe enough – there were too many doubts.
It wasn’t long before my quest for answers, the quest for missing questions, lead me to search in libraries. There, I met Neitzsche and a number of others who had also gone in search of questions and answers outside of the church. And in listening to these others, I came to realise that the place I needed to go for my needed sense of spiritual connection was within my “self.” I couldn’t dump the responsibility on any clergy of any faith, nor on the tenets of any faith. The responsibility lay within.