I was born to be a therapist, but my first college degree was in history. I chose history due to my conviction that if we don’t learn from history we repeat our mistakes. As with psychotherapy, a thorough recapitulation of our history frees us from repeating global mistakes.
My bachelor’s thesis sought to understand the etiology of controversial lectures that Carl Jung delivered to the C. G. Jung Gesellshaft (the Psychological Club of Berlin) in July 1933. I will report more on the findings of this exploration in coming blogs, as it delivers keen insights into the world patterns of now.
Barbara Hannah, an ardent student of Jung’s, was determined to attend these lectures, but this would require her to drive from Switzerland through Germany, alone. When she queried Jung about the advisability of such an undertaking, given the current atmosphere in Germany, he quietly deliberated and then replied, “Yes, risk it! Mind you, I don’t know what will happen, but it will be an interesting experience.”
I am reminded here of the sparkle of delight in Carlos Castaneda’s voice when he would tell us to go have our own journeys and, “See what happens!” All must discover for themselves the truth. We must become our own gurus, not simply rely upon what we are told.
Barbara reports that she encountered almost no cars on the highways but instead crowds of listless hikers wandering along the roads. Barbara writes that when Jung “read in the newspapers that the Germans were restlessly on the move, wandering from place to place, he was reminded of the wanderer Wotan and realized that this was an ‘archaic symbol’ that was certainly going to produce an unacceptable situation in Germany, unless enough individual Germans became conscious of the danger in time.”
History proves that consciousness did not prevail, and a collective trance set in that saw a civilized nation devolve into mass murderers, who committed the atrocities of the Holocaust.
Germany was struggling with difficult economic times, much as the world today is faced with growing scarcity, as the impact of climate change dries up resources and precipitates mass migrations. In an effort to empower Germany’s downtrodden, Germany’s ruler tapped into the themes of nationalism and white supremacy, blaming the alien, the not pure-white Aryan, in this case the Jews, for controlling and hoarding Germany’s national wealth that only legitimate citizens should be entitled to.
Despite the hypnotic prowess of a charismatic leader, citizens’ psyches cannot be hypnotized unless the rhetoric being preached by the leaders resonates on some level with their own personal beliefs. This is why Jung determined that consciousness, becoming conscious of the beliefs and forces within one’s own psyche and how they operate and hold sway, was the only hope to avert disaster.
When illegal immigrants are arrested and separated from their families, what is the citizen’s internal psychic reaction to this action? Many law-abiding citizens might express sympathy for the children, but blame the parents of those children for their unfortunate predicament. The underlying belief might hold that the illegal entry of those aliens into a country is robbing legitimate citizens of their entitled resources, which trumps the fate of those children.
Citizens might blame their leaders for such horrific practices, but do they inwardly go numb and passively agree, out of concern for their own personal survival? Only consciousness that is willing to honestly face the depths of those feelings and beliefs, within the self, can be freed to act beyond its narrow, self-centered fixation.
Fear, in this time of scarcity, has resurrected the challenges and behavioral solutions that resulted in WWII. Jung’s sage advice remains fully applicable. If individuals face their own psyches, with deep consciousness, they are no longer vulnerable to outer polarizing suggestions that justify white supremacy and elimination of other.
Just one individual who truly faces the darkness of their shadow can change the world. And what’s in that darkness? As mirrored by world leaders of now, we all have our own narcissistic ME über alles, within us, that may rule from the shadows of our unconscious minds.
Consider the ME that insists on consuming the substance that places the overall self in crisis. Consider the blind conscience whose stock portfolio flourishes in the greatest market gains of all time, fueled by destruction of the planet’s resources and balance. Consider the ME whose hunger for attention takes actions that negate the true well-being of the whole self.
Can we bear the tension of the volatile energies of desire, like a Christ nailed to a cross, or a Buddha sitting unflinchingly amidst all the sensual delights and grossest fears of this world?
Such are the extremes we see exploding throughout the world now. Mass shootings simply reflect an individual’s inability to bear and resolve tension within, and they foreshadow the mass atrocities that loom oppressively on the horizon, if consciousness does not prevail. Let us not walk sheepishly on an old road to Berlin. Let’s refuse the scapegoat solution.
Let’s not repeat the nightmare. We must face it and wake up. Kali Yuga needn’t end in repetition compulsion. A new dream with true resolution waits on the horizon. But to arrive there, we must individually bear the tension of the polarity of consciousness and shadow within our own psyches.
Let’s evolve that dream now. Bring consciousness within, bear the tension of the opposites within, and allow that contained explosive energy to rise to the level of the heart chakra, where we are all in this together, parts of the same whole. And together, as one, we can indeed dream a new dream.
Learning from history,
Excerpts and references: Jung: His Life and Work, A Biographical Memoir by Barbara Hannah