I am writing to the future, the day this will be published, the morning after the midterm elections. For the record, my final edit for this blog was on the morning of November 6, 2018, well in advance of outcomes in time and space. My intent is that the electorate free its mind from manipulation and vote from the heart for the greater good of all. I will accept the outcome of the election as a true reading of the status of our collective soul now.
I define mind as soul, the subtle body companion of our physical body for the duration of our lives in this world. The soul is a tripartite structure consisting of the inherent collective unconscious with its instinctive knowing, the ego with its intellect and capacity for reason, and the high self that is guided by infinity through intuition and love.
Recently, we have seen the rapid emergence of instinct, with its passionate emotions, take charge of world governance. This is an archetypal response, from the collective unconscious dimension of the soul, to the Earth’s current major reshaping and the primal dread it awakens at our animal core. Survival is its battle cry.
Our reasoning mind has either been convinced of instinct’s call to arms, and leant it support, or opposed its radical approach, embodying, instead, calls for greater unity and compassion.
The question for this midterm was whether the escalating instinctive approach would continue to grow, or a movement toward more inclusive values would begin to assert itself.
Regardless of outcome, the Earth will continue its radical changes, and the human animal will continue to experience fear and anxiety in response. The problem for humans, as well as all species on Earth, is that the environment is shifting into unknown territory, where old tried and true instinctive responses cannot effectively assimilate the current dangers.
The intellect that has the capacity to analyze a problem and oppose even its own nature to effect a solution may be equally disadvantaged if it cannot detach from personal interest or the thrill of unbridled emotion. Furthermore, the real solution to survival in this changing world might require opening to the guidance of an intuition that transcends pure reason.
Clearly, cooperation by all parts of the tripartite soul would best prepare us to ride the tide of our evolutionary challenge. From our instinct emerges the alarm of real threat to survival. From our intellect emerges the ability to analyze and act in our best interest. From our high self comes the experience of pure love, which binds the world together in common interest. Thus, the combination of instinct, intellect, and love are the winning ticket.
Regardless of the outcome of this election, our evolutionary path requires us to access the fullness of our tripartite soul to find our way. Regardless of the outcome of the election, every individual is free to travel this evolutionary path within the confines of their own physical body and tripartite soul.
In fact, the greatest of leaders throughout history were masters of their tripartite souls, to such a degree that they inspired humanity to higher spiritual directions, merely through the presence of their evolved personalities.
Focus now on evolving the personality through acknowledging the anxiety from below, through thinking objectively and initiating right action, and by finding inspiration and intuitive solution from the love and wisdom that comes from above. This is the tripartite ticket to facing one’s deepest issues within, as well as managing one’s reactions to the volatility expressed without.
Never feel powerless; you are the agent of change. Change the self, change the world.
As a clinician, I would diagnose the world as currently suffering from Acute Stress Disorder. This diagnosis differs from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder only in time: we are currently encountering the overwhelming stress, and reactions to stress, well-known in PTSD, most acutely in our daily encounters with oncoming world events.
On a psychological level, acute stress is met by the activation of the survival instinct, which manifests in reactions of fight, flight, or freeze. These reactions are archaic responses, universally programmed in all humans, that generally override the thinking, reflective, choice centered part of our brains, the neocortex, which generally goes dormant when we feel threatened. Thus, our behaviors become instinctively, versus consciously, directed reactions to stressors.
We see the fight reaction in the political and social media battles throughout the world. We see the flight reaction in the mass migratory patterns of human populations fleeing the earthly disasters and dangerous political conditions of their familial homelands. We see the freeze reaction in withdrawal into depression, as well as into the numbness of addiction.
Although instinctive reactions are nature’s time-honored survival strategies, they are not always the most efficient or appropriate responses to a crisis, nor do they really penetrate the true depth of an issue. Deeper levels of consideration require the ability to reflect objectively, which cannot happen when the neocortex is offline. Thus, the ability to restore the thinking function to normal capacity is critical. But how?
Breathe. Mindful breathing has the physiological effect of blocking stress producing hormones and inducing a relaxation response to the body. From there, thinking comes back online and can provide a broader perspective. The greatest challenge to breathing when stressfully activated is to separate from the actions dictated by the fight, flight, freeze instinctual program. Sometimes a vigorous walk, run, or private scream is a helpful release before breathing. When battling another person, it is generally best to separate for awhile, rather than try to force a resolution. Not to do so often results in a continued and escalated battle.
Although the neocortex is the biological thinking center of the brain, the mind and consciousness itself are actually part of the soul or energy body. This is most evident in the mind’s ability to act in opposition to its biological programming. When we choose to breathe when deeply stressed, we are acting in opposition to our biological programming. We rise above our animal nature to access spirit consciousness and choice.
The heart center in human beings has its energy body connection in its interconnected relationship to all of life. Thus, from the heart center we are able to feel love, which enables empathy, care, and support beyond one’s instinctive survival drive, which cannot extend beyond the narcissistic province of me and mine. This spirit center elevates the human being from the dominance of the survival drive at its animal level, which we witness pervasively throughout the world at this time.
As Mother Earth continues her drastic reformation of the globe, a major healing crisis, we are likely to see all animal species, particularly the human, responding through instinctual survival programs. For humans, these instinctual survival programs will increasingly pit human against human. These instinctual survival programs lack empathy, love, and a greater understanding of the changes we are all being confronted with.
In spite of the dire state of world affairs, it is possible to consciously rise above these instinctual survival programs and maintain and increase greater love and understanding. The ability to be empathic truly does lie at the heart of the evolved human being. With intent we can find our way to higher ground.
Seek sanctuary in heart-centered breathing to counter pure survival behaviors that lack soul. Find the higher ground of love and understanding, even as our species grapples with major change. As individual cells of this great body of Mother Earth, we can, individually and collectively, introduce soulful healing energy into our planet’s current major healing crisis.
All newborn babies turn their heads toward the nipple and make sucking movements. This is an inborn program called the rootingreflex that prepares the baby to procure nourishment in the form of milk from the breast. Jung called these universal inborn mental programs, that orchestrate such necessary adaptation and survival behaviors, archetypes. At nature’s insistence newborns are born with an entitled energy to suckle nurturance from the breast.
Entitlement has its roots in nature itself. The energy that the archetypes are naturally endowed with is the energy of entitlement. When an archetype is activated it is potentiated with powerful energy, the energy of entitlement, that allows it to achieve its fulfillment.
The entitled energy of the hunger instinct fuels our ability to work and accumulate goods, property, and money, allowing us to meet our most primal of needs. This instinct is quite primitive and has its roots in narcissism, with the primary focus given to the satisfaction of the body’s primary survival needs.
As we grow, our narcissistic fixation naturally enlarges to include the family, a unit dedicated to survival as a group. The family carves out its ownership of its living space, not to be transgressed by non-family members without an invitation. The family is poised to accumulate for itself and defend its ownership against the competing needs of others. Thus, there is a legitimate basis for entitlement in human physical existence: survival.
Jung observed that archetypes also give rise to spiritual values in humans. This spirit instinct in human beings often comes to life as a result of sacrifice. The initiation rituals of yesteryear that brutally tore the young from their entitled dependence upon family and sent them off to experiences outside of the known and familiar—the world of mother, father, and extended family—are one example of such sacrifice.
Through the archetype of ritual sacrifice, youth became adults and took on greater responsibility for the group beyond family of origin. Vestiges of theses archetypal strivings are seen today in the stylized piercings, tattoos, and drug adventures of young people seeking to cross the bridge to adulthood through some kind of self-initiated ritual sacrifice.
When spiritual values emerge they signal a maturity that takes into consideration the needs of others, beyond the narcissism of me and mine, awakening an energy of compassion that extends to all living beings. This spirit entitlement employs its energy to consider and care for everything beyond the self. Spirit orientation is in opposition to the hoarding attitude of the narcissistic orientation. Spirit employs its personal energy to care for the greater whole and accepts itself as part of that greater whole. Spirit orientation acts to extend entitlement as a broader human right.
Narcissistic orientation bemoans having to give away that which it needs and wants. Spirit, on the other hand, can tend to neglect, negate, or even denigrate the needs of the physical body, its working vehicle for this life.
I would propose that we are presently in an energetic World War between these two instinctual orientations: body instinct and spirit instinct. The current world leader, our own President, exemplifies entitlement at a very primal level. That is, its inherent right to consider only the needs of itself over the needs of the more inclusive world. The degree of support accorded this leader reflects how accurately he taps into the narcissistic underpinnings of survival at the primal, animal, level in all human beings.
What has given rise to our current state of world affairs is a breakdown in the application of the technology of sacrifice to effect spiritual transformation. At one extreme is a failure of the institutions of the modern world to provide effective rites of initiation at key stages of life. Without these rites many people fail to individuate into true adulthood and thus remain fixated at a child’s level of orientation toward the world, entitled and demanding.
At the other extreme is a total renunciation of the body for the benefit of the spirit. One example is the requirement of celibacy in the Catholic priesthood; sacrifice the lower for the sake of the higher. Though this technology of sacrifice was successful in establishing a life oriented toward altruistic concerns, it has created a tremendous body-shadow backlash. Just look at the incidences of sexual abuse among the ranks of the Catholic priests. The entitlement of the repressed sexual instinct has emerged from hiding, deviously preying upon the young and innocent.
In the political arena we see a similar eruption of repressed primal instinct asserting its entitlement to accumulate resources for itself only, casting out the unfamiliar ‘other’ to fend for itself. This is the shadow of American altruism, bursting forth now with a vengeance.
The determination of this entitlement is expressed in its blatant use of lies, misinformation, and manipulation as a necessary and acceptable means to care for its basic needs. No amount of reason or scientific proof can shake it from its deeply seated conviction that it is entitled to care only for its own needs.
At present the lines are firmly drawn between body and spirit, it’s either one way or the other. There is no room for compromise, as each side is absolutely in touch with their inalienable right of entitlement. And they are both right; we are animals and we are spirits. Perhaps the ultimate solution is encoded in the axiom: asabove so below. The needs of the body are as important as the needs of the spirit, the needs of the self are as important as the needs of the planet.
Where might there be adjustments to bring these two into better confluence? As the Pope laments the abuses of his church he might consider the fact that nuns have probably almost never committed sexual abuse, despite their same commitment to celibacy as their priestly male counterparts. If the technology of celibacy is to be maintained, perhaps nuns should be invited into the priesthood to lead the way.
On an individual level, we are invited to truly tune in to the wants and needs of our animal selves, as well as our spirit’s longing for greater wholeness with the universe. For instance, the practice of sacred sex joins body, spirit, and other, in joy, pleasure, and union at a physical/spiritual level.
On a planetary level, the Earth’s body has taken the lead. We are in the beginnings of massive transformation at a planetary level that will force us to be more in step with the true needs of the Earth’s body and atmosphere. For humans this is a spirit/body reconciliation. Respecting the body of the planet is both a spiritual love, moving beyond just the narcissism of self, as well as a deep connection to the physical: self and planet.
The key to reconciliation of our warring instincts is recognizing the legitimacy of entitlement for both body and spirit. Behind the off-putting extremism of today’s headlines are individuals identified with either one orientation or the other.
Can you outwardly appreciate the one-sidedness of your neighbor, but also its legitimacy, in some form? Can you inwardly recognize the one-sidedness of your own orientation and, yes, validate it in some form too? Can you give value and a place to the opposite side, whether it be body or spirit? That is the way to become an integrated, balanced whole being.
I am about nine years old. It’s summertime. I go outside to ride my bike, which is parked in the front yard of our house in the bucolic, rural area in New York State where I live. Just as I reach out to the handlebars I pull back in utter disgust and fear. Some unknown green creature with long legs and wings and a fiercesome looking face is perched on the right handlebar. I almost touched it! What is that!
It looks prehistoric, something I’ve never seen before in my life. I am overcome with fear and nausea. I whack it to the ground and step on it. Shaking, I stand there and look at its crushed body lying on the ground, oozing out disgusting slime, more sickening to look at than when it was alive. I can only feel that I had just saved my life!
At the same time that I feel this I also know that I have just killed a fellow creature and I feel really bad about that. I tell myself I was frightened by it. It looked prehistoric, like a scary small dinosaur, and I couldn’t help myself, which is true, I just reacted and killed it. Instinctual fear drove me to kill.
Years later I read about the praying mantis being an endangered species. It was then that I realized what I had killed that day. To my nine-year-old eyes what I saw was much larger and more frightening to behold than a real praying mantis ever was. At the time I had never seen such a thing and so I could not place it. It frightened me so much that I had to kill it. This was a reaction to the unknown. Sometimes an instinctual reaction crushes the harmless and the innocent in a primitive instinctual projection based on unfamiliarity.
A few years after this incident, when I was about fourteen, I was out with friends. We had come upon some wild grapes. Reaching into the tangle of vines to pick a nice bunch I suddenly felt something clinging to my face. I could not pull it off. I thought is was just a grape vine caught in my hair or something. I asked my friends to help get it off me. They pulled back in horror and screamed!
None of them came to the rescue so I grabbed hold of it, a sticky something clinging tightly, and pulled it off my face with all my might. I held it up and found myself staring at the weirdest creature I had ever seen, even weirder than that praying mantis—a walking stick! It was big enough to cover my entire face. It had straddled my nose and mouth and eyes, stretching from forehead to chin. It must have looked like I was wearing some kind of strange mask.
This time I held the strange creature in my hands long enough to get a good look at it. I’d heard of walking sticks before but had never actually seen a live one. This was huge! I stared at it, freaky though it was, and then placed it carefully back onto the grape vine. Now every time I see a walking stick I am reminded of this experience and I once again remember how I held in my fear and disgust and just looked at this curious creature who shares the world with us. He got to live because I did not let my fear kill him.
In the first scenario I encountered my killer instinct in an automatic reaction to the unknown in the guise of the praying mantis. In the second scenario, although I was equally terrified, I did not react instinctively but instead paused long enough to allow consciousness to work with instinct to mediate and calm my fear, saying, “take a look at what this is and then decide the proper action/reaction.”
I do not judge my nine-year-old self for killing the praying mantis, it’s just where I was at the time. Now I try to live with consciousness as much as possible, pausing, like my fourteen-year-old self did with the walking stick, asking myself pertinent questions: What is the right thing to do in this situation? What is the right thing to feel? What is the right action to take?
We all have killed something at some point in our lives. How many mosquitoes, flies, and pesky bugs I’ve swatted at over my 65 years I don’t know, but I have certainly whacked quite a number of them to death out of sheer annoyance.
At the same time that I admit to that kind of killing, there is another part of me that would never knowingly harm another living thing, but sometimes she’s just not available when I need her. Sometimes the fearful me still steps in and just takes care of business.
A blog by J. E. Ketchel, author of The Recapitulation Diaries.
The body works feverishly to protect us from outside invaders such as bacteria and viruses. The psyche, the mental self, is similarly challenged to protect us from disturbing thoughts, feelings, and anxieties that originate within the mind, as well as those that stream into us from the outside world.
We humans are extremely suggestible beings, quick to be influenced or rattled by inner thoughts and outer events. Behind it all we are well protected by our ancient natural defenses that unconsciously take over to defend and preserve our sanity in the face of real danger. Evidence of this ancient archetypal defense system is staggering, as the powerful psychic mechanisms that take control during trauma reveal.
In countless examples, trauma victims have been served by ancient inner programs that encapsulate their trauma, keeping it unknown to the fledgling ego that strives, while under attack, to maintain its tentative hold on reality and its cohesive identity while being overwhelmed by shattering assault. The decision to “forget” in trauma is not a conscious one; it is a function of a far more instinctive self that knows what is needed for survival. Sometimes we need to forget for a while, sometimes for a long while.
Human beings are additionally equipped with ego consciousness, which can supplement nature’s deeper defenses and greatly improve psychic hygiene. As we live now in a world in the very early stages of major transformation, with instability in governance and terror daily breaking through its unstable seams, we must take conscious responsibility to stabilize our own psychic balance, that is, we must do our conscious best to supplement the defenses of our ancient self.
With respect to potential psychic infection from the outside world, the ego really does have vast control over the influx of outside energy. In a nutshell, where we put our attention largely decides what comes into us.
In our time, social media is a huge raging river of collective energy that greatly excites and equally exhausts our psychic energy but also can vastly impact moods—highs and lows—as well as our ability to process objectively all that barrages us. The decision to limit exposure to social media promotes psychic balance; it offers as well the opportunity to step back and begin to think for oneself. Collective energy can usurp one’s identity. We can be swept into a tribal identity, losing the boundaries of our “individual” self, losing also the ability to think for ourselves.
The partisan divide currently infecting the whole world can, as well, seduce us into one polarized corner or another. We are in an either/or state right now that does not see resolution in a reconciliation with the opposites but calls for unity through divisiveness. Divisiveness in the psyche sets the stage for psychic disunity, as the disenfranchised parts of the psyche will rebel, usually through disturbing symptoms of anxiety, dread, panic, fear or rage.
Suspending judgment toward all groups in the world, regardless of their political persuasion, with an eye toward understanding the why of differences, can create greater empathy and inclusiveness for all points of view and all peoples. This in turn promotes inner calmness within the self and reflects greater inner acceptance of even the most recalcitrant aspects of the self!
Inwardly, the attitude of ego consciousness toward the vaster unconscious self is a critical determinant of psychic health. For instance, if the ego rules daily life through a narcissistic self-centered lens, it is likely to alienate itself from the rest of the self, with the result again being far-reaching symptoms, even perhaps the manifestation of bodily disease in an attempt to physically communicate the reactions of the deeper self toward the ego’s non-inclusive leadership in the affairs of daily life.
If the ego can see its role as ascertaining and caring for the true needs of the overall self versus its narrow special interests, then the unconscious will be grateful and better poised to support its ego partner. This can be established through remembering, recording and contemplating the dreams dreamed each night. Dreams remain the royal road to the unconscious, they are a latent golden portal to the deeper self, awaiting just a little attention.
As well, a willingness to calm frantic energy through meditation and a practice such as pranayama breathing can allow for a still heart that communicates objective truths, perhaps even suggesting actions for the ego to follow. This inner relationship with different parts of the self can lead to an inner harmony, greatly promoting psychic hygiene.
An overall willingness to introvert daily—that is, to pull attention away from outside energy, to be calm in nature for instance, or simply content within the confines of the self—is perhaps the most important ego practice to counter the overpowering extroverted draw of our time and restore psychic balance.
There are still rocky seas before us, but good psychic hygiene can provide the necessary ark of awareness to safely maintain our balance through the troubled waters of our times.