All newborn babies turn their heads toward the nipple and make sucking movements. This is an inborn program called the rooting reflex 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: as above 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.