For those who think Jung

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart.
Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
Carl Jung (Man and His Symbols, 1964)

The three great existential questions are “Who am I?”, “What am I doing here?” and “Who are these others?” Most of what has been posted in Rebellion Dogs blogs lately is about belief which is critical in grasping “Who am I?” This question is a challenge without perspective—“Who (or what) I am not?” The obvious boundaries are “I am not you.” Babies discover “this foot is ‘me;’ mother and father are not ‘me.’”
More complicated boundaries—are we our thoughts, feelings, actions or beliefs. Statements like, “I am a Libra,” “I am a liberal,” “I am a child of God,” “I am a sugar addict” or “I am a sinner” are all beliefs. These theses are contestable facts but they are undeniable beliefs. The “Who am I” question may be superficial without consideration of our purpose and how we relate to the rest of the world (What am I doing here and who are these others?). Like the systems of a car, beliefs, behavior and belonging are interdependent.
Although I outwardly rejected AA and showed no respect for the membership when I was new, I secretly wanted your approval. I wanted to belong and I thought that belonging meant believing certain things and behaving certain ways.
Being a member of an AA group for agnostics and freethinkers, there is an obvious sense of belonging. Like any meeting with customs, there are “expected” and “discouraged” behaviors from the ritual of saying. “My name is Joe and I am an ____________,” to “carrying the message.” Membership assumes a familiar code and creed.
Being a member of a subculture that is marginalized adds an extra sense of belonging. Reactance is when resistance or resolve doubles as an unintended consequence of the actions of another (or others). I expect that I do more AA service than I would normally, as a direct result of the Toronto Intergroup vote to expel our AA groups from the meeting list and Intergroup activity. I am the events coordinator for Public Information for the Greater Toronto Area, I am the registrar in our General Service District, I attend health fairs and speak at schools for AA and I wonder how much of it is to make the bigots squirm in their seats when they hear my name and home group referenced in Intergroup reports. I know, I know, I am such a child.
A matrix is shared delusion or a consensual hallucination. Twelve Step fellowships have them. “An eating disorder is a disease” is not a scientific fact but such a statement will get bobble headed approval in an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. The same is true with “alcoholism is a mental, physical and spiritual illness.” This is another example of how believing, belonging and behaving are connected. We want to belong and so we concede to the group-think about our prognosis. We treat our habit with anecdotal steps of recovery and lean on each other’s feedback to assess our physical, mental and spiritual progress away from the “merciless obsession” and our fatal illness.
There is nothing wrong with buying into a school of thought. It is better to do so mindfully. For those who think Jung, beating dependence to a process or substance by depending on a mythical savior god would be trading in one bad dream for a new better dream. But what if we want to be awake? A pre-packaged “solution” will stop the bleeding but will it nourish the longing that caused the existential crisis in the first place?
Only comfort comes from blissful sleep. I say we have to be awake to find meaningful answers.
I am not picking on the theists here. Pre-packaged atheism comes with its bible, The Origin of Species, its bishops and cardinals to which the faithful mindlessly imitate. Atheism has faith-filled assumptions to fill in the blanks such as “we will be able to explain everything through science.” How is that so different than “Allah works in mysterious ways?” Just because science keeps converting the unexplainable into the quantifiable it is still a leap of faith to draw a conclusion that sciences run at puzzle solving will be infinite. Evangelical atheists are as arrogant and intolerant as the theists that they despise. Going back to Jung, that is if I haven’t offended and lost everyone by now, he talks about searching our heart, not our head. It’s not a stretch to suggest that Carl Jung is pretty comfortable in the theatre of the intellect. Why so touchy-feely all of a sudden? Intuition is as great a resource as intellect, regardless of whether or not we are trying to stay clean and sober for one more day or if we want to understand our higher purpose.
I see Eastern philosophy as more holistic than binary Western counterparts. Going back to the bigotry of the theistically leaning Toronto Intergroup that continues it’s policy of uniformity—not unity, I ask myself this question: Would a majority of secularists be so much more accommodating to a god-fearing minority? Atheist dogma suggests that it is religiosity that causes atrocity. Yes we find connections between theism and persecution. Look further and we see Stalin’s atheist regime had a death count in the tens of millions, too. I think it is a matter of human nature, not a question of what the superior worldview is. Perilous power will always feel threatened and scapegoat the minorities to assuage their own anxiety.
It isn’t our beliefs that limit us, but our arrogant dismissal of other’s beliefs that cut us off from refreshing new ways of seeing. Like yin and yang, it isn’t the heart or the head that should rule the nest; it’s a balance and cooperation of our reason and our imagination.
Alan Watts in his common eloquence said, “Myths can sometimes express philosophical ideas that more exact language can never get across. Mythological language is infinitely suggestive.” To me that suggest that when I am smugly saying “That’s not proven to be true,” maybe a more useful question would be “What’s the point?” Is the point of the anecdote or thesis true or in some way useful? Carl Jung similarly reminds me that it takes more than 20/20 vision and a clear day to see all the facts. For my vision to be clear, I have to use all my senses—not just one.

Leave a comment

    Add comment