Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Learning From 9-11, Envisioning a Better Future September 21, 2012

Last time I examined the symbols of the 9-11 terrorist attack from a symbolic and psychological perspective. Is this just so much airy-fairy hooey, or is it reasonable to consider that tragic event a portent of things to come in ourselves and the world? Are our most revered institutions not only endangered, but crumbling like the twin towers because of humanity’s ego-centric, upward-striving, linear mindset? Are we being challenged to expand our thinking and adapt to a very different world than any that has ever existed before?

Let’s look at some facts. Since 9-11, long-term financial institutions like Wachovia, Lehman Brothers, and Washington Mutual have gone bankrupt. The stock market crash of 2008 and the ensuing worldwide recession has caused significant declines in retirement portfolios, some of the largest decreases in the history of the Dow-Jones average, the failure of long-respected major corporations like General Motors, and the second highest unemployment rate since 1948.

Change is also underway in organized religion. In 1975 a Gallup poll showed that 68 percent of Americans had a great deal of confidence in the church. That began to change in the mid- to late 1980s when confidence in organized religion first fell below 60%, possibly because of  scandals involving televangelist preachers Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. By 2001, our confidence in religion had returned to 60%, but when charges of widespread child molestation by Catholic priests and cover-ups by some in the church were revealed the following year, it dropped to 45%. Today it stands at 44%.

In college and professional sports, too, hierarchical structures are tumbling down. Just this year Penn States’s football program was severely damaged by the Jerry Sandusky scandal, and last month the world of professional cycling was rocked by revelations of illegal drug use, most notably by superstar Lance Armstrong. Both programs also saw cover-ups at the highest levels.

Finally, education and the media are likewise losing our trust. In fact, the latest results from Gallup’s June 7-10 update of its annual “Confidence in Institutions” question show that Americans’ confidence in public schools, banks, and television news is at its all-time lowest.

Politicians misuse these facts by blaming the opposite party in hopes of winning the next election instead of recognizing that both sides contain men and women with the same psychological characteristics. These are a dominant ego whose highest priority is to bolster its self-image with power and acclaim; a powerful resistance to seeing our own shadows or opening to perspectives different from our own; a strong bias against otherness; and willful blindness to the true cause of our problems: our own psychological ignorance and immaturity.

Nobody knows for certain if these trends point to a temporary pendulum swing or permanent changes in our thinking. But what I do know is that over the years my awareness has, like collective awareness, continued to expand beyond limiting perspectives once considered sacrosanct. Rigid and frightened egos will always respond to changing circumstances by burying their heads deeper in the sand, but the healthier and more flexible among us will recognize the signs and take steps to replace inadequate systems, including the habitual functioning of our  brains, with new ones that promote greater compassion, peace, prosperity, health and healing for all.

There’s more on this topic in my new book, Healing the Sacred Divide, which can be purchased at www.Amazon.com or www.larsonpublications.com.

 

Why Should Society Promote Self-Knowledge? February 10, 2012

Lately, an internet acquaintance who is an ardent social activist has been looking through my archives for inspiration about how to make Jungian psychology more relevant to the general public. After reading my April 8, 2010 post titled Elephant in The Cave he commented:

“Why is it important to society for humanity to get these unconscious contents dredged up? If people understood why they should do it, then it seems there would be more seekers — i.e. not just those attracted to Jung, Campbell, or a therapist for answers. I know when I was painting a lot, things seemed to go better in my business life. When I didn’t paint for a month, things got stuck. Perhaps opening the door to my creative core helped … But I’d like to know your thoughts on the question Why? Here’s sort of the question: Why should the mainstream media highlight a story about connecting with the subconscious every night on the evening news?”

My personal answer to why learning more about our shadows should be important to society is simple: because knowing and accepting my shadow has transformed the way I experience myself and live my life. It feels like I’ve gone from wanting to hide from a raging tornado in a dark cellar, (“Auntie Em! Auntie Em! Let me in!”) to splashing around with my horse, free and unencumbered, in an enchanted forest pool. Oh, and my golden retriever is there too! (“I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto!”)

I know, I’m making this sound like a B movie remake of a fairy tale, (Wait! Is that a huntsman behind that tree?), but I can’t think of a better way to describe how I feel. I don’t mean all the time, but often enough that my growing freedom from fear, anxiety and the need to control my life to feel safe and good enough predisposes me to greater tolerance and compassion.

But why would the mainstream media highlight stories about understanding our shadows on the evening news? Well, they wouldn’t unless they cared more about furthering peace and human welfare than ratings. But if they did, and if people responded, I believe conditions would improve dramatically for everyone. Why? In the words of Jiddu Krishnamurti: “Because the individual does not know his purpose, he is in a state of uncertainty and chaos. Because the individual has not solved his own problem, the problem of the world has not been solved. The individual problem is the world problem. If an individual is unhappy, discontented, dissatisfied, then the world around him is in sorrow, discontent and ignorance.”

Here’s another: “To transform the world, we must begin with ourselves; and what is important in beginning with ourselves is the intention. The intention must be to understand ourselves and not to leave it to others to transform themselves or to bring about a modified change through revolution, either of the left or of the right. It is important to understand that this is our responsibility, yours and mine…”

Many of us get it. But how do we help society understand the need for self-knowlege? I don’t know. Krishnamurti believed that a revolution in the psyche cannot be brought about by any external entity. This was true in my case. My inner tornado kicked up such a fuss that in desperation I finally gave up waiting for the weatherman to do something about it and started working on myself. But is waiting for a crisis to force us off our complacent couches the only way? If you can think of others I hope you’ll write. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Healing Arizona: Sophia’s Communication Style January 11, 2011

As I write this the shooting spree in Arizona which resulted in the deaths of six people, including a federal judge, and the wounding of several others — among them congressional Representative Gabrielle Giffords who apparently was the primary target — is very much on my mind. Practically everyone is wondering whether America’s recent vitriolic political environment might have contributed to this tragedy.

In an October post titled, “No More Toxic Air Waves, Please,” I worried about what effect the hate-filled, divisive political rhetoric would have on the youngest and most vulnerable among us. Early reports say the suspect is a mentally unstable young man with a known grudge against the government. Perhaps he would have done something like this regardless of the political climate. But factors like the deliberate ‘targeting’ of political ‘enemies’on Sarah Palin’s website, (Rep. Giffords was among those pictured in the crosshairs), and the media’s recent movement from informing to inciting have to be considered as potential influences.

One psychological explanation for this situation has to do with the differences between left-brained and right-brained communication styles. If you’ve been following this blog you know the left-hemisphere of the brain specializes in logos — logical, objective, focused reasoning — which is associated with the masculine principle. The right hemisphere prefers mythos, i.e. analogical thinking, subjective feeling, and diffuse awareness, and is associated with the feminine principle. I’m not talking about gender. This is about the masculine and feminine in all of us.

Diffuse awareness has four primary components: listening (as opposed to influencing), appreciating (as opposed to criticizing or judging), empathizing (as opposed to unfeeling analyzing and reasoning), and questioning (as opposed to blind acceptance and/or authoritarian telling). All four qualities enhance communication, contribute to wisdom and help unveil the sacred. All are associated with the feminine.

Diffuse listening occurs when we open ourselves to otherness by relaxing our needs to be heard, admired, one-up and right. Receptivity to whatever comes our way leads us straight through appearances and preconceived notions into the heart and soul of matters. Appreciating respects differences, sees similarities, and enjoys meaningful connections. Empathy, the ability to see through another’s eyes and unite with him or her in a communion of shared understanding and caring, is born when we shift our focus from differentiating ourselves to establishing intimacy. Finally, questioning is an open, thoughtful approach to otherness — other ideas and opinions, other belief systems, and other ways of perceiving — that is not defensive, rebellious, or confrontational, but truly interested in understanding, learning and growing.

The shocking violence in Arizona has multiple causes, but I have absolutely no doubt that our cultural obsession with left-brained values is one of the most influential. Fortunately, humanity is riding a mounting tidal wave that is heading for a new level of consciousness which balances and integrates opposites. Sophia of the wise and understanding heart is entering our awareness in a very big way, and adopting her modes of thinking and communicating cannot help but bring healing changes. I can’t wait to witness their unfolding in the new decade.

 

 
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