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Sunday, April 24, 2011

The USA & the Four Elements – CREDO CXXXIX:

If you look at a map of North America, there are three layers, occupied by Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The US is the largest section and most heavily populated. If you think about it, we are the part beset with severe problems involving the four elements. Canada seems almost the calm brow of our shared continent. One wonders if it’s the negative collective consciousness that is bringing about these constant attacks of nature? Despite the unreported good being accomplished in our country, the output of TV seems to favor the headline-grabbing news of crime, disasters, and discord of every ilk. The ads are often violent and give no regard for the positive. Just tonight, I wondered what a child of five or six would think of a man throwing a dart at another and killing him! An advertisement, mind you, for a dating firm. We seem to forget the impact of such ads on kids.

Here are the four elements as astrologically or symbolically understood. I have focused on the negative impact, which seems to be dominant at the moment.

  which rules our collective thoughts.

We have high winds, tornadoes and hurricanes, and areas of serious drought:

Confusion and indecision, hype and mendacity?

The antidote would be honesty, good faith, and optimism.

  which rules our collective actions.

At the moment we are suffering major fires in Texas, but there have been destructive major fires in several other states every year. California and Florida are recent examples.
Crime, murder, persecutions, and irrational behavior?

The antidote would be acts of courage, responsibility, kindness, and consideration

  which rules our collective economy and ecology.

We have earthquakes, mudslides, and volcanic lava.
Materialism, debt, greed, dishonesty, and conceit?

The antidote would be thrift, charity, honesty, and common sense.

  which rules our collective emotions.

Heavy rains and destructive floods are common, as are blizzards.
We get carried away and react with mob psychology, swayed by ads and politics.

The antidote is self-analysis, transpersonal love, and resistance to group pressure.

          * * *

Certainly, we are not the only nation to suffer but few other countries are beset with all four at once. For me, it raises the basic question, does human collective consciousness impact weather?

There is a lovely story called "The Rainmaker" Jung was fond of relating. Here it is:

              The Story of the Rainmaker

The function and role of the rainmaker is best described in a story. The concept of the rainmaker comes from a story from Jung and for those not familiar with the rainmaker, the following story is taken from The Tao of Psychology by Jean Shinoda Bolen and was told to Jung by Richard Wilhelm. It is the story of the rainmaker of Kiaochau.

"There was great drought. For months there had not been a drop of rain and the situation became catastrophic. The Catholics made processions, the Protestants made prayers, and the Chinese burned joss-sticks and shot off guns to frighten away the demons of the drought, but with no result. Finally the Chinese said, "We will fetch the rainmaker." And from another province a dried-up old man appeared. The only thing he had asked for was a quiet little house somewhere, and there he locked himself in for three days. On the fourth day the clouds gathered and there was a great snow storm at the time of the year when no snow was expected, an unusual amount, and the town was so full of rumors about the wonderful rainmaker that Richard Wilhelm went to ask the man how he did it. In true European fashion he said, "They call you the Rainmaker, will you tell me how you made the snow?" And the little Chinese man said, "I did not make the snow, I am not responsible." "But what have you done these three days?" "Oh, I can explain that. I come from another country where things are in order. Here they are out of order, they are not as they should be by the ordinance of heaven. Therefore the whole country is not in Tao, and I also am not in the natural order of things because I am in a disordered country. So I had to wait three days until I was back in Tao and then naturally the rain came."
              —C. G. Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis, pp. 419–20


Friday, April 1, 2011

Dealing with Adversity– CREDO CXXXVIII

As so many people in the world are having extremely difficult times, any advice worth listening to seems welcome. Two voices from the past offer this on both a collective and an individual level. The renowned British historian Arnold Toynbee observed that it was not what happens to a civilization [country] but how it reacts that determines the outcome. A case in point, of course, was the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, which resulted from laxity and frivolity, political squabbling, contrasts between wealth and poverty, and many of the other symptoms facing our own country today. Those who are aware of history can think of many other examples, including some positive ones. Yet, many countries started out reacting positively only to fall into the power trap, such as Germany after WWI, resulting in the Nazi regime of corrupt socialism and the Soviet version which degenerated into tyrannical communism. Both countries began with meaningful ideology, and both ended with defeat from inner and outer forces. Then a new development cast off these by people coming out in thousands peacefully demonstrating and protesting tyranny. Today, indeed, we have progressed to the United Nations, the EU and NATO, and yet, the struggle continues, resulting in more violence.

Historically, in our own country in the late 1700s, a strange global sequence took place. Hindu philosophy had come to Europe for the first time and was translated into German coincidentally with the American Revolution, and, as a result, some New Englanders chose to go to German universities rather than England’s Oxford or Cambridge. There, they learned of ahimsa, non-violence. These Transcendentalists in Concord, Massachusetts inspired Thoreau’s On Civil Disobedience, which was read by the young Indian Gandhi in South Africa, who went on to liberate India without firing a shot, which influenced Martin Luther King, and led eventually to the inauguration of our first biracial president, Barack Obama. Phew! Such is the power of ideas! Currently, we are now on edge observing a new rise of the Common Man in North Africa and the Middle East: the power of a united people spontaneously seeking freedom and democracy against a single tyrannical ruler. The concept already has inflamed at least eight different countries.

On the individual level, the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung put forward the same idea, saying it’s not what happens to us in life but how we react to it that determines our fate. Take note, we have a choice! We even say, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!” An extreme example would be blind and deaf Helen Keller, but so many outstanding Americans have demonstrated this way of reacting, coming out of difficult circumstances in youth – one could almost name it a national trait.

Contrast this today, alas, with an increasing segment of our contemporary population that is succumbing to escapism in distorted pleasure-seeking drugs, porn, and crime. Also, the hours spent on TV and video games, to say nothing of the Internet, imply living an ersatz life. In the meantime, we are risking losing our planet through ignorant abuse, our own physical well-being, and our ability to relate to each other in a genuine way. Now, present economic adversity offers us “the kitchen table,” the rediscovering of families around it, and the challenge of reacting in a real and not synthetic way. Our frenetic national extraversion hopefully may adjust to rediscovering some of the rewards of looking inwards and a search for simple rather than "virtual" reality. This implies the need for a profound shift in our values, taking time “to smell the roses,” noticing the suffering and needs of others, of nature itself, animals, and the environment, and offering compassionate service to them insofar as we are able. As Mother Teresa remarked, we also need to remember that God is in everyone, and the importance of person to person. Such a reaction to adversity might indeed save our world.