Sunday, February 20, 2005

Levels of Consciousness

This has been brewing in my head for some time. Start with
Joseph Campbell's three stages: familial, tribal, human. The first two focus positive affect on the ingroup, while for the third the ingroup is the human race. (Of course many people would add a 4th and wider category, namely all sentient life.)

Now add the teaching of C.G.Jung on projection-- by which we focus all our negativity outside ourselves. Somewhere he said that the survival of the human race depends upon whether enough of us can withdraw our projections. (Jesus, also had something to say about it: why do you want to remove the speck from your neighbor's eye while you have a beam in your own eye {rough translation}.)

Focusing negative affect outside is endemic in the population of the world and the psychological cause and enabler of all wars. Another term for it is prejudice: you must think ill of the person you make war on.

Is it possible to believe that as a people we are growing beyond these concentrations of evil outside ourselves? The outpouring of money for the tsunami victims is certainly a good sign; military activity of any sort points in the opposite direction.

What about the religious community? Lamentably throughout history the Christian Church has been the foremost supporter of every war that's ever been fought. More blood has been shed in the name of Christ..... (This of course is something good church members prefer not to think about!)

As Christians we have to face that, and we have to do something about it. Particularly we have to stop hating our 'enemy'. And we have to make our voice known. In the words of Ephesians we have to stand:

6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against
spiritual wickedness in high places.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God , that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,


Al said...

"Mind is the forerunner of (all evil) states. Mind is chief; mind-made are they. If one speaks or acts with wicked mind, suffering follows one, even as the wheel follows the hoof of the draught-ox.

Mind is the forerunner of (all good) states. Mind is chief; mind-made are they. If one speaks or acts with pure mind, AFFECTION follows one, even as one's shadow that never leaves." - Dhammapada

To me the key phrase is "mind-made are they" clearly placing the onus on our own reactions not on others.
Also, a very hard lesson to learn.

Larry said...

I fully agree, Al. Bishop Berkeley went further; he said that our mind is the only thing that exists. Sounds kind of far fetched to some, but it contains a real grain of truth.

You don't exist; your only existence is in my mind.

I would protest if somebody said that to me, but the Al I know only exists in my mind, and what shape you take depends as much on my own consciousness as anything objective in you.

When my wife Ellie and I see something (someone), I always see the negative possibilities; she always sees the positive. Otherwise we think alike about almost everything.

The truth is we're both right. The reality of everything is a compendium of positive and negative features.

The Jewish purists in Judea saw 'unclean' mean and women as contemptible. Jesus saw them as sons and daughters of God. Both were right according to their world vision.

My objective in life is to go beyond the 'purist' thoughts that give me a negative attitude toward people and to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ" and evoke, encourage, create the goodness that turns into the kingdom of God.

david said...

Projection. I didn't realize that was Jung. Thanks.

Of course other's have raised similar concerns. George Fox in his Journal talsk of reading the scripture as if the evil-doers are yourself rather than pointing the finger outside.

Back at university I took one of those science to poets type classes. We raed Edwin Schroedinger who defined life as a ne-entropy system - an energy system that dleays or offsets the effects of entropy. Evil tehn would be exporting your entropy -- effectively dumping your garbage on soemone else's lawn.

All the smae thing in differing languages.

Larry said...

Thanks for your comment, David.

A couple of generations ago Jung was the primary religious writer for what we now call progressive Christians, those whose psyche did not allow them to accept all religious ideas uncritically if found in the Bible.

Dozens, no probably hundreds of ministers, especially Epicopal priests became Jungian analysts. Two of the most prominent ones (in my consciousness at least) were John Sanford and Morton Kelsey.

One of my peak spiritual experiences was reading Jung's Memories, Dreams, and Reflections. It is confessional, but not published until after his death. I used to reread it about every couple of years.

Another really great one is Answer to Job. Jung has an argument with God.

Jung was not a Christian; he believed all religions were good, therapeutic and gave meaning to life.

He did not believe in a metaphysical God, but found God a psychic fact in our consciousness.

That made him acceptable to liberals, but verbatim to conventional, exclusivistic Christians.