Thursday, 25 October 2012

Love and its uses II

Guest and friend Magi Whisson explores Love and Its Uses in the second special presentation on the subject in this blog.

By Magi Whisson

The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, "The evolution of chastity" in Toward the Future 

These words by de Chardin herald the primacy of love as an evolutionary imperative and sound a beckoning call to humanity to enter into critical and profound relationship with this new fire.

de Chardin's view is supported by many other great mystics. Rudolf Steiner states in Love and its Meaning in the World that "the mission of our Earth is the cultivation of the principle of love to its highest degree by the beings evolving upon it. When the Earth has reached the end of its evolution, love should permeate it through and through."

Love stands as one of the deep creative powers of the universe. It is relational and purposeful as it directs and binds all forms of life towards a greater whole. It is always in service to forwarding a completing design, an ultimate sacred geometry that will hold all life in accord. Through love we can enter into a pattern of dynamic, cohesive, redemptive relations.

For Socrates love was a daemon, an inner god or spirit, an inspiring force.

Love is so known and yet unknown to us.
Love is fundamentally and intrinsically woven into human nature while also remaining transcendent to it.

Parents are often unbelieving at how much they love their newborn child. The immanence of love is all-consuming. Reciprocally they are profoundly touched by love when the child, in innocence and without scholarship, smiles in recognition of them for the first time. Love draws and binds people together.

We 'fall' in love when pierced by cupid's arrow and, for a period of time, the 'other' and the world around us is euphorically embraced. Destinies are brought together. New unions that will then need to be lived into life are formed. Love draws the future into the present, that which is yet to be, into time. Precursive love offers leadership, a pathway through the ensuing mystery.

Alternatively we may have matured the wisdom, or experienced the isolation and limitation of the single 'I' and will self-initiate the outreach, the opening towards the wider group, the 'we'. In doing so we open the door for love to enter - for love's focus is the whole, not the part.

Love can penetrate our life from the 'top down', allowing that which would otherwise remain transcendent to immanently enter our lives. We are graced and shaped by love's entrance. We are gifted by the gods.

Or it can be we who from the 'bottom up' recognise the pathway to right relationship and through our own empowered, conscious actions anchor love in the world. In so doing we not only create a better world around us, but also a direct relationship with love and, indeed, return a necessary gift to the gods. The circle of love becomes a returning spiral.

The quest of love is a long, relational journey towards oneness.
This journey asks us to resolve deep complexities of difference and unity both within us and without. It asks us to relingquish all that inhibits unification with the 'other' while standing true to that which is integral and essential to our own true self. It also asks us to hold relationship to a higher order of Life, a greater whole, that serves the interest of all.

This task can only proceed and mature through eons of time. Along the way there is that which could not or has not been met by love, by right relationship, and therefore a heritage has been created. The sins of the fathers are passed on to the sons. In Jungian terms we become bound by both our individual and collective unconscious shadow. Love is misappropriated and misunderstood, tied up with conflicting, unconscious wishes and desires at all levels. Without conscious, redemptive loving, perpetration and the abuse system continue with cumulative and devastating effect.

Humanity today has crossed an evolutionary threshold. For eons we have been sustained, gifted and resourced by the gods of heaven and earth. But humanity has now used up its quota of giveness and is now at a point in evolutionary development whereby it must become the giver and enter into a co-creative relationship with life and with the gods and all they issue. We too have to be the 'Gods' that sustain and forward the Life around us. The stars will no longer sing man into being, it is we who must sing the stars. It is time for humanity to act with empowered love.

Love holds a deep paradox. It asks us to surrender into the whole, while remaining integral to it. Love asks of the 'I' that it dies to the 'we' yet in doing so finds its own central life.

The hidden jewel of love is its inherent gift of return. This is poetically expressed by Rudolf Steiner: "One's love of another being will shine back into one's own self. The self will then be able to love without loving itself." Love offers an ultimate freedom with and from oneself.

Love is generative through inter-relationships in their manifold expression. Love is directed towards the will-to-good for the good of all.

May the fire burn.


Thursday, 11 October 2012

Reflections on the collective unconscious

A pretty young woman vanishes late one night while walking home from a bar. Her distraught family and the police appeal to the public for clues. Social media pages are set up to aid in the search. The police release closed-circuit television footage of the woman speaking to an unknown man as she walked home. Within a week of her disappearance a man is arrested and charged with her rape and murder. Her body is found in a shallow grave outside town.

These are the bare facts in the case of Gillian Meagher, who worked in administration at the local ABC radio station in Melbourne. In a city of 4 million people, with crime reported every day of the week, the public’s response to her death has been anything but typical. Thousands of people flooded social media to express their distress at her disappearance, followed by a wave of grief when it was confirmed she was dead. Hundreds of flower bouquets were laid outside the dress shop where she was last seen alive and at the front of a nearby church, where a candlelit vigil allowed strangers to pay their respects. A few days later about 30,000 people took part in a “peace” march in her name, a stone memorial appeared suddenly amid the flowers at the place where her body was found, and a large graffiti in her memory was painted in a city laneway. A torrent of hate at the accused man poured through Facebook and other social media. 

Public or mass consciousness is relatively predictable most of the time and can be shaped. Legions of experts in fields like advertising and public relations are paid to work out ways to manipulate the mass psyche. They do this by tapping into the collective and individual unconscious, recognising that there are patterns in the way people think and act, and certain basic emotions and desires that can be triggered. 

Consciousness rests on a vast sea of unconscious psychic energy. While aspects of it can be manipulated, the unconscious is essentially untameable by human will. Its ways are profoundly mysterious. Jungian psychology holds that, for individual and collective psychic health, unconscious elements need to be drawn into the light of consciousness, to be digested and integrated. They carry important messages about us we ought to hear. When the unconscious is separated from consciousness, when it is not addressed with due validation and insight, it acts autonomously, chaotically breaking into conscious life. 

The public’s response to Jill Meagher’s disappearance and death may be such an outbreak of the collective unconscious: a great rush of energy and emotion seemingly out of nowhere and sweeping everyone along with it. Nobody can quite explain the phenomenon or just why they feel so deeply.  The death of this young woman is tragic and we should be horrified and feel compassion for her, but the intensity of feeling among so many speaks of something else. Symbols are the language of the unconscious and it is to them we must turn if we are to understand it.

Perhaps Jill Meagher became a symbol of innocence; of goodness destroyed by evil. The abuse of innocence has a fundamental impact on the psyche: it is a break in the natural order of things, a crime against nature itself, a shattering of taboo. We can all relate because all of us go through a stage of innocence – childhood – and there are few who go through that stage without some rupture of innocence on some level. There is also the fact that this crime occurred in Melbourne’s inner-north, where there is a sense of community and where many young, socially connected and socially progressive professional people live. It represents a major break in the order.
Perhaps also the response to Jill Meagher is an expression of the desire to move beyond or redeem some abusive tendencies that have persisted in the collective psyche for thousands of years. These relate to violence towards women, the denigration of women, sexism and misogyny. It indicates that there is a readiness among a significant portion of society to transcend these archaic elements.
There is also the internet and its effects. I believe Facebook, Twitter and the other social media are bringing the unconscious much closer to the everyday world. The veil between the two worlds is becoming thinner. The unconscious holds creative, life-affirming energy as well as that which is harmful, and we have seen social media, in the case of Jill Meagher, act as a lightning rod for solidarity, social action and collective grief. Yet the internet is an outlet, through anonymity and distancing, for a sludge of hate and anti-social tendencies. Now, perhaps more than ever, we need social and spiritual processes that can contain, illuminate and redeem that which is held inside us.