Elie Wiesel’s assertion that the development of the rational mind gave rise to our capacity to rationalize anything is evidenced in even a cursory survey of Western history. How many heinous acts have been committed in the name of God, country or clan? Many of humanity’s most horrific atrocities have been justified by proclaiming them to be “God’s work”. Abraham was convinced that God, rather than his own unconscious guilt for banishing his first-born son Ishmael to the desert, demanded the sacrifice of Isaac. Religious warriors, from the Crusaders to contemporary jihadists, have believed in the righteousness of their cause and the eternal rewards awaiting them for their so-called sacrifices. The Holocaust and other genocides have been deemed necessary, in the minds of their perpetrators, to “purify” society. These “rational” decisions are actually the result of archetypal possessions, and demonstrate the susceptibility of the conscious mind to these unconscious forces. With the gullibility of children, we are seduced by the compelling power of these archetypal influences, and march goose-step toward yet another unimaginable horror.
Throughout history, great spiritual teachers, philosophers, artists and clinicians have known that the most profound wisdom emerges from the Self, and resides within the deeper levels of the psyche. Psychoanalyst Robert Langs once commented that he had reached a new understanding of good and evil. In this schema, the devil represents the workings of the conscious mind – deceiving, misleading, colluding, and obliterating truth, while God corresponds to the deep unconscious, the bedrock of wisdom and knowledge. Both are living realities within the human psyche, and it is our task to navigate through this Scylla and Charybdis of insight and duplicity, as we continue our journey through life.
I am not seeking to make the conscious mind the proverbial “fall guy” for all the wrongs and injustices in the world, but when our behaviors are determined solely through a personally-constructed frame of reference, we not only access a miniscule part of the available knowledge field, but also open the door for unconscious complexes to influence our decisions. Complexes are quanta of energy organized around a particular theme* – e.g. mother/father complex, inferiority/superiority complex, etc. – that work by eclipsing the individual ego. When these complexes are activated, thoughtful discerning behavior is replaced by blind adherence to the dictates of the complex itself, further contributing to human misery and strife.
We now stand at a grand precipice where the consequences of faulty decisions are potentially more devastating than at any other time in human history, and we need to be vigilant in distinguishing the voices of the angels from those of the demons. Ancient rulers consulted their councils of elders on major issues affecting their sovereignties. Today a profound wisdom is available to us as a real and vital element within the psyche, and we must learn its language and heed its messages. Can we really afford not to listen?
In today’s audio blog, I address these issues – the limitations of the conscious mind, the deeper wisdom system of the unconscious, and the relevance of these ideas in both our personal lives and in the global community.
*I would like to acknowledge the late Dr. Yoram Kaufmann for this definition of the complex.