"If the doors of perception were cleansed, man would see everything as it is, infinite." -quote from Blake.
"A rigidly authoritarian upbringing makes anyone somewhat, if not markedly, masochistic.... The starting point of masochistic fantasies, Reik claims is "infantile sadism." As a child matures, gets teeth and muscles, and gains control over its bladder and bowels, it also develops a desire to hurt those more powerful than itself. Since this is plainly beyond its physical powers, it seeks satisfaction in imagining the possibility. However, this satisfaction is thwarted by the fear that the person the child is attacking in fantasy will retaliate by punishment for its rebellion. "The sadistic need, eager for gratification, is replaced by anxiety on account of this gratification which is felt to be forbidden." says Reik. "The idea of one's own aggression and the punishment slowly blend."
He sees the total development
of masochism as taking place in three stages:
"....psychologist Melanie Klein... saw a progression and development through childhood of (1) a rivalry with the parents, (2) a wish to outgrow ones perceived deficiencies, (3) a wish to overcome one's destructiveness and inner badness, and (4) a progression to all kinds of achievements. The child angered by its helplessness, Klein saw as wishing to grow tall, strong, rich, and powerful while its parents grow weak and powerless. As in all these kinds of cases, the line is thin between the neurotic and the normal for the culture. These kinds of wishes must be common to all children to a lesser or greater extent. Some children may develop into murderers, rapists, or torturers. Some, because of guilt at their feelings, says Klein, "are obliged to remain unsuccessful, because success always implies to them the humiliation or even the damage of someone else..." -ibid, (p.173).
"...consider the mode of training
military personnel... The whole intention is to produce a man who is totally
rule-oriented, who will obey without question, who will be prepared to
undergo great hardship and suffering in the name of... honor or patriotism...
and who will, of course be a highly efficient killer of other men whom
the rules identify... as the enemy. To achieve this end the recruit is
treated like a child of peculiarly brutal and sadistic parents who punish
every act which is seen as disobedience, no matter how trivial, and reward
slavish obedience with grudging kindness. Arbitrary changes of plan; fanatically
rigorous inspections of uniform, equipment, living space, lockers; constant
physical demands; petty regulations about every aspect of life--in short,
insistence that one carry out instantly and without reasoning, any orders,
no matter how objectively senseless they may appear to a "reasonable" person....
Some men, like some children, do manage to come through this by shutting
off parts of their minds...." (p.179).
During a long weekend, however, when there was no one around, the wire came off so that the shock was not administered. When the people returned, the sheep was found, immobilized, with foot recoiled, waiting for the shock. When the wire was repaired and the shock administered, the sheep was able to resume normal behavior, but with a remarkable residual symptom. Thereafter, when the sheep was threatened, not just by a noise, but by any sort of potential danger that any ordinary sheep would be quite able to cope with. The sheep in the experiment would respond by recoiling the foot, and cowering in fear, completely unable to respond in a normal manner to the possible threat of danger. Even more significant was the fact that this condition was permanent.
Fear of pain can become as debilitating than the actual pain itself, when conditioned. And in fact it is only the administering of the expected pain to the conditioned individual that allows normal activity to continue.
Quoting again from The Last Taboo:
"...those societies that provide harsh and cruel initiation rites have indeed child-rearing practices that would tend to produce authoritarian personalities, who... delight in being punished as well as giving out punishment."
A study undertaken by researchers at Edinburgh University, in Scotland, shows that children of parents who are too strict are more likely to turn to recreational drugs and take up smoking, than other children. Princilpes build character, while rules deplete it, and character is what we rely on for the appropriate mode of feeling and behavior, especially under confusing or extreme conditions.
Anguish of the fear of pain can be worse than the actual experience of pain. This fear may become an actual need for punishment in order to get on with business as usual, just as the sheep needed the shock to be free of an alarm reaction upon the threat of pain. It has also been learned that we can build up a tolerance to physical anguish at the expense of our tolerance to emotional anguish, and vice versa. Physical anguish usually amounts to pain, while emotional anguish usually amounts to threat of pain. We have a threshold of tolerance to both, but beyond that threshold, there is increasing dysfunction as a result of trauma.
To understand the difference between what we feel and what we do is to understand the human condition. We all come up against the ineffable. What we do then seems to be not only the measure of who we are individually but collectively as well. We sense elements of continuity beyond finite mortality which inspire in us a sense of awe and wonderment. We find great subtlety of meaning in our experience of the epic, the heroic, as well as in music and art. And through such subtleties, through dreams and reverie we process values and come to subjective choices. In fact most of our choices are apparently made on a subjective level. What you think about something depends on what you feel about it.
We have made enormous technological progress with the part of our brain that deals with linear, concrete, sequential, concepts. Everything else that is not a finite concept to be quantified or measured is relegated to the other part of the brain so that when we need to deal with something we don't really understand, the mysterious, the numenous, the ineffable, the totemic or sacred, we give it a name and hand it over to a subjective process to deal with it. These concepts tend to be emotional, connotative, and very much influenced by our attitudes.
Consciousness is primarily a matter of attention. And it is a process which is automatically and subjectively directed unless you make the effort of conscious, objective direction. Theorists estimate we are using so called left hemispheric, objective reasoning only 10% to 20% of the time at most. We have little training or education about the subjective self, yet we spend such a huge portion of our lives in the subjective realm. It is rather like a neglected stepchild.
Just as we require sleep for physiological and psychological well being, we also need some sense of the mythological in order to catch up and balance what we feel with what we think. In order to have a sense of who we are we need to picture ourselves in relation to the totality of experience from which we derive a sense of our entitlement and appropriate modes of feeling and behavior.
"It may be unpopular to advocate balance. But it is obvious that this is the only way human beings will ever come to have any real peace within themselves. If you submit the inspiration that you have to the problem of giving it clear shape, then you are uniting the parts and become more of a man. We have to get used to thinking in terms of polarities and paradoxes as continuous, with no beginning and no end then you have another image of wholeness. But if you have this old fashioned sense that either, or must be true this is to chop one half from the other. If there is something wholesome about the times in which we live it is the sense that we cannot be so dismembered. If we can have a sense of the infinite which is the continuum of the polarities, and if we can balance the excess of Apollonian deductive reasoning with the marvelous, deep rooted contact with the creative well being that you find in Dionysus, then the man is made whole." Rosalyn Holden (from a lecture at UCSC)
So it is that symbolically, heroically, through the use of ritual and totems and fantasy that we are able to deal with our unconscious processes and the totality of experience and become identified in relationship to the whole. Holism, wholistics, the whole earth movement, etc. is an attempt to secularize that which before was holy. Secularized religion is everywhere. The more we get away from the old ways of magic and religion the more we seek to find ways of identifying ourselves that are unifying and inclusive.
We are all struggling with a sense of self as a cog in the wheels of industrialization are daily being barraged with a plethora of circumstances over which they have no control. It is said the greatest single demand made on contemporary man is to adjust, adjust, adjust, among variables that are ever increasing. The greatest human need is for synthesis and interpretation, for a sense of psychological continuity and emotional closure. Herein lies the harbinger of the new age.
Campbell died a few years ago, he was probably the world's greatest
authority on mythology. The following is a quote from his book and video
series, THE POWER OF MYTH:
A thing separate and distinct from other things does not exist. All things are interconnected. Simple as it sounds this remains an ineffable mystery that few comprehend in any profound sense. It is that which is beyond names and naming. We are a mystery and we live in mystery, and we know it, some of us. It is the mystic who seeks to understand the mystery, for the mystic rejects ordinary reality in order to perceive a higher reality. The most significant understanding of mysticism is the fundamental unity of all things. The mystic understands he is both the question and the answer. He seeks to know oneness with One, as a way of being at home in the world.
We are children of the universe. We are at home, and it may very well be that all things are unfolding exactly as they should be. That which is classic in all human experience is that which we all have in common. Experiences that unite us all, such as coming into being, and passing away, the larger cycles of nature, and the elements of continuity beyond finite mortality that inspire a sense of awe and wonderment. From the seed, the spark of life (spirit) comes life. However, as with everything in the physical world, "now you see it, now you don't." The miracle birth is a mystery as much as the separation of death.
I imagine myself on one side of an imaginary line from what is not me on the other side. Immediately there is the observer and the observed. The illusion creates separation. Unity becomes duality. Perhaps the ultimate experience of separation on the human level is death. Someone we love suddenly is no more. Words fail to express what we feel. We are put in touch with a sense of our own mortality. We think about time and eternity.
Like an amphibian man must live in two worlds: the temporal, objective world of "reality," and the subjective world of eternal ideals. Just as there are two ways of thinking: objective and subjective, there are also two ways of looking at time: as finite segments that have a beginning and end, or as an infinite continum.
In time it will happen, it is happening, or it has happened. Metaphysical references to a "seamless garment," allude to the nature of time which is without beginning or end. But we seem to experience it in segments like clips from a film only the film spool is apparently infinite in capacity.
Our sensory channels narrow our view to what is on the screen at the moment. In the same way an astronomer sees only the light focused by the lens of his telescope. This is the light reaching his lens at that moment though it may have travelled for billions of years to reach earth. In fact some of the stars the astronomer records have in fact long since stopped emitting light but because of their enormous distance it took the light all that time to reach us. From this most ancient light astronomers piece together a pattern, a concept of the physical universe, and we speculate on our possible significance as inhabitants of an insignificant solar system.
In mythology and literature the philosophical content is usually thought of in terms of the more enduring qualities of man that emulate the unchanging, immortal or ideal qualities. These times offer us opportunity to come to an overview of humanity that integrates differences into a unified whole that completes our individual identity and is individually and universally healing. A systhesis and interpretation of a greater reality that inspires us to realize our full potential and appreciate who we really are. In the Far East, one of the aspects of unitave consciousness holds that the heart/mind already exists in perfect condition, just waiting to be realized.
The either/or, old-fashioned, narrow, mechanistic, linear, cause and effect, dualistic way of thinking seems to be giving way to a new quantum world view in which consciousness plays a much more powerful role. Classical mechanics is not capable of integrating consciousness into science and nonlocality is seen as the direct influence of one object on another, distant object, both restricted to a particular place or particular time. In Quantum mechanics, nonlocality refers to the absence of a local fixed reality since time and space are one. The quantum framework includes information flows which are not in spacetime. Consciousness itself appears to be a form of quantum energy if things on a psychological and spiritual level, such as thought, love, insight are nonlocal.
Perhaps the biggest test of our intelligence and compassion; the most crucial watershed of human development since the inception of agriculture, even more important than the founding of cities, is the present issue of war and peace. Yes this is a tremendous burden and responsibility, but if we fail this may well become another dead planet like Mars and Venus, rather unimportant planets circling around a rather unimportant star, in an unimportant part of the galaxy. If we can find a solution, through understanding, co-operation, compassion, a new form of morality which takes into account the sacredness of every life form, then this will be a period remembered very far into the future, as a legendary time of giants. It is up to us. I think that research has put to rest the idea that aggression arose because of an aggressive gene that exists within us, that we are the Naked Apes who killed, as in some currently prevailing theories. -Paraphrased from "Bio-cosmology," by Jack Gariss on KPFK FM
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