*“Civilization and the Travesty of Morals” … Chapter 9 of *Who to Be: Identity, Authenticity, and Crisis* (2020) by Michael Adzema. Free. Downloadable chapter.*
Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Uncivilized “Civilized” Man
“…in taking away all freedoms and rights from Nature and all its planetmates, eventually the rights of any being were no longer seen as of any concern. What another wished, intended, or wanted became increasingly unseen as a consideration, including, eventually, what a woman might want in terms of her body … and what a man might wish to do with his time … or his life. Power became the basis of morality.”
Civilization became about being controlling, narcissistic, baby-like in having insatiable desires and deeming it fine to satisfy them in any way one wished.
Civilization and the Travesty of Morals:
Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Uncivilized “Civilized” Man
We show our derelict nature, as hemmed in by civilization, in the major epic story emanating out of early history. It displays exactly how we changed in relation to Nature and how we beat our chests — brazen yet pathetic — about our downfall. Furthermore, it demonstrates how humans changed in their relation to planetmates, to their children, to the others in society, and in the way they thought of themselves and what they considered to be good and true ways to be in life. We see here how the more felicitous aims and the more pleasurable “duties” of life became corrupted so as to produce the sour end product of the modern human — someone who could exterminate millions of people as they were fallen leaves, commit to world wars with uncountable dead, ravage and desecrate their very nest the planet Earth, and ensure the death of all life by radiating the planet for a half million years … a radiation that only tardigrades, microscopic animals, and not even cockroaches have any chance of surviving.
Everything, including who to be, who we were, and what were the proper aims of life changed with civilization. It is something we need to understand in order to correct this major fall from grace, this abomination that we became in Nature. This we must do so as to choose something different and to regain our proper role in relation to Nature and the Divine, in alignment with an actual, a real, not unreal, self, and our unique atmadharma, destiny, and mission in life.
Civilization in the Light of the Natural
The historical period this epic tale depicts is notably after that mythologically expressed in Genesis, after Cain and Abel. That story, and the others of Genesis, reflects some prehistoric happenings, occurring over the course of millions of years of evolution. The writer of the narrative in question is now describing, not just our beginnings as farmers and shepherds the way those biblical stories did. At this point we are in cities, we have hierarchy, and we have kings.
The story is The Epic of Gilgamesh. It is said to be the first great literary product, dating back to the time of Babylon. It is astonishing what it contains and how it has never never ever, right up to this day, been seen to be what it is — a depiction of the depraved values and unconsciousness that came about through our supposed “civilization” … perhaps even a hidden critique of civilization and its abominable elites, as we will see. We take that up in this chapter.
It also tells us what became of us in the course of our deeming the world to be non-alive; how we doomed ourselves as well to mortality; how in killing off the alive world we in essence reduced our aliveness. We no longer saw ourselves as the immortal beings we are but reduced our self-perception as well to being mortal beings … pathetic beings relative to who we were.
Nature Versus Civilization
How did this epic show the first point, the travesty of morals? With absolute clarity the story contrasts two humans — one representing civilization, Gilgamesh; the other representing ourselves in Nature, Enkidu.
Now, Gilgamesh is the king, which signifies he is the controlling one and represents the controlling function of the psyche, the Ego. He depicts who we became in becoming more egoistic, more controlling of everything around us, ourselves, other people, and Nature. We became “kings of the jungle,” each of us, dominators of Nature. So Gilgamesh is civilized man.
Enkidu is natural man. He is primal man, for he is said to be “wild.” He lived in the wilderness, actually. Astonishingly, he was discovered through the fact that he, being attuned to and sympathetic of the planetmates still, was on the sly releasing our furry relatives from the traps that the “civilized” humans had been setting for them.
So you see the huge contrast. Now, note also what is said about their behavior. First, there is a conflict between the two setting off a huge fight between them. What starts the brawl is that Gilgamesh is determined to rape this woman and Enkidu blocks his way. You heard that correctly, the “civilized” man is the one who rapes; the “wild” man is the one who protects innocents. Just as he had been protecting the planetmates by, among other things, releasing them from traps, Enkidu was set on protecting other innocent and vulnerable beings … in this instance, women. Here already, we see echoes of modern times in which the sensitive and compassionate are deemed unmanly and termed “bleeding hearts.” Meanwhile, the ruthless and grasping are consecrated as being “real-worldly” and practical, and the power that insensitivity brings to them is admired, even applauded.
Oh, sure, in the context of the story, the non-consensual sex Gilgamesh was after, and partook of heartily in general and on many other occasions, was not labeled “rape.” No, and this is what is so amazing: The rape is considered okay and to be in keeping with morals! Remember what I was saying earlier about the elite determining religious dictates to suit themselves, while christening their desires with the power of divine authority and intent? They say their narcissistic drives are the commandments of the gods. Well, sure enough, the rape was “okay” in the context of the story … not a crime! nope … because it had been … ahem … ordered by the gods. In particular it was the solar god, the patriarchal one, Shamash, who supposedly authorized kingly rape. That is significant, the solar part; keep it in mind, for later.
Civilization’s Overwhelming Onslaught Against Natural Values … and Normal Human Feelings
You see how the easy and natural morality of Nature gets complicated … not to mention confused … once hierarchy and men with desires and power to attain them are brought into the mix? No doubt it takes quite a bit of propaganda and enforcement to so distort entire societies’ views of the obvious … not to mention to get them to dismiss their natural feelings for empathy coming into play during the execution of these “divinely ordained” assaults and wrongs. Certainly, the cries and wishes of the raped woman are to be put out of one’s mind. Which is reminiscent of the way the wishes of indigenous cultures are trampled as the industrial world exploits their land. Or how the weeping of the mothers for their obliterated children in countries bombed for oil and corporate power cannot be heard, let alone heeded.
Yet this kind of suppression of such a powerful natural part of humans … which we call “our humanity,” in fact — which is to be averse to pain, suffering, and the domination and death of innocent others and to wish to prevent these in others out of a unity of feeling with the suffering other — is achieved in civilized culture.
You think, perhaps, this is of no consequence. You think it an obscure point of little effect on people’s lives. I am here to tell you this travesty of feeling come of civilization — with power and authority the wellspring of right and wrong … with might making right and power making privilege — is embedded deeply in civilizational culture. It is at the core of family life and even the modern psychologies sprung of deliberation of its dynamics. Let me give one example
Of the Oedipal Kind
While Freud’s Oedipus complex is not as much a part of the modern dialogue as it once was, it remains largely unchallenged, hence prevailing in the area it seeks to explain. It has long been subject to criticism as being culturally variable; it is said of it that it is a product primarily of civilized cultures, especially Western cultures. Yet as pertains to such cultures, it is not disputed in intellectual circles.
Well, what if I were to tell you that we can now see, in the light of experiential psychotherapies such as primal therapy, that such a depiction of the family dynamic is a consequence of the patriarchal “ethic” itself. Itself it is a “travesty of morals.” In a way parallel to the way Gilgamesh’s brutality is condoned, lauded even, we to this day have been advancing the idea of Oedipal and Electra conflicts at the heart of the childhood narrative. Freudians claim that a young boy wants to mate with his mother and replace his father; this is the Oedipus complex. Young girls want to mate with their dads and replace their mothers; this is the Electra complex. Both are resolved — it is said, “successfully” — by the child “identifying with the aggressor.” And you would think that depiction — the parent as the “aggressor” — might have given them a clue. For is that any different from the complicity of the oppressed and ruled, during Gilgamesh’s time, in kingly rape?
You don’t see it yet? Okay, to continue.
Well, no, it did not; identification with “the aggressor” fell silently on unillumined minds. For in modern societies and mainstream counseling and psychology it is thought that the successful resolution is had when the child surrenders her and his desires for closeness with the parent of the opposite gender and instead identifies with that parent. Stockholm syndrome, anyone?
But, no. Not understood. For this “resolution” assumes a superficial understanding of the dynamic. When actually this “development” has two distinctly patriarchal components — a pandering and sycophancy regarding authority, along with a condemnation of the weak, vulnerable, and needy. That is to say, this explanation exonerates the parent’s role, and the parent’s behavior, in the drama, and places blame on the child. The child is not seen as innocent; the parent is. Self-congratulate much? Scapegoat much?
Whereas from the perspective of primal psychology this Oedipal-Electra dynamic is entirely different: The child, innocent, having natural and fundamental needs for love, attention, respect, and so on, wishes to receive them of both parents, including the one of the opposite gender. Meanwhile that parent, aloof, insensitive, and having been deprived and Oedipalized and Electra-lized him- or herself as a child, wants both to push the loving child away as well as sexualize the child, wishing to get a sexually symbolic substitute from their child of what they were deprived growing up. When this is acted out, and it often is, we have incest. To think that it is the child, innocent of such understandings of sexuality and not confusing sex with simple affection — as the parent does — that is the instigator of either the sexual use-abuse or the Oedipal-Electra desire for intimacy is just another aspect of the authoritarian, patriarchal schema we have had thrown upon our perspectives from the time of the birth of civilization.
Rather, the essence of these dynamics of childhood is best explained in the dynamic of the primal scene, which, according to Janov, occurs around the age of four or five … not coincidentally the same time as these Freudian dynamics. To think that a child of four or five is sexually desiring the parent is not only child abuse, it is typical of the way ordinary and innocent love and feelings of closeness are sexualized in civilized and predominantly patriarchal societies, where such ordinary feelings …. as we see Enkidu had … is disparaged and repressed.
What is actually going on in these dynamics is that the child, in the case of the boy, sees the father’s distinctly patriarchal abuse and disrespect of the mother — the mother from whom that child came, who nursed that child, who is in a way large or small bonded with that child. You see, the Oedipus complex, if we want to call it that, arises out of a child’s innocent reaction to the misogyny … to the pervasive misogyny displayed in all kinds of ways, subtle and not so, in the culture. So also in the child’s own father. The child, now, with innocent eyes, sees the disrespect … even if others do not … sees the abuse, and wants to come to the mother’s defense. The abuse is bad enough so that the boy imagines saving the mother from the assaults of the father … exactly the way Enkidu wished to block the way of Gilgamesh from raping the bride!
The son, from this perspective, is trying to protect the mother from a dangerous and violent husband. Then when patriarchal apologists, in the guise of psychoanalysts and mainstream counselors, see this dynamic they impugn the purity of the child’s love in sycophantic and society-sanctioning support of the father — both condoning the father’s brutality of the mother and the boy, as well as projecting onto the boy the father’s twisted feelings, himself jealous of the attention his wife gives his son. In this manner, scapegoating the boy, the father covers up the guilt that would otherwise come of acknowledging his own jealousy.
Of the Electra Kind
On the female side, the girl, naturally bonded with the mother as well, wants also to be loved by the father. Why would not a child, or anyone, want to be loved by both important figures in the young one’s life? Yet here again, the father’s twisted, perverted desires to have his daughter sexually is projected onto the child. “It’s not me! She’s the one who is seducing me!” As common as is this thinking in regard to sexual predators and incestual fathers, you would think that psychological theorists somewhere along the way would have seen through this paternal gambit and stopped blaming the daughter for the parent’s erotic leanings. But they did not…. And that is why I bring this up in this chapter on civilization and the travesty of morals. For the Electa and Oedipal complexes are a common, everyday example of how morality got turned on its head with civilization.
I will get into this again later, when I go in more detail into this area of the identification with the aggressor, a concept alone fertile with insight. But for now, do you see how the patriarchy, like the story of Gilgamesh, sanctions the abuse of others and slanders the intentions of those who would defend those innocents out of empathy and feeling for them? Notice here how the cultures of contemporary and patriarchal societies include the same processes of the family dynamic…. Elites, just like fathers, are to be protected and sanctioned in their brutality, whereas the opposition … rebels and sons … are to be slandered and their intentions distorted so as to discredit them.
Of the Patriarchal Kind
Though such repression and such a campaign of slander and propaganda has always required, and still does, an immense amount of power, military, police and security forces, control of media, clergy, and the professional service class to bring it about. You can see how, from the Oedipus-Electra projections, that would include its mental health professionals. However, this was all done during most of historic time through brute force. By contrast, contemporary societies have gotten ever subtler in the use of propaganda and coercive enforcement of unnatural, but elite-serving, dictums.
For that matter, and equally astounding, is that such propaganda, to this day, is not seen for the ruse it is. In a popular interpretation of The Epic of Gilgamesh, the author, Stephen Mitchell (2004), states that “we are told ‘Enkidu’s face went pale with anger,’ but we aren’t told why he is angry.”3 This he writes concerning Enkidu’s reaction to finding out that Gilgamesh will force himself upon the bride and have his way with her after the wedding ceremony. This is a lot like we see in the Abraham and Isaac story. With Abraham and Isaac, a natural response is to think that it is insane to think that a god would tell a person to kill his child. That is the child noticing the emperor has no clothes. It takes “culture” to tell us that there is something religious going on, something to do with God, in a story about a man having a “spiritual” message to kill someone. Similarly, that someone’s rage at someone else’s intention to rape is questionable, as it is for Mitchell, requires quite a bit of cultural propaganda to be able to think. Again, that innocent child, able to see an emperor with no clothes, sees nothing strange about a man being enraged by another man’s intention to rape a woman. But not this author, Stephen Mitchell. He writes, “This leaves us with the raw emotion of Enkidu’s anger … unexplained and uninterpretable….”
Yet, Enkidu is not confused, at all! Morality, for the natural person such as Enkidu, is simple: What a person or planetmate wants and chooses is important and to be respected. Taking away that right causes suffering and is wrong, especially if one trounces the other’s desires and wishes with one’s own. No confusion at all with a natural morality in mind. Substituting one’s own wants for another’s amounts to domination … making oneself more important than the other. On a societal level, it is called oppression. Regardless, forcing sex on someone, as occurs in the story, is a clear no-no to an unassuming mind, a clear one … such as Enkidu’s.
Furthermore, that author of the Gilgamesh publication for our times offers a rather jolting apologetic for the patriarchy. He reminds that the rape is okay because it was sanctioned by the gods. Correspondingly, he expresses his confusion as to what the to-do about it is. Why is Enkidu enraged, he wonders. “Hasn’t he understood that this is a ritual act sanctioned by the gods?”
Let me stop laughing at that before I continue. Notice both the sanctioning-by-gods part, but also that Mitchell is glossing over the brutality of a rape with the euphemism that it is part of a “ritual.” Which is not part of the story, at all. This is an astounding reflection, however, of the way religion is brought in to sanction the desires of elites and to rule out any nods to common empathy and human feeling.
Okay, in so doing the author impresses his own inability to see the obvious onto his reader. He passes along the confusion about morals that adhere once elites begin inserting their desires into public morality. Mitchell writes, “One thing it [this supposedly “not knowing” of the reason for Enkidu’s rage] means is that we don’t take sides. Yes, Gilgamesh is a tyrant but he is also magnificent. Yes, he mates with the lawful wife, but this apparent sexual predation may be in the divine order of things, and to oppose it is not necessarily virtuous.” And, if he believes that, well, I have some fine and wonderful preemptive wars and soldierly massacres of civilians he can next explain to us … along with the lies and harmful decrees of an American president beholden only to his inner demons for council.
Am I the only one cringing at this author’s twisted words of sycophancy? Not that this man is sycophantic to Gilgamesh, of course, but clearly the author, raised in a patriarchy and schooled in its elitist and traditionally patriarchal, hallowed halls has not a clue of the obvious in the story. The obvious which is that — rules of the elite and the privileges of the elite be damned — a rape is a rape and is a horror, to any innocent and honorable person. Clearly it is that way in the story itself, as we see in Enkidu’s reaction. This is the case however much you might have the law, or the supposed approval of the gods (the ones enlisted in support of the divine order of kings … and that should be a hint), to support it. As you will soon see, I do not believe even the ancient author (or authors) of The Epic of Gilgamesh are as confused … or sycophantically blind … as is this modern-day author.
How can I not simply hear Kellyanne Conway, Spencer Spicer, or Sarah Huckabee Sanders trying to explain Donald Trump’s many inconsistencies and lies in these remarks. Such are the perils of sycophancy. Once one has given over one’s perception of the obvious to patriarchs and authorities, one is left having to spout inane rationalizations … and to struggle to believe them oneself. One might even think that there are “alternative facts” to justify the inane pronouncements and behaviors of “kings” and tyrants … and unjustly installed American presidents.
The “Morality” of Power
This pattern in civilized and demented … devolved … societies of rewriting the obvious about existence to suit their elites is seen many other places. Indeed, as I said we see it in the Abraham and Isaac story. In both cases, the atrocity — the rape or the killing of a child — is rationalized. For the abomination is attributed to a patriarch — in particular, one aligned with a patriarchal god. And readers and interpreters for millennia afterward, therefore and right up to today, fail to notice the obvious wrong and brutality involved. The masses of humanity having been programmed in alignment with patriarchal cultures to deny their feelings, along with their own perceptions and their own obvious interpretations of events, most folks are to this day utterly confused about the meaning of a natural morality that arises out of empathy and feelings.
Morality Explained, Confused
This is so prevalent that I came across it most recently in a meeting a few of us had on the issue of ethics. We were preparing for a panel discussion on ethics in an era of Trumpism, incidentally. This issue came up as to what might be a common ground of morality for all cultures and peoples of the world. In the ensuing discussion, I offered that a common denominator of all beings is a natural morality — in line with ordinary human feelings and empathy — which is that life is good, death is bad; that suffering and pain inflicted on others is bad; that help, kindness, love, and anything positive offered others is good. Simple, right? Christ summed it up, “love your neighbor as yourself.” There could not be a better, more concise expression of the unity with and empathy for other people being the basis of morality than that. Christ is saying, another’s suffering is as much to be avoided as one’s own, another’s happiness is as much to be desired as one’s own.
I also offered, as a corollary for it follows from the first, that this morality could be summed up in the non-directive directive, “You can do anything you want, as long as you don’t hurt anyone.” Well, immediately, the reaction was, “Well, you’re going to have a hell of a lot of people having a problem with that!” Clearly, for most all of us, by this time in history, the idea of good and bad has gotten mixed up with dictums of do’s and don’ts of behavior — handed down and instilled in us from some outside authority or others — which are split from any feelings and in which empathy is irrelevant. Often these pronouncements are attributed to random inclinations of some transcendent god or other.
For example, that recreational drug use, including the kind that is overtly mind-expanding (psychedelic) or wholeness-directing (holotropic) or facing toward God (entheogenic); that any kind of consensual sex, including homosexuality, sodomy, masturbation, consensual non-monogamy; that “swearing” and “profanity” or “taking God’s name in vain”; and so on … many other examples could be given and they vary widely by culture and religion … are in themselves hurtful to anyone is clearly not true. On the other hand, that these are individualistic impulses which are contrary to having a uniformly alike mass of people, easily managed and manipulated to the ends and profits of an elite, is certainly true. The only things such free and uninhibited behavior hurt are the profits of the powerful and the desires of the elite for the populace to be constrained, obedient, unexpressive, and thereby manageable. And this, for their profits, but also as preemptive action against the rising up of the populace, which such expression if not smothered, naturally results in.
Despite this, the masses of folks, throughout civilizational history, have gotten it into their heads that there is a god or some gods somewhere who want us to abide by such kind of inane directives, regardless how little sense they contain or import they have on human happiness. And the masses are willing to kill, torture, and war … i.e., do all kinds of evil things … in allegiance to such nonsensical “commandments” and directed against all others not abiding by them.
Again, just like in Eden and as we will see, in Abraham and Isaac, morality does not have to make sense. It can be random, capricious, nonsensical, even. The Abraham story in particular imposes that misperception: Obey, regardless! It does not have to make sense to one’s own sense of morality, one’s own feelings of right and wrong.
Follow the Money, Follow the Power, Follow the Ego
You can see how convenient having such a populace believing such a thing would be for the purposes of warring on others; but notice also how it works toward the masses obeying in all matters emanating in profit to the elite, or to their ego-aggrandizement (notice how often the truly nonsensical word “glory” is used in patriarchal tomes, including this one regarding Gilgamesh), or to the Controllers’ desire-satisfaction, regardless how perverted. It takes a truly repressed, non-individualistic, unexpressive, and unfree people to satisfy the predilections of the narcissistic elites of all civilized societies.
Yet a closer look reveals that such injunctions trace conveniently upon the predilections of the elites of society, then and now. Just as the patriarchal god Shamash’s permission of rape for the king could not be more self-serving to Gilgamesh. Despite this, the fact that people are hypnotized into believing that morality does not have to make sense, that obedience to nonsensicals is a good thing, shows how successful patriarchy has been in confusing morality for people in general in order to mask their desire to do whatever they want for themselves and to punish whatever they want, however ridiculous, in their subjects.
Conversely, patriarchy’s overwhelming success in deluding folks into adhering to the ridiculous in order to suit the elite’s desires is shown in how the idea that there is a good part of a person, an empathy or feelings, that would naturally, as in a natural morality, stand in the way of harming and causing suffering, is completely eliminated from the imagined possibilities of humans. And this depiction of human nature as inherently vile and deranged, therefore needing reining in, punishment, control, and so on … well, can you see how that plays directly into the hands of the patriarchal elite? For if humans are naturally “wild” and uncontrolled, then do not they require these elites and their self-serving dictums, authorized by their concocted and inherently capricious and not-understandable “gods,” to keep them in line, to “keep the peace,” to provide religion, police, psychiatrists, jails, pharmaceuticals, punishments — however self-serving to the elites, yet in this way justified to an oppressed and mind-controlled populace?
In any case, observing all this, I see how radical and necessary our generational injunction to “question authority” was, and still is, for the righting of our ethical boat. Clearly this contemporary author of the Gilgamesh interpretation did not get that memo.
The Travesty of Morals
Back to the story, Enkidu’s protecting the woman is not an incidental happening, either. We see it is part of a pattern where the values and ethics one would expect … where goodness is equated with life values such as life over death, and less suffering over more suffering, and more respect for other’s rights and feelings over less respect or brutality over other’s rights and feelings, and harmony with one’s environment over aggressive and destructive acts regarding one’s environment … are completely overturned. They get reversed in each and every instance.
Civilization, Elites … Might, and Materialism, Makes Right
Somehow we see the wonders of the rising up of cities — and in these days the miraculous products of material civilization, such as our electronic devices and the other amazing products displayed in our markets — as more civilized than goodness or morality … or the reduction of anyone’s pain and suffering or the limitation of deaths. Regardless what we tell ourselves, we feel that being good at making “things” is more “good,” more moral, than simple things like kindness, respect for lives, or reducing the inevitable suffering of other living beings. Indeed, it is not coincidental that in “civilized” societies, material things — especially that produced by the hands and by their extensions in industry — are deemed “goods.”
Why do you suppose so many in modern times — conservative types — give such a wide berth to the actions of the titans of industry? Those who we deem to be creators of the material world around us we allow all kinds of atrocities — murders, wars, despoliation of the environment. We say it is because they are job creators or “wealth” creators, when neither of those are true. See my Culture War, Class War (2013) on that, specifically.
In fact, all those rationalizations of the super-worthiness of the elite are evidence, merely, of our feelings that they are more powerful than us, they feel threatening to us, and we feel safer being sycophantic regarding them. Hence we will grant rich folks free rein in the moral sphere, along with forgiveness of their horrible crimes, rather than acknowledge the obvious. Notice, as a perfect example of this, how George W. Bush and his cadre of well-to-do war profiteers in modern times were allowed to walk away from their many crimes. Consider how the bulls of Wall Street were actually rewarded with payoffs for their actions that brought so much death and hardship to world citizens at the time of the global economic collapse of 2008. Meanwhile, ordinary folks — especially in America, African-American males — are prosecuted for petty infractions or attacked, even killed, for nothing at all.
For our purposes in this book, simply notice how we in modern civilization, in actual fact, are not much different from the slaves and subjects in ancient Egypt. For we glorify our “pharaohs” as well, and we allow all kinds of cruelties and atrocities of those who are good at making “things” … the bigger the better — skyscrapers, pyramids. Remember, the rich and powerful Donald Trump — sexual predator, liar, racist, cheater of workers, misogynist and user and disrespecter of women, and tax-dodger — was allowed to be installed as a president not long ago. Morality does not apply to the ones we deem so much higher above us in being able to wield power and to make and do things we could not imagine ourselves pulling off.
The point is that morals become a surreal travesty with civilization, and we see that represented in that Enkidu, the “wild” man, steps in to block the “civilized” man from attacking a woman. What of Gilgamesh and his intentions? Well, he deems it his right to rape any woman in his kingdom that he wishes. See in that how much civilization became about being controlling and being narcissistic and baby-like in having insatiable desires and deeming it fine to satisfy them in any way one wishes, irrespective of their effects on anyone else. Uh, Trump reference again, perhaps? Remember, as he himself put it, he’s a celebrity so he can get away with anything … and all manner of “pussy grabbing” and the like is within his purview, without consequence.
Beyond that, Gilgamesh considers it his right to dominate and control his male “subjects,” removing from them their free will, as well. Yes, he is described as oppressing his “subjects,” along with raping at will, the women. After all, he is king, isn’t that his prerogative? You see how odd it is in all these millennia that it never occurred to anyone to question the “civility” of that? At least in relation to Enkidu’s “wildness” in setting planetmates free from traps? What does that say about us? About the human blinders, the blinders of civilization, that block our awareness of the obvious?
Not to mention, what it says about which stratum of societies determines what ideas will be promulgated therein; what will be professed, by scholars; who will be appointed to teach at institutions of higher learning; or whose books, up till only a few decades ago with the digital revolution, will see the light of day.
Civilization and the Rape of Nature and the Divine
In any case, raping women and oppressing his “subjects” as he goes, Gilgamesh adds additional crimes. He shows how our diminished awareness as humans separated from Nature gets acted out on Nature … and even the Divine!
Gilgamesh proceeds to a forest, the Cedar Forest, and he cuts down all its sacred wood. He kills, also, the “monster” protecting this arboreal stand from abuse, as easily as modern corporations roll over and kill off indigenous cultures also trying to save their environments. Throughout history this has happened, by the way. Regardless, we see how this attack on the Cedar Forest and its guardian is an aggression and controlling of the sacred Flora Kingdom.
Subsequently, Gilgamesh kills, also, the Bull of Heaven, which is clearly symbolic of taking the life and soul of the Fauna Kingdom. Significantly, it is a bull. After all, cattle — cows and the like — were among the first designs of humans for “domestication” and control. Notice also that it is “of heaven.” Indeed, in one of the more legitimate instances in the story of divine intent, the bull was sent from on high as punishment to Gilgamesh for his crime against Nature.
Furthermore, this killing of the Bull of Heaven indicates how we descended into patriarchal religion, from Earth religions … how we suppressed matriarchal, goddess, “lunar” religions in favor of “sky” or “solar” religions, patriarchal ones, when we “advanced” to increasing dependence on farming and “civilization” in the creation of urban centers and its increasing separation from Nature.
In any case, Gilgamesh takes the Bull of Heaven and kills it. In taking the lives of the forest and that of heaven, we see here a humanity, specifically a “man”kind, a civilized patriarchy, at war with both Earth and heaven … with both Nature and the Divine.
Civilization, its Seductions and Regrets
Gilgamesh enlists Enkidu’s help, by the way. You see how this is symbolic of how our “civilized” self, our unreal self, took over and suppressed the values of our natural self, our real self? Indeed, that is exactly what the epic portrays. It says that a harlot seduces Enkidu and then entices him into drinking alcohol and eating bread. Notice here how becoming civilized is being equated with the eating of food produced, not by Nature, but by farming. By grain … the bread.
It is also associated with another product of grains, beer, which significantly is intoxicating. So, the ecstatic ceremonies of the “wild” folks — the gatherer-hunters, in actual history — which often employed hallucinogenic and specifically entheogenic (entheogen means “toward God”) plants and substances, get supplanted by “recreational” pastimes in which are used drugs that do not open one to God but instead cover up the conscience that is in forever alarm at what civilized humanity does. Opiates that conceal the atrocities of the higher ups, along with one’s own, are desired by all concerned in a civilized, demented, degenerate, elite-controlled society, of course.
In fact, the story reveals that Enkidu, the first “wild” man seduced into civilization, has a burning conscience, causing him regret. He bemoans everything that has been wrought of his “descent” into civilization.
The Gods Do Not Approve
For one thing, remember that Enkidu was saving his fellow planetmates from their traps. Subsequently, the “gods” enlist Enkidu to “rein in” Gilgamesh. Notice that here in this epic, almost despite itself, it is giving note that the Divine does not approve of the behavior emanating from humans as a result of their “civilization.”
In fact nowhere did the “gods” in ancient times approve of our descents; whether it was the crimes of Prometheus, Adam and Eve, Cain, or Gilgamesh. It took more modern times, Christianity, and Western culture to begin having a God approving of our lives as abominations in Nature.
We see the epitome of that today where fundamentalist religion in the West — especially as depicted by Tea-Party-type folks in America — is equated with Western civilization and its materialism more than anything at all transcendent or sacred. Capitalism has become equated with Divinity in America in modern times. You can hear that equation in any religious pronouncements from Republicans today. It is civilization, and especially its modern material consumer-obsessed form, that is considered holy. And nationalism, which defends, with all manner of military methods, that material culture, is deemed as sacred, or more so, than God. Look for yourself at the worship around the American flag. Notice for yourself how in churches the American flag will be displayed upon the altars along with all the religious iconography.
Back to the Gilgamesh story, it is the wild man Enkidu who is moral. And whereas we presume civilization to have higher morality than humans in the wild, as does the epic on the face of it, it cannot help but reveal that the gods don’t think this at all! For Enkidu represents a “natural morality,” one that emanates from all humans at their base — before the priests and “theologies” come in to muck it up. A natural morality which is that what is good is what is related to life, not death; and is what is related to less suffering, not more suffering. And it is this “natural conscience” of humans, represented by Enkidu, that the gods seek to enlist to rein in “civilized” man, Gilgamesh.
Notice how at odds that is with the story, which has Gilgamesh, according to the laws and rules of “man,” with the right to rape women and oppress men. Gilgamesh in raping women did not do “wrong” according to the morality of the day. Indeed, in the epic, it is said that the gods have given Gilgamesh this lurid “right,” which all patriarchal religions have done — undergirding the power and privilege of the elites everywhere, as long as there have been hierarchical societies. Consider how in taking away all freedoms and rights from Nature and all its planetmates, eventually the rights of any being, even human, were no longer seen as of any concern. What another wished, intended, or wanted became increasingly invisible as a consideration, including, eventually, what a woman might want in terms of her body … and what a man might wish to do with his time … or his life. Power became the basis of morality. But the gods — and they knew Enkidu, the natural man, would feel the same — did not see it that way. The gods did not see morality according to “man’s” rules, regardless what men would claim regarding them.
We see this in Genesis where Yahweh, the God of the Jews, prefers the offering of Abel, the sheepherder, and not Cain, the farmer. Remember, as herders we still retained a bond with planetmates; we conscribed their wanderings, but we also cared for them. We killed them eventually, but we also allowed them to grow to full maturity. We did not allow them to roam freely, yet they were able to roam.
Whereas the farmer has no such connection or bond with the planetmates. The farmer exhibits a greater separation from Nature and the Divine and a more extreme objectification of the alive Universe around him, including its planetmates. He shows this in the way he enlists the efforts of planetmates toward the tilling of the soil; the way a farmer holds a cow in place, imprisons it, in order to steal from it daily its milk meant for its offspring. In the way the farmer does the same imprisoning of fowl for the purpose of daily removing their offspring to be eaten by humans. So the farmer, to do that, cannot have the same kind of sensitivities toward planetmates as herders; and earth-tillers must necessarily suppress their natural feelings — their “natural” morality — just like we did earlier in order to allow our ability to murder planetmates — in other words, to hunt.
The point here is that — despite the literature of man basically being construed in ways so as to bolster the elite and to orchestrate the “civilized” members of society along the lines of the powerful — our literary creations cannot but help reveal the Divine displeasure at said “civilization” and separation from Nature. The Unapproved and Hidden Freudian-slips out into the world through the doorway of the storytellers’ creative fervor.
In fact, in reading the epic one can justly consider the writer or writers might actually have been trying to express their own disapproval and complaint about such a status quo, however in the only way one could at such a time, with patriarchs everywhere in power and controlling everything, including any literary productions. Such a literary product might have been reproduced, promulgated, and eventually come to light, only because its criticism — clear as a bell to any with the sensitivity and sanity to see it — is so overlaid and hidden with the usual glorification of power and the powerful, which it also provides.
Perhaps even the author’s original writing was edited by the powers-that-be of the time prior to its inscription in stone — much as any of our media-produced books today must bow to the prevailing academic and political gods in order to see the light of day. Perhaps it was infused with all this glorification of kingship and the right and behavior of kings by the elite themselves, much as one might, as Donald Trump did recently, edit another’s tweet so as to make it fit with his prejudices and desires. Regardless, hidden inside a shell of the required sycophancy is why this pearl of insight and complaint into the injustices of early hierarchies was allowed to survive. Just as the spiritual aspects of alchemy, during the Middle Ages, are said to have been covered up in scientific metaphor to hide them from the light of an otherwise direly disapproving Catholic hegemony, so also we might see here during the time of ancient Mesopotamia such a ruse to safeguard the writer.
All that understood, next in this part let us look more closely at some of what amounts to the mythology around the primal scene and the Oedipal conflict. Naturally, we start with the ancient story of Oedipus.
— this is an excerpt from *Who to Be: Identity, Authenticity, & Crisis* by Michael Adzema. It has just been released for publication as of March, 20th, 2020. Click to order print or digital copies and go to Michael Adzema’s Author’s Page at Amazon for other books, info, and updates.
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*How We Act Out Prenatal “Bad Blood” in Our Actions: Bloody games—war; xenophobia, blood letting, smoking; racism, homophobia, intolerance, classism, elitism*
This brings us to the psychotic acting out of these thoughts and feelings — rooted in unconscious prenatal discomforts and repressed third trimester fetal memory patterns — by insane societies.
*Bloody Games — War*
In this aspect of fetal discomfort, a reduced blood flow to the placenta is experienced as a buildup of carbon dioxide and toxins, since they are not removed as efficiently as they were before. Lloyd deMause explains how this womb situation is universally expressed among humans as a fear of being “poisoned” by “bad blood.” He has found that feelings of being trapped and at the same time “infused” with bad blood or toxic energies of some sort precede the outbreak of all wars.
For these wars are the unconscious way humans try to “break free” from these uncomfortable feelings, which are for the most part just early unresolved memories from our beginnings in life. We see “bad blood” as coming from the enemy. We see the enemy as an attacking many-headed monster “encroaching” on the “home”land … a threatening multi-veined placenta, aging and filled with toxins, “filth.” So we wish to attack and destroy the enemy — this placental “monster” — so we can “breathe free” again and escape their “poisonous filth.” (See BPM IV.)
*How We Act Out “Bad Blood” — Xenophobia, Blood Letting, Smoking*
The perfect example, however, is the xenophobia that resulted in the Nazis treatment of the Jews around the time of World War II. I have already pointed out how these walking psychotics injected poisonous gas into Jews in gas chambers out of these prenatal feelings, which they framed in adult thoughts of being themselves infected with tainted money from these Jews. Let us now look at other act outs of this.
*Racism, Classism, Elitism, Homophobia, Intolerance*
This is the basis of racism … blacks are pollutants, as are Jews is what is thought. They want to take away our purity — our pure children … blood libel; our women’s pure virtue. And so we need to dress in white, indicating “pure” blood, to defend against these incursions (the Ku Klux Klan) of “bad blood.”
These feelings of being “sickened” at the end of our womb existence are the root of all xenophobia with its creation always of a toxic Other which cannot be allowed to infect the virtue and purity of people of “our blood.”
We see it in intolerance of others of all kinds. Several years ago, on May 21st, 2012, a Baptist preacher from the South made headlines everywhere by announcing from the pulpit that all gays and lesbians should be “rounded up,” placed in an “enclosure,” surrounded by an “electrified fence.” He imagined they could have food air-dropped to them until they died (obviously an insufficient … oxygen starvation … or poisoned … bad blood … amount.) At this point, I do not believe I need to unravel the prenatal qualities of the morass his mind was thinking in.
And why all this? His exact words are, because “It makes me pukin’ sick!” what homosexuals do. Need I say more?
But this thinking is found in classism as well, where royalty calls itself “bluebloods” and only allows marriage between others of its class — from one’s own nation or another, interestingly — and will not allow its “blood” to be mixed with the polluted blood of the masses and “riff raff.”
University intellectuals have a more “refined” take on this primal disgust: They set up barriers to academic entrance in order to “keep out the unwashed,” without a clue they are coming across like scared fetuses inside a virtual womb (academia) trying to protect their continuing flow of blood (money).
This fetal malnutrition gives rise to bigoted ideas of keeping racial lines “pure.” It insists upon no mixing of the races … or ethnicities … for fear of affecting the gene “pool” (pool of blood), but it is always described in terms of “blood” that will be mixed, tainted, polluted, made impure, or degraded. Can you see how these are all instances of fear of encroachment by another from which one senses a threat of pollution and in conjunction with which one feels suffocated, made helpless, unable to move freely?
More at… “Pre & Perinatal Psychology & the Prenatal Matrix of Human Events” — 1st half of *Wounded Deer & Centaurs* (2016) by Michael Adzema. (complete book, with my compliments)
— or *Wounded Deer & Centaurs: The Necessary Hero & the Prenatal Matrix of Human Events* (2016) by Michael Adzema. (complete book, with my compliments)
Connect with me on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mickeladzema/
— this is an excerpt from *Wounded Deer and Centaurs: The Necessary Hero and the Prenatal Matrix of Human Events. * Return to Grace, Volume 5. (2016) by Michael Adzema.
See also the related works by Michael Adzema, titled,
Prodigal Human: The Descents of Man. Volume 10. (2016)
Apocalypse Emergency: Love’s Wake-Up Call. Volume 3. (2013)
Funny God: The Tao of Funny God and the Mind’s True Liberation. Volume 7. (2015)
Planetmates: The Great Reveal. Volume 6. (2014)
For any of the 12 of Michael Adzema’s works currently in print go to Amazon at…
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“we are on the verge of either destroying everything — all life and ourselves — or of making a gigantic leap in consciousness….”
“We here, all of us, are existing at a time in a history, a time in the game of humanity and this planet, where we are on the verge of either destroying everything — all life and ourselves — or of making a gigantic leap in consciousness of What Is … that is in becoming closer to God … having “greater participation” you might say.
“…what that means for the people reading this is that we have chosen to put our focus here, and we are getting to be at the center of the most important happening in history … on this planet anyway. There are other kinds of lives. We can have them if we wish. But it is like we are … here and now … in the lives where we wanted to show up at the “climax” of the movie. For whatever reason … to help, to complete a mission, to observe the spectacle … for whatever reason. And however you look at it, those groking this message, then, are involved in “greater participation” in Reality than many others on this planet now, yes … but for sure more than any other time in history….”
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“One goes through a shock, as the crutch of culture is removed … this message is the equivalent of the red pill for you.”
“There is hope in the truth, by definition”: What the Planetmates say on the Unapproved and Hidden, the maze, the matrix, culture, more….
“Ignorance of the Divine Makes for Some Pretty A-Mazing Untruths and Empty Rituals
“The Divine is Ultimate Truth. Whereas, culture is the societal embodiment of the separation from the Divine. Hence, culture contains some pretty a-mazing untruths and empty rituals. They are amazing because they are fantastical — colorful psychotic fabrications, if you will. But they are a-mazing also because they are manifestations of your confused and twisted consciousness and bring you ever back to the maze — in an endless trudge through labyrinthine passages of a journey that is ultimately futile, guaranteed for failure — which is your life.
“Now, that is something you did not want to hear, isn’t it? Indeed, this understanding brought by awareness of the Unapproved and Hidden reveals the horror of your life. It is a peeling back upon that which you do not, under any circumstances, want to know. It is an opening of Pandora’s Jar, seemingly releasing all evils into the world. Is it any wonder the Unapproved and Hidden has never — in all of your history — been known by you? By any of you? Is it any wonder the maddening explosion of culture you have created to keep it at bay?
“All that you see around you in society are in some way an outgrowth of the lies you tell yourself. For they are all perverted, backwards, bizarro distractions from your true reality. They represent endless meaningless activities that fill up the time, within which otherwise the truth could rise up in you; or they are the opposite constructions — the certitudes — upon which you stand and which are erected in exact defiance of the truth and reality.
“That last would include the falsehoods involved in all the ego-congratulations you do — an example being that you are the pinnacle of evolution and so have been “given” dominion over all of Nature. Another would be your belief in the materialistic nature of Reality, with its concomitant that it does not contain consciousness but that you — all-important, superior and wonderful you — do. They are certitudes that are the opposite of the truth, standing upon which and operating within which you are not able to even entertain notions of the truth.
“In fact, we would not be telling you this, revealing to you the Unapproved and Hidden of your human existence, if it was not both necessary as well as accompanied by an incredible message of real hope. There is, you probably know, hope in the truth, by definition. You may perhaps have already been feeling that. Certainly, it is better to let go of futile and wrong endeavors. Just refraining from the hopeless is hopeful in itself. It is better to take a few small steps in the right direction than to traverse a mountain that takes you where you will not want to end up. Those tiny correct efforts are far more valuable than a mountain of struggle and effort that ends in failure and abject frustration.
“But beyond that … .
“We are revealing the emptiness below it all. For certainly, when you take all of your efforts and trace them to their roots, you find there is nothing there … like castles built in the sky is human accomplishment and culture.
“Some of you, in this most crucial of all times, have had revealed to you this mirage quality of your cultural constructions. It happens by various means — illness, tragedy, drug use, travel, and education, not the least of these — and only when you are ready. Chances are you are not reading this unless you have experienced it — this vision that ends your innocence, undermining your cherished illusions and false hopes.
“Some of you call this collective mirage a “matrix.” Indeed, that term does describe the way your cultures substitute for Reality, making you unable to realize Reality or Truth, as well as providing the opiate for the feeling of unreality that results. Certainly, when one is reversing that trance state … indeed, right now, for you, this might be occurring … and this message is the equivalent of the red pill for you … one goes through a shock, as the crutch of culture is removed.
“Leaving aside the fact that in this space, this liminal one, your early deprivations can be felt and healed, still in the beginning this is a horrifying vision of unreality, emptiness, and meaninglessness. One feels that one is seeing deeply into the nature of reality and following it down to its foundations and they are … nothing. One might have the sensation of dissolving, of becoming de-atomized, or of melting. One certainly feels like one has lost all bearings and supports and cannot “hold oneself together,” any more. One might have that oh-so-dreaded feeling that one might be losing control of oneself, be going “out of control.” One might feel one is going to soar off into space, that having completely lost gravity and one’s connection to Earth one will be thrown or sucked back into an endless, random Universe. One often feels like one is falling….”
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“This upstanding citizen…this ‘positive thinker’ is really not whole or positive at all but is a fearful sycophant”
The Planetmates reveal culture and its “good” people, positive thinking, hypocrisy, the hidden hostility of ordinary folk and its resulting historical atrocities
“…This holy person tries to force the mind to go onto another thought that is not a “bad” one. It is like the first thought, using an analogy, would be “sewage.” The next thought would be “oh, no!” The next thought, the concocted or replacement thought, would then be “flowers.” But here is where the lie is. For the person keeps telling themselves they are thinking “flowers” but they are lying about the fact that they are really thinking “flowers not sewage,” “flowers not sewage,” “flowers not sewage,” over and over again, trying to push the first thought out of their mind, and along with all that having a feeling of fear and trepidation.
“So, this upstanding citizen, this self-sacrificing mensch, this “good” father, this “good” mother, this “holy” thinker, this “positive thinker,” is really not whole or positive at all. This person is a fearful sycophant, acting fearfully out of early experiences which they will never, ever remember, spending so much time thinking, “I will not think sewage, I will think flowers,”that they will never, ever find out what the thought after “sewage” might have been, if they had not fought it so much. And, yes, on its own, it just might have actually been “flowers.”
“So, this person is a narcissist, caught up in a focus only on themselves and how they might be coming across to others, is a sycophant trying to please imaginary others by conforming their behavior to them, and is a liar, not telling the truth about their experience inside of themselves to either themselves or anyone else.
“And the saddest part of all this is that this person, in holding back “sewage,” becomes full of “sewage” … all the while she or he is thinking they smell like and are full of “flowers.” The people around them know it, but they, being often sycophantic, are busy telling themselves the sewage they see is really flowers.
“So this is an example of how wrong-getted you are able to become and how it spreads. You can see how culture aids and reinforces your wrong-gettedness and separation from the Truth of you.
“The same is true for such a person’s “holy” and “upstanding” acts. Such a person might put out their hand to another, but they are thinking, “I will be nice to you, so that I do not hit you.” Yes, these people are what you call hypocrites.
“You are thinking, they are holy and good people and are not having the thought, “I want to hit you.” But this is what happens when the “sewage” gets backed up. A stored-up reservoir of unapproved thoughts ever pushes for release by any means, for attention from consciousness at all costs, even if they have to come out in a distorted form—an impulse/thought to hit another. On the macro scale, this is what you as a species have done in creating and then acting out the Unapproved and Hidden, which belongs to you, collectively. But this end result—the Unapproved and Hidden—is the product of the billions of unallowed thoughts, lies, and denials of all the “good” people of your culture.
“The example of the hateful urge to hit, rather than lovingly help, is only a crude example, of course. It does have roots deep in your unconscious, though, and extending back tens of thousands of years. You put out your hand to shake another’s, for example. What this is really saying is, “My hand is not a fist. I will not hit you.” “My hand is open to you—in giving and receiving mode, sharing mode—and not in a competitive or aggressive mode.” “In putting out my hand I will connect with you, and not use it to fight you.” Lastly, and most recently, “My hand does not contain a weapon.” Now, why, unless a part of you knows that deep inside you would as soon hit another as anything else, would you go through all this social ritual of hand-shaking and its variants? All of its variants say similar things.
“So it is that in real life that deeper message is inaccessible to you and what you might be aware of that goes on in you—but rarely are—is less obviously hostile. It is more subtle, is most often unconscious, and becomes increasingly more unconscious over time, in the course of one’s life … hence more likely to direct your actions in spite of you. The “negative” thought—“I want to hit you”—might arise in the form of irritation, repulsion, or dislike … or a simmering anger. You can actually feel that, but you will rarely admit that they occur in you … forcing yourself, instead, to “think flowers,” again. You know what we mean.
“In any case, such things in people are examples of the kinds of hidden hostility and aggression that are buried within “good” people. While you think this is far-fetched, perhaps, think honestly about and explain to us how your kind, at the hands of all your “good” people, have been able to participate in lynch mobs, the rounding up of Jews for genocide, the piling up of Jews like firewood to be burned, the torture and burning to the death at the stake of women who had some “free” thoughts—in other words, not controlled and then lied about thoughts, as the “good” people setting fire to them have and do. This unacknowledged and hidden hostility explains all the horrific, yet otherwise unexplainable, actions of humans. (Insert your favorite human abomination here.)
“So, are these “holy” and wholesome people, these “good citizens” and “patriots” and “salt of the earth”—properly fearful and sycophantic, on the inside as well as the outside—really “good” and “wholly”?
“For the more they tell themselves they think and feel one thing while actually thinking and feeling something else the more split down the middle they become. Till after a while, they have no clue who they are. They are liars to themselves and to all the world.
“They cannot even become good people over time. Their disease, at all costs, fights against its cure. Indeed, it is like cancer, in that way. For to become a good person, one would have to know where one is being or has been a bad person and then change that. Such a person is ever fighting to convince themselves they are full of “flowers,” so how can they possibly do anything about the “sewage” that is actually in them?
“Of such “good” people, the religious of them say that such thoughts about where they are being “bad” in their seemingly “good” actions and thoughts are instances of “doubt” and “lack of faith.” So, rather than inform and do service towards becoming a greater “good,” these inconvenient thoughts are done battle with as being demons, devils, and even the product of a Satan. So, no, in battling ceaselessly against the “bad” within themselves, they cannot actually become good. For they truly do not understand the nature of their bad enough to change it … battling it, they keep it ever at a distance, giving it a status of devil, demon, Satan, and never acknowledging that these are simply—mostly innocuous and often innocent—parts of oneself that have been made “bad” by culture, and then oneself….”
[Pt 2 of 27th prasad — Culture. More coming…
To see the entire book, to which this will be added eventually (book is two-thirds updated), go to http://mladzema.wordpress.com/the-great-reveal-book-6/ …
Falls from Grace: The Devolution and Revolution of Consciousness — Michael’s latest book – is now available in print and e-book formats.
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Apocalypse NO released. Book by Michael Adzema now available – Apocalypse NO, Apocalypse or Earth Rebirth and the Emerging Perinatal Unconscious. Order Information.
Apocalypse NO, the second book – of the four being published in the next four weeks – is now completed also.
This book can be ordered now and will be available, is available ….
Expanded Distribution channels: 6-8 Weeks
in Kindle it has been available already….
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These are the strangest of days. We live in a time in which ending our species in our lifetime, even eliminating all life on this planet, are very real possibilities. The awareness of this acceleration toward an “end of days”—while so horrifying we hardly speak it—hangs over us and affects us in ways singular and fantastic.
Apocalypse NO, Apocalypse or Earth Rebirth and the Emerging Perinatal Unconscious awakens us to the unconscious influences erupting into our world which are changing the Earth and us in radical ways. Herein is revealed the underbelly of our modern life and the impetus behind our self-destruction. We see primal forces arising and exposed. Finally, we can direct our attention to the roots of our drive to apocalypse and reverse it.
More than that, this awakening provides a way of transformation. For in the heart of this darkness lies the most incredible opportunity for taking a leap beyond what we think of as human nature. This time calls for a new hero’s cycle—one that leaves behind the thuggishness of the old one. We are lifted beyond ourselves in a higher calling and a transcendent yet deeply rooted spirituality.
We realize that the necessary answer to the dilemma of apocalypse or Earth rebirth lies, not only in the resurrection of a new Earth, but in the dawning of a new self as well.
About the Author
Michael Adzema is a writer, activist, teacher, and psychotherapist. He was the editor of a professional journal of primal psychology and was the first person in the United States to teach prenatal and perinatal psychology at the university level. In the early Eighties, working as an anti-nuke activist, he was one those whose actions led to ending nuclear plant construction in the United States. In addition to Apocalypse NO, he has authored the books, Falls from Grace, which is a reference on prenatal and perinatal psychology; Primal Renaissance; Experience Is Divinity: Culture War, Class War; and the companion volume to this one, Apocalypse Emergency—Love’s Wake-Up Call.
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A Smaller Number of Us Can Make All the Difference in the World, Literally, by Tipping Our Course One Way as Opposed to Another: Moving the World – A Race Against Time
Apocalypse? Or Earth Rebirth? A Smaller Number of Us — Standing in the Right Place and With a Lever Big Enough — Might Be All That Is Needed to Move the World
Apocalypse – No! Chapter Fourteen:
To Move the World – A Race Against Time
Apocalypse? Or Earth Rebirth?
The Evidence for Change Occurring
Finally it is time to answer the question posed by this book: Apocalypse? Or Earth rebirth? Knowing apocalypse, we can now declare a hearty No! to apocalypse.
Our answer begins by pointing out that we have discovered, in this book, that there are things that can be done to prevent our extinction and, on the contrary, bring in a new dawn of harmonious cooperation with the forces of Nature. In the last five chapters we have seen that there is evidence of a collective change in consciousness occurring. A radical change in our attitudes to war, racism, the environment, and even spirituality—and thus to the very way we live our lives—is manifesting in our culture, the youth of the world, our children, and is even popping up in our collective dreams.
In addition we are aided by some fundamental processes of natural and cosmic law. In preceding chapters I have pointed out how both our nature inside and Nature outside seem to be conspiring to force us into the changes necessary. From this perspective we are in the hands of natural law, and its homeostatic mechanisms may bring us into line in ways unimaginable, beyond even the speculations I put forth in our attempt to see “through Gaia’s’ eyes” in Chapter Seven.
Visible and Invisible Allies
Furthermore we may be aided by unseen forces and entities of which we know not and may be incapable of knowing. Though I think it foolhardy to sit on our hands and hope that some intergalactic or spiritual cavalry will arrive to save the day at the last moment. Still it is eminently reasonable, considering the minuscule knowledge we have in relation to the immensity of All That Is, to put aside our familiar hubris and at least consider the possibility of aid from higher forces or entities.
Perhaps it is because our interconnectedness with Everything requires that we not fail, for it would have detrimental effects on things of which we do not know. I must confess that I myself have received knowledge of such help being given us. [Footnote 1]
Similarly there are others who believe that God will not allow His/Her creation to be destroyed and did indeed come in the flesh to ensure its success. [Footnote 2]
And there may even be cosmic laws at work. “Truth has its own momentum,” said one of our workshop participants. My wife and I conducted workshops in what we call primal breathwork, which is based on the Holotropic Breathwork™ of Stanislav Grof. In these workshops, which involve access to all aspects of the unconscious, including the spiritual/transpersonal, the biographical-psychodynamic, and the sensory, as well as the perinatal, it is not unusual for us to witness people being motivated, because of their profound transformative experiences, to commit themselves with all their being, talents, and resources, to aid in the processes of renewal on this planet.
But Is It Enough?
Don’t Expect to See It on Cable News
But some might argue that there are not enough people changing. You might easily get that impression if your prime source of information is the mainstream media of the cultures of the world. For it is in the interest of the dominant media of all lands to support the status quo—for economic, as well as political reasons. They are not likely to report the new and controversial.
In fact, the proof of this is that when truth is truly democratized and shared freely, as on the Internet, the information that comes out is drastically different from the sanctioned news sources. Indeed, we have seen the social media and the Internet leading in many areas, from Wikileaks to Mideast revolt, everywhere and anywhere. Like a tail wagging a dog, the Internet has been the first to expose information that the controlled media, who knew of it but repressed the information, only afterwards were forced to present.
So don’t expect the paid-for media to give you an accurate portrayal of what is truly new and breaking or for them to accurately reflect cultural changes as they occur. And don’t either expect for them to present the news of positive developments occurring—especially when those positive developments threaten an entrenched status quo. No, the official information sources of the status quo are the last to report such changes, and they do so only when they absolutely have to.
The Peace Symbol—Moratorium—Reversed
Meanwhile, from my vantage point, I would answer the query that there are not enough people changing by reiterating that, in fact, there are many of us who are integrating this emergent material, who are regaining our truth and the truths of this Earth and the Universe, who are expanding our consciousness to include this information, and who are carrying that information forward into positive action to heal ourselves, the people around us, humanity at large, and the planet.
This response of constructive action is exquisitely expressed when the peace symbol is reversed and symbolizes a human figure with arms upstretched—meaning the expression into the external world of what was discovered within.
Putting Out Our Hand By Creating Healthy Alternatives
An answer to the question of what will happen is that we can hope that the forces of integration are more successful than those of disintegration and reaction in the face of this influx of material, for one thing. In addition, those of us who are dealing positively with these emergent truths can help to build societal structures and processes that make it easier for others less fortunate to face and deal positively with their environmentally enforced psychological transitions.
Those of us who can should put out our hand to our struggling sisters and brothers. If we can set up and provide accessible alternatives to the ones of reaction and acting out that now exist, we’re going to make it more likely that those more prone to reaction and avoidance will instead also grow in response to these eco-apocalyptic, bio-noetic changes.
Facing the Monster Is Always Better, Often Beautiful
For, contrary to what many believe, the evidence from the experiential modalities involving the perinatal, and my own experience, concludes that the dangers of not accessing the perinatal unconscious are much greater than the ones of attempting to access them. For our residual birth issues influence us one way or the other. If we deny them, we can be deluded into acting them out, completely unconsciously, without an insight or a clue, in a “fetal trance state,” in the form of war, social violence, spouse abuse, sexual promiscuity resulting in the contraction of AIDS, and a myriad of other destructive and self-destructive ways.
Whereas if we turn to face this supposed “monster,” with only a tad of insight into these forces that direct our life, we are at least able to avoid the most horrific of the destructive acts that keeping it unconscious can cause us to participate in.
And then, on the more positive side, fully working through these seemingly hellish inner traumas can result in a transformation of the person and a lightness, peace, beauty, and fulfillment of life unlike anything that can be imagined beforehand.
A Race Against Time
Regardless of whether we succeed, we must try. As Stanislav Grof put it in his conclusion to an article on this global crisis: For our very survival,
We seem to be involved in a race for time that has no precedent in the entire history of humanity. What is at stake is nothing less than the future of life on this planet. If we continue the old strategies, which in their consequences are extremely destructive and self-destructive, it is unlikely that the human species will survive. However if a sufficient number of people undergoes a process of deep inner transformation; we might reach a level of consciousness evolution that will bring us to the point of deserving the name given to our species, Home sapiens, i.e., wise humans.
“The Leaven In the Dough”
Of course, I do not expect that the sort of application of experiential techniques Grof hopes for above can occur on the massive scale that would seem to be necessary to avoid apocalypse in the short period of time that we have left. Yet it might be that we would be lucky enough for that not to be necessary.
It is possible that simply a significant fraction of the world’s population—like the “leaven in the dough”—can make all the difference in the world, literally, by tipping our course one way as opposed to another, especially if these people—because of their healing and their awareness of the crisis—are motivated to place themselves in positions of influence and education, or to put their efforts toward healing, on individual and collective levels, in larger numbers than the average populace would. In other words, not just the leaven in the dough but as persons, standing in the right place and with the lever big enough, who can move the world.
Continue with Apocalypse–No! Afterword: Centaurs, Shamans, Sacrificial Lambs, and Scapegoats: Reflections on a Collective Shadow and Experience as Primary
1. See “Some Cosmic Encouragement: I Was Told “Once There Lived ‘Noble’ Beings” and Now Is the Time for a Regeneration of Peoples to Regain What We Lost,” which is the prologue of the book that follows in line from this one. Wounded Deer and Centaurs expands and elaborates on some of the central concepts introduced here.
3. Stanislav Grof, “Planetary Survival and Consciousness Evolution: Psychological Roots of Human Violence and Greed.” Primal Renaissance: The Journal of Primal Psychology 2(1): 3-26, p. 25. Article reprinted, with permission, on Primal Spirit site.
Continue with Apocalypse–No! Afterword: Centaurs, Shamans, Sacrificial Lambs, and Scapegoats: Reflections on a Collective Shadow and Experience as Primary
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Rebirthing Rituals, the Hard Rain Fallin’, and the Value of Popular Culture in Awakening: The Price of Peace Is Inner Sight … Better Hitler Had Jumped Into Mosh Pits
Where There Is Hope and What Did You Expect Awakening to Look Like? Look Hard Enough, You Just Might See the Seeds of Light Amidst the Darkness Surrounding.
Chapter Ten: Where There Is Hope, Cultural Rebirthing
Societal Self-Analysis and Talk Show Soul-Searching for Peace … Sorry, I Know You Wanted to Hate Reality Shows.
The Price of Peace Is Inner Sight: Societal Self-Analysis, an Internet Reformation, and Talk Show Soul-Searching for Peace
Culture War Replaced Cold War
We see the workings of these opposing tendencies to look away from problems or to embrace them by examining the reactions in America to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The disappearance of this huge object for distraction from inner unhappiness, about which one could rationalize the use of defensiveness and scapegoating, led to continued turning away through the emergence, in America, of a search for other societal scapegoats and therefore the “Republican revolution.” Culture War replaced the Cold War as the way one could be comfortably ignorant of one’s insides and self-assuredly distracted, self-righteously engaged.
This removal of a collective punching bag or scapegoat also resulted in a healthy turning toward the darkness within and a collective self-analysis in America. This reaction has brought to the fore many of our social and political shortcomings.
Talk Show Soul-Searching
For evidence of this latter response we notice beginning in the Nineties the rise of the talk show; the rituals of nationwide self-examination over issues of sexual harassment, spouse abuse, and race relations played out in the Anita Hill–Clarence Thomas hearings and the O. J. Simpson trial; the hashing out of controversial and formerly hidden personal issues around sex, lies, and marital fidelity, played out in the Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal; the reevaluation of matters of faith precipitated by priestly sexual abuse; and many other such national psychodramas staged on cable news networks and the magazine-style, documentary-type TV shows like Frontline, Nightline and the like.
We also witnessed the rise of reality shows as part of this societal pull to see beneath the covers of what is thought to be real. Now, progressives and intellectuals have lots of fun vamping about how superior they themselves are to such interests, as exemplified in reality shows. This can only be the position of elitists out of touch with the ways ordinary folks live their lives.
To make my point, let me back up a bit. The swagger that the Left, and intellectuals in general, display around reality shows is the same superiority they have expressed for decades concerning sitcoms. First, let me say that I consider most sitcoms and reality shows to be rather boring and a bit inane with their laugh and soundtrack framing. Yet, when I was a child, growing up in a medium-sized city in the coal country of Pennsylvania and coming from a very traditional family, it was only through such sitcoms that I had a chance to find out what a different style of family and parenting would be. Today, I would laugh at a “Father Knows Best.” But it was a step up and into socialization from the “Father Knows Little” or “Father Not Around” of many in my social stratum when I was a kid. This exposure allowed me, and many of my generation, to seek for more in our life and for better interpersonal family relationships…and eventually better parenting.
This presentation of better alternatives—middle-class, liberal, “hollywood” ones—to everyone in America has a lot to do with the fact that the Sixties were so explosive. It was the first decade after the introduction of a national culture through the medium of television. Much has been made of the fact that newscasts brought information into living rooms for the first time in that era—which is the thing that intellectual elitists will focus on, blinded by their quaint beliefs that humans are rational actors. It takes an experiential psychologist and social scientist like myself to notice that most folks act out of ideas and attitudes that are rooted in experiences and information that are hardly rational. So, the modeling of a more “advanced” way of family life—not perfect but for many better than the traditional ways they had known, which included things like spanking and attitudes like “children are better seen not heard” and “spare the rod, spoil the child”—through the TVs and cinemas of America was vastly more influential in changing society than newscasts, whose information could just as easily have been shared through the print media. The sitcoms brought liberal middle-class values to everyone in America who owned a tv set; and this was a huge step forward at the time.
A Modern “Priesthood”
This is where righties have it right when targeting “hollywood” for many of the changes in our culture over the last half century…though they see that as a negative influence. But intellectuals and lefties blow an opportunity and lose support among ordinary folks through an unconscious haughtiness and a cultural snobbery they are blind to but display in their turning up their noses at popular culture. Luckily, as an anthropological social scientist, I can study popular culture and get away with it, though not without some snide commentary coming my way from progressive and professional circles. They simply will never understand an intellectual who can speak to working folks because he’s one of them. They simply don’t get my attempts to package the crucial understandings of modern science and social sciences, on which the existence of our very world depends, in words that are not primarily directed to and meant to appease the gods of academia. They consider themselves important within their tiny professional circles, thinking they are changing the world when no one even knows what they are doing beyond that constrained perimeter.
Keeping the People Down
Indeed the attitude of academics and progressives about popular culture, especially talk and reality show tv programming and although they would be appalled to ever think it, is no different from the attitudes of the Catholic church and the clergy about matters of faith during medieval times. There, too, we had an elite wanting to “keep out the unwashed.” There, too, we had a distinction between people in the know and the rabble, with the anointed ones requiring ordinary folks to go through them for matters of truth and faith. We had then also this sharp distinction between the “high culture” of the Church and aristocracy—exemplified in the chamber music of the time—and the “low culture” of the masses—exemplified by the folk music of the troubadours of that day.
Nowadays this poo-pooing of tv culture by intellectuals is the same kind of attempt to funnel reality to the masses through the filters of a new “priesthood.” The cultural purists and intellectual elites would prefer that for truth you go through them in academia, where you ‘d have to pay a toll of course, just as the priests of the Middle Ages required you to pass their way on the road to the divine.
Therapy for the Masses
At any rate throwing off the snootiness of intellectualism, I contend, allows us to notice that sitcoms, reality shows, and talk shows serve functions in society that are, overall, beneficial in advancing our culture and catalyzing increased growth. They may not reflect, yet, where intellectuals and progressives think we should be, but for many they show something beyond where they are.
We should know that they are overall helpful in our cause from the fact that conservatives want to attack hollywood and limit freedom of expression on any airwave. The fact that many reactionaries want to keep their children out of schools, home-schooled, and away from tv sets should be telling progressives something about the value of popular culture.
My point is that the rise in reality and talk shows are coincident with a need for a kind of societal “therapy” that came about when we took back our projections from the Soviets and were forced to look at ourselves. I’m saying this was a healthy way of doing it, and this was helping us, though it was tumultuous and difficult, in the Nineties. It is unfortunate, but it suited the forces of war and fascism, for the 1% to bring forth in the millennium the bugaboo of terrorism…perfectly bringing about another endless feud with another concocted enemy to project our own darknesses onto so we can escape from having to notice them ourselves and bring about actual personal growth and cultural advance…let alone the cultural rebirth that has been trying to happen for decades.
Reality shows are like watching group therapy happening. It is not surprising that there was even one reality program that was about therapy—Celebrity Rehab. Reality shows also expose ordinary folks to what amounts to crude but informative sociological experiments. If academics could see beyond their pretensions they would applaud this sort of, however haphazard and imprecise, understanding of group processes and individual psychology arising in the masses.
If there weren’t reality shows, folks would have a harder time knowing appropriate ways for men and women to act with each other. The gains of feminism would not have spread so widely or as fast if they were not being modeled and reinforced repeatedly on talk and reality shows. They demonstrate parenting and social skills—“politically correct” ones, in the good sense—to folks who would otherwise not know any better than to behave crudely and abusively. They bring the world, geography, travel, and history to the masses.
Intellectuals quibble about the quality of that, which comes across as quite childish, for it arises as if out of a jealousy of others getting the attention they want and out of a fear of competition for informational matters around science, culture, and humanities. It strikes me as more than ironic that those on the Left who would wish people to wake up from their zombie slumber would want to push programs of literature or drama where truths are filtered through the consciousness, and unconscious, of the artist, while wishing to deprive folks of a direct look—however contrived, it is actual reality and not scripted—at the world around them and people’s actual unplanned behavior and spontaneous reactions to unusual events.
Seeing people’s behavior in some of these shows does often remind me of the dynamics I’ve seen in therapy groups, and some of the personal changes in the participants mirror some of the evolutions I’ve seen in folks undergoing deep experiential psychotherapy. The audience participation part often sounds like group therapy or an intervention. I’ve been struck by how some of the group processes in the show remind me of family day in rehab, with folks reflecting back what they see in each other and how others’ behavior has affected them. These are all things that conservatives cringe at…actually hate. Yet liberals, except for notable exceptions like Jerry Springer, are not seeing the opening they have here. Lefties are fighting rather than using these forces, which are in the direction of personal growth and, cumulatively, much needed societal change.
As a psychologist and simply someone who loves people, I am fascinated by some of the things I see in these shows. They can be heart-wrenchingly real at times. So it occurs to me that folks who disparage these shows, comparing them with literature and dramatic productions, is another thing where some are wanting to have their reality filtered, managed, and packaged for them, lest it be too “disruptive” to their prejudices of things.
The Price of Peace Is Inner Sight
The upshot of all this is to say that just as a lack of a Cold War caused both collective acting out—another war, a Culture War—and collective inner searching via television talk shows, documentaries, and such. So also the prevention of “hot” wars on an international, not just intercultural, scale and the cause of peace in general require such inner soul-searching and such confrontation with one’s darker sides. And if we must, it is better to endure the psychotic acting out of a culture war—with its battles played out on the airwaves—than an actual war.
For is there any doubt that either of these or any combinations of these alternatives, however uncomfortable and even violent…on a smaller scale…at times, is a small price to pay compared to the price of outright war and violence which, by any measurement, is a cost horrifyingly huge and unacceptable?
America Currently Refusing to Pay Such Price
The converse of this is also true: When the dramas wanting to be discussed are suppressed in the mainstream media, it is as stifling of the growth of a nation as an individual’s growth. Unfortunately we have seen this as well recently. There have been massive worldwide and nationwide Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, massive Wisconsin union outpourings, and events in Japan and about Fukushima that the American people really want to and need to know and discuss, but they are being blacklisted from being broadcasted on. There has been a change in government in Iceland, with banksters being jailed, that Americans are not hearing about; there have been demonstrations in Japan about their insane response to their tragedy, which Americans won’t be told about; there have been massive demonstrations in Israel against the colonial policies of their own government that curiously do not make it into the offerings of news programs. These are things that in the Nineties would have fed the talk on tv and stimulated the necessary societal hashing out for there to be a chance of going beyond them.
What Is the Cost of Denial? Of Complacency?
It is hard to know, though, what happens when the natural urges of a nation to grow and change are thwarted. While I discussed this abortion of cultural renewal and the abomination that results from it at length in Chapter Seven of a companion book to this one, Culture War, Class War, under the title Cultural Rebirth, Aborted, the question remains what happens when this societal “rebirthing” is more urgent than ever. What happens when—for the sake of the survival of the human race and of the planet—it is necessary that this growth happen and instead it is continuously derailed and snuffed out of the light of collective consciousness?
Internet Revolution Is Another Reformation
Luckily all this is changing as the internet and social networking have upended the academic elitists, swarming around and over their petty barriers of intellectual privilege. The blogsters and “rabble” of the net have taken over the cultural dialogue of the time as assuredly as Martin Luther and the Reformation changed religion forever and helped to bring to an end the cultural stagnation of the Middle Ages and to ignite an Age of Reason and of Enlightenment.
Moratorium … Let the Buck Stop Here! We Could Use More “Narcissistic” Generations
“Know Thyself” ~ “Narcissistic”?
Self-Discovery, Soul-Searching, Psychological-Mindedness, Self-Analysis – Sixties Generation
So, we have taken a look at the need for societies to “do therapy” on themselves, to hash out and process, however messy that might seem to be, the perinatal projections from the unconscious, as they manifest in the tribulations of the times—both profound and mundane. It must be kept in mind that it is the products of nearly the most “advanced” mode of child-caring—the delegated-release subclass of the socializing psychoclass — who have proved most willing to pay such prices for peace, as for example, in increased soul-searching. In fact they would be later stigmatized for just this quality of introspection, this supposed fault of looking into themselves, through the derogatory appellation, narcissistic.
Indeed, Keniston foresaw this when he studied the Sixties generation as college students. Observing the amount of inner exploration they engaged in during their quests for self-discovery, he would describe this attribute in a biased way as “the overexamined life,” and more fairly, for the activist youth, as a “psychological-mindedness” and “self-analysis.” [Footnote 1]
“Let It All Out? No, Leave Some of It In!” – Pat Buchanan, Fifties Generation
No doubt those who criticized these youth in the past are some of the same ones or their surrogates who, now older, are wrongly castigating the self-analyzing characteristics of contemporary society as the Sixties generation is now in its “triumphant” phase—the time when as adults a psychoclass takes over the reins of society and most strongly influences it. I have already taken note of the tendencies of the right to rile against the collective processing that is happening in their attacks on popular culture and in particular what they call “hollywood.” They express their desire that “such matters” not come to public light, for they deem them “offensive” or an affront to their (oh so delicate) sensibilities. They sense a threat to the precious untruths that prop up their self-destructive way of life, woven through as it is with war, fascism, planetary and planetmate annihilation, and the other horrors mushrooming about them in the postmodern era. [Footnote 2]
These highly defended and fear-minded conservatives, prone to projection, are incapable of appreciating the integrity of an inner-thinking generation like the Boomers are. These outer-minded authoritarians would not get, would outright hate those who “questioned authority” in the Sixties.
These defended entrenched egos would be secretly jealous of and overtly aggressive to a generational emergence that since the Sixties has been psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually working on themselves to be free of inner tyranny. As one of their exemplars, Pat Buchanan, long ago phrased it, “Let it all out? No, leave some of it in!”
Let the Buck Stop Here!
Nonetheless this cadre of kindred Sixties spirits would in their actions declare for the first time in history as a generation, “Let the buck stop here!” And they would seek to turn themselves, and by extension their children and society-at-large, into a more loving, wise, and less acting-out humanity…most importantly, one willing to cooperate rather than war with Nature, or other nations.
If Not Us, Who? If Not Now, When?
What virtually all the folks outside “my generation” never get is the unimpeachable vision we had of the complete and utter wrongness of the path and tendencies of modern times and the abyss toward which civilization was heading. We were proven right, of course, as especially in the last decade we have seen the disintegration wrought of those tendencies on all fronts—political, environmental, personal. The Sixties generation saw modern civilization as being unreformable and needing complete remaking, so that everything we did was an attempt to create reality and culture from scratch, sans tradition.
We had seen normal ways of doing things to be impotent and often dangerous and most importantly leading to apocalyptic endings in our near future. This understanding is what was responsible for all the “non-normal” behaviors my generation displayed—communes, confrontations, clothes, relationships, organics, alternative ways of everything…an entire counterculture. We have been laughed at for essentially being ahead of the curve on the messages of modern events. We have been called crazy for our inconvenient prophecies, virtually all of which are now coming to pass.
While I and my cohorts, to use just one example, spoke out on the dangers of nuclear energy and in particular the insanity of building plants on fault lines, the professional pundits scoffed and boasted they lived near nuclear plants. This was thirty years and more before the world ever heard the word, Fukushima. The examples like this are endless. We saw all these unworkable endings and asked ourselves, “What would be a real way of doing that?” “What would be a workable, sustainable way?” “What would be a sane and happy life, ethic, and lifestyle.” “What would be a loving, peaceful mode of being?”
While we sought to redo culture from scratch, building it on perennial and unimpeachable principles, the threatened elders and the jealous youngers, who would soon enough come behind, poked fun from within the confines of their assured and comfortable wrongness. They called us narcissistic for thinking we could look at ourselves and the world and dare to think we could change it from ancient ways. They thought we were making ourselves important that way, putting on airs, even. Actually we were shouldering responsibility we did not want—yearning for a simpler, less serious time—but which we accepted for the sake of all those who would come after, knowing their very existence depended on our actions. We took faith in the touchstone of love itself—the only thing that did not crumble under examination—and sought to bend all emerging along its outlines.
So our seeming impertinence was born of an inconvenient prompting, an unwanted vision now proving prophetic. It was hardly selfish, as many of the best of my generation paid the ultimate price and are no longer with us or they are imprisoned. It was hardly narcissistic as it was done out of love…for each other, for the peoples of all the world and of all the religions, for our children, for the planetmates and for the Nature of which we learned we were a part, and for the generations unborn.
What others will never get is that our “overexamined life,” our “psychological-mindedness,” our perinatal propensities, and our soul-searching and self-analysis were not about being narcissistic. It was about needing to start everything anew as a rational response to the horrors we saw about us in our culture and in the world… horrors which we were correct in trying to address at the time. For their existence today, because of our inability to be completely successful in remedying them, are bringing about all the political, economic, and environmental armageddons I’ve been discussing in this, and its related, books. And we knew, and still know, that only some change huge and radical will help us, and for that we need to find and stand upon the deepest and firmest of ground within us. That is what we’ve been looking for, are still looking for…only now we have lots of company .
Better Hitler Had Jumped Into Mosh Pits: A Drive to Healing, the Hard Rain Fallin’, and Millennial Promise
A Drive to Healing and What Did You Expect Peace to Look Like? Better Hitler Had Jumped Into Mosh Pits
A Drive to Healing
We cannot expect that everyone will heal their birth traumas when they arise into consciousness during periods of peace. However, we can expect—especially now that there is understanding of these dynamics and there are techniques and modalities available for healing them—that some people will!
Furthermore, even the more ritualistic and superficial yet blatant regressions to infancy, birth, prenatal, or even prior to that—for example, as Mayr and Boelderl describe in Europe—are not the indication of a “death drive” or “death instinct” as these researchers claimed. [Footnote 3]
These highly symbolic collective rituals are instead the manifestations of a drive to healing—a drive to regressing to early traumas and to reexperiencing the events that occurred then and thus recapturing an integrity of self that existed prior to the dissociation that happened as a result of those traumas. This drive to regression is no more a “death wish” than the mystical or spiritual quest is a “death wish,” and for the same reasons, as Jung correctly admonished Freud a long time ago. And we can expect that more good than bad can come, eventually, from engaging in them.
What Did You Expect Peace to Look Like?
Better Hitler Had Jumped Into Mosh Pits
In conclusion, when we see blatant collective regressions, by the sorts of people mentioned, to these perinatal dynamics in undisguised, and relatively harmless, social rituals—as described by Mayr and Boelderl, and Lawson—we can expect that, because of their closeness to their unconscious pain, they are likely—even if only a little more likely because of their more advanced mode of child-caring—to have insight into these dynamics and to resist acting them out in a more extreme form, like war, global pollution, and overpopulation.
To put it another way, I would have preferred that Hitler had acted out his craziness by jumping into mosh pits, humming baby tunes, wearing a pacifier…or even engaging in sexual orgies…than the way he did.
So these current signs of blatant regression by youth and others in Europe or the US, or in fact anywhere in the world as in rock concerts, are not signs of an impending war. What did you expect peace to look like? You might call it messy, but it is the scenery of human healing, we should expect to be seeing, on the pathway to an Earth rebirth.
What Might We Expect?
What might we expect from the future? Well if ecological/environmental consciousness and refusal to use projection onto others is accepted as evidence of perinatal access, as I have been asserting, then the current generation of youth and young adults—the Baby-Boomer Echo Generation, also called the Millennial Generation, whose two main concerns, as I have mentioned, have been polled as being the environment and racism—may also be expected to be more open to their perinatal trauma, and hence more likely to resolve it and further the gains of their parents against war and global apocalypse.
“A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall”
From the roads and TV screens of America the scenery can often appear bleak. Sure, heavy changes are coming down…but what should we expect? “A hard rain’s gonna fall,” sang Bob Dylan. And that’s what it takes to blossom the spring. Look hard enough, you just might see the seeds of Light amidst the darkness surrounding.
Evidence in Our Collective Dreaming
Next we will take a look at one of the projective systems of our society, specifically, our cinema, to see if it shows evidence of the change of consciousness that we have here been describing as necessary to derail the cycles of war and violence that have plagued our species for millennia uncountable and have led us to the brink of extinction.
Films are both the collective dreams of our society as well as the only truly widely shared method of collectively experiencing a nonordinary state of consciousness. Thus they are telling, in the messages they contain, as well as powerful in their impact on the audience, who in this mild nonordinary state of consciousness are more open to suggestion and to receiving mental impressions and information.
We will look to examples from films of the last few decades for indications that our collective consciousness is actually changing and that there are grounds for hoping that we will be able to stave off apocalypse…creating instead the quantum leap to an Earth rebirth.
1. For “overexamined life”see Keniston, op. cit., 1965; for “psychological-mindedness” and “self-analysis” see Keniston, op. cit., 1968, especially p. 81.
2. Davis, op. cit., especially Ch. 7, “The Great Society and The Youth Revolt.”
3. Mayr and Boelderl, op. cit., p. 149.
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The Cycle of All Events, the Evolution of Parenting, and Auspicious Collective Regressions: Being Crazy in an Insane World Might Mean You’re the Sane One
What’s Involved in Stopping War and Ecocide and the Necessary Mess of Transformation: Hard to Believe, But We’re Getting Saner
Chapter Nine: Regressions in the Service of Society — Messy Healing
There Is a Cycle to All Events … The Spiral Dance, Why We Can’t Get No Satisfaction, and Where There Is Real Hope
The Spiral Dance – The Cycle of All Events: Wedded to Rebirthing Rituals, the Inevitability of Disappointment, and Where There is Real Hope
Wedded to Rebirthing Rituals
In turning toward these feelings we embrace, feel, and if we go deeply enough into that, we relive the roots of them and resolve them finally.
If we face these inner forces—we call that feeling them…in this instance, feeling through or reliving one’s birth—we integrate them and heal the underlying trauma, the perinatal trauma.
Or the individual and society can avoid this going within—as depicted in the peace symbol—and can choose instead to act them out, which is the peace symbol upside down—the Satan symbol, the pentagram.
In acting them out, one distracts oneself from the uncomfortable feelings, which though not focused on, are still there. One tries to be “strong” in the face of feelings but one is actually driven and directed by them—they “take over one’s mind.” This is the source of the idea of spirit possession and in general of the idea that a devil or Satan can take over one’s soul.
So in running from our feelings we are captured and enslaved by them, we are forced to act them out in ways we would not otherwise choose which are negative to horrible but in all cases self-sabotaging. Of course war is the most horrible, most self-sabotaging, greatest, and most all-consuming form of such acting-out…the greatest struggle.
Humans are characterized by a particular kind of birth process. It is a coming into being that is traumatic and which is related to our distinction of standing upright and thereby decreasing the pelvic opening as well as suffocating the fetus prior to birth. The fact is that because of this “distinction” we are destined to go through periods of rebirthing purificatory rituals, whether for good or ill. [Footnote 1]
For we are psychologically wedded to reliving that which we could not fully experience at the time because of the overwhelming quality of pain associated with it.
A “Spiral Dance”
These rebirthing rituals we are doomed to repeat, one way or the other. We are going to act out this primal pain—this birth trauma—in an unending cycle of feelings having these components
- Periods of feelings of expansion
- Closedness or entrapment, guilt, and depression
In winning the “war” or having the success or achievement, there begins the same cycle of expansion followed by entrapment. Losing the war…the struggle, the battle…is akin to death, even if there is no death. There is numbness and repression…akin to a kind of “limbo”…before life can begin anew. A reconception is necessary.
The Pattern of Our First Nine Months Imprints Us For Our Entire Human Lives
The reemergence of hope in individuals and societies is biologically equivalent to conception. And following this reconceiving, there is a similar cycle of reemerging strength—akin to the expansion that follows winning. Then there is continuing depression or overarching gloom and helplessness feelings coupled with revenge feelings and blame as individuals and societies stew in the vessel of indecision, inaction, and doubt. This is quite like the closedness and guilt which follows achievement-success-victory. Note, however, that the revenge and blame feelings here are aspects of the BPM II matrix, just as is closedness and guilt.
Can’t Get No Satisfaction
And then the cycle is the same again. Specifically, there is aggression against the oppressor (War and revolution both see the foe as an oppressor, even if one is actually the one who is the aggressor.) What follows upon fighting is release or “death”; and so on around. The “happily ever after” that inspires such battle truly only exists in fantasies and fairy tales. Prosperity and feelings of success are unfortunately doomed, on this physical plane of existence, to be short-lived.
Where There Is Real Hope
It would seem we are fated to never be happy, for long. But progress is possible; herein lies our only real choice in the entire scenario. For we either work through these cycles in some deep psychologically transformative way that helps us deal with and pass beyond the difficult and painful parts of the cycle as well as helps to fade the imprints’ potency in determining our behavior or we are doomed to act them out in the external world in ways that we are blindly unaware are not congruent with the actual facts of our circumstances and are harmful to ourselves and others around us.
We are fated to experience these cycles of birth, and we will either act them out disastrously or we find ways of dealing with them inside of ourselves in some way—and some ways are better than others for doing this—so that we can have some inner distance from these patterns and therefore some conscious ability or choice around our actions when these pushes and pulls arise.
Railing Against the Darkness: The Vanity of Will, The Impotence of Reason, Progress Requires Regress, and Healing Is Nothing if Not Messy
Railing Against the Darkness, The Vanity of Will, The Impotence of Reason, and Social Progress Requires Regression
The Vanity of Will, The Impotence of “Reason”
What we absolutely don’t have, yet arrogantly think we do, is the ability—through will or reason alone—to choose light over darkness, to replace these inner veils of distortion with clarity of thought and perception and hence of positive behavior and actions while in the midst of them. Trying to reason with and to obtain truly desired outcomes is about as possible as trying to reason with a lizard and convince it to conform to one’s wishes for its behavior. For good reason: Indeed our rational mind is as split off from the “reptilian brain” inside us within which these imprints circulate and from which they arise as are we from the consciousness of a gila monster.
What We Call “Reason” Is Largely Just Rationalization
This impotence of intellectual understanding in the face of these patterns of self-destruction occurs because these schemas are rooted in memories existing in an emotional and entirely dissociated part of the brain, which is hardly touched by neocortical admonishing of any kind. As deMause correctly points out,
[The fetus’s] “early experiences have been found to be recorded in a separate early neural network—a dissociated emotional memory system centering in the amygdala, quite distinct from the declarative memory system centering in the hippocampus that is established in later childhood.” [Footnote 2]
Disclaiming these cycles, which inevitably pass through darkness, and reliance on “will-power” to change one’s patterns, which includes self-sabotage, has been exposed in its impotence in modern times. We see as evidence the growing acknowledgment of the ineffectiveness and, indeed, counter-effectiveness of psychoanalysis. [Footnote 3]
Railing Against the Darkness
So the question begging to be asked is “What do we do about it?” What do we do about these pernicious cycles?
And when these elements erupt in society in harmless, possibly healing ways, how do we view them? Do we, as Mayr and Boelderl do in their article, “The Pacifier Craze: Collective Regression in Europe,” decry the regression…as if by disclaiming it we could somehow keep the cycle from happening? [Footnote 4]
Mayr and Boelderl write, for example, that the situation of collective regression in Europe “strikes us as being high-explosive [sic] and bitter enough.” [Footnote 5]
In another place they exclaim, “What is horrible about this insight [about the increasing collective regression in Europe] is the additional observation that regression is becoming still more radical.” [Footnote 6]
This response of railing against the “Darkness” is a Freudian response. Yet it is not even a neo-Freudian one, since regression in the service of the ego—which began to be seen as ever more important by neo-Freudians—is not acknowledged, let alone considered.
Social Progress Requires Regression
That regression in the service of the ego is not considered is confirmed by Mayr and Boelderl in their statement that “[R]egression by definition is a process of repression and a defense mechanism.” [Footnote 7]
These are surprising words, in light of the concept of regression in the service of the ego and awareness of the clinically based evolution of psychotherapeutic theory since Freud’s original postulations, over a half-century ago.
They are even more awry if one considers the universal, cross-cultural, implementation by societies of rebirthing rituals to handle the same kinds of forces we are confronted with. The anthropological literature is rife with these accounts.
Further, Grof has meticulously shown that regularly going into altered states of consciousness where one confronts this material is a prime function of cultures, and it occurs nearly universally although it is woefully lacking in Western culture for the most part.
Moreover, these words by Mayr and Boelderl indicate a conflict with or ignorance of the fact that deMause’s theory of evolution of historical change requires regression on the part of parents, while parenting their children, as the primary “engine” of sociopsychological progress.
For deMause writes,
“[T]he ultimate source of all historical change is psychogenesis, the lawful change in childrearing modes occurring through generational pressure…. Psychogenesis depends upon the ability of parents and surrogates to regress to the psychic age of their children and work through the anxieties of that age better the second time than in their own childhood.” (op. cit., 1982, p. 135, emphasis mine.)
But this mistake by these two social scientists would not be all that important if it was not the perfect example of the kind of uninformed attitude we have, generally speaking, in Western societies about these forces. This attitude is reinforced by a Judeo-Christian tradition of specialness and scapegoating in the West. It is a pervasive feeling about these things; specifically it, itself, is the actual defense. While this is a widespread reaction to our inner realities it is far from science, and even further from the truth or reality about these things.
“Stop It!” … Yeah, That’s Gonna Work
At any rate, if we adopt this Western, Judeo-Christian, Freudian tactic of decrying the darkness, we are as effective in derailing the cycle of violence and war as Freudians are in what amounts to admonishing their clients to “stop it!” when it comes to their neurotic self-sabotaging.
For people cannot will themselves to merely stop their cycles of neurotic self-sabotage and self-destruction, which are the individual manifestations/ acting out of their birth traumas. As mentioned these directors of action operate out of a different part of the psyche, and brain, than one’s conscious willing part. They are simply not accessible, so hardly amenable, to rational or willful input. And changing one’s thoughts to affect them is about as helpful as rearranging the furniture on the deck of the Titanic.
People Who Have It All Figured Out Are the Ones to Watch Out For … Emotional “Sickness” Might Indicate More “Wellness”
Regression in the Service of the Ego
With the exposure of the ineffectiveness of the Freudian tactic of intellectual understanding has come the Freudian movement’s disintegration into schools advocating various other strategies for change.
These schools/strategies include the psychiatric—the use of drugs; the neo-Freudians who acknowledge and use regression in the service of the ego and abreaction; the humanistic-existential approaches, stressing the “experiential”; and the Jungians and neo-Jungians, who would seek the resolution of these cycles in their inner archetypal acting out, resulting in an eventual rootedness of the ego in a higher Self (a spiritual center) beyond or transcending the cycles. [Footnote 8]
Other approaches include the bulk of the spiritual, new-age, or transpersonal means that are flourishing these days. These alternative paths basically differ from all others in their belief that one can simply bypass these perinatal pulls and pushes and go directly to the Light or the Self by dismissing the birth cycles, or the Darkness or Shadow, through affirming the Light, meditating the Darkness out or the Light in, changing one’s thoughts, creating one’s reality, and various combinations of these.
Finally, these newer schools and strategies for healing include those of what might be called experiential psychotherapy, which includes primal therapy, holotropic breathwork, some forms of (experiential) meditation (Vipassana meditation, for example), Reichian and bioenergetic approaches, some forms of hypnotherapy—experiential ones—ones that involve reliving traumas—and virtually all the techniques, treatments, and correctives that are espoused in the field of pre- and perinatal psychology.
The point is that from a good number of these other-than-Freudian perspectives—and all of those that acknowledge the importance of regression in the service of the ego—and from the perspective of the entire field of experiential psychotherapy, the answer to the cycles of violence, war, and death-rebirth is to stop the acting out, not by simply intellectually decrying it—as if one can actually talk oneself out of one’s inner fears and one’s Darkness/Shadow—but by reliving those cycles of violence at their origins…their primal roots. In the case of perinatal forces, those forces from “the dark side,” this is accomplished by reliving the violence of birth, a perinatal trauma that is thoroughly and masterfully delineated by Grof and deMause. [Footnote 9]
Auspicious Collective Regressions
But from this perspective of experiential psychotherapy—one completely congruent with and grateful of deMause’s contributions in psychohistory as well—regression, in Europe, or elsewhere, is not seen as something to decry, disclaim, be horrified of, or be seen as dangerous but is seen as an opportunity. Regression is certainly not seen as a form of defense but as the opposite of that. Regression is part of a process of diminishing one’s defenses against one’s internal reality of pain and trauma.
Thus, examples of blatant collective regression as in Europe—more so to the extent they are relived, released, and integrated—are entirely auspicious for the eventual elimination of war as a collective device of acting out—defending against—the painful feelings coming from one’s personal history which one carries around, all unknowingly, and which pervade, in one way or another, in forms subtle and not so subtle, every moment of one’s consciousness in the present.
From this experiential psychotherapeutic perspective, we have a different feeling about developments like those that Mayr and Boelderl describe as collective regression in Europe and Lawson describes as occurring at rock concerts. [Footnote 10]
From a more enlightened viewpoint these cultural phenomena should have us, if not dancing in the streets, at least hopeful of a gradual decrease in the use of war and violence. Why? It is because the youth who display this “regression” so blatantly were brought up by an “advanced” form of child-rearing than that of previous generations, that they have fewer defenses, fewer layers of obfuscation covering up their unconscious psychodynamics; consequently the regression is seen more clearly in their behavior. [Footnote 11]
Unflinching Belief Related to Total Dissociation
Why is this important? DeMause points out that people do go to war, and that prior to it their perinatal dynamics come to the fore, as evidenced by perinatal-laden words and images in the media and in leaders’ speeches used to describe the situation and its dynamics. Thus, our leaders take us into war, they act out their perinatal dynamics…and we in following them act out ours…in such gruesomely overt ways because these dynamics are so hidden, repressed, and overlaid with defenses that the conscious mind has absolutely no access to, and hence insight into, them as being part of one’s unconscious dynamics.
Consequently the conscious mind is completely able to convince itself that those dynamics are actual, real, and doubtless parts of the situation and therefore require an actual, real, and extreme response. The amount of resolve required to act out war can only be wrought of an unflinching belief in the rightness, the absolute correctness of one’s perspective of the situation and therefore of that extreme course of response. And that can only be brought about by a total dissociation from one’s perinatal traumas, and a complete and utter projection of it on the outside—the enemy, to be specific.
Blatant “Sickness” Related to Being Real
The contrary is also true: When there does not exist that total and complete dissociation of the perinatal trauma—when it is, as in Europe and rock concerts currently, closer to the surface, less defended against, less repressed and, hence, more blatant—it is more accessible to consciousness and less likely to be acted out in the extreme as in war. Instead it is more likely to be acted out in less extreme forms, such as jumping into mosh pits, carrying pacifiers, listening to baby tunes about the, very real, difficulties of being a baby, and so on.
Finally, it is more likely to be actually allowed to emerge in consciousness and be relived, and thereby “healed”…and gone beyond, to be replaced by something more benign and more socially constructive, and thus to be removed forever as a motivation to war or violence. This is the auspicious view of the developments described by Mayr and Boelderl. [Footnote 12]
Janov was the first to point out that a permanent resolution of underlying trauma initially entailed an aggravation of symptoms and symbolic acting out. That is to say, the underlying dynamics become more blatant and apparent in behavior. [Footnote 13]
Janov was also the first to note that the acting-out and overt neurotic was closer to being “real,” and therefore really sane, than his or her highly functioning and “normal,” but repressed, rigidly defended, and unfeeling neighbor. [Footnote 14]
The Most Evolved Parenting … Boomers and Millennials … and The Cyclical Nature of History: I Know It’s Hard to Believe But We’ve Been Getting Saner
Thanks to You We’re Getting Saner: The Most Evolved Parenting … Boomers and Millennials … and The Cyclical Nature of History
Evolution of Parenting – We’ve Been Getting Saner
Finally, the correctness of the view that being “crazy” in an insane world might be more sane has been borne out in recent history. DeMause describes an evolution of parenting from ancient times to the present which involved ever decreasing psychosis and violence and increasing caring and consciousness of the needs of children. He connects this decrease in violent child caring to ever decreasing violence and psychotic acting out in societies.
DeMause labels the most common modern parenting mode the socializing mode. Short of the quite recent helping mode—which only really rose to prominence in the last three decades—the socializing mode is the most advanced and most humane.
Lest there be any confusion, I wish to point out that my own theoretical understanding differs from deMause’s in one important respect. While I agree with his evolution of child-rearing over the course of civilization and within recorded time, I believe he is wrong about prehistory and what primal peoples were like and the kind of child-caring they engaged in. He depicts prehistoric societies as psychotically oblivious of the needs of children, engaging in, first, infanticidal; then, second, abandoning; then, third, ambivalent modes of child-rearing. Whereas it seems to me the overwhelming evidence and increasing numbers of anthropologists point to a natural “organic” child-caring being employed in the the mists of the past quite a bit more “advanced” than even many modes employed today.
I believe the change from the loving parenting we see in many primal peoples and in Nature among many of our planetmates to the infanticidal, abandoning, and ambivalent modes he has described for early historic cultures is a product of that ever increasing control of Nature that went into full gear with the agrarian revolution, some ten to twenty-five thousand years ago. So, I am saying that brutal parenting was a consequence of “civilization” and was at its worst at the beginnings of recorded time.
But I agree we have been gradually evolving to better modes of child-caring over the history of civilization to the most sane and psychologically beneficial modes employed in recent decades, which, you might want to note, are very much like the modes of the earliest humans. I describe why and how we lost our connection with Nature and loving ways of parenting—how we left “Eden”—in my book and blog “The Great Reveal.”
The Cycles of Time
I believe my understanding shows once again how much of what modern folks thought of “development”—including it being linear and increasing from “darkness” to “light” with ourselves always at the top (conveniently)—is wrong and merely part of an anthropocentric bias and an ethnocentric heritage. For more and more, as we lay down those blinders to reality, we notice the evidence of the cyclical nature of everything—from our lives (ashes to ashes) to the physical Universe’s expansion and contraction, to the vibrations at the subatomic level, the waves in the sea, the turning of the Earth and the revolutions of the solar systems, and I contend now also, the so-called “history” of our species on Earth. This is the thoroughly postmodern idea that human time is also cyclical, with over and again peoples returning to earlier halcyon times only to “fall” away from them.
The Worst of Times Quality of Current Events
This idea of time as cyclical not linear is in keeping with Eastern philosophies, as well as indigenous ones. Hindu thinking currently has us at the depths of the Kali Yuga, the worst part of the cycle right now, with matters to be reversed very soon and the best of times just ahead. And, as I have been describing in my books Falls from Grace and Primal Renaissance and will be directly pointing out in my upcoming book, Primal Return, we are currently seeing a most necessary return to a more harmonious way of being and a more natural self. And with it, requiring it, to some extent preceding it, we are evolving to the most advanced mode of loving parenting.
The “Best of Times” Nature of Our Parenting
Psychohistorian Glenn Davis, following deMause, analyzed the most advanced form of child-caring short of the most recent helping mode—the psychogenic parenting mode deMause termed socializing—and found that it comprised four submodes. In order, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century and each one a more “evolved” and humane one than the previous one, they are the submodes of psychic control, aggressive training, vigorous guidance, and delegated release. [Footnote 15]
Oh, Be-HAVE. WWII Generation … Received Aggressive-Training and Vigorous-Guidance Parenting
Davis concluded that in America the Vietnam War was perpetrated by individuals belonging almost entirely to the aggressive-training and vigorous-guidance psychoclasses. [Footnote 16]
Questioning Authority and Oneself Is Good. Boomers … Received Delegated Release Parenting
Yet the Vietnam War was brought to an end largely as a result of the efforts of an antiwar movement whose largest component was a Sixties youth brought up under a more advanced delegated-release child-caring mode. [Footnote 17]
The delegated release mode, which resulted in the phenomenon of Sixties youth and the counterculture, is the most “advanced” mode short of the helping mode.
“Let’s Collaborate” – Millennials. Received the Most Advanced Parenting – Helping … “We Just Want You to Be Happy.”
The helping mode is the child-caring mode employed widely by the Sixties generation for their children, the Millennial Generation, also known as Generation Y. So, a helping mode of parenting was enjoyed by the children of a delegated-release psychoclass, the Boomers. Sixties youth are seen, psychologically, to have the most the most “advanced” ego structures short of their children taught within a helping mode. [Footnote 18]
Ending War and Humanicide—Peace Is Worth its Price of Suffering: Better “Emotionally Disturbed” Than “Healthily” Fighting in War
Walking In Another’s Moccasins
It is obvious that these Sixties youth did not have the same unflinching and unqualified belief in the absolute rightness of their country’s position in Vietnam as did many of their parents. This is obviously the case in a psychoclass of youth chanting a generational mantra, “Question authority!” and whose more extreme members would at times even go over to the perspective of seeing the war from the eyes of the “enemy,” the Other.
As I mentioned earlier, among the Sixties Generation we saw Jane Fonda’s journey to Hanoi, the waving of North Vietnamese flags by protesters, and the carrying of little red books on the sayings of Chairman Mao. These are obvious indicators that the generation as a whole was open to seeing the war from the North Vietnamese perspective: That is, as a conflict perpetrated by a foreign nation that was hypocritical in its espousal of democracy in that it prevented democratic elections that would have without doubt elected Ho Chi Minh and instead it installed a puppet-ruler in the South, making Vietnam a virtual colony of the United States. From this perspective, the Vietnam War was for the Vietnamese as much a war for independence as the American Revolution was for the U.S.
This is just an example of how there are two sides to every issue and how an attempt at empathy or “walking in The Other’s moccasins”—made possible by a closeness to a perinatal unconscious that is also an opposite perspective than that of the conscious mind—can lead, at the minimum, to the reluctance necessary to prevent engaging in at least the most blatant and horrific forms of violence…against others, but consider also, against Nature.
The Perinatal Generation
At any rate, is there evidence that this undermining of the self-righteous position necessary for the instigation and carrying out of war and ecocide—this ability to see at least somewhat from The Other’s perspective and not just one’s own—is in truth correlated with a closeness to perinatal dynamics, a closeness to the unconscious for that generation of youth, those of the Sixties? The answer: Absolutely yes!
As mentioned in a previous part, sociologist Kenneth Keniston did psychological studies of members of the Sixties Generation.
He was inspired to do so through his noticing that he was seeing something really unusual and radically different in these youth than what he had ever seen. This led to his fascination with discovering what made them so different. And he documented his findings in two books—The Uncommitted: Alienated Youth in American Society and Young Radicals: Notes on Committed Youth. Roughly speaking he chose to study the unconscious dynamics of both the “alienated-hippie” and the “activist” sectors, respectively, of that generation. [Footnote 19]
At the risk of repeating myself, I wish to remind the reader that a reading of his books—keeping in mind that Keniston knew nothing of perinatal dynamics at that time, and few people did, for that matter—reveals a degree of perinatal imagery, fantasy, and acting out—especially among “the uncommitted”—enough to make a troll-handling, pacifier-wearing, mosh-pit jumping youth of today to blush! [Footnote 20]
Self-Analysis and Psychological-Mindedness
Because of this peculiar perinatal access, I don’t believe it is any coincidence that Keniston also found an unusual amount of inner reflection—questioning oneself—alongside the more well known questioning authority. This he labeled “overexamined life” for the alienated sector and “psychological mindedness” for the activists.
Better Emotionally Disturbed Than “Healthily” Engaging in War
So, being close to one’s perinatal imprints, being less defended against one’s inner unconscious painful memories, leads to one being able to question not just oneself—and therefore to be a catalyst to personal growth and a quest for truth—but also the actions of one’s society. It is a counterbalance to our tendency to act out in violence to others as in war and to Nature as in ecocide. It means people will suffer more inner turmoil and pain, will feel more psychologically “disturbed,” and will be less likely to take it out on others, will be less likely to make others or the environment “pay” for what happened to them.
Let us contrast that with its opposite. DeMause writes,
Hitler’s projection of his fears…into Jews and foreigners helped him avoid a psychotic breakdown and enabled him to function during his later life, as long as others shared his delusion of poisonous enemies.
Therefore acting out collectively, as in war, can prevent a psychotic breakdown in certain individuals.
Better Psychotic Than Waging War
But when the consequences of acting out one’s birth trauma, collectively, is millions of people—including oneself—dead, not to mention the uncountably large loss of material and personal resources, it is clear that by comparison a psychotic breakdown is a more benign alternative for either the individual or the society in which that or those individuals act.
Similarly, not providing the outlet of war as a collective birth ritual…oftentimes, for the soldier involved, euphemistically called a “rite of passage”…would allow the genuine neurotic breakdowns, the collapse of people’s defenses, and their opening up to their underlying perinatal dynamics. Thus accessed, they can be healed, or in the least they would prevent the kind of unflinching belief or self-righteousness required for war and violence.
Some folks might even be motivationally paralyzed—receiving information from the unconscious that contradicts and undermines the stance and beliefs of their conscious ego. But when that egoistic stance is slanted, commonly, towards war, violence, selfishness and greed and corresponding environmental apathy, then better one would be indecisive, overwhelmed, and doing nothing.
The Price of Emotional Pain Is Minuscule Compared to That of War
Yet it is true that this neurotic breakdown, of at least a small amount, on the scale of society would result in the kind of collective regressions that Mayr and Boelderl, and Lawson describe. That is, the cause of peace, of the saving of human lives, requires that people pay the price of encountering their primal pain.
By all measures, this peace price is minuscule. It is even more worth it when you take into account the fact that many people, after initially “breaking down” for lack of a collective…and highly destructive…act-out like war/aggression, will actually succeed in reconstructing a self more in line with reality, through the dynamics and means categorized under the term regression in the service of the ego, desccribed above. Regardless of professional help…which would be nice but is not always available or practical…some people just find a way.
Continue with Chapter Ten: Where There Is Hope, Cultural Rebirthing
1. A. Briend, “Fetal Malnutrition: The Price of Upright Posture?” British Medical Journal 2 (1979): 317-319.
2. DeMause, op. cit., 1995, p. 12, emphasis in original.
3. See, for example, Alice Miller, For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence, trans. by Hildegarde and Hunter Hannum. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, especially “Vantage Point 1990,” pp. vii-ix.
4. Daniela F. Mayr & Artur R. Boelderl, “The Pacifier Craze: Collective Regression in Europe.” The Journal of Psychohistory 21 (1993): 143-156.
5. Ibid., p. 144.
6. Ibid., p. 148, emphasis mine.
7. Ibid., pp. 149-150.
8. Regarding the “experiential,” I should make clear that this approach is, from the perspective of the experiential psychotherapeutic approach I will be describing shortly, actually the superficial symbolic acting out of these underlying and powerful cycles in a way that is only a little less impotent than the Freudians.
9. DeMause, op. cit., 1995.
11. Mayr and Boelderl claim quite wrongly and quite strangely—as if to make the facts not conflict with DeMause’s psychogenic theory, or as if to cover up some hole in their analysis—that those caught up in the pacifier craze were raised under the intrusive and socializing parenting modes (op. cit., 1993, p. 145) and yet, in 1992, were between the ages of 15 and 30 (Ibid., p. 143). This is hard to understand because these youth would have been born between the years 1962 and 1977 in advanced Western countries of mostly Western Europe—Italy, Germany, Austria, all of Europe, and even the U.S. (Ibid.).
However, the intrusive and socializing modes are associated, by DeMause, with the eighteenth century and the nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries, respectively, in the Western world (DeMause, op. cit., 1982, p. 62). On the other hand, the helping mode begins mid-twentieth century in the Western world (Ibid., p. 63).
The conclusion from this is that these youth, described by Mayr and Boelderl, would have been greatly influenced by the helping mode. They would be expected, at least, to have received the most advanced methods of child-caring overall in the world at this time—considering DeMause’s theory—since they are the most recent progeny of the Western world!
Indeed, if these cannot be considered products of the helping mode, who can be? In order for Mayr and Boelderl to dispute this and claim they were exceptions to the rule and were raised under intrusive and socializing modes, they would have had to do a study demonstrating this, or at least cite one done. And this they do not do.
12. Michael D. Adzema, “Reunion With the Positive (Self), Part 1: The Other Half of ‘The Cure.’” Primal Renaissance: The Journal of Primal Psychology 1(2): 72-85. Reprinted on the Primal Spirit site.
15. Glenn Davis, Childhood and History in America. New York: The Psychohistory Press, 1976.
19. Kenneth Keniston, The Uncommitted: Alienated Youth in American Society. New York: Dell, 1965; Young Radicals: Notes on Committed Youth. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1968.
20.While these aspects of youth are laid out by Keniston, a fuller delineation of these dynamics are to be seen in my work-in-progress, tentatively titled The Once and Current Generation: “Regression,” Mysticism, and “My Generation.” [Stay tuned.]
Continue with Chapter Ten: Where There Is Hope, Cultural Rebirthing
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Cycles of War, Cycles of Birth … What Can Be Done: Changing the Patterns of Millennia Requires Learning That Feeling Good Is Not Bad
Derailing the Cycles of War and Violence: What Say We Leave a Planet For Our Offspring? And Can You Handle Happiness?
Apocalypse No! Chapter Eight:
Derailing the Cycles of War and Violence
Why We Invite War, Allow Fascism, and Pollute: Our Coming Into the World Makes Us Want to Leave It
The question posed at the end of the last chapter was whether we had opened the door to an unimaginable armageddon or were experiencing the birth pangs of a massive consciousness transformation and subsequent Earth rebirth. Are we going to self-destruct, bringing death to the entire planet along with us, or will we become good citizens of this planet and our species continue on?
What Say We Leave a Planet For Our Offspring?
Most folks would think there would be only one answer to that question desired by virtually all humans. But in previous chapters, especially Apocalypse Emergency, Chapter Five: Death Wish – Thanatos Walking, I showed how, and why, that common-sense notion would, amazingly, be wrong: We saw how there is a huge percentage of our human Earth citizens, and a part of all of us, that wants to “throw in the towel.” This has always been true of humans, but it is of critical importance only now.
But I will assume anyone reading this will at least consciously be wanting our vital question to be answered in the affirmative. You know as well as I that the folks on the other side of this question are doing vastly different things right now than us and are nowhere to be found around here.
How Do We “Like” Life?
So the next thing to be addressed is how we might change our fortunes and live. Since continuing on is not just of matter of deciding it—voting “like” on it or checking its box—as we saw in Chapter Five: Death Wish, how can we get around this part of ourselves and our population that wants to do us all in? We need to know how to derail our perpetual cycles of war and violence. We need know how to quit bringing pollution and suffering on us. We have to know how we can stop our secret desire to take comfort in failure, how to “unlike” self-sabotage on our inner “profile.”
How Do We “Unlike” Fascism?
I have written a great deal on this question, including an entire book in 2011 on the way we act out this masochistic tendency politically and culturally by taking comfort in totalitarianism and embracing fascism. [Footnote 1]
For our purposes presently I will focus on the element of it all that is critical to answering our question. So we first need to look into the place from which emanates our dilemma. I showed that this bugaboo is our Will to Death.
Our Coming Into This World Makes Us Want to Leave It
Now we need to get more specific on this negative inclination of ours. As we have seen this Will to Death arises from human’s unique-among-all-species primal pain rooted in our singular way of coming into the world, our unique human birth.
We Need Look Deeper
We need to look deeper into the elements of that part of ourselves that would have us take us all down. We need inquire into that tendency of ours to choose pollution over health, tyranny over freedom, war over peace, enslavement over autonomy, violence over pacifism, oppression over liberty, misery over happiness. We must derail the cycles of war, violence, and fascism. We must know how to “like” happiness.
We Need Know Where Exactly to Focus Our Efforts to Be Successful
To do so, we must separate the skeins of this inner entanglement and shed light into this darkness within. We need to know specifically, precisely where to place the lever of effort we will apply to truly move the world, to derail it from its current acceleration into oblivion.
So we look now into the elements of that perinatal unconscious manifesting currently as a will to die on the grandest scale imaginable.
Cycles of War, Cycles of Birth
We find there are two researchers who are particularly relevant to our understanding of the elements of the perinatal unconscious in a way as to avert collective, worldwide disaster. These are Stanislav Grof and Lloyd DeMause. [Footnote 2]
Men Would Rather Be “Manly” Than…Alive…
[T]he group-fantasy shared prior to wars expresses the nation’s deep feeling that the increase in pleasure brought about by the prosperity and progress that usually precede wars “pollutes” the national blood-stream with sinful excess, making men “soft” and feminine”—a frightful condition that can only be cleansed by a blood-shedding purification. [Footnote 2]
Men are more terrified of appearing “feminine” than of losing their lives. Why we invite war.
DeMause is saying we go forever into war because after a while peace makes men feel guilty, “sinful.” Men have uncomfortable, even shameful…homophobic…feelings of being “soft” or “feminine” when their lives are good. So men choose the “purifying,” masculinizing ritual of war to fight off these feelings. Nothing distracts one from looking inward better than a “good, old-fashioned” life-or-death struggle, and war is the most all-encompassing of them.
Men are more terrified of appearing “soft” than having the boot of totalitarianism on their neck. Why we allow fascism.
What DeMause says about bringing war upon us can be said also about allowing fascism, inviting totalitarianism. For whether we are fighting enemies of another nation or struggling to survive against oppression at home, we are involved in a daily struggle. Secret to us, we feel better being engaged in a dramatic battle, though it brings us suffering and misery.
We simply can’t hack peace for very long. We feel guilty, for some reason, lolling on the beach. You ever notice how at the end of your vacation time, you are anxious for it to be over and to get back to work? That feeling—that one where we feel…guilty?…uncomfortable…tense?…unfulfilled?…(you tell me)—that’s it. That’s the one I’m talking about.
It happens the same way collectively after we have experienced a “vacation” of national peace—for example, in the Nineties when we were prosperous and mostly peaceful under Clinton. At the end of it, with Bush, we ended up getting the misery and struggle many in America were driven to want, though no one would ever admit that.
A quick aside. The fact that the majority of Americans actually didn’t vote for Bush and so tried to choose happiness over struggle is a source of hope for us in all this. That’s a hint of what’s coming.
Cycles of Birth, Cycles of War … The Four “Colors” of the Perinatal Veils and Why Women Fear Fatness and Men Fear Femininity
Four Kinds of Early Experience Color Our Adult Experience in Four Distinct Ways … Cycles of Birth and War
Four Kinds of Experiences in Our First Nine Months Imprint Us for Four Feeling “Flavors” as Adults
But for now, let us get back to this opening provided us. We can make better use of deMause’s insight on the birth feelings that take us into war using Stanislav Grof’s delineation of this birth unconscious of ours. Let us review as described earlier and further stipulate on them: Grof explains we are moved as adults by four specific kinds of drives emanating from our earliest experiences. These specific tendencies in us relate to four different times in the birth process which involve four radically different kinds of experiences.
Grof uses the term, basic perinatal matrices (BPMs), to refer to these four aspects of our inner urges. I will describe them here and refer to them along with DeMause’s cycles of social-historical violence and war to pull apart the roots of our current apocalyptic dilemma. [Footnote 3]
Our Tendency to Always Screw Up a Good Thing, BPM I
The first of Grof’s aspects of our unconscious he terms Basic Perinatal Matrix I, BPM I for short.
Prosperity and Progress Equal Feeling “Soft” and “Feminine”
Grof’s BPM I is sometimes described as “oceanic bliss” and involves the experiences and feelings related to the relatively undisturbed prenatal period. On the social, macrocosmic level, it is the period described in the quote by deMause above in which there is a period of “prosperity and progress” and feelings of being “soft” and “feminine.”
The strong connection between individual experience (personal psychology) and collective realities (social-historical events and elements) is patent here since in BPM I experience the individual is still in the mother’s womb and to some extent shares her identity, which is of course feminine. Being unborn and not having gone through the “toughening” experiences of birth and later trauma, which predominantly create one’s defenses, the individual is also “soft,” in other words, undefended.
“No Pain, No Gain,” Hell, Satan, and Poisonous Placenta; BPM II
To further review Grof’s schema and its relation to deMause’s cycles of war, I want to remind you that BPM II is related on the individual level to the time near the end of pregnancy when the fetus is no longer rocking blissfully on the waves of oceanic bliss but is trapped in an ever more confining womb. As the fetus grows in size, the suffering becomes greater; no doubt this is the source of the common-sense belief that growing has to involve suffering, for example, “No pain, no gain.” At any rate, the feelings are those of claustrophobia and “no exit.”
There is heavy non-agitated depression here, since there appears to be no hope, no change in the situation that would indicate a way out of the suffering. Indeed, this period continues practically right up to the time of birth, ending only when the cervix becomes dilated and, experientially speaking, there appears suddenly to be a “light at the end of the tunnel” and therefore hope.
Where the Hell We Get the Idea of Hell
However, up until that time there are feelings of being totally unempowered, completely in the hands of an entity—the womb—that imposes a horrifying reality that appears to be unending and eternal. Herein we have the psychological roots of notions of hell and Satan. Feelings associated with this state include despair, victimization, blame, and guilt.
“You’ll Wallow in Your Shit, and You’ll Think You’re Happy.” – Kurt Cobain, from the Song, “Sad”
As birth comes nearer, “fetal malnutrition” increases, since the neonate’s increasing size and weight press down on and constrict the blood vessels that carry blood to and from the placenta, when the mother is standing. The decreased blood supply means a reduction of life-giving oxygen as well as the buildup of toxins that would otherwise be taken away by a normal blood flow. So feelings of suffocation as well as skin irritation and other feelings of wallowing in waste matter—deemed poisonous placenta by deMause—increase. [Footnote 4]
“You’re Really in a Laundry Room.” – Kurt Cobain, from the Song, “Sad”
As I have said previously, deMause has found that these feelings exist to an extraordinary degree in a society and its leaders prior to its engaging in a war. Similarly, they precede, and obviously can be held to be accountable for, individual acts of violence—including everything from murder and rape to unfortunately all-too-common and ordinary spousal and child abuse in the household, and of course everything in between.
Bloody War, Bloody Birth — BPM III
BPM III is birth. Its social analogue is war or violent assault. Feelings that accompany this state on both the individual and societal level include rage and intense aggressiveness, all-encompassing struggle, and sexual excess.
Nothing’s Ever Good Enough, BPM IV
BPM IV relates to the time of actually coming out of the womb and the post-natal period. On the societal level it is the ending of a war.
“Busting Out All Over”
Feelings of expansiveness, release, exultation, coming finally out into the light and/or being “on top” of things, and victory are feelings associated with this matrix, whether in the individual birth or the collective war cycle.
As I said the societal analogue to BPM IV, or actually being born, is a war’s end. It is no coincidence that in triumph or peace, the two-finger peace symbol is used. What better way to signal we have come from constriction into openness, specifically through the vise of a mother’s cervix, out from between two legs. As John Lennon so aptly put it, using the peace sign frequently, “War is over (if we want it).”
Mission Accomplished … Not!
Interestingly, just as in recent times harsh modern obstetrical practices and the removal of the baby from the mother can leave lifetime feelings of success not bringing with it the expected rewards and thus a post-accomplishment sort of depression, so also the ending of successful wars sometimes also leaves a society with a sort of letdown. For example, the euphoria following George H. W. Bush’s Gulf War—which catapulted his approval ratings into the ninety percent range in 1991—was followed, only a year later, by the increasing agony of a recession and Bush’s defeat at the polls.
Cycles of Birth, Cycles of War
All of this is to say that in society, as in the womb, a period of uninterrupted and relatively undisturbed feelings of growth leads to feelings of depression—being too “soft” and “feminine,” but also “too fat” in the womb and, therefore, extremely constricted and compressed.
Why Women Fear Becoming Fat and Men Fear Appearing “Feminine”
Another way of saying this: feelings of expansion are followed by a fear of entrapment. And I agree wholeheartedly with deMause in saying that it happens this way in a nation’s cycle of feelings because it happened that way to us prior to and during our births. We have these patterns of feelings as collective groups of individuals because our first experience of expansion was followed by extreme depression, guilt, despair, and then struggle and something bloodily akin to war—our actual births.
What to Do to Stop War and Violence: Changing the Patterns of Millennia Requires Learning That Feeling Good Is Not Bad
To Derail War and Violence, Replace Self-Sabotaging With Self-Actualizing … We Can No Longer Afford Our Delusional Ways
What Can Be Done?
So knowing this, how can we use it? In previous chapters, I explained how and why we see the dynamics of this perinatal unconscious, not coincidentally right now, on the ascendance, just at the time when it is crucial we deal with it to survive. I called this an emerging perinatal unconscious, and I went into detail about why it is happening now, what it means, and how we should take advantage of the opportunity it brings that could aid us in our current dilemma.
For now, I need only remind that is imperative we face these unconscious forces instead of turning away from and thereby insuring our continued ignorance of them and helpless acting out of them.
So, how do we consciously participate in these drives, not merely be driven by them?
Lloyd DeMause, in his article, “Restaging of Early Traumas in War and Social Violence,” printed in the spring 1996 issue of The Journal of Psychohistory, called for kinder and gentler birthing and child-caring practices to mitigate the ferocity of these forces within humans and help us avoid an otherwise inevitable planetary disaster. He was restating what other pre- and perinatal psychologists…I am one, by the way…including Thomas Verny and Stanislav Grof assert. [Footnote 5]
However, I believe we need to go further than that. I, along with Grof, call for a larger awareness of and efforts in the direction of healing these perinatal elements in the consciousness and unconscious of those already alive right now. For unless we act to heal the people currently inhabiting this planet, we might not leave a planet that babies can be born into!…let alone people to conceive and give birth to them. Healing the perinatal traumas can be accomplished through, at this point, thoroughly tested and effective techniques of experiential regression and emotional release.
But it is impossible for everyone to take advantage of these techniques, especially in the short time we have to make the changes. But something short of that ideal may be sufficient to stave off otherwise inevitable doom.
Let me explain what I mean by that.
Finding the Weakest Spot
Of course only time will tell what will be the result of this emerging perinatal unconscious for our species.
Real, not blindly delusional, action is required.
But to get an idea of what we might hope for, given a readiness to actually do something about this, I offer a perspective. This understanding requires we remember some critical aspects of the cartography of the psyche described above. Looking into them we might begin to see where are the openings allowing for realistic action to be taken to bring about true, not just blindly delusional, change for our species.
We can no longer afford otherwise.
For our purposes here, the most important part of the cycle is BPM I. Societies, according to deMause, go through these cycles of war and peace and have been doing so for as long as we know. But we can no longer afford these wars, as World War I and World War II have shown—with each one being an increase in our ability to destroy and to commit atrocities. We cannot afford to have a World War III as that most likely would end life on our planet.
Indeed, as I’ve been pointing out, we cannot even afford the less extreme forms of acting out of perinatal trauma that we have been doing in our poisoning of the earth and air, global overpopulation, and the ongoing regional wars to give just a few of many examples I could have used. These things, along with many other current quite insane tendencies of ours, have the capacity to end our species and possibly all life on this planet.
Feeling Good Is Not Bad
So the cycle of societal perinatal acting out must be stopped. And the most obvious place to derail the insidious cycle is at the point of societal prosperity and progress. Feeling soft, undefended, and feminine are, rationally speaking, not things to be alarmed about.
Quite to the contrary, it is rational that prosperity should make people feel good. It is rational that feeling soft should be a source of contentment, sensitivity, and intimacy with others. It makes sense that men should have no shame about feeling feminine because that only means that they have access to sensitive and nurturing feelings that are a source of joy, “color,” and fulfillment in life.
Changing the Patterns of Millennia
But how do we do this? How do we convince people that feeling good is not bad? For these unconscious forces, these cycles of violence, have been pulling our strings for at least tens of thousands of years. How can we change such an engrained pattern?
Chasing the Mirages of the Future
Well, again, we get our leads from the experiences of individuals undergoing experiential psychotherapy.
“It’s never enough.”
For individuals also, if they are to heal themselves, have to learn how to appreciate success and to stop sabotaging themselves in the myriad of ways they do. Individuals act out their mini-cycles of “war” in their struggles to achieve. And people are driven to struggle to achieve because they cannot be pleased with what they have.
Relating back to deMause’s societal schema, people cannot simply enjoy their “prosperity.” People cannot stop to smell the roses occasionally. We cannot count our blessings and feel contented with what we have. Nor can we enjoy the natural pleasure of being alive in the moment.
“Wrong…It IS enough.”
No, instead what characterizes we humans—for the most part because of our having birth trauma—is a persistent drive to always have more than we do. We find that every accomplishment or success is short lived, with inexplicable depression following it. For each new attainment does not bring the expected (unconscious) rewards and leads us almost immediately to a new struggle, a new accomplishment to be sought.
Humans are driven to chasing mirages of better times somewhere off in the future, and we fail to live in the present. We feel unsatisfied with what we have and are continually deluded that some new possession, accomplishment, or love “conquest” will bring with it the missing happiness.
Becoming Self-Actualizing Instead of Self-Sabotaging
When people are aware of the way they unconsciously sabotage their happiness, they sometimes seek help. And if they seek help in the experiential psychotherapies, they are enabled to work through their birth trauma so that they are no longer driven out of the moment, with its pleasure and pain, into an imagined but never attainable pleasureful and happy future.
Learning that it is enough
So people derail their cycles of drivenness and their tendencies to sabotage their successes by learning to enjoy their “prosperity,” even if it is the simple pleasure of being alive. And when they act to add to that pleasantness, they do so, not out of drivenness, but out of feelings of flow and the simple joys of acting and actualizing one’s tendencies, talents, and desires. They become self-actualizing instead of self-sabotaging.
Can You Handle Happiness? What to Do – We Get By With a Little Help, from Our Nature … Stand in the Place Where You Are
A Hierarchy of Healing … Becoming Human Beings (Not Doings): Removing the Hood from Homophobes, A Hard Rain, and Stand
OK, knowing this, one might ask if I am suggesting that to save our species everyone needs to get into experiential therapy. While that would be nice, it is not practical.
But I believe it is not necessary either. There is an element of that societal period of prosperity that can be used and focused on in order to make the societal change of pattern, the societal derailing of the tendency to self-sabotage through war-making.
Getting By, With a Little Help From Our Nature
And that element is this: During times of prosperity, when one is less engaged in a struggle to survive, we find that one’s body will naturally try to heal itself of unresolved and somatically imprinted trauma by bringing into consciousness the repressed traumatic memories needing resolution.
Hierarchy of Healing
This occurs in a manner similar to that of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Basically, one’s needs to “grow emotionally”…i.e., clear away the unresolved trauma…can only come to the fore when one’s physical survival needs are relatively taken care of. And arise they unerringly do, given any opportunity to do so.
“Don’t just do something, STAND there!”
However, when these traumatic memories come up seeking resolution, they, also unerringly, bring with them the associated feelings of depression, unease, and pain. But because these feelings are anything but pleasant, to their detriment most people seek to avoid these feelings through addictions and other forms of “acting-out” behavior. So addictions and acting-out behavior emerge after periods of relative stability precisely because that stability allows unresolved feelings an opening for emergence and a possibility of resolution and healing.
Allowing Our Society to Be Honestly, Blatantly “Sick”
So there you have it; that is the crux. The period of societal prosperity can be maintained and added to if that society refuses to run away from the negative feelings that come up with success. As I have said, one needs to get “sicker” in order to get really well.
“Stand in the Place Where You Are … Just Stand.”
Societally, we need to allow the social, formerly repressed, “sicknesses,” negativities, and the pain that comes with them to arise and be socially worked out, to be hashed out, rather than to escape them by resorting to scapegoating enemies and waging war against them. [Footnote 6]
Are We Doing This?
But can societies do this? Are they doing this?
It does not seem so at the moment. For we have extreme acting out going on from Tea Party type elements. The homophobia that characterizes them is an indicator of the degree to which they are fearful of that feeling of being “soft” and “feminine,” I mentioned.
But Then Again…
However there is a pattern in change that things can not really change until the negative slide has “hit bottom.” These negative forces cannot be gone beyond until they have wasted themselves in desperate acts. At this time also, positive forces are strengthening in the wings, burnishing their skills, tempering their character and nobility, fully capable when the time comes to take over. There are so many examples of this in social and individual histories, but not to get bogged down, I will mention one powerful one—Nelson Mandela. You can take it from there.
The more common thing to mention about change is that prior to a major paradigm shift, the forces on the decline always wage a fierce, desperate battle…a bloody retreat, a burning of the fields, near suicidal and totally reckless forays.
We see people do this, too, just before they are about to change. We see people who self-destruct being the ones whose last desperate battle before awareness can dawn being something that takes their life and perhaps others with them.
We currently can point to Gaddafi, Assad, and other tyrants. We can observe reckless tea-baggers willing, as in the debt ceiling clash, to bring down the country for ideals that, however rationalized and spun, are at their roots as simple and crude as jealousy—of those smarter and more capable; hatred—of minorities, the poor, the “dirty,” the “slobs,” the “lazy”…basically all the scapegoats society allows them to vent the rage of their inner fears and hurt on; and homophobia—that fear of being “soft,” feminine, unmasculine, and being willing to kill or be killed rather than to let oneself be seen that way.
Homophobes Don’t Fear Homosexuals … They Fear What’s Inside Themselves
Before continuing, one big misconception around that last point needs clearing up: homophobia is at base not fear/hatred of homosexuals, it is terror/hatred of the “feminine” and “softness” inside of the man himself who is homophobic. And this is the result of tens of thousands of years of “civilization,” still continuing, in which men are threatened with disapproval, ostracism, ridicule, attack, or worse for not repressing their softer sides down to the level of the norm of their group.
Boys Learn They Must Be Less Alive to Survive
Boys learn they must constrict their potentials and diminish themselves to that which coincides with—and does not threaten—the older males in their group or face severe punishment. Boys learn the consequences for not becoming less than they could be are severe, often from their own fathers.
Girls Learn They Must Feel Less Pleasure to Be Liked
And by the way, something similar goes on with young girls and the reduction of their potentials. We see a blatant example of this in the practice of cliterectomy—also called female genital mutilation—in some cultures. In this practice the older women—mother and aunts usually—are responsible for this brutal and extremely painful and bloody attack. It tells little girls they will have no pleasure more than that which was allowed the older women, themselves, in that patriarchal world. So girls must diminish themselves in order to not be hated and ostracized by the women of the group, who, already having been diminished, would be jealous of someone being allowed to have what they have not. This is an exact mirror image of the process that goes on in the diminution of the personalities—the potentials—of young boys.
A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall
Now to continue: So seeing so much of this pathos, hate, and bitter fear and anger is hopeful for us to be near the end of the cycle. Certainly it could get worse. But I personally don’t see how we could go much further on this path to oblivion without going past the point of no return. Perhaps we are not meant to succeed. Perhaps we are doomed. But I know in my own life, and that is the only true basis anyone can have for knowing how things really work, that, without fail, every seeming “loss of ground” was a prelude to an even bigger “advance.”
As Jung said, we need to take two steps backward to make a big leap forward. That is the way individuals are. And societies and populations are just collections of individuals. As the Tao symbol depicts, the seed of light is in the depths of darkness. So we can hold on to that, for one thing.
So Let Us See. A Scenery of Healing?
With these considerations in mind, the next chapter will evaluate our current social-cultural scenery for our prospects. In Rebirthing Rituals – The Sometimes Messy Scenery of Healing—we will look for any indications that this standing firm in the face of the rising up of the repressed social Shadow—allowing the pain of it and facing it foursquare, hashing it out—is to be found in the current social arena.
If we can find this being done, we may allow ourselves at least the hope for a change in consciousness radical enough to save us from extinction. On the contrary, if we find little or no evidence for this kind of auspicious, fruitful healing activity, we might as well consider ourselves doomed.
2. Lloyd deMause, “Restaging of Early Traumas in War and Social Violence.” The Journal of Psychohistory 23 (1995): 2. Reprinted with permission on the Primal Spirit site.
Stanislav Grof, Realms of the Human Unconscious: Observations from LSD Research. New York: Viking Press, 1975; LSD Psychotherapy. Pomona, CA: Hunter House, 1980; Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death, and Transcendence in Psychotherapy. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1985; The Adventure of Self-Discovery: Dimensions of Consciousness and New Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Inner Exploration. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1988; The Holotropic Mind: The Three Levels of Human Consciousness and How They Shape Our Lives. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993.
4. “You’ll wallow in the shit and you’ll think you’re happy” and “You’re really in a laundry room” from, and with appreciation to, Kurt Cobain. These are lyrics in his song, “Sad.” The video and lyrics are reproduced again here for your convenience:
Nirvana – “Sad” (also “Sappy” and “Verse Chorus Verse”) – Lyrics
And if you save yourself You will make him happy He’ll keep you in a jar And you’ll think you’re happy He’ll give you breathing holes Then you’ll think you’re happy He’ll cover you with grass And you’ll think you’re happy Now You’re really in a laundry room, You’re really in a laundry room Conclusion came to you, oh And if you cut yourself You will think you’re happy He’ll keep you in a jar Then you’ll make him happy He’ll give you breathing holes Then you’ll think you’re happy He’ll cover you with grass Then you’ll think you’re happy Now You’re really in a laundry room, You’re really in a laundry room Conclusion came to you, oh (x2) And if you fool yourself You will make him happy He’ll keep you in a jar And you’ll think you’re happy He’ll give you breathing holes Then you will seem happy You’ll wallow in your shit Then you’ll think you’re happy Now You’re really in a laundry room (x3) Conclusion came to you, oh Alternate lyrics: And if you kill yourself You will make him happy
5. Lloyd deMause, “Restaging of Early Traumas in War and Social Violence.” The Journal of Psychohistory 23 (1995): 2. Reprinted with permission on the Primal Spirit site.
Stanislav Grof, Realms of the Human Unconscious: Observations from LSD Research. New York: Viking Press, 1975; LSD Psychotherapy. Pomona, CA: Hunter House, 1980; Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death, and Transcendence in Psychotherapy. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1985; The Adventure of Self-Discovery: Dimensions of Consciousness and New Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Inner Exploration. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1988; The Holotropic Mind: The Three Levels of Human Consciousness and How They Shape Our Lives. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993.
6. “Stand in the place where you are…just stand” from and with appreciation to R.E.M. While it seems no one understood the group’s huge initial release, “Stand,” it is quite meaningful in the current context. A video and lyrics are included here for your consideration:
R.E.M. – “Stand” … lyrics
Stand in the place where you live
Now face North
Think about direction
Wonder why you haven’t before
Now stand in the place where you work
Now face West
Think about the place where you live
Wonder why you haven’t before
If you are confused check with the sun
Carry a compass to help you along
Your feet are going to be on the ground
Your head is there to move you around
[repeat 1st verse]
Your feet are going to be on the ground
Your head is there to move you around
If wishes were trees the trees would be falling
Listen to reason
Season is calling
[repeat 1st verse]
If wishes were trees the trees would be falling
Listen to reason
Reason is calling
Your feet are going to be on the ground
Your head is there to move you around
So Stand (stand)
Now face North
Think about direction, wonder why you haven’t before
Now stand (stand)
Now face West
Think about the place where you live
Wonder why you haven’t
[repeat 1st verse]
Stand in the place where you are (Now face North)
Stand in the place where you are (Now face West)
Your feet are going to be on the ground (Stand in the place where you are)
Your head is there to move you around, so stand.
Derailing the Cycles of War and Violence – Audiocasts
For the author’s reading, with elaboration, of this part, click on the link to the audio site above or click the audio player here:
“Part 2; Can You Handle Happiness (And the Pain That Comes With It)?” – the audio by SillyMickel Adzema
For the author’s reading, with elaboration, of this part, click on the link to the audio site above or click the audio player here:
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