Hand to Hand

I have a former work colleague who is happy to watch people arguing partisan politics online for hours on end. Me, I couldn’t do it, it would drive me insane. But so she tells me, she has spotted an interesting trend. Something interesting is happening in the Brexit/Scottish independence debates.

We all know the script. Usually, it is the conservative/defending position that takes the more aggressive stance. The opposing side is the ‘enemy’. Although generally speaking, the progressive position plays less dirty, with repeated exposure over time, both sides can become as bad as each other.It is now standard practice for political campaigns to use paid agents provocateurs to veer public opinion in their favour or away from where the discourse might naturally flow. These campaigns also act as magnets to organic trolls acting out their fear of the unknown. You can always tell which ones are which. The paid trolls give themselves away every time in their sheer stamina and consistency in their use of poltical jargon. It is laughable to think that only the Russians could be capable of such a thing!

The organic trolls, however, are real people. Sad, maybe. Bitter, maybe. But real nonetheless.

And this is where tentative change is occurring.

Taking an argument about COVID resrictions in the UK as an example, the engagements might start with the usual mudslinging but if the time is taken to interrogate the reasoning behind certain assumptions and postions, what becomes clear is that a) the ‘troll’ is acting on misinformation, a misapprehension or a misunderstanding b) they genuinely believe what they are saying c) they are over the moon to discover that they have the wrong end of the stick and d) they are really just scared and want someone to take the time to listen to their concerns. The overriding theme is loneliness.

Of course there are maldoers and idiots among them, but contrary to popular misconception (promoted by the media I have to say), the majority of these bitter, angry people are as sensitive as you or I, they have just learned to process their emotions differently. In the rush to embrace other disenfranchised parts of the community, such as ethnic groups, women or the LGBT community, the old mainstream was pushed to one side by the progressive elites.

Obviously, there are individuals out there who have figured this out and who are willing to take the time to engage on a more human level with their political opponents. They are not engaging from a position of moral or intellectual superiority but as equals. Friendships are forming. Some are meeting in real life over coffee.

I am writing this because I feel strongly that our brothers and sisters across the Pond need to be reassured that this is how it is done. Not by Washington, not Westminster – just us.

Reunifying a divided population is possible but it has to be undertaken in a sprit of compassion – at the grass roots, on an individual level. It is less about finding common political ground than about rediscovering our common humanity. If we can do that, the politics will do just fine.

Heaven’s Gate

A FEW years back (2014-15), during the most turbulent throes of my inner journey, I turned to the most readily available source of information, the Internet. It was only too easy to find an explanation for what was happening to me. Not only was I ‘ascending’, so was the whole damned planet. In short, the ‘awakened’ part of humanity would evolve into a higher dimension, while those that didn’t would remain in this denser reality. Conveniently, both would become invisble to the other. The ‘good’ guys would ‘escape’ the Apocalypse. Sounded pretty appealing.

Despite the holes, once I had adjusted to the idea, I embraced it. Months later I found myself in a situation where I thought to myself “Hang on, something isn’t right here.” The thing is that instead of feeling more centred, balanced, calm, during my quest to find out what was going on with my soul, I became more anxious, as the list of practices I had to learn, stuff I had to know, grew longer. Like which angels did what or what colours to avoid during visualisation. Worse, when was IT going to happen. The Ascension ‘symptoms’ grew worse the more aware of them I became.

Using different key words, I googled a bit deeper, only to find that the Ascension program was most likely a spectacular con, designed to distract those who might otherwise be capable of breaking the status quo and make a few bucks in the process. This alleged hoax was perpetuated by the very agencies that were supposedly trying so hard to prevent it occurring at all. (Did it never occur to anyone that the ‘Illuminati’ might actually WANT every Misfit under the Sun to pack their bags and “””” off to another planet?!)

I also learned that following a spiritual path was less about acquiring ‘spiritual’ knowledge and more about ditching belief systems altogether. Deep down I had always known this and a load was lifted.

So I nipped it in the bud, spent less time dwelling on it and more time following my own inner guidance system, regardless of whether it conformed to any known spiritual practice. Hey presto, the electrical sensations in my crown chakra soon stopped.

Now that I have come to an understanding of the individuation process as described by Carl Jung, the best argument against a collective Ascension scenario is this. One of the basic principles of analytical psychology is that in order to become more whole, we each have to delve into our own Unconscious to integrate the Shadow, those parts of our psyche that we have rendered inaccessible. According to Jung and others, this is done at an individual level. Yes, critical mass can be achieved collectively but it is NOT a group effort. More importantly, in order to ascend, we first have to DESCEND.

Denial and dissociation are what create the Shadow in the first place. And, no matter how many times we try to kill or refuse to acknowledge it, the Shadow doesn’t simply go away. So what makes us think that by committing the most spectacular act of dissociation ever we can guarantee our own salvation? What happens when the Veil cracks and the Shadow comes back to haunt us millennia from now? What will have prepared our descendants for the shock of coming into contact with a world we had wilfully chosen to ignore?

I am not suggesting for one minute that the idea of collective planetary ascension has no truth to it – indeed, if it is a hoax, the best ones have a basis in truth – but that wholesale acceptance of the ‘Ascension Program’ as it has been packaged is a trap. Even if the prospect of splitting off from the horror of life on this planet is real enough, take it from me, when you commit a deliberate act of forgetfulness and it comes back to bite you in the bum, it is not pretty.

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2020

Apocalypse

Depending on who you talk to, the Apocalypse is either the end of everything or the end of life as we know it. Me, I never imagined that when it finally happened, it would be like watching paint dry …

Regardless of whether we are in THE Apocalypse, certainly by definition we are in AN apocalypse of sorts. The word itself means revelation, the removal of the veil of illusion when all will be revealed and nothing will be left hidden. It is easy to see how that could translate in the context of the internet age; it is difficult these days for even governments to keep anything hidden. So apocalypse is less about suffering and more about being forced to see things as they are.

We tend to fixate on the external physical suffering. Most of the graphic imagery of Revelation is not literal but symbolic, in that most of the action occurs within the psyche. And there is a clear implication that we ourselves are co-creators of our own suffering. Again, this correlates with the warnings that if we don’t change course now, our planet will die and us with it.

However you cut it, every end is a new beginning. Without death there is no rebirth. Things have to break down in order to build back up. In some countries, apocalyptic events occur on a continuous basis. Try tellling them it’s not the Apocalypse. The earth has endured countless cataclysmic events and this current world crisis will not be the last.

The greatest arrogance, of course, is for any one of us to believe that we have any greater prerogative than anyone else to survive anything the earth throws at us. God or no God, ultimately, Mother Nature will call the shots. The more we try and control our way out of this, the worse it will be.

Whatever happens, if it is in my own destiny to survive the global crisis, I look forward to seeing what lies on the other side. Hopefully, it will be a world where hate and anger have burnt out and Gaia has a fighting chance to recover from Us.

Me and my Shadow

ONE OF the most challenging foes the archetypal Hero will ever have to face in his/her journey is the Shadow, the ‘dark’ or hidden side of the personality. Stored in the subconscious, it is instinctive and irrational and it is this aspect of ourselves that is at play when we snap or pass judgement. What we reject about ourselves, we project, usually as a moral deficiency in others. The Shadow is not necessarily dark but a spectrum of negative and sometimes positive aspects. It is largely negative because we tend to reject the least socially desirable aspects of our personality. People with low self-exteerm/anxiety typically repress positive attributes, the most obvious being self-love; for a psychopath, the embodiment of their Shadow is what a non-psychopath would perceive as the Light. The Shadow begins to form when as children we try to ft in by repressing aspects of ourselves that either we don’t like or our peers/family don’t like. These can be behaviours, emotions, thoughts, differences, and even memories. As we progress through the educational system, the conscious ego develops beliefs about its place in the world in order to further protect it from rejection by others. Since standards are set from birth that are impossible to live by, it is inevitable that we all form a shadow. The unconscious mind (which includes the subconscious) communicates with our conscious mind through symbols in dreams and visions (among other channels), in a relentless attempt to bring the subconscious back into consciousness. The outward appearance of the symbols used is determined by cultural factors, so in a Christian culture, for instance, the Shadow may manifest as the Devil. Coming into contact with the Shadow may stir up feelings of shame, which is especially typical of sexual matters. Because full sexual expression is repressed by most societies, sexual repression is a more or less universal component of the Shadow. Each Shadow is unique and the more repressed it is, the more power it has over the individual. Compare a philanthropic gangster with a priest who secretly preys on children – the priest has the denser shadow. Conversely, accepting one’s dark side minimises its chances of expressing itself. Recognising one’s dark aspects is the first prerequisite to self-knowledge and a major component of psychosynthesis. It takes considerable mental and moral effort on the part of the ego. Acknowledgement and acceptance of the shadow is a lifelong process of descent, ascent and assimilation. If the process is interrupted, one may have to start over, though not at the very beginning, the subsequent attempt more accelerated than the last. A lifelong game of snakes and ladders! Integration requires vigilance to ensure that we do not over-identify with the ‘dark side’, as the shadow can integrate the conscious instead of the other way around. Susceptibility to such self-sabotage arises during times of stress, shock, confusion or over-thinking. Philosophical and religious traditions have told us for millennia to be ‘better’ human beings but not how to get there. The roadmap is steeped in mystery and jargon under the pretext that the average human being is incapable of such an undertaking. Which to an extent is true but largely because the information is so closely guarded in the first place, a shadow in itself. Personally I believe that even the most dysfunctional human being can be regarded as ready, as long as they have access to the right tools at the right time. Creativity and criminality are both indicators, the latter being a form of the former, and it is a well known fact that the bipolar nature of shadow work drives the creative process (the constant tension between opposites acts rather like a pump). Depression in one who may not even know of individuation is another clue that shadow work is at least in its early stages. Considering that depression and anxiety have reached epidemic proportions (I can only speak for the UK), it is a no brainer that a high percentage of the population has been on the cusp for some time. When the spiritual industry does articulate some form of methodology, most teach that the ego has to be overcome or transcended. This in itself is an act of dissociation, which only feeds the Shadow, so I agree with Carl Jung’s assertion that the conscious and unconscious must fuse for wholeness to occur. Indeed, I find the transcendental route to enlightenment, particularly through use of drugs, can do more harm than good. The Shadow has to be dealt with head on before enlightenment can truly begin. This is why it’s vitally important that we build on the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement. in order to achieve a more enlightened state of relationship with ourselves and our planet, exposing that which is hidden in our collective pasts is a painful but necessary milestone in the healing process.

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2020

A Prayer for the Young 2020

PRAYER for the Young was a piece I wrote in 2016. It was more of a wish list of how I wanted the world to be. Since then much has already changed in a very short space of time, while in other ways, same old, same old. I thought I might read through it again to compare my thoughts then to the way things are now, on the off-chance that I might be able to cross something off the list.

Sadly, no chance, albeit that we are moving in the right direction. One thing’s for sure, though, deep down every man and his dog knows that we have crossed a threshold, and while we have seen the worst of humanity, the best of who we are has been to the fore. Now, regardless of colour, creed, nationality, economic status, gender, ability or political persuasion, the only binary choice we have to make is whether to operate from a position of Love or Fear.

A Prayer for the Young – original article

Heroes wanted – apply within

Teamwork couple  climbers in silhouette

WE PUT them on pedestals then pull them down when we realise they weren’t what they were cracked up to be. We are in such awe that whole ecosystems were wiped out in Australia, in part because a handful of ‘nobodies’ wanted to be Somebodies, and valour theft is rife in the UK because of our obsession with the War. Add now to that the army of nurses and doctors, of whose ability to turn up for work each day knowing what horrors lie ahead, the rest of us rightly stand in reverence. As for the Marvel fetish, this will in all likelihood become more indulgent as the coronavirus pandemic takes its toll. I am, of course, talking about the cult of the hero, a phenomenon as emotive as it is pervasive.

The meaning of the word is as mercurial as history itself, which lends an exquisite irony to the way current events are playing out. Race aside, for years health and care workers were undervalued and are still underpaid while smug rich white men who made their money on the suffering of others enjoyed centre stage in our public spaces. Until now, the prevailing political narrative of the day has usually determined our understanding of what constitutes a hero. It is fitting that at this turning point in human consciousness we should decide for ourselves.

In movies, the hero is generally synonymous with the central character or protagonist. Flawed or conflicted from the outset, any virtues tend to be revealed as they interact with the other characters and the story unfolds. By the time the plot is resolved through some decisive course of action, the world in which they live, if not the protagonist/hero themself, has transformed.

The hero is one of an array of archetypes, which can include a villain, an underdog, a mentor, a love interest … the list goes on. The plot too is archetypal, consisting of a comfort zone (‘normal’ everyday life), a choice made in response to a call to adventure or inciting incident, obstacles and/or internal conflicts, a point of no return, a high point, a low point, a climax and a resolution.

Myths, regardless of whether or not they depict historical events, all share the same characteristics. It is no secret that George Lucas, when he made Star Wars, stuck religiously to the mythic principles Joseph Campbell talked about in The Hero with A Thousand Faces. Even the Easter and Christmas storylines follow the classic formula.

While the oldest myths spoke of elemental forces, animal deities then gods (and goddesses), later versions spoke of half-gods motivated by the achievement of the greater good through their selfless actions (and often subsequent death). With the onset of the Bronze Age, militarised city states and a shift from goddess-worshipping priesthoods to secular forms of power came stories of kings, conquest and the search for honour, glory or fame. The pay-off for the collective was the benefit of the triumphant hero’s protection. And since it is a key requirement of storytelling – and conditioning – that whoever is experiencing the story identifies with the protagonist, the more human heroes became, the more flawed they became and the more mere mortals identified with them.

The oldest versions of the labyrinth myth are ‘softer’ than the Minotaur story with which we are most acquainted. The more recent narrative of the male hero slaying the Beast to save the people secured the progression towards the more psychotic approach to the unknown that survives in western culture to this day. In contrast, the more feminine versions of the hero myths somehow survived in romantic tales of princes and princesses (compare Beauty and the Beast with the story of the Minotaur). Scholars now estimate the point of origin of European fairy tales to be around four to six thousand years ago.

Now it appears we have returned full circle to a pantheon of half-human superheroes (not all white blokes with long beards, thankfully) serving the greater good. It will be interesting to see how the ongoing demonisation of ‘kings’ and the veneration of key workers will play out in future narratives.

As for mere mortals, we’re all hard-wired for meaning and purpose. Some say the search for meaning arises as a reaction to the absolute certainty that one day we will all die. We are instinctively drawn to opportunities to depart from the status quo, to leave ‘home’. That is why we get bored. And when the adventure is over, we return ‘home’.

However, society counter-programs us to fear the unknown; the Bogeyman is planted in the childhood psyche to prevent us from straying too far from the herd. And so we are conditioned to satisfy our heroic impulses by vicariously following the deeds of others while keeping our own heads down and maintaining the status quo. Only those who ‘sell their souls’ seem able to clamber to the top. Nine times out of ten, hero status on the basis of virtue is granted only to those who die in the pursuit of their great deeds or put themselves in harm’s way. Indeed, putting dead people on pedestals is an essential requirement of maintaining ‘social order’ (the Church turned this into an art form). Meanwhile, from birth, our educational system conditions us to confuse meaning with validation by our peers, our whole sense of identity tied up in how many friends we have, how ‘successful’ we are, how much money we have, the badges we wear, acceptance by the Tribe.

I am convinced that everyone at some point in their life hears the ‘call’ but that most choose to ignore it. Until the next time. And the next. What else is a mid-life crisis if not an exhortation to one who chose to play it safe first time round? Most people it would seem are scared of their own company, let alone peering into their own soul.

No surprise then that the hero archetype goes deeper still. According to Carl Jung and other psychologists, the human psyche itself is rooted in mythic structure. Archetypes form the ‘language’ of the unconscious mind and are expressed as symbols in dreams, fantasy and meditative states. These are hard-wired both on a personal and collective level. In the protagonistic sense of the word, it seems we are pre-programmed to be heroes. In the psychological journey, we may face such adversaries as the Ego, the Persona, the Shadow, the Animus or Anima and the Self.

Based on his own clinical and personal observations combined with ancient wisdom teachings, Jung proposed the theory of individuation. This is a lifelong process that consolidates the conscious, the unconscious and the ego into a purified whole, all opposites reconciled. The basis of the spiritual Hero’s Journey, it s not dissimilar to the Christian idea of redemption, only wholeness is achieved without the intervention of an external force or figure. Jung’s contemporary, Roberto Assagioli, used the term psychosynthesis, which better describes the journey towards the ultimate goal of individuation. Whether it is achievable start to finish in a single lifetime is open to debate.

Often represented by a labyrinth, psychosynthesis requires introspection, often taking the very forces that create fragmentation in the first place to thrust one inward. The conversations you have with yourself (or rather your archetypes) are an integral part of the process. The end result is a well-rounded personality that is mature relationally, emotionally, practically and intuitively. As the core Self becomes more stable under all conditions, no longer relying on external sources for validation, rather than becoming more self-absorbed, it becomes more empathic and compassionate towards others. One’s past, present and future become one meaningful whole.

Imagine standing in an art gallery, nose right up to a huge painting by one of the masters. Up close it’s just rough almost random globs of paint, not much to look at at all. However, with every step you take back, the globs get smaller and smaller and the juxtaposition of colour and form starts to emerge. By the time you’re standing ten feet away, you are transfixed. It has form, it has just the right balance of shade and colour, it has life. It has meaning. If you’re lucky, you might even remember the last time you saw something so utterly satisfying to behold. Now, the artist when they painted it might have thought “Hmm, something doesn’t look right here” or “It needs something else juuuust there”. So they maybe made the blue in one of the uppermost corners just that little bit bluer or exaggerated the twinkle of an eye with an almost imperceptible flick of the brush. Not to mention that time they tore their hair out because the legs were so out of proportion with the rest of the body that they had to start all over again. Imagine now that you are both the painting and the artist.

I have to emphasise that individuation is not about becoming a ‘good’ human being as opposed to a ‘bad’ one, rather one becomes a higher-functioning human being in harmony with itself and others. Indeed, the perception of good and evil gives way to a more subtle notion of what is appropriate in any given situation. More significantly, the effects of psychosynthesis across multiple individuals are reflected in the world at large.

So the inner journey is not a waste of precious time and energy. Upping our inner game matters. Faced with the daily diet of war, famine, abuse, unrest and catastrophe, it is easy to feel that doing nothing is doing nothing. However, if we are to address this plethora of issues (all man-made), giving ‘fixing’ ourselves equal attention is the only real way to deal with all of them. When a critical mass of people working through their own internal conflicts, helping others in their own back yard and fulfilling their innermost calling, is reached, the world will start to heal. Has the response to coronavirus not demonstrated that we have the collective power to swing the odds?

In fact, COVID-19 can on one level be regarded as the ultimate call to adventure and social distancing a fertile breeding ground for the level of introspection required to get the ball rolling. Not only are we doing our bit in saving lives, we’re already thinking about what kind of world we want to go back to.

Deep down we all want to be be part of something bigger than ourselves. As individuals, communities or a society, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to put our petty inclinations to one side and become the superheroes we always wanted to be when we were kids. And what greater calling is there than collectively pulling our entire species and our planet from the brink? If imminent self-annihilation isn’t the mother of all wake-up calls, then we might as well just go back to bed and stay there. And what a yawn that would be.

Further reading

Useful information on psychosynthesis/individuation here.

A Prayer for the Young

Untitled

I DREAM of a world where material wealth and power do not rest in the hands of the few, where people are judged not by how much beauty or wealth they have but by their ability to enhance the lives of those around them through their deeds. I dream of a world where the accumulation of money and resources for its own sake is seen as downright odd.

I wish for a world where every man, woman and child has everything they need, not just to survive but to thrive, where how people choose to make a living is dictated not by the promise of a huge salary but by the things they are passionate about and the potential contribution they will make to society. I wish for a world where people eat to live, not just for the hell of it – and they buy houses as homes, not investments.

I believe in a world where the wanton destruction of the Earth for a few scraps of gold is regarded as insane and humanity works with instead of against her. In this reality, we stopped thinking of colonising other worlds a long time ago so that we could learn to look after our own.

I imagine a world where no-one has dominion over another and service to others is by choice not by expectation. In my world, those who are vulnerable or in need are free from exploitation or abuse and every man, woman and child is at liberty to fulfil their own destiny free of the labels assigned to them from birth.

I yearn for a world where people procreate in order to create the best possible future for their kids, not to increase their own standing. In such a world, it doesn’t occur to anyone to have children until they know they are ready for the responsibility.

Above all, I live for a world that shows our children the value of mutual respect. A world that teaches them to expect nothing and to appreciate everything. To think for themselves and not to put blind faith in institutions or corporations or the media. In this reality, we can see through smoke and mirrors without the use of an app and do not wait for others to tell us what to think.

So let it be.