The Original Tradition
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In these most critical of times, people increasingly become concerned about the spreading of conflict around the world. There is fear, that the situation becomes uncontrollable. Most of the time the "threat from outside" is held responsible. Thus, to the Western world "Islam" is the cause of all misery, while to the Islamic world the West is the big satan. Although attempts are being made to looking at factors from within our own society, they rarely give insight into the true causes e.g. the interrelationship of phenomena. Isolated factors are emphasized, like discrimination, sexism, racism or religious intolerance, without elaborating the real causes of it. Not surprisingly thus, that in the end these approaches prove to be contra-productive. Despite all these efforts, society is as ever far away from peace as it was in the past. Hence, speaking of "international diplomacy", "conflict control", "tolerance" and "dialogue", or putting emphasis on "spiritual liberation", is not enough. We have to start a thorough investigation to the sources.
1. Inferiority complex
It may seem odd, that in order to solve a modern problem it makes sense to go back to the roots of our civilization. However, realize, that our genes have remained the same or that (according to C.G. Jung) everything from the beginning until now is stored in our collective unconsciousness. Compare it with our own brain. At the end of life the film of all our experiences - even minor details - appear in our consciousness, nothing omitted. Moreover, in individual life, the earlier our experiences, the more decisive they are with regard to later life. Culturally, our life began in prehistory. These archaic times were dominated by the feminine as the source of life. Males were considered to be secondary. For many ten of thousands of years only statues of the Mother-Goddess were made. Later, males had to serve as vegetation god, often sacrificing themselves with their lives for the wellbeing of the tribe. Sometimes these rites were very bloody. In the course of time the men started to emancipate themselves. The Gilgamesh Epos from Sumer is the account of a king who refused to be slaughtered, while starting his quest for immortality.
2. Being uprooted
In the course of time the hunter and the agricultural tribes separated. The former developed themselves into nomads, breeding cattle, while the latter settled down, while growing crops. Both cultures differed a lot from each other. The agriculturalists formed peaceful communities, in which women occupied many areas of life. Hence, neolithic cities like Catal Hüyük and Knossos are situated in valleys, not fearing any enemy. The nomads on the other hand had horses, developed high mobility and had a male dominated warrior class. Very soon, these tribes started to conquer communities in the south (Middle East), of which quite a few had developed into prosperous city states. There, barbarian Indo-European regimes ruled over a subjected class of high culture. Although integrating some aspects of the latter, the barbarians remained used to their "nomadic lifestyle". While the original culture once relied on community and consensus, the newcombers, lacking genuine integration, based their rule on autoritarian law, the power of the state, and the military. In recent times history repeated itself. The USA has been "founded" on the eradication (holocaust) of millions of Indians.
As said above, in the agrarian (later city) communities many activities were dominated by women. It gave rise to increasing prosperity. Together with it property started accumulating. Some families/tribes became more wealthy than others. Hence, the need for protecting weath started to be felt. Obviously, it were the males, who took this "honerable task" on themselves. While in the beginning land and property was shared among all, the new trend was to form armed gangs aimed at defending individual achievements. The sow of division, greed, envy and competition was spread. Violent attacks, incursions, robbery, rapes and war started spreading like the plague. Property no longer passed through women, but through men. Sons became hiers to their fathers. Now, men became even more "interested" in controling (the sexuality of) their women, since they wanted to be sure of the patriarchal line. So, women themselves became property. While in the Middle Ages, making profit was still rejected and despised, it was the early Renaissance that created the first capitalist system. From that moment on, egoism, greed and competition were to become the central incentives of socio-economic life.
4. The ego
Insight into ego-formation is crucial. The psychological structure of that name, as we know it today has three main characteristics. First of all it is devoid of any context. As the consequence of many centuries of brutal persecution, people were cut off from their existential context: Heaven, earth and the community. They had nothing to fall back on. Hence, they were forced to develop the only thing being at their disposal: the ego. In the beginning this may look quite an adventurous undertaking. In fact, it was. Thus in the Renaissance, all kinds of new activities were flowering. However, after many centuries the "light" extinguished. Increasingly, people feel "being thrown upon themselves".
The second most important aspect of the ego is the result of its psychological dynamics. As a child you let in those experiences, which are pleasant, while rejecting those which are too difficult to cope with. The growing personality therefore resembles a medieval city. Inside the walls the accepted aspects, emotions, outside those who were denied ("shadow"). It creates a split between "me" and "not me". The consequence of it in later life is, that everything that is "not me" is (unconsciously) projected into "the other".
The third mechanism has been the outcome of what is falsely called the "Enlightenment". In a process of alienation - started in the Renaissance - people were subsequently cut off from their true Selves, their deeper feelings, their bodies and nature, and the Divine. What was left was the mind, the ratio. This was considered the superior authority of the human personality: "I think, thus I am". The irony of course is, that an alienated subject like the ego is everything but the "centre of the universe". It is a pitiful remainder of what human existence could have become.
To realize your True Self - the Divine within - had been the major crime in Christianity. It was called blasphemy: to try to be equal to God. If discovered, only the severest punishment was considered "appropriate". to be burnt at the stake. For centuries, people have been living without the insight, the inspiration, the love and the compassion of their true Self. With a few exceptions, people had no idea about their true identity. They had to live with an ersatz-identity: the ego. They were deprived of their contact with the Source, their wisdom, their inner peace, their self-respect, their inner security, their self-confidence, their joy and the possibility of inner regeneration. Our own culture thus spiritually being deprived of its innermost core. Even pope Benedict has stated, that "the soul of Europe is dead". He only forgot to say, who is responsible.
6. Fear of Nothingness
In prehistoric times, the Cosmic Womb was considered the all-inclusive refuge to all "sentient and non-sentient" beings. It was the sacred Emptiness from which everything was born and to which everything returned. Though their painful experiences with the Great Mother, men started to consider Nothingness as the evil perse. Hence, in the West it became a major taboo. Fear of Nothingness can be found with Aristotle, the Bible, St.Augustine to Torricelli (the inventor of the vacuum) and beyond. It was called "horror vacui". It reminded men of the dark, "chaotic", unstructured, "empty" experience of the maternal womb, being his deepest fear. Confrontation has to be avoided at all costs, hence our culture is dominated by relentless activity, "progress", "growth", expansion, control and distraction. The rat race is a direct consequence of it.
We are at a stage in history, that the box of Pandora is wide open. All factors, mentioned above, have had long-term impact on all other cultures and civilizations. Everybody has been infected by them. There seems to be no way back. Western expansion - the global "market" economy - has destroyed people, cultures, societies, beliefs, the land and the natural environment. It is a on-going holocaust. Usually, "holocaust" has been identified with the extermination of the Jews. Obviously, rightly so, considering their unimaginable suffering. However, the holocaust is not an isolated phenomenon.* It rather can be considered as a potential consequence of our inherently destructive system. Fascism, seen in this perspective, is not the cause, but a symptom. Its characteristics - like authoritarianism, superiority complex, contempt for human dignity, the destruction of opponents, state violence, Gleichschaltung, racism, expansion ("Lebensraum") and war - can pop up any time, any place, again.
* Actually, there is a permanent holocaust going on e.g. the destruction of non-western cultures and societies, rainforests, bio-diversity, marine life, including the climate and the atmosphere. The trouble is, that worldwide destruction is the outcome of "normality". Hence, the majority of people still denies this kind of holocaust, since they consider their (Western) way of life as the norm. We then forget, that the Germans during the Third Reich also considered their way of life as "normal".
Initially, decades of TV and other propaganda for Western (American) way of life, seemed to bear the expected fruits: the entire world being one big place for cheap production, consumer market and resources. The PR had its effect to such an extent, that more and more people wanted to have access to the benefits of modernity. However, large groups came to understand, that the West (and later others) primarily plundered their assets. Only a local elite (supported by the West) could have entrance to the dearly desired goods and services. Hence, an increasing number of people from the Third World refused to pay the price. They saw their beliefs, norms and communities disintegrate before their eyes. So they started saying Stop! In the mean time, many individuals, groups, organisations and even states (South America) have radicalized to defend themselves against further dominance. Among them, an increasing number are using violence, often for self-serving goals.
Crucial is to distinguish between cause and effects. Let's not evade the question. In the world of today there are forces, that try to exploit others and the ones who are exploited. The former doing everything to maintain and expand their priviledged position. They ruthlessly plunder everything that comes in their way. human, cultural, social, economical, ecological resources. In fact, they - the combined forces of science, technology, capitalism, the media and the state (STCMS-complex) - pose the greatest threat to World Peace. If this goes on, then the future of the earth is very questionable. Many attempts are made to turn the tide. Many courageous people even risk their life for it. Groups and organisations try to initiate new developments. It proves to be a very hard job, indeed. Apart from other things, what could help is to see the interconnectedness of causes, that has determined the disastrous outcome, we are facing today. My point of view is, that only by taking all relevant factors into consideration, true empowerment may originate. It is equal to overcoming the 7 Obstacles. Rather than looking at "factors from outside" we have every reason - and thus responsibility - to honestly and courageously investigate our own cultural background. Only then World Peace will have a chance. May it result in a development, that considers all factors mentioned in this essay.*
2006 © Copyright Han Marie
Stiekema. All rights reserved.
Last revising: 07/13/07