Saturday, April 16, 2011

Jung & Tolle: Finding Meaning in Difficult Times

How do people seek meaning in transitional times such as these, in times where economic, political and cultural "norms" that we have lived with our whole lives, and which have to a greater or lesser extent defined our lives, are increasingly being challenged? Where can meaning now be found?

In an interview in the late 1950s, the great Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, warned that, "Man cannot stand a meaningless life." Because of this, he warned, it is mankind which poses the gravest dangers to itself.
"The only real danger that exists is man himself," says Jung. "He is the great danger, and we are pitifully unaware of it.  We know nothing of man. Far too little. His psyche should be studied, because we are the origin of all coming evil."
This is a prescient preview of the dangers we face from one of the greatest minds of the early 20th-century, a period rife with great minds like Einstein, Heisinger, and Jung's friend and colleague, Wolfgang Pauli. All of whom, perhaps because they survived two world wars, and the birth of atomic weapons and an era of "mutually assured destruction,' were quick to warn of mankind's inherent danger to itself. “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, Einstein once remarked, "but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher/author of "The Power of Now,"
and "The New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose."

"We are the origin of all coming evil," Jung remarks. And, this, at a time before evidence of global warming, mass extinction of species, desertification, energy crises and toxic industrial pollution of the environment were seriously considered.

In contrast, current best-selling author and enlightened spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, looking at the  difficulties that many people in the West are nofacing due to seemingly ever-changing shifts in economic and cultural norms, notes that these problems may be a catalyst for change.
"For many people, limitation in one form or another is coming into their life situation. And, that is actually not what the media wants us to believe, that these things are dreadful. The challenge that many people are encountering at this time, is actually that which will push them into a new state of consciousness. That is the possibility. that is the promise. Whenever you encounter a crisis situation, whether it is personal or collective, there is the opening into a new way of being. It is a possibility. It doesn't mean that everyone will embrace that possibility.

"Do not believe what we are told in the media," Tolle observes. "That we should be in a state of fear. That the only real response, the only natural response to what is happening is a state of fear. That is an unconscious response. We need to see that change is absolutely necessary in this world, and the dissolution of many of the ego-based structures is absolutely necessary for the planet to survive, and for humanity to survive. So what's happening is not dreadfully 'bad.' What's happening needs to happen. The totality, the intelligence behind phenomena is doing it, So, it is a good thing."

Paradoxically, Tolle says that mankind can actually find the "meaning" which Jung saw as so necessary for our lives in the very challenges that we have been conditioned to see as "threatening" our way of life. As such, the coming changes will be what makes or breaks the human spirit, and so determines our fate.

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