Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jung and Krishnamurti: Society in Crisis

Jiddu Krishnamurti
What role does the individual play in the development of the state, and what role does the state play in the the development of the individual?  Have we reached a point where "sustainable development" no longer makes sense and we should be focusing on "developing sustainability," first by examining the effects that modern life has on the individual and his or her consciousness?

Two of the greatest and most innovative voices of the twentieth-century - the philosopher/spiritual teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti, and the great psychologist Carl Jung - both point to the minimal effect that the individual has in the development of the state, and the huge effect the state has in the development of the individual. And both point to the dangers inherent in these realities of modern life.

Carl Jung (1875-1961)
"The goal and meaning of individual life (which is the only real life)," writes Jung, "no longer lie(s) in individual development but in in the policy of the State, which is thrust upon the individual from outside and consists in the execution of an abstract idea which ultimately tends to attract all life to itself."

"The individual," Jung observes, "is increasingly deprived of the moral decision as to how he should live his own life, and instead is ruled, fed, clothed and educated as a social unit, accommodated in the appropriate housing unit, and amused in accordance with the standards that give pleasure and satisfaction to the masses."

"The rulers, in their turn," he  notes, "are just as much social units as the ruled and are distinguished only by the fact that they are specialized mouthpieces of the State doctrine. They do not need to be personalities capable of judgment, but thoroughgoing specialists who are unusable outside their line of business. State policy decides what shall be taught and studied."
[C.J. Jung, "The Undiscovered Self," page 22.]

Jung's analysis, written in 1957, is a devastating indictment of modern society, and one about which he gives a dire warning, in the following video clip. In it, Jung observes that man will "not stand forever his nullification," and then pointedly warns that, "we are the origin of all coming evil."

For his part, Krishnamurti notes that "(t)here is conflict between man and society because man is in conflict within himself. and the conflict is between that which is static and that which is living. Society is the outward expression of man," he observes, and "(t)he conflict between himself and society is the conflict within himself."

"This conflict, within and without," Krishnamurti notes,"will ever exist until the highest intelligence (in man) is awakened."

"To be a good citizen is to function efficiently within the pattern of a given society," he observes. "Efficiency and conformity are demanded of the citizen, as they toughen him, make him ruthless; and then he is capable of sacrificing the man to the citizen. A good citizen is not necessarily a good man; but a good man is bound to be a right citizen, not of any particular society or country. Because he is primarily a good man, his actions will not be anti-social, he will not be against another man. He will live in co-operation with other good men; he will not seek authority, for he has no authority; he will be capable of efficiency without its ruthlessness. The citizen attempts to sacrifice the man; but the man who is searching out the highest intelligence will naturally shun the stupidities of the citizen."

"The intelligent man will bring about a good society," Krishnamurti notes, "but a good citizen will not give birth to a society in which man can be of the highest intelligence. The conflict between the citizen and the man is inevitable," he concludes, "if the citizen predominates; and any society which disregards the man is doomed."
[Krishnamurti, "Commentaries on Living: First Series," page 51.]

Mankind faces "a crisis in consciousness," Krishnamurti warns in the YouTube video, below, as a result of the society it has built. "Considering what the world is now," he observes, "with all the misery, conflict, destructive brutality aggression and so on, man is still as he was. He is still brutal, violent, aggressive, acquisitive, competitive; and, he has built a society along these lines."

So what needs to be done in order to face such a "crisis in consciousness," and to avoid "the coming evil" which Jung warns of? Krishnamurti, suggests that there needs to be a transformation both in mankind's consciousness and in our focus from the future to the existential problems of our mutual present.

"The State sacrifices the present for the future," Krishnamurti notes, "ever safeguarding itself for the future; it regards the future as all-important, and not the present. But to the intelligent man, the present is of the highest importance, the now and not the tomorrow."

"What is can be understood only with the fading of tomorrow," he concludes. "The understanding of what is brings about transformation in the immediate present. It is this transformation which is of supreme importance, and not how to reconcile the citizen with the man. When this transformation takes place, the conflict between the man and the citizen ceases."
[Ibid., page 52.]

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