Man’s Loss of Natural Instincts
Lately, I have been studying some of Carl Jung’s selected writings published as The Earth Has A Soul edited by Meredith Sabini. The book caught my attention soon after the Deepwater Horizon burned and sank in the Gulf of Mexico. My intuitive sense spiked by a dream; I sought some answers. I knew little of Jung before reading this book. Jung believed that the Earth has a spirit, a psyche that archaic man instinctively knew. In the early 1900s, Jung’s psychological research and observations of native cultures led him to believe and feel that man was loosing his intuitive connection with the planet. This he attributed in part due to the technology explosion. He felt that the speed with which our culture was traveling was disconnecting us from the numinous Earth. Such a disconnection, he believed was not healthy for the psyche of man.
Jung tells the story about a native of Africa encountered during his travels. His group bid the native to take his first ride in a motorized vehicle. Some thirty minutes into the trip the native told them to stop, that he had to get out! Concerned, they thought he was sick, but when the man got out of the vehicle, he spread himself on the ground so as to feel the earth. The African explained that he had started sensing that he was leaving his soul behind him, that he had lost it! He laid on the earth to let his soul catch up to him. The story illustrates in a simple fashion the concern. Are we going to fast to notice what the hell is going on with our planet? The famous psychologist had much to say during his career about the psyche of man losing touch with the intuitiveness that once existed when his soul was more aligned with the spirit of the earth:
[stextbox id="grey"]“Civilized man…is in danger of losing all contact with the world of instinct — a danger that is still further increased by his living an urban existence in what seems to be a purely manmade environment. This loss of instinct is largely responsible for the pathological condition of contemporary culture.” (CW 18, PAR. 1494-5)[/stextbox]
How Might Loss of Instinct Affect Our Attitude Toward Earth
Many people are very concerned about the environment. The scientific studies on climate change have been supported by some and attacked by others to the point that many people are confused. It seems that many business interests and conservative leaders scoff at the reports of global warming and man’s contribution to the overheating process. This is where the danger lies in not having an instinctive nature to inform us of coming catastrophe. If our collective intuitive sense was keener, perhaps we could hear what Earth has to say through the noisy debate. Jung observes some extraordinary psychic effects from loss of our instinctive nature. He describes the development of injury to the psychic that can result in an exaggerated self-esteem or an inferiority complex.
Jung once said in his Collective Works that, “The life of instinct — the most conservative element in man — always expresses itself in traditional usages. Age-old convictions and customs are always deeply rooted in the instincts. If they get lost, the conscious mind becomes severed from the instincts and loses its roots, while the instincts, unable to express themselves, fall back into the unconscious and reinforce its energy, causing this in turn to overflow into the existing contents of consciousness. It is then that the rootless condition of consciousness becomes a real danger. This secret vis-a-tergo results in a hybris of the conscious mind which manifests in the form of exaggerated self-esteem or an inferiority complex. At all levels a loss of balance ensues, and this is the most fruitful soil for psychic injury.
“For it is the body, the feeling, the instincts, which connect us with the soil. If you give up the past you naturally detach from the past; you lose your roots in the soil, your connection with the totem ancestors that dwell in your soil. You turn outward and drift away, and try to conquer other lands because you are exiled from your own soil.”
So what if Mother Earth is voicing concerns to us right now through the elements of nature, the melting ice caps, the earthquakes, hurricanes, oil gushers, heat, the fires, the floods and their adverse effects? What if she is warning man that an immediate change in conduct toward her is needed? We can’t ignore what we are unable to even hear or see. The train whistle, as loud as it is, makes no sound to the deaf.
Maybe the repression of our nature spirit has resulted in an exaggerated self-esteem that fills us with the arrogance to think we can drill into the earth any damn way we please, anywhere we please and as often as we please. Earth will just have to take it. Well, what if she is mad as hell and ain’t going to take it anymore? Can man pit himself against the life giving force of earth and survive, if turned against us? The idea that there would be any disagreement about the need to have a temporary moratorium on deepwater drilling in view of the magnitude of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, strikes me as conclusory evidence that we are out of touch. The world crumbles around us and at our peril we are not listening. With the oil well plugged and the effects of the dispersant hiding the oil from sight, the calls for lifting the moratorium resume even louder. Nothing has changed with the extraordinary advance of deepwater development and plans for an ever increasing number of wells.
[stextbox id="grey"]Jung expressed that “the earth has a spirit of her own, a beauty of her own.” He explained that “nature is not matter only, she is also spirit.” His realization of this sense is found in many observations including this: “I once experienced a violent earthquake, and my first, immediate feeling was that I no longer stood on solid familiar earth, but on the skin of a gigantic animal that was heaving under my feet. It was this image that impressed itself on me not the physical fact.”[/stextbox]
This latter statement so reminds me of the Deepwater Horizon survivor who describe the roaring, hissing and shaking of the destructive fire as a ferocious monster surfacing from the deep. (See Video)
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