by Wayness Tamm-Clattuc
“But what if it is just evil?”
Someone posted this question at close of the last discussion.
And as the I Ching says, sad to say, evil always returns.
Now the problem of evil is so great that we should probably not even start out on this path. Certainly, it is not for the fainthearted as it is simply impossible to get to the end of it all, not even in a long lifetime. And yet as Dr. Jung discovered, the alchemical imaginal struggle to reconcile the opposites into new patterns is easily the most worthwhile work of all. If nothing else, in active imagination, one allows new patterns to express themselves without further “acting out” in society.
And indeed so far does this inner work have a good effect on the environment, too, that we say with the Sufis that in solitude, alone in ones room, the world is saved, and everyone and everything in it. Of course, the caveat is that one should virtually never ever “tell!” How often have you seen for yourselves, there is big change for the better in someone’s life and then a halfwit louds off proudly, and spoils eveything:
“I’ve been praying for you!”
Whereupon in a phrase of Mr. Judson Andersen’s [Judson Andersen is a frequent respondent in Bodwyn Wook — ed], “Bang! It all goes straight to Hell…AGAIN!”
Now this is a case of evil on the elementary level of the shadow and egotism.
It is the constant drive in every setting to be the big bug.
Now today, and especially with the internet, everyone virtually has some “place” to where they can go and throw their weight around on their day off and blow off steam, and this is so even if in outer life they are only a housepainter or a professor or some other powerless figure, on the bottom in society. It is a great additional safety valve as our old mechanisms of personal emotional relief wear out, or else accumulate too many disasterous results. I notice that the Sufi commentary in Bodwyn Wook often points out for example how much of our political activity is part of the entertainment industry, so necessary for pacifying and diverting what the Sufis call the “unregenerated.” In jungian psychology we would say these folks are unconscious and through projections are working out their personal struggle and rage with the many arbitrary refusals we all encounter from life, as a necessary part of the adult condition. This goes for the “leaders” and onlookers alike! Politics are awful, but they are historically a great invention too, one that at least can delay violent conflict some of the time, so that some little bit of progress gets consolidated here and there, over time:
“The Republicans are bad because they expect me to work and take care of myself, and that’s not fair!”
“The Democrats are good because they will give me free money and pay my doctor bills and things, and plus it’s because the corporations are all greedy and everybody must learn to share…..’
As you can read for yourself, not only the grammar is bad in these concepts..but, just try to suggest to one of these stalwarts that their “maturity” is not all it should be, not to mention their ethics!
Naturally they go right up to the moon in a perfect rage, you’ve stuck your finger right smack dab in the middle of all the unknown stuff itself, the self-doubt and vague shifty guilt, and now you are the “biggest asshole on the face of the earth,” a neo-conservative, a liberal, a “secret terrorist.” All of this obnoxious fallout happens because of course only individuals can possibly attain to anything like clear thinking in the first place, and group “logic” meanwhile is just not quite up the mark in any case. So that as the political dirt and deficits all pile up undetected by these big two-party fellows, the sheer hazards of politics with atomic weapons laying around all over loose and so forth all become much more dire. In the end, the possibility even of any clear thinking at all flies clear out of the window, and completely so in such an exhausted collective system.
It is exactly the same publicly today as the situation with the individual neurotics.
You may as well say a neurosis arises whenever someone tries to have it all their own way through dishonest means. Again, one naturally always wants to be in charge at every point of the compass in outer life, at home and in society, not have to work too hard and so forth. So now we come rapidly to the end of the part about where personal evil most frequently arises. It is a direct result of the social struggle from infancy, and the task first of all in analysis is to help someone to begin withdrawing personal projections, onto “the Jews” or capitalism, or the state or whatever.
Dr. Jung said that integrating the personal shadow by itself could not bring about paradise…but it is a good start!
Integration starts to happen as people finally and once-and-for-all begin anyway to develop a moral sense, especially about what is — and what is not — “mine.” Also, integrating my own share of the common dirt means I now may be able to spot the devil in the crowd and, if nothing else, get those I love away to safety.
In any case, as far as evil is concerned, this work of psychic drainage and reclamation does at least make for a little more dry land, on which one can maybe hope to stand up to the devil perhaps a little bit better.
All of the foregoing has been about the personal babyish shadow, getting on terms with whom is the first step in the analytical struggle with good and evil.
Whatever we can get back of our own here is so much less the property of unadulterated evil that, in fact, what was black-and-white now starts to reveal intermediate shades of a saving silver-gray. This sort of knowledge can in turn lend strength to ones elbow and it is greatly not to be dismissed! There is vastly more to it all of course, and it is not only a matter always of just crushing and abusing and denying every one of the desires.
On the other hand, and in what passes for “adult” life, the thorny problem of love for another — driven by the need above all to be personally loved as one is — opens up the next arena of the bloody struggle, and it is about the complicated and half-vicious, half-glorious, relationships of lovers. We will look at this murderous comedy all later, but suffice it for now that Dr. Jung said that very often anybody from in off the street could be expected to integrate the personal shadow…but, that to make any headway whatsoever with the inner figure of the projected lover [the animus or anima — ed] was the master work — and that many, many bones get left behind in that desert!
Alchemically, it is because the temperature of the struggle with good and evil is now so much higher.
[Emmett R Smith all rights reserved 6 July 2008]