Part 3 – Through the Eye of the Needle
In this 5-Part series we are exploring the purpose of polarity and the nature of truth – JJM
If, hypothetically speaking, the universe wanted to evaluate heart and soul development at critical junctures in time, dark ages would provide the ideal circumstances for doing so. Dark ages can be terribly regressive and destructive and it could be hard to reconcile oneself with the idea – from a spiritual perspective – that the universe would want to impose such harsh circumstances upon humankind. However, in the context of the earth being an incubator for the soul, (as postulated in Parts 1 & 2), the possibility that human souls would be tested at important transition points is almost self-evident, especially if the objective is for some kind of sorting to take place.
Turning Down the Lights
When all the lights are dimmed, will there be an inner light shining from within?
In a culture of indifference, who would pass through the needle to make a difference?
How would ‘the lights’ be ‘dimmed’ during a dark age? Perhaps ‘the sky’ would ‘fall’, meaning that human consciousness would decline, which is exactly what happens during dark ages (for details please see: The Fifth Sky.) The word ‘dark’ in dark ages refers to this very phenomenon. Consciousness descending is indeed a scary prospect, because that could mean the loss of a certain amount of self-awareness which could lead to a loss of autonomy and self-direction, or even self-control.
Internal structures (value systems, morals & ethics) are needed to support and maintain outer structures (rules, regulations, laws, etc) and so it is almost inevitable that a lower level of consciousness within people in general would lead to more chaos in the world. Should consciousness decline, people would not necessarily be fully aware that they are less conscious or less self-aware than before, because less self awareness is the nature of being less conscious. They might notice more chaos in the world, but may be blind to their own participation in the chaos.
With a decline in consciousness a general regression is likely to occur in terms of the differentiation that individuals have achieved in becoming autonomous beings (please see Part 2). In such a scenario less autonomous people participating in mass culture would be more susceptible to being caught up in destructive and dark trends developing in societies. They would lack the required autonomy and inner resources to opt out of such trends, or to extract themselves from them. It would all depend on how autonomous or self-differentiated from collective thinking a person really is – and this would be put to the test.
Since self-differentiation (which leads to autonomy) comes about through the discernment of truth, valuing what is true would very likely deteriorate during a fall in consciousness. Ongoing discernment between what is wrong and what is right would probably become less practiced. Continued differentiation and personal growth would then slow down, which over a period of time could result in increased apathy and indifference. Under such general conditions only the most self-differentiated individuals are likely to continue to hold on to truth and live by it. In an ocean of indifference they would be the autonomous lighthouses that make a difference by serving as beacons for those who have lost their way.
Post-Truth & Postmodern Tribalism
The upheaval of our world and the upheaval of our consciousness are one and the same. – Carl Gustav Jung (‘Civilisation in Transition’)
The peril of abandoning truth is that when people intellectually embrace a concept such as ‘post-truth’ they could be walking away from their traditional, cultural and spiritual foundations which would comprise the framework for their morals, values and principles. Those foundations all value truth at their core in terms of forming value systems. As mentioned before, abandoning truth would usually lead to indifference, apathy and relativism in relation to what is right or what is wrong.
Humans are social animals according to Aristotle and having shared principles is one of the important ways in which we bond with the people in the groups that we belong to. Since we all have a need for belonging to groups, we would always have a need for shared principles. If we become indifferent to truth, but still need principles in order to bond with groups, our principles could take on an ideological form. We may not truly believe in them, but we would need to believe that we believe in them, because they would serve a social function – they would serve mainly as our vehicles for group membership.
When our foundational principles that were established through family, community, culture (and church in some cases) are neglected, abandoned or rejected through indifference, the belonging that used to be felt in those more traditional group contexts could fade out. Walking away from one’s deeper principles, even just on an intellectual level, could mean a loss of a part of one’s identity, because what we believe in is an intrinsic part of how we identify with ourselves. Losing a part of one’s deeper self could lead to an identity crisis and a new search for identity to fill the vacuum.
Nowadays a new sense of belonging and identity can readily be found in shared political ideologies (identity politics) which appeal greatly to people who find themselves in search of identity. This form of identity tends to be rather insecure, because it is not derived from deep foundational group principles developed during the formative years. Neither is it based on deeply identified individual principles that have lead to autonomy through differentiation.
Indifference combined with identity politics could lead to an almost inevitable state of constant animosity towards ‘the other’. Identity politics thrive on polarization, because it is based on opposing group identities and ideologies (Also see: Unity in Diversity vs. Disunity in Ideologies)
Identity found in identity politics is not centered within the core of each individual, but is dispersed across the collective. Constant confrontation with opposing sides is therefore required to assert and maintain group identity and by extension individual identity, because the group’s identity is the individual’s identity. Another way of putting it is that group identity and individual identity form a combined unit in identity politics and this identity exists mainly as a reaction to something or someone external to itself, while it does not really exist within itself (it has no core – it is dispersed across the collective). It therefore constantly needs enemies to confront in order to reinforce a sense of itself – and if there are no enemies to be found then enemies may need to be created for that purpose.
Due to the fact that individual identity is perceived as group identity by identitarians*, autonomous individuals are purposefully categorized according to arbitrary group associations and their identity is assigned to them according to various negative labels that could be applied to the groups that they seemingly belong to, for example according to their gender, ethnicity, political leanings or social or economic class. The autonomous, unique, individual being, the individual personality (or soul or spirit) within the person is usually not recognized or acknowledged.
Under the above conditions it would certainly be very difficult, perhaps impossible, for identitarians to retain or have compassion or empathy for anyone from an ‘opposing’ circle or group. It would certainly also be much harder for them to want to collaborate and cooperate with outsiders on a mutual basis. In such an atmosphere, indifference to the plight of others would certainly be the easiest state of being. Identitarians may even be motivated to be purposefully indifferent under such circumstances so as not to compromise their allegiance to their own groups. Moreover, they may be driven to actively express anger at members of out-groups.
The Value of Truth
It is only the very compassionate, the highly spiritual, the genuinely religious (non-fundamentalists) and the most responsible of individuals who would recognize the perils of abandoning truth. The truly compassionate would reject the notion of ‘post-truth’ in its entirety, because if there were no truth in the world it would be a dark, loveless world, a place unfathomable for those who are truly compassionate. Indeed, a worse hell could hardly be imagined by them and so they would do everything in their power to keep love alive. In an ocean of indifference they would be the autonomous lighthouses that make a difference, by serving as beacons for those who have lost their way.
In the Eye of the Storm
“If things go wrong in the world, this is because something is wrong with the individual, because something is wrong with me. Therefore, if I am sensible I shall put myself right first.” – Carl Jung (From a lecture in 1933, ‘Civilisation in Transition’)
Tribalism is as old as humanity itself and it comes in many forms, and today post-modern tribalism in the form of identity politics is eagerly embraced by significant portions of societies. If most people within affluent and democratic nations embrace identity politics instead of rejecting it, then what would that say about the willingness of people to live in harmony?
Dark ages bring out the worst in people and show up their shadow sides – these are the hidden areas that need to be worked on and be resolved. At important historical junctures the purpose of extreme polarization could very well be to ‘sort the wheat from the chaff’. Many religious scriptures point to such an event in time. Whether that is what is happening right now is of course open to interpretation, but it cannot be ruled out.
The pillars of society are often the most pilloried, but those who today remain centered anyway in the face of extreme volatility are clearly the ones who are able to withstand the tests of extreme polarization. They have solid foundations and truly embrace and strive for harmony as hard as it may be to remain balanced under such circumstances.
The cycles of time will ultimately determine the fate of humanity in general, because the energy shifts are larger than us – the universe is in charge. In the meantime the individual harmony-seekers fulfill a very important function in stabilizing an unbalanced world by maintaining their level of autonomy. They comprise the small light spot within the large dark half of the Eastern Yin and Yang symbol.
The ultimate objective would be for all people to come full-circle and to arrive at a balance between duality and non-duality, between autonomous functioning and collective functioning. Optimum collective functioning can only be arrived at through optimum autonomous functioning, which can then result in unity through autonomy (please see Part 2 for details).
A unified approach to dealing with global crises remains unlikely as long as countries are internally preoccupied and distracted by societal polarization. The best approach therefore would be to earnestly and urgently encourage individuals to work towards inner stabilization through individuation in order to bring about external stabilization in the world at large.
The great problems of humanity were never yet solved by general laws, but only through regeneration of attitudes of individuals – Carl Jung
…in reality only a change in the attitude of the individual can bring about a renewal in the spirit of nations. Everything begins with the individual. – Carl Jung (‘Civilisation in Transition’)
By J.J. Montagnier
*Those who practice identity politics.
“A tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc., to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics.”
Dark are the Days, but The Light is Coming – Part 4
In the next chapter we will continue to take a deep dive into how polarity facilitates human development and growth; we will consider how we as individuals can find our purpose and maintain balance within our polarised times; we will contemplate the nature of truth in a ‘post-truth’ world and we will consider how we can get ready for the incoming light of truth. Please subscribe to receive alerts for updates.
J.J. Montagnier is an independent writer based in South America. He has a personal interest in conflict resolution, democracy and social cohesion. He has lived in South Africa and Northern Ireland (among other places.) The views and opinions expressed in this essay are those of the author.
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