They say there is karmic justice. Or that there is cause and effect. Some say what goes around, comes around. I always accepted such expressions in a belief that such thinking as “do unto yourself as you’d have done unto you” or “the good that you do is returned manyfold to you” was a necessity for human existence and civilization, regardless of whether it was true or not. I mean, did I ever really believe that there was karmic justice ? I don’t know, but I knew that that thinking otherwise would allow a moral latitude that may encourages shadow to be let loose and wreck havoc. Some of us split the world into right, wrong, just, unjust, moral, immoral not because we are rigid or don’t understand that there is an in-between grayness to life, but because we are aware that the problem with letting go of the split makes morality a slippery rope which, if we slip on, we can rarely regain our grip on. If we let some seemingly innocuous devils escape thru the cracks of our moral consciousness, soon we have the whole village of bigger and nastier internal devils knocking on our doors and breaking down the doors, and we find ourself in a quagmire of immorality, and rehabilitation becomes much harder if not impossible. It is always meaningful to recognize the dangers of that the shadow posits, our vulnerability and culpability to its lure. I understood I may not be strong enough to confront my dark side, so I tried to stay away from temptations to cross over to the dark side. But, as Bob Dylan would say “Ah, but I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now!” Today, I am centered, and have more confidence in my ability to navigate these muddy waters, and discern situationally and know that if I do fall, I’ll be able to get right back up and I’d be ok again. Morality is not something that has happened to me, or something I did, or do in my life, but it has always been so interwoven into the fabric of my being that it was impossible to extract me from it, or extract it apart from me.
My writing today is inspired by the recent and untimely demise of an old acquaintance/friend who recently succumbed to cancer, losing his will to live. These writings are my tribute to the essential kindness and gentleness of his soul. He was not religious per se but with a religious attitude towards life, he was honest on the inside, but was contained within a very toxic family which had very situational and questionable ethics. The funds that were used by his family for the treatment of his cancer had been fraudulently acquired, causing hardships to many innocent souls, and it is my belief that the cancer that killed him was of his own wishing, arising of that knowledge, and guilt, and his helplessness in the face of such a violent assault on his otherwise moral soul. Death provided a way to escape his inescapable family, and although I was not there by his bedside when he passed away, I believe he was happy to part from those that he loved, but those that destroyed the fabric of his morality. His death has spawned this inner quest on the issue of morality, and the consequences of one’s helpless and inability to defend that inherent virtue which is also an innate striving of the human soul.
All things aside, the psyche is essentially a religious entity. Jung posited that man does not choose to be spiritual, spirituality is an essential quality of the psyche. One can channel this spirituality into positive constructions that serve the highest aspirations of the psyche – the center of one’s being – the inner god; or one could displace the spirituality into destructive constructions like materialism, addictions, arrogance etc where the spirituality has an equally numinous “glow” but this glow serves the metaphorical devil in the psyche.
Purity of the soul is thus an innate part of the psyche. An infant is born pure and uncontaminated but developmental struggles block and contaminate the soul, and imprison the spirit. The psyche undergoes trauma due to conflicts that arise of the necessity for survival. These conflicts force us to constantly choose between morality and immorality, honesty and dishonesty, truth and falsity, ethics and lack of ethics, good and bad. The innocence of the soul is sacrificed at the alter of developmental adaptation, but being essentially spiritual, the soul is constantly struggling to regain its true nature, the purity of an infant. These struggles between the inner god and the inner devil are sometimes carried out consciously by a spiritually aware person, but in others they’re blocked away and managed within the unconscious. Unobserved by the consciousness, the split fragments the psyche, each inner fragment fighting for survival, and supremacy.
When the war between these intra-psychic fragments becomes too intense, conflicts cannot be managed internally and they get spilled over into the external environment. A man who is fighting a losing battle between honesty and dishonesty, his dishonesty does not always remain a matter of internal turmoil. The conscience constantly asks questions in self reflection, and at some point, these questions are ignored and acted out externally. The person openly becomes dishonest. Such a person attracts dishonest people to himself – he may find himself surrounded by people who treat him with as little honesty and integrity because people with higher moral values will have little in common with him. He slowly slips deeper and deeper into the universe of anarchy in the real world and is always surrounded by conflict and chaos.
On the psychic level, his weakened ego structure comes under the away of shadow elements, and the conflict is pushed into the unconscious. External compensation has to be applied to compensate for this inner weakness. The external environment may subject him to external rules – the law, and the justice system – may ask him the same questions that the conscience had been asking. Hence an internal struggle has now become externalized. In extreme cases, he may have to go to jail for giving in to his impulses. Hence while the soul struggles to remain uncontaminated, the body is made to suffer for the unresolved internal struggles and conflicts. This external resolution compensates for weakness in the internal moral structure.
Meanwhile, consciousness has no access to the internal war going on in the unconscious, so he is not aware of this war between right and wrong that silently wrecks damage in the unconscious. The battlefields of unconscious are littered with the blood of the pure, and if the war to regain the true nature of humanity, the war to maintain the purity of soul, is lost, the loss will spill over to the body in the form of physiological or psychological disease. Both, the body as well as the spirit are weakened in the process. The body cannot house an impure soul and eventually will succumb to this internal conflict, even though in the here and now the person seems to be in control.
A person with integrity and honesty, on the other hand, will steer away from unethical behavior, unethical friends, unethical acts. There is little intra-psychic conflict, as the external environment is in harmony with, and is aligned with the innate purity of the soul. Body and spirit are strengthened by this harmony. Even if the external life is filled with trauma, as in the case of many who become innocent victims, the internal compensates for the outer turmoil. Their internal life is peaceful, and in harmony with nature. The purity of mind does not necessarily need to be metaphysical or religious, but it does need to have a religious attitude, and the sanctity and safety of the physical life as its goal, for a conflict ridden mind damages the body.
All this seems so easy to achieve, but as usual life is not as simple. Take for example the case of a person of less integrity trapped in a circle of ethical and moral society, or friends and family. This person may be pushed towards a more religious attitude towards life, and may overcome the contamination of the soul if he remains open to change. The universe will help him.
But what about the person of integrity and strong moral consciousness being trapped in an environment that is fundamentally dishonest. If the environment is a job, a person maybe able to change the job. If it is a friendship, change is still possible. But what if it is a fundamentally unethical society? Or, as in the case of my acquaintance/friend – if the family – wife, husband, sons, daughters, parents have lost their moral compass ? What can one do? Especially if one is attached to the family and or society? Technically, the person could fight for the right attitude, the notion of family, friends, relatives and relationships as being delusions of the mind. That assertive attitude would be an act of compassion towards those that are misguided. But not everyone has the strength of character, and the will to follow this path of individuation. For them, such idealisma and wisdom may be difficult to achieve in real life. In such cases, as in the case of my friend/acquaintance, the inner voices become difficult to ignore, and because one refuses to take assertive action, a sense of helplessness sets in. The person cannot give up his essential spirituality, yet the environment denies him access to that spirituality, and his own character fails him in an effort to conform. He becomes helpless in the face of such conflicting forces. Continuous helplessness may weakens the will to live. One may fantasize, for example, that the fastest solution out of this debilitating moral dilemma is provided by the freedom accorded by death. Such a person has a death wish, he flirts with death, and wills death. The inner cancer of guilt and misgiving that is debilitating the psyche may manifest itself in various diseases – included obsessive compulsive disorders, panic attacks, cancer, tumor etc. The body becomes a battlefield, and biology becomes a means by which is manifest what essentially is an intra-psychic conflict between the powerful good which wins the spirit/mind, pushing the “bad” onto the soul/body, between omnipotent god that is represented by purity of thought, and the devil that dies thru the body. The masculine principle (that associated with the heavens, celestial sublimation, ethics, duty, morality and consciousness and destruction, death and dying ) prevails over the feminine (symbolic of the body, earthly aspects of the psyche, the home of the irrational and the unconscious, and the part responsible for rebirth, regeneration and nurturance) – and hence the body dies in the process. The good manifests itself in the spirit, and the soul becomes a container for the lost, hence the term – a lost soul!
To pull a person out of such an intrapsychic conflict is often possible provided sufficient insight is created. When a disease is conceptualised in metaphorical terms, it does not necessarily mean that the disease can be cured. Though physiological is often a manifestation of the psychological, biological degenration itself can often become irreversible. Thus symptoms of cancer, for example, cannot always be alleviated by psychological treatment, but removal of intrapsychic conflicts creates relief that will allow the person to find peace and comfort out of that internal battle. Such a person may be better able to maintain a psychological equilibrium and endure their state more gracefully, with more acceptance, even joy. This acceptance frees up libidinal energy that is otherwise used up in forcing an equilibrium state. This freed-up energy is spent on healing the body, and may boost up immune system, for example. and this may make a significant difference in treatment, ensuring the success of the treatment. Hence minimization of internal conflicts and living a life aligned with nature and the natural, in acceptance and peacefulness, often become self fulfilling prophecies.
At this point of conclusion, for some reason, the teachings of Buddha reverberate thru my mind : “see things as they are, not as you want them to be.” Perhaps he meant to bless us with the ability to see beyond the physical, at the symbolic reality that life offers. However, he also held that though others can show the way, the hard work has to be done by the individual himself. There are not short cuts in life, and the inner work is often difficult and unpleasant, but the rewards are plenty. And of primary importance is the wish, and the willingness of the person. A person should *want* to lead a purer life, a life devoid of all internal conflicts. Often this will is weakened by materialism, but embracing our innate morality creates an internal sense of well being, a sense of having lived life to the best of your ability, of having no regrets, and knowing that you leave behind for your children a role model, and a world that is better off because you have walked a moral path in it. This engenders generativity, which is necessary for age appropriate development as we cross the threshold of 40s. Such living, and only such living from the heart, opens up all the beneficent energies of the universe, including synchronicities, that assist us in our onward journeys.
So here’s wishing all of us the capacity to resolve our internal conflicts, because what is not resolved internally, becomes an external reality.
PS: These writing represent my personal philosophy on the subject of psychological and physiological disease, distilled and combined together in the furnace of experience. As such these are not representative of any one single clinical or diagnostic orientation in psychology or any treatment methods etc.