Finding Meaning in the Midst of Chaos
Many feel disheartened and helpless with all the chaos that currently abounds. The world has drastically changed in our lifetime, and not for the better. Sometimes we feel we are in a downward spiral, with no bottom in sight. Sometimes there are glimmers of hope from acts of kindness that surprise and inspire us, but they are few and far between. In general, we find ourselves living in a world that is more violent, divided, separated, lonely, and meaningless than ever before. In the West, many feel like they are living on a ‘movie set’ rather than in real life. Cultural imprints abound from those that normalize traditions currently lacking deeper meaning, to those that influence our perceptions of reality through advertising and marketing. The absence of relatedness is at an all-time high.
This may all sound more negative than we would like to admit. We often deny what feels uncomfortable. Statements like, “It’s all good” negates how we really feel. At this time more than ever before, we need to assume an aerial view, a larger perspective, and begin to see the events of this time as physical eruptions of the collective shadow. It is finally emerging from hiding for all to see. Carl Jung said, “One does not get enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious”. If we do not make this conscious, through denial or positive thinking, it will inevitably express itself through collective behaviors that wreak havoc on humanity and Earth itself. This is one way for us to understand this current time.
This being the case, how then do we take heart? How do we not get lost in negativity and hopelessness? For many of us, all we know how to do to counter the negative reality we are surrounded by is to focus on the positive and deny the true state of our world. This may palliate us for a while, but eventually, we have to face the whole truth of these times.
If we lack context, we lack meaning. The context in our society is too narrow for us to truly understand the meaning behind what we are living in. Throughout history we have repeatedly seen how cultures that moved into chaos eventually emerged anew. Darkness always precedes the light. The period of Renaissance emerged from the plague. We can consider ourselves currently in a metaphorical plague, bereft of real meaning, merely witnessing violence from our living room couches on our television screens. We are not individually effected by the many tragedies underway, they have become mere soundbites that come and go like the wind. Another tragedy in many of our lives is the withering of our health, the epidemic of heart disease, cancer, morbid obesity, learning disorders, lack of connectedness, and lack of true feeling. We suffer from a level of ‘soul’ loss born of complacency, where Patriarchal values are been glorified and normalized at the cost of consciousness and relatedness. Complacency is not our friend. We must evaluate how we have arrived at a place where we feel utterly alienated and alone, even when we are among others. In fact, loneliness is at an all-time high in our Western world. If we want renewal, rebirth, a new more ascended, more conscious culture, we must engage our consciousness and intend a culture that we want to live in, one with depth, meaning, community, and relatedness.
In the field of traditional Medicine, we have normalized palliation and mistaken it for the cure. Palliation does not cure nor heal, it merely covers up symptoms. Symptoms which are covered and unexplored contain energy and clues to their cause. If we do not explore the deeper depths, not only can we not heal, we cannot grow in meaning and purpose. In other words, palliation prevents us from feeling symptoms, but symptoms themselves are embedded messages that go deeper than their physicality. When not attended to, understood or used as a catalyst for growth and meaning, their energy amplifies and grows bigger within our bodies like a keg under pressure. It eventually comes out sideways in the form of mental and spiritual disharmony and manifests in the symptoms of loneliness and disconnection felt by most. The basic law of thermodynamics applies here, “energy cannot be created or destroyed, it just changes form”. And as Jung so aptly stated, “What is not brought to consciousness, comes to us as fate”.
So it is time for us to do what is difficult, what we instinctively want to avoid, what we don’t want to face: our personal and collective shadow of which we are an integral part. For example, when we behave from a “me versus you”, or an “us versus them”, polarized and projective attitude, we make a significant contribution to both our personal disharmony and the collective shadow, which is manifesting now on the world stage.
As we pull back these projections and integrate them, aligning with the unity of all beings, we are able to feel more whole and make the contribution of our wholeness to the collective. All of our shadow patterns when worked with consciously can be integrated and transformed, leading to wholeness not just for us individually, but for others whom we encounter. We must lead by example and continue our courageous and difficult work of conscious participation in our own transformation.
We are living in an unprecedented time of potential change. Transformation involves the deconstruction of patterns prior to the reconstruction of new ones. In America today, we are perfectly poised for transformation. In fact, it is inevitable given the deconstruction of our current patterns that are underway. The condition we are in is merely a reflection of how we have adapted to a Patriarchal value system which has gone awry. The Power Principle which drives Patriarchy has to eventually fall away. Like a cancer it is not sustainable. This is not a time for us to be complacent, but to awaken to owning our participation in these patterns, through either behaving in these ways or adapting to those who do.
Deep down, many of us value essentially the same things. We value love, meaning, peace, community, relatedness, and connection. Currently, we have more loneliness in our country than ever before. To heal this will require the conscious effort and participation by all of us. As we have disconnected with each other in favor of technology, we have alienated ourselves from basic ways of relating authentically to each other and created a different kind of communication pattern. This pattern has created a vacancy of shared energy, authentic relatedness, love, and resonance. This has resulted in a loss of Eros. A loss of Eros , in favor of transactions results in loneliness, meaninglessness and depression. This vacancy has infiltrated our cultural psyche. Let us not normalize this.
As we unravel the root causes of our collective illnesses, we can and must make ourselves accountable for their presence and awaken to living more consciously every day. We must serve what is authentic within rather than what is normalized through adaptation, and be willing to do the hard work of bringing the light of consciousness to our shadow behaviors. We must not act from our shadow, but hold our negative impulses back, allow them to incubate within the alchemical vessel of our body/mind till they transform into something useful and meaningful. It takes courage, prayer, stillness, hard work, and the desire to go against the norm to do this; but every act of intentionality, be it incremental, brings a new birth within and adds to the transformation of the collective shadow. Even if we go this alone, this is no small feat. As William Stafford said, “Here is how to count the people who are ready to do right: one, one, one…..”
So we must begin today, in this hour, in this moment, because this moment is all we have, and thankfully, it is enough to create the change we deserve.