Tag Archives: Jung

Reconciliation revisited

What I would have said at the Hoʻokuʻikahi Reconciliation service on Jan. 17 if I’d had more time:

The great psychologist Carl Jung said:

There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything to avoid facing their souls.

I noted in my talk at St. Andrew’s Cathedral that it felt strange at first to be addressing a topic as seemingly secular as sovereignty in that space. But I soon realized that reconciliation isnʻt secular at all – it is about consciousness. Reconciliation is about consciousness because it requires the taking on and consideration of other perspectives. This taking on of new perspectives, according to Integral theorist Ken Wilber, is the very definition of “cognitive,” which is why much of the anti-intellectualism that runs through the spiritual movement is misplaced.

When organizing the service, Kahu Dr. Kaleo Patterson used a phrase that caught my attention: “mindful nationalism.” It caught my attention because Iʻve always found the use of the term nationalism in the Hawaiian movement somewhat alarming. People who are familiar, or who can remember the horrors of the nationalist movements of the early- and mid-twentieth century would find the term even more alarming. So the descriptor “mindful” is absolutely crucial here – it makes clear that ours will not be the mindless nationalism of so many independence and regime changing movements. It sets into the record that we will not use easy lines of division to exclude people from the nation that is being built here (even OHA uses the term nation-building), or perhaps restored.

The consciousness required of such a mindful nationalism requires development: conscious(ness) change over time. Developmental psychology shows that people, given a reasonably healthy social environment, develop (or “evolve”) over time in predictable ways that begin to include larger and larger groups into their “circle of self.” The prevailing mode in the social sciences and humanities – postmodernism – deconstructs hierarchies, and being sequential, development could be considered a hierarchy. This “flattening” of the social landscape creates what Robert Bly has called the “sibling society” – a society in which everyone is on the same level. Without parents, there is no agreement in such a society that some people, over time, gain true wisdom. Our culture’s obsession with youthful bodies has as its parallel an obsession with youthful (immature) consciousness. Witness reality TV, in which self-serving avarice is considered a virtue.

Partly because of this flattening, both sides of the political spectrum have become materialistic, but in different ways. Thought it claims to be spiritual, and likely is (in its own strange way) the right is pretty literally materialistic: it is the party of business, and its God wants you to be rich (this explains why the US is the only developed country that is both wealthy and religious). The left is materialistic in a different way: there is a Marxist thread throughout it that sees historical materialism as a driving force of history. The material history of class struggle is  history itself. “History is the history of class struggle,” as Marx put it.

Because both sides are materialistic, progressive communities of faith are quite rare (religious but not materialistic in either of the ways described above). This is why, in my opinion, they comprise the majority of the small group of people occupying the “higher” levels of consciousness which we would all strive to reach, if only we knew they existed. In other words, science and modernity itself can put up obstacles to development. (This is not true in all cases, in fact, most of the notable quantum physicists were mystics).

When one can be driven by both the naʻau (literally “gut”, intuition) and the naʻauao (intelligence, enlightened consciousness), it is a profound state for effective decision-making and eventual reconciliation.


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The Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung was born in 1875, the son of a poor pastor of the Reformed Swiss Church. Mild early childhood neuroses had led him to become interested in psychology, even though it was not a prestigious occupation at the time. He studied medicine at the University of Basel, and practiced in Zurich.

C.G. Jung

Jung is best known for his ideas of archetypes, introversion and extroversion, and the collective unconscious. His method led to an entire Jungian school of practice, including the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland. In some quarters, his mystical writings on topics like alchemy and synchronicity have made him a kind of Godfather of the new age movement. In Jung, we see the intersection of standard, accepted scientific practices and occult mysticism. Jung maintained his entire career, however, that he was a scientist, not a mystic.


Archetypes are idealized images of personality that we emulate. the four primary archetypes are the self, the shadow (that which one hides from the world and even from oneself), anima or animus (the idea of the opposite gender), and persona. There are many persona an individual can take on. These are idealized forms that we aspire to:

Jungian archetypes of persona


The archetypes relate to introversion and extroversion. Jung relates the ancient archetype of Apollo to introversion: dreaming, reflecting and visioning. Extroversions is related to the ancient archetype of Dionysius: one who wants to participate in the world – politics, intrigue, family, etc.


The collective unconscious is a reservoir of unconscious experience that a species can tap into. This is distinguished from an individual’s unconscious – the collection of personal experiences that he or she draws from. As Jung put it in Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (1996, 43):

My thesis then, is as follows: in addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents.


Jung was cutting his teeth in Psychotherapy in the shadow of Freud, but as its most promising young star. When the two first met, they famously had a half-day long conversation. But Jung’s openness to seemingly non-scientific matters led to a rift between the two great psychotherapists that never healed. Differences in wealth (Jung married a very wealthy heiress, while Freud struggled) and youthfulness (Jung had to carry  the sick Freud at a conference) led to antipathy  between them.


At the age of 40, Jung felt that he had achieved all that a person could ask for, professionally and personally. He even said that “life begins at 40, the rest [the earlier period] is just research.”  Jung began a series of eccentric self-explorations, such as painting the inside of a tower on his property, studying alchemy and writing and illustrating The Red Book, a kind of exposition of his own personal unconscious, including dreams and visions. He claimed that all his late work was derivative of The Red Book. Because of its personal nature, the book was only shown to less than a dozen people and kept in a safety deposit box for a half-century before finally being released in 2009 by his grandson.

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Image from The Red Book (New York Times)

Along with the posts on RousseauPlatoBaconMachiavelliSaid, Marx and Locke, this post, and many to follow, are part of an upcoming project (as you can see it’s not all philosophy!) – stay tuned.

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