Saturday, June 11, 2011

"The Avoidance of Suffering"

"The Avoidance of Suffering"
 by Carolyn Baker
"In the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, Sigmund Freud cultivated a very dark perception of humanity as he assessed the baser instincts largely repressed in the human unconscious. His pupil who became the famous Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, acknowledged the dark side of humanity which drove Freud to utter despair but unlike Freud, Jung came to believe that the dark side was a necessary ally in transforming human consciousness. He spent decades studying myriad spiritual teachers, mythologies, and archetypes of the unconscious, and championed the sacred in nature and in the human psyche; however, Jung insisted that, "We must beware of thinking of good and evil as absolute opposites. The criterion of ethical action can no longer consist in the simple view that good has the force of a categorical imperative, while so-called evil can resolutely be shunned. Recognition of the reality of evil necessarily relativizes the good, and the evil likewise, converting both into halves of a paradoxical whole."

In other words, according to Jung, what we call "good" and "evil" need each other and in our binary thinking are opposite poles which in reality comprise the whole of the human experience; one needs the other for completion, and particularly for the transformation of consciousness. This is why Jung adamantly declared that, "Mental illness is the avoidance of suffering." He was not referring to meaningless anguish but suffering which we endeavor to make sense of so that our genuine human purpose may be revealed to us."

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