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Posts Tagged ‘Wisdom’

The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man

October 27, 2013 2 comments

My first exposure to Jungian psychology was during my undergraduate studies, when I happened upon a copy of Dr. Carl Jung’s 1933 book, Modern Man in Search of a Soul. While up until that point I had never even heard of Dr. Jung, the title resonated with me because I myself was a modern man in search of a deeper understanding of myself, and the world around me; therefore, I was compelled to read the book. What I discovered in those pages set me firmly upon my spiritual path, so I owe a great deal to the wisdom contained in those pages.

The Swiss psychologist Dr. Carl Jung (1875-1961), founded the field of analytical psychology, which seeks to aid individuals on the path of individuation. Rather than rejecting religion as his contemporary Dr. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) had done, Dr. Jung explored and integrated religion, alchemy, and esoteric elements into his theories. By exploring various religious and esoteric studies, Dr. Jung, integrated a great deal of ancient wisdom into his theories. Dr. Jung’s theories regarding the unconscious and conscious subparts of the psyche can be extremely beneficial in understanding the methods, rationales, and goals of the world religions, as well as esoteric and initiatic systems, including Freemasonry.

One of the final chapters of, Modern Man, is aptly titled, “The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man”, and it really sums up the issues that most of us encounter in our spiritual lives, as well as the solutions to lead a more balanced and spiritually integrated life. In this chapter Dr. Jung discusses the fact that modern people often suffer from various forms of anxiety and neurosis, because we have severed our conscious self from our unconscious subparts. Most modern people no longer reflect or partake in personal introspection, instead we are only concerned with instant gratification and that which can be validated by our physical senses. However, this causes a myriad of problems, because no matter how hard we try to divorce our conscious self from our unconscious, our unconscious will always seek to guide and gain control. Since modern people don’t partake in introspection, and thereby gain an understanding of our unconscious subparts, we are in essence trying to sail a ship without an adequate knowledge of the engine or navigation mechanics.

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Division as the Root of Conflict

April 22, 2013 7 comments

Used with permission from Flickr Creative Commons, and Photopin.com: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonfly1965/5948700943/ (c) dragonflynan1965 2011

Used with permission from Flickr Creative Commons, and Photopin.com: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonfly1965/5948700943/ (c) dragonflynan1965 2011

This has been a rough week of terrorism for the U.S.A., in a single week we have witnessed the bombing of the Boston Marathon, and the mailing of ricin laden letters to President Obama and Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi. This week was also the 18th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing (04/19/1995).

Those directly effected by the Boston bombing showed tremendous heroism by rushing to the aid of those injured immediately following the attack, and some runners even continued running to the nearest hospital to donate blood… after already running a marathon! The city of Boston as a whole, also seemed to show tremendous resolve and unity during the manhunt for the perpetrators.

However, almost immediately after the news broke about the bombings many people who were not directly effected by the acts seemed to be in a rush to pin the blame on someone. Were the acts done by radical Muslims? Right-wing fundamentalists? North Koreans? Everyone seemed to be in a rush to pin blame on “them”. There seemed to be an intense need to exonerate one’s own group (“us”), as well as justify deep seeded mistrust of “them”. Once it was discovered that foreign born, presumably Muslim, young men had perpetrated the bombing (Perhaps if we add in enough identifiers, each of us can distance ourselves from “them”), I watched on several social network sites, as many people almost gleefully celebrated the exoneration of their group, while armchair quarterbacking appropriate responses and protections.

While it is unknown at this time what exactly triggered the Tsarnaev brothers to commit their act, I can guarantee you at the root of it was division (a classic “us vs. them” conflict). Perhaps they didn’t feel that they fit in to American society, so the entire community composed “them”, perhaps they felt persecuted or marginalized because of their faith or ethnicity, perhaps it was an extension of the Chechnya -Russian conflict. Somewhere, there was an us vs. them mentality at the root. There always is, because regardless of what “group” a terrorist comes from, the us vs. them mentality is the fertile soil that allows the seeds of extremism (darkness) to take root and grow. The division (whether perceived or actual) is necessary for terrorism, because in order to conduct an act of terrorism, you must view your victims as sub-human, or at least deserving of carnage and death, which is not what G*d wants for us, nor is it what human nature dictates. Also, after an act of terrorism, the us vs. them mentality causes friction that prevents true healing.

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Discovering Wisdom Through Practice


Guthrie SR Atrium – Photo by Matthew D. Anthony (c) 2012

We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness, which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we must come at last to regard the world.” – Marcel Proust

During this past weekend I had the supreme pleasure of enjoying a four day Scottish Rite Reunion in Guthrie, Oklahoma. For those that aren’t familiar with the Scottish Rite, it is a Masonic organization that confers the 4th through the 33rd degrees of the Masonic system. The degrees of the Scottish Rite basically provide a collegiate level course on comparative religion, philosophical and moral thought, ethics, and most importantly (for me at least) inner development.

I am supremely fortunate to be a member of the Guthrie Valley, which not only boasts one of the world’s most beautiful buildings (in my opinion, and in the opinion of many who have been fortunate to visit it), but it is composed of members who truly care about not only their own spiritual path, but facilitating the spiritual paths of others. During the Reunions there are group meditation and education courses, as well as ample opportunities to spend one-on-one time with individual seekers, teachers, and facilitators from almost every spiritual tradition ranging from mainstream Christianity, Gnostic Christianity, Buddhism, Islam-Sufism, Neo-Paganism, etc., so it is truly a spiritual melting pot that provides a smorgasbord for the spiritual seeker. It also provides people from all spiritual backgrounds, and levels of interest or development with a platform to advance and learn from one another, which unfortunately is a very rare opportunity.

The above quote by Marcel Proust has been stuck in my head for the last month or so, and during this last weekend it really hit home; because, one of the central teachings of the Rite is that its members should actively go out in the world and practice what they have learned in order to take up the struggle against tyranny, oppression, ignorance, and human suffering of all kinds.

Too often people are merely content with “receiving” wisdom, which is  passive, and merely becomes an intellectual exercise, or people are constantly searching for just the right place of worship, teacher, or practice, so they easily fall into a rut, which prevents any real progress. While I firmly believe that every spiritual tradition provides the keys (knowledge) to living a happy and fulfilled life in this realm, and in the next, we must make an effort to discover true wisdom, which can only be had by journeying down the path towards it. The journey towards wisdom not only requires learning (knowledge), but it requires real effort, and actually putting your knowledge into practice. Read more…

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