17. Mysterious Healings
The unconscious and the superconscious are realms where answers, healing and resolution are found. After all, dragons, though fierce, do guard treasures. Many of humanity's greatest inventions, creations and actions have been dreamt up during riverside reveries, in sleep, in altered states, during crises or as a result of sudden illuminations late at night. Deeper consciousness purveys gifts whenever we are genuinely ready for them and receptive to them.
Thus it was that the world had to wait for Mikhael Gorbachev to announce a new geopolitical order in 1987-89, not before, while JFK or Jimmy Carter, who could have achieved a similar possibility, were either before their time, inappropriately placed in history, up against too many obstacles or personally unable to carry through whatever they truly came to do. History used Gorbachev for its purposes and ditched him when his work was done. His work turned out to be to free up the ice, to start changes in motion, though not to bring them about. That takes more time! The impact of his efforts will unfold over the decades – that story is as yet unfinished.
Sometimes the public unconscious can be activated in unusual ways. An example was the 1994 death of British politician John Smith. Who? He was the leader of the opposition Labour Party, a man well-liked by those who knew him but largely unknown to the majority. However, his unexpected death (and his burial amongst kings on the magical isle of Iona in Scotland) catalysed a massive shift of awareness in the British public as a whole. The symbolism of his death made people aware that their society had become callous, irresponsible and selfish. A sudden yaw in the political atmosphere emerged, literally overnight. The death of a man few honestly cared about led to a miraculous turning of the tide in British public life – it represented an exorcism of the Thatcherite ghost of the 1980s. Smith posthumously kicked the collective psyche where it was vulnerable – perhaps this was the greatest gift to posterity by the 'prime minister that never was'.
John Smith had to die to make his point, like John Lennon, the Sinn Fein Martyrs, or Steve Biko. Tragically, deaths like this, together with Sowetos and Rwandas, have to exist, to draw attention to the endemic horrors of our world and to the fact that we all play a part in their creation. This is a tragic truism arising from human insensitivity and institutionalised avoidance of responsibility.
Sometimes people have to threaten death or extreme privation to make their mark: in 1948, Mahatma Gandhi threatened to starve himself to death if Hindus and Muslims failed to work together; Nelson Mandela refused release from jail until sufficient changes were inaugurated in his country; Bobby Sands fasted to death in the Maze prison in Ulster in 1981 to underscore the legitimacy of the Irish republican cause; and Jan Palach set himself on fire publicly in Prague to draw attention to the Soviet suppression of Czech liberalisation in 1968. Each raised public awareness by presenting ordinary people with sharply-pointed choices, by activating ancient unconscious imagery – that of the saintly martyr.
Then, of course, there was our old friend Jesus the Nazarene, crucified for a variety of symbolic and actual reasons. Whether or not he actually did actually die on the Cross, the Crucifixion demonstrated the symbolism of Man against Megamachine (the Roman empire), the immortality of the soul, the overcoming of worldly attachments and the potential triumph of a new spirit of love and forgiveness. This was a solid basis on which to build a religion.
People-against-megamachine imagery has been repeated in recent times: in the parading grandmothers of the 'disappeared' in 1970s Argentina or in the massing of cloth-capped citizens in East European city-squares in 1989, the poignant clash of conflicting social prerogatives was clearly communicated. Such imagery lodges deeply in collective memory, waiting to emerge again, contributing bit by bit to an onslaught of truth likely one day to come to the world. Revelation of things as they baldly are.
Then there can be touching moments, captured and broadcast worldwide by the media. A starving girl being rescued in Sudan in 1986. Beached whales being refloated by whole families of Australians in 1992. Mother Teresa in India personified the compassionate female martyr-saint, a post in collective mythology once occupied by Florence Nightingale.
Then there can be formally unexplainable phenomena: appearances of the Virgin Mary at Fatima in Portugal or at Medjugorje in Croatia, or multifarious UFO sightings over public places worldwide, or immaculately-designed crop formations year-upon-year in England and thirtyish other countries. These should be headline news - phenomena which raise rich questions about reality, about different ways of looking at things, sowing seeds of attitudinal and spiritual change for a future time. Such images are remembered for a long time, deep down. Not only this, but they activate energy.
This energy-activation applies not only to metaphysical phenomena – it is visible on the news regularly. The compassionate public response to pictures of starving Ethiopians in 1984-88 actually seemed to assist the arising of numbers of miracles reported in Ethiopia, observed by many foreign aid workers – the final demise of the divisive, corrupt and murderous Mengistu regime was in itself a miracle. Equally it could be construed that distant public revulsion to the mass murdering of Tutsis by Hutus in Rwanda in 1994 might have directly influenced the situation: two months after the massacres, the Tutsis fought back, and fleeing Hutus soon found themselves in refugee camps in Zaire, themselves plagued with disease and starvation, as if by divine retribution.
One must interpret unconscious connections between such events carefully, without prejudice. However, symbolic synchronicities, underlying connections and significances between events do visibly and regularly occur, whether or not these events are logically connected. The coincidence in 1982 of the first visit of the Pope to Britain with an unseasonal heat-wave and with the Falklands War constituted a bundle of meaningful events which had no logical connection, yet they betray a deeper symbolism underneath. The connection of sunshine in a cloudy country, together with an act of Papal forgiveness going back centuries to England's separation from Rome, together with an act of old-fashioned British naval bombast somehow hangs together – even though the logic of it beats me to this day!
The consequences of earlier mistakes and evils return to the fomenters with a strangely medieval logic. The collapse of the once-confident Bosnian Serbs after a turn-around of events in Bosnia in August 1995 when NATO moved in gave evidence of the seriousness with which such backlashes can take place. In the paradoxical logic of the unconscious, all things reverse in time. Chickens inevitably come home to roost.
Symbolic connections between seemingly separate events are demonstrated particularly by synchronicities – apparently unconnected incidents taking place at the same time or in noticeably close succession. Synchronicities betray the existence of an underlying order to things – even though this order is not rational in form and behaviour.
The collective unconscious does influence things directly, in manifold ways. It influences far more than we might be happy to admit. From the viewpoint of the unconscious and the way it operates, many if not all events are a direct reciprocal mirroring of whatever thoughts and feelings prevail at any time. Thus, in 1988, there was a spate of large-scale air crashes worldwide, plus a dramatic failure of the NASA space shuttle. The message? Perhaps we place too much almost-religious faith in high-tech gizmos and in our own human invincibility. Perhaps we're flying too high.
In January 1994 there were catastrophic bushfires in drought-ridden Australia and simultaneous and strangely compensatory floods in Europe – an initiation in both fire and water. Major corruption cases in governments worldwide arose simultaneously in different countries from 1987 onwards. Storms can happen in Bengal and Texas simultaneously. The head of NATO (the 'good guys') is indicted for receiving bribes at the same time as Bosnian Serbs (the 'bad guys') are accused of war crimes. What are we to make of that?
These synchronicities cause people, privately, to ask why, to perceive hidden connections which convey underlying simple messages the unconscious part of the psyche understands. In such cases, events talk the same language and logic as the unconscious – they mirror the inner state of humanity.
Symbolically-symptomatic events are common too. The outbreak of a freak cyclone in Britain in 1988 came at a politically-charged time. The cyclone headed directly and specifically for London, the centre of the political situation that was at that moment going on. Vast numbers of trees were brought down, blocking roads and devastating ancient forests. Within days, a financial collapse in the London stock exchange followed (for logically-independent reasons). The profitable speculative boom of Mrs Thatcher's Britain was wiped out in three days. The connective lessons to be drawn from this were carefully not revealed in the media, though the connection was quietly noted by many members of the public: the 'fates' had decided to teach the British a lesson.
A freak storm in southern Egypt during a season of zero rainfall brought not only devastating floods but also ignition of large oil tanks by lightning, causing a hellish inferno. This came at a time of charged unease caused by frictions between the Egyptian government and Islamic militants. The underlying issue in Egypt was the risk of social breakdown through polarisation between moderates and fundamentalists – a reflection of deep-seated economic woes and inequities in the country. The storm was, in the language of the unconscious, a warning and perhaps a cleansing catharsis.
Such connections can easily be passed off as accidental, superstitious or imaginary. From the viewpoint of the established world order, it is important to steer attention away from such irrational interpretations and forged connections. Yet such connections do exist and they crop up frequently. They exist because of the inherent underlying oneness of all people and all things: all that is necessary is a public awareness which perceives the connections.
Profound events happening in one locality in the world happen on behalf of everybody, everywhere – like a localised boil on the skin which lets out poisons from the whole body. The 1994 mass-murders in Rwanda occurred not just because of Hutus and Tutsis and their history, but because the whole world is ruthlessly murderous. Hitler came to power not just because of Germans, but because of the unconscious horror-cravings of everyone, worldwide. The world was looking for trouble and Hitler gave it. These events were localised, yes, but they affected the world and catalysed processes in the collective psyche which were formative and crucial, with a longterm as well as a short-term significance.
Here we are looking at world events from the viewpoint of omens – symbolic events which suggestively sum up the underlying meaning of current history. These talk to the collective unconscious in clear and simple terms. Yet, despite this, educated logic says that all events are accidental, with causes which have no fundamental connection. This amoral kind of logic gave rise to an endemic sense of unconnectedness and individualism which, historically, has characterised the Euro-American social experience. As a result of this, the whole go-getting world system of today, founded by Euro-Americans, rests on a foundation of implicit collective psychological permission to disregard the full consequences of go-getting. Yet consequences there are.
This amorality allows the evasion of social and global learning. During WW2, great attention was given to arguments justifying war, while all questioning of the value of warfare was ridiculed and sidelined, even denounced as traitorous. The lesson to be drawn from this is that pointing out moral lessons during amoral times doesn't get very far. Why is it that we humans allow military machines to grow so large when we are hurt so much by them? Why do we allow difficult situations to develop to the extent that war becomes necessary? The local excuse is that war justly exists to rid the world of the evil of the 'other side'.
However, the true answer is simple: warfare happens because nobody stops it when it is possible to do so. The proposition of war has now become untenable from a global viewpoint. This becomes poignant and disastrous when international business interests arm and supply both sides in a war, competing for arms contracts and even deliberately bidding up international insecurity to stimulate arms sales, regardless of the consequences – as was the case in Gulf War Two in 1991.
The very existence of warfare reveals a secret death-wish in humanity. It alludes to a deeply cynical and destructive tendency which has no grasp of longterm, overall historic consequences. The argument that demilitarisation hits the economies of military-producing countries, creating unemployment, is just not tenable when compared to the human, environmental and spiritual destruction caused by war technology and the arms business. Where does it all stop? It stops when the collective ego owns up to the contents of its unconscious. It stops when we take charge of our horror-tendencies, retract our blame from others and take responsibility for our choices – both conscious and unconscious choices.
In the Cold War, overkill scenarios were war-gamed on computer by both sides to such an extent that it was realised there was no alternative but annihilation of both sides. It became a no-win situation. Deterrence through threat was invalidated by the sheer expense involved and the potential devastation to both sides, whether they won or lost. The very purpose of war – victory over others – was defeated, rendered obsolete. This lesson had been brewing since the 1700s, but it took until the 1970s-80s to begin to get through.
The simple days of good-guys and bad-guys were over. However, the great thing about the Cold War was that it was fought on computer, in virtual reality. This symbolised a new technological-psychic dimension to the operation of the collective unconscious in which, in modern times, computers and the big and small screens have to some extent taken over the work of the human psyche. You can now see your deepest fantasies played out before you, safely on the screen – and you can eat snacks and drink beer while doing so!
In 1994, 79 out of 82 contemporary conflicts under way worldwide were internal conflicts – civil wars. This represented a new level of complexity to the matter of war – we were unconsciously getting closer to the nub of the matter. In recent centuries things had been relatively simple, though devastating: our unconscious war-needs were externalised in the shape of the six world wars from the 1700s to the late 1900s. This pattern culminated and was exhausted in the Cold War – a remote-controlled techno-war with little active combat.
However, the new 'era of peace' of the 1990s brought an internalisation of destructive tendencies, now erupting as civil wars, rebellions or even senseless outbreaks with little clear aim. The agenda changed: military issues now increasingly concerned the internal identity of nations, the right of ethnic minorities to self-determination and the right of different ideological-religious-ethnic groupings to a voice. The disturbing aspect of this is that, in the light of 20th century international protocols, world powers rarely intervene in the internal affairs of other nations. In yet another nifty way, responsibility for warfare is carefully concealed – sell them the guns but don't get involved.
Yet, added up, the localised conflicts of the 1990s – in the Balkans, the Caucasus, Kashmir, Cambodia, Indonesia, Burma, Rwanda, Somalia, Zaire, Mexico, Peru, Ulster, Angola, Afghanistan, Kirgyzstan, Kurdistan and many other places – constituted a continuance of an ongoing state of worldwide war. This was added to in the later 1990s by 'asymmetric wars' involving Al Qaeda and other fundamentalist 'non-state actors' who had a point to make, not only against governments in their locality but also against the mighty USA and all it stood for.
In this the international arms industry has an enormous vested interest, and it plays a key role in ramping up conflict and war-preparedness. This is a new manifestation of the increasingly serious and complex psychological war within the heart of humanity. However, our challenge is to find mass-therapeutic means by which disagreements may be processed without harm to people and environment. Diplomacy and aid need to work to constructively release dark collective emotions in order to create permanent relief of the very causes of war.
It is valuable to employ the imaginal language of the unconscious and the superconscious in understanding the affairs of our time because they are becoming increasingly relevant. We live in a world today which is more insane than ever before. This is demonstrated regularly on our news media and in our lives. Reality is slipping, surreptitiously though thoroughly, and our inner viewpoint and experience is being changed, decade by decade. Time and the torrent of emergent issues seem to accelerate as time goes on - partially caused by an enormous growth in world population, meaning that there are literally far more people alive experiencing a lot more experience and creating far more complexity and intensity. There's a dimensional shift going on, a creeping shift of consciousness which is to a great extent taking place outside the realms of religion and spirituality – it is being catalysed by the sheer power of events.
This acceleration began meekly at the very beginning of the Renaissance in Europe around the 1380s. It can be seen as a wave-like acceleration achieving a crescendo in our time – graphically accompanied by the exponentially-rising population curve of the last 500 years. Rational intellectualism, as a world-view, has been the dominant ideology of the last two centuries, and it is now visibly part of the creation, not the solution of the problem. Thus, a fundamental solution, a holographic and holo-dimensional paradigm-shift, is likely not to be rational by nature. If anything, it involves breaking rationality apart to reveal new sense and order underneath.
In geopolitical terms, this could indeed mean that an enormous global psychic storm is due. This storm will either be abated constructively and fundamentally at diplomatic and grass-roots social levels or it will be expressed in crisis and disaster impacting all of us. Whichever option becomes the case depends on our own intentional and unconscious choices. We need to develop ways and means of setting in motion constructive global psychological processing.
The Norwegians, who secretly brought Israel and the PLO together in an isolated farmhouse in Norway in 1993, recognised the emotional charge each side carried. They chose to use informal, kitchen-table, hidden-away talks as a way of relaxing the national egos of the two sides. This worked by bringing both sides to a friendlier position where they could then make a starting agreement. The agreement started a peace process after a long period of stalemate - it failed by the late 1990s, but in 1993 we were not to know that and the active participants in the process genuinely hoped for and anticipated peace. This approach was a valid form of therapy for those at the top. Alternative means would be necessary in different cases, and to deal with the feelings of affected people at the bottom.
Nevertheless, this brilliant Norwegian diplomatic initiative inherently recognised the deep psychology behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – a psychology resting on historic distrust, alienation and polarisation. Removing the negotiations from the public eye allowed unconscious material to safely swill around without harm, over coffee. This allowed the involved national egos to drop rigid defences and reformulate themselves anew. Self-reinvention is an emotional experience. This was one way of moving things forward.
The Norwegian strategy pointed to the value of familiarising ourselves with the symbolism and behaviour of the collective unconscious. This involves recognising the psyches of peoples as they are, and also seeing ourselves more clearly. Acknowledging the contents of our own national unconscious is initially very uncomfortable. However, by doing so, miracles become possible. Outcomes arise which once were counted impossible. While known possibilities are defined by the ego they are regularly overflowed by the unconscious, which is fully capable of rendering the impossible possible.
We now take it for granted that the Soviet Union has collapsed. Had we been polled in 1983 about its potential downfall, we would have thought it unlikely, impossible. We would not have suspected USSR to be the starting-point of a new geopolitical process. Yet, in the language of the unconscious, the most unlikely eventualities are indeed probable. The great becomes small and all things reverse. The solid disintegrates, and vulnerability becomes strength. Chechens are capable of overpowering Russians, and Vietcong proved the same with Americans. Seeing events from the viewpoint of the unconscious helps us see the thematic connections and meaning of events: the death of a Kurdish resistance fighter is your death, and the saving of a fever-ridden African child is your salvation.
Seeing unconscious connections within events reveals another order too: the dynamics of the world superconscious. Many people experience an antagonism between the idea of an all-encompassing compassionate God and the existence of so much suffering in the world. In experiencing this dichotomy, one thing is overlooked: God didn't choose to give us suffering, though God did give us free will – we chose suffering, created it, sustained it and even now refuse to resolve it. We turned away from the God within. The consequence was that we created hardship without.
Even when we are blessed with fortune we can interpret it as hardship. When we experience hardship we frequently fail to see the gift we are being given – an opportunity to delve into the roots of our problems, to solve things fundamentally. Yet the tribulations of our world do point to a higher order hidden within events. They point to a potential cleansing of the soul of humanity through the sheer exhaustion of negativity.
There's a point where things get so bad that they can only get better – what Buddhists call a 'turning in the deepest seat of consciousness'. There is a point where people deeply say "There must be another way!". From that point on, things become very different. A paradigmatic shift has occurred, changing not only the scenery but also the inner configuration of people's thoughts and feelings. Such shifts are frequently re-edited in people's minds, once the new situation has been accepted and adjusted to, but actually they are earth-shattering soulquakes which make history, open minds and hearts and progress things forward and change gear in the progression of events and world values.
And it is the world's values which play a critical role in the unfoldment of human history.