“The world today hangs by a thin thread, and that thread is the psyche of man.”
- C. G. Jung
How does anyone possibly express in words the state of collective madness that humanity has fallen into at this time in our history? As if in a hypnotic trance, our species is enacting a mass ritual suicide on a global scale, rushing as fast as we can towards our own self-destruction. We are destroying the biospheric life-support systems of the planet in so many different ways that it is as if we are determined to make this suicide attempt work—using a variety of methods as a perverse insurance policy, in case a couple of them don’t do the job. What modern-day humanity is confronted with, to quote the author and Trappist monk Thomas Merton, is “a crisis of sanity first of all.”
In trying to find a way to write about this state of affairs, I find myself going “off-planet,” imagining what it would look like if some enlightened aliens, in their travels throughout the universe, came upon our planet. Observing from a distance, they would naturally see all the various living beings who call planet earth home as related members of one larger organism—a single eco-system—who literally depend upon each other for survival. From this vantage point, I imagine, they would be utterly baffled at why human beings—the seemingly most intelligent species ever to appear on planet earth—are acting out their destructive impulses practically without restraint in every corner of the globe. Contemplating the state of humanity, I imagine these awakened beings wondering, “What in the world has gotten into them?”
I imagine these illumined aliens, in agreement with Merton, would quickly conclude that human beings had become afflicted with some sort of psychological illness, a disease of the mind and soul that has caused us to turn on ourselves in self-and-other destruction.Apparently in a “fallen state,” we have lost our way, become disoriented, and, in our confusion, become quite deranged. It is as if our collective madness is so overwhelming—and by now so familiar and so normalized—that most of us, its sufferers, have no idea how to even think about it, let alone how to deal with it. Not knowing what to do, many of us inwardly dissociate—which only exacerbates the collective madness—and in our fragmented and disempowered state go about our lives in a numbed-out, zombie-like trance, making the best of what seems to be a bad situation.
The question naturally arises: how would these enlightened beings conspire with us to help wake us up? We can only imagine. For our part, it seems essential that we ask questions such as: what is the nature of this madness, and how can it be consciously engaged so that humanity can get back on the right track?
Seen as an organism, there is a systemic psycho-spiritual disease that has infected the whole body politic of humanity. At present we are having an acute—and potentially deadly—inflammation of this illness. As with any disease, in order to cure the pathology that ails us we must come up with the right diagnosis. Under the present circumstances, it is a healthy response for us to have an appropriate level of alarm. If we aren’t “alarmed” at what is happening in our world, we are still sleeping.
It’s difficult to appreciate how our behavior might appear strange—let alone completely insane—to an impartial observer. But engaging in a “benign onlooker” thought experiment—in this case, through the imagined insights of enlightened aliens—affords us some much-needed perspective. Even from this vantage point, though, the collective madness that humanity is acting out is hard to fathom. It is truly as if the inmates are running the asylum.
The first thing these aliens might perceive is a single living organism in crisis. What makes life itself possible is that every cell and organ of a living organism plays a uniquely vital role to the life and health of the greater organism; each part works together as part of an integrated and interdependent whole system. Our planet and its biosphere is a seamlessly interconnected whole system that operates as a macro-organism, and yet its supposedly most intelligent species has set up a global system for managing its rich diversity of natural resources that would kill a living organism in no time if such a system were implemented within the individual bodies of any of its members. If the human body was organ-ized and operated in a similar way to the global economy—where certain parts of the system demand disproportionate and ever-increasing shares of the existing resources—the body would die in no time.
At the heart of this reality is the fact that the way the global economic system has been crafted primarily serves the interests of the very few. Machine-like, “the system” relentlessly, and increasingly, sucks, drains and redistributes wealth from the majority of the populace—who more and more become impoverished and practically enslaved—into the hands of the already unthinkably wealthy. The powers-that-be then use coercive power to not only deny people the means to make even a subsistence living, but even denies them the basic human right to life on massive scales. This system doesn’t just passively allow people to fall below the poverty line, it actively pushes them under, as if poor people are being intentionally “left behind.” The most powerful and successful financial institutions have taken on the form of parasitic enterprises that have attached themselves to governments and people around the world, upon which they shamelessly and ravenously engorge themselves. These illumined aliens, with their clairvoyant vision, would surely find it revealing that the ones who own the wealth are—like vampires—energetically “feeding” off of the ones who barely have enough to eat.
The evidence is overwhelming. The current global economic system has brought us to a point where an incredibly small minority of human beings own a grossly disproportionate percentage of the planet’s resources. According to recent figures, the 62 richest people on the planet have more wealth than the poorest half of the global population combined, and over time this imbalance is increasingly getting worse. This is globalization at work. Much of this rising inequality is a direct result of the fact that globalization is the process by which multinational corporations are taking over sovereign governments—of the 100 largest economies in the world, over half are corporations.
These challenging economic times we live in are simultaneously the times of the greatest profits in all of history for certain select corporate conglomerates. Those at the top of the economic pyramid then use this ever-increasing gap between the rich and the poor to further game the system—itself riddled with corruption—so as to protect their advantage even more. The United States government in particular, instead of being a “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” has instead become a plutocracy—a government “of the rich, by the rich, for the rich.” It should get our attention that such economic stratification into the have and have-nots historically plays a crucial role in the collapse of civilizations.
These aliens would recognize that earth’s current way of “doing business” is unsustainable. Instead of creating value and wealth for the good of all, the way business is done on planet earth is actually destroying the genuine wealth and health of the whole system, with people, communities and the environment considered to be nothing more than collateral damage—all for the benefit of a small minority. If humanity is viewed as a family, there is abuse of power being perpetrated within the family system for the simple reason that those in the positions of power can act with total impunity and, in a case of “moral insanity,” can—and do—literally get away with murder.
These benign aliens would find it revealing that such a large percentage of earth’s resources—including humanity’s intrinsic ingenuity—instead of being used to care for each other and enrich life, are being used to create more potent and deadly weapons of mass destruction. In other words, humanity’s divinely inspired genius is being channeled into ever-more efficient ways of murdering each other! We have become conditioned to accept this astonishing cruelty and destruction as normal. We spend trillions of dollars to sustain a state of endless war against God knows who, while at the same time innumerable of our fellow brothers and sisters are impoverished and dying of starvation every day. These spiritually awake beings would realize that the destruction that humanity is playing out in the world is an unmediated reflection of an imbalance deep within the collective human psyche.
From the meta-perspective of the enlightened aliens, the behind-the-scene financiers who on the surface are benefitting the most from this diabolical set-up are themselves merely puppets in the hands of some darker forces that are informing the whole enterprise. To use writer Matt Taibi’s infamous phrase, a “vampire squid” is running rampant and feasting on the living body of humanity. To quote eminent theologian David Ray Griffin, “It does seem that we are possessed by some demonic power that is leading us, trancelike, into self-destruction.” Similarly, the Bible points out that our fight is not against “flesh and blood” (i.e., human forces), bot rather, against “powers and principalities” (spiritual forces). These forces are not only acting themselves out in our world, but are simultaneously interfacing with and covertly operating through our own minds.
It is as if we have become possessed by a self-created Frankenstein monster that is running amok, wreaking untold havoc all over the planet. This Frankenstein monster has seemingly gained a quasi-life and autonomous will of its own, independent of its creator—us—who it holds in its thrall, as we are unable to escape from the out-of-control hell of our own making. In any case, it certainly seems as if there is a force that is hell-bent on stopping us—both individually and collectively as a species—from reaching our full creative potential.
We are at a severe “crisis” point in our world, which, medically speaking, always tells us that our sickness has reached a dangerous climax. Our species is suffering from what the great doctor of the soul C. G. Jung calls a “sickness of dissociation,” which is a state of fragmentation deep within the collective unconscious that has seemingly spilled outside of our skulls and is playing itself out en masse on the world stage. This primordial rupture, which is a form of trauma on a cosmic scale, has become the in-forming force behind human history itself, conditioning the experience of each individual, as well as our species as a whole. Seen as a whole person, it is as if the undivided wholeness of the universe has split into cosmic multiple sub-personalities who are dissociated from and seemingly separate from each other, desperately in need of recognizing their connection so as to come together and reintegrate. Our sickness of dissociation and the world crisis we are facing as a result can be seen, as Jung points out, as the labor pains of a new birth.
Author and environmental activist Derrick Jensen writes in his foreword to the classic book Columbus and Other Cannibals by Native American scholar Jack Forbes, that it is “the most important book ever written on one of the most important topics ever faced by human beings: why is the dominant culture so excruciatingly, relentlessly, insanely, genocidally, ecocidally, suicidally destructive?” Oftentimes, the most important point in finding a solution to a problem is asking the right question; Jensen’s question feels like the right question, a question literally demanding to be answered.
Forbes’ book beautifully elucidates the Native American idea of “wetiko psychosis,” which can be likened to a mind virus that has infected the human psyche. Jung never tired of pointing out that the greatest danger which threatens humanity comes from the psyche. We are living with the very real possibility that millions—maybe even billions—of us can fall into our unconscious together, reinforcing each others’ madness in such a way that we become unwittingly complicit in our own self-destruction. An inner disease of the soul, wetiko flavors our perceptions by stealth and subterfuge so as to act itself out through us while simultaneously hiding itself from being seen. Being an illness that afflicts the psyche itself, wetiko—a term connoting the spirit of evil—is a psycho-spiritual disease of the soul, a disorder of consciousness existing deep within the collective unconscious of humanity that is playing out writ large on the world stage. Like a cannibal, those taken over by wetiko—also called “cannibal sickness”—consume the life force of others, both human and nonhuman, for private purpose or profit, and do so without giving back anything of real value from their own lives.
The idea of wetiko can be enormously helpful in creating a wider context that can assist us in getting a handle on the mass insanity that is playing out in our world today. Though using individuals as its instruments, wetiko—a “collective psychosis”—can’t replicate itself; it needs the unconscious masses for its genesis and proliferation on the world stage. Wetiko psychosis is highly contagious, spreading through the channel of our shared unconsciousness, rendering us oblivious to our own madness. This fluidly moving, nomadically wandering bug reciprocally reinforces and feeds off and into each of our unconscious blind spots, which is how it nonlocally propagates itself throughout the field. A psychic epidemic, wetiko is at the bottom, at the very root of the seemingly never-ending destruction we are wreaking upon ourselves, each other and the very biosphere we depend upon for our survival as a species.
Every wisdom tradition throughout history has been pointing at wetiko in its own unique way. The Gnostics (“the ones who know”), for example, were pointing at wetiko when they spoke of the “Archons,” who they thought of as “mind parasites” which had infiltrated the human mind. The Nag Hammadi text called The Apocryphon of John II describes these Archons, “They sought to overpower humanity in its psychological and perceptual functions…their triumph is in deception.” Wetiko/the Archons occlude us in such a way that our occlusion becomes self-perpetuating, the result being that we can’t even tell we are occluded. Wetiko bedazzles, bewitches, and bedevils consciousness so that we become blind to the underlying, assumed viewpoint through which we perceive, conjure up and give meaning to our experience of both the world and ourselves. An intrinsic challenge to our investigation of the wetiko virus, therefore, is that it is incarnating in and through the very psyche which itself is the means of our inquiry. In our encounter with wetiko, we find ourselves in a situation where we are confronted—practically face-to-face—with the unconscious.
As Jung has pointed out, when it is a question of mass psychosis, nothing but “new symbolic ideas,” i.e., novel, creative, redemptive, archetypal conceptions, brought up from the depths—which embrace, express and help to re-contextualize the emerging chaos and disorder—can save us from the impending catastrophe. This is to say that in light of our current world crisis, a new creative achievement has become a necessity. The concept of wetiko and all that it stands for is precisely such a “new symbolic idea.” What Plato calls “the eyes of the soul,” ideas have real power, as they are the means by which we see the world and creatively envision and give meaning to our lives.
Being a disease of the soul, we all potentially have wetiko, as it pervades and in-forms the underlying field of consciousness. Any one of us at any moment can fall into our unconscious and unwittingly become an instrument for the evil of wetiko to act itself out through us and incarnate in our world, which is a realization that cultivates humility while simultaneously serving as an inoculation against wetiko’s pernicious effects. If we see someone who seems to be taken over by wetiko and we think that they have the disease and we don’t, we have then fallen under the spell of the virus, as wetiko feeds on the inner, psychological process of shadow projection which underlies and informs our experience of separation, polarization and the paranoid fear—and terror—of “the other.”
Wetiko can be conceived of as a cancer of the psyche that slowly metastasizes, gradually subsuming all of the healthy parts of the psyche into itself to serve its sinister agenda. The personality then becomes one-sided, self-organizing an outer display of coherence around this pathogenic core, which masks the inner dysfunction, making it hard to recognize. In a psychic coup d’état, the wetiko bug can usurp and displace a person, who becomes its puppet and marionette. Like a parasite, the wetiko virus can take over and subvert the will of an animal more evolved than itself, enlisting that creature into serving its nefarious agenda. The psychological fact of being taken over by something “other” than ourselves finds expression in the belief in demons and their ability to possess humans, a belief found among all peoples from time immemorial.
Once the wetiko virus becomes sufficiently entrenched within the psyche, the prime directive coordinating a person’s behavior comes from the disease, as it is now the one in the driver’s seat. As it commandeers and colonizes the psyche—centralizing power and control in the process—wetiko eventually incorporates a seemingly autonomous regime within the greater body politic of the psyche. Once it gains a sufficient sovereignty, wetiko forms something like a totalitarian “shadow government” within the psyche which dictates to the ego. Being an archetypal, transpersonal and daemonic energy, wetiko can not only take over an individual, but also a group of people, a nation or even—potentially—an entire species.
Wetiko is especially unique, in that, though an inner disease of the soul, it is able to inform, give shape to and configure events in the outer world so as to synchronistically express—and reveal—itself. For example, as if the boundary has dissolved between the inner and the outer, the internal landscape of the wetikoized psyche is mirrored in the external world through the totalitarian-like “shadow government”—with its ever-increasing centralization of power and control—that has taken over our seeming democracy. Both within our psyche and in our alleged “democracy,” we are allowed our seeming freedom, but only so long as it doesn’t threaten the sovereignty and dominance of the “ruling” power (interestingly, the word “Archon,” a synonym for wetiko, means “ruler”).
Wetiko covertly works through the projective tendencies of the mind to distract us, keeping our attention directed outside of ourselves, thereby obstructing us from finding and utilizing the immense light of intrinsic awareness within, which would “kill” wetiko, rendering it impotent. The “Buddha” (which means one who has woken up to the dreamlike nature of reality) realized in his enlightenment that the solution to the human predicament could never be found externally, but had to be discovered within the very nature of one’s own mind. If we don’t realize that our current world crisis has its roots within, and is an expression of, the human psyche, we are doomed to unconsciously repeat it, continually re-creating endless destruction in more and more amplified form—as if we are having a recurring dream. Our nightmare will then be fated to continue with ever-alarming intensity until we receive its message.
Wetiko can easily trick and deceive us by materializing itself in, as, and through the medium of the outside world, which we then assume—as if entranced—is distinct from our psyche. Once the ever-increasing sociopolitical insanity plays itself out on the world stage, we have all the proof we need that the conflict is outside of ourselves. It then becomes nearly impossible to convince anyone that the source of the conflict is to be found within the psyche of every individual. The psyche has then become exteriorized, as an internal psychic conflict takes place by way of projection in the outside world in living (and dying) flesh and blood. The sponsor of the whole project(ion), the wetiko bug remains behind-the-scenes, invisible and unnoticed.
Wetiko subversively turns our “genius” for reality-creation against us in such a way that we literally become entranced by our God-given power to create our experience of both our world and ourselves so that it boomerangs against us, undermining our potential for individual and collective evolution. Strangely enough, people under the enchantment of wetiko become compulsively, even fanatically, attached to supporting a social or political agenda that oftentimes is diametrically opposed to serving their own best interests. This self-sabotaging behavior is an outer reflection of the inner state of being under the sway of —and unwittingly serving—the self-destructive wetiko parasite.
An aberration of the psyche, wetiko cannot be ultimately healed by merely bringing about external reforms (although such reforms are welcome and needed); it must be dealt with where it originates—within the human psyche of each individual. Wetiko can’t be “legislated” out of existence via political or social means, but can only be transformed within the individual, who, as Jung reminds us, is the real carrier of life.
To the extent we are unconsciously possessed by the spirit of wetiko, it is as if a psychic tapeworm or parasite has taken over our brain and tricked us, its host, into thinking we are feeding and empowering ourselves while we are actually nourishing the parasite. Wetiko is a virulent, psychic pathogen that insinuates thought-forms and beliefs into our mind which, when unconsciously enacted, feed it, and ultimately, like a fatal addiction, kill its host—us. Beyond informing our addictions, wetiko psychosis is itself the addictive process taking living form so as to take life.
Savaged by the ferocity of their unending hunger, people who are sufficiently infected by the wetiko virus, like the hungry ghosts of Buddhist cosmology, have become possessed by an insatiable craving that can never be filled. Not in possession of their true selves, they try to possess something outside of themselves to both escape from and fill the void within—the result is a futile and never-ending grasping. Attempting to secure a self that by its very nature is illusory and thus can never be secured, their appetites can never be quenched, just as an illusion can never be satisfied.
At the collective level, this perverse inner process is mirrored in the outer world by the consumer society in which we live, a culture that continually fans the flames of never-ending and mostly unnecessary desires, conditioning us to always want more. As if starving, we are in an endless feeding frenzy, trying to fill a bottomless spiritual void. In this regard, wetiko can be likened to a psychic eating disorder.
If the planet were seen as a single organism, and people seen as cells in the greater organism of the planet, it would be as if these cells had become cancerous or parasitic, and had turned on themselves, destroying the very organism of which they are a part. Wetiko can be compared to an autoimmune disease of the psyche that is getting collectively acted out, writ large on the world stage. In autoimmune deficiency syndrome, the immune system of the organism, in its attempt to protect itself against perceived attacks, attacks projected aspects of itself that falsely appear to be “other,” leading, ultimately, to its own self-destruction. Bewitched by its own projections—as if hypnotizing itself—the autoimmune system of the wetikoized psyche has fallen under its own self-created illusion and in its state of confusion and trauma, is tricked into creating the very problem it is trying to resolve. One glaring example of how this internal process is getting acted out in the external world: the way our nation is fighting terrorism is creating ever-more terrorists, as if in fighting a fire we are pouring fuel on it.
Once the wetiko virus takes root in our minds and incorporates itself in the world, it “manages our perception” by framing the terms of our inner and outer dialogue through determining the metaphors which dominate the accepted historical narrative, thus controlling the parameters of our conversation and debate. The consensually agreed-upon thought-forms and beliefs act as an intrinsic, built-in control system, defining the limits of what we imagine our possibilities are, as individuals, nations and a species. If we don’t consciously tap into and use the power of our creative imagination, others, particularly “the state,” will be more than happy to do so in our stead.
Just like vampires, full-blown wetikos have a thirst for the very thing they lack—the mystical essence of life—that is, the “blood” of our soul. Wetiko is a deceptive spirit that apes, mimes and imitates the real thing—called the Antimimon pneuma (literally, “counterfeiting spirit”) in the Apocryphon of John (Apoc. John III, 36:17). Impersonating us, if we identify with wetiko’s false version of ourselves, we have then identified with who we are not while simultaneously disconnecting from—and giving away—who we actually are. We then become a duplicate, a copy of ourselves, losing touch with the original.
Wetiko is an expert at imitation, but it has no creativity on its own. Once it “puts us on,” i.e., fooling us into buying into its version of who we are, it can then piggyback onto and plug into our intrinsic creativity, co-opting our creative imagination to serve its malevolent agenda. When we fall under wetiko’s spell, our life-force and God-given creativity become vampirically drained, as we are bled dry of what really counts.
This situation is a reflection of what happens when wetiko infects an organism (be it a person or species)—certain aspects within its bio-system become starved. In essence, when we are under the thrall of wetiko, the creative spirit within us, the very function which connects us to something beyond ourselves, becomes malnourished and impoverished. We then can’t even imagine things being any other way, let alone being able to actively imagine a way out of our dilemma. This points to the profound importance for each of us to intimately connect with the creative spirit living within us as a way of abolishing wetiko’s death sentence.
Many of the institutions in our world are embodiments of the formless wetiko virus taking on corporeal—and incorporated—form. The counterfeiting spirit of wetiko, a true imposter, imitates something but—in a process known as countermimicry—with the intention of making the copy, the fake version, serve a purpose counter to that of the original thing or idea. For example, the entity of the global economic system itself is a living symbol of wetiko disease “in business.” A “real” economy has to do with the production and distribution of goods and services—generating wealth in the process—while the virtual “bubble economy” that we living in is mainly an exercise in profiting from the manipulation of money—draining real wealth in the process. It is as if wetiko has managed to create a simulation of the real economy, replacing the real thing with a copycat version (what I call the “wetikonomy”) that has inverted its original purpose. This is a reflection in the outer world of the covert operations of wetiko within our minds.
FINDING THE NAME
Our collective psychosis is invisible to us, manifesting itself both in the way we are looking at the world as well as the unspoken ways we have been conditioned—i.e., programmed—to not perceive. Wetiko has the power to induce—both individually and en masse—what writer Philip K. Dick calls a “negative hallucination,” i.e., instead of seeing what is not there, we cannot see what is there. When we are afflicted with wetiko, we literally are unable to see what is right in front of our face. Wetiko is a form of psychic blindness that not only believes itself to be sighted, but believes it is more sighted than those who are actually clear-sighted. This looking away, this “conspiracy of denial” that is endemic to our culture is simultaneously both the cause and effect of wetiko.
Because wetiko is a psychic blindness, the cure for wetiko starts with seeing it—both seeing how it operates in the world and also tracking how it covertly operates within our own minds. In the medical model we describe the various pathogens that make us sick as cancers, bacilli, parasites, plagues, viruses, etc.. Due to the materialistic culture we live in, we are attached to the idea that for something to have “reality” it must be made of a material substance. The implication of this perspective is that if something is not physical it is not real, which disables our capacity to see wetiko. Though “immaterial,” wetiko is as real as we are.
We have to name something, however, before it can be seen, formally “discovered,” and brought into our shared collective cartography. To quote Jung, “For mankind it was always like a deliverance from a nightmare when the new name was found.” Mythologies and fairy tales the world over have been expressing this from time immemorial—finding the name of the offending demon takes away its power over us. This is why it is important to introduce the word “wetiko”—and the idea it represents—into our planetary dialogue.
Once we become more acquainted with the idea of wetiko and all that it entails, we can “spread the word”—creating a new meme in the process—thus conjuring up a living antigen to the heretofore unrecognized mind virus of wetiko. For nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come—wetiko is just such an idea, pregnant with new possibilities. Similar to how a vampire hates the light of day, however, the wetiko virus can’t stand to be illumined, for in seeing how wetiko covertly operates through our own consciousness or lack thereof, we not only take away its seeming autonomy and power over us, we empower ourselves.
Seeing the correlation between the inner and the outer—which is to say, seeing the dreamlike nature of reality—is the doorway through which we develop the requisite vision to see wetiko. In a dream, the inner psyche of the dreamer is expressed through, and is therefore not separate from, the outer forms of the dream. Similar to a dream at night, in the waking dream called life, events in the outer world symbolically—and synchronistically—express the inner psychological situation of the dreamer, which is all of us. We don’t have to try to create or fabricate this correlation between the inner and the outer; rather, we simply have to recognize it, for it is always already the case. Once we realize the dreamlike nature of our situation, we have started to develop the eyes to see wetiko, and hence, dispel its malevolent effects. We have then broken the seeming curse we have fallen under (please see my book Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil).
A CATALYST FOR HUMAN EVOLUTION
People taken over by wetiko—a word Jung never used, but in his writings he referred to the same idea by the phrase “totalitarian psychosis”—are often attracted to positions of power, where, as if compelled by forces beyond themselves, they can’t help but to create scorched earths as outer correlates to the inner ravaged landscape of their souls. Insanely enough, many of the people who are most taken over by wetiko are not in asylums, but are freely running around (and running) the world, oftentimes established in positions of great power to influence world events.
Fueled by the myopic vision that prioritizes the bottom line of corporate-driven profits above anything else, people motivated by the greed of the wetiko virus have little meta-awareness of the long-term and whole-system implications of their rapacious actions. All that the wetiko bug craves is to satisfy its narcissistic desires, experience orgasmic release, and glory in the seeming victory of short-term profits. Hiding behind the deceptive banner of “progress,” the Frankenstein monster of ever-enlarging empire, with its incessant, greed-driven need for endless growth, is like a runaway locomotive gaining speed, approaching the catastrophic event horizon of its inevitable crash. Meanwhile, this “progress” destroys people, families, communities and threatens our entire species, as we potentially trigger a “sixth mass-extinction event.”
At the heart of wetiko is our identification with and subsequent grasping onto an illusory “me,” a seemingly separate, independent self which doesn’t actually exist in the way we think it does. Clinging onto this false sense of self—a “lethal mirage” that becomes a self-perpetuating addictive process with a life of its own—our life-force then gets continually invested into protecting, defending and maintaining an illusion. Identifying with a self-constructed illusion whose originating conditions remain obscure is the stuff of which madness is made.
Reciprocally co-arising with the subjectively convincing and self-validating feeling of a separate “I” is the feeling of “mine,” the sense that this “I” can possess and own things. Modern humanity is, in Walt Whitman’s phrase, “demented with the mania of owning things.” We insanely devote so much of our time and energy—our precious human life—in trying to obtain material goods that we really don’t need and that bring no real benefit to us. Speaking of the white man, Chief Seattle said, “His appetite will devour the earth and leave behind only a desert.” Along similar lines, Sitting Bull said, “the love of possession is a disease with them.” This love of possessing things to fill a void that can never be filled is wetiko disease in a nutshell.
Wetiko is a collectively “dreamed up” phenomena in which we are all ultimately implicated. This means that—at least in theory if not in practice—we have the capacity to dream it differently. In other words, because we’ve created wetiko, we can “un-create” it. We don’t yet know how to do this, however, or we wouldn’t be continuing to create it in a way that is destroying us. Our unconscious process of dreaming up wetiko in all its full-blown destructiveness is the way we are teaching ourselves how to not destroy ourselves, which we evidently haven’t yet learned or we wouldn’t be destroying ourselves. The fact that we wouldn’t have realized how to not destroy ourselves without wetiko’s arrival on the scene is to say that the seeming curse of wetiko actually has a hidden blessing secretly encoded within it.
Wetiko is a quantum phenomenon, in that it contains superposed within it both the deepest darkest evil imaginable, while hidden within it is its own medicine. Encoded within wetiko’s pathology is not only its own cure but a precious gift, as it can—in true quantum style, “potentially”—introduce us to our own agency in calling forth our experience of both the world and ourselves. In other words, the wetiko epidemic is revealing to us our nature as empowered co-dreamers/creators of a universe that is more malleable, plastic and dreamlike than we have previously imagined.
Similar to how the unconscious compensates a one-sidedness in the psyche through the dreams it sends our way, the totalitarian psychosis/wetiko running rampant throughout the world today is the psyche’s way of revealing to us that we are forgetting the crucial role it plays in creating our experience. Marginalizing our own authorship and authority, we then dream up totalitarian forces to limit our freedom and create our experience for us. The “totalitarian psychosis” known as wetiko is, in Jung’s words, “forcing us to pay attention to the psyche and our abysmal unconsciousness of it. Never before has mankind as a whole experienced the numen of the psychological factor on so vast a scale.” Literally demanding that we pay attention to our own psyche, wetiko is thus the greatest catalyst for human evolution that our species has ever encountered.
Wetiko can literally destroy our species through wrenching poverty, endless war and catastrophic environmental destruction. Or, if confronted, named and understood, it can introduce us to the dreamlike nature of reality, which changes everything. Wetiko is a living revelation that only reveals its gifts to us, however, if we recognize what it is a reflection of within ourselves. How it manifests depends upon how we dream it. The choice is truly ours.
It is as if through the instrument of wetiko, a higher intelligence is revealing to us the wholeness of our totality through our darker side. This darkness is revealing light by contrast to itself. As we recognize that the evil we see playing out in the world is a reflection of our own darkness, we notice that, paradoxically, with our increase in consciousness the good and positive features within us come more to light too. As we more and more recognize the correlation between the outer world with what is going on deep within our soul, the enlightened aliens, who have been signaling to us the dreamlike nature of our situation by synchronistically arranging events in the world to reflect back what’s going on deep within us, hide behind the scenes, laughing.
A pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence, Paul Levy is a wounded healer in private practice, assisting others who are also awakening to the dreamlike nature of reality. He is the author of Awakened by Darkness: When Evil Becomes Your Father(Awaken in the Dream Publishing, 2015), Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil (North Atlantic Books, 2013) and The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis (Authorhouse, 2006). He is the founder of the “Awakening in the Dream Community” in Portland, Oregon. An artist, he is deeply steeped in the work of C. G. Jung, and has been a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner for over thirty years. He is the coordinator for the Portland PadmaSambhava Buddhist Center. Please visit Paul’s website www.awakeninthedream.com. You can contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org; he looks forward to your reflections.  Following in Jung’s footsteps, I use the word “psyche” in an all-inclusive sense, meaning the totality of psychic processes, both conscious and unconscious.