The only devils in the world are those running around in our own hearts─that is where the battle should be fought.
One of the most interesting aspects of George Bush being president is that he is a born-again Christian and recognized leader of the religious right. Like any fundamentalist group, the religious right are identified with only one side of the polarity (the light), and split off from their own shadow, projecting it outside of themselves. Interestingly, Jung refers to projecting the shadow as “the lie.” People projecting the shadow inevitably dream up someone into materialization who they experience as being the embodiment of the “Devil,” whose inner meaning is both “the adversary” and “the liar.” People who disagree with the fundamentalist are seen as agents of the Devil, who need to be destroyed. By projecting the shadow, however, the fundamentalist becomes possessed by the very thing they are trying to destroy. Fighting the Devil is radically different than loving God.
In the mid-twentieth century, some of the texts of the original Christians were found in a cave near Nag Hammadi. In these texts it says the following, “Those who have realized gnosis (knowledge of the Divine) have set themselves free by waking up from the dream in which they lived and have become themselves again…You are asleep and dreaming. Wake up… This is the way it is with those who have cast ignorance aside, as if waking from sleep.” [Emphasis added]
Just as we can interpret our dreams symbolically, and we can interpret our life as a dream, we can contemplate any and all events in this universe as we would a dream being dreamed by a deeper, dreaming part of ourselves. Certain events in world history are uniquely illuminating to contemplate in this way, such as, for example, the Christ event.
Seen symbolically, as if it were a dream, the Christ event is an unmediated expression of a deeper process occurring inside the psyche of humankind that both literally, as well as symbolically, was dreamed up into materialization in, through, and as this very universe of ours. In the life of Christ, an archetypal, transcendental dynamic “irrupted” into and out of this universe, incarnating itself in linear time so as to become visible and actualized. Through the Christ event, which is a higher-dimensional out-pouring of an atemporal process existing outside of space/time itself, our true nature is symbolically reflected and revealed, but only for those who have eyes to see.
The language of dreams is symbols; the secret of the Christ event is revealed by viewing it symbolically. Christ Himself expresses this very point in the apocryphal (literally: secret book) Acts of John. Christ shows John a “cross of light,” saying, “…this is not the cross of wood which you will see when you go down from here; neither am I he that is on the cross.” Jung understood very well that Christ was a symbol of our wholeness, which he called the archetype of the “Self.” As Jung pointed out, there is “…a visible split between the historical event down below on earth, as perceived by the senses, and its ideal, visionary reflection on high, the cross appearing on the one hand as a wooden instrument of torture and on the other as a glorious symbol.”
Speaking of the divine mystery, Jung said, “…the real mystery does not behave mysteriously or secretively, it speaks a different language. It adumbrates itself by a variety of images which all indicate its true nature.” The different language is dreamspeak, whose articulation is symbolic, not literal. Symbols are very different than signs (e.g., “one way, do not enter”), whose meaning is literal, known, and can be conveyed in words. A symbol is an expression or emanation of a deeper mystery, as it points to something beyond itself. When we decode and get in resonance with a symbol, it becomes a doorway into and actualizes this deeper state of which it itself is a manifestation. Symbols are psychic energy transformers that reflect and effect a change in and of consciousness itself. Symbols are not so much things to be interpreted, but living, creative energies to be experienced.
Like any symbol, the Christ event expresses and constellates analogous psychic processes in the beholder. The Gospel of Phillip says, “Some indeed see him and realize that they are seeing themselves.” This is why Christ says in the apocryphal Acts of John, “A mirror am I to you that know me…if you understand me, you shall be in your understanding as I am…behold what you are, I have shown you…behold what is thine through me.”
Christ is giving a mystic transmission of true “gnosis,” of a knowing not separate from its object of knowledge. He is reflecting back how to view life symbolically and perceive experience as a reflective mirror, which provides and evokes a deeper sense of meaning. This is why, after this experience, John, “…held fast this one thing,” in himself, “…that the Lord contrived all things symbolically and by a dispensation toward men, for their conversion and salvation.” [Emphasis added]
To quote Jung, “For the believing Christian, Christ is everything, but certainly not a symbol, which is an expression for something unknown or not yet knowable. And yet he is a symbol by his very nature. Christ would never have made the impression he did on his followers if he had not expressed something that was alive and at work in their unconscious.”
A symbol brings together, reconciles and unites contraries or opposites. Christ on the cross is a living, breathing symbol, a true “coincidentia oppositorum” (a co-incidence, or conjunction of opposites). Jung said, “The life of Christ is just what it had to be if it is the life of a god and a man at the same time. It is a symbolum.” Seen as a symbol, Christ brings together and unites the heterogeneous natures of God and humankind in one being. Jung commented, “Christ is God and man at the same time and that he therefore suffers a divine as well as a human fate. The two natures interpenetrate so thoroughly that any attempt to separate them mutilates both.” Here in the figure of Christ on the cross we have God Himself in all his infinitude, bound and limited to the max, nailed to the third dimension of space and time. Here in the figure of Christ, we have God Himself feeling totally human and completely alienated from God, which is to say, from Himself. This is perfectly expressed by Christ’s cry, “My God, why have thou forsaken me?” This moment of the utmost distance from God, paradoxically, was at the same time an experience of the greatest divinity.
Just as Christ is a symbol of the Self, the cross is a symbol for Christ. Jung continued, “…even for the knower of divine secrets the act of crucifixion is a mystery, a symbol that expresses a parallel psychic event in the beholder.” The cross is symbolic of what Jung would call “holding the tension of the opposites.” When we identify with only one side of a two-sided polarity, splitting off from and projecting out the other side, we will develop a symptom, a “dis-ease” in the core of our being, and will create nothing but suffering and destruction, and in the ultimate sense, death. Jung felt, “One shouldn’t evade this conflict [which the cross symbolizes] by escaping into a premature and anticipated state of redemption, otherwise one provokes it in the outside world. And that is of the devil.”
To hold the tension of the opposites, however, is to be able to embrace and contain both the dark and light aspects of our nature simultaneously without dissociating and projecting the shadow outside of ourselves. To hold this tension is truly a crucifixion for the ego, a genuine “agonia,” yet it activates a deeper process within the core of our being, constellating life in the deepest sense. To be holding the tension of the opposites is to be genuinely “imitating Christ,” as to be holding this creative tension without splitting off from our darkness is to be living our lives as fully and authentically as Christ lived His. Out of this creative tension emerges what Jung called a “reconciling symbol.” This is a living symbol that both transcends and unites the opposites in a greater totality. We experience this as grace, as it is an expansion of consciousness and, thereby, something we could not think of by ourselves, but occurs to us with the force of a revelation, as if it comes from God. Christ Himself is an example of such a symbol.
Instead of holding the tension of the opposites, George Bush, on the other hand, is the embodiment of someone completely dissociated from his darker half, which he projects outside of himself. Like anyone who is fanatically identified with only one side of a two-sided polarity, Bush has to dream up his darker side “out there,” in this case on the world stage, with whom he can then do battle.
Speaking of the destructiveness resulting from having to compulsively act out our unconscious projections, Jung commented, “But it is just this love for one’s fellow man that suffers most of all from the lack of understanding wrought by projection…. Where love stops, power begins, and violence, and terror.” When, like George Bush, we disconnect from the heart and play out our projections on the canvas of life simply because no one can stop us, we terrorize the field around us, becoming genuine terrorists ourselves. This is to become completely possessed by an archetype.
Jung pointed out, “It is perfectly possible, psychologically, for the unconscious or an archetype to take complete possession of a man and to determine his fate down to the smallest detail.” People so seized by an archetype could be said to embody the archetype in human form. They become the instrument through which the archetype becomes both visible and actualized. Jung conjectured that Christ Himself is an example of such a situation. Jung said, “Since the life of Christ is archetypal to a high degree, it represents to just that degree the life of the archetype.” Christ is symbolic of the archetype of the Self, which is the God within, or we could say our divine wholeness.
When the archetypal dimension is activated and accessed to such a degree, the environment will even synchronistically reflect back this state of identification with the archetype, for as Jung pointed out, the archetype is “…an ‘arranger’ of psychic forces inside and outside the psyche.” When someone becomes possessed by an archetype, Jung said, “…the archetype fulfills itself not only psychically in the individual, but objectively outside the individual.” This state of embodying the archetype is a situation where the inner process expresses itself synchronistically through the medium of the outside world, as the boundary between the inner and outer has dissolved.
Like Christ, George Bush has become possessed by the archetype of the Self. By being so unconsciously taken over by the more powerful archetype, Bush’s inner dissociation becomes visible as the boundary dissolves between his inner process and the outer world. Because of the position of power in which he finds himself, Bush’s inner conflict externalizes itself as he plays it out on the world stage.
Just like a photograph has a negative, Christ is the image of our divine wholeness (holiness), while Bush is the complete and polar opposite, or “negative” of this image. In Bush’s case, unlike Christ, who was consciously channeling the positive aspects of the archetype of the Self, Bush is unconsciously possessed by the negative aspect of this archetype: He is incarnating the archetype destructively, creating trauma and suffering for anyone in his sphere of influence, which in this case is the entire world. Becoming unconsciously “seized” by an archetype like this always results in total self-destruction.
To say Christ is a symbol in no way devalues Him or takes something away. On the contrary, to say the Christ event is symbolic is to say it points to something greater than itself, that it is an actual portal into a deeper dimension of our being. If this universe is viewed in its dream-like nature, it becomes clear that phenomenon such as the Christ event are configured in a way so as to reveal and activate something deep in our nature. To be truly “born again” is to recognize that our 3-D universe is embedded in and an emanation of a higher-dimensional synchronistic matrix that is both literally, as well as symbolically, arranging events in our waking dreamscape so as to reflect and effect certain archetypal processes happening deep inside the dreamer, which is us.
For the linear and literal-minded such as George Bush and the religious right, to see the Christ event symbolically is considered blasphemous and heretical. For example, a book written in 1835 implying that the Christ event could be viewed symbolically was reviewed as “the most pestilential book ever vomited out of the bowels of hell.” Speaking of the apocryphal Acts of John, Pope Leo the Great condemned it as “a hotbed of manifest perversity,” which “should not only be forbidden, but entirely destroyed and burned with fire.”
Why does the mere suggestion to see the Christ event symbolically evoke such a violent reaction? What Christ is saying is both psycho-activating and liberating to contemplate, which is threatening to those who are attached to being in a position of power. Jung said, “The story of the Temptation clearly reveals the nature of the psychic power with which Jesus came into collision: it was the power-intoxicated devil.” Speaking of Christ, Jung continued, “We say that the devil tempted him, but we could just as well say that an unconscious desire for power confronted him in the form of the devil.”
What Christ is saying is particularly threatening to those in power, as Christ’s teachings are totally egalitarian. People like George Bush, who have become seduced, corrupted, attached and addicted to power, are particularly threatened by Christ’s teachings. Because he is addicted to power, Bush is trying to conquer and dominate the universe instead of being in relationship to it. As if talking about our current times, Jung commented, “…whoever wants to remain unconscious (thereby serving the devil) therefore hates and suspects psychology. The reigning prince of this world shuns the light of knowledge like the plague.” [Emphasis in original] To quote George Bush, “I don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure me out…I’m just not into psychobabble.”
What Christ is saying is threatening to those who interpret the Bible literally, such as Bush and the religious right. Interpreting the Bible literally is the very opposite of the way Christ Himself wanted us to view his incarnation. Interpreting the Bible literally protects us from having to look in the mirror and deal with our own darkness. Interpreting the Bible literally ensures that we can project out and locate the evil “out there,” thereby shielding ourselves from coming to terms with the evil in our own hearts. Projecting the shadow like this is the sure-fire way of ensuring that we ourselves become an instrument of evil.
To see the Christ event symbolically would be to recognize, as Jung said, that “…as we take the Christ projection [reflection] back into ourselves, each one of us is Christ.” Jung continues, “…the self, or Christ, is present in everybody a priori [already existing], but as a rule in an unconscious condition to begin with.” Jung pointed out that everything unconscious, such as our divinity, once it is activated, is always projected out and approaches us from outside, which is to say it is dreamed up into actual incarnation. Jung goes on, that the Self, or Christ:
“is only real when it happens, and it can happen only when you withdraw your projections from an outward historical or metaphysical Christ, and thus wake up the Christ within…The self (or Christ) cannot become conscious and real without the withdrawal of external projections. An act of introjection is needed, i.e., the realization that the self lives in you and not in an external figure separated and different from yourself.” [Emphasis in original]
Thus, we are intermingled in the process of the incarnation of God. Because God is incarnating in humanity, we are immersed and baptized into the deeper mystery of the divine incarnation process. Jung said this process:
“involves a mystery consummated in and through man. It is as though the drama of Christ’s life were, from now on, located in man as its living carrier. As a result of this shift, the events formulated in dogma are brought within range of psychological experience and become recognizable in the process of individuation.”
Jung calls the process of the incarnation of the Self (or God) in humanity “individuation,” the process of becoming whole. Individuation has nothing to do with reaching God by blind belief or by adhering to a set of rigid laws. Individuation is based solely on hard won experience. The psyche is the organ through which this experience of individuation unfolds and becomes actualized.
Speaking of members of any fundamentalist persuasion, Jung commented:
“With a truly tragic delusion these theologians fail to see that it is not a matter of proving the existence of the light, but of blind people who do not know that their eyes could see…. For it is obvious that far too many people are incapable of establishing a connection between the sacred figures and their own psyche; they cannot see to what extent the equivalent images are lying dormant in their own unconscious. In order to facilitate this inner vision we must first clear the way for the faculty of seeing. How this is to be done without psychology, that is, without making contact with the psyche, is frankly beyond my comprehension.”
The literal interpretation of the Christ event that Bush and the followers of the religious right believe in is a deluded and distorted interpretation of what Christ was actually teaching. Bush is using Christ as a corporate logo, so to speak, as it is good for “business.” Unable to simultaneously serve two masters, Bush is invoking the name of Christ while serving mammon (the demon of love of money). Christ said, “No man can serve two masters…. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Christ would be appalled at Bush’s perversion of his teachings. At the very least, we can infer that Christ himself would be “AntiBush.” When we contemplate George Bush through the lens of Christ’s teachings, it becomes clear that Bush, with all his pious vows of compassion, is actually “missing the mark,” which is the inner meaning of the word “sin.” As Jung said, “Our blight is ideologies─they are the long-expected AntiChrist.”
Talking about the AntiChrist, Jung said,
“the less he is recognized, the more dangerous he is…. Who would suspect him under such high-sounding names of his, such as public welfare, lifelong security, peace among the nations, etc.? He hides under idealisms, under –isms in general, and of these the most pernicious is doctrinairism, that most unspiritual of all the spirit’s manifestations.”
Marie Louise Von Franz, one of Jung’s closest colleagues, commented along the same lines when she said:
“Evil often hides behind idealism─and behind –isms in general, which are as often as not simply labels disguising a very unspiritual doctrinairism. In such cases, one “knows” what is right and what is good for other people and, indeed, for mankind. That is the beginning of the end, of the decline…. The dangers involved in taking this road are very great. It starts with lying, that is, with the projection of the shadow. More human beings are tortured and killed in the name of all these –isms than die as a result of the forces of nature. Behind such –isms are the projections of our own inner unrealized problem of the opposites.”
Talking about the inner meaning of the figure of the AntiChrist, Jung continued:
“The AntiChrist develops in legend [i.e., speaking symbolically] as a perverse imitator of Christ’s life. He is…an imitating spirit of evil who follows in Christ’s footsteps like a shadow following [aping] the body…. If we see the traditional figure of Christ as a parallel to the psychic manifestation of the self, then the AntiChrist would correspond to the shadow of the self, namely the dark half of the human totality.”
Journalist Wayne Madsen contends that Pope John Paul II was concerned that George Bush might be the AntiChrist that is warned about in the Book of Revelations. Is George Bush the AntiChrist? Or is he the highest level bodhisattva playing a very unpopular role, spurring on the greatest numbers to unfathomable heights of awakening? This is analogous to the dilemma confronting quantum physics: is light a wave or a particle? As quantum physics points out, it all depends on how we observe it. Like a symbol that contains and unites both opposites, George Bush is simultaneously both the instrument of the darkest evil co-joined with being the bringer of the light, which is the inner meaning of “Lucifer.” Ours is a situation of open-ended potentiality, with the question becoming, how do we want to dream it? The choice is truly ours. Do we go belly up as we get drafted into endless wars, or do we access the highest level of our creativity and power as we connect with each other and unite in lucid awareness? Never before in all of human history has consciousness itself played such a crucial role in how our universe will manifest.
Like Christ, George Bush has been collaboratively dreamed up into incarnation by all 6.4 billion of us. Seen symbolically, the way Christ himself would instruct us to see it, George Bush is a living, breathing embodied reflection uniting the contradictory natures of God and the Devil in one being. This vision is a true “coincidentia oppositorum,” the reconciling symbol emerging out of holding the tension of the opposites. Nikos Kazantzakis, author of The Last Temptation of Christ, said, “Someone came. Surely it was God, God…or was it the devil? Who can tell them apart? They exchange faces: God sometimes has become all darkness, the devil all light, and the mind of man is left in a muddle.”
Recognizing that this dream-like universe of ours is a living, breathing oracle that is speaking symbolically allows it to resume its revelatory function. Speaking of Christ, Jung said, “…the image of the God-man lives in everybody and has been incarnated (projected) in the man Jesus, to make itself visible, so that people could realize him as their own interior homo, their self.” Seen as a dreaming process, in an analogous way, we have all collaboratively dreamed up George Bush into actual incarnation so as to see and potentially integrate this dissociated, unconscious, and asleep part of ourselves.
George Bush is a living, breathing symbol of the dark, ignorant, traumatized, frightened, and pathological aspect of ourselves. When we recognize that he is a mirrored reflection of a sick part of ourselves, compassion spontaneously arises, as we are embracing the darkest part of ourselves. George Bush challenges us to come to terms with the deepest evil inside of ourselves.
Viewed as the symbol that it is, the Christ event reveals that this state of co-joining, interpenetration, and union between God and humankind has already happened, has already been accomplished in the pleroma (the eternal fullness of the collective unconscious), and simply needs to be recognized to be made real in time. This is why Jung said, “Although (God) is already born in the pleroma, his birth in time can only be accomplished when it is perceived, recognized and declared by man.”
In other words, the process of the incarnation of God in, through, and as humanity is seemingly playing itself out in linear, sequential time in our world, yet in the atemporal, higher-dimensional reality in which our universe is contained, this process of divine incarnation in, through, and as humanity has already been accomplished. We simply need to recognize what is symbolically being revealed to make it so. As Christ himself said, “The Kingdom is spread all over earth and people just don’t see it.”
We are, and always have been, the very Messiah we are waiting for. It is simply a question, for God’s sake as well as our own, of whether we recognize this or not.
A pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence, Paul Levy is a healer in private practice, assisting others who are also awakening to the dreamlike nature of reality. Paul is also a visionary artist and a spiritually-informed political activist. He is the author of The Madness of George Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis,which is available on his website www.awakeninthedream.com. (See the first chapter, The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of our Collective Psychosis). Please feel free to pass this article along to a friend if you feel so inspired. You can contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org; he looks forward to your reflections. © Copyright 2010