Certain events play out in our individual lives that reflect back to us situations that are happening in the collective life of our nation or world. One such event happened many years ago in the very synagogue in which I was Bar-Mitzvahed. In what today seems like a dream, I was with my parents on the holiest night of the entire Jewish year, “Kol Nidre”, the night before “Yom Kippur”, the day of atonement. I probably hadn’t been to a synagogue since my Bar-Mitzvah, which was years before. For the sermon, the rabbi gave an impassioned talk about how everybody hates the Jews, and that we all needed to band together against the world. His words were filled with hatred and venom. He was literally preaching fear and separation. His vision had nothing to do with love and compassion, and was certainly not based in wisdom. I was outraged by the rabbi’s talk. Much to my dismay, when I expressed my feelings to my parents, they not only felt differently but also were very angry with me for having the nerve to be critical of their rabbi. They felt that I was being dis-respectful and sacrilegious by questioning the wisdom of the rabbi, who was, after all, the leader of their congregation.
A couple of months later, the rabbi got fired. Why? It was because he was consistently giving fear-inducing and hate-filled talks to his congregation. My parents told me about the rabbi being fired, and asked me, totally incredulous “How did you know”?
The underlying, unconscious psychological process that played out between my parents and the rabbi is very revealing, in that it is isomorphic (similar in structure) with what is playing out in our country today with people who are unquestioningly supporting the Bush regime and its criminal policies. Though the overwhelming majority of Americans now see through the current administration’s web of lies, there are still enough people who, like my parents blindly supporting the rabbi, either continue to unquestioningly support Bush in his madness, or recognizing the madness, remain silent. Each of these reactions allows the madness to enact itself unabated. The underlying psychological process that played out with the rabbi and his congregation was like a fractal that is presently reiterating itself en masse in our country as well as in numerous permutations throughout the world. Contemplating what was being symbolically revealed in the process with the rabbi can help us understand how to better deal with the madness that is currently being acted out in the body politic of our nation and our world at large.
Because the rabbi was an unquestioned authority figure who was assumed by my parents to know what he was talking about, they fell under his spell. In blindly believing what the rabbi was saying, they naively invested their own power into his hands. In doing so, they forfeited their own right to think for themselves, to see out of their own eyes, to have their own experience, and gave it away to the rabbi, who gladly accepted all the donations of his follower’s minds. The rabbi then abused his rank, privilege, power and authority, as he manipulated the compliant minds of his congregation in order to feed his paranoid delusions. He was creating a dream of fear, hatred, separation, and violence, and was enlisting all of the followers he could entice.
For some reason, my parents weren’t able to recognize the craziness – and malevolence - of what the rabbi was doing. They had projected their own inner fantasy image of a positive leader and authority figure who could guide them wisely and protect them from evil onto the rabbi. In the process, my parents became entranced by their own hallucination of who they imagined the rabbi was, and had become convinced that their inner imagination was objectively true. Bewitched by their own unconscious projections, my parents weren’t seeing the rabbi as he truly was, as if they were suffering from a form of psychological blindness. Anyone who questioned their delusion was experienced as a threat and demonized.
In unthinkingly trusting and following the rabbi, my parents’ critical faculty of discernment, of being able to tell the difference between fantasy and reality, had been disabled. Strangely, there was no talking to my parents about this situation with reasoning or logic. Any evidence which was contrary to my parent’s projections was either ignored and dismissed out of hand, as if it didn’t exist, or perversely integrated into their psyche to further confirm and validate the very projection that these facts actually disproved (this is also a perfect description of a dynamic which occurs in the minds of people who are supporting Bush in his madness).
Like a hypnotist, the rabbi had “captivated” a part of my parent’s self-reflective awareness, “hooking” my parents through their unconscious blind spot. Like a black magician in disguise, the rabbi had preyed on, played into, worked with, and fed off of my parent’s needs and fears so as to drain their power and co-dependently entangle them in his web of deceit. Like my parents, the rest of the congregation that supported the rabbi were also suffering from a form of psychological blindness, as if they had become infected with a contagious psychic epidemic, a collective madness. I don’t mean to be impolite when I say this, but is there a more apt way to describe people who, cult-like, are following a deranged person?
In supporting the rabbi in his deluded world-view, my parents were literally spellbound in fear, which was freely offered in abundance by the rabbi. Once they gave away their power to the rabbi, what kept them stuck in denial was the overwhelming painfulness of the shock that would necessarily ensue if they were to see how they had given away their power to someone who was mis-using their trust. They then became invested in sustaining their denial so as to protect themselves from the awfulness of consciously experiencing the lie that they had been living, a dis-illusion-ment that would have been “too much” for them to bear. Seeing the truth of their situation would have been so overwhelmingly traumatic that it had built into it a counter-incentive to fully experience itself, which the rabbi continually strengthened by creating guilt, fear – and terror - so as to keep his flock in line.
TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN
To understand the underlying psychological process that was being unconsciously played out in this scenario, it is important to realize that the psychological blindness that my parents had fallen into cannot be contemplated separately from the figure of the rabbi. In their mutual interaction, the roles of my parents on the one hand, and the rabbi on the other are intimately linked and bound together. Their roles don’t exist in static isolation from each other but rather, in dynamic co-relation to each other. These two roles never exist one without the other, as they are always found together, simultaneously and reciprocally co-arising in the same moment, inseparably united parts of a deeper process. To say this differently: my parents and the rabbi are aspects of a deeper process that is playing itself out, and revealing itself, through their interplay. To see this is to have an expansion of consciousness in which we snap out of arbitrarily and artificially thinking that we exist separate from each other, and get into focus and feel into the deeper, underlying unified and unifying field of consciousness which connects us and is giving shape to and in-forming what is playing out in our world.
The rabbi had fallen under a self-created spell in which he had entranced himself to think that the enemy was outside of himself. He had projected his own shadow, his own darkness outside of himself, where the dreamlike universe simply supplied all the evidence he needed to prove to himself the seemingly objective truth of his projections in a self-generated, self-confirming feedback loop that was of the nature of a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, there really are people who want to destroy Israel, but being unconsciously identified with the role of the passive and righteous victim, the rabbi didn’t realize the role that he, or the state of Israel, collaboratively play in evoking the very response from others to which they then react (please see my article Middle East Madness). Entranced by his own mind, the rabbi was relating to an inner, spiritual problem as if it existed outside of himself. In splitting off from and projecting out his shadow, the rabbi was reacting against an enemy that he himself was actively calling forth. This is a very peculiar form of madness that is all too common in our world today.
When, like the rabbi, one falls into the depraved state of believing one’s own lies, a certain charisma is emanated that is very charming and convincing to people who are not sufficiently in touch with themselves to have developed their own “center” of discrimination and are therefore highly suggestible. The rabbi’s delusion had a sufficient energy charge or field-of-force to attract, like iron filings aligning themselves around a magnet, members of the congregation into his viewpoint. Like my parents, other worshipers in the synagogue, in agreeing with the rabbi’s locating the evil outside of themselves, had created a very convenient receptacle to seemingly get rid of and project out their own darkness. This process safeguarded them from having to look at and thereby deal with the darkness within themselves. Having an enemy to collectively scapegoat and project the shadow onto was a great relief, though the fact that this process was based on a lie and was guaranteed to ultimately create nothing but guilt, fear, and violence went unnoticed by the members of the congregation. Rather they felt united in self-righteousness, convinced by their mutually reinforcing delusions that the evil was to be found outside of themselves. By collectively projecting out their shadow, the rabbi and his followers had become unconsciously possessed by the very shadow they were fighting against in the outside world. Fighting against one’s own reflected shadow on the world stage is not only a battle that can never be won; it is nothing other than madness itself.
By supporting the rabbi in his paranoia, my parents and the congregation were unwittingly feeding the rabbi’s madness in a self-perpetuating feedback loop that simultaneously reinforced their childish need to give away their power and have someone protect them. By giving away their power to the rabbi, they became like children dependent on a parental authority figure. By giving away their power and following the rabbi, they actually confirmed the rabbi’s delusions, reinforcing his conviction that he must be a real leader, as people were, in fact, following him.
The rabbi and his congregation were joined together in a co-dependent and pathological feedback loop that had developed enough momentum or energy to continually self-generate, like a Frankenstein monster, an autonomous life of its own. As if enclosed in a bubble, the rabbi and the congregation became seemingly cut off and separate from others, as well as dis-connected from any reflection or co-evolutionary, in-forming influences from the outside world. A situation of “group narcissism” was created between the rabbi and his followers, as they fed into and off of each other’s unconscious, narcissistic wounds, needs and fears. Avoiding self-reflection at all costs, they reciprocally reinforced and colluded in each other’s unconscious madness. An impenetrable field of un-consciousness became conjured up around them which literally resisted self-reflective consciousness. When this situation happens in a family, a community, a nation, or a species, it is nothing other than a form of collective psychosis (see my book The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of our Collective Psychosis).
When the rabbi and his congregation are seen as an interconnected, whole system, there is recognized to be a certain “stasis,” or non-fluidity to the system’s dynamics. The system was not organically growing and evolving by allowing other voices to be heard, but had a self-reinforcing rigidity to its structure. In any system like this, there is, however, at each and every moment a potentially novel role in the field which can spontaneously emerge within the system and “catalyze” (which in chemistry means to “hasten a reaction”) a change in the entire system.
In our example of the rabbi and his followers, this role in the system manifested itself when the people who saw what was getting destructively acted out in the community broke the vow of silence, connected with each other, accessed their inherent power, and then mobilized themselves by speaking up and acting in a way that made a difference. From the point of view of the whole, interrelated system, this new voice was the instrument through which the system evolved and autopoetically recreated itself into a higher-order of coherence, integration, health, and wholeness.
The key to up-leveling the system and breaking the spell – in this case, when the rabbi got fired – was when a “tipping point” was reached and enough people in the community, a certain critical mass, saw the abuse that was happening and, as if in a play or a dream, stepped into their roles as empowered agents of change and collectively acted. Like T cells uniting to fight a cancer in the body politic, they joined together as one voice, activated their inherent power and authority as the true body of the synagogue, and co-operatively configured and organized themselves so as to resolve the underlying dysfunction in their community.
A DREAMING PROCESS
Seen as a dreaming process – in which the outer situation, just like a dream, is expressing the inner state of the psyche – the rabbi was “dreamed up” into fully materialized form as an expression of an unconscious process that existed within each member of the congregation and vice versa. Becoming caught in the spell that the rabbi was casting was ultimately of the congregation’s own making, their own “doing” (which is the meaning of the word “karma”), as their dis-empowered situation was an outer expression of their inner state of unconsciousness. Their subservient, sheep-like condition was a state in which they were actually victimizing themselves, and for which they were ultimately responsible.
From the dreaming point of view, in embodying a figure who abused his position of power, the rabbi was getting dreamed up to reflect back to the congregation their dis-association from their own God-given power. An externalized reflection of an inner process, the rabbi stepped into a role and became a living embodiment of the figure who exists in potential inside not only each member of the congregation, but ourselves as well. Revealing an archetypal figure who exists deep within the collective unconscious of humankind, the rabbi is re-presenting the inner/outer figure who at each and every moment tries to “entrance” us to give away our power. This figure’s attempt to deceive us is an expression of its own fear, its own lack, and the extent of its own self-deception.
When we lack insight, connection, and fluency with our own power, we invariably constellate our power to turn against us, both internally and in the seemingly outer world. From the dreaming point of view, the rabbi was simply getting dreamed up to play out a role that existed in the field; if this particular person wasn’t around to play this role, “central casting” would simply send someone else. The rabbi and the congregation were colluding with and enabling each other to enact an unconscious, collective decision to abrogate the community’s power to creatively and consciously invent their world.
Seen symbolically, the outer situation with the rabbi actually helped activate the congregation’s intrinsic power, which clearly hadn’t been consciously realized up until then, otherwise the figure of the rabbi would not have been dreamed up to abuse his power in the first place. Contemplating this situation as a dreaming process, the figure of the rabbi is a secret ally, his secret being secret even to himself, as through his abuse of power he is unwittingly helping - make that demanding - the congregation to connect with their genuine power (though his “help” to the congregation was not in the way he imagined).
Once a sufficient number of people in the congregation snapped out of their spell and saw the rabbi’s madness, which they were only able to do if they themselves had stepped into sanity, they were able to collectively act and remove the rabbi from his position of power. Just like a dream, an inner change in the consciousness of the congregation become reflected in the outer world, as their inner realization was creatively expressed in their outer situation by skillful action. The fundamental change originated from an inner transformation, which was then acted upon, and given shape and form in the outside world. Incarnating our inner realization in the outside world is the very act which in turn further stimulates our inner realization, which then makes us more able to effect change in the outside world, ad infinitum. This is a positive, “creative” feedback loop in which, instead of continuing to unconsciously destroy each other, our world, and ourselves, we can connect with and empower each other through the open-heart of lucid awareness and consciously create the world in which we want to live.
It is important to emphasize: It is not enough just to see what is going on and do nothing. The outer world becomes the medium or canvas, so to speak, in which we actualize and make real our inner realization, as the two, the inner and the outer, are recognized to be interconnected reflex-ions of each other and inseparable aspects of a greater whole. We deepen our inner realization by expressing it in the outer world. Reciprocally, we change the outer world by deepening our inner realization.
FINDING OUR VOICE IS TO WAKE UP
The situation with the rabbi and his congregation is analogous to the situation in our country with George Bush and those who see his abuse and remain silent. It should be noted that the problem in the congregation wasn’t resolved by convincing people like my parents, who having taken the rabbi’s toxic bait hook, line, and sinker had become fixated on a point of view that lacked reflective awareness, as if frozen in trauma. Just like it was futile for me to try to convince my parents of their delusion, we are wasting our creative energy if we attempt to convince people who are following Bush of how they are following a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This is like trying to convince a mad person of their madness, which if we persist in our efforts is an expression of our own madness (i.e., our lack of insight into the nature of the situation that we are trying to address). On the contrary, the situation in the community got healed when enough people who saw the abuse broke through their inertia and resistance and courageously spoke up in a way that made a difference.
An abuser in a family system such as a spiritual community or a nation can only get away with perpetrating abuse if enough people collude with the abuse by staying silent. Remaining silent in the presence of abuse is to marginalize our own power and unwittingly nourish the unconscious culture which allows the abuse to flourish. Connecting with each other, investing in the power of our collective voice and speaking up as one is the leverage point through which we can intervene in the existing system so as to transform it.
Abuse can only take place if enough people are silent about it, which is to say that those who are silent about the abuse are complicit in it. Evil can only play itself out without restraint when good people see what is happening and do nothing. Staying silent in the presence of abuse, though seemingly a passive role, is to unwittingly play an active role enabling our own victimization.
Just like in the situation with the rabbi, however, when a critical mass of people who see the evil that is playing out through our government come together and break the vow of silence and act, they step out of the role of helpless victims who are enabling and calling forth the abuse, and empower themselves to transform the dynamics of the entire system. It is said that the deepest place in hell is reserved for people who, seeing evil being acted out, stay silent, not wanting to rock the boat. Presently, our ship of state, to point out the obvious, is sinking from not being “rocked” enough. To quote the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”.
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