“See, how cruel the whites look,” said Hopi elder, Mountain Lake. He was speaking to Carl Jung who visited the Pueblos of Taos, New Mexico in 1925. “Their lips are thin, their noses sharp, their faces furrowed and distorted by folds. Their eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something; they are always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want. We do not understand them. We think that they are mad.”
Carl Jung asked the elder why he thought the whites were all mad.
“They say that they think with their heads,” he replied.
“Why of course. What do you think with?” Jung asked in surprise.
“We think here,” Mountain Lake said, indicating his heart.
This undercurrent of constant unease started long before Western industrial civilisation. It was there in the time of Jesus, and the time of Buddha, and long before that. “Why are you always anxious?” jesus asked his disciples. “Can anxious thought add a single day to your life?” Buddha, echoed this by teaching that the root of all suffering is to be found in our constant wanting and craving.
Resistance to consciousness is a collective dysfunction – a behaviour pattern developed over generations in our families – and it is intrinsically connected to our loss of awareness and forms the basis of our dehumanised, unconscious industrial civilisation. Freud also recognised the existence of this undercurrent of unease and he wrote about it in his book Civilisation and its discontents, but he did not recognise the true root of the unease and failed to notice that freedom from it is possible. This collective dysfunction has created a very unhappy civilisation that has become a threat not only to itself but also to all life on the planet.
Freedom from this unease is possible by becoming more conscious - or individuated - which I will cover in future posts.