Tuesday, 5 December 2017

The Integration of Dark and Light

I've not read much Jung as he never appealed to me since I find there to be something of the fraud about him. Another person who wanted spirituality without God. But I've read books by people influenced by him, and one of the ideas that seemed to take hold at one time was that you have to integrate your dark side with your light side to reach a state of wholeness. This is, to put it bluntly, nonsense, maybe even satanic nonsense. 

Whether Jung really said this or whether it is a misinterpretation of things he might have said, I'm not sure, but the idea is out there and it needs refuting. It's linked to the possibly Gnostic idea that Lucifer is Christ's dark twin, in an ultimate sense working with him to drive evolution onwards. Another shot that misses the target and tries to justify evil, even if it might have a spurious sort of almost plausibility. 

Good is good and evil is evil and there can be no alliance between them. That doesn't mean that God cannot bring good, and maybe even greater good, out of evil but that is a very different thing to saying it is part of his plan and can somehow be accommodated. Evil must be overcome not integrated either outwardly in the world or, especially, inwardly in oneself.  The misconception arises I think because of a confusion between evil and nature. The natural is integrated with the spiritual, not rejected but perfected by grace, but evil, darkness, must be overcome by light. 

Here we have the clue to the resolution of this problem. Light does not integrate darkness but obliterates it. There is no fuller state that comes from their union. Likewise, our dark side must be rejected by subjecting it to the light of Christ. On a psychological level you can say that vices contain, and can be transformed into, their opposite virtue, say aggression into heroism. But, on the spiritual level, vices must be overcome. There is no integration of dark with light. Evil, sin, must be eradicated not integrated.


Aaron said...

Hi William, I haven't had a chance to post on your blog for quite some time. I hope all is well with you.

This is an unusual departure from you and Bruce's usual Hegelian scheme where everything has to be integrated with its opposite to reach a higher synthesis.

(final participation being a synthesis of original participation and modern scientific alienation, love not canceling out polarity to achieve Oneness but maintaining duality in a context of unity, etc)

I've seen you apply the Hegelian scheme to so many things, I thought it was your basic intuition about reality.

If darkness need not be integrated with light, do u think it's possible that modern alienation is not actually a stage towards a higher synthesis, but just something that has to be overcome, like darkness? That it is a decline from a height and not a step in the path of evolution? That it is just a....mistake?

I thought the idea was that everything that comes into being is a legitimate expression of the spirit and a step in the evolution of the human soul.

Basically, that there are no wrong turns, declines from heights, and false steps, but only the danger of lingering too long on a transitional step, like we are doing with modern alienation.

The idea of a mere wrong turn, a decline from a height and the consequent need to return to the source being mistaken traditional ideas that had to be abandoned in the light of modern ideas about evolution.

I understood this to be your basic schema, but I see you are radically departing from it now and see the possibility of new vistas opening up on your thinking - or perhaps I should say, the return of traditional vistas.

Would you clarify how this post fits in with your basic stance as developed on this blog?

I apologize for my somewhat chaotic and hasty comment, I am not now in a place where I can carefully compose my thoughts.

William Wildblood said...

Hello Aaron

Good to hear from you again. Your comments are always stimulating.

I'm not sure I recognise myself from the Hegelian description but then I'm not familiar with him apart from the basic thesis, antithesis, synthesis idea. I do think the end goal is the integration of spirit and matter, being and becoming, but hierarchically understood with the former as dominant though the latter is still all important as part of the mix that makes Creation the significant thing it is, an improvement or a better state than simple non-manifestation or pure being. i would also go along with the integration of the natural with the spiritual, though again with the spiritual as playing the lead role. When Christ ascended, his body did too. So all of that is fine.

But i don't go along with integrating the so called dark side. I think that has to be overcome through proper repentance and spiritual practice, with grace the ultimate weapon that overcomes sin. I suppose we have to differentiate what is real sin and what is not spiritual but not sin. The latter can perhaps be absorbed as grace perfects nature but the former is just plain wrong. No excuse or justifications for it can be made! How do you integrate pride or greed or hatred or resentment? They are sins that have to be overcome by (most probably) love, principally love of God.

Somewhat dashed off because I have mundane duties to attend to now but do please respond if you would like to and I'll try to say some more a bit later.

Aaron said...

Thank you for your kind words, William.

Hegel basically stood for the integration of being and becoming, matter and spirit.

He was an Absolutist who thought ultimate reality cannot exclude anything and must include everything in an ultimate synthesis.

This seems to me your basic approach as well - Hegel would agree with you that pure undifferentiated Being is lesser than a state that combines within it all possible attributes.

Owen Barfield was heavily influenced by Hegel and Kant, and I take him up be someone you are sympathetic with.

Buddhism is an Absolutism that sees ultimate reality not as containing all attributes, but as beyond them.

It all revolves on whether you think our minds perfectly reflect reality or that there is a reality that cannot fit into the narrow categories of our mortal minds - whether the famous phrase "there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of..." resonates with you, or whether you basically think heaven and earth conform to your mind perfectly.

Wether you believe in the existence of a rare faculty of intellectual intuition, let us call it, or whether you don't.

Hegel, like you, believed our minds perfectly reflect reality - on that assumption, naturally ultimate reality must be a synthesis of all attributes perceptive to our minds.

Buddhism believes in a supra-cognitive faculty that allows us access to ultimate reality - but if ultimate reality is supra-cognitive, then our world must in some sense be an illusion.

To you, since you accept our minds as coterminous with ultimate reality, pure Being must appear empty - since there cannot exist anything not perceptible to our minds.

But emptiness from the perspective of our minds would not be true emptiness - it would only appear as emptiness, just as color would be invisible to a blind man but still exist.

It would be emptiness to us, but nevertheless not nothing.

But it all depends on our assumptions - do we think color exists even tho we may not see it, or do we say nothing exists unpercievable by our minds.

This may all seem rather academic and remote, but they are the hidden assumptions which have guide our stance toward modernity.

On the Hegelian basis, modernity must be included in any definition of ultimate reality, just combined with its opposite.

On the Buddhist perspective, modernity can be merely a particularly pernicious illusion, in a world where all is basically unreal, and our task is to leave it behind utterly.

I believe Christianity to be basically similar to the Buddhist position, of course, despite some unintegrated concessions to popular materialism which depart from its true spirit.

Well, sorry for the long winded preliminary!

As for your positions, if our minds are coterminous with reality, wouldn't the Ultimate have to include greed, hatred, and the like, just in a higher synthesis?

You say matter and spirit - doesn't matter, the principle of individuation, naturally imply greed, hatred (as self seeking), and if it be integrated with spirit, it must exist in the ultimate, no?

Perhaps spirit is higher, but nothing van be eliminated from Being, else we impoverish it, and God is the All.

If phenomena are mere illusions imposed by the categories of our minds, as implied by Kant, then the All is hardly diminished by the disappearance of any particular phenomena.

William Wildblood said...

I do think you're are interpreting what I am saying in a way I don't mean. Maybe that's because I'm not expressing myself properly. But I don't think our mind contains all that is, not at all. I look at things in a basically Christian way so I believe we are made in the image of God but what we are aware of is clearly only a minuscule proportion of what is. I would reject Buddhism insofar as Buddhism denies individuality and the personal God but not in any other way.

Perhaps I would rather say that matter is absorbed by spirit rather than integrated with it. That puts things in a proper hierarchical perspective. I just mean that spirit does not reject matter (for which read creation) as tends to be the case in Buddhism and Advaita

No, the Ultimate does not include greed etc. Clearly they are there as potential things but they only exist when spiritual truth is rejected. When it is fully embraced they disappear. Sins are virtues gone wrong. they have no reality in themselves. maybe in fact all sins are love gone wrong.

Aaron said...

Thanks for your response, William, and I again apologize for this haphazard response. I have to write off the cuff at the moment so organization may be lacking, and rules of brevity severely violated.

William, I meant that all reality is percievable by our minds, not that at any given moment we know all.

Merely that there is nothing, in principle, that cannot be grasped by the categories of our minds (time, space, being, not being), etc.

It's a metaphysical position, not a statement about what we know any given moment.

Either we have another faculty of knowing - intellectual intuition - which acquaints us with a reality beyond the categories of space, time, being, and not-being, or everything exists within these categories.

I am sorry to labor so long over what may seem so dry remote and academic, but it is a question of tremendous metaphysical import.

All systems which believe nothing exists outside our minds categories, are modern, whatever they tell themselves, and eventually will spin out all the consequences if modernity.

An extremely important point here - Buddhism does not deny the self, it merely says nothing in this phenomenal world can be equated with our self, not our minds, not out feelings, not our bodies. Our self is supra-mundane.

Quite literally, nowhere in any Buddhist scripture will you find a denial that the self exists - merely that "this is not self".

The problem is, if one does not believe in a supramundane world metaphysically (a world beyond time and space), then of course the self must be identified with our bodies, our personalities, our minds, etc.

Aaron said...

That is why our basic metaphysical stance is so important.

If our bodies, minds, and personalities are our selves, naturally we wish to protect them, and from that springs discord and greed. (but let that be for a moment)

Christ implied this metaphysic when he gave us an ethic of total self renunciation - we are not to protect our phenomenal selves.

The Christian metaphysical implication is - your phenomenal self is not important, abandon it, don't care about it. It is not your true self.

For this reason, when the Mormons came along they had to claim new scriptures were found correcting and superseding the old message, because the Mormon metaphysic denies a supramundane world, thinks our phenomenal selves are our true selves, and rather than renounced must be exakted, and is in complete opposition to the implications old Christianity.

They understood this well, and at least did not claim that the Gospels alone were compatible with their metaphysic. They were quite honest in that respect.

Now, what I was trying to say, William, is that you don't believe the Advaita or Buddhist or Christian theory of two levels of truth, with this world being an illusion.

You are an "essentialist", properly speaking, and you think the phenomena of this world to be actually real, if I understand you correctly?

Now if this is so, then the Absolute, God, which contains within himself everything that exists, must contain within himself greed, and the like.

Doesn't that follow, that if this phenomenal world is actually real, everything in it must exist in the All in All?

The only way out would be to have a pagan or Mormon theology, where God is not the Absolute Being, but only a demi-urge, a glorified Angel.

When you say matter absorbed by spirit, they must be basically the same kind of thing - spirit cannot be supramundane and beyond thought, but just another kind of matter.

This is to not get beyond the world of matter but to remain within it.

But if matter is actually real,not an illusion, and thus individuality is real (our phenomenal world individuality), then the wish to protect ones individuality based in matter is natural, and an ethic of renunciation is impossible.

At best we can have an ethic of justice, like the Jews which Jesus came to go beyond, which limits our greed but does not renounce it.

But is that Christian?

The Mormons are honest about this. Original Christianity was incomplete and the ethic of renunciation needs to be modified by later scripture and seen finally as just justice, at most, like the Jews, and the task is to exalt our mundane selves, since there is no supramundane realm.

It's a consistent theology.

What I am trying to say, Willjam, is that perhaps you are inconsistent.

A belief in the phenomenal world and phenomenal individuality being real requires certain metaphysical modifications which take one away from the original Christian ethic as laid out in the gospels, implies that God is a demi-urge and not the Absolute Being, implies an ethic of justice not renunciation, and that self-seeking on the phenomenal plane is appropriate (some measure of greed, anger, hostility, etc, being necessary).

Just as for traditional Christianity genuine self-seeking meant the renunciation of our phenomenal selves as not really us.

So much, our entire ethical and religious stance, is an elaboration of whether we believe that our mental categories, time, space, and being, reflect reality and thus the phenomenal world is real, or if they merely obscure ultimate reality and this must be renounced.

William Wildblood said...

Let me take your points one by one, Aaron. That’s probably the easiest way.

First point, perhaps we are at cross purposes when talking about mind because I certainly know believe that reality is only perceivable through the intuition. So not mind in the conventional sense, not thought, but presumably part of the totality of mind. It all depends on definitions, I suppose. So yes, of course, things, states, whatever, exist outside our mind a normally conceived but there is that in us that can perceive these super-sensible things.

There is debate about whether Buddhism talks of no self or not self and you’re right, I think, that it is the latter. But effectively, Buddhists do deny the reality of self and confuse the phenomenal ego with the non-phenomenal individuality that must continue to exist even when it is taken up into the transcendental state. I don’t identify the I in the self with the body or mind or personality but I do think it substands those things which then transform it into the ego. So there is a difference between our ‘I’ and our ego. God has an I , I am That I am, but he has no ego.

I don’t know anything about Mormonism. I know Bruce derives a good deal of his metaphysics from it but it’s not for me.

You conflate Advaita, Buddhism and Christianity but that’s wrong. Christianity is quite different because it admits the reality of the person. Its basic message that God is Love confirms this. The first two don’t properly accept the creation (which in Christianity is seen by God as good, I remind you). They flee the relative for the absolute and even if they grant the relative a provisional reality that it really only on the level of ignorance.

The phenomena of this world are relatively real in that they are held in the mind of God and what God gives his attention to is real. But we are co-creators in the world and we can bend the light to create false things like greed etc. They are not real but distortions, perversions even, of the real. So, no, they do not exist in the higher worlds or on the level of the All. They are shadows in this world but God has created the world and what he creates is real. What we create, not so.

Sprit and matter are presumably two modes of the same reality since there is nothing but God. Matter may be his feminine side (Mother, mater, matter, maya) and therefore in an ultimate way at the end of time , his bride. But it is still part of him.

For us spirit is certainly beyond thought. Spirit and matter may ultimately be one but expressed reality is (because it must be) dual.

I must repeat that individuality is not a phenomenal thing. I’’ is spiritual, ‘me , my and mine’ is not. That only exists at the phenomenal thing and it is that we must renounce.

I may well be inconsistent! But not really I think. Only in the way I express myself when I look at the picture from different angles.

So, yes, we have to transcend the world but no we do not reject individuality. What would we be if we did? Nothing. Absorbed into total oneness literally, nothing of us left. That is not God’s desire for us though it might be a possibility. But a lesser one I think. Universal consciousness needs a vessel. God is love and he creates to manifest and spread his love. Better than oneness or manyness is oneness and manyness. That is what i am on about here.

This comment is longer than the post so I’d better stop!

Aaron said...

Very interesting, William, and I agree with much of what you say.

Some confusions - you speak of non phenomenal individuality, but what can we say about the non phenomenal world?

We must maintain a holy and wise silence with regard to it.

You apear to be a monist, but not an Absolutist. You see ultimate reality as One but admitting of modifications.

I am an Absolutist - I believe ultimate reality is One and undifferentiated. This necessarily commits me to a theory of illusion.

And indeed since I was a young child I found this world to be rather insubstantial, like a dream, and hardly worth taking seriously at all.

Yes, Advaita, Buddhism, and Christianity are different, but the more I read of them the more I see they differ on the path, and what is implied by the Christian ethic is often explicitly stated in Buddhism metaphysics.

About your original post - I agree with you that darkness should not be balanced with light, but must be utterly transcended. But then I also don't think modernity should be balanced by tradition to yield final participation, but is simply a mistake that must be transcended.

Darkness, greed, hate, are merely forces that keep us tied to this world of phenomena, and how can they be balanced? They are mere mistakes, that must be left behind like everything in this world,

Thank you for your stimulating post, William, and my apologies for my somewhat chaotic responses.

William Wildblood said...

I'm not sure what I am, if anything! But I do think that reality is one but differentiated too. I mean that was the purpose of creation. So I do think creation had a purpose which Advaita definitely and Buddhism probably don't think. So God creates to make his oneness many through us. But it still remains one. Thus we transcend our limited identification with individuality but the individual remains as God's expression through a unique point.

Maybe the unsupported mind finds this paradoxical but intuition sees.

The Christian idea of the Trinity probably encapsulates this best. 3 person in one God.

Your responses aren't chaotic. i thought mine might be as I've written them off the top of my head without paying too much attention to structure or logical progression!

Aaron said...

Yes, it all hinges on whether one believes creation has a purpose or not.

The world as it appears to us, as we experience it - what you call creation - the phenomenal world, what the Buddhists call samsara, I regard as having come about through a tragic mistake, the Fall.

I regard the Fall as the fundamental Christian myth which gives the clue to the entire system and makes the ethic of total renunciation comprehensible.

As such, "creation" has no purpose at all, but that does not mean our lives have no purpose. Our purpose is simply to escape this world and return to Paradise.

The Good News of Jesus was precisely this message, that there is escape from this world through total renunciation, and there is a world of infinite light beyond it.

I do not think you are wrong, William, just that we are discussing different levels of reality. All tradition admits three worlds, and the Trinity expresses this beautifully.

On one level individuality exists, on the natural level, and the higher intermediate level where it grows weaker - it is only in ultimate level, the spiritual, where it cannot be said either to exist or not to exist.

Your responses are always thoughtful and clarifying for me, William, so no worries about no structure!