Yueya

Politics as Alchemical Transformation

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Posted (edited)

I’ve previously mentioned how I would like to see some political discussion here outside of partisan politics. Following on from this comment, here are some tentative thoughts shaped around a couple of paragraphs of alchemical commentary written by Marie-Louise von Franz:  
 
“In Mysterium Coniunctionis Carl Jung gives detailed commentary on the figure of the old king, who represents the arcane substance and is usually portrayed by the alchemists at the beginning of the process as defective, unredeemed, rigidified, sick, or even evil. The defective quality corresponds to an intensified egotism and hardening of the heart that must be broken down in the alchemical bath. Power hunger and concupiscence often also ingloriously characterise the old king. This attitude of power is characterised by a total lack of feminine softness, of warmth and connection.
 
“The spirit, which in itself is no adversary of the soul, degenerates in such personifications to the level of the intellect, and in this contracted and rigidified form stands in the way of all psyche’s fertile and creative impulses. It is the enemy of emotionality and instinct, but for precisely this reason it secretly lets itself be negatively influenced by primitive impulses.”
 
In contemporary politics it’s easy to see the established parties on both sides as the old kings that have become “defective, unredeemed, rigidified, sick, or even evil”.  Both sides are power hungry and prone to concupiscence. More generally, the old king could be seen as the whole moral fabric of society, with our culture pervaded by a “contracted and rigidified” intellectual form of spirit; the intellectual left as bankrupt as the corrupt, patriarchal right.
 
And note how new leaders like Trump and Boris Johnson are unstable, mercurial figures; poison-dripping dragons and tricksters, yet also reconnecting politics with emotionality and instinct, albeit at a primitive level.  The intellectual left has no idea how to counteract this, being cut off from acknowledging their own chaotic emotions and instincts. Note how their logical rebuttals, the citing of facts etc, gains no traction in the current political climate.
 
From all this turmoil, with the help of what they called the spirit Mercurius, the alchemists saw the birth of something new; so hopefully our bubbling cauldron of contemporary politics with its mercurial figure-heads can eventually do the same once enough heat is applied. The old alchemists give us some guidance: “The defective quality corresponds to an intensified egotism and hardening of the heart that must be broken down,” as does the “power hunger and concupiscence”; all of which are not only characteristics of our politics but also pervasive throughout our culture.  And along with these changes there naturally comes a rebirth of feminine softness, of warmth and connection.
 
Unfortunately, I don’t see any significant trend in this direction. Instead I see the steady rise of a new king; individualism and egotism along with a slow but ongoing reversion to a more historically normal distribution of wealth with a huge divide between a small ultra-rich minority and the rest of us. Multinational corporations are the vehicle for this, their power continues its rise.  
 
Countering this there are positive new kings as well, such as the rise of emotional awareness, albeit from a low level.  Speaking of our culture generally, our intellect is overdeveloped in comparison to our emotional and spiritual growth. 

 


 

Edited by Yueya
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I would characterise our politics as unstable, polarised, too emotional and ungrounded/unearthed.  Although I do not foresee an imminent world war there is no doubt that what we are seeing is the karmic results of a very violent 20th century.  It makes the environment in which we operate unstable and unruly.  The left drift more left and the right become a sinister core - the consenus middle has almost vanished.  So two discrete substances which are polarised apart have been distilled.  It is unearthed because the media (mainstream and internet) create false shells of truth - and simply by repeating them bring about an ideational abstraction.  We have been sold the lie that emotional truth is spiritual truth - so it is suggested that how we feel about an issue is important - for instance if something offends me , then that thing should be banned - since my offence is a real substance - when it clearly is not. 

 

We will have to ride the storm for some time. now - but sooner or later purification and distillation will occur - many may suffer aat this time I fear -but it cnnot be another way

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Posted (edited)

I agree polar forces are being distilled out, but it’s such a complex, worldwide situation I have no clarity on it at all. I can only stand back and witness as an older person, no longer active in partisan politics, in the privileged position of living in a remote location in a country far removed from the epicentre of these events.

 

One distillation that has directly affected me though, is how the heat of the Trump discussions within the alchemical cauldron of this forum has led to a separation out of distinct opposing forces and the creation of a new website mirroring this one being created by disaffected members. Thus one has become two. Who would have thought that when Trump was elected that he would be a catalyst for such a change here? 

 

4 hours ago, Apech said:

we are seeing is the karmic results of a very violent 20th century.  It makes the environment in which we operate unstable and unruly.


Not only is the political situation ungrounded and hence unstable, so too is the world economy. It’s on a totally unsustainable trajectory. Once the illusion of our current prosperity collapses, then real heat will be applied to the already volatile political situation.

 

4 hours ago, Apech said:

We will have to ride the storm for some time. now - but sooner or later purification and distillation will occur - many may suffer at this time I fear -but it cannot be another way

 

 Has it ever been any other way. To give just one instance, the profound turmoil of the Warring States centuries in China led to the distilling out of Daoist, Confucian and other principles from the competing chaos of the Hundred Schools of Thought. It has proved to be a seminal period for Chinese culture; a time when “all psyche’s fertile and creative impulses” were in full bloom.

 

Time for a musical interlude I think.

 

 

Edited by Yueya
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7 hours ago, Yueya said:

I agree polar forces are being distilled out, but it’s such a complex, worldwide situation I have no clarity on it at all. I can only stand back and witness as an older person, no longer active in partisan politics, in the privileged position of living in a remote location in a country far removed from the epicentre of these events.

 

One distillation that has directly affected me though, is how the heat of the Trump discussions within the alchemical cauldron of this forum has led to a separation out of distinct opposing forces and the creation of a new website mirroring this one being created by disaffected members. Thus one has become two. Who would have thought that when Trump was elected that he would be a catalyst for such a change here? 

 


Not only is the political situation ungrounded and hence unstable, so too is the world economy. It’s on a totally unsustainable trajectory. Once the illusion of our current prosperity collapses, then real heat will be applied to the already volatile political situation.

 

 

 Has it ever been any other way. To give just one instance, the profound turmoil of the Warring States centuries in China led to the distilling out of Daoist, Confucian and other principles from the competing chaos of the Hundred Schools of Thought. It has proved to be a seminal period for Chinese culture; a time when “all psyche’s fertile and creative impulses” were in full bloom.

 

Time for a musical interlude I think.

 

 

 

Yes I am watching from the sidelines also - from a remote place.  Yes it is truly odd that DBs has begat 2 and I wonder how sustainable that is in any case.  Trump it seems was sent to upset the old applecart and the old convention of honoring the victor and the result seem to have gone by the wayside.

 

From an alchemical point of view if one begets 2 then there will be a three - but I cannot see as yet what that three might be.

 

The world economy in my view is suffering from a strange problem which is over supply.  The old engine of capitalism is profit - but increasingly and certainly when AI and robotics really kick in we will be able to feed everyone for practically nothing - this might be the first time that 'plenty' collapsed a system - what happens to the human soul when it no longer has to labor for bread?

 

 

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9 hours ago, Yueya said:

... the profound turmoil of the Warring States centuries in China ...

 

I find this an apt historical analogy. I greatly fear ... for the sake of coming generations ... that some great cataclysmic chain of events will follow that will lead to a lot of uncertainty, unpredictability and suffering. The world, as we know it, will certainly change but how fast and at what cost.

 

2 hours ago, Apech said:

... what happens to the human soul when it no longer has to labor for bread.

 

This is a great observation. I think ... at least in part ... what we are seeing now is a result of this ... or something very near to it. We marvel at the progress of technology and celebrate great scientific breakthroughs and achievement. But many are under or unaffectively employed. They lack direction on how to gain meaning to their lives. We are not finding meaning in achievement.

 

I think a lot of the self centered nastiness that we see on the internet is the result of that ... a lot of the concentration of wealth shows that we do not know what to do with what we are able to produce.

 

What we might be seeing here may be a widening gap between technological ability and it's apparent benefit to an ever growing population. We lack a social sophistication that is comparable to our technological development. If such is the case continued technological development may not save us.

 

My mind continually comes back to the ancient notion of the Mandate of Heaven. It is often thought of as applicable to the relationship of the governing to the governed. But I wonder if there might be broader more mystical imperative meaning to the phrase. Something more akin to the concept of reversion found in Daoist thought.

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Potent topic.  Challenging in the extreme.  I find I can only engage in it for limited bits.

 

My experience is that Politics concretize and demonstrate our society's communal Spiritual Climate.  As such, politics are the distillation of our collective spirituality in practical action to me. 

 

Due to the climate shift in Political/Collective Spirituality in America over the last 40 years, it is often untenable for me to participate in certain aspects of political discussion for long, (or at all), in a similar manner that it is untenable for me to go for a walk in certain climates outdoors.  I grew up in Minnesota.  I recall walking to school and having my watering eyes and runny nose freeze shut when the wind=chill dropped below -40F.  I recall the gear I had to use to protect my health, to play outside, or risk real harm.  I recall the family who froze to death a few yards away from a pub, when they abandoned their broken down car in a white out blizzard.

 

When walking in certain climates, I must take precautions to ensure not only survival but when possible, vitality.

 

When engaging in certain topics of mind, I find I must take similar precautions or risk internal injury and intense repercussions.

 

When the communal political climate in which I find myself is non-conducive to my own personal health and longevity, I take precautions when engaging, or when I can't maintain sincerity and grow too judgemental, rigid and triggered, I withdraw engagement entirely.

 

It's simply not always healthy to go for a walk outside after all.

 

That said... Politics is Spirituality in action... to me.

 

How Spirit could ever be disconnected from any process, noumenal or phenomenal lies beyond the ken of my mind to imagine and my body to experience.  Spirit, Matter, Mind...are no longer perceived as separate at all, but in my mind they coalesce like facets of a fluid gem... distinctly apparent aspects of one fluid process. 

 

As such, I cannot find one aspect of manifest reality Politics included that is devoid of Spirit.  Spirit infuses every aspect of all i encounter.  Pavement, city layouts, sewer drainage systems, the shape of toilets, the consistency of toilet paper, our autos, grocery store layouts, parks, traffic... Spirit infuses all form and the flow of forms interacting, for me.

 

Politics is to me, infused utterly to its core with our collective social spirit.

I find a country's Politics to be the most palpable demonstration and the direct result of that culture's collective Spirituality.

 

For it is via the political process that we determine and declare openly, as a culture, all of the most important and pressing issues we deal with.  It is through the political process that we decide how we will: allocate our resources, educate our young, decide what we consider to be right and wrong action, how and to what extent we will punish folks for infractions when they do wrong, how we will interact with the environment (protect, ignore, pillage).  It is through our political process that we legislate in what manner and how intently we will care of our infirm, the mentally unsound and our elders as they pass their final years.

 

Politics to me, is Spirituality in action... collectively.  The seeming fact that folks find politics to be somehow separate from spirituality seems a key indicator of the current tone and shape of our interactions regarding it. 

 

I became politically aware at the age of 10, when Reagan swept Carter out of office and the reaction to this by the adults around me that I cared about, cut through my child-mind fog and awakened me to curiosity about the process.  My experience of American Politics is that it's a quagmire, a bog, a roiling soup of the consensus of all, that is most often controlled by the loudest and brashest of voices competing desperately for the microphone of influence and the tools of leverage. 

 

As time has progressed and extremes have rarified further, I have receeded from all but the most local politics, focusing on family, neighborhood and self.  Out of selfishness and self preservation.  The climate is bitter and harsh, precautions must be taken for the sensitive.  And I will not sacrifice my sensitivity.  i have sat the cushion and flowed the forms for too many hours to relinquish what was long earned and hard won.  I wear the badge of 'bleeding heart' and 'snowflake' with honor and love.

 

The folks who most desire influence and power, usually seem (to my sensibilities) to be, in character, the most psychotic and least altruistic.  There seems an inverse proportional ratio in our current system, that those most drawn to influence, display least the qualities of a beneficial leader.

 

In our current power structure, if a man or woman with integrity and high spirit is even drawn to pursue power (most often i find these are too wise to seek out such positions) and manages to arrive in a position of influence; their character and essence do not and will not possess the spirit to do 'whatever it takes' to maintain that position.  Hence, they will inevitably be pushed out of influence by the more desperate and psychotic who will stop at nothing to achieve and maintain influence.

 

How do we take care of the weakest among us?  How do we prepare our children?  How will we use our resources?  Do we rehabilitate those who break our laws, or injure them with punishment?  These are not political questions to me, but deeply spiritual ones.  The answers I find coming from those avenues of public influence some folks still call news, are often mind shatteringly disconnected, sadistic, selfish and horrific.

 

I have no answers but a few tendencies have developed.  Work on self, care for family, care for neighbors, reach out and connect.  And to cultivate awareness, presence and readiness to engage personally face to face.  When ugliness arises, protect the weak without hesitation and likewise, when altruism and compassion are witnessed, openly praise, connect and support such.

 

Connection is the only workable answer I've come across to the question "what is the meaning of life?"

 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, silent thunder said:

When engaging in certain topics of mind, I find I must take similar precautions or risk internal injury

 

I can certainly empathize with that.  If find it very difficult to not become agitated and over emotional on certain topics. That is the pernicious part of some forms of discourse. In an agitated state one cannot see clearly. So, I must often let certain kinds of discussions pass.

 

btw ... I grew up in part in western Washington state and remember the cold. Very vivid imagery for me.

 

1 hour ago, silent thunder said:

Politics is Spirituality in action

 

Lord, I hope not! (Initial reaction) I would like to think spirituality is somehow above what I see on the political landscape. But your assertion makes me stop and think ... do I have an appropriate view of spiritual? That's something I will have to ruminate on a bit.

 

1 hour ago, silent thunder said:

How do we take care of the weakest among us?  How do we prepare our children?  How will we use our resources?  Do we rehabilitate those who break our laws, or injure them with punishment? 

 

These are social values ... But I begin to see your point regarding spiritualism ... It or lack of it being expressed in society.

 

Perhaps this goes back to the question of the inherent goodness of humankind. This seems to be the gist of Daoist thinking ... at least to the extent that naturalism can be seen as inherently good.

 

One of the great leaps ... one that I struggle with a lot ... is the leap from individual development/enlightenment to social development/!enlightenment.

 

 

Edited by OldDog
Clarification
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2 hours ago, silent thunder said:

 

 

  I wear the badge of 'bleeding heart' and 'snowflake' with honor and love.

 

Me too.

 

2 hours ago, silent thunder said:

 

 

Connection is the only workable answer I've come across to the question "what is the meaning of life?"

 

 

 

Beautiful.

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