Saturday, November 15, 2014

Jerome Bernstein - Healing Our Split: Participation Mystique and C.G. Jung

Chapter excerpts from Jerome Bernstein  (2014). Healing Our Split: Participation Mystique and C.G. Jung, Chapter 8 in Mark Winborn (Ed.). Shared Realities: Participation Mystique and Beyond. Fisher King Press, 2014.
 It is important to remember that Jung was observing and trying to understand the ‘primitive mind’ through the lens of his ‘civilized’ mind. Projecting and fitting what he thought he was observing into categories understandable to him was unavoidable since he had no other frame of reference. Apparently it did not occur to him to try to go beyond "understanding" by putting himself into the psychic and spiritual frame of mind of these ‘primitives’ nor did he have the experience to do so. He observed and analyzed them, as well as their culture and spiritual practices, but did not share or participate in these aspects of their psychic life with them. Nor was he consciously aware that he was observing a highly complex cosmological psychic system that, from the perspective of the Native American, was less linear; reflecting a sense of a Great Round where time is more circular than linear. In such a system, there is no ‘beginning’ to the cosmological story as such; where ‘creation’ ‘happened’ (was told as Story) as opposed to being ordained by a "higher power" or resulted from thought as opposed to thinking; where Story and particularly story-telling itself is the sustaining power of life. He also was likely unaware of the profound differences in language structure between verb-based oral traditional language where words, according to Tewa Professor Dr. Gregory Cajete, "that describe the world emerge directly from actively perceived experience," and more noun-based Western Logos language which is more abstract and conceptual, i.e. more removed from the experience itself. And we now know that language, particularly language structure, has a profound adaptive and interactive relationship to and with culture and therein with the spiritual orientation of that culture...

Rather than being "supernatural" (or "transpersonal") the world – life -- is transrational as well as rational. This distinction is essential because of the confusion between the "supernatural" which trumps the rational (reason) and ‘makes no sense,’ and what I call the transrational,’ which transcends the binary Logos concept of rationality but poses no contradiction to the rational. It is a different experience and because it does not trump the rational, neither makes sense nor doesn’t make sense. It is what it is. From within this framework, science and its offspring, technology, take their rightful place in the evolution of consciousness. Segal asserts that science properly replaces myth – I prefer the word ‘story’ – as "the explanation of the world." It is this confusion around the "logical" and the "prelogical" that confounds and which in Jung’s thought is the cause of dissociation in the Western psyche and specifically its organ of consciousness, the Western ego construct. The problem was in labeling participation mystique as "prelogical" in order to make it fit into the Western Logos frame. The need was and remains to recognize that participation mystique was and is a different manifestation of the reality of the psyche...

We need a consciousness that can perceive and relate to the whole of psychic reality. Nature has its own set of rules, and we need to come to understand and respect those rules better than we do. What is urgent is to bring the psychodynamic of reciprocity into engagement with the psychodynamic of dominion and therein bring balance to our over-inflated self-annihilating Western ego.


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