As I wander the streets of Changzhou with my camera, I get to see “real” life unfold before me. For example, near the city’s People’s Number One Hospital, I saw this monk talking with an older woman. The deal is both about donating to the home temple of the monk as well as paying for prayers that will be beneficial to the buyer or a loved one. For me, this is one of the shadow sides of “religion.”
Shadow and light – one exists only in relation to the other. In terms of the spiritual, we conveniently place both the shadow and light outside of “self.” We have a God of Light and we have the Lord of Darkness. As I said, these are convenient construction, projections, of what belongs within. In my opinion, there is no external God, nor is there an external Satan.
“By placing the possibility and necessity of humanity’s religious experience in the processes of archetypal within the psyche, Jung identifies the archetypes as humanity’s God-makers and faith givers. Most Western theologies identify God not only as the source of revelation but also as the author of faith in that which is revealed. Thus faith or the grace of belief, as well as what is believed in, is placed well beyond the potentially manipulative grasp of the individual ego.” (Dourley, The Illness That We Are, p.23)
“God-makers” and “faith givers” – powerful words. All god-heads are creations of the collective human psyche. Religion emerges to give substance to the projected energy. And in relief, most give up responsibility for their spiritual need. Like children, most look for a “father” or a “mother” to take care of them, to take away their hurts and to give them answers. The more impressive and different the costume and the setting, the easier it is for most to “believe” in their projected spiritual nature. Answers exist, if one only believes. Since it is too hard for most to hold the tension of “no answer, only question,” many accept these religions in spite of the niggling voice within that is pushed further and further into the shadow realm, denied. This leaves a belief that is tainted with darkness, a darkness that gets acted out in the collective realm, over and over again.
And it all seems so innocent, as in this image – a monk offering hope to an old lady.