Spirit and Matter – Logos and Eros
“Perhaps it would not be too much to say that the most crucial problems of the individual and of society turn upon the way the psyche functi0ns in regard to spirit and matter.” (Jung)
This is how James Hillman begins chapter four in his book, Senex and Puer. One of the things that strike me in this quote is the use of the word “society,” a word that jumps out in context of what is happening in the world today. The lack of focus on “society” and a single-minded focus on the “individual” is the Achilles heel of Jungian psychology. Lately I have been reading from a number of different authors in different fields trying to find something that resonates at a deeper level, something that doesn’t get lost in my personal ego. Why is this important to me? I think it has to do with the idea of relationship with other. For me, the key word is relationship.
Psychology asks us to develop a good relationship with the self with the assumption that if we can focus on this dynamic, the rest will take care of itself. Somehow, that only seems to be making the situation of our collective worse, not better as we would have expected. As we go deeper and deeper within our psyche, we seem to get lost in the world of the Great Mother. The hero’s journey has us battle the Great Mother in order to win the reward. Depth psychology . . .
What is missing, in my opinion is the soaring psychology that embraces logos, the spirit – the world of the Great Father. I know, this is almost a dirty word in our modern world who somehow sees the Great Father as an evil force that is more about rape and pillage and brutality. Yet, as I think about it, our modern world of science, economics and politics is really an expression of the Great Mother (mater/matter). Our world is all about consumption, about things, not about ideas. Science has brought us to the idea that there is only the earth, this ecosystem which is spinning in a larger physical cosmos – God is dead and buried and Gaia now rules undisputed.
We honour the Great Mother and we are rewarded as good sons with riches – good sex, material wealth and guilt, the guilt of being too enmeshed with the Great Mother. And we have bought into this way of believing and functioning as a culture. The way to insult a man today is to say his head is in the clouds, that he is an egg-head lost in the world of spirit. Our world celebrates “common sense” and doesn’t trust logos. As a result, we have a world spinning out of balance – a world focused on the individual and not on community.