In his book The Art of Being’, Erich Fromm said this:
Faith in life, in oneself, on others, must be built on the hard rock of realism; that is to say, on the capacity to see evil where it is, to see swindle, destructiveness and selfishness, not only when they are obvious, but in their many disguises and rationalisations.
And we’ve just seen undisguised evil in the premeditated murder of the Saudi reporter Jamal Kashoggi who in his death, has perhaps drawn more attention to everything that is wrong with the Saudi regime – especially with all power now being concentrated in the hands of one man – than ever he could have achieved in his life.
Oh dear, more crazy weather. A typhoon ends in one part of the globe only to be replaced by a tsunami or an earthquake in another. And more innocent people die.
Our planet is fed up with the way we have been treating her and in the same way that if we treat another person badly, they won’t particularly like us, Gaia is fighting back. She’s pissed off with humanity. And quite damn right. Thank goodness for organisations like Avaaz who are coordinating huge campaigns in this area as not enough of our politicians take climate change seriously enough as always it is the poor people, those least responsible for having f-d up our planet, who pay the price.
When I work with people in therapy I notice that often, just before they are about to make a big breakthrough – a significant leap to another level – they often have to come face to face with some of the worst things about themselves that are standing in the way. If they can confront and, as it were, embrace or integrate their dark side, then they will move to the next level and if not, they won’t. This process, however, is never easy. It is always painful when one has an image about oneself as being a kind, helpful person only to discover one has a shadow side living inside one that is exactly the opposite! Well, the same thing holds true of the evolution of the larger human collective – humanity as a whole also has a dark side – and so does America and I believe that, as a nation, America is poised on the threshold of making such a leap.
QUESTION. ‘Serge, can you comment on the whole Brexit situation?
Well, it ‘s crazy times, isn’t it. This leaving the EU which we’ve been part of for so many years, has resulted in Cameron falling on his sword, a rebellion against Jeremy Corbyn and the possible splitting up of the Labour party, together with our seeing some rather ugly racism rear its head in England. As Lord Hazeltine said on the late-night news: ‘We are facing the greatest constitutional crisis the country has had since the great war.’
For me, who wanted England to stay part of the EU, this break feels such an abrupt one. It’s as if a partner whom you had felt secure with – even though there were always a few ripples of unrest – suddenly tells you that they want a divorce and that life will be much better for you without them. You don’t realise how important and secure-making the relationship was until it is no more. And now everything is up in the air. None of us know, least of all our politicians, where anyone or anything stands and what our ‘exiting’ really involves.
Depression is a terribly debilitating condition and in this chaotic world of ours with its topsy-turvy values, lifestyles that have become increasingly inorganic and artificial and a media constantly feeding us doses of gloom and doom, it is, very sadly, on the increase. How does it affect us? It drains us of our life force. It makes us feel bad about ourselves and dislike ourselves. When depression comes over us, we live in a world where the glass is always half empty. If severe, it can compel us to hide away from life and many depressed people drink or take drugs to try to numb the pain.
We need to know that there are many different kinds of depression and they occupy many different levels on the spectrum. For me, they fall into five main categories:
A few years ago, I used to feel there was a dichotomy between my roles as psychotherapist and social activist. Increasingly, I am coming to see where they converge, as many of our personal difficulties mirror social problems and many social and economic problems are reflected in our emotional symptoms.
Interestingly, what I have also found with my clients, is that those people heal their emotional wounds much more quickly to the extent that they are willing to stand up for social values they believe in and see their lives not solely from a personal viewpoint – what do I want; what’s in it for me? – but who also experience being part of a larger whole and needing in some way, to live in a way that contributes to this larger whole of life. In other words, if many of our personal problems revolve around our not experiencing enough “meaning” in our lives (as when we subscribe to society’s diminishing description of us as mere “consumers” (Yuk!), I have found that the more we commit ourselves to, as Gandhi would put it, being “the change we want to see happen”, i.e., trying to actually embody the values we believe in in how we live our daily lives, the happier we feel.
Just perused the “Rich List” published every year by the Times and the fact that we have such a list says something about the culture we live in and what obsesses us and we also see that the gap between the rich and the poor has grown much much bigger in the last few years and which I feel is the greatest problem in the world.
Those who often suffer because they have too much of everything and those who suffer because they have nothing of anything. Oxfam tells us that last year, the hundred richest people earned enough to end extreme poverty four times over. Wow! Also the richest 200 people in the world have about $2.7 trillion, which is more than the poorest three and a half billion, who only have about $2.2 trillion combined. Wow!
At the end of September, 325 people from all over the world convened on the Findhorn community to participate in a one-week conference called ‘The New Story Summit’.
The idea behind it was that the stories we all hold in our head determine how we see the world – how we think and act – and that many of our old stories, such as, for example, those about war and famine being inevitable or that the purpose of life is to ‘make it’ and get to the top (of what?) are not only becoming increasingly anachronistic but are responsible for much of what doesn’t work in the world.
The aim was to discover what the new story or rather new stories are, so we may instead touch into what will inspire us and move us forward, help us to think and see the world in new ways, engage in our relationships in new ways. Above all, what we wanted to discover was not just a new story but one at a higher level. After all, we can buy a new iPhone with more gizmos on it but it’s basically still at the same level.
I am often being asked the question about what integration means and I think it is a very important one, so I’ll start by saying that today, all of us are being faced, not only personally, but also inter-personally, nationally, internationally, politically, economically and globally with this challenge. Indeed, our very survival on the planet may be dependant upon on how successful we are in this venture, since the more integrated we are, the more whole or spiritual a person we become and the more capable we are of bringing integrative energy into the world. So it’s a pretty important issue. Continue reading
I have just had someone stay with me for a week in Majorca for a Psychospiritual’ Intensive’ where the entire time is devoted to psychological and spiritual exploration, and I am yet again reminded what a powerful process this is, if, that is, the client is familiar with inner work and truly has a commitment to their process and seeks to be the best they can be. Continue reading