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Changing Our Self-Perception As A Compassionate Deed,” with Kristina Dryža”

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    Author, archetypal consultant, and recognized futurist Kristina Dryža is once again our guest in Conversations of a Higher Order for a discussion of this week’s MythBlast, “Changing Our Self-Perception As A Compassionate Deed For The World” (click on title to read). Ms. Dryža’s work focuses on archetypal and mythic patterns and their influence on creativity, innovation and leadership.

    This thread is your opportunity for you to share your questions, comments, and observations about Ms. Dryža’s essay with her (and with each other), which is what makes this a “conversation of a higher order.” I’ll get us started.

    Kristina – Another thoughtful, beautifully written piece (“Too often we’re a tiger to our own gazelle” has become one of my favorite lines of all time!).

    Grounding compassion in the call to recognize one’s self in the other rings true. I am reminded of a favorite mind-bending observation from Alan Watts:

    You know very well who you are, but you won’t admit it. Deep in there in the middle middle of your heart you know it. You’ve always been around and always will be.

    And the you in you is the same as the you in me.” (OM: Creative Meditations, 132)

    Your subject seems particularly relevant at this moment when the whole world is inspired by the vitality and determination of the vastly outnumbered, outspent, and outgunned people of Ukraine, all fighting together now for their neighborhoods and homes and schools and churches, for the freedom to elect their own leaders, and for the life they have been living – a way life very much like our own – that a corrupt, insecure, lying autocrat wants to steal from them.

    We admire the traits and qualities of these people, their resilience and courage in the face of great adversity and even death. Not that hard for me to see myself in them, and to feel their agony and experience compassion. I can even experience compassion for the people of Russia, who suddenly find their money worthless, their jobs disappearing, petrol and even food soon out of reach, through no fault of their own.

    But I have a more difficult question, one I struggle with that you no doubt have given much thought to, given where your family is from, and where you are right now.

    It’s no great struggle to feel compassion for those who suffer – but what about those who cause the suffering? How can I feel compassion for Vladimir Putin, the tyrant inflicting death and suffering on millions? How could I feel compassion for Herod the Great, the despot who murdered his wife, several in-laws, his own son, and had the wholesale slaughter of innocent babies attributed to him in the New Testament? How feel compassion for Adolf Hitler, who started a World War that ravaged Europe and destroyed his country, along the way murdering six million Jews and millions of Roma, Slavs, Poles, homosexuals, Soviet prisoners of war, and others in his concentration camps?

    I can understand the concept intellectually – but how do I get from here to there?


    Wonderful to be here again with the COHO community, Stephen. And boy, what a tough question!

    It’s a challenge to respond, especially while living in a country that’s been occupied by Russia before. I am in Vilnius this week, though my current ‘home’ is next to the Russian border (Kaliningrad). During my childhood and adolescence almost every February 16 (State Restoration Day) was spent on the steps of Parliament House in Adelaide protesting for Lithuania’s independence and I can’t believe what’s unfolding in Ukraine right now.

    Growing up in Australia, I didn’t have the direct experience of living under the Soviet Union, but I learnt from my grandparents who had to flee Lithuania what freedom meant. Freedom is the spirit of humanity. Freedom is harmony and peace. Freedom is the resonance of the heart. I believe in humanity’s compassion, courage and solidarity. And that humanity is one collective ‘we.’ But if we say that what is in the one is in the all, or that all life breathes together, we can’t then say that this means everyone gets to be included … but not you. That everything gets to belong … but not this … and certainly not that.

    Now, within this COHO community many would be aware of Carl Jung’s work on the shadow, the unknown ‘dark’ side of the personality. It would lead us to ask ourselves, ‘Where is the Putin in me, in my psyche?’ Because a Putin character on the world stage doesn’t come out of nowhere. An event like this war doesn’t happen in isolation. We exist within a matrix of interconnections. We are not disconnected islands.

    And I can already imagine some people saying, ‘Kristina, have you seen the pictures of the atrocities on TV, the bombing of innocent children, and you want us to go into our psyches and investigate our own shadow. How does this help Ukraine? We need to do something.’

    But please, if you can just bear with me for a moment, and if you’re willing, ask yourselves, ‘Where am I a totalitarian? Maybe it’s in my all-or-nothing/black-and-white thinking? Where am I controlling? Where am I manipulative and coercive hoping for appeasement? Where am I greedy and power hungry, wanting more than is necessary? Which hungry ghosts can’t I satiate, no matter how hard I try? Where am I an isolationist and not open to alternative views? To which situations and people do I lack empathy?’

    But let’s also ask ourselves, ‘Where is the spirit of the Ukrainian people in me? The courage, the bravery, the resistance in the face of overwhelming odds? Where is my grittiness? My selflessness? Where do I show powerful conviction in my beliefs? Where do I support the greater good? Where do I not just uphold my values, but actually live them in the trenches? How do I foster a spirit of camaraderie and boost morale? How do I display hope when a situation feels hopeless?’

    Other than what we can practically do besides financially support the recommended aid groups or donate in other ways, we can also put our psyches to work. Say you have a stressful meeting coming up with an adversary, tell yourself that you will dedicate your composure to be in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Or if you find yourself often disassociating, commit to living the next 24 hours in as much as presence as you can, in honour of those Ukrainian people fleeing who need to focus on bare-bones survival. When you tweet #StandwithUkraine, what are you also standing with and for in your own local community? With honour, dedication, reverence and gratitude we have the potential to transform the wastelands of the human experience.

    In Campbell’s words, can we “participate joyfully in the sorrows of life?” Let this war not close our hearts, but break us open in a way that’s never been possible before. Let’s find a way for the suffering to wake us up so that in our daily actions President Zelenskyy’s words ring true: “Life will win over death. And light will win over darkness.”

    Slava Ukraini! Kristina.


      A warm and heartfelt welcome back Kristina. We are so glad to have you here with your incredibly deep and profound essay that offers a depth of wisdom so important yet so difficult to apprehend and intergrate in the face of such evil that is being inflicted on Ukraine, and the inspiring bravery of their people. The intimidation, brutality, and threats of total annihilation against helpless civilians attempting to flee is so reminiscent of another time we once again recognize this familiar face long forgotten who has returned once more in the form of Vladimir Putin who seeks to grandize his cause of a return to “Mother Russia” under the veiled cloak of self-righteousness. How can one in modern times attempt such things is for many of us beyond reasoning; yet you remind us, the world and human existence is not suppose to measure up to one’s expectations, but accepted for what it is and to bring forth from the depth of our being our ability to address it.

      Your articulation in how to do this is almost beyond words within the insight it brings, yet you offer a wisdom that’s needed so much as we attempt to forgive ourselves as well as our enemies if we can but only understand that they are the other side of the duality in which we all exist. Stephen asked that I share a quote from a prior discussion last week with Bradley Olson regarding his essay: “The King Who Saved Himself from Being Saved” which I will leave below:

      Loving your enemy as yourself” doesn’t necessarily mean accepting evil; but understanding it’s the other side of the duality that lives in all of us. It’s a war and you have to choose a side, but you do it with discrimination within the choices you make.”

      But to me it is the theme of “compassion” for ourselves as well as our enemies you mention that helps to heal our deep woundedness, and allows us to move forward as we seek a deeper and more profound understanding of why this is necessary.

      As you quote from Joseph Campbell in “Pathways to Bliss” on page 103:

      To expect too much compassion from yourself might be a little destructive of your own existence. Even so, at least make a try, and this goes not only for individuals but also for life itself. It’s so easy. It’s a fashionable idiocy of youth to say the world has not come up to your expectations. ‘What? I was coming, and this is all they could prepare for me?’ Throw it out. Have compassion for the world and those in it. Not only political life but all life stinks, and you must embrace that with compassion.”

      And indeed it would be ridiculous to expect life to measure up to our expectations because as the symbol of the “Ouroboros”; (the serpent that eats itself); informs us, all life is a continuing manifestation of both terror and wonder by it’s requirements of participation in the realization and rapture of engagement of being alive. We accept life for what it is and participate in the game; the Grand Opera that hurts, but we do so with love and the understanding that if we capitulate to the negative dark side that lies within us we deny ourselves the privilege of being human, (so easy to say, yet so very difficult to do, but try we must). A very steep hill to climb without question, and one many of us may have severe problems in doing so.

      From your essay:

      All human beings have challenges, meet obstacles, suffer betrayals, humiliations, and disappointments. These we are obliged to bear. Self-compassion also means encompassing such things because in the wider embrace of compassion, everything gets to be included. But many of us fail to develop a gentle rapport with ourselves. Too often we’re a tiger to our own gazelle. In this we can become a danger to ourselves, forgetting that together we are all on the same team: the team of humanity. In this sense, humanity is one collective “we” and it operates across various levels of human awareness. Or, put in a more poetic way, an aspect of divinity exists in all our friends, enemies, interactions… and within us, residing at the seat of our soul.

      For the sacred is truly in everything. We bear an archetypal human divinity within us, although it can sometimes feel barely emergent. It’s what I sense Campbell is getting at here by discussing participatory companionship.”

      Which I think addresses this overview understanding eloquently but succinctly. (But I have a “caveat”); which Joseph mentions somewhere; (I can’t remember the exact reference location but I believe is quoted in Diane Osbon’s A Joseph Campbell Companion; which states: “If you see a snake about to bite someone you kill it. You are not saying no to serpents, but no to the that particular situation.” And here is where the distinctions of judgement may reside on how we can justify how we deal with the horrors of Putin’s behavior if we are to “save the world”: (so to speak); on how we are to handle this horrible ordeal he is putting everyone through. Joseph said we participate in this game and we must pick a side; but as you remind us we must not lose our humanity in doing so.


      As Stephen pinpoints our dilemma of how do we get to this mental and emotional place in how we deal with this nightmare you address these concerns here:

      ‘Where am I a totalitarian? Maybe it’s in my all-or-nothing/black-and-white thinking? Where am I controlling? Where am I manipulative and coercive hoping for appeasement? Where am I greedy and power hungry, wanting more than is necessary? Which hungry ghosts can’t I satiate, no matter how hard I try? Where am I an isolationist and not open to alternative views? To which situations and people do I lack empathy?’

      But let’s also ask ourselves, ‘Where is the spirit of the Ukrainian people in me? The courage, the bravery, the resistance in the face of overwhelming odds? Where is my grittiness? My selflessness? Where do I show powerful conviction in my beliefs? Where do I support the greater good? Where do I not just uphold my values, but actually live them in the trenches? How do I foster a spirit of camaraderie and boost morale? How do I display hope when a situation feels hopeless?’

      Other than what we can practically do besides financially support the recommended aid groups or donate in other ways, we can also put our psyches to work. Say you have a stressful meeting coming up with an adversary, tell yourself that you will dedicate your composure to be in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Or if you find yourself often disassociating, commit to living the next 24 hours in as much as presence as you can, in honour of those Ukrainian people fleeing who need to focus on bare-bones survival. When you tweet #StandwithUkraine, what are you also standing with and for in your own local community? With honour, dedication, reverence and gratitude we have the potential to transform the wastelands of the human experience.”

      (So, I guess my concern has to do with:” how do we stop this horror from continuing without falling prey to our more base instincts of recrimination; yet at the same time still do what is necessary to stop this insane nightmare from continuing?”)

      I hope my description is not too convoluted, for these subjects can often get tangled up in concepts that are like: “a dog chasing it’s tail”. But before I wind this up I just want to say how deeply moved we all are at the truly heroic spirit that continues to inspire everyone who feels so helpless at what their people are having to go through, and that our hearts are with them and go out to all who are having to endure this unbelievable insanity. Again it is so wonderful to have you with us.


      Since no one has had a chance to respond I’m going to add an (addendum) that came to me last night in my dreams that perhaps the answer to my (caveat) might be that of the “Transcendent Function”. Here is a definition from Daryl Sharp’s Lexicon that may be of help explaining this concept for those who may not be familiar with the term:

      Transcendent function. A psychic function that arises from the tension between consciousness and the unconscious and supports their union. (See also opposites and tertium non datur.)

      ‘When there is full parity of the opposites, attested by the ego’s absolute participation in both, this necessarily leads to a suspension of the will, for the will can no longer operate when every motive has an equally strong countermotive. Since life cannot tolerate a standstill, a damming up of vital energy results, and this would lead to an insupportable condition did not the tension of opposites produce a new, uniting function that transcends them. This function arises quite naturally from the regression of libido caused by the blockage.'[Ibid., par. 824.]

      ‘The tendencies of the conscious and the unconscious are the two factors that together make up the transcendent function. It is called transcendent’ because it makes the transition from one attitude to another organically possible.[The Transcendent Function,” CW 8, par. 145.]

      In a conflict situation, or a state of depression for which there is no apparent reason, the development of the transcendent function depends on becoming aware of unconscious material. This is most readily available in dreams, but because they are so difficult to understand Jung considered the method of active imagination-giving “form” to dreams, fantasies, etc.–to be more useful.

      ‘Once the unconscious content has been given form and the meaning of the formulation is understood, the question arises as to how the ego will relate to this position, and how the ego and the unconscious are to come to terms. This is the second and more important stage of the procedure, the bringing together of opposites for the production of a third: the transcendent function. At this stage it is no longer the unconscious that takes the lead, but the ego.’ [Ibid., par. 181.]

      This process requires an ego that can maintain its standpoint in face of the counterposition of the unconscious. Both are of equal value. The confrontation between the two generates a tension charged with energy and creates a living, third essence.

      ‘From the activity of the unconscious there now emerges a new content, constellated by thesis and antithesis in equal measure and standing in a compensatory relation to both. It thus forms the middle ground on which the opposites can be united. If, for instance, we conceive the opposition to be sensuality versus spirituality, then the mediatory content born out of the unconscious provides a welcome means of expression for the spiritual thesis, because of its rich spiritual associations, and also for the sensual antithesis, because of its sensuous imagery. The ego, however, torn between thesis and antithesis, finds in the middle ground its own counterpart, its sole and unique means of expression, and it eagerly seizes on this in order to be delivered from its division.’ [“Definitions,” CW 6, par. 825.]

      The transcendent function is essentially an aspect of the self-regulation of the psyche. It typically manifests symbolically and is experienced as a new attitude toward oneself and life.

      ‘If the mediatory product remains intact, it forms the raw material for a process not of dissolution but of construction, in which thesis and antithesis both play their part. In this way it becomes a new content that governs the whole attitude, putting an end to the division and forcing the energy of the opposites into a common channel. The standstill is overcome, and life can flow on with renewed power towards new goals.'[Ibid., par. 827.]”


      (This symbolic reference reminds me of the “Wounded Healer” archetype which perhaps the “snake bite” suffered by the individual might be the (symbolic connection) required to bring about the insight needed to resolve the dilemma. (Again, from Daryl Sharp’s Lexicon.):

      Wounded Healer. An archetypal dynamic that may be constellated in an analytic relationship. This term derives from the legend of Asclepius, a Greek doctor who in recognition of his own wounds established a sanctuary at Epidaurus where others could be healed of theirs.

      Those seeking to be cured went through a process called incubation. First, they had a cleansing bath, thought to have a purifying effect on the soul as well as the body. Uncontaminated by the body, the soul was free to commune with the gods. After preliminary sacrificial offerings, the incubants lay on a couch and went to sleep. If they were lucky, they had a healing dream; if they were luckier, a snake came in the night and bit them.

      The wounded healer archetype can be schematized by a variation of the diagram used by Jung to illustrate the lines of communication in a relationship.[See “The Psychology of the Transference,” The Practice of Psychother-apy, CW 16, par. 422

      [Unfortunately, there is a drawing from his text that illustrates this transitional “transference” process but would not copy over to this format. Sharp continues]:

      According to this paradigm, the analyst’s wounds, although presumed to be relatively conscious after a lengthy personal analysis, live a shadowy existence. They can always be reconstellated in particular situations, and especially when working with someone whose wounds are similar. (They are the basis for countertransference reactions in analysis.)

      Meanwhile, the wounded analysand’s inner healer is in the shadow but potentially available. The analysand’s wounds activate those of the analyst. The analyst reacts, identifies what is happening and in one way or another, consciously or unconsciously, passes this awareness back to the analysand.

      In this model, the unconscious relationship between analyst and analysand is quite as important, in terms of the healing process, as what is consciously communicated. There are two other significant implications:

      1) Healing can take place only if the analyst has an ongoing relationship with the unconscious. Otherwise, he or she may identify with the healer archetype, a common form of inflation.

      2) Depth psychology is a dangerous profession, since the analyst is forever prone to being infected by the other’s wounds-or having his or her wounds reopened.

      ‘No analysis is capable of banishing all unconsciousness forever. The analyst must go on learning endlessly, and never forget that each new case brings new problems to light and thus gives rise to unconscious assumptions that have never before been constellated. We could say, without too much exaggeration, that a good half of every treatment that probes at all deeply consists in the doctor’s examining himself, for only what he can put right in himself can he hope to put right in the patient. It is no loss, either, if he feels that the patient is hitting him, or even scoring off him: it is his own hurt that gives the measure of his power to heal. This, and nothing else, is the meaning of the Greek myth of the wounded physician.’ [“Fundamental Questions of Psychotherapy,” ibid. para. 239.]”

      Although this term is often referred to in analysis concerning the idea of “Transference”; to me it’s application if seen as “compassion” would seem to fit one of the ideas we are addressing which is that of human interconnection. Perhaps with this understanding in mind what we might call: “the wound that heals” could also be seen to be a symbolic reference to at least part of what you were saying about “forgiveness of both ourselves, (and the “other” that resides within us); as well as the people we might want to reject. Although these ideas may or may not fit with what you originally had in mind, I will definitely be looking forward to your thoughts on this additional content as well. Again, all the best to you and the inspiring Ukrainian countrymen as you facing this horrible nightmare, and hopefully it will end as soon as possible. Namaste

      (One last point concerning some corrections with my text that needed to made. I feel so fortunate to have the assistance of Stephen’s moderator “Superpowers” for I made several large errors that have now been corrected in case you read my post earlier. My apologies for this. I just don’t know what we would do here without him.)


      As you point out, Kristina, it’s a tough question – all the more so because we are in a fluid situation where archetypal forces are in play.

      I touched on this briefly in the discussion of Brad Olson’s MythBlast last week:

      In the Jungian model of the psyche archetypes are unable to directly access, or to be directly perceived within, mundane reality — but when patterns that evoke an archetype arise in an individual’s life, a complex set of behaviors are constellated, in effect adding flesh to the archetype as it comes to life in the individual, compelling actions that the conscious ego would never contemplate. Indeed, two weeks ago it seemed inconceivable, possibly even to Zelensky himself, that a professional comedian and past winner of the Ukrainian Dancing With the Stars contest, so far out of his depth, wouldn’t flee the country, under the rationale of ‘leading a government-in-exile’ – but, as he tells it, this ‘accidental hero’ had no choice but to stay and stand with his people.

      Just as these intense and shattering circumstances constellated the expression of the Hero archetype in Zelensky, the same for his people – and, indeed, that archetypal energy seems to have rippled out across Europe, reaching our shores and elsewhere as even nations previously aligned with Russia take a stand.”

      In a sense, the heroism of Zelensky and the Ukrainian people in these extreme circumstances proves contagious, as this dynamic overwhelms and subsumes the usual cautious rationalism of several major players (e.g. Germany and Sweden reversing tradition and agreeing to provide weapons to the Ukrainians, or Sweden and Finland abruptly open to NATO membership, and even historically neutral Switzerland actually imposing sanctions). I am in awe of how quickly and smoothly this night-sea change has manifested, in large part because archetypal energies are driving this transformation.

      At the same time, in archetypal situations things tend to get a little fuzzy from the standpoint of conscious awareness. Zelensky, prior to the invasion a somewhat ineffectual, mediocre leader supported by less than 30% of his own people, is the beneficiary of a host of positive projections, as, indeed, are the Ukrainian people; similarly, for those of us outside Russia (and some inside that nation), Putin is an obvious target of our shadow projections.

      There are plenty of hooks in both instances on which those projections catch and snag: Zelensky and his people are risking their lives in an heroic defense of their county, their families, and their way of life; Putin really is a dictator who has ordered the murders and incarcerations of those who oppose his rule, violated international norms, boldly lied to us time and again, and is responsible for suffering on a surreal scale of magnitude.

      That tendency to elevate one’s allies and demonize one’s enemies is ever present in times of war, as Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, James Hillman (A Terrible Love of War), and Sam Keen (Faces of the Enemy), among others, have observed.

      Indeed, it’s so difficult to transcend that dynamic that even your response to my post focuses on Putin as the embodiment of negative shadow energies, and on the positive traits of the Ukrainian people. Useful as is the exercise of embracing the shadow qualities we associate with Putin as present in our own psyche, as well as the positive qualities we now associate with the Ukrainians, that doesn’t answer my question, which was

      “How can I feel compassion for Vladimir Putin?”

      Your response has tremendous value, in that it helps me learn something about myself – but it also reinforces the negative projections I’m already making onto Putin (“totalitarian,” “black-and-white thinking,” “controlling,” “manipulative,” “coercive,” “power hungry,”).

      Alas, that does nothing to help me feel compassion for Vladimir Putin as a human being.

      That is indeed a tough question. It’s incredibly difficult to even discuss, as there is a natural tendency to assume that feeling compassion for someone who does horrible things is to condone, endorse, or excuse their behavior. Our default setting seems to be that those who do horrible things do not deserve compassion.

      That’s where I found James’ observation during last week’s MythBlast discussion particularly relevant: “‘Loving your enemy as yourself’ doesn’t necessarily mean accepting evil . . . ” Experiencing compassion for someone who commits evil, whether Charlie Manson or Vladimir Putin, neither justifies their actions, nor helps them evade the consequences of their behavior.

      It is easy to feel compassion for the valorous Ukrainians – but not so much their tormentor. Nor is there a practical benefit: we should not expect someone like Putin will respond to compassion from others. That’s just not going to happen.

      After several years of working with the raw source material, I recently completed editing a Joseph Campbell volume that should be released toward the end of 2023. This discussion brings to mind a passage where Campbell mentions a friend of his, a Tibetan monk whose autobiography he helped edit. The stories that man had to share, of the escape from Lhasa  “with machine gun squads mowing down whole companies of refugees,” and other tales of suffering and torture, are quite brutal.

      But these Buddhists are marvelous, with no complaints: this is world process, buddha process. I’ve lived with this young man now for years and have never heard a negative word about the Chinese. I learned what religion is from him. This is real love. This is inexhaustible benevolence. This is the wisdom and virtue of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, and of Chuang Tzu. You get it from the Dalai Lama as well; he will never say a negative word. They read things positively. It’s marvelous!⁠”

      I’m not there yet . . . but I am working on it.


      Thank you for your response Stephen.

      Like many things, it involves layers doesn’t it? Our perfectionist culture often wants us to leapfrog to the ideal solution without first wrestling with where we are and why we can’t accept where we are. So often in our challenges we must wallow in hollow, aspirational ideals before we can get to the nitty gritty of the task.

      There’s value in sensing both the light and shadow but first we have to – at a basic kindergarten level – start with the obvious, say the shadow in Putin/the Russian people and the light in Zelenskyy/the Ukrainian people, before we can even begin to investigate the light in Putin/the Russian people and the shadow in Zelenskyy/the Ukrainian people. Let alone approach the topic of wholeness and metabolising the darkness within. As Jung said, “I would rather be whole than good.”

      This is such a complex topic – demythologising the hero, deconstructing that the only dynamic is good vs. evil, distinguishing between stereotypes vs. archetypes etc. etc. – when audiences often only want simple, bullet point, ‘upper world’ answers. How do we get out of a cycle of commenting/analysing without also transforming something inside ourselves?

      I feel that last quote by Campbell you mentioned is leading us there – Kristina.


      Thank you James for your thoughtful reply.

      Yes, we are all suffering together. Often when we’re stripped of our usual stories we must give up the false projections of ourselves. To peel away the defences and ego-identifications, we need to admit that we’re not totally in control of the curveballs. And they aren’t happening only to us. Only to one person, in almost eight billion people.

      How do we surrender the judgments, powerlessness and addiction to outmoded rituals of perfection? How can we quit trying to know it all? Lose ourselves to become ourselves? There’s no guarantee that everything will – or won’t – go to plan.

      In times like these, it’s so easy to be in the underbelly of exhaustion, suppression and distortion again. We’re up against dark forces. We need to know whom we are ‘fighting.’ Personally, I often can’t for the life of me shake this feeling that everything I do is wrong, that it should’ve been done differently, and could’ve been done a million times better. And so I stay stuck in a cycle of shame and guilt with this carousel of thoughts, a debilitating, self-lacerating, inner voice and internalised oppression. My narrative exacerbates the trauma, while my judgments freeze my heart. When did I decide to let judgment and cruelty form my dominant, inner voice? And to be so loud that it drowns out love’s expression?

      I’m reminded of this Rudolf Steiner quote: “But every criticism, every adverse judgment passed, disperses the powers of the soul for the attainment of higher knowledge in the same measure that all veneration and reverence develops them.” The ‘enemies’ within are not meant to be met with violence but with love, mercy and compassion. Can we bring the fragments and polarities within ourselves together? Can we unite them? This splintering of good and bad, right and wrong, is a constant tension in our psyches. This dualism must end and often can only be transmuted by active expressions of grace.

      Very best, Kristina.


        Kristina. I love your thoughtful response and have been thinking about it a lot for the last several days. I’m wondering if you could share some of your thoughts about the role “Conflict” plays as a clarifier to what the psyche is working on under the surface within this interplay between the conscious and unconscious. From everything I’ve been reading from multiple sources this is where much of the “gold” lays hidden that can unite and heal many of our wounds if understood properly.

        Much of what I’ve read refers to holding the “tension” that results from the opposites pulling against each other and resides below the surface until a resolution of some sort; (such as a symbolic form of some kind), presents itself and a new way of seeing or looking at things helps one to move forward from whatever the issue or blockage that seems to have been that caused by this arrest.

        One form; but certainly not the only one; might be that of “enantiodromia” which is often cited as an example in Jungian theory. But throughout the human experience of existence “conflict” as a state is always present; and indeed, life itself as we know it could not exist without it. One can say this might be seen as “duality”, and that there many ways, such as the symbol of the Tao, that could be applied to this basic realization of “polarity” in which all matter as well as human perception could be applied. (Male-female, black-white, positive-negative, in-out, up-down, good-bad, etc., etc.) Put into a mythological perspective would seem to indicate other possibilities as well. (Joseph mentions “The War” between opposing sides that takes place within the psyche whenever a decision needs to be made as to which side has more influence.)

        And of course, in Jungian terms this could be interpreted as the psychic flow of energy with the libido as regulator; and the (transcendent function or “tertium non datur” that transcends opposites), as mediator that resolves the blockage so that the flow of psychic energy can resume because: “life itself cannot tolerate a “standstill”; and as Jung mentions: “We are always in a state of becoming”.

        I hope this query makes sense as I have been working on it for several days and it seems to pull or tie a lot of the previous threads together I was addressing and weave them into a single tapestry or concept. I would also be remiss if I did not mention what a joy it has been discussing these difficult topics with you, especially given you are so close to the horror Ukraine is going through. (This discussion has been a rare gift.) Namaste


        Thank you James. Reading your note and the first word that came to me was ‘metanoia‘ – a transformative change of heart. That’s what’s required.

        It’s so hard to comment on these issues with our own biases, wanting to default to a simple perpetrator/victim narrative, the fervour of nationalism, and that the complexity and nuances are almost too much for our nervous system to bear after two years of living in a pandemic.

        I keep asking, “Where do we belong?” When we perceive ourselves as human beings, it’s only natural to belong to a country and culture, but if we thought of ourselves as galactic beings, we’d belong to the stars. Belonging is also about the longing to ‘be.’ And in displacement, how practically impossible that is.

        Conflict from an external level is one thing. Inner conflict another. I can only comment for myself, but I feel my inner conflict from a particularly vicious inner tyrant does leave the same bombed-out fragments and damage that we’re witnessing in Mariupol in my psyche. Is this on par to the bodily suffering that we’re that witnessing in Ukraine? Or is it self-inflicted and the responsibilities for the damage lie with me??? There are no easy answers. I’m reminded of that Einstein quote, “Don’t listen to the person who has the answers: listen to the person who has the questions.”

        It’s been a joy to experience the questions and questing with you in this space. With you on the journey – Kristina.

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