We Have Forgotten to Remember Who We Are
On August 21, 2017, what is dubbed the “Great American Eclipse” is going to be traveling on an orbit that is sweeping across America, being visible along a 70-mile-wide corridor path called the “path of totality” that is stretching from Oregon to South Carolina. This is the first total eclipse only over America in the last 99 years.
Over the ages, humans have experienced the regularity of the sun’s daily movements so that when a solar eclipse occurs, and there is a sudden change and the sun disappears, it has universally been experienced as a “disruption” of the natural order. This “disruption” has been viewed as a time of terror and/or disaster, or at least a curiosity that is a part of the natural order and deserves respect, reflection and reconciliation.
If the eclipse had eyes as it flew over the “path of totality” and was interested in seeing the disruptive battleground that was dividing America, it would see the symptoms of the battle being fought in the areas of health care, immigration, diversity, freedom of the press, crime, and racism, just to name a few. Since every American is affected by these issues, passionate emotions and arguments are being stirred up in this divided America that are even ending old friendships and relationships with the growing presence of violence. The current theme songs of America First and Let’s Make America Great Again are accelerating the tension in the battle as the divided sides are digging in their heels on their respective positions more and more adamantly.
America is having an identity crisis, which is exposing what has been boiling in the depths of our divided America for centuries. In fact, there has been no other time in our history since the Civil War when we have been so disruptively divided on quality of life issues as our nation is now.
No matter who you are, liberal or conservative, young or old, poor or wealthy, the “Great American Eclipse” is also a special moment for every American, a once-in-a-lifetime experience when the Sun, Moon and Earth are aligned only over America in a rare cosmic “sacred marriage”. Could the rarity for Americans of this solar eclipse in 2017 become a symbolic rallying cry and hold up “sacred marriage” as our guide in this disruptive time? If so, here is what we are up against.
DIVIDED AMERICA’S BELIEF SYSTEM
How did a divided America veer so dramatically from the theme of our Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, which clearly states “…one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”? What has driven us to become a disruptive divided nation rather than being unified around the vision of America as “…indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”?
To begin to answer the question of what has created a divided American culture, we need to dive deep into the mythology in the underbelly of America, for it is our mythic belief systems that create our emotion and behavior.
Myths are universal stories that convey the deep cultural beliefs revealed by people’s behavior. Myths draw their psychological and sociocultural power from primal archetypal ideas and images that have wielded power over humans regardless of time and place.
DIVIDED AMERICA – AMERICA FIRST
American mythic orientation reinforces the basic heroic myth of “rugged individualism”. Rugged individualism is underwritten by a legacy of English law, language, and customs, Greco-Roman cultural antecedents, and Judeo-Christian sacred texts, theology and moral teachings.
The rugged individual and the American dream are made for each other. America is the land of plentiful opportunities and, by working hard and being disciplined and frugal, you can achieve prosperity and success. Additionally, the rugged individual is separate from nature and “nature” is there for his use. The rugged individual’s wishes, needs, and aspirations are more important than the group and what one does accomplish is more important than the way we conduct ourselves.
Originally, the increased momentum for rugged individualism arose out of the evolution from tribal community contexts to developing cultures. Urban centers began to grow, with such activities as writings, a class-based society, agriculture, animal husbandry, public buildings, metallurgy, and monumental architecture giving the developing individuals a broader context in which to stake their claims of identity.
However, the most important deeper underlying dynamic at the root of America’s divided culture is the evolution of the individualistic “urge for self-realization” in Western culture’s “cradle of civilization” in the Middle East and Greece around the 9th and 10th century BCE.
A culture’s creation story accounts for the origin of life, explains aspects of the natural world, and delineates the psychology and ideals of the society. The Hebrew and Iranian creation stories all had one crucial common element: they were monotheistic religions where the individuals have the freedom of choice between the dualistic opposites of good and evil.
In the Hebrew creation story, God has created paradise and placed two trees at the center, the Tree of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life, as well as a serpent symbolizing nature. The drama of temptation and the fall begins after God admonishes Adam about eating from the Knowledge of Good and Evil. However, the serpent says to them, “when you eat of this fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God”. Adam and Eve both eat the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil and the inevitable consequences unfold.
In essence, defying God by listening to the serpent (nature’s intuitive instinct) and eating the apple symbolizes the urge for self-realization, which, up to then, had been deeply buried in tribal group consciousness. Individual choice essentially resulted in the birth of modern ego consciousness. It is the fruit of the tree of “good and evil” duality that provides us with an awareness of opposites, which is the foundation of human intellectual consciousness. In essence, with ego consciousness comes a dualistic mind that can perceive the world in opposites, i.e., good versus evil, spirit versus matter, right versus wrong, and black versus white.
The conscious awareness of dualistic opposites is the prize to which the emerging ego has access. However, choices are part of a value hierarchy built by God. So “free” will is not exactly an accurate description, but is from the cultural context of a field of choices.
Iran, likewise in the “cradle of civilization”, also contributed to the Western culture’s birth of the contemporary ego. Iran’s contribution is also another version of a monotheistic and dualistic religion of “good and evil”. In Iran, Ahura Mazda, the Supreme Being, is the all-good father creator God and requires the individual to choose good deeds over the cosmic struggle with the evil spirit Ahriman. Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s oldest and most powerful religions that influenced other religious systems, including Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity and Islam.
The urge for self-realization did not occur just in monotheistic cultures, About the same time in polytheistic Greece, the myth of Narcissus was birthed, which includes the development of “free will” at the center of the story.
Narcissus keeps rejecting his suitors because they do not meet his idealized perfectionist concept of beauty. In the Greek culture, beauty held a wide range of meanings. It was not just about physical qualities, but was also a central concept in philosophy and art. In fact, the quest for beauty may be the central idea left by the Greek culture that drives a significant part of Western culture. In the Narcissus myth, he suffered the consequences of death because he acted with hubris by choosing his entitled self-centeredness definition of “perfectionism” over human relationships. Perfectionism is a realm to be solely occupied by the Greek gods and goddesses. His hubris that he could be like a “god” created his self-centeredness.
The need for the ego complex emerged as a resource behind development of urban centers and growing cities that resulted in such activities as the use of writing, a class-based society, agriculture, animal husbandry, public buildings, metallurgy, and monumental architecture, which gave way to the developing individuality having a way to stake its claims as a participant.
Fast forward thousands of years to now, when the ego’s dualistic mythological value of what constitutes “good and evil” is based on Judeo-Christian values. In the modern world, where diversity of race and religion is a central fact, these ancient definitions of good and evil are further dividing America.
If you add in our political and warrior power of an America First mythology and its definition and judgment of what and who is “good and evil”, this is dramatically increasing tension and violence in our country. And, of course, on a global level, our pushing America First values and mindset is increasing the levels of aggression and violence and is putting us closer to the edge of war, including nuclear war.
The vision and definition of America First are of a hero/warrior structure that activates the Darwinian biological “survival of the fittest” system. The hero/warrior structure divides the world into the opposites of good and evil and defeats what they judge as “evil”. In this duality belief system of systematically judging others as either good or bad, we will automatically live in the warrior’s reptilian brain’s lower brain survival system of fight, freeze, or flee for a significant period of time.
Darwin believed that the heroic belief system of survival of the fittest was the dominant survival mechanism of nature. Furthermore, Darwin’s 18th century biological approach has collapsed into an industrial revolution model that still prevails today. It is the primary business and economic model of the United States that is driving the marking of America First’s theme of bringing back jobs, protectionism, border tax, tax reform, and reducing regulations, thus creating even more of an “us versus them” global worldview.
Remember, with a duality belief system of “good and evil”, nature is discounted and made an object to be used and abused. This makes a warrior mythology go even more in the direction of increasing “tension of opposites” rather than even exploring a mindset with a vision of integration and unity as a value proposition.
In essence, the commitment to an America First mythology is a commitment to an addicted narcissistic and self-centeredness belief system. In any event, the narcissistic belief in “me first” already dominates most people’s mythologies. Adding this extra emphasis on “me first” makes us feel more entitled to be self-centered.
The dangers of an “us versus them” mindset means that one side has to be defeated while the other dominates others. However, even science has demonstrated that the “nature of reality” is never static but an unending process of movement and emerging information. Seeing the world in warring opposites creates static black and white thinking or the illusion that reality is a “still” photograph as opposed to flowing energy. Is there anything we as individuals can do in this environment to change from living in a “war of opposites” to a more holistic perspective?
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Modern consciousness has become a choice of perception driven mostly by what we label as “good or bad” and “right or wrong” and different content that we describe with a filter of “black and white” thinking. The deeper question is not necessarily a Judeo/Christian monotheistic (one male God) belief system, but with the development of a narcissistic male or female self-centeredness ego that believes in essence that it is like a God or Goddess and is entitled to be at the center of the universe in all situations.
All in all, the birth of ego consciousness is based on collective values that provide us with our sense of “I”. Our thinking and emotions are driven by our heroic nature to evolve. Moving from a collective model of reality to expressing our unique individuated perspective, that is likely to be attacked by others because we are not fitting in with how they see the world, is no small evolution, but crucial for us to being our unique selves.
Individuation is different than individuality. In individuation, the “urge for self-realization” is to live our uniqueness, whereas to be an individual is often really a form of narcissistic self-centeredness rather than the “urge for self-realization”. No wonder so many individuals would rather “stay put” and avoid the struggle to have a conscious choice to evolve. It also takes a deep commitment to expand the ongoing heroic behavior to include what even Darwin’s research has shown, i.e., that “cooperation and adaption” with others is as strong a survival instinct as survival of the fittest. We have collectively lost the knowledge that “cooperation and adaption” are comparable survival variables in the modern world to “survival of the fittest”. Will we have the courage to expand, in essence go to “war” with the bullying ego of self- centeredness, and keep asserting our instinctual “urge for self-realization”?
Unfortunately, “America First” goes against the survival instinct of “cooperation and adaptability”. Instinct cannot be ultimately repressed. If instincts are repressed, they have their own way to show up as a symptom that dominates us. In fact, many times when an opposite has been collectively repressed, like cooperation, it will burst forth with eruptive volcanic power. No matter what our belief systems are, we cannot in reality repress the growing physical damage that global changes in weather patterns are having on us. Unfortunately, it seems that people are possibly only changing when disasters occur and their “self-center” reality is crashed into. The deeper war that is going on is the war between “survival of the fittest” and the war ironically between “cooperation and adaptability”.
The Solar Eclipse brings with it the “operating principle of nature, quantum reality”. The deeper war that is dividing America is “dualism” in the operating principal of cultures. In a duality, paradigm shift changes usually only happen during times of disaster or crisis. One of the fundamental principles of quantum consciousness is complementarity, which is a “both/and” concept. In other words, “good and evil” are not oppositional to “defeat and be defeated”, but are complementary. Complementarity means that they are different dimensions of one reality. In duality, they are at war with each other.
The opportunity for a paradigm shift to “quantum consciousness” could be no better put than by mythologist Joseph Campbell, who inspired George Lucas’s Star Wars, when he said:
The old gods are dead or dying and people everywhere are searching asking: What is the new mythology to be, the mythology of this unified earth as of one harmonious being?
Could we apply those moments of inspiration to the August 21st Solar Eclipse, the sacred marriage of the sun and moon, and begin to remember that we are part of nature and to commit ourselves to returning to a mythology that includes the sun, moon, stars, and cellular life as it was before monotheism so that the healthy modern ego consciousness can give birth to wisdom rather than domination over others.
The eclipses of the sun and moon represent a cosmic moment of reintegration of primal undifferentiated unity having a cyclical consciousness that been there for about 4.5 billion years. This “unification” realizes that the rhythms and energies of the cosmos are reunited in a primal cyclical consciousness.
A call to action to Americans from this “Great American Solar Eclipse 2017” is for us to remember that we are “nature’s children”. Buried within our collective cellular biology, our collective consciousness, and our unconsciousness mind is the knowledge that biological life would not have emerged without the sun (solar) and the moon (lunar). During this Solar Eclipse, millions and millions of Americans will possibly be witnessing a mirror of the great flashing moments of the universe as it flared forth creating life in the cosmic marriage of the sun and moon as day turns into night for a few minutes. That moment will bring us into cosmic resonance of our biological destiny. Without necessarily taking away our current belief systems, we could also include a complementary solar-lunar consciousness revisioning of our mythology. For us to go forward, it is imperative that we make the choice to expand from a 3,000-year-old paradigm to include a quantum consciousness perspective. For living on a “path of totality”, could mean going forward to include a complementary solar-lunar mythology of nature, which is actually nature’s operating system.
Let us answer the call to action by practicing solar-lunar consciousness and have it be our action principle.
As storytellers, the story of the sun and moon is our own story. And every time we are drawn to look up into the night sky and reflect on the awesome beauty of the universe, we are actually a part of the universe reflecting on itself.
By Howard Teich, PhD