Suzuki, Fromm, DeMartino. Zen Buddhism and Pyschoanalysis. Harper and Brothers. NY, 1960.
Lectures on Zen Buddhism (D.T. Suzuki)
When I look carefully
I see the nazuna blooming
By the hedge!
Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies;-
Hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower - but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is
(3) There are two points I like to notice in these lines:
1. Tennyson’s plucking the flower and holding it in his hand, ‘root and all,’ and looking at it, perhaps intently. It is very likely he had a feeling somewhat akin to that of Basho who discovered a nazuna flower by the roadside hedge. But the difference between the two poets is: Basho does not pluck the flower. He just looks at it. He is absorbed in thought. He feels something in his mind, but he does not express it. He lets an exclamation mark say everything he wishes to say. For he has no words to utter; he’s feeling is too full, too deep, and he has no desire to conceptualize it.
As to Tennyson, he is active and analytical. He first plucks the flower from the place where it grows. He separates it from the ground where it belongs. Quite differently from the Oriental poet, he does not leave the flower alone. He must tear it away from the crannied wall, ‘root and all,’ which means that the plant must die. He does not, apparently, care for its destiny; his curiosity must be satisfied. As some medical scientists do, he would vivisect the flower. Basho does not even touch the nazuna, he just looks at it, he ‘carefully’ looks at it - that is all he does. He is altogether inactive, a good contrast to Tennyson’s dynamism.
I would like to notice this point specifically here, and may have occasion to refer to it again. The East is silent, while the West is eloquent. But the silence of the East does not mean just to be dumb and remain wordless or speechless. Silence in many cases is as eloquent as being wordy. The West likes verbalism. Not only that, the West transforms the word into the flesh and makes this fleshiness come out sometimes too conspicuously, or rather too grossly and voluptuously, in its art and religion.
2. What does Tennyson do next? Looking at the plucked flower, which is in all likelihood beginning to wither, he proposes the question within himself, ‘do I understand you?’ Basho is not inquisitive at all. He feels all the mystery is revealed in his humble nazuna - the mystery that does deep into the source of all existence. He is intoxicated with this feeling and exclaims in an unutterable, inaudible cry.
Contrary to this, Tennyson goes on with his intellection: ‘If(which I italicize) I could understand you, I should know what God and man is.’ His appeal to the understanding is characteristically Western. Basho accepts, Tennyson resists. Tennyson’s individuality stands away from the flower, from ‘God and man.’ He does not identify himself with either God or nature. He is always apart from them. His understanding is what people nowadays call ‘scientifically objective.’ Basho is thoroughly ‘subjective.’ (This is a good word, for subject always is made to stand against object. My ‘subject’ is what I like to call ‘absolute subjectivity.’) Basho stands by ‘absolute subjectivity’ in which Basho sees the nazuna and the nazuna sees Basho. Here is no empathy, or sympathy, or identification for that matter…
In Tennyson, as far as I can see, there is in the first place no depth of feeling; he is all intellect, typical of Western mentality. He is an advocate of the Logos doctrine. He must say something, he must abstract or intellectualize on his concrete experience. He must come out of the domain of feeling into that of intellect and must subject living and feeling to a series of analyses to give satisfaction to the Western spirit of inquisitiveness…
…The Western mind is: analytical, discriminative, differential, inductive, individualistic, intellectual, objective, scientific, generalizing, conceptual, schematic, impersonal, legalistic, organizing, power-wielding, self-assertive, disposed to impose its will upon others, etc. Against these Western traits those of the East can be characterized as follows: synthetic, totalizing, integrative, nondiscriminitive, deductive, nonsystematic, dogmatic, intuitive, (rather, affective), non discursive, subjective, spiritually individualistic and socially group-minded, etc.
(6) Intelligence belongs to the head and its work is more noticeable and would accomplish much, whereas Chaos remains silent and quiet behind all the superficial turbulence. Its real significance never comes out to become recognizable by the participants.
The scientifically minded West applies its intelligence to inventing all kinds of gadgets to elevate the standard of living and save itself from what it thinks to be unnecessary labor or drudgery. It thus tries hard to ‘develop’ the natural resources it has access to. The East, on the other hand, does not mind engaging itself in menial and manual labor of all kinds, it is apparently satisfied with the ‘undeveloped’ state of civilization. It does not like to be machine-minded, to turn itself into a slave to the machine. This love of work is perhaps characteristic of the East.
- “superficial turbulence” aka “abstract busyness” in Steve Martin’s LA Story.
- Hall’s polychromic vs monochromic time in Beyond Culture. Linear, straight forwardness of one-thing-at-a-time, vs ‘chaos’ of many things at once of non Western cultures.
(7) Western people often wonder why the Chinese people have not developed many more sciences and mechanical contrivances. This is strange, they say, when the Chinese are noted for their discoveries and inventions such as the magnet, gunpowder, the wheel, paper, and other things. The principle reason is that the Chinese and other Asiatic peoples love life as it is lived and do not wish to turn it into a means of accomplishing something else, which would divert the course of living to quite a different channel. They like work for its own sake, though, objectively speaking, work means to accomplish something. But while working they enjoy the work and are not in a hurry to finish it. Mechanical devices are far more efficient and accomplish more. But the machine is impersonal and noncreative and has no meaning.
- western ideal of progress is more production, more devices, more capital, in a linear race to eternal/infinite growth (which implies an unconscious understanding of ‘toward-death,’ as nothing can grow endlessly forever); non western ideal of ‘progress’ is more time, more life experience, eternal recurrence (therefore, not ‘progress’ at all).
- absurdity of eternal growth vs naturalness of eternal recurrence (cycles of nature).
(8) Mechanization means intellection, and as the intellect is primarily utilitarian there is no spiritual aestheticism or ethical spirituality in the machine…The machine hurries one to finish the work and reach the objective for which it is made. The work or labor in itself has no value except as the means. That is to say, life here loses its creativity and turns into an instrument, man is now a goods-producing mechanism. Philosophers talk about the significance of the person; as we see now in our highly industrialized and mechanized age the machine is everything and man is almost entirely reduced to thralldom…Of course, we cannot turn the wheel of industrialism back to the primitive handicraft age. But it is well for us to be mindful of the significance of the hands and also of the evils attendant on the mechanization of modern life, which emphasizes the intellect too much at the expense of life as a whole…
The machine contrasts with Chuang-tze’s [the East’s] philosophy of work and labor, and the Western ideas of individual freedom and personal responsibility run counter to the Eastern ideas of absolute freedom…
The person and the machine involve a contradiction, and because of this contradiction the West is going through great psychological tension…
The person implies individuality, personal responsibility, while the machine is the product of intellection, abstraction, generalization, totalization, group living.
Objectively or intellectually or speaking in the machine-minded way, personal responsibility has no sense. Responsibility is logically related to freedom, and in logic there is no freedom, for everything is controlled by rigid rules of syllogism…
Freedom is another nonsensical idea. I am living socially, in a group, which limits me in all my movements, mental as well as physical. Even when I am alone I am not at all free. I have all kinds of impulses which are not always under my control. Some impulses carry me away in spite of myself. As long as we are living in this limited world, we can never talk about being free or doing as we desire. Even this desire is something which is not our own…
The spontaneity Westerners speak about is no more and no less than childish or animal spontaneity, and not the spontaneity of the fully mature person.
In the West, yes is yes and no is no; yes can never be no or vice versa. The East makes yes slide over to no and no to yes; there is no hard and fast division between yes and no. It is in the nature of life that it is so. It is only in logic that the division is ineradicable. Logic is human made to assist in utilitarianistic [mechanistic] activities.
- “connote vs denote” in In Search of the Primitive
- polychromic vs monochromic time in Beyond Culture
- everyday experience is diffuse, unedged, whereas our ideas of it (necessarily, as platonic ideals), the way we talk about it (because of language limitations) are clearly categorized, thick-lined.
When the West comes to realize this fact, it invents such concepts known in physics as complementarity to the principle of uncertainty when it cannot explain away certain physical phenomena. However well it may succeed in creating concept after concept, it cannot circumvent facts of existence.
Religion does not concern us here, but it may not be without interest to state the following: Christianity, which is the religion of the West, talks of Logos, Word, the flesh, and incarnation, and of tempestuous temporality. The religions of the East strive for excarnation, silence, absorption, eternal peace. To Zen, incarnation is excarnation; since roars like thunder; the Word is no-Word, the flesh is no-flesh; here-now equals emptiness (sunyata) and infinity.
(11) The scientific method in the study of reality is to view an object from the so-called objective point of view. For instance, suppose a flower here on the table is the object of scientific study. Scientists will subject it to all kinds of analyses, botanical, chemical, physical, etc, and tell us all that they have found out about the flower from their respective angles of study, and say that the study of the flower is exhausted and and that there is nothing to state about it unless something new is discovered accidentally in the course of other studies.
The chief characteristic, therefore, which distinguishes the scientific approach to reality is to describe an object, to talk about it, to go around it, to catch anything that attracts our sense-intellect and abstract it away form the object itself, and when all is supposedly finished, to synthesize these analytically formulated abstractions and take the outcome for the object itself.
- Descartes, Locke, Bacon, etc.
The Zen approach is to enter right into the object itself and see it, as it were, from the inside. To know the flower is to become the flower, to be the flower, to bloom as the flower, and to enjoy the sunlight as well as the rainfall. When this is done, the flower speaks to me and I know all its secrets, all its joys, all its sufferings; that is, all its life vibrating within itself…
- compare with Neither Wolf Nor Dog
(12) This way of knowing or seeing reality may also be called cognitive or creative. While the scientific way kills, murders the object and by dissecting the corpse and putting the parts together again tries to reproduce the original living body, which is really a deed of impossibility, the Zen way takes life as it is lived instead of chopping it to pieces and trying to restore its life by intellection, or in abstraction gluing the broken pieces together. The Zen way preserves life as life; no surgical knife touches it.
- C Merchant, Death of Nature
The sciences deal with abstractions and there is no activity in them. Zen plunges itself into the source of creativity and drinks from it all the life there is in it. This source is Zen’s Unconscious. The flower, however, is unconscious of itself. It is I who awakens it from the unconscious. Tennyson misses it when he plucks it from the crannied wall. Basho has it when he looks at the shyly blooming nazuna by the wild hedge. I cannot tell just where the unconscious is. It is in me? Or is it in the flower? Perhaps when I ask where, it is nowhere. If so, let me be in it and say nothing.
- D Abram, Spell of the Sensuous
(13) The seeing is not enough. The artists must get into the thing and feel it inwardly and live its life himself. Thoreau is said to have been a far better naturalist than professional ones. So was Goethe. They knew nature just because of their being able to live it. The scientists treat it objectively, that is, superficially. ‘I and thou’ may be all right, but we cannot in truth say that; for as soon as we say it ‘I’ am ‘thou’ and ‘thou’ art ‘I.’ Dualism can hold itself only when it is backed by something that is not dualistic.
(14) Science thrives on dualism; therefore, scientists try to reduce everything into quantitative measurements. For this purpose they invent all kinds of mechanical appliances. Technology is the keynote of modern culture. Anything that cannot be reduced to quantification they reject as not scientific, or ante-scientific…The unconscious is outside the field of scientific study. Therefore, all the the scientists can do is point to the existence of such a field. And that is enough for science to do…
Our unconscious is nothing but an insignificant floating piece of island in the Oceanus encircling the earth. But it is through this little fragment of land that we can look out to the immense expanse of the unconscious itself; the feeling of it is all that we can have, but this feeling is not a small thing, because it is by means of this feeling that we can realize that our fragmentary existence gains its full significance, and thus that we can rest assured that we are not living in vain. Science, by definition, can never give us the sense of complete security and fearlessness which si the outgrowth or our feeling of the unconscious.
(15) We cannot all be expected to be scientists, but we are so constituted by nature that we can all be artists - not, indeed, artists of special kinds, such as painters, sculptors, musicians, poets, etc, but artists of life. This profession, ‘artist of life,’ may sound new and quite odd, but in point of fact we are all born artists of life and, not knowing it, most of us fail to be so and the result is that we make a mess of our lives, asking, ‘what is the meaning of life?’ ‘Are we not facing blank nothingness?’ ‘After living seventy-eight, or even ninety years, where do we go? Nobody knows,’ etc. I am told that most modern men and women are neurotic on this account. But the Zen man can tell them that they all have forgotten that they are born artists, creative artists of life, and that as soon as they realize this fact and truth, they will all be cured of neurosis or psychosis or whatever name they have for their trouble.
(17) We can state that our limits consciousness, inasmuch as we know its limitation, leads us to all sorts of worry, fear, unsteadiness. But as soon as it is realized that our consciousness comes out of something which, though not known in the way relative things are known, is intimately related to us, we are relieved of every form of tension and are thoroughly at rest and at peace with ourselves and with the world generally. May we not call this unknown the Cosmic Unconscious, or the source of infinite creativity whereby not only artists of every description nourish their inspirations, but even we ordinary beings are enabled, each according to his natural endowments, to turn his life into something of genuine art?
- Jung’s Collective Unconscious
The truth of Zen, just a little bit of it, is what turns one’s humdrum life, a life of monotonous, uninspiring commonplaceness, into one of art, full of genuine creativity.
There is something which antedates the scientific study of reality, something which cannot be scooped up in the meshes of the scientifically constructed apparatus.
(18) Etiologically speaking, consciousness was awakened from the unconscious sometime in the course of evolution. Nature works its way unconscious of itself, and the consciousness man comes out of it. Consciousness is a leap, but the leap cannot mean a disconnection in its physical sense. For consciousness is in constant, uninterrupted communion with the unconscious. Indeed, without the latter, the former could not function; it would lose its basis of operation.
- not likely a ‘leap,’ but a non-linear, geologically slow transformation, to the degree that ‘transformation’ wouldn’t even be the right word
- ‘basis of operation,’ like everything that is inside and outside (fuel/air) a car, where consciousness is the body, the thing seen as it moves by, like the foundation and framing of a house, whereas only the siding and paint is seen when passing by it, like the endless helpers behind a president, who is the speaker, the seen, the ego image.
(19) Perhaps we can say this: the unconscious as far as it is related to the sense-domain is the outcome of a long process of evolution in the cosmical history of life, and it is shared alike by animals and infants. But an intellectual development takes place, as we grow up, the sense-domain is invaded by intellect and the naivete of sense-experience is lost. When we smile, it is not just smiling: something more is added. We do not eat as we did in our infancy; eating is mixed with intellection. And as we all realize this invasion by the intellect of the mixing with the intellect, simple biological deeds are contaminated by egocentric interest. This means that there is now an intruder into the unconscious, which can no longer directly or immediately move into the field of consciousness, and all deeds that have been relegated to biologically instinctive functions now assume the role of consciously and intellectually directed acts.
- ego contaminates with ‘directed intellection,’ reifies experience, artificially makes denotations where only connotations are appropriate (In Search of the Primitive).
This transformation is known as the loss of ‘innocence’ or the acquirement of ‘knowledge’ in the usage of the Biblical myth. In Zen and Buddhism generally it is called ‘the affective contamination (klesha)’ or ‘the interference of the conscious mind predominated by intellection (vijnana).’
- the Sin of Knowledge
(21) When [the swordsman] strikes, it is not the man but the sword in the hands of the unconscious that strikes…This sensing of an unseen enemy seems to have developed among the swordsmen to a most remarkable degree of efficiency in those feudal days when the samurai had to be on the alert in every possible situation that might arise in his daily life. Even while in sleep he was ready to meet an untoward event.
- ‘alertness’ in Paul Shepard, Stanley Diamond, Ortega y Gasset, ‘horizontal awareness’ in Morris Berman, ‘blaze of reality’ of Paul Radin
(22) The race of the battle of swordsmanship is not to the swiftest or to the strongest or to most skillful, but to the one whose mind is pure and selfless.
(24) The sciences are universally centrifugal, extroverted, and they look ‘objectively’ toward the thing they pick up for study. The position they thus assume is to keep the thing away from them and never to strive to identify themselves with the object of their study. Even when they look within for self-inspection they are careful to project outwardly what is within, thus making themselves foreign to themselves as if what is within did not belong to them. They are utterly afraid of being ‘subjective.’ But we must remember that as long as we stand outside we are outsiders, that for that very reason we can never know the thing itself, that all we can know is about - which means that we can never know what our real self is. Scientists, therefore, can never expect to reach the Self. They can no doubt talk a great deal about it, and that is all they can do.
- Chomsky’s “no one knows why the stupid nematode does anything, turn left or whatever, except you can write poems…we can talk about the mechanisms, but that’s it..” in Understanding Power (see Read Me, Adverse Effects of the Scientific Revolution, on this website).
(26) In De Rougemont’s Man’s Western Quest, the person is dualistic in its nature, and some kind of conflict is always going on within itself. This conflict or tension or contradiction is what constitutes the essence of the person, and naturally it follows that the feeling of fear and uncertainty secretly accompanies every mode of activity it manifests. In fact, we can say that it is this very feeling that drives the person to commit unbalanced acts of passion and violence. Feeling is at the source of all human deeds, and not dialectical difficulties. Psychology comes first, then logic and analysis, and not vice versa.
According to de Rougemont, therefore, it is impossible for Western people to transcend the dualism residing in the very nature of the person as long as they cling to their historico-theological tradition of God-man or man-God. It is due to this dualistic conflict in the unconscious and its resulting sense of uneasiness that they venture out into time as well as into space. They are thorough extroverts and not introverts. Instead of looking into the nature of the person inwardly and taking hold of it, they strive objectively to reconcile the dualistic conflicts which they discern on the plane of intellection.
(28) A person invariably lives a personal life and not a conceptually or scientifically defined one. However exactly objectively or philosophically the definition might have been given, it is not the definition the person lives but the life itself, and it is this life which is the subject of human study…The person that knows itself is never addicted to theorization, never writes books, never indulges itself in giving instructions to others; it always lives its unique life, its free creative life. What is it? Where is it? The Self knows itself from within and never from the outside.
(30) Science or logic is objective and centrifugal while Zen is subjective and centripetal. Somebody has remarked, ‘Everything without tells the individual that he is nothing, while everything within persuades him that he is everything.’ This is a remarkable saying, for it is the feeling every one of us has when he sits quietly and deeply looks into the inmost chamber of his being. Something is moving there and would whisper to him in a still small voice that he is not born in vain.
(31) The creative unconscious can never be suppressed; it will assert itself in one way or another. When it cannot assert itself in the way natural to it, it will break all the barriers, in some cases violently and in other cases pathologically.
(35) “If you wish to transcend birth and death, going and coming, and to be freely unattached, you should recognize the Man who is at this moment listening to this talk on the Dharma. He is the one who has neither shape nor form, neither root nor trunk, and who, having no abiding place, is full of activities.” (Rinzai)
(37) “As soon as you turn outwardly to seek your own limbs among your neighbors, you commit a fault.” (Rinzai)
(45) Nonsensical though all this may be, it is only from our habit of conceptualization that we miss facing the ultimate reality as it stands namely by itself. What is ‘nonsensical’ indeed has a great deal of meaning and makes us penetrate the veil that exists as far as we stay on this side of relativity.
(48) The truth is that what involves the totality of human experience is not a matter of intellection but of the will in its most primary sense of the word. The intellect may raise all kinds of questions - and it is perfectly right for it to do so - but to expect any final answer from the intellect is asking too much of it, for this is not in the nature of intellection. The answer lies deeply buried under the bedrock of our being. To split it open requires the most basic tremor of the will. When this is felt, the doors of perception open and a new vista hitherto undreamed of is presented…Whatever we may say about he intellect, it is after all superficial, it is something floating on the surface of consciousness. The surface must be broken through in order to reach the unconscious
- Marcuse, Nietzsche
(49) l am not an anti-intellectualist through and through. What I object to is regarding the intellect as the ultimate reality itself. The intellect is needed to determine however vaguely, where the reality is. And the reality is grasped only when the intellect quits its claims on it.
(51) There is absolutely nothing in this world that has not its will. The one great will from which all these wills, infinitely varied, flow is what I call the ‘Cosmic (or ontological) Unconscious,’ which is the zero-reservoir of infinite possibilities.
(53) The head symbolizes intellection, and the eye, its mobile muscles, is its useful instrument. But the abdominal part where the viscera are contained is controlled by the involuntary nerves and represents the most primitive stage of evolution in the structure of the human body. The abdominal parts are closer to nature, from which we all come and to which we all return. They are therefore in a more intimate contact with nature and can feel it and talk with it and hold it for ‘inspection.’ The inspection, however, is not an intellectual operation; it is, if I can say so, affective. ‘Feeling’ may be a better word when the term is used in its fundamental sense.
Intellectual inspection is the function of the head and therefore whatever understanding we may have of nature from this source is an abstraction or a representation of nature and not nature itself. Nature does not reveal itself as it is to the intellect - that is, to the head. It is the abdominal parts that feel nature and understand it in its suchness. The kind of understanding, which may be called affective or conative, involves the whole being of a person as symbolized by the abdominal parts of the body. When the Zen master tells us to hold the koan in the abdomen, he means that the koan is to be taken up by one’s whole being, that one has to identify oneself completely with it, not to look at it intellectually or objectively as if it were something we can stand away from.
(65) Some philosophers and theologians talk about the Oriental ’silence’ in contrast to the Western ‘word’ which becomes the ‘flesh.’ They do not, however, understand what the East really means by ‘silence,’ for it does not stand against the ‘word,’ it is the word itself, it is the ‘thunderous silence’ and not the one sinking into the depths of non-entity, nor is it one absorbed in the eternal indifference of death. The Eastern silence resembles the eye of the hurricane; it is the center of the raging storm and without it no motion is possible. To extract this center of immobility from its surrounding is to conceptualize it and to destroy its meaning. The eye is what makes the hurricane possible. Eye and hurricane conjointly constitute the totality. The quietly floating duck on the surface of the lake is not to be separated from its legs most busily moving through unseen, under the water. Dualists generally miss the whole in its coherent concrete totality.
(66) All forms of anxiety come from the fact that there is somewhere in our consciousness the feeling of incomplete knowledge of the situation and this lack of knowledge leads to the sense of insecurity and then to anxiety with all its degrees of intensity. The ‘I’ is always at the center of whatever situation we may encounter.
- compare to trust in nature shown in Neither Wolf Nor Dog, Stranger in the Forest, Don’t Sleep There Are Snakes, In Search of the Primitive, etc..
- obsession with ‘certainty’ since Descartes/western science.
- compare the ‘we’ found in nature based communities, where ego is dispersed throughout the group.
(71) [love of work as an end in itself] is not in accord with the Western and, indeed, the modern idea of labor-saving devices of every description. When they have thus saved themselves from labor and gained plenty of time for their pleasures or other employment, modern people are busy making up all sorts of complaints about how dissatisfied they are with life, or inventing weapons whereby they can kill thousands of human beings by simply pressing a button. And listen to what they say: ‘This is the way to prepare for peace.’ Is it not really wonderful to realize that when the fundamental evils lurking in human nature are not destroyed and its intellectuality alone is given free rein to work itself out in the way it likes, it exerts itself to discover the easiest and quickest way of annihilating itself form the surface of the earth? When Chuang-tze’s farmer (p 7) refused to be machine-minded, did he force all these evils coming a little over twenty one or twenty two centuries after him?
- stands on its head the Freudian foundation that the intellect/reason must subdue/sublimate the Id, or else the Id would destroy itself. It’s rather the unconscious/the instinct-for-community-survival that must save us from the greed/myopia of the intellect. See Eros and Civilization and notes.
- compare with work as way to salvation in Eros and Civilization (Marcuse), The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (Weber).
Psychoanalysis and Zen Buddhism (Fromm)
(77) Pscyhoanalysis is the child of Western humanism and rationalism, and of the nineteenth century romantics search for the dark forces which elude rationalism. Much further back, Greek wisdom and Hebrew ethics are the spiritual godfathers of this scientific-therapeutic approach to man.
(79) Man has followed rationalism to the point where rationalism has transformed itself into utter irrationality. Since Descartes, man has increasingly split thought from affect; thought alone is considered rational - affect, by its very nature, irrational; the person, I, has been split off into an intellect, which constitutes myself, and which is to control me as it is to control nature. Control by the intellect over nature, and the production of more and more things, become the paramount aims of life. In this process man has transformed himself into a thing, life has become subordinated to property, ‘to be’ is dominated by ‘to have.’ Where the roots of Western culture, both Greek and Hebrew, considered the aim of life the perfection of man, modern man is concerned with the perfection of things, and the knowledge of how to make them. Western man is in a state of schizoid inability to experience affect, hence he anxious, depressed, and desperate. He still pays lip service to the aims of happiness, individualism, initiative p but actually he has no aim. Ask him what he is living for, what is the aim of all his strivings - and he will be embarrassed. Some may say they live for the family, other, ‘to have fun,’ still others to make money, but in reality nobody knows what he is living for; he has no goal, except the wish to escape insecurity and aloneness.
- def: affect is the experience of feeling or emotion, it is a key part of the process of an organism’s interaction with stimuli.
(80) Psychoanalysis is a characteristic expression of Western man’s spiritual crisis, and an attempt to find a solution.
(81) Quite contrary to a widely held assumption, Freud’s own system transcended the concept of ‘illness’ and ‘cure’ and was concerned with the ‘salvation’ of man, rather than only with a therapy for mentally sick patients. Superficially seen, Freud was the creator of a new therapy for mental illness, and this was the subject matter to which his main interest and all the efforts of his life were devoted. However, if we look more closely, we find that behind this concept of a medical therapy for the cure of neurosis was an entirely different interest, rarely expressed by Freud, and probably rarely even conscious to himself. This hidden or only implicit concept did not primarily deal with the cure of mental illness, but with something which transcended the concept of illness and cure. What was this something? What was the nature of the ‘psychoanalytic movement’ he founded? What was Freud’s vision for man’s future? What was the dogma on which his movement was founded?
Freud answered this question perhaps most clearly in the sentence: ‘where there was Id - there shall be Ego.’ His aim was the domination of irrational and unconscious passions by reason; the liberation of man from the power of the unconscious, within the possibilities of man. Man had to become aware of the unconscious forces within him, in order to dominate and control them. Freud’s aim was the optimum knowledge of truth, and that is the knowledge of reality; this knowledge to him was the only guiding light man had on this earth. These aims were the only traditional aims of rationalism, of the Enlightenment philosophy, and of Puritan ethics. But while religion and philosophy had postulated these aims of self control in what might called a utopian way, Freud was - or believed himself to be - the first one to put these aims on scientific basis (by the exploration of the unconscious) and hence to show the way to their realization.
- Compare to the aims of early science by Bacon, Descartes, etc, (Death of Nature, C Merchant. The Turning Point, F Capra. The Origins of Modern Science, H Butterfield), where the aim is to dominate and control nature, to ‘subdue her’..
- for Puritan ethics, see Perry Miller.
(81) While Freud represents the culmination of Western rationalism, it was his genius to overcome at the same time the false rationalistic and superficially optimistic aspects of rationalism, and to create a synthesis with romanticism, the very movement which during the nineteenth century opposed rationalism by its own interest in and reverence for the irrational, affective side of man.
(84) Freud’s picture of man was in essential features the picture which the economists and philosophers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had developed. They saw man as essentially competitive, isolated, and related to others only by necessity of exchanging the satisfaction of economic and instinctual needs.
- this picture of post-middle ages western man becomes ‘truth,’ yet compare this understanding of man to any nature based society, which tends to be non-competitive (non-capitalistic), group minded/communal (non-isolated, ‘we’ over ‘I’), and related by kin and common interests/well being of the group instead of individual self.
(84) For Freud, man is a machine, driven by libido, and regulated by the principle of keeping libido excitation to a minimum. He saw man as fundamentally egotistical, and related to others only by the mutual necessity of satisfying instinctual desires. Pleasure, for Freud, was relief of tension, not the experience of joy. Man was seen split between his intellect and his affects; man was not the whole man, but the intellect-self of the Enlightenment philosophers. Brotherly love was an unreasonable demand, contrary to reality; mystical experience a regression to infantile narcissism.
(85) At the beginning of this century the people who came to the psychiatrist were manly people who suffered from symptoms. They had a paralyzed arm, or an obsessional symptom like a washing compulsion, or they suffered from obsessional thoughts which they could not get rid of. In other words, they were sick in the sense in which the word ‘sickness’ is used in medicine; something prevented them from functioning socially as the so called normal person functions. If this was what they suffered from , their concept of cure corresponded to the concept of sickness. They wanted to get rid of the symptoms, and their concept of ‘wellness’ was - not to be sick. They wanted to be as well as the average person or, as we also might put it, they wanted to be not more unhappy and disturbed than the average person in our society is.
These people still come to the psychoanalyst to seek help, and for them psychoanalysis is still a therapy which aims at the removal of their symptoms, and at enabling them to function socially. But while they once formed the majority of a psychoanalyst’s clientele, they are the minority today - perhaps not because their absolute number is smaller today than then, but because their number is relatively smaller in comparison with the many new ‘patients’ who function socially, who are not sick in the conventional sense, but who do suffer from the ‘malady du siecle,’ the malaise, the inner deadness…These new ‘patients’ come to the psychoanalysts without knowing what they really suffer from. They complain about being depressed, having insomnia, being unhappy in their marriages, not enjoying their work, and any number of troubles. They usually believe that this or that particular symptom is their problem and that if they could get rid of this particular trouble they would be well. However, theses patients usually do not see that their problem is not that of depression, of insomnia, of their marriages, or of their jobs. These various complaints are only the conscious form in which our culture permits them to express something which lies much deeper, and which is common to the various people who consciously believe that they suffer from this or that particular symptom. The common suffering is the alienation from oneself, from one’s fellow man, and from nature.
- from oneself (alienation of labor in industrial society, non direct experience of the information/virtual age), from one’s fellow man (capitalistic competition), and from nature (mechanistic model of the universe from scientific revolution).
(86) For those who suffer from alienation, cure does not consist in the absence of illness, but in the presence of well being.
(87) In contrast to the animal, which in its instincts has a ‘built in’ mechanism of adaptation to its environment to its environment, living completely within nature, man lacks this instinctive mechanism. He has to live his life, he is not lived by it. He is in nature, yet he transcends nature; he has awareness of himself, and this awareness of himself as a separate entity makes him feel unbearably alone, lost, powerless.
(88) Birth is not one act; it is a process. The aim of life is to be fully born, though its tragedy is that most of us die before we are thus born. To live is to be born every minute. Death occurs when birth stops. Physiologically, our cellular system is in a process of continual birth; psychologically, however, most of us cease to be born at a certain point. Some are completely stillborn; they go on living physiologically when mentally their longing is to return to the womb, to earth, darkness, death; they are insane, or nearly so. Many others proceed further on the path of life. Yet they cannot cut the umbilical cord completely, as it were; they remain symbiotically attached to mother, father, family, race, state, status, money, gods, etc; they never fully emerge as themselves and thus they never become fully born.
(91) Religion is the formalized and elaborate answer to man’s existence, and since it can be shared in consciousness and by ritual with others, even the lowest religion creates a feeling of reasonableness and of security by the very communion with others. When it is not shared, when the repressive wishes are in contrast to consciousness and the claims of the existing culture, then the secret, individual ‘religion’ is a neurosis.
(91) Well being means to be fully born, to become what one potentially is; it means to have the full capacity for joy and for sadness or, to put it still differently, to awake from the half-slumber the average man lives in, to be fully awake.
- Lame Deer: Seeker of Visions
(92) No matter how often he thinks of God or goes to church, or how much he believes in religious ideas, if he, the whole man, is deaf to the question of existence, if he does not have an answer to it, he is marking time, and he lives and dies like one of the million things he produces. He thinks of God, instead of experiencing being God.
- intellect-based western culture vs whole-being of nature based society.
- extreme sports as a knee jerk reaction (in evolutionary time scale) to the unconscious need for whole-being, ‘god-like’ experience, to fuse mind-body-sprit in a modern world that has recently tried to so vehemently to separate them.
- infatuation with spectator sports as the same, in a vicarious/virtual world
(95) The most characteristic element in the psychoanalytic approach is, without any doubt, its attempt to make the unconscious conscious - or, to put it in Freud’s works, to the transform Id into Ego.
(96) In Freud’s view, the unconscious is essentially the seat of irrationality. In Jung’s thinking, the meaning seems to be almost reversed; the unconscious is essentially the seat of the deepest sources of wisdom, while the conscious is the intellectual part of the personality. In this view of the conscious and the unconscious, the latter is perceived as being like the cellar of a house, in which everything is piled up that has no place in the superstructure; Freud’s cellar contains mainly man’s vices; Jung’s contains mainly man’s wisdom.
As H.S. Sullivan has emphasized, the use of ‘the unconscious’ in the sense of locality in unfortunate, and a poor representation of the psychic facts involved. I might add that the preference for this kind of substantive rather than for functional concept corresponds to the general tendency in contemporary Western culture to perceive in terms of things we have, rather than to perceive in terms of being. We have a problem with anxiety, we have insomnia, we have a depression, we have a psychoanalyst, just as we have a car, a house, or a child. In the same vein, we also have an ‘unconscious.’ It is not accidental that many people use the word ‘subconscious’ instead of the word ‘unconscious.’ They do it obviously for the reason that ‘subconscious’ lends itself better to the localized concept; I can say ‘I am unconscious of’ this or that, but I cannot say ‘I am subconscious’ of it.
(97) If we speak in a psychoanalytic context of consciousness and unconsciousness, there is an implication that consciousness is of a higher value than unconsciousness. Why should we be striving to broaden the domain of consciousness unless this were so? Yet it is quite obvious that consciousness as such has no particular value; in fact, most of what people have in their conscious minds is fiction and delusion; this is the case not so much because people would be incapable of seeing the truth as because of the function of society. Most of human history (with the exception of some primitive societies) is characterized by the fact that a small minority has ruled over and exploited the majority. In order to do so, the minority has usually used force; but force is not enough. In the long run, the majority has had to accept it own exploitation voluntarily - and this only possible if its mind has been filled with all sorts of lies and fictions, justifying and explaining its acceptance of the minority’s rule.
- “most of human history (with the exception of primitive societies),” as if this weren’t “most of human history”!!
(103) Any society, in order to survive, must mold the character of its members in such a way that they want to do what they have to do; their social function must become internalized and transformed into something they feel driven to do, rather than something they are obliged to do.
(104) To be completely unrelated brings him to the frontier of insanity. In so far as he is an animal, he is most afraid of dying, in so far as he is a man he is most afraid of being utterly alone.
(104) Consciousness and unconsciousness are socially conditioned. I am aware of all my feelings and thoughts which are permitted to penetrate the threefold filter of (socially conditioned) language, logic, and taboos (social character). Experiences which cannot be filtered through remain outside of awareness; that is, they remain unconscious.
“It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence but, on the contrary, it is their social existence that determines their consciousness,” (K Marx).
(106) The content of the unconscious is never good nor evil, rational nor irrational; it is both; it is all that is human. The unconscious is the whole man - minus the part of man which corresponds to his society. Consciousness represents social man, the accidental limitations set by the historical situation into which an individual is thrown. Unconsciousness represents universal man, the whole man, rooted in the Cosmos; it represents the plant in him, the animal in him, the spirit in him; it represents his past down to the dawn of human existence, and it represents his future to the day when man will have become fully human, and when nature will be humanized as man will be ‘naturalized.’
(107) Whether we deal with transference, projection, or with rationalizations, most of what the person is conscious of is a fiction - while that which he represses (ie, which is unconscious) is real.
(109) The process of cerebration is related to the ambiguity of language. As soon as I have expressed something in a word, an alienation takes place, and the full experience has already been substituted for by the word. The full experience actually exists only up to the moment when it is expressed in language. This general process of cerebration is more widespread and intense in modern culture than it probably was at any time before in history. Just because of the increasing emphasis on intellectual knowledge which is a condition for scientific and technical achievements, and in connection with it on literacy and education, words more and more take the place of experience. Yet the person concerned is unaware of this. He thinks he sees something; he thinks he feels something; yet there is no experience except memory and thought. When he thinks he grasps reality it is only his brain-self that grasps it, while he, the whole man, his eyes, his hands, his heart, his belly, grasp nothing - in fact, he is not participating in the experience which he believes is his.
What happens then in the process in which the unconscious becomes conscious? In answering this question we had better reformulate it. There is no such thing as ‘the conscious’ and no such thing as ‘the unconscious.’ There are degrees of consciousness-awareness and unconsciousness-awareness. Our question then should rather be: what happens when I become aware of what I have not been aware of before? In line with what has been said before, the general answer to this question is that every step in this process is in the direction of understanding the fictitious, unreal character of our ‘normal’ consciousness. To become conscious of what is unconscious and thus to enlarge one’s consciousness means to get in touch with reality, and - in this sense - with truth (intellectually and affectively). To enlarge consciousness means to wake up, to lift a veil, to leave the cave, to bring light into the darkness.
- “the tao that can be spoken is not the tao.”
- participatory experience is excluded in the aim for objective scientific observation, where the experimenter must be separate from the observed.
- NA treaties/genocide. “something is not real to you unless it is written down.” “History” in the modern western world means written history, therefore, oral traditions are not legitimate, not real in history. Correspondingly, scientific data, the supreme revealer of truth in the modern world, is not real unless it can be quantified, i.e. “written down.”
- hence, life is no longer experienced, reality is no longer judged by “the whole man, his eyes, his heart, his hands, his belly,” because the intellect (the dominating ego) has taken over as the manipulative leader of the psyche.
- direct cause of “video gaming” problem in today’s youth. Virtual reality becomes more real, more exciting, more addictive than physical reality. Physical reality becomes (is felt as) not real, paradoxically less satisfying corporeally/somatically. The inorganic becomes (is felt as) organic and vice versa. The unreal becomes real. The real becomes unreal. Therefore, existential/psychological crisis is immanent, and in fact, is happening, without one yet knowing, being lost in/horseblindedly focused on unrealities.
- separation of mind and body in Western World from Descartes to Freud.
- Spell of the Sensuous, Tao of Physics, The Turning Point (Fritjof Capra), Morris Berman, Saving the Appearances (Owen Barfield), Derrick Jensen, Irrational Man (W Barrett).
(110) As long as the patient remains in the attitude of the detached scientific observer, taking himself as the object of his investigation, he is not in touch with his unconscious, except by thinking about it; he does not experience the wider, deeper reality within himself. Discovering one’s unconscious is, precisely, not an intellectual act, but an affective experience, which can hardly by put into words, if at all. This does not mean that thinking and speculation may not precede the act of discovery; but the act of discovery itself is always a total experience. It is total in the sense that the whole person experiences it; it is an experience which is characterized by its spontaneity and suddenness.
(111) The importance of this kind of experiential knowledge lies in the fact that it transcends the kind of knowledge and awareness in which the subject-intellect observes himself as an object, and thus that it transcends the Western, rationalistic concept of knowing.
(118) ..Zen Master statement: “Before I was enlightened the rivers were rivers and the mountains were mountains. When I began to be enlightened the rivers were not rivers anymore and the mountains were not mountains. Now, since I am enlightened, the rivers are rivers again, and the mountains are mountains.
(119) “The idea of participation or empathy is an intellectual interpretation of primary experience, while as far as the experience itself is concerned, there is no room for any sort of dichotomy. The intellect obtrudes itself and breaks up the experience in order to make it amenable to intellectual treatment, which means a discrimination of bifurcation. The original feeling of identity is then lost and intellect is allowed to have its characteristic way of breaking up reality into pieces. Participation or empathy is the result of intellectualization. The philosopher who has no original experience is apt to indulge in it,” (Suzuki, Introduction to Zen Buddhism).
(121) Zen cannot possibly be understood unless one takes into consideration the idea that the accomplishment of true insight is indissolubly connected with a change in character…Greed for possession, as for anything else, self-conceit, and self-glorification are to be left behind. The attitude toward the past is one of gratitude, toward the present, of service, and toward the future, of responsibility. To live in Zen “means to treat yourself and the world in the most appreciative and reverential frame of mind, an attitude which is the basis of secret virtue, a very characteristic feature of Zen discipline. It means not to waste natural resources; it means to make full use, economic and moral, of everything that comes your way,” (Suzuki, Introduction to Zen Buddhism)
(122) While psychiatry is concerned with the question of why some people become insane, the real question is why most people do not become insane. Considering man’s position in the world, his separateness, aloneness, powerlessness, and his awareness of this, one would expect this burden to be more than he can bear, so that he would quite literally, ‘go to pieces’ under the strain. Most people avoid this outcome by compensatory mechanisms like the overriding routine of life, conformity with the herd, the search for power, prestige, and money, dependence on idols - shared with others in religious cults - a self sacrificing masochistic life, narcissistic inflation - in short, by becoming crippled. All these compensatory mechanisms can maintain sanity, provided they work, up to a point. The only fundamental solution which truly overcomes potential insanity is the full, productive response to the world which in its highest form is enlightenment.
(125) This love of the Zen master is non-sentimental, realistic love, a love which accepts the reality of human fate in which none of us can save the other, and yet in which we must never cease to make every effort to give help so that another can save himself. Any love which does not know this limitation, and claims to be able to ‘save’ another soul, is one which has not rid itself of grandiosity and ambition.
(126) [summary] The aim of psychoanalysis is to make the unconscious conscious. However, to speak to ‘the’ conscious and ‘the’ unconscious means to take words for realities. We must stick to the fact that conscious and unconscious refer to functions, not to place or contents. Properly speaking then, we can talk only of states of various degrees of repressedness, that is, a state in which only those experiences are permitted to come to awareness which can penetrate through the social filter of language, logic, and content. To the degree to which I can rid myself of this filter and can experience myself as the universal man, that is, to the degree to which represssedness diminishes, I am in touch with the deepest sources within myself, and that means with all of humanity. If all repressedness has been lifted, there is no more unconscious as against conscious; there is direct, immediate experience; inasmuch as I am not a stranger to myself, no one and nothing is a stranger to me. Furthermore, to the degree to which part of me is alienated from myself, and my ‘unconscious’ is separated from my conscious (that is I, the whole man, am separated from the I, the social man), my grasp of the world is falsified in several ways. First, in the way of paradoxic distortion (transference); I experience the other person not with my total self, but with my split, childish self, and thus another person is experienced as a significant person of one’s childhood, and not as the person he really is.
Secondly, man in the state of repressedness experiences the world with a false consciousness. He does not see what exists, but he puts his thought image into things, and sees them in the light of his thought image into things, and sees them in the light of his thought images and fantasies, rather than in their reality. It is the thought image, the distorting veil, that creates his passions, his anxieties. Eventually, the repressed man, instead of experiencing things and persons, experiences cerebration. He is under the illusion of being in touch with the world, while his is only in touch with words. Parataxic distortion, false consciousness, and cerebration are not strictly separate ways of unreality; they are, rather, different and yet overlapping aspects of the same phenomenon of unreality which exists as long as the universal man is separated from the social man. We only describe the same phenomenon in a different way by saying that the person who lives in the state of repressedness is the alienated person. He projects his own feelings and ideas on objects, and then does not experience himself as the subject of his feelings, but is ruled by the objects which are charged with his feelings.
The opposite of the alienated, distorted, parataxic, false, cerebrated experience, is the immediate, direct, total grasp of the world which we see in the infant and child before the power of education changes this form of experience. For the newborn infant there is as yet no separation between the me and the not-me. This separation gradually takes place, and the final achievement is expressed by the fact that the child can say ‘I.’ But the child’s grasp of the world remains relatively immediate and direct. When the child plays with a ball, it really sees the ball moving, it is fully in this experience, and that is why it is an experience which can be repeated without end, and with a never ceasing joy. The adult also believes that he sees the ball rolling. That is of course true, inasmuch as he sees that the object-ball is rolling on the object-floor. But he does not really see the rolling. He thinks the rolling ball on the surface. When he says, ‘the ball rolls,’ he actually confirms only (a) his knowledge that the round object over there is called a ball and (b) his knowledge that round objects roll on a smooth surface when given a push. His eyes operate with the end of proving his knowledge, and thus making him secure in the world.
The state on non-repressedness is a state in which one acquires again the immediate, undistorted grasp of reality, the simpleness and spontaneity of the child; yet after having gone through the process of alienation, of development of one’s intellect, non-repressedness is a return to innocence on a higher level; this return to innocence is possible only after one has lost one’s innocence.
(132) To be aware of my breathing does not mean to think about my breathing. To be aware of the movement of my hand does not mean to think about it. On the contrary, once I think about my breathing or the movement of my hand, I am not any more aware of my breathing or of the movement of my hand. The same holds true of my awareness of a flower or a person, of my experience of joy, love, or peace.
(136) To be conscious of the unconscious means to be open, responding, to have nothing and to be.