Dublin Food Co Op - Outside at the backPhoto by  Jean-Jacques M. (Dublin Food Co-Op, August 2013)  Copyright ©  All Rights Reserved

“Having resentment is like taking poison and waiting
for the other person to die” — Malachy McCourt.

Building the New World Within (3)

He who wants the world to remain as it is do not want it to remain at allBerlin Wall. Photographed in 1998  by  Jean-Jacques M.  Copyright © 1998 – 2014. All Rights Reserved.

What is individuation? In a nutshell it is purposeful personal growth. According to Jung, individuation is a lifetime’s work while being at the same time a natural process of maturing. The idea is for an individual to enhance and deepen this process by consciously working on the unconscious, the unexplored parts of our personality and character. This would lead us to our authentic selves by discovering, or rather uncovering the real self as apposed to the ego-self, which we usually tend to live from.

Individuation is not individualism: “Individuation differs from individualism in that the former deviates from collective norms but retains respect for them, while the latter eschews them entirely”.[1]

In Carl Jung’s own words: Individuation is a process of psychological differentiation, having for its goal the development of the individual personality. “In general, it is the process by which individual beings are formed and differentiated; in particular, it is the development of the psychological individual as a being distinct from the general, collective psychology.” [2]

Individuation takes work of the inner kind. It involves deep introspection and conscious integration of unconscious aspects of the psyche. It requires having to face oneself and having to be honest with one-self. It necessitates having to think for one-self and having to be independent from group antics, ethics and influences. It demands having to stand on one’s own feet. It expects having to be able to resist conformity. It insists on being responsible when responsibility is called for.

By confirmation through observation this is where we have to come to the conclusion that purposeful individuation is simply too hard for “modern man or woman” and would hold no perceived short-term benefits. Purposeful individuation would take serious self-confrontation, whereas modern day individualism is all about instant pleasure and sensation. Individualism has taken over from individuation, negating self-exploration.

Once we acknowledge that this is indeed the current general reality we might feel prompted to inquire where this propensity to pleasure and enjoyment as a priority comes from. Sigmund Freud identified “the will to pleasure”, also known as the pleasure principle, decades ago:

“In Freudian psychology, the pleasure principle is the instinctual seeking of pleasure and avoiding of pain in order to satisfy biological and psychological needs. Specifically, the pleasure principle is the driving force guiding the id.” [3]

According to Freud we are in a constant struggle with the will to pleasure, but we are meant to learn how to manage it:

“Maturity is learning to endure the pain of deferred gratification when reality requires it. Freud argued that “an ego thus educated has become ‘reasonable’; it no longer lets itself be governed by the pleasure principle, but obeys the reality principle, which also, at bottom, seeks to obtain pleasure, but pleasure which is assured through taking account of reality, even though it is pleasure postponed and diminished”- ^ Sigmund Freud, Introductory Lectures 16.357.[4]

Jung had hoped that we would be able to collectively step over the pleasure principle. In reality we have stopped taking account of the reality principle.

Western Society has more or less become infantilised in its seeking of pleasure. What has become important is success, fame, popularity, attention, ease, convenience, entertainment and personal importance. In addition we expect to get much of this in the shortest possible time. We do not progress to maturity any more and when we already have achieved maturity, we are prepared to let go of it. This demand for pleasure is at the root of our resistance to responsibility, because responsibility is perceived to undermine our enjoyment, fun and pleasure.

Returning to Heraclites again, we could even say that in the present day, one thing more constant than humans’ resistance to change is human’s resistance to responsibility. In fact our current understanding of freedom is indeed considered to be freedom from responsibility, the “Ultimate Freedom”.

Freedom from responsibility means that all responsibilities have been outsourced. Generally speaking, we have absolved ourselves from having to care, from having to have a conscience or having to subscribe to any kind of morality. We can now live truly freely and seek out pleasure for the principle of it. We can freely choose what we believe in or who or what we support, to motivate and compliment our comfortable dispositions, rather than our choices being reflections of our value systems. We have arrived at the freedom from having to individuate purposefully.

We have political leaders to take care of our political choices and decisions. We have prosperity faith for feel-good religious entertainment. There are New Age solutions for manifesting wealth simply by thinking positively. We have supermarkets which choose our ready-made, prepackaged, processed foods on our behalf. Fashion stores and outlets will decide and choose what we shall wear from season to season. We have the entertainment industry working overtime for our enjoyment and social media hooks us into 24/7 networking and self promotion. When something goes wrong or there is a problem we can always blame it all on bad service and corrupt politicians.

Traditionally we humans used to set ourselves apart from creatures in the animal world through our cultural norms; our civility, our moral values and our ethics. Even these elements which essentially used to form boundaries for our conduct and set the terms for it, are now being rejected by many of us. These boundaries and terms developed over centuries as part of our evolution, resulting in what we call civilisation. Yet, in this day and age we prefer to be boundary-less and we aspire to that. We want to be restrained and restricted by nothing, so we increasingly reject traditions and traditional values. In parts of the world we are now in the “Era of the Ego” rather than in the “Era of the Authenticated Self” as Jung had hoped.

The problem of course is that our boundary-less, comfortable lifestyles are destroying the planet systematically. This we know, but naturally we don’t like to dwell upon it too much. It is us humans who are most likely to bring an apocalypse upon ourselves, whether through contamination, pollution, deforestation, urbanisation, resource depletion or a nuclear war conflagration. We prefer however to project imminent danger onto Mother Nature; the possibility of earthquakes, meteors, volcanoes and tsunami’s, cyclones and floods!

Due to our will to avoid responsibility, we consider natural disasters to hold a bigger threat than artificial man made ones, yet the man-made ones are the ones we can control. Nevertheless all of this rests heavily on our submerged collective conscience. Hence, while living in a comfortable, numbed-out, self-created illusory world of pleasure and fiction, every now and again something does stir in us, as in Jung’s archetype of the end. How we respond to that stirring though usually turns out like “Humanity’s  Ground Hog Day“.

How do we get out of this cycle? We shall continue to explore that next time.

By Jean-Jacques @ Gypsy Café.

© 2014. All Rights Reserved.

This is Part 3 of a series.

Part 1 can be read here and Part 2 can be read here.

Citations and references:
[2] C.G. Jung. Psychological Types. Collected Works Vol.6., par. 757
[4] / Sigmund Freud, Introductory Lectures 16.357

South Africans should never forget

Lions Head HikeLions Head, Cape Town, South Africa. Photographed by  Jean-Jacques M., Dec 2013, Copyright ©. All Rights Reserved.

South Africans should never forget. It is our disunity that makes our unity.
Whether we fully appreciate it or not, we still stand as a model for the world…

…about how disunity can be overcome. Even if it leads to some of the same,
we have also made massive strides.

What we need to do is mature into this process and take pride.
Politics aside. It is our duty to continue to build on this and not take our peace
and relative stability for granted.

Our destiny is in our own hands. There is no more Nelson Mandela to show the way,
or on whose legacy we can ride. There is no-one to take his place. It is up to each individual to make the effort and to be the way he or she wants South Africa to be.

We are not going back to where we have come from and we are not going to a worse place. Will we allow anyone to take this democracy and stability away from us?
South Africans need to realise that everything does not rely on the
state, like a father or mother figure which has to take care of it’s children…

A successful society is built on mature individuals who take responsibility for themselves, who contribute to society practically. It does not lie in perpetual blame
and talk-shopping until kingdom comes, expecting manna to fall from the sky…

Either you contribute or you don’t. What have you done lately for society?
There’s a big difference between talking the talk and walking the walk.

Time to grow up big boys and girls.

By Jean-Jacques @ Gypsy Café. © 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Building The New World Within (2)

He who wants the world to remain as it is do not want it to remain at allBerlin Wall. Photographed in 1998  by  Jean-Jacques M.  Copyright © 1998 – 2014. All Rights Reserved.

When we explore folklore and mythology we realise that history is replete with symbols and images of cataclysm, disaster, wholesale destruction and apocalypse.

Let’s consider the ancient and well known tale of Henny Penny also known as Chicken Little, found in many countries around the world. The phrase “The sky is falling!” originates from this fable. This idiom points to the mistaken belief that disaster is imminent. In Ireland the fable is aptly titled: The end of the world.

The basic story line is about the protagonist believing the world is about to end and feels compelled to warn others about it, with the ensuing humorous and indeed disastrous results, but without the sky actually falling in the end or the world ending

Another example can be found in the popular Asterix and Obelix books by Goscinny and Uderzo. The village chief, Vitalstatistix is a heroic and fearless warrior, but consistently believes that at any time the sky could fall on the heads of his tribe, the Gaul’s.

It could be easy to negate these fables as having the sole purpose of humorously pointing us to being aware of our innate irrational fears, allowing us to grin at ourselves and each other without giving it much more thought.

Let’s turn then to Swiss psychologist, C.J. Jung (1873–1961), revered for his deep exploration of the human subconscious for some illumination on the subject, by looking at a few basic Jungian concepts.

“In the psychology of Carl Jung, myths are the expression of a culture or society’s goals, fears, ambitions and dreams (Indick, “Classical Heroes in Modern Movies: Mythological Patterns of the Superhero”, 93–95)” [1]

“Jung asserted that all humans share certain innate unconscious psychological forces, which he called archetypes. Jung believed that the similarities between the myths from different cultures reveals the existence of these universal archetypes.[56]” [2]

In Jungian psychology, [an archetype is] an inherited pattern of thought or symbolic image that is derived from the past collective experience of humanity and is present in the unconscious of the individual. Also called imago [3]

We shall now briefly consider what archetypes are, from a Jungian point of view and what they do. To do so I shall summarise by using the following analogy: Humans are all issued with the same basic “operating system” which is the psyche, our software so to say, with our bodies being the “hardware”. The archetypes come pre-installed like imagery and idea activation and recognition “applications”. 

Essentially our archetypes provide us with pre-installed recognition and familiarity of some phenomena in the world, even if we have not come across such phenomena before. However the archetypes need to be calibrated and defined better by encountering real life phenomena relevant to the archetype.

Archetypes are unconscious and influence us in various ways which we are for the most part unaware of. People are unique depending on which archetypes influence their personality or character more or the most. As an aside, archetypes can be mistaken for instincts and vice versa.

Considering the nature of archetypes as very briefly explored, it should follow that archetypes could or would have the ability to lead to intuition and potentially premonition or even precognition. In other words archetypes can contain metaphorical and symbolical guidance or guidelines. Importantly archetypes have intentionality.

In the 1950′s Carl Jung clearly identified an archetype of “the end time” or “the end of an era”. Due to the nature of his work he became aware of this archetype becoming conscious in the collective psyche and was pointing to inherent knowledge within humanity that major transformation was on the horizon. Jung became aware that humanity was becoming aware of what the ancients such as the Mayans had been aware of for centuries: Imminent change on a grand scale. The question of how fast the coming change would occur was and had been always been open for interpretation. This was one of the triggers and reasons for the mass hysteria we witnessed towards the end of 2012.

Jung’s identification of “an archetype of the end” motivated him even more to dedicate his life to his school of psychology which promotes becoming responsible through the process of individuation. Ultimately through this process we as a species, if applied universally, would or should be able to avoid much of the apocalyptic destruction and disaster which we fear so much, by applying preventative measures and changing our lifestyles. Jung was highly intuitive and had an acute understanding of the  intentionality of this archetype.

At this point we need to ask ourselves whether this process of mass individuation has been happening or whether it is happening. It is hard to avoid coming to the conclusion that Carl Jung my have been very idealistic in his vision, although through no fault of his own, but rather due to the lack of willingness on the part of the human race of becoming more responsible, even when faced with it’s own destructive nature.

In the next installment we shall consider where we are as a collective in this context and why…

By Jean-Jacques @ Gypsy Café. © 2014. All Rights Reserved.

This is Part 2 of a series. Part 1 can be read here.

With special acknowledgement to  C.J. Jung Society of Ireland.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. Interpretations of Jungian concepts are the author’s and are used to motivate certain philosophical arguments within the context of this essay. Jungian themes are briefly touched upon and this does not constitute a comprehensive overview.

For Jungian terms, please see: Jung Lexicon – A Primer of Terms & Concepts by Daryl Sharp.

Citations and references:




Authentic Treedom

People are like treesHerbert Park, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Photo  by  Jean-Jacques M. (Feb 2012).  © 2012 – 2014. All Rights Reserved


People are like trees.

Depending on the forest, they are all similar, yet different.

In very many forests the trees are so similar that the odd trees really stand out.

These are the trees we are drawn to find shade under, or talk to, or confide in, or share our dreams and thoughts with.

Often it’s just good to know that there are trees which can be trusted to be different.

In most forests authentic growth is not permitted.

When forests were planted, it happened on occasion that a seed from a far away forest found it’s way by air or other means to the local forest. 

Initially on the outside the odd tree looks like any other tree, but inside it grows differently, because it came from another type of seed.

As these trees grow they start showing very unique attributes, so the forest keepers try to prune them into submission and conformity. 

Every now and again such a tree would grow back into itself and the pruning process is repeated.

Nevertheless eventually the cutting down attempts start up, but these trees are not felled easily. Due to all their re-growing efforts they had become extremely resilient, tough and strong.

Uprooting this type of tree proves futile due the depth of its roots, which goes all the way back to the forest it originates from.

Still, eccentric trees are not full of poison or hatred for what had been done to them, but they are wise to the natures of many forest keepers and also many generic trees.

On closer inspection these trees can be identified by their calluses, multiple knots, scars and their thick bark, giving character and a rich texture to their individuality.

Odd trees are descendents from an era of forests which grew wildly and freely with well preserved natural ecosystems.

It’s in such forests where seeds are more likely to be uniquely activated, but difficult winters are mandatory for shaping their characters fully.

During times of drought odd trees tend to survive due to the amount of life giving water retained in their deeper roots and core.

Sometimes the entire ecosystems in which eccentric trees stand become so unbalanced that these are the only trees which remain alive, being fully functional self nurturing ecosystems within themselves.

It’s from the buried roots of these trees which ecosystems eventually recover fully, even if these trees themselves appear to have been dead for years. 

In an ideal forest all trees would aspire to become uniquely independent and self sufficient trees.

Fortunately the winds of time have spread odd tree seeds far and wide, but not in large quantities, making them present, but increasingly rare. 

Even in middle to old age, after weathering particularly harsh storms, these trees always return to form.

Onlookers are mesmerised by their re-established youthfulness, beauty and attractiveness, energy and vibrancy.

When strong winds batter the forest, trees in close proximity manage to survive as well by being shielded by them.

The function of independent trees is not to shield for too long, but to guide other trees to stand strong on their own terms and strengthen their roots.

Seedlings which grow in the shade of these actualised trees may or may not be strongly influenced by them. That is the nature of the choice which all seedlings have, to either learn or not learn from their elders.

Individuated trees know that the roots of all trees finally lead back to the original forest, but that the roots of the vast majority of trees have become severed over time or have never developed fully due to restricted growth and willful conformity.

A tree which makes the right choice to reconnect its roots and follow them back to their origin and source, stands a good chance of becoming a self-transcended tree in a forest of chosen mediocrity. 

Even forest keepers seek shade under these trees eventually, having gained respect for them over time, in spite of themselves.

Being an eccentric tree is not an easy life, but it’s the most authentic life a tree can live. Besides, it may be the only way for a tree to stay well and to continue to grow in a modern day unwell forest.

Original trees never fade, they just go through seasons. That’s the nature of Authentic Treedom.


By Jean-Jacques @ Gypsy Café. © 2014. All Rights Reserved.

R.I.P. Nelson Mandela: 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013



Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013

** Hamba Kahle Madiba **

Nelson Mandela on Ubuntu

A Visit to Robben Island

Building the New World Within (1)

He who wants the world to remain as it is do not want it to remain at allBerlin Wall. Photographed in 1998  by  Jean-Jacques M.  Copyright © 1998 – 2013. All Rights Reserved.

World without end. We find this phrase in various religious scriptures and prayers including Catholicism and Rastafarianism. It’s a Doxology. It means forever. It is not meant to be taken literally as in the physical world will never end. However without too much reflection we would have to conclude that it would be quite exceptional for the world to completely end and it would be hard to imagine how that would happen.  There will always be forever. Forever is not dependent on the planet or the solar system or the galaxy even. It might depend on there being a universe and a concept of time, although it’s likely that in this context forever implies beyond time and space.

The end of the world theme has been a human preoccupation for forever, for as long as man can remember. Armageddon has yet to come and the much anticipated end of the world in 2012 ended in the continuation of the world. Some say it all depends on one’s interpretation of “the end”. The ancients had a metaphysical understanding of this important predicted event in time, which relates to human consciousness ending its present phase and shifting into a different one. It is meant to signify the end of a cycle and the beginning of another. The Mayans were experts in mapping consciousness, whereas relatively speaking modern man has made limited inroads into the subject. Consciousnesses is a field of study we seem to find less important than science for example. It’s just too… intangible, too metaphysical some might say.

Yet the meaning of “the end” was taken very literal by very many of us “moderns”. Are we then for the most part superstitious anyway? The question begs to be asked, why would we being as sophisticated and advanced as we are, be so influenced by predictions from ancient belief systems? In addition why would we misconstrue the meaning of the end of a non-Gregorian calendar cycle and get so carried away? One might even ask, why would we care? Regardless, what we witnessed running up to and around the “end date” was the “collective consciousness of man” virtually swept away in a tide of angst ridden hysteria.

Heraclitus’ was famously quoted as saying: “Nothing is more constant than change”. This is undoubtedly true, but it would be a fair observation to make that one thing more constant than change is human beings’ resistance to it. We are not referring here to technological change or other forms of “modernisation”, but rather change of the unknown kind. The “unknown” means uncertainty. Uncertainty means the potential loss of security and this goes to the very heart of our modern sense of self.

To be more specific, as individuals we attach our sense of self to our jobs, our material possessions, our income, our status, our social groups, our education and our physical abodes. Generally we all aspire to the same. These psychological and physical structures of comfort are requirements for feeling good about ourselves. We build our strengths and abilities within them, but not beyond them.

Within our cocoons of comfort we find security in conformity and perceived individuality in a culture of individual uniformity. Take our comforts away and we are shielded from the real world no more, let alone prepared for a potential “new world” beyond a major shift. Change may challenge everything we know; a shift promises to demand from us what we really do not know. Herein lies the fear.

However, our resistance to change is not an unknown phenomenon. There must have been something else afoot. Throughout history the end has always been nigh, some way somehow. For example the previously famous now almost forgotten Y2K event comes to mind. Could it be possible then that as a species we have an innate biological fear of extinction which is sometimes triggered by particular events? Alternatively in the case of 2012, did we subconsciously know collectively that “something was up”?  Was something up? Let’s explore this more.

To be continued…

By Jean-Jacques @ Gypsy Café. © 2013. All Rights Reserved.

This is Part 1 of a series.



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