Ooofda. When I compiled these quotes almost a month ago, I saw this one, this big, huge, chunky one and I thought, “aw, hell.”
Welcome to Day 26 of “30 Days of Jung,” my series, wherein (soon, I will start repeating myself, like now) I take a famous quote of Carl G. Jung‘s and try to make sense or refute or invert or disembowel it or where I turn into a heaping pile of mush because of it in 1,000 words or less.
If you don’t know who Jung is, he formulated the theories of introverted and extroverted personalities, the stages of individuation, the basis of the “Meyers-Briggs” personality (INFJ / ESFJ, etc.) tests. He’s the “father” of modern-day psychoanalysis. In short, he’s a badass. But he’s dead, so he can’t be with us today.
“The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the whole moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook on life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ — all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself — that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness — that I myself am the enemy who must be loved — what then? As a rule, the Christian’s attitude is then reversed; there is no longer any question of love or long-suffering; we say to the brother within us “Raca,” and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide it from the world; we refuse to admit ever having met this ‘least among the lowly’ in ourselves.”
Yesterday, I rephrased his quote. Today, I’m going to blow it off altogether and try to get to the nut of it.
Amazingly, it threads a lot of what we’ve talked about this week. Well, since I began this, really. It is so rich, really. There are many fantastic elements for me.
Once I get past all the hyperbole and comparisons, to me, the essence of this quote is in the first sentence and the final clause: “we refuse to admit ever having met this ‘least among the lowly’ in ourselves.” (I added the single quotes in the original and the excerpt for context and emphasis.)
When he says “whole outlook on life” I think he’s meaning Whole-whole as in entire-self, self-aware, self-actualized.
He’s talking about self-love. He’s talking about deep self-love and more likely, craven, feral self-loathing. I’ve seen that self-loathing in people I used to know; it makes their eyes as black as pitch and their voices thunderous and coarse and nothing is safe.
The timing of this is interesting. Preparing this post, I was trying to figure out my approach and then I happened up on the YouTube video of Dustin Hoffman talking about the making of “Tootsie” and a revelation he had while in make-up before the production went underway. Go ahead, watch it if you haven’t seen it already.
Now someone pick my face up out of the toilet from barfing too much and get me a washcloth to wipe off my mouth.
I read some of the comments on the video and one struck me most (paraphrasing): when women say this about each other, we get crickets. When a man says, it, we get applause.
When an academy-award winning, classicly trained, stage, film, audio, musical ACTOR says it, up go my flags. Is this an anniversary for “Tootsie” or something? Has Hoffman, whom I respect greatly, not gotten enough love lately? (Don’t worry, I’ll get to Jung in a sec, like now, like I have been….) Hoffman IS showing us that darker, ‘least among the lowly’ in all of us; he described it in the retrospective and I dare say it that he’s doing it again IN THAT VIDEO. I’ll be a jerk and say it. I’m calling him out a little. The pauses and chokes were just … so nice. Couldn’t get the tears to roll though… he blew it on that one… he should’ve thought of puppies dying.
I grew up with An Act-ress! She could man-i-pulllll-ate like a pack of wild dogs (a seemingly weak metaphor, but not really if you know what I’m talking about); I’d see her coming and I’d drop the steak, drop the toy, drop the candy…
It was folly trying to predict one moment from the next. In a comedic way, it was like living with Doug Henning, that weird 80s magician with the buck teeth and the long hair. As I aged, I really had no clue about anything she was involved in regarding my safety and operated at a DefCon 2 (code orange) at all times. I was locked and loaded, just not trained on my sight yet. After a while I eventually gave up trying to understand or trying to believe.
Those were moments of the ‘least among the lowly’ in my life. I refer to Hoffman because I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d like to believe him, and I might NOW rather than how he states it was then. Maybe he’s more evolved and I should be less least lowly; if what he’s saying is true, about his reactions and sadnesses and cutting out people (not just women — this is gender neutral to me) based on appearances, then it’s more than the OTHER people he’s talking about but not talking about. He’s NOT talking about his least lowly self, his arrogance, his perception that he was better than they were. His disconnection…. with this video clip, I believe we’re just getting to the proverbial tip of the iceberg in human relations. It’s not how OTHER people look/behave/say/do, it’s what’s WE, the receivers of that information, that intangible sensory data, do with the data.
Again, with emphasis, chins up: It’s not just because Hoffman didn’t notice women who were what he found to be considered beneath his view, it’s because Hoffman didn’t stop there. It’s not about women, it’s not about men and it’s not about OTHERS. It’s about us. The least among the lowly of us all — that arrogance, that belittling, that other stuff that prevents us all from self-love and thus from loving others. It’s not what he failed to see in others, it’s what he failed to see in himself which prevented him from seeing others.
Wayne, I’m not done yet, so I sense you right now…
Jung uses “Raca” as a self-admonition and self-reproach. Raca is Aramaic for “worthless” and “vain” and “empty.” It’s a derivation of “to spit.”
Pretty heavy stuff. What else can generate a sense of raca in others, than a sense of raca for ourselves? Jung is ALL OVER this concept — you can’t give what you don’t have.
How many among us can easily refer to ourselves as raca without daring to consider it about another person — we’d have to be really pushed very hard to say that about someone else. Personally, I have found myself saying raca about myself regardless of how much I do for others. How much I volunteer my time, how much I do for my family, how much I do for my community and for others.
Why, just the other day in therapy I was talking about my feelings of worthlessness which are based on fears of scarcity and lashing verbal threats of poverty that I endured as a child (please don’t
shriek discuss dire matters of finance in front of your young children). And it was just yesterday I felt like I was “a suckhole” (my word, get your own) on my family because I do not earn income and I spend our assets on things (clothes, food, gas, entertainment). That despite all I have done in my life, all I have accomplished, all I have contributed and all I have yet to contribute and to serve, that I feel worthless, like a suckhole, like raca. That raca builds on itself.
Jung asserts that the reversal of the Christian attitude is a “rule” — that we say raca and condemn our darker selves from the world; we hide our suffering and our needs and refuse to admit — not even reject, but to repel! — that ‘brother’ in ourselves. That feels a lot like self-rejection to me.
I don’t know what to do with that, really. Is he suggesting that we are in denial of our self-condemnation or that we are silently suffering? “That which we resist, persists” – CGJ. If we hide our darker side and we act as if we don’t possess it…
Gah, I wish he weren’t dead.
I know that every one of us possesses a darker side and I know that I don’t repel mine, but I don’t like it; I try to work with it, soften it. But there is part of us that is pure animal, irrational, primitive and horrific. How do you tame that? Somehow most of us manage every day. In our American, civilized society we have laws, rights, rules, liberties, codes and mandates. They help a ton! Do they repress us? I don’t know. Could we be like The Wild Things without the rules? Even when King Max arrived, they bent to his laws. Is it our nature to need boundaries and guidelines? I think so. But I know that’s not real; if that little boy Max really went to an island with those creatures he’d be toast.
My session ended well, we talked about how my feelings of being a suckhole are steeped deeply in concerns dumped on me by my parents and their irrationality and their lack of control of their adult situations. That’s not my issue to carry anymore. I am trying actively to shed it; it’s a matter of getting my emotions to sync up with my intellect and it takes some time and some practice. Maybe I’ll spend money irrationally on something one of these days… 😉
— that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness — that I myself am the enemy who must be loved —
…Stand in need of the alms of my own kindness.
Jeezus, yes. Hell yes. Arms outstretched, palms up, wide open, face up, tears streaming, vulnerable, waiting… for ourselves to be kind to ourselves. Yes, Jung is talking about a very deep part of ourselves that we at times seem unwilling to face or change. How wonderful would it be for us to release feelings of raca. How wonderful and how amazing we could be. How wonderful and amazing we already are.
This was almost 1800 words; this was a long quote and I don’t think I’m nearly done with it yet. I’ll let you guys take it from here…
when i saw that quote a while ago, i was struck by its size; it’s so much longer than all the others. but its length belies is intention which is quite simple but so hard to accomplish: love yourself too.