Suffering that is not understood is hard to bear, while on the other hand it is often astounding to see how much a person can endure when he understands the why and the wherefore. A philosophical or religious view of the world enables him to do this, and such views prove to be, at the very least, psychic methods of healing if not of salvation.
C.G. Jung -- The Symbolic Life
The Coronavirus, COVID-19, has taken over the world. Just like that, all of a sudden. Humanity is suffering in a new way, and it has taken us all by surprise.
I see the timing of the Coronavirus as connected to our modern technological era and the spiritual ethical crisis of humanity.
I am extremely thankful for the great work of the care takers of the world, the nurses and doctors, the ‘mothers’, caring for all the people in need in this dreadful epidemic. At the same time, I also see some Light in these troubled times. The crazy fast pace of the world, that escalated so much in the last few decades of our technological era, is suddenly forced to slow down, and we see a different ‘world’.
Some places see more blue sky, more clean waters, hear more silence, more bird songs, and see more acts of compassion among people. More than that, the forests are happier, healthier, the animals are safer. The oceans and the air, the atmosphere, are cleaning up.
In the last years we have seen the rise of the movement ER -“Extinction Rebellion” - in many countries, as a strong persistent fight for the environment. We have also seen Greta Thunberg, the young prophet of climate change, rise to carry Mother Earth's message of rage and protest around the globe. Many other young women and people around the world, have done the same. The governments in general had mocked and rejected these messages at worst, and at best, they say, "we will do our best," and obviously it has not been enough to stop the planet from warming up. The destruction of wildlife and forests and the pollution of the oceans keep escalating due to the practice of the old ways of depleting Mother Earth resources by the oil, mining, fracking, logging companies, all owned by corporations, the 1% billionaires, hiding behind the global capitalistic theory of ‘economic growth’. Moreover, the increasing electrification of the planet's atmosphere, by new technologies and satellites such as the latest 5G, is definitely proven to be not compatible with healthy life on Earth, for humans and all other living organisms.
We all know that story by now. Whether we think about it daily or not, it is impossible to ignore it any longer. That is the ’zeitgeist'- spirit of the times - into which the Coronavirus has come.
Mother Earth is not happy with us. We, humans, are the virus for her, we have become an invasive species that is depleting her body, killing so much of the life on her. We are not behaving in a way that she can tolerate us for much longer, and she will not. More precisely, she is not.
The Coronavirus is just about that. As a Jungian dream analyst, I feel the need to see and understand the message of this ‘epidemic’ since I believe that what happens to us in the individual and social spheres always has a way of bringing the responsibility back to ourselves in order to get more conscious, to develop our spirits for the evolution of humanity and the planet.
As an artist that believes in finding meaning through spirit paths, I look at this crisis also as a story, a ‘modern myth', that like a personal dream or any ancient myth or tale, has hidden important messages for our times. By interpreting the symbolic language of our times, we gain knowledge coming from the depth of our unconscious, the source of any true and lasting renewal. As Einstein used to say, “The imagination is more important than knowledge."
I believe that we are witnessing a result of humanity's spiritual downfall. No, we are not being punished. I do not believe in crime and punishment, good and evil, original sin. Those are the premises of the religions of the Book--the Bible and the Koran. These concepts are not part of my belief. I am talking about the lack of a true spirituality to guide ethical behaviour in our modern technological times. I see clearly that humanity is behaving as if it is not part of the web of life of the planet. We have turned against the same organism that birthed and nourishes us, that provides the food, water and air to sustain our lives. In other words, we are behaving just like a virus, a cancer of Mother Earth.
We have broken the wholeness that keeps us alive, and we are witnessing its results. Let me tell you how I see and interpret this “modern myth”: This virus goes directly to our lungs, stopping us from breathing. Breath, the common practice in meditation, is a known symbol of 'Spirit'. In Hebrew the word 'Neshama' means 'Soul'; it comes from the same root as the word for breathing--‘leenshom’.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19), evolved in a province in China and apparently originated from bats. What is 'China'? What could that place stand for symbolically? China is the next upcoming modern empire, a capitalistic force that is taking over the world; after the ‘rise and fall of the American Empire’, China is the next one on line. We all saw it coming since in the last few decades, almost everything we bought was ‘made in China’. Those huge transoceanic ships were coming and going, back and forth from China into the whole world, with massive production of goods, taking over the global markets one by one. Of course it is all based on very cheap labor; I would call it ‘slavery’, primarily of children and women, and poor men, who work around the clock for mere survival, so that we, mostly in the First World, can buy goods really ‘cheap’, and accumulate more and more of them.
Symbolically, the origin of the Coronavirus is in the next upcoming world capitalistic empire. Specifically, the outbreak of the epidemic was in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, the first city to roll out 5G technology (or among the first). I am not claiming cause and effect here, but suggesting that it is all related. The latest technologies do not test enough their impact on our health, how they affect our immune systems or the well-being of life in general.
Next, if we assume that the virus originated from bats--what do these night creatures stand for? Bats are commonly associated with ‘vampires’. They thrive at night, in the ‘Darkness' which is symbolic of the unconscious and related to our shadow side.
The ’Shadow' in Jungian and spiritual terms stands for the part of us that we are not aware/conscious of, and from our Ego point of view, we do not want to see and accept. Who wants to admit that s/he is a ‘vampire’, that sucks the blood of others, (the labour of the less fortunate people), feeding by killing other living creatures on Earth such as animals, poor people, women, children.
But isn't it the foundation of the kind of capitalism that we have developed, one without any moral ethical foundation? An economic system that has destroyed not only wild nature, oceans, animal species, but also conquered the ’Third World’, exterminating aboriginal societies all over, in America, Australia, Africa, creating slavery, human trafficking, massive poverty, and the oppression of women and children all over.
Each one of us carries a ‘shadow vampire' inside, specially the more affluent among us, who benefit the most from the structure of capitalism as it has evolved by now. To be wealthy, in goods and money, has become a global ‘dream’; everybody wants to be ‘rich’, to live the ‘American life style’; money is the new ‘God' and consumerism its religion. Are not the shopping malls the new temples? But where does the Spirit hide? The heart?
The Corona myth continues. From China the virus went right into Italy and multiplied there in no time. Why Italy? What could Italy stand for symbolically? Italy is the site of the ancient Western European civilization which saw the rise and fall of the Roman Catholic Empire. The Vatican is its symbol, representing the major religion of the western world, one that conquered so many countries and people as a missionary religion. As a symbol, it stands for the beginning of the patriarchal mind and ethics, the roots of capitalism. It is based on the elevation and dominance of the masculine head over the feminine one--God the Father and the Son stands for Spirit, and the male priests and ministers are the authority of the law down on Earth. This is a religion that from its beginning institutionalized misogyny, the subjugation and contempt for women, in total opposition to the Goddess and Native ways which in their feminine nature, considered themselves as part of Mother Earth and respected the web of life.
The Coronavirus begins by attacking the beginning and end of patriarchal Imperialism, the origins and major upcoming centres of the system that has raped Mother Earth in the last centuries.
Next, let’s look at the shape and name of this deadly virus. Viruses are excretions of a toxic cell; they are pieces of DNA or RNA, (with a few other proteins), that come out of the cell when it gets poisoned. If we poison our cells with toxics--chemical, radioactive, electromagnetic--we will get viruses. As simple as that.
The Coronavirus looks like a tiny globe, a sphere, a ball. A circle is a well known symbol of wholeness and integration, like the Yin/Yang and many other circular forms like dream-catchers, mandalas for prayers, plazas, centres of towns. More striking, it is a tiny globe, like planet Earth in space. Its name “Corona” in Spanish means 'Crown', a symbol of royalty, carried by the royal family, the King and Queen. This crown is in the shape of a globe with extensions. Could it represent the crown of Mother Earth, forced on us to wear so we should accept our true loyalties? We are clearly forced to see how we are all related, belonging to one global class, a human tribe.
“All my relations" is a blessing of the First Nations people which I always loved and took to mean that all life on Earth--like trees, rivers, animals...--are all my brothers and sisters. First Nations and Aboriginals of the world have carried this wisdom for millennia. If we, white people, did not want to see and accept that we are part of that global tribe, than we know it now, by force. The old class systems are falling down. No one is saved from this virus. Rich or poor, white or black, man or woman, we all belong to the same human group, the global one.
We have no choice now but to wear this crown for good and for bad. The myth continues. As the Coronavirus infected humanity, people all over the world are forced to stay home (if they have one), to stay put, to be isolated, not mingle with each other. To stop the daily routines of extroverted lives that are constantly looking out for activities, work, entertainment, as well as socializing and caring for others. Most people are not familiar with ‘introversion', with the ability to be in solitude and be fed by that.
Our modern patriarchal societies, are organized around the ‘masculine principle’, the Yang energy, the fire, action-oriented. We are educated to be doers; we love to be active. More and more, we don’t like to be passive (that is too feminine!), and if we stop, many do yoga, meditation, trying to still be productive by working on our bodies and minds. The true feminine energy is one of simply BEING. The art of receiving, like in the Kabbalah (the Receiver) and the I Ching (The Receptive). That is mostly a way of life that is totally foreign and despised by modern western society.
The East was more familiar with it, but not so much these days. Our capitalistic patriarchal mind has infected the whole world, and it is organized around Doing, producing, achieving, conquering, manipulating, making new things, in technology, in science, in commerce, in space, in everything. More is better. It is not a world, a mind frame, that encourages reflection, imagination, receiving, being quiet, observing, paying attention, being aware, developing consciousness, listening to our depth of feeling, to our intuition. Neither does it promote being at one with nature with all its manifestations, embracing the wholeness of creation, becoming one with it instead of conquering and manipulating it. All that is the feminine way.
Don’t let me be misunderstood, I appreciate the masculine very much, as much as the feminine, no less no more. The beautiful masculine intellectual discerning function is working for me right now as I write this paper, and action is blessed when it is guided by the heart. My point is that the world is very much out of balance between the masculine and feminine principles. We need to restore inner and outer balance of these energies in an individual and global way.
To our surprise, as a result of the Coronavirus, we are being forced to be more feminine, more introverted, quiet and receptive, to sit at home, to stop most activities and to care for ourselves and each other. We have to stop running around trying to produce more, to conquer new external horizons, and we have the opportunity to reflect on what the hell is happening to humanity and to our world! We are forced to be in isolation. But isolation, what is that about? I believe it calls for us to be with our Self. But who is my Self ? Have you ever answered the simple question of, "Who am I?"
On the entrance to Delphi, where the ancient Greek Oracle resided, is written, ‘Know Yourself’. It is the same question that the Goddess in the Matrix film asks Neo (the ‘newman') to answer as the key to finding his true calling in life. That is the most important question posited by spiritual disciplines through the ages, since to 'know myself' is to know my unique spirit path, my authentic inner voice, my true values and priorities in life (beyond social pressures). But how can we get to know ourselves if we are always looking out instead of in, if we do not have the silence to hear our inner voice, if we do not stop and ‘isolate' ourselves from the crowds and their voices and influence? I know from my lifetime work, that our personal dreams have the ability to guide us into ourselves, to show us the path to self knowledge. So does our imagination and communion with nature. All are gates to our inner world, to our heart and spirit. Knowing how to be alone, unplugged, reflecting, listening to our dreams, to our unconscious, receiving images, feelings and ideas from the source, our Spirit world, is the only way to get to know ourselves. Nobody can hear our hearts more clearly than we can; it is an ‘isolated' thing to do.
Sacred Mother Earth is asking us to bring back balance into our lives and worlds. To quit our arrogance and assumptions that we are not her children, depending on Her for our survival. If we listen carefully to our hearts, we can hear Her calling. Anybody that walks alone in nature, with no fear, can feel that Her sacred spirit is everywhere.
I feel that the meaning of Corona can be understood better if we listen. Like it or not, we are all forced to embrace this new reality, one given to us by Mother Earth, our one and only true home--and what an amazing home this planet is! We are called to create together a new spiritual and ethical reality, one that will guide us in new ways of living more consciously of our interconnection not just with each other, as humans, but also with all life on Earth. We are our worst enemy; we need to see and embrace it as a part of us, otherwise we will always see the ‘enemy' outside. A new ethics can only come out from individuals embracing their own shadow and being responsible for not acting it out. Each one of us is capable of being a vampire, a ‘virus’, (often done unconsciously), but we are also capable of wearing Mother Earth's crown as her proud and responsible children who acknowledge our place in the web of life with modesty and gratitude and respect.
So far, Mother Earth, in her mercy, is not wiping us out totally, but she is sending us more and more clear messages, more wild fires and tsunamis and viruses. I believe she is giving us a chance to learn, reflect, evolve and mend our ways. Now, with the Coronavirus she is stopping us on our heels, keeping us at home for a while and asking us to reflect about both our individual and global ways--they are one and the same. The personal is political and is global. In Gandhi’s words: "Be the change you want to see in the world."
What do you want to see? Who are you ? What are your ethics? So the myth of Corona continues and will continue for a while longer. Being a seeker, an artist/dreamer all my life, I had mostly lived this way of ‘isolation' and introspection, choosing wild nature over urban life and crowds, following spirit. Many people are quite anxious, panicked even, and do not understand that looking for meaning is the spirit healing path, and meaning always hides in the shadows, in our unconscious, in our hearts--you will not find it in your head, in the ideas of the ego mind.
The Coronavirus is part of our lives now, of our new myth, and we need to see how it relates to the world we have created in socio/political, scientific and material ways, but more so, on a deep spiritual and symbolic way. No real change can happen until we see and embrace the unity of all--inside out, wholeness in a personal and global way--and start making conscious ethical choices, not forced, imposed ones like now. The next collective spiritual evolution is possible now, if we learn from this crisis.
"When one can feel with Goethe that 'everything transient is but a symbol,' then meaning can be found not only in creativity, joy and love but also in impasse, suffering and conflict. Then life can be lived as a work of art.” (E.C. Whitmont -- The Symbolic Quest)
If we don’t learn and change, Mother Earth will continue to send us lessons, until we get it, or not.
The big question is: are we going to evolve or are we going to join the dinosaurs and other species that did not serve any longer the wellbeing of the web of our planet ? I wonder if this myth will have a different ending? If we will make human life a work of art?