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Posts Tagged ‘climate’

I will be co-teaching a short course at Schumacher College this coming May on Psyche & Climate with my colleague Stephan Harding. It will be a unique opportunity and environment to explore the relationship between Psyche and Earth as it manifests in terms of climate. Here is a brief description of the course:

Explore the connections between the inner dynamics of the psyche and how these manifest outwardly as climate change. More specifically, we’ll explore the ways in which insights from Jungian depth psychology can help us to explore the roots of the climate crisis and to therefore act more effectively to do something about it.

You can find our more about the course by clicking here.

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The Gods We Worship

“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”

Clive Hamilton

I have been thinking about the root cause of our global climate dilemma. Increases in greenhouse gases are a direct result of our continual burning of fossil fuels to generate energy. We burn more to create more and more energy. This need for energy is deeply rooted in our belief in never ending growth. We worship the god of Growth, the belief that economies must increase year after year. Such an eternal state of growth requires infinite reserves of natural resources. Since our resources are not infinite, there is no way to sustain eternal Growth. Yet, we cannot face this fact. We prefer to worship this God, turning our backs on reality. Eternal growth is the modern worlds living myth. Jung (CW 8, par. 333) wrote that, “Hunger makes food into gods.” Anything that we yearn for, in exclusion of other factors in life, becomes a god. Many may say they believe in a spiritual god, or the protection of nature, or the sovereignty of their nation state, but reality flies against these words. For in consuming the world, we turn our backs on spirit, nature and sovereignty.

What sustains this god of Growth? Psychologically, it is the desire to consume the world. Of course, we need to consume to stay alive. Consumption is a natural aspect of all life. Joseph Campbell once observed that life feeds on life in order to survive. It is the degree to which we consume that has become absurd and destructive. Psychologists Deborah Du Nann Winter and Susan Kroger point out that “…in the industrialized countries, an average person consumes 3 times as much fresh water, 10 times as much energy, 14 times as much paper, and 19 times as much aluminum as someone in a developing country.” They further point out it is estimated that each day the average American uses 3 to 4 times as much energy as the average European. What are we getting for all of this consumption? I seriously doubt that the average American is 3 to 4 times happier than the average European. Yet, we continue to consume more and more to feed the god of Growth. Jung recognized that all gods – or archetypes – contain their opposites. The opposite to the god of Growth is that of Destruction. If consciousness is one-sidedly fixed on Growth, then we know what lurks in the shadows of the unconscious, its polar opposite. Jungian psychology is grounded in bringing consciousness into the world. In light of this, Jungian work  faces the fact that Earth does not contain infinite resources. We in the West need to question what we are gaining with all of this over-consumption. Can we begin to contemplate worshiping a new god of Equilibrium or Balance?

 

 

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