Friday, July 13, 2012

Why Patriarchal Consciousness Fears Death

I'm especially pleased that I'm publishing this on Friday the 13th!  I love synchronicity!

Why Patriarchal Consciousness Fears Death
            With the advent of the Cartesian scientific world view, a distortion occurred in our Judeo-Christian belief that we are stewards of the Earth.  Christianity, on the other hand, fearing the growing influence of scientific thought over people’s beliefs, unfortunately refused to incorporate this new scientific understanding into its cosmology. The result was a twisting of both beliefs that has caused a great amount of the damage to the Earth and our psyches.  With the belief that science was slipping further and further away from any belief in divine spirit at work in matter, and religion rejecting the spirit in matter, we got cut off from our place in the scheme of things. 
Our Western cultural dominants – both science and religion - have cut us off from our instinctual knowledge of life. These dominants represent the Father King who is so removed from life that he would marry his own daughter.  This is not to say that either science or western religions are evil; just that they have created an imbalance that adversely affects us all.  Because they devalued the Earth and the life of the body, when we experience something new or upsetting, we don't know how to let our bodies tell us what to do.  The Body Knows!  But our minds challenge that knowledge and we get stuck in the pros and cons of indecision. 
More importantly, as we separated ourselves from the Earth, we lost touch with the wisdom of the natural cycle of birth – death – rebirth, and so death became a mystery and the fear of the unknown attached itself to this inevitable part of life.  And as we rejected the feminine body and instinctual wisdom of the Earth, we lost track of the cycles that allowed for the fallow times.  Our masculine consciousness wanted it all – always alive, always moving forward, always being in control. 
 In the end, this fallow time, whether we call it unconsciousness or Chaos (nothingness or formlessness), becomes a silence which is equated with death, and so death became a fearful thing for us, suddenly split off from life instead of being a natural part of life.  When the scientific community began to view the Earth as dead matter, the Western psyche further split off from its grounding in the body, which the church had already damned as a major source of sin.  A new God-image arose, one in which the Earth, the body, as well as women, who were seen as the source of earthly life and pleasures, were condemned as 'the devil's playground' and we began to believe that life was an opening for sin, and sinners could not even hope for peace after death, for death brought them to their just punishment.   
     As our beliefs about the intrinsic goodness of the physical world changed, it created a split between our body and spirit, between our consciousness and our unconscious. Rejecting the life of the Earth cut us off from the wisdom of her cycles.  We hungered for more life, and fought against death itself, because we had lost our understanding of the necessary connection between life and death.  The images of our deep-seated fear of death entailed either pain and suffering or nothingness and chaos, rather than the ancient image of death as a doorway to new life (which Christ’s resurrection also ensured).
Death is still an inconvenience and a terror to us, and so we continue to misunderstand it.  We do not say, as many Native Americans warriors did, "It is a good day to die!" for we have very little understanding of what death means to us.  It is psychological and symbolic truth that our rejection of death constellates the very death we fear.   Perhaps this is the reason we live in a society that is destroying our environment and our health, and creates death all around us.  

            In Ursula Le Guin's wonderful Earthsea Trilogy, she images this fear of Death as a shadow, a shadow that drains all the joy and color out of life.  In The Farthest Shore, the Archmage Ged (Sparrowhawk) and the young king, Lebannen (Arren), go on a journey to try to restore the balance of life and death, which has been disrupted by a sorcerer who is so afraid of death that he has opened the gates between life and death and now cannot close them.  The young King wonders why men are destroying the trees and the earth, and the Mage explains that they have no guidance, no king to show them how to live in the Balance.
In his youthful innocence, Lebannen wonders how this one fearful man could so easily destroy the Balance of the world as his fear spreads    And he asks the Mage, "Where are the servants of this (man) Anti-King?"

            In our minds, lad.  In our minds.  The traitor, the self, the self that cries I WANT TO LIVE, LET THE WORLD ROT SO LONG AS I CAN LIVE!  The little traitor soul in us, in the dark, like the spider in the box.  He talks to all of us.  But only some understand him.  The wizards, the singers, the makers.  And the heroes, the ones who seek to be themselves.  To be oneself is a rare thing, and a great one.  To be oneself forever, is that not better still?

            Arren looked straight at Sparrowhawk .  'You mean that it is not greater.  But tell me why. . . . I have learned to believe in death.  But I have not learned to rejoice over it, to welcome my death, or yours.  If I love life, shall I not hate the end of it? 
. . .
            'Life without end,' the mage said.  'Life without death.  Immortality.   Every soul desires it, and its health is the strength of its desire.   But be careful, Arren.  You are one who might achieve your desire.'

            'And then?'

            'And then - this.  This blight upon the lands.  The arts of man forgotten.  The singer tongue less.  The eye blind.  And then?  A false king ruling.  Ruling forever.  And over the same subjects forever.  No births; no new lives.  No children.  Only what is mortal bears life, Arren.  Only in death is there rebirth.  The Balance is not a stillness.  It is a movement - an eternal becoming.'10

            Are we one of those who would deny death, thereby denying the soul and the possibility of rebirth?  Or can we passionately love our lives and give them over to an eternal becoming?

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