Love me, so that I can love myself: A Western identity crisis.

In a previous post I mentioned that the need to be loved is, according to Maslow, a deficiency need and not a growth need. If your prime motivation in life stems from a deficiency need, you are automatically in deep trouble.

When Yann defines love as; “the desire to be desired”, he is actually describing, not love but the egocentric behaviour of modern man, the drive to be idolized, to be worshiped as a successful person. I do not need your love, I want your adolation and admiration. You are less than I am. I am what I have, and that is what you must desire. This is actually an immature narcissim, the bane of our modern society.

Anja van Kralingen’s response.
Anja se antwoord.

How this talk spoke to me

I thought that Yann expressed his theory succinctly and convincingly. I think he is onto something. And it doesn’t look good for the future of Western civilization. I recognize that seduction capital is what drives media, movies, TV, advertising and it certainly provides the impetus behind most sales strategies.

Schooling systems are designed to create productive, successful human beings with triple A personalities. There is no place for the creative, non-conformist child and to find an environment in which such a child is valued often comes at great cost to the parents. Many of these children are medicated to fit in because the parents feel pressured into having a “normal” child.

This resonates with Erich Fromm’s “Pathology of normalcy”. Says Fromm: “The fact that millions of people share the same form of mental pathology does not make these people sane.” And to medicate children so that they can conform to society’s pathological way of thinking, makes for a special kind of madness!

There is increasing urgency for people to improve themselves and a great desire to become perfect. Facebook is a means of assessing how others perceive us; it is important that we appear happy; as though we are constantly having fun.

We are driven to succeed and set goals. Modern focus in the therapy industry has moved from the depth psychological approach to behavioral and cognitive therapy. The goal is to become a functioning and productive member of society. For those who are already functioning and productive, the next step is coaching. You must set and achieve personal goals. There is always some aspect of you that needs improvement or “tweaking” to make you more successful, more acceptable and more lovable. Not only do you want to belong and be accepted; you also need to be better than anyone else at this game.

This drive towards “more” has nothing to do with love. As Yann said: “seduction value is preferable to being in an actual relationship.” It is in fact ego driven, the ego’s desire to be admired. Ken Wilber calls today’s young people the me-me-me generation, and this drive towards self improvement must not be confused with the individuation process described by Jung. It is purely self-agrandising. To equate this process with the self-actualization drive, is what Wilber calls a classic pre-trans fallacy, in other words to regard modern ego driven “successful” individuals as highly developed individuated, world-centric people.

So, you play this game. But nobody seems to know exactly what the game is or what the rules are. We just know we need to be better, cooler, more together, happier and on top of ourselves.

We live in a society that is focused on your value as a commodity. It does not matter which sub culture you belong to, your value in that environment is based on how well you fit in so that the other can accept you and love you. (Wilber’s Level 4 or “Amber” stage of development.)

At the Centre, we see firsthand what it is like for students to feel isolated, unloved, frustrated or lonely. Most people start on the Jungian journey because they are experiencing deep sadness. They feel lost and unhappy and disconnected from themselves and others.

A Jungian Solution

Yann has a romantic idea of tenderness and acceptance and is even willing to ridicule himself to achieve this. But to shift the whole of society to adopt this attitude would be quite an achievement; especially in a reality where failure is not an option.

Perhaps there is another way – Jung provides us with a unique solution to this challenge.  The key to the problem lies in changing our focus to become inherently and intrinsically valuable to ourselves; not to improve ourselves to impress others; not to pursue goals and standards that are set by society; not to pursue perfection; not to outdo our neighbour.

Although this is as idealistic as Yann’s solution, it can be accomplished. This is the focus and the work we do at the Centre for Applied Jungian Studies. I believe that the work we do affects, and profoundly changes, the orientation our clients and students have towards their lives and the world. Each one of these individuals in turn influences and teaches his/her friends, family and peers.

I think we all dumb down our own individuality in order to belong to a group. Even the fringe sub-cultures fall into this category. The moment you are sacrificing your interests, thoughts, feelings and needs in order to belong to a group, you fall into a trap; the trap of selling yourself out. The psychological truth is that your relationship with yourself is reflected in how you feel in your life. Are you feeling lost? Then you have lost yourself. Are you feeling lonely? Then you do not know yourself.

Every person should be encouraged and guided to individuate; to develop their inherent talents, their own interests and what makes them happy; to be individuals who are mindful of themselves and self-reflective; to who know who they are, what they are good at and what they are not good at; to have an internal compass to guide them; to be individuals who find meaning and purpose in expressing themselves uniquely. (To become world-centric, and even cosmo-centric instead of staying at the egocentric or ethnocentric stage of development.)

I believe, as did Jung, that this is of the utmost importance for the evolution of our society. It is no surprise that our society projects all that is unacceptable, undesirable and threatening onto the other. In this pursuit of perfection, all that is less than perfect will have to be carried by another so that we can feel okay about ourselves. No wonder there is so much genocide, hate, bullying, rape and oppression.

As Jung said, our ability to accept and accommodate each other lies in our ability to accept and accommodate ourselves. Inner strife and conflict is projected onto the other and I do believe that by pursuing individuation, we will achieve a love and respect for diversity, a tolerance for the other and the ability to accept and admire that which we are not. Self-acceptance is key to feeling content with oneself. Being at peace with and accepting yourself removes the barriers to being good enough and lovable enough. And this in turn brings about an acceptance of the other.

The Jungian Approach

Jung’s teachings are about finding out who you are. The focus is on the process of individuation, which is a journey towards becoming more (and more) yourself. This is not an outcome; it is journey. There are no rules that you need to obey or follow. It is a system, of tools and skills that teach consciousness – self-awareness and self-reflection. It is a movement inwards, towards yourself.

You are not born a tabula rasa (blank slate). The complexes, archetypes and unconscious parts of yourself comprise who you are. In a world in which we are pushed and molded to be like everyone else, the authentic self is suppressed and oppressed. But feelings of dissatisfaction and restlessness cannot be ignored; they seep out of us no matter what we do to silence the inner voice that is our true self.

There is an idea from Jungian psychology, that we become whole and congruent when we align ourselves with our complexes and archetypes. The mis-alignment is what causes neurosis, a condition in which you keep repeating a way of being or behavior that causes you to become stuck.

The Jungian approach is not exclusive. It does not expect you to break away from your current structures or religion. It is a process of making conscious what your world offers you. It can help you align yourself with your world and extract meaning from it.

Jung has left us a model; an approach to finding out who this essential being is beneath all that conditioning. The Jungian system will allow you to embrace who you are with a deep understanding and connection. Knowing who you are and understanding what is going on within yourself brings acceptance of self. Only once you have reconnected and aligned yourself with who you really are is it possible to uncover your true purpose.

The Conclusion

Last year we wrote a blog about the focus of the Jungian concept of transformation and I think this article expands on that. I do not believe that Jung’s approach is the only approach to achieving this goal, but it has worked for me and all the individuals who have been privileged to encounter this body of knowledge.

I want to encourage you as you read this, to reflect for yourself; what do you think your value is that makes you desirable; and what have you sacrificed to achieve it and keep it?

Can you say that you love yourself for who you are?

These are profoundly difficult questions to ask yourself since it requires total honesty and we, as human beings, have an uncanny knack of deceiving ourselves and justifying our own behavior. But the signs will be there if you are not living your authentic life; depression, anxiety, listlessness, sadness and feeling lost and unhappy. If these feelings keep cropping up, it is time to re-evaluate who you are and redefine yourself.

The path to authenticity is through developing a relationship with yourself. Find out who you are at the core; your essence. Learn how to speak the language of your soul and to engage your unconscious. Make friends with those parts of you which you don’t like. Learn to listen to your body, emotions and feelings, since this is the way to understanding what is really going on for you.

This is a beautiful response to Yann’s theory. I do not believe that his “light-hearted self-mockery” will get you anywhere. We have to grow up, wake up and show up (and fast) by transcending the ego by the process of individuation if we want to avert the catastrophy awaiting us by the hands of a fiew mad men posing as world leaders today.

I would like to leave you with a quote from Jung:

“… but, in so far as society is itself composed of de-individualized human beings, it is completely at the mercy of ruthless individualists. Let it band together into groups and organizations as much as it likes – it is just this banding together and the resultant extinction of the individual personality that makes it succumb so readily to a dictator. A million zeros joined together do not, unfortunately, add up to one. Ultimately everything depends on the quality of the individual, but our fatally short-sighted age thinks only in terms of large numbers and mass organizations, though one would think that the world had seen more than enough of what a well-disciplined mob can do in the hand of a single madman.

 … People go on blithely organizing and believing in the sovereign remedy of mass action, without the least consciousness of the fact that the most powerful organizations in the world can be maintained only by the greatest ruthlessness of their leaders and the cheapest of slogans.”

Carl Gustav Jung – The Undiscovered Self



Diegene wat die ongeskape ken,

Wie vry en kalm is,

Wie alle begeertes verwerp het,

Hulle is die mees agtenswaardig.

Dhammapada v97

Kommentaar deur Bhikkhu Munindo:

“ Op hierdie volmaan dag van Mei, wanner ons Wesak vier, laat ons oordenk wat die Boedha  voorgehou het as wat ons aandag waardig is.

Ons is alreeds goed ingelig oor die “geskape wêreld”, met anner woorde als wat gekonsidioneer is soos ons dit sien kom en gaan. En ons het al vele male gehoor hoedat dit wat gebore word sterf; als wat ontstaan vergaan; alle verskynsels is in ‘n ewigdurende  staat van verannering.

Die Boedha se insig wys dat dit moontlik is om te ontwaak tot wat hy die “ongebore”, “ongekondisioneerde”, “onverannerlike  werklikheid” genoem het. Bewuswording van hierdie werklikheid, het hy geleer, is betroubaar en daarom ons aandag waardig .

Hoe kan mens hierdie bewuswording teweegbring? Een manier is om aanhoudend die regte vrae te vra: wat is die ongebore; wat is die ongekondisioneerde; wat is die onsterflike? Dan oorpeins ons dat enige toestand, enige idee, enige sensasie wat voorkom wanner ons die vraag vra, nie dit is nie – en ons hou aan om te laat gaan.”

Bhikku Munindo is die kloostervader van Ratanagiri, ‘n Boedhiste klooster in Engeland.

Vir meer besonnerhede sien:



Sun Dog

Foto deur Rose Knott, Orangeville, Dufferin County, Ontario, Canada

Ek plaas hierdie artikel gedeeltelik hier vir bespreking. Anja se antwoord sal ek later plaas.

Lees en lewer komentaar

Please read this thought provoking article and share your ideas with us.

Love me, so that I can love myself: A Western identity crisis


I recently watched a thought provoking TED Talk by Yann Dall’Aglio, a French philosopher. His talk was about the current Western approach to love. There is no doubt that we all want to be loved, not only romantically, but also by family, friends and peers.

Yann makes compelling observations about the way this “desire to be loved” has impacted on modern Western society, and that it is not necessarily in a positive way; in fact he reveals a rather disturbing and disillusioning reality.

Yann Dall’Aglio’s theory

Yann examines Western consumerism, its cause and the effect it has on our approach to relationships.

He posits that we all need to feel valued and desirable within our relationships. He explains that love is the desire to be desired, and that we will go above and beyond to figure out how to become – and remain – desirable.

Yann further describes how current Western consumerist society is the result of this basic drive to make ourselves valuable and desirable. Unlike older societies where family and social structures have remained in place for hundreds of years, Western traditional family and social structures have disintegrated. Prior to the 13th century, family and social structures were governed by a clear set of social rules. Depending upon one’s age, sex and social status there were well defined expectations and principles of behaviour, thus, to the degree that you played your part in this structure, you were loved and valued.

The Renaissance contributed to new cultural movements resulting in a mass identity crisis, as modernity ushered in the era of scientific research, political democratisation and the industrial revolution. As a result, reason is now the ruling attitude, individual rights are paramount and trade has been liberalised. These three movements have annihilated traditional Western bearings, giving rise to a society of individuals who are free to value or disvalue any choice, attitude or object. The problem for Western citizens is that we, in turn, have each become subject to this same devaluation by others. We are no longer valued for our roles, our age or the positions we occupy within our social structures, and therefore experience the driving compulsion to renegotiate our value in society on a daily basis.

This obsession is a constant source of contemporary anxiety.

The solution for most individuals is to hysterically collect symbols of desirability. Yann coins this act of collecting as “seduction capital”, which he affirms is the drive behind our modern, Western, consumerist society. He claims that the idea of Western consumption being materialistically motivated is wholly untrue. It is Yann’s theory that our individual drive to improve our value capital is what promotes our excessive consumerism. He describes our motivation towards consumerism as being sentimental and unmaterialistic, by referring to a teenage boy who buys a brand new pair of jeans and then tears them at the knees just so that ‘Jennifer’ will notice him.

Yann postulates that there are two likely future outcomes of this view of contemporary love or “seduction capital”.

He foresees that this narcissistic capitalisation will intensify. Perhaps in the future your value will be defined by your height/weight ratio, your professional degree, your income or your popularity as indicated by the number of “likes” on your dating profile. Using the example of current day loyalty points Yann refers to “seduction capital points”.   He postulates a future in which a chemical treatment for breakups would lessen any residual feelings of attachment. Yann envisages a reality in which the state of permanent seduction value is preferable to being in an actual relationship, and he refers to an existing MTV programme in which “pickup artists” view falling in love as, a disease; an infection; a “squandering of seduction capital”. Heartache is referred to as “one-nitis”; an affliction during which you are infected by the “one”. He imagines a scenario in which we would be able to present our romantic genomic credentials as we would a business card, in order to establish seduction viability.

Inevitably such a relentless pursuit for seduction value has a shadow side; the huge disparity in seduction satisfaction is bound to leave many people with feelings of loneliness and frustration, calling in to question modernity itself, which is the origin of seduction capital, thus playing to the agendas of neo-fascist and/or religious communities who oppose and reject the modern capitalist approach.

Yann’s solution

What is the solution? How does one renounce this “hysterical” need to be valued? Yann proposes that we all need to accept that we are basically useless. This is demonstrated by our inability to perceive ourselves as having any intrinsic or inherent value, unless it is through the desire from another.

Ultimately, “I want to be perfect to gain the approval and love from another, and I want my partner to be perfect so that it justifies the value I attribute to them”.

In contrast Yann calls for tenderness – “love” as tenderness -, which allows us to accept the loved one’s weaknesses. He believes that there is much charm and happiness (joy) in a tender relationship that can be demonstrated by a greatly underrated form of humour comprised of deliberate frankness and light-hearted self-mockery.



by Marie Howe

(after Stephen Hawking)

Do you sometimes want to wake up to the singularity

we once were?

so compact nobody

needed a bed, or food or money —

nobody hiding in the school bathroom

or home alone

pulling open the drawer

where the pills are kept.

For every atom belonging to me as good

Belongs to you.   Remember?

There was no   Nature.    No

them.   No tests

to determine if the elephant

grieves her calf    or if

the coral reef feels pain.    Trashed

oceans don’t speak English or Farsi or French;

would that we could wake up   to what we were

— when we were ocean    and before that

to when sky was earth, and animal was energy, and rock was

liquid and stars were space and space was not

at all — nothing

before we came to believe humans were so important

before this awful loneliness.

Can molecules recall it?

what once was?    before anything happened?

No I, no We, no one. No was

No verb      no noun

only a tiny tiny dot brimming with

is is is is is

In diep gesprek.

Bodhidharma’s Transmission

 Bodhidharma once said to his students, “The time has come. Can you express your understanding?”

Then one of the students, Daofu, said, “My present view is that we should neither be attached to letters nor be apart from letters, and allow the way to function freely.”

Bodhidharma said, “You have attained my skin.”

The nun Zongchi said, “My view is that it is like the joy of seeing Akshobhya Buddha’s land just once and not again.”

Bodhidharma said, “You have attained my flesh.”

Daoyu said, “The four great elements are originally empty, and the five skandhas do not exist. Therefore, I see nothing to be attained.”

Bodhidharma said, “You have attained my bones.”

Finally, Huike bowed three times, stood up, and returned to where he was.

Bodhidharma said, “You have attained my marrow.” Thus, he confirmed Huike as the Second Ancestor and transmitted dharma and the robe to him.

Excerpted from:

Treasury of the True Dharma Eye

by Zen Master Dogen,

page 479

Our (in)Sane Society

The (in)Sane Society.

When things are falling apart:

“During times of radical change, how do we hold both the magnificence and tragedy of the world?” asks Geneen Marie Haugen, voicing the concern of some of us about the drastic and dangerous changes we see around us, changes indicating a regression in human social development all over the world, regression into intolerance, division and even hatred.

“In these days that feel similar to running an unexplored river through a canyon with continual rapids and spectacular betrayals, staying mindful of the thoughts and images that I am contributing to the noososphere is a bumpy, wild task. No doubt it is essential to feel and respond to the full catastrophe of our time, yet how do we navigate if we endlessly repeat the unfolding disasters in our minds, and only see the potential disasters ahead?” she continues her exploration of our world gone slightly mad.

We are in trouble, and not only because of global warming, but also as a result of unsustainable population growth resulting in war and massive waves of migration. Add to the mix the new breed of demagogue exploiting the situation of uncertainty and change, preaching hatred and separation, and calling their followers back into the “lager” to hide behind high walls to defend the tribe or clan or nation against “the enemy” (which is anyone thinking different from you, looking different and praying to a god different from yours), and you have a catastrophe of global proportions.

Different people advocate different solutions to the problem of social fragmentation caused by the aggressive drive towards identity politics, facing us. To counter the division, there is an urgent call to, and desire for belongingness, for community, but away from ethnocentric/class/language/religious exclusivity towards a world-centric inclusivity.

This approach is indeed commendable, but as Duane Elgin warns: “A natural tendency is for people to separate and seek islands of safety to ride out the disruptive storms of transition … However, if we pull apart and seek our security by retreating from the world and isolating ourselves, then systemic problems are certain to escalate and produce the very future of ruinous collapse we most fear.”

It must also be remembered that the desire to belong is still, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of development, regarded as a deficiency need and not a growth need. Erich Fromm warns us that; “Identification with a group is a substitute for true identity, and represents a regression to an earlier state of cultural development.”

He says: “The necessity to unite with other living beings, to be related to them, is an imperative need on the fulfilment of which man’s sanity depends.”

And sanity is indeed what is needed in our fractured world. Fromm elaborates on two ways in which we seek union, one is “to become one with the world by submission to a person, to a group to an institution, to God.” and the other is by: “transcending his individual existence by domination.” But he warns that; “Both persons involved have lost their integrity and freedom; they live on each other and from each other; satisfying their craving for closeness,”

At its worst, identification with a group can lead to excessive sentiments of nationalism and patriotism, sentiments that can quickly regress into exclusivity, separatism, racism and feelings of ethnic superiority or what Fromm calls a fixation to blood and soil, with the worst manifestation of this blend of state and/or clan worship being Fascism, Nazism and Stalinism. Continue Reading »

`n Verjaarsdag geskenk

Aan Pa, met sy verjaarsdag, al 770 bladsye, geskenk deur sy dogters Hannelie en Marli.

Wat n groot heerlikheid is dit nie. Kan nie wag om te begin lees nie. Dit gaan lank en stadig lees vat om deur hom te kom, en om die ou koppie om al die groot woorde te kry om te kan verstaan.

Wilber is n groot gees, sommige beskou hom as die grootste filosoof van ons tyd. Ek hou van wat hy sê en hoe hy dink. Sy “Integral Spirituality” was n indrukwekkende boek, n rigtingwyser vir my pad deur die lewe, inderdaad `n openbaring oor die hoekom en waarom van die lewe. Baie dinge in die ontwikkeling van die mens het begin sin maak na ek die boek gelees het.

Abraham Maslow het vir my die fondament gelê, en Ken Wilber het voort gebou op daardie fundament. Ek was lanklaas so opgewonde oor boek soos ek oor die een is.

As julle my soek … ek sit iewers in n hoekie en lees en maak verwoed aantekeninge met n “Do NOT disturb” bordjie om my nek!

Ek sal dalk so stuk-stuk vertel van die storie soos ek vorder. Hou dop.

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