by Paul Levy
As if living in a never-ending “war-time,” the war drums are once again fast approaching on the horizon. The country I live in, the United States of America, already involved in multiple wars – some overt, others covert – is threatening to attack another sovereign nation, this time Syria. The whole thing is totally insane; our government’s reliance on military solutions is pathological, a form of mental illness. It certainly seems as if our country doesn’t know how to imagine solutions outside the paradigm of war. The fact that we, as a species, are investing our creative genius to conjure up an endless war which is unceasingly draining us of our most precious resources is complete and utter madness. We are truly in the midst of a global collective psychosis of epic proportions, what the Native Americans call “wetiko psychosis.”
War is really an epidemic of madness. Throughout human history, war is the most violent and destructive activity in which we human beings have been engaged. It is an irrational phenomenon that can’t be stopped or controlled with rational arguments, for its source is the shared unconscious of humanity. Author Barbara Ehrenreich, in her book Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War, writes, “However and wherever war begins, it persists, it spreads, it propagates itself through time and across space with the terrifying tenacity of a beast attached to the neck of living prey. This is not an idly chosen figure of speech. War spreads and perpetuates itself through a dynamic that often seems independent of human will. It has, and we like to say of things we do not fully understand, ‘a life of its own.’”
In war our species has created an out-of-our-control Frankenstein monster that has developed a seemingly autonomous and independent “life of its own.” When I first read Ehrenreich’s words, I immediately thought of “wetiko” (which, simply put, refers to the spirit of evil), which I had written extensively about in my book Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil. Originating in the psyche, wetiko – a psychospiritual disease of the soul – similarly develops an apparently autonomous and independent life and will of its own. The more I studied Ehrenreich’s work, the more I realized that the beast of war is a virulent incarnation of the wetiko bug writ large on the world stage.
An out-of-control robotic golem, the war machine develops a seeming autonomy that (just like the wetiko virus) generates its own self-sustaining momentum; war is simultaneously its own cause and effect. Seen as a cultural trait, war has evolved in the way that it has simply because it is advantageous to and profits from itself. In a self-perpetuating vicious and violent cycle of infinite regress that is a self-fulfilling feedback loop, the only defense against war is war itself. Thus war metastasizes and spreads, steamrolling all peaceful solutions under its relentless, circular and self-justifying logic. Once the cycle of violence starts and the dogs of war are unleashed, there is simply no stopping nor predicting it. A force of nature unlocked, once the Pandora’s box of war is opened, there is no coaxing the genie back into the bottle.
Social scientists, in mathematical studies looking at the outbreaks of wars and national decisions to participate in wars, have shown strong indications of epidemicity, which is to say that war spreads in patterns identical to those of disease outbreaks. War is a living flesh and blood example of how human societies can fall prey to systems of behavior that are entirely of their own creation that can sweep up and devour all who are involved. This is reminiscent of the legendary resurrected tiger which devours the magician who restored it to life out of its skeletal bones. In war we have fallen prey to the power of our own misguided magic.
The first principle of psychological method is that any phenomenon to be understood must be sympathetically imagined. No syndrome can be truly dislodged from its cursed condition until we first move imagination into its heart. Due to its traumatizing nature, many of us don’t even know how to think about war. Interestingly, Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense during much of the Vietnam War, reflecting upon its horrors, writes, “we can now understand these catastrophes for what they were: essentially the products of a failure of imagination.” The same phrase – “failure of imagination” – was used during the Bush Administration as an excuse for why they weren’t prepared for the 9/11 attacks. If war escapes the reach of our imagination, it will dictate, enforce and establish dominion over all of us. First and foremost an act of imagination, war enlists our own imagination to become an agent of negation and destruction. In modern times, the majority of people apparently find the most decisive and captivating manifestations of power to be in that which destroys, rather than that which creates; this is an expression of collective subconscious and un-integrated trauma. The imagination of a people as a whole must be conscripted and reshaped in order to prepare a reluctant citizenry for war.
War, and the weapons of collective death that are its accessories, are the products of the greatest creative power operating within the human spirit – the human imagination; and human imagination, it must be added, is capable of getting rid of them. Since our species has invented war, we can also invent and manifest peace. If we can’t imagine this, then what are we thinking? An impaired imagination, unable to even imagine peace, is simultaneously a cause and effect of the proliferation of war. While on one level the war we are involved in uses such things as bombs, the real war is a war on consciousness (see my article “The War on Consciousness”), which is nothing other than a war on the imagination itself. A debilitated imagination fundamentally weakens humanity, making it easier prey to be manipulated by a predatory elite.
Being that the phenomenon of war seems autonomous, I find myself imagining: what if we viewed war as if it is a living entity that did have a life and will of its own? In war, it is as if some transhuman/antihuman monstrosity has insinuated itself into the human scene across multiple generations. This war-mongering entity is an impersonal, diabolical energy that by all evidence seems to have possessed our species to do its bidding, making all of us its “reps.” Our rush to war is a march of folly, as we unconsciously goose-step on the wheel of endless samsaric suffering that we ourselves are creating. As if in the throes of an addiction, we are seemingly entrapped in the beast of war’s iron grip, blindly compelled to become war’s instruments of proliferation. The creature of war feeds into and off of the regressed, animal-like part of ourselves, as if it returns us to the state of consciousness of a pea-brained dinosaur. Psychic epidemics like war can only take place when there is a collective lowering of the state of consciousness, an abaissement du niveau mental. Steeped in the fog of war, we become like zombies, sleepwalkers in a dream, lemmings headed for the sea.
In our interminable and monomaniacal persistence in error, suffering from an endless inability to learn from our mistakes, it certainly seems as if a demonic entity is pulling the strings of our psyche to influence us to act out in ways that are hell-bent on our self-destruction. To quote eminent theologian and 9/11 truth activist David Ray Griffin, “It does seem that we are possessed by some demonic power that is leading us, trancelike, into self-destruction.” Our battle seems less against “flesh and blood” than against some demonic “powers and principalities,” “against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12) to which human civilization is in bondage.
I imagine this malevolent, higher (and lower) dimensional entity feverishly working behind the scenes, manipulatively operating through our unconscious blind spots, sponsoring our shadow projections, inspiring our technological advances to create ever-more-efficient and impersonal killing machines while it fans the flames of our fear, greed and blood lust so as to incite our war fever. And as we wage war on each other, this bellicose entity engorges itself on the smorgasbord of our self-created suffering and destruction, or so I imagine.
This dark entity, what Jung refers to as “the dark God,” has placed previously unimaginable implements of mass destruction into our hands, set to go off at the push of a button, for us to ultimately destroy the biosphere itself, the life support system of the planet. As if performing a sacred “black” mass, the building up of an ever-increasing cache of high-tech weaponry is the preparatory ritual calling forth their inevitable use in a catastrophe that we, as self-entranced, deluded master magicians, are collaboratively conjuring up. To quote Jung, “Let man but accumulate sufficient engines of destruction and the devil within him will soon be unable to resist putting them to their fated use. It is well known that fire-arms go off of themselves if only enough of them are together.” And yet, it is not too late to shed light on this “devil within” and change our course away from the impending disaster that we ourselves are invoking.
Only something truly alive has the capacity to destroy itself. It is clear we are in the process of destroying ourselves as a species (see Fukashima and the subsequent rush to build more nuclear reactors for another example). As if performing a species-wide eco-suicide ritual en masse, we are taking part, whether we know it or not, in a cosmic anti-sacred ceremony that will leave no one around to experience the end result. Our scientific, technological wizardry has surpassed our wildest dreams. The question is: will our emotional, spiritual and moral qualities continue to lag far behind, and thus doom us to a morbid future of our own making?
One helpful way of framing our situation is as follows: we are destroying ourselves as the way to learn how to not destroy ourselves, which we clearly haven’t yet learned, or we wouldn’t be destroying ourselves. Implicit in this logic is that there is a lesson encoded in the acting out of our insanity that we couldn’t learn any other way. If we don’t recognize what is being revealed to us, as if having a recurring dream – a nightmare – we will simply continue along the path of self-destruction, eventually reaching the point of no return and then finally crossing that Rubicon. On the other hand, if we recognize what is being revealed to us through the acting out of our insanity, we can snap out of our self-induced hypnotic spell and choose to stop killing ourselves – what a radical idea! We can then invest our creativity and resources in building the world we want to live in, or so I imagine. It is important to realize – this is within the realm of the possible, and as such, demands the engagement of our imagination to get on board.
Seen as cells in a greater organism, it is as if our species is suffering from an auto-immune disease of the psyche, having become infected with a cancer of the mind that has turned us against each other so that we are literally attacking and destroying ourselves. Ehrenreich continues, “If war is analogous to a disease, then, it is analogous to a contagious disease…So, to continue the epidemiological metaphor, if war is regarded as an infectious ‘disease,’ it is caused by a particularly hardy sort of microbe ─ one capable of encysting itself for generations, if necessary, within the human soul.” Interestingly, wetiko is a disease of the soul – “a particularly hardy sort of microbe” – that is contagious, travelling through the vector of our shared unconsciousness. Ehrenreich is approaching the phenomenon of war imaginatively – envisioning it as an infectious, contagious disease, an invisible microbe that replicates itself through multiple generations. Her approach is contagious in its own right, as her imaginative musings can activate, inspire and mobilize our own divinely-inspired creative imagination to re-envision our situation in novel and creatively empowering ways. To elaborate her imaginings, it’s as if an incorporeal, immaterial micro-parasite – a virus of the mind called wetiko – has gotten inside of our brain in such a way that it compels us to act out its nefarious agenda in the outer world. Just like a dream where the inner is the outer, what’s playing out in the world is synchronistically reflecting something taking place within us. Something is being shown to us in the process that is most important for us to know and understand.
War is a prosperity-reducing depopulation ritual, a parasite on human life and culture, draining us of as many things as can be imagined – including life itself. Like a parasite, war kills a significant proportion of the host population, and then, in the resulting gaps between wars, immunity from the parasite seems to be conferred; unfortunately, the gaps between wars have disappeared. We now find ourselves in an endless war, a life and death struggle with a seemingly malevolent entity – wetiko being one of its many names – which we ourselves have conjured up. Ultimately speaking, we are fighting with a dark part of ourselves that we have apparently lost our ability to be in conscious relationship with.
Viewed as an autonomous entity, war is a self-replicating pattern of behavior, possessed of a dynamism not unlike that found in both living things as well as within the human mind itself. “Self-replicating patterns of behavior” is the way Jung describes the archetypes of the collective unconscious. Informational fields of influence, the archetypes of the collective unconscious are the very agencies that pattern human perception and give shape and form to both individual and collective human behavior. War is a living archetypal force that exists within the psyche of humanity; collective psychoses like war are always animated by a constellated archetype, oftentimes informed by deeper religious energies. A cosmically driven force, once the archetype of war is activated in the collective psyche, like all archetypes, it potentially drafts us into its gravitational field-of-force. If we remain unconscious of the archetypal elements that drive us, however, we won’t be able to escape from the downward and destructive pull into its sinkhole, at which point we would be fully in the grip of the archetype, compelled like an automaton to act out its script. All archetypes are bipolar, which is to say they have a potentially negative or positive aspect. If we become conscious of the archetypal dimension that is playing out, however, we can mediate, humanize and channel its enormous energy in a constructive, rather than a destructive way.
This self-perpetuating archetypal dynamic is analogous to a self-replicating computer virus or malware that infects a computer and programs it to self-destruct. Like the archetype of war, these computer viruses have no underlying material substance at all, but rather, are “programs” designed to reproduce themselves. Our leaders are themselves just unwitting instruments – patsies – merely playing roles through which this infernal programming can incarnate itself. Looking out for what they conceive of as their own interests, many of them have little or no awareness of the darker, daemonic power that has gripped them and is compelling them to incarnate itself into our world through their agency. America and its military, for example, are being used as an instrument of war to reshape the geopolitical landscape so as to serve the interests of a tiny yet powerful shadowy global cabal which has taken control over significant parts of the American government. Being in the pocket of the cabal, our leaders are its mouthpieces. As if inter-nested iterations of a fractal, the cabal is itself just an intermediary, a pawn doing the bidding of the formless underlying archetype. Once we consciously recognize the deeper archetypal pattern that is in-forming world events, instead of being compelled to unconsciously recreate ever-amplified versions of the archetype in its destructive form, our expansion of consciousness empowers us to channel the archetype in its more life-affirming form. Imagine that!
Just like a transpersonal force can literally take over and possess a person and make them its instrument of incarnation – and revelation – this same process can happen on a collective scale as well; a group of people, nations or an entire species can become seized by a more powerful archetypal energy that compels them to unconsciously, and hence destructively, act it out in the world. In collective events such as wars, we are seeing through a looking glass into the world-soul of humanity as it is being played out on the global stage. Just like a process going on within the unconscious of an individual will compel them to act it out in their life, in the activity of war, a process that is going on within the collective psyche of humanity – which is to say within each one of us in its own unique way – is getting dreamed up en masse into materialization in the world.
War is an inflammation, an outbreak in the world’s body politic reflecting a deeper systemic disease in the underlying psyche of humanity. Jung simply states, “It is the psyche of man that makes wars.” Hidden within the psyche is an incredible power which, as history shows, can transform entire civilizations in unforeseen ways. The future will be decided by changes that take place in the psyche of humanity, which is truly the world’s pivot.
Interestingly, the Book of Revelations talks about a “war in heaven.” The Bible itself can be seen to be a self-revelation of the psyche itself. From this point of view, the events portrayed in the Bible are utterances of the soul, pointing to transcendental realities. The “war in heaven” is symbolically representing a living dynamism that is taking place within the collective unconscious of humanity. If, indeed, “the kingdom of heaven is within us,” so, too, is the “war in heaven.” When we are not able to contain the “warring” within our own self, this conflict of opposites spills out into the outside world, where it gets acted out in the world theater by way of projection. When Jung was asked if the third world war could be avoided, he answered that it depended on how many individuals could reconcile the opposites within themselves.
The specter of war breaking out in the greater body politic haunts the collective unconscious of all of humanity. In modern times, the psychopathic global war on terror is everywhere and affects everyone; it is universally traumatizing and is damaging to the soul of humanity. War isn’t a phenomena that only happens halfway around the globe (in Iraq or Afghanistan, for example); war is something which takes place within our very soul. Like a demon, the plague of war can invade humanity’s inner world and inspire us to transgress our human limits, carrying us to inconceivable excesses of brutality. Even if our current war is taking place thousands of miles away, just by its mere happening, the act of war creates a “dissociative field” of trauma which affects all of us and forces everyone to (mal)adapt. Dissociation can readily entrench itself in an entire population, disconnecting us from each other, as well as deadening our hearts as it fragments the inner landscapes of our minds. War dehumanizes everyone, as it requires us not only to dehumanize our enemy, but to anesthetize and dehumanize ourselves as well. An intrinsic part of the dissociative field is a force that opposes and actively resists our seeing the deeper implications of what we are doing to ourselves. The collectively shared dissociation, numbing, denial and self-deception become self-perpetuating, as the dissociative field must, of necessity, be continually maintained lest we wake up to the genocidal enterprise we are all participating in. To the extent we are feeding this dissociative field through our own dissociation from and within ourselves, we have all become both victims and victimizers of war, complicit in its proliferation. Appearances to the contrary, there are ultimately no winners in war.
The atrocities that our government is involved in – and we, by proxy, are complicit in – are so horrible that they have to be internally denied. This creates a cognitive dissonance within our minds such that our ability to creatively and responsibly respond is disabled. Many of us simply resist the truth of what’s happening in our world; our looking away reinforces our “need to not know,” which then further feeds our dissociation in a diabolical feedback loop of our own making. Complicit in our own self-hypnosis, our moral eyes become blinded in the process. Interestingly, the self-created entity of wetiko is a form of blindness that not only believes itself to be sighted, but arrogantly imagines itself to be more sighted than anyone else. We are a species who has fallen asleep but imagines we are awake.
An entire culture can prefer blindness; America, based on overwhelming evidence, seems to be a nation which has gone blind. Poet Theodore Roethke famously wrote, “In a dark time, the eye begins to see.” Hopefully, as is evidenced by people’s overwhelming outcry against attacking Syria, more and more of us are seeing through our politicians and mainstream media’s feeble-to-the-point-of-absurd lies and war propaganda purporting that we should attack Syria based on humanitarian pretexts. It would be a true case of “American exceptionalism” and demanding true courage to snap out of our dissociation and deal with the shock of multiple realizations: the lie we’ve been living, the evil we’ve been complicit in, and the reality we’ve been avoiding.
Jung writes, “We are threatened with universal genocide, if we cannot work out the way of salvation by a symbolic death.” Snapping out of our dissociation and seeing through our illusions is to be “dis-illusioned,” which is a truly shattering experience, and is a symbolic death of the self that was wed to illusion. This is to realize how we have been colluding in our own demise, which snaps us out of the spell of being a helpless victim and connects us with our true power and responsibility. In addition, instead of creating universal genocide which involves the death of our bodies, a symbolic death involves the death of the imagination that we are just a body. In other words, the “symbolic death” which Jung is referring to involves seeing through the primordial illusion – our sense of ego – of being an isolated entity separate from other isolated entities. This involves recognizing – as if going through a rebirth – that we are interdependent parts of a greater organism that we all share in called life. When we realize this it becomes inconceivable – impossible to imagine – that we would wage war on each other.
The fact that throughout our lifetime there has not been a moment free of one group waging war on another makes war seem normalized, as if it is just the way things are, part of being human. This thought-form is a lie, inspired and fed by the very same energy that animates war itself. If we buy into our feelings of helplessness and believe that we can’t do anything about war, we are then its unwitting accomplices. In actuality we are magicians, powerful beyond measure, having unconsciously misused our own power to bewitch ourselves, having fallen under a curse of our own making. Our task is to break out of our self-induced spell. Holding this possibility in mind, Jung wonders whether “humanity…may yet evolve a different ideal. In time even conquest will cease to be the dream.” What will happen, I find myself imagining, as more and more of us, not just ordinary citizens – but actual soldiers in our illegal wars of aggression, as well as the military commanders, generals, senators, presidents and prime ministers, heads of corporations – wake up to how we have been hoodwinked, bamboozled – duped – by the creative genius of our own minds into seeing war as a legitimate means of operating in the world? Ah, what then?
 A distinction needs to be made: I am not talking about wars in which one country rightfully defends itself from outright aggression from another (an example would be the Allies fighting Nazi Germany in World War II). The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and (possibly) Syria do not fit this category.
 From the ruling elite’s point of view, they are just trying to accomplish hegemonic geopolitical objectives and are willing to sacrifice as many innocent people as necessary in order to accomplish their morally depraved goal. Their moral deficiency in having no compunction in doing so is where the mental illness lies.
 Ehrenreich, Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War, p. 132.
 Like Jung, I am using the word psyche in an all-inclusive sense, meaning the totality of all psychic processes, both conscious and unconscious. Not reducible to biochemical processes in the brain, it is a mysterious “substanceless substance” that exists between spirit and matter.
 In addition to the regressed, pathological state that I am pointing at, war can also bring out in its participants incredibly heroic, spiritual qualities.
 French psychologist Pierre Janet’s term, literally translating as “reduction of mental level.” It involves a weakening of the restraints and inhibitions of the ego.
 Griffin, Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11, p. 123.
 Jung, Civilization in Transition, CW 10, par. 163.
 Ehrenreich, Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War, p. 133.
 Jung, C. G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters, p. 74.
 The phrase “Global War on Terror” is a contradiction in terms – War is terror, so how can terror ever be fought and eliminated by war? The very words “war on terror” induces a cognitive dissonance in the collective psyche. The fact is that such a war is not intended to ever end, thus serving the insatiable greed of the evil interests who continuously profit from war.
 Jung, The Symbolic Life, CW 18, par. 1661.
 Jung, Psychology and Religion: West and East, para. 787.
[Note: This piece first appeared on www.awakeninthedream.com]
The writer is a pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence, He is a wounded healer in private practice, assisting others who are also awakening to the dreamlike nature of reality. He is also the author of Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil and The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis. An artist, he is deeply steeped in the work of C. G. Jung, and has been a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner for over thirty years. Paul’s website is www.awakeninthedream.com. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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