How to Deal with our Inner Angels and Demons

The human being is a complex unit: it is simultaneously man-body, man-psyche and man-spirit. Let’s dwell for a moment on the man-psyche, that is, his inner world, made up of emotions and passions, light and shadows, dreams and utopias. Just as there is an outer universe, made up of order-disorder-new orders, of horrible devastations and of promising emergencies, there is also an inner world, inhabited by angels and demons. They display tendencies that can take us to madness and death, and impulses of generosity and love that can bring us self-realization and happiness.

As observed by C. G. Jung, who well knew the pathways of the human psyche: the journey to our own Center, due to these contradictions, can be longer and more dangerous than a trip to the Moon and the stars.

Among the philosophers of the human condition, there is a question that has never been satisfactorily resolved: what is the basic structure of our interior, of our psychic being? There are many schools of thought.

In short, we affirm the thesis that reason is not the first reality. Before it, there is a whole universe of passions and emotions that arouse the human being. Above reason there is intelligence, through which we sense totality, our openness to the infinite and the ecstasy of contemplating the Being. Reasons start with reason. Reason itself is without reason. Reason is simply there, indecipherable.

But reason carries us to the more primitive dimensions of our human reality, those that nourish reason and that run through all its expressions. Kantian pure reason in an illusion. Reason always comes saturated of emotion and passion, a fact accepted by modern cosmology. Contemporary cosmology includes in the concept of the universe not only energies, galaxies and stars, but also the presence of the spirit and of subjectivity.

To know always involves entering into an interested and affective communion with the object of knowledge. Supported by many other thinkers, I have always maintained that the basic form of the human being does not reside in the Cartesian cogito (in the, I think, therefore I am), but in the Platonic-Augustinian sense (in the I feel, therefore I am), in the profound feeling. This puts us in live contact with things, making us aware of being part of a larger whole, always affecting and being affected. More than world ideas and visions, it is the passions, strong feelings, germinal experiences, love, and their opposites as well, the rejections and the overwhelming hatreds, that move us and propel us forward.

Sensible reason finds its roots in the moment life appeared, some 3.8 thousand million years ago, when the first bacteria erupted and started to dialogue chemically with the environment, in order to survive. That process deepened when, more than 125 million years ago, the organized brain of the mammals appeared, a brain that carried caring, tenderness, affection and love for the newly born. The emotional reason reached a level of self consciousness and intelligence in the human being, because we also are mammals.

Western thought is logic-centric and anthropocentric, and always held emotion under suspicion, for fear of harming the objectivity of reason. In some sectors of culture, a sort of lobotomy was created, that is, a great insensibility for human suffering and for the problems which nature and planet Earth have endured.

We now realize that it is urgent to definitively include sensible and cordial reason, in addition to intellectual reason, which cannot be replaced. If we cannot get back to feeling, with affection and love for the Earth as our Mother and for us as her conscious and intelligent organ, it will be difficult for us to mobilize to save life, heal the wounds, and prevent catastrophes.

One of the undeniable values of the psychoanalytical tradition, starting with Sigmund Freud, its founding master, was to have scientifically established passion as the basis, at level zero, of human existence. The psychoanalyst works not from what the patient thinks but from his affective reactions, from his angels and demons, seeking to establish a certain equilibrium and a sustainable inner serenity.

The question is how to creatively take control of our volcanic passions. Freud dwells on the integration of the libido, Jung in the search for individuation, Adler in will power control, Carl Rogers in the development of personality, Abraham Maslow in the effort of self realization of latent potentialities. Other names could be mentioned, such as Lacan, Reich, Pavlov, Skinner, transpersonal psychology and cognitive behaviorism, among others.

What we can affirm is that independently of the different psychoanalytical schools, the man-psyche sees himself as forced to creatively integrate his inner universe, always in motion, with the diabolic and symbolic tendencies, destructive and constructive. Through a process of successes and mistakes, we discover our path.

No one could take our place. We are condemned to be the teachers and disciples of ourselves.

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