Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Olympians of the Heart

Like millions of others around the planet, I am following the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. I enjoy the spirit of competition, of the athletes giving their all to ski jump the farthest, luge and sleigh the fastest,
be the most extreme half pipe ‘cruisers’, triple and axel jump on the ice,
curl the most accurate, ski the most wild and win by .002 seconds, puck it out on the ice in heroic hockey battles.
I always did like sports and the ‘drivenness’ behind it – the spirit of competition. Just let me play ping pong and it awakes from one second to the next.

And – there is something one sided about it all.
It actually is a mirror of our world. We, as species and in the cultures we created around the world put our lot on one of the two primary aspects of life – the Yang Aspect.
Ancient Chinese philosophers and mystics described life unfolding between two poles, the YIN and the YANG, or, as it is translated often, the Masculine………!!!! Just noticed something.
Instinctively I just wanted to start with the Masculine, yet the Chinese mention Yin first and then Yang.
Was this an accident ? I actually sense that this was a so called ‘Freudian slip', meaning it reveals something of the subconscious. In my subconscious, the Masculine comes first and then the Feminine.
And, I feel in our culture the same is true – and this is probably one of the greatest tragedies of our time.
The Yang aspect is great and absolutely natural. Our 5 year old son has it inbuilt, he competes with me, we both love it. It is in our genes. Scientist tell us, that survival of the fittest allowed our species to become the crown of the creation.
Our economic system is based on the same values that we are celebrating at the Olympics – companies compete, we are doing bits for contracts, shareholders expect the most profit, the highest return.
On a global scale, countries compete, as they have done for millenniums, for power, and now more and more for resources, the ‘fuel’ of the power.
Our culture is very Yang oriented. And with the spreading of our western values, we export this Yang oriented vision of life around the globe.

Yet, the Taoist say, for life to truly flourish, it needs both poles, Yang, the Masculine, and Yin, the Feminine principle.
Here is where my title for this blog “Olympians of the Heart” came from.
In the midst of the Olympics a student of mine laid dying and then died last Saturday. Neelama was able to support him and his wife and wrote a wonderful article about it that touched my heart because it described the YIN qualities of life, the love they shared, how she cared for him, how the process of dying and letting go was unfolding.
Both of them were Olympians, Olympians of the Heart.
As a planet we need Olympians of the Heart – to survive.
It is not either-or, Yang or Yin, it is Yang AND Yin. Most people don’t even know how much we are consumed with a Yang oriented life.
Yang is doing – Yin is being. Yang is active. Yin is still, quite, resting, waiting, allowing, receiving, taking in. Yin is fall and winter, letting go and dying. Yin is love, the most tender ‘substance’, ‘energy’, ‘presence’.
Yin are the tears that the female Canadian skater wept at the end of her performance 2 days after her Mom suddenly died. Yin is grieving.
Yin is surrender – not defeat. To truly let go and surrender is the greatest challenge. Yang conquers, Yin allows. Yin is GRACE.
Yang is the Fire consuming, just as we consume the resources of our planet greedily and selfishly in the worship of our consumer society.
Yin is the water, steadily, patiently, consistently and slowly creating the Grand Canyon of the Colorado river – over 1000000s of years.
Yang is short term and Yin is looking at issues with the next generations in mind and heart.
Both women and men have fallen under the spell of the striving and exciting Yang principle. Our system thrives with it, actually worships it.
We are all to different degrees being pulled into, being manipulated into the system of our Yang oriented culture and put your innermost feminine values and ways of being on the back burner and join the race.
The values of the HEART, of the Yin are so so so needed.

Catastrophes bring it out in us humans, as Haiti temporarily did. Imagine 100, 200 years ago, if this earthquake would have happened in Haiti, most countries wouldn’t have given a dime, so there has been enhancement.

As I looked for an image for this blog I came across the logo for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio AND the olympic rings were completed with a heart.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

F r o m M E to W E

My annual birthday reflections are this year a bit less personal and a bit more ‘collective’.
I deeply feel that as a ‘species’ we are at one of the most decisive cross roads, likely the most challenging period in recorded history is ahead of us:

-global climate change
-the clash between the ‘christian and Moslem nations’
-limited financial and environment resources
-decline of ethical and moral values
-technological development of unsurpassed speed presenting opportunities and massive challenges.

If one pulls one’s head out of the sand and looks at what’s happening, the future is daunting.
Is there a ray of hope?

Because I am working and living in the field of personal and collective transformation, I naturally started to look how these outer events/challenges relate to the inner world of us humans.

As I look within me and at the people I work with and teach, I find the same basic dichotomy manifested in the world of politics, economics and the social structure as it is within a human being.
Wherever one looks, whether it is individuals or a country, political parties or the board of directors, what most often determines the outcome of decisions is self interest, overriding common interest.
To put it simply, all issues boil down to the ancient conflict between the ‘ME FIRST’ and the ‘ALTRUISTIC SIDE’ within, shortened here in these musings as ‘ME’ and ‘WE’.

An image for that ‘ME’ could be that of the first computer game figure, the Pacman.
The Pacman is basically a wide open mouth that greedily eats up little black points – just like the ‘ME’ in me.
In a sense, we humans are big hungry mouths on two legs, devouring as much as we can.
The Pacman in us is all about itself! Why?
In a certain sense it is starving – hungry – wanting – grasping. It wants to be filled and it never ends, starting with the basic survival needs. Once these are covered, then we shift to sexual cravings, relationship desires, material and the ME demands that we fulfill them.
Our advertisement industry has become masterful in selling us basically any ‘thing’ with the promise that ‘this’ will bring us the woman, the man, happiness, fulfillment, joy, peace. Most of the time, this ‘ME’ runs me and you, like it or not.
Now, this gets even more difficult, because any organization, country, government, company consists of humans, each one being ultimately a big hungry mouth on two legs.
So no wonder that the ‘ME’ is continuing in running the show – with even more global impact and actual devastation. The global good is often an afterthought.

Our planet can’t handle operating in ‘ME’ mode much longer. For the survival of future generations we have to shift to the ‘WE’ mode.

What to do on a personal level:

1. Cultivating Awareness of our little big ‘ME’.
We have got to see/notice/become aware of how ‘it’
shows up, has unlimited desires and how much it runs us.

2. Cultivate Loving Kindness/Compassion for the little
‘ME’ in yourself and others.
We have to not make it the enemy - which is the great temptation, after becoming aware of it . We need to change our attitude towards it – our ‘ME’ needs to be truly understood and the underlying cravings acknowledged and felt.
Underneath every craving is a missing, a lack that we try to fill with the object of our craving, our wants.

3. When you feel the love and care for your own child,
parents, partners, and friends – keep expanding beyond.
Our human heart has NO limitations and infinite capacity to love. (I know it sound cliché, AND when the human heart opens, it is truly limitless – I had the gift of experiencing it 2 times in my life).

Usually I focus on the inner shifts, yet I feel our house is on fire and as we continue our inner work this needs to be complemented with collective action:

1. Support the ‘WE’ consciousness in our environment – home – work – economy – nature – country !
Think/Feel/Imagine that you are not just a human but also a BEING – connected to all the other beings on this planet. This includes our fellow humans AND animal, plant and mineral life.
Consider the impact beyond your immediate family,
group, city, tribe, country, religion.
Our society has been operated within an ethnocentric paradigm and we are called for to shift to a world centric view.

2. Please allow me to be preachy, to you and to myself:
-Let us consume less – contemplate the impact of our consumption on the other parts of the world.
-If you are in a position of power, use it from a larger perspective.
-Apply your voting power wisely.
-Live responsibly – our action do have an impact on the world.
-Give – volunteer, serve, donate, share – so many opportunities –

We need to use and strengthen our WE muscle consciously and frequently.

3. The quickest way would be to let go of our self –
‘No Self – No Problem’

The shift from a ‘ME’ to a ‘WE’ based world view and life style is the task at hand.
So far humans have not succeeded, yet no generation before us has had the same need to come together and to recognize the ONENESS in all of us.
In our ‘ME’ state we feel ‘alone' and the shift is to recognize that we are ‘allone’.

May you all have a year of deep fulfillment and connection.

H a p p y N e w Y e a r 2010

Much, much love,


Friday, November 6, 2009


The two basic principles that are underlying the Inner Journey Work or as we also call it, the two wings of the Inner Journey are Awareness and Love.
Today I share some thoughts regarding ‘Awareness’.

The ‘concept’ of awareness is an eastern contribution to the evolution of human consciousness.
One rarely hears a Christian/Jewish/Muslim preacher/rabbi/imman use the word ‘awareness’.
Also in Western philosophy this approach is rarely used and if, it is used in describing one’s awareness of one’s environment thru our senses.

Awareness as a ‘spiritual practice’ was introduced to man/womankind about 2500 years ago in northern India when a new teaching arose, what is now known as Buddhism.

Gautam, the Buddha, the Awakened One, applied awareness within – awareness of one’s own inner world which consists of:

• Physical Sensations
• Emotions or feelings, which actually are again particular arrangement
of physical sensations
• Thoughts

The Buddha turned the flashlight of awareness on the mind itself.
This way of looking within was and IS still revolutionary.
Just look at yourself.
Have you examined your thoughts BEFORE coming in contact with the Inner Journey or some other likely eastern based teachings ?
Probably not.
In our culture thoughts are not examined, they are taken as the ‘Truth’.
If you doubt that, watch yourself in relationship with people. All our relationships to people and to the world is based on ‘thought’. ‘This one I trust’, a thought, ‘this one be careful’, another thought.
Most of our life is based on thoughts. What determines our thoughts ?
The modern thinking now is, that it is a combination of nature and nurture, meaning we bring in genetic predispositions and are conditioned by our environment.
How our genetics impact thoughts and beliefs is difficult to conclude compared to the obvious impact of our immediate environment.
Imagine yourself being born in several scenarios:
E.g. into a family of Australian bush people,
into a family of fundamental Baptist Christians in Texas,
into a family in Sweden……
Each family and culture would have an enormous influence on what thoughts would pass thru your mind now. Many of your values, that you treasure so much now, would be different.
Our belief systems, which are thoughts and our identity, which again is a collection of certain thoughts, are based on our conditioning,
YET people take it as fact, as truth, that their world view is the ‘right’ one – which in fact is all just conditioning.
If I could impact the economic and political system in the world, I would ensure, that all people in powerful leadership positions, truly understand, that their conditioning is impacting their world views and that the self examination of one’s thoughts is a MUST for the sake of one’s clarity and capacity to be objective.
(I know I am dreaming here…)

In the Inner Journey I liken awareness to a flashlight, which usually is turned outward.
The most profound revolution one can undertake is to turn that flashlight 180 degree around – at oneself.

What is so revolutionary about this ?
The simple answer is f r e e d o m .
Most people on this planet are born and die without
ever experiencing themselves as NOT being their body or their thoughts.
You are NOT this thinking ‘machine’ called mind.
That means you are NOT this ‘identity’, NOT this
personality with all its neurotics (as every personality is), NOT this little Ego, defending itself, attacking to get what it needs.
And with realizing that your are NOT your thoughts, feelings and the body, the greatest inquiry of all starts:

And a sincere pursuit of this question has been at the core of all sincere human beings since the beginning of time.

The ‘job’ of a spiritual teacher is to guide and support the student in facing these questions – not answering them.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Musings on Relationship and Love - for a wedding of a dear friend

A dear friend has her wedding ceremony tomorrow and these are the thoughts that came thru as I composed an email for her:

I like to start unromantic.

Have you ever heard a song about one of the core issues of relationships ?
No, it is not sex, not money, not body stuff. I mean 'compromise'.
A successful relationship is one, where the art of compromise has been mastered by both 'parties'.

Love will grow in a relationship when the art of 'negotiations' is practiced.

Any relationship at our times, because of both partners ability to support themselves on their own, starts with challenging odds.
We don't need each other to the same degree all of our fore'mothers' and fore'fathers' 'needed' each other.
With that gone, our personalities now have a lot more freedom to claim its ways. In other words, the little ME has become bigger and bigger and now there are two big ME's struggling with each other, which one can get the better parts of the cake.

We are the most selfish society that ever existed on the planet. That doesn't mean we are 'worse' then our ancestors. The difference is, our generation has the possibility for this selfishness, at least in the western world, in the rich countries. No other generation has had that option.(Of course there were always some very abundant people, and they had their relationship struggles then already, remember Henry the VIII and friends)

In Freudian language, the ID has a heyday, the inner child demands its needs met, more then ever. It couldn't even 100 years ago, survival was everything for the masses.

This is the particular challenge of our times for making relatinoships work.

Now we truly need to learn to compromise in a way that none of us has more reasons to to leave then to stay.

Part of 'compromise' has to do with 'sacrifice'.
Not a very popular word nowadays. Also not found in love songs.
Love songs are written mostly from the ID's perspective, the inner child, and a child has no idea about sacrifice. It is literally all about 'ME'.
I have a wonderful teacher on a daily basis, my 5 year old. And I call him the little prince to indicate his position. And it is appropriate for him to have it all about HIM.

So back to sacrifice. Forget the catholic overload. There is the word 'sacred' in it. To be willing to let go of a part of my side of the cake without getting anything back, is something sacred. Why ?
Because it goes against the instinct of the ID, or the ME.
We can do it the easiest with our children. Why, because they are still extensions of our ego personality, so its relative easy, because we still give to ourselves.
With the 'stranger' over there, is another story. Not in the 'fallen' part of love, later when the personalities have been exposed, the shadow has been seen.
Then still to practice giving something up..... is the challenge.
Why...because some inner sense senses that it is just right to do so....
This is one way how love starts to grow.

Another thought here.
Love is something that grows. It's a paradox. In a way, love is always present, actually it is only present, when you and I are in the presence.

So whenever this presence appears, or is felt, that we name love,
(Remember a time when you really felt this presence of love....very likely you will
see, that actually 'you' as your little big ego personality, were not really present. The ID or ME part within us has temporarily withdrawn, retired, is behind the stage.

So LOVE and you and I are actually never truly meeting. When love is really present and palpable, the 'I' has withdrawn, temporarily out of 'order' or business.

So when I say love grows, I mean moments of this are growing, are happening more often.

Going back to 'sacrifice', this is one of the ways where we learn not to be 'present', not to feed the ME, ME, ME.

To complete the 'sacrifice' theme, the challenge is, not to sacrifice as a martyr, but from the overflow of 'JUST BECAUSE I WANT TO', not from the Super Ego/Moral judge/Pusher complex, I should.....

Thank you for reading my ramblings. If you want to use them in any way, feel free or just delete.

They just came thru, were not even 'mine'.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Healing our 'Roots' - The Relationship to our Family of Origin

The major credit goes to Sigmund Freud for making us aware of the early imprints in childhood and how they lay out the course of our lives to a degree much greater than commonly understood.
Actually, I sense a certain resistance in the public in appreciating and accepting the impact that our parents and our family have on our lives.
‘Yeah, I know’, people often say.
I dare to write, most actually don’t know.

I understand the reasons for not wanting to fully look into the mirror of our programming. It is the same for me.
It’s can be humiliating for this ego structure that I believe I am, to admit that the degree of my personal choice and freedom is much smaller then commonly assumed.

We all share one human experience, we are daughters and sons of parents – even the test tube babies are conceived via a human sperm and ovum. And we are born into our particular and unique circumstances in time and space, called our family.

Traditional psychological work started out one on one -- the famous ‘couch’ sessions of the early psychoanalysts, made famous and poked at, in movies like ‘Analyze this’.
Forty or fifty years ago, the spectrum of interest and research expanded to the family unit – the beginning of what we now call family therapy. Another expansion happened about 25 years ago, when a German Psychotherapist, Bert Hellinger, introduced a new approach to working with families, called the ‘Family Constellation Work’. Through his work, it became clear that families are like systems and within these systems certain ‘rules’, ‘laws’ or as Hellinger started to call it, certain ‘orders’ were observable.

The process of Family Constellation involves a group of people coming together, and each participant chooses to set up his/her family of origin. He/she will choose people to represent the members of the family of origin.
Once the initial set up is completed, the representatives are reporting what they perceive evoked by the ‘Field’ that has been established by the set up of the constellation.

The amazing phenomenon that takes place and often stuns the participants is that the representatives actually DO sense and feel and get information that they are passing on to the group and the facilitator. There are many gifts that arise through this manner of working with family issues. To the amazement of many participants and those who set up the constellation, the ‘Field’ thru the representatives, gives many clues and insights into the particular dynamic in the family.
Just being in the room and observing the family constellation processes can be life changing -- it is truly remarkable.

By observing and working with thousands of people, what appears to be clear is that within families the generations are inter-connected. For example a crime done in a past generation, that was hidden and had become a family secret, is in a way atoned by the following generation.

There is an invisible link between the members of a family that transcends time and space.
I know those of you who are scientifically trained to be skeptical, your hairs might stand up in doubt and criticism.
I understand, mine stood up too.

And I have experienced it many times. Incidents in the past DO impact the following generation, if they were repressed, hidden, not owned.

It is as if there is a hidden conscience working within a family system – this is Hellinger’s conclusion. If you are intrigued, go to and read up on amazing true stories from around the world.

Now, besides being astonishing and amazing, what can Family Constellation do for you and me?

Participating in the constellation work shifts the participants’ relationship to his/her family.
It allows for a deeper connection and a deeper understanding and experience of the BOND, that connects families. Often, family members are unconsciously violating the inner order the family, which in constellation work can be re established.

Let me give you a small example from my own process.
I am the second child out of three, and as it happened, had the chance to a higher education then my older brother. Without my conscious realizing, maybe from the age of 9, 10, I believed I was better then my brother, and that I knew more, and felt superior -- so in an hidden way rivaled with him to be actually the bigger one, the older one.

With this unconscious pattern I violated one basic principle of order in a family system namely that how much time a child has spent in the family determines his/her place in the family system.
My older brother was born first and is Nr. 1, then me, Nr. 2 and my younger brother is on the Nr. 3 spot.

When this became visible and was brought to my consciousness thru the constellation work, something shifted in me towards my older brother. I started to respect him as my older brother and stopped making myself better than him. I stepped back into my place within the family system. And as the order got re-established, our relationship really improved.
I never talked to him about it. Something in me shifted and our relationship became closer. I didn’t make this up.
Many people have reported this phenomena:
When something within our ‘psyche/soul’ (or inner world) shifts, the outer follows.

The value of Family Constellation Work cannot be overstated and I struggle on how to get that across.
Without knowing, most of us are entangled in an invisible net, which binds us in tragic situations, has us repeat patterns in relationships, affects our health, our capacities to be successful and to bring our unique contributions forward.
I worked with thousands of people over the last 25 years AND there is no way around other than to turn lovingly towards ones past and be curious about what is in there – and ask the question “what is it that I am entangled in, enmeshed, unconsciously impacted by?”.

The family Constellation is an elegant, profound, amazing, outrageous, artistic, wondrous and awesome process of setting your relationships with the fundamental people of your life RIGHT, in order – impacting the rest of your life.

Family Constellation is relatively new in the United States, yet you should be able to find information on the web about different offerings. One personal recommendation is my friend Peter Devries at
I, myself offer my own version of this process in a seminar that I call ‘THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE SEMINAR’ which involves the basics of Hellinger’s work in combination with my personal inner Journey work, creating a power- and wonderful personal transformation.

The next HES takes placein Washington DC, May 9/10.
(There are also HE’s taking place in Florida, Vermont, Ottawa, Chicago and San Francisco) For more information contact me at or call 415-990-5629

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Shadow Within Us or Why the end of Wars might start with You and Me

We are living in the midst of multiple wars, ethnic conflicts and closer to home crime and domestic violence and it is hard not to wonder why ?
‘Why are we humans so violent, and why do we attack each other on so many levels ? Are we basically ‘bad’ as some philosopher and religions assume ?
In this blog I will turn my ‘reflections’ on the subject of
the ‘shadow’ side of our human nature symbolized in the Star Wars Saga in the character of 'Darth Vader'.

On my own journey within I discovered different inner ‘voices’ or ‘energies’ or ‘parts’ or ‘aspects’ that at different times I assume are ‘me’.

Let us imagine our lives as a play - different circumstances bring up different ‘characters’ on the stage.
During the day, different ‘actors’, ‘voices, show up on the inner stage, mostly in response to the environment.
On top are our coping voices/layers:
For some of us we are funny and witty or a bit sarcastic when we engage.
Then we have an ‘image’ voice/layer, which attempts to shine and polish ourselves, wanting to look good and be seen as successful, powerful, loving, religious or spiritual depending on the environment we are facing.
This outer ring of our personality is our ‘nice’ façade.
Just underneath the layer that awaits to be activated is the ‘frustrated/agitated one’ in us.
For example if the plane is late or we find ourselves stuck in traffic or a situation at work, all can bring this voice/layer up.

These “voices/ actors” that we don’t want to see within ourselves or show to others were labeled by J.G. Jung as the ‘Shadow’ or Schatten (in German).

I would like to distinguish to major forces within our shadow:
First, the ‘Attacker’:
That voice screams out of our mouth when the frustration reaches a certain degree. Suddenly we attack the airport agent who tells us that our flight got cancelled or we lash out at our children/ friends or partner when we feel worn down, exhausted, hurt.
This part in us is intolerant, impatient and erupts like a volcano. It’s a hot and angry voice/layer within - in some form or other we attack, from the perspective of our ego, we attack back, we defend.
That is the Shadow layer that takes us over, and this can occur both at the individual and collective/societal level.
To understand Violence and War we can use Jung’s understanding of a ‘collective consciousness’ that is made of all our individual consciousnesses.
We have both a personal ‘Shadow’ and a ‘collective Shadow’ that we all share.

Then, there is an even deeper layer, which we call in the Diamond Logos School: The ‘Beast’.
In its extreme, this voice is all about ‘Hate’ and ‘Power’: Everything is in its way. It is calculating and cold. It wants to annihilate everything that IS. The Beast in us IS hatred.
It wants just to destroy, to destruct - the good, the bad, the ugly, the light, God…It wants to blow up everything in its madness.
We can find the ‘Beast’ in action thru the centuries when whole villages got burned, no prisoners were taken, when one tribe took revenge on the other, when one religion in the name of God killed the members of the other religion.
It was the Beast in the psyche of the terrorists that planned to attack the Twin Towers at the time when people where working, the Beast that threw the Atomic bomb on Hiroshima, the Beast in Hitler that made the Germans attack and then hold out, when all was lost, leading to more deaths in the last year of world war II…..

AND, the Beast acts so cruel and cold, just like the ‘Attacker Layer’ because it is right on top of an immense wounded ness in the psyche.
The Shadow in us gets activated, when an inner wounded ness gets ‘triggered’.
Of course the cultural environment contributes dramatically to the appearance of the ‘Attacker’ and ‘Beast’ layers too. Relaxing the regulations on torture gave permission for the appearance of the Beast layer in those soldiers in Iraq.

There is a deep woundedness in our psyche – a kind of core wound that we all carry deep within our psyche. In some form or the other, this wound stems from drama from pregnancy, birth, and early childhood – often fostered by feelings of abandonment, separation and in some cases more obvious reasons like abuse and violation.

To different degrees, we all carry trauma layers within.
Whenever you find yourself ‘lashing out’ or feel the ‘Beast’ awakening inside, look within and you might find what I found within myself:
Somehow, this situation is activating a wounded/hurt layer in me and now my psyche either reacts or wants revenge – eye for eye – you are hurting me, you will pay for it.
Although we listen to the teachings of the New Testament,
‘Love thy neighbor like yourself’, it is the Old Testament’s teaching of ‘eye for eye’ in the recesses of our psyche and in the limbic folds of our brain that in moments of deep stress takes over.

Our conscious ego structure lives in fear and spends a lot of energy to keep this ‘Shadow’ energy hidden – we are afraid of our Schatten. So many times when I have invited people to participate in inner work, this is what some of them admit: ‘I am afraid that I find something bad/evil inside of me’.
Yet what we are afraid of has power and control over us.
What we resist – persists.
We individually as humans avoid facing our shadow and that’s why the shadow takes suddenly over:
Young American soldiers torture prisoners, the German soldiers participated in the Holocaust, the Arabic nationalists become terrorists and so on.

From this perspective Wars can be understood as the result of collective Shadow energies.
And the collective is based on individuals.
Ultimately, only our willingness on an individual level, to confront our own shadow and make it conscious, will bring these destructive energies out of the hidden in our psyche into the light of our consciousness, and help us come to grip with violence and war.

Working with our Shadow is a challenge and takes immense courage, yet the integration of our
‘Shadow self’ leads to a more peaceful life, with more creativity and aliveness, because the energy that we spend in fear of our own ‘dark side’ is now free to enliven us to live a life of joy and wonder.

For those in the Washington DC area, a weekend on ‘integrating the Shadow’ takes place as part of the ‘Essential Pilgrimage’ teachings Saturday, Feb. 28 and Sunday March 1st.
For more information on this program and other offerings regarding ‘Shadow Work’ you can contact the author directly at or call 415-990-5629.
Thanks for being interested in this profound, yet neglected subject.
May you and I heal our Shadow, may we all heal our collective Shadow.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Presidency of Barack Obama and the King Archetype.

The Presidency of Barack Obama and the King Archetype.
In the midst of the most serious challenges the United States faces in many decades, there is with the inauguration of our 44th president a feeling of hope, possibility and a sense of a coming together that has not been present in many decades.

The following reflections, based on a psycho-spiritual perspective, are an attempt to provide insights about the role of the president that Barack Obama is stepping into.
I will base my reflections on the work of the Swiss Psychologist Carl Gustav Jung who discovered the collective level of modern psychology and formulated
some of his theories around the concept of ‘archetypes’.

The term ‘Archetype’ can be understood as ‘inherited unconscious ideas or images that are present in our psyche.’
There are many primordial images or archetypes in our inner psyche, starting with the ‘Great Father and the Great Mother archetypes, the Child archetype, and then more specific ones like the ‘Lover’, ‘Magician’, ‘Warrior’, ‘Priest/Priestess’, ‘Wise Woman/Man’ archetypes and so on. Every archetype has great gifts and also a shadow side to it.
From the theory of archetypes looked at, every human being is an assembly of archetypes. All our basic roles, father/mother, child, leader, teacher, care giver, minister, entertainer and so on, are related to inner ‘prototypes’ or an inner image.
The level of access and expression of various archetypes varies from person to person.
For instance you may be a mother, yet larger than that is the impersonal ‘Mother’ Archetype representing the qualities of ‘mothering’ in its full power and breath.
Different mothers tap into the impersonal Mother archetype to different degrees and to different aspects of it.
Some are very mothering, others struggle, and others are impacted by the shadow side of the Mother Archetype, and behave overprotecting or smothering.

Now, I like to apply this model to the Presidency:
It is helpful to quickly look back to the founding of this country. Although this nation was founded in rebellion towards the British Empire and its King, the role of the president is quite closely modeled on a King in traditional monarchies.
In contrast, the democracies of Italy or Germany and the Scandinavian countries have a weakened ‘King’. The Chancellor, or Prime Minister is a ‘mini king’ yet doesn’t have the political and archetypical powers that the American Constitution gave to the president, which are as close to the role of a ‘King’ as a democracy allows.
Somehow, our founding fathers modeled the position of the Presidency on the ‘King Archetype’.
Yet not every man elected to the presidency brings the same amount of inner connection to the true qualities of a King Archetype.
Looking at George W. Bush, from an archetypical model, one can say that he is actually more connected to the ‘Warrior’ Archetype. The theme of his speeches, including the closing comments of his presidency, were filled with images of being under threat, of fear of getting attacked, of protecting and attacking, simply because that is the primary lens through which he mostly looks at life.
What does a ‘Warrior’ need to be a warrior – he needs war, otherwise he can’t lead.
As simple as this may sound, the power of the archetypical energies are very profound and run us on an unconscious level.

Below are some descriptions I found ‘googling’ about the King Archetype in organizations.
I marked with italic qualities of the King Archetype that I have seen coming thru Obama.

Also note that the description starts with the word “Ideally”:

“Ideally, the leader holding the energy of the King is noble. He conducts his kingdom, realm, or organization by the highest ethical standards. He is magnanimous, that is, he exhibits greatness of mind and heart, with elevation and dignity of the soul. He treats friend and foe with the same lofty generosity. He is concerned for the welfare of all those below him. Talented subordinates do not threaten him. His main concern and his main question are with service: how can he best serve his people and all the lives of others impacted by the organization for which he provides leadership? The healthy King leader is a model of responsibility. He always considers himself one hundred percent responsible for the success or failure of the organization. He keeps the big picture before everyone's mind, rather than sweating the small stuff. The King leader represents stability. He is neither fickle nor rigid, but has a vision for his realm (organization/country) and relentlessly pursues it. He gives the people working in, and touched by, the organization a sense of being grounded in the real world. There is an evenness and firmness to his mind, a calm temperament that is not easily elated or depressed. The King leader rules with justice and fairness. The weak and the strong in the organization are given equal consideration by the King. He does not play favorites. Therefore, everyone in his realm feels protected and secure. The King is realistic about the social and economic pressures faced by the lowliest persons touched by his organization, and therefore feels compassion towards them.
As the term “ideally” indicates, no human being can fully fulfill the description above, because in this realm here, ‘nobody is perfect’. And those who are the most enlightened and awakened beings are usually not drawn into politics.
Yet it is quite amazing to see that quite a few attributes that Obama has shown so far, fit the descriptions above.
This indicates to me that the King Archetype is remarkable accessible to him or maybe even more accurate to write, is coming thru him in words and actions.

It is important to also remember that every Archetype has a ‘shadow side’, like everything in life, the Yin – Yang principle applies in this dualistic world.

The dark side of the King Archetype is the ‘Tyrant King’
“The Tyrant leader on the other hand is fearful and suspicious. He feels he must treat his subordinates in a condescending way, that is, he must constantly put them down, and rule by fear rather than love. He is disordered and uncentered. His priorities center around himself and his own prosperity, not that of the organization. He is threatened by the power of others.The Tyrant leader is interested mainly in self-aggrandizement and so is easily slighted by petty matters. What he really wants is adoration and worship by his subjects. He is ruthless and loves to intimidate others. He ignores blatant injustices in his realm, or justifies injustice through twisted thinking. Rather than exhibiting balanced control of his realm, he is over-controlling and authoritarian.
The healthy King is the servant of the King archetype and therefore keeps a proper balance between being possessed or dispossessed by it. The Tyrant is possessed by the King archetype and therefore thinks he is the King archetype rather than its servant.”

This is the root of the saying, “power corrupts”, because it activates the ‘Tyrant’ in the subconscious.
This is what every great leader and the people around him, us, have to watch out for and to remind them that they are in their position to serve something bigger then themselves.

Lastly one more quote from Wikipedia about the King

“So humans need a symbol of this collective spirit, this miracle of collective effort. A monarch is such a symbol. The king or queen fulfill such a role. They remind us of something of utmost importance. They remind us of our collective power, our ability to create and survive through cooperation.”

This is what Barack Obama can tap into:
As the holder of the presidency, he can use the power of the King Archetype to remind us of our collective power, of our ability to create and survive through cooperation.

I want to end with reminding myself to watch out NOT to make Barack Obama my new savior, the messiah of our age. This is the greatest disservice we can offer him.
It is important to look at our projections onto him – and very likely there might be aspects of the father figure we always wanted and never had or the parent who will take care of us.
He will have his wins and losses, and there will be mistakes and ‘blindspots’.

YET, from my perspective, there is truly reason for hope, because we have elected a man to the highest office, who is actually suited for this most difficult job on the planet.
The whole world watches this transition, because in people’s psyche they know, that the person elected to the American President embodies the country.
Our planet, this precious blue pearl, needs more then ever that the leader of the still most powerful country, embodies the benevolent aspect of the ‘King Archetype’.

I like to end with a global version of the usual ending of the speech of the presidents:
“May the Great Spirit bless Barack Obama and his government, the people of the United States and the Nations of the world.”