I do believe that, to be happy, we need to pay attention to our spiritual life, but modern man is turning away from it. He has enthroned a new god: money.
In the Western World, the Christian churches are loosing ground and the spiritual life being relegated to the basement. Some resign themselves to a formal religion, going to the masses, cults and rituals and deluding themselves that this will suffice. They live trying not to think about life, trying not to find that their lives are empty. Others choose to embrace some Oriental religions – Buddhism, Hinduism and others.
Nietzsche said that “God is dead.”
According to Jung, the problem of our time is that the symbols of Christianity are becoming worn out. In his memoirs, he relates his visit to the Pueblo Indians in the US. They worshiped the sun, and did not understand why the white man wanted to interfere with their religion. They were convinced that, if they did not pray to the sun, it would stop rising, and mankind would perish. They had a clear goal in life: to save humanity.
The goal of many modern persons living in the twenty first century, in this age of extreme materialism, is to make more money, to buy a new car, to buy a new house. How poorer this objective when compared to the Pueblo Indians whose objective is to save humanity. Even if you do not believe it, they do believe, and that is what matters to give meaning to their lives.
The modern persons, without believing in the churches, fill their lives with the pursuit of wealth, or the fight for a cause. This cannot replace the need to pursue a spiritual life.
Saint-Exupery in his famous book, “The Little Prince” tells the story of the lamplighter, who spent his life putting out and lighting lamps, the astronomer who wanted to own more and more stars and spent the day cataloging them, the king of an asteroid with no subjects. They all filled their time avoiding to think about life’s purpose. How many human beings adopt this practice, working sixteen hours a day to gain more and more money that they cannot take to the tumb, avoiding to think about life. If that happened, they would discover that their lives were empty and could get into a depression.
Jung said he did not know anyone living a psychological crisis in the second half of life that could solve the problem without attention to the spiritual life, without living a symbolic life.
Human beings can and should cultivate the life of the spirit, regardless of a religious denomination or cults. You do not need to be a monk, to enter a convent, leaving your job and your business. Even the monks live an active material life, planting, cooking, performing mundane tasks, but also devoting themselves to prayers and meditations.
How to live a spiritual life, a symbolic life? Jung advised some clients to return to the practice of an institutional religion, but this recipe does not fit all. Distrust in the churches is very difficult to be reversed; when gods leave the Olympus, their return is exceedingly difficult.
Human beings need to maintain a spiritual life, to cultivate a symbolic life. How? Attention to dreams, the practice of active imagination, meditation. That is living a symbolic life. Prayer is also a good recipe, a form of meditation.
Roberto Lima Netto believes that our objective in life is to be happy, and that Jungian psychology and Spirituality, his main areas of interest, can help us in this search for happiness. He is the author of several books, including “The Little Prince for Grown-ups” and “The Jungian Bible” that can be found in Amazon. His blog is www.HappinessAcademyOnline.org.
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