Carl Jung, East meets West, MMT, and a Glorious New World Awaits us.
I took an interest in Carl Jung for a while. He said that the West was extrovert and took outer reality as very real and acted upon it. And so we became science based and produced our very modern society. Carl Jung considered westerners to be largely extrovert, and we do tend to ridicule introverts and admire extroverts, like Trump.
The East went inwards instead, concentrating on the inner mind and often denying outer reality. The world is an illusion, the Eastern mystics said. Carl Jung said that the East tended to be introvert, going inwards rather than outwards. The yogis often lived alone, and sometimes in cave, so they developed Hatha Yoga to stay physically fit in a confined space.
Carl Jung considered the introverted East and the extroverted West to be the two halves of the whole. In Jungian psychology people get well when they begin to ‘individuate’, which is when they become whole, where introversion is balanced with extroversion, and the good, makes peace with our unacceptable side, the bad and evil part, which usually gets stuffed in the unconscious. This doesn’t mean to say that we act on the bad, which would be psychopathic, but we don’t hate ourselves for our imperfections so much. Cognitive behaviour therapy does the same thing by getting people to see things in less black and white.
MMT seems to be the mirror opposite of Conservative neoclassical economics, and especially the opposite of libertarian economics. Loren Mosher say’s that everyone can be well off, and MMT describes a society working at optimum output. If true, this is fantastically good news, but yesterday I went for a mindful walk and felt despair, but then I remembered what Carl Jung said, that Westerners need the ideas of Eastern religion to balance its extroversion, and the East needs to embrace Western extroverted science more. And this is happening today, especially since we have taken ‘mindfulness’ away from its eastern mysticism, which may be unacceptable to some people, and incorporated it not just in ordinary life, but even into our modern psyychotherapies, like CBT, Dialectic Behaviour Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
I felt the despair because if the Western world went into a very optimum economic state we would soon use up all our natural resources and cause even faster global warming. But there is also much to be optimistic about, with MMT governments will have no trouble finding the resources and money to fight climate change, and develop new green energy efficient technologies, if the private sector won’t do it. Lastly, with mindfulness and the valuing of the inner life, perhaps we can learn to live with a little bit less, with just as many interesting things, but less duplicates. Do you really need the latest iPhone, when next years will be even better?
Desire creates more desire and can never be truly satisfied, taught the Buddha. If we have a nice house and a good job, we should be happy, but sadly, usually not for long. We will soon start working our butts off to get a bigger house, a better job, and sometimes making ourselves very ill in the process. And then we might start to drink more, get serious physical illnesses, or take antidepressant drugs to make us feel, ‘better than well’, and to even more competitive and extrovert. At this point we are burning our adrenal glands out.
The scientist who developed Acceptance and Commitment therapy came to the same conclusions as Buddha, but did so entirely independently through the Western scientific method. Their research also showed that humans tend to not be happy for long, and so we constantly strive. But it is this striving that has made the human species so successful, they say, but the cost is high as we tend to constantly feel frustrated and discontent. This means that depression and anxiety are far too often commonplace.
The Buddhists have a lot to say about non-striving, like when Jesus said he brings rest. Non-striving doesn’t mean that you give up working for things; it just means that you learn to be comfortable about not achieving what you want. So striving becomes more relaxed. In CBT they teach how striving for perfection, the very top grades, etc, can make you feel miserable, and can even make you less successful. A life of perfectionist striving is a miserable life. We can constantly strive to be happy but constantly end up feeling more miserable instead. Desperately wanting to be happy when your not can make you feel even more miserable.
We all want to be liked, and so people will project a feeling of happiness outwards as this makes us more attractive. But this can make a depressed person feel very discontent, and question why they feel bad when everyone else feels so good? But what if their unhappy feelings are not so unusual?
So, could we have MMT and learn to be happy with less? Could we learn to be content? Paradoxically this comes by accepting feelings of discontent and discomfort without trying to make them go away; and also by accepting unhappy feelings as well. When we accept such feelings, which include physical pain as well, a surprising thing happens: we feel less pain and discomfort. Yes, our intense striving to get away from unpleasant feelings can actually make them far worse.
In the future could there be less wars and less terrible poverty, could we work together to curtail world population growth? As technology seems to move towards almost being like magic, and at ever faster speed - such as computers that now design even better computers for us, and 3D printing comes to mind - a great new world awaits us.