How to become a Human
Choose between two
Or among many
Say yes or no
This cements the self:
Here is where I stand
The Archimedian point
From which I will neither move nor be moved
Without my consent
The essence of our humanity
The truth of our becoming
Is to say Yes or No
Knowing that by necessity, the one includes the other
This ability to discern right action
To cut through the pain of rejecting a beloved projection
Is hard fought and hardly won
When it must be chosen again.
The No of today will have a price
The yes will have one too
Redemption depends on whether we are willing to pay
Our own way
Or try to make others pay for us
That is the way of the evil inclination
Better to pay in good conscience
And stand on one’s own two feet
At the point of choice
Yes. No. Yes.
May 8, 2013
Many years ago, I started an academic paper by asking “So What?” What does this theory to mean to my lived life? While in Divinity School, I wanted to know what theological premises about the nature of God had to do with my lived reality as a human being in relationship to others and the world. It was my way of trying to put thought through the fire of life. What remains is what is meaningful, what allows me to live my life with integrity, consciousness, awareness.
So it has been with my studies as an Archetypal Pattern Analyst through the Assisi Institute. What do Jung, von Franz, Conforti, et al, have to teach me about how to live my life? How do I understand meaning and suffering, in a way that is not simply academic but filled with energy/Eros as well as Logos. It can be framed archetypally as the union of Logos/Sophia, as the process of individuation, as the ego’s journey through the life cycle, or as coming into conscious relationship to the Self. It can be seen as the development of moral courage, the assimilation of the shadow, in short, as the way we become human.
But, the truth of the matter is that we have to DO it. That is the most difficult part of this journey of becoming human, we can’t just talk about it, we have to suffer the real pain of saying No to a complex or of saying Yes to some part of ourselves that we would rather reject or place on another to carry for us.
The more I engage in this work, the more I know the answer to the “So what?” It is to save my very life from being lived for me instead of being lived by me. Not theoretically, not quotably, but each and every time I choose which wolf to feed. In the Hebrew Scriptures, it is said that humans are born with two inclinations, one to good and the other to evil. The evil inclinations are the instincts which must be tamed by the study of the law and the law must be given life by the instincts.
We can’t escape it, but we can choose to live it out in awareness. As God says in Deuteronomy 30:19 “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, thatyou and your descendants may live.” Nowhere does God say it will be an easy choice.
The New Oxford Annotated Bible (1977). Revised Standard Edition. New York: Oxford University Press.