What can I say, as an American who has found refuge in Europe for the past 21 years? Everyone else is busy saying it all. On one side – shock, dismay, fear. On the other – glee, revenge, hope of becoming great again.
I’m afraid I saw this coming a long time ago – like 21 years ago? – and am not surprised. But it is still painful to watch. I can’t bare to hear his name ever again. And yet it will undoubtedly resound in history. Her name has quietly sunken into the “what-might-have-been” (The WMH-bin). Buried under heartache and broken pride.
Of course, this all happened because of _________________ (fill in the blank). But underneath it all, what we really have to face is the moral and spiritual crises we are in. As Assagioli wrote:
“Everything that happens is a mix of good and evil in various proportions. This is only to highlight that each aspect is equally real.”
This president-elect is merely a pimple on our face that has grown into a full-blown boil of raging anger and puss. We are now being forced to look into the mirror and not turn away. He is the lightning rod for all the negative forces churning inside us. Cleverly he knows exactly how to draw this negative energy out and channel it for his own prideful glory, his own greedy gain. We have all affirmed him even with our scorn and derision. Our attention, even though critical, continually fanned his flames.
That was our first mistake. The criticism. Assagioli wrote: “Spiritual discrimination is more arduous than criticism, because it requires inner work.” And here we are again. Staring once more at ourselves in the mirror. This inner work is so difficult. It takes time. It takes energy. It takes deep sincerity. It takes a lifetime commitment. It is Dante’s descent into Hell and climb up the mountain of Purgatory.
At the beginning of Dante Aligheri’s Divine Comedy, he is standing in a dark wood which he describes as savage, fearful, and bitter, almost as bitter as Death itself. (Hmmm, sound familiar?) Further on, Dante soon finds himself at the “edge of the wood’s beginning,” and then looks up and sees a mountain with its top “shawled in the morning rays of light.” This light immediately calms the fear held in the “lake of his heart.”
Naturally, Dante desires to receive more of this light and immediately begins to climb towards it. But this straightforward approach is not the journey he is meant to take. A wild beast immediately blocks his way. This beast turns out to be a leopard, soon followed by a lion and then a she-wolf. They ultimately force Dante to give up his quick ascent up the mountain.
The she-wolf represents our self-indulgence, the fierce lion our willful sins of violence, and the leopard captures our conscious fraud and betrayal. These three animals are symbolic manifestations of will and love energy run amok, creating havoc in our lives. In our families, work places, and nations. Such energies typically appear as subpersonalities over whom we have yet to gain conscious awareness and control.
We have got to do this inner work! Assagioli urges us to do so. This guy-whose-name-I-refuse-to-utter is simply a manifestation of all the subpersonalities inside ourselves for whom we have yet to gain conscious awareness and control.
But we cannot do this spiritual journey alone. We need each other. The moment the wolf forces Dante “back to where the sun is mute,” he sees a figure and cries out for help. And just as he realizes he needs help, help appears. As Assagioli so beautifully reminds us:
“Help from above is always at hand; it is never denied. We ourselves are the only obstacles that make that help seem distant”
The figure turns out to be Virgil, the great Roman poet born in 70 B.C., whom Dante had studied with deep love for many years. Virgil becomes Dante’s guide until he has the spiritual discrimination he needs to guide himself. At first hesitant and full of excuses, Dante finally chooses to follow Virgil into the mouth of Hell for the long and arduous journey that ultimately leads him into Paradise.
What can I say? Sigh. Look in the mirror. Get going. Don’t be afraid. Long deeply for the light on the mountaintop. Breathe. Call out for help. Pray. And throw your televisions out the window.