Your authentic self will determine which approach to life you favour. (Image: Thomas Cotterill)
The way of love is a life dominated by instinct with its accompanying emotions. Rewards in this mode of existence arise almost exclusively from emotional gratification and the experience of sensual pleasure, which prompts a sense of eagerly desired physical happiness. It is a crudely conceptualized, non-intellectual, irrational, bodily approach to life, with little manifestation of will, a sort of corporeal drifting from one source of satisfaction to the next. Life lived in this way is often haphazard or even chaotic. People in love with falling in love epitomize the type.
In her Diary of Vowels, Jungian analyst Helen M. Luke describes a type of person she refers to as “the Zen man.” According to Luke, “He is … one who does everything with his whole heart, with complete commitment and devotion – or, in Jung’s words, one who lives his hypothesis to the bitter end, to the death if need be.”
It is a mistake to compare Buddhism’s wholeheartedness with Jung’s idea of authenticity. (Image: public domain.)
The concept of wholeheartedness in Zen Buddhism refers to complete sincerity and commitment. Many in the West, including Luke, have tried to equate Zen wholeheartedness with Jung’s notion of wholeness and authenticity. Jung himself may have made the comparison, as Luke seems to suggest.
Prometheus stole the gods’ fire. Creative individuals steal the gods’ thunder by exercising free will. (Image: public domain.)
Resistance Is Not Futile
“It is the possibility of resistance to the needs of desire, on the one hand, and the dictates of intellect and reason, on the other, that constitutes human freedom.” The quote is from Hannah Arendt’s Willing. My own rewording of the idea goes like this: Human will is able to steer a course between the powerful urges of instinct on the one hand and the incessant petitioning of reason on the other. It reminds me of the old Greek legend of Scylla and Charybdis. Will is like a ship traversing the narrow strait with the devouring monster of instinct on one side and the drowning whirlpool of nagging reason on the other.