We are meditating on the “philosophy of pessimism” which is widespread in our culture and gives birth to fear and paranoia.

“How Commercials Get Us To Buy Crap We Don’t Need” Analysis of the psychological impact of advertising. AJ+

Is this not what drives a culture driven by advertising and its countless promises of false hope? Is this not behind cynicism and much of the ennui and despair, depression and acedia that hits us when we are cut off from our first chakra and connection to the universe?  Cut off from the Joy that wonder brings (Aquinas)?  Does pessimism not feed  pusillanimity and defensiveness?

Rank offers a cure for a philosophy of pessimism when he points out that the true source of pessimism lies in self-hatred. Pessimism is the projection we make upon the world of our own self-worth.

Where true self-love is meager, our love of the world will be meager. “Love others as you love yourself,” advised Jesus.  

“Depression” Photo by Max Boschini on Flickr.

But if our love of self is shallow, the love we put into the world will be also. And the world is so strong in its various misdirected loves that our weak and shallow love will be easily drowned in the energies of that world.

The result? We will slink back into pessimism, the pessimism that is inevitable when human love is based only on the human and is out of relation with the cosmic love or the divine love, including the divine love incarnated in created things.

Our self-doubts and self-hatred and self-constructed pessimism will win us over and deceive us into actually believing (for it takes an act of belief) that life is vile and pessimism is the proper response to such vileness.

Blessing or goodness is gone; melancholy reigns. And when melancholy reigns, the heart shrinks, as Aquinas observes. Our world gets smaller. Joy is rarer and rarer to be found.

“Pink Peonies in a Vase” by author/mental health activist Jennifer Marshall, whose floral watercolor practice helps her “let go and go with the flow, which has tamed my anxiety.” Published with permission; to buy, click HERE.

(Joy, says Aquinas, expands the heart, while sadness deflates it.)

When Adrienne Rich verifies that Patriarchy teaches a “fatalistic self-hatred” she too is saying that self-hatred kills.  Pessimism therefore is a kind of slow death by self-hatred.  But Rich offers medicine for emerging from a culture of pessimism grounded in a culture of self-hatred: Move beyond Patriarchy.  Incorporate the healthy feminine and the healthy—as opposed to toxic—masculine.

Choose creativity, choose to give birth.  Rank concurs: “Pessimism comes from the repression of creativity.”  To bring creativity back is to bring the Divine Feminine back.  Gaia, Mother Earth, reminds us of this daily.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. 295f.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “‘They’ say all the answers are within. I believe that because I have experienced moments of clarity, so bright that I dazzle myself. But these moments are fleeting, and the past still so heavy to bear. So I keep searching, for my own eternal flame.” Photo by Gwynydd Michael on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Self-hatred and fear, self-hatred and pessimism: How radical is Jesus’ teaching that we learn to love others “as we love ourselves” and how hard is it to love ourselves healthily?

Recommended Reading

Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society

Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them. 
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science.  A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics

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8 thoughts on “Rank and Rich on Moving from Pessimism to Creativity”

  1. Avatar

    Always love the insights. Would really like the source citations and page numbers, meaning where I could find the Rank quote and the Rich poems.

  2. Avatar

    Jesus asks us to share in His Work as the laborers are few. It is hard for us to imagine that the Lord of the Universe, the Creator of All Existence, not only loves us, but needs us to spread the Good News and care for ‘the sheep’ in God’s Community. All is within the Community of God, and many need our care.

    We are God’s eyes, ears, hands, heart, mind and feet in a ‘world’ that knows God not, that sees God not, that regards God not. If we were to do just one small act for another on this day, that person would not have gotten it otherwise from anyone else. Jesus asks us to be God’s eyes, ears, hands and feet in a world that is desperate and hungers for food, shelter, love, truth, joy, peace and wisdom.

    You are needed, I am needed, we are all needed, in our community and in a world of over 8 billion souls in which many are crying out for the comfort that only we can provide them. We have a purpose, and that purpose is love. We don’t feel love by thinking about it as something we do or do not have. We ‘experience’ love by what we do in performing our daily actions for love. When we serve love, love is always in our presence. Every act of love, self-love and love for others is one small step out of the darkness and into the light, which is our true resting place, where we find solace for our once broken and now mending hearts. — BB.

  3. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    The last paragraph in today’s written part of The DM, I find to be so beautifully encouraging as to the simplicity of how we can each confront pessimism, and the value of doing so. The operative word being CHOOSE. “Choose creativity. Choose to give birth.”

    No matter the intensity of pessimism we may be encountering, either within or without, due to the many challenges humanity is facing, both personally and collectively; one always has the power to freely CHOOSE, how to respond or react. No one, can take this away from oneself.

    “The value of choosing creativity, to give birth, to bring creativity back, is to bring the Divine Feminine back. Gaia, Mother Earth reminds us of this daily.” This statement reveals the beauty, meaning and purpose that guides our choosing; the response we are invited to co-creatively participate in. This invitation of bringing back, of giving birth, we are reminded of daily. We need only open our hearts, minds and souls to seeing the unfolding, evolving emergence of this reality; and choose to converge with this! Our creative choice of response can begin by simply watching and listening to the dawning of a new day!

    1. Avatar
      Carol Vaccariello

      There is a beautiful Native American chant, “The Dawning of a New Day Is Coming!” filled with Joy and Hope.

  4. Avatar

    Today’s DM and Matthew’s reflections remind me why it has been so difficult and confusing for modern human beings (and historically) to integrate their human nature with their Divine Nature, with all its consequent personal and social problems, suffering, and sometimes destructive behavior with self, others, and Mother Nature on our spiritual journeys (reincarnation and karma believers would say that is why our souls keep reincarnating). The evolution of consciousness helps us understand this difficulty in integrating our Divine Nature. Our humanity has developed ego consciousness and our our unique human individuality/identity with its sense of body, feelings, thoughts, free will and control. The major tragedy of this unconscious inculcation of these patriarchal beliefs and values is that they have led to a sense of separation/alienation from our True Selves/our Divine Nature in connection/union with others, Sacred Mother Nature, and our sacred physical and non-physical multidimensional Cosmos Lovingly Present within and flowing among us. Our egocentric consciousness harmfully separates and limits us, even when we try to selfishly love this individual self, because our True uniqueness is consciously realizing we’re a special divine part of the Whole in Loving Diverse Oneness within ongoing co-Creation~Incarnation~Evolution of the Cosmos… Cosmic Consciousness as experienced and taught to us by the mystics of past and present living mystical traditions….

  5. Avatar
    Barbara McGurran

    We are not ever to be perfect(misinterpretation of “be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect”) but to be good. We were created as good from goodness itself and we express our gratitude for our existence in the Great Existence by our creativity and joy in life.

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