Otto Rank’s profound insight that a “philosophy of pessimism” is born of self-hatred gives us a deep understanding of the origin of much suffering in the world–but also a door to the way out of this suffering.
If the door into the suffering of self-hatred often comes from abuse of many kinds, then the way out is to find goodness around us that elicits the love that is a response to goodness. Much self-hatred is perpetuated, as Rank points out, by our overactive imaginations, the “artiste-manque,” the creativity we invest in beating up on ourselves.
This we are prone to do of course in a culture that is based on competition more than co-operation, a culture therefore that has taken the basic dynamics of capitalism “to heart” as one says, that is, as a foundational way to look at the world and even at oneself. “The survival of the fittest” meaning the meanest–not, unfortunately the survival of the fittest meaning “those who fit in well, who adapt, who recover, who forgive (including forgiving oneself).”
The self-hatred that births more hatred can be found in the destructive childhood of Adolf Hitler whose father beat him daily, as psychologist Alice Miller has demonstrated. We all know how that turned out. The abuse of the last president’s Ku Klux Klan honoring father explains a lot of recent history as well.
When Julian of Norwich talks about God as “the goodness in nature and things” and how we are all born with “joy as our birthright,” she is clearly offering another way to look at the world and look at ourselves.
When Thomas Aquinas tells us that “wonder makes joy” and Webb Telescope is daily filling our souls with an ever-deepening story of the wonders of our universe and planet on which we all live, abundant joy should be in motion.
We are invited beyond anthropocentric self-doubt and wrongs done us by parents, society or Patriarchy that brings with it “fatalistic self-hatred” as Adrienne Rich reminds us to the graced community of the more-than-human.
From self-hatred to Self-love meaning self-connected-to-the-whole.
If a pessimistic philosophy causes self-hatred, then true self-love, self in the context of the whole, can cause a blessing-oriented philosophy. A rediscovery of the Original Blessing that earth, cosmos and we all are is medicine for self-hatred.
Memorial Day remembers those who put Self ahead of self; and love ahead of fascism.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. 295-300.
And Fox, Original Blessing.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: Memorial at The Wall. Photo by Mike Tolliver on Unsplash
Queries for Contemplation
Is the news from Webb Telescope entering your soul and bringing with it a wonder that awakens joy? And gratitude at being here? How can we spread that into our self-hating and other-hating moment in history?
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
Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality
Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology): the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.
“Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story