It's the future, Jim, but not as we know it...

There's more to tomorrow than robots, flying cars, and a faster internet.
22C+ is all about Deep Futures, futures that matter. Welcome to futures fantastic, unexpected, profound, but most of all deeply meaningful...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Carl Jung: Leader-Sage

 Taos, New Mexico recently
It was in Taos, New Mexico and the year was 1932. Two men sat down together on the rooftop of a five-story building overlooking the smaller, square brick buildings nearby. They were surrounded by the rolling plateaus of the Taos, with their volcanic peaks rising high into the heavens. A bright sun warmed the cold winter air. It was to be a most remarkable meeting. One of the two men was a white man of middle age, and his name will be familiar to many readers: Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist. The other man, though largely forgotten by history, was in many ways also remarkable: native American Chief Ochwiay Biano (which means Mountain Lake). The tale of their conversation is recounted in Jung’s autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Jung writes that he was able to talk to Biano in a way that he was rarely able to do with Europeans. The most significant aspect of the event remains the comments Biano made about white American culture of the time. He said:
 ‘See how cruel the whites look, their lips are thin, their noses sharp, their faces furrowed and distorted by folds. Their eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something. They are always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want. We do not understand them. We think that they are all mad.’
Jung fond this critique of an outsider fascinating. He asked the Chief why he thought white people were insane.
“They say they think with their heads.”
“’Why of course”, said Jung, “What do you think with?”
“’We think here,” said Biano, putting his hand on his heart.
This is revealing. It suggests that there are ways of knowing that have become alien to modern cultures, and to our modern leaders. There are cognitive processes with which the native Americans were quite familiar, but the modern world has largely forgotten. Further, we can deduce from Biano’s strong feelings that he considered that these mental processes were of vital importance in living a genuinely meaningful life.
On that day, the words of Biano also struck a deep chord within Jung. Something moved within him. Yet what fascinates me most about this encounter is what Jung did next. He did not try to psychoanalyse Biano or to critique the contents of his message. Nor did he attempt to situate the Chief’s cognitive abilities within psychologist Jean Piaget’s cognitive scheme of mental development, and explain them away as child-like “concrete operational”. Jung did not even try to write them down. Instead the great depth psychologist fell into a long meditation. In the reflective moments that followed he experienced a vision which revealed to him shocking insights into his own race and civilisation.
For the first time in my life, so it seemed to me, someone had drawn for me a picture of the real white man. It was as though until now I had seen nothing but sentimental, prettified color prints. This Indian had struck our vulnerable spot, unveiled a truth to which we are blind. I felt rising within me like a shapeless mist something unknown and yet deeply familiar. And out of this mist, image upon image detached itself: first Roman legions smashing into the cities of Gaul, and the keenly incised features of Julius Caesar, Scipio Africanus, and Pompey. I saw the Roman eagle on the North Sea and on the banks of the White Nile. Then I saw St. Augustine transmitting the Christian creed to the Britons on the tips of Roman lances, and Charlemagne's most glorious forced conversions of the heathen; then the pillaging and murdering bands of the Crusading armies. With a secret stab I realized the hollowness of that old romanticism about the Crusades. Then followed Columbus, Cortes, and the other conquistadors who with fire, sword, torture, and Christianity came down upon even these remote pueblos dreaming peacefully in the Sun, their Father. I saw, too, the peoples of the Pacific islands decimated by firewater, syphilis, and scarlet fever carried in the clothes the missionaries forced on them.
It was enough. What we from our point of view call colonization, missions to the heathen, spread of civilization, etc., has another face the face of a bird of prey seeking with cruel intentness for distant quarry a face worthy of a race of pirates and highwaymen. All the eagles and other predatory creatures that adorn our coats of arms seem to me apt psychological representatives of our true nature. (Jung, 248-249)
This was remarkable indeed. Jung allowed his conscious mind to move aside for a short time. He allowed something deeper to possess him. And in those moments of receptivity, profound knowledge was given to him, knowledge which allowed him to peer into the shadow of the collective consciousness field of Caucasian civilisation. Jung believed, as do I, that the human mind is embedded within a human collective intelligence, and that this consciousness is directly accessible to us. But to access this intelligence we have to change both the way we see the world and the way we see ourselves. We have to change the way we use our minds. When this happens we begin to tap into Integrated Intelligence.
I draw from Jung’s life journey here as he was a genuine example of what I call a Leader-Sage. He was a man who was able to draw upon Integrated Intelligence to serve the evolution of the consciousness of the human race. He allowed himself to be guided by this process, and in doing so he was able tap into the intelligence of the cosmos itself. Jung was able to develop Conscious Leadership; and my upcoming book Leading with Spirit is devoted to deepening our understanding of the subject. It is also designed to help the readers - the leaders of our futures - to become genuine Leader-Sages.


  1. Carl Jung and John Lennon would be my two biggest 20th century heroes.How much influence they've had on western thought is incalculable.

  2. Excellent theme to work on, Marcus - at this time in the planet we need such people more than ever. Perhaps you could look at different examples from different domains, e.g. Nelson Mandela in politics, David Bohm in science, the Dalai Lama in religion, etc.

  3. That's a good idea, Simon. I could do a short chapter on each category perhaps.

    And Brizdaz I will have to put some thought into whether to include John Lennon and other philosopher-musicians (e.g, all the Beatles- well, not sure about Ringo ;-) - Dylan, maybe U2, Justin Beiber etc.

    OK, just joking about the last one!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I'm with Daz about jung and lennon. The latter was a true force for good.Really enjoyed this post, Marcus. A movie on y radar: a dangerous method, about the relationship between jung and freud.