A fascinating quote that has been attributed to psychotherapist and student of Freud, Carl Jung–‘what we don’t mythologize, we pathologize’ has grabbed my attention. Apparently human beings are prone to mythology in an attempt to make sense of the metaphysical dilemma–what is the nature of reality?
Traditional religions have provided the grand myth for most of humanity— what to believe and how to interpret our own behavior in terms of the behavior of mythological [or historical] characters from religious texts.
When the Bible was universally acknowledged as unquestionably and literally true [contemporary Biblical literalists aside, for now] it was possible for ordinary individuals to see their own weakness, flaws, ‘sins’ in the characters of the Bible. The highly revered King David, for example, was an adulterer and contributed directly in the death of several others. Yet he is regarded as one of the most holy of characters.
The average citizen could understand the imperfection of man–how natural it is to make mistakes, to atone for them, and move on without self-degradation and depression.
It may very well be that our epidemic of depression reflects the lack of mythology by which we can forgive our inadequacies. If there is anyway to transcend the dark emotions of fear, sadness, grief it is by realizing our inherent imperfection and exhibiting the courage to move on.
Yet perhaps now is the time to create our own myths–the ones that work for us. This is not dissimilar to what cognitive therapy offers. Re-frame our interpretation of the events in our lives. Because there is little doubt that our own mind’s understanding of ourselves is the primary consideration regarding our own level of happiness or sadness.
If we live by the myth that we are sinners, losers, incapable of success, unlovable and incapable of love–that is assuredly how our lives will be.
I have found great solace in the myths of Buddhism and Kabbalah. They offer me a metaphysical platform upon which I can build a sense of peace and contentment–the essence of happiness.