(Confronting Goliath . . .)
As all this became clear to me, I sat up that night and cried. It bruised everything I believe and hold dear to my heart, and I felt the energetic tearing of souls separating from their matrix of archetypes and giving up their freedom illegitimately. And out of this place of sad-ness and spiritual violation came words, and the words began to form patterns.
So I realized that the first tool instrumental in making a difference is the awareness that this media distortion is happening at all. The second tool is some form of psychological strategy to counteract this archetypal diffusion so that we can use our inspiration to benefit ourselves, our causes, and the welfare of all beings. This strategy must initially center around psychologically converting “short-term movie-time” into “long-term real-life time.” It must bring the unconscious dynamics of projection into conscious awareness. Through these two practices, we can better use our many sources of inspiration (film, books, music, spiritual workshops, hobbies, sports, other people) in more effective ways.
Whenever I need a media derived boost of inspiration, I like to watch one of the Star Wars films, Star Trek, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, or The Lion King. For me, these are marvelous depictions of the spiritual awakening process delightfully packaged in a fantasy context that revives the uninhibited child, the intrepid adventurer, and the transpersonal spokesperson (three of my most beloved and powerful archetypes) within me without fail.
Yet even as I watch and enjoy, I stay aware of the formula behind such media. This formula has infused in us a familiarity with short clips of life in which the prince wins the princess and eternal happiness in an hour and a half. Or, in another tried and true media formula, the solution to all our dissatisfactions are flashed by us in a ten second, subliminally effective advertisement for, say, a new car. We identify first with the characters in the commercial, then go out and buy the hot new car, only to discover, in a flurry of bills, that our inspirational “high” wasn’t permanent. We’ve been had . . . again. The locus of our projection was misdirected.
Those neat formulaic media packages work so well because they seductively substitute a feel-good fiction for real life. The conflict and resolution in movie-time are built into a compact, invented experience. The promises in the commercial are hollow. But, subliminally and emotionally, we identify with this short-term pattern, and become increasingly frustrated and incapable of sustaining the long-term goal-setting of real life.
The solution is to consciously take the moment of inspiration from external sources and continuously translate it into our own real life and work.
The first step towards accomplishing this is to reject the propaganda that tries to redirect that moment of inspiration in ways ineffective for the transformation of self and society. For example, if you find interest and pleasure in collecting Star Wars action figures, there is no need to discontinue this practice per se. The key is not to allow the propaganda to be the psychological carrier of the inspiration. In this case, it is possible to collect action figures and still use the inspiration from the Star Wars series to help keep up a long-term study of the martial arts.
The second step is to use your external sources rather than allow them to use you. This involves continuously translating external stimuli into internal significance. In other words, external sources of inspiration such as movies, books, activities and other people can be repetitively sought out for an extra boost of inspiration. But you must be certain to take this inspirational feeling home with you and apply it to your own life and work, rather than to just “ride the high” until it dissipates, only to seek it out again from another external source. This type of unhealthy projection is the dynamic behind the strength and success of authoritarian oppression, including guru worship and many varieties of “spiritual healing” events that foster dependence on the source rather than prime the individual for greater independence. I always keep in mind that the spiritual field is much less regulated than the mental health professions, which demand degrees and licenses for legitimate practice. I also make sure that my freedom to think, question authority, and come and go as I please is left unhindered when I seek out spiritual sources to cultivate my own inner growth.