Harmony In Truth and Action: Guy Ritchie, Jordan Peterson, and What We Should Do When We Have It All.

A few weeks ago I was listening to the Joe Rogan Experience. He was interviewing director and writer, Guy Ritchie, who spoke on the Hero’s Journey and what it entails. Ritchie, through the lens of Joseph Campbell and under the influence of Carl Jung, explores how the hero goes out and finds what the external world can offer him. Nothing; instead, he must realize that he already has what he needs to thrive. In other words, you are enough as you are. I really enjoy this idea as it aligns with Jordan Peterson’s ideas, which should come as no surprise since both Peterson and Campbell were influenced by Jung. The realization that comes from the Hero’s Journey – that Ritchie speaks of – is that you already have what you need to survive in the world and once you accept that, you become whole.

Another way of looking at it is through Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, specifically self-actualization. Upon fulfilling one’s basic needs, one can look inwardly and find oneself, in a sense. In part, I believe this moment occurs when your subconscious mind and conscious mind align; the compensatory nature of the conscious, which Jung speaks of, finds reconciliation with itself. You see yourself both consciously and unconsciously in the same way, securing who you are. This creates a balance between how you act consciously, and your unconscious self. These concepts are spoken of in Eastern religion. You may have heard people who have  “found their center,” “achieved balance,” or “aligned themselves.” All of these ideas seem to be alluding to self-actualization, or perhaps even living in Tao (a state of balance between chaos and order). All of these concepts seem to be pointing in a similar direction.

 

A fundamental question arises from this: How involved in the external world should one be, if one already possess that which he or she needs? If you already contain an element of the ultimate truth, though only enough to act, within you (the element of yourself that produces your “self”), which contains all the tools you need should you choose to rely on them, why engage in the world at all? Or perhaps, how ought you behave in the world or to what degree? It seems to me that Buddhism asserts that detachment from the world is a necessary part of transcending the harsh nature of reality. In a sense, once you’ve divorced yourself from the world’s influences, then you can become yourself. I don’t know if that detachment is to seclude yourself from the world in its entirety or simply cut the strings that control you; admittedly, I’m not as well versed in Buddhism as I would like to be. Should you care so little about the world, having been detached from it, that when tragedy arises you feel no inclination to assist others? It seems to me that the philosophy, drawn to its logical conclusion, leaves no room to assist those around you as you have no attachment to drive your sympathy and action.

 

With that in mind, I would say an individual contains within his or herself all of the tools he or she needs, but is now obligated to not seclude him or herself, but instead speak his or her being, or truth, into the world. It’s as if, once you have understood yourself, you can understand the world and use that wisdom to better it. You become a tool, sharpened and honed for the task of life, you cut through the external influences of the world in an effort to further the truth. Another way of thinking about it is this: You’ve discovered a small element of the truth that only you can see, to the degree that you can see the truth. This truth exists as you, who has been shaped through innumerable processes unique to your existence. You now have an element of reality, unique to your being, that you can offer up to a collective consciousness, or society, or greater human civilization, in hopes of bettering the world. When enough individuals discover the element of reality within themselves, and act it out in the world, humanity’s picture of reality becomes higher in resolution. It’s as if each of us contains a pixel of truth that we contribute to the grander structure of reality – the better we see the truth, the better we can act within it. In this way, we both contain and act out truth, substantiating the divinity of the individual within ourselves.

 

A harmony occurs on multiple levels. One: within the individual and between his or her unconscious and conscious. Two: between the truth of the individual and the truths of other individuals. Three: between the collective and the underlying reality we act within. When these three things, and I suspect there are more, act in harmony with one another, the potential for real positive change seems to emerge. This then means that the answer to my question is this: Individuals must act out their self-actualization within a social group that is also acting out truth, in an effort to align all of humanity with reality.

Know yourself, then present yourself to the world.

Former Marine. Current student. Writing enthusiast.

3 Comments

  1. Isaiah Gooley Reply

    Maybe I am missing Jordan Peterson’s thesis, but I understand it to be a purely moral dualistic approach to psychology. Further, Eastern religion is mostly not a religion in the same way that modern Christianity is a religion. To conflate the two is a misunderstanding of both in my evaluation.

    I do find the Jungian collective subconscious to be especially interesting. Of course, half of A Hero with A Thousand Faces talks about Jung and dream analysis as evidence of that collective subconscious. The only thing I’d caution is that Jung was a product of his environment just like anyone else, and he experienced pre-war Germany as a German, even if he was a Swiss national. He was an interesting man.

    1. Joe MJ Post author Reply

      Sorry for the late response, I’ve been traveling lately and it has been difficult to keep up with the community. Moving on, Peterson’s main thesis is that religious belief systems are a product of evolution, though this is an immensely watered-down depiction. So I wouldn’t say it is morally dualistic, especially compared to the typical good-evil split in Fundamentalist Christianity. It’s closer to this: each religion (Christianity and Taoism, in this case) are trying to articulate a mode of being, substantiated in evolutionary biology over billions of years of acting in a hierarchy. Both religions are trying to describe how best to live, or which mode of being harmonizes best with reality. So it’s only a conflation in that they are trying to figure out how to live; though I would like to note that I didn’t mention Christianity within this article. Here I was more interested in how the self acts with others and the world.
      I do make the leap that the mode of being Taoism offers may be touching on the same point as Self Actualization, or perhaps an alignment within the individual’s conscious and unconscious (the compensatory nature of which Jung refers to). It seems to me to be something like finding balance, or finding oneself. Though I am open to an expanded definition of Taoism, or any books you could recommend on the subject. Unfortunately, for every book I complete, three more make their way onto my list.

      1. Isaiah Gooley Reply

        I recommend to everyone interested in non-Christian thought a 50 volume collection called Sacred Books of the East. Translated in the late 1880s, they’re the best translations I’ve seen of Chinese classical texts. They are not without their limitations, though.

        Our conception of what the Eastern philosophies are is tainted by the biases of 19th century anthropologists, who were all Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. Well, at least nascently democratic. To call Daoism a religion is a misnomer. Calling buddhism a religion is also somewhat of a stretch, depending on which sect we’re referring to. Confucianism definitely isn’t a religion.

        Out of the three, the only one that has strict prescriptions in it is Confucianism, and it’s for the purpose of political organization, not spiritual enlightenment. Confucianism incorporates the Dao, as well.

        None of these schools of thought are dualistic. There is no good or evil, there only is. Nirvana isn’t detachment from the world, it’s the extinguishing of unease in one’s psyche. How does one extinguish a fire that they can not perceive in any way other than by secondary or tertiary influence? That’s the kind of shit that Buddhism tries to answer.

        To be blunt, I don’t think Jordan Peterson has read deeply into these Sacred Books of the East. If he had a deep understanding of them, he’d first not attribute the yin-yang to the Dao explicitly, because it’s not explicitly part of the Dao. It comes from a completely different school of thought. Chaos is not yin, order is not yang.

        This shit is difficult for me to understand, and I’ve been studying it for many years. That’s why I wrote that to understand the philosophy, first you must understand the man. Jung’s psychology is just as much a philosophy as it is a scientific endeavor. The same goes with the translators and analysts of Eastern sacred texts.

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