Sunday, 9 January 2011

On Commonalities

Despite the — sometimes seemingly profound — differences between cultures and values, there is no such thing as an Islamic society, an Arab mind, an Oriental psyche, as much as there is no European society, no American mind, no Western psyche. The same opinions, the same love for certain books or for certain music, can be found all over the world. Moreover, there appears to be a common consciousness existing alongside, or underneath, the cultural values, as Sri Ramakrishna taught,

"which is our own ground and so in consciousness we are one; insofar as you identify yourself with the consciousness that moves and lives in your body, you've identified with what you share with me. And on the other hand, if you fix on yourself, and your tradition, and believe you've got it, then you're removed yourself from the rest of mankind (Campbell, 1990: 64)."

Moreover, the author Arthur Koestler, in the words of Holbrook (1981: 92), observed that,

"our religious and scientific modes of knowing are often indistinguishable, and support each other. To put it more strongly, objectively viewed these two traditions [Greek versus Chinese] pretend to respectively specialize in spirituality-mysticism and rationality-science but, actually, neither does either well enough, and, as indicated above, the two are basically identical. They differ chiefly in their practical relations to the human society over which they divide their influences and which they divide."

Joseph Campbell, who researched mythology in various cultures, "deems the meaning of all hero myths not just similar but identical: 'As we are told in the Vedas: 'Truth is one, the sages speak of it by many names'.'" (Segal, 1990: 33).

Could it then be that there exists a deep layer of the unconscious that Jung called the collective unconscious, a term that is used "in recognition of the fact that there is a common humanity built into our nervous system out of which our imagination works" (Campbell, 1990: 122)? Very likely for how would one otherwise explain that the same mythological motifs seem to appear everywhere?

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