Posted in Healing, Psychology, Uncategorized

Seeing Jesus as our psychoanalyst

Recently, I was reading up on Freud and Lacan psychoanalysis, and I learnt from this article that Lacan has built on the foundation of Freud’s works and developed his theories on the real, imaginary and symbolic.

According to the above-mentioned article, the real is always necessarily outside experience, and denotes what we might imagine as the blissful state of pure being, whereas experience is only possible in the symblic. To me, this implies there is something deeper beyond the surface of life on earth. After all, there has to be more to life than just the physical activities such as being born, eating, walking, and so on. As the article noted, “we start off as no more than mindless animalistic subjects awaiting access to the world of meaning”. Perhaps this is where literature and psychoanalysis come into the picture, to serve as tools for us human beings to uncover deeper meanings beyond the surface of life itself.

The article also says “The human imaginary begins with the mirror stage. What this means is that a child identifies with another (an image of itself in the mirror or some other similar figure like a child of the same age). The ego is made up of successive layers of such identifications but is fundamentally nothing in itself.” This reminds me of the similar theory of Girard’s theory of mimetic desire, which can be positive or negative, depending on whether it develops into mimetic love or mimetic rivalry. Maybe the gospels in the bible is meant to be a mirror in which people see themselves and understand their true nature of love, when seen through the mirror of Christ, and vice versa.

I think it is especially helpful to see the bible through a psychoanalytic perspective because it helps me to see Jesus as a physician/psychoanalyst who came to help humanity embrace their own brokenness and pains. I was reflecting that perhaps like Jesus himself, I am also battered, brusied and wounded by the societal system of the world. His life and teachings encourage me to tune out from the distractions and delusions of the world system, and tune in to the frequency and sensitivity of the spirit within, to recognise that life is suffering since we experience pain and sorrow when we encounter loss, death, harsh words, callous treatment from the inhumane system. I learnt from this article that the attitude adopted by the power structure is called “triumphalism”.

“Triumphalism is the attitude or belief that a particular doctrine, religion, culture, or social system is superior to and should triumph over all others. Triumphalism is not an articulated doctrine but rather a term that is used to characterize certain attitudes or belief systems by parties…”

Such societal attitudes in power structures (principalities and powers) often hurt us and inflict emotional wounds, and hence psychoanalysis can help us heal from our wounds, when we identify the sources of our hurts, and acknowledge and embrace our wounds. We can also take comfort in knowing we are not alone in our sufferings as Jesus has gone through similar sufferings before too – this is something I would remind myself as a consolation.

Posted in Equality

Thoughts on egalitarianism and meritocracy

Egalitarianism is a collective of those excluded from the power structure of society

I was reading Chapter 4 of Drew Sumrall’s book “An essay toward universal revolution“, and I like what he wrote here as it resonates with me:

“To put it another way, the Christian ‘negation of negation’ is the move from society’s excluded (content) to a society of the excluded (form).

This is why the egalitarianism that is Christian Universalism is in no way utopian, for it seeks the impossible only after moving outside the possible – the kingdom of God lies outside the count (of the society proper). Therefore it cannot include All, for it is a collective of those excluded from All – a society outside society – which is precisely why division is Universalism: the excluded is the universal singular.

The dialectical paradox is that Christianity’s being ‘for all’ means that it is in fact not for All. And it is in this way that egalitarian struggle is – at its very core – a Christian project. The epoch of Spirit on the horizon is that what names revolution ‘for all’ who have been excluded from All.

So when one speaks of Christian Universalism, one is not at all speaking of the ‘big number’, but rather the exception to the ‘big number’ – not the count, but those excluded from the count, for (and for the last time) division is Universalism.

This, my dear brothers and sisters, is egalitarian equality: not the powers granting equal rights to all those beneath, but the world rid of the powers.”

(From “An essay toward universal revolution” by Drew Sumrall)

Yes, it is comforting to know that we are in good company if/when we find ourselves being seen or treated as “a society of the excluded”, because that is where the kingdom of God is, according to Drew Sumrall – “outside the count (of the society proper)”. Being excluded from the mainstream society, then, becomes no longer a stigma but a blessing, as we bear the mark of Christ in his crucifixion and resurrection, because I used to despair about how I wasn’t able to fit into the mainstream since young, no thanks to the relentless competitive and “meritocratic” system in education and other aspects of society.

The meritocratic system is fundamentally flawed

Lately, I have been musing how the “reward” system or the meritocratic system is fundamentally flawed, as it debases and degrades humanity. For example, the formal school education system – by attempting to reward students with points for giving the “right” answers or for participating in class discussions – may have, perhaps unwittingly, robbed people of the ability or the need to really think for themselves. It is sad if they have been conditioned by this “reward” system to the extent that their motivation for participating in class is only for the sake of scoring more points, instead of for the desire for truth and justice, or for making the world a better place. Indeed, the meritocratic system of the society may have only succeeded in churning out people who are brought up to toe the line and conform to the system, which seeks to control them with material “carrots and sticks” based on their performance or willingness to obey and submit to “authority”, instead of listening to and following their heart/intuition to bring about justice and equality in the world for the betterment of humanity and the environment.