Many stories have circulated through time. Characters and realms that at one time only existed as conceptual fragments in the minds of poets, authors, and storytellers have become a working part of our perception. These stories are replayed over and over through out time, as if the hidden consciousness of the collective is trying to put forward a lesson that the majority is not yet ready to learn.
Scholar Joseph Campbell, in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, breaks down a series of ancient myths and spiritual teachings to an Archetypal hero representative of all myth. It is as if the hidden consciousness is the muse for all fictional storytellers.
In Plato’s Apology, Socrates recounts a journey of examination where he was attempting to find wisdom in those reputed for being wise. During this pursuit he sought out the poets and is quoted as saying “I soon found that it is not by wisdom that poets create their works, but by a certain instinctive inspiration, like the soothsayers and prophets, who say many fine things, but understand nothing of what they say.”
With this hidden inspiration in mind, I would like to pull you into the present…where a pop culture phenomenon is sweeping entertainment culture. This phenomenon is centered in Apocalypse. The Apocalyptic destruction is not by nature or nuclear fall out, but by a disease. A disease that transforms it’s victims into a hollow shell, propelled only by an instinctive need to feed on others, sentencing their victims with the same soulless plight to which they are imprisoned.
The purpose of this article is to reveal the hidden story the collective unconscious is trying to tell, and the lessons this might reveal.
The world of spirit expresses itself through symbolism and the theme of a Zombie Apocalypse has a symbolic quality that needs to be understood before it is too late.
Outbreak: The Fiction
The Zombie Apocalypse always begins the same way; Outbreak. A biological pathogen begins to spread, killing the human piece of the host, yet re-animating the flesh. The infected become mindless corpses, existing only to feed on the uninfected.
The Radio announcer in the 1968 film The Night of the Living Dead explained the outbreak as follows:
At this hour, we repeat, these are the facts as we know them. There is an epidemic of mass murder being committed by a virtual army of unidentified assassins. The murders are taking place in villages and cities, in rural homes and suburbs with no apparent pattern nor reason for the slayings. It seems to be a sudden general explosion of mass homicide. We have some descriptions of the assassins. Eyewitnesses say they are ordinary-looking people. Some say they appear to be in a kind of trance.
Outbreak: The Reality
There is no doubt that there is an epidemic of mass murder plaguing our reality. The expressions may seem different, but the results are the same, war, death, conflict, poverty and depression. There is a contagion in our midst. This contagion is centered in the psyche of man, rather than in his body.
Swiss psychologist Carl Jung attempted to warn us of this contagion. “The only real danger that exists is man himself,” he wrote. Carl Jung knew that if man continued to ignore the inner world of his psyche he would fall deeper into mass psychosis and threaten the survival of his own species.
The Virus: The Fiction and the Reality
In the fictional virus depicted in the Zombie genre the virus’ host dies but continues to exist in the flesh. What is the symbolic significance of this death?
Death of the Self
In Jungian psychiatry, the self represents the unification of consciousness and unconsciousness in a person, representing the psyche as a whole. So, what does it mean to kill the self?
It is my prognosis that the bulk of humanity is an expression of the “walking dead.” Man has lost the true identification of himself in the Jungian sense, as well as what it truly means to be alive. With his emergence into a collectivized reality, absent of meaning, and devoid of connection. Man has become victim to his own hereditary and psychological ignorance. This ignorance has paved the way for wide scale suffering, death and immorality the likes of which have never been experienced.
Underlying all psychosis is a desperate human desire to connect to humanity in an authentic way. This authentic human connection is challenged by the world we live in and drives humanity deeper into a collective psychosis, which, in its most severe expression, desires to murder the self.
The root of “self-murder” is explored deeply by the brilliant Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing in his extraordinary examination of the schizophrenic titled The Divided Self. Laing warns, “The desire to be dead, the desire for non-being is perhaps the most dangerous desire that can be pursued.” This warning is not referring to physical death, but a warning about a neurotic pursuit of psychological death, or death of the Self.
Researcher Michael Tsarion expounds on this concept in his exploration into the roots of evil “Psychic Vampirism.” Tsarion says,
The man who has murdered his own self becomes a predator who lives to consume what others create. The self-murdered person is the greatest threat in the world. He is violent and destructive towards himself and everyone he encounters. He can occupy positions of little importance or of the greatest importance. He can destroy a single life or that of a world. He cares nothing for the trail of destruction and ruin he leaves. He cares only for the satiation of his insatiable appetites…..He seeks you and all that is yours.
Does that sound familiar? Man has turned against his own best interests. He has become violent, destructive and detached from any moral sense of responsibility.
The Psyche and the Spirit: Solution?
The world of the spirit is not separate from this world. The spiritual path is walked by all of us in every moment we breathe the breath of life. There is a twisted division in the mind of man telling him that the spiritual aspect of life is something he needs to pursue rather than something that he is. This is an error, born from mind, propped up by false religion, and held in place by a plagued collective.
How do we free ourselves from this virus driving us toward global annihilation? The cure begins and ends within each one of us. Maybe the best conclusion I can put forward is from the mind of the great Robert Antwon Wilson:
Karma, in the original Buddhist scriptures, is a blind machine; in fact, it is functionally identical with the scientific concept of natural law. Sentimental ethical ideas about justice being built into the machine, so that those who do evil in one life are punished for it in another life, were added later by theologians reasoning from their own moralistic prejudices. Buddha simply indicated that all of the cruelties and injustices of the past are still active: their effects are always being felt. Similarly, he explained, all the good of the past, all of the kindness and patience and love of decent people is also still being felt.
Since most humans are still controlled by fairly robotic reflexes, the bad energy of the past far outweighs the good, and the tendency of the wheel is to keep moving in the same terrible direction, violence breeding more violence, hatred breeding more hatred, war breeding more war. The only way to “stop the wheel” is to stop it inside yourself, by giving up bad energy and concentrating on the positive. This is by no means easy, but once you understand what Gurdjieff called “the horror of our situation” you have no choice but to try, and to keep on trying.
To survive the Zombie Apocalypse we don’t needs weapons or armor. If we are to survive, we must learn what it means to be moral. We must understand ourselves, love ourselves, and love our world. Only when we do these things will we again be human, only then will the apocalypse end.