Jung in Conversation with a Native American Chief

I thought you all might be interested in a section of a paper I wrote that speaks of the difference between living in the heart and living in the head. Because the paper was only given locally to a small group, I did not annotate it—I hadn’t done so for many, many years and just didn’t want to be bothered, so to be fair I feel I must ask you not to copy this information, because it is not all mine. It is from somewhere in Gail Godwin’s book called Heart, a personal journey through its myths and meanings. Other than the quote, which is most of the article, the thoughts and ideas are my own expressions.

Because we are told that God is found both in the silence as well as in our hearts, when we block our painful feelings, we have set up a difficult situation for ourselves. In order to get to our hearts, we must begin to deal with our pain and all its resulting addictions. When we live in our minds, we have created yet another impediment to our connection with God.

The problem of the “busy mind” seems to be largely a product of our Western culture. Not all peoples everywhere live so much in their heads. The following excerpt, taken from a book about the heart, quotes words of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung that describe his encounter with the Native American chief of the Taos pueblos in New Mexico in 1932.

“”I was able to talk with him as I have rarely been able to talk with a European,’ Jung recalls…

“Chief Ochwiay Biano, which means Mountain Lake, must have sensed a kindred spirit in the Swiss doctor, because he was devastatingly candid with him.

“Chief Mountain Lake: ‘See how cruel the whites look, their lips are thin, their noses sharp, their faces furrowed and distorted by folds. Their eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something. They are always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want. We do not understand them. We think that they are all mad.’

“When Jung asks why he thinks they are all mad, Mountain Lake replies, ‘They say they think with their heads.’

“’Why of course, says Jung, ‘What do you think with?’

“’We think here,’ says Chief Mountain Lake, indicating his heart.

“After this exchange, Jung fell into a deep meditation. The Pueblo Chief had struck a vulnerable spot. Jung saw image upon image of cruelties wreaked by his forebears: the Roman eagle on the North Sea and the White Nile, the keenly incised features of Julius Caesar,…Charlemagne’s most glorious forced conversions of the heathen… the peoples of the Pacific islands decimated by firewater, syphilis and scarlet fever carried in the clothes the missionaries forced on them.

“Chief Mountain Lake had shown Jung the other face of his own civilization: it was ‘the face of a bird of prey seeking with cruel intentness for distant quarry…”

The author says of this exchange, “what makes this dialogue reported by Jung so relevant is that it describes an encounter between a representative of the unconscious ‘heart thinking’ of the ancients and a modern man of science and a pioneer of consciousness who understood that the wisdom of the heart must catch up with our overdeveloped ‘thinking heads’ if we are to survive. We have to preserve the gold in the age-old ‘knowledge of the heart’ and keep making it ever more conscious if we are to protect our growing human possibilities from the keen-featured bird-of-prey mentality that circles above. We must develop a new consciousness of the heart.”

If we look at the corporate world today, it is not difficult to understand these words: “In our contemporary bottom-line society, heart-knowledge—based on things like feeling values, relationship, personal courage—-tends to be mistrusted as impractical, profitless, or nonexistent. Where is ‘the heart,’ anyway, scoffs the bird-of-prey executive, trudging joylessly on his treadmill, except under your breastbone?

“No longer do we literally cut out our enemies hearts and feed them to an out-of-date sun god: we do it the bloodless, sophisticated way, without a flint knife, and we feed them to the contemporary god ‘market value function.”

Maybe we have seen enough movie previews to also understand the following words: “Some of us have anesthetized our hearts so thoroughly that it takes the utmost in thrills, the most graphic depiction of horror, to make something in our breasts lurch or recoil: to shock us into a reaction that at least feels like feeling.”

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10 Responses to Jung in Conversation with a Native American Chief

  1. Eagles says:

    It should be noted of the bird of prey mentality of the unconscious white person: observe in most white societies that turn fascist, some type of distorted eagle is always its symbol. From Nazi Germany to Neo-Nazi Spain to the Christian Falangists to the Ku Klux Klan to to modern America. Always the bird of prey. With vicious expression. On a field of red blood. Right there. Obvious. In the next world of color, if we ever see whites come with a flag bearing an eagle, we now know that is the signal to RUN.

  2. Rudolf Ganz says:

    I think there is something of a misunderstanding regarding consciousness:
    Chief Ochwiay Biano, had a very conscious ‘heart thinking’. And, Carl Jung, a very conscious ‘thinking head’. Activating consciousness at the many different levels is our concern.

  3. Art Garden says:

    I am reminded of Bucky Fuller, ‘God is Verb, not a Noun’ maybe, energy (blood) flows from the heart to the head. In Jung’s terms from the unconcious to the concious, AG

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  7. Gmc says:

    Ochwiay Biano’s quote is repeated in an Eckhart Tolle book I’m reading. The *We think they are mad* bit made me chuckle. I found the freedom Eckhart describes in his book once – through just one occasion of catching anger the moment it arose, and instead of allowing it to take me, effectively looking at it in that moment, understanding it’s root and then replacing it with loving kindness [in action]. I didn’t know at the time but that seemingly simple one-time step brought me to the joyful state that Eckhart Tolle describes in *The Power of Now* and it lasted, completely and totally without interruption, for eight months.

    At that point I lost it to falciparum malaria and it’s “cure”: 1800mg of Larium ingested over the course of 18 hours. It’s not pretty what this drug does to the mind, for so many months the extreme anxiety and self-condemnation were constant – even during sleep – and the slightest glitch would cause me to lose control and vent my spleen like a madwoman. I had no more peace and no hope of it. Living in the heart and the moment was impossible. It wasn’t just that my mind would never be quiet; it raged with anxiety like never before and there was no ignoring it. It wasn’t the background noise of most peoples negative thinking; it was full on, and horribly self-destructive. A complete reversal of where I’d been at. I found at that many people were suffering this effect to a greater or lesser degree, even at low prophylactic [malarial preventative] dosages – even just 70mg per week. The vast majority have never reported it because they didn’t realise the drug was responsible for the change in their mindset. They just assumed they were anxious and/or angry/mistrustful because they were in a bad destination, having a truly rotten holiday. Unfortunately, the consequences are often more tragic – even at low prophylactic dosages: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/01/27/60II/main538144.shtml

    I was lucky. Eventually, after many months, I was mostly free of Larium’s side effects [some people never do get free again]. But I couldn’t get back to that joyful state of my existence – the place I’d been before I ever took Larium. Twelve years have passed since and I gave up thinking it was possible a long time ago. Eckhart Tolle’s book has shown me otherwise. And the step is as simple as when I took it, back in 2000. But thanks to his careful explanation, I now understand what happened to me on that wonderful day and just how easy it is for us all to get there. But most of all, I know what he writes about is true, having been there before. It’s great to be on the road again. And it’s even better for me at this moment in time to understand why others aren’t choosing this path. What holds them back: Not living in the moment, always grasping for more in the future. Craving being the root of all suffering, as the Buddha taught. And that through observation with the heart, we can watch our minds and bring our thought patterns away from dwelling in the past and worrying about the future, to this moment, the now – which is all we ever have. To realise that our thoughts are not some intrinsic *us*. They are just *mind*.- the seat of the ego – and we [the real *us*] are so, so much more than mind.

  8. shah says:

    heart life is what we all experience when we reconnect with our true self, the self of our true name, our true nature,,Nature of our real existence. Have we have lived it that way , we would have realized our life in the way it was meant to be. Free from all guilt and all suspicion about ourselves.

  9. An excellent post…. We have forgotten to live from our hearts and let our heads rule.. the time now is upon many when their emotions will once again break to the surface and they will not know how to cope… The Feminine energy is once again coming to the fore… I have witnessed this a lot recently as I know Men who were appearing hard have now been opened up as their emotional chakras are coming into balance and tears are flowing like never before… We live in exciting times Jean, and what we do with our hearts now will change the whole of our way of being..
    Love and Gratitude to you

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