Fourth tenet: Paying attention not just to needs but also to satisfaction - never neglecting zest for life

In the reflections on the subject-object relationship we have seen how we can emphasize the object as well as the subject in the relationship between them. If we emphasize the object, we quickly get to the reality principle: resources are scarce and human beings are greedy - for this reason, we have to pay attention to economics and the law: a Mosaic perspective - Freud's perspective. Or we emphasize the position of the subject. Then we are dealing with drives, which are never quite satisfied: recognition we are still waiting for; hunger still unsatisfied. Wilhelm Reich, Alfred Adler, Fredrick Peris, the rebels of the psychoanalytic movement, shifted emphasis to the subject. And all other emancipatory movements position themselves in a similar way. Yet this is one-sided, unbalanced. We easily give in to such a one-sided search for our need satisfaction while overlooking the fact that learning to sense satisfaction is an equally important part of the id functions of the Self. There are always two sides to the contacting process: beginning and ending; approach and withdrawal: need and satisfaction; growing and passing; breathing in and breathing out. It seems to me that humanistic psychologists too have one-sidedly over-emphasized the growth aspect of this equation.

Yet we know only too well from our therapeutic work that disturbances can also arise at the stage of full contact, or rather at its beginning or even when it “threatens” to happen: the inability to let go; those half-satisfactions with hunger quickly returning; this excess, yet still wanting more. Of all illnesses, bulimia symbolizes most clearly our sick relationship with the environment, with its rapidly alternating gorging and throwing up; greed and aversion in endless repetition. What about other needs? Is there perhaps something similar to compulsive eating and its relation to hunger in other processes? Is there perhaps a television-bulimia, a travel-bulimia or even a relationship-bulimia? The problem of “too-much” does not just consist in the fact that through being sated we also become dulled, hunger subsequently returning even more quickly; but also in the amount of rubbish that is generated. Whoever eats more also produces more refuse. Humans are rubbish-producing beings - this should gradually become clear to everybody: refuse consists increasingly of stuff which cannot be reduced to its constituent materials. We are sending into the atmosphere by-products alien to that environment and, not easily bio-degradable, they create damaging reactions. Micro-plastic particles have now been detected even in the air we breathe. Nuclear waste retains its radioactivity longer than the whole of the known history of humanity. And there are not only material kinds of rubbish. For example, we live in an unbelievably noise-polluted world. If it is true that the ear is the entry gate of the soul, just as the eye is its mirror, then our souls have been in hell for a long time. And that the psyche is polluted too is known to many therapists from their daily work. All introjects are psychic rubbish, and perhaps it is part of our work to name the perpetrators.

People swallow something because they are lacking something. From where does this endless hunger and longing come in a society which has so much? This question is of paramount importance if we want to come to terms with our relationship to our environment; it is worth the effort to follow it alone and with others in careful self-inquiry. My guess is that it will turn out to be devoid of meaning. 1 think it is possible that in the final analysis we are ruining our world through a vain search for meaning. This search has to remain futile as long as it is directed towards aims, circumstances, results, truths - towards something final. Let’s remember the teaching of the Tao -the path is the aim. But this sentence has to be experienced sensuously, as self-evident: otherwise it remains a meaningless aphorism. And this entails a very great deal: it might entail relinquishing what by now is the world-dominating European spirit; renouncing aims; renouncing what we assume to be the meaning of history. It means that we must invent and discover and spread possibilities of sensuously experiencing the riches and depth of the way, of the movement. Novelist Sven Nadolny points towards one means: he recommends the Discovery of Slowness (Nadolny, 2003). Anybody who ever practiced Tai Chi or Kum Nye would agree with him.

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