THE PRIMAL POLITICAL MANDALA
THE WHOLE PERSON, OR INDIVIDUATION
Firstly then for Herman, since all our knowing is inevitably refracted through our unique trajectory through life, all we have to teach is contained within our story. Æ we struggle to grasp a shared reality, we are forced to reflect on our uniqueness and to recognize that of others, and so we find ourselves returning to the wisdom of the Delphic Oracle: "Know Thyself".
Certain socio-economic structures enhance this process, others repress it. The small size and self-sufficiency of the primal hunting group impelled every adult to participate in all the definitively human activities: hunter, gatherer, artist, healer, musician, learner and teacher. Conversely, the social hierarchy and division of labour of classical and industrial societies restrict the degree to which the individual can play multiple parts in the life of the community. The Greek ideal of arête or excellence, was the cultivation of the whole person, the consummate amateur who would participate creatively in all aspects of life, and thus grasp the fullest range of what it meant to be human.
Jung called this path of healing through wholeness individuation. It is a process that involves the whole of one's life and proceeds according to the depth and variety of lived experience. Wisdom concerning health, healing and "the best way to live" requires immersion in the great experiences of life – both good and bad. Jung (3) offered this advice to students who wanted to practise psychiatry:
Anyone who wants to know the human psyche would be better advised to bid farewell to his study and wander with human heart through the world. There, in the horrors of prisons, lunatic asylums and hospitals, in drab suburban pubs, in brothels and gambling-halls, in the salons of the elegant, the stock exchanges, socialist meetings, churches, revivalist gatherings and ecstatic sects, through love and hate, through the experience of passion in every form in his own body, he would reap richer stores of knowledge than textbooks a foot thick could give him, and he will know how to doctor the sick with real knowledge of the human soul.
This recommendation to open oneself to the fullness of the human condition is always constrained by socialization into a particular historical society. The more punishing and rigid the society, the more the ego refuses to recognize its connection to all the opposites of the human condition. A good political example of individuation through embracing opposites is that of Nelson Mandela who struggled against the racist apartheid regime of South Africa. In 1976 Mandela had been in jail for over a decade. The black townships were exploding in anger over the law requiring that the Dutch-based Afrikaans, the hated language of Apartheid, become the mandatory language of instruction in black schools. Mandela shocked his fellow prisoners by immersing himself in Afrikaans and the history, poetry and politics of their oppressors. Addressing his jailors in Afrikaans he discovered that many were simple country boys who had never had a face-to-face relationship with a black man. He quickly understood that the violence of Apartheid was driven by ignorance and fear, in particular the fear that democracy would mean a black majority bent on revenge and the destruction of the Afrikaner culture and way of life.
When Mandela eventually met with the racist minister of justice, Jimmy Kruger, he surprised Kruger by addressing him in fluent Afrikaans, and then made a case for the release of political prisoners by citing two Afrikaner heroes who were jailed under a pro-British government. He refined this approach with Kruger's more sophisticated successor, Kobie Coetzee, who eventually came to trust Mandela and helped expand their talks into negotiations with the ANC. Such encounters with the enemy – face-to- face, soul-to-soul -became a model for leaders and ordinary people, to be repeated over and over, many thousands of times in the last few years of Apartheid. Mandela drove this teaching home after his release during a television interview. When asked who his political hero was, Mandela shocked political correctness by answering "Kobie Coetzee". He explained that Coetzee was an Afrikaner hardliner at a time when negotiating with a "terrorist" was political suicide. It took a heroic exertion of imagination and moral courage for Coetzee to open himself to Mandela's world. Coetzee, like Mandela, had transcended fear, anger and greed; like Mandela he had committed himself to the larger truth that drives individuation.
Mandela's capacity to discover and affirm within his own soul the Afrikaner oppressor transformed both himself and his jailers. His example made it possible for a majority of South Africans, poised on the edge of a racial war, to envision a multiracial polity and a nonviolent reconciliation after Apartheid. The good life requires this paradoxical individuality, on the one hand free and self-directed, on the other hand connected in loving relationship to the entire community of beings.