A young man standing before his subconscious mind, Carl Jung: Jungian Psychology
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Advice for young men.

 

First let me begin by saying that Baz Luhrmann got it right in his song about sunscreen when he said that advice is a form of nostalgia, and as many other commentators have often said it’s probably wasted on the young. So, I’m not going to tell you to get a good job, get married, raise kids, become a millionaire, or to become a good member of your community and so on, or indeed, any of those other things that are popularly sold as advice by well meaning people who frankly haven’t got a clue.  You can pop into any bookstore and see row upon row, upon row of well-meaning and sometimes cynical authors telling you the secrets of life that presumably have worked for them.

 

From my point of view at least, such advice is nothing more than philosophical pornography made up of fragments of the ‘unlived life,’ of the author.    As the Swiss Psychiatrist and father of analytical psychology Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) wisely said:

 

 “The greatest burden a child must bear is the unlived life of its parents.”

 

The same applies to well-intentioned old men who give out free advice to the young on the internet.  They often forget that nobody deliberately makes a mistake, and they, because they are well-intentioned, wish to pass on the life advice that they have only learned as a result of their own mistakes.  These errors of judgement, the consequences of which may have been deeply unpleasant, nevertheless taught them something, and that is what made these errors valuable.  Every mistake is a lesson in life, every mistake is one more pearl of wisdom, every mistake is a learning opportunity and is something that must be overcome and incorporated into the self, the totality of your being as a valuable life lesson.

 

So, you are going to make your own mistakes, you’re going to get it wrong more often than you get it right because that is the nature of life, this is what the laws of physics mandates, we live in a universe where you’ll get it wrong more often than you get it right!

 

The best advice is to simply learn from your mistakes and resolve not to repeat them again.  You see, there’s 3 paths to wisdom, one is falling over a log, the second is watching somebody else falling over a log and finally the third path is one where you hear from someone else that logs can be dangerous.  The most instructive however is your direct experience of falling over that log.  You’ll make more errors than you’ll ever remember and occasionally you’ll experience success, the lessons of which will soon be forgotten.  This is crucial, success does not bring wisdom, it teaches you nothing!  When everything goes right, when everything unfolds as it should, as you desire, as you planned for it, then it feels nice, but it does not bring wisdom, instead it brings competence, because you’ll be able to repeat the process and do it again and again, but each and every time you do so, the value of your success diminishes.  It’s at this point that the German philosophy par excellence Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) would say that you must choose bigger goals for yourself because meaning in life is found in overcoming.

 

Nietzsche was a man who looked out into the material world of atoms and void at least as much as he looked within and found the exterior world beyond our skins to be the source of all meaning and conversely none at all.  His is a complex and interesting philosophy that is often times the opposite of that posited by Carl Jung who would urge us to look within first and foremost, but nevertheless Nietzsche has a point, and it’s a good one, but I digress…

 

So, my advice for young people, the advice I would give myself if I could go back in time some thirty years or so, is this:

 

Discover your subconscious, learn about Carl Jung’s philosophy of mind, learn to recognise the different voices that compete for attention within your psyche as thoughts, feelings, intuitions (those strong gut feelings that warn you ahead of time that you are about to make a mistake, often as a sense of foreboding, that things are about to go wrong).  If you are worried ahead of making a decision and without knowing why, chances are that it will go wrong.  So, whatever you do, learn to listen to your gut, your subconscious mind knows more about you, your circumstances and your path through life than your conscious, egoic mind can ever possibly know.  The ego rides like an ant on the top of an elephant and thinks that it has the power to direct the mighty beast below it.  This is just egoic pride, the ego enjoys the illusion of control, but dances to the tune of the subconscious mind, those parts of the psyche not directly experienced by the ego.

 

If you want to know who you really are you must get in touch with your subconscious mind, the unthinking depths of the ocean of psyche because it contains everything and can even give you glimpses of your past, present and future, if you learn to access it through the interpretation of dreams, the unlocking of symbols from myth and legends and the brilliant technique pioneered by Jung of ‘active imagination,’ then all is possible and your chances of making mistakes are greatly reduced.

 

If you want to know the meaning of life, it’s within your subconscious, if you want to know why you are here and what grand tasks await you, then it’s within your subconscious, if you want to know who you really are, deep down inside, to know your whole soul, the totality of yourself and what you should be doing in this world then it’s within your subconscious.

 

Consider the great men of history, the Albert Einstein’s, Leonardo Davinci’s and Nikola Tesla’s of the world, those men who followed their passions and, in the process, gifted us with something great, did they wonder what the meaning of life was, probably?  Or were they instead driven instead by inner processes that they might not have fully understood as the subtle directions of their subconscious mind.  Can you tell me where your passions come from, why it is that you like certain things and dislike others?  It’s because the subconscious rewards you with good feelings when you are on the right path and punishes you with bad feelings when you stray away from it.  No wonder the secret to good mental health is to get in touch with your subconscious mind in order to find out what it demands of you.  And make no mistake, it does make demands of you, it’s within the psyche that we find God, our meaning of life, our path through life, our passions and our value as human beings.  It’s within the psyche that we discover that we’re not some sort of atomised, poor individual that get pushed around by the cosmos, instead we are the embodiment of that cosmos, born to do its subtle bidding.  That’s what it is to serve God.

This is the only advice I can give you, it’s the only advice that will ever mean anything to anyone at any time of life and that is to look within, hence the very famous and oft repeated quotation from Jung:

 

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

 

There’s never been a better time to do so, you can find out more about Jung, his works, his techniques for accessing the subconscious mind and unlocking its secrets and the process becoming the real you, the deep down inside real you, and all that entails from simply watching a YouTube video on the subject or googling an article.

 

I myself have written articles on the subject and made videos as have many other commentators, but the point is that all it takes is half an hour’s attention and you’ll have the basis of Jung’s work under your fingernails and can begin the work, the grand adventure of looking within and uncovering who you really are, the real you, not the you that has been shaped by peer pressure, the educational system, the rotten politics of modernity, or the unlived lives of your parents.  You must begin to look inside, to visit the undiscovered country of the subconscious mind, the hidden iceberg of the psyche, most of which is underwater to find out who you really are and, in the process, discover your life path, your reason for being and by extension the meaning of your life.  This process invariably results in happiness, philosophy I will remind you is an answer to the question of ‘how do I live a good life?’  It’s a question that you can answer yourself by looking within and this will reduce the likelihood of you ever making a mistake.

About Post Author

Comicus Muo

Comicus Muo loves dualism, Existentialism, Nihilism, Absurdism and a plethora of helpful philosophies from the ancient world such as Stoicism, not to mention a healthy dose of Cynicism. Comicus is also a reasonable theist, atheistic in his thinking but also a Mystic, spiritual rather than religious and keenly aware that it's the Judaeo-Christian heritage of the west and it's enlightenment values that allow him to be this way.
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