Conscious thought, that great ability of humanity, can be - as Hamlet tells Rosencrantz and Guildenstern - "a prison." Lost in our cloying thoughts and judgments, we make a virtual prison out of this world's reality wholly through our thinking. A point recognized in all the world's great wisdom teachings and philosophies."Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so . . . "
-- William Shakespeare --
("Hamlet," Act 2, Scene II)
A more-or-less contemporary accounting of this universal truth was provided by Carl Jung in "The Undiscovered Self," his enlightening look at our conscious and unconscious thinking processes. In it, Jung discusses how the intellect endangers us by wholly obscuring the spiritual instinct that is buried within our very being.
"Nothing," Jung observes, "estranges man more from the ground plan of his instincts than his learning capacity, which turns out to be a genuine drive towards progressive transformations of human modes of behavior. It, more than anything else, is responsible for the altered conditions of our existence and the need for new adaptations which civilization brings. It is also the source of numerous psychic disturbances and difficulties occasioned by man's progressive alienation from his instinctual foundation, i.e., by his uprootedness and identification with his conscious knowledge of himself, by his concern with consciousness at the expense of the unconscious.""We are the origin of all coming evil," warns Jung, in the attached video. And, it is our "thinking without awareness" (as Eckhart Tolle expresses it), our reliance on conscious thought to the utter neglect of our unconscious and its spiritual instincts, which both imprisons and threatens us through a crisis in consciousness. "Nothing is either good or bad," as Hamlet notes, "but our thinking makes it so."
"Separation from his instinctual nature," Jung continues, "inevitably plunges civilized man into the conflict between conscious and unconscious, spirit and nature, knowledge and faith, a split that becomes pathological the moment his consciousness is no longer able to neglect or suppress his instinctual side."
"There is," he notes, "an unconscious psychic reality which demonstrably influences consciousness and its content. All this is known, but no practical conclusions have been drawn from it. . . . We do not think of distrusting our motives or of asking ourselves how the inner man feels about the things we do in the outside world. But actually it is frivolous, superficial and unreasonable of us, as well as psychically unhygienic, to overlook the reaction and standpoint of the unconscious."