Instincts

116 QUESTION: Would it be possible to give us a specific example, as sometimes you have done in the past, of one of those instincts that is really constructive, but which we treat as though it were not?

ANSWER: People so often deliberately clog the channel of their intuition. They are afraid of it because its messages may diverge from the way prescribed. They wish to avoid a confrontation and decision between the two sources of knowledge. They fear to risk disapproval if they follow their intuitions. This is a very, very frequent occurrence.

Another example is the sexual and erotic instinct, which in its nature is entirely creative and unitive if it is allowed to grow. Only in its immature manifestation is it self-centered. Society’s emphasis on its sinfulness so often causes this creative instinct to remain self-centered, in hiding and, if expressed at all, to come out in a self-centered way, while the person feels guilty and sinful – often very much unaware of such emotions. If society’s rules were, at least, directed to the real evil, they would emphasize all forms of self-centeredness as being destructive, and stress the need to grow out of separateness.

By thwarting this creative instinct, not only is emotional fulfillment hindered and impaired, and the ability to relate hampered by it, but a paralysis of the general life-force – with all its healing, regenerating effects – is the result. This holds true not only in extreme cases such as are surely familiar to all of you. In a subtle way, this may hold true with the most enlightened people as well, who would never dream that they harbor similar unconscious attitudes.

The destructive influence of this factor often manifests in a disturbance of the relationship between the sexes. Such a disturbance may be as subtle and hidden as the very misconception itself. It may create a pattern of continuous disruption of relationships, of never being able to maintain a relationship, or of never even fully establishing relationship in its true sense.

Human beings can only truly become human – and therefore eventually divine – if man accepts his manhood and woman her womanhood. But inner disturbances always make people fight against their manhood and their womanhood.

All human beings are endowed with both masculine and feminine tendencies. In the healthy person, both these aspects work together in harmony and make the man more masculine and the woman more feminine. The tendencies of the opposite sex are not fought against, nor artificially bolstered up out of fear of not being what one is. Therefore, the compatibility of masculine and feminine aspects makes the man more of a man and the woman more of a woman.

A great deal can be said on this subject, and will be said later on. We cannot possibly cover all of it now. Let me merely touch upon the most vital aspects of this question. In thwarting natural instincts, man so often thwarts his manhood. He is frightened of independence because he thereby seems to renounce the privilege of being loved, which he erroneously believes is given only to women or children. In fighting against independence, he fights against his manhood. But in denying his need for love due to the misconception that then he is not manly, he also fights against his masculinity.

Moreover, he fights against it out of the mistaken fear that all his male and healthy aggression is the same as his unhealthy aggression and hostility – the result of an accumulation of hurts which he cannot cope with. So he often finds himself in a double bind. The real, healthy male aggressiveness is confused with hostility for which he feels guilty. So he feels guilty also for healthy male aggression and energy. He cannot separate the two.

Simultaneously, he represses his need for affection and love, for he believes them to be unmanly. And at the same time, he is reluctant to give up his clinging to childish dependency which may never be manifested outwardly but does nonetheless exist. In all these confusions of unconscious ideas, he thwarts his masculinity in its natural and healthy form by trying to manipulate it according to circumstances. Thus it cannot flow naturally and spontaneously.

A similar struggle exists with woman. When the girl-child feels rejected, she feels passive and helpless. The passivity and helplessness, as an aspect of femininity, is then felt as such a humiliation that she fights against it by summoning all her masculine traits as weapons against the femininity that she fears and associates with a state of humiliating helplessness. She erroneously feels that being hurt and being helpless against it is femininity and thereby fights against it.

At the same time, she also feels that all her creative, active trends are considered unfeminine by the world, and reflecting, perhaps, on her intelligence, resourcefulness or courage. She then fights against these trends as well. This, of course, is interdependent with her fear of real femininity. To the extent that she fights it and cultivates masculine trends as a weapon against her femininity, to that degree may she often, artificially, create a false femininity by repressing her so-called masculine trends.

These trends are no more masculine than the man’s need for love is feminine. Her intelligence, courage and activity in many areas of life, the independence of her spirit, could truly enhance her womanhood if allowed to integrate with it. But just because she fights her passivity and ability to give of herself completely, she has to artificially suppress her activity in order to falsely create the caricature of a woman.

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