Cognitive Integration as Sanctification?
“The only crime is pride.” ― Sophocles.
There is a temptation to regard the theory of the 4 Sides of the Mind, and any related aspects of Jungian psychology, philosophy, science, and history that contribute to our understanding of personality with religious zeal.
This temptation to regard it with religious zeal emerges when we find things in life that work. A new diet, a new fad, a new book — or perhaps an old diet, fad, or book, rediscovered — we elevate it on a pedestal.
“This, THIS is what’s going to turn my life around!”
Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. Whether we are justified in regarding these “fixes” with religious zeal is a question left up to us. Though, I suspect, like most things, some aspects are justified, and others are not.
We all like to rest in security of our own knowledge. Further, we love it when we think of the solution, when we are helpful, when we see what happens before it happens, and when we push through adversity and reach our goal. We love to be our own liberators.
The danger of knowledge is that it can be treated as a master key that will free us from all our shackles. We feel powerful, perhaps all-powerful, amidst the unique insights revealed through secret knowledge.
But knowledge, while it can unlock some shackles, cannot unlock them all.
There was a moment in time, while studying Chase’s personality material where I felt: This is it.
Even as I felt this, I knew it wasn’t true. It wasn’t true that a piece of knowledge, no matter how profound, could provide the key to all the myriad of problems we face within this mortal coil.
This leads us to limitations of knowledge, specifically for the personality material we discuss in this space.
What are the limits to transformation, redemption, and prosperity can be found through the knowledge of the 4 Sides of the Mind and its accompanying material?
This question I leave with you. We will, by the periphery, answer the question with our explorations in the rest of the article.
What is the essence of “Cognitive Integration”?
If you were to sum up all the aims of everything taught about the 4 Sides of the Mind, the Cognitive Functions and Attitudes, Temples, and everything else we teach here into one word, what would that word be to you?
“Growth” is my choice.
The very language of Cognitive Development or Integration is built on the foundational aim of improvement. We want to get better, become more whole, understand ourselves a little bit better, understand others a little bit better, and, overall, be a little better for what we know.
We want to be more.
But what is at the end of growth? More growth? Death? Another life?
The Fad of Self Improvement
There are worse and better places to be than where we are now.
If you spend even a few minutes on YouTube, you are likely to come across a video or two claiming something like the following: “Try THIS New Technique!” with a thumbnail, “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!”
Perhaps these claims, initially, were meaningful. But after days, weeks, months, and years of being told that every little aspect of your life, “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!” … it starts to lose its meaning. You will start to sense the theme: Everyone has an opinion about the one, or several, thing(s) that will change my life.
And somehow, all these thousands of people you encounter, each with their own opinion, claim to have a silver bullet that will offer the transformation and growth that you’ve been looking for your whole life.
We live in a time that worships self-improvement. Our culture has sacrificed the lamb of personal integrity at the altar of self-improvement. I don’t need to be genuine or good, I simply must be better.
How painful then, do Jesus’ words cut when he says, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, this is the one who will save it.”
If you’re not religious or aren’t Christian, then fine — we are still not let off the hook. We are not let off the hook because Jesus wasn’t just describing a Christian ethic, he was revealing a universal principle.
How do we know this? Because amidst the spreading fanaticism of self-improvement, with those ideological obsessions with our own power over one’s life, we have still somehow become lonelier, more selfish, more isolated, and shallower than perhaps ever before in human history.
It is as if the very thing we sought, and unconsciously (or consciously) dedicated our lives to — self-improvement — has not only escaped from our grasp, but has been weaponized to destroy the very thing we were seeking to begin with.
And this, right here, is the same danger we face with all the content that we produce here at CSJ. We are spinning at the edge of a whirlpool of quicksand, where the integrity of the material will either be sucked into the fad of fanatical self-improvement, OR it will become something more, if it can be accepted to be something less.
The Path to Not Being a Selfish, Self-Obsessed, Self- “Improver”
I will not let my statement hang in the air for long. What does it mean when I say, “or it will become something more, if it can be accepted to be something less,” mean?
It means what the title of this article points to, if we are looking for sanctification through the 4 Sides of the Mind, we will not find it. That is not what it’s for.
Johnny Lee’s Lookin’ for Love seems almost too fitting here.
I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places
Lookin’ for love in too many faces
Searchin’ their eyes
Lookin’ for traces of what I’m dreaming of
Hoping to find a friend and a lover
I’ll bless the day I discover another heart
Lookin’ for love
These lyrics reveal the necessity of self-reflection. The towering roots of expectations dictate our relationship to the things we pursue. We often look for things where they are not to be found.
What’s the solution, then? Do we use the 4 Sides of the Mind as our “theory of everything” to solve the universe from head to toe, and experience all the redemption, transformation, and connection a man could ask for?
Or, are we looking for sanctification in all the wrong places?
The Crown of Pride
“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” — Saint Augustine
The weight of a human’s pride as the ultimate barrier to a better life is a theme whose roots run through antiquity.
In the Garden, the ever-clever Serpent knew exactly where to levy his social-engineering attack against the psyche of Adam and Eve. “For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will become like God, knowing good and evil.”
The seduction was too great. The serpent had them at the mention of “You will become like God.” We too, daily, face the temptation to regard ourselves as the beings who have it all — to be God-like — and that whatever feeling of incompleteness, incompetence, or insincerity we possess is someone else’s fault.
We often talk about the Hero function being a source of pride within our mind, psychologically. The Hero is naturally equipped with competence but comes with overzealousness and arrogance too. We resist using the Inferior because it’s hard and it hurts, and it reveals the fragility of the Hero. We don’t want to see our own vulnerability because that would mean our pride would be unjustified.
And it is the hubris of the Hero, and the hubris of us, to think that the Hero alone is enough to combat this existence. Part of us, deep down — maybe not even that deep — knows the Hero has severe limitations. But we ignore it, by default. And this creates the weight of pride. Pride is the closing off to further input or suggestion. It says, I am complete as I am, nothing else can add to what I know or who I am.
The true consequence of pride, however, is stagnation. Growth does not occur when pride is present. Pride causes us to discard the deeper tools of our personality. And if pride is the crown that prevents growth, then pride is the curse akin to death.
What are you looking for?
What are any of us looking for, but an answer? An answer that will allow us to live better lives. An answer that will bring us close to people we love — or perhaps find people that we love, to begin with. An answer that can transform the misery and tragedy in our lives into purpose and engagement. An answer that will transform the adversity presented through relationships, and the mystery of our lovers or spouses, and their discontent. And an answer to the puzzle of our own identity, and our significance amidst the cosmic planes.
We are here, studying Chase’s material and learning all this psychology, no doubt, because we want better lives. And why shouldn’t we?
The danger and the risks, however, lie in attributing the attainment of this knowledge to something it was never fit to fulfill. In matters of completeness, wholeness — Holiness: complete and lacking nothing — we should become suspicious of ourselves when we attribute merely knowing as the key to our sanctification and transformation.
But it is not only knowledge, but the assurance that we have all that it takes, that creates the danger. The risk of pride and stagnation runs ever hot in the veins of our own self-assurance. To overcome the Pride of the Hero and the Ego — let alone the “general” pride that every human deals with — is not a trivial task.
The irony is that the more we focus on overcoming pride, the more we treat it as an obstacle to be squashed by our mere will. That, if we just pushed a little harder, developed, and relied on our strength and knowledge a little bit better, pride would cease.
But pride is not “overcome” by more effort, by more push, or by newfound power. It is overcome by letting go, by relinquishing, by surrendering, and by submission. Many, by their own account, have not been able to effectively deal with pride without being shown the divine in some way to humble them.
But regardless of your theological perspective, the vital point that must be cut through is that the human condition is not something to be conquered by our mere will. Our wills are insufficient compared to the obstacle of pride.
Those who have treated their wills as sufficient have instigated atrocities whose casualties run beyond count. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, is it not? Even the serpent did this, through his spiel to Eve on self-empowerment.
The “opposite law,” described by many eastern philosophers and the great INFP, Alan Watts, can help us through this problem of “self-improvement.” The “opposite law” is revealed when we get the opposite of what we intended. The harder we try to chase something, the more it eludes our grasp. The harder we try not to sink in a pool, the harder it is to stay afloat. And the harder we try to transform ourselves, the less we change.
Applying this to human psychology, we are forced to contend with the deeper reality that strength, integration, “completion,” and wholeness are found through the embrace of weakness, fragmentation, division, and fear.
Because these characteristics — weakness, fragmentation, division, and fear — are what we are from birth. We are fragile beings with fragmented psyches, who are yet tempted to pride to regard ourselves as the ones that know.
How is it then, that one of the “wisest” men in existence, openly admitted that he knew nothing, and that his actions reflected just as much? Perhaps, whatever we’re looking for is first found in the embrace of limitation — our limitation. And in that humility, perhaps we are drawn to the doorsteps of the answer we are seeking.
To be a fad or not to be a fad?
So, which is it? Is all of Chase’s content just a hype train of self-empowering drivel meant to uphold all our ego-investments of self-importance, self-reliance, and “can do” mojo? Or is there a limitation, like all knowledge, to the scope of what we do here?
If it wasn’t for Chase’s constant incessance on the ultimate utility of wisdom — which includes the open embrace of unknowing — perhaps we would be right to label all his material as fad-like. As nothing more than a convenient “silver bullet” not dissimilar to the thousands of silver bullets peddled by all the other online “experts” who know how to fix your life in three easy steps.
But the theory of the 4 Sides of the Mind does not promise salvation, nor sanctification, or even transformation. But it does promise illumination — illumination of some things previously left in the dark. And in the dark, we find ourselves a small light that wasn’t there prior, that will help us see a little further. And in the light, our choices are given that much more weight.
And like all those who will not look within because they “don’t want to be put in a box,” those who refuse to look at their limitations are forever bound by them. And that is ultimately what the knowledge of depth psychology and 4 Sides of the Mind is about. The path to freedom is found through the acceptance of our limitations — and the acceptance of the reach knowledge can provide.
But there are all kinds of lights. But this light, the light that we focus on here, will show us a piece of the path that other lights cannot. And there, in the place that was once dark, we can now walk.