Ancient Archetypes and Myths in Our Time

Thomas Atum O'Kane

A procession of Buddhist monks in their orange robes with their beggar bowls upside down, peacefully protesting an abusive dictatorship in Myanmar.  

This image in recent headlines reenacts an ancient archetypal theme.  The monks armed with the spiritual power of truth, integrity, and human conscience facing rulers addicted to power, money, and military weapons.  Each party represents a pole in consciousness.  Periodically, they confront each other when the underlying myth emerges, once again, in the collective unconscious.

Some of the past meetings representing this archetypal theme have included:

  • Moses and the Pharaoh

  • Christ and the corrupt religious and political authorities

  • Gandhi and colonial rule

  • Martin Luther King and prejudice

  •  The young people of China and the repressive party leaders

  •  The mothers of missing people in South America and the dictators

  •  The amazing pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the Myanmar military (She has spent most of her adult life under house arrest and has not experienced her children growing into adulthood).

There is something awesome, mysterious, and divine in humanity that has called groups of people, throughout history, to risk everything to speak the truth to abusive power. They have answered this reoccurring call, as some generations must if the human spirit is to flourish. Power corrupts, but the dignity of the truth blazes forth illuminating the darkness and revealing God among us. 

Let us not get lost in the culture of fear that is being thrust upon us. It is a time in which human consciousness is experiencing birth pains. Remember Teilhard de Chardinís call to assist in this new emergence by passionately practicing love for life.