Independence Day

By Glenda | July 4, 2013

On this Fourth of July, when we celebrate our nation’s acquiring of independence from foreign tyranny, and as I give thanks for living my life in the relative freedom that this has allowed me, I take time to contemplate my own strong independent streak, over against, paradoxically, my own strong spiritual focus on interdependence.

Once, as a young wife and mother, recently moved to a new city where I knew no one, I ventured forth to the public library, a familiar source of comfort to me in any location. I came home with a number of books I had checked out seemingly at random, two small stacks. One stack contained books by and about the Jewish mystic, Martin Buber, about whom I knew nothing. The other stack contained books by and about Carl Jung, whose autobiography I had read in college. I’ve remember this small library excursion for more than forty years, because, as it turns out, the views of these two giants of the early twentieth century, counter-balancing as they are, would shape my life.

In San Diego, where I lived then, mysterious synchronicities followed. I sought out an Episcopal church, and lo and behold, the priest there focused much of his educational curriculum for the parish on the works of Jung, had corresponded with Jung, drew parallels between Jung’s views and the church’s spiritual trajectory.

Then, shortly after finding this parish, I was able to be in attendance at a local university when this same priest was on a panel debating and discussing the nature of the divine with, guess who, the world’s foremost scholar on the works of Martin Buber!

Why do I go back to this today, so many years later, on the Fourth of July?

Because, for one thing, Jung’s whole psychology came to be focused on what he called “individuation,” a process involving obtaining some “independence” of a person’s personal consciousness from the vastly more powerful other factors of the psyche; the archetypes, for example, can be tyrannical in their power over us if we do not gain some independent viewpoint and perspective toward them, by gaining an appropriate relationship with the deeper source-ground of all consciousness out of which our personal egos evolved (much as the American colonies had to gain a new balance of power in their relationship with the homeland of England that had become tyrannical over their offspring colonies in America).

Meanwhile, on the other hand, Martin Buber’s philosophy strongly emphasized, instead, the “between,” the intersection between individuals, or the space between the “I” and the “Other,” or as Buber preferred to call it, the “I” and the “Thou.” He said that this median, interdependent space, where individuals meet, was the place of the most sacred, the place where divinity reveals itself most strongly.

My life’s intellectual and spiritual journey has been a balancing act between these two poles, or these two sides of one coin, these two equally necessary aspects of reality as I understand it.

We all have a strong and continuing need for “independence,” both nationally and individually. In our personal lives as in our relationships there is always need for being our own unique, independent, authentic selves. In this country, the rights of the individual are paramount.

We also, however, both as individuals and as nations, have the necessity of recognizing our inescapable interdependence with everything else—everything on the food chain, everything in the ecological chain, every other balancing global reality. No man, nor any nation, is an island, complete unto itself. More and more this view of reality presses upon us, in this time of a dead-locked congress, of the impossibility of resolving global warming without the cooperation of other nations, etc., as well as this time of an ever-increasing certainty that we, as individuals, must take into account the needs and gifts of others if we are to survive.

And may I venture even further and say that we need to recognize our interdependent relationship with that which is beyond the individual or the nation, our relationship with what, for want of a better word, we call Spirit, that deepest Source Ground of all existence, mysterious and profoundly involved in our existence. Why would I, for example, without some other “divine” inspiration and direction, have decided to bring home those two sets of books by Jung and Buber, there in a city where two other individuals, the priest and the scholar, both lived and taught from these two streams of wisdom that changed my life forever. Inter-related fields of consciousness inter-acting, producing meaningful and creative life.

So, today on July 4, in the United States of America, I contemplate the sometimes difficult balance between these two factors that I consider so vital to my own existence—independence and interdependence. It seems to me that this has become, even more than ever, a vitally important issue in our national existence as well.

So I send you today my greetings and blessings for independence and interdependence, with these wise words from the Sufi mystic Gibran, written years ago:

“…Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

Leave a Comment


E-Mail :

Website :

Comments :

Subscribe for email updates

Enter your email address:

Blog Posts