9/11 and Building Bridges

It’s been 11 years since 9-11 and in that period of time it seems there has been little progress made toward bridging the enormous divides that existed and possibly contributed to the iconic images the world recorded on that fateful Tuesday.  If some of those responsible for flying airplanes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center imagined they were redressing a wrong committed when infidels occupied holy lands to Muslims in the first Gulf War, their dramatic action led to an even larger presence of Westerners throughout the Middle East.   Westerners watched the carnage of 9-11 and the United States briefly received the heartfelt empathy from people around the world but within months our military might was acting with a sort of collective bravado that made President Bush’s  premature declaration of victory not only wrong but absurd.

Coming September 20, 2012 “Bridging West and East: C. G. Jung and richard Wilhelm, a Fateful Relationship”

Within 7 years of 9-11 the world witnessed the United States of America elect its first Black President, surely a sign of hope that differences were being overcome.  However, bridging the divide between Islam and the West, between the poor and the rich, or even between blacks and whites in America has proven difficult.  Eleven years after the world witnessed nearly 3000 people consumed in a blaze fueled by hatred as much as unspent jet fuel, the lessons that might have been learned go unrecognized.

Jung and analytical psychology have had answers to some of these most vexing problems.  That the psyche may dichotomize the world of its impressions, that enantiodromia is as fundamental a feature of psychological function as the wave/particle duality is a fundamental feature of an electron, and that there are paths that allow a person to transcend such dichotomies are well established after nearly a century of Analytical Psychology.  In fact, those avenues explored by Jung to contend with the divides of our psychological life have much earlier roots.  When Richard Wilhelm set out as a Christian Missionary to China he left behind the conventional practice of Western Missionaries that begins and ends in the goal of conversion.  Instead, he entered his mission field with deep respect and reverence for a culture and its people with thousands of  years of collective history.  While he served he also listened and opened himself to the wisdom that was before him.  Because of that attitude, he was able to notice the jewel of the The Secret of the Golden Flower when he came upon it.  He applied himself to translating it into German and thereby broadened that avenue by which Westerners might seek to reconcile apparent opposites.


Eleven years has been accompanied by dramatic changes.  Here are some examples of things the world witnessed since the collapse of two towering and iconic images of Western capitalism.

  • Countless lives lost through war, terror, starvation, treatable diseases, senseless gun violence, and downstream health effects of environmental degradation.
  • Countless efforts by poor, disenfranchised people around the world to secure basic human rights including the Arab spring, Chinese dissidents, striking South African mine workers, self-immolation by Tibetan Buddhist monks, an indigenous leader delivers a petition with 600,000 signatures to the Brazilian government demanding that construction of a $10 billion dam be halted (Ireo Kayapo), Occupy WalL Street protesters seeking to diminish economic inequalities, women seeking inclusion and seeking basic safety and protection, and much more.
  • Repeated instances of threatened economic uncertainty related to a hyperfocus upon principles that are becoming enshrined despite conflicting evidence.  When taken to extremes, these ideas contribute to uncertainty and dramatic reversals.  They include: the invisible hand made famous by Adam Smith’s infrequent invocation, free trade, globalization, deregulation, high frequency trading (H.F.T.), procurement of natural resources (like rare earth elements), ECB and debtor nations like Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal),  and more.
  •  Developing shifts in power from West to East, from North to south, from mature industrialized to emerging , industrializing nations.
  • Countless threats of tipping points being reached in terms of environmental degradation like: the accumulation of toxins in the Pacific garbage patch, global warming accelerating the melting of Arctic ice, Colony Collapse Disorder that is threatening bee populations, food and water supply shortages, debris from the Japanese tsunami washing ashore in the US introducing potentially invasive species, and loss of biodiversity.
  • Introduction of potentially disruptive technology like: introduction of genetically modified foods, genomic research (including gene therapy), adoption of WiFi, adoption of Bluetooth standards, the public offering of Google (2004), Facebook is launched (2004), adoption of LED lighting, the opening of GPS (approx. 2004), Twitter is launched (2006)the first release of the iPhone (2007), introduction of the Kindle e-ink reader (2007), the release of the first iPad (2010), wider use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), expansion of deep water oil drilling,

Bridges to connect the vast differences between Islam and the West or the East and the West.  There is a tinderbox full of volatile issues that can easily be ignited.  On September 20, 2012 The Asheville Jung Center, in conjunction with ISAPZurich,  will be presenting “Bridging West and East: C. G. Jung and Richard Wilhelm, a Fateful Relationship”.    Dr. Murray Stein, along with Bettina Wilhelm (Richard Wilhelm’s granddaughter, and Shiuya Sara Liuh , a Training Candidate at ISAPZurich, will present the conference.   Richard Wilhelm translated the I Ching and The Secret of the Golden Flower , two books that had profound effect upon C. G. Jung.


The polarization between nation states, between cultures, and even between factions with different cultures has become more exaggerated since the collapse of the Twin Towers 11 years ago.  Richard Wilhelm devoted himself to bridging the chasm between the cultures of the East and West.  Perhaps one way we can honor  the 11th anniversary of 9-11 is to rededicate ourselves to building bridges that transcend the polarizations that continue to reassert themselves.  Let us allow the streams from many different  traditions to merge into a mighty river whose force can wash away any residue of fear and animosity arising from the illusions about our human condition.  Many readers of the AJC are People of the Book.  The following words are offered as a sort of meditation, you are invited to approach it as a sort of lectio divina.

“You must be free from the pairs of opposites.  Poise your mind in tranquility.” (Bhagavad Gita)

“And thus have We willed you to be a community of the middle way, so that [with your lives] you might bear witness to the truth before all mankind,” (Qur’an al-Baqarah2:143)

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)

Jesus said to them: When you make the two one, and when you make the inside as the outside, and the outside as the inside, and the upper as the lower, and when you make the male and the female into a single one, so that the male is not male and the female not female, and when you make eyes in place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then shall you enter [the kingdom]. The Gospel of Thomas (Nag Hammadi Coptic Text)

““Nothing can exist without its opposite; the two were one in the beginning and will be one again in the end.” (C. G. Jung)


“When yang has reached its greatest strength, the dark power of yin is born within its depths. For night begins at midday when yang breaks up and begins to change to yin.” (Commentary by C. G. Jung in the Secret of the Golden Flower)


“Thus one can no longer maintain the division between the observer and the observed. (in quantum theory) Rather, observer and observed are merging and interpenetrating aspects of one whole reality… (Wholeness and the Implicate Order 1981, p.9 )


“There were two brothers, the Black Knight and the White Knight, and they set off on a quest, each on his own, one going north and the other one south.  After many years they met in a dark wood, and did not know each other. They immediately assumed that they were enemies until, when both were lying bleeding to death on the grass, they undid their helmets and recognized that they were brothers.” (Journey Inward, Journey Outward 1968, p.2)


Len Cruz

12 Responses to 9/11 and Building Bridges
  1. Jean Raffa
    September 11, 2012 | 3:34 pm


    Thank you for this eloquent summary of the psychological aspects of the 9/11 event. I’m reminded of the ancient adage, “As above, so below,” or, as it is sometimes rephrased, “As without, so within.” Thank you also for the wonderfully relevant quotes. I’ll be copying this post for future reference!

    Meanwhile, may I take this opportunity to thank you and the Asheville Jung Center for partnering with Malaprop’s Bookstore when I present my newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide, on September 21st? These are the kinds of partnerships that provide hope for the future of our dangerously polarized world!

    Wishing you the best of luck with your September 20th event. I’ll be traveling that day but am hoping you’ll make a video of it that I can purchase afterwards!


  2. Peter de Schweinitz
    September 11, 2012 | 3:44 pm

    Provocative recounting of history! I really enjoyed all of the quotes drawn from diverse sources. I feel as if the enlightenment mind (the rational, fully competent individual agent) and the emotive, communal, values oriented ideology are at war when we talk about US versus radical Islam. When we reach the end of individual liberties (the culmination of a cultural idea), we realize that there must be some common consensus of values and rituals in order to live in harmony. But we haven’t realized it. Radical Islam has reason to fear the full brunt of our version of Englightenment thought merged with and in the form of capitalism, just as primary care doctors were right to fear the advance of business mentality and efficiency. There is something deep that is lost.

    • Arius
      September 29, 2012 | 7:18 pm

      What you said about Islam fearing enlightenment thought is correct except that the term Radical should be removed. If you understood why it should be removed then you will have an enlightenment.

  3. Michael Beaton
    September 11, 2012 | 5:39 pm

    A good article. One that reminds me again that perhaps the fundamental error in all of this was “our” assessment of why this happened. (In quotes because there is a difference between the official version – which has been the basis of all the actions and reactions cited – and others who knew better).
    One of the essential principles taught by Jung and others is to know yourself, and acknowledge reality. You may recall that G.Bush said, in answer to why 9/11 happened “They hate us for our freedoms…”. You could hardly say a less true thing about why this happened.

    But that was the foundation that all that has transpired since was built. I think that until we understand at a deeper level the factors and forces that are alluded to in this article it will be impossible to heal the wounds in America and the wounds that have been inflicted upon those outside of America.

    It starts by telling the truth. And that starts by being willing to hear the truth. This is not a place we have arrived at yet, even after 11 years, and all the pain and suffering that has occurred.

    • Arius
      September 29, 2012 | 7:14 pm

      Bush’s thinking is dominated by the liberal ideal that the solution is for their societies to be democratic. Democracy is used in Islamic dominated societies by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis to revert back to sharia law which results in the opposite of the pluralistic democratic society that he expected. It was as foolish as his statement that “Islam is a religion of peace”.

      Islam teaches starting with the very young that infidels are the enemy, not to be trusted, who can be lied to if necessary, until they are subdued or killed. This is what is taught in Islamic schools. People in the West know nothing about this as they know nearly nothing about Islam except what they project into it.

  4. LenCruz
    September 11, 2012 | 9:15 pm

    Shirley Jones kindly pointed out to me that my use of “W” in rference to President Bush could be improved and so I have changed the original post. I had thought my choosing to refer to President George W. Bush as “W” underscored the bravado and over-confident attitude displayed by the President at that time. However, I have searched my heart and regrettably discovered that choosing “W” instead of President Bush was also contrary to the theme of this blog, Building Bridges. So, I have corrected the unfortunate “W” but I thought it best to not erase the traces of that misstep. Instead, this comment is intended to highlight the log in my own eye instead of focusing on the spec in the other’s eye. Thank you to Shirley.

    • Arius
      September 29, 2012 | 7:46 pm

      You are very close and next need to realize that the problem with people in the West that approach Islam is that they only see what they project into it, and only see what they want see, and actually know very little about it. Their heads are filled with fanciful notions like ‘Islam is a religion of peace’, or that democracy will solve the problems in the region, or that all we need to do is build bridges and talk nice, or we need to respect them, and then there are those that say we need to restrict ourselves to placate them.

      While writing comments on this blog an idea has come to me that I will email to you.

  5. Anne Sackman
    September 11, 2012 | 10:14 pm

    Hi Len,
    Thanks so much for the beautiful photo of a horrific moment in our nation’s history, and for your well informed sharing! The world is globalizing; that we cannot change. We need to consider how the archetypal symbols of the diversity of religious cultures are influencing the ways that masculinity and femininity are being expressed globally through the collective consciousness. For when you address society at this level, you are addressing the level of the Soul of the Collective Consciousness – here on earth.

    • Arius
      September 29, 2012 | 7:03 pm

      The collective unconscious is challenging the post-Christian secular humanist West with a very angry Feminine in the form of a 7th century totalitarian ideology masking as a religion that hates and oppresses the feminine. If only there was a Jungian with true knowledge of Islam instead of fanciful notions.

  6. David O'Rose
    September 12, 2012 | 9:46 pm

    Thank-you for the timely reflection on the challenge posed to us by the events of 9/11. It seems to me that we were thrown back into our respective interpretations of fundamentalism. For President George W. Bush, what was fundamental was his definition of freedom. For Islam it was and is a collective bowing to an unchanging definition of Allah. The resolution of this seemingly impossible divide is to recognize the unchanging fundamentals of Being itself and the freedom contained in this realization. Transcending notions of birth and death, east and west and so on, is the beautiful and tragic embrace of the All which includes aspects of life which will never transform such as the urge to kill along with the urge to love. It has always been thus. There is liberation in a realization of Suchness.

    • Arius
      September 29, 2012 | 6:53 pm

      If you are saying that the Islamic dominated world responded to 9/11 by reverting, or going back, to a fundamentalist interpretation then you people in the West need to know that the wave of jihad in our time did not start on 9/11, it didn’t start with the first Trade Center bombing, it didn’t start with the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, it started with Ataturk terminating the Caliphate in the early 1920’s. That event shocked an Egyptian schoolteacher, Hassan al Banna, to create the Muslim Brotherhood later in the 1920’s, and it has been growing quickly ever since. Nearly all the Sunni Islamist groups in the Middle East are branches of the MB. It was allied to the Nazis in WW2, it killed Anwar Sadat, and by the 1980’s it has reverted Muslim women back to wearing headscarf’s, men to wearing beards, the return to Christians being dhimmis and paying the jizya tax, and all the rest of the worst of 7th century Islam (including FGM) (and now Coptic Christians are being crucified in Egypt), and it now controls Egypt and is trying to get control of Syria with US assistance.

      If Jung and von Franz were alive today they would be sure of their facts before making simple sound bite statements, like under the rubric of ‘fundamentalism’. There is the problem; Jungians of the caliber of Jung and von Franz are not to be found today among Jungians.

  7. Arius
    September 25, 2012 | 6:09 pm

    With every major wave of terrorism or threat of terrorism the West goes into conflict with itself, a state of being helpless which it thinks it will resolve by sacrificing a part of itself. It treats the terror as a god upon whose altar it now puts its principle of free speech as a sacrifice. This is the manifestation of a very dangerous retrograde tendency that is gaining ground in the West.

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