Dealing with Mass Man and Collective Energy
Children's Games, 1559-60, oil on wood, Peter Brueghel (1530-1569) CARD URL:

Card #209 – Dealing with Mass Man and Collective Energy


View the light and dark aspects of humanity with clarity and compassion. Jung once said that if you walk down a city street, you will encounter every human type, from the caveman to the man of the future.

Respect and honor those below you, those at your level, and those above. It is easy to fall into sarcastic disdain for unconscious people, but overindulgence in such contempt can become its own form of unconsciousness.

An individuated person will tend to view what Jung called “mass man” with disdain and irritation. (In the Harry Potter books, such folk are called “muggles.”) I have certainly been guilty of this sort of disdain. Individually or in the aggregate, it’s easy to be annoyed or even horrified by mass humanity’s bustling, buzzing, acting-out energy.

Mass man is composed of unreflecting people who don’t understand their historical moment yet seem to be wholly defined by the present era. They are person-shaped creatures who seem to be living stereotypes. They aggregate together and produce much sound and fury, signifying nothing.

But sometimes, our view of such collectivized folk is lacking. We may have the classic outgroup homogeneity bias where we see members of our group as being relatively more varied than members of other groups. In my sci-fi epic, Parallel Journeys, the character Andrew says, ” . . . even people who seem stereotypical can turn out to be far more complex when you really get to know them.”

Collectivized people are as much a part of nature as stars, trees, or viruses. They are part of the cosmic design, and we need to accept them. Like many natural forces, they can be extremely dangerous. Easily manipulated, mass man has been used to create many of the bloody tsunamis of history. More often, mass man is merely mundane and a somewhat appalling spectacle to those of individualized consciousness.

The individuated person must be alert to the many dangers and hazards created by mass man. You don’t want to get trampled by a mob, and often, it’s best to keep your distance.

When traveling amongst mass man, cloaking some of your differences may reduce risk.

Another danger of mass man is allowing them to preoccupy your attention. Sometimes, they can be appalling and fascinating, like the car accident from which you cannot avert your gaze. They tempt the individuated person into a stereotyped stance of sarcastic disdain and lazy feelings of superiority. It’s too easy to ridicule and feel superior to mass man, but those feelings can be their own type of collectivized laziness and stagnation. Feeling superior to unconscious masses can divert us from facing our shadows, our mediocre and stagnant aspects. When highly individuated people meet, they can easily form a bond of mutual disdain for mass man where mocking them can become a lazy and unproductive game of shooting fish in a barrel.

Consider this an auspicious time to make your peace with collective energy. Allow mass man to go its way, while you stay focused on your path.

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