The Fourth Instinct – Don’t look back, you’re not going that way!

There is no coming to consciousness without pain. – Carl Jung

After a few days of painful reflection into my past… I’m turning around.

The Fourth Instinct by Arianna Huffington (yes, THAT Huffington, a founder of the Huffington Post) was published nearly 25 years ago, in 1994.

I loved it when I first read it because it talked about reaching for a kind of spirituality that I only dreamed about. It wasn’t down some magical road or through dogmatic adherence to religious dogma.

It’s oh-so-much more!

It’s been years since I sat in a classroom and I have to admit that I don’t often think about the “boring stuff” I learned back then. I was a Liberal Arts major, for crying out loud. I barely scratched through the sciences with passing grades! Pity.

Huffington talks about the three basic instincts: biological survival, sexuality, and social instinct (Huffington calls this “power”). She says that these instincts link us to the past. And it makes sense, doesn’t it? Survival. Sex. Power. All things needed to keep the species going.

But she asks… no, implores us… to consider a fourth. It is the instinct that propels us to the future… beyond the physical and into the spiritual: Transformation. <<< Ah, there it is again! I’ve written about Transformation quite a bit lately!

What is the Fourth Instinct? It is the subtitle of the book: The Call of the Soul.

Well, that seems fairly vast, doesn’t it?

When I opened the book today, a certain page beckoned to be read. And so, I did.

We come to many moments in our lives when we cannot stifle the Fourth Instinct. It demands we pay attention. We see the surgeon coming from our child’s hospital room and we know, by the slowness of his walk, the news he does not want to give us. We watch our marriages weaken, then begin to crumble, and finally explode in an avalanche of pent-up anger and old hurts. We live with parents who age beyond wisdom and strength, and we grieve as we watch them die ever so slowly. These are the moments that pin us to the ground with sharp questions. We look at the course of our lives and at those we love, we see crushing pain and loss and we are slammed into the wall with doubt about the meaning of life. Ironically, it is in these moments that the journey toward our own soul is the venture that can no longer be postponed.

I remember reading this passage again and again back then. I had opened the book wide… cracking the spine. So much so that today, years later, the book opened automatically to the page.

This is a beautifully written book. It’s almost like poetry.

Right now, I just feel like I need something to anchor me down and lift me up. I know, it sounds like opposite things. I told you I was no scientist! Ha! But this book does both. And I don’t need to look back. This book is about looking forward… to what lies ahead. Just what I need right now. You?

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