Once again Earth’s short season of Late Summer rolls around to the southern hemisphere. Meanwhile in the northern hemisphere an unprecedented political Earthquake has occurred, throwing up a world leader who seems to offer a masterclass in an Earth Element imbalance.
Most people who have an Earth imbalance at the psycho-emotional level are those who give to others at the expense of themselves, draining their own resources to their own detriment. This behaviour can become a kind of compulsive giving, out of a need to feel liked, loved, needed or valued.
Less often we see the imbalance at the other end of the spectrum, the person who cares only for themselves, is untouched by the needs of others, and lacks empathy for the suffering of anyone but themselves. This is narcissism which, when it becomes extreme, is known as narcissistic personality disorder. As has been noted widely elsewhere, the new president of the United States, Donald Trump, amply demonstrates these characteristics.
In my book The Way of the Five Seasons, I referred to this pattern as the yin response in Earth:
Lack of Sympathy, Demanding Attention
A famous phrase that sums up the pattern of the yin response is, ‘Enough about me, what did you think of my performance?’
This imbalance in Earth is characterised by a focus on our own needs at the expense of others. We are all familiar with the person who dominates a conversation with talk about himself. He steers the conversation in such a way that the focus remains on him. He may ask questions of others but only so that it shifts the topic to something he wants to talk about. In short, it’s all about him.
If a person has this orientation to the world, when sympathy is offered, the response is a pulling for more sympathy. To the sympathetic listener this can feel like being ensnared in a sticky web of attention-seeking need. Eventually the behaviour of the attention seeker causes his listener to withdraw, reinforcing the feelings of abandonment.
Taken to the extreme, this becomes narcissism. Here, the person is grandiosely self-important, exaggerates his abilities, has a belief that he is special and has a sense of entitlement, but most importantly, he lacks sympathy for others and is unwilling or unable to identify with their feelings.
This behaviour is almost always unconscious. The person is frantically trying to meet his own needs, which effectively blinds him to the needs of others. He is actually incapable of seeing their needs and responding to them. Like Narcissus of the Greek myth, he looks at the world and sees only a reflection of himself.
I wrote this long before Donald Trump began his run for the White House, but on rereading it, I am struck by how accurately this pattern describes him.
So here we are bemoaning and bewailing, gnashing and railing at the accession of Trump, all to little avail. For three months now I’ve been pondering the question, ‘How is this the perfect unfolding of True Nature? How is President Trump perfect for the world?’ If we see all the world as a mirror for our own self-work, what is Trump teaching us?
As long as our enlightenment is not complete, as long as we have any aspect of our ego structure unresolved, there will be narcissism. The ego is by its nature narcissistic. It wants what it wants in order to feel safe and secure because it believes it is separate. Narcissism arises from loss of contact with the truth that we are not separate, but arise out of an indivisible, indestructible oneness.
When all shreds of our narcissism have dissolved, our Earth Element is in perfect balance. We live from the place of total altruism, because all others are actually who we are.
Almost all of us find ourselves on a continuum which includes various proportions of altruism and narcissism. What Trump offers us is the opportunity to examine the ways in which narcissism is an obstacle to altruism.
Next time you find yourself tearing your hair out at the latest impossible thing to come out of his mouth, I invite you to take a look in this mirror.