Inner Michael » If Not a Scream, Then What?

If Not a Scream, Then What?

Fans began this journey since Michael’s passing with sadness, loss and trauma. It was as if something that could not be named or identified was ripped from the fabric of reality. It wasn’t just fans who felt it; everybody felt it. Much of the loss was unconscious– nobody had the answer to what they were feeling or why. The Internet reeled too and almost seized up from overload.

The world doesn’t pour into the streets and cry at the death of a mere man; they mourn for him and his family of course, but they weep– with heaving shoulders– because of a deeper reality– a frozen-in-place kind of fear that something significant that cannot begin to be understood just happened. Something monumental is gone leaving in its place a vacuum, an aching emptiness. Has a line of demarcation in time and space has been crossed or maybe even the fabric of the space-time continuum itself torn? There comes an unconscious realization that one can never go back there having no idea where “there” is. Something is no longer and will never come again. Something undefinable and untouchable has just ended. The experience of something like that is always greater than the sum of its parts. Even if it is never named, it is deeply and collectively, felt.

A collective mourning like that is an outcry, a silent wailing against the gossamer frailty and injustice of life and a startling reminder that life is impermanent, fragile, and fleeting. Shock set in because a generation had to realize itself while suddenly thrust into the observer consciousness  to ponder, reflect and attempt to settle down an internal flutter– light for some and a magnitude 7 quake for others. Everyone silently knew it was the end of something, knew it was confusing, felt it settle opaquely over reality like a veil and it had no name.

Most of the generation that grew up with Michael saw the assasination of a president, a civil rights leader, a presidential candidate and brother; they saw the explosion and loss of a space shuttle crew, the loss of the People’s Princess and Queen of Hearts, the birth of terrorism– domestic at Oklahoma city and international at 1 World Trade and 2 World Trade in New York. But Michael Jackson? Michael Jackson does not die! Never! Not in Neverland. Not anywhere that is sane.

People were immediately catapulted into reflection and into examining what Michael Jackson’s death meant to them personally. It was a wake up moment for many and in particular, for America. For some the person who saved their childhood and maybe even their lives, was no longer on the planet. It was inconceivable. For others, the confused, conflicted and uncomfortable feelings returned. He was a favorite son at one time, the most reviled man alive at another. What did his passing mean?

Had the world gone radio silent for at least one week, the outcome would have been much different. The most profound spiritual realization to hit the planet in millenia would have introduced some stirrings in the collective. But why waste time on introspection when there’s money to be made! Especially when that introspection leads to some very uncomfortable places. No, don’t go there.

People squirm when cornered into thinking about their part in something profound and disturbing. The world was in need of a scathing psychological autopsy and moral inventory. But that would waste time because the death of Michael Jackson was news! Big news! And that trumped one of the most immediate opportunities for humanity to learn about itself that the twentieth century ever brought. The pregnant and pivotal moment in Nine Eleven was squandered and the human/humane capital leaked out through the holes in America’s psychological defenses. The capital became counterfeit, the investment deal went unsealed. Surely Michael’s passing would offer an opportunity for the world to examine its relationship with a singular pop culture figure and its deeper meaning? More importantly, America could reflect on itself and examine its history, its consciousness through its relationship with Michael Jackson, the planet’s most famous resident.

Instead of wisdom, Nine Eleven presented to the collective an opportunity for revenge. Michael Jackson’s death brought a chance to relieve oneself and make money! Big money! And once again, at his expense. The familiar circus began all over and the guilt, unexpressed and unexamined, pushed deeper underground. The distraction needed to divert the eyes from the guilt was at least as big as the guilt itself and the requisite absolution through relief. So the media went into a frenzy once again dusting off and handing out the same old tired meme– he was messed up, troubled, disturbed, abnormal, perhaps a deviant who bought his freedom, a criminal who maybe got away with it, a fallen icon, irrelevant at the end and not just broke but deeply in debt. Nobody had been motivated in his lifetime to challenge or check out the veracity of the meme except for perhaps one regretful reporter and one music biographer…

So America’s hand in shaping the life and legacy of Michael Jackson, a meme based on unexamined and hysterical assumptions went, well… unexamined. Had the meme been challenged or the assumptions examined, many more people might have squirmed. And many more of them may have awakened.

It is those monumental moments where in shock and perhaps rattled to the core, we feel small and lost and hopeless that we become quesitoners and questors. It is when we gasp and grasp for answers that we open to spirit, to the Creator, to God in whatever form of by whatever name called. In the moments when we stagger in disbelief, we silently or not, cry out to a greater Wisdom for understanding, to make sense of it, to console and to comfort us in our despairing. The world shared that moment with the death of Michael Jackson. The man in the mirror who sang about the mirror, who gave us a mirror, became the mirror, brought back the mirror… one more time. 

But once again, it was too painful to look. The hyperdrive media helped us distract ourselves from the discomfort by frenetically trying to define it for us. Silently called out by his death, the media ironically overlooked their part in creating the emptiness in the space he once occupied. He was a polarizing figure in life so it is no surprise that in death, he divided hearts yet again. “Let him who has eyes to see, ears to hear…” Once again humanity was offered another form of its shadow redemption. Again it refused. The metaphors and the opportunities slipped past many. But others refused to look away from the carnage made of his life and the echoes in their own and the world. Yet others began to explore him, explore his life looking for answers for their disturbance.

It that search for meaning, many awakened to their deeper selves. They saw the light in Michael which is a roadmap to finding it in themselves. They saw his goodness, they saw his work, because they were awakened and had eyes to see. They also understood how blind the world had become, how thick and dark was its denial. That kind of realization triggers its own existential crisis and it sent many people reeling and floudering in a world that no longer fit, a reality no longer real. The result was a spiritual emergency. The characteristics and stages of a true spiritual emergency are not pleasant.  Add to that the stages of grief that one in mourning must pass through and you get major turbulence.

The grieving process always involves anger; it comes with the territory. The behavior of those in that cynical world of “celebrity” and opportunism, the unreal feel to the existential cocoon of someone in spiritual emergency, the media with its 24 hour news cycle mentality and its resurrection of the convenient worn out meme… seemed too much to bear. There came a silent scream on the land and many were thrown into rage. They raged at a world-gone-crazy that didn’t have enough sense to recognize itself, to stop the craziness. So they lashed out at everybody who said anything about Michael Jackson. They began with the “haters” and moved on to individuals, then the media in general. It was all very unconscious, at least in the beginning.

Those with spiritual muscles knew something was horribly wrong; those who never flexed theirs, puzzled at the response to the death of a “pop idol.” Still others with no clue they are spiritually asleep condemned the attention and the weeping throngs. And a few trapped in the illusion of their moral superiority and spirituality took the opportunity to poke at and spear him once again. Was it to assure themselves his death was real and to cement their own epitath for him constructed from their “righteous indignation” based on tabloid lore and exempt of a factual or evidentiary basis?

The anger rose high and it rose involuntarily. And that anger was certainly understandable. Even justified. But it was not so helpful for it served only to drive away further those who might have… eyes to see or ears to hear. It was human but it was reactionary. People were defending their own epitaths for Michael unawares of the flimsy foundation it was built on. Unawares of the original motives and certainly the unconscious ones, profit and racism.

While the anger was warranted, it was not prudent. Instead of informing and deconstructing the meme, it angrily attacked people. And sometimes it hurt Michael Jackson; sometimes it harmed the legacy. It was Michael himself who ordained the fans his legacy. In their flailing to blame and find a target for their wrath, they forgot that Michael’s legacy was love. His preferred way of fighting shadow and its projections was to expose it to the light.

The problem with fighting shadow with shadow is that it throws everybody into darkness. It is understandable that the anger was uncomfortable and needed to be discharged but attack was not the best way to do it. That’s how wars begin. That’s how casualties are created. That’s how friendly fire and fighting in the ranks occurs. Warmaking will never change hearts; it only causes resentment and resistance. So if you really want to move hearts into a war-free loving zone, make love the weapon.

“Love” comes in many forms. Sometimes it comes in the form of compassion, sometimes empathy, sometimes agape, sometimes it cradles woundes souls, sometimes it enlightens and yes, sometimes it comes in the form of tough love– calling out someone’s treachery. It is hard to sublimate the intention to harm because the rage takes hold instead of the wise mind. We all fall victim to our own rage at times. It’s such a big feeling! But I guarantee that if you come at someone with rage they will not soften enough to have eyes to see or ears to hear. They will only stiffen their body and harden their hearts in a defensive posture and to save themselves from shame.

Shame is an emotion that is at the opposite end of the continuum where love lives. Shaming someone feels like death because it is one of the lowest vibrations of human emotion that a human can occupy. Nobody wants to be in that place where shame lives. Shame is a place of self loathing and it is hard for human beings to be there or live there. Only the very weak and dispirited will allow you to push them into that place. Anyone with a healthy ego will put of a clawing to-the-death fight to avoid that place where they must encounter their own shame. People will do anything to avoid it including re-writing history if they have to.

The Japanese have a tradition called “saving face” which is a technique to avoid shame or shaming someone. To “save face” is to allow oneself or have others allow one, an exit from shame. It’s like having a get-out-of-jail-free card. In the case of believing the media meme about Michael Jackson, the meme constructed (for whatever dark reason) was overwhelming. The accusations were scandalous. A man who was enigmatic to most of the world and who caused existential discomfort with his art, was finally fingered and could finally be labeled! Surely someone so beloved by so many and so puzzling to most must have something wrong with him. His fall from grace was swift and sudden because he dared to challenge the culture’s deepest fears and rattle the forbidden door leading to the collective unconscious, dreams and archetypes.

Unconsciously was the world looking for a reason? As was discussed before, James Baldwin called it correctly.

“The Michael Jackson cacophony is fascinating in that it is not about Jackson at all. I hope he has the good sense to know it and the good fortune to snatch his life out of the jaws of a carnivorous success. He will not swiftly be forgiven for having turned so many tables, for he damn sure grabbed the brass ring, and the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo has nothing on Michael.
All that noise is about America, as the dishonest custodian of black life and wealth; the blacks, especially males, in America; and the burning, buried American guilt; and sex and sexual roles and sexual panic; money, success and despair–to all of which may now be added the bitter need to find a head on which to place the crown of Miss America.

Freaks are called freaks and are treated as they are treated–in the main, abominably–because they are human beings who cause to echo, deep within us, our most profound terrors and desires.”

Mike Quinn got it right too:

‘In hindsight, we now see all the more clearly that the trial of Michael Jackson, before his eventual murder, was not really his trial personally, but the symbolic trial of Innocence, Itself. True creation, true genius, only comes from the Field of Innocence, our Source Field. But Innocence is the only virtue that is not tolerated in the world of the Ego/Eagle. Innocence is literally against the law. And after all the apparent money; after all the apparent celebrity status; after all the adoring fans; after all the usual Ego/Eagle conditioning, nothing could kill the gentleness, the Innocence within Michael. Perhaps more than any other human being that we know of, he was determined to remain unabashedly Child-like. And in this world, that’s a no-no.”

So how to do this? Well, here’s a scenario to consider. Follow along with this example: 

You find you have been horribly wrong, your actions have irrevocably harmed and the harm you caused is huge. It has tentacles with a global reach. Your regret turns to shame and shame begins to settle in.

You begin to squirm in this uncomfortable place. You can’t bear to admit how low you have sunk in your own estimation and the estimation of others. The person you are seeing as you now is someone desipcable whom you loathe because you never wanted to be like that. You never wanted to face your own capacity for darkness, your shadow self.

This whole realization can be entirely unconscious. Something so deep and disturbing must remain unconscious or be pushed down and stay out of sight for the ugliness is unbearable. Deny, deny, deny. That is not me! So you justify by insisting you are innocent or by re-writing history. In your flailing, you project that shadow self onto other people. And  you must stick to your “story” for it keeps you from coming unraveled. It holds you together so you don’t come unglued. We have all played this game with the ego. We have all tried to hide from others and hide from ourselves.

And if this unconscious material ever begins to leak into the conscious mind imagine the desperation and the energy it would take to keep it first hidden from self and then from the world.

There is the path of hell and the path of redemption. Hell is hanging on to a justification of and for your shadow and its projections. The path of redemption is to admit to self and others that you have been a poop and to come clean. Why is it always so hard to say: “Oh boy, I have been a poop!” And if the transgression is particulary egregious, is there redemption? Should there be? Is there forgiveness for sins that loom huge in the public arena? In the collective psyche? Apparently not. There wasn’t any for Michael so what about his accusors? And the legions of witch hunters, racists, misogynists, the peddlers of shadow and dealers of darkness? What about it? If there is no chance for forgiveness and redemption, there is no chance for admissions that require amends. In particular, amends that might seem impossible.

The Fourth Step in Alcoholics Anonymous and similar programs teaches the transgressor to do a fearless moral inventory on themselves, their lives and behavior and wherever possible, to make amends to those harmed. What if the harm is too big to be contained? Too horrendous to allow you to continue living with yourself? What if your shame is revealed publicly? The worst possible nightmare would come true. Public exposure of your personal shame! That would really be hell. So the hell of keeping it under wraps is preferable to the hell of publicly revealing (or having revealed) your darkest incarnation of self.

This “hell” applies to individuals and it applies to the world. And it is inherent and illustrated most dramatically in the story of Michael Jackson. It is deep, mythical and archetypal. It burrows deep into the human psyche– both individual and collective. It is the damnation or salvation story. Its implications and impact are inestimable. It raises the spector of the seven deadliest sins, the path to evil and the archetypes represented by  wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

The rule is that all human behavior has meaning but it does not have to make sense. Michael Jackson rocked the world before, then and when he passed. The disturbance, the grief, the reaction before, then and now to is so big because the light will always shame the darkness.



Next: So now what? Is there a savvy way to “Make that change” in media?



  1. Robbie M said . . .

    “The light will always shame the darkness” you say. Yes! It is the only hope I have at times in a world gone crazy. I can only live in the light now; there is no going back, neither would I want to. By example we strive to make a difference, to show that there is a better way. Michael knew that his example could be at times provocative, in your face unapologetic. Instead of seeing what he was showing, listening to what he was saying, the forces of shadow sought to bring him down. He once said that “All I wanted to do was make music, dance, perform. To showcase to the world a more compassionate way of life. A way of life that held Earth Mother in high regard and respect. A way of life that held space for LOVE. For that I was villified and abused. Harmed physically, emotionally, mentally and Spiritually” Sill he lived in the light and led by example, even in death. Where there is light no shadow can exist. We must keep the faith and continually pray for guidance. It will be provided, we are not alone! Love and blessings from Scotland

    Posted July 21, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink
  2. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Ditto, R; we are the light. Keep shining! ~B

    Posted July 21, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Permalink
  3. gertrude said . . .

    Do you think those choosing Shadow are so terrified of Light because they have no grasp that the Light is in them too? And if so, how do you see that correlating with Our Light being what “most frightens” us?

    Posted August 11, 2012 at 4:07 am | Permalink
  4. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    G, Shadow is not really a choice. We all harbor shadow. But in most it is quite unconscious. The shadow, held down and out of sight (suppressed/repressed) bursts through most often in behavior unbecoming a human. There is individual shadow and collective shadow. Individual shadow is often projected for convenience so it can remain unconscious (so as not to have to face it in oneself) and erupts in a spectrum of inhumane behavior toward the “other” contemporaneously in bullying. The collective shadow is expressed in unconscious eruption as socio-cultural scourges like gangs, Neo-Nazis and the KKK and so on…

    The archetypal realms are complex and the archetypes that play out on a planet “take the termperature” of humanity’s advancing consciousness. We don’t “own” the light any better than we “own” our shadow. Until we all learn these dynamics and the shadow becomes conscious, there will be a price to pay for standing out in the crowd. It is the “Tall Poppy Syndrome”– “a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticized because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers.” Excellence can garner jealousy and envy when self comparisons are made to others who seem better. It’s the contrast and the interpretation of “loss” or “less than” that causes the problem. People do not react kindly to being marginalized, or reminded of their marginalization, no matter the form it comes in. While unlikely to ever be articulated, this is learned at an early age. To step out of the cultural limitations and into one’s genius and shine is a courageous act that gains attention from both ends of the spectrum- light and shadow. Taboos exist for a reason; to violate them is a punishable offense that has its own spectrum from sanction to death.

    Judgement is what causes the problem. We compare. We judge. Holy books tell us that it is not our domain (but belongs to god or a deity) to judge for that very reason- it presents a danger for the soul. That is what Michael’s lyrics mean in Childhood:: “Before you judge me, try hard to love me.” When one is loving, one cannot judge. Unconditional love and judgement cannot live in the same space. That is what Michael was teaching in those lyrics.

    When we learn to shine our own light and shine a light on others feeling genuine appreciation and love, the “Inner Michael” will become commonplace and culturally acceptable and we all will shine without fear or reservation.

    Posted August 12, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Permalink
  5. gertrude said . . .


    Posted August 13, 2012 at 4:08 am | Permalink

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