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T H E I N T E R N AT I O N A L J O U R N A L O F Volume 24, 2005
Table of Contents
Editors’ Introduction Harris Friedman and Douglas A. MacDonald Nondualism and the Divine Domain Burton Daniels Higher Self—Spark of the Mind—Summit of the Soul: Early History of an Important Concept of Transpersonal Psychology in the West Harald Walach The Myth of Nature and the Nature of Myth: Becoming Transparent to Transcendence Dennis Patrick Slattery Myth, Archetype and the Neutral Mask: Actor Training and Transformation in Light of the Work of Joseph Campbell and Stanislav Grof Ashley Wain The Sources of Higher States of Consciousness Steve Taylor Fear No Spirits: A Pilgrim’s Journey through the Brazilian Churches of Ayahuasca Robert Tindall Why Does the Universe Exist? An Advaita Vedantic Perspective Adam J. Rock SPECIAL TOPIC: RUSSIAN SOUL: A REPORT FROM THE EUROPEAN TRANSPERSONAL ASSOCIATION 2005 CONFERENCE IN MOSCOW Russian Soul: Introduction Glenn Hartelius The Transpersonal Tradition in Russian Culture Vladimir Maykov Synthesis and Plurality: Stories of the Self Jason Wright The Psychic Defense Vitor Rodrigues On Therapy by Means of Spiritual Culture Mark E. Burno Creativity Lies at the Edge of Disintegration: Addressing the Shadow of Power and Leadership within Psychotherapy Training Organisations Rupert Kinglake Tower We Were Made for These Times Tanna Jakubowicz-Mount READER’S COMMENTARY A Love Letter Kidder Smith About Our Contributors Board of Editors Editorial Policy and Manuscript Submission Guidelines Back Issues ii 1
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his volume of the International Journal of Transpersonal Studies includes an eclectic group of writings from a variety of areas within transpersonal studies. The issue’s first article is “Nondualism and the Divine Domain” by Burton Daniels. Ken Wilber’s theory of nondualism is compared and contrasted with an alternative perspective as taught by Adi Da. When explicated this way, serious differences between the two accounts become strikingly clear, providing a thought-provoking journey addressing what is perhaps both the most important and esoteric aspect of transpersonal studies, namely what can be said about ultimate nondual enlightenment. Next, Harald Walach writes in “Higher Self–Spark of the Mind–Summit of the Soul: Early History of an Important Concept of Transpersonal Psychology in the West” about the historical origins of the notion of the higher Self as introduced by Roberto Assagioli in psychosynthesis. This notion has origins stemming from antiquity, especially through the neo-Platonic tradition. The importance of transpersonal psychologists understanding the traditional roots for many of the field’s core concepts is emphasized, as well as is the need for achieving theoretical and scientific integration based on such concepts. In “The Myth of Nature and the Nature of Myth: Becoming Transparent to Transcendence,” Dennis Patrick Slattery compares Joseph Campbell’s writings on mythology with the poetry of John Keats. He discusses the power of language, especially poetry, to access the transcendent, arguing that mythology and poetry can realign consciousness toward greater transpersonal insight and understanding. In “Myth, Archetype and the Neutral Mask: Actor Training and Transformation in Light of the Work of Joseph Campbell and Stanislav Grof,” Ashley Wain ii
explores actor training using the “neutral mask” from a transpersonal perspective based on the works of Joseph Campbell and Stanislav Grof. The mask is discussed as a transformative vehicle and as a way to study myths and archetypes. Steve Taylor, in the “The Sources of Higher States of Consciousness,” argues that higher states of consciousness can result from either disruption of normal homeostasis or intensification of consciousness-energy. He concludes that only the second type can lead to long-term changes in positively integrating higher states of consciousness. Next is “Fear No Spirits: A Pilgrim’s Journey through the Brazilian Churches of Ayahuasca,” by Robert Tindall. His delightful telling of experiences within various religious traditions using ayahausca in Brazil brings these experiences near to the reader’s imagination. Following this, Adam J. Rock explores one of the most fundamental of metaphysical debates in his paper, “Why Does the Universe Exist? An Advaita Vedantic Perspective.” He distinguishes between a priori and a posteriori propositions in addressing this question, the latter approach being supported experientially through altered states of consciousness. The insights derived are quite different from those usually debated. Transpersonal psychology remains a vibrant force in the world, as exemplified by the 2005 European Transpersonal Association conference on “Human Consciousness and Human Values in an Interconnected World.” This volume’s special topics section highlights six of the approximately 70 offerings at that conference. Glenn Hartelius has selected, compiled, and edited presentations from Vladimir Maykov on Russian transpersonalism, Jason Wright on the narrative approach to self-image, Vitor Rodriguez on psy-
The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 2005, Volume 24
chic attack, Mark Burno on spiritual culture, Rupert Tower on the shadow in organizations, and Tanna Jakubowicz on the transpersonal basis of taking action in the world. Together, these present an array of innovative transpersonal work happening within the European community on transpersonal themes. Finally, we are pleased to offer a reader’s comment in the form of a poem-story from Kidder Smith, titled “A Love Letter.” The interface between the spiritual and the carnal is playfully celebrated in questioning the amalgam of two during love-making, as “who is who is who?” As the third volume of the International Journal of Transpersonal Studies under our editorship goes to press, we want to thank Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center for its sponsorship, our reviewers who have worked diligently in providing guidance in the selection of articles, as well as our board members for their continuing support. Harris Friedman, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center Douglas A. MacDonald, Ph.D. Associate Professor University of Detroit Mercy
iv The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. 2005. Volume 24 .
His synthesis of spiritual revelation from the various traditions of humanity’s great saints and sages is remarkable. discriminative intelligence. Wilber has written extensively. but a work of extraordinary value for both science and spirituality. spiritual growth. Nonetheless. Wilber initially posited a spectrum theory of consciousness. for all its scope and remarkable cogency. which is frequently confused in transpersonal psychology: nondualism. His quadrant theory goes on to elaborate on this depiction of consciousness. Humanity has benefited immeasurably from his work. Perhaps no one since Jung (1964) has done more to authenticate spiritual reality within the professional community of psychology and make its lofty precepts accessible to the lay reader. Nondualism and the Divine Domain 1 . either do not include or else misrepresent the revelation of a contemporary spiritual master crucial to the understanding of nondualism. Fifth Stage: Spiritual or Yogi ascent of attention into psychic dimensions of the being and mystical experience of the higher brain. in which he integrates all psychological. Every aspect of existence is thought to be subsumed within the general structure of an allinclusive consciousness—indeed. 2000a) spectrum/quadrant theory. and fully explicated by David Loy (1998). even the nondual reality that serves as its ultimate ground and final denouement. it is not unprecedented. Third Stage: integration of the psycho-physical personality and development of the verbal mind. and the will. These stages progress through a potential sequence of human maturation. these scholarly accounts of nondual reality. His body of work covers a sprawling expanse of spiritual literature and can be deemed not only a mammoth undertaking. The revelation of this spiritual reality has a long history in the spiritual traditions. and the spiritual traditions upon which they are based. but also because of the sub- tle and profound realizations inherent within them. T he purpose of this paper is to clarify the fundamental nature of reality. organizing the vast expanse of existence into four fundamental dimensions: interior and exterior. Fourth Stage: ego-surrendering devotion to the Divine Person and purification of body-based point of view through reception of Divine Spirit-Force. Avatar Adi Da’s revelation of nondual reality takes place as part of an overall schema that accounts for all aspects of human development and incarnate being: the seven stages of life.Nondualism and the Divine Domain Burton Daniels This paper claims that the ultimate issue confronting transpersonal theory is that of nondualism. not only because of their prodigious scope. philosophical. However. 2000b. and beautifully about nondual reality. Second Stage: socialization and adaptation to the emotional-sexual (or feeling) dimension of being. but also a dimension of nondualism not found in any previous spiritual revelation. His passages on God and Spirit are carefully crafted and offered lovingly. Adi Da Samraj (1991. The Ruchira Avatar. and spiritual treatises on the development of human beings—from the inception of one’s Very Being into an incarnated birth to their attainment of Divine Enlightenment and immersion in nondual reality. lucidly. and Divine Enlightenment in any given individual’s life (see Adi Da. Perhaps nowhere in transpersonal psychology has nondualism received a more thoughtful treatment than in Wilber’s (1995. 2000b) has also written extensively. and beautifully about nondual reality. Avatar Adi Da not only offers a greater differentiation of nondual reality than can be found in contemporary scholarly texts. 385-390): First Stage: individuation and adaptation to the physical body. as well as individual and collective. pp. which has been perhaps most prolifically advocated by Ken Wilber (1995. lucidly. 103-131. 2000a).
Better descriptions can be found in the tenets of Eastern spirituality— for example. two independent and separate entities. 45).2 Further. this depiction gives only a limited and inadequate account of unmanifest. for the essential dynamic of this process happens elsewhere. in other words. Not recognizing this difference has serious consequences for any understanding of nondualism. out of which manifest existence arises. 1998). However. This set of circumstances might tend to confuse 2 the reader who is not well-informed about the seventh stage of life. to use the term in this way is misleading. S/self and the Divine Domain Relative to spiritual reality. Even so. They are so fundamentally related that a true break in that relationship would mean personal annihilation. Indeed. isolation. to be separate from all conditional phenomena). nondual reality. Although his quadrant theory has certain difficulties (Daniels. his spectrum theory is a superlative treatment of the first six stages of life. By this. the “big mind” of Zen Buddhism (Muzuka. The difference between the accounts of nondualism by Wilber and Avatar Adi Da can be summed up this way: Wilber does not clearly differentiate between the sixth and seventh stages of life.Sixth Stage: Identification with ConsciousnessItself (presumed. this relationship cannot be so simply stated. 1964) referred to as the Self and the ego.1 Avatar Adi Da refers to the spiritual process of these traditions as the “Great Path of Return” and acknowledges that it represents a generally accurate depiction of the first six stages of life. Sartre’s non-positional consciousness (1957). 1962). not a new and different light but a projection of its luminous source” (1965. aspects of one’s being—what Jung (1919. at the point of the seventh stage of life—the Divine Domain of “Radical” Non-Dual Reality—striking differences between their accounts can be discerned. other descriptions of the Self in Western philosophy typically fare no better—for example. 1997. 2005. a unity transcending any sense of duality. p. and Hegel’s soul (1993). or the “buddhi” of yoga psychology (Rama. However. 1969).’ So complete is this union that it may be called ‘nondual’. it is meant that psychic structure involves a concomitant interface between two entirely different. the nonbeing of ‘I. Wilber and Avatar Adi Da are essentially in accord relative to the first six stages of life. Although nondualism is frequently used to refer to the relationship between Self and self. In fact. human beings can be most fundamentally described as consisting of two aspects: lower self and deeper Self. Both represent the individual as consisting most fundamentally of five levels of being— each of which correlating to one or another stage of life—following in the spiritual tradition of Advaita Vedanta (Deutsche.. 1999). This passage indicates the kind of confusion obscuring a true understanding of nondualism. Wilber’s meticulous and detailed account of these stages of life is probably unsurpassed in the history of human ideas. The two often appear intermixed and conflated in his writings—as is frequently the case in the great sixth stage literatures of the Great Tradition (where accounts of the seventh stage appear at all). the Great Path of Return only ends up obscuring a true understanding of nondual Enlightenment— precisely because its essential dynamic happens elsewhere. the Great Path of Return of the spiritual traditions can be seen as not only inadequate to account for true nondual Enlightenment. The reflection appears to be selfexistent but has. and his prominence within the transpersonal community has been established thereby. virtually mirroring that of Avatar Adi Da. no autonomous substantiality. Yet. 1968. 1990). Unfortunately. The Self is one. yet intimately connected. it would be useful to consider these differences more closely. however. this depiction of S/self has significant implications for the understanding of nondualism. Further. Volume 24 . In fact. Seventh Stage: Realization of the Divine Self and Inherently Perfect Freedom and realization of Divine Love-Bliss—no “difference” experienced between Divine Consciousness and psycho-physical states and conditions. It is. Conze. Because Wilber’s account of nondual reality exists within an impressive overall theory of consciousness. Upon examination. The relationship between the lower self and the deeper Self could be put this way: “This abiding dependence of ‘I’ upon Self amounts to an ontological union of ‘I’ and Self. Husserl’s transcendental ego (1960). Consequently. p. Assogioli described the S/self this way: “There are not really two selves. but actually incidental to that purpose. Jung’s description of the Self is frequently vague and inexact. et al. this amalgam of lower self and deeper Self can be best indicated by the following nomenclature: the S/self. considerable correlation exists between Wilber’s spectrum theory and Avatar Adi Da’s seven stages of life. it manifests in different degrees of awareness and self-realization. it most accurately—and most auspiciously—refers to the rela- The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. in reality. as well as Mahayana Buddhism (Suzuki. 20). or separation” (Firman & Gila.
Platonic Forms). you’re dead.. what is actually referred to by this passage is a single account of nondualism. the possibility of a mystical unity between God and man. pure vs.” This point of view accounts for all the bodilybased and mortal beliefs about existence. and. pp. However. applicable to the different aspects of any individual: cognition. That is why we experience the world dualistically in the second sense. According to this point of view. Dharmakaya. being absorbed into God. However. what has been called the identity of phenomena and Absolute. Following upon this stage.tionship between S/self and God. 144-153) indicates that there are five possible orientations to reality: “Conventional Monism. Avatar Adi Da (2000b. God is paired with either the world or the psyche (e. and spirituality. It actual fact. 17. perception. the “Good”). ultimately. Indeed. reverses the self/other dichotomy and returns the multitude of discrete objects to their pristine state—the original unity of reality—which was always already the case to begin with.e. the New Age movement has sought to usher in what amounts Nondualism and the Divine Domain 3 . dualistic perception). indeed.” and “Ultimate NonDualism. As a result. This process takes place within the fourth and fifth stages of life. for such thinking acts as a superimposition which distorts our immediate experience. Yet. or the Mahayana equation of samsara and nirvana. philosophy. the world is made up of a number of principal pairs. 1991). the One Mind. ultimately.g. which can also be expressed as “the nonduality of duality and nonduality”. even going beyond that mentioned by Loy. Overall. A good account of these features has been put this way: The following types of nonduality are discussed here: the negation of dualistic thinking. impure.. reversing the process. In this orientation. but certain texts of Taoism. According to the point of view of “Conventional Monism. the nonplurality of the world.” “Secondary Non-Dualism. (Loy. in the process. the individual traverses an immense hierarchy of existence until they finally ascend to the pinnacle of salvation. by eliminating this separation. Reality is a material unity of natural laws and processes. and so on. their very Being. Recently. especially as it culminates in the third stage of life and the development of the rational mind. the period in which this faculty of mind first most fully emerged in the West was dubbed the “Age of Enlightenment” (Tarnas. Consequently.e. Tao.” “Primary Dualism. or else actualizing the self.” These orientations to reality summarize all of the possible perspectives of the various traditions of psychology. the denial that subject and object are truly distinguishable…which is…the root delusion that needs to be overcome. and the non-difference of subject and object…although there [are] two other nondualities which are also closely related: first. The Divine Reality of ultimate nondualism is not realized by virtue of the self more accurately approximating the Self. Negating dualistic thinking leads to experiencing the world as a unity. 1991). “Conventional Dualism” interjects an awareness and appreciation of spiritual reality into that which is merely physical. variously called Brahman..… This leads to the third sense of nonduality. although the passage by Loy suggests that different “types” of nondualism are possible. 178) In other words. It motivates the individual to struggle and search for fulfillment in the context of the first three stages of life. These orientations can be described according to several features typically attributed to nondualism. dualistic thinking separates the nonseparate unity of reality into component parts or categories (i.” “Conventional Dualism. there actually are different kinds of nondualism. The critique of thinking that employs dualistic categories (being vs. nonbeing. which is God-realization (Griffiths. Nondual reality has been expressed in numerous texts from various spiritual traditions. behavior. Typically. Consequently. In other words. Each half is related to and even interrelated with the other—but each half is also paradoxically conceived to be utterly different than or inherently separate from the other. the defining principle could perhaps be put like this: “What you see is what you get”—or else perhaps this: “When you’re dead. it represents the least of what could be called “lesser” enlightenments. etc. including not only Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta. second. 1998. Rather.” the world or domain of nature is all that exists. Divine Reality is realized by eliminating the S/self—and.) usually expands to encompass all conceptual thinking. pp. the obligation is for the psyche (or even all of existence) to submit and eventually ascend to “God” (i. this depiction is a startling misnomer. which. the subtle and essentially spiritual domains of human development. includes God. as a collection of discrete objects (including me) interacting causally in space and time. the “goal” of each lesser (or dependent) half is to submit (and eventually ascend) to the greater (or higher) half.
and all objects or others. the point of view and Process of “Primary Dualism”) is the third (and final. However. secondarily. the point of view of “Ultimate Non-Dualism” is actually somewhat more complex than this. for it seeks to accomplish incompatible purposes: to be released from both the illusory need to eternalize the conditional self and the equally illusory need to annihilate the conditional self. This orientation is superseded by the ultimately nondual position. nothing is ever threatened or at risk for the sixth stage sage. The spiritual practice associated with this point of view indicates that Prakriti appears only as an ephemeral and observable sequence of changes until. 1977. acting as a bridge between them. starting with the point of view of “Primary Dualism”— for example. If “things” do arise. whether as an eternal and nonconditional. no separate and independent “objective energy” (i. this point of view and Process (of “Ultimate Non-Dualism. no inherently independent or separate Purusha exists. Yet. or any separate and independent body. but it can also lead to or culminate in the seventh stage of life. appears as the body. the tables are turned for the preceding position. Consequently. Verma. Rather. In such a case. 1999b). Self-Existing and SelfRadiant Consciousness Itself ). but with even less directness. 147) The essential realization is that only Consciousness exists. 1987). so that the individual might participate exclusively as Purusha. According to the point of view of this position. or with less directness. conditionally appearing as a beginningless and endless continuum of causes and effects (Satorakashananda. the first form of a truly nondual position appears. not in the arising. Consciousness is happy to participate in them—why not? It is a play of life. indicating its immediate and direct association with the Divine Condition Itself. This position of nondualism not only originates in the sixth stage of life. the inherent and original (or nirvanic) state of Prakriti is realized. Avatar Adi Da also refers to seventh stage “Ultimate Non-Dualism” as “Radical” Non-Dualism. 1993).. insight. So to speak. Rather. which. Prakriti) exists. or be “Uncovered” by. Avatar Adi Da describes this orientation to nondualism as follows: Most ultimately. and infinitely amusing.. for in this existence is a direct realization of Divine Love. the totality of existence is only the One and Absolute Purusha (i. usually by willful ascetic disciplines. et al. exclusive attachment to Consciousness Itself is released and all of existence is seen as the manifestation of this One Reality. Only the existence of Consciousness matters. Prakriti is traditionally understood to be objective energy. and. a difficulty exists with this point of view. Volume 24 . and self-pacification. by the process of observation. mind. mind.” or “Primary The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. Following upon this stage. Everything else pales in comparison. or object at all. In other words. the point of view and Process of “Secondary Non-Dualism. the totality of existence is only Prakriti.to a new Age of Enlightenment. and Principal) possible point of view and Process traditionally (and inherently) associated with the sixth stage of life (and such great sixth stage schools as have appeared in the form of the traditions of Advaitism.3 Following upon this stage. when modified. within some of the schools of Taoism). and also. The spiritual practice associated with this orientation involves Its Very 4 Presence being understood and directly intuited to be actual (or really so)—and then perfectly or utterly affirmed by direct identification with Consciousness Itself. This position ushers in the sixth stage of life.e. The Love-Bliss characterizing this state exists in the Awareness. within the schools of some varieties of Buddhism. 1995. or be “Uncovered” by. individual Self or. p. as some traditions would have it. Purusha is traditionally understood to be nonconditional and inherently perfect Being and Consciousness. In “Ultimate Non-Dualism” (or “Primary Absolute Monism”). 2005. The spiritual practice associated with this point of view requires the individual to separate from Prakriti. the highest transcendental position begins to emerge. the causal and ultimate spiritual domain of human development. especially within the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions. This orientation begins the process that takes place within the sixth stage of life. whether “things” arise or not. They can afford to be humorous and amused by all that arises—none of it means anything. but has only actually succeeded in emulating one or another of the “lesser” enlightenments (see Wilber. In “Secondary NonDualism” (or “Secondary Absolute Monism”). “Ultimate Non-Dualism” can be thought of as straddling the sixth and seventh stages.. (2000b.” and which may even immediately follow upon. Avatar Adi Da speaks of this orientation to nondualism as follows: This point of view and Process (which may follow upon. Jainism and Samkhaya Yoga (Larson. an absolute Being or Consciousness Itself.e. the totality of existence is a combination of only two primary realities: Purusha and Prakriti..
whether in the spiritual traditions or transpersonal psychology...” Love-Blissful Radiance of Consciousness now Outshines all phenomena. Tripura Rahasya). is twofold: 1. The difficulty for most accounts of nondualism. sixth stage “Ultimate Non-Dualism”). to Complete the Great Tradition of mankind. and NonSeparate (or Inherently All-Inclusive. holarchy) involving several levels of being. and world are no longer noticed— but not because the Divine Consciousness has withdrawn or dissociated from manifest phenomena (i. it is only by Means of My own Avataric Divine Work and Avataric Divine Word that the truly seventh stage Revelation and Demonstration has Appeared. 707-708). and Most Perfectly Divine) “Point of View”.… [N]one of the traditional texts communicate the full developmental and Yogic details of the progressive seventh stage Demonstration (of Divine Transfiguration. or Perfectly Non-Exclusive) Real God. They suggest that God is the goal of development. pp.e.g. (Ibid. Most Perfectly Realized) the “Point of View” (and the Most Perfect Process) that (by all the Graceful Means I have Revealed and Given for the sake of all who will be My devotees) establishes and characterizes the seventh stage of life. they can be distinguished from the revelation of Avatar Adi Da in three significant respects:4 1. by Means Of My Avatarically Self-Transmitted Divine Grace. or directly express) the truly Most Ultimate (or Transcendental. sliding down the ladder— can be traced through a hierarchy (i. all conditionally manifested events and objects are spontaneously and inherently recognized to be illusory or merely apparent modifications of the Divine Fullness of Being Itself. Divine Transformation. body. Therefore. Lankavatara Sutra. Wilber’s spectrum theory offers an account of precisely these misrepresented mechanics. Inherently Spiritual. mind. Avatar Adi Da explains the difference between His unique revelation of the seventh stage of life and the seventh stage intuitions of these premonitory texts as follows: The traditional premonitorily “seventh stage” texts are advanced sixth stage literatures that express a few philosophical conceptions (or yet limited and incomplete intuitions) that sympathetically resemble the characteristic seventh stage Disposition (in and of itself ).” In this state. Absolute. and 2. as a modification of Itself ) has become so intense that the “Bright. Love-Bliss-Energy Itself )…indicating (in each case) the One. because (from the thoroughly NonDualistic “Point of View” that necessarily characterizes the seventh stage of life) the “Ultimate Absolute” Is both Self-Existing (As Absolute Being Itself and Absolute Consciousness Itself ) and Self-Radiant (As Absolute. or Reality. and (thus) somehow foreshadow (rather than directly reflect. The seventh stage of life is the Divinely Self-Radiant process by which all of conditional existence is “outshined” (see Adidam. 148) Avatar Adi Da frequently refers to this condition as “Open Eyes. They misrepresent the actual mechanics whereby God manifests into human beings. Whereas involution Nondualism and the Divine Domain 5 . No historical text mentions all aspects of the seventh stage realization.. Certain aspects of the seventh stage realization appear in no historical texts at all. all phenomena become immediately and directly recognized as nothing other than the Divine Condition Itself..Absolute Monism”) is (if it is. the Ecstatic Recognition of all arising phenomena (by the Divine Self. Even the texts mentioned previously (among only a handful of others) represent primarily the sixth stage point of view of “Ultimate Non-Dualism”—with only certain passages within them suggestive of the more profound and all-pervasive Realization of “Radical” Non-Dualism. p.e. Rather. (in press) The Illusion of Relatedness The absence of the seventh stage point of view has significant implications for any understanding of nondualism. Therefore. 1991. and 3. And. 2. Although this kind of language might sound similar to revelations made throughout the spiritual traditions (e. and Perfectly Subjective. Avadhoota Gita. the development of evolution. Nor do they ever indicate (nor has any traditional Realizer ever Demonstrated) the Most Ultimate (or Final) Demonstration of the seventh stage of life (Which End-Sign Is Divine Translation). In other words. In his spectrum theory. No historical text mentions only the realization of the seventh stage of life. climbing up the ladder of ascent—itself resulting from a prior. and Divine Indifference). or Truth. vertical deployment of involution.
Whereas God is Reality. they do not truly indicate the mechanics whereby God manifests into human beings. and tends to persist. inherent feeling of Love-Bliss when it relaxes this contracted state. All that appears to be not-Consciousness (or an object of Consciousness) is an apparition produced by apparent modification (or spontaneous contraction and perturbation) of the inherent Radiance (or Native Love-Bliss) of Consciousness Itself. p. they tend to persist (or to demand repetition)—and Consciousness may. moving from matter to living bodies to symbolic minds to luminous souls to pure Spirit itself.indicates preexisting states of deeper consciousness. the mechanics of human manifestation actually occur as follows: There is only God. which condenses into body. It will regard Itself to be other than. once objects (or conditions) arise. the other is merely arising in (and as) God. which condenses into mind. In other words. all of the higher dimensions are enfolded. simultaneously pulled both toward and away. Consequently. this paradox exists only on the samsara side of the equation. (Wilber. 2001a. The entire range of the human individual’s various levels of being are nothing but a diminution of the fundamental Reality that is God. This tension of separation goes both ways. Whereas the one Is God. It will falsely presume that It is no longer Itself but. the Self can only feel its own.e. say. respectively—the latter tussling with the former in a struggle over the sovereignty of its assumed identity. then the reverse process—or evolution—can occur. The two aspects of the paradox originally defined as God and Self are simultaneously delineated further into that of Self and Other. pp. Realizing God involves one in a different dynamic than that of involution and evolution entirely. continues to merely exist in a Blissful state of Awareness of all that is arising. This diminution takes The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. engaged in an intense paradox of God and Self. 10) However. However. evolution initiates states of higher consciousness coming into being. Yet.. the duality of this simultaneous paradox (God/Self and Self/Other) further extends itself through all the levels of being (i. with Spirit transcending and including absolutely everything. And once the material world blows into existence (with. laboring against Itself and what is Its own True and Real state. Volume 24 . At the end of that process of involution. or separate from. therefore. Consequently. The process of “Radical” Non-Dual Enlightenment is far from easy. The two exist as a duality—within nondualism. there is still only prior Reality (which the Self continues to actually Be). Yet. as potential. or else to be repeated.… All of this arising is (in itself—or separately) an illusion—the principal signs of which are the presumption of relatedness (and of “difference”). 1999a. tend to dwell on them with fascination. The causal Self comes into being as an utterly spontaneous contraction occurring in the pure state of 6 Consciousness that Is God. In so doing. instead. nonetheless. each evolutionary unfolding transcends but includes its predecessor(s). simply existing as this very activity of painful self-contraction. Indeed. therefore. therefore.… However. but each is a reduced or “stepped down” version of Spirit. mind is illusion. the latter compensating the former for its comprised identity. two aspects of reality come to exist. Therefore. the densest form of all.… Each level is a whole that is also part of a larger whole (each level or structure is a whole/part or holon). for embarking upon this process immediately embroils one in a perplexing paradox: nirvana and samsara are the same. across the non-existent gulf of this (apparent) separateness. If Consciousness identifies with this selfcontraction. releasing the Illusion of Relatedness into what is its own. this dynamic tension surrounds a further process arising within its midst. Itself. 346-347) Consequently. it’s not real. not that which is God. without cause or reason. an illusion of Itself. the paradox can be resolved in this way: There is only God—even if spread upon the illusory levels of mind (or samsara). Although it is true that the illusion exists. although involution and evolution are intrinsic processes of human life. related to Itself. involution). 2005. the presumption of a separate self… (Adi Da. in the lowest material realm. which condenses into matter. like a rubber band stretched taut. Each of those levels is still a level of Spirit. It will also tend to resolve the discomfort of this separate state of being through attention and falsely presume that It is. It’s an imitation (and. It arises spontaneously. According to the perennial philosophy—or the common core of the world’s great wisdom traditions—Spirit manifests a universe by “throwing itself out” or “emptying itself ” to create soul. That very defining feature is precisely how they can both be— and not be—one and the same. true state of Consciousness—as God. From here. the Big Bang). meanwhile. an imposter) of what Is Real: God.
which is. lateral) process. Contrary to the biblical account. while the other. prior to its formation. Indeed. This “sequence” of simultaneous paradox ultimately traces out the agony of humanity’s suffering. Therefore. However. with the worm in its seed. but every wave or motion folds in one another on the Deep. this is ultimately just an illusion. certainly. the Fall could be understood very differently—as the Illusion of Relatedness. which is continually lived out in the suffering of every life. Each is writhing upon the pillars of its own end of the dichotomy. in turning away. it is a matter of not Falling in the first place—which requires no additional effort or process to reverse it—precisely because one has not Fallen. However. lived out in its various levels and diminutions. However. even as the causal Self emerges into awareness. It could all be understood differently. God can be understood only on the other side of the paradox. we involve.e. Wilber speaks of the “Fall” this way: “Thus. such that the complex presumption of separate “I” and separate “other” (or of the feeling of relatedness itself ) is transcended (and is not superimposed on what otherwise arises. this fundamental separation is still present. that is to say. now Falls through the involuted levels of being. as we separate or alienate ourselves from Ground and Source. precisely because it derives its meaning as an alternative to unconsciousness. which is not other than the illusions of S/self that comprise it. such that the individual plummets through the levels of being on their way to birth—as if Falling from the sky of heaven en route to an impact with the Earth. or on what is otherwise perceived conditionally)—then what arises? This Unique and Original Freedom may be likened to the perception of waves from the point of view of the ocean (as compared to the perception of waves from the point of view of any single wave). In other words. it is an activity that every individual is presently doing. (Ibid. this process could be thought of as a “vertical” Fall. one within the other.place within mind. imploded inward upon itself.. whereas God is full and effulgent—indeed. For moment to moment. radiating Ecstatically to Infinity. If the separate “I” and its separate “other” are Most Perfectly Relinquished (or Most Perfectly transcended). However. Involution arises as a consequence of the Illusion of Relatedness. In this sense. even in facing itself. Indeed. the S/self is an alternative to God. Only in this sense does the idea of growing and evolving so as to reverse the Fall makes any sense. Even now. The usual definition of consciousness (as opposed to unconsciousness) does not mean Consciousness Itself—indeed. precisely because they attempt to resolve the paradox from the side that is the ego-“I”—but not that which is God. like the hard and brusque case of a nut. In other words. The two are self-contained. the Fall that is involution actually falls through the Fall that is the Illusion of Relatedness—which precedes it and pervades it all along its descending path. There is a price to be paid for this error. the two operate upon very different principles. they try to make sense of the paradox from within the parameters of the paradox. The causal Self Falls away from God and then.5 This confusion probably manifests itself most commonly in a concept typically attributed to JudeoChristian religion: the Fall of Man. we move away from Spirit. the Fall could be thought of as a “horizontal” (i. Consciousness is usually thought of as a state of awareness. turns against itself. this passage suggests that the “Fall” operates according to dynamics similar to gravity. reversing the Fall that is the Illusion of Relatedness occurs irrespective of growth and evolution. 125).. we descend. and thus we must return to Source and Self—we must grow and evolve to reverse the Fall” (1990. having thus Fallen in this sense. 344-345) Most accounts of spirituality and nondualism are problematic. Consequently. However. in this moment. The two unfold in their turn. p. like the JudeoChristian account. taking place at every level of being equally. the ego-“I” consists essentially of lack and is empty.… Such is the Disposition of the only-by-me Revealed and Given seventh stage of life. Further. tracing out its trajectory based on this more fundamental gesture within God and Reality— and does so at every level of its descent. pp. “Radical” Non-Dualism Much of the confusion surrounding nondualism can be cleared up by considering an ambiguity in the principal term of the discussion: consciousness. involution is not something that merely or even especially occurred prior to birth or in some distant cosmological past. Instead. for the activity of contraction in the midst of the Living Love-Bliss that is God is painful— resulting in nothing but the loss of the Love and Happiness of True Being.… There are no separate waters in the seas. Involution is actually said to be occurring right now. like steps ever diminishing—one turning away. the ability to “notice” things. Consciousness Nondualism and the Divine Domain 7 . a futile effort. Clearly. Put somewhat differently.
This will: 1) strip us of an exclusive identification with any of those states (such as the body. timeless Spirit. the “Radical” Non-Dual state of Enlightenment actually represents the transcendence of each level of being—whether waking. and anything that is not present in deep dreamless sleep is not ultimate reality. because basically there is nothing—literally nothing— in the deep dreamless state. 1995).… Thus. which is a version of what Avatar Adi Da calls the sixth stage error. pp. Shankara. “Consciousness as Such”) with one or another of the various modes of possible awareness: waking. We have seen that the wisdom traditions subscribe to the notion that reality manifests in levels or dimensions. and follow it through all changes of state—waking. which is associated with Divine Being and the seventh stage of life. sleeping. Spirit is the summit of being. dreamless sleep arises—and is ultimately Awakened and Resolved—in the Ultimate Source of Being that is Consciousness Itself. for he also makes the fundamental error associated with the sixth stage of life: regarding the sixth stage to be the culminating denouement of existence. one takes the position of the “witness. we will have to plug ourselves into this current of constant consciousness. dreaming. or the soul). 1979). When all unconscious (not to say. in so doing. the mind. Wilber only reduces the seventh stage to the sixth stage. or sleeping. Wilber put it this way: [This] brings us to the most notorious paradox in the perennial philosophy. such a position represents the point of view of the sixth stage of life (e. this passage is an excellent example of what could be called the “lesser” enlightenment associated with sixth stage “Ultimate NonDualism”. However. Volume 24 . the highest rung on the 8 The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies.e.Itself is not aware of things.… Ultimate reality (or Spirit). then there is only Consciousness Itself. But. Spiritual. or sleeping.6 Even deep. Wilber conceives of this state of consciousness as follows: I became extremely serious about meditation practice when I read the following line from the illustrious Sri Ramana Maharshi: “That which is not present in deep dreamless sleep is not real”. subconscious and self-conscious) aspects of S/self are made conscious. Perhaps one way to clarify this distinction is by comparing it to the principal therapeutic imperative of psychoanalysis: making the unconscious conscious (Pulver. namely Consciousness as Such. 2005. In this sense. the result is to confuse them both. Wilber has both manifest and unmanifest existence refer to the same level of being. by any other name. attention itself. To be aware of something is to attend to it—and is. The epistemological position of simple awareness is typically referred to in the spiritual traditions as “witness” consciousness. Here. or Most Perfectly Resolved In Its Perfect Source…The Most Ultimate and Inherently Most Perfect Awakening Of Perfectly Subjective Transcendental. it does not indicate “Radical” Non-Dual consciousness. over against which that consciousness can be said to be aware. and Divine Consciousness Itself ) (Adi Da. the ego. Rather. it is not “Radical” Non-Dual Being. However.. identified with the very consciousness that is observing all that arises. dreaming. therefore. 2000b. the individual no longer perceives and understands experience from the point of view of the lower self or even the subtle Self. This is the beginning of the ultimate stages of life. Ramana said…must also be fully present in deep dreamless sleep. It simply is Awareness. However. 223). Conventional notions of consciousness associate it with an object. the individual participates in experience as the causal Self. Although this latter comment might sound like “Radical” Non-Dualism. a curious quality is associated with it.g. In that state. (2000b.. Wilber also suggests that an even more profound dimension of being exists beyond this: the nondual reality out of which all manifest existence arises. nonetheless. p. the essence of the Illusion of Relatedness. 64-65) This passage is notable for it presents an excellent example of the “witness” consciousness associated with the causal Self and the sixth stage of life. But Consciousness Itself is more primal than that. more is at stake in Wilber’s point of view than this. if we want to realize our supreme identity with Spirit. dreaming. with each higher dimension being more inclusive and therefore “closer” to the absolute totality of Godhead or Spirit. Yet.… That is a shocking statement. However. In other words. The confusion Wilber makes is in attributing Consciousness Itself (i. In trying to have it both ways. and 2) allow us to recognize and identify with that which is constant— or timeless—through all of those states. “The Right Side Of The Heart Is The Base Of the state of deep sleep…(And The Right Side Of The Heart…Is Fully Awakened. Although this state represents an extraordinary level of being.” merely observing all that exists—even while they perhaps continue to participate in the events of life.
in nature. for it is precisely the act of setting God up as a goal that inserts seeking into the equation—and eliminates God thereby. this confusion is easy to make and. p. and therefore to seek Spirit is simply to deny Spirit. However. But such is not the case for “Radical” Non-Dualism. The former applies to the causal Self alone (i. no phenomenon whatsoever is closer to Spirit than another. and this is what makes all the difference. the Illusion of Relatedness. Wilber sees his theory as an attempt to align with spiritual presentations made traditionally: “That simple witnessing awareness. Spirit is the suchness. nondualism is typically thought to result whenever the self/other distinction is eliminated. is Buddha-nature itself. the highest-rung aspect. Simply put. a significant problem exists with this: the spiritual traditions are in error. 287). Spirit is prior to this world. 43-44) (emphasis in the original) The sixth stage error is most clearly indicated by this passage and can be seen as comprised of two parts: the term “spirit” is used ambiguously—to indicate both Self and God—and. for all are equally “made of ” Spirit. sixth stage “Ultimate” Non-Dualism). and yet the present alone holds the answer: to seek forever is to miss the point forever. is God itself. the goal of the stages of life is attributed to both Self and God. as well. and the ground of the entire sequence. such is simply not the case. in its entirety. dissolved in the True and “Radically” Non-Dual Enlightenment of Real God. Although the elimination of the self/other distinction has been traditionally associated with the emergence of what might be thought to be “Radical” Non-Dualism. stems from the traditional understanding of nondualism. The “perfect practice” is therefore not to search for enlightenment. The first aspect. suggesting that “you always already are enlightened Spirit. But it is also true that Spirit is the wood out of which the entire ladder and all its rungs are made. the traditions maintain. Real God). but to inquire into the motive for seeking itself. but not other to this world. is the enlightened mind itself. Wilber makes a different sort of error in his comments.e. the truth is this: even though you are always already God. You always already ARE enlightened Spirit. is the immanent nature of Spirit—Spirit is equally and totally present in all manifest things and events.7 Wilber collapses the sixth and seventh stages together. The forms of dualism are not resolved until the entire S/self structure is eliminated. Virtually no precedence for the seventh stage revelation is present in the spiritual traditions. is the transcendental nature of Spirit—it far surpasses any “worldly” or creaturely or finite things. with no partiality. What actually results for having eliminated the self/other distinction is not “Radical” Non-Dualism. you are not always already Enlightened (at least. further. the essence of each and every thing that exists. Thus Spirit is both the highest goal of all development and evolution. You can no more attain Spirit than you can attain your feet or acquire your lungs.ladder of evolution. nothing is gained by being so aligned. (1997. The entire earth (or even universe) could be destroyed. and Spirit would remain. as present fully at the beginning as at the end.. the error is not so much a mistaken notion—for it does accurately represent the casual Self—as an error of omission. the real significance of the sixth stage error is this: confusing the causal Self for Real God. However. which is to say. in terms of “Radical” Nondualism and the Divine Domain 9 . A subtle dualism yet remains: Self and God. failing to accurately represent God. the isness. pp. p.. indeed. apart from a handful of texts that are premonitory in nature. From this angle. Nonetheless. You obviously seek in order to avoid the present. according to the traditions. Only the other is dissolved in the elimination of the self/other distinction—not the causal Self.… Thus. Consequently.e. The second aspect. Further. in heaven and on earth. The very desire to seek enlightenment is in fact nothing but the grasping tendency of the ego itself. getting in touch with Spirit or God…is your own simple witnessing awareness” (Ibid.… [T]hus seeking Spirit is exactly that which prevents realization..” However. Wilber has not applied this same understanding to his own theory. in culture. (1997. by paraphrasing Avatar Adi Da’s own revelation about it: Adi Da…originally taught nothing but “the path of understanding”: not a way to attain enlightenment. but an inquiry into why you want to attain enlightenment in the first place. Yet. 26) Yet. only the latter applies to “Radical” Non-Dual Reality (i. certainly. Wilber has correctly identified the ultimate significance of this difference. That is to say. claiming that nondual reality is essentially comprised of two aspects: goal and ground. is Spirit itself. In another context. the wood aspect. but merely a partial aspect of reality: the Self. and thus the very search for enlightenment prevents it.
(Wilber. it does not exist prior to the Light’s entering the prism. 335) For Wilber. Transcendence. in self-transformation one becomes a new whole. even an integration of the two. Unfortunately. Volume 24 .” attaining Spirit is precisely what is meant by the Great Path of Return he is advocating. But the whole point of transcendence is the release—disengaging one’s affiliation and identification with their particular level of being (that is to say. Consequently. it is accessed only through the spiritual process of worship and devotion—precisely because the Blessing of Bhava is Given as a Gift. the only right asana is utter ‘in-love’ of Me.… In self-adaptation or communion. the very motor of Ascent or development or evolution: the finding of ever-higher self-identity with ever-wider embrace of others. Unfortunately. God is your true state—but the Illusion of Relatedness is also true of you. this context can be accessed at every stage— directly and immediately. including the sixth. unconditional love-feeling of Me. Therefore. conceiving of consciousness as if a “spectrum” only ends up undermining the nondual reality it is intended to advocate. And to do so captivates one in a swoon and rapture of God’s Love-Bliss: “Therefore. This Bhava is available to every individual at any time. the metaphor of a spectrum is really only useful in conceiving of the involuted/evoluted levels of being on this side of the Illusion of Relatedness. Wilber’s concept of transcendence is at odds with this revelation.” on the other side of the prism. The conundrum of Wilber’s spectrum theory could perhaps be put this way: although holons consist The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. and what requires elimination in the process of “Radical” NonDual Enlightenment. in the event that they do.… Eros. Although this witnessing of reality exists prior to the Light’s transmutation into a spectrum. Rather. 42. it must be received as a Gift—and given in return. “Radical” NonDualism has nothing to do with progression of any kind. 1995. exists as the absolute purity of “Brightness. Fundamentally. And the opposite of that was regression or dissolution. without form or function or any referents to dilute it. to everyone. Indeed. In other words. Although Wilber states that you can “no more attain Spirit than you can attain your feet or acquire your lungs. the seventh stage of life is the context of every stage. Ironically. Wilber simply has no account of the Illusion of Relatedness in his theory. as Socrates (Plato) uses the term. is essentially what we have been calling self-transcendence. which has its own new forms of agency (relative autonomy) and communion. as if another level of construction in the overall holarchy. The difference between the seventh stage account of this process and the sixth stage is that the sixth stage sees the prior unity of Light while within the prism. However. his emphasis and orientation all point toward the moving from one level of consciousness to another—rather than the immediate and direct immersion into Consciousness Itself. pp. however. Indeed. the choice is to either ascend—and develop into greater embrace and unity—or else descend—and disintegrate into greater fragmentation and regression. indeed. 10 the asana of ‘Ruchira Avatara Bhava’ (or the love‘Intoxication’ of true devotion to Me) is a devotional. self-adaptation. on the other hand. or association. in this sense. all levels of being). the sixth stage is still captivated by the mechanics of the prism—even as the “Brightness” exists within it. attaching to the next higher level of development. is a matter of releasing one’s hold on life and its developmental trajectory. not just those in the higher stages of life. p. Although Wilber includes a “Unity Consciousness” in his formulations of the ultimate ground of existence. Wilber has the process go a step further. 2001b) frequently speaks of “Radical” Non-Dual Reality as being a state of “Brightness”—which is a state of unfathomably Blissful Light. 2005. Further. is a third option: transcend—into direct and immediate communion with God. more fragmentation (what we called the self-dissolution factor. whether ascension or descension—or. 325). It is by way of the Illusion of Relatedness that this “Brightness” is corrupted and transmuted into a spectrum—as if by a prism. indeed. Self-transcendence (or self-transformation)…is not just a communion. remains even after the fact. the seventh stage is present as much at the beginning as in the culmination of the holarchy. In fact. the forces are building by which it will do so. Although the Light has not yet transmuted into the spectrum. tenet 2d). What he fails to appreciate. nonetheless. it is precisely the fact that you are suffering a “veil of ignorance” that indicates your need to be Enlightened. Avatar Adi Da (1997. one finds oneself to be part of a larger whole. The seventh stage. a move downward to less unity. Yogic gesture in heart-Communion with Me” (Adi Da. before its dreadful mechanics of incarnation even come to exist—and. 2000a. S/self-Transcendence and Real-God-Realization Perhaps the most difficult part of understanding the seventh stage of life is that it does not “follow” the sixth stage.Non-Dualism).
the collapse of the Self/God distinction. (2000b. indeed. that is all the ladder there is. pp. That is to say. and Indestructible. It arises in God. the ladder itself arises within God. therefore. and Perfectly Subjective. Truth. As can be seen.” it is easy to see how the wood and the rung are identical— they are all there is. not any one (or even the collective of all) of the first six stages of life directly (and Most Perfectly) Realizes (or Is the Inherently egoless and Inherently Most Perfect Realization and the Inherently egoless and Inherently Most Perfect Demonstration of ) Reality. the dynamic underlying them is entirely different. For the sake of sorting out the essential difference between these two metaphors. this causal rung is not God. assembled by the very fact that they inhere in one another.e. But on the level of the waves. and Utterly Indivisible. 295) Wilber likens the situation relative to nondualism to that of a ladder (if not. One must release their attachment (i. this is something of a pantheistic (i. or Real God. the entire ocean. this arrangement is exactly that of a ladder. they do not actually comprise God. It is in this manner that it makes sense to speak of an “origin” and a “goal” to existence—for the whole developmental sequence is really nothing more than the causal rung expanding and contracting upon itself. indeed.. and Indivisible. no assembly or arrangement of holons—even ones that integrate into higher levels of the holarchy—will ever result in God. which can be sorted out in the following way: when the highest rung of the ladder (i. and Inherently egoless Case) Is (Self-Evidently. its rungs are not actually comprised of wood—they’re comprised of water. the difficulty for Wilber’s theory is this: seventh stage “Ultimate Non-Dualism” is mistaken for the collapse of the self/other distinction—when seventh stage “Ultimate Non-Dualism” is. 1994)—and for good reason. as they appear to spread out in all directions. out of the original sixth wave. aligned together and arising. To release one’s hold on manifest exisNondualism and the Divine Domain 11 . and Really) Divine. But this is exactly what the ego-“I” loathes to do (Vitz. It is the causal stage that is the origin of each subsequent rung of the ladder. level upon level. In other words. in essence. God and Reality are other than the ladder. Although the language sounds similar.of God. or separate and separative point of view) itself. To suggest that the “ladder” is the origin of “each rung” is misleading—at least in the same sense that God Is the Source and Substance of all existence. addiction) to manifest existence and submit to God. imagine there are only six waves in the ocean. only then to divide into its corresponding rungs. The Illusion of Relatedness yet separates the two. holons are nothing but the effect of the Illusion of Relatedness having taken place.e. in truth. Avatar Adi Da makes use of a different metaphor entirely to speak of “Radical” Non-Dual Reality: the waves of the ocean. 250. The One. Wilber states that the ladder gives a good description of manifest existence because the highest rung of the ladder and. Avatar Adi Da puts it this way: Because each and all of the first six stages of life are based on (and identical to) egoity (or self-contraction. Always Already. Indeed. No real difference or separation between them—at least on the level of the ocean. and True. In fact. “throw itself out” into further levels—each one of which simply a continuation of the causal rung. it seems that there is no end to the difference and separation. Further. imagine that these waves are all somehow connected together. imagine that five of these waves have all emerged.. and Indestructibly Non-Objective SourceCondition and Self-Condition of All and all. Yet. this rung does. and Truth (or Real God) Itself. However. “Secondary Non-Dualism”) view in which the mere aggregate of component parts represents God and Reality—whereas. “stretching” out into ever diminished forms until it finally reaches bottom. indeed. as involution proceeds. I Say Only Reality Itself (Which Is. into an ascending hierarchy.8 The true significance of this arrangement suggests that there is only one way to Realize God or “Radical” Non-Dual Enlightenment: one must leave the ladder. However. However. Still. the very same thing: Spirit. the very wood of which it is made are. However. All the waves of the ocean can be thought of as an immense matrix (or else spectrum). causal Self ) originally emerges. or descended. indeed.e. At this causal point of “origin. to do so involves a concomitant—and Ecstatic— activity: submit to being absorbed back into the ocean.… I Say the only Real God (or Truth Itself ) Is the One and Only and Inherently Non-Dual Reality (Itself )— Which Is the Inherently egoless. Wilber is correct in asserting that there is a ladder of existence—it is just that the ladder is floating in the ocean! And. a river). there is more to existence than merely this ladder. in reality. Each apparently separate entity or being is nothing but a wave—comprised of the same water as every other wave and.. this statement is based on an illusion. That is to say.
tence is to die. Perhaps nowhere is the contrast between the Great Tradition and “Radical” NonDualism more evident than in this passage.… At last. And. It is all around them. Where and As you Are. and Self-Evidently Divine) Self-Recognition Realizes Only SelfExisting and Self-Radiant Love-Bliss where the conditional patterns of merely apparent modification rise and fall in their folds. in place) to directly enter into heartCommunion with Me (the Avataric SelfRevelation of the Reality. nevermind your apparent unpreparedness to do so. It is at this point that you discard the ladder—when you understand that it is unnecessary. all conditions (or all motions. Deep (Inherently egoless. p. yield an entirely different participation in Reality: In the only-by-Me Revealed and Given seventh stage of life.” or total body-mind. the truth is you must discard the ladder right now. this one. And. In other words. Most Perfectly Beyond and Prior to ego-“I. but (by surrendering your “self. including the sixth stage (however subtle its presence at that point). contrary to Wilber’s account. it collapses. And the same is true at every stage of life—indeed. To think that no more ladder exists simply because only one rung is left is an illusion. However. and (in this Manner) to Realize Reality. at the point of one’s “highest climb. Pervasive In the The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies.… Therefore. sixth stage sage—no matter how truly illustrious and profound—is simply perched upon their final plank of wood. the true means to God-Realization is simple: stop doing it! No amount of development will ever ease or replace this obligation. That Is the Only Real God). [T]he “radical” approach to Realization of Reality (or Truth. there is really only one means to God-Realization: you must take the “plunge”! Any other understanding only confuses the issue. thus. more and more “away”). Indeed. mistakenly thinking that God-Realization involves “climbing” out of samsara only ends up obscuring the real process of God-Realization. 45). even that of the causal. so close to the ocean that they are everything except immersed within it. or Truth. The “Brightness” Is Indifferent (Beyond “difference”) In the Deep—There. or patterns. the Play of motions Is Translated In Love-Bliss. The S/self in its entirety must accept and submit to being absorbed into God. final piece of wood keeps them buoyed. so as to position yourself to discard it. to Me—just as it is. the error of the Great Tradition is this: in having climbed the ladder.” which act is the prismatic fault that Breaks the Light. Where Primitive relatedness Is Freely Drowned. therefore. 2005. 276) Put somewhat differently. In a manner of speaking. a painful denial of Ecstasy). on the other hand. When “Bright” SelfRecognition Rests Most Deeply In Its Fathomless Shine. You need only to understand it. or Real God) is not to go gradually “higher and higher” (and. or waves of My Avatarically SelfTransmitted Divine Spirit-Energy) Are (each in its moment) Divinely Self-Recognized On and In and As the Deep (or Self-Existing and SelfRadiant Consciousness Itself. more to the point. the difference between this spiritual realization and the misguided judgment of so many unfortunate souls who have made headlines in recent years requires an understanding of exactly what it is that must die: the ego-“I”—not the human body. “Radical” Non-Dualism and the seventh stage of life. yet. The causal. or envisions It as seeming two. To overcome the Illusion of Relatedness one must come to a dual understanding: 1) realize that the ego-“I” is actually an obstruction to God (and. p. it is exactly (and only) by understanding the hierarchical nature of samsara that we can in fact climb out of it. Wilber speaks of the ladder metaphor in this manner: “But according to the traditions. 2000a. Volume 24 . for even the sixth stage of life has its own sense of ego-“I” to overcome.” or the act of self-contraction. At first. Although Wilber claims you must first climb the ladder. a ladder discarded only after having served its extraordinary purpose” (1997. Truth. Rather. something like a telescope. or of “differentiation. and more). this Realization Shines in the world and Plays “Bright” Demonstrations on the waves. Consequently. (Adi Da. you don’t need to experience the ladder first to discard it (at any or all of its rungs). There is nowhere else to go in scaling the ladder but the top rung. It is the ego-“I” that stands between S/self and God— and it does so at every stage of life. for Enlightenment actually occurs based upon an entirely different dynamic. or Real God In Place (or As That Which Is Always Already The Case. sixth stage sage. each rung simply enfolding within the others until only one is left. and 2) realize that this is something you are doing—even right now.” a surprising development could be said to occur: the ladder is not actually discarded. one 12 only reaches the top rung.
The traditions have. One can Realize God only by eliminating that difference— which is only one’s own doing. Conze. In The Seventeen Companions of the True Dawn Horse (Book Ten). In The Dawn Horse Testament. Psychosynthesis. Hridaya Rosary (Four Thorns of HeartInstruction). its realization is predicated upon the development—rather than the dissolution—of manifest being. (1997). Real God Is the Indivisible Oneness of Unbroken Light. CA: Dawn Horse Press. (1962). like a Sea of Blankets. Middletown. Merely considering the S/self to be God— indeed. (Adi Da. Daniels. E. However. One cannot Realize God by pretending the difference between them does not exist. Middletown. Daniels. Cohen. A. San Rafael. as Real God. Notes.C. CA: Dawn Horse Press. for the causal Self does exist prior to involution (i. HI: EastWest Center Press. In The Seventeen Companions of the True Dawn Horse (Book One). Adi Da (2000a). (2003b). The unique sixth stage foreshadowings of the Only-By-Me revealed and demonstrated and given seventh stage of life. Adi Da (2001b). Nondualism and the Divine Domain 13 .. Middletown. NY: State Univ. & Gila. Adidam (Eds. God-Realization is a matter of being absorbed into that which is truly Unmanifest. In appreciation of Wilber’s spectrum/quadrant theory. R. Adi Da (in press). A. Living enlightenment. MA: Moksha Press. Clearlake. it does not exist prior to the Illusion of Relatedness— nor. Adi Da (2000b). Adi Da (1997). (2003a). (1991). for the difference between them is extremely subtle. This is precisely why Avatar Adi Da is the unique and only means to seventh stage God-Realization—for He Is That Very Reality which is to be Realized. Lincoln.” To see how this reference could be made is understandable. B. 345. nevermind how spontaneous and without reason. Oxford. prior to being “born” as the various levels of being). Middletown. They have not fully Embodied it. The “Apex” Paradox: The role of the ego in psychology and spirituality and its implications for clinical practice (Vol. The seven stages of life. as is the case with Avatar Adi Da. The seven spiritual laws of success. All the Deep Unfolds To Waken In the Once Neglected (Now Un-Covered) Light of SelfIlluminated and Eternal Day. Honolulu. The primal wound. CA: Dawn Horse Press. 2001a. CA: Dawn Horse Press. In The Five Books of the Adidam Revelation (Book Five). pp. of New York Press. Internet: BurtonDaniels. this difference is of ultimate significance. & Wilber. CA: Dawn Horse Press. 346) Conclusion God both is and is not the S/self. D. CA: Dawn Horse Press. Griffiths. Middletown. But it is the latter that makes the difference. (1965). Although the “Unborn” is an utterly profound state of reality. Vedanta and Christian faith.com. CA: Amber-Allen Publishing.e. Middletown. even as it exists at the truly profound level of the causal Self—only trivializes the very real dynamic of separation that exists in its midst. E. at most. Beck.) (1991). Ultimately. (2002). What is Enlightenment? 22. B. Advaita Vedanta. In The Five Books of the Adidam Revelation (Book Four).Water-Stand—and. Lincoln. only intuited the seventh stage of life. The Dawn Horse Testament. (1996). Buddhist thought in India. Clearly. J. London: Allen and Unwin. Spiral dynamics. Chopra. D. (1999). Eleutherios. New York: Viking. References Adi Da (1991). Assagioli. The guru and the pandit: Andrew Cohen and Ken Wilber in dialogue. Middletown. Firman. NE: Writer’s Showcase. The state that Wilber advocates as nondual is really nothing more than the causal Self emerging in the midst of the collapse of the self/other duality. 39-49. C. K. for the S/self is also not God. I: The abundant ego). confusing the sixth and seventh stages is easy to do. Daniels. (1995). In The Basket of Tolerance. Cohen. Yet. NE: Writer’s Showcase. & Cowan.E. CA: Dawn Horse Press. (2002). A. and understanding this fundamental paradox is the only means by which one can understand their true relationship to God. The “Apex” Paradox: The role of the ego in psychology and spirituality and its implications for clinical practice (Vol. Wilber (2000b) refers to this state as the “Unborn. Middletown. II: The aberrant ego). (1966). B. Drifted in the deeper land. B. Deutsche. CA: Dawn Horse Press. Adi Da (2001a). Lenox. Albany. CA: Dawn Horse Press. therefore. UK: Blackwell Publishers.
). 4For a fuller treatment of these aspects of the seventh stage of life.D.).E. D. of Tokyo Press. Sartre. Buddhism. Psychoanalysis: The Major Concepts. ecology. Press.. (1998). Lee. Muzuka. the fifth stage of life conforms to the higher mind of the subtle level. A thousand teachings (M. E. Boston & London: Shambhala. Ed. really need to let go of self and egoic self-esteem altogether. Wilber. New York: Ballantine Books. Encyclopedia of Indian philosophy (Vol. Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra.G. (1957). S. P. b). NY: Humanity Books. as the subtle actually subsumes the mental and etheric within it. Cairns. The passion of the western mind. S. (1990). 2). Ballentine. Instinct and the unconscious. NJ: Princeton Press.).” the states of spiritual attainment emulated here are profound and exhalted levels of being and should not be dismissed or taken lightly. (2003). 2For a fuller account of the S/self. R. 2001a). Press. And the problem is that therapists…want to hold onto the egoic 14 The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. matter. Cartesian meditations (D. at this time science has no correlates for the subtle and causal levels of being (i. K. there is a significant difference between the two schemas. Trans. The transcendence of the ego (F. Man and his symbols. (1995). Potter. As a way of clarifying what Wilber means by his nomenclature.). Cohen and Wilber give this example: “You really. K. In The Collected Works (Vol. (1994). Rama. Yoga and psychotherapy. MO: South Asia Books. Boston & London: Shambhala.e. Boston & London: Shambhala. Princeton. see Daniels (2003a. K. S. for the emotions (i. G. New York: Noonday Press. 30(1). Eerdmans Publishing Co. Nonduality. Wilber. MO: Vedanta Society. St. and lower mental levels. Husserl. C. New York: Broadway Books. New Haven. The marriage of sense and soul. & Ajaya. mind. Object relations theory. Vitz. (1919/1971). Grand Rapids. P.. Boston & London: Shambhala. Amherst.). Satorakashananda (1977). The eye of spirit. Loy. NJ: Princeton Univ. New York: HarperCollins. K. Integral psychology. while the levels of “body” and “matter” are differentiated into the two lowest levels instead. R. there is a significant difference in the two schemas. which is so critical at this stage of evolution.. J. S. (1993).E. body represents chemistry and biology. K. soul and spirit). (1999b). Buddhist phenomenology. 8). International Philosophical Quarterly. 2005. The schema of these levels of being relates to Avatar Adi Da’s revelation of the seven stages of life as follows: the first three stages of life conform to the gross. and gross. body. (1960). subtle. the fourth stage of life is a transitional state between the lower and higher levels. soul. Pulver. He depicts this sequence as consisting of the following levels of being: causal. CA: Dawn Horse Press. Honesdale. (2000a). a somewhat simplistic correlation can be drawn between these levels of being and certain domains of science: matter represents physics and geology. New York: Dell. Columbia. Adi Da: The promised God-Man is here. (1997). Indeed. The Essential Writings (F. Sex. Princeton. Shankara (1979). 30(3). 5These may be easily confused for one another. Two patterns of transcendence: A reply to Washburn. note that even in being “lesser. Volume 24 . (Eds. Verma. K. Williams & R. 2000) as follows: spirit.. (2000b). Footnotes 1This sequence of S/self structure is summarized in Wilber (1995. see Adi Da (2000b. Louis. Boston & London: Shambhala. Trans. the remarkable few capable of attaining these stages of life represent an enormous boon to humanity. represent extraordinary states of awareness. Tokyo: Univ. K. The seventh stage of life subsumes them all as the inherent Substance and SourceCondition of Existence. Larson. (1995). and Beck & Cowan (1996). R. However. really.Hegel. G. (1964).. and the sixth stage of life conforms to the primal Self of the causal level. etheric. (1998). J. The technique of psychoanalysis proper. (1993). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. Fine (Eds. In B.).) (1987). Wilber. mental.T. Avatar Adi Da (2001a) agrees with this five-tier structure overall. Weiss. and the self: Synthesis of Eastern and Western approaches. & Bhattacharya. 113-136. Avatar Adi Da indicates that there are three basic tiers overall. Wilber. especially as it relates to the ego. Introduction. PA : Himalayan Pubs. K. Chopra (1995). nonetheless. and mind represents psychology and sociology. Sengaku. Cohen (2002). G. London: Routledge and Kegan-Paul. Wilber. Indeed. These levels of “lesser” enlightenment are advocated in the recent works of numerous authors— for example. Unfortunately. E. far exceeding those attained by the vast majority of humanity at this time. In The Collected Works of C. Journal of Humanistic Psychology. Kirkpatrick. H. CT: Yale Univ.G. C. Suzuki. MI: William B. Wilber.W. The goal and the way. respectively. One taste. D. (1990). Trans. Structurally. Jung. spirituality. etheric level) are omitted in Wilber’s model. C. 4).G. etheric. Indeed. C. Although they fall short of the most profound level of Enlightenment—“Radical” Non-Dualism and the seventh stage of life—they. Jung (Vol. Tarnas. Psychology as religion (2nd ed. Jung. (1991). Moore & B. 3However. Middletown.e. (1999a). Wilber. 59-74. (1968).
then it would serve the exact same purpose as that of the river—and the situation would remain essentially the same: a ladder (i. Consequently. which only ends up making God into a goal of spiritual practice—rather than an ongoing. Although this more “watery” metaphor may appear to have some similarity to that of the ocean.e. pp. 6According to Avatar Adi Da’s (2000b. 8Note that Wilber has sought to distance himself from the criticism that his theory is linear by employing the imagery of a “river” to replace that of the “ladder”. However. “river”) floating in the ocean.org Nondualism and the Divine Domain 15 . present relationship of worship and devotion. see Adi Da (2000b) and Daniels (2002).” If the rungs of the ladder could be conceived of as being in flux or fluid. For a fuller treatment of these different approaches to spiritual awareness and awakening. precisely because they do not take into account the Illusion of Relatedness. Only in the last half of the twentieth century has technology and affluence allowed for the creation of a true world community. it gradually becomes clear what a daunting foe the ego really is. all-inclusive revelation. Wilber’s use of the river is in no way the same. Rather. This approach to Enlightenment is what Avatar Adi Da calls either Emanationism or Transcendentalism. 7To this point. Wilber has chosen the river to suggest the “flow” of development (that it courses through many eddies and cross currents)—not its “Source” or “Substance. Avatar Adi Da has Incarnated precisely for the fulfillment of this purpose (see Lee. they advocate the evolution of Enlightenment.self-contraction and make it feel good about itself.… [Yet] as one goes deeper and deeper into the process of transformation. and what a poison narcissism is” (2002. 2003). the right side of the heart is the anatomical reference point for both the sixth stage of life and the causal Self—which are ultimately subsumed within the anatomical reference point of the seventh stage of life: amrita nadi.. the conditions have only recently occurred whereby the provincialism of local customs and loyalties could be overcome and the Great Tradition consummated in a single. 2001a) schema of development. all spiritual masters have necessarily worked within the cultural constraints imposed by their particular time and place. although these precepts sound similar to the revelation of Avatar Adi Da. The metaphor of the river is employed to suggest the “flux” and “fluidity” of development—over against that of a rigidly linear course. Correspondence regarding this article should be directed to the author at Daniel_Sleeth@adidam. they are not actually situated in the context of the seventh stage of life. 4546).
which called itself “Transpersonal Psychology” (Sutich. 1976). The impulse to found yet another movement 16 The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. 1979a. Collingwood. Clinical psychology seems to be very much in a preparadigmatic stage. with many different research paradigms in Kuhn’s sense (Kuhn. this suggestion does not seem to depict the whole situation. 1998). Beitman. 1995. & Norcross. 1980. and certainly not within clinical psychology. 1987. Weinberger. the founder of psychosynthesis. 2005. Messer & Woodfolk. While this might be acceptable for some branches of psychology. 1994. Fleck. and radicalized by the Carthusian writer Hugh of Balma. 1955. Here. 1993. as a scientific discipline. or summit of the mind. where even the consensus on what methods to base scientific evidence on is debated (Chambless. 1979b. It is mostly within the context of clinical psychology. During the middle ages it was developed into a psychology of mysticism by Thomas Gallus. the first blinded psychological experiment dating back to Peirce’s and Jastrow’s attempt to find out about the smallest perceptible sense difference in 1883 (Kaptchuk. 1995. but that this progress is achieved by both working within given frameworks of accepted presuppositions and by discussing and debating the very foundations (Kuhn. and if possible scientific. 1995. Oeser. 1997. Glass. Psychology. with inner experience relegated to the private and mystical realm. and most notably through its humanistic psychological expressions. where many rivalling theories exist. & Arnkoff. Wachter & Messer. into transpersonal psychology. 1996). 1985. Shoham. 1977. integration of both types of experience by drawing on the experiential nature of this concept and fostering good research. but also rest on theoretical presuppostions excluding each other. 1989. This notion is explained and linked up with the Western mystical tradition. that insiders and outsiders alike deplore a kind of “preparadigmatic” state of psychology as a whole. Goldfried. that a comparatively unitary canon of methods and accepted standards of problem solving seems to have been accepted by the whole community. Victor. coming from antiquity and specifically from the neo-Platonic tradition. 1969. Bunge & Ardila. Fensterheim & Raw. which not only suggest different modes of action contradictory to those of competing theories. Sanderson. By introducing this concept. Toulmin. is comparatively young with a history of roughly 150 years." It is argued that the split introduced into history between outer and inner experience has lain dormant ever since the 13th century.Higher Self – Spark of the Mind – Summit of the Soul: Early History of an Important Concept of Transpersonal Psychology in the West Harald Walach The Higher Self is a concept introduced by Roberto Assagioli. Volume 24 . It is only in some disciplines within psychology. et al. H istorians and theoreticians of science have repeatedly noted that the progress of a scientific discipline is not simply a cumulative process of increasing knowledge along the lines of accepted methology. 1977) competing for priority. This history is sketched and the meaning of the term illustrated. popularized by Bonaventure. 1998). transpersonal psychology reconnects with this tradition and has to be aware of the legacy: to achieve the theoretical. 1998). Oeser. Castonguay & Goldfried. It is understandable. 1987). One could make a case that a systems theoretical perspective with an associated emergentist type of ontology is the most useful paradigm for psy- chological research nowadays (Bunge. that a new movement arose at the end of the 60s. Seligman. And yet they seem to be effective to some degree independent of their theoretical underpinnings and irrespective of the fact that they are using seemingly opposite interventions (Goldfried. Laudan. therefore. Spark of the soul signifies an "organ of the mystical experience. 1980. a similiar concept has been developed which became known as the spark of the soul. like in experimental or applied psychology.
he quickly developed a psychological concept of his own. 1999). Lukoff. Thalbourne. Sutich. 1973). and also a kind of repository of future developmental possibilities. 1934. This centre. 1911). seems to have been the realization that there were realities and experiences pointing beyond the personal self (Maslow. Therefore. 1992. 1984. 1995. 1988). 1986. While these traditions have lost their importance within sciHigher Self 17 . for an outsider. 1998). Assagioli pointed towards the importance of the human will as a resource for integration and development. Originally one of the early advocates of psychoanalysis in Italy (Assagioli. 1985b. “higher” drives like altruistic impulses or artistic inspiration. however. which both acts as the inner guideline and impulse—as well as a regulating and attracting goal. 1972. inspiration and intuition. 1986. 1971. Schuller. 1969. 1973. motivational and action oriented quasi-independent part of the personality. But most important of all is his concept of Higher Self. In that Assagioli tried to differentiate the Jungian notion of collective unconscious into the part which comprises the impulses towards development and wholeness from that which stands for disintegrative forces (Assagioli. One could even say that the higher unconscious was something like an Aristotelian final cause or entelechy for human development. 1975). 1996.” without clear definitions of these terms (Lukoff. Robinson. our bio-psychological past. Tart. Assagioli usually was very scant with bibliographic details of his sources. 1991. Lu. Lukoff. 1985. This is a notion akin to Jung’s concept of “complex. It is my aim here to show that the notion of Higher Self has a long tradition in the West which can be located mainly within the Platonic. It would be very interesting to study this concept in relation to modern schema-theoretic approaches (Ciompi. 1991. because very likely the concept of a schema would cover what Assagioli meant by subpersonalities. 1985d). 1979. 1978. Barnhouse. drives and impulses. although Assagioli seems to have derived many of his concepts and strategies also from theosophy and. 1991). he called Higher Self. as it were. to use a modern metaphoric language. 1975. 1976. Thalbourne & Delin. His main thrust was to discriminate between what he called lower and higher unconscious and to introduce the concept of the Higher Self (Figure 1). 1984. It is rather a loose connection of many movements and groups whose common denominator probably is the emphasis on and interest in experiences which are termed “spiritual. Thalbourne. 1998. & Turner. 1980. 1994. 1973. 1970. 1969. 1974). The higher unconscious. 1991. the historical awareness that religious and spiritual needs have always been and likely will remain part of human life and therefore should be part and parcel of any scientific endeavour to understand human psychology (Wilber. Armstrong. Stein & Markus. 1985c.1972. 1991. Some emphasize the esoteric and theosophic heritage (Schuller. 1975. 1998). psychosynthesis is one of the “Western” types of transpersonal psychologies. Engler. Psychosynthesis One of the early members of the transpersonal movement and original coeditor of the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology was the Italian psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli (1888-1974). foreshadowed an important modern movement within self-regulation theory (Kuhl. he used the depth-psychological terminology introduced by Freud and developed by Jung and differentiated it. and last but not least the realization that spiritual expriences within the framework of spiritual traditions are both important and possibly irreducible elements of human experience (Goleman. The lower unconscious can roughly be compared to what Freud intended with this notion: past and unconscious experiences. 1976. his psychology looks as if he had invented all the concepts himself. Fadiman & Frager. Thereby.” or “religious. It is wrong. 1998). 1974. and thereby. & Lu. Assagioli underlined that the process of integration and synthesis which human development represents is neither a random nor a simple cumulative process. neo-Platonic and mystical traditions. incidentally. 1974.” meaning an emotional. such as: the experience that individual purpose is always an act of transcending the individual self and relating with a “transpersonal” value (Frankl. from Eastern sources as well (Besmer. 1988.within the already widely disparate field of clinical psychology. therefore. supervised or even fostered by something like a transpersonal attractor. 1985a. Rusting. 1984. Turner. Lundh. Complexes of experiences he called sub-personalities. 1988). usually associated with repeated experiences or social roles. Atwood & Maltin. 1996. Bergin. 1995. Washburn. to suppose that Transpersonal Psychology is a unitary school. Thalbourne & Delin. While many theoreticians and practitioners of transpersonal psychology have heavily relied on impulses from Eastern philosophies and traditions. 1977. but one which seems to be mediated.” “mystical. was a notion to differentiate “higher” impulses from the lower unconscious and to describe them: esthetic values. in contrast. who developed a psychological model of personality and clinical change which he called “psychosynthesis” (Assagioli.
This can. with his teaching that the soul stems from the realm of ideas from where it comes into the body. the active part of the intellect.or trans-natural part of the soul. It will remain a task on its own to be accomplished in a separate paper to follow the history of Assagioli’s sources through modern psychology and from the theosophical tradition. “The Apology of Socrates” (Plato. I want to sketch out this tradition and therebey connect the seemingly unconnected modern practice and terminology with the tradition. Assagioli’s Personality Model. of course. and thus point to its importance and possible explanatory power. which reads: ETHOS ANTHROPO DAIMON. p. I will only point out the more important turns and steps. 1983) explicitly said that the highest part of the soul. Socrates. But one possible and probably sensible reading and translation would be: “home for man is the god(ly)”. bringing a trace of the ideal worlds of immutable ideas and of the Beauty and Good with it into the human being. he pointed to this super. 1976). * Higher Self (organizing principle) higher unconscious field of consciousness collective unconscious Me middle unconscious subpersonalities lower unconscious Figure 1. Even Aristotle. 1967. who because of that in the end is sentenced to death for “introducing new gods. Plato.ence. meaning surrounding.” confirms that he experiences an inner voice that is sometimes warning him against doing things. The journey will lead us from the predecessors of the notion in antiquity to the first formulation of a transpersonal type of psychology by mystical writers of the middle ages to the modern concept. central to his innermost personality there is something godly. Roots in Antiquity The first written trace of the idea that there is 18 some higher. cosmic seed. in his “De anima . 301ff ). We next explicitly meet the idea of some inner God or godlike inner voice in the famous Platonic dialogue. came from “outside-THYRATHEN. Since one other work of Aristotle. 2005. which is The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. who has traced the history of this concept. then. Plato developed a model of the soul in which one part of the soul was striving towards the good.” “the innermost of the house”. The Greek word “ETHOS” signifies “home. Volume 24 . but also in the centre of man. Yoga psychology. who first seemed to have mentioned a concept like “spiritual self ” in the modern scientific tradition. Since this history is extremely complicated and complex.” which literally reads as “from outside through the door. All those direct sources of Assagioli’s will not be the topic of this paper. as most texts by Heraklitos. Heidegger. Endre von Ivanka (1964). which tried to understand and outline the natural workings of the soul. be understood in different ways and needs interpretation. it is now within transpersonal psychology and by the mediation of Assagioli’s psychosynthesis that one of the most interesting concepts of this tradition starts to surface again.on the soul” (Aristoteles. can be understood in the sense: The god(ly) is home to man. which later was merged with Stoic and other ideas. an immortal part within the soul. namely the Stoic teaching of the universal fire as the source of everything and the trace of this fire in everything as a fiery. spiritual nature within man we can see in the fragment B119 (around 500 BC) of Heraklitos (Weber. and Jewish Kabbalist sources. laid the foundation for the later teaching of an immortal soul or rather. but never advises him in the positive to do something. the agent intellect. 1964). holding man. in his famous “letter on humanism” has pointed toward this fragment in this sense (Heidegger. Likely sources will have to include the writings of Blavatsky and Bailey. has pointed out that apart from the Platonic and neo-Platonic traditions of the concept of Spark of the Soul.” “hearth. who otherwise was more inclined towards biology and natural philosophy and tried to eschew some of the pitfalls of Platonic thinking. there also is a Stoic root to it. Rather I wish to draw the attention of readers to the mystical tradition and its likely influence on the modern shape of the concept of Higher Self as expressed by Assagioli and other writers. William James. The fragment.” Although his “de anima” was a work rather of natural philosophy.
A few quotes from Plotinos may illustrate his ideas: For the soul is many things. in mystical contemplation. seek reunion with the One (Beierwaltes. which is more divine than our intellect.. at last. I have seen a beauty wonderfully great and felt assurance that then most of all I belonged to the better part. by contemplation.” which he conceived to be all and everything in one. 1982). in total stillness.but there is a higher part (of the soul) which the transitory pleasures do not please. out of which everything emanates in four stages: first the NOUS.1f ) These quotes illustrate Plotinos’ psychology pretty clearly: He saw the soul as “containing” two parts. a divine life. Plotinos taught. 1974). (Enn IV 8. and set firm in it I have come to that supreme actuality. but with the intelligible world by its powers above. Balthasar. It is the impulse within the soul to return. and we remain with all the rest of our intelligible part above. Saint Paul. The founder of this neo-Platonist movement was Plotinos (204-270 AD) (Plotin. This was possible. The hallmark of his teaching is. was like a mark of the divine. there is an imprint of the divine One in every single soul. 70) Proclos was important insofar as he probably was the teacher of a Syrian monk who was known in later centuries as Pseudo-Dionysios (Ps. turn round to the One again and. p.. which to him seemed like a hindrance. of course. From the intellect emanates the world soul which gives life to everything. the intellect. 1965). he says: For in us also there is inherent a certain occult vestige of the One. Therefore he was ashamed of his body. which was experienced by the individual as a desire to reunite with the One. the “active intellect” comes from outside. But it is a well accepted fact meanwhile that the followers of Aristotle and those who still had access to the rest of his works. in modern terminology. The higher part.. Plotinos called the principal source of everything “the One. which is printed in the first volume of the Loeb edition of Plotinos’ works). both the things above and the things below down to the limits of all life. emanates the material world. is lost. which is pure intelligibility and reservoir of the world of ideas in the Platonic sense. of course. a consequent idealist ontology which starts from the insight or experience that pure consciousness is primary. and its life is comfortable (Enn IV 8.. a trace of the One. I have actually lived the best life and come to identity with the divine. (1953. a trace of the One which is at the same time mark of and spurn to the One. beyond every limitation. this divine part of the soul reunites with the One. This was one of the main sources of the contemplative traditions in the West.. as well as his Islamic interpreters. and in which the soul. as far as is possible for this to be accomplished by her. This model. and is.23) Often I have woken up out of the body to my self and have entered into myself. but by its ultimate fringe we are tied to the world below. is said to have preached to the Athenians and to have converted one Dionysios. Using this alias name. by receding the faculties and powers of the soul from the outside world and turning inwards until. who revived the Academy and its teaching after nearly 500 years. (Enn III. one of Plotinos’ followers and the systematizer of Plotinos’ ideas (Beierwaltes.-Dionysios). Plotinos. incidentally. And from this.thought to have contained the more esoteric aspect of his psychology. This. we can only speculate what he really meant by the saying. 1977). is akin to Eastern cosmologies. In his “Ten doubts on providence” (Proklos. very much akin to Eastern practices of meditation like Yoga or Zen. and we are each one of us an intelligible universe. However. The next step was made within the neo-Platonic tradition of those Platonists. and lives. 8. 1966). as it were. perfecting and establishing herself. which is attributed to Christianity. is the source for much of later aversions against the body. 4. 1963).. the Areopagite. . had quite a few experiences like that which left in him the desire to be totally gone from this world and reunited. interpreted him in the sense that this active part of the intellect was a spiritual and immortal part of the soul (Merlan. in the Acts of the Apostles. becomes divine. so his biographer Porphyrios tells us and as Plotinos testified himself. and all things. but seems to derive from the neo-Platonist tradition. going out from all other things. Plotinos himself is said to have had contacts with Eastern sages while traveling in Egypt (see the Biography of Plotinos by his disciple and follower Porphyrios. 8.21 ff ). and very likely was inspired by contacts between the Greek culture and the East (O’Meara. 3. he thought. a philosopher from the Areopague. The idea of a special part of the soul was finally introduced by Proclos. this anonymous monk of the 5th century could secure himself highest Higher Self 19 . making contact with this lowerworld by the powers of the soul below. 1953. & Haas. a higher and lower part.
seems to have melted together with the Stoic teaching of the “seeds of the eternal fire” to form what became known as “scintilla synderesis. It was Thomas Gallus or Thomas of St. even by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century. quoted Ps. the “Liber de spiritu et anima . or later on Adam de la Hale. 1957. mentions the fact that in the contemplative-mystical experience the soul is taken out of its normal state.Victor. Alcher of Clairvaux. the “synderesis. The teachings of Ps.” a place free of sin even in the sinner.-Dionysius takes up the teachings of Proclos and also speaks of a higher part of the soul.The book of the spirit and the soul. 1949. like Phillip the Chancelor. For the philosophers of the middle ages it primarily was a moral concept. since there was a place within him which remained untouched by all the evil he brought on himself by his sins (Lottin. Synderesis is a complicated term. This was the place where God spoke through the true voice of consciousness. 1948). or God as he is conceived in the Judaic-Christian tradition is identified with the neo-Platonic One. Development During the Middle Ages Somewhere along the line during the Dark Ages this neo-Platonic idea of a special part of the soul as the trace of the One. The main psychological text of the middle ages. must be to seek reunion with God. the human soul. which is the faculty of union of man with God.-Dionysius Areopagita. have been highly influential in the middle ages. In this moral sense this term seems to have been used for quite a long time. but was known in the middle ages as a text of St. In this teaching the neo-Platonic One is identified as God. 1996. but without naming this power (Pseudo-Augustinus & Alcher von Clairveaux. and it is still unclear. and thus granting freedom of conversion at any time. or the image of God in Christian terminology.-Dionysios more often than Saint Augustine. “in ignorance. used the term “synderesis” to signify the fact that even the worst of sinners always had a door open towards the good. endowed with Apostolic authority. 2005. neo-Platonism baptized.” the spark of the synderesis. Scheme of Thomas Gallus’ psychology.” which is attributed to the Cistercian author. which was untouched and untouchable by human sin. Philosophers of the 12th century. Augustine’s. as it were.authority since his writings were long thought to have been inspired by the Apostle himself. that he always could convert himself and turn to God. Cap. XXIV. But in parallel to this moral usage another one turned up out of the slumber of the dark ages in the mystical tradition. It signalled a part of Figure 2.veritas aliena cognoscere 20 experitur affectus unicionem ad Deum nec potest comprehendre intellectus imperia liberi arbitrii motus voluntarii appetitus divinorum ratio vires naturales naturales apprehensiones affectus . Thus. who reintroduced the concept of the “scintilla synderesis” as a mystical notion. p.1247) is mentioned as a canon of St. 1987). Volume 24 . Ps. 1942. Saint Thomas Aquinas. also known as Thomas of Vercelli or Commentator Vercellensis. and that there is an “occult power” within the soul. this neo-Platonic tradition made its way into the Christian middle ages.Victor in Paris and university teacher in consummatio intellectus apex mentis synderesis supra naturam et industriam robur mentis industria vera an falsa natura intellectus .” beyond rational thinking and knowing. what it really meant and what its true ethymology is. his absolute otherness and difference and the impossibility to know him. Thomas Gallus (1219 . of course.bonitas sua propria cognoscere The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. And man’s endeavour.” was centred around the immense greatness of God. The main theme of his book “Mystical Theology.-Dionysios the Areopagite (Ps. for example. 797).
and affect (affectus).” This is the “organ” of the contemplative. a copy is obtainable by interlibrary loan from the university library in Mainz. or at other places “scintilla synderesis . with the moral concept of consciousness. mainly consisted in reading. compartments 4-6. He was well regarded by posteriority and widely read. and in it the highest faculties of the human soul are perfected (consummatio intellectus).-Dionysios’ teaching of the celestial hierarchies. denoted as the rational faculty (ratio). gains experiential. This scintilla synderesis belongs solely to the affect. compartments 1-3 as it were. which made him important for posteriority: He translated the meaning of the Greek terms which were close to the pagan. is lost. the affect already comes out of its natural slumber. Germany) of Ps. at a higher level with the intellectually and morally good. suo propria cognoscere)— at a lower level with the subjective and sensual goodness. 14). the Seraphim. it is beyond human nature and active effort (supra naturam et industriam).thought the highest cognitive power was found in the intellect. at a higher level with propositional and intellectual truth. There are two major faculties: intellect (intellectus). is called the “apex mentis . which is the spark of the synderesis and which alone can be united to the Holy Spirit. There we find the natural. only the very highest. They work naturally. and experiences a desire for the divine (appetitus divinorum). But he wrote a summary himself in one of his commentaries which has survived and has been edited (Thomas Gallus. into the Western. and thereby is concerned with the highest good of the soul.principal affection. this free will would have been a part of the synderesis. sensual apprehensions (naturales apprehensiones). and is able to unite with God him/herself. This power is the principal affectio. The main part of this psychology. and the simple discernment of basic truths and falsity (vera an falsa). While the intellect is concerned with the outside world and truth (veritas. commenting and interpreting the works of Ps. Of this upper triad of the soul. Here in Thomas Gallus. and is the central power of the mind (robur mentis). The highest part of the affect here are the commands of the free will (imperia liberi arbitrii). Pagan philosophers. These are the compartments 7-9 so to speak.-Dionysius the Areopagite (Thomas Gallus.1219.. when there is another power that exceeds the intellect no less than the intellect exceeds reason and the reason exceeds imagination. Dionysius) hands down. to form an explicit psychological notion of the “scintilla synderesis. Augustian terminology and made this strain of contemplative tradition more accessible to the West.summit of the mind”. mystical knowledge of God.the commentator from Vercelli. The first level of the soul. and by doing this. which is beyond any operation of the mind. In that summary he aligns the inner structure of the soul with Ps. His work. Thomas Gallus was not a minor writer.. the affect is concerned with goodness and the soul’s own states (bonitas. whose sole purpose and aim is the unification with God. At some stage he was transferred to the abbey of Vercelli in Piemont. 1990). And he developed a psychology which could incorporate these teachings.spark of the synderesis”. Note that in former psychologies some 50 or 100 years earlier.” spark of the soul or principal affection. is extremely rare. apart from his monastic and ecclesiastic duties. unitive experience of ecstatic oneness of the soul with God. In his commentary on the “Mystic Theology” (which. whence his title of honour “commentator Vercellensis .-Dionysios the Areopagite. a faculty or organ for the mystical experience. aliena cognoscere)—at the lower level with sensory truth. he achieved two things. with God alone.e. which is the highest part of the soul. as it were. subconsciously in modern parlance (natura). By doing this. where he lived and studied (Barbet. This second level. Thus it is understandHigher Self 21 . which he outlined in his commentary on Isiah. and posits 3*3 faculties of the soul. This is the first explicit mentioning of a specific faculty of the soul. consist of the natural faculties of the soul (vires naturales). he says: In this book he (i.. But at the border toward the next level. One could also interpret this as the conscious level of our human rational faculties.. p. Here the “spark of the soul” has made its entry into the teaching of the West. the neo-Platonic teaching of a trace of the One has combined with various strands of Christian teaching. according to the 3*3 hierarchies of angels. In this specific place in the soul a human being is divine. which corresponds to the highest hierarchy of angels.” The middle ages only tributed such nicknames and titles of honour to wellknown and important writers. 1936). With Thomas Gallus. This is activated by grace only. we find a whole compartment above the rational powers of the soul which he calls synderesis. the synderesis. as it were. a more profound way of knowing God. is activated by the will and by effort of energy (industria). 1934.. or “principalis affectio . neo-Platonic tradition. by the way. as it were. It is schematically reconstructed in Figure 2.
He says: These six steps of the ascent to God are according to six hierarchically ordered faculties of the soul. can true knowledge of God. except in old and rare prints until very recently. and only in concentrating all the soul’s powers into the affect. And every faculty of the soul has a certain role to fulfill in this. His influence on Meister Eckhart remains to be traced. and he does not receive it. Walach (1994) has argued that he probably was a Franciscan friar opposing St. and. that the mystical experience takes place: In this step. p. One can make a point that. This ascent is conceived according to his— more Augustinian—psychology. Opinions about the author. as well as a criti22 cal edition of his text (Hugo de Balma. do not concern the main impact of his teaching. 1981). and thereby was seminal for the later contemplative or mystical tradition. 1929). unless he desires it. 59f. Bonaventure in familiarizing the spiritual readership with the concept of a higher part of the soul: the Carthusian author. Walach. which leads to a unification with God in the scintilla synderesis. another author was possibly even more influential than St. 1994). This process. Bonaventure and who had to retreat into the charterhouse for personal safety and ecclesiastical peace. “Viae Sion lugent . and the summit of the soul or the spark of the synderesis (apex mentis seu synderesis scintilla). Saint Bonaventure. are still together. which is concerned with the soul’s own inner states. the intellect. only in radical extinction of thinking. which he also calls apex affectus. the senses. true knowledge of many other things. In his book “Itinerarium mentis in Deum .The ways to Zion mourn”. and which is the only aim and bliss of the soul. 1961. He very likely was the main source for the contemplative text. his biography. VII. unless he receives it. His teaching was highly influential. While the official. pre-modern science and mystical speculation. which can be dated round about the years of 12601270. 4. 1994. thus aiming only at the mystical union with all desire and all power and in ardent love. up to Hugh of Balma. his work was translated into many languages. In parallel. These details.. and being one of the major authors of the Franciscan community and a widely read theological teacher. and he does not desire it. 1995). true peace and freedom be gained. but the fact that Eckhart was in Paris in 1276/7 and in 1312 makes a connection a possibility. And the apex of the affect is totally taken over and transformed into God.) It is within this latter spark of the soul. in Bonaventure the neo-Platonic-Dionysian theme of an imprint of the One or an organ for the mystical experience has been combined with the more traditional Augustinian psychology familiar at the schools of theology and has been firmly established in what became one of the key texts of the Western Christian mystical traditions. and professor of theology was one of them (Gilson. 150) Thus. the Franciscan friar. Hugh of Balma is usually known only to specialists due to missing editions and literally missing access to his writings. as taught by Ps. 2005. the understanding. which also is inspired by Carthusian spirituality. and the faculty of affect. He influenced the 14th and 15th century movement of lay devotion.-Dionysios and Thomas Gallus. such that he can really be called one of the fathers of Western mysticism. 1997b) and German translation (Walach. 1961. summit of the affect. university teachers and theologians for having relinquished the true path towards insight and knowledge. general. and printed in many editions. all intellectual activities have to be given up. accepted version is that he was a Carthusian prior. Noboby understands it. He severely attacks all school teaching and academic wisdom. 1961). the imagination. unless the fire of the holy spirit ignites him in his very centre.able that his teachings were taken up by others and handed down. “The Cloud of Unknowing” (Anonymous. is mystical and most secret. his motives and the basic thrust of his teachings vary widely. 1996). (Bonaventura. mystical and classical theology. Volume 24 . as a kind of side effect. Bonaventure has taken up the notion introduced by Thomas Gallus of a summit or spark of the soul. This is also evidenced by Thomas Gallus’ psychology. His basic message is simple: Only in the total withdrawal of the soul from every outward orientation. It was Hugh of Balma who radicalized this teaching.The mind’s itinerary to God” he described the mystical ascent (Bonaventura. which in fact is inner experience. which was also known as “Mystical Theology” or as The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. if it is to be perfect. the so called devotio moderna. Hugh of Balma (Walach. however. . the rational faculties. where the faculty of intellect. There is now available a recent English (Martin.6. Here is a textual example from Hugh’s lengthy tract. however. which is concerned with the outer world. (Bonaventura.. I. popularized it. the mystical path. outer and inner experience were one. p. This was taken up extensively about 100 years after his presumed active period.
but is outside the scope of this paper. which were written down and copied widely. or rather by not-knowing. within transpersonal psychology. which would certainly be possible. has culminated in a notion. and was more or less driven out of universities and schools. then. what the mind is incapable of grasping. of the rational faculty. the mystical tradition has drifted away from orthodox teaching. in monasteries and in the writings and teachings of mystical writers. The Higher Self of Assagioli has a psychological function: unification. principal affect.“De triplici via ad sapientiam .” “summit of the mind. or into the circles of lay people (Ruh. albeit mainly outside academical traditions. And it would be even more interesting to draw the parallels with and underline differences to Eastern traditions. failed. (Walach. Whitehead’s beautiful metaphor of “God luring” entities towards him. Since the latter half of the 13th century. And from there it made its way into the teaching of other mystics. an enormous number. It seems to be an interesting fact that. Here he also calls this central part of the soul spark of the soul. More than 100 text witnesses are extant. we are able to feel already now. which in reality makes the spirit able. as nature. A concept was born. It certainly would be interesting to sketch further this history in the West and in later times. be it nature. by the way. In his psychology–which. 1965) of the 16th and 17th century. of the mind and of the understanding. Inner experience or mystical experience has been delegated to lay piety and private worship. by virtue of the unification of the glowing. little fortress of the soul. he did not see as a fixed system but as a suggestion open to and in demand of further exploration—the Higher Self is an active centre. of mystical thought in the West. and therefore can be the place and the means of the mystical experience of union with God. ardent love that. 265) This text. especially within psychosynthesis. These hints may suffice for a first approach. By letting go of any activity of imagination. there is a part which is like a “better” part of a divine nature. p. 1956). spark of the soul. within the human mind. without any mediating agent.” academic. John of the Cross. who likely tried to influence academic opinion. About this rising it is said that it happens without knowledge. is one of the major manifestos. This concept has mainly disappeared from the academic agenda ever since Hugh of Balma.Dionysius).” While the mystical tradition used the term more in the context of the mystical experience of union with God. God within. like Theresa of Avila. Meister Eckhart. the founder of the Jesuit order and of the meditative-experiential tradition of the spiritual exercises (Beyer. the Dominican friar and preacher has taken this notion up and popularized it in the vernacular in his sermons. this concept returns. testifying to its wide distribution. to rise ardently and glowingly with surging strivings to his beloved. like Tauler or Seuse. however. 1993). variably named summit of the mind. 1994. for which experience is experience of something (else). if not the most important one. as God. world or God. It is conceived as the very centre or summit of the soul. comes to mind here.” “spark of the synderesis. Its influence is still not completely traced and established. for which experience is eminently experience of oneself. mostly to Dominican sisters. and spiritual development of the psyche.” counter-academic. Assagioli assigns more mundane tasks to the Higher Self. but certainly goes as far as the Spanish mystics (Pablo Maroto. which signifies that. Higher Self: The Heritage and the Future Agenda It is within psychosynthesis as described by Assogioli that the concept of a Higher Self makes it quasi-official reappearance on the agenda of modern psychology. as world. It was ascribed to Bonaventure and thereby became widely known and eminently important. It rises up in the summit of the affective power. Experience has started to become experience of outer things. which looks at everything from the outside. activating and thereby pulling the individual toward his or her development. mystical branch. This type of knowledge was handed down in the “Mystical Theology” (of Ps. It has since lived and survived in the circles of pious groups. in the present moment. During the middle ages. The psychology of these mystical writers. and Ignatius of Loyola. and in an “esoteric.The Threefold Way to Wisdom”: The other type of knowing is more eminent than the other two: it consists in the most ardent unifying love. as we saw. It seems evident that what Assagioli had in mind by this notion is probably very similar to what was expressed in the tradition by the terms “spark of the soul. this was identical to Higher Self 23 . It is in Hugh of Balma that the academic tradition of the West branches into an “exoteric. spark of the syndere- sis. which has henceforth remained present in the West: the notion of a higher part of the soul. theological and scientific branch.
it describes the same basic experience.deification: becoming God-like or union with God. If this is so. or coping skills. In the Zen-tradition The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. Specifically. and on the effectiveness of therapies which base their concept more on a spiritual understanding of man. or even more effective than conventional treatment. It should be shown beyond doubt that spiritual experiences are quite common. Historical and theoretical research should establish firm links between concepts of different cultures and times. of course. and it probably would be cut away by Ockham’s razor. Volume 24 . or Spark of the Soul. in modern parlance. To be quite sure: By the rules and standards of academic psychology a concept like that of the Higher 24 Self is at the first glance utterly unscientific: there is no way of verifying or falsifying it. only the soul. We acknowledge that sometimes psychological problems have to be solved before or after spiritual experiences. can be effective. Then. Christ-nature or Buddha-nature. which forbids entities beyond necessity. which is thought to be an imaginative counterpart of contacting one’s Higher Self. then one task would obviously be to reconnect this strand of thinking and experiencing with the main stream of the scientific endeavour. utilizing this as a resource. which is not very convincing to sceptics and critics: What is the criterion that in any experience of Higher Self. The historical distance from the middle ages can be traced in the fact that nowadays we also recognize psychological needs more readily. sound and available as a resource. of Higher Nature. the essence of what is meant by the Higher Self or the spark of the soul in the middle ages seems to be the same: Both signify the highest part of the soul. as the most important and most fulfilling experience. this has some important ramifications. one has indeed made contact with a spiritual or transpersonal realm? Why has it to be “trans-” and is not simply something like a strong resource. I venture to say that in the Higher Self of psychosynthesis. One guiding principle would be the possibility that basic human experiences and conditions are universal but interpreted differently according to different historical and cultural backgrounds. or rather in this or similar concepts of Transpersonal Psychology. Although there is some research into that direction. it seems. basically untouched by psychological suffering. and that the power of such a mystical experience can be severely hampered by psychological malfunctioning of the rest of the person. since history is not simply a rehearsal of the same piece of music all over again. it is by no means enough nor is it good enough. We feel reminded of Viktor E. If it is true that within transpersonal psychology some of the legacies of the mystical tradition are present. quite natural and a health resource rather than hazard. At present. in imagination. While for Assagioli. Apart from the different and clerical language this is couched in. to which everyone is drawn. proving to the scientific community and the public that therapies using transpersonal resources. interventions tapping the spiritual resources should be researched and documented well. and there are some tasks which come with it. in other words to reintroduce the topics of transpersonal psychology within academic main-stream psychology and research. prayer or whatever other type. for the mystical writers of the middle ages this was the innate spurn to embark on the spiritual quest. there is no clear advantage for such a concept to everyday research and theorizing. Granted that a modern psychological stance has something to add and to offer to the purely mystical or spiritual position. Both attribute to this part an active role in the unification of the personality. We need data on the effectiveness of interventions like that. the old concept of “spark of the soul” makes its reappearance. Both traditions see the experience of this innermost part. Transpersonal therapies should take up the burden of empirical research and evaluation. like selfesteem. there would be the reductive argument which is difficult to counter apart by selfevidence. One way would be to point out phenomena which cannot be explained well by the ruling paradigms of academic psychology and which will suggest a concept like the Higher Self as an explanatory construct. or salutogenetic resources? Traditions usually have a pragmatic answer: True experiences transform people and leave them changed such that they are able to do things or perform tasks which they previously were unable to. to let oneself be drawn by the call of God. we know virtually nothing. As I have tried to show. Only if presented in the widely read mainstream journals with high impact and rigorous review will such material be taken seriously.The best known of these is probably the inner journey to the wise man. this is a kind of ever present synthesizing and motivating activity. our godlike nature. the mystical tradition has pulled away from the official academic strand of research and teaching. Assagioli has suggested some imagination exercises for helping the individual growth process. healing. 2005. There are several strands of empirical and theoretical research which recommend itself in that way. Frankl’s dictum that the spirit is never ill. Therefore.
Author Note This paper is based on a talk held at the 3rd World Congress of Psychotherapy in Vienna. Aristoteles. In dictionnaire de spiritualité. and to combine this with existing models as far as possible. or the spark of the soul.there is something like that in the testing for the understanding of a Koan. Assagioli. (1981). As yet. Assagioli. We need something similar today. T. In that sense. how to really integrate what is “new” with what is there. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. Plotinos reportedly had quite a few spiritual experiences himself. (1969). 3345. Assagioli. but as what it originally was: inner and outer exprience combined into one mode with two faces. v. these types of validation of experiences. In such a notion of science and experience there would be a place for a concept derived from inner experience like the Higher Self. J. It would probably be wise to utilize the modern trend towards neuroscience. if integration is to happen at all. J. Germany. Freiburg. München: DTV. school aptitude).. A successful new paradigm is not a paradigm which suggests: Throw away the old stuff. References Anonymous. New York: Paulist Press. Maybe they never will be. R. Barbet. (1965). 33. which explained the same phenomena as well as the old theories plus could make testable predictions and integrate some odd phenomena left unexplained by Newtonian mechanics. R. Gigon. as well as phenomenologically by studying qualitative reports. (1988). (1984). as well as the methodology that comes with it. (1911). but because it could integrate what was there into a new framework. Übers. Bologna. Nendeln: Kraus. The Higher Self or Spark of the Soul initially was a concept derived from experience. The rationale is not much different from that of common tests: What can be tested for (intelligence. In Anonymous. London: Harper Collins. D. Transpersonal development. Psychoanalysis and psychosynthesis. 800-816). Atwood. The dimension beyond psychosynthesis. by J. It was supported by the Institut für Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene. are not public knowledge. 368-382. transl. (1991). We need experience in the full sense of the word. Ed. Assagioli. A catalogue of “traces” which should be detectable in the psychological make-up or in the daily lives or achievements of people with true “experiences” of their higher nature should be worked out. if they cannot at the same time point out. 45. Il Subcosciente. as probably did the other writers. I’ll give you something completely new. Frankfurt: Klostermann. R. motor performance. The cloud of unknowing: The classics of Western spirituality. 207-230. Vom Himmel. fMRI. L. Psychosynthese. (1990). Hibbert Journal. Maybe some simple surrogate tests could be devised. 1. Paderborn: Junfermann. Something like that would be necessary for a science of spiritual experiences. integrated into and linked up with existing knowledge and paradigms. (1934). & Maltin. Atti del IV Congresso Internationale di Filosofia. 16. not only as inner experience and not only as outer experience. R. (1974). (pp. Von der Seele. O.. but linked up with philosophical and traditional terminology. experiences. 14. R. Journal of Humanistic Psychology. & hrsg. (1986). R. (1983). introd. Die schulung des willens. 184-201. Armstrong. and thus intersubjective in result. W. The knowledge of the spiritual traditions can be helpful in this. Jung and psychosynthesis. Beierwaltes. methoden und techniken. Proklos. Adliswil/Zürich: Verlag Astrologisch-Psychologisches Institut. 35-55. 606-624). Walsh. (1991). History shows that phenomena. Von der Dichtkunst. Assagioli. Higher Self 25 . Grundzüge seiner metaphysik. Methoden der psychotherapie und der selbsttherapie. In that sense voices coming from the transpersonal camp and demanding a “new” science are not all that helpful. it seems. which alone can yield an argument against reductive reasoning.. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. R. Thomas Gallus. Symbols of transpersonal experiences. One way would be to promote research into meditation. good theory and good empirical theory testing should be mandatory also for transpersonal psychology. to introduce the topics of transpersonal psychology into mainstream research. Assagioli. nor should be. July 1999. likely exists. and quantitative self-report. Prinzipien. both empirically by EEG. subjective in the first place. American Journal of Psychotherapy. (pp. Transpersonal experience in childhood. Putting eastern philosophies into western psychotherapies. Assagioli. but eventually will have to undergo empirical tests as well. neuroimaging and the concepts derived from there. It was inner experience. facts and theories remain unrecognized unless they can be combined with. Quantum mechanics was successful not because it was new.
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1-6. A Portrait of Twenty-Five Years: Boston Colloquium for the Philosophy of Science 1960-1985 (pp. 168-183.. Transpersonal therapy. Wartofsky (Eds. Ed.S. Wachtel. P. The ultimate state of consciousness. Common factors aren’t so common: The common factors dilemma. creative personality. Thalbourne. stages and types of pathology.self in behavioral change. 183. Notitia experimentalis Dei . 5874). Exceptional Human Experience. (1985b). Walach. Journal of Altered States of Consciousness. 2. & Delin.P. 45-69. W.A. Transpersonale Psychologie.. Auge in Auge: Wissenschaft und Transpersonale Psychologie. Some considerations regarding transpersonal psychology. Thalbourne. Text und Kommentar. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. Vaughan (Eds. 159-170. 45-66). Fragmente der Vorsokratiker. (1984a). P. 146-162. Sutich. Walsh & F. altered states. Phone +441604-89 2952. Correspondence regarding this article should be directed to the author at University College Northampton School of Social Sciences and Samueli Institute for Information Biology. Wilber. Vaughan (Eds. Vaughan (Eds. (1978). Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. 31. Transpersonale Psychologie. Main Currents. (1984b). 8. Hogg (Ed. 5-19. Walsh & F. Thomas Gallus. Notitia experimentalis Dei Erfahrungserkenntnis Gotte. F. Philosophia perennis und das Spektrum des Bewusstseins. G. A.A.S. S. Barnhouse. Grand Commentaire sur la theologie mystique. 58. Wilber. (1974). Commentaire sur Isaie. (1995). & S. Wilber. In R. 10. 47. Weber. Theories of and Evolution. In J.Ac. Washington: American Psychological Association. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. Washburn. K. D. R. H. 75118.). (pp. Walsh & F. T.. Treatment modalities. Wilber. (1985c). Théry. (Ed. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. Religious or spiritual problem. Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik der Universität Salzburg. C. K. & Lu. (1991). Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik der Universität Salzburg. Sutich. 9. 16.) (1997). (1936). and worlds of experience. Théry. par G. 1. The basic nature of altered states of consciousness: A systems approach. (1996). (pp. and psychopathology. (pp. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice.J. Thalbourne. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. The Mystical Tradition and The Carthusians. 137-166. (1969).walach@northhampton. Boughton Green Road. Volume 24 . International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. K. R.). Bern: Scherz. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. Sutich. 349-384. (pp. Vol 5. The developmental spectrum and psychopathology: Part I. Studien zu Hugo de Balmas Text “Viae Sion lugent” und deutsche übersetzung. Transliminality: Its relation to dream-life. J. Vie Spirituelle.). In R. F. Walsh & F. (1976). H. Transpersonale Psychologie. (1973). Zwei Weisen des Erkennens. Toulmin. M. 2005. K. (1985d). A. Turner. J. & Delin. Observations relevant to a unified theory of meditation.). Explanatio in mysticam theologiam.. 16. (1994). Haloua. Cohen & M. K. 5. 83-99) Bern: Scherz. In R.Was 28 heisst das? . 11-20. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration. A.) (1976). 267-275) Bern: Scherz. M. 2. A culturally sensitive diagnostic category in the DSM-IV. C.Versuch einer Rekonstruktion. K. 1. M. 8. 3-38. The psychology of mystical experience. Messer (Eds. M. Wilber. 435444. Conceptual revolutions in science. Paris: Editions historiques et philosophiques R. T. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology.). religiosity and mystical experience.L. Bern: Scherz. The developmental spectrum and psychopathology: Part II. (1979). 3. Wilber.T.G. 11. (pp. 2.). (1934). (1985). 18. (1985a). 247-253). S. Vaughan (Eds. Origins Psychotherapy. In R. A developmental view of consciousness. In R. A common thread underlying belief in the paranormal. Northampton NN2 7AL UK. Dordrecht: Reidel. mystical experience. K. Journal of Parapsychology. Walach. P. Ein Entwicklungsmodell des Bewutseins. Paderborn: Schöningh. Fax +44-1604-722067. Transpersonale Psychologie. Tart. (1975). Tart. Email Harald. (1994).A.Hugo de Balmas Begriff der Erfahrungserkenntnis Gottes . Wilber. Thomas Gallus. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. Consciousness. 45-64. The emergence of the transpersonal orientation: a personal account. 6.Uk The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. (1986). K. 1-21. Lukoff. (1976). (1998). Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. K. Wilber.J. Wilber.B.. Ed. (1995). Weinberger.J. The spectrum of consciousness. 117-135).
For even our morality—indeed. or have this or that. Campbell would. This quality of vitality of the symbolic and metaphoric realms of knowing is at the heart of Campbell’s teachings and one we would do well to retrieve. 74). Robert Pogue Harrison observed that “in the age of the new barbarism. p. though not divorced from matter but actually inhering within it. he antedated the ecology movement as well as a fuller consciousness of the earth’s terminal illnesses if not diagnosed and treated with some careful prescription policies available for continued refills. perhaps even to the transcendent Other that is in fact—tat tvam asi—thou art the other. Meister Eckhart. The “life of a mythology. to the dead and to language’s continued vitality. revealed in many of his 28 books and journals the intimate connection of mythology to the earth’s foundational soil.107) The mythologist Joseph Campbell. In his incisive study on the importance of our ancestors. it may come out of a revisioned care of language itself as a transport vehicle towards the transcendent or invisible realms of being that poetry exposes us to through its aesthetic and linguistic corridors. being neither this nor that. The Perennial Philosophy (1970. The purpose of yoking mythology to poetry is to realign consciousness along a mytho-poetic axis of insight and understanding. What we do to words mirrors with exacting frequency what we do to the world. are all things. Beginning with a brief overview of some of the major tenets of Campbell’s guiding force of the “monomyth. and now. in The Dominion of the Dead (2003). within Mother Earth. or nurture and elevate the status. I am not all things and I have not all things. If there is to be a renewed mythos. our morality above all— depends on the historical resonance of its foundationThe Nature of Myth 29 . This essay will explore these regions rather than move to the topic that put him on the world map: that of the hero’s journey (1948/2004). psychic and spiritual energy. And both are showing signs of permanent exhaustion.The Myth of Nature and the Nature of Myth: Becoming Transparent to Transcendence Dennis Patrick Slattery Pacifica Graduate Institute The works by the American mythologist.” Campbell refers to such a divorce as “mythic dissociation” (1972/1993. for it guides us to the proposition that in the active life of the imagination of a culture. In addition. the essay then moves into a discussion of Keats’ poem in order to reveal the power of poetic utterance in reconfiguring a vital mythology.” offer new ways to reimagine our relation to the earth. Become pure till you neither are nor have either this or that. I detect his impulses moving in two directions: into the body and into the natural order in one direction. whose 100th birthday we celebrate this year (1904-2004). then you are omnipresent and. and towards the transcendent in the other. language too is crucial. xx). I believe. seems to be one of Campbell’s perennial and abiding concerns. of words themselves. By doing so. in Huxley. For today we would be wise to place the earth’s journey at the forefront of any pilgrimage towards revitalizing the planet. As long as I am this or that. in the way we both disabuse and pollute. especially his “Ode to a Nightingale. of an entire planet. as well as the poetry of John Keats. diagnose the accelerating rapacity of the earth’s resources as yet another consequence of an earlier malady wherein “matter and spirit begin to separate. Joseph Campbell. As I continue to read and absorb his elegant insights into the essential place of a shared and coherent mythos in the life of the individual and of an entire people. p. words lose their moral memory.” which gathers all the various world mythologies as inflections of one universal story.” he asserts in Flight of the Wild Gander (1951/2002) “derives from the vitality of its symbols as metaphors” (p. Language and landscape are intimate first cousins.
86). to transmit to a receptive audience. deploying similar words to delineate an analogous idea. 16) Hegel’s insight comes seductively close to a key tenet of Campbell’s reflections on world mythologies as he continues: “the rational necessary course of the World-Spirit—that Spirit whose nature is always one and the same. Campbell. 10). Here is Hegel early in his epic work.…unfolds this its one nature in the phenomena of the World’s existence” (1834/1991. which I take as the expression of the everyday shorn of its transcendent reverberations. James Joyce who gave him the term “monomyth. believed. I believe that carelessness in speech. in his Introduction to the revised The Hero’s Journey. Jung believed.’ which might also be called devotion” (par. In this vein. Joseph Campbell’s entire work contains a Hegelian impulse.” none of which brooks “the false eloquence of the times” (p.F. to provide images that relate the everyday to the eternal” (2004. ((1990/2003. John Keats. more needs to be cultivated regarding the intimate connections in thought between these two titans. more blissful and enduring repetition of physical desire and satisfaction” (p. What Keats’ ode exposes is an essential and exhausting poverty inherent in literalism. in this last book which he completed in his eightieth year.” “is the source of your fantasy. Perhaps in entertaining the hero’s journey. The symptoms of literalism’s malady include an arresting or blockage of psychic energy’s flow. the fountain of your soul….But Spirit. p. who writes in his thoughtful responses to a young poet that “Spiritual creativity originates from the physical.” includes both physical and psychical Nature…. par.You would like to make gold because poverty is the greatest plague. duty. This ode recollects and records a transcendent pilgrimage into the imaginal realm. indeed. but also controlled and intended statements of spiritual principles which are as constant in history as the human nervous system” (1948/1968. This languid soul has indeed heard and heeded the call and entered the vocational woods of poetic creation. guided by the song of an invisible bird that turns an ordinary event in the life of an exhausted soul into a mythical journey that revitalizes and shifts his vision towards the mysteries of a transcendent realm. let us link for a moment both Hegel and Campbell to one more crucial historical figure. 38). that the phenomenon we investigate—Universal History— belongs to the realm of Spirit. Campbell asserts. p. (p. 193). sacrifice.” that all the varieties of world mythologies are inflections of one story. 1929/1992 p. 257). that the image of “the everflowing fountain expresses a continual flow of interest toward the unconscious. Ranier Maria Rilke. then. which implies that psyche. and to deify them. the Story beyond the story that everlasting reiteration of unchanging principles and events inflected in particular and unique ways” what Joyce called a universal monomyth that imbeds itself in the various localities of a specific culture in time. a kind of constant attention or ‘religio. is “to see the life value of the facts round about. we see that they are symptoms of the unconscious. 160) to capture the sense of a hidden transcendent unity of truth. and spirit are more aligned than alien to some fundamental hidden unity that perhaps the metaphors of poetry are best equipped with a greater alacrity than other forms of expression.al words: liberty. the world spirit that the philosopher Georg W. Campbell underscores Rilke’s insight when he coins the phrase “mythic identification” (1951/2002. writes that “the monomyth is in effect a metamyth. I say this because there is implicit in the metaphor of this journey the possibility that the hero is an encompassing metaphor for the life energy The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. who in his short but gifted life created some of the most remarkable poetry on the themes that Campbell and others believed were at the heart of any pulsating desire to restore the mythic impulse to the heartbeat of the common citizen. Volume 24 . which Carl Jung observes in Mysterium Coniunctionis in a section entitled “An Alchemical Allegory. substance and energy. 2005. nature. include a brief exploration of “Ode to a Nightingale” by the 19th century English poet. He further links 30 these two impulses that allow for some new creation to enter the world when he reflects that “spiritual creativity is a gentler. we have read it too literally. The Philosophy of History (1834/1991): It must be observed at the outset. The term “World. and the course of its development. xvi). is our substantial object. and in writing is directly yoked to a disrespect and indifference to the matter and. He furthers this revelation at the heart of The Hero With a Thousand Faces in writing that “to grasp the full power of mythological figures. The latter part of this essay must.38). in self-expression. Phil Cousineau. compassion. p. following the Irish writer. as it were. wealth the highest good” (1963/1989. a philosophical reading of the unity of mankind’s spiritual history. p. equality. they are of the same essence” (Rilke. 191). p.xix). The function of the poet. Hegel (17701831) believed was the nugget resting deep in the heart of the earth.
Perhaps analogies are birthed right here. it is the interior of flesh. decreased. myths. In allowing the energy of the world soul to permeate one’s own body. A renewed or revisioned mythos might then include an ability to reimagine the relation of spirit. sound-bytes and a general lack of vitality in selfexpression. body and earth in a constant but benevolent dialogic tension between the body’s interiority and the world’s matter. as he writes in Flight of the Wild Gander. Finally. xvi). they help carry the individual through various stages and crises of life. Only metaphor has this exclusively powerful quality of allowing us to enter domains not readily accessible to the rational mind. and to reveal the underlying unity of human embodiment and the cosmos. 2. pp. p. becomes sidetracked. one opens oneself to the mythic impulse which is to make us “transparent to transcendence” (2003. p. end-stopped.5). The word “metaphor. 40). Thus. he asserts in The Inner Reaches of Outer Space that “the energy by which the body is pervaded is the same as that which illuminates the world and maintains alive all beings. p. 4. a common source. one’s own psyche. its physicality. is offered more than once by Campbell when he quotes the 19th century poet Novalis: “The seat of the soul is there. he writes earlier in the same volume that “The divine is transcendent even of the category of transcendence. the two breaths being the same” (2002. Within this field of metaphor. vulgarity and profanity. worn out phrases. mediated by the social customs that comprise a specific historical time and place. p. At the heart of the hero’s journey is this proposal: “The effect of the successful adventure of the hero is the unlocking and release again of the flow of life into the body of the world” (1948/2004. are the “texts of rites of passage” (p. according to Campbell. among other venues. newspeak. or polluted.8). 3. they carry a religious function: to awaken and maintain in the person an experience of awe. The Nature of Myth 31 . they are interpretive. Archetypes are biologically grounded… (p. The death throes of the soul reveal themselves in. even a mythic heritage. 40). and phorein=to move or carry. physical world at the same time that it clears a space for accommodating the transcendent. providing a consistent image of the order of the cosmos. The hero may be imagined as energy itself. p. A new mythos must therefore be diligent and dedicated to preserving speech as well as preserving species. A key to this web of relationships. where the outer and the inner worlds meet” (2002. He furthers this idea in The Power of Myth (1988): “the archetypes of the unconscious are manifestations of the organs of the body and their powers. therefore. they also transport us past time. the vitality and energy of the metaphors and symbols we create to describe the ineffable bear directly on what intensity of value the divine lives within and among us. to know and respect that ultimate mystery that transcends all forms (2001. The first group are the atheists and the second are “religious.” However. 39). and they center us in the connotative dimensions of a world that is essentially and furiously denotative (2001. is from two Greek words: meta=to pass over. space. to allow us “transparence” to the latter. Myths. the life force that permeates all matter. diluted. p. to go from one place to another. 48). the death of language—its cadavers are strewn around us everywhere: in clichés. this metaphorical quality lying vibrantly at the heart of myths and myth-making. and its metaphorical or symbolic resonances. which is another way of asserting that myths promote our “learning to live the divine life within you” (p.3-4)). “There seem to be only two kinds of people: Those who think that metaphors are facts. slogans. for the psyche. an efficient and very economic delivery system of sorts. matter. Campbell insists that “the life of a mythology springs from and depends on the metaphoric vigor of its symbols…which can convey some realization of the infinite” (2001. serve four functions: 1. both in conflict and in complement to one another. an identification with the life process” (2003.” he explains. even a partnership between energy flows through shared matter. which is a mode of transportation. begins in the body. strict denotation. A new mythos would gain much energy if it planted Campbell’s observation in the forefront of its assertion as a central tenet of its development. p. Metaphors carry us from one place to another. 51). they align consciousness to the mysterium tremendum. p. Given this metaphorical quality that points to and exposes a mystery beyond contradiction and duality. for that too is a category of thought…”(p. empty words. even as it connects us to the natural. What for Campbell is the life process comprises for Hegel the World Spirit that animates and informs the World soul. they allow us to cross boundaries otherwise impossible. 34) having their origins in the energies of the organs of the body. but which finally shares a universal origin. in its energetic language. 40). the universe as it is.itself that flows. Campbell reveals in his writing how both the world’s material. increased. and those who know that they are not facts” (2001. 41). 6). For Campbell. he affirms that “myth is a constant regeneration.
xi)…. destructive” (p. p. in accord with d) himself (the microcosm). So. has its own organizing structures. He called these “bioenergies. the four volume The Masks of God. (p. “to be born”. He observed that “mythos and dream are motivated from a single psycho-physical source. The human imagination is moved by the conflicting urgencies of the organs—including the brain. Early in the beginning of volume 4. most critical function of a mythology. Human embodiment. life on earth “is to mirror in the human body the almost hidden. yet now discovered order of the pageant of the spheres” (p. xiv). then. writes in Healing Fiction (1983) of the central importance of history’s qualitative hold on psyche. of the human body” (2002. A new or revitalized mythos. perhaps less an emphasis on historical events and facts at this juncture. 2005. They are the historical progenitors. 60). and more on the nature of a historical sensibility imaginally kindled that arouses one’s soul within a larger fabric of meaning and intentions. b) the universe (the macrocosm). xix). Campbell intuited something profound about the body’s relation to myth and meaning but chose not to pursue it in depth. and the images who walk in on us are our ancestors…. which Robert Pogue Harrison tells us. Creative Mythology (1968). then. 60). By the same token. He argues convincingly against the preoccupation with the “historical ego. may assist us in reclaiming the ancestral imagination to allow for a fuller vision of our place in historical time. gravitational. each of us is influenced by “history’s hundred channels” which “show culture at work in the channels of the soul. a mediating middle cosmos through which the microcosm of the individual is brought into relation with the macrocosm of the universe” (p. By contrast. The human is bound up with the humus and is why burial figures as the generative institution of human nature. Human history may then be understood as a biography of an entire species. Campbell reiterates and in truth. erotic field…“ (2002. whose mythos is surcharged with planned obsolescence. as well as a record of the pilgrimage of humanitas. p. a new or renewed mythos would also ideally push against the blind obsession with the individual in order to allow one to see that a myth of a communal. c) his culture (the mesocosm). which is the essence of life itself. Campbell writes in Flight of the Wild Gander (1990/2002) that “myths and rites constellate a mesocosm. goals and purposes of a people’s mythology. p. reveals that the word “humanitas in Latin comes first and properly from humando. 130). that shapes it and is contoured by it. such an observation rests on a fundamental premise in all of Campbell’s musings on world mythologies: “the highest concern of all myths. 93).in that “marsupial pouch” that for Campbell characterizes. would seek to reclaim the wisdom of the dead. of our particular spirit informing it with ancestral culture” (p. to which I have only The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. p. etc. serves as a compendium of his thought on the matrix of mythic consciousness that anticipates or is in tandem with Stan Grof ’s vision of a wholistic order. grasp in a sensate way an intuition of place and of belonging to something beyond themselves. James Hillman. The fourth point is the only one I wish to access here: The fourth and most vital. taking the word nature in its full etymological sense (from nasci. global order is necessary and must take precedence over the rights and appetites of the seemingly autonomous self. His most cogent and sustained opus. in an organic and animal way. 123). This is not a new myth but a reclaimed one.” whose organizing impulse is to remember 32 and reflect unconsciously “the history which formed it and which its continuity would uphold…” (p. horrifying. Given such a connection. x). the place of society where the human body breathes itself into the social matrix. 6) Stanislav Grof ’s own work. for Campbell. which my colleague Robert Romanyshyn has eloquently described as “a gestural body. I offer the following wobbly neologism to capture something of such a partnership: mythophysiology—a mythos of flesh. ceremonies. and a) that awesome ultimate mystery which is both beyond and within himself and all things. Volume 24 . or archetypes. [which is ] a magnetic. burying” (2003. learning to read the body as metaphorical of something beyond and within itself constitutes an angle of seeing in the construction of a revitalized myth in order that an individual. redesigns his list of four qualities. A new mythos would exchange hubris for humus. for the quality of being connected to ancestry has been muted considerably in today’s future-obsessed consciousness. 130). p. or an entire people. but when unbridled become terrific. and we can here highlight the indispensable place of a historical imagination in retrieving the humanity of our species. the body. The land of the dead is the country of ancestors. is to foster the centering and unfolding of the individual in integrity. citing the work of Gimbatisto Vico. is to get people to identify with something outside of themselves” (1990/2002. like mythology generally. undoubtedly influenced by Vico. a second womb of sorts.
On Stories (2001). p. in writing of Allen Tate and John Crowe Ransom. the nature of myth. Nature and narrative grow like seedlings from the same plot of ground. For Campbell.recently come. there exists an intimacy between the myth of nature. 202-03) Let me turn in the last part of this excursus to the realm of poetry. a full and authentic mimesis. that Aristotle discovered in the 5th century BCE in Greece. or imitation of a psychic action. as Richard Kearney develops this idea in a powerful little book. Learn how to read a poem. for poets do not eschew the world so much as they enter it more fully than the rest of us may be capable. (pp. I want to lean on his words a bit to complete this essay by briefly exploring one of the finest poets in our tradition who successfully and securely wedded the imagination to the mundane. study poetry. poiesis is a making or a shaping of something that has been apprehended. As such. Both Joseph Campbell and Stan Grof would find a strong partnership in the observation expressed by the latter writer in The Holotropic Mind (1990): New scientific findings are beginning to support beliefs of cultures thousands of years old. 92). Jung. to the process of poiesis that only the human being is fully equipped to create. As I stated in the title of this paper. We never completely lost contact with this cosmic consciousness because we are never fully separated from it. a mythology of organs and origins. p. or at least some indication of the message” (p. p. You need not have the experience to get the message. two southern poets of the last century. 318). such that they find it impossible to leave their safe harbors and sail towards the transcendent. are fertilized by the same principles that organize and order the cosmic as well as social and individual orders. would finally reach its fullest expression. poetry is capable of producing an organic mythology. the poet is a partner in the hero’s journey who. 299). When asked about the experience of the transcendent and how one might achieve its status. nature becomes transformed into narrative. Such a shift of capacity—a key and critical word here—rests on the ability to recognize the myth of mechanism that has dominated a vision of nature and her structure for hundreds of years. as both Stan Grof and Joseph Campbell rightly insist on. There the nature and structure of the narratives we tell. I would say. is the condition of people who are so bound to their ego lives and selfish values that they cannot open out to a transpersonal grace” (2001. and drew this conclusion: “How does the ordinary person come to the transcendent? For a start. 100). “the poets’ sensibilities have large orbits” (1997. Poets are the antithesis of those souls caught in hell. “Hell. In other words. And from that penetration through the boundaries that might inhibit or resist the rest of us in our tracks. For the Greeks. They are the figures in the culture to whom we turn. Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” (1819) renders that dual awareness in dramatic form as he implicitly outlines the lineaments of a mythological sensibility we must retrieve. cultural forces shifted the inflection to one of the image of the cosmos as a mythical or series of overlapping mythical tonalities. especially in Psychology of the Future (2000): “Spiritual intelligence is the capacity to conduct our life in such a way that it reflects [a] deep philosophical and metaphysical understanding of reality and of ourselves” (p. I believe. as the poet Wallace Stevens observes. Campbell reflected on it in a “Discussion” transcribed at the back of Thou Art That. are in a sense homologous—and perhaps even holotropic?—of the structure of the world we inhabit. resonates a similar holistic view. be in line and in the spirit of both Grof ’s life’s work and Joseph Campbell’s sustained project of uncovering the “elementary ideas” of Adolf Bastian and the archetypal principles at the bedrock level of the psyche ordained and given authentic currency by C. properly. Instead of “the image of the cosmos as a mechanical system” that assumes it can then be understand by “dissection” and explanation (p. in the last analysis. In such a relationship. for. in order to shatter those boundaries that Stan Grof believes keep us arrested within limits that are more arbitrary than absolute (2000. The Odes of John Keats (1795-1821) are among the most famous and finely wrought in literature by such a young poet. some insight that has particularly powerful mythic resonances.G. returns with a boon that is worth contemplating as we tend to the right measure of our own voyage. 298). While written in the early part of the 19th century. In such a paradigm. they could have been etched yesterday or even tomorrow. perhaps a mytho-poiesis of nature. organisms and the interfaces of both divine and human orders commingling and mutually influencing one another. Any The Nature of Myth 33 . 711). having suffered through the concrete world in a unique way. showing that our individual psyches are. a manifestation of cosmic consciousness and intelligence that flows through all of existence. Such a shift would. even drydocked. its praxis is to create by analogy a mimetic representation of some vision. that unveils and makes more transparent. these souls are landlocked.
The response he feels—for odes convey as much feeling as thought or action—is moved by desire for a life of depth. where no one had cut a path before. for it returns to conscious awareness the absolutely essential role of the imagination as an instrument for reclaiming of the dead. as though of hemlock I had 34 drunk. begins in lethargy: “My heart aches. spawned by imagination. Such will be his catalyst to heed the sound of the call and venture out. I suspect—of the animal mundi herself—not seen. is to become a priest of the imagination who utters psyche’s presence back into the world as both a sacramental mission and as a sacred imperative. the song of an invisible nightingale singing in the dark shadows of the forest’s trees. 205) as he (in fact it could be a man or a woman) falls Lethe-wards into the ennui of forgetfulness. “where palsy shakes a few. in part. one of our toughest and most elegant voices of the poet and the critic. between soul and matter. from the dead. Bliss eventuates out of personal blisters. 715). the poet’s task is not just concerned with the world’s body. namely. Volume 24 . His ode is like a remembrance. 722-23) Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” testifies to such a transcendent possibility as well as our capacity to nest imaginally in just that brooding domain. Keats lamented the loss of psyche’s place in the natural order through the “strange rhetoric” that Stevens confirms is the poetic response to the ordinary. a living testimony of the future. and possibly poetry is merely the strange rhetoric of that parallel” (1997. In an earlier poem. by the oppressive sense of life’s decay and death. otherwise one is following another’s path (2001. pp. Campbell insists the heroic journey must originate in pathlessness and in isolation. and spectre-thin.’ that is. 206). and Provencal song” (p. suddenly. sad./Dance. 205). and a drowsy numbness pains/My sense. 2005. His world darkens as he reflects on his attraction. as Keats reveals it in that ode. p. What this voice seeks is some vitality in his own life. our response must be both mythic and poetic. In “Ode to a Nightingale” he renders an experience that is no less epiphanic. Thus poetry becomes and is a transcendent analogue composed of the particulars of reality. The poet’s task. to easeful Death. created by the poet’s sense of the world./And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne. for disinterring a relation that has been truncated and buried. Keats envisioned already the growing pulse in the Western psyche in the 19th century to denude matter of its mystery through a stranger metaphysic that also felt the need to confirm the loss of divinity from the created order. and perhaps by poetry’s innate wisdom. 206) The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. to reclaim from the past. In short. xvii). Stevens completes his brilliant reflections on the nature and effects of analogy regarding poetry by stating what seems so appropriate to Keats’ poem: their words [the poets’] have made a world that transcends the world and a life livable in that transcendence…. that is to say. and dies” (p. Said another way. as he intervenes and interposes the appearances of that sense. his attitude. He hears at the same time. His soul is. The narrator’s desire seems motivated. 206).hope for a viable future of the planet and the politics that outline and contour its habitation must include the dual tasks of retrieval of the past and the renewal of the future.”Ode to Psyche” (1819). in a moment of eternal time. Now more than ever it seems rich to die. where he moves slowly “Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways” (p. last gray hairs/Where youth grows pale. (1997. could have been musing on Keats’ Ode when he wrote: “There is always an analogy between nature and the imagination. and in fact is inspirited by. its narrator. Wallace Stevens. only heard: “Already with thee! tender is the night. yet is anchored securely in the voice of the bird—an image. some elixir of life that would revive and restore a connection to the natural order. p. Now. re-animated by the feminine light of the moon and the dark vegetation. the languid soul is immediately transported into another level of consciousness which transcends the boundaries of time and space. full of dewy wine. through the invisible bird’s song as guide. for an élan vital. “a draught of vintage” that has been cooled a long time “in the deep-delved earth/Tasting of Flora and the country green. 206). 206). The almost instantaneous transformation into the mysterious realm of nature through an imaginal leap instills in him what I would call a natural imagination. p. one which is attuned not just to the foliage but to the smells of “the coming musk-rose. The voice of the figure in the poem. but with words’ bodies themselves—the power of words’ organic vitality to form a world and to transcend the ordinary world of sense by such a conveyance./ [and] the murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves” (p. (p. “entering the forest at its darkest part. by the poetic impulse of the psyche./Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains”( 1819./Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays” (p. Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme To take into the air my quiet breath.
the permanence of flux and the flux of permanence itself.” he continues to hear the fading echoic resonances of the bird’s song. which at the same instant has married this sole soul to history. Harrison offers a dramatic image of this observation: “Our psyches are the graveyards of impressions. “one whose contents have been buried so that they may be reclaimed by the future” (p. with the past. (p. remembrance. 908). it seems to me. But with a reverent bow to the dead emerges a recognition of history’s legacy: The voice I hear this passing night was heard In ancient days by emperor and clown: Perhaps the self-same song that found a path Through the sad heart of Ruth. 207) This passage bears witness to an entry in one of Wallace Stevens’ notebooks: “The poet is the priest of the invisible” (1997. Or. the voice of Keats’ poem not only retrieves the numinous quality inherent in the natural order. to move into the natural order. 207). In the metaxis of dream and perceptual waking is the space of contemplation. and with a clever oral pun on the word “sole./Up the hill-side. to a mythical experience. when. with a historical sensibility. but that voice is also led to it by a kind of poesy. 207) On his return. a waking and sleeping experience. in the construction of a new mythos for the world. reflection. and return—with some gift of remembrance. to history. both cadaverous and calcified. He further asserts that any salvific impulse in humanity to preserve itself must be based on a humic foundation. But now the nightingale’s song fades “over the still stream. the thinly-bordered imagined realm “of silence and slow time. to make public in a larger venue what one has discovered. or the “transcendent” realm cited earlier by Wallace Stevens and given several currency values in Campbell’s work. in a language that is clean and freshly strewn with original analogies to wake the imagination from its dreary and often habituated slumbers. and a return to share. the solitary and lifeless voice of the narrator at the beginning has been revitalized by this seemingly ordinary connection to nature that has gestated in the poetic imagination and now leafs into a mythological experience. sick for home. The Nature of Myth 35 . The heroic is never completely unmoored from its humic and humble foundations: Forlorn! The very word is like a bell To toll me back from thee to my sole self! (p. to become the sound that has echoed through the corridors of history from time immemorial. a catalyst or a transport vehicle that led him from the isolated and solitary regime of the personal into the more communal and historically imbedded transpersonal. to a deeper connection to one’s “sole” self. p. immortal Bird!/ No hungry generations tread thee down” (p. which has now achieved in his imagination mythical status.” a line Keats crafts in “Ode On a Grecian Urn” (p. as well as a sense of the historical connection that binds us all as one into a common humanity: what we all share each in our separate ways is a relation to the past and to the dead. a form of death of the self as it enters through the shining corridor of reverie. via the mystery of language. 207). Indeed. he consecrates the mundane into the transcendent. in its mythopoetic veracity: “Thou wast not born for death. By the same token. or a waking dream? /Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?” (p. 207) for the particular bird whose song led him into his initial reverie now swells its orbit. and now ‘tis buried deep/In the next valley-glades” (p. a connection to the natural and transcendent orders of being. xi). is to simultaneously enter by analogy into the world of the dead and the unborn at the same stroke. the same patterns of responses will remain stubbornly in place. initiation. to voice. A temporal event has been transformed. But as suggested in the archetypal pattern of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. If we are able to slow down sufficiently to hear Keats’ call. the song of the bird. traumas.This call by Death is both crucial and necessary. desires. two losses most in need of retrieval grow from the soil of lament in the poem’s voice: the dead. he or she must not rest content with the new experience or challenge. x). as the voice of the poem does. his imagination has uncovered the transcendent quality alive in the song’s immanence. if not increases its volume. 207). p. One possible answer is “yes” to both. and archetypes that confound the law of obsolescence” (2003. it includes as well a shift from a strictly solar to a lunar consciousness. or perhaps more accurately. however. for unless the dead are now acknowledged as the central core of our legacy of the living. Within such a sacred posture. She stood in tears amid the alien corn. to the vast community of the dead. As priest. It has found its earth home once again. to a renewed relationship with the dead. then we could suggest that a revitalized mythology must then include a poetic and imaginal response to the matter of the world. with an awareness of mythic time and space which situates us between flux and permanence. the heroic figure must return to the ground from which one originated to complete the cycle of departure. and renewal: “Was it a vision.
(1972). Novato. References Bush. (J. The hero with a thousand faces. R. Buffalo. Barrytown. New York: Penguin Publishing. J. NY: Prometheus Press. to my mind.Hull. Stevens: Collected poetry and prose. New York: Harper and Row Publishers. (1983).) New York: Doubleday.P. Editor. N. Surely the pioneering work of Joseph Campbell. San Francisco: Harper. G. (2001). Hegel. (Joan M. CA: New World Library.). Original work published 1948. Sibree. Campbell. Redford. (2003). Thou art that: Transforming religious metaphor. J. S. New York: Houghton Mifflin. Novato. CA: New World Library. J. James Hillman. The power of myth. (2003). John Keats. Novato. The perennial philosophy. (1970). S. Stan Grof. (2002).F. (Ed. vol. R. J. Novato. J. Original work published 1822. (2000). Rick Tarnas. W. Psychology of the future: Lessons from modern consciousness research.M. Volume 24 . Princeton. (1973). (1989).Only by taking this last step in the journey—making public. Original work published 1990. New York: The Library of America. Correspondence regarding this article should be directed to the author at dslattery@pacifica. Carl Jung. (1997). but in a more imaginal and reasoned response. J. Flight of the wild gander: Explorations in the mythological dimension. Campbell. Campbell. Grof. On stories. S. Original work published 1944. CA: New World Library. numbs their souls and provokes increased consumption. Ginette Paris and others.). The dominion of the dead. R. (1993). Great Books in Philosophy Series. Rilke.). The inner reaches of outer space: Metaphor as myth and as religion. PA: Trivium Books. New York: Routledge Press. (1988). Campbell. Novato.). Original work published 1929. 4. Campbell. The Classic Wisdom Collection. Marie Louise von Franz. 2005. Natural resources defense council pamphlet on the environment. The philosophy of history. New York: NRDC Publications. Novato. Campbell. NY: Station Hill Publishing. Jung. NY: SUNY Press. Healing fiction. Kearney. Myths to live by. Creative mythology. Harrison ends his Preface to The Dominion of the Dead (2003) with this observation: “sometimes the best way to retrieve a legacy is by freeing it from its original framework and reinscribing it in new ones” (pp. Grof. (R. for the vitality of the magic of metaphorical and symbolic realities to be heard by those suffering from “a drowsy numbness” which pains their senses. Original work published 1944. Flowers. CA: New World Library. (1968). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Huxley. J. CA: New World Library. Stevens. Pittsburgh. (1991). J. A.edu The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies.G. (1990). Letters to a young poet. have all exercised just such a profound liberation of the past so that it can don and wear the shimmering and shadowy new wardrobes of a revitalized and freshly languaged future. (2004). 36 Campbell. The hero’s journey: Joseph Campbell on his life and work. (B. CA: New World Library. The holotropic mind: The three levels of human consciousness and how they shape our lives. California: 13-18 June 2004. Romanyshyn. Pathways to bliss: Mythology and personal transformation. not in shrill outcries of literal laments. Albany. each with his or her uniquely beveled and honed eloquent language. The masks of God. (1959). Original work published 1951. Marion Woodman. Trans. R. Trans. Ways of the heart: Essays toward an imaginal psychology.J: Princeton University Press. Trans. Mysterium coniunctionis. Bollingen Series XX. R. Bollingen Series XVII.C. J. xi-xii). Christine Downing. (2001). Hillman. Selected poems and letters by John Keats. (2002). (2004). C. J. Author Note This paper is based upon a presentation at the Sixteenth International Transpersonal Conference in Palm Spring. Original work published 1986. Campbell. New York: Viking Press. founded on a fertile loam of intuition. D. Princeton: NJ: Princeton University Press. will there by any hope. Harrison. Burnham. Campbell.
The influence of Campbell on this area of the arts can be seen to have two major elements: his monomyth is used as a guiding structure for improvisations in the training process and his vision. whether works of philosophy. p. These correspondences open up two areas of inquiry: the transformative effect of the mask work when conducted in a transpersonally-oriented set. when I trained with him. on actor training using the neutral mask. so I should also add that I am referring to how David was teaching it ten years ago. besides. theology or folklore. An outline of training in the neutral mask is given. and the larger vision put forth in his writings. 1987). archetype and journey. there are also important differences. When I write of “the mask work” in this context. Artists tend. David Latham. I am acknowledging that there is a broad tradition but specifically referring to the neutral mask work as I learned it from David Latham. Personal background and mask training There are many different approaches to the neutral mask. 1985.Myth. Points of correspondence with the vision of Campbell and Grof. because it is amazingly congruent with mask work. and their influence. have served poetic ends in actor training and performance. Australia and North America. including the mythological perspective of Joseph Campbell and the holotropic perspective of Stanislav Grof. not to stay the same for too long. I will offer an account of how those clues. 1993). suggesting ways in which they might be put to use by reasonable men to reasonable ends—or by poets to poetic ends—or by madmen to nonsense and disaster” (Campbell. and to my own interpretation and development of that work. he placed together under the umbrella of “myth”—have been put to use in fields as varied as screenwriting and organisational learning. In the years since the publication of The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Campbell. The nature of this transformational environment will be further illuminated by setting it alongside Stanislav Grof ’s model of healing in non-ordinary states of consciousness (Grof. as experienced by the author in his own training. particularly in work with the neutral mask. The second part of the paper will describe the experience of actors who do this work— the transformations they report—and how the mask can be a way of research into the myth. xx). provides an excellent orienting vehicle for the unique combination of creative work and personal transfor- mation that this work represents. based on my own Neutral Mask 37 . psychology. a powerful contemporary mask widely-used in actor training in Europe. The following account of the neutral mask. Joseph Campbell writes that within its four volumes are given all the motifs contained in the unified symphony of humanity’s spiritual heritage. and some preliminary conclusions drawn based on experiences reported by student-actors and the author’s observations during his own research and his practice as actor and teacher. Joseph Campbell’s vision of myth has come to be a part of the mask work through my teacher. and the use of the neutral mask as an approach to the study of myth and archetype. I n his preface to The Masks of God. and what it has revealed regarding these in my own research. In this paper. focusing on the approach of David Latham. Campbell’s insights into this symphony—the artefacts of which. however. “with many clues. are discriminated and discussed. 1991a. Both are discussed. Archetype and the Neutral Mask: Actor Training and Transformation in Light of the Work of Joseph Campbell and Stanislav Grof Ashley Wain University of Western Sydney This paper explores the influence of transpersonal thinking. and while there are many similarities and common or recurring elements in these different approaches.
the immediate experience and one’s capacity to communicate it is the important thing—the actual energetic freedom and creative mastery of the actor. those who are not performing are always in the audience. the fact that students are only permitted to wear black. After this it will be possible to play it from within” (Lecoq. and imagination. I trained as an actor at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. While it is important to allow the performer to make their own sense of the work. the division of the room. others say that they felt “possessed. In voice. Alexander (Alexander. It it is up to the students to discover what it is through their own curiosity. a few thousand miles away. In acting we did a great deal of work to become aware of impulses. which for novice actors carries associations with the new age or Hinduism.” however. it is done quite formally. The student-actors often report experiencing a sense of peace. it is action. lengthening our spines. of doing. freedom. Jacques Lecoq. It’s a definite moment: “Today we begin work with The Mask. and releasing all kinds of tiny muscles. It has no psychology. solar plexus). will trace the broad outlines of the work. which demonstrate the extraordinary capacity of the mask to induce shifts in consciousness. sometimes in conjunction with an image. It teaches an actor to be simple. based on their own experience. ideokinesis. We also began to journey inwardly. students are asked simply to wear the mask in front of the group. sexual places. simply telling the story of our imagination to a single witness as it unfolded. no agendas. and they are told very little about the nature of the mask. Masks. exercises to evoke movement that is inspired by breath and infused with image. It does not hold to a fixed point of view. renowned teacher of neutral mask. 1982). into a performance space and an audience space. These inner journeys and the movement improvisations might begin with personal themes but they soon move through violence. such as being in a desert. up her spine and down the front of her body. Our training was three years full-time—a very intense three years— and in the first six weeks we were completely immersed in exercises to increase our awareness of body. to rediscover the basis of the mask and to find what makes it vibrate in yourself. It has no inner conflict. 1980). exercises that loosen and awaken the body and imagination and connect these with the breath. 1984). religious places. attending the images and energies that emerged there. of course. David Latham never used the word “chakra. First. For the actor understanding is a matter of action.experience as an actor. In movement we practised Feldenkrais work (Feldenkrais. flexible and present to awareness. 55). It does not do one thing on the inside and another on the outside. the founder of The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. and then moving from these energies. It is found in nearly every culture and its association with ritual and with non-ordinary states of consciousness is well-known (Eldredge. and by observing it as an audience member (SaintDenis & Saint-Denis. or terror. When the mask is introduced. another spoke of an intoxicating and seductive power like he had never experienced before (Holloway. We worked to make the spine responsive. There is never any clapping. The story of the birth of this mask is very illuminating. to begin training. p. by acting in it. Preparation for the mask also involves work with the various centres in the body (chest. writes that “To enter into a mask means to feel what gave birth to it. it lives in a state of inner calm. 2000. It was discovered in the theatre of Jacques Copeau. have long been an important part tool of initiation and transformation. a Frenchman. it is possible to make some general remarks about its nature. It has no plans. and to be present. It has been argued that the mask is the most ubiquitous of human artifacts. Volume 24 . groin. lying on the floor. I had just finished a degree in philosophy and politics and I was intellectually-oriented—not very aware of my body or my feelings. the late. Some pull the mask off quickly. The students are not told what they should experience. no past. It is what it sees. impulses. David Latham always affirmed wherever we went. imagining the breath moving down the front of the spine into the centres. 2005. 2001). and specific exercises to prepare us for the mask. no problems. It is totally transparent. and many other exercises. observer and teacher. It has no differentiated attitude. stretching.” Various elements come together to create a sacred space and the impression of an initia38 tion: the way the teacher handles the masks. the presentation of definite taboos. often without. In acting.” One student reported that she felt “her breath” moving through her in a circle. we spent six weeks lying on the floor sensing our breath. like a theatre. breath. This simple exercise yields a range of often powerful experiences. Too many concepts associated with other realms of endeavour and modes of discourse can become a serious obstacle. It is unnecessary. Using concepts like chakra in an acting class causes some people to become resistant and others to become over-excited. 1996). Australia. plain clothing. When I arrived from my hometown of Perth. The neutral mask is not a particular character. or just plain weird places.
This is what Lecoq calls mime but it is mime de fond. prior to conditioning. If masks reveal the invisible. the observation of a tree: in going beyond the ideas which surround it. so that any person. and so release what Reich would call their character armour. theatre and often ritual are concerned with making this invisible reality visible on this plane1. the imagination of a playwright or the psychological world of a character. the Major Arcana of the Tarot). Its actions must be prior to culture. Glass. wrote about how this became “the discovery of a mysterious world. an actress found herself blocked. with substances (Plastic. resonance. It has been shipwrecked. Copeau’s son-in-law Jean Daste. a body without conflict. mime of depth. in a world that is “prior” to culture. she was then able to play the scene freely and truthfully. it is what we practice again and again. throwing a stone. with archetypes (e. and so on). The Innocent. p. This invisible inner reality could be a realm of spirits.” We are searching for simplicity and universality. he discovered something. 78). watching from the shore for the arrival of a boat. to have life.” Completing the image—entering into it. Air and Earth). The same process is applied even for identifications with elements that do not.the Vieux-Colombier theatre and its school (Copeau. music and words. in which everything is done “for the first time. what a mask does is make the invisible visible..” It is a world of essences. One day in the rehearsal of a difficult emotional scene. & Paul. We can begin to see the affinity between mask and Campbell’s vision of myth when he suggests that “the basic theme of all mythology—that there is an invisible plane supporting the visible one” (Campbell. “What of the invisible world does it make visible?” Because the neutral mask has no past.” The actor must adapt their body and action to the mask. embodying the invisible presence (which is. We ask: what is the living gesture of a certain colour? How does yellow move? Mime de fond Neutral Mask 39 . 38). one approach to understanding a mask is to ask. 2000. It shares with ritual and spiritual practice an interest in a normally invisible reality. in the mask. 237-238). which seek to touch this reality inwardly. appear to have movement. with the elements (Water. 1990). Unlike many spiritual practices. Aluminium Foil. p. felt within) while in contact with an audience—makes up the crux of the actors work. In desperation. they must pare back unnecessary gesture and action. simply to cover their faces. the “daily mask. The mask covers the face. intimately connected to nature. pp. 1994. we realize the sailors will not return. The actor’s transformation into the mask character could be seen as the holotropic reality emerging into the hylotropic. it lives outside time. fear. To everyone’s amazement. The Warrior. not mime of form. Copeau took his handkerchief and covered the actress’ face. 80).” The work moves on to identifications. 1985.g. p. These identifications often begin with an invitation to the students to contact an image.” Somehow these simple themes and simple actions brought forth. They discover that for the mask to work. In the simplest terms. ah. the persona. mask. 1990. He calls it “the mask of masks” and says. voice and speech of the performer or shaman. 71).. great emotion and a power that astonished their audience: “the characters possessed a greater reality and a greater vitality” (Copeau et al. they must shed their idiosyncrasies. The actors begin to discover this through performing simple human actions—waking up for the first time. of elemental beginnings. of course. The important thing is that some facet of this unmanifest world is made manifest through the body. He explains it like this: “Take for example. After this Copeau asked his students to make themselves simple “neutral” masks. discovery. 1988. and even onto colours. it must be the body of the mask. the last goodbye to the beloved. the eternal archetypes. like colours. Olive Oil. p. p. we wait. The Seven Deadly Sins. 40). unable to play it. “for the first time. freedom and elemental aliveness. from any culture. 1994. great French acting teacher says that it “allows one to find the essential…the word of all words” (Wylie.” They “would make up very simple exercises with various themes: waiting. one encounters a physical sensation which reveals the dynamism of the life of this tree… It is as if the body had a skin for touching the space within and another for touching the space without” (Wylie. the late. Fire. The mask improvisation involves “completing the image. at the beginning. she said goodbye. The use of a particular mask determines. Copeau was disillusioned with the superficiality and clutter of the French theatre before World War 1 and with the Vieux-Colombier he attempted to create performances that had simplicity. “Beneath every mask…there is a neutral mask” (Lecoq. would be able to understand: “ah. Rudlin. There’s a roughly equivalent duality in Stan Grof ’s work in which he distinguishes “holotropic” and “hylotropic” states or realities (Grof. without attitude. It is always interestingly. however hard she tried. what invisible thing or being will come through. Rubber. and the personal feelings it arouses. Jacques Lecoq. an outdoor world. on the surface. anguish” such as “the families of sailors.
ending up in the arms of a great Silence I knew was God. In experience they seem to arise from the body. because I had lain there so still for so long. The point is that. There was a sense of remembering. one at the roots of both my artistic life and personal being. David Latham has a way of talking so that the words resonate in the body. because we are actors. then you begin to climb. until He told me to “Do it with love. The point is to go through the personal associations to the mythic resonance. you are the image. like the elements and archetypes. Sometimes it occurs in pairs or groups. The point. You cross a threshold and enter a new world. where I was torn apart by fish. I tried to explain that I had and there was some confusion until I realised that he thought I had actually died. 2005. You receive the call to set out on a journey. it is not about “acting it out. but they are told. You move through trees and vegetation which grow ever more densely as you search for a way out. You see the image. The actor will be told something like: You wake up. My first journey was spread out over two classes: I rode a dragon. could be a truly profound journey. without warning. Afterwards David Latham told me he thought I had died. Of course. I lay there for a long time. with no planning or guidance about the specific content this structure brings forth. until I understood that my journey was into the ocean. a vast panorama opens up: a river runs through a The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. “what happens. so that one can feel memories waking up inside.“involves an identification with things in order to make them live…mime is a way of rediscovering a thing with freshness” (Lecoq.” After that I understood how being an actor. You share the gift and you sleep. Volume 24 . A powerful element of this experience was the sense of necessity which imbued my actions.” The point is not to tick the boxes: that would be a travesty of the work. You travel along a road of trials where you meet forces that help you and forces that hinder you. an artist. in which many possible identifications are integrated into an unfolding story of transformation. The mask knew what had to happen. as if there was only one way the story could unfold. 2000.” but he kept digging until I mentioned what I had been told just before the end. not wanting to leave. was extraordinary. in an archaic place inside myself. you come out of the forest and find yourself facing a mountain. and got stuck on a beach-wasteland facing the ocean. He asked if I had been given a gift. I said “no. killed a giant snake. David talks about this work as nourishing the roots of one’s talent. Many students will ask for the structure to be repeated. The details of the journey are changed all the time. they have impact. They must improvise this with complete physical and imaginal commitment.” it was clear that it was no ordinary waking up—that “You Wake Up” was an action of intensity and scope. in the distance you can see a forest and you set out towards it. and it can come out. happens. as a student before any contact with 40 Campbell’s work. and one which has proved both unexpectedly rich and difficult to live out fully. Once you reach the summit. He said “that’s your gift. Suddenly. The impact of hearing this for the first time. He will tell students: At daybreak you emerge from the sea. sometimes it is given in great detail. All the personal associations. according to a precise inner logic that was at once my own and beyond me. Lecoq’s journey relies for its structure on the natural world. You ‘absorb’ the image of this mountain.” Then I got up and took off the mask. with very specific content. were one harmonious and necessary unfoldment. You will remember what you remember. This represents one major influence of Campbell on my teacher David Latham. is to really do it. and you answer the call. the mythic metaphors and the actual physical actions in all their rhythms. sometimes very simply. By way of contrast. 22).” The forms arise from the deeper physical and imaginative connection with the structure itself. to find it truthfully and become it completely so that the invisible is made visible and palpable. Journey & the Monomyth Beyond these simple identifications there are Journeys based on the monomyth (Campbell. is in the actor. 1993). from the first gentle slopes to the rocks and the vertical cliff face which tests your climbing skills. You cross a sandy beach and then you enter the forest. When you pass this test you are given a gift. you return with this gift to the world you came from. At the end of the road of trials you face a great test. the image is in you and you are in it. as if I was touching something archaic within myself. p. This work frees and connects the imagination and the body and expands the actors’ range of expression and feeling. When he said “You Wake Up. and I knew too. and this first experience remains for me a touchstone. it is not about making something up.
and the philosophical basis of his work had become the triangle of myth. 20). he says “‘yea’ to it all” (Campbell. Part of doing this is uncovering the “roots” and nurturing these roots. a desert. as Campbell would say. (Lecoq. Once you are on the mountain there is an earthquake followed by avalanches. such an attitude has depth and richness. a kind of meta-framework—what Grof would refer to. in non-ordinary states of consciousness work. The only thing David said more than “yes” was “let it go. myth is a metaphor and theatre is a metaphor (Latham. 1992. p. violent. Although it seems simple. In this way. facilitating vision. the mask is a metaphor. we can go to the universal through the personal. individually. I once asked him what he began with when he started teaching. The second element of Campbell’s vision that David brought to the work was a profound and intensely lived understanding of metaphor. More than this. 1992). 2000. 1992. Later. For David. You manage by grabbing hold of the trees. but even the most powerful identification is regarded as a symbol: it lives in and through the body of the actor. revealing at a deeper and deeper level. p. Firstly. p. which is in flood. then into the desert. to maintain it honestly requires great personal trust. communally and culturally. for inner states. are universal. where a sandstorm is blowing up. not by negating it. The sand is being swept by a rainstorm.valley and then there is a plain and finally in the distance. The forest is on fire.” Neutral Mask 41 . 28). it is. You come down the mountain. He was interested in “training an actor in such a way that the actor’s work exists in the duality of that which is psychological and that which is universal” (Latham. cross the stream. I would like to point to two elements that seem important. (Latham. art and psychology. an understanding that the depths of the individual are universal and that these depths will eventually emerge. but allowing them to be the driving force of the work in its content and its form. The founda- tion of the craft thus reaches into the deepest source of our being. beneath our surface characteristics. and this is where the neutral mask is very effective. it is not about methods. making connections that have psychological connotations and universal connotations. however. sometimes in terrifyingly powerful ways. and this points to the second significant way that Campbell’s work has influenced it: it serves as the cornerstone of an overarching.” Something deep within responds to this attitude. something as profoundly integrated and organic as an individual teacher’s art. the actors rerun the journey in extreme conditions: There is a raging sea and the wave throws you up onto the beach. 1991c. At the end. in the space available. walk through the plain. p. heart and openness and its effect on the working atmosphere are profound and significant. perverse. (Lecoq. the work occurs within an atmosphere of play. he affirmed it. 1976. Even the physical exercises serve as metaphors. Underlying it is a sense of trust that wherever you go will be OK. the most intimate places. and not only bringing those to the work. David writes that his work is not about invention. He was interested in all of you—whatever you wanted to bring out. 14). The image is in the actor and the actor is in the image. Finally you reach the desert. 2). “a highly played game of ‘as if ’” (Campbell. 4) Although it might be simplistic to try to analyse. and finally the sun sets. for example. 2000. it is what it sees. the profoundly personal. 41) It’s important to remember that as the mask moves through these environments it becomes them. the essence of our humanness. and you slide down towards the river. the actor takes off the mask. he had been absorbing Joseph Campbell’s work for nearly twenty years. metaphor is central. it is about revealing. p. developed over long years of personal struggle and innovation. David Latham affirms wherever his students journey to in their imagination and their improvisation. the universal depths. but nevertheless it is still theatre. for acting. p. We can experience how. I remember David’s appreciation of all the places we went—not just allowing but appreciation of the powerful. By the time I met David Latham and began working with him. sexual. 42) Campbell’s orientation as a facilitating vision or “set” Lecoq encourages his students to be aware of the “symbolic overtones” of the natural environments they move through—crossing the river can be a metaphor for adolescence. This distinguishes him very clearly from the Lecoq tradition. 1991b. emotional. He told me that he just knew that he wanted people—his students and actors—“to bring out what was in them. The power of the images is deeply respected. but also a holy atmosphere. which uses the via negativa. as the “set” (Grof. To use Campbell’s phrase. p. In David Latham’s work.
The transformation of the actor-person builds the actor-instrument. 267). 267). 2005.3 Behind all the masks. some of which his model shares with Campbell. with archetypes. it becomes permeable to essences. as well as the acting out of the monomyth. and to convert the stationary balance of this energy into a stream of experience” (Grof. 1991b. the actor transforms into the elemental forms of reality and lives through the movements of the world. It is.” Latham’s approach to the mask also shares with Grof ’s work a willingness to affirm whatever comes up.” Once I came across Stanislav Grof ’s writings. themselves. p. one can get stuck by literalizing one’s experience. the movement of the process from personal to universal or transpersonal. 123). 1987. 1998. given these similarities. as he eloquently demonstrates at the outset of his four-volume masterwork. realms of the unconscious are like movies the creative principle is screening on different channels (Grof. when both are present in awareness. Campbell’s whole conception can be seen to turn on the metaphor of masking: he writes about the “Masks of God. p. it is made of papier mache. 1987. the mask is prior to time. a trust in the overall trajectory of the psyche. Finally. 2001. The essence of the neutral mask is silence and stillness. The first of these is the ‘as-if ’ framework and the idea of the cosmos as a play of the divine: in Grof ’s cosmology.” the costumes of that transcendent Source from which words (and. which Campbell explicitly associated with the spiritual journey (Campbell. 73)— another version of the masks of God metaphor. These are important because they bridge Campbell’s vision with the process of personal and transpersonal transformation that is so much a part of such in-depth performance training. more simply. I would add. In Campbell’s terms. Effects of Journey Work The transformation mediated by the mask training is not aiming at therapy or at some version of enlightenment: it is a transformation of the talented beginner into an artist-craftsman in the service of theatre. 167). In other words. David Latham would say.” Neutral is “a fulcrum point which doesn’t exist” (Eldredge & Huston. The point is to support the actors in discovering in themselves deep sources for their work while at the same time developing their capacity to express those sources in performance.There are many connections and correspondences between Campbell’s vision of myth and metaphor and masking generally. Grof writes about the importance of the “as-if framework. 1993. Finally. Volume 24 . “Myth is the revelation of a plenum of silence within and around every atom of existence” (Campbell. The affinity is even more acute when we consider the neutral mask specifically. and so clears the channels of expression and feeling in the body. it should be clear that there is a similar process going on in the mask. in Primitive Mythology (Campbell. 21-26). the principle of masking itself. with different kinds of matter. 1995. and all are playful: between the stillness at the centre and the dynamism of the world’s and the mask’s movements. p. it is the World Axis. there comes the sense of play. In LSD Psychotherapy. by “menu-eating. pp. It is the still point and the silence that makes movement and speech possible. there is the neutral mask. the centre of “the turning wheel of terror-joy. to unblock the energy bound in emotional and psychosomatic symptoms.” calling it “that territory of experiential ambiguity which seems optimal for thera42 peutic work” (Grof. 1993. and the use of non-ordinary states of consciousness. and “Myth is a directing of the mind and heart. particular forms) turn back. a powerful crucible for deep personal transformation. The forms that arise in the mask are nothing if not “profound informed configurations. p. the principle of play and transformation. but in a sense saturated with imagination. p. The practice of “completing the image” brings actors up to and through their physical limitations again and again. and I will now discuss the kinds of changes actors report in this work. transform them into a stream of unusual experiences. a whole other set of common elements and parallels became apparent. p. From my description above. 1988). the journey of the student through the mask training looks like a journey through the transpersonal level of Grof ’s cartography: identifying with Fire. In it. and consume them in the process” (Grof. Campbell says. “the mask is theatre. Grof writes that “The main objective of the techniques of experiential psychotherapy is to activate the unconscious. the body becomes not just a vehicle for the imagination. 196). to that ultimate mystery which fills and surrounds all existence” (Campbell.”2 Like myth. The structure of the mask training therefore parallels the transformative path that the soul can take spontaneously in other kinds of non-ordinary states of consciousness work. The craft of actors is in large part to do with the development of their instrument. 166) and “The NOSC tends to change the dynamic equilibrium underlying the symptoms. and yet mask remains the same. The seeming paradox within these images is literal with the mask: it doesn’t move. with The Tree. The journey awakens the chan- The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. by means of profound informed figurations. p.
It is quite common for the energy of the elements to keep flowing for some time. This makes sense if we consider that once you have identiNeutral Mask 43 . Many actors also report energetic effects not specifically related to the specific identifications. huge waves of emotion.. “little poofs of magic cloud” in her chest. on the reports of other actors I have trained or observed and on my own experiences with the mask. and what we learned about archetype.” An increase in their sense of presence and the presence of their fellow actors is also a common observation. 2001. clean energy and it wasn’t stopping. the world and myself. new rhythms and feelings. but they would also occur outside of the studio. like [she was] burning up. and I have kept returning to it. Her description suggests more than an emotion. the world becoming new and different. the monomyth and myth generally. the one who carries across the meaning of the invisible. in conjunction with many other exercises. a whole universe of body memories. p. and powerful dreams that would continue after I woke up. At various times. emotionally. I couldn’t even sit down. and which can include powerful experiences likely to be pathologized by mainstream psychiatry. or for whole theatrical creations. weights. seeing in a different way. the neutral mask becomes a point of reference” (Lecoq. 1995). as Lecoq says. sudden. often when she thought of the work. actions—that evoke particular connections. I’ll talk about two things that emerged from this research: what the participants reported about changes in themselves. who had done some work with the Diamond Approach (Almaas. it became a reference point not only for acting but. these “happenings” would sometimes be the source of her mask work. 38). who brings the invisible into forms that point back to the silence. from deep inside of me was flowing a stream of clear. the ratty commendations and condemnations to get close to the POOFS. the emotions. For this student the mask was one catalyst for a powerful spiritual emergency that continued for months afterwards. I would experience. each time making discoveries about theatre. “qualities opening up inside” and “intimate movements that are more than physical. I kept jumping up on my feet and even that wasn’t enough… it was another day and night before it began to subside” (Holloway.4 This offers an actor an incredible range of physical expression he or she probably has not imagined up until this point. nobody could work with the neutral mask. imaginatively and energetically. and is more reminiscent of the lataif level as Almaas describes it—a level between energy and the substance of essence (Almaas. 2004). perhaps even more so. I am convinced.. air-heads. after a powerful experience of Water: “I couldn’t sit still. For myself. One actor wrote. para. for the world. Awakening of Energy and Essence Various energetic experiences frequently occur. the body remembers the forms—the rhythms. Spiritual Emergence(y) Perhaps not surprisingly. I had forgotten that life could feel like this. reported that she felt what she called. that it also points toward life. The experiences and insights of the mask point both ways.an inside heat. The following accounts are based on the experiences reported by the actors during this intensive. an enormous upsurge of elemental energies. on the effects of the mask work on them beyond the studio. The actor becomes the metaphor. sensations of greater weight or sublime lightness. by which I mean that the work provokes a transformational process that continues explicitly and strongly outside of the class. slippery characters). one of the rare effects is something like a spiritual emergence(y). it opens up inner experience. bright. He writes that “For everyone. which are more than merely physical. in the Grofs’ terms (Grof & Grof. Changes in perception of the world Participants often report a change in their perceptions: thinking new thoughts. During the mask work. and actors were invited to comment.nels of energy in the body and after the training.” Other students give reports that suggest something similar. For myself. One research intensive I conducted involved actors working with the monomyth on a daily basis for two weeks. These become sources for the actor. 1). and it wasn’t stopping. 2000. it was as if the mask work opened the inner floodgates. More importantly. 1998). outside of the class. if it seemed appropriate. without discovering. One student reported that she “noticed quite a lot of heat in [her] life. gestures. it has become like a pendulum that swings between theatre and life. While the main trajectory of discovery in the neutral mask is toward the theatre. for characters (fiery revolutionaries.” Another after becoming fire talked about “the fire in [her] belly consuming and burning through [her] resentments” in the days after her Fire identification. like another reality overlaying this one. She describes “sifting through the thoughts. One actor. which were chosen specifically to support the development of their journey work. In my own research I wanted to include this second trajectory.
I experience a type of bliss—a re-experiencing of myself in the world. Archetype One thing I have observed about archetypes is that if the actor loses touch with the timelessness and stillness of the mask. The process of research then is guided. archetype and the monomyth generally. I feel enveloped by the world. 1994. I feel I have surrendered to the world and have an immense trust of it . but it seemed to come out a bit messy. indescribable sense. more mundane observations about the qualities of presence that the mask manifests. where architects would mime the spaces they designed.of the light. gradually building a body of knowledge about the world in its inner. 75). Afterwards he said “I was disturbed by how far I went. It loses its mythic quality. to enter the essence of a thing. “Man understands that which moves by his ability to ‘mimic’ it. cars and so on . the performer can then use their craft as a kind of research. like a shaman. and toward knowledge by identity. The following observations and discussion grows out of this process. The best form comes out of nothing. An actor can understand a lot about Fire by becoming it. a dualistic way of putting it. for example. or a movingly intimate understanding of ashes to ashes. “per-form” is “by means of ” or “in accordance with” the form (Soanes. is there anything beyond that?” Even though we speak of working with images. and yet I feel my own profound stillness within its flow.” David Latham said to him: “When you’re out of control. if The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. which is a direct experience of the inner nature of the subject of the identification.is so astounding. the poignant and even beautiful humanness of the death and decay of our bodies. in my environs. 663). the numinosity of the archetype fades. trees. Over time these insights accumulate and integrate with other. by the mask and our aesthetic responses. 2005. Discovery of intrinsic intelligence/non-mental knowing The same student talked about contacting a guiding intelligence through the work: “beyond our own intellectual knowing or constructs… lodged in our body’s instinct. It is utterly beautiful. The performer’s craft distinguishes the mask work from therapy and mysticism. usually accompanied by intuitive insights and visions in both the performer and observer. For the performer it is not enough to simply have the inner experience. 22). not-knowing. One participant in the two-week intensive reported quite a remarkable change. 2000. p. I am released from all burden and control. and within my own movement. This means that. its extraordinary leaps and lunges.fied with a tree. but it also points to what it can contribute to these areas. One part of his school in Paris was a Laboratory for the Exploration of Movement. it gleams brilliant intelligence—and I am part of that. literally held by it.” She found that this intelligent guidance “came out of the clearness of the space. to identify himself with the world by re-enacting it with his entire being” (Wylie. compassion and wisdom. and so partly build out of concepts. metaphorical presence. toward knowing as if for the first time. which began to infuse her personal life more as the work went on: For a short while after each session. in its depth. Becoming Earth can reveal the beautiful unity of suffering. An archetype that they think they know. p. how it is related to inspiration. This is. Volume 24 . I am basic and simple—PURE—and everything makes wonderful. An actor becoming toothpaste can reveal its banality. and the resulting bruises. you will never look at trees the same way again. rarely has the richness and resonance in performance of one that comes from that state of deep stillness and mystery. 1994. I felt out of control. aesthetic. I remember one actor who touched something very deep. p. however.” Mask and Mime as Research into the Mythic Dimension The second line of inquiry in the research intensive was to study what the mask work can teach us— about myth. I am of the world and its greatness.there is no fear. Lecoq is very explicit about this: “Mime is pre-eminently a research art” (Wylie. “The action of miming becomes a form of knowledge” (Lecoq. you have to find the form—etymologically. A connected phenomenon is that the clarity and precision in the outward form seems connected strongly to the degree of openness and not-knowing that the actor feels. and each movement . it ceases to have that mythic. metaphorical dimension. 80). what releases and blocks these qualities. as if it is guiding me. p. which leads us to move beyond our conditioned responses. teach about courage. toward identification with essences. by seeing an actor become it: how it consumes. that is. and so on. The neutral mask adds to the clarity of this 44 research by mime because any personal idiosyncrasies are starkly illuminated by it and create a sense of dissonance in the observers and often the performer. people. 2001.
to gradually find the impulses and the movement. to wake up the actors’ imaginations to the profound reality of the universal dimension. so that the performance had a repeatable form. there is something important about going to the physical limit and just beyond it. Hence to study.. no thirst for transformation. their associations? Everquest? Outward Bound? How many of us have felt the long passage through different territories on a journey that we did not know we would return from? How many of us have come back from long years away and faced our place of origin and only then discovered that we were not at all the same? How many of us have absorbed the loss and the maturity of that adventure? Divorced from its physical dimension. it is dead. Journey In the case of the journey. organic spontaneity and power that is often present when the actor draws on the memory of a bushfire tearing through their hometown.. He is being the stillness. the journey is never merely a passage through space but rather an expression of the urgent desire for discovery and change. 164). What had. it can go to a depth where he no longer sees any image at all. In a sense. I once tried to make a performance that would capture and express the magnificent theatre of mask class. calling on the actor to find the limits of their strength in pushing. this also appears to be the case. it has no movement. to find the forms independently as the actor observes it. centred in it. The muscles must remember. The breaking open that happens with the gathering expression of all Neutral Mask 45 . of their release in falling and so on. it didn’t live in the same way as it did in mask. but more fundamentally in the centre. If it was symmetrical it would be dead. Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan writes of the train wheel being turned from off-centre (Inayat Khan. This experience of the quality or archetype coming out of the body. p. 126). and the form seems to emerge out of the body itself. What I’m saying here is that the mask teaches us that an archetype divorced from the physical loses its grandeur. We often need to use a series of physical tasks to help the actor lift their energy to level of a true trial. Another observation is that any archetype proves easier to contact when we have encountered its expressions in the natural world deeply and concretely on many levels. or the intelligence of the body is something that Tarnas points to in Grof ’s work: participants often have the insight that the body is “the repository and vessel of the archetypal” (Tarnas. Most often the actor finds the useful sources in childhood or adolescence. not about ticking the boxes of a pregiven structure. to put it another way. and actually the neutral mask is not really neutral: there is a deliberate imperfection. For the sense of a mythic journey to emerge. p.. As teachers of mask. I would say this is true for the world too: the journey isn’t a journey unless you are actually changed by it. p.. in the quality of their presence. and although the work was fascinating and rich. The Great Test is the apex of the journey. however imperfect the form may have been. unless you are receptive to the terrain through which you move. We chose the most powerful and dramatic identifications from the training and we worked. the drama was lost because. the journey is about the intensity of the experiences.. Symmetrical masks have no life. the fundamental transition at which the momentum—the energy and the rhythms—of the journey thus far. and this seems to apply to the actor as well. You don’t know what will happen in the next moment. 1993. 428). we work to shake the concept loose of its easy associations. “ (Cirlot. condense and reach their limit of intensity. 1971. in the beginning. Cirlot writes that “From the spiritual point of view. the archetype of the journey can become a mere phrase. hackneyed and trite. When a thing is perfect. In the mask. The structure is useless if the actor has no passion for adventure. We work physically to do this.. and the relevant archetypes came to life. and was perhaps a more “perfect” embodiment of the archetypal form than the original improvisations. 1994). Theatrically. spiritual and symbolic equivalents of the journey. they expanded to meet it. The body seems to shape itself. pushed them to their limits was now something they could encompass. not only in the outward expression. To live with intensity through new and profound experiences—how many of the young actors that we see have really journeyed? What are their frames of reference. to inquire. and while the performance was interesting. it does not work unless we see the actor transformed by the environments and events they are experiencing. using a very detailed process.” says Campbell (1988. or. their bodies became more open to the archetype. as the students rehearsed. to seek or to live with intensity through new and profound experiences are all modes of travelling. Something a little off-centre has to be turning the wheel. “The trials are designed to see to it that the intending hero should really be a hero.an actor finds a deep personal connection with the image. Observing fire between classes does not usually bring the same numinosity. when the energies took the actors beyond themselves.
And this is thanks to Performer. Volume 24 . 269). It provides an opening into which—speaking in terms of energy not action—The Gift can descend. California. There is no interest. As Joseph Campbell says “The basic principle of all mythology is this. no drama or epic energy in the journey unless there is a powerful forward movement. when it is pared down to the essential. the soul and the spirit. and this means that the primary images are not usually personal associations. (The stream of life is articulated in images. We observe that the moment of The Gift is almost always a transition into greater subtlety. and yet this often the point at which rhythm and quality of the actor’s movement will become most clearly numinous. so to say. which I call the “fake mythic. it is bad theatre. If it isn’t the work can attain a puffed-up. They have to find a neutral body. and it is also one of the invisible worlds within us. p. who is a bridge 1The The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. the hero very easily becomes transformed into the surrounding environment. according to Michael Chekhov. art and psychology. Unless the call is strong and specific (but not necessarily “known”) at the beginning. A strong call is connected to the principle of the end being present at the beginning. I would say that the journey becomes mythic when there is a true and specific call that is stronger than death. The use of mask and mime as a means of research also points to the importance of aesthetics to the processes of knowledge in this domain. 3The crucial thing though is that words. rather than toward matter. so the end is implicit in its presence at the beginning. Without a strong need to complete the journey. The metaphor is therefore the bridge.” The chest lifts a little too high. It has a mythic. 122). facing enormously powerful obstacles. but timeless or mythic associations. the body becomes more rigid. Significance is not given by the focused and specific intensity of the performer’s presence as they face a specific trial. it can come without a huge physical struggle. 2Because the mask has no character.) The witnesses then enter into states of intensity because. as you might find in an actor trained in Strasberg’s method. sticky-significant quality. If we find the right body and behaviour. the “feeling of the whole” which he 46 views as essential to all art and a crucial element of the actor’s art (Chekhov. We might also say that it is to do with the end in the beginning and the stillness within the movement. or performs an action like the last good bye. in fact. they feel presence. All of these elements together comprise. The neutral mask actor may be aware. of the beginning in the end” (Campbell. and forms. 15). In fact the true mythic quality requires them. toward the reality of the inner. this is when the journey really opens to a sacred dimension. p. Interestingly. 1996. when there is nothing that is added to the action. of all kinds of personal connections. usually given by the call. the directness of the mask.” 4Compare Grotowski: “Performer knows how to link body images to the song. These correspondences point to the integrity of David Latham’s triangle of myth. if they are good metaphors. That’s the invisible world of the mask. Without this. 2005. often seems to be a shedding of a coarser way of moving. 1991. the actor must. but the mask is innately universal. less permeable. as if trying to expand the movement beyond itself. as she moves through a mythic landscape. On many occasions. and carry new life across from that source into the manifest world.5 Author Note This paper is based on a presentation to the 16th International Transpersonal Association Conference: Mythic Imagination and Modern Society. June 2004 Footnotes mask is “engaged in making present a presence and making present an absence” (Eldredge. the mythic dimension of our own depth. in Grof ’s terms. Because the mask has no past. in that all three might be called. the pull of the call. in the face of a raging river the mask becomes the river. The question for the actor is “What is the quality of your adventure?” “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. must be stronger. expressing the movement toward wholeness. in order to embody it. not a domestic resonance. p. they point beyond themselves to the source of life. it is boring. the mask tunes us into the mythic depths to actions that have universal resonance. point to. xl). shed her idiosyncrasies. the actors cannot carry their baggage in their body-armour. holotropic—oriented toward the whole. of presence. than death. The mythic quality doesn’t exclude the lightness and simplicity. and indeed we find that the urge to go on the journey. but attempted by creating a kind of honey quality in the movement. We also find that an insipid call draws forth only a trickling stream.the hero’s resources (catharsis). The presence of the mask is more than time.” Campbell writes (1988. 1993. p. and metaphor means “to carry across. Palm Springs. and usually is aware.
Performer is pontifex. S. Zarrilli (Ed. A dictionary of symbols. H. S. Jefferson. Grotowski. Australia: Hill of Content. Grof. A. & Saint-Denis. The masks of God: Primitive mythology (Revised ed. New Lebanon. New York: E. National Institute of Dramatic Art. New York: State University of New York Press. 377). B. J. (1994). Eldredge. New York: The State University of New York Press. Performer. Feldenkrais. Cirlot. New York: Penguin. The potent self. M. J.. New York: Routledge. Inayat Khan. S. Albany. Campbell. Satyric and heroic mimes: Attitude as the way of the mime in ritual and beyond. Essence. Tarnas. The stormy search for the self: Understanding and living with spiritual emergency. Sarasota. Copeau. D. Heinemann. New York: Routledge. S. Copeau—texts on theatre. (1982). Campbell. Grof. 5In Wilber’s model. IL: Northwestern University Press. The adventure of self-discovery: Dimensions of consciousness and new perspectives in psychotherapy and inner exploration. Dutton. The passion of the Western mind. The moving body (D. & Huston. The hero with a thousand faces. (1991b). & Paul. & Grof.. Campbell. New York: Ballantine. In P. J. (1996). (1991). Unpublished manuscript. Grof. N. p. York Beach: ME. (2001). Acting (re)considered. A. FL: Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. S. P. Lecoq. S. London: Fontana Press.com. (1987). Schechner & L. (1995). death and transcendence in psychotherapy. 122). CA: Centreline Press. (1991a). Saint-Denis. In this sense.). Almaas. J. M. M. (2001). CA: Redwood Press.C. Australia: Penguin Arkana.). New York.: McFarland & Company. (1976). UK: Oxford University Press. he deems the validity claims for knowledge in the interior-subjective domain of reality (the “I” quadrant) to be “aesthetic” (Wilber. (2001). Samuel Weiser. NY: SUNY Press. A. Neutral Mask 47 . maker of bridges” (Grotowski. Ringwood. Evanston. Wilber. Beyond the brain: Birth. (1985). (1984). (1994). H. Anglesea. The power of myth. Paper presented at the Theatre Training Conference.). The cosmic game: Explorations of the frontiers of human consciousness. (1998). New York: Harper Collins. Training for the theatre: Premises & promises. J. New York: Harper Collins. R. Grof. A. London: Methuen. K. (1980). (1998). The use of the self. p. Melbourne. Wylie. Eldredge. Trans. H. New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications. E. That which transpires behind that which appears: The experience of Sufism. Woolford (Eds. Australia.between the witness and this something. The inner journey home: Soul’s realization of the unity of reality. (2001).. Chekhov. H. Oxford. In R. Grof. (1992. (1993). F. Downey. 2001. (1988). 376-380). J. References Alexander. N. Reflections on the art of living: A Joseph Campbell companion. The actor and the journey. New York: Arkana. (Ed. London.au or 11 Prospect Grove. Vol. J. A brief history of everything. S.. C. J. Realms of the human unconscious: Observations from LSD research. New York: Doubleday. Burlingame. (1990). Latham. N. (2004). (1995). K. Grof. Soanes. On the technique of acting. The masks of God: Creative mythology.). Bradby. 1). (1991c). Melbourne. Campbell. Almaas. C. (2000). V. S. London: Theatre Arts Books. Boston: Shambhala. 1996. Holloway. The Grotowski sourcebook (pp.. Northcote VIC 3070. LSD psychotherapy.P. NY: Omega Publications. J. Rudlin. S. J. Actor training in the neutral mask. 17th July).). Campbell. Oxford dictionary of current English (Third ed. M. Correspondence regarding this article should be directed to the author at ashwain@alphalink. (1996). (1993). London: Thorsons. (1971). Mask improvisation for actor training and performance: The compelling image.
Persinger (1987) has linked mystical/religious experiences to stimulation of the temporal lobes. Ludwig’s model (1966) is also helpful. perception. (These are termed HD and ICE states). 2005. There are. and even claimed to induce such experiences with a “helmet” which produces weak complex magnetic fields.g. (4) by decreasing alertness or relaxing the critical faculties. This view applies to altered states of consciousness rather than to higher states in particular. (3) by increasing alertness or mental involvement. claiming that meditative experiences of serenity may stem from a high level of activity in the parasympathetic half of the autonomic nervous system. 160).g... of course. These include nature. He suggested that there are five basic ways of producing alterations of consciousness: (1) by reducing exteroceptive stimulation and/or motor activity. we can just as easily see these brain states as results of higher states of consciousness rather than causes of them. Tart’s “systems model” of consciousness (1983) provides a useful–if tentative–view of the problem. which is responsible for our awareness of boundaries. music. T he question of why and how higher states of consciousness occur has never received a clear answer. The philosopher Colin McGinn (1993) has written that “You might as well assert that numbers emerge from biscuits or ethics from rhubarb” as suggest that the “soggy clump of matter” which is the brain produces consciousness (p. He suggested that states of consciousness are the result of the interaction of a large number of neurological and psychological processes–such as attention. This again applies to altered states rather than solely to higher states. and compares and contrasts them. and (5) by changes in the body chemistry or neurophysiological functioning. and quiet reflection. but does not seek to explain the cause of the experiences. They have also linked mystical experiences with the autonomic nervous system. This research establishes an important link. emotions–and that if any one process is altered sufficiently (e. 1996) has pointed out. But as Wilber (e. And we can say the same for the suggestion that increased or decreased activity in different parts of this soggy clump of matter might produce higher states of consciousness. rather than the experience itself. music. an overall consciousness shift may result. cognition. attempts to explain mystical experiences in neurological (or neuropsychological) terms. Alister Hardy’s research (1979) showed that. (2) by increasing exteroceptive stimulation and/or motor activity and/or emotion. despair or depression. it is argued that “higher states of consciousness”–or mystical experiences–have two main sources: they can be caused by a disruption of the normal homeostasis of the human organism and also by an intensification of the “consciousness-energy” that constitutes our being. The author investigates examples of both types of experience. D’Aquili and Newberg (2000) have suggested that mystical experiences of “oneness” correlate with decreased activity in the posterior superior parietal lobe of the brain.. Volume 24 . Alexander’s extensive research (e. 1990) has shown a clear link between the regular practice of transcendental meditation and such experiences.The Sources of Higher States of Consciousness Steve Taylor In this paper. These researchers may only be investigating the “footprints” of mystical and spiritual experience. but has some similarities with the explanation I am going to suggest. while they may sometimes seem purely to be a matter of chance–or “grace”–there are many potential triggers of spiritual/mystical experiences.g. while ecstatic high-arousal states may be induced by increased activity in the sympathetic half. if we concentrate our attention to an intense degree or if we experience intense emotion). Physicalist theories of higher states of consciousness are subject to the same “explanatory gap” as theories which suggest how the brain might produce consciousness itself. and also has 48 The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. It is concluded that the second type of experience is the only one which is truly positive and which can become a fully integrated and permanent higher state of consciousness. prayer. At the same time there is the difficulty of explaining subjective experience in purely objective terms.
When we do not manage to do this for some reason and suffer an internal imbalance. These include: an intensified perception of the phenomenal world.g. However. as we will see. “low arousal” passive and serene experiences. by breathing. higher levels of insulin and a lower body temperature–appears to make the hold which ordinary consciousness has over us much looser. The 14th century German mystic. a sense of oneness with the manifest world (or a sense of transcending boundaries). drinking and sleeping. But some ascetics were motivated by a desire to transcend ordinary consciousness and reach a higher state in which they experienced the presence of God (or Spirit) in the world and felt themselves one with the radiance of his being.similarities with my model. 1902/85. James. and this is certainly true to some degree. In Oswald’s experiments (1970). dancing. I will suggest. Throughout history human beings have made a conscious effort to produce ergotropic high arousal states. But there is also a possibility that we will experience higher states of consciousness. Disrupting homeostasis can be used as what Andresen and Forman (2000) refer to as a “technology of spiritual experience. shining. for example. the conscious effort to mortify their physical desires made by many–particularly Christian–saints and mystics. On the last morning she was “so tired that I was absolutely loaded with energy” and decided to walk home instead of getting the bus: I was walking down a lane which had fields on either side of it. since these two types of mystical experience follow from the two distinct sources I intend to identify. I’ve never seen anything as beautiful ever again. The following report was given me by a nurse who had been working night shifts without sleeping properly during the day. spent years wearing a hair shirt and an iron chain. To a large extent our bodies maintain homeostasis automatically. Asceticism is sometimes seen as a morbid and neurotic expression of the antiphysical dualistic ideology of monotheistic religions such as Christianity. Our bodies continually strive to maintain a state of homeostasis. A prolonged lack of food–which disrupts homeostasis by causing a lower level of blood glucose. Burkhert. 2000b). He never had a bath in 25 years. Maintaining homeostasis is both involuntary and voluntary. This connection between physical deprivation and higher states of consciousness may partly explain the tradition of asceticism. blood sugar. Henry de Suso. digesting food. This is actually fairly easy to do. particularly a more intense perception of reality. glowing. I walked past a tree and each leaf seemed to be coming out at me. sweating and shivering. the basis of the longstanding connection between fasting and both altered and higher states of consciousness. 1987). Disrupting the Equilibrium Fischer (1971) made an important distinction between “ergotropic” higher states of consciousness–that is. for example. even though there is no certainty that they will occur. as also did the initiates of the Roman and Greek mystery cults as a preparation for rituals (Krippner. But higher states of consciousness can result too. This includes such factors as body temperature. for example. which must remain at–or quickly return to–an optimum level. Scholars–and mystics and spiritual seekers themselves–generally agree that there are certain fundamental features of mystical/spiritual experience. an awareness of what Becker (1973) called the “raw experience” of the world.” This may be. High arousal states are associated with triggers such as drugs. and so on.. Each leaf seemed to be pulsating and growing. 2000. The shamans of native cultures often use fasting and sleep deprivation as preparation for soul flights and vision quests. salt concentration. as well as a leather belt containing 150 inwardfacing sharp brass nails. Underhill. with visual hallucinations and acute paranoia. Wilber. a sense of inner peace and wholeness. fasting and breath-control. Sleep deprivation can certainly cause altered states of consciousness. especially if the imbalance continues for a long period (Green. 1911/60. not all of these features are common to both types of higher states of consciousness from both sources. 1987). We will see later that asceticism achieves this partly through a long term process of taming physical desires (thereby conserving “consciousness-energy”). as a means of inducing temporary higher states of consciousness. and a sense of becoming a deeper and truer Self (e. “high arousal” active or ecstatic states–and “trophotropic” higher states–that is. but it is probable that ascetics also used pain and discomfort in a more short term way. But we are also obliged to consciously aid the process by performing physical functions like eating. participants who went without sleep for five days displayed symptoms identical to schizophrenia. and I felt a feeling of ecstasy. we are liable to illness and even death. never sheltered from the cold in the winter or Higher States 49 . This distinction is valid. They were all vivid. the optimum condition of our biological functioning. whereas low arousal states are associated with triggers such as meditation and relaxation.
however. are psychedelic drugs. the aspiring mystic should turn for technical help to the specialists–in pharmacology. The Neolithic peoples of Europe smoked opium and cannabis for apparent religious or ritualistic purposes 5. p. they were able to free themselves from ordinary consciousness. usually crushed to earth by the cold facts and dry criticisms of the sober hour” (1902/1985.” This experience features many of the characteristics of higher states of consciousness I mentioned previously: a heightened perception of the reality of the phenomenal world. Volume 24 . One acquaintance who experimented with magic mushrooms gave me the following report: Everything I looked at. al-Shebli. Normally we inhale and exhale at the same rate.and hyperventilation as a means of inducing higher states of consciousness (Jilek. The Sufi mystic. in the present state of knowledge. in physiology and neurology. and preserve a balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen levels. while adepts of the Greek Eleusinian mysteries ingested kykeon (Rudgley. I’m a blade of grass!” kind of way. and therefore disrupt homeostasis. By far the most powerful in terms of their transcendental effects. it seems. but because there wasn’t this distinction between “me” and “it. the Native Americans ingested sacred plants such as fly-agaric mushrooms and peyote. At the same time they were all interconnected. They were all separate on one level but on another they were all just one thing. 1990). p. There are other methods of inducing higher states of consciousness through disrupting homeostasis. not all drug experiences are transcendental experiences. It might seem controversial to suggest that drug-induced spiritual experiences are essentially the same in kind as the above experiences of sleep-deprivation and lack of food. By far the most direct way of disrupting the equilibrium. trees and stones and blades of grass. 1993. is by using drugs. in that drug experiences are likely to be much more powerful. 2005. took a bundle of sticks with him into his cellar every day.000 years ago. generate higher states of consciousness. an identity and being. 1964). has transcendental properties. and an awareness of the oneness of all phenomena. but I would maintain that the root of both types of experience is the same internal imbalance and that the only real difference is one of degree. who burned down the house in order to roast a pig. seemed to have a powerful presence. McKenna. Or as we might rephrase it: why bother with pain. if he so desires) what are the chemical conditions of transcendental experience. All drugs alter the normal chemical balance of the human organism. 1977. such as altering our normal breathing patterns. Of course. Smith. human beings have always used drugs for transcendental and ritualistic purposes. I looked at a meadow which was full of wild plants and bushes and weeds and in some way–which I can’t really describe–everything in it was one. Knowing as he does (or at least can know.touched or scratched any part of his body apart from his hands and feet (James. They seemed to have personalities or souls. William James maintained that ‘The sway of alcohol over mankind is 50 unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature. Even our one socially-sanctioned drug. the Algonquians and Kiowa–used both hypo. alcohol. the early Indo-European conquerors of India worshipped their drink Soma (probably made from “magic” mushrooms). as a means of intensifying or altering consciousness. At the end of the day he would dash his hands and feet against the wall (Attar. Not in an “Oh my god. 121). and if we exhale faster and more deeply than usual we build up a higher than usual concentration of carbon dioxide–and both of these non-homeostatic states can. however. Many Native American groups–such as the Salish. 1902/1985).1993. with which he would beat himself whenever he found his attention wandering from contemplation of Allah. 1989). but all drugs undoubtedly can generate them in the right circumstances. an experience of oneness with the cosmos. 387). I lay down on the grass and looked around and when I sat up I felt like I was one of the blades of grass. But if we inhale faster and more deeply than usual we build up a higher than usual concentration of oxygen. hunger or sleep deprivation when it is possible to disrupt homeostasis more directly simply by ingesting certain chemicals? Of course. in psychology and psychiatry and parapsychology (Huxley. to prolonged fasting and violent self-flagellation would be as senseless as it would be for an aspiring cook to behave like Charles Lamb’s Chinaman. Certain kinds of chanting The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. It is likely that part of the motivation for these appalling practices was a discovery that by contravening their physical needs and thereby disrupting homeostasis. As Huxley pointed out: For an aspiring mystic to revert.
1950. blood pressure. and later developed by Naranjo and Ornstein (1971) suggests. The question of why disrupting homeostasis can result in higher states of consciousness is difficult to answer exactly. homeostasis works to regulate and maintain ordinary consciousness. It screens out reality so that we can concentrate properly on the business of day to day survival.” Here we can probably assume that prolonged energetic dancing produces an internal imbalance because of a high body temperature. but only infrequently in higher states. as it were. with paranoia and hallucinations.and interpersonal actions (1994. ordinary consciousness is our optimum mode of consciousness. dehydration and exhaustion. such as the “throat music” of the Inuit. and experience divine possession” (in Spenser. In view of this it seems justifiable to say that. The optimum physical state of homeostasis equates with the optimum psychological state (from the point of view of survival) of ordinary consciousness. or the chemical changes produced directly by drugs–does not seem to be so significant. a depressed immune system and hormonal and metabolic changes. However. however. 1987). p. like chanting. Part of the purpose of the pranayama exercises of yoga is to induce temporary higher states of consciousness. leave their own identity. It almost always results in altered states of consciousness. at least to some extent. as the “filter theory” of higher states of consciousness put forward by Huxley (after Bergson). extreme tiredness may often result in psychotic and delusional states. It may be that. since in most cases the increasing level of these factors is likely to produce an internal imbalance. We can put forward similar cases for other ritualistic and religious practices such as drumming (which may also. Any change in any one of these conditions is enough to dismantle the whole structure. it seems. the Dervish orders of Islam used dancing as a means of inducing the state of consciousness which they called “passing away. it’s important to point out that disrupting homeostasis certainly does not always result in a higher state of consciousness. As a result. also appear to involve a rapid rhythmic hyperventilation which produces altered and higher states (Metzner. involve a meditative concentrative aspect) and painful ordeals. This suggests that. 60). Similarly. hormonal and metabolic changes and increased heart rate and blood pressure. as with the increasing motor activity of frenzied dancing. This might suggest that I am attempting to reduce higher states of consciousness to chemical causes. Any disruption to homeostasis can. rather than merely being chemically produced themselves. The initiates of the Greek and Roman mystery cults used frenzied dancing–as well as self-flagellation and drugs–as a means of disrupting homeostasis so that they could be. in which the aim is simply to hold the breath for as long as possible. Or as Floyd W. All of these are examples of the fifth category in Ludwig’s model: changes in the body chemistry or neurophysiological functioning. But the important point may be rather that ordinary consciousness is strictly chemically moderated. Although the essential purpose of pranayama is long-term regulation of prana–and inseparable from the physical exercises of hatha yoga. 1990). Rudmin wrote: In line with evolutionary theory. it is widely accepted that this active mode of ordinary consciousness is adaptive and functional and serves to enhance the survival of the species. the “shadowy” vision of reality which ordinary consciousness gives us evolved as a kind of survival mech- anism. would potentially induce a higher state of consciousness (Feuerstein. but even they can frequently produce psychotic symptoms. p. “filled with divine awe…assimilate themselves to the holy symbols. or in the case of pain. It simplifies and actively processes information and guides and monitors our intra. it is clear that a breath control technique such as kevali-kumbhaka. Psychedelic drugs appear to most reliable way of inducing higher states through non-homeostasis. And at the same time it conserves energy. His second category–increasing exteroceptive stimulation and/or motor activity and/or emotion–can also be seen as related to disrupting homeostasis. when we disrupt homeostasis we also disrupt ordinary consciousness1. trigger altered states of consciousness (including higher states). higher states of conHigher States 51 . in the words of a contemporary observer. that ordinary consciousness and homeostasis are closely interlinked. This may also be the root of the connection between dancing and higher states of consciousness. 157). The exact chemical nature of the disruption to homeostasis–in the case of sleep deprivation. From the point of view of survival. Higher (and altered) states of consciousness occur when the chemical conditions that regulate ordinary consciousness are relaxed.practised by tribal peoples. Our perception becomes automatized so that we can transfer energy that would normally be channelled into the act of perception into the business of practical survival. It seems clear. For example. become at home with the gods.
books or the internet). He notes that the “endless associational chatter” of our minds monopolises our psychic energy. We also conserve this energy through the phenomenon of automatization. 2005. and that ordinary consciousness may be thought of as–at least to some extent–a more artificial. Psychologists often assume the existence of psychic energy (e. 1981. we might feel lethargic or run down. we accept its existence almost as a given. 1980). since there is always a witnessing “I” which is apart from the flow of energy. but at a certain point there is a switch to fully automatic processing. and verbal information from the media. attending to our experience and thinking logically and discursively.g. or under special goal conditions such as exists in religious mystics. but consciousness as awareness and as consciousness as cognition are bound up with psychic energy. she or he deprives the automatized structures of consciousness (which produce “thought-chatter”) of attention. I believe. As a result. Novak (1996) makes an important connection between our normal shadowy vision of the world and psychic energy.g. 2004a. 1995. Csikszentmihalyi. Novak claimed that energy bound in defences and fantasies can be released in present-centeredness. 2003) or attentional energy (e. p. 1996) or “pool of attentional resources” (Kahneman. we halt this constant outflow of consciousnessenergy. with a high level of consciousnessenergy. we feel alert and vibrant. in the acts of perceiving the phenomenal world.g. 1992. 259). Novak. when. which “frees up” the energy that they normally monopolise. chemically-generated construct. according to how much we have expended through concentrating or attending to stimuli. Gross. We have the sense that our level of consciousness-energy continually fluctuates. through the concentrative effort we make to deal with the tasks and chores which fill our lives. they begin to weaken and fade away. Consciousness-Energy and Higher States of Consciousness In a discussion on the psychological effects of meditation. which are part of our lives. whereas when we feel mentally buoyant.. Consciousness as a witness may be fun52 damentally independent. such as in acute psychosis or in LSD states. However. Consciousness-energy is clearly distinct from energy as we normally think of it. and we certainly feel subjectively that it exists. Our moods seem to be affected by our level of consciousness-energy too–when we feel mentally drained we often feel depressed. the purpose of which is to conserve attentional energy so that we can focus our minds elsewhere (Norman & Challice.g. Deikman. 1973). This is roughly equivalent to the term “psychic energy”–I prefer consciousness-energy because it emphasises the interrelationship between this energy and consciousness. They can also occur when there is an intensification of what I term consciousness-energy. and also through the effort we make to process the various forms of information (e.. paying attention towards an object spends attentional energy on it. we usually feel cheerful and optimistic. perceptual stimuli such as sights and sounds.sciousness are ontologically more fundamental and authentic. On an everyday level. typing or playing a musical instrument are initially painstaking conscious processes. leaving none available for us to devote to what he calls the “open. If we have been concentrating hard.” However.. be classified as the second major source of higher states of consciousness. the energy which we use in being conscious. Consciousness-energy is the active principle of consciousness. Volume 24 . when a person meditates. This is not to say that consciousness is in its essence a form of energy–De Quincey (2002) has argued that this cannot be the case. and build up a high concentration within our The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. including the effort to communicate with other human beings. in favour of alternate modes of consciousness (Deikman. Others talk more obliquely of mental effort (e. and independent (at least to a large extent) to the chemical energy which we absorb from food and which fuels the functioning of our bodies. Deikman also makes a connection between mystical experiences and energy when he suggests that they are brought about by a deautomatization of hierarchically ordered structures that ordinarily conserve attentional energy for maximum efficiency in achieving the basic goods of survival…Under special conditions of dysfunction. for some reason. Marchetti. Both these views hint at what can. Csikszentmihalyi. seeming to assume the existence of some form of mental energy without actually using the term. Activities such as driving. receptive and present-centred awareness. 2004) without making it clear exactly what this energy is..2 It might be said that we normally expend our consciousness-energy in three main ways: through what Novak identifies as the “endless associational chatter” of our egos. As a result. the pragmatic systems of automatic selection are set aside or break down. As Marchetti (2004) puts it. if there is a surplus of consciousness-energy.
In the Christian mystical tradition. 1990). the yogin experiences the intense radiance of the Self. It has to. and the terms “drawing in. for instance. One of the main differences between ICE states (as I will term them from now on. ICE states feature a stilling of consciousness-energy. walking alone in the countryside she is absorbing and processing comparatively little information and being relatively inactive. At the same time as monopolising a large portion of our consciousness-energy. We are. Examples of these were given by many participants of Deikman’s experimental meditation sessions (Deikman. 223). the reason why spiritual or mystical experiences often occur in natural surroundings. In spiritual states caused by an ICE this storm fades away. as a direct. therefore. There is another cause of this sense of inner peace that requires explanation. The Hindu text the Moksha-Dharma compares the transcendental Self to a sun. “a man must collect all his powers as if into a corner of his soul” (1979. 1986. wholeness. St. p. which is logical when we consider that it is probably directly caused by the high concentration of consciousness-energy which meditation can generate. p. ICE states also often involve a profound sense of inner peace and contentment. The thought chatter of the ego is fed by attention. Usually if a person is. As Novak suggests. and the only task we have to concentrate on is focusing our attention. And this contributes to the sense of bliss which spiritual ICE states feature. the constant thought-chatter. In addition. That is. it fades away. the rays of the sun–or the whirls of consciousness–are gathered up and focused inwardly.” and “lifting”–and also the “gathering up” of the whirls of consciousness described in the Moksha-Dharma–refer to what I describe as generating a high concentration of consciousness-energy. otherwise consciousness-energy would not be concentrated enough to produce a spiritual state. he states that to achieve union with God. when the chatter of our minds fades away–and when we conserve energy in the other ways I mentioned–there is a surplus of consciousness-energy. As a result. ICE states have a powerful affective dimension that HD states lack. which means that perception no longer needs to be automatic. p. 2004b). Or again. and notes that through the process of concentration (dharana). creates a constant psychic disturbance. and give rise to higher states of consciousness. However. and so largely closing two of the main chanHigher States 53 . 20).) However. which may lead to a permanent alteration of the structures of consciousness. Gregory of Sinai described spiritual experience as “the total lifting of the powers of the soul to what may be discerned of the entire majesty of glory” (in Happold. As well as an intensification. so when we focus our attention elsewhere.” “collecting. and relief (Hardy. As a result we perceive our surroundings with first-time vision. Meister Eckhart described how mystical experience occurs when “you are able to draw in your [intellectual and sensory] powers to a unity and forget all those things and their images which you have absorbed” (1979. since there is no need for energy to be conserved. if a point is reached where the chattering ego becomes so weakened that it disappears as a psychic habit. bliss is the nature of being or consciousness–being-consciousness-bliss (Sat Chit Ananda) is the essence of reality. which runs through our minds. In Meister Eckhart’s (1996) phrase. There is always a sense of inner stillness. there is a constant inward storm of thought. for example. We process very little information from our environment. or even bliss. The terms “powers” and “powers of the soul” here are equivalent to the term consciousness-energy. italics added). a conscious attempt to intensify and still our consciousness-energy. both in the short and long term. there are situations in which ICE states may occur more accidentally. Our automatized perception means that we usually give very little consciousnessenergy to the act of perceiving our surroundings. literal experience of the stillness and purity of consciousness in these moments. during meditation we largely close the other main channels through which we expend energy. for example. As the Indian mystical traditions make clear. Meditation is. 1979). we might say. we are liable to experience higher states of consciousness.own being. likely to experience this bliss when the energy of our being is intensely concentrated. whereas homeostasis disruption (HD) states are centred around a different mode of experiencing the phenomenal world. reported great senses of peace. Similarly. This sense of inner peace appears to be generally absent from HD experiences. This is probably. and are awake to the is-ness and animacy of natural phenomena.7. this is one interpretation of what may happen in meditation practice. and attains a state of samadhi (Feuerstein. Meditators have. Many mystics and spiritual teachers have spoken of mystical experience in similar terms to these. and a sense of purity–and this is not so much an affective state. standing for 'intensification of consciousness-energy') and higher states of consciousness resulting from homeostasis disruption is that the former are–in Stace’s terminology (1964/88)–more introvertive. (In the long term it is an attempt to permanently halt the associational chatter of the mind.
Similarly. I went out for walk one evening alone. feeling calm and at peace with the world. 1979. Then an intense feeling of ‘light’ and ‘love’ uplifted and enfolded me (Hardy. Volume 24 . In theory. listening to a Brahms symphony. therefore. The fact that the person was inactive and had closed his eyes had already reduced his or her outflow of consciousness-energy. 1961) might be explained in these terms. almost any activity which involves a degree of concentration and which takes place in a quiet and still setting–and which can therefore result in an intensification and stilling of life-energy–could give rise to a spiritual experience. the contemplation of art and creative work (Hardy. 2002) can be explained in similar terms. resulting in a sense of inner peace and wholeness and a familiarity-free perception of is-ness and all-pervading spirit. The following are good examples of higher states of consciousness (presumably) induced by nature from Hardy’s The Spiritual Nature of Man (1979): Last summer. 2005. Other Aspects of ICE states So far I have discussed two different aspects of higher states of consciousness in relation to ICE states: an intensified perception of the phenomenal world (perhaps including an awareness of the presence of brahman in the world) and a sense of inner peace. Sex can. For example. Some of these may be due to homeostasis disruption. after sex we may experience what D. for similar reasons. Your whole being rests lightly on your float. meditation. Music. at somewhere between 30 and 40 minutes. taken over by something outside myself if which I was yet a part. p. 103). The path led up to a narrow precipice walk along the hill’s edge. which may generate ICE states. there was a gust of wind and felt as if I had been swept into the very heart of all that glory and colour. 85). such as literature. Taylor. the poet Ted Hughes described a meditative state he often experienced while fishing. As a result. and I must have become completely relaxed. which may fall silent. He notes how poetry depends upon the ability to focus the mind. The following example–again from Hardy–is a good example of an ICE state induced by music: I was sitting one evening. this sense of one- The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. very alert” (1967. suddenly I became aware that there was no separateness between myself and other people. and seemed to be beyond the boundary of my physical self. “take people to the same realms as trance. you enter one of the orders of bliss. Laski.g. we should give some attention to other aspects of higher states of consciousness. 120). directing it away from the chattering of the ego. and while I was there…the setting sun blazed out turning the whole world crimson and gold. This may also be part of the reason why sex can be a powerful trigger of spiritual states. “I think the same process occurs in the repetitive rhythm of long-distance running. It becomes a focus for the attention. and we can assume that the music acted as a concentrative device. 1995. 72). reducing the outflow further. And at the same time the beauty of nature may have a similar effect to a mantra in meditation. when walking on Hampstead Heath alone. sports also often involve an intense degree of concentration. p. and I was pervaded by a feeling of great peace and joy. until an ICE state is generated. the conscious mind gets exhausted and other areas of consciousness are activated” (p.. since the exertions of some sports can easily create internal imbalances. Other significant triggers of spiritual experience. 72) The high incidence of spiritual experiences amongst athletes and sportspeople (e. Lawrence described as “the strange.H. My eyes were closed. and believes that he acquired this ability through fishing. too. Murphy & Whyte. after discussing the universal use of mantras to induce different states of consciousness. for I became aware of a feeling of ‘expansion’. 54). The activity itself serves as a focusing device. He describes the effect of staring at a float for long 54 periods: “All the nagging impulses that are normally distracting your mind dissolve…once they have dissolved. 62) In my early twenties…in Wales. This is particularly the case with sports that involve long periods of monotonous rhythmic activity.nels through which consciousness-energy drains away. such as long distance running or swimming. and quietens the chattering ego. Eventually. However. As a consequence the chattering might fade away. that there was no such things as death. how can we explain the sense of one-ness that comes with spiritual experiences in these terms? Unlike the sense of inner peace. However. drugs” (p. The sheer pleasure of sex can shift our attention away from the egomind. as Jenny Wade comments. As the psychiatrist Thaddeus Kostrulaba (1976) wrote. quietening the chattering of the ego-self. (p. soothing flood of peace which goes with true sex” (1973. (p. p. is a prominent trigger of spiritual states. but not drowsily.
g.) Since HD states do not depend on an intensification of consciousness-energy. Therefore when the chatter becomes silent the separate self-system may fade away. it has turned into something sublimely all-embracing. But the spiritual life involves more than meditation. which can occur temporarily in higher states of consciousness or as a gradually evolving feature of long-term spiritual development. Like asceticism. This kind of radical spirituality is opposed to many contemporary spiritual teachings (e. 1979. Cope.171. by permanently reducing or restricting its outflow. It’s certainly true that. the “restriction of the whirls of consciousness” allows the transcendental Self to appear (in Feuerstein. Michael Murphy. The experience may be primarily related to ego-dissolution. 304-5) The important point here may be that our true sense of self is embedded in consciousness-energy. the sense that we have made contact with a deeper and truer part of our own being. 1984. they should be termed “extheogens. at the essence of our being. our true identity. we are one with the cosmos. we also effectively experience the essence of the whole universe. atman is one with brahman. Reports of HD-induced higher states of consciousness do not. a transcendence or dismantling of the separate-self system which creates the illusion of separateness and duality. Hardy.. Self still exists. This suggests that the experience is not strictly related to ICE states.” Long Term Spiritual Development Long-term spiritual development can also be interpreted in terms of an intensifying and stilling of consciousness-energy. If anything. generally feature this sense of becoming one with a truer and deeper self. and others suggests. Walsh. Ouspensky. McKenna. There is an identity shift from the ego-self to the True Self. This can be achieved through disrupting homeostasis–since the separate self-system is an integral part of our ordinary optimum survival consciousness which homeostasis partly serves to maintain–or through a silencing of associational chatter. Something that is far superior to the unimportant personality which was I. yet there is not the slightest loss of consciousness. “entheogens” (e. revealers of the god within–is misleading. 1999). 1993) and my own personal experiences of them3. They might choose to live alone in the forest or desert.. And based on my own examination of reports of HD states (e.g. 1977. This new sense of self is vividly evoked in Paul Brunton’s famous description of meditating in the presence of Ramana Maharishi: The brain has passed into a state of complete suspension. The consciousness-energy that constitutes our being is one and the same as the consciousness-energy which pervades the cosmos. I believe this to be the case. In this respect the term that is sometimes used for psychedelic drugs.g. so that an ICE state equates with a sense of connection to a truer self. I believe. Another important aspect of spiritual experiences is the sense of becoming who we really are. especially once the superficial thought-maintained self of the ego has faded away. pp. Traditionally. arises into consciousness and becomes me. Therefore. One way of looking at regular spiritual practice–whether it is daily meditation practice or mindfulness exercises or a monastic life of renunciation–is as a concerted effort to generate a permanently high concentration of consciousness-energy (and to permanently still consciousness-energy to some degree). but it is a changed. to take vows of silence or celibacy. radiant self.. 2003)–literally. Huxley. to rid themselves of all possessions or to relinquish ambitions or interests of their own. As mentioned previously. Yet my awareness has been drawn out of the narrow confines of separate personality. The energy is our Self. (1972. as the Integral Philosophy recently developed by Ken Wilber. We tap into the ocean of Spirit that pervades all reality. ICE states in particular may provide another source of this experience of oneness. As the Vedanta tradition tells us. focusing our energies exclusively upon spiritual development is likely to cause an imbalance and a neglect of Higher States 55 . spiritual aspirants have forced themselves to extremes of renunciation and detachment in an effort to permanently transform their state of being. I remain perfectly calm and fully aware of who I am and what is occurring. As many spiritual traditions hold. when we experience a powerful intensification of consciousness-energy. detachment has been seen as part of the ascending world-rejecting tradition which posits an artificial and dangerous duality between matter and spirit. According to the Yoga philosophy of Patanjali. p. which insist that there is no distinction between the spiritual and the mundane and that every aspect of our lives–including business. Our sense of ego appears to be largely maintained by this chatter. 1990. we would not expect this aspect to feature in them. However.ness is–as we have seen–also a feature of spiritual experiences resulting from homeostasis disruption. food and relationships–offers the opportunity for spiritual growth. some deeper diviner being. the practice of meditation does this by teaching the chattering ego the habit of quietness. as it does in deep sleep.
ojas. p. 72). Many mystics strove for years to attain this freedom. for example. 212). making a determined effort to permanently close down the channels through which consciousness-energy drains away. Francis of Assisi. of permanently taming our desires so that they no longer monopolise our consciousness energy. teaching. the yogic ascetisicm of tapas was defined by Swami Prabhavananda (1969) as “the practice of conserving energy and directing it toward the goal of yoga…obviously. unreal. The practices should be seen purely as a matter of economy. Underhill (1960) noted that possessions “are a drain upon the energy of the self. Volume 24 . can be seen as a method of stopping our thoughts being occupied and our energies being drained away by possessions. ‘The mortifying process is necessary…because those senses have usurped a place beyond their station. ‘There are men who completely dissipate the powers of the soul in the outward man. it should be seen as a question of taming or controlling what ascetics called “the body of desire” in order to conserve–and redirect–the consciousness-energy which it normally monopolises. or ascendance to the higher transpersonal realms. preventing her from attaining that intenser life for which she was made” (p. They are processes directed to a particular end: a release from what Underhill calls the selfhood’s tyranny and from the dominance (and energy-monopolisation) of our lower. However. St. the purpose of the life of a renunciate is clear: he or she is attempting to drastically limit the outflow of consciousness-energy–or more specifically.102). 1960). At the same time as serving as a means of inducing temporary spiritual states through homeostasis-disruption. This is another aspect of asceticism. 186).other important areas of our lives. since there is always the danger that the sexual energy may simply be repressed–freeing the consciousness-energy which is normally devoted to sexual desires and activity. And similarly. Silence and solitude are clearly two other ways of concentrating or intensifying consciousness-energy. for example. Underhill actually refers to a wrong distribution of this energy. St. steadily drained the vitality of the self ” (p. Tapas usually involves chastity (brahmacarya) and the subjugation of the senses (indirya-jaya) and is believed to generate an intense form of energy. which equates with a permanently higher state of consciousness. become the focus of energy. a permanent redistribution of consciousnessenergy. and the thoughts and fantasies of sex. When that force is conserved through abstinence. and harmful things which dissipate the precious energies of the self ” (p. The first two stages of Patanjali’s eight-limbed path of yoga also involve rigorous selfcontrol and an effort to tame the body of desire. In a similar way. As Underhill notes again. or implying that everyday life is opposed to spirituality. These are the people who direct all their aims and intelligence towards transient possessions’ (1990. And similarly. and St. The purpose of detachment and mortification is to produce a transformation of being. which is sometimes experienced as heat (the literal meaning of the word tapas). converting non-Christians and serving the poor and sick (Underhill. and also a means of–hopefully. I personally hold the non-dualist view that there is no distinction between spirit and the world and that in principle every act of our lives–from eating to washing the dishes and sex and socialising–is sacred and spiritual. which the adept can use at the niyama (discipline) stage. The same is true of other mystics such as St. when he attempts to “harmonize his relationship to life at large and to the transcendental reality” (p. on the one hand. at which point they often relinquished their lives of detachment and became extremely active. as Feuerstein (1990) puts it. Catherine of Sinea. 117). This frees up psychospiritual energy. we must control our physical appetites and passions” (p. we can see the practice of celibacy as. The practice of voluntary poverty. At that point she abandoned her solitude and was frenetically active for the rest of her life. As Meister Eckhart noted. As Swami Prabhavananda (1952) wrote: “Sexual activity. This underlying purpose of detachment was noted by Underhill (1960). We should not see asceticism purely as a matter of punishing the body for its sinful desires. Theresa. The effort to tame physical appetites does not necessarily–and should not–entail a mind/body duality or a sense of disgust towards the body. “to check the powerful survival instinct and rechannel it to serve a higher purpose” (p. I should make it clear that I am certainly not advocating a retreat from the world. in order to do 56 this. 2005. 186). We should note that both detachment and mortification (or asceticism) are not –at least ideally–ongoing or permanent processes. we must exercise self-discipline. 220). The purpose of yama (often translated as restraint) is. use up a great portion of our vital force. hedonistic impulses. 204). spent three years living as a hermit and an ascetic until she attained a state of deification. it becomes subliminated as spiritual energy” (p. a method of freeing the monk or mystic from the responsibility of having to care and provide for a family. who describes it as a process of “stripping or purging away of those superfluous. John of the Cross. and of reducing The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies.
wonder and oneness. since these actually involve a purification and intensification of consciousness. or while long-distance running or listening to music. only they can create permanent. they are likely to generate other altered states of consciousness besides higher states. simply because the meditator has closed her senses to the external world. or a sense of transcending boundaries and (d) a sense of becoming a deeper and truer Self. sitting in quietness and focusing her attention on a mantra (or another object of concentration). “[they] can induce genuine mystical experiences. There is some evidence that drug-induced higher states of consciousness encourage individuals to investigate methods of gradual long-term consciousness transformation (e. This may not always be the case though. pp. This can only come from ICE states. For every Ram Dass. This does not mean going to the extremes of the ascetics— in my view it is probably only necessary to follow the “middle way” that Buddhism recommends. but do not go the extreme of punishing the body or neglecting other areas of our development besides the spiritual. Or as Smith puts it. half way between hedonism and asceticism. ICE states versus HD states This is not the place for an extended discussion and comparison of HD and ICE mystical states. HD and ICE states are two different technologies of spiritual experience.g. but only sometimes. They may be intro- vertive void experiences of pure consciousness. These can be useful. As I mentioned above. Zaehner. Similarly..g. 528-9). by shutting her eyes. The individual may not actually be ontologically ready to process the Higher States 57 . However. But the spiritual experiences they generate are of a different character. and a reluctance to make the long term disciplined effort which permanent spiritual transformation requires. taken-for-granted world and making the individual aware that higher realms of reality do exist.its outflow by keeping ourselves apart from the demands and the hectic activity of normal life. ICE states can be both introvertive and extrovertive. HD states certainly feature (a) and (c). 1964/1988. p. Many scholars have written at length on the question of whether drug-induced higher states of consciousness are comparable with those induced by or related to long term spiritual practices or seemingly proffered by the grace of God (e. HD states can never give rise to the low arousal void experience of what Robert Forman (2000) describes as the Pure Consciousness Event. simple because the individual is already in open communication with the external world. there is a Timothy Leary. 1991). Probably the most important difference between HD and ICE states. ICE states. is that only the latter can build towards a permanently transformed consciousness. An ICE state which is consciously induced by meditation will be introvertive. but they do not appear to feature the affective characteristics of (b) and (d).g. will be extrovertive. under some circumstances” (2003. on the other hand. rupturing the familiar. HD states are primarily sensory or perceptual experiences. 2000). In Wilber’s terms (e. As Walsh noted of psychedelic drugs in particular. they might come as a bolt out of the blue. Above I have dealt with four different aspects of higher states of consciousness: (a) an intensified perception of the phenomenal world (b) a sense of inner peace and wholeness (c) a sense of oneness with the manifest world. An ICE state that occurs in the countryside. one of the differences between ICE and HD states is that while the former feature all four of these. Huston Smith. there are a few salient points that I would like to mention. I also pointed out that in ICE states the characteristic (c) is likely to be more powerful than in HD states because of the essential oneness of consciousness-energy with the consciousness-force of the cosmos.2). they are always extrovertive. in some people.. HD states can also be dangerous. Being given these experiences for free may create a passive attitude towards them. or extrovertive experiences of perceiving is-ness. Whether ICE states are introvertive or extrovertive depends simply upon the circumstances in which they occur. we can say that HD states are never–in Stace’s terminology (1964/1988)–introvertive. have a very low risk of negative or psychotic states. 1961). such as hallucinatory experiences or psychotic episodes. “Drugs appear to induce religious experiences: it is less evident that they can produce religious lives” (1964. Tart. 1964. in which we avoid excessive desires and excessive activity. HD and ICE states correspond to Fischer’s (1971) ergotropic high arousal and trophotropic low arousal experiences. enduring structures of consciousness. Often they will not generate any discernable change in consciousness (this is especially the case with forms of physical deprivation such as sleep and hunger). Stace. and have been used as such throughout human history.. HD states can only give “peek” experiences into the transpersonal domains. and reliably generate transpersonal or mystical states. the latter do not. A major problem with HD states is their unreliability. On the other hand. and even when they do. They always involve the phenomenal world. however.
Following Newberg and D’Aqulli’s research. benevolent. And I would certainly not degrade HD mystical experiences to the extent that scholars such as Zaehner (1961) and Masters and Houston (1966) have done by claiming that psychedelic experiences may be analogous to mystical experiences but are not the same thing—or else that they only superficially resemble them. This essay leaves some questions unanswered. the higher the level of consciousness. instead of the radiant. and guided. Spirit-charged cosmos that it really is. they gradually tame the chattering ego and produce a permanent intensification of consciousness-energy. but could easily be true for native peoples (see Taylor. However. causal and non-dual)? (My suggestion would be. which suggests that the brain itself doesn’t produce consciousness. if properly instructed. and lead to schizophrenia or psychosis. and lack an affective dimension. In fact this is the only long-term psychic change which the regular inducement of higher states of consciousness through HD can lead to. For example. meaningful. since individuals first have to move through the egoic and for58 mal-operational levels before they can stabilise themselves at the transpersonal realms (although Wilber admits that they may have brief peek or peak experiences). and their psychic equilibrium may be disturbed as a result. Volume 24 . pain. However.) This model of higher states of consciousness suggests a new view of the issue of whether children and native or tribal peoples might be more spiritual than adult Westerners. as so many spiritual teachers have stated. at least HD states have the apparent advantage–which is part of their appeal–of requiring no effort.g. However. William Johnston argued that “meditation is safer than drugs because the meditation.. how do ICE states correlate with the different levels of mystical or transpersonal experiences (e. 2003 for a related discussion). 2005. when the limbic system is denied its normal input.experience. very briefly. of course. This might not apply so much to children. 2 The existence of this energy makes sense in terms of the theory of consciousness put forward by Robert Forman and others.. The important point is that. HD mystical experiences are clearly genuine. Rhawn Joseph (2000) recognises that practices such as food and water deprivation. there is the danger that the separate self-system may collapse altogether. drug use and self-mutilation have been traditionally been used to induce mystical or spiritual states. Endnotes 1 Neurologically. since in both cases their sense of ego is less developed and less active than ours. but deficient in that they do not feature aspects of higher states of consciousness common to ICE states. resulting in intensified perceptual awareness. whereas ICE states usually involve some form of mental concentration and a degree of self-discipline. that the greater the intensification and purification of consciousness-energy. and appears to produce less associational chatter. it becomes hyperactive and can no longer efficiently delete and filter out stimuli. why is it that disrupting homeostasis does generate higher states of consciousness in some instances but not in others? Or. if we see an intensification of consciousness-energy as the source of spiritual states. Particularly with intense use of psychedelic drugs. since the intensity of their instinctive desires and heightened emotionality would itself produce a large outflow of consciousness-energy. p. then children and native peoples clearly do have access to the transpersonal realms. but rather The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. we can equally see the hyperactivity of the limbic system as a correlate–or an effect–of the mystical or spiritual state that is produced when homeostasis disruption means that ordinary consciousness can no longer be regulated and maintained. and if this blast is regularly repeated the ego-structure will be eroded away. in Wilber’s model. 2000) this is impossible. In Wilber’s model of transpersonal development (e. our over-active and overseparate egos–although not the ego in itself–are an enemy. subtle. This strongly suggests that ICE states are superior to HDs. so that we see the world as one-dimensional and inanimate place. and links this to arousal of the brain’s limbic system. higher states of consciousness associated with homeostasis disruption appear to correlate with hyperactivity of the limbic system. We might say that they are one-dimensional. As he sees it. we might assume that there would be a reduced outflow of consciousness-energy in their case. in that they can only be extrovertive. to the point where it is no longer able to re-form itself. again. the psychic. Whereas meditative ICE states are constructive–that is. In fact. they monopolise our consciousness-energy. can integrate the new knowledge and preserve his equilibrium” (1988. 124). there would also appear to be a correlate with increased activity in the sympathetic half of the autonomic nervous system. and gradually create a new psychic structure–HD states are essentially destructive: they produce a powerful blast which immobilises the ego.g. As well creating a sense of “otherness” between us and the world. and between ourselves and our own bodies. and that they would be therefore more open to spiritual states than us.
(1990). What does mysticism have to teach us about consciousness? Journal of Consciousness Studies. (1973). 91-106). London: Rider. (1977). I felt exhilarated by these perceptions. Flow: The psychology of happiness. Brunton. (1999) Yoga and the quest for the true self. Altered states of consciousness and mental health: a cross cultural perspective (pp. Montpelier. Csikszentmihalyi. VT: Invisible Cities Press. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Ward (Ed).Deikman.deikman.. J. The doors of perception and heaven and hell. which is received and transmitted by our brains.C. A. R.receives and transmits it. 7-16. C. The denial of death. James. Csikszentmihlayi. Englewood Cliffs. and at the cellular level and above. London: Sage. P. Cambridge. or a sense of becoming one with a deeper self. Attar.N. Extending this further. Psychology and consumer culture (pp. (1987) Physiological psychology: An introduction. 174(4012). Therapeutic use of altered states of consciousness in contemporary North American Indian dance ceremonials.C. Kahneman.N. Journal of Consciousness Studies. (1973). Becker. A. Growth of higher stages of consciousness: Maharishi’s Vedic psychology of human development. Burkert. that atman is one with brahman. References Alexander. London: Fontana. In C. Dixon. Higher States 59 . C. (2000) The transmitter to God: the limbic system. Attention and effort. Jilek. Joseph.M. In C. New York: Free Press. Forman. 202-223.com/experimental. Deautomatization and the mystic experience. R. De Quincey. A cartography of the ecstatic and meditative states. Andresen. 7(11-12). R. New York: Doubleday. so-called “inanimate” objects came to life. present everywhere and in everything. Wellingborough. Our own consciousness is of the same substance as the consciousness that pervades the universe. London: The Athlone Press. London: Penguin. Kasser. (1986) Mysticism. W. (2003). and natural phenomena such as stones and trees seem to possess a consciousness or being of their own. S. Langer (Eds. M. Huxley. London: Faber and Faber. (1992). (1987) Ancient mystery cults. (1990) Muslim saints and mystics. Science. 3 I made a number of experiments with LSD and magic mushrooms over a two-year period. & A. In R. Cope.M. London: Hodder & Staughton. Washington D. Gross. A. entities become capable of receiving it. A. Methodological pluralism in the study of religion. In T. There was also an awareness of the unity of superficially separate things. A. Higher stages of human development: Perspectives on adult growth (pp. (1971). consciousness is a fundamental force of the universe. F. (1998). According to this view.. the experiences did produce what I would class as higher states of consciousness. Davies. (1979) The spiritual nature of man. R. London: Grafton. (2002).L.A. and so become individually conscious. (1996).. Happold. even euphoric at the sense of meaning I could perceive. With the exception of one psychotic episode (with LSD). & Forman. Fischer. Muehlman. D. UK: Oxford University Press. consciousness-energy–or psychic energy–is the portion of universal consciousness which is canalised into us. London: Arkana. 286-341). NJ: Prentice Hall. Druker.html accessed 05/05/04Feuerstein. (1988) Silent music. W.). G.).. I experienced an intense perception of the phenomenal world. S. New York: Oxford University Press. Psychology: The science of mind and behaviour. W.C: American Psychological Association. Alexander and E. (1902/1985). W. This accords very well with the spiritual concept that at the heart of being we are one with the universe. Deikman. Radical nature. 167-85). London: Rider. 897-904. (1989). & Orme-Johnson. I felt I knew what brahman was when I looked at the sky and felt it was filled with a harmonising. F. R. (Ed. 5(2). Kanner (Eds). M. Woods. D. M. Hughes. J. C. T. the soul and spirituality San Jose: The University Press California. Oxford. living presence. R.W. (1990) Yoga: the technology of ecstasy. S. London: Pelican Hardy. The varieties of religious experience. (2004b) Experimental meditation available at http:/www. I was also occasionally aware of the presence of “spirit” in things. Understanding mysticism (pp. (1967) Poetry in the making. (2000). Materialism and the evolution of consciousness. E.. MA: Harvard University Press. Dillbeck.. UK: The Aquarian Press. (1934/1972) A search in secret India. Oetzel. 24060). (2004a). but I never experienced a sense of inner peace and wholeness. In fact the perceptual intensity was occasionally accompanied with a sense of inner emptiness and indifference. J. Green. Johnston.
15. 22. R. Tarcher. (1966) The varieties of psychedelic experience. Shamanism. Naranjo. UK: Penguin. 1 (Trans. UK: Blackwell. H. C & Ornstein. 139-74. London: Allen & Unwin. M. (Ed. Rudgley. Sleep.emergentmind. In M. (2003). D. Archives of General Psychiatry. G. Correspondence regarding this article should be directed to the author at essytaylor@yahoo. T. Volume 24 . Oxford. (1991). S. (1993) The alchemy of culture. O’Neal. A. R. Sex. (1984) A new model of the universe. New York: Mentor. W. McGinn. 22. 1 (2).A.P. J. J. Journal of Consciousness Studies. I. Spencer. 60 London: Arkana. ecology and spirituality. Tart. London: Methuen. (Ed.C. 155-77). Ouspensky. McKenna. Oswald. 10(4). Smith. Ecstasy. P. San Diego: University of California. Psychology and culture. R. CA: Psychological Processes. New Renaissance. How to know God: The yoga aphorisms of Patanjali. T. In the zone: Transcendent experience in sports. S. Property. (2000b). Norman. Meister Eckhart: From whom god hid nothing. (1964/1988).org/research-articles. London: Watkins. M. New York: Delta.rmetzner-greenearth.org/marchettiI2. (1973) John Thomas and Lady Jane. States of consciousness. A. Boston: Shambhala. 1929) Madras. (Available at www. (1993) The food of the gods. Taylor. Integral psychology. Zaehner. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. In W.).Kostrulaba. F. D. Wilber. 267-77. R. Boston: Shambhala Wilber. New York: Praeger. K. Stace. Humphreys (Eds). Philadelphia: Lippencott. 103-22. Primal spirituality and the onto/phylo fallacy. R. Novak. (2000). Meister Eckhart (1979) German sermons and treatises. London: Arkana. 225-234. 2005.A.L.M.H. Entheogens: true or false? International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. 23. D. Marchetti. Davies and G. Lawrence. K. Life of Ramakrishna (Anonymous. (1990). C. Accessed 11/10/04). Lonner and R. The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. (1969).A. Masters. 5559) Boston: Allyn and Bacon. S. vol. Consciousness (pp. London: British Museum Press. (1950) Mysticism in world religion. M. (2000) Mapping the course of heavenly bodies: The varieties of transcendent sexual experiences. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. 517-530. Journal of Consciousness Studies. India: Ramakrishna Math. (1993).D. K. J. Influence of previous psychedelic drug experience on students of Tibetan Buddhism. (2002). (1961). The Joy of running. Spirituality: The hidden side of sports. 3(3). Buddhist meditation and the consciousness of time. Malpass (Eds). Laski. CHIP Report 99. (1996). (1911/1960) Mysticism. R. (1964) Do drugs have religious import? Journal of Philosophy LXI. (1995). Underhill. S. Murphy. London: Penguin. Wade. (2004). T. (1983). Krippner. J. & Houston. (Available at www. Accessed 21/7/04). The Upanishads. Journal of NonLocality and Remote Mental Interactions. alchemy & yoga: Traditional techniques of transformation.com The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. E. 6-9. Walshe). El Cerrito. 61-76. The role attention plays in building our subjective experiences. Harmondsworth. New York: Bantam. Los Angeles: J. 111-122. 1-6. One taste. Consciousness and cosmology: Hyperdualism ventilated. P.W. Mascaro. Persinger. Walsh. Boston: Shambhala. On the psychobiology of meditation. C. Prabhavananda. Mysticism and philosophy. E. (2003). 93-118. (1987) Neuropyschological bases of god beliefs. London: Penguin. (1997). & D’Aqulli. Ludwig.W. (1971).htm.E. (1980) Attention to action: Willed and automatic control of behaviour. Neurospsychology of religious and spiritual experience. (1970). (1966) Altered states of consciousness. (1961) Mysticism sacred and profane. C. The epistemology and technologies of shamanic states of consciousness. (2000). Metzner.) (1996). 7(11-12). (1994). (1987). 7. (1976). Journal of Consciousness Studies. 32. Taylor. London: The Cresset Press. (pp. Rudmin. UK: Oxford University Press. Swami & Isherwood. & White. M. Oxford. C. Boston: Shambhala. & Shallice. (2000a). Wilber. London: Penguin. Newberg. Tart. R.
and the pilgrim is welcome to join in the work. I see two lines of men and women dancing. which light up at night like phosphorescent jellyfish floating in a dark. has so alienated the healers of the forest that they have begun keeping their medicines to themselves. in which the author weaves together accounts of his own healing experience. the doors of most churches remain open. A gigantic cross with two crossbeams (the Caravaca Cross adopted from Northern Spain—the second crossbeam represents the second coming of Christ). was initiated by a disciple of Irineu. and sell the sacrament at a huge profit. facing one another beneath a huge. in resistance to the massive land theft and senseless deforestation being practiced by the wealthy newcomers to Acre in the 1980’s. Sean. It also portrays the extraordinary variation and vitality of the communities there.” whose work. a powerful presence of evangelical Christianity. who ingratiate themselves into local tribes and smuggle out their healing plants only to patent them and reap profits for themselves (sending back baseball caps and t-shirts by way of compensation). And there A are the native traditions underlying the lineage of Mestre Irineu. Daniel Pereira de Mattos (known as Frei Daniel). I get out of the car and hear music and singing—a sound like a polka Fear No Spirits 61 . As well. or Santo Daime.S. but this is wondrous strange! And therefore as a stranger give it welcome. both indigenous and Catholic/Afro-Brazilian. as practiced for thousands of years by the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin. hosting some of the heaviest cocaine trafficking in South America. a neighborhood thirty minutes outside of Rio Branco. Among the Indians bio-piracy by Westerners. or will no longer donate bottles of ayahuasca to hipsters who smuggle them into the U. arising and co-evolving out of their seamless communion with the forest: the womb and gift of Pachamama. Acre hosts a landscape dotted with the churches of Daime. Shakespeare Hamlet 1. stands illuminated in the front yard. and the slat-board pioneer houses we pass are dark. seeds of distrust toward foreigners have been sown.173-74. the Brazilian frontier state of Acre. Through all the communities. and I had come in our pilgrimage through the churches of ayahuasca to the small city of Rio Branco to experience the roots of the movement in Brazil. and still possesses 90% of its original forest. Beneath blazing fluorescent lights. My botanist friend. Darly Alves da Silva.Fear No Spirits: A Pilgrim’s Journey through the Brazilian Churches of Ayahuasca Robert Tindall This is an intimate account of a pilgrimage through the “Holy Land” of Daime. with marked Afro-Brazilian elements. tropical sea. cre is the holy land for work with Daime in Brazil. two main streams developed: The Church of the Universal Flowing Light. Horatio: Hamlet: Oh day and night. It is warm. Acre is still very much raw frontier. or “little boat. The extent of this tragedy is not easily imagined until the degree of knowledge of these peoples is fathomed. traveling dirt roads through area recently carved out of the jungle. It was also the home state of Chico Mendez. it is the westernmost state of the Amazon rain basin. and the Barquinha. who. open air structure. organized and imbued with an environmental vision the forest workers of the Amazon–a fight he continued up to the day of his assassination by a local rancher and strongman. in the night. Bordering Peru and Bolivia. In spite of these abuses. the stars are bright. who use ayahuasca as a sacrament. I first arrive in Alto Santo.5. certain Daime communities have closed their doors to participation by Westerners after getting what they perceived as bad press. and serious rural poverty. Then a vision leaps electric out of the night. which claims to hold most truly to the original form transmitted by the Mestre. Within the movement originating with Mestre Irineu.
moving back and forth in a tightly disciplined line. Someone sitting next to me hands me a hymnal. Struggling with our bags and attempting to orient ourselves after the three-day bus ride from Rio de Janeiro to Rio Branco. and I can understand the Portuguese being spoken around me. clean cut and alert. “The daime is working on you. As I enter. During the ceremony I see my guardian angel. the Yoruba spiritual practices brought over by the slaves from Africa. The Barquinhas wear sailor’s suits when they make a major journey. and we proceed to discuss the Buddhist doctrine of sunyata. It turned out he was a Daimista. The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. or Xango. I sit and try to follow the hymns of the dancers. They are doing a four-step dance. or spirits. emptiness. multi-colored trailers descending from their shoulders. such as Oxossi. I scrambled to take notes. This. the power of justice. related to Christ. Oxum. I decided. I see the women wear white dresses with green sashes. a young lawyer from São Paulo who had recently transplanted himself in Rio Branco to work on environmental issues and indigenous rights. indicating they are fardados. The altar is covered with bottles of ayahuasca. conga drum. It appears to be happening right here. I drink and a seat is set out for me. I am led in a numinous daze across the concrete floor to a booth at the far end of the structure. The music has stopped. dazzled by the lights and colors and already buzzing from a shot of ayahuasca I had drunk earlier at the Barquinha church. jams away in the space between the two lines. through the night. I cannot speak for grief. bright white with epaulettes and a white cap like a fez with a braid wound around it. cutting through the darkness with his omniscience. 2005. A band. I see that the men also wear a silver brooch in the shape of a Star of David with a crescent moon resting within. (Fardado is sometimes translated as “star-person”–giving a New Age airiness to a fundamentally military conception: farda in Portuguese describes a “military uniform”). They are right to do so. a professor of mathematics and physics at the University of Acre. and seemed to engage the world around him with a boundless optimism. his expression truly transported. I enter into conversation with Henrique. I realize. The high pitch of the women’s voices gives me the image of a psychedelic subway train charging. and other Orixas. feminine power. the masculine father spirit. related to stones and through his spouse. but then I close my eyes and listen and angelic mists and swirling mandalas begin to draw me on. which instead of provoking my usual liberal self-righteousness stir an immense 62 well of sadness within me. Yemanja. I see a new frontier. waiting for my signal to stop. The women are wearing silver crowns. Henrique looks at me with comprehension. I study him. and I realize the carven prows of those old Viking ships were no mere decorations. electric guitar. as waves of agony rise and break within me. I open my eyes. explaining that the church of the little boat is a synthesis of Catholic Christianity with Umbanda and Candomble. which helps some. It gave me some pause. As the music commences again. composed of accordion. He offered his assistance. as well as his opinions about the communities we had come to visit. related to Mary. relentless and happy. Some days later he met us at our hotel and oriented us to the work of the Barquinhas. the one for representing vision into other worlds. As I draw closer. Sean and I encountered Luis. a member of a Barquinha church. I take a maraca and join the line. bass and classical guitar. but the Portuguese is very fast. May the humble inherit the earth. Volume 24 . And he spoke an English he had learned from his mother. Then Henrique begins to ask me penetrating questions about the United States. My language acquisition abilities have suddenly been radically enhanced. A proto-fascist ruling clique has seized power in my beloved homeland. a world of exquisite possibilities. to waterfalls. The men wear white suits with a green pinstripe descending their pant legs. a new people without artifice. gazing into another world. tambourine. as a blazing figurehead on the prow of the ship of my soul. and elucidated a very complicated system of correspondences between deities: Oxala. He looks as if he were wearing a Noh mask. open and immeasurably happy. beating out their steps with maracas they hold in their right hands. The usual rivalries among groups existed in Rio Branco. getting down the four-step but give up trying to sing from the hymnal at the same time. where a dignified man with a bushy moustache waits like an amiable bartender.band riding in the back of a flatbed truck on their way to heaven. the Holy Mother. I look within and see an altar with a candle burning before a photo taken during the 1930s of a stocky forest worker. The man smiles at me and pours. and its relation to work with entheogens. isn’t it?” he asks. I make my bows. too. He was small of stature. is the new frontier for humanity. my guiding spirit. Later I am taken to the altar and introduced to the figure in the photo: it is Mestre Raimundo Irineu Serra. the power of the forest and native healing wisdom.
standing beside her. We and everyone else step over the dog. covering the entire front of the church. smiling. Luis leaves us. unlike in the Santo Daime church in Alto Santo. the guitar and Catholic liturgy weaving fresh neural pathways through my mind. I feel his hand on my forehead as I relinquish my addictions: to coffee. Luis comes up to us and announces. The ayahuasca is very bitter and strong. A massive banquet table with a white tablecloth surrounded by chairs sits in the middle of the room. two fingers of their right hand raised at the level of their faces like antennae. A musician tuning his guitar gestures me back. Piercing whistling tears through the air. except I can recognize the Credo being repeated over and over. I don’t fear spirits. or rather. Something very powerful begins moving. to finding the perfect woman. I start to say. “Time to drink again. are given the sacrament. At their backs. I hear a voice say to me. little white-skinned baby Fear No Spirits 63 . The curtain is parting more rapidly now. The spirits of the preto velhos. the Heavenly Father. chained to a tree and pierced by arrows. Finally a bell rings. except the floor is of hard packed. a dirty little scamp of a dog curled up right on the threshold. have come and the group possessed by the old African spirits files out. and there was to be a major work soon. Okay. Women on one side. most of which I don’t understand. to hyper-vigilance. my long journey filled with wounds and bewilderment. one of women and the other of men. I think. the Yorimba. a cycle of worship of São Sebastião in which they drank ayahuasca every night. one fellow playing the banjo. their garments and eyes pearly white. sounds I cannot imagine the human vocal apparatus being capable of making. Musicians accompany the prayer. a cross lit up at the entryway. who are filing forward to drink ayahuasca. respecting its presence there. in imitation of the opening of the heavenly realm. and drink. the patriarch. I wander off and sit on the wrong side. like a spiritual storm front. “I think I may actually have had enough already.” he explains. with its little bell tower and niches for saints. is the European Holy Family. I look around and note that most of the faces are African in descent. I see people rising from their seats and standing. It could be any Catholic church in Latin America. a vanishing. Then Luis reappears beside us. A curtain has been drawn over the altar. We go out and see two lines have formed. as if on the other side of the world. “The evening is just beginning. Fear no spirits. men on the other. Their skin is deeply black. In the center. We drink again and go out to the structure with the floor of packed red earth. I look out and sure enough.despairing of distinguishing mantra from yantra and tantra. and he reappears dressed in white and gestures for us to come. very erect. Within we cross a clean floor of white tile and face an altar covered with images of saints. ample matriarch enthroned in the center. The mantric cycle of praise commences.” but then I shrug and go out and drink. a stupefaction. We go back in and take our seats. capable of walking a hundred miles at a stretch through arid ground. and the community vanishes to doff their sailor suits. thin and tall like a reed. Then in the middle of a song I come to Christ and lay my burden down before him. As the ayahuasca begins to take hold. I notice miniature figures arranged in a village scene. red earth. Rows of seats line the back and side of the church. We were going to get to experience Umbanda soon. its exterior a muted orange painted over smooth adobe. make the sign of the cross with the cup. and the names of Jesus. The core of the community takes their places around the banquet table.” Sean and I look at each other in astonishment. upon the table. We reach the head of the line. and then the ayahuasca strikes like a blinding cloud of light. the old blacks. I notice the curtains are slowly parting in front of the altar. through the church. the white-haired. Then the curtains slowly close. the Holy Ancestors. But the lines to drink are forming again outside. and Sean and I sit quietly in the pews. Mary. We continue down a flight of stairs and enter the patio of the church. Luis explains they are the Holy Family. Seated in profound miração I behold the blazing guardian of my spirit boat as an intricate ritual of prostration is carried out by men and women in sailor’s suits facing the altar before me. and see the shell of my former self in California and feel deep compassion for the man I have been. we pass through a wooden gate and enter an open structure like the one where people danced in Alto Santo. In fact. and São Sebastião. How can we take any more? We already feel irradiated by spirit. The community was in the midst of a twenty-day long romería. and enter. Arriving the following evening. “We’re moving on into the Umbanda portion of the work now. It all seems a blaze of light. I now have an opportunity to study the figures arranged in the sand in the center. But no matter. I feel completely comfortable with them.” he says. the line is forming anew. and they are spread out in a tableau of village life. spread out on a surface of sand. a statue of São Sebastião.
playing guitar and watching Brazilian television. Horatio. and I begin to understand the dance. the sick and simple are brought forward. liminal. have an illusion of a right to elbow room that Brazilians know doesn’t exist. The Brazilians don’t seem to do anything halfway in this land of spirits. He must love us too. but have the same problem as he: What does one do with one’s life after having gone to the heavenly realms? The world seems dull and grey in comparison. we even accept anger as a kind of social lubricant.Jesus in cradle. I fall silent. stooped forward in a posture of aged dignity close to the altar. Fierce defense in preservation of the world is one thing.” We decide we love this old man. awkwardly. many women and a few men are smoking pipes. men and women moving in two circles. angels guarding the way to his cradle. Then the power goes out. He pretends not to be observing us. Joseph and Mary and Donkey in attendance. Rather it absorbs our energy. I have a deep feeling of gratitude for my experience of it. using the tobacco for purification and to send messages to the divinity. “Whatever you do. and candles are lit. drinking ayahuasca and dancing with the spirits. What voice speaks through him? I wonder. A smell of burning plastic wafts through the marketplace. spitting and bowing. or mediumship. We’re both smiling in rapture.” My own life in California is so inconceivably distant and inapplicable. scintillating around the forms of the dancers in white. Volume 24 . a young man. a mulatto. Anger at a person or situation is another. He’s been checking us out. of praise. his hair and beard gone wild. It’s a couple days later. North Americans. We move in a circle around the center. The earth becomes wet with spit.. a terminal where the spirits negotiate their transit to other worlds. “Man. widdershins.. and Sean has been pretty much shut up in his hotel room since the night at the Barquinha. My Western intellect. with the spirits of Umbanda. I do fear these spirits. The band commences. hunched over close to the earth. The dance concludes in the dark of the early morning. After a time I see Luis. comes ranting through the station. he explains to me that when the preto velhos come that The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. He 64 turns to me from the front seat and says. don’t stop dancing. Luis turns to me and says. In fact. I can only nod in agreement.” It’s a slow dance. inchoate. Are we not all equal in this? Are we not all dreaming? The bus comes and we board. “There is never any reason to get angry. then a step forward. Luis appears and while we wait for a local bus to take us to the Barquinha church. but I smile and give him the thumbs-up sign. dirt poor. and poured libations to summon the unnumbered dead. and a sign of the strength of the evangelical movement in Acre. his arms folded behind his back. The old man comes around in the circle of dancers again and we watch him. Somehow he makes me think of a young Abe Lincoln. I don’t know how I am going to return to my life in California after this. I am grateful that I am allowed to dance on the periphery and not drawn in. It is dark. Ever. the votive pit in Hades in which Odysseus spilled the blood of the ewe and ram. The only useful shred of the Western Intellectual Tradition I can think of is. Power of old Africans.” I look back and realize he is right. ayahusaca working through the body. I begin. I’m out and about. Young women are led around and in by their elders. In the center. This evening is solely a work of mantra. An old man is dancing out there in the crowd. not far from where I stood earlier in the day watching children leap from the girders of the bridge into the brown swirling waters of the river fifty feet below. A bardo space. conga drums prominent. The drums beat. The truth is. Sean and I ride back together in a taxi. I am not ready to experience atuação. A four step inside a square. but eventually get the hang of it. but bars selling pitchers of juice made to order from the cornucopia of fruit growing in the Amazon compensate for the stench.” “I want to be an old man like him. has had all its fundamental premises blown this evening. “There are more things in Heaven and Earth. Sean has taken a seat and I walk over and clap him on the back. 2005. I realize. which I had imagined as being fairly open. a voice crying from the wilderness. and I hesitate the opinion that sometimes anger can help set things straight. stringy from a life of hard work. Luis turns and looks me in the eyes. Changing the subject. It’s breathtakingly beautiful. and while I still don’t know what to make of tantra. tipping his head in the old forest worker’s direction. He breaks into a huge grin and nods back at us. but the center does not radiate out. then are dreamt of in your philosophy. “Yep. pipe in mouth. I’ve been sick. a dance to draw energy and life out of the earth. blazing. pulse rising from the earth.” Luis and I are supposed to meet in the center of Rio Branco. “See that old man?” Sean asks me. We talk about the situations in Brazil especially designed to push a North American’s buttons.
evening and atuar in the bodies and minds of the mediums of the church, I can go for an interview with one of them. He will translate for me. I will need him especially because the old Africans speak with very thick, archaic accents. Later that evening a little girl comes and taps my thigh while I sit in the church, gesturing for me to follow. I enter a back room with another floor of hard packed red earth. Those who had been possessed by the preto velhos earlier in the evening have taken up their places within, lined up against the walls in their consultories, altars of African and Christian figures by their sides, pipes smoking. It’s a scene transported straight from Africa. Luis meets me at the door and leads me up to small black woman with a grave but pleasant expression, sitting close to the earth on a stool, a pipe in her hand. She is not old, but somehow she gives the impression of being wizened. I take another stool and sit before her. I’m told I can ask her any question, if I have an illness she can work on it, anything I want. I ask a question and the answer she gives is simple and clear—grandmotherly wisdom. She adds it would help if I light a candle to my guardian spirit and take a shower with certain herbs. I relax. Whoever these old Africans may be, they’re thoroughly down to earth. “Open your hands,” she tells me. She stands and puts her palms on mine, and then lightly feathers my forehead, saying prayers over me. She sits back down and regards me shrewdly. I thank her. I tell her I am very happy to be here. “You are very welcome to our church,” she replies. Luis, who has been translating, adds, “I think they like you.” I make a short bow and go out. The romería finishes for the evening, but the daime is not done with me. Standing outside trying to speak I find my eyes closing and my consciousness drifting off. My interlocutor, Laura, realizes I am beginning another miração and she finds me a chair and puts me at the foot of the cross in the garden. The daime is coming on very strong indeed, and I suddenly feel nauseous with fear and adrift in a dark cloud. I take out my prayer beads and struggling to seize the tiller of my consciousness, begin my abbreviated form of the rosary. Soon my head is tilted back and a warm light is pouring down from above—am I imagining this? Is this really a hand I feel on my forehead? Margerie from São Paulo appears out of the night, delighted, and pulls up a seat beside me as I am swept into warm colors and light in profound adoration of
Maria. I open my eyes and it is as if they have finally focused: I am in a garden of eternity. The colored lights on the cross that had drawn me upward go out, and a little girl runs up and leaves a candle burning before us. Through the miração, I see a woman in white kneeling across the way. As Maria speaks to me waves of gentleness reach recesses of my heart I had despaired of touching. I am crying with joy. Laura joins us. The women are delighted, stroking my back and laughing with me, and first Laura sings a hymn to Maria, and then Margerie gets excited and leafs through a book in the darkness and finds one of her own. I feel left out because I don’t know a song to Maria. But then I remember The Beatles’ “Let it Be.” I sing. Cheesy as it sounds, it is exquisite, like breathing diamonds and stars out into the universe. The last time we see Luis he takes us to his home. We cross the Rio Branco and enter the park named after Chico Mendez, pass the scored rubber trees and enter a small compound of slat-board houses raised upon stilts. A family is washing themselves at the community water trough as we file by upon the wooden planks that provided a walkway through the mud. A simple padlock hangs at his door. We enter the tiny space, dominated by a refrigerator, fan, and an ironing board. A few books sit on his shelf. The room bespeaks his voluntary, disciplined frugality. We sit on his bed and he pours us glasses of guarana, the ubiquitous Brazilian soft drink. Luis’ work is going well. He tells us how his plans to set up collectives and train forest workers, allowing them to reap the wealth of the forest while sustaining it for future generations, are meeting acceptance in the new socialist-minded government of Lula. As well, the power to enforce these new environmental and indigenous rights laws is being given, without which they would be meaningless in Brazil. In my last image of Luis he is standing with a hymnal in his hand, singing for us about the stars guiding us on, about the caboclos–helping spirits of the Umbanda spiritual tradition related to the spirit of the natives of the forest—and about Santa Maria, the sacred use of cannibas sativa, more commonly known as marijuana, to worship the Virgin Mary. The songs have the simplicity and melodic beauty of medieval plainchant, as well as the depth of religious feeling. His high, clear voice competes with the television that his neighbors, right on the other side of the thin slatboard wall separating their domiciles, have turned on and set blasting. Luis shows no impatience at all. A buffalo emerges out of the darkness with a slow,
Fear No Spirits
stately gait, an apparition of gentle strength in the thick jungle surrounding the Forteleza. It is two weeks after my visit to the Santo Daime community in Alto Santo, weeks filled with ceremonies that seem to have anointed my eyes with spirit: the buffalo moves as symbol, both part of and transcendent to the world. As we had searched down roads of thick mud, pulling up to fazendeiro’s shacks to ask directions, the sun set over the vast, open landscape dotted by cattle and gigantic palm trees and I wondered if we would ever find this elusive “fortress” out there in the jungle. But we did, and as we ascend a winding path I can see on the horizon above another brilliantly lit open-air structure like the church at Alto Santo. The sound of singing reaches our ears, accompanied by the hum of a generator. Beneath the Caravaca Cross, I attempt to scrape the mud off my shoes. The feeling out here is raw frontier, only the most basic essentials, the church floating on its little concrete slab like a postage stamp on a verdant sea. The scenario is similar to the one at Alto Santo. Men and women are dancing opposite one another with the maracas, the band jamming away in the center. But there are differences. Here the men wear business suits; blue slacks and jacket, white shirt and blue tie. It gives me pause. While the guys in the suits at Alto Santo meant business, the fact the suits were white with a green pinstripe gave them the aspect of a chorus line in a cabaret, taking the edge off of my own Pavlovian reactions to the uniform. This seems almost evangelical. A little alarm goes off in my mind. Suits spell danger, the world of narrow-minded authority I have never learned to fully trust. I am taken to drink. A very ample cup is poured for me. I toss it down and go and sit, feeling some resistance in myself and wondering what it could be. I watch the little children of the Forteleza, who dance in their own sections, singing the hymns from memory, and then running off to play together. I attempt to follow the music, to surrender myself to the experience, but the reverse is happening. The monotony of the singing, the concrete, the florescent lights, are becoming unendurable. Why can’t they use natural lights? I complain. It is impossible to travel through florescent lights. They’re a brick wall into the world of spirit. I stare at the concrete pad, feeling absolutely cut off from the earth. Suddenly my body launches me out of the structure, across the lawn, past someone vomiting in the darkness to the outer perimeter of the compound, where I lean upon a post and look off into the jungle. I’m feeling torn between worlds. The jungle is out there calling while I am stuck with my obligations within the compound. The human world against the 66
natural world. As I have done so many times in my life, I lean against the fence and gaze with yearning into the freedom outside. My head drops onto the post. A miração washes over me, and I hear the voice of grandmother ayahuasca speaking to me. She says, “You have the ability to transform into an animal. It’s a precious gift you have been given, but not everyone can understand it. You can live in both worlds, the human and the animal, and move back and forth without impedance.” I am deep in this dream when I hear the sound of approaching footsteps behind me. I turn around and see that two men in suits, fardadoes, have come out for me. Ah yes, the Brazilian imperative to incorporate into the group. “Yes, I am fine. Quite well, actually. Thank you so much for coming to check on me. I will return momentarily....” I dissemble, but to no avail. I realize they are concerned that in my state a spirit might attack me or I will be led off by a will-o’-thewisp into the forest. I surrender and return to the safety of the church. I know I am radiating foreignness at the moment, but I cannot sit with the others, and I find a seat on the outskirts and clutch my prayer beads, holding on for the rest that is to come. It comes hard, waves of repressed material bubbling up and bursting in my mind. It is the apuração, the stage of purification, the emptying out of the storehouses of consciousness. Working my prayer beads, struggling toward the light, I find myself gesticulating and grimacing and can imagine what I must look like to the watchful fardadoes. But there is nothing for it. I am holding on for dear life. Then a spirit flashes into my consciousness. An Apollonian face, a superhero in green with eternal, beautiful young man’s vitality. Hermes, messenger of the gods. His piercing eyes meet mine and I know him and his hand flashes out and he slaps a jewel into my forehead and is gone. “A spirit just came and put a jewel in my forehead,” I say to myself in the rich silence he leaves in his wake. “Cool.” Jewels, of course, have medicinal properties. As the miração unfolds further, I see how my masculine life was being subtly warped by my adversarial relationship to my father, how my resisting of his conservative perspectives was preventing the growth of aspects of my own masculinity. I see the only possible stance toward my father is veneration, and to allow all superfluous material to fall away. After all, he is the father that gave me life, and through him is one avenue to the Father. Only through complete acceptance of my own father could I develop as a fully real-
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ized male in my own right, I realize. I can stand again, and I go in to join the congregation. As soon as I pick up a maraca to enter the line the music stops. Standing there like the guy who missed the train, someone approaches me and takes me to meet the padrinho, Luis Mendez do Nascimento, who had been a disciple of Mestre Irineu. He is a small, thin old man, a forest worker with a beaming face who when I am introduced asks me if the Forteleza had been difficult to find. I answer it was “well-hidden,” and we both burst into delighted laughter. People are taking seats in preparation for something. I find myself seated smack in the middle of the congregation, fully integrated back into the human world listening to an impassioned, learned disquisition on the economic history of Acre. The speaker, a university professor, orates before us without notes, focusing his story around the figure of the seringueiro, the rubber-tapper whose impoverished, solitary existence, as well as his heartless exploitation by the capitalists and landowners, is remembered and honored at the Forteleza. It was, I realized, a Marxist analysis—or a Christian one—where the poor worker, the least of men, is the fundament of the entire economic superstructure, and as the gospels repeatedly stress, the very person of Christ. The padrinho sits, his legs crossed like a gentleman, listening with rapt attention, as does the rest of the congregation. As the narrative takes up the story of Chico Mendez, given with great veneration and a specificity of detail that reflects the depth of grief still existing within the elders of the community, I realize that the man has been speaking for over two hours and there is still no sign of restlessness in the group. Nor is his energy flagging, unlike my own. The discourse concludes with a vision of humanity’s collaboration with the forest, of the salvific power now emerging from it, and of economic justice for all people of Acre. I am again struck by wonder for this frontier of humanity. Where in the United States, I think, would people sit and attend to a discourse of such depth and vision about their own community and its future, as we once had done in the founding and early days of our own country? The speechifying continues far into the morning. I realize through my exhausted haze that the padrinho is welcoming me to the church. Then to my astonishment, in the ultimate gesture of acceptance of me as a visitor, he cries out, “Viva os Estados Unidos!” “Long Live the United States!” There are few places indeed upon this earth where the common people will still cry
out for the long life of the United States of America. But now I understand. Venerate the father, and by so doing awake him to his true nature. The Kaxinawa Indians are sitting in plain view the entire time, but it takes me two weeks to notice them. Finally, browsing through the brilliant seed necklaces and bows and arrows in a little trading post in the center of the park in Rio Branco, I take a good look at the Indian behind the counter: small indeed in stature, high cheekbones, jet black hair, a sing-song accent to his Portuguese, and a deep sense of self-possession in his brown eyes. Suddenly inspired, I reach into my backpack and pull out my journal, flipping hastily to the back pages where I have my list of contacts. “You wouldn’t happen to know Fabiano Kaxinawa?” I asked in my clumsy Portuguese. “Yes. I am him,” he responds with amusement. According to the Kaxinawa1, knowledge of ayahuasca was received by their ancestor from a village of anacondas. A hunter named Yube, seeing an anaconda emerge from a lake and transform into a beautiful woman, made love to her and returning to her village, married her. After a year his snake wife told him there would be a ceremony with nixi pai, ayahuasca, and warned him not to drink: “You will become scared and will call out the name of my people and they will kill you.” But the hunter drank anyways and cried out in terror, “The snakes are swallowing me!” When the hunter cried out, his wife coiled herself lovingly around him and began singing sweetly in his right ear. Then his mother-in-law did the same thing, singing in his left ear. Finally, his father-in-law coiled himself around all three of them and placing his face upon the hunter’s forehead, accompanied the song as well. But still, the anacondas were offended and he only managed to escape from the lake with the help of a little bods fish who returned him to his human wife and home. But his anaconda family got him in the end, crushing all the bones in his body. He remained alive only long enough to instruct the people in the making of the brew and the songs he had learned in the snake world. He died and where he was buried four kinds of ayahuasca grew from his limbs, each of which when drunk show a different part of his life. The work is held far outside of Rio Branco, at a center the Kaxinawa have created as a bridge between cultures. Recognizing that isolation is no longer an option for them, but also clear they do not wish to lose themselves into the maelstrom of dislocation and economic anonymity of Brazilian culture, they have opted to become bicultural. The Kaxinawa themselves come
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makes me lament anew the cold mechanisms of my own culture with its straight-cut roads lined with advertisements—the culture responsible for. when it comes. White (Eds.com. fresh. As we leave a huge white bird cuts the early morning sky. His attempts to dominate the group go on until I begin grumbling that if I don’t have to hear the word “Jesus” again for a year I won’t be at all displeased. At the end of one. and I saw that evening that daime is only a brief portion of the territory of grandmother ayahuasca. to bring me home again. messengers. The Kaxinawa sit patient and vigilant. a center for the treatment of addiction. But the Kaxinawa work with ayahuasca. even as we attempt to praise it with our barbaric Indo-European tongues and instruments. in its native tongue. how to work an ATM and a cellular phone. that ayahuasca really is just a sort of Prozac. to wish them happiness and good-fortune on their way. (2000). explains to us that the entire tribe gathers to sing that piece whenever someone is leaving the village for a long journey.to the center to learn Portuguese. In L. When the evangelical portion of the evening subsides. I watch him with awe as he sails over the forest. “The Jaguar that Roams the Mind. but as a vaguely oppressive fixture of belief—and the casting of the entire movement into a New Testament mold. as of this date. feathers of flight spring from their upper arms. Author Note “Fear no Spirits” is excerpted from a forthcoming book. thereby 68 opening and creating a dreaming way through the forest. temporarily lifting the mind up. Santa Fe. That I am fooling myself and will return to California with some good stories but the same old self. particular things. Luna and S. a very gentle visitation which. like the forest sings to itself. honed to transparency by his habitat. accompanying themselves with flute and maracas. Two ayahuasca myths from the Cashinahua of Northwestern Brazil. Portuguese and English. Fabiano. the pilgrim continues on his way to Takiwasi. The image of a people gathering to sing for one another. 3135). Then a young guitarist who accompanied us turns out to be a strange bird: a daime evangelist. Volume 24 .). and then to an apprenticeship with the master healer Juan Flores Salazar at his Mayantuyacu center in the jungle outside of Pucallpa. E. happily joining in with the songs about our precious savior Jesus. makes me put my hands on the earth: things.” a narrative pilgrimage into the medicines of the Amazon rainforest. I and the forest and the albatross all caught up in the same dream of Pachamama. I am weary too of the fundamentalism of Daime. a lean aerodynamic ascetic. dear. from which a rich symphony of sound is now emerging. how to ride a bicycle. even the guitar itself. the earth. salvadores. NM: Synergetic Press. the weary repetition of the word Jesus—not as a mantra to enter the divine. We wear red stripes on our faces. while non-natives such as ourselves come to be educated in the ways of the Kaxinawa. The young men of the tribe wear headdresses and crowns of feathers. References Lagrou. And so the natives rock us into the night with invocations and sounds such as we have never encountered before. Correspondence regarding this paper should be directed to Robert Tindall at tigrillo@gmail. not daime. ending each song with bursts of child-like giggling. but not going to the root of our being’s dilemma. Peru. M. the killing of 85% of the Kaxinawa people. E. The brew they chose is a light one. After the Brazilian section. all stomach and bill. End Note 1 The Kaxinawa ayahuasca myth is adopted from “Two Ayahuasca Myths from the Cashinahua of Northwestern Brazil” by Elsje Maria Lagrou (2000). our ground. seems a rude imposition upon this world. F. The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. rough-hewn and primitive to uneducated European eyes. they sing into the night like an animal sings into it. 2005. Walking through the compound we encounter classrooms with chalkboards and ancestral figures. The doctrine. who turns out to be an apprentice shaman. Ayahuasca reader (pp. A fear is eating at me as we take our places for the ceremony in an elegant wooden structure with a high sloped roof of woven palm fronds.
Why Does the Universe Exist? An Advaita Vedantic Perspective
Adam J. Rock, Ph.D.
The University of New South Wales Wagga Wagga, NSW Australia
Debates concerning causal explanations of the universe tend to be based on a priori propositions (e.g., Edwards, 1973; Smith, 1995; Swinburne, 1978). The present paper, however, addresses the metaphysical question, “Why does the universe exist?” from the perspective of a school of Hindu philosophy referred to as advaita vedanta and two of its a posteriori derived creation theories: the theory of simultaneous creation (drishti-srishti vada) and the theory of non-causality (ajata vada). Objections to advaita vedanta are also discussed. It is concluded that advaita vedanta has the potential to make a significant contribution to contemporary metaphysical debate in general and our understanding of the question, “Why does the universe exist?” in particular.
The Problem Heidegger (1959) considered the question, “Why does the universe exist?”1 to be the “fundamental problem of metaphysics” (p. 61). A number of scholars suggested that such a question can be answered. For example, Gilson (1941, p. 139) asserted that the cause of the universe is a “pure Act of existence” that is absolute and hence self-sufficient. In contrast, the question is frequently deemed an insoluble riddle and, thus, inherently meaningless2 or simply ill-conceived. For instance, Huxley (1964, p. 108) suggested that one must learn to accept that the universe is an “irreducible mystery,” while Russell (Russell & Copelston, 1973) contended that there is no ground whatsoever for the assumption that the universe as a whole must have a cause. One particularly noteworthy argument for the meaninglessness of the question, “Why does the universe exist?” is derived from the modern logic of Wittgenstein (1981/1922) and elucidated by Koestenbaum (1962), Waisman (1967; cited in Edwards, 1973, p. 806) and others. Essentially, the argument is that “the question of why there is something and not nothing is either ill-formed or profitless, since any intelligible answer will merely invite the same question” (Blackburn, 1996, p. 40). This argu-
ment was advanced in Edwards’ (1973) influential essay “Why?”: In any of its familiar senses, when we ask anything of x, why it happens or why it is what it is- whether x is the collapse of an army, a case of lung cancer, the theft of a jewel, or the stalling of a car - we assume that there is some set of conditions, other than x, in terms of which it can be explained. We do not know what this other thing is that is suitably related to x, but unless it is in principle possible to go beyond x, and find such another thing, the question does not make any sense. Now, if by “the universe” we mean the totality of things, then our x in “Why does the universe exist?” is so all-inclusive that it is logically impossible to find anything which could be suitably related to that whose explanations we appear to be seeking. (p. 809) Edwards’ (1973) thesis may be summarised by Wittgenstein’s (1981/1922, p. 183) statement that, “the sense of the world must lie outside the world.” It seems rather obvious that an explanation as to why someone, for example, engages in serial murder can
Why Does the Universe Exist?
only be provided by a set of conditions that exist “outside” and, thus, temporally prior to the act of serial murder (e.g., the cognitive rehearsal of violent sexual fantasies, damage to the limbic system of the brain). The explanation clearly does not exist within the definitional boundaries of serial murder as “the premeditated murder of three or more victims committed over time, in separate incidents, in a civilian context, with the murder activity being chosen by the offender” (Keeney, 1992; cited in Keeney & Heide, 1994, p. 384). It is perhaps noteworthy that Edwards’ (1973) thesis is illustrative of an anti-metaphysical position that arguably pre-empts the answer by ruling out—on a priori grounds-–the possibility of a transcendent entity that may function as a causal agent. Edwards’ (1973) argument is sound provided that his a priori definition of the universe and assumptions about knowledge are correct. Edwards’ (1973) acknowledges that if it can be convincingly argued that there exists a metaphysical entity that transcends and includes the universe, then it is possible that the question “Why does the universe exist?” can be answered, and is therefore meaningful. More recently, philosophers have been engaged in intricate debate over internal and external causal explanations of the universe. Swinburne (1979), for example, argued that, “if the only causes of its past states are prior states, the set of past states as a whole will have no cause and so no explanation” (p. 78). Swinburne (1979) maintained, however, that if it were such that God causes the set of past states, then an external causal explanation would be possible. In contrast, Rowe (1989) contended that whilst each past state of the universe may be causally explained by prior past states, there is no causal reason for the set of states of the universe because a set is an abstract object and is thereby precluded from entering into causal relations. Similarly, Smith (1995) concluded that “it is nomologically necessary that a beginningless universe has an internal causal explanation (be it deterministic or probabilistic) but no external causal explanation” (p. 310). The present author suggests that a commonality exemplified by the preceding arguments pertaining to causal explanations of the universe (e.g., Edwards, 1973; Rowe, 1989; Swinburne, 1979; Smith, 1995) is that they were all formulated a priori. Consequently, there exists a lacuna in the literature with regards to an application of theories constructed a posteriori to the question, “Why does the universe exist?” Psychological research suggests that some experiential—and concep70
tual—knowledge is “state-specific” (Tart, 1972; 1998) or “state-dependent” (Fischer, 1980); that is, certain knowledge may be obtained in altered states of consciousness (ASCs) that is inaccessible during one’s ordinary or normal waking conscious. Indeed some ASCs (e.g., kevala nirvikalpa samadhi) purportedly involve experiences of, for example, the manifestation and dissolution of the universe (e.g., Maharaj, 1987a). It is arguable that such experiences may provide valuable insights into the external and internal causal mechanisms of the universe that are unobtainable a priori. The purpose of this essay is to apply the school of Hindu philosophy referred to as advaita vedanta to the question “Why does the universe exist?” The present author will take the question, “Why does the universe exist?” to mean, “What is the causal explanation of the universe?”3 Advaita vedanta is being consulted because it consists—in part—of two creation theories that directly impinge on the preceding question. Furthermore, in contrast to modern logicians, the ontology outlined in the doctrine of advaita vedanta was purportedly constructed a posteriori using metaphysical knowledge acquired through ASCs (e.g., samadhi). In the advaita system, mystical experience is facilitated by the aspirant practicing one of four main yogas: Karma, Jnana, Bhakti, or Rajas (Prabhavananda & Isherwood, 1978). For these reasons, it is arguable that advaita vedanta is well-positioned to address the question, “Why does the universe exist?” The present paper will commence with a brief summary of the advaita doctrine. Second, discussion will revolve around two creation theories associated with advaita: the theory of simultaneous creation (drishti-shrishti-vada) and the theory of non-causality (ajata vada). Finally, objections to the advaita theory will be considered. Before proceeding, a number of qualifying statements need to be made. First, the present paper is not concerned with the epistemological status of knowledge claims made by practitioners of advaita. For the purpose of this essay it will be assumed that the yogi’s perceptions are veridical as opposed to delusory. Second, throughout this essay Kaufmann’s (1991) definition of the universe as “all space, along with all the matter and radiation in space” (p. 631) will be adopted as opposed to Edwards’ (1973) definition of the universe as “the totality of things” (p. 809). Kaufmann’s (1991) definition is being used on the grounds that it constitutes the orthodox view of the term “universe.” Finally, this essay does not attempt to provide a definitive answer to the question, “Why does
The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 2005, Volume 24
the universe exist?” But rather, it sets itself the far more modest task of analysing the preceding question from an advaitic perspective. Advaita Vedanta: An overview Advaita (literally non-dualism) as articulated by Sankaracharya is a doctrine of the vedantic school of Hindu philosophy (Blackburn, 1996). Vedanta refers to the philosophy of the Vedas (Shastri, 1959). Veda (from vid “to know”) may be defined as “knowledge.” It is the “name of the most ancient Sanskrit scriptures, considered to be a direct revelation from God to the mystics of the past” (Easwaran, 1986, p. 236). As previously stated, the doctrine of advaita vedanta was purportedly constructed a posteriori using metaphysical knowledge acquired through various ASCs facilitated by the aspirant practising one of four main yogas: Karma, Jnana, Bhakti, or Rajas (Prabhavananda & Isherwood, 1978). These four Yogas represent different methods aimed at erasing the ego (ahamkara) through selfless work, the discriminative power of the intellect (buddhi), devotion to a Personal God or spiritual teacher (guru), and meditation, respectively. Such techniques facilitate ASCs referred to as samadhi in which one has a direct experience of Absolute Reality (Brahman). Sri Ramana Maharshi (1985b) delineates three different grades of samadhi: (1) Savikalpa samadhi. The lowest level of samadhi in which one is required to maintain constant effort otherwise the obscuration of Brahman will occur. (2) Kevala nirvikalpa samadhi. The stage prior to liberation (moksha) characterised by effortless awareness of one’s true identity as Brahman and the temporary cessation of ahamkara. It further entails the absence of bodily awareness and an inability to perceive the sensory world. However, this state is transitory. Its conclusion is signified by the reemergence of bodily awareness and subsequently ahamkara. (3) Sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi. The final attainment of moksha in which ahamkara is irrevocably annihilated. In this state the cessation of all subjectobject duality occurs as one perceives that all is Brahman. (Maharshi, 1985b) As previously stated, advaita postulates an Absolute principle, an Ultimate Reality referred to as Brahman (Aurobino, 1995; Guenon, 1981; Maharshi, 1997a). The three characteristics of Brahman are existence (sat), consciousness (chit) and bliss (ananda; Balsekar, 1982; Maharshi, 1997b). In the advaita doc-
trine the individual soul (jiva) is held to be identical with Brahman. This phase of Brahman is referred to as Atman (Maharshi, 1988; Prabhavananda & Isherwood, 1981; Raju, 1967; Shastri, 1959). In the Yoga-Vasishtha it is held that because Brahman is infinite it can produce no thing other than itself (Shastri, 1969). Therefore the entire universe including mind (manas), intellect (buddhi), and intelligence (chit) must be regarded as Brahman (Shastri, 1969). In the Viveka-Chudamani, for instance, it is stated that: “It [Brahman] is that one Reality which appears to our ignorance as the manifold universe of names and forms and changes” (Prabhavananda & Isherwood, 1978, p. 76). This thesis is echoed in the three-fold logic of Sankaracharya in which it is contended that: (a) Brahman is real, (b) The universe is unreal, and (c) The universe is Brahman (Maharshi, 1985a, p. 187). It seems a logical absurdity that the universe can be simultaneously unreal and yet identical to an entity that is real. Ramana Maharshi (1985a) clarifies this apparent contradiction, however, by suggesting that when veridically perceived as Brahman the universe is real, however when perceived as distinct from Brahman (i.e., as a collection of discrete objects experienced through the various sensory modalities in space and time) the universe is considered an illusion (maya). This point may be further elucidated by what is referred to as the “rope and snake” analogy. A subject enters a dimly light room and sees a coiled up piece of rope [Brahman] and mistakenly perceives it as a snake [the universe]. At that moment the snake appears as wholly existent to the subject whereas the rope is considered non-existent. In reality, however, the snake is an illusory substratum that has been projected onto the rope by the subject’s ignorance (Maharshi, 1985a). It has been suggested that the universe in the orthodox sense of “all space, along with all the matter and radiation in space” (Kaufmann, 1991, p. 631) is not absolutely real. However, the universe is not absolutely non-existent either for the simple reason that it is present as a delusory perception in normal waking consciousness (Prabhavananda & Isherwood, 1978). Insofar as a delusion is experienced it must be accredited some degree of ontological status. An examination of the question “Why does the universe exist?” will now be undertaken with reference to two creation theories associated with the advaita doctrine: the theory of simultaneous creation (drishti-srishti vada) and the theory of non-causality (ajata vada).
Why Does the Universe Exist?
1992. p. an eye that cannot see itself. this is the first miracle. the cessation of buddhi.. the period of the sustenance of the Universe. I conceived that the entire universe has manifested in the speck of my Beingness only. It is suggesting that the universe comes into existence simultaneously with the emergence of the “I” thought (the seer’s sense of beingness). a tongue that cannot taste itself. It generates them at the time of utpatti. from ether. p.” This sloka is an example of the doctrine of “simultaneous creation” (Drishti-srishti vada). ajata vada represents a denial of the orthodox view that the universe has a cause. the “big bang” theory). for then it would cease to be the subject. Nisargadatta Maharaj (1987b) delivers the following affirmation: “It is a non-attentive state. the Aitareya-Upanishad holds that. you cannot know the knower of the known” (Swami & Yeats. and mind (manas) is generated (Chapple. The Vedanta-sutras of Badarayana echo the sentiments of Sankaracharaya: “From the Self (Brahman) sprang ether (Akasa. Brahman) are non-experiential and hence unknowable then it is logically impossible to formulate a complete causal explanation of the universe if one accepts Popper’s (1959) assertion that the conjunction of universal statements with initial conditions is required for a complete causal explanation. 184). Drishti-srishti vada asserts that the cause of the seer’s sense of beingness and hence the universe is Brahman4. 58).. feel. First. 1990. “All that you see depends on the seer. p. Statements attesting to this thesis abound in the advaitic literature.e. the origin of the Universe. causality and discrete objects are all regarded as nonveridical perceptions that take place in the mind of the The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies.e. fire (that through which we hear. So where is the question of remembering? With Beingness attention starts later. at the time of dissolution. p. As Absolute subjectivity Brahman cannot directly experience itself as a perceptible object. Ajata vada argues that “nothing exists except the one reality [Brahman]” which is eternal and unchanging (Maharshi. p. 37) The salient point contained in the preceding quotation is Nisargadatta Maharaj’s (1987a) reference to Brahman as a “non-knowing state” (p. ahamkara. which is absurd. ego or sense of self (ahamkara). Although drishti-srishti vada postulates a metaphysical entity referred to as Brahman as the cause of the universe. it is true from the standpoint that we are human beings attempting to achieve liberation from maya). and see)” (Vasu.e. Hence.… The borderline between Being and NonBeingness is intellect boggling. Apart from the seer. i. and manas also takes place. because the intellect subsides at that precise location” (p. 1985a. advaita regards the theory of non-causality (ajata vada) as the ultimate truth. the nature of this cause is held to be unknowable for two reasons. p. rather than there being a gradual process of creation (i. 1979.The Theory of Simultaneous Creation (Drishti-srishti vada) Sri Ramana Maharshi (1985a. 1987a. 3. (p. 1979. If the “initial conditions” (i. you cannot think the thinker of the thought. p. that through which we hear). Crudely put. in Sri Sankaracharya’s commentary of the Bhagavad Gita it is explicitly stated that Brahman is the cause of the universe: “The Knowable supports beings during sthiti. 184) stated that. one only. sense impressions relating to space-time. 38). just as a rope gives rise to an illusory snake” (Sastry. 72 The second reason is contained in Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj’s (1987a) personal account of his experience of drishti-srishti vada: In my original non-knowing state I did not know my sense of Being. “If the Self could perceive His own properties. “You cannot see the seer of sight. and It devours them at pralaya. 2005. 56). For example. When the dissolution of Beingness into Brahman occurs during ASCs such as samadhi. since one and the same thing cannot be both the agent and the object of an action” (Vasu. p. 331). “In the beginning all this was self. you cannot hear the hearer of sound. 138). This statement requires further explanation. He thought ‘shall I send forth worlds. 1970. It follows that if one’s previously existent cognitions and mental processes are rendered non-existent at the borderline of Beingness and Brahman then Brahman is a “non-experiential state” (Maharaj. 1979. there is no seen. or a finger that cannot touch its own tip.. 202). there was nothing else blinking whatsoever. This is what is meant in the Brihadaranyaka-Upanishad when it is stated that. air (that through which we hear and feel). He sent forth these worlds’” (Vasu. 38). The Theory of Non-Causality (Ajata Vada)5 Whereas drishti-shrishti vada is considered a relative truth (i. 352). p. Then in a flash I observed this enormous manifest world and also my body. Wilber (1993) illustrated this point by comparing the situation to a sword that cannot cut itself. This argument is reiterated in Baladeva’s commentary to the Vedanta-sutras of Badarayana in which he wrote. He could also perceive Himself. But all of a sudden that Beingness was felt spontaneously. Volume 24 . Later. through Beingness the “inner organ” (antahkarana) comprised of intelligence (buddhi).e. In a similar vein.. 202). from air.
as drishti-srishti vada contends. then you will create two opposites where there are in fact none. 1991. and the universe is subject to space-time. on what grounds are proponents of advaita justified in asserting that the characteristics of Brahman are existence (sat). It is arguable that the expression of atemporality as the manifest content of Brahman does not necessarily preclude the existence of latencies such as temporality. for the sake of argument. thus. it generates only dualistic incompatibilities” (p. Consequently. Finally. and objects. if Brahman is non-experiential. If Brahman is attributeless. b is also imperceptible. As Wilber (1996) stated. p. the universe in the orthodox sense of “all space. “What is the causal explanation of the universe?” Objections to Advaita Vedanta In the present author’s view there seem to be certain logical problems with various components of the advaita doctrine. however. 107). if the universe is an emanation of the eternal Brahman. if one accepts that the universe cannot be a candidate for causal explanation by virtue of being an uncaused appearance in Brahman. p. does this not place restrictions on a metaphysical entity which is supposedly unrestricted? Furthermore. one is unable to address the question. logic. p. and the mind itself. 631) for it too must ultimately be Brahman. practitioners have provided phenomenological reports of this altered state in various advaitic texts. asserting that the causes of the universe’s past states are prior past states (Smith. by which we arise to a knowledge of transcendent realities” (p. there would be nothing to recall because. Modes of Knowing and Category Errors Extrapolating from St. consciousness (chit). Furthermore.. that ajata vada does affirm the reality of the universe but only when veridically perceived as an uncaused appearance in Brahman. Yet. If a = b. then the question. regard the substance of the universe as being identical to Brahman (Maharshi. One may further enquire as to why a delusory perception of the universe as “all space. Consequently. 631) exists? However. if the cessation of one’s long-term memory system (a cognitive function) occurs during this state. and the eye of contemplation.” Wilber (1996) argued that if one attempts to translate nondual Reality into dualistic reason. Wilber (1996) explicated three modes of knowing: “the eye of flesh. it is an example of confusing two different modes of knowing: the eye of reason with the eye of contemplation. This raises a further question. if as drishti-srishti vada suggests Brahman is a non-knowing state in which one’s sense of Beingness and cognitive functioning have been extinguished. obviously. 1985a). Bonaventure. 1995)—on the grounds that space-time and. past states and prior past states are considered delusory perceptions from an ajata vada perspective. then. existing in a state of latency. p. logic dictates that space-time must also be enfolded in Brahman. Brahman) then one should be unable to experience a delusory perception of the universe as “all space. surprisingly. Even if. the sense of ‘p’ is contained in that of ‘q’. Consequently. One may recall that the term “advaita” translates as “nondual. “Why does the veridically perceived universe exist?” with reference to an external causal explanation. and a is imperceptible. and bliss (ananda)? Second. It is arguable that modern logicians commit a category error by using rationalism rather than a posteriori knowledge of transcendent realities to address the metaphysical question. “Why does the universe exist?” To utilise Wilber’s (1996) terminology. logical problems associated with advaita vedanta are also based on a category error. by which we attain a knowledge of philosophy. along with all the matter and radiation in space” (Kaufmann. time. “if p follows from q. one would be unable to recall the experience. Proponents of this theory. then how does one come to know that such a state exists? Furthermore. “Reason cannot grasp the essence of absolute reality. 3). 1991. by which we perceive the external world of space. thus. “Why does the universe exist?” is clearly unanswerable provided that one takes the question to mean. along with all the matter and radiation in space” (Kaufmann. and when it tries. 1991.” where p is the universe and q is Brahman.e. one is precluded from invoking an internal causal explanation of the universe—that is. First. if delusory perceptions are constituents of the universe—and the universe is an uncaused appearance in Brahman—then delusory perceptions are also uncaused appearances in Brahman.ignorant (ajani). if the subject is unable to experience itself as a perceptible object and if from an advaitic standpoint everything is the subject (i. It is noteworthy. 631) does not exist. if Brahman is atemporal and therefore unable to ‘step’ down into time and space as the ajata vada doctrine argues. one’s long-term memory system was still functioning during this state. To quote Wittgenstein (1981/ 1922. the eye of reason. and therefore each of these opposites can Why Does the Universe Exist? 73 . 19). along with all the matter and radiation in space” (Kaufmann. it must be phenomenologically contentless and therefore attributeless. Furthermore.
the mind-body “problem.. Brahman cannot be rendered an object of conscious awareness and thus experienced. Consequently. Clearly the a posteriori perspective used in the present paper may be applied to other metaphysical “problems” (e. (2) As Absolute Subject-ivity. in essence. The riddle does not exist. during the various grades of samadhi. 2005. End Notes 1. Conclusion It was argued there exists a lacuna in the literature with regards to an application of theories constructed a posteriori to the question. 19). “Why does the universe exist?” may not be addressed via a causal explanation because: (1) the universe in the orthodox sense of “all space. 187) 3. along with all the matter and radiation in space” (Kaufmann.g. Consequently. The question “Why does the universe exist?” may be differentiated from the question “How did the universe come into being?” on the grounds that.g.” time).e.g. that is.be rationally argued with equal plausibility-and that. Volume 24 . the ontology outlined in the doctrine of advaita vedanta was purportedly constructed a posteriori using metaphysical knowledge acquired through ASCs (e. whilst the former is a metaphysical question. together with certain singular statements. one experiences alterations in the “inner organ” (antahkarana) comprised of intelligence (buddhi). Two a posteriori derived creation theories associated with advaita vedanta (e. Consequently. 1998) or “state dependent” (Fischer. It was suggested that such experiences might provide valuable insights into the external and internal causal mechanisms of the universe that are unobtainable a priori. and mind (manas) and also one’s bodily awareness that may provide insight into the mindbody problem. from the standpoint of drishti-srishti vada. thereby facilitating the recognition that sensory impressions relating to time and causality are nonveridical perceptions that take place in the mind of the ignorant (ajani). the present author suggests that a posteriori derived philosophical systems such as advaita vedanta have the potential to make a significant contribution to contemporary metaphysical debate in general and our understanding of the question. but not during ordinary or normal waking conscious—and is thus “state specific” (Tart. personal identity. using as premises of the deduction one or more universal laws. the theory of simultaneous creation and the theory of non-causality) were subsequently applied to the question.g. the initial conditions. Karma..g. 631) is held to be a delusory perception.. to return to Kant. One may also experience Brahman as the eternal and unchanging reality (Maharshi. employing the human intellect for the purpose of reasoning about a metaphysical entity constitutes a category error. 1991. Author Note The author would like to thank Stanley Krippner and Peter Baynes for valuable suggestions and comments. Brahman) are unknowable. the question. “Why does the universe exist?” in particular. kevala nirvikalpa samadhi). methods of self-inquiry (Maharshi. shows why reason only generates paradox when it tries to grasp God or the Absolute (p. in contrast to modern logicians. for example. and (2) 74 when veridically perceived the universe is an uncaused appearance in Brahman. an advocate of the advaita doctrine may argue that the aforementioned logical problems are the result of a misguided attempt to use mind to transcend mind. For instance. then it can also be answered.” (p. the question “Why does the universe exist?” is unanswerable because: (1) The human intellect is annihilated at the precise location at which the universe dissolves into its purported cause (a metaphysical entity referred to as Brahman). If a question can be put at all. the injunctions used by practitioners of advaita vedanta (e.. Wittgenstein (1981/ 1922) wrote that “for an answer which cannot be expressed the question too cannot be expressed. It was further contended that experiential knowledge of the manifestation and dissolution of the universe is accessible during certain ASCs associated with advaita vedanta (e. the latter is a scientific cosmological question.We have thus two different The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. Furthermore. 1980). “Why does the universe exist?” The present author suggests that. Bhakti and Rajas yogas) are.. p. 1972. samadhi). 2. “Why does the universe exist?” It was argued that... Extrapolating from the theory of ajata vada. a complete causal explanation of the universe cannot be formulated on the grounds that the “initial conditions” (i. Jnana.. Popper (1959) asserted that: To give a causal explanation of an event means to deduce a statement which describes it. ego or sense of self (ahamkara). the nature of personal identity. 1985). 1988) that are held to provide experiential knowledge regarding.
S. W. M. Pointers from Nisargadatta Maharaj. 1961. Similarly. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. An introduction to metaphysics. 9. (1978). (1962). 1980. Godman (Ed. 1988. The bhagavad gita and its message. Perennial philosophy. C. (1985). In R. Man and his becoming: According to the vedanta. UK: Oxford University Press. Koestenbaum. Experience and interpretation in mysticism.T. in the writings of the Kabbalah in regard to the mystical philosophy of Jerusalem. T. it is held that in the beginning there is only the “Root of all Roots. Be as you are: The teachings of Ramana Maharshi (pp. Brahman and En-sof are qualitatively distinct. the One-Mind. London: Athlone. P. UK: Oxford University Press. Katz (Ed. The bhagavad gita. but it must have been good. New York: The Free Press. One may also find in the literature pertaining to Taoism (Chinese mysticism) the assertion that universe was created by a Nameless principle sometimes referred to as the tao: “It was from the Nameless that Heaven and Earth sprang” (Huxley.e.. Keeney.). London: Arkana. London: Triad Grafton Books. New Haven. p. which apply to the specific event in question and which I call ‘initial conditions. A.). (1982). Mahayana Buddhism postulates a Transcendental Reality. K. Oxford. Edwards & A. E. 1954. New Haven: Yale University Press. Why Does the Universe Exist? 75 . Franklin. (1941). Scholem. The problem of pure consciousness (pp. 288-304). Oxford. E. For an excellent discussion of this ontological issue. 796-810). & Heide. Oxford. i. (1954). Creation theories and the reality of the world. Understanding mysticism (pp. The Tibetan book of the great liberation. 20.C. (1994). CT: Yale University Press. R. Review of Existential Psychology and Psychiatry. Chapple. W. Essays of a humanist. 1961. Pap (Eds. (1964).H. 22-74). A modern introduction to philosophy (3rd ed. 1969). Woods (Ed. J.’’ Therefore my comments in this section shall be necessarily brief. In R.T. The sense of subjectivity. 1985. Many aspects of the ajata-vada doctrine have already been alluded to in a previous section of this essay entitled “Avaita Vedanta: An Overview. (1995). Idel. both of which are necessary ingredients of a complete causal explanation. Oxford. New York: W. Gender differences in serial murder: A preliminary analysis.). UK: Oxford University Press. Language. R. In S.” the “Indifferent Unity.. and mysticism. Maharshi. State-bound knowledge: “I can’t remember what I said last night. 53-70). Hoffman. hypotheses of the character of natural laws. They are (1) universal statements.K. R. Guenon. 47-65. (1996). 306-11). An important question is whether all of these various mystical philosophies are referring to the same metaphysical entity or whether. see Katz (1978) and Franklin (1990). Matt. S. M. (1991). (1990). Forman (Ed. R. The Kabbalah: Its implications for humanistic psychology. Twin Lakes. Evans-Wentz. Kabbalah: New perspectives.). In D. 12) from which emanate the ten seifrot (literally rays) which constitute the physical universe (Hoffman. (1990). S. Balsekar. (1985a). M.The initial conditions describe what is usually called the ‘cause’ of the event in question (pp. Idel.). E. Edwards.” the “Great Reality. The Oxford dictionary of philosophy (2nd ed. God and philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press Kaufmann. 5. Easwaran. London: Arkana. Interestingly. London: Chatto & Windus.). References Aurobindo.kinds of statement. Freeman and Company. Heidegger. 1996. 181-192).” In R. UK: Oxford University Press. Forman (Ed. Bombay: Chetana. ‘This thread will break’. New Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint Corporation. For example. R.). which is the “Outbreather and Inbreather of infinite universes throughout the endlessness of duration” (Evan-Wentz. (1980). 383-398. WI: Lotus Light Publications. epistemology. The problem of pure consciousness (pp. (1973). (1980). 1). 44). p.). 2. Universe (3rd ed. p. Blackburn. J. Why? In P. for example.K. the vast majority of mystical philosophies assert that a metaphysical entity of some kind is the cause of the universe. P.) (pp. (1981). Huxley. S. Journal of Humanistic Psychology. B. Katz. Fischer. 4. (1988).. Huxley. New York: Yale University Press.C. and (2) singular statements. Gilson. Mysticism and philosophical analysis (pp. Y.’ It is from universal statements in conjunction with initial conditions that we deduce the singular statement. The unseen seer and the field: Consciousness in Samkhya and Yoga.” En-Sof (Scholem. (1959). 33-47. (1986). 59-60).
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Vladimir Maykov. Gennady Brevde. He made an insightful distinction between idealist and materialist approaches to spirituality. graciously hosted over 200 participants from more than 20 countries. Correspondence regarding this introduction. or the EUROTAS conference can be directed to the author at email@example.com Special Topic: Russian Soul 77 .” Jason’s work reaches deep into theoretical and scientific realms to understand experiences of transformation he witnesses with his clients.SPECIAL TOPIC: RUSSIAN SOUL: A REPORT FROM THE EUROPEAN TRANSPERSONAL ASSOCIATION Russian Soul: A Report from the European Transpersonal Association 2005 Conference in Moscow Glenn Hartelius T he 2005 European Transpersonal Association (EUROTAS) conference exemplified its theme of “Human Consciousness and Human Values in an Interconnected World. Rupert Tower (UK) used an enchanting Russian fairy tale to lead us into the shadow. The following pages constitute a small tour of the conference. as one of the most accomplished members of the Russian transpersonal community and part of the underground transpersonal movement in the late Soviet era. and a team of volunteers guided us through four days of presentations (June 23-26). Vitor Rodriguez (Portugal) offered a glimpse into his clinical experience with the diagnosis and treatment of psychic attack.” The Russian Association of Transpersonal Psychology and Psychotherapy. Vladimir Maykov (Russia) opened the conference by situating it in the context of a Russian transpersonal project that reaches back to antiquity. any articles in this special topic section. Mark Burno (Russia) shared fruits from 30 years of practice using “spiritual culture” as an avenue to therapy. frankly broaching issues of power and leadership in psychotherapy training organizations. Tanna Jakubowicz (Poland) rounded out this special topics section with an inspiring call to direct action. offering a series of six presentations drawn from the 70-some offerings on the program. Jason Wright (UK) drew on his work with addicts to weave a story of how psychological healing can grow out of rebuilding narratives that are the very fabric of “self. He began with a fascinating clinical story that shows the practical value of an esoteric approach. with the support of several other organizations. These were selected for their ability to reflect the flavor of the conference and for highlighting topics that were more original in character or less widely known. translating tirelessly between English and Russian. He spoke from a uniquelyinformed vantage point.
Schestov. the body is born. Russia has its own shamanic culture.P. Bakhtin. Berdyaev and L. A. In addition to Russian Christianity. the existentialist writings of authors such as L. Steiner. The Russian transpersonal project of today is more highly professional and many-sided than ever before. Even though the transpersonal vision is new in the West. yielding a community in which intensive searches are conducted in many directions. Clearly. the Near East and Europe. Altai. Mamardashvili. George lancing the dragon. I identify seven different roots of Russian transpersonalism. Lihachev. Contemporary shamans live and work in places such as Buryat.K. market economy and declaration of human rights. Tolstoy and F.S. the Fourth Way of G. there is the Russian religious philosophy of N.M. typified by the image of St. Gurdjieff. In the modern layer. which includes the mystical doctrine of hesychasm. and Khakassiya. Many academic scientists have been drawn to this perspective. there is no strict adherence to any one epistemology or theoretical framework. is poised to speak with the entire world in the common language of the transpersonal.N. it becomes a spiritual being. which establish its origins in distant antiquity.F. and academician V. The continuous historical development of this transpersonal urge was interrupted early in the 20th century. democracy. In fact. It has been said that excavating the Russian soul is like peeling an onion: the more you penetrate its layers. Blavatsky.V. Together these inform the modern transpersonal project in Russia. In addition.transpersonal. Russian Orthodox mysticism invokes altered states of consciousness. Russia. Vertnadsky. The first of these is the Russian Orthodox Church. Fyodorov. Tsilokovsky. This symbol has been central to Russian national imagery for five hundred years. Tuvinia. space holds a 78 special place in Russian consciousness. a country with centuries-old transpersonal roots. Losev. Celtic pagan tradition. the more you cry. the anthroposophy of R. Yet it is not easy to explain our inner being. Correspondence regarding this article should be directed to the author at www. Second is a layer of Russian paganism: Celtic paganism held sway over western Russia for centuries and left its imprint. The gap between that time and ours was bridged by a small cohort of thinkers and practitioners who escaped from Stalin’s terror and raised Russian transpersonalism from the ashes: men such as V. There is an archetypal wounding of the Russian soul. the Russian soul must spend its life striving to become a personality—trying to become functional in society. In the West. Dostoevsky. the soul behind Russian transpersonalism. you are left with empty nothingness. as noted by the academician D. as the pure potentiality of life that pulls you out of bondage. How does this wounding manifest itself? Personal development is different in Russia than in the West. it is traditional in Russia. Rather. M. the body is born and. Then there is a more modern layer.The Transpersonal Tradition in Russian Culture Vladimir Maykov T he transpersonal tradition is deeply rooted in Russian culture. with its correlatives of civil society. In the end.ru The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. Volume 24 . Nalimov. But there is almost a full absence of personality in the Western sense of the word. Transpersonalism is thus inherent in the Russian soul. Russia is geographically connected to Asia. In the 1970s and 80s a broader transpersonal underground developed.M. and Russian Orthodox Church. it includes both a practice in which the saying of prayers is synchronized with the breath. the theosophy of E. A. In May of 2002 we took a further step toward professional development with the founding of the Russian Association of Transpersonal Psychology and Psychotherapy. it becomes a personality. and a contemplative phenomenon in which one’s chest begins to vibrate and shake. K. Russians experience space as open sky. 2005. Mihejkin. First. shortly after Perestroika. This rich tapestry underlies Russian thinkers and writers of recent centuries who embody within their works the principles and spirit of transpersonalism. Pyatigorsky and V. and then it spends its life striving to become a spiritual being.I. Although there are many aspects to hesychasm.N. laying the groundwork for the founding of the Russian Association of Humanistic Psychology in 1990. M. Unlike any other country in the world. In Russia. through wounding. there is an ancient layer of shamanism—a practice that continues in Russia to this day. lawful state. covering the last thousand years. We can see three distinct layers underlying the Russian transpersonal tradition.E. Yakutiya. and the tradition of Russian cosmism of such visionaries as S.
this self is an illusion. I shall use his ideas here to think about how we might generate and sustain the process of self. onticly and diachronically secure). readers interested in learning more about CORE are encouraged to visit www. There are six stages in Lancaster’s model of this process: 1. the assumptions about the nature and qualities of the self that are at stake remain unexamined. Here I am thinking about process as does Pickering (1999) in terms of Alfred North Whitehead’s process philosophy. in the “continual creative advance of nature. and how its organization might be made secure enough to be sustained over time. of course. and the evolution of those structures to be inherent in the character of reality. Access to this process would then mean access to the possibility of more effective and more useful narratives. structures of activity. I would view these processes as being essentially semiotic in nature — that is. However this is not a self as thing but as a process that alters with the ever-changing tides of inner and outer narrative. In this context we understand the unifying intention to all the therapies is a spiritual one: we work within a transpersonal metaphor and see the fundamental issue facing the addicted person is the choice of whether or not to live: to live even in the face of devastating early-life trauma and alienation. Approaches to Consciousness (2004). composed of culturally-meaningful signs—and negotiated through narrative. it occurred to me that ideas live in us as we live in the world. For example. How do we approach this? What might be the mechanism of this self-process? In his book.Synthesis and Plurality: Stories of the Self Jason Wright T his essay was inspired by an epiphany.co.coretrust. it seems to me.e. in a semiotic and narrative context. this is not simply the end of the matter. In the process of seeing an object. Lancaster recognizes the link between cognitive neuroscience approaches and mystical approaches.” comes late in this sequence of six events that make up the perceptual process. This self-image is identified as me. a set of neurons fire Special Topic: Russian Soul 79 . Following Pickering’s argument. and the cultural milieu from which they arise. What self am I.e. it piques us with the question. and die in us. I was unable to sustain my image of self as a “thing” (i. From here it becomes possible to explore how the self-image of the client is organized. inadequate parenting and dysfunction. that an image of self exists at the point where a person’s inner conscious and unconscious stories and outer stories of community and culture meet.” If the self is also such a process. Les Lancaster brings together cognitive neuroscience and mysticism to explore the nature of consciousness. We are the medium of ideas—they live. Rather. consider the following elucidation of the perceptual process as understood by Abhidhamma practice seen in conjunction with processes of consciousness as defined by cognitive neuroscience. a process that can radically change the self-experience of the client. Rather. this question opens the door to useful inquiry.uk).. breed. For the purposes of understanding consciousness. What is this self that I experience? Following from the imagery above and my multidisciplinary work at the CORE Trust (note. Here we meet James Hillman’s (1983) idea that you need to heal the story. From a Buddhist perspective. then the key to transformation in psychotherapy is moving beyond the personal self to the process behind it: transcending the fixed ideas of self and encountering the self as an ongoing process. or not? Here. a London-based center that uses a holistic multi-disciplinary approach to addiction involving complementary therapies and psychotherapy (individually and in groups). As I lay beside my hotel pool exhausted from looking at rocks piled up by the ancients. and as imagery that helps me describe the work I have done over the last 12 years treating people who are struggling with addiction. In its raw form this basic question is an insoluble and often torturous dilemma: Should I live. I became fascinated with this as process. In therapy this question can and often does transform into the more useful question. Here then we return to the inspirational images that open this short paper. with the whole project held as a community. the personal self ) and into the process itself. I work at the CORE Trust. The focus moves away from the artifact of this process (i. not the person. how we might think about redefining those narratives. Whitehead (1933) considers transitional processes. which occurred whilst on a lonely holiday to Turkey in 1997. that I might want to live? Although narcissistic.” or “I-tagging. Lancaster identifies the fact that the process of identifying a “self. However.
Concurrently in her individual therapy. examined her difficulties with shame. but late in the perceptual process. 2. In individual therapy she identified her violent and abusive experiences in childhood as causing problems. through meditation or other mystical processes. chronic low self-esteem and habitual self-destructiveness. be that in a classical psychoanalytic frame such as a Winnicott’s (1951) model of transitional space or a Hillman’s (1983. The memory process responds to the input. In Abhidhamma this is known as javana. For Lancaster. and thereby allows the possibility for a greater number of associative schemata to reach consciousness. polydrug habits and difficulties with eating. She left home and school at age 15. 2005. 6. The client’s narrative of these symptoms as drivers of her addictive behavior indicated a compatibility between her ideas and those held by CORE as an institution. The goal. but experienced initial ambivalence toward the community. The sense of I-ness is added prior to the normal waking experience of consciousness. The perceived object is incorporated in the individual’s ongoing meaning narrative. Here the CORE narrative and her personal narrative came into conflict. The advantage of studying this process from a mystical perspective such as Abhidhamma is that it points out this deconstruction of the perceptual process. but it conveys an active role in the perceptual process—there is a clear transition from perceptual mechanism to narrative. 1996) view of narrative reconstruction or soul making from a case history to teleological soul history. and then not in a self-disclosing manner.and are analyzed through the visual cortex. her mother was still alive. if there is one. the client and her therapist explored issues of trust and relationship. Toward the end of the fifth month. including the narrative interpretation. one that 80 enables the client to cope with his or her experience creatively rather than destructively—a narrative that is open and containing rather than destructive and constraining. the kernel of the story is here. particularly with respect to difficulties in relating to people. Under mundane conditions the nature of I-tagging is powerful. Sometimes I feel as if I lend an alternate self to the client—both as a stop-gap tool for coping and as an example of the narrative reconstruction process— until such time as the client grasps the process enough to do his or her own reconstruction. death. Here then we are back to the key for transformational process in psychotherapy: moving beyond the personal self-image to the process behind it. so she attempted to control the situation by evoking her familiar narrative cycle of non-compliance and the violence it historically evoked. and her linkage of violence and intimacy. offers the opportunity to decrease the reinforcing nature of the I-tag. 4. It was not possible for her to determine the safest way to meet the needs of the CORE project as caregiver. Perhaps the best way to illustrate it is with a brief clinical example: B was 41 at the time of presentation.image within “me” in order to imagine differing possibilities. with significant defining features such as violence. is to develop an overarching narrative with the client. The important feature to grasp is that this activity goes on outside of normal awareness. Her father had been deceased for 10 years. Various schemata are activated through neural resonance. and action in the world. or the mind of God. Lancaster suggests that such deconstruction. B attended well during her time at CORE. The client presented to CORE with alcohol. Within the analytic frame of repetition compulsion. How does this operate in my practice as a transpersonal psychotherapist working with addicted people? The essential frame is to effect a de-identification with the self. Here we are immediately into the ground of psychotherapeutic work. and she had one sister. 3. but had gone on to work in demanding and prestigious jobs. this is the moment when the I-narrative and the perceptual process come together. There is no literal translation for the word javana. memory is updated by relaying back the current perception. to the thoughts of the world. a tendency to isolate herself. Working with a client in this way requires some skill and art at perceiving the individual content streams within the client’s narrative and then helping the client to re-weave them. and would lay down on the floor hiding her face. Finally. Volume 24 . These are the bare bones of the personal narrative. 5. Identity of an “object” is established separate from the background information. The sense of self is continually reinforced by registering new I-tagged perceptions into the individual-meaning narrative. it becomes possible to develop more effective and more useful narratives. speaking rarely. B was beginning to recognize that she had agency in relationship and was not simply the victim of The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. Through altering the relationship between the narrative of self and the narratives of experience. Here is the experience of shared narrative ideas that is essential to developing the therapeutic work. She had been treated violently by both parents throughout her childhood. She found it difficult to talk in group.
She became capable of tolerating her experiences and re-envisioning herself. A. When I got to CORE. Deep Ecology: Living As If Nature Mattered (pp. “Gandhi. J. London: Institute of PsychoAnalysis and Karnac Books. Before alcohol. Through CORE I have repaired myself enough to attempt a fulfilling. She was able both to contain and reveal difficult feelings and the story behind them. Shear (Eds. As of this moment. Winnicott. Devall & G. As part of this process. Healing fiction. stitching my fingers together. but I can contain my feelings without using. Sessions (Eds. I still have bad days when I plummet to the depths of despair and self-hatred instantaneously. p. However. 229-242). bouncing my head off walls. UT: Peregrine Smith Books. That the self advances and confirms the myriad things is called delusion. which through time and the process of the psyche develop into the image or icon called “self. Science and the modern world.) Exeter. Her personal narrative was being negotiated within the containing narrative framework of CORE. N. and a deeper sense of self slowly emerged.” Through deconstruction of the narrative stream it is possible to engage the underlying process and avoid over-identification with the images it throws up. and new self-image. whilst developing a new overarching narrative in which she was no longer trapped in her circumstances as a victim. clean and sober life. J (1996). contained her and. 232). historic experiences that had previously been unbearable began to emerge into consciousness. it became apparent that there wasn’t a time without the feelings that made me want to self-destruct….). Firstly of course it isn’t long enough. She is continuing in higher education. Cambridge. 62-83. J. the client is still in psychotherapy and has remained clean for 15 months since leaving CORE. and cannabis. in this context.circumstance. Dogen. N. cocaine and speed made me not care whether I felt pain or not. The semiotic self. Substance free. Over the next few months the client explored many of her intimate relationship. Hillman. Alcohol made me not feel pain. Here we evidence a fundamental alteration of the client’s narratives in relation to herself. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. UK: Imprint Academic. (1951). and Deep Ecology. The souls code. New York: Random House.” In B. Lancaster. as later did heroin. it doesn’t begin to explain the circumstances or the level of distress that I felt to start using when I was 12. My linear narrative didn’t start until I was nine. CORE. B. Transpersonal psychotherapy is not just about the content of our being. Correspondence regarding this article should be directed to the author at jasonwright@mac. and enlightening.Models of the Self (pp. That the myriad things advance and confirm the self is enlightenment. 232–35). this new and more useful selfimage better contains her narrative and her experiences. New York: Stanton Hill Press. (Aitkin. she read her own case history. Salt Lake City. Wiley. (1994). I self-harmed: burning myself. In Through paediatrics to psychoanalysis (pp. We are back to the main idea for defining self: a set of confluent narratives woven into a master narrative. In S. It is through the interaction of differing narratives that such changes in the client’s narrative stream were possible. she was able to bear the memory of her father’s sexual abuse. the client’s non-compliant behavior in group was still at issue. Hillman. someone else’s version of your narrative.W. The self as semiotic process.). Whitehead. Special Topic: Russian Soul 81 . L. Most significantly. That is true liberation.com References Aitken. In response she wrote: It’s very strange. She considered that she might be able to pull the parts of her self together to feel more whole. (1933). I’d used alcohol for 29 years and drugs for 26…. Cambridge. (1983). but also learning to be aware of the context within which we experience being itself. Gallagher & J. Ultimately the newfound story. (1999). UK: Polity Press. Pickering. Another strange thing is how completely different I feel for the vast majority of the time. tranquilizers. (2004). UK: Cambridge University Press. Approaches to consciousness. and I am fortunate that support is available through CORE’s weekly after-care treatment that I attend. but couldn’t understand. R. trying to find a way I could cause myself more pain than what I already felt. and perhaps to a normative narrative. 1985. The conflict between the two narrative streams became unbearable and she relapsed into addictive behavior. Transitional objects and transitional phenomena. to read a case history of yourself. (1985). particularly with members of her immediate family. just fragmentary memories of agues. D.
“Do you know you are harming this woman?” “No I am not! I just love her. 2005. parapsychology research suggests it is not only possible to influence thoughts at a distance (Radin. I speak to this man that she is experiencing. She sees that at times he suddenly pulls her out of her physical body. Dobyns & Bradish. If you follow their advice. 2) other entities. as illustrated by the previous story. he is apparently able to recall his death. “Do you know you are dead?” The young woman reports that he says. 1997). but then you hit anxiety. In my experience there are three sources of such attacks: 1) the presences of those who have died. But if the folktales speak truly. From my adolescence onward. Jahn. After giving the woman some instructions for creating a psychic defense against his unwanted presence. “What do you mean? I am alive!” I ask him to remember when he died. You have your moments of light. they would be damaging to the subjects). In the end. Ostrander & Schroeder.” “But you are harming her. Volume 24 . This is all true: it is nice to learn a spiritual path. Schlitz & Braud. and the young woman is able to resume her life. However. Although she is an excellent swimmer. She tells me that he had had sort of a crush on her. I believe they are right—even if you do not speak about “demons. to have meaning in your life. I say. it is not as important to argue about what kind of reality is represented by such processes as it is to find ways to assist those who suffer them. As a result.The Psychic Defense Vitor Rodrigues I want to introduce my subject by telling you about the case of a client who came to me. I bring this young woman into deep relaxation and. the man agrees to leave the young woman and goes “across” with a being of light. On the other hand. she cannot swim. They are a real feature of the spiritual dimension of human life. it is necessary to understand such attacks. I help her approach a state where she can access information about her condition. there is at least some chance that you may experience a serious breakdown. it will be necessary The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. and 3) living persons.” For the psychologist who encounters these phenomena. she cannot work or drive. 1997. Bem & Honorton.” After some further conversation. Some teachers naively tell you that you should meditate a lot. She describes that she sees a man. and he or she tells you it is only coming from inside you—so. What such teachers say is partially true: you are dealing with your inner demons. This is a man who had recently died. to expand. but a therapeutic strategy that involves the soul of a dead person is effective in relieving a condition that standard treatments cannot resolve. the glories of penetrating other realms. meditate more. Many teachers picture the wonders of conscious expansion. and those who suffer from them need and deserve skilled assistance. Picture an independent young woman who suddenly begins to have fainting spells. Until we have more scientific-sounding words to talk about this dynamic. These dangers include more than the souls of the deceased. but also possible to influence biological systems at a distance (Nelson. the father of a friend. If you follow this advice. she is likely to faint and end up floating facedown in the water. Then I ask her to tell me what is happening. Dalton. she is not epileptic. threatening her life. In any case. Nelson. 1997. But all religious traditions talk about outer demons as well. causing her to faint. 1997. I myself had to learn a lot about psychic attacks. then there are some dangers in these realms—even for those who are not on a path. Here we have a scientific problem: there is no proof of an afterlife. Bradish. the possibil82 ity of psychic attack is something we cannot directly test for empirically due to ethical constraints (we would have to consider the fact that if the attacks were effective. Then I ask. even in waist-deep water. many religions and traditions describe the phenomenon of psychic attack. Within a few days the fainting spells cease. Perhaps we should take seriously the possibility that these occurrences are on some level real. After a few moments. by causing her to faint. Medical tests detect no problem. In the end. Her EEG and EKG are normal. Gradually I came to understand how these episodes were constructed and how to deal with them. You go to the teacher for help. I underwent many of them over a period of 20 years. Dunne. 1997. 1994). it may happen that you end up in some trouble. Jahn & Dunne 1994. using particular techniques.” but only about aggressive “entities.
intense. Direct visions (e. 14. that are suspended in a precise location. uncontrollable emotion. a girlfriend of mine was combing her hair in front of the mirror. when more conventional causes or cures do not work. Some classical experiments seem to produce interesting effects. but in my experience many people who hear voices clearly are not schizophrenic—that is. or back of head. or a piece of clothing that has been worn for some time. Pressure on the back of the neck. Some will try to perform interesting rituals. 8. Once the connection is established. 16. but no one is there. as if someone is pressing with a finger. 2. A persistent stinging in parts of the body. as if a force is preventing full return to the body that can be felt as total paralysis lasting for some minutes or even hours. The intended outcome is that the negative qualities in the knife will induce the victim to use the blade to kill himself. a few related experiments have been done under laboratory conditions (for some hints at a modern version. 15. But in some ways the doll also helps the practitioner project his or her own energy and intention. A sound of bells that comes from nowhere. a feeling of oppressive darkness that is darker than the absence of light. some will try to project their own negative energy onto you. which of course. 1997). and 17. weakness. to a psychologist. though it is difficult to do such experiments ethically.” of course. is a probable sign of schizophrenia. Nightmares (most are from indigestion. occurring as a sudden feeling of intense anguish or fear. Strange pains that do not respond to painkillers. all of these symptoms may arise from causes other than psychic attack. nails. sperm. A dajida is a witchcraft doll prepared by the practitioner of dark arts and sympathetically connected to the victim by means of a sample. stress. However. 3. Fortunately.to use traditional terms—at the risk of speaking in language associated with medieval superstition. such as rottenness. Naturally. The rotting process is intended to have repercussions on the victim. mostly if several symptoms like the ones above are showing up together. Sudden. such as a dead cat. Repulsive odors. 9. the sorcerer gets a cat or rat. Unfortunately I have found very few authors dealing with the matter of psychic attacks in a somewhat realistic way (Bailey. A feeling that someone is blowing on the back of your neck. Symptoms of psychic attack include the following: 1. Fatigue. Two of the main procedures of classic witchcraft are the dajida and the charge. this is not so easy to accomplish. A charge is an object filled with bad feelings and bad intentions. 4. producing a specific pain. 13. Unexplained illness that cannot be diagnosed by medicine. these unwholesomenesses lead to evil actions. see Ostrander & Schroeder. Panic attacks (while most such attacks result from stress and worry. Paranoia—the feeling that someone or something is after you. it is possible that the symptom may result from such an attack. while other clients have seen a vampire at the door. Hearing threatening voices. However. Typically. connects it to the victim in the same manner as a dajida. Unexplained fainting. what kind of a model can we use to understand outer “demons?” “Inner demons. such as a bit of that person’s hair. but other incidents have a quality of vividness and may feel as if an octopus or some other threatening thing is grabbing the person. Fortune. and personal problems. they are living normal productive lives and some small percentage of these may result from psychic attacks). are our own unfinished business—unwholesome fears. it is believed that what the practitioner does to the doll will happen to the victim at a distance. feeling a burdensome weight. If we assume there is some kind of real phenomenon behind such reports. 11.. and “normal explanations” have Special Topic: Russian Soul 83 . or as if some specters or demons are present—-sometimes the dream experience is one of being encaged or otherwise imprisoned). then puts it some place to rot. 7. Psychic attacks can also come from humans. 5. greeds and ambitions. or a bedcover has seemed to become a python). 10. spine. and saw black serpents in her hair. blood. 1930. reinforced by the folkloric beliefs of the victim. some are different in origin and come on when everything in life is OK. 12. One way to understand outer demons is as subtle presences that connect with us through these inner flaws and who cultivate those flaws. worry. 2001). photograph. or the sensing of a threat that may occur with nausea). Part of the effect is through suggestion. 6. A sense of constriction and despair. and some will ask for help from demonic entities. Another variation is a cursed stabbing knife that is placed where the victim will find it. Left unchecked. saliva. Waking up and feeling as if movement is impossible.g.
Jahn. R. & Honorton. Does psi exist? Replicable evidence for an anomalous process of information transfer. Psychological Bulletin. Correspondence regarding this article should be directed to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. Psychic discoveries. New York: HarperEdge. which are omitted from this review. Letters on occult meditation. Journal of Scientific Exploration. (1930/2001)..first been ruled out. which is really our soul.. Psychic self-defense. Y. As power develops. A. J.pt 84 The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. 2005. If done properly. Bradish. Fortune. (1997). J. & Dunne. Distant intentionality and healing: Assessing the evidence. Journal of Scientific Exploration. L. J. and beauty. & Schroeder. 425-454. Ostrander. & Bradish. Dalton. D. A linear pendulum experiment: Effects of operator intention on damping rate. York Beach. 471-489. & Braud. G. If a person such as my client wants to develop her power. B. ME: Samuel Weiser. Exploring the links: Creativity and psi in the Ganzfeld.. References Bailey. 12(3). S. D. D. D. Alternative Therapies. Volume 24 . B. New York: Marlowe & Company.. Proceedings of presented papers at the Parapsychological Association 40th Annual Convention held in Conjunction with The Society for Psychical Research. (1994). (1997). R. FieldREG II: Consciousness field effects: Replications and explorations. R. Nelson. Dobyns. Bem. M.. (1997). (1997). Schlitz. so God’s plan is your plan. The conscious universe. Cary. Jahn. This is a coincidence: moving in unity with everything. If not. Nelson. C. According to the spiritual traditions of the world this different thing. K. H. will start moving in harmony with God’s plan for the purposes of love. J. W. 4-18. Radin. New York: Lucis. J. (1997). D. North Carolina: Parapsychological Association. 115(1). G. There are specific protocols for treatment of such conditions. 8(4). 62-73.. justice. G. she will have power—but she must use that power with love. she must deal with her inner demons. Dunne. (1994). 3(6). (1930). R. we learn to let go of our own personalities so something different can happen spontaneously inside of us. eventually it will amount to black magic: the manipulation of psychic energies for your own purposes. Vulnerability to such attacks can also be decreased by the development of personal and spiritual power..
they are more in the natural-scientific stream. This method helps not only people of a materialistic outlook. and so forth. The approach is different for differing patients. the famous Russian artist and monk of the 15th century. Yarotsky named his classical book. For such a person. 1917). Logos (Frankl). it includes not only what is sent to us from Above. there are many intellectuals with this materialistic understanding of spirituality. the state of creative inspiration is often understood as something sent from Above. the Russian notion of spirituality is broader. for it is the origin of Spirit. This is realistic pictorial art on a religious theme. emitting spirit.” In Polenov’s picture. realistically depicted. of God. This same distinction can be seen in psychotherapy. She says. 2005). but also those with a more idealistic nature. that is. or it may take the natural-scientific form of creative self-expression. characterology. Spirit is no less important to the materialist. one must study one’s own natural features.On Therapy by Means of Spiritual Culture Mark E. creative inspiration. a physician with a materialistic worldview. As such. This approach is more of an idealistic relationship to a transcendent spirituality. If the face were lifelike. I have worked out this psychotherapeutic method over more than 30 years (see Burno. but is also Something emitted by ourselves. Transpersonal State (Grof ). but it is secondary: body (matter) emits spirit. an individual with a more idealistic nature will experience spirituality and creative inspiration quite differently than one with a more materialist bent. Jesus is a young but wise man: wholly human. Idealism as a Physiologic Factor (1908). With the help of many others. these then become real orienting points for following one’s own spiritual nature: one’s own nature. In order to live naturally. It reminds us of how the girl in Gogol’s story speaks of the stars in the sky. Burno T herapy by means of spiritual culture is a psychotherapeutic approach in which the leading psychotherapeutic mechanism is that of creative self-expression. Because of this. religious worldview. but we do not know whether the neck is male or female. Personal Growth (Rogers). For the idealist it must be this way: the face of Christ should not be full-blooded and alive. Such people feel the state of creative inspiration as an emission of their own bodies. Here is an excerpt from a group session on creative self-expression that helps individuals to feel their own outlook and understand whether they are more idealistic and religious or natural-scientific in their own nature. Here we see the face of Jesus. The nose looks rather like a duck’s bill. Then we view an icon by Anton Roublev.” It begins by viewing a painting by the Russian artist Vasiliy Polenov entitled “Christ and the Sinner. So. natural history. and the hair is just an inarticulate mass. to find their own psychotherapy. his or her own body is the source of spirit. The essence of the method is as follows: The patients with painful feelings of inferiority study elements of clinical psychiatry. but without an idealistic. He understood idealism as a state of captivity to altruistic ideals. in accordance with one’s own nature. we would not see the stream of Spirit flowing from his eyes. In Western tradition. “The angels open the windows of their houses. we have one image of spirit for idealists and another for materialists. This image of Christ is the glance of the transcendental world. Self-Actualization (Maslow). there are more people of a materialistic nature of soul than in the West or the Far East. and psychotherapy in order to learn to express themselves creatively in harmony with their natural characterological peculiarities. is one of the fathers of Russian clinical psychotherapy in the natural-scientific approach. Alexander Yarotsky (1908. Psychosynthesis (Assagioli). This session is called “Polenov and Rublev. For example. In this way. therapy by means of spiritual culture may be creative inspiration that takes a more religious. we can say that Pushkin and Chekov are spiritual writers. this state is called Freedom (Fromm). idealistic form.” So. In Russia. as to a receiver. In Russia. Special Topic: Russian Soul 85 . Yet the state of creative inspiration can be felt in different ways according to the nature of the particular soul. 2002.
(1917). 71-76. Volume 24 . 2005. M. (2005).References Burno. Yarotsky. O psykoterapii pri hronicheskih vnutrenih boleznyah. 49-53. A. (1908). Idealizm kak fiziologichesky factor. 4(2). E. Yarotsky. Yuruev: Yuryevsky Universitet. I. E. Archives of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy. A. 433-444. 3(25-28). Russky Vrach . Therapy by means of creative self expression. Burno. M. (2002). I. 7(1). Archives of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy. Native psychotherapy in Russia. Correspondence regarding this article should be directed to the author at Weshniakowskaja Street 4-1-101 Moscow 111402 Russia 86 The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies.
She saw him and opened the window and he flew in. Inside her room he turned himself back into a young man and had a nice private dinner with the czar’s daughter.” he said. but only on the third attempt. and was again admitted to the czar’s daughter’s room where he turned into his own form. The Black Magician Czar There was a czar who was a black magician and a very powerful ruler. They had a nice feast and spent the night together and tried to plan a way to escape the czar. took a sharp sword and 87 . In the discussion that follows. However. 236-9). she said. “Czar. This tale. and after my death he can rule over my whole empire.” (Jung.” And the czar answered. “What impertinence!” She seized him by the collar and flew with him out of the nest. There was a third bold young man who said he could escape him. Council for Psychotherapy. 335) cut off the youth’s head (and found great pleasure in his evil game).K. I will also draw upon six informal qualitative interviews that I conducted with senior. The youth changed himself into a fly. experienced psychotherapy colleagues outside of the Centre for Transpersonal Psychology who act as representatives for their training organisations within the Humanistic and Integrative Section of the U. The bird was not there at the time. But a very bold young man got up and said. He went out of the city and shape-changed into a weasel. pp. Finally I wish to suggest innovative forms of holding authority and leadership for the 21st century. Then he turned himself into a ring she put on her finger. I will examine how power and leadership are held. the czar. On the third day there was another dinner party and the czar made the same offer.Creativity lies at the Edge of Disintegration: Addressing the Shadow of Power and Leadership within Psychotherapy Training Organisations Rupert Kinglake Tower “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light. hide yourself. “All right. 1967. and then a falcon and flew in front of the czar’s daughter’s window. “So. but the youth said “No. The latter procedure. and the czar agreed. but by making the darkness conscious. I can hide from you and escape. he saw the nest of the Magovei bird (a magic bird in Russian fairy tales) on a green oak tree and dropped down into her nest. And he himself. The next day he went to open fields and turned himself into a blade of grass. The youth left the palace. your head must come off!” The bold young man went off to hide. but when she came back and saw the bold youth sitting there. called “The Black Magician Czar. the last one. and sent his servants to find him and bring him before him. Based in large part on their experiences of encountering the Shadow during difficult transitions and periods of conflict within their organisations. bold young man. The youth departed once more. The next day the czar issued the same challenge and again a bold young man suffered the same fate. and shape-changed into a grey wolf. a drill. found the youth and demanded that his head must come off his shoulders. and how later generations may unconsciously carry the Shadow for the founders. a pike. however. Tomorrow I will hunt for you and if you don’t succeed in hiding yourself. Flying over mountains and cliff.” as he still had another chance to hide. flew into the palace and then became a piece Special Topic: Russian Soul I want to begin by telling you a Russian fairytale loosely taken from Marie-Louise Von Franz (1987. One day he gave a dinner party for all his subjects and said to them: ”Whoever can run away and hide himself from me shall have half my kingdom and my daughter as his wife. but the czar read his book of magic and found out where the youth had gone. “now your head must come off your shoulders!” But the youth replied that it had been arranged that he should have three tries. shape-changing into several animals. across the blue sea and put him on the magician czar’s window. is disagreeable and therefore not popular.” Everybody who sat there remained silent and turned pale. par.” describes an encounter with the Shadow and how to cope with it. the czar again consulted his magic book and discerned the youth’s hiding place. and the czar let him go. But once again the czar consulted his magic book. and then a falcon.
where the idea of the organisation as a unity (the ego ideal) contrasts radically with reality.of flint. he said. fragility. “you have sought me for three days and had given up the search. which contained many inherent strengths. connects us with our spontaneity. eventually in some cases leading to organisational decay and breakdown. Those young men who also attempt to adopt a power attitude are swiftly beheaded. Alongside this. disagree and voice criticism. a shameful. The hero in this tale succeeds because he is able to receive knowledge directly from its natural source. Typically. which cannot be misused by evil forces. Experience of power dynamics within psychotherapy organisations seemed to indicate that more often than not leaders promoted initially a visionary drive towards personal and professional excellence and integration. and to acknowledge limitation–and a degree of trust in staying with the mess and chaos of a creative. since he had not found the youth. immediacy.” “No. 10). He is unable to recognise the limits of reality or the existence of the other. mighty czar. debate. Volume 24 . Meanwhile the black magician began to read and search his magic book. The czar’s willingness to kill the bold freshness of ardent youth reflects a drama prevalent with an omnipotent fantasy of omniscience. I have now come voluntarily. and his primary 88 motivation to possess power. the failure to recognize faults within themselves and to discern the fantasy nature of the organisational ideal.” the youth said. 2003). She took the flint stone and rubbed it on some steel. the stone flew out of her hand and there stood the youth. Now your head must come off your shoulders. nastiness and destructiveness. bold young man. where it felt safe enough to question. One morning the maid got up and started to lay the fire. and these shadow qualities would be projected onto the imagined perpetrators. which told him the youth was in the Magovei bird’s nest. What seemed increasingly to be held in the Shadow in these instances were the qualities of ordinary humanness–the permission to express fallibility. It was the denial of this reality. “Good morning. p. The black czar’s magical book seems to represent a closed system of magic. and an instinctual living basic nature of the psyche. They hunted and hunted. 2005. 1990. So they went back to the empire. to be unsure or unclear sometimes about where the project was going. The czar looked in his book and thought that he must be there. deeper consciousness that utilises wit and emotional intelligence. Anyone that metaphorically speaking wished to “grow up” and assume responsibility for new ideas and new input that deviated from or appeared to threaten the organizational norm. there was a loss of recognition that a necessary part of being human was the acknowledgement and ownership of one’s own capacity for envy. which misinterprets the way of the feminine. or vulnerability. misuses power. where the character of organisational life more viscerally resembles a “snakepit” in which “there must be for each of us. but his servants found the nest but no youth. and lay down by the fireplace. He represents openness to a wider. and he knows a way to approach the feminine principle so that he is helped three times. he could no longer be alive on the earth. secret underside to organisational life” (Schwartz. but over time this gradually tipped over into a narrow form of perfectionism and inflated “magnificence” with an exaggerated focus on an organisational ideal that denied and became rapidly out of step with reality. was likely to be cut down in czar-like fashion. The interviews also showed that when an organization goes through the demise or departure of a founder. so the two were married and had a wonderful wedding feast. The czar thought that. The second and third day passed. Any possibility of dialogue is prevented through an atmosphere of terror and dehumanisation (Biran. Now I should have half the kingdom and your daughter as my wife!” The czar could do nothing. individually and collectively. any perceived challenge to the leaders’ authority. or anyone who dared to hold a different vision to the status quo would be isolated. The Abuse of Power and Authoritarian Leadership The tale of “the Black Magician Czar” expresses the debilitating effects of the ruthless drive and desire for power. The “Black Magician Czar” describes a kind of incestuous situation between the father and the daughter where the feminine principle is a captive of the masculine principle. An organisation is an ongoing drama enacted by fallible players. processing space of not knowing. The youth became the czar’s son-in-law and got half the empire. The czar is a diabolical “negative shadow” figure whose primary drive is to dominate and retain power. The czar himself joined in the hunt. competitiveness. a firestone. and seeks possession through personal will alone. that caused a rot to gain hold from within. and on the death of the czar he was to ascend the throne. a distinct transitional stage showed itself The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. mighty czar”. “Good morning.
Creative methods such as these may help us to own. Another emerging approach to leadership and service is “servant-leadership” which emphasises an ethical awareness and appropriate use of power by the encouragement of a long-term. 232). 98). London: SPCK Publishing. References Biran. that possibility lies to co-habit more fruitfully with our Shadow sides and remain open to our unruly complexity amidst all its savagery and beauty. a potential Saviour Hero who will bring revitalizing purpose to the organization. Hinshelwood & N. H. He outlines three phases: (1) The coming of the Messiah. Listen to the voice within: A Jungian approach to pastoral care. Buddhism and living life. In R.” London: Continuum. and it may drop and fall. Dallas. It is within the oft unspoken. 490-502. Hull. Collective leadership is yet another paradigm in which mutual interconnection configures the presence of collective leadership. (2005). Hobson. Introduction to social dreaming: Transforming thinking. messiness and diverse ideas remain and flourish but are held. The nature of leadership is no longer that of a spiritual parent to a child. Spears. Correspondence regarding this article should be directed to the author at rupert. There is an African proverb that holding power is like holding an egg. rage and mourning for what was lost with the original founder has to be faced. C. Alchemical studies (Bollingen Series 20.amidst the vacuum and chaos. W. & McCormick. Bollas. allowing leadership to shift. The Servant-leader within: A transformative path (H. Hold it too loosely. R. N. unnoticed.com Special Topic: Russian Soul 89 . Manning. transformational philosophy to life and work – in essence a way of being – that is committed to an individual’s personal growth within organisations and promotes a sense of community (Greenleaf. breakdown and usually unnamed destructive components of the process force themselves into consciousness (Perry. (Eds. where difference. but of peer to peer. G. there seems to be inner cohesion. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.). However. M-L. C.: Princeton University Press. R. and only then can the organization begin to remain present with what Nigel Wellings and Elizabeth McCormick refer to as “Fallow Chaos” by facing the unpalatable but unavoidable journey that “to do or be something new we must first let go of something or some part of ourselves that is old” (Wellings & McCormick. (1990). and (3) the Catastrophe. Therapeutic Communities (pp. Greenleaf. New York: New York University Press. but outer groups are constellated. hold it too tightly. R. 2003). The collected works of C. Nothing to lose: Psychotherapy. C. The saviour fantasy must be relinquished. p. E. 2005. Trans. & L. TX: Spring Publications. Narcissistic process and corporate decay: The theory of the organisational ideal. C. C. The shadow of the object.). 103-112). and it may break. (GordonLawrence. 1987) of the transcendent function can reveal itself. (1967). (2005). 13. Gordon. F. Jung. devolve. Shadow and evil in fairytales. and be shared by individuals that are able to provide many differing qualities of leadership in differing circumstances according to their particular style. 36(4). and disillusionment. “Social Dreaming” is increasingly used within analytical training institutes and mainstream organisations to build a communal relationship with the Shadow and unconscious processes. London: Karnac.tower@btopenworld. and the Shadow goes underground. It is in the holding of the tensions of these polarities that the “unthought known” (Bollas. Eds. Jung: Vol. There are several methods for mediating with shadow influences that can aid such a process of internal self-examination.). inevitably the pain. unassuming acts of determination to bear difference. Beazley. prior to finding a reframed identity. N. (2003). Wellings. H. individual differences and anxieties are denied. (1987). (1991). (1979). G. (2) the Enlightenment. Von Franz.J. name and respect the destructive and creative forces of the personal and archetypal Shadow that will always be present in some form or another within our organisational life. 1979. 1991). death. A gifted individual steps forward within the vacuum with revolutionary ideas opposed to the original Vision and is experienced by self and others as magical. (2003). London: Free Association Books. strengths and personal attributes. Initially a period of intellectual stimulation follows. p. Group Analysis. 2005). The Messianic community. Schwartz. Perry. Beggs. The Jungian analyst Robert Hobson calls this the “therapeutic community disease” (Hobson. New York: Paulist Press. The difficulty of transforming terror into dialogue. Princeton. (1987). J. L. and in open-hearted gestures of kindness and the courage of forgiveness.
love. cultivating the real nature of man as a manifestation of the The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. We have an ongoing history of genocide and holocausts—a long chain of cruel wars between oppressors and victims. Earth is being devoured because most people are disconnected from the Source of Life. spiritually homeless. perceives the world as one organism based on the shared ground underlying all spiritual traditions. We can all see that transpersonal and holistic awareness is becoming more popular. “The future is brought into the present by people who conspire together—that is. “We are the ones we have been waiting for. transformation and reconciliation. I imagine this work to be one of supporting already-existing trends in our culture such as: 1. lying dormant in the deepest roots of most. How can we respond to this situation? How do we heal and seal the hole in the soul of our society? As Ian Gordon Brown (1994) used to say. But if you ask me what I believe in. When we are deeply connected to the whole. drawing from old spiritual traditions. we feel relieved and happy. who are left naked like slaves and beggars of a “better” world. There are no spectators in this struggle. These “developed” societies pump natural resources out of the soil of the Third World and dump back their junk and toxic waste.” Even if spiritual emptiness is a phenomenon particular to the West. said. The old order is a fragmented world based on the illusion of separateness. breathe together. In practical terms. equally important work is to learn how to transform and reconcile inner conflict so we do not cast our shadow on the world. I might confess that I practice the religion of love. anger. fear. Great Spirit are among the many names for this one ground from which all life springs. My concern is how to make this world a better place to live.We Were Made for These Times Tanna Jakubowicz-Mount H aving Jewish roots. My intention is to join all people who are concerned about the state of affairs in our world right now and who are awake enough to contribute to the process of healing. to conquer other territories and exploit natural resources. cultures there is an essential similarity. The new order. oppression and wars—the emptiness inside us that leads us to reach for everything outside us. It is the spiritual starvation of the so-called developed world that causes physical poverty and starvation in underdeveloped nations. peace and justice. In this state of mind we can embrace and respect all diversities as a manifestation of the One. willing to contribute to common goodness. if not all. “I am persuaded again and again that. unsated. “The hopelessness that comes from a situation that keeps getting worse. compassion. we see two struggling forces. set by unitive consciousness. Promoting the renaissance of holistic culture. Volume 24 . wisdom. It takes new moral energy to create new political will. and victims who become oppressors. speaking at Harvard University. This is the cause of deep despair. Ain Sof. studying mysical Judaism. The real pain in the lives of most people may not be about starvation as much as about lacking trust—a deprivation of higher purpose and meaning. Holy Spirit. 2005. it has great impact on the entire human civilization. When we look at the world from an eagle’s eye view. thirsty. something that could be made—if the will to do so existed—a genuinely unifying starting point for that new code of human coexistence that would be firmly anchored in the great diversity of human traditions” (1995). We need politics of awareness based on morality and a new morality based on love for all living beings. [is] a despair where living becomes no different than dying. finally arriving at this place with no name. Czech president Vaclav Havel. We need to establish direct connection between our spiritual practice and service for the world. In this way. Buddhism and shamanism. Why? Because this is the right answer to the burning problems of the world and the painful dilemma of being human. As Eyad 90 el Sarraj (2002) observed. thereby stripping of natural dignity and spirituality the inhabitants. Deep down in the ground there are the same seeds of truth. I have followed many paths.” A saying attributed to the Hopi Indians says. because re+ligare means reconnecting and love has the greatest bonding power.” In my vision I saw that the most urgent and beautiful task is helping people to tap into a deep source of spiritual abundance. A second. battling for spheres of influence and control over territories and human minds. uprooted from the earth. both rich and poor nations are left spiritually bereft.
2. http://peaceuk.co. (1994). 3. Co-creating a new code of co-existence based on the values that underlie the great spiritual traditions. We need to encourage each other to intensify our activities and make them more effective.com/estes. London. Address delivered at Harvard University. Indra’s diamond net is an ancient vision of the world in which all beings have the nature of a diamond.uk/ archive /modules. The holistic human is able to raise awareness to the heart and the crown chakra level.true nature of all creation.pl/eurodialog/ed/0/havel. Supporting culture and communication without violence.x.pl Special Topic: Russian Soul 91 . References Brown.” http://www. 2005 Estes. P.mavenproductions. retrieved July 30. “we were made for these times” (2003).html. (1995).uk. Enhancing the evolution of humankind from homo tribus to homo holos. I believe we have a special responsibility in this time in history. C. and to bring in more love and respect for the Earth and all living beings. and the need for hope. 2005. (2002).com. European Transpersonal Association. and find their way home. fostering a new sense of planetary consciousness that is interfaith and multicultural. and embrace the entire Earth community. E. The tribal human is preoccupied mostly with the tribal drives of the first three chakras—basically having to do with territory and survival. G. Inspiring new women’s movements to reclaim feminine power and wisdom. “Letter to a young activist during troubled times. In the words of Clarissa Pinkola Estes. 31(4). 2005 Havel. V. My idea is to create INDRA-net. http://www. Journal of Palestine Studies. Developing the politics of awareness. I. My personal vision is to set up a network of international action so we can inspire each other to do this most urgent work with the people who are within our reach.co. and 6. Correspondence regarding this article should be directed to the author at email@example.com. The guardians of the old order are very well armed and organized. We need to think about what kind of actions we can develop. reclaiming the sacredness of life and death. so more people can gain access to spiritual experiences. to transform a minority perception into a majority embrace. 4.mdl-net. despair.php?name =News&file=print&sid=193.en. and exist in a boundless network of reflections and relationships. This is our opportunity to trigger the tipping point.html. el Sarraj. standing for International Direct Radiant Action Network. retrieved July 30. Brochure of the third conference. Suicide bombers: Dignity. (2003). 5. retrieved July 31.
So do not trust. But here’s the thing: her whole mode of interaction with the world is seduction. that of the romantic. The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. Dear Kat. meet in a jiffy. is that a psychiatrist’s evaluation?). I read The Myth of Freedom autobiographically. So she hides. Short: no time for “pure” or “need” or “fear” before it all moves off away. and slam your breakfast clear against the wall? Much love. the ball as it hits the gut strings. It was flirt. fabricates. betrays. And in that absence she is as present as ever. 2005. Already perfect. I. She’s even a tantric. sweetheart. a heap smart. It is like the single yak That defeats the wolves. owned only in the sense that her smile seemed once to belong to her. Yet after all. no floor at all. . gone enough. . If you trust you are in Others’ hands. Surface and depth closer even than skin and flesh. And who will flirt with me? Maybe only Kat. pp.READERS’ COMMENTARY A Love Letter Kidder Smith Bowdoin College Suppose you see right through someone and that person does not want you to see right through and becomes horrified and runs away…. seduces. then. The above comes from a great loneliness. 1976. exceptionally sensual. all delight and horror on the spot: nothing implies nothing. someone’s blood suddenly all sticky between your fingers. 92 This is unrelationship. Sure. it’s as if you give it all away every second. (Trungpa. and do tell me your name again. . let’s hope I’m a good dancer. here enough? Who else could drop dyadic partnership (ugh. change minds forty times by tiffin. who will stay with us all the way through? Elsewhere he writes: Do not trust. does anything ever land? And how. so anybody’s promising would wreck the scene. Remaining in solitude You can never be defeated. Instead of impulsively making a move from your side. pretty much that’s what happens. Ah. Elusive. you allow a move from the other side. or never. distorts. But then it struck me that there might be something else: dancing in space. So I wrote some codas. there is still ordinary life and ordinary desire. right? Grand elusion’s game. would turn the sweet free flow of flirt into an embarrassed stain. have been wondering and wondering how you and I might truly meet. Who will really play with him. to tell safe from sex. which is learning to dance with the situation. Here is the first. she’s a beauty queen. repairing all my kinks and crevices. Flirt is just joydreadful. But maybe it wouldn’t be that much fun. 88-89) So I fell for Kathleen. Kidder Sounds like an ideal solution. No means to measure sweet or slimy. as Trungpa’s own love story. you do not extend your eye and hand automatically: you just admire. In preparation I have cleansed myself so staunchly. only nothing happened. sanding down the dance floor so that our dear feet wouldn’t get scuffed as we fox-trot up and back the hall. When you want something very badly. and get it all dribbling right on top of you. and it tries to be all so exalted. Volume 24 . to engage her? So I wrote this love letter. an earnest young man. Who else is pink enough.
T. If the goddess is all places at once. invocation of trust. * * * So Jesus wins this hand. that of Jesus. he dwells in the secret interstices of her womb. He wants it all: unrelationship’s brutal beauty. earth. to trust. When the goddess is seductive. nor can there be a resolution in this. the large truck of almost-flying concoctions. dakini comes up behind and tweaks her boo. side by side. If the goddess is love. and surely beyond telling. Boston: Shambhala Publications. dissolving at touch. When she has urgent play. with full breasts and hips. churning. hard for humans to hear. And in the end Kathleen didn’t want to play. (Trungpa. drop your arm. But what if Kali’s cutting isn’t the only play? What if Kat and I were both the goddess. If the goddess is form. and maybe in a human partner. 13-14). I must ask her at some point. and brought to the surface again? Yes. * * * Perhaps a bit demanding. always is: the sex of the ocean with the ocean. and in the love that she is. deep trust. holding all warm forms. Jesus. with your well-sharpened. Boston: Shambhala Publications. fed the food and water of rebirth. don’t use your skin. pp. The goddess is his first manifestation. is primal That. almost ancient tools. he’s twenty-two. trust your hairs. yes. And the goddess can make love with the goddess. yes. But Kidder is also dakini. your tools. I will come for you over and over and over until your immortal soul no longer needs me. such romantic longing. such a flirt! What does Kathleen want? To be the single yakini. is her intense refinement into pure love. If the goddess glows her fullness. That’s a progression. sisterhood. (1998). I hold you. * * * The Last Word There is no last word. Trungpa. the sea that never breaks. giving and receiving. May I have this dance. genderless. And. so sharpened. The flirtdreadjoy is a place of shaking invisible sheets. he is utter stillness. * * * There is one more coda. he dances her love songs. Timely rain—Selected poetry of Chogyam Trungpa. who is who is who? Which rain falls.edu Reader’s Commentry 93 .For trust is surrendering oneself. C. moving outward toward the human realm. where bliss is pain is bliss. Never. bringing life as well as death. he’s blushing. and so is Kidder’s tender joy. reuniting from within. in and out of key. transshaping. She can run from the truck’s interior designs. no. You don’t see the giggle. swirl and swirl and swirl. * * * A friend of mine read this letter. 1998. break open the huge churning barrel of the truck. in my love. It is still so serious. so fine. C. whose water. he is the emptiness aspect of her forms. a sky-goer. It is a very deep passion. Trungpa. he emails me: It is so fine. yes. For Kali is ultimate love. that of the goddess and dakini. The myth of freedom and the way of meditation. no. Yes. there it will splash for so long she will BATHE in it. whispers Jesus. where is up or down? What wind. all the faces of love. such an invitation. let that sway of your hairs dissolve into her body. calling. look out for the tiny razors. Correspondence regarding this article should be directed to the author at kidder@bowdoin. I cannot say. never trust. that’s all. turning her head to giggle when you are there admiring her loud HARKING neck. What does Kidder want? Ah. his speech splashes like light warm June drops of rain. Kat? Ever in the big truth. Kat flutters there in her constant pure aversion. playflirt. but if you spill the materials. Drop the tools more. Ah. yes. swaying. he shows up in all places. it is more compelling to her insides. Jesus emerges from her. has no necessity of further opening. When she is silent. In the goddess that she is. maybe. References Trungpa. That’s the point. And when they sex. the goddess. all at once. So here is the second coda. Kathleen. his clear radiance and gentle voice. in her red turtleneck and jeans. kindness. (1976). holding Kathleen’s warm hand. Kathleen writes: Is there anyone who will ensure that your corpse will be taken off the hook on the wall behind Ereshkigal’s throne.
Vladimir Maykov. Glenn Hartelius (United States) is a mind/body theorist. Ph. He was one of the first Soviet teachers of transpersonal psychology and. as well as author or editor of eight books on psychology. in East-West psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies.D. in Gestalt Therapy and Bioenergetics.S. French. and poetry. through which he has edited approximately 50 books. has developed and taught more than 20 training programs in transpersonal therapy. Volume 24 . Burton Daniels (United States) has been a counselor since 1987. and the University of Algarve Faculty of Medicine. He has 234 published works in English. He has taught for 37 years. and philosophical problems associated with psychology. Tanna Jakubowicz-Mount (Poland) is a psychotherapist specializing in transpersonal therapy. reviews and popular culture essays for newspapers and magazines. He has a particular interest in developing critical methodologies for the felt sense. the ontology and epistemology of shamanic journeying imagery. She is president of the Polish Transpersonal Forum and.ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS Mark Burno (Russia) holds a Doctor of Medical Science degree and is professor in the Department of Psychotherapy of the Russian Medical Academy of Postgraduate Education in Moscow and president of the Professional Psychotherapeutic League (national umbrella organization of the psychotherapists of Russia). literature. and serves as president of the Russian Association for Transpersonal Psychology and Psychotherapy. human embodiment. Adam Rock (Australia) received a Ph. clinician and teacher. since 1990. He has been a practitioner of Adidam since 1983 and currently lives in the ashram of his spiritual master. she organized the fourth European Transpersonal Conference in Warsaw in 1997. the Nursing School of Evora. He is completing a Ph. (Russia) is a leader of transpersonal studies in Russia. His research interests include altered states of consciousness. He is the author of eight books and has taught at the University of Lisbon. He regularly lectures and conducts workshops and journalistic interviews on transpersonal subjects. and is currently working as a family therapist. Dennis Patrick Slattery (United States) is Core Faculty in the Mythological Studies and Depth Psychology Programs at Pacifica Graduate Institute. 94 The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. She holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Warsaw University and completed postgraduate studies in the U.D. Russian and other Slavic languages. His most recent books are: Grace in the Desert: Awakening to the Gifts of Monastic Life (2004) and Just Below the Water Line: Selected Poems (2004). in psychology from Charles Sturt University in 2005. he founded an international project to publish transpersonal psychology texts in Russian. He received a master’s degrees in psychology from Sonoma State University and Argosy University. He also founded the Transpersonal Institute in 1994 and the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in 1997.D. 2005. Vitor Rodrigues (Portugal) has a private psychology/ psychotherapy practice and is president of both the European Transpersonal Association and the Portuguese-Brazilian Transpersonal Association. He has had a wide range of training from psychodynamic to transpersonal psychotherapy. Avatar Adi Da Samraj. as former vice-president of the European Transpersonal Association. is author of over 225 articles. In addition to authoring several books.
he has led process groups with addicts.D. Harald Walach (Germany/United Kingdom) is a research professor in psychology with the University of Northampton. was recently published by O books. He is married with a 2 year old son. acupuncture and spiritual healing). the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research. Recently his research interests have covered mindfulness meditation and spirituality. (United States) is a long-time Zen student in the tradition of the Diamond Sangha and now practices at Ring of Bone Zendo. Rupert Tower (United Kingdom) is a UK Council for Psychotherapy Registered Transpersonal Psychotherapist working in private practice and Director of the Centre for Transpersonal Psychology based in London. the Journal of DH Lawrence Studies and New Renaissance. and a new baby boy. He has presented and published research papers for the UK Market Research Society. Ashley Wain (Australia) is a Ph. where he is researching numinous and essential experience in actor training and performance. Jason Wright (United Kingdom) is a transpersonal and psychoanalytic psychotherapist. About the Contributors 95 . The Fall: the Evidence for a Golden Age. he has held the office of Chair of the Psychoanalytic and Psychodynamic section. Out of Time (Paupers' Press. he trained in Holotropic Breathwork with Stanislav Grof and Tav Sparks and is the author of an article on this experience. England.D. and director of the European office of the Samueli Institute. as well as devised and directed performances. He is currently Chair for The Centre of Transpersonal Psychology and Clinical Director for the CORE Trust. and the British Journal of Social Psychology.D. He is also the director of the Section for the Evaluation of Complementary Medicine at Freiburg University Hospital. where he has conducted work in the evaluation and conceptual foundations of complementary medicine (mainly homeopathy. and has a private practice in central London. and has been called "an astonishing work" (Colin Wilson) and "one of the most notable works of the first years of our century which I am convinced will become one of the most important books of the whole century" (Elias Capriles). He is the author of a study of time perception. Germany. published in Radical Spirit: Spiritual Writings from the Voices of Tomorrow. UK). Steve Taylor (United Kingdom) Steve Taylor teaches at the University of Manchester and Salford College. In addition. He is cofounder and vice president of the German Association of Transpersonal Psychology. His essays and articles have appeared in a variety of publications. His essay Primal Spirituality and the Onto/Phylo Fallacy appeared in IJTS vol. This may be the last paper he writes for some time. 22. He holds positions as a board member for both the European Transpersonal Association and The College of Psychoanalysts. including The Journal of Consciousness Studies. As a UK Council for Psychotherapy registered psychotherapist.Kidder Smith (United States) is Professor of History and Asian Studies at Bowdoin College where he teaches courses on East Asian cultures and religions. Robert Tindall. candidate in social ecology at the School of Contemporary Arts at the University of Western Sydney. with a foreword by Stanley Krippner. He has worked in management roles over the last 20 years in the arts and qualitative marketing. in theory and history of science. M. He trained as an actor at the Victorian College of the Arts and has appeared in leading roles at various theatres. More recently. California. and is on the editorial board of a number of journals in the area of complementary medicine. He holds a Ph. It was a Book of the Year in the Independent (UK) newspaper. focusing on leadership and organizational/group dynamics. Research in Complementary Medicine/Forschende Komplementärmedizin. 6000 Years of Insanity and the Dawning of a New Era. He has also worked extensively on the medieval genres of the chivalric quest and has investigated Amazonian medicines in Peru.A. He lives and teaches in Oakland. His book. editor of the journal. He has also taught at various schools and companies for nearly a decade. in clinical psychology and a Ph.
Professor Emeritus Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center Douglas A. Canada/USA Jeffrey Kuentzel. 2005. Ph. Spain Liora Birnbaum. MacDonald. Israel Jacek Brewczynski. USA Rosanna Vitale. USA Don Diespecker. USA Bruno Just. Norway Daniel Holland. India Charles Laughlin. Australia Wlodzislaw Duch. Ph. K. Great Britain Joachim Galuska.BOARD OF EDITORS Harris Friedman. Volume 24 . USA 96 The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. Australia Sean Kelly. Canada John Welwood. Italy Loyd Henriksen. USA David Fontana. Great Britain John Davis. USA Axel Randrup. Denmark Mario Simões. USA Søren Brier.D. Kiran Kumar. Venezuela Michael Daniels. Portugal Charles Tart. USA S. Denmark Elias Capriles. Associate Professor University of Detroit Mercy BOARD OF EDITORS Manuel Almendro. Canada Olga Louchakova. Poland James Fadiman.D. Germany Laura Boggio Gilot.
. Reader Comments: A third section of the journal is dedicated primarily to reader reactions. medicine. Transpersonal studies may be generally described as a multidisciplinary movement concerned with the exploration of higher consciousness. art. responses. concepts. biology. sociology. Ideally. Emphasis is given to reader comments that are scholarly in nature and which clarify and/or extend concepts and/or ideas discussed in published articles. emphasis is given to the publication of articles from a spectrum of international contributors. practice-oriented. methodological. related to global sustainability. analytic. articles from other journals. research. entheogenic/psychedelic research. However. Special Topics: The second section contains several articles dedicated to a specific theme or topic germane to transpersonal studies. Articles published in this section embody eclectic topics of study and/or approaches to inquiry and expression. empirical (both qualitative and quantitative). conceptions of consciousness.g. Each edition of the IJTS consists of three sections: General: The General section is dedicated to original articles of high quality which are judged to be of potential interest to a wide audience of readers.. research. 97 . a diversity of articles on theory. ecology.g. also included are reviews of notable recently published books. contributions of specific disciplines to transpersonal studies (e. and cross-disciplinary pluralism. and music). and psychotherapy). IJTS is committed to ensure that the fullest possible range of approaches to inquiry and expression are represented in the articles published. The IJTS publishes original theoretical. and artistic articles which focus upon topics falling within the domain of transpersonal studies. systems of knowing..g. that is. and discourse in the area of transpersonal studies. Though there is no restriction on who may publish in the IJTS. health care. history of transpersonal studies. and special events (e. transpersonal studies in designated geographically or politically bounded areas such as in Europe or China).EDITORIAL POLICY AND MANUSCRIPT SUBMISSION GUIDELINES The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies (IJTS) is dedicated to theory. issues important to the development of transpersonal studies (e. practice. applications of transpersonal theory and/or practice (e. expanded self/identity. ecstatic experience. spirituality. and comments to articles published in IJTS. The Journal is committed to maintaining a focus on transpersonal experience. and postmodern perspectives on transpersonal studies. and human potential. methodological. professional conferences). Examples of potential themes/topics include the following: Qualitative and quantitative methodologies in transpersonal studies. organizational systems.. and practice/application will find representation in each edition of the journal. psychology. and practices while embracing theoretical. transpersonal approaches in anthropology.g.
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