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It is a crisis of the world ... of complete transformation ... This span of time is determined by an increase in technological feasibility inversely proportional to man’s sense of responsibility—that is, unless a new factor were to emerge which would effectively overcome this menacing correlation (Gebser 1991:xxvii). there is a ... universally recognized need in our time for a general transformation of consciousness. The message here is of an actual age of harmony and peace in accord with the creative energies of nature which … anteceded ... the ‘nightmare’... from which it is certainly time for this planet to awake (Campbell 1989:xii-xiii). They are all asleep ... They must be made to feel the urgency of the need to wake up (Wilson 1956:295). One has to go beyond the mind .... When the Kundalini rises, these thoughts elongate. There is a space, very small, between the thoughts (vilamba) which spreads out and a state of complete silence is created. Then we are in the present … This inner silence opens our heart. All the ego and conditioning starts dissolving in the ocean of rippleless silence ... (Shrivastava 1995:248-9) The ever-present state is the natural state of sahaja (Maharshi 1989:13). Let us not forestall the conclusion. Keep an open mind, dive within and find out … (ibid., p. 69). ‘But what is the method?’ asked a man [‘D’] seeking ‘liberation’ … Maharshi answered: ‘To retrace your way back’ (ibid., p. 457).
This thesis, then, attempts to meet the challenge, and do so.
SEARCH FOR ORIGIN A SYNOPSIS Jean Gebser (1991) claims consciousness needs to be liberated from present time, that is, rational time to achieve a state of the ‘supra-personal innate in everyone’ (p. 361). But ‘he declares that to work against this time, our time, may appear a daring presumption. [Our] epoch is one of transition and reshaping. It is our task to extricate time from its rational distortion … yet the task is one of almost inconceivable difﬁculty. The solution to this problem has been ‘unconsciously’ sought for generations’ (p. 357). This quote reﬂects the ambit of this thesis’ chosen task. Asking the question ‘If there is a nightmare that mind and consciousness can awaken from, as various philosophical and psychological theorists suggest, ‘What is one awakening from, and what to?’ To uncover the possibilities the thesis sets up the inquiry in terms of the search for ‘Origin’. Research on the subject moves back through historical time and metaphoric space to define what is designated as the ‘mind-space container’. By exploring theories and models from contemporary psychology, analysis is made of the historical and technological processes which led to the present dominant mode of consciousness. The progressive sweep of instrumental rationality through careful historical reconstruction is shown reaching out to dominate nature and the world, so shaping the mental container since the medieval era up to the present time. The mental-rational enframement is subsequently utilized as a starting-point to indicate something beyond, taking recourse to submerged knowledge-systems from Western traditions, ancient knowledges of connection. and several spiritual traditions of the East. This, Dr. Ghaffurian suggests, opens the mind to what new transdisciplinary moves in psychology and the humanities are beginning to put forward — that an integral consciousness, or knowledge of the whole, is emerging now, from outside the rational frame as well as from deep inside it. With elucidating illustrations, this thesis demonstrate the availability and feasibility of a wider nondualistic and integrative mode of being that identifies with the great and ancient feminine principle of ‘Kundalini’ as a fundamental force, formerly linked to notions of the unconscious spirit and the soul in exile. The thesis concludes there is a mental apparatus that obstructs moves towards whole consciousness, while there is also coming into potential a whole and integrated consciousness — that with responsibility, can confidently overcome fragmented limitation and be opened up.
Statement of Authorship ii Summary iii Acknowledgements iv Contents vi List of Figures xviii Concerning Nightmare and Awakening … xix
Contextual Madness 20 ‘All-at-onceness’ 21 Structures of Wholeness 24
Inquiry into a Metaphoric Mind–Space Container of Nightmare & Awakening Introduction 27
A Suitable Subject 27 The Problem Ambit 28 The Problem Question 29
The ‘Nightmare’ Problem
Introduction 31 The Reduction of Consciousness 33 Forms of Intensity 34 Leaping to Origin Amid a Sense of Powerlessness Mutation 37
The Search 41 Literature 42 Research Procedures 44
44 46 Qualitative Research Anchoring Being 45 Organization of Data
Hypertextual Knowledge 47 Patterns of Consciousness 48 Systasis and Synairesis 49 Structural Samples 50
1. Polarity, Opposition, Dualism 50 2. Three, Middle, Third Force 50 3. Structure 51 4. Quaternity 51 5. ‘Four Quadrants’ 52
Fig.1 Cosmic Marriage. Painting. M.A. Purcell (M.Ghaffurian), 1967. Adolescent fantasy, or seeking something more integral than the dominant consciousness of provincial Victoria?
Approaching the subject of mind and consciousness academically from a perspective that seeks clarification of nightmare and awakening is not an easy task, although how difficult perhaps I had no idea of at the start. (Or perhaps I did and that is why postgraduate research questions were postponed, once began, for more than a decade.) The academy demands a rational approach, a sequential ordering of data, yet there is a postmodern, poststructural ambience which surrounds us and demands multi-perspectivity, while studies in structures and modes of consciousness simultaneously open up a postconventional environment where theory is taking leaps and bounds beyond the formal mental enframement that has dominated meaning for centuries. This is exciting, but from the angle of thesis preparation, sometimes frustrating, if not downright difficult, because the academic world still runs by the dominant rational (and structural) mode. Neville (1999:1) argues it is possible to deal with the postmodern cultural atmosphere by a range of different perspectives because that is part of the postmodern condition, expressive of a multi-perspectival
mode of consciousness which Gebser (1991) referred to as axiomatic of a new ‘integral’ age. Current research students of the humanities and human sciences may find themselves considering contexts that include cultural studies, anthropology, psychobiology, neurology, religion and history, plus a postmodern dissolution and chaos of heterogeneity that a multiplicity of voices, almost simultaneously, and often confusingly, offers together. We are assailed by the multiperspectival, which, in the consuming atmosphere of the postmodern, may feel anything but integral. What is referred to as the ‘integral’, in fact, may be nuanced along a spectrum of culture and consciousness in which existential awakening is an essential part of the process, as individuals and communities become alert to prior frames of mental restriction, graduating along a spectrum to ‘aperspectival madness’ (Wilber 1996:192), as well as a new clarity of mind that suggests there are greater potentials awaiting.
As a child of the postmodern world, I seemed to live in a kind of ‘all-at-onceness’ of experience, which I could neither understand nor unpack in the dominant cultural matrix of Christian religion, colonial nation (Australia), white, middle-class conservative values, and belief in rational progress (the world of my parents) of the second half of the twentieth century, underlaid by mythic and magico-marvellous accompaniments of affluence and technologies.1 Kegan (1994) and Neville (1999) write of different consciousness states in general; humans shift in orders of thinking, depending on situations, and environment, which relate to Maslow’s (1971) basic premise of the order of needs, from survival to selfactualization. On the other hand, ‘all-at-onceness’ as a state-of-mind condition, of a sense of all stages, perhaps ‘at-once’, had been with me since primary school. It was an edgy experience when the cultural environment did not have a structure that made room for what is now called ‘integral consciousness’. In Pinker’s (1997) terms, I was in the philosophic ambit of the ‘core’ or of the ‘psyche’, yet that does not explain anything, nor necessarily give direction from the outside, where externalities prevail and are dominant, and nor were there accessible ways of dealing with the inner world adequately. Theoretical models now available to understand consciousness, for instance, were not available to educators, the Eastern systems not clearly understood, and integral ideas, scant. It is possible now to talk about what were once called the ‘irrational’, as the ‘arational’, or individual interior experiences in terms of not only psychology but in terms of modes of consciousness, as the general area of seeking integral consciousness opens to consideration and introspection. 2 An elucidation of ‘all-at-onceness’ is the famous description of the eating of the madeleine cake, baked by Proust’s aunt, and how taste mingled with memory and intense states of consciousness blending childhood past and
1. Art and design was a way, however, whereby ‘all-at-onceness’ could be contained in image frames which gave immense satisfaction and relief, a space of freedom. (See Fig. 1.) A colour or a line, or a dot could be a whole world; one was not pressured by mental demands, even though one could rationally explain the moves of a work, after it was done.
grown-up present into blazingly exquisite moments that extended time and space into infinite reverberations, an auditorium of the senses.1 Kegan (1994) explores the multidimensional aspect of time in relation to a child throwing a ball against a garage wall, in another example of theory that suggests there are new ways of considering time, which refer back to the relativity theory of Einstein, where time and space bend (see Shlain 1991). In the context of this thesis, working through various theoretical ideas, I became assailed with the ‘all-at-onceness’ feeling, of multidimensional and multiperspectival viewpoints and subject-material, an intellectual madeleine. ‘All-at-onceness’ brings with it a particular problem for a thesis writer, for outside of the sequential ordering of reasoning, other spheres may intensely open up, interpenetrations and conceptions, reverberations along wires of mind and consciousness, that keep on resonating. This movement is in the ambit of chaos theory as well as ‘aperspectival madness’. Sheldrake’s (1981) theory of morphogenetic fields in biology derives from moves toward nonmechanistic causal theory. Sheldrake began to associate the mind and body problem of interaction, physics and genetics with Jung’s archetypal theory. He stated there was no reason that psychological theory should be confined to a mechanistic theory nor its framework.
… certain types of memory need not necessarily be confined to individual minds; Jung’s notion of inherited collective unconscious containing archetypal forms could be interpreted as a kind of collective memory. Such speculations, defensible in the context of interactionism, seem nonsensical from a mechanistic point of view. But the mechanistic theory cannot be taken for granted (Sheldrake, ibid., p. 28).
From the ambit of science, theory is being urged to go beyond reductionist dualism.
Although a creative agency capable of giving rise to new forms and new patterns of behaviour in the course of evolution would necessarily transcend individual organisms, it need not transcend all nature. It could, for instance, be immanent within life as a whole … the élan vital. (Sheldrake, 1981:203).
Theories of vital currents, energetic streams, a pattern that connects all things together in an overall web of life had been thrown out of science centuries earlier by the ‘Age of Reason’ which consigned such notions to the oblivion of old oriental ideas, and those heretically dispensed with since the Inquisition, ideas of ‘natural philosophy’ and inner meditation. Now they were returning. An important point of ideas like Sheldrake’s (1981) is that humans are beginning to conceive of immanence and transcendence within the span of their own minds. That is, there is a holding-power in them beyond the framing of time and space containment of the mental and rational mind and its
The web journal Integral Age, Integralis, the Integral Association, and Integral Institute are examples; our collegial research group is another. A glance through any university, further education, or even community center syllabus, reveals that people from all education levels and backgrounds are searching for alternative ways to think and be, exploring options unavailable a decade or two ago from these educative channels. Marcel Proust, ‘Remembrance of Things Past,’ or A La Recherche du Temps Perdu. 1987. Robert Laffont, Editions Bouquins, Paris. Gebser (1991:497-8) describes this work as ‘almost oceanic style, floating the utterances on waves until the breathless wave of the sentence breaks, its foamy crests, air spray, and ground swell taken over by the next unfolding wave. This style reflects the psychic dimension … traverses the sea of the soul … and comprehends time without perishing.’ Alchemically, and psychologically, the oceanic deep is the watery realm of the ancient mother: immersion, after a time of drying heat of the solar intellect. Soul, psychic dimension and sea join together to suggest an auditorium of the senses in body-space, a recollection not just in extracted mind, and a lost realm.
mythic elements. Donald (1997), for example, refers to the mind able to reflect on its own consciousness. But beyond this is also a potential for intensifying acts of consciousness which lead out of the maze of the mental mind and all its conceptual apparati to yogic states like nirvikalpa samadhi or sahaja samadhi. 1 ‘Spontaneous samadhi’ is ‘liberation while being alive’ (Combs, 1995:283, Feuerstein, 1997:248). So, into the ‘all-at-onceness’ of the chaos of the postmodern are introduced ideas, where besides a seemingly out-of-control chaos and flux, there is defined also: a) an apparatus of mind exerting order and control, and b) there are other possibilities that may look chaotic, beyond enframement of mind and mentality, but involve structural form, that emerges more from the innate within, than from imposed mental mind-sets or their sustaining myths, without. The predominant mode of Western civilization for most of the last millennium (supported by sustaining myths and magical associations), assigns reality to a three-dimensional perspectival containment, but beyond the dualism of positivist reductionism and disembodied rational thought lie other realities, possibilities. Even so, the dominant reality remains sequestered by a narrowing perspectival frame:
[an] experiential template that selectively filters and shapes human awareness in such a manner that reality is perceived to be opaque, literal, objective, and alien … and ratifies a state of consciousness in which the experience of the unitive numinous depths of reality has been systematically extinguished … Such a world view is, as it were, a kind of metaphysical and epistemological box, a hermetically closed system … within which human awareness is encompassed and confined as if it existed inside a solipsistic bubble (Tarnas, 1991:431).
If one did not have other ways of understanding newly opening situations to human consciousness, could one run the risk of getting lost in new ‘space’, in the deficient and negative sides that emerge with every new growth (or evolution) of consciousness? What could be some other ways of conceiving structure in terms of mind and consciousness, apart from the ‘epistemological box’ or ‘solipsistic bubble’? The contraction of consciousness these two terms suggest is precisely the restriction to impinge on mind and mentality seeking a new emergence but having no idea what it is up against, not only without, but within, because cultural frames and psychological templates are also so deeply embedded. However unnatural, they may look as natural as can be, if endorsed by the paramount frames on reality and the meaning context. The only clue to there being something awry may be that the inner life may present as uncomfortably restless, or unwhole, so an aspiration of consciousness seeks, however blindly or inarticulately, release from the labyrinth of confusion, through an opening.
Samadhi: ‘spiritual absorption’ (Combs, 1995:283). Absorption has many modes, levels and intensities, gradating from that within a prevalent dualism, to the nondual; the experience of the formless (nirvikalpa samadhi), or absorption within form; being contentless or including content, or responsive to both (sahaja samadhi).
Structures of Wholeness
Fig.2 Left. A refraction photo of the nature of atomic substance, appearing as patterns of geometrised light-energy in mandala-like form. (Source: Lawlor, 1982:109) Fig.3 Right. Standing under an Islamic roof, Spain, c. 13th C. (Source: Brett & Foreman, 1980)
The images above offer clues to the enigma, one directly from nature, the other from the artistic work of humans seeking to express the inexpressible, or at least that which goes beyond linguistic sophistry. Both are saying similar things, that there is an innate structure before humans overlay it with imposed frames of conceptual scaffolding.
Gebser (2000:13) refers to ‘at-once’ structures, beyond linguistic categories, ‘constellations alien or non-existent to the visible realm’, at least to rational mentality, but coming into consciousness from the invisible. He claims that nuclear physics ‘opened our eyes’ (ibid.), but further, that invisible constellations, nuclear in nature, are coming into consciousness from ‘Origin’. They represent the ground of being, coming to visibility through science, perceived also as the basis of physical matter, resonant in the human being also.
the invisible origin becomes perceivable: its reflection presses, so to speak, into the visible and becomes transparent, which makes it evident to the mental consciousness ... our three-membered consciousness structure is integrated within or by the pristine universal consciousness. The insight into these contexts makes accessible to those, who are capable of opening themselves to them without reservation, immediately and for ever, the life altering experience of sharing the unexplorable seclusion and the all-illuminating clarity of the World Foundation, the Origin, the Tao, the Divine, of God (Gebser 2000:13).
These structures coming to awareness in certain intensified states of experience are ‘at-once’ in awareness because they are not simply abstractly timeless, but are far richer, originating from a before-time, or beyond (rational) time basis. To Gebser origin and presence were separated by a rational ‘mistake’. 1 Was it a mistake, the mad egoic rush to dualistically divide man from nature, reason from ground? The tension such thoughts inspire will be returned to in subsequent chapters, for example, in ideas of dual-mindedness and the symbolic
1. ‘ … our contemporaries are still more impressed by so-called quantitative dimensions and neglect almost totally the qualitative intensities. One should avoid this mistake’ (Gebser 2000:5).
Western perspectival mind-space container that expands even as it restricts. But if one accepts Gebser’s words above, in an apparent ‘Integral’ mode of consciousness, now emergent, ‘Origin’ might be conceived as reached, already on us, with no more need for striving, simply a need to be open. But between ‘Origin’ and usual awareness is still a great divide. While I am interested in whole and entire consciousness and the state of sahaja samadhi (Maharshi 1989) which suggests it, as well as what a nondualistic comprehension may bring, it proved not possible to launch into a thesis on the basis of ‘all-at-onceness’ in this sense, not before providing a context for its emergence, and problems associated with the arrestation of its coming to being in the Western mind and psyche. Behind this inquiry has been a continual search for structure and depth, as well as an inner axis anchored in embodiment, material existence, not merely in abstraction, or ideas of imposed law and order from a disembodied eyrie. So I searched for a ‘container’ in a subject committed as much to new opening as to the factors mitigating against it. Thompson (1996:42-3) recalls also Proust’s sensual memories of childhood, explaining them as a recovery of the primordial non-perspectival mind, of archaic senses lost to the usual, distancing mind. Deeper brain centers, stirred by more instinctual responses than the outer rational cortex, engage senses other than merely sight. The most powerful epiphanies of consciousness, Thompson explains, include the lost feminine. This issue then surfaces as a major theme of not only feelings of existential loss, but of a childlikeness beginning to awaken in consciousness to ‘all-at-onceness’, even as one simultaneously enters a sterile world-mind of present fore-fathers in which the blossoming of the inner senses are reduced to visual abstraction, then having to save oneself from dehydration or the asphyxiation of the tentatively searching spirit. Today one is looking for another kind of ‘madeleine’, of merging mind, heart and consciousness in an ocean of new perceptions, so recovering the lost feminine, as well as a newly sensed illumined and different ‘mind-space’. Although there is a personal story bound up with this inquiry, I found that the personal and collective consciousness are intimately connected, and that problems I at first conceived on the individual microscale were repeated or discoverable in social, cultural and historical contexts in macroscale. This research project has been a personal journey into the archeology of consciousness as much as the manifestation of a collective search for the roots of the Western mind disconnected from origin. As such, the exploration takes up where Gebser’s (1991) complex of modes of consciousness left off, as the inquiring mind and senses intensify towards integral being, perceived sometimes dimly in daily awareness, if dulled by deficient cultural frames of reference. At the same time, palpable behind shrouded layers of consciousness and the monologue of the environment, through its distracted frames, there are sometimes moments of blazing awakeness where ‘Origin’ is tangibly connected with. In those moments one knows what it is to be alive, in this space of time, and to embody a cogency where the universe suddenly finds a vessel in which to exercise its vital self and know its fully dimensioned divinity in the structure of carbon matter, its valencies ablaze in love and light.
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