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The Beginnings of Diminishing Divinity and of our Becoming Just an Idea: We Create Time to Escape from an Insufferable Now … Therein We Create Death

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The Second Fall From Grace, Birth, Part One — The Wall: The Creation of Pain, Time, and Death Occurs with the Encounter with the “World-Obstacle”

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The Secondary Dualism

Ontogenetically, the second fall is birth and correlates with Wilber’s secondary dualism, which he relates to the creation of time. As Wilber (1977) puts it, “the why of time’s genesis . . . it is nothing other than man’s avoidance of death” (p. 120).

He continues as follows, quoting Benoit (1955):

It is with the arising of the Existential Level that there occurs the infamous debate of “to be or not to be;” because at the moment man severs his organism from his environment, then

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Suddenly he becomes conscious that his principle is not the principle of the universe, that there are things that exist independently of him, he becomes conscious of it in suffering from contact with the world-obstacle. At this moment appears conscious fear of death, of the danger which the Not-Self represents for the Self. (1977, p. 122)

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The Creation of Death in Encounter with the World-Obstacle

We see that fear of death arises out of suffering from contact with the world-obstacle. The metaphorical reflections of this, biologically, are the fetus’s encounter with suffering in the later stages of pregnancy. The fetus encounters the “world-obstacle,” the uterus, with the confinedness in the womb and its attendant suffering increasing daily and hourly. The fetus becomes even more conscious of this obstacle—and more identified with its physical form—in reaction to the Energy eruption from frustration.

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The Wall

So it is here farther along in the gestation process that we feel the separation (from divinity) with the encounter with the wall of the uterus. People use that metaphor: “I hit the wall.” In other words, “I’ve reached my limit.” This harkens back to that time in the womb.

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Shoham (1990) writes, “[I]n the midst of his omnipresent egocentricity, he experiences disastrously hostile surroundings” (p. 36). Though Shoham likens this to the “expulsion” phase of birth, this experience actually begins a little earlier, during the BPM II phase of birth—that is, in the late stages of pregnancy prior to the onset of labor.

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Let me clarify this. With the primary split, occurring with the creation of sperm and egg from no-thing-ness, one’s intention can be different from the intention of Other. (Indeed, one perspective on this is that a difference in intention causes the creation of sperm and egg—i.e., the foundation of the world is wrought of an initial rebellion from God.)

Regardless, up until this point in the developments prior to birth, these two intentions have rarely been at odds: The self’s intentions to grow and to expand have been nurtured and aided, in a wonderfully synchronistic way, by the Other—in this case, specifically, by the environment of the mother’s body. [Footnote 1]

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Toward the end of pregnancy, however, the organism’s intentions to grow and expand are contrary to the environment’s intentions to resist its further growth in response. By this I mean simply that there are limits to the elasticity of the womb and the mother’s body, which result in its becoming an increasing contrary pressure against the fetus’s growth. To the fetus, however, with the possibility of a different perspective—a “bi-focal” world arising with the primary split—it is as if the environment has “turned against” or “betrayed” it.

At any rate, this friction of opposing intentions (or perspectives) is Energy, just raw Energy until it is labeled. As Wilber (1977) put it:

As an example of this entire movement, let us again use the mobilization of anger, as when a person strikes me. The actual strike itself, in its simplest form, is just a movement of the universe, but as the primary dualism starts to occur, I sense a mobilization of energy arising within me. At this stage—before the primary dualism hardens—this energy is still pure, informal, intemporal. . . . (p. 190)

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The Creation of Pleasure and Pain

In our example, of course, it is not someone striking the fetus. It is someone opposing the fetus’s uninhibited growth. The pattern is the same, however, in that “in its simplest form” the actual blocking of the fetus’s free movement “is just a movement of the universe.”

However, then the fetus does what indeed we all did. Since we were not “wholly” enough to accept this pure energy as simply our energy, our divinity (the consequence of the primary split), we make it “wrong,” we “label” it pain. This, of course, is not conceptual labeling here since concepts do not exist as yet. Rather, it is pure, organismic avoidance/rejection . . . a kind of cosmic mistrust.

Nonetheless, in “labeling” this confinedness in the womb, or “walling-in,” as “wrong” we seek to escape from it into a world of “right.” Therefore, out of the original creation of self and Other or organism and environment—with its concomitant of organism and obstacle (world-obstacle)—we have created the splitting of primary Energy into energy inside and energy coming from outside, into right and wrong, and therewith, pleasure and pain.

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We Create Time to Escape from an Insufferable Now

Furthermore, since we cannot escape pain into space (we cannot move away or out . . . yet), we create another duality: the duality of time—of past and future. The fetus, in that time prior to birth (“up against the wall”), seeks to escape into memories of a sweetness just recently removed. With this move we have created the duality of life and death, of being and nonbeing. We have created nonbeing in that we are trying to escape the Now into the past which is a mere memory, an idea, a reflection only of the Now. Herein we have the beginnings of becoming just an idea.

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Footnote

1. There is much variation here, but it would be distracting to go into it too deeply at this point. Suffice it to say that everyone’s experience in the womb is not so marvelous. Too frequently—and more frequently in modern times with the advent of wide-scale drug use, unwanted pregnancies, and unnatural and chemicalized food supplies—the secondary shutdown-dualism occurs much earlier in pregnancy. The encounter with a “world-obstacle” and a “frustration” of fetal intention can occur even in very early stages of fetal development. In such cases, later womb experience takes on hellish tones and this has far-reaching ramifications throughout all later life.

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Womb Existence Is a Separate But Connected State, of Space But Not Time, an Eternal Now: The First Fall From Grace, Part Six — Womb with a View, the Transpersonal Bands of Consciousness

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In This “Subtle Realm of Divine and Archetypal Illumination,” Aware of Karma and Past Lives, We Are Instructed About Destiny and Life Purpose: The Chonyid Bardo, Womb, and Collective Unconscious

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Duality and the Creation of Death

Nevertheless:

According to the myth, the outcome of the breaking of the vessels was that particles of Divinity were imbedded in all objects and life-forms of creation, serving as divine cores within profane temporal casings. Furthermore, the breaking of the vessels introduced evil to the world; before, only good emanated from the great light of infinity. (Shoham, 1990, p. 36)

In essence, then, as stated above, with the creation of sperm and egg we have the beginnings of form out of no-thing-ness. And with this creation, this first separation, evil has been created, darkness and confusion arise. For that separation is duality; and that duality is evil—the opposite of real life (God), live spelled backwards, and the beginning of the possibility of death.

Transpersonal Bands: Womb With a View

At any rate, in that there is a separate awareness—in this creation of form, this creation of sperm and egg from no-thing-ness—there is a separation (of sorts) from the environment. But this separation is not total, not yet; there is a fluidity of awareness between environment and organism. Spiritually, it can be said that at this level one is still in touch with transpersonal forces or patterns. These are Wilber’s (1977) “transpersonal bands,” which we see relate ontogenetically to the time in the womb.

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Chonyid Bardo, the Archetypal Realm, the Womb, the Collective Unconscious

They relate also to the later stages of the Chonyid bardo which, as Wilber (1980) writes, is “the subtle realm of divine and archetypal illumination” (p. 169). The separation from Other at this level takes global, archetypal, karmic forms. One is “instructed” about destiny, life purpose, and so forth; one’s karmic and past lives patterns are still very much “at hand.” This is Masters and Houston’s (1967) symbolic level, Jung’s collective unconscious, and Grof’s transpersonal realms.

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Separate But Connected State

Biologically, emotionally, and psychically the organism is also connected to its “environment.” After the sperm and ovum unite to create the fertilized egg, it grows into a blastocyst and implants itself in the uterine wall. Later as fetus, of course, it shares in the mother’s biological processes and substances through the umbilical cord. So the organism here is actually still “attached” to its environment, though maintaining a separate awareness, an awareness of space.

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Wilber’s primary duality has occurred, which for our purposes might be described as the separation between self and Other or self and God. The heavens have been separated from the earth, though they still meet at the ends of the horizon. Throughout its time in the womb the organism is attached to the mother (the environment) and shares freely in her feelings, thoughts, moods, and energies. It is a vegetative-type existence, separate yet connected.

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Space Without Time — The Womb’s Eternal Now

This is the condition of space without time. This womb period has retained timelessness but not space- or formlessness. One lives an eternal Now that is rooted in a specific form—that is, it has a specific perspective or focal point of awareness.

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Note that, contrary to Wilber’s (1977) assertion, the primary and secondary dualisms—those which create space and time, respectively—do not occur together when looked at ontogenetically. This difference from Wilber is significant, and I shall discuss it further on. For present purposes, however, remember that Wilber’s secondary dualism creates a past and future, which place a veil between us and Now. But on the contrary, at this point in the womb, death has not yet entered the picture and time has thus not been generated nor, consequently, a past and future. We therefore have the continuing sense of eternity and of the immortality of form.

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End of Innocence — Birth

But something does happen (according to biologists, pre- and perinatal psychologists, and the reports of experiential pioneers). This leads us to the second fall from grace, to the experience of birth.

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The Child Is Tasked with Cleansing the World of a Taint Passed Down from the Beginnings of Time: The First Fall From Grace, Sperm/Egg and Conception, Part Five — “Mending the Catastrophe”

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Collective and Ancestral Memory … “Original Sin”: From the Perspective of Cells, Parents are “Blemished Gods” … For Parents, Children Are Their Immortality and Atman Projects

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Mending the Catastrophe

To continue, Shoham writes that God needs man to mend this catastrophe of the vessels, and that this is part of the symbiosis, that this is part of what we’re doing in our dialogue with the divine.

Considering my interpretation of the breaking of the vessels as the creation and release of the sperm and egg, we might say that the mending, then, of that breaking would be the sperm meeting the egg and the formation of a new union.

Blemished Gods

But Shoham also talks about the God that is represented in these myths as being an imperfect God, a “blemished God.” I will not go into his reasons for such an understanding. But consider that from the vantage point of the events surrounding conception this understanding of a “blemished God” fits as well: For when we are inside of our fathers and mothers and we are cells—either a sperm cell or an egg cell, either way—we are part of a being who’s damn sure imperfect, acknowledged to be imperfect at that time. Partaking of our parents’ beingness at that time, which both biologically and experientially is the case, we are identified with someone who is analogically Divine yet in their humanness is indisputably less than perfect—”blemished Gods.”

Children Are Parents’ Immortality and Atman Projects

Furthermore, this ties in to what has been observed to be a primary and pervasive reason for parents having children. That is, parents want children in order to have a continuation of their selves. Essentially the child becomes the parent’s “atman project”—that is, the continuation of the parent’s attempt at perfection or of reuniting with or creating the lost and unconsciously yearned for state of divinity. A similar way of saying this is that children are parents’ “immortality projects.”

So basically children are released from parents, they “emanate” from parents, in order to try to mend what the parents feel themselves to have broken. The child represents the hope of the parent to be vindicated, completed; the chance for the adult to get it right, if not in his or her own lifetime, then at a time after one’s death, through the actions of the biological being emanated from oneself.

Thus, in such mythology, God is very often accurately interpreted as the parent. What we have is a situation where children come out from the father and mother to try to mend their lives; so children are a continuation of the parents’ [life] “project.”

Collective and Ancestral Memory

Shoham (1990) says further:

[T]his cosmic catastrophe gives Divinity a chance to cleanse him- or herself of his or her polluted components and allows man to save himself while mending the blemished divinity” (p. 36).

Thus, a new conception, the creation of a new human life is felt to allow the parent to cleanse him- or herself of his or her polluted components.

But from the perspective of the newly created individual, this world scheme gives to humankind a chance to do better next time, to do better than the parent did, to overcome the “bad karma” of the parent that was put into the universe through that particular new form, that newly created being, and which originally is recorded in the sperm and in the egg. We therefore have here an indication of collective memories and pain as well as the hope of resolution of one’s ancestral memories. This is to say that the child carries those things of its parents with it; and this world scheme gives the child a chance to cleanse the Divinity (the parent who by proxy represents the entire species and all progenitors) of its polluted components.

“Original Sin”

This, then, is the child’s chance to save itself; but the child is also coming into the world to help to cleanse the world of a taint that is passed down. It is an “Original Sin,” so to speak, because its origins extend back through the generations in an infinite regress. Why the taint is there is a whole other question, however: It happens to be the focus of an entire other work of mine, The Great Reveal by the Planetmates.

Duality and the Creation of Death

Nevertheless:

According to the myth, the outcome of the breaking of the vessels was that particles of Divinity were imbedded in all objects and life-forms of creation, serving as divine cores within profane temporal casings. Furthermore, the breaking of the vessels introduced evil to the world; before, only good emanated from the great light of infinity. (Shoham, 1990, p. 36)

In essence, then, as stated above, with the creation of sperm and egg we have the beginnings of form out of no-thing-ness. And with this creation, this first separation, evil has been created, darkness and confusion arise. For that separation is duality; and that duality is evil—the opposite of real life (God), live spelled backwards, and the beginning of the possibility of death.

Continue with Womb Existence Is a Separate But Connected State, of Space But Not Time, an Eternal Now: The First Fall From Grace, Part Six — Womb with a View, the Transpersonal Bands of Consciousness

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The First Fall From Grace, Sperm/Egg and Conception, Part Three — “Theurgic Conception”: The Scattering of the Divine Sparks and Divine Symbiosis

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Before Conception, We Experience Omnipresence and Omnipotence, Knowing We Are Particles of Divinity. In the Womb, We Sense a Euphoric Symbiosis with the Divine

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Divinity “Contracted Himself”

This is the actual coming into form of sperm and egg from undifferentiated reality and infinite potentiality; experientially, the self has “contracted.”

It is also the first “split”—the first creation of something Other than One-Self.

So what I’m proposing about the experiences surrounding conception, I contend, is a better analogue to the mythological Kabbalist depiction of Tzimtzum, contraction, and the thin pipe from Infinity, than is Shoham’s interpretation of it as the umbilical cord and nourishment from the mother.

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The Scattering of the Divine Sparks

Further support for this move in placing these interpretations farther back in time, to that of conception, is given by considering the Kabbalic mythical depiction of the breaking of the vessels and the scattering of the divine sparks. Shoham (1990) tells us,

The myth of the breaking of the vessels relates to the birth-giving mother and the ejection from the womb, whereas the myth of the scattering of the divine sparks, which in Lurianic Kabbala occurs as a result, relates more directly to the neonate himself. The newborn child feels himself to be a precious particle of Divinity, omnipresent and hence omnipotent, because at this stage of his life he cannot be aware of anything or anybody except himself. (p. 36)

In this way Shoham relates a myth of vessels breaking and a related myth of a scattering of divine sparks to the time of birth and the actual delivery. Contrary to what Shoham believes, I think the scattering of the divine sparks is a much more accurate depiction of what we might call “the scattering of the sperm.” For it is always sperm that need to get scattered, widely disseminated, because they do not all survive. Fish fertilization, for example, involves male sperm being scattered over the top of the eggs.

Furthermore, “The newborn child feels himself to be a precious particle of Divinity” (p. 36). Regardless of the truth of that, more obviously we re-create the universe coming into form in the spewing out into form in an ejaculation: There are these hundreds of millions of “sparks” that go out from the father and each one of them is a precious particle of divinity in that each one could create the child.

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Shoham adds, “Omnipresent and hence omnipotent because at this stage of life he cannot be aware of anything or anybody except himself.” Once again, this does not fit with the later time of birth but with conception. For, as we see most clearly further on, at the time of birth and prior to it, the fetus is actually distinctly aware of an Other—distressingly and confrontationally so. Whereas around the time of conception there is that quality of omnipresence and omnipotence (more so at some times than others).

One has created form in the creation of sperm and egg, but one is only slightly removed from godhead; one still thinks oneself to be part of Everything.

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Divine Symbiosis

It is not until one gets farther along in the gestation process that one feels oneself to be truly distinct or is truly aware of the separation that has occurred. This happens with the encounter with the uterine wall during the latter stages of pregnancy. And yet Shoham, in referring to this time of breaking of vessels and scattering of sparks, uses the terms the “theurgic conception” of the Kabbala. He means this in a way much different than biological conception, yet I feel he may unconsciously have revealed the more accurate interpretation. It is interesting how the unconscious will lead us along, manipulating us to reveal the hidden truths, even in the very words that come to mind and despite our conscious intention in their use.

Further support for this interpretation occurs in his use of words after “theurgic conception,” where he is overtly describing events occurring after birth. He writes, ” . . . sees every human act as having an immediate effect on Divinity. This makes for a symbiosis between God and man.” Once again, I believe he has covertly revealed the correct interpretation—in his use of the word symbiosis especially—that this is the time after conception, not after birth. During the intrauterine, post-conception time, there is exactly that quality of closeness to the Divinity. During this “BPM I” time, we have this dialectic going: this flow-in, flow-out between us and the universe, which is reflected physically (biologically) in the flow-in, flow-out between us and the mother through the umbilical cord.

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Sperm Journey: From Father to Womb

Inside Testes

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Ejaculation: Phoenix Rises from “Ashes”

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Sperm Journey: “Immortal” Dragon Deity.

Feeling of Omnipotence. And Carries Some Personality and “Skandhas” of Mostly Negative, Some Positive, Karma from Previous Life/Lives

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Sperm Journey: “Scattering of Divine Sparks” … The “Brotherhood” of the Sperm

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The Egg’s Perspective of Sperm and the “Magical” Womb

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Sperm Journey End: Sperm Head Explodes and DNA “Package” Delivered

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Early Womb Life

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We Begin with “Contraction” … Biological and Spiritual … How We Tell Ourselves That in Myth: In the Beginning, the “Thin Pipe From Infinity” … “Emanated Light Into the World”

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The First Fall From Grace, Sperm/Egg and Conception, Part Two — Divinity “Contracted Himself”: “A Line Like a Thin Pipe Extended from Infinity to Create the Worlds.”

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The Thin Pipe From Infinity

Despite his placing the first separation at birth, Shoham (1990) does see that some elements of the mythic projection need to be interpreted farther back in time, into the intrauterine state. He writes,

Before birth, there is the process of pregnancy and the formation of the human fetus to be considered. This, we claim, is depicted mytho-empirically by the Kabbalist dynamic of Tzimtzum (contraction). Rabbi Haim Vital, the foremost disciple of Rabbi Isaac Luria and chief exponent of Lurianic Kabbala, describes the process of Tzimtzum:

[Emanating Divinity] contracted Himself, a space round all around was formed. . . . After this contraction, a space was [thus] formed for emanant creatures to be created . . . and a line like a thin pipe extended from Infinity to create the worlds. . . . [T]he pipe line created a round form . . . linked to the emanator (Infinity) by the pipe line only . . . and the line is thin so that it emanates light [livelihood] by measure and ration as needed by the emanant.

This would seem to be a plastic mytho-empirical depiction of the formation of the fetus within the round womb, fed by the umbilical cord stemming from an unknown emanator (to the fetus) in the away and beyond, perceived by the nascent awareness of the fetus and later projected onto mythology as Infinity. (1990, pp. 35-36)

But we see indications going back still farther, to the time surrounding conception, in what Shoham presents here. The earliest events he cites are the formation of the fetus in the womb through the “thin pipe extended from Infinity to create the worlds.” He claims this describes the situation of the fetus in the womb, being fed by the umbilical cord. However, with a slightly altered viewpoint on his depiction, his earliest events take on the characteristics of the earliest events, viz., surrounding conception. This may be either an additional meaning to the myth or the more accurate meaning of the myth, however you choose to consider it (the multilevel quality of myths is well established).

At any rate, consider: In the process of contraction, Tzimtzum, there is this space in which things can be created. I have no quarrel with Shoham that the space described represents the womb. But there is this thin pipe from Infinity extended, the pipeline created around form, linked to the emanator by the pipeline only. Considering the near-universal relation of Infinity to the male (as contrasted with the similarly universal analogues of maternal to the manifest or temporal), I believe a masculine interpretation is warranted. You thus have a masculine Emanator Divinity contracting and being linked to this round place by a thin pipeline.

Then, right in the beginning, Divinity contracted himself. There’s this round form linked to the emanator by the pipeline only. The line is thin so it emanates light, livelihood, measure, and ration as needed by the emanant; and it does so into the round place. A more accurate depiction of sexual intercourse and ejaculation from the viewpoint of the cellular would be hard to find.

There’s a pipeline that’s connected to “Himself” through which He emanates things out into the universe and creates them. According to the tradition, the line emanates light. Are these not the sperm coming out? The energetic sperm, biologically speaking, can be related to sparks of joy or sparks of life—as they have been described experientially.

Yet Shoham writes that this would seem to be a plastic mytho-empirical depiction of the formation of the fetus within the round womb during gestation. From this alternate perspective, however, the thin pipeline is not the umbilical cord. It emanates light from “Himself,” the Father-God—who in reality is the father. Another way of saying: the father ejaculates sperm into the womb. Is not the inside of the penis, taking the sperm’s perspective of course, also to be likened to a thin pipeline?

Shoham writes “fed by the umbilical cord stemming from an unknown emanator.” I believe this is incorrect. This makes the “contraction” be the actual pregnancy; whereas the meaning of contraction is more accurately fitted to the processes, physically, of ejaculation on the part of the father and, spiritually, on the part of the newly created individual going from the Greater Reality into form.

Divinity “Contracted Himself”

This is the actual coming into form of sperm and egg from undifferentiated reality and infinite potentiality; experientially, the self has “contracted.”

It is also the first “split”—the first creation of something Other than One-Self.

So what I’m proposing about the experiences surrounding conception, I contend, is a better analogue to the mythological Kabbalist depiction of Tzimtzum, contraction, and the thin pipe from Infinity, than is Shoham’s interpretation of it as the umbilical cord and nourishment from the mother.

Continue with The Scattering of the Divine Sparks and Divine Symbiosis: The First Fall From Grace, Sperm/Egg and Conception, Part Three — “Theurgic Conception”

Return to Cellular Consciousness and The Chonyid Bardo: “Like a Prodigal Child, I Had Run Away from my Macrocosmic Home and Imprisoned Myself in a Narrow Microcosm.” (Paramahansa Yogananda)

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Continue with The Scattering of the Divine Sparks and Divine Symbiosis: The First Fall From Grace, Sperm/Egg and Conception, Part Three — “Theurgic Conception”

Return to Cellular Consciousness and The Chonyid Bardo: “Like a Prodigal Child, I Had Run Away from my Macrocosmic Home and Imprisoned Myself in a Narrow Microcosm.” (Paramahansa Yogananda)

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Cellular Consciousness and The Chonyid Bardo: “Like a Prodigal Child, I Had Run Away from my Macrocosmic Home and Imprisoned Myself in a Narrow Microcosm.” (Paramahansa Yogananda)

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The Creation of Space, the Primary Dualism, and “the Appearance of Peaceful and Wrathful Deities”: The First Fall From Grace, Sperm/Egg and Conception, Part One

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First Fall From Grace

According to Wilber (1977), the primary dualism is the separation that first creates self and Other. Based upon both personal experience and study of several experiential growth modalities, I submit that this first fall from grace, the primary dualism, correlates ontogenetically with the phase of biological conception, more specifically with the creation of sperm and egg. Earlier I called this the first shutdown, which is the first time we have narrowed our consciousness, and I quoted Yogananda (1946), “Like a prodigal child, I had run away from my macrocosmic home and imprisoned myself in a narrow microcosm” (p. 168).

Wilber (1977) describes the characteristics of the primary dualism: “[T]his separation of subject from object marks the creation of space: the Primary Dualism itself creates space” (p. 120).

At the level of Mind, or Void, there is no form:

The Absolute Subjectivity is sizeless or spaceless, and therefore infinite; but with the rise of the Primary Dualism, the subject is illusorily separated from the object, and that separation, that “gap” between seer and seen, is nothing more than space itself. Man, in identifying exclusively with his organism as separated from his environment, necessarily creates the vast and grand illusion of space, the gap between man and his world. (Wilber, 1977, p. 120)

At the time of conception—specifically, with the creation of sperm and ovum—we have the emergence of form out of no-thing-ness (so to speak). That is, that there is the awareness of a separate thingness where before there was none. This awareness is referred to as cellular consciousness (Buchheimer, 1987; Farrant, 1987; Larimore, 1990a, 1990b). The memory we have of it is the earliest one we have of form within the frame of this particular physical form.

Cellular consciousness also relates to the beginnings of the Chonyid bardo, which, as described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead and reported by Wilber (1980, pp. 165-172), is a “period of the appearance of peaceful and wrathful deities” (p. 165). These appearances are caused by a contraction against the Clear Light, which transforms that Reality into “primordial seed forms of the peaceful deities (cf., Grof’s BPM I level of experience in the womb) and these in turn, if resisted and denied, are transformed into the wrathful deities” (p. 165) (cf., Grof’s BPM II and III levels of pre- and perinatal experience—but more about these processes in the next sections). This is the time when—having missed the opportunity for mergence with the Clear Light during the Chikhai bardo, which occurs after death of the previous incarnation—one begins fleeing into form once again, attracted by the “impure lights” and “substitute gratifications” (p. 166).

That a separate consciousness exists here, at this cellular level, at least in the “reflections” that we call memory, is also evident in the research of psychedelics (Grof, 1976, 1980, 1985; Masters and Houston, 1967), in the re-experience that occurs in experiential psychotherapy and in the memory retrieval acquired through hypnosis (Gabriel (1992); Wambach, 1979). [Footnote 1].

The Breaking of the Vessels and the Scattering of the Divine Sparks

Shoham’s (1990) primary phase of separation is birth.

Nevertheless, with the additional perspective of pre- and perinatal psychology and of experiential psychotherapy we can add to and alter this formulation. Shoham writes, “In the first phase of separation, man is ejected from the comfortable womb and cruelly exposed to the elements in a manner that was recorded mytho-empirically in the Kabbalist catastrophe of the breaking of the vessels” (p. 35). Of course, I disagree with this. As stated at the beginning of this chapter, in the first phase of separation the individual leaves the godhead and generates form in the creation of sperm and ovum.

That the interpretation of the myth needs to placed farther back in time, into the womb, is indicated even in Shoham’s words, where he speaks of a “theurgic symbiosis and partnership between man and God” (p. 35). “Symbiosis” relates to the flow in <—> flow out feeling described as characterizing the BPM I or blissful womb state, i.e., before birth. It is indeed correct to describe this time also as a “partnership between man and God” in that the fetus feels that all its needs are immediately responded to as well as it partakes of the emotional-psychic field of its mother (the experiential analogue of whom is “God”).

Continue with In the Beginning, the “Thin Pipe From Infinity” … “Emanated Light Into the World”: We Begin with “Contraction” … Biological and Spiritual … How We Tell Ourselves That in Myth

Return to Mythology Tells the Tale of Our Lives as Cells: “Whatever Happened to Us in the Amnestic Years … Is Projected Toward Cosmogony, Magic, and Other Human Beings.”

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Footnote

1. Evidence from experiential psychotherapy is from Graham Farrant’s work as reported by him at various PPPANA conferences, in Aesthema (January 1987) and in the International Primal Association Newsletters, winter and summer, 1990; in works such as Gabriel, 1992; Hannig, 1982; Lake, 1981, 1982; and Noble, 1993; and from personal experience in primal therapy, rebirthing, and holotropic breathwork, among many other sources.

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Continue with In the Beginning, the “Thin Pipe From Infinity” … “Emanated Light Into the World”: We Begin with “Contraction” … Biological and Spiritual … How We Tell Ourselves That in Myth

Return to Mythology Tells the Tale of Our Lives as Cells: “Whatever Happened to Us in the Amnestic Years … Is Projected Toward Cosmogony, Magic, and Other Human Beings.”

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“Whatever Happened to Us in the Amnestic Years … Is Projected Toward Cosmogony, Magic and Other Human Beings”: Mythology Tells the Tale of Our Lives as Cells

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Our Myths Reveal Our Earliest Life, Going Back to Before Conception: Biology As Mythology, Part Four: Mytho-Empiricism and Our Devolution of Consciousness

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Mytho-Empiricism and Biology As Mythology

Finally, mythology provides clues as to the events of these times. Shoham (1990) is one in particular who has made this case. Putting forth an approach at meaning which he calls “mytho-empiricism,” he writes, “Mytho-empiricism is the utilization of myths not as illustrations of our theoretical premises but as their actual empirical anchors” (p. 34). He goes on to point out that scholars of myths have always regarded myths as reliable and faithful revelations of patterns of events that occurred prior to recorded history. Acknowledging that they can reflect patterns of events that are not otherwise accessible, he makes his case that the events that these myths are most actually reflecting are those of the earliest times in one’s individual … as opposed to cultural or collective … life. Thus, he writes,

[O]ur methodological anchor . . . is the conception of myths as projections of personal history. Individuals are aware of their personalities as the sole existential entity in their cognition. Therefore, myths cannot be divorced from the human personality. This awareness of existence is the only epistemological reality. Whatever happened to us in the amnestic years and even later is projected toward cosmogony, magic, and other human beings. The events that happened in the highly receptive amnestic years have been recorded by the human brain. Events that happened after the amnestic years may be recalled cognitively, but whatever happened within these first years of life would be played back , inter alia, by myths of cosmogony. Myths as personal history may therefore be regarded as the account of some crucial developmental stages in the formative years. (1979, p. 21)

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Correlation Between the Ontogenetic and the Phylogenetic

He notes that there is a correlation, however, between the early individual and the early historical events:

Moreover, human development in the early formative years covers, in an accelerated manner, all the evolutionary phases of the species. Consequently, myths are also a projection of the development of the species as inherent in the development of the human individual. . . . That is, every human being experienced the Original Sin in his own development, so that the myth of the Fall is indeed a projection of an individual, yet universal, human developmental experience. (1990, p. 35)

I point this out because while in this part — Part Two — I will be using myths to indicate patterns of early individual events, in Part Three I will bring them to bear as additional perspective on some of the early events of our species.

Relative Universality of Myths Correlated With Importance in Ontogeny

Shoham (1990) qualifies his claims for the reliability of mythic projections by noting the obvious deduction that myths can vary in the degree to which they accurately project the common early experiences of the individual and that a good indicator of their reliability as regards universal patterns of early experience is the relative universality of the particular myth’s appearance:

Myths, however, become archetypal projections of human experience only when they are widespread. The more common a human developmental experience, the greater its chances of becoming a mythical projection. The inverse is also valid: the more widespread a myth, the greater the chances that it is a projection of a widespread or even universal phase of human development. The universality of the Fall myth, for instance, points to the fact that its corresponding developmental phase, the expulsion of the separate self from the pantheistic togetherness of early orality, is indeed experienced by every human being. (1990, p. 35)

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Separant-Fusion Personality Dialectic

The personality theory derived from such a mytho-empirical base constructs the person as embodying two radically opposed tendencies—one the desire for fusion and the other for separation:

Our personality theory envisages two core vectors, participation and separation . By participation, we mean the identification of ego with a person(s), an object, or a symbolic construct outside itself and the striving of the ego to lose its separate identity by fusion with this other, object or symbol. Separation is the opposite vector. These two vectors of unification-fusion and separation-isolation form the main axis of our personality theory. (Shoham, 1990, p. 33)

Stagelike “Degression”

It also puts forth a stagelike progression (or “degression”), created by these various earliest instances of separation or splitting off. The creation of these phases through splitting is remarkably like the creation of the spectrum of consciousness by the various splittings, creating the various dualities, that Wilber (1977) describes. The major difference is that Wilber’s contention is the building up of these in the Sole Eternal Moment and Shoham’s in the course of one’s earliest existence … Wilber’s as creating the consciousness in the Moment and Shoham’s as creating the personality. Shoham (1990) describes the progression:

The first phase is the process of birth. The second phase is the crystallization of an individual ego by the molding of the “ego boundary.” The third phase of separation is a corollary of socialization, during which, according to Erikson, one’s “ego identity” is reached. (p. 33)

And to these Shoham later adds a fourth.

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Stages Beginning at Conception, Not Birth

In the chapters to follow, I will be presenting just such a progression, rather devolution, following the phases of early biological experience and correlating it both with the psychological development of the ego and personality development in general in a manner akin to Shoham’s as well as to the building up of the spectrum of consciousness according to Wilber.

However, the major difference between my progression and Shoham’s is that I start at conception as the first phase of separation and he starts at birth. In fact, I take Shoham’s phases and place them one step back, so to speak. His birth scenario becomes what I see to be conception; his early orality phase, my phase of birth. At the third phase we begin to coincide in that both of our third phases coincide with the phase of socionormative indoctrination that reaches its peak at around the age of four. And finally our fourth stages are also identical in depicting the puberty or identity phase.

I make these differences from Shoham for compelling reasons. For one thing, what Shoham gives as an example of birth in mythology is actually much more like conception. It is so much more like conception that I feel he would also have placed it there if he had not, in following mainstream ego psychologists and outdated Freudian notions, been led to believe that neither consciousness or memory can exist from that far back. Therefore, I feel he makes this mistake only because he is operating on the basis of mainstream psychology and an outdated psychoanalysis that sees the beginnings of psychic life only at birth.

It is not surprising he makes this mistake as it is only in the more recent field of pre- and perinatal psychology that we see the beginnings of psychic life going back into the womb and, in some understandings (including my own), to before conception. But with this understanding of where the beginning truly lies, his framework, his mythically expressed ontology, becomes strikingly fitted with the biological events. In altering his framework in this way, then, the following chapters will incorporate, for additional elucidation and perspective, the mytho-empirical light he sheds.

Continue with Cellular Consciousness and The Chonyid Bardo: “Like a Prodigal Child, I Had Run Away from my Macrocosmic Home and Imprisoned Myself in a Narrow Microcosm.” (Paramahansa Yogananda)

Return to Morphogenetic Fields Theory Makes Genetics Obsolete and Unnecessary … and Cellular Memory Understandable: The Theories of Morphic Resonance and “Prior Conditions”

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Biology and Mythology in Pictures. Chronological Order

Egg Experience. Inside Mother

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Sperm Experience: Inside Father

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Sperm Experience: Ejaculation

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Sperm Experience: Sperm Journey

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Sperm-Egg Encounter Experience: Coming Together of Sperm and Egg.

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Conception Experience: Sperm Enters Egg

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Conception Experience. Sperm’s Head “Explodes” … Joining of Sperm and Egg DNA

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After Conception Experience. Remaining Sperm Die Off

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Fertilized Egg/Zygote and Blastocyst Experience. Cells Multiply Euphorically

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Biology as Metaphor, Biology as Mythology References

Adzema, Michael. (1985). A primal perspective on spirituality. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 25(3), 83-116.

Adzema, Michael. (1993c). Womb With a View: Spiritual Aspects of Prenatal Experience. Unpublished manuscript. P.O. Box 1348, Guerneville, CA 95446.

Adzema, Michael. (1993d). Cells With a View: Spiritual and Philosophical Aspects of Sperm and Egg Experience. Unpublished manuscript. P.O. Box 1348, Guerneville, CA 95446.

Gardiner, Patrick. (1967). Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860). In Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Grof, Stanislav. (1976). Realms of the Human Unconscious. New York: Dutton.

Grof, Stanislav. (1980). LSD Psychotherapy. Pomana, CA: Hunter House.

Grof, Stanislav. (1985). Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death and Transcendence in Psychotherapy. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Shoham, S. Giora. (1979). Salvation Through the Gutters. New York: Hemisphere Publications.

Shoham, S. Giora. (1990). The bridge to nothingness: Gnosis, Kabbala, Existentialism, and the transcendental predicament of man. ReVision, 13(1) [Summer 1990], 33-45.

Wilber, Ken. (1977). The Spectrum of Consciousness. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House.

Continue with Cellular Consciousness and The Chonyid Bardo: “Like a Prodigal Child, I Had Run Away from my Macrocosmic Home and Imprisoned Myself in a Narrow Microcosm.” (Paramahansa Yogananda)

Return to Morphogenetic Fields Theory Makes Genetics Obsolete and Unnecessary … and Cellular Memory Understandable: The Theories of Morphic Resonance and “Prior Conditions”

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Morphogenetic Fields Theory Makes Genetics Obsolete and Unnecessary … and Cellular Memory Understandable: The Theories of Morphic Resonance and “Prior Conditions”

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These Cellular Patterns Form Our Makeup, Our Thoughts, Our Feelings, and Our Way of Viewing the World: Biology As Metaphor and Mythology, Part Three — The Legitimacy of Cellular Memory

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The Legitimacy of Cellular Memory

Despite what I have just said concerning the importance of an analysis of the biological metaphors of form — especially as they exist on the cellular level surrounding conception — as reflecting something of importance to us in a hermeneutic or heuristic sense, I want to at least put out a case for the legitimacy of cellular memory as something in its own right. That is, the rest of Part Two will be based on a comparison of Wilber’s spectrum of consciousness with the observable events and forms (the behaviors of the specific biological forms) as they are known to occur through the observational aspects of the science of biology. Still, the interpretation between the philosophical system and the biological form will be aided, supported, and fed by, among other things, the direct experience of memories of these states and forms, down even to the earliest, by myself and by the reports of such experiences by others.

So while this analysis does not stand on the absolute veracity of those experiences by myself or by others, still the analysis is certainly aided and helped by a belief in their legitimacy. I will say a few words about how memory can occur of such events, and more importantly, how that memory can be related to the foundations of our consciousness. A complete explanation (as I see it) of exactly this — e.g., of how sperm and egg and zygote experience can lead to fundamental mythological, philosophical, and basic assumptions on the world, the self, and reality — can be found in two other recent works of mine (1993c, 1993d).

For our purposes here, let me just say that there are two possibilities that immediately come to mind: (1) what one might call the “prior conditions” theory and (2) Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of morphic resonance and morphogenetic fields. Let us take them in turn.

The “Prior Conditions” Theory

What I am calling the “prior conditions” theory is simply that the end result of any learning process, at any point, contains within it, if somehow broken down, all the prior conditions that produced it. It is based on the simple idea that the upper stories of everything will be in some way related to its foundation, and, more exactly, that the actual and specific foundation of anything can be exactly determined by reversing or tracing back in turn each step of its progression or building up.

Thus, this proposition states that all the experience, all the learning that occurs, is based upon prior learning and that all that comes about is in some way founded or based on stages that preceded that stage. The way this is understood to occur is in somewhat the same way that in a computer program a later stage necessitates a prior stage or as in any formal operation or in any learning at all later learning builds necessarily on particular prior understandings.

For example, in the case of learning a language: The speaking of a language requires at one point that the various sounds were learned, which requires that further back pronunciation of the various letters that make up the sounds were learned. Therefore, even though one may not retain a memory of learning the sounds and the individual letters, those events are encapsulated within the end result. Those prior stages had to have been there, and in some way are part of the construction of the end development; so much so that breaking down the end result leads necessarily to the factors of which it is composed.

This can be demonstrated in the case of computer programs and of codes of various kinds. Either of them, given sufficient analytical power (as we can now harness with the help of computers) and sufficient time can be broken down into their original constituents and into their necessary pattern of development. This being true — and allowing, this one time only, the dispensation of leaning on a physicalist presumption — since brains are seen as comparable in many ways to remarkably powerful computers, would it be so bold to assert that it might be possible for them to come up with its exact original conditions out of the current resulting conditions?

The prior-conditions theory is at least one possibility, then, and it is consistent with current psychological understandings of learning, development, and related processes.

Furthermore, this sort of process is also demonstrated in the phenomenon in psychology called regression. In these instances people will revert to earlier and earlier states of being, exactly as they were originally built up. They will often wear the same sorts of clothes, get the same illnesses, have the same intonations in their speech, and so on.

We see thus that each later stage contains within it all earlier forms, in some way. And that this is not dependent simply on some psychological memory mechanism is demonstrated by the fact that we observe the same phenomenon at work in the physical world in the form of the building up of multistory skyscrapers as well as that of multistep computer programs.

So in understanding cellular memory in this sense it is simply a matter of extrapolating our understanding of psychological regression much farther back than we are used to and adding the notion that from each successive stage can be accurately deduced its prior stages in turn, that the later stages could not be exactly as they are save for that the earlier stages happened to be exactly as they are. So this is one way of understanding how this memory could be contained in the adult range of experiential possibilities and how it could be legitimate.

Morphogenetic Fields and Morphic Resonance

The other possible explanation, as I mentioned, is consistent with Rupert Sheldrake’s theory. It can be stated this way: That concerning Sheldrake’s morphogenetic fields, if things are done a particular way, they tend to be done that particular way in the future. He gives the example of ritual. A ritual is performed in the same way it has been for thousands of years, and there is a perceived potency in doing it that way in that there is somehow an accumulated power in each subsequent repetition of that act. He contends that somehow the field, the field of form, the morphogenetic field, is strengthened; the pattern is strengthened. Therefore when one re-enacts that pattern one is tapping into the field, via morphic resonance, that has been established.

Let us turn our attention now to thinking in terms of certain patterns that happen, for example, on the cellular level, to certain patterns that have been enacted for millennia. Keep in mind that Rupert Sheldrake’s theory is not just concerning human beings and their thoughts and actions but applies also to all of Nature and the entire Universe. So there are morphogenetic fields acting on plants, e.g., in the way that they produce the leaves of each individual plant. There is morphic resonance in all the patterns of Nature, even in the ways crystals develop. Thinking now in terms of the cellular level, human beings have been sperm and egg, have been fertilizing eggs for many millennia, have been sperm and eggs uniting the exact same way in conception for untold millennia.

In fact many mammals reproduce exactly this way also. So, all told, there is a rather strong habit built up, a rather strong pattern that is a field that is of this pattern that exists in the Universe because of the repetition of this pattern over and over again in the Universe. So all of the aspects of sperm and egg experience — for example the experience of the sperm, that is, the struggle of the sperm — has been enacted practically an infinite number of times, more than can be imagined. For this is a strong morphogenetic field in the Universe, a strong morphic pattern. The point of all this is that since we resonate with things that are similar to us, and since a sperm is of a human being, then we would resonate with this pattern as we would resonate with this pattern of the egg and its experience or pattern. Likewise we would resonate with the pattern of conception itself and all that is subsumed under that, and afterwards also.

And of course all of the development of the fertilized egg and the blastocyst — the embryo and the fetus and all that — is part of a morphic pattern that is very well established. For our species it has been continuing practically an infinite number of times, having been enacted and being currently enacted, so that our species would find that this pattern would form part of our makeup, resonating with those patterns, and would form our thinking processes and feeling processes, and would help to structure our way of viewing the world and all else.

Finally the theory of morphic resonance states that we resonate with things with which we are more alike than not alike. Since we are more like ourselves than anything else, it follows that we would resonate more with our particular experience as a sperm and egg, for example, with its unique events, than with the experiences of other humans, or of other mammals or other species for that matter … though those possibilities are not ruled out and in fact those kinds of events—trans-species sharing of experience of morphogenetic field—is actually reputed to occur at times (Grof 1976, 1980, 1985). At any rate, it is most likely we would resonate with and pick up on the field laid down by our own experience as such by our selves as an entity, as well as to a lesser extent resonating with and contacting the way it is done “in general,” or “traditionally,” by the species one belongs to. This also explains what in species other than our own is called instinct . It also makes understandable such remarkable patterns of behavior shared across generations, while genetic explanations, by contrast, appear rather preposterous.

Anyway, this is another way of looking at how these events at such an early level can actually influence the way we think, feel, and see the world, and how they can determine our basic assumptions about all of this.

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Morphogenetic Field: Sperm, Egg

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Morphogenetic Field: Sperm Surrounding Egg

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Morphogenetic Field: Conception

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Morpogenetic Field: Fertilized Egg Multiplying, Zygote, Blastocyst

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Cellular Memory’s Challenge to Materialism and Support for Panpsychism: The Body Arises from Consciousness, Not Vice-Versa, but There Is a Legitimacy to Heuristic Inquiry Into Form

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Verifiable Memory of Events That Occurred Prior to Brain or Body Prove the Existence of “Spirit”: Biology As Metaphor and Mythology, Part Two — The Epistemology Revealed by Cellular Memory

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Biological Phases As Levels of Consciousness

My attempt here is to skeletonize a portion of such an overall endeavor to show how it can be done and what kinds of meanings can arise. I will relate stages in the ontogenetic development of the human body to the dualities (splittings) of consciousness that, according to Wilber (1977), create the spectrum of consciousness.

Specifically, I will correlate the patterns of change in both form and experience (feeling) that a human undergoes with levels of consciousness. I will do this beginning with the sperm and egg; through the fetal, newborn, child, and adolescent forms; to the adult. What I am saying is that the forms that characterize the biological history of each individual (as delineated by the science of biology) and the processes that characterize the psychological history of each individual (as reported to us in the psychological sciences of the new experiential growth modalities) reflect, and correlate with, the changes in consciousness that Wilber describes as creating the spectrum of consciousness.

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The Charge of Reductionism

Is this reductionistic? Am I saying that our ontogenetic development creates or causes the spectrum of consciousness? No. I no more mean that ontogeny creates the spectrum than that ontogeny creates phylogeny … in that, as they say, “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.”

One might deduce, however, that since this ontogenetic development, that is, this human prenatal development, is prior (in time) to the spectrum of consciousness that we observe and study in the Now, a cause-and-effect relationship is the most likely connection. But I must respond that this assumes the primacy of the physical form (in its ontogenetic development) over consciousness. This presupposition is, of course, a cornerstone of the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm. Nevertheless, the very existence of consciousness or experience at the earliest levels I will be discussing (specifically, sperm, egg, zygote, and fetal) disputes the primacy-of-the-physical-universe postulate. To put it bluntly, consciousness can hardly be an epiphenomenon of brain activity if it exists when the brain does not.

Conversely, the body, brain, and cells cannot create the spectrum of consciousness for consciousness exists independent of them. The body reveals itself to arise from consciousness; it is the tip of the iceberg, which cannot be the foundation for the structures prior to or “below” or existing independently of it.

So the fact of memory and consciousness existing when the physical cells or the body cannot “create” them points inevitably to the primary reality/existence of something like Consciousness, Spirit, or Mind (or at least Energy) (see Adzema, 1985). Therefore, this type of impossible-to-have-existed-as-experience-or-to-be-existing-as-memory-according-to-the-N-C-paradigm experience can hardly be called the cause of the spectrum of consciousness. Indeed, something that cannot possibly exist within a paradigm can hardly be marshaled in to explain something within that paradigm.

However, if we accept the paradigm in which Consciousness, not form, is fundamentally real (which is exactly what we must do if we are going to look at evidence which supports, if not confirms, such a paradigm), and if we still want to accept the controversial concept of cause and effect, then the most we can really say is that prior experience of consciousness contributes to its later modifications. This perspective is certainly worthy of consideration.

The Legitimacy of Heuristic Inquiry Into Form

But were it true that prior experience causes the later modifications of Consciousness (or as Wilber terms it, “Mind”), that truth is congruent with an analysis such as this one that considers form as to its metaphorical heuristic value in understanding experience and existence (or Mind, Consciousness) as it is immediately apperceived in the only Reality of Now. As Wilber (1977) makes adequately clear, from the only Real perspective of Here and Nowness, Absolute Subjectivity, or Mind, all “past” events are nonreal (i.e., illusory) reflections of the Reality that is Now; they have no existence outside of this Now, so can hardly be called “causes” of Now.

From the perspective of Now, of Mind, of Absolute Subjectivity — which is the essence of the new paradigm — there is no cause and effect; there are only patterns of relationship existing Now. Hence these “prior” events are reflections of the immediate Reality, existing simultaneously in the Now as reflections, as metaphors. It is in this sense that they can be analyzed hermeneutically for their heuristic value in understanding the spectrum of consciousness as it arises this instant in the sole Eternal Moment.

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The Legitimacy of Cellular Memory

Despite what I have just said concerning the importance of an analysis of the biological metaphors of form — especially as they exist on the cellular level surrounding conception — as reflecting something of importance to us in a hermeneutic or heuristic sense, I want to at least put out a case for the legitimacy of cellular memory as something in its own right. That is, the rest of Part Two will be based on a comparison of Wilber’s spectrum of consciousness with the observable events and forms (the behaviors of the specific biological forms) as they are known to occur through the observational aspects of the science of biology. Still, the interpretation between the philosophical system and the biological form will be aided, supported, and fed by, among other things, the direct experience of memories of these states and forms, down even to the earliest, by myself and by the reports of such experiences by others.

So while this analysis does not stand on the absolute veracity of those experiences by myself or by others, still the analysis is certainly aided and helped by a belief in their legitimacy. I will say a few words about how memory can occur of such events, and more importantly, how that memory can be related to the foundations of our consciousness. A complete explanation (as I see it) of exactly this — e.g., of how sperm and egg and zygote experience can lead to fundamental mythological, philosophical, and basic assumptions on the world, the self, and reality — can be found in two other recent works of mine (1993c, 1993d).

For our purposes here, let me just say that there are two possibilities that immediately come to mind: (1) what one might call the “prior conditions” theory and (2) Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of morphic resonance and morphogenetic fields. Let us take them in turn.

Continue with Morphogenetic Fields Theory Makes Genetics Obsolete and Unnecessary … and Cellular Memory Understandable: The Theories of Morphic Resonance and “Prior Conditions”

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Biology as Metaphor and Mythology, Part One: “The Map Is Not the Territory” and Biological Phases As Levels of Consciousness

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Biology Reflects Consciousness: Biological Changes Reflect Changes in Experience and Create the Spectrum of Consciousness

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“The Stuff of the World Is Mind-Stuff”

We are living in stimulating and revolutionary times. For, even as we watch, the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm is collapsing in the ocean of the new physics, “matter” is being swept away by “wavicles,” and scientists are beginning to acknowledge what the poet-seers have always known: that physical reality is metaphor, that the external world and all of its components are subtle yet elaborate webs thrown upon the formless, meaningful forms created from no-thing-ness . . . that matter is metaphor for Consciousness — which is the only real stuff knowable about existence, in fact is the only stuff of the Universe.

Physicist and astronomer, Arthur Stanley Eddington (1928) phrased it: “The stuff of the world is mind-stuff.” More recently, University of Minnesota physicist Roger S. Jones (1982) unveiled a position which he calls an “idealistic reevaluation of the physical world” (p. ix). He writes

I reject the myth of reality as external to the human mind, and I acknowledge consciousness as the source of the cosmos. It is mind that we see reflected in matter. Physical science is a metaphor with which the scientist, like the poet, creates and extends meaning and values in the quest for understanding and purpose. (1982, p. ix)

Even more recently, anthropologist Armand Labbe (1991) summed it up at a Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness conference saying, “Ultimately our physics . . . is going to demonstrate that essentially there is no such thing as matter. All there is, is mind and motion.”

Granted, this is an extreme position, a strict Idealist stance. But it is the only truly supportable one, in light of what we know from the new physics. That would be enough in itself to cause us to reflect on it. But this perspective is also supported, even demonstrated, by the discoveries of the “new psychology” as well. More about that later.

It is ironic that it would be the most “materialistic” and “hardest” of the sciences that would be leading the charge against the primacy-of-the-physical-world postulate (and, unfortunately, leaving the rest of the sciences — both social as well as natural sciences — behind). The discoveries from quantum physics, though some of them almost a hundred years old now, are, only with difficulty, being assimilated into the other sciences. For the most part, they are largely ignored; science going along ‘as if’ . . . that is, as if the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm were still viable, as if the physical world was really “objective” reality, as if the mind could validly be considered an epiphenomenon of brain activity. So the old paradigm holds sway despite its inadequacy.

This is understandable, however. For truly acknowledging these newer perspectives requires a reformulation of theoretical positions, a rethinking of the Universe in much the same way that astronomical theories needed to be reformulated after the Copernican revolution. What we do not need are theories that disfigure themselves in trying to incorporate some (not all) of the new information and new perspectives in the way of the convoluted theories of the pre-Copernican astronomers who refused to accept the newer paradigm postulations.

This book, to the contrary, consistently presents a new-paradigm perspective.

In doing so it includes a rethinking of some theoretical constructions associated with Ken Wilber who, from this analysis, appears as inconsistent as pre-Copernican astronomers in devolving his theories.

The Import and Consequences of the Primacy-of-Consciousness Postulate

It may also be argued that the new-paradigm primacy of consciousness is irrelevant to much of what is done in normal science. Whatever the truth of that, it must be acknowledged that theoretical positions that ignore the very foundations upon which they are based—that is, the subjectivity of the observer—are going to be weaker for that. Yet, acknowledging even that, one could argue that there is no clear idea of how to go about applying these new perspectives. How could they be used? How could they be relevant? What implications might they have?

It is in answer to these questions that I offer the following analysis of how these perspectives could be used in the understanding of child development. I propose a devolutional model—one that is rooted in Wilber’s (1977) “spectrum of consciousness” theory. It is based also in the findings of new-paradigm experiential psychotherapies—that is, those that place primacy upon experience over concept, “territory” over “map,” and percept over object.

The implications of this approach, I hope to show, are for no less than the validity of the current direction of child-caring, the effectiveness of mainstream psychiatric approaches, and the direction of psychological and spiritual growth. It is my belief that such implications will not be considered to be irrelevant or unimportant; and I will deal with them at length in Part Three.

Biology As Metaphor

At any rate, the knowable premise of the new science is that our physical world is a construction (of consciousness); that it can be metaphor, only, of the unknowable That Which Is; that, therefore, matter is metaphor. It follows that the sciences, which study this reflection of the unknowable Real, provide metaphors about metaphors.

Moving in the Air Without Support

Schopenhauer saw it much the same way. His understanding of “ideas” is very close to what I am saying about science being composed of metaphors about metaphors. Gardiner (1966) explains this viewpoint of Schopenhauer:

Schopenhauer distinguished a further class of ideas, namely, what he termed “ideas of Reflection,” or sometimes “ideas of ideas” (Vorstellungen von Vorstellungen). It is in terms of these that we think about and communicate the contents of our phenomenal experience. In other words, they are the general concepts by virtue of which we can classify phenomena according to common features that are of interest or importance to us, forming thereby a conceptual structure or system which may be said to mirror or copy the empirical world. The function of this system is essentially a practical one; it provides a means of memorizing, and generalizing from, our observations of how things behave under varying conditions, and hence of putting to use what we learn from experience. Schopenhauer insisted, moreover, that this system cannot legitimately be separated from the foundation of empirical reality upon which it is based, and he claimed that concepts and abstract notions that cannot be traced back to experience are comparable to bank notes “issued by a firm which has nothing but other paper obligations to back it with.” Consequently, metaphysical theories that pretend to offer an account of the world purely a priori, and that in doing so employ terms or propositions not susceptible to empirical interpretation, are empty of cognitive content; they “move in the air without support.” (p. 327)

In modern terms, “the map is not the territory” — the scientific construct is not the same as the experiential/ empirical reality of existence; and the farther they are removed from each other, the more unsubstantial becomes the construct — ultimately collapsing of its own weight.

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Analyzing Scientific Dream-Weaving

Nonetheless, these metaphors — despite the threat of their moving “in the air without support” and cognizant of their practical value; these metaphors — because of the fact of their being for the empirical world a reflection or “mirror,” which we then call “physical facts,” “objective reality,” or “scientific truths”; these metaphors can be analyzed in the same way that dream symbols are analyzed, that is, to uncover their deeper meanings.

Furthermore, this uncovering means essentially that we can discern their meanings for ourselves; “deeper meaning” being that understanding that relates the symbol to ourselves and that gives us understanding of our inner and outer actions and guidance for such behavior. In this way we can relate these “ideas about ideas,” these scientific truths, back to our empirical, experiential, subjective reality . . . back to the base that they were originally the reflections and mirrors of. Thus we can come full circle, looking at ourselves from both inside as well as outside of ourselves and approaching, to the degree that a person can, a fuller understanding of ourselves and the world with which we are inseparable.

Specifically, then, for our purposes here, in looking at the biological sciences’ metaphors of the human body — especially as concerns its structure, function, and ontogenetic and phylogenetic developments — we can discern and analyze an “underlying” meaning — a reflection of the Real, or of what Wilber (1977) calls Mind.

It is especially heuristic to analyze body for, as it has been said, body is concretized mind. This is not to mean concretized Mind—in Wilber’s sense—but concretized ego (in the sense of the separate self, in the sense of mind as used by Satya Sai Baba and other teachers who say that, ultimately, mind must be destroyed). Therefore, in contemplating the metaphors of the biological understanding of body, we can discern patterns and derive meanings concerning the separate self—its evolution, relationship to the whole, patterns of activity, stages of development, essence, and its experience of itself.

Biological Phases As Levels of Consciousness

My attempt here is to skeletonize a portion of such an overall endeavor to show how it can be done and what kinds of meanings can arise. I will relate stages in the ontogenetic development of the human body to the dualities (splittings) of consciousness that, according to Wilber (1977), create the spectrum of consciousness.

Specifically, I will correlate the patterns of change in both form and experience (feeling) that a human undergoes with levels of consciousness. I will do this beginning with the sperm and egg; through the fetal, newborn, child, and adolescent forms; to the adult. What I am saying is that the forms that characterize the biological history of each individual (as delineated by the science of biology) and the processes that characterize the psychological history of each individual (as reported to us in the psychological sciences of the new experiential growth modalities) reflect, and correlate with, the changes in consciousness that Wilber describes as creating the spectrum of consciousness.

pain-is-wisdom-gift-wrapped

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