The Idea of a Shamanistic, Stormy Spiritual Path Is Too at Odds with Our Religious Anti-Body Culture to Be Easily Accepted: Is the Supernatural Terrifying?
Correcting the “Civilized” Ego … The Stormy Path to Self, Part One — The Way Forward Is Down: The Divine Is Mistaken for “the Devil” Until One Is Surrendered Enough
Implications of Falls from Grace, The Devolutional Model of Development
From looking at the possibility of a more benign, less tragic human trajectory, as we did in the last chapter, I would now like to delve into the implications of this devolutional model of development—these Falls from Grace—as concerns psychotherapy, human growth, or “healing.” For, once the falls have happened to a person, once the patriarchal pathology has occurred, we need to look at what to do about it. We need to turn from prevention, as in the previous chapter, to correction or remediation.
The Way Forward Is Down
I said at the outset of Part Two that a metaphorical analysis such as this one can uncover underlying meanings: It can provide understanding of inner and outer behavior as well as guidance for such. At this point it can be stated that the implications of an analysis such as I have been presenting are for no less than the direction of growth, the direction of mystical experience, the concept of regression, and the evaluation of current ego psychotherapies, among others.
Is a “Fully Functioning Ego” a Prerequisite to Higher Consciousness?
Specifically, this perspective puts in question the psychotherapeutic maxim that ego strength precedes higher consciousness. I confess that many years ago I myself made exactly that claim in a work titled The Dangers of Mysticism for Modern Youth (Adzema, 1970). As I concluded, “Cosmic consciousness is dependent upon self-actualization.” By this I meant, following a Jungian line, that ego-actualization leading to a solidified ego and ego strength was necessary before one could hope to face the overwhelming and terrifying Unconscious Self—the repressed inner Divinity. And again following Jung, I proposed that this usually could not occur until the second half of life, or after the mid-life crisis.
Is the Supernatural Terrifying?
Subsequently, however, I encountered the new experiential psychotherapeutic techniques which — it has been my own experience — allow one to deal with and integrate the repressed “negative” energies that lie along the path (as this book’s analysis demonstrates) to mystical experience of Energy, Mind, Absolute Subjectivity, and God. Thus, I declined to publish that earlier work.
Ego Does Not Precede Illumination, It Prohibits It
Schneider (1987), to give an example, claims that the kind of mystical consciousness of which Wilber speaks is not possible because, for one thing, it would be terrifying and overwhelming.
Indeed, that was a good part of my position in The Dangers of Mysticism for Modern Youth (Adzema, 1970). But as I say, I eventually came to understand there to be a big difference between access to and integration of these realities. For, as both Jung and Campbell have pointed out, a God is often seen as a devil until one is wholly enough … I would say surrendered enough … to approach him.
Some People Are Sick for Healthy Reasons
At any rate, those subsequent experiences of mine with the experiential psychotherapies led to a reformulation of my understanding which led to works titled, descriptively enough, “The Way Forward Is Down” and The Centered Path Through Hell. The proposition arising from this later work is that low self-esteem, low ego strength, is a precondition for “higher” (“lower”) growth in a mystical direction.
As Maslow (1968) put it (and contrary to Wilber ), some people are sick for sick reasons and some people are sick for healthy reasons. Therefore, especially in an avowed “insane” (see Fromm, 1955) culture, we might want to think twice about doing people the big favor of “helping” them in the direction of increased ego defenses … and societal adjustment and social functioning.
In fact, those people with inadequate defenses against what is in essence more real are not only closer to being truly sane than the majority of folks but also might be better helped by leading them in the direction of dismantling what remains of the barriers between themselves and pure Energy, pure Consciousness, and helping them instead to integrate with and grow to encompass the expanded awareness that results.
The Stormy Path to Self
Now, I realize that this proposition is not absolutely new. For one thing it seems to make sense of some of the extreme and bizarre behavior, the seemingly manifest neurotic behavior, of some of the saints and mystics on their way to expanded awareness (see for example James, 1899/1982, especially Henry Suso, pp. 306-310; and Saint John of the Cross, 1959).
But in this secular age, it seems such allowance for “aberrant” behavior is rare. Keep in mind that in many cultures there are institutions—like medieval monasteries—or roles, like shamans, through and in which such distortions of personality can be worked out in socially sanctioned ways. Contrast this with the modern attitude which seems to be that if they can’t be talked into picking themselves up and/or behaving themselves like everyone else they are to be drugged or electroshocked into compliance.
Nevertheless, there are those in this day also who do speak out in favor of the direction of growth that this book is presenting. R. D. Laing, Arthur Janov, and Stanislav Grof are not the least of these. Indeed, Stanislav and Christina Grof’s (1990) book, The Stormy Search for the Self, is a near-exact affirmation of the proposition I have just stated.
Our Religious, Anti-Body Culture Makes Folks Terrified of the Shamanistic, Stormy Path
Still, this idea of a “stormy” spiritual path—despite the fact that it was distinctively presented and described over a century ago in William James’s classic (1899/1982) work, The Varieties of Religious Experience, (1899/1982)—in my opinion, goes too much against our hard won “rationality” … which we see is essentially our cultural rationalization. This notion is too much an affront to our culturally embedded “pragmatism” … which it is clear now is our cop-out to consensual constructs, especially fear-rooted economic ones. And it is in direct opposition to our pervasive Judeo-Christian anti-body cultural bias. So this idea of a stormy spiritual path, a path in which progress involves regress … in which the way forward is down, is anything but easily accepted.
Continue with “Crazy” and Transcendent Are Not Opposite as Ego Psychologists Conveniently Proclaim: Have Western Puritanical Beliefs Infected Transpersonal Psychology?
Return to What Does the Natural Self Look Like? The State of Not Losing the Soul Is Emotional Openness and Joy, Being Equally Free in Tears and Laughter
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Apocalypse or Earth Rebirth and the Emerging Perinatal Unconscious
Complete Book Chapters with Links
This book is being offered in its entirety online, free of charge and with complete graphics and audio-visual media, at this time. This policy may need to change when it is published separately and offered for sale in the very near future.
These are the strangest of days. We live in a time in which ending our species in our lifetime, even eliminating all life on this planet, are very real possibilities. The awareness of this acceleration toward an “end of days” — while so horrifying that we are in denial of it and hardly speak it — hangs over us and affects us in ways singular and fantastic.
This book — Apocalypse No, Apocalypse or Earth Rebirth and the Emerging Perinatal Unconscious — awakens us to the unique character of our times. There are powerful factors and unconscious influences erupting into our world now which are changing the Earth and us in radical ways … for good and ill. This unprecedented era in history is rife with the perinatal, that is, with repressed memories locked into us arising from our experiences of birth. We see that our impending apocalypse has to do with birth feelings, birth trauma — an emerging perinatal unconscious.
Herein is revealed the underbelly of our modern world and life and the impetus behind our self-destruction. We see primal forces arising and exposed. We begin to understand how and why this is happening now. Knowing this gives us the power to do something about our dire situation. Finally, we can direct our attention to the roots of our drive to apocalypse and reverse it.
More than that, this awakening provides a way of transformation for ourselves. For we see that in the heart of this darkness we are bringing down upon us lies the most incredible opportunity for taking a leap beyond what we think of as human nature. This time calls for a new hero’s cycle — one that leaves behind the thuggishness of the old one. We are lifted beyond ourselves in a higher calling and a transcendent yet deeply rooted spirituality.
We realize that the necessary answer to the dilemma of apocalypse or Earth rebirth lies, not only in the resurrection of a new Earth, but in the dawning of a new self as well.
We will either heroically, somehow, save our species and our planet, which will require a change of our human nature unlike anything that has been asked of our species ever before, or we will be witnesses to the elimination of life on this planet in some way that we cannot imagine but can only be horrific in the extreme. This book is about facing, not denying, the uniquely dire character of our times and finding out what it says about us and requires of us.
There is much here to see, and so much of it the mainstream would never touch for fear of creating a panic. Still, to survive our species must face our problems, not look away. And there is a nobility in doing that, which is unlike any kind of nobility or heroism that has been asked of our species before.
However, this time brings with it an advantage and opportunity also unprecedented: Never before has it been more clear what is right and what is wrong, what is worthwhile and what is not, what is life … what, death, and what is noble and what evil. At no other time has a higher calling or a path of true nobility of soul been more visible. To align oneself with this cause lifts one out of oneself and one’s petty concerns into a heady and invigorating life purpose. We might die in our efforts. There is every likelihood that we will be unable to reverse our dire trajectory. Still, should that occur, those who face and take up this challenge will not suffer the agony of regretting that one could have done something but did not.
On the other hand, though we will need many noble souls to reverse our current downslide into oblivion, it is possible that simply a significant fraction of the world’s population—like the “leaven in the dough”—can make all the difference in the world, literally, by tipping our course one way as opposed to another, especially if these people—because of their healing and their awareness of the crisis—are motivated to place themselves in positions of influence and education, or to put their efforts toward healing, on individual and collective levels, in larger numbers than the average populace would. In other words, not just the leaven in the dough but as persons, standing in the right place and with the lever big enough, who can move the world. I hope, for the sake of us all, that you are one of those heroes.
Continue with Book Five: Wounded Deer and Centaurs
Return to Apocalypse Emergency – Book 3
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Becoming “Adult,” Rites of Passage: Resistance Is Futile … One Doesn’t Have One’s Own Mind … One Takes Up the “Mind” of the “Collective” — The Fourth Fall From Grace
Whence Kitty-Drowners and Butterfly-Mashers: How We Lose Our Selves at Adolescence and Why Conformers and Conservatives in Every Society Hate and Suppress the Rebellious
Resistance Is Futile — The Fourth Fall From Grace
Wilber (1977) relates the fourth duality to the rise of the philosophic bands: “[I]n many cases the philosophic bands are instrumental in the generation of the quaternary dualism-repression-projection, and in all cases they are instrumental in its maintenance” (p. 150). Concerning these bands, he quotes Erich Fromm (1970):
[I]n addition to the social taboos there are individual elaborations of these taboos which differ from family to family; a child, afraid of being “abandoned” by his parents because he is aware of experiences which to them individually are taboo, will, in addition to the socially normal repression [of the Biosocial Band], also repress those feelings which are prevented from coming to awareness by the individual aspect of the filter. (Wilber, 1977, p. 150)
Rites of Passage, Becoming “Adult”
The end-result of this fear of parental abandonment that pushes the philosophic bands is what Freud calls the resolution of the oedipal conflict. This splitting and consequent repression/projection corresponds to the rites of passage of puberty and adolescence.
How We Lose Our Souls
At this point, the child no longer identifies with God (pre-conception), with mother (pre-birth), with body (pre- primal scene), or even with his or her best idea (one’s philosophic ideal); but identifies instead with the same-sex parent, the representative of the social order. Thus he or she becomes totally Other: totally separated from his or her own mind (pre- puberty rite); from his or her body (pre- primal scene); from his or her destiny, karma, dharma, duty, and purposiveness (pre-birth); and from God (pre-conception).
Every Parent’s “Atman Project”
This pattern—this doomed and illusory “atman project” wherein the parent seeks to immortalize him- or herself and to redeem his or her life—is of course obvious in the situation of the son “following in his father’s footsteps” in taking over the family business and in the daughter’s emulation of her mother, traditionally, in the role of wife and mother. But there are many subtler versions of this “identification,” and it happens even in situations where it seems it most definitely does not.
For example, Keniston’s (1968) study of young radicals of the sixties—the epitome of rebellious youth, you say—were found to be very much in agreement with their parents’ values. In fact, their rebellion was essentially in seeking to put into practice and actually live out what they saw as unlived values and philosophies (hence the charge of “hypocrite”) in compromised and compromising parents. Note again the theme of living out the unlived dreams of the previous generation—here, even in spite of the conscious stance of those youth.
Little of Self in the Decision of Who to Be
Cross-culturally and traditionally, however, we see this pattern in perhaps its most rudimentary and clearest form. In a great many cultures, the rites of passage into adulthood embrace the function of bestowing upon and initiating the recipient into the social roles and functions as decided by the tribe and family. For most, then, there is little of self in the decision of who to be; it is decided outside of oneself. Corresponding with this, in relation to the marital role, in many cultures the choice of spouse is also decided by others.
One Continues “Their” Dream … One’s Divine Uniqueness Fades
One doesn’t have one’s own mind. One takes up the “mind” of the parents, and of society. One continues their dream, society’s dream. One’s divine uniqueness fades into insignificance in the pattern of the social consensual reality.
Self Is Split Again … Becoming “Borg” … Serving the Collective
At any rate, the upshot of all this is that at the quaternary dualism, the self is split again. It is required to give up even “its own mind,” its own concept of itself. Originally one’s divinity was given up; then one’s deepest transpersonal directives and organismic unitary awareness; then one’s biological rhythms, one’s sense of flowingness and inner-directed purposiveness; then one’s feelings about self and other; and finally one is required even to give up the best possible ideas one can have about oneself and one’s relationship to and actions in the world. One represses one’s own decisions, initiatives, evaluations, and self-images in conformance to other-directed wants and needs, the result of others’ unfulfilled ambitions—which are presented to one by one’s parents but represent by extension the other-directed wants and needs of the collective, of the prevailing fear-pushed and desire-pulled economic constraints . . . of the socially-constructed reality in general.
A “Darkness” Develops
Raheem (1991) describes the result:
When the soul becomes so covered over by conditioning that it cannot shine through, when personality completely dominates, a “darkness” develops within the person, characterized by mental or emotional dullness, physical deterioration, accidents, depression, or “bad luck.” Such a person seems asleep or unconscious while walking around; she has gotten off her own soul path. (p. 31)
And what happens to these repressed dreams, aspirations, initiatives, and values is that, as at previous levels, they are repressed, then projected outside of oneself. Thenceforth they are seen in the world as the “Shadow.” Unfortunately, to the extent that we disown and fight these potentials in ourselves, we fight and hate them when we see them outside ourselves.
Every Society’s Culture War
This accounts for the fury with which people will attack and seek to suppress certain individuals and groups who may represent, for example, disowned artistic or creative potentials, disowned aliveness and “charisma,” disowned sexuality, disowned intellectual or bohemian dreams, simple disowned “feeling” in general, and anything that smacks of an idealism or freedom or joie de vivre that needed especially to be slain in the self in order to make the identification with another’s dreams.
Creating in this way the kitty-drowners and butterfly-mashers of the world, the quaternary dualism is complete and, with it, a fourth fall from grace.
Selling One’s Soul
At this point, then, there is very little Self left. In discharging the life that remains—so totally other-directed and other-programmed—one may as well have commissioned an android. Thus we have the endpoint of the spectrum’s “evolution”—from divinity to machinery, from pure-Bliss-Consciousness to cybernetic control.