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“There Is No Coming to Consciousness Without Pain.” – Carl Jung: The “Patriarchal Mistake” Involves Struggling to Keep Out “Negative” Thoughts and Their Discomfort

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Grof Versus Wilber and the Frantic Thinking Between Paradigms: The Stormy Path to Self, Part Five: “Healthy-Mindedness” and the “Sick Soul”

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“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” – Carl Jung

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“Healthy-Mindedness” and the “Sick Soul”

These two spiritual paths—the controlling and the surrender—were rather distinctively delineated over a hundred years ago by William James (1899/1982) in terms of the spirituality of “healthy mindedness” and that of “the sick soul.” The point is that the one—the “healthy mindedness” or control spirituality—involves a kind of mental ego-actualization, ego-aggrandizement; and the other—the “sick soul” or surrender spirituality—involves an honest dealing with and processing of the unconscious and all that it is.

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The Patriarchal Mistake in Spirituality … Keeping Out Negative Thoughts: Whereas True Spirituality Entails Experiencing “Hell” Before Getting to “Heaven”

This second path, this true spirituality involves a going through hell on the way to heaven—which is a matter of surrender and letting go, as opposed to control and healthy-mindedness. The one is a matter of surrendering to All That Is; whereas the delusional path is a matter of defending the ego, continuing ego defenses to keep out negative thoughts, and so on.

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It is interesting that the one can always be distinguished from the other in the false one’s emphasis on discipline, indicating it’s militaristic attitude of defending against unwanted negative thoughts, and so on. Elsewhere I have called this the “patriarchal mistake” (Adzema, 1972b).

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Stanislav Grof  Versus Ken Wilber in Transpersonal Psychology

John White Genuflects at the Altar of Ken Wilber

It might be pointed out that these two radically different views of spirituality are exemplified in the transpersonal psychology movement in that surrounding the ideas of Stanislav Grof and that surrounding the ideas of Ken Wilber. It is clear that rarely does the one movement ever refer to or revere the insights of the other. For example, in his book, The Meeting of Science and Spirit, John White (1990) does not mention Stanislav Grof at all. Yet he genuflects at the altar of Ken Wilber frequently.

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To Repent Versus to Transcend … Tob and Metanoia

In this respect, also, we have White’s inconsistency in his analysis of the terms tob and metanoia (and repent). In pointing out that the original Aramaic term for “repent” was tob he says that it means “to return” or “to flow back to God.” This is fine so far. But then he states that the Greek translation of tob is metanoia which then means “to transcend.” He then forgets the original meaning, disregards it, and builds a theory upon the latter term—meaning that we are to strive, struggle, and travel upward. The entire meaning and significance of returning or flowing back—which would serve to undermine both Wilber’s and his theories in its espousal of the significance of the “pre-” state—is completely ignored.

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To this move I say, you simply can’t have it both ways: You cannot ascribe some type of greater validity to an earlier term as being closer to the original meaning (metanoia over repent), while at the same time ignore or dispute the relevance of the even earlier term, in fact the original one (tob), just because to do so would undermine the argument you wish to present!

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Dualistic View of Reality … Ghost in the Machine Spiritual Thinking

Inconsistency—Dualism—Matter and Spirit

Nonetheless, perhaps John White’s biggest theoretical inconsistency is his assertions of a dual nature to the universe—Matter and Spirit—(with them “interacting”), laid alongside of his assertion that “God is all.” He presents therefore a dualistic view of reality much reminiscent of ghost-in-the-machine thinking, with his supposed big advance being that the ghost is just as important as the machine.

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Not a New-Paradigm View

In this respect then, White fails to make the transition to a new-paradigm view. He seems hopelessly caught between the views of competing worlds, trying to assert competing claims, trying to keep his old world from falling apart while still wanting to follow the light he sees ahead. Although he claims to, he doesn’t present a new-paradigm vision.

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Spirit and Matter as Indistinguishable as Ocean and Waves

The point is—as opposed to the old paradigm which says that the world is basically matter and that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of matter—that the new paradigm says the world is basically consciousness or a subjectivity that encompasses All and that the material universe is an epiphenomenon of consciousness. In this world view one does no more need to assert a difference between spirit and matter any more than one can assert a primary distinction between ocean and waves. In this respect we have Sathya Sai Baba’s statement that: All there is is the “I” or the Atma and that this is the foundation for everything else; everything else is illusion. All that really exists is the “I.”

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This is the same as saying in Western philosophy that subjectivity is the only true reality. This is in line with the philosophical position that the objective reality is indirect perception and is dependent upon subjective reality, and so subjective reality is the only true reality that can be known.

Unfortunately, White’s view is directly contradictory of this—he says that there is danger in “seeing one or the other (matter or spirit) as illusion or delusion” (p. xv). This he does despite the fact that this position of the ultimate phenomenal nature of mundane “common sense” reality is the major conclusion of most of the world’s religions, of much of traditional and Platonic philosophy, and more recently, even of the new, quantum, physics.

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The Frantic Theorizing That Goes on in the Time Between Paradigms

In essence then, White’s volume presents an example of the kind of frantic hyper-kinetic convoluted theorizing that is known to characterize the transition phase between paradigms. Like the convoluted theories of pre-Copernican astronomers, who struggled fervidly in re-arranging and making room in obsolete theories and concepts for the ever new astronomical data that was pouring in, who were doomed to failure and obsolescence by their inability to grasp the central organizing principle or concept of an Earth that is both round and not the center of the universe; so also White’s book, lacking any valid new-paradigm integrating vision, finds itself twisted about itself trying to keep one foot in old-paradigm concepts and theories while stepping with the other into new-paradigm facts and data.

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When it comes to paradigm change, you just cannot take both pills.

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To Be Continued with It’s Pure Egoism to Think We’re Evolving to a New Consciousness. If We’re Lucky We’ll Regain the One We’ve Lost

Return to A Mystical Machismo Has Invaded Spiritual Thinking: Whereas Surrender Spiritualities, Believing in Ultimate Goodness, See Controlling as the Problem

To Read the Entire Book … on-line, free at this time … of which this is an excerpt, Go to Falls from Grace

To purchase any of Michael Adzema’s books, available in print and e-book formats, go to Michael Adzema’s books at Amazon.

Planetmates: The Great Reveal – Michael Adzema’s latest book – is being released in print and e-book format on April 25, 2014

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Surrender Spiritualities, Believing in Ultimate Goodness, See Controlling as the Problem: Sadly, a Mystical Machismo Has Invaded Current Spiritual Thinking

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Patriarchal Cultures Carry Their Advance and Conquer Tactics Into the Inner World: Correcting the “Civilized” Ego … Stormy Path to Self, Part Four — Control Versus Surrender

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Spirituality Is Self-Actualization Not Ego-Actualization

What people like White and Wilber simply do not get is that spirituality is not a matter of further ego-actualization . . . that spirituality involves surrendering the ego, letting go of the ego. Instead they would have us construct, control, strive, to build a “super” ego.

An Example of This Mistake: Homo Noeticus Is Actually Homo Ego

The Homo noeticus that White (1990) describes in his book, The Meeting of Science of Spirit, is an example of the kind of mistakes that are possible with this ego-highlighted model of human development. His Homo noeticus might better be termed “Homo ego.” For indeed, what he offers us is a continuation of the Promethean hubris that has brought us to this precarious situation. What he offers us is the same kind of attitude toward the inner world as we have taken towards the outer world, the same kind of advance and conquer, the same kind of control tactics. In support of this I note that while he uses the terms “control” and “master” often—in describing higher states and enlightenment, he uses the terms “surrender” and “letting go” only once. In White’s universe I suppose the meek do not inherit the earth.

Transpersonal Athleticism and Mystical Machismo

This entire attitude is reminiscent of a book from 1968 titled The Master Game by Robert S. De Ropp. Theorists like De Ropp, White, and Wilber have never quite understood the idea that this whole spiritual trip is not a matter of transpersonal athleticism, mystical machismo, or jocko-militaristic “mastery.” Indeed, it is obvious that White has this attitude in his espousal of the martial arts. It is understandable that he would see spirituality this way in that he is a former military man. Ken Wilber has a strong connection to the military as well, having been brought up in such a family. (Should we be getting our spiritual advice from the armed forces?)

It is equally clear that he doesn’t quite understand the concept of the surrender of ego for, even in his very espousal of Jesus, he doesn’t accept Jesus’s attitude of non-violence or “turn the other cheek.” Of course these pacificistic attitudes would not make sense in a spiritual program like his which involves the aggrandizement of the ego and its defense at all costs.

Spirituality Is Actually Attunement with God, the Giving Up of Ego Struggles

These sorts of would-be spiritual teachers also, in line with the kind of thinking I’ve described, are the ones who are wont to point out the dangers of regression to “pre-” states and so forth. Once again, in doing so, they acknowledge their fear of loss of ego in their espousal of so-called “higher” or “transcendent” striving. They do not understand that spirituality is, in reality, a matter of attunement with God, attunement with All That Is . . . is a giving up of ego struggles, and a letting go into All That; as opposed to a control, a “mastery,” a striving, or a transcendence of it all.

Control Versus Surrender

Essentially what I am saying is that there are two paths of so-called “spirituality.” One of these might be described as going up the “hierarchy of defenses” and the other as undercutting or going below such “act-outs” or spurious “atman projects.” Another way of saying this is that there are “control” spiritualities and “surrender” spiritualities, with rarely the twain meeting.

Control Spiritualities: Atman Projects, Religion, Building a Hierarchy of Defenses — an Egoic Tower of Babel

control_room11Control spiritualities are adapted to patriarchal cultures and involve the use of the ego to “control” and be in charge of even the realms of the supernatural. This is so because an ultimate evil—a devil or Satan—is postulated, which is given equal weight along with God in determining one’s ultimate fate. This type of spirituality is normally what is called religion.

Surrender Spiritualities: God As Being Good; Controlling Is Seen as the Problem, Not the Solution

surrender-to-godBut there is another brand of spirituality that is based on a belief in the ultimate goodness and rightness of All That Is. God’s goodness being essentially the dominant force in the Universe, herein it is considered safe to “surrender” in one’s relation to Reality, to expect that one will be guided correctly, in fact perfectly, in the act of letting go. Thus letting go is not to be feared … as it is in the control spirituality … but is to be practiced and fostered. In this perspective, which we might call surrender spirituality, control is seen as the problem, not the solution.

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“Control” and “Surrender” Psychotherapies

Of course these two approaches to spirituality represent two approaches to surrenderpsychotherapy as well. The control attitude is the dominant mode of psychoanalytically-based approaches … in which the “demon” of the id is postulated. The attitude of “letting go” and “surrender,” on the other hand, is the dominant attitude of the experiential psychotherapies, which are themselves rooted in the tradition of humanistic psychology with its belief in the ultimate goodness of the human organism and which thus allows a faith in the ultimate rightness of human processes.

Hero’s Journey as “Control” Psychotherapy

the-control-attitude_thumbSince the control attitude, in any of its manifestations, requires the postulation of an ultimate evil against which one must remain vigilant and must fight, the common “hero’s journey” myth—with its typical fighting and slaying of supposedly evil parts of the personality and reality symbolized as dragons and other monsters—is a prevalent focal myth to this attitude. Corresponding to this myth are the emphasis on disciplines and practices seeking to develop the ego and the will … over against the dangers that are postulated to exist in the universe requiring these disciplines and, so-called, ego developments.

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A Different Heroic Response in “Surrender” Paths

05.Rue.JonahintheWhaleWSince the “feeling” therapies and the other spiritual and experiential psychotherapeutic modalities with which they are allied are so different in attitude to the traditional “control” attitude, should there not be corresponding differences in myths to exemplify them? Indeed, there are.

In history, the surrender spiritualities have had correspondences in myth in which the dragon is not fought, conquered, and slain, but rather is www-St-Takla-org__Jonah-and-the-Whale-1either tamed and becomes one’s ally or pet. Saint Margaret is the prime example in the West, but this is a depiction prevalent in the East.

Or else one is swallowed by the “dragon” or monster and, after a while, is reborn. Jonah is the prime example in the West for this latter depiction. But again this reaction to the fearful dissociated aspects of the personality, or the Shadow, is not a common one in the Western patriarchy. However, it is rather prevalent in traditional cultures … especially in shamanism … and in the East.

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Continue with The “Patriarchal Mistake” Involves Struggling to Keep Out “Negative” Thoughts: For “There Is No Coming to Consciousness Without Pain.” – Carl Jung

Return to Ego Weak Mystics and Shamans: A Supremely Defended Ego Is the Aim of Modern “Sanitized” Spirituality … the “Holy Fools” of Mystical History Would Be Medicated Today

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Control

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Surrender

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Continue with The “Patriarchal Mistake” Involves Struggling to Keep Out “Negative” Thoughts: For “There Is No Coming to Consciousness Without Pain.” – Carl Jung

Return to Ego Weak Mystics and Shamans: A Supremely Defended Ego Is the Aim of Modern “Sanitized” Spirituality … the “Holy Fools” of Mystical History Would Be Medicated Today

To Read the Entire Book … on-line, free at this time … of which this is an excerpt, Go to Falls from Grace

To purchase any of Michael Adzema’s books, available in print and e-book formats, go to Michael Adzema’s books at Amazon.

Invite you to join me on Twitter:
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A Supremely Defended Ego Is the Aim of Modern “Sanitized” Spirituality: Ego Weak Mystics and Shamans … the “Holy Fools” of Mystical History Would Be Medicated Today

we-are-then-simple-awarenessHigh Self Esteem (Positive Thinking) Distorts Reality for Temporary Pleasantness … High Self Regard Involves Openness to the Unpleasant: Stormy Path to Self, Part Three

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Ego-Weak Mystics and Shamans

In a more recent work, John White (1990) continues Ken Wilber’s mistake in not realizing that the sharp distinction between the sacred and the profane that we observe today is a product of recent history.

The “Holy Fools” of Mystical History Would Not Fare Well in Front of a Psychiatrist

While White refers to early mystics in making his case for what a unitive state of consciousness entails, he does not seem to notice that these people, in terms of his proposition of developing a fully functioning ego as a necessary prerequisite to transpersonal realms, would not only fail in this regard but that by his criteria the kind of odd and extremely eccentric behavior of holy people in the past would be considered insane.

My point is that in neither White’s nor Wilber’s limited Western viewpoint is there any allowance for that kind of “regressive” behavior on the spiritual path. I quote Feuerstein (1991) as an antidote to this omission:

It is true that when we look at crazy adepts like Drukpa Kunley or Nityananda, we see phenomenal feats of renunciation. But we also see behavior that, certainly in the eyes of a psychiatrist, at times borders on the neurotic, if not psychotic. Some of these holy fools have in fact wondered about their own sanity. The saintly Ramakrishna, teacher of the world-famous Vivekananda, is a case in point. For a period of time he ceremonially worshipped his own genitals, and on other occasions he installed himself on the altar of the temple where he served as head priest.

Such behavior is certainly not “normal.” Nor is sitting on garbage heaps or sexually fondling women and girls, as has been reported of several contemporary Hindu adepts. (p. 21)

The “Fully Functioning Ego”

Thus, I re-iterate, as White (1990) himself points out (p. xxiv, he says “I elaborate on this central point throughout the book”), central to White’s argument that we are evolving into a new species of human at this time in history is that the characteristic Western ego “development”—one could as easily say (and some have said)—”ego-dissociation”—is a necessary prerequisite to higher consciousness. Thus he marshals in, to support his proposal, the concept of the “fully functioning ego” which Wilber has unfortunately popularized.

A Supremely Defended Ego Is the Aim of Most “Sanitized” Modern Spiritual Pursuits

What these transpersonal theorists are claiming then, in deference to mainstream psychology which is dominated by ego psychologists, is that a fully functioning ego is necessary to develop before one can go on to transpersonal pursuits. My research and experience, confirmed by that of Stanislav Grof and supported by the theory of Michael Washburn (1988) and others, tells me they are wrong in this espousal and that in fact what they are talking about developing is merely a supremely defended ego. It seems that what they would wish to develop is high self-esteem as a prerequisite for higher consciousness.

But the Idea of Necessary Defenses Is a Relic of Antiquated Freudian Thinking

Yet my research indicates that this is a legacy from Freudian thought which claimed that defenses are necessary. To the contrary, what we have learned from primal therapy and the other experiential, feeling psychotherapies is that defenses are not necessary.

Self Esteem Versus Self Regard

Furthermore, research by Gergen and Marlowe (1968) points out that there’s a difference between high self-esteem and high self-regard.

High Self Esteem (Positive Thinking) Distorts Reality for Temporary Pleasantness … High Self Regard Involves Openness to the Unpleasant

Essentially, high self-esteem involves the use of defenses that deny and avoid aspects of reality, whereas high self-regard is based on an openness to and acceptance of those same kinds of unpleasant aspects of reality. Self-esteem and the fully functioning ego is based on distortion of reality and falseness relative to the Self; high self-regard is rooted in painful and not necessarily so functional acceptance of reality in its dark and light, pleasant and unpleasant facets.

Attunement with the Higher Self Involves a Diminution of the Ego, a Reduction of Ego Defenses

Similarly, there is a difference between what is often called ego strength and what is meant by the fully functioning ego. For ego strength, as Erikson (1968, 1985) uses it for example, is really a consequence of being in tune with the higher self, which is in fact not ego strength at all. On the contrary, this kind of attunement with the higher self (or Self) represents a diminution of the ego, a reduction of ego defenses.

Madness and Genius … Madness and Mysticism

Going back historically, what is noticeable about mystical adepts (not always their followers, interestingly—see Hesse [1930/1968], for example) is their lack of ego, often from a very early age, and how they are closer to their mystical promptings because of this. This pattern also relates to creative people and the process of creativity. For creative people from all times quite often exhibit this poorly functioning ego that has often been associated with mystics. Because of this, people are familiar with the connection between madness and genius as well as the one between madness and mysticism. (See Erikson, 1962.)

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“Fully Functioning Ego” Actually Precludes, Rather Than Precipitates, the Mystical

The point is that in neither of these cases is there the development of this recent prescription: “the fully functioning ego.” In fact, a fully functioning ego is the last thing a person with mystical promptings would want to develop.

An Anal-Compulsive Control of Inner Life

One begins to suspect that what these transpersonal theorists and their legions of followers are really saying is that they really do not want to surrender to mystical promptings or to surrender to the Divine.

Affirmations, Ritual, and the Like Are Capitulation to the Controlling Ego and a Flight from True Spiritual-Mystical Surrender

What this kind of thinking says about these erstwhile spiritual adepts is that they want to continue to do their controlling; they want to continue to do their affirmations; they want to control their inner life. Certainly there are fear reasons why one would want to avoid the path of spiritual surrender and would wish to carry one’s controlling and defensive ego over with one into the transpersonal realms. And the devolutional model helps us to see the very deep roots of that fear and makes this entire transpersonal gambit quite understandable.

Worst of All, These Beliefs Have Roots in Racism and Western Supremacism

Still, the dictates of truth, and of real spirituality, require that these fearful prescriptions and their illusion-weaving proselytizers be spotlighted for what they are. For it is bad enough when one is self-deluded. It is purely unacceptable when one seeks to foist one’s ego defensiveness onto the spiritual pursuits of others. It is worse still when institutions, such as the psychiatric and psychological, are reinforced in their antiquated and soul-destroying methods by such efforts and beliefs. And it is worst of all when these beliefs support the kind of unconscious racism and denigration of other-than-Western-cultures that has caused so much suffering historically.

Continue with A Mystical Machismo Has Invaded Spiritual Thinking: Whereas Surrender Spiritualities, Believing in Ultimate Goodness, See Controlling as the Problem

Return to “Crazy” and Transcendent Are Not Opposite as Ego Psychologists Conveniently Proclaim: Have Western Puritanical Beliefs Infected Transpersonal Psychology?

To Read the Entire Book … on-line, free at this time … of which this is an excerpt, Go to Falls from Grace

To purchase any of Michael Adzema’s books, available in print and e-book formats, go to Michael Adzema’s books at Amazon.

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Have Western Puritanical Beliefs Infected Transpersonal Psychology? “Crazy” and Transcendent Are Not Opposite as Ego Psychologists Conveniently Proclaim

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The Linear Fallacy and Ken Wilber’s Fall from Grace: Spiritual Growth Is Hardly Linear … You Can’t Put “Enlightenment” on Your To-Do List

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The Linear Fallacy

Cybernetic Dreaming

asfadfa220px-Trappist_praying_2007-08-20_dtiEven in the field of transpersonal psychology, for example, there seems an inability to accept such a visceral, energetic, cathartic, “Dionysian,” spiritual path—a “surrendered” one … a shamanistic one. Instead we see a tendency to opt for “Appollonian” head trips, mere relaxation and visualizations, cybernetic ego programming and affirmations, and rational-intellectual metaphoristics—a “controlling” path (cf., Berman, 1986, “Cybernetic Dream”).

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We hear that one must have an ego before one can lose one … as if we all, from birth, don’t have some kind of ego! We hear that there are “healthy” ego defenses to have … as if all defenses are not in some way the avoidance or distortion of truth.

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Ken Wilber’s Mistake

Interestingly, Ken Wilber—who, along with Stanislav Grof, is considered a fountainhead of modern transpersonal psychology—has been, at different times, on both sides of this development. His change of position from The Spectrum of Consciousness (1977) to The Atman Project (1980) is, in my opinion, regrettable. Obviously, from the analysis presented in this book, Falls from Grace, it is clear that I believe that his stance at the outset, in The Spectrum of Consciousness, is closer to the truth.

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The Prepersonal and the Transpersonal Are Not Separate

hippiesFurther, I agree with Washburn (1990) that Wilber’s espousal of a prepersonal/transpersonal distinction (Wilber, 1982)—which predicates his change of position—”assumes a major point at issue,” specifically, that “‘pre’ and ‘trans’ states are totally unrelated, and are in fact opposites,” and that Wilber does not establish this position empirically (p. 94). lunch-21_thumbSimilarly, while I regret the use to which Schneider (1987) puts this information, I concur with him that “a careful reading of the case evidence does not—as Wilber . . . would have it—clearly differentiate (prepersonal) psychotics from truly (transpersonal) visionaries” (p. 202).

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Ken Wilber’s Pre/Trans Distinction—Does Not Fit with the Evidence

In sum, the operative factor in Wilber’s change of position, which is also a basic building block of all of his later theory—that is to say, the pre/trans distinction—does not fit with the evidence from the spiritual or psychiatric literatures. It certainly does not fit with the evidence of experiential psychotherapy and pre- and perinatal psychology. Finally, as Epstein and Leiff (1981, p. 140) pointed out, neither does his hypothesis appear to fit with the evidence of meditation research.

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One Returns to the Beginning, Again and Again

As Grof (1985) said concerning Wilber’s pre/trans distinction:

My own observations suggest that, as consciousness evolution proceeds from the centauric to the subtle realms and beyond, it does not follow a linear trajectory, but in a sense enfolds into itself.

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In this process, the individual returns to earlier stages of development, but evaluates them from the point of view of a mature adult. At the same time, he or she becomes consciously aware of certain aspects and qualities of these stages that were implicit, but unrecognized when confronted in the context of linear evolution.

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Thus, the distinction between pre- and trans- has a paradoxical nature; they are neither identical, nor are they completely different from each other. (p. 137)

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Ken Wilber’s Fall from Grace

Indeed why Wilber, while acknowledging Grof at least, would choose not to incorporate the findings of prenatal and perinatal psychology and would opt instead for a Piaget-based theory of development that begins (1) at birth (1980, p. 6) and (2) with the self identified with matter that is defined as lowest consciousness (1980, p. x and p. 7)—a Piaget-based theory that is radically altered by prenatal and perinatal psychology and consciousness research in general (see Grof; Pearce, 1980)—is a mystery in itself. emotionless_spock_by_elfqueen1969-d2yx7rp The Alpha and the Omega Meet By that I mean that (1) Wilber ignores the first nine months of an individual’s life, as if those experiences—which others, and myself in this book, have shown to be all-important—are not only not influential but non-existent!

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By that I also mean that (2) Wilber (1980) claims that at birth the self is identified with matter (p. x and p. 7), which he calls the pleroma and which he states is a gnostic term for the virgo mater or materia prima (p. 20). First of all, my reading of gnosticism does not tell me that the pleroma is a primal matter but rather a primal spiritual source from which all else—specifically, matter—devolves.

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Gnostic writings tell that, in fact, the creation of matter and the world occurs later, much later in the course of devolution than the “spiritual” pleroma. They tell also that the material universe comes in only with the creation of the inferior god, the Demiurge (the ego); and that it is a flawed creation—one might say it is one that no longer adequately reflects spirit and that it has fallen from grace. (See Robinson, 1988, The Nag Hammadi Library in English)

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“God Is All There Is.”

This may seem a minor point; however, its implications are huge for Wilber’s theory and it indicates exactly where we differ. What I am saying is that, from a particular perspective—one might say a gnostic one—matter is from spirit (or Consciousness), is of the same stuff as spirit (except that it is flawed). That really and truly what we see “out there” is spirit and is no different from what we experience “in here” save that our sensory experience is an imperfect—one might say, reflected or indirect—experience . . . but of the same thing! This is indeed the implication of the new physics and the new psychology. As one song sums it up: “God is all. God is all there is.”

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Now, Wilber knew this in The Spectrum of Consciousness; he espoused this perspective in that book. That he later turned from this radical spiritual perspective on matter; this mystical, Eastern, “new physics,” psychedelic, and Platonic perspective on the material world and sensory experience . . . well, one might say he “fell from grace.” imadgfhfjgjklges_thumb1_thumb75340_461952720518732_919352686_n0012-1468910684_21627a3681_o The Stormy Path to Self As Grof (1985) has exclaimed concerning Wilber:

It is . . . somewhat surprising that he has not taken into consideration a vast amount of data from both ancient and modern sources—data suggesting the paramount psychological significance of prenatal experiences and the trauma of birth. (pp. 135-136)

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Further, concerning Wilber’s theoretical system:

The complexity of embryonic development and of the consecutive stages of biological birth receives no attention in this sophisticated system, which is elaborated in meticulous detail in all other areas. (p. 136)

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You Can’t “Program” Your Way Into Transcendence

It seems that Wilber (1980, 1982), however—as one of the chief proponents of the ego-quest-as-precondition-to-spiritual-quest school of transpersonal thought—has made the mistake of constructing his transpersonal argument within the gravitational field of the Western ego psychologists. Thus it ends up helplessly skewed in that direction. He completely ignores the evidence cross-culturally for the ego weakness that most often characterizes mystical adherents and religious practitioners.

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Ken Wilber’s Cop-Out

Hence, Wilber’s overall position is muddied in contradiction. See, for example, A Sociable God. Here Wilber says adolescence includes previous structures:

As the adolescent mind emerges, it destroys the exclusive identity with the body but does not destroy the body itself; it subsumes the body in its own larger mental identity. (1983, p. 104)

homepageNow, compare that with The Spectrum of Consciousness (1977) in which he contends that each stage splits off from and represses previously “owned” realities making them unconscious. There are no two ways to interpret this: In the earlier work, he saw a reduction, or devolution, in consciousness with each subsequent stage in consciousness—exactly the position I espouse in this book. Whereas by the latter work, A Sociable God, he himself has become more conforming with societal beliefs, more “sociable,” and becomes an apologist for the status quo. He begins rationalizing—as people tend to do as they get older and more split off from their real feelings—that it was not “all that” repressed after all when one 0044-legiondefygod300full-2went from one stage to the other of the spectrum. This is the transpersonal psychology equivalent of the older person, tired of the emotional baggage carried from a traumatic childhood, resigning herself to saying that, well, Daddy (or Mommy) actually did love her “in his own way.” The point is this is not about truth anymore. It is about giving up the struggle for truth and conforming to whatever beliefs make life easier … or in Wilber’s case, facilitate one on the career “ladder.”

Transcendent States Require Pre-Egoic Integration

0003-imasgfsgsgsgfsgesAt any rate, I think the integration of Wilber’s work with that of Grof, primal psychology, Masters and Houston, and the new prenatal and perinatal information from various sources helps to clarify some of the confusion resulting from his change of position. [Note 1] My hope also is that my work in this book in integrating all of the above, including Wilber’s schema, goes at least some part of the way toward correcting the misunderstanding that arises from his omissions.

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Note

1. The new prenatal and perinatal information is referenced many times in this book—see especially Chapter One—as well as in publications and conferences of the Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH); the writings of Thomas Verny (1981, 1987); the evidence from primal therapy, rebirthing, holotropic breathwork, and psychedelic research—published in places too numerous to mention; and so on.

Continue with Ego Weak Mystics and Shamans: A Supremely Defended Ego Is the Aim of Modern “Sanitized” Spirituality … the “Holy Fools” of Mystical History Would Be Medicated Today

Return to Is the Supernatural Terrifying? The Idea of a Shamanistic, Stormy Spiritual Path Is Too at Odds with Our Religious Anti-Body Culture to Be Easily Accepted

To Read the Entire Book … on-line, free at this time … of which this is an excerpt, Go to Falls from Grace

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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.”

To Read the Entire Book … free, on-line … of which this is an excerpt, Go to Falls from Grace

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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