Spiritual Path

We would not usually undertake an activity that was new to us without some sort of preparation. We would not endeavor to plant a vegetable garden, make a quilt, or build a shed without a plan or instructions. Is there a Life For Dummies book? Probably not, but there are many people throughout human history who have been quick to offer advice on how to live a successful life. Notice as we lay out some of these maps that purport to show us the way to heaven, paradise and or fulfillment in life how much they rely on the intellect, how much detail and reductionism is in evidence. Beware! Analysis, analysis can lead to paralysis!

The first “spiritual paths” parallel the development of the human organism itself and are instructive as metaphors.

Developmental Stages in the West

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)     Rousseau (1780 in Emil)                        Freud (1925)

Infancy – 7 years                         Animal stage (infancy) ages 4-5                   Oral

Boyhood – 7 years                      Savage stage ages 5-12                                    Phallic

Young manhood – 7 years        Adolescence ages 15-20                                  Genital

 

Kohlberg (1964) Erikson (1968)
Stage 1 Individuals are motivated by fear of punishment 1. Trust vs. mistrust
Stage 2 Motivation is self-aggrandizement 2. Autonomy vs. shame and guilt
Stage 3 Desire for approval 3. Initiative vs. guilt
Stage 4 Reverence for maintaining law and order 4. Industry vs. inferiority
Stage 5 Democratic concern for the protection of individual rights 5. Identity vs. identity confusion
Stage 6 Universal principles of justice 6. Generativity vs. stagnation
7. Integrity vs. despair

 

Ken Wilber Christian 100 A.D.   
1. Archaic consciousness of infants 1. Purification (right living)
2. Magical consciousness of children 2. Illumination (visions of kingdom)
3. Mythic consciousness of pre-adolescence 3. Perfection (direct experience of God)
4. Rational consciousness
5. Vision-logic consciousness
6. Psychic consciousness
7. Subtle consciousness
8. Christ consciousness
9. Nondual consciousness—ascension into the Kingdom of Heaven

 

Gerald Heard in his book Training for the Life of the Spirit appreciates the need for a map on the spiritual path. “We must know where we are going before we equip ourselves for travel.”  We must also have the means to get where we are going and Heard called this “the training.”

  1. Purgation or catharsis (the life of virtue) Purpose: reduction of the ego and the acquirement of virtues to alter character
  2. Liberation (the life of prayer)
  3. Union or completion (the life of direct and purposed action)

 

The Spiritual Path in the East

There is no fire like lust. There is no grip like hate. There is no net like delusion. There is no river like craving.
Buddha 500 B.C.E.

 

The Four Noble Truths                                The Four Noble Truths Revised

1. Life is suffering 1. Life is painful and lacking awareness we suffer.
2. Suffering is caused by craving and aversion 2. Suffering is caused by failure to be present to life (awareness). Because the ego is using the mind for thinking which takes us into the past or future which are the afflictive states of craving and aversion.
3. The way out of suffering is… 3. The way out of suffering is achieved by an authentic transformative practice or spontaneous insight …
4. The eightfold path. 4. By which we learn to live in the Now.

The Eight-Fold Path (the Fourth Noble Truth) is the Middle Way. “This is known as the ‘Middle Path’ because it avoids two extremes: one extreme being the search for happiness through the pleasures of the senses, which is ‘low, common, unprofitable and the way of the ordinary people;’ the other being the search for happiness through self-mortification in different forms of asceticism, which is ‘painful, unworthy and unprofitable.’”

Note that Deepak Chopra’s insightful description of false-self behavior, “masking the soul” is matching identity with reaction. Simple Reality tells us that our world view determines our identity and our identity drives our behavior. Chopra’s “masks” are different aspects of a false-identity and his “fall-back emotions” are the matching “reactions” causing various types of suffering. Removing the mask of the false-self revealing the True-self expressing compassion will end human suffering.

Masking the Soul  

  Mask Fall-back Emotion
(a coping response)
1. atheist, cynic, or failed seeker anxiety
2. leader, achiever, or skeptic anger or obstinacy
3. thinker or dreamer depression or resignation
4. idealist or liberator detachment
5. artist, adventurer, or explorer fantasy (self-absorption)
6. prophet or redeemer love
7. no mask compassion

 

Chopra continues with a different version of his first “map.”

Causes of human suffering
(kleshas)
                                                                                 Solutions

1. Ignorance about the nature of reality 1. Ignorance of reality is solved deeper into the mind.  Awareness dives deeper than the material level to find its roots.
2. Identification with the ego 2. Identification with ego is solved by learning to identify with these deeper levels.
3. Attraction toward objects of desire 3 and 4. Attraction to outside objects – and repulsion from them – is solved by valuing the inner life.
4. Repulsion from objects of desire
5. Fear of death 5. Fear of death is solved when the soul is experienced directly, since the soul is never born and never dies.

 

“The great sages and seers who laid out this scheme of suffering all emphasize that all five causes boil down to one—the very first.”

Perhaps the most brilliant of eastern philosophers, Shankara, unfolds a map that has that most admirable of traits—simplicity.

  • Ignorance causes …
  • attachment to the unreal which a person will run towards as a thirsty person will run toward a mirage.
  • Dispassion [detachment] causes the person to turn away from the mirage [illusion] and she achieves … 
  • The fruits of illumination are the … 
  • stilling of desire and the cessation of suffering. The stilling of desire leads to …
  • the fruit of the experience of bliss followed by peace.

Returning to a western guide, David Hawkins has a very comprehensive and detailed map which must be read with patience. His explanation of reality is all important as Deepak Chopra has already noted. “The presence is all fulfilling. Because one already is the All, there is nothing left to desire as there is no separation. There is no future to anticipate. There is no interest in acquisition or physicality. Eating maintaining the body arises primarily from the interest of others in the world, whose love sustains the ongoingness of the physicality. There is a delay in processing speech, events, or details of form into a level that is more formless and meaningful. This translation is performed by an aspect of the Self called the Holy Spirit [True self], which replaces what was formerly volition, selection, or mentation. The activation of the Holy Spirit seems to occur as a result of volition and will which are associated with choice.”  That all-important “choice” is one of reaction or response. 

 

Map of the Scale of Consciousness

God-view Life-view Level Log Emotions Process
Self Is Enlightenment 700-1000 Ineffable Pure Consciousness
All-Being Perfect Peace 600 Bliss Illumination
One Complete Joy 540 Serenity Transfiguration
Loving Benign Love 500 Reverence Revelation
Wise Meaningful Reason 400 Understanding Abstraction
Merciful Harmonious Acceptance 350 Forgiveness Transcendence
Inspiring Hopeful Willingness 310 Optimism Intention
Enabling Satisfactory Neutrality 250 Trust Release
Permitting Feasible Courage 200 Affirmation Empowerment
Indifferent Demanding Pride 175 Scorn Inflation
Vengeful Antagonistic Anger 150 Hate Aggression
Denying Disappointing Desire 125 Craving Enslavement
Punitive Frightening Fear 100 Anxiety Withdrawal
Disdainful Tragic Grief 75 Regret Despondence
Condemning Hopeless Apathy 50 Despair Abdication
Vindictive Evil Guilt 30 Blame Destruction
Despising Miserable Shame 20 Humiliation Elimination

 

“78% of the world’s population calibrates below the level of Integrity at 200. In addition to this limitation, the consciousness of mankind as a whole remained at only 190, until 1986, it jumped across the critical line from falsehood to Integrity and Truth at 200, and on to its current level at 207. The heavy programming of man’s consciousness by negativity has meant that not only is 78% of the population below the level of Integrity at 200, but only 4% of the world’s population ever reaches the level of Love at 500, and only 2% reaches the level of 540, or Unconditional Love. The consciousness level of Enlightenment at 600, which is the crossover from duality to nonduality, is reached by approximately one in ten million persons.”

“As was cited in the research done in Power versus Force, one single avatar at a consciousness level of 1,000 totally counterbalances the collective negativity of all mankind. An individual at level 700 counterbalances the negativity of 70 million individuals below the level of 200. One individual at 600 counterbalances ten million people below 200; one at 500 counterbalances 750,000 below 200. One individual at consciousness level 300 counterbalances the negativity of 90,000 individuals below 200.”

“There are currently [2002] approximately 22 sages on the planet who calibrate at 700 or above. Of these, there are twenty at 800 or more, of whom there are ten at over 900, and one sage is over 990. These figures have changed since 1995 when Power versus Force was published. (Only ten were over 700.) The negativity of the entire human population would self-destruct were it not for the counteracting effect of these higher energy fields.”

“It would seem then that there is some truth to the saying that the infinite power of God transmits itself down to beings on earth as though through a series of step-down transformers. Although the actual number of persons on the planet who calibrate negatively far exceeds those who calibrate positively, their actual individual power is very small by comparison so that at the present time, the calibrated energy of mankind as a whole since the 1980s is on the positive side. As previously mentioned, for many centuries prior to 1986, the consciousness level of mankind stood at 190, and then, rather suddenly it jumped to the level of 207.”

“The power of the teachings of the original avatars then influences and contextualizes the significance of the life of mankind through the centuries and even thousands of years. It is very informative, however, to calibrate the level of consciousness of a great teacher and then calibrate the level of institutionalized teachings which are then brought down through the centuries. Some teachings have survived almost totally unscathed while others have seriously deteriorated. Some have even fallen to such low levels that they calibrate below the critical level of Truth altogether, resulting in negative cults and becoming sources of conflict and negativity in the world. It is well to remember that popularity is not a sign of truth. It is not surprising then that the great majority of the population of mankind falls below the level of 200 and that multimillions are following ‘religions’ that are basically negative.”

“We could typify human life as various fields and levels of human consciousness talking to each other and seeing people as impersonal spokespersons for these various levels. Thus, the disparaging of religion or spirituality by the hardcore materialist scientist is not really a personal view but merely an expression of the energy field of the 400s, with their inherent limitations as well as capabilities. In the lower 400s, particularly, there is an egotism about the intellect, reason and intellectualization. In the 400s, therefore, God is replaced by science as the font of all knowledge and the hope of the future.”

“This propensity to either/or-ness persists in the 400s as ‘scientific’ versus ‘nonscientific’. Thus science itself is the home of a mechanistic reductionism which is held with the prevailing dogma that rivals that of the Church in the Middle Ages.”

“In the 300s, politics becomes the hope for man’s salvation, and wars are fought over political ideologies, labels, and slogans, with their degradation of the value of individual human life. ‘Bad’ people are eliminated by the guillotine and the electric chair or put in prisons. At this level, there is the dualistic preoccupation with the limited realm of ‘right” versus ‘wrong,’ with its innate blindness to the positionality that creates such a dichotomy.”

“Human life, as ordinarily experienced, is an epic and dramatization of all the possibilities below the level of 600, at which point the context changes dramatically and a whole different set of seeming obstacles now present themselves as principles and challenges to awareness. At 600, perception is replaced by vision. What might have been seen as a misfortune in the world of perception might now be seen as a gift by the more advanced awareness of vision.”

“Also at 600, identification with the physical body ceases and thus, that great fear above all fears, death itself, disappears as a possible ‘reality’. Like a caterpillar emerging from its cocoon, the newly liberated spirit rejoices in its non-physicality since the Self is totally invisible.”

“The levels over 600 can most accurately be described or referred to as a state or condition that is all prevailing and self-evident as there is neither subject nor object. The knower and the known are self-identical and self-evident as one and the same, without division. There is no inner or outer, no individual versus God, no part outside the whole, no independent entity to account for. All the dualities have been transcended. The awareness is self-existent so that there remains no individual to whom it has occurred.”

“For a brief moment, as the self disappears into the Self, there is a transitory amazement and awe of profound proportion and depth. The death of the self is experienced, and then all is stillness and peace. That the body was ever considered to be ‘me’ seems absurd and must have been due to a passing lapse and forgetfulness. It is as though one had mysteriously forgotten who one really was, and now, with joy, remembered. All the fears and vicissitudes of life disappear, and now, free of even death itself, there is the remembrance that one always has been and always will be, and that survival was never a problem at all. One’s innate safety had been guaranteed all along by the reality of the Self, which is all present and beyond time and space. No beginnings or endings are even possible, and one’s reality existed before all worlds or universes. There are neither questions nor answers because no dichotomy exists within identity.”

“There is no division between Creator and that which is created. All is self-creating as the manifestation of the mind of God. This great awareness characterizes the consciousness level of the 700s where Self is All That Is. Because the universe is self-evolving and self-fulfilling, no intervention is necessary. All is in perfect balance and harmony.”

“The consciousness levels of the 800s and the 900s represent the highest levels of the potential consciousness of humanity. A sage may occasionally return to the world but the world has now been transformed. It is no longer a world with individuals who need ‘saving’ but an energy field to lift and reinforce. Each consciousness in the world that calibrates above the level of Integrity serves to counterbalance the negativity of the seventy-eight percent of the population that reflects negativity below the level of 200.”

“The power of consciousness level of 1,000 counterbalances the total negativity of all mankind and creates not only the potentiality but the certainty of the salvation of all humanity. Although this eventuality seems to unfold slowly in the world of time, it already exists in the reality of the absoluteness beyond time.”

“To know the calibrated level of consciousness of any culture, nation, group, person, or institutions reveals a very predictable range of expected attitudes, thoughts, emotions, and mental content. Like flocks of birds that follow an invisible pattern, the behavioral patterns of whole segments of society are open to study and awareness. A given population can only accept the paradigm as denoted by its innate calibrated field of consciousness.” 

“This major shift from 190 to 207 is the most profound and significant event in all of man’s history. Characteristically, its occurrence was silent, unspoken, and beyond perception. The possibility of this eventuality as man’s destiny was foretold by the appearance in mankind of the great avatars.”

“The consciousness level of intellectualization calibrates in the 400s, which is useful in the physical world of human endeavor but a limitation and a great barrier to enlightenment. The intellect itself is a great limitation, and the greatest geniuses of science and the intellect all calibrate at approximately 499. That is as far as the intellect can go due to the limitations set by its context of reality. To go beyond that limit requires a greater context and takes one into noncausality, nonduality, and the nonlinear and non-Newtonian dimensions of thought and understanding.”

“Freud’s limitation was that although he was correct in stating that no such false god exists, he did not suspect that, on the contrary, a true God does exist (which accounts for Freud’s calibrate level of 499). Carl Jung, one of Freud’s contemporary psychoanalysts, went beyond Freud and proclaimed the truth of man’s spirit and the validity of spiritual values. (Jung calibrates at 540.)”

“Theology is concerned with the consciousness level of the 400s; enlightenment is concerned with the levels of 600 and over. Beauty is uplifting and calibrates in the high 500s, which is akin to perfection.”

“All love arises from God. On the scale of consciousness, Love calibrates at 500, and as it is perfected, it reaches Unconditional Love at 540, which is the level of healing. Healing prayer services thus seek to replace negativity with an energy field of 540 or over. Some spiritual organizations calibrate at 540 or above and therefore provide a field of healing energy that is capable of accomplishing ‘miracles.’”

“The Old Testament calibrates at 190. However, Genesis is at 660, Psalms is 650 and Proverbs is 350. If these are excluded then the remaining books collectively calibrate at only 125.”

“The New Testament calibrates at 640. However, if Revelations is removed (it calibrates at only 70) then the New Testament would calibrate at 790.”

“The current Bible calibrates at 475. To make it authentically ‘holy’ as its title implies, it would have to exclude all the books of the Old Testament (except Genesis, Psalms and Proverbs) and Revelations. If that were done, then the Bible would be truly ‘holy’ and calibrate at 740.”

“Importantly, the Lamsa version of the Bible (translated from the Aramaic Peshitta) is more accurate than the King James version (translated from the Greek). It calibrates 20 points higher. The King James version has serious errors—i.e., on the cross Jesus is misquoted as saying ‘my God why has Thou forsaken me?’, in the Aramaic translation the quote is ‘my God for this I was spared.’ Jesus spoke Aramaic, not Greek.”

“If the Lamsa Bible excluded the Old Testament (except for Genesis, Psalms and Proverbs) and Revelations it would calibrate at 810. If Revelations were removed from the Lamsa translation of the New Testament, then the Lamsa New Testament would calibrate at 880.”

Preexisting conditions of consciousness consist of patterns expressed as prevailing energy fields of relative power. Each level contains within it the unresolved issues and limitations which characterize that level and thereby confront the individual. Let us say that, at birth, one’s energy field calibrates at 150. This person’s main confront will certainly be anger. They may spend a lifetime, or many lifetimes, with anger field that calibrates in the 50s, will face a life of poverty and deprivation and may be born in a starving population, ravaged by disease and war.”

“The corruption of power invaded every area of human activity. The progress that did occur in society originated from and was sustained by the minority of the population which calculated at over level 200. Thus, we could suspect that medicine and science, which are both in the 400s, would be a major contributor of positive benefits. Industry, in the 300s, has also been a benefactor to society. In contrast, even now, it is significant that the majority of the world’s population still calibrates below the level of Integrity of 200.”

“The fall of monolithic, atheistic communism signaled a shift in balance from 190 to 207 for all mankind, which precluded the destruction of humanity.”

“All profound, subtle, or significant awareness occurs within the nonlinear levels of consciousness which are not describable within the ordinary Newtonian linear causality-limited paradigm of reality (which ends at calibrated consciousness level 499).”

“Study reveals that saintliness is a descriptive term applied to people who have reached, usually, the calibrated level of the high 500s. At this level, joy leads many to become spiritual and inspirational teachers, healers, great artists, or even great architects who create the great cathedrals, great inspirational music, and the production of beauty in all its forms.”

“Enlightenment proper, that is, the replacement of duality with nonduality, calibrates at 600 or over. We could say that any calibration of 600 or more formally denotes enlightenment.”

“At about the calibrated level of 600, bliss intervenes and worldly activity stops, sometimes permanently. If the person is destined to remain in the world, this state is said to ‘ripen,’ and there is a slow return of the capacity to function. Some enlightened ‘persons’ retreat to spiritual practice and meditation and evolve into the 700s. At that level, the world as commonly described is no longer a self-existent reality. There are neither separate persons nor a world that needs saving. All is evolving according to Divine Will. The world is surrendered to God and its destiny is self-fulfilling. No intervention is necessary. All life is the evolution of consciousness and the unfolding of creation. The aura emanating from persons who calibrate in the 700s has an attraction and an effect on visitors. They like to be near its presence, where they feel peace. In that energy field, so-called problems resolve spontaneously and serenity replaces fear and anxiety. That energy field hastens the spiritual realizations and progress of visitors. The energy field of 600 and up, especially in the 700s, recontextualizes positionalities which then resolve imaginary conflicts.”

“In the 700s, there is usually withdrawal from the ordinary world. There is a tendency to spontaneously teach. Many at that level develop groups of spiritual students and seekers, establish ashrams, yoga centers, monasteries, and spiritual orders. Some are called masters, gurus, sages, or various spiritual titles, depending on the culture.”

“Whereas in the 700s teachers address primarily individuals or groups, in the 800s and 900s, the concern is with the salvation of mankind as a whole. The concern in the 800s and 900s is with enlightenment and the spiritual inspiration of all humanity, along with the raising of the level of consciousness of all mankind. In the 700s a typical statement might be, ‘There is no world to save, it is an illusion.’ This is not comprehensible nor information that is useful to many. In the 800s, however, there seems to be a concern with explanation by effective communication. The natural language in the 800s and 900s seems to be concerned with spiritual reality, essences, understandings, and clarifications.”

“Q: The calibrated levels seem to have great significance.”

“A: They are extremely useful and of great value. Each level denotes not only a level of power but also of content. It recontextualizes information in order to create a valid map that enables a meaningful approach and understanding, especially of spiritual information.”

More Hawkins on the Spiritual Path

“One has to be compassionate towards everything, including one’s own self and thoughts. Next came a willingness to hold desires in abeyance and surrender personal will at every moment. As each thought, feeling, desire, or deed was surrendered to God, the mind became increasingly silent. At first, it released whole stories and paragraphs, then ideas and concepts. As one lets go of wanting to own these thoughts, they no longer reach such elaboration and begin to fragment while only half formed. Finally, it was possible to turn over the energy behind thought itself before it even became thought.”

“The spiritual pathway is facilitated by certain characteristics which become reinforced and more powerful with practice, experience, and success. These include the capacity to focus unswervingly on a goal and to concentrate fixedly on technique or spiritual exercise with commitment and dedication. Thus, there is a resolution of purpose and a willingness to let go of everything or anything based upon one’s profound belief and faith in a spiritual teaching or truth. In general, there is a willingness to forgive and love rather than to hate and condemn. There is a willingness to forsake the lesser for the greater and a desire to understand rather than to judge. The reason people with spiritual interests seem to congregate is because they have a preference for peace and tranquility over stimulation and excitement. Perhaps the most useful tool is the capacity for humility and the realization of the limitations of ordinary consciousness and their consequences.”

“Familiar means comfort, and there is the underlying phrase, ‘The “me” is actually all I have.’ To let go of this familiar ‘me’ brings up the fear of voidness, nonexistence, or possibly the dreaded ‘nothingness.’ To ease the transition of identification from self to Self, it is helpful to know that the lesser becomes replaced by the greater, and, thus, no loss is experienced.”

Quixote, Hamlet and Faust

The spiritual path in literature: Don Quixote, Hamlet and Faust by Goethe (not Dr. Faustus by Philip Marlowe). Robert Johnson provides our map as we journey with these three bewildered and obviously lost characters.

“According to tradition, there are potentially three stages of psychological development (equivalent to childhood, adolescence and maturity) for a man. The archetypal pattern is that one goes from the unconscious perfection of childhood, to the conscious imperfection of middle life, to conscious perfection of old age. One moves from an innocent wholeness [Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden], in which the inner world and the outer world are united, to a separation and differentiation between the inner and outer worlds with an accompanying sense of life’s duality, and then, at last, to enlightenment—a conscious reconciliation of the inner and outer in harmonious wholeness.”

Don Quixote: Unconscious perfection

“Don Quixote is free, optimistic, happy, and sure of himself. These are the chief characteristics of two-dimensional man, and we can only envy his assurance and certainty. Never having suffered the fall from the Garden of Eden, he retains the state of unconscious perfection.”

“In the Bible this pair (Don Quixote and Sancho Panza] turns up as Cain and Abel, Jacob and Essau, and David and Jonathan. Mutt and Jeff and Abbott and Costello are examples in our own time. It is ego and shadow, that pair of opposites in every psyche that differ in every aspect but are inseparable.”

“Don Quixote is creating poetry, not reality. Heaven, love, idealism, hope, justice, chivalry, eternity—all are inner realities as palpable and real as any outer realities our world holds in such high esteem. Don Quixote’s optimism ruins everything around him. But it finally proves to be correct. He loses every time he relied on his sword; it is his poetic imagination that is victorious. Don Quixote is ‘pure spirit disguised as fantasy,’ as Thomas Mann once wrote. The true hero is a poet whether he likes it or not; for what is heroism if not poetry? This is the vision of two-dimensional man and is the stuff of nostalgia and fantasy for every three-dimensional man.”

“The true miracle of the story is the ‘sanctification’ of Don Quixote and the ‘quixotification’ of Sancho. The true journey of knighthood and chivalry has been to draw ego and shadow together, to diminish the split in personality indicated by the difference between the two.”

Hamlet: Conscious imperfection

“He [Hamlet]is the forerunner of a new man whose characteristics will be the healing of the paradox of masculine and feminine, doing and being. He cannot make up his mind whether to follow the dictates of custom and its barbaric solutions or to listen to the enlightenment of his own soul and conscience. He does neither and finally loses the value of both.”

“All feminine elements wither in the face of three-dimensional consciousness.”     “He is caught between vision and practicality and fails in both regards. In this he is the prototype of so many modern men who see a noble world in their imaginations but don’t have the means to accomplish it.”

“Hamlet’s basic error was his failure to incorporate his shadow or dark side into his working life. If Hamlet had been able to acknowledge as an ally the ‘red blood’ of his instinctive nature, he would have shaken loose from his paralysis. Instead, he stayed poised between his two natures, ego and shadow, and died a tragic death.”

“How does a man survive if he is caught in the Hamlet dilemma? The more intelligent he is, the more profound will be his suffering. Two avenues of solace are available. He may keep some small point of contact with a simple, warm, uncomplicated world by maintaining a bit of primitive behavior in his life. At best this can be jogging; camping; engaging in locker-room banter; having an array of adolescent equipment, including that which is most dear to every man’s heart, his car (every car should be named Rocinante); gardening; or reclaiming some dimension of life ordinarily relegated to the store or shop. Its dark form—the second avenue of solace—can be vandalism, gang behavior, and other types of juvenile delinquency, including drug use. It is a bitter indictment of some of our attitudes that the only ‘juice’ left for many of our youth is in destructive behavior. But inevitably a time comes in adulthood when these small sources of simple energy dry up and you face the dark night of the soul when there is no joy in jogging and your garden is defeated by the insects. This is the terrible moment when the full Hamlet distress comes welling up in you. We have invented new terms for this: midlife crisis, identity crisis, the Big Four-Zero, the seven-year itch. It is a dark time when the small connections with boyish exuberance dries up.”

“When the dark night begins to lift, one morning there is an unaccountable touch of joy in the air. It is the tiniest trickle of energy, light, and hope, but enough to keep you alive. This is the first contact with the four-dimensional consciousness, and one can begin to live from that source of energy. Something of the subtle inner world becomes your center of gravity: poetry, music, a new perspectiveness when you are jogging, a blossoming of philosophic inquiry, a new religious understanding—something of this world captures you. Less worthy channels for this new energy are fanaticism, dictatorial religious beliefs, and ego inflations of all kinds. If the new energy flows into such channels, you are quickly sent back to the Hamlet condition for further boiling in the oil of transformation.”

Faust: Conscious perfection

“Faust picks up where Hamlet lost the battle and provides a solution for us to this most modern dilemma. He finds his way out of this paralysis by interacting with his shadow, Mephistopheles, until each has been redeemed. The story of Faust is one of the great statements of optimism, hope, and redemption in Western literature.”

Faust is the story of a highly complex, intelligent man who must come to terms with his dark side. It is sobering to find that this split between the ego (Faust) and the shadow (Mephistopheles) is an archetypal reality and is not just local in origin with individual man.”

“This is the midlife crisis, the mute suffering of existential man, the dark night of the soul. This is the experience of the intelligent man, the heroic man, the one who has reached the goal of modern consciousness, the moment of despair that is also the moment of redemption and enlightenment.”

“It is not uncommon for men to get stuck in this no-man’s land. It is a holy place but an exceedingly dangerous one. Suicide is common, and it is easy to slip into despair or the solace of madness.”

“In other words, if Faust can experience the unlived life of his youth but not become attached to any part of it, he is free!”

“To attempt to live out these unlived sections [the hungering of a middle-aged man for the youth he has missed] of ourselves literally is to fall into Faust’s error and end our lives in depression and misery. Few misconceptions of modern man cost him so heavily as this tendency toward literalness. If Goethe understood this in the early nineteenth century, it is a hundred times more urgent for us to understand it today.”

“We can find an alternative interior environment for experiencing and integrating our lost youth in the realms of symbol, ceremony [ritual], art and imagination. These languages exist apart from time and space. As George Bernard Shaw observed, ‘there is no alternative in life to torture except fine art.’”

“The hermit within is the highly introverted part of one’s nature that has been waiting and storing energy in a far off corner waiting for this very moment. Extroversion is the usual dominant of the first half of one’s life and that is correct. But when one’s extroversion has run its race and taken one on that very valuable part of life’s journey—then one must consult the hermit deep inside for the next step. We do this very badly in our culture and few people know how to draw upon the genius of their introvert nature for the next step. It frequently happens to a modern person that he is forced into his introversion by an illness or accident or paralyzing symptom of some kind.”

“Whenever you are called by fate, whenever you are moved toward the next chakra (level of consciousness), there is a feeling of being ‘set on your head,’ of having your world turned upside down and finding that all the values and loyalties of the world you knew are in terrible conflict with the new world that calls to you.”

Adam and Eve in the Garden

The spiritual journey in one sentence: We arrive at the place we never left and experience it for the first time.

The outline of the journey:

  • we are unconscious of our being unconscious;
  • then we are conscious that we are unconscious (life is suffering, i.e. unsatisfactory);
  • and then we become conscious that we are conscious.

In the Christian myth the Spiritual Path begins with the “Fall” when Adam and Eve “eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge.” They became self-conscious. The “split” with nature has occurred. They are alienated from the Garden, i.e. nature, and they wander east of Eden into the “state” of not being conscious that they are unconscious, the level of self-awareness of most of humanity today. “Western people are children of inner poverty, though outwardly we have everything. Probably no other people in history have been so lonely, so alienated, so confused over values, so neurotic.”

Creating the illusion of P-B involved dividing and measuring the universe as the false-self survival strategy was being created. All measurement is a product of thought. A three-fold process in the creation of P-B has involved dualism (the illusion that shatters the Oneness of Simple Reality into many non-existent parts), repression (storing below the level of consciousness rejected parts of the personality), and projection (attributing our emotions, attitudes and desires to others). We have taken a reality which has no form, i.e. is featureless, non-conceptual and non-objective and imagined it to be real as we created a subject/object split. The result is:

  1. Dualism
    we fail to intuit the “underlying ground” of non-duality
  1. Repression
    we repress its non-duality and make it unconscious losing touch with reality
  1. Projection
    we project the non-duality as multiplicity or as two antagonistic opposites

The biblical “Fall” is a fable of humanities becoming unconscious. Adam’s knowledge of good and evil (dualism) is the intellect’s creation of the false-self survival strategy. The ignorance that the Hindus and Buddhists speak of has nothing to do with a lack of knowledge. Since the major instrument of ignorance is thought, it is thought itself and our reliance on it which is ultimately responsible for the seeming existence of P-B.

Let’s examine this creation of unconsciousness in more detail:

  1. First, the shattering of Oneness. Awareness of our oneness with the environment is repressed. The non-duality of our mind is projected as subject vs. object, then human vs. nature. This gives us an identity centered in our body, mind and emotions. The split of mind and body creates the illusion of time and space.
  2. When we realize that we are indestructible energy expressing beyond time and space we realize death to be an illusion. When that unity is repressed, a conflict occurs between life and death. The problem is compounded when we refuse to accept death as an illusion and out of fear of death we identify with the illusion of the mind and flee into the world of ideas and give this “form” a reality that it does not possess. Now we have an identity that we think cannot die and we begin to live in the past and future losing touch with the present moment. The illusion of time is created by splitting the past and future.
  3. The false self is created and is pre-occupied by avoiding the present moment and begins to live “as if” it were immortal vesting all of its energy in the pursuit of security, sensation and power.
  4. We now have the shattering of the false self, ego or the persona. Using Freud’s model works pretty well here as we come to understand that we imagine a conflict between the persona and the shadow (the ego or personality traits that the ego repressed out of consciousness).
  5. We are not conscious of the influences of the shadow, the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious and are left defenseless as their mysterious influences shape our behavior.

With the practice of “looking with awareness” which we label meditation, contemplation or contemplative prayer, we have an “insight” into the nature of reality. We also have a spontaneous insight or epiphany or peak experience which enables us to “feel” reality and we have an experience of what it is to be awake—we experience a spontaneous Self-realization. These experiences don’t last, of course, and we must return to our practice as the long-term escape from self-delusion.

The survival strategy is natural and even necessary for our healthy development and a healthy ego is also necessary. Developmentally we reach a point when our intuition tells us it’s time to let the survival strategy go, simplify our life and accept the guidance of the “still, small voice.” We must “become” the observer and dis-identify with our thoughts, our body and our emotions. As we do this the world of form (the relative) begins to fade and the Absolute begins to become more vivid. We ourselves are “fading” from the world of form back into the “field” of reality. We have attained awareness (Self-realization) which is that there is no separate “self,” the nothingness that easterners talk about. We now have an experiential awareness of Buddha’s teaching of dukkha, anicca and annatta (suffering, impermanence and no “I.”) We are no longer the momentary wave that takes form above the ocean and we have returned undifferentiated to the sea, the sea of pure awareness.

“We have explored the two sides of the ‘knowing’ factor of consciousness: 1) the experience of being the knowing subject and 2) the experience of being the known object. One could say that we begin our psychic existence in the unconscious state of known object and only laboriously, with the growth of the ego, achieve the relatively tranquil status of knowing subject. Then, if development is to proceed, the relative freedom we have won must be relinquished as the ego becomes aware that it is the object of a transpersonal subject, namely the Self. After both these experiences the way is open for the reconciliation third, which I take to be the full meaning of ‘knowing with.’”

Edward Edinger continues the insight which is critical to living in the present moment. “The experience of ‘knowing with’ can be understood to mean the ability to participate in a knowing process simultaneously as subject and object, the knower and the known. This is only possible within a relationship to an object that can also be a subject. Practically, this means either a relationship with an outer other (a person) or an inner other (the Self). In reality, both are required, although one’s attitude type will determine the relative importance of outer and inner factors. The extravert gives primary emphasis to the relationship with the outer expression of the Self, and the introvert gives first value to relationship with the inner manifestation of the Self.”

Jonah, Star Wars and the Spiritual Path

The paradigm shift on the Spiritual Path involves letting go of our reliance on the intellect and learning to trust our intuition, our inner wisdom. Obi-Wan-Kenobi tells Luke Skywalker that he can succeed with his light saber “only by using the Force, the universal energy field that flows through all things, a tingling aliveness that connects you to all life.”

“You begin to enter a state in which you are deeply relaxed [in response]. Your usual thinking process is suspended. You are free, not just in your mind, but in a larger field of being. Everything is known for where it is, for everything is part of you.”

Luke is experiencing that stage of the hero’s journey traditionally called the Belly of the Whale. “Jonah in the whale, Hiawatha swallowed by Mishe-Nahma, Red Riding Hood in the stomach of the wolf, Jesus in the tomb from which he will be resurrected, Osiris sealed into a sarcophagus and cast into the Nile.”

In the Belly of the Whale a transformation of both worldview and identity occur. “On our life journey, we all experience the Belly of the Whale in different forms. For some it may be a time of homebound life, as when we’re raising young children or caring for an ill or elderly family member. For others it can be a period of isolation, when our family or friends are busy, preoccupied, or otherwise not available. It can also manifest as a time of spiritual retreat or deep psychological work, when our focus is on our own internal processes.”

“However, it manifests, the Belly of the Whale is a powerful time, when we know we must grow or die. If we ignore or avoid this time of growth, we may fall into a period of depression or toxic self-doubt. If we say yes to it, our time in the Belly is time when we go inward, take inventory, and become aware of a Force within ourselves that links our life to Great Life.”

“Through all world literature, the Road of Trials gives the writer ample scope to create hair-raising ordeals and miraculous tests [which is why films such as The Matrix, Tremors, Star Wars, and the Arnold Schwarzenegger films touch us so deeply]. The hero or heroine enters an unbounded, fluid landscape, symbolic perhaps of the dread that we feel before the unknown [Tillich’s “contingency” in The Courage to Be] and unexplored regions of ourselves—be it desert, wilderness, sea or outer space.”

“One of the most famous classical examples of this stage of the journey is the story of Psyche. Her jealous mother-in-law, Venus, sets Psyche a series of impossible tasks. In one, Psyche must sort before nightfall a huge quantity of various seeds mixed together in a heap. In others, she must gather the golden wool of killer sheep, bottle water from a spring high up on a mountain guarded by dragons, and descend to the Underworld to bring back a box of immortal beauty.”

To accomplish each of these tasks, Psyche is helped by some aspect of herself, depicted mythically as an external helper. An army of ants, representing instinct, helps her sort the seeds. A green reed, representing the unconscious, instructs her to gather the wool at night from bushes near where the sheep had grazed. An eagle, representing her spiritual powers, brings her water from the spring. And a tower, representing the collective wisdom of humanity, gives her advice on entering and exiting the Underworld safely.  In the paradigm of Oneness all of Creation is in harmony and the hero realizes his success upon his inevitable awakening.

June Singer describes how a Jungian depth psychologist might view the spiritual path. “Over the long years, Eros (the god who presides over loving relationships) had come to rest at the side of Logos (the principle of truth as sought through reason) so that what the ancients called the hieros gamos, or sacred inner marriage, had occurred in him. In the end everyone must lose what is most precious, that to which one’s whole life has been devoted. That most precious treasure is consciousness. It is the final sacrifice of the ego, which must be offered up before the ultimate moment when one merges with the unconscious and stands before the Mysterium Tremendum.

“The search takes many paths. One path pursues the line of reason, of cause and effect, and proceeds in logical steps. It begins with what is known on the basis of earlier investigations and accumulates additional information, all the while adapting its original formulations to concur with the new constructs that have come into awareness. This is the path of science. 

“Another way is based on tradition, on holding onto treasured explanations from the past and reading newer meanings into them to make them congruent with our lives in the present. This is the path of religion and mythology (remembering that one person’s religion is another’s mythology).”

“A third way is through personal experiences in which one is able to glimpse what lies behind the many veils, or at least behind some of them. These excursions into the invisible world can be accomplished through various means, including dreams and fantasies, meditations, or sudden insights that come unbidden. Sometimes seekers on this path find the invisible world fearful, sometimes awe-inspiring, sometimes consoling. We call this way the path of the spirit.”

“A fourth approach is through the path of the psyche. [That is to say] what is behind the knowing process itself, the psyche as a primary source of information, [which] elucidates all the others.”

I cannot do the first step not being absolutely sure that I will successfully perform the last.
Philippe Petit (high-wire artist who walked between the World Trade Center Towers in 1974)

This feeling expressed by Philippe Petit is available to all of those who believe that the Universe is friendly and who live in the context of Simple Reality. With a worldview informed by Oneness, we can all begin the process of letting go of our false-self survival strategy confident that we will be safe without it.

___________________________________________________________

References and notes are available for this article.
Also find a much more in-depth discussion of Simple Reality
on this blog and in published books by Roy Charles Henry.

 

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