contained in this project arises out of a set of assumptions that should
be made clear at the outset.
In addition, certain words are used with particular meanings
that might not be clear to the reader initially.
These terms are devolution,
regression, the Divine, Experience
, and metaphor; and I will deal
with each of them in due course.
In this Introduction I will discuss the definitional, epistemological, ontological,
and methodological issues that pertain to the body of this work.
This project's working set of assumptions is congruent with those of transpersonal
psychology and the perennial philosophy as put forth by Ken Wilber (1977),
and it is compatible with the metaphysical view constructed by Carl Jung.
The basic assumption within that set is that Reality is (1)
something that is directly experienced and (2) is not the interpretation of
that experience. That is, that
as soon as one begins to interpret, one is already abstracting from What
Really Is, one is removing oneself from that Reality and is beginning the
process of increasing abstraction, degression, and devolution (meaning the
reverse of evolution, the opposite of growth forward) from What Is.
(1) Reality Is Something
take each premise in turn. That
Reality is something that is directly experienced is related to the position
of Idealism, in philosophy, which is contrasted with the position of
Common-Sense Realism or Materialism.
Not only does Idealism have a strong historical legacy in
philosophy, it has vital contemporary and empirical support from both the
mainstream and cutting edges of our sciences.
Idealism more strongly we might want, first of all, to undercut the prevailing
notion of Common-Sense Realism or Materialism.
On the contemporary side, biologist, natural scientist, and philosopher
Rupert Sheldrake (1991a) lists nine "essential features of the mechanistic
1. Nature is inanimate
2. Inert atoms of matter
3. Determinate, predictable
5. Universe a machine
6. Earth dead
7. No internal purposes
8. No creativity
9. Eternal laws
notice how many of these aspects of the mechanistic worldview overlap with
what I have been calling Materialism.
At any rate, Sheldrake (1991a) then states, and goes
on to demonstrate, that "every one of those essential claims has been refuted
by advances of science. In effect,
science itself has now superseded the mechanistic world view" (p. 17).
Why this is not common knowledge is answered by Sheldrake (1991a) in pointing
out: "Although science is now
superseding the mechanistic world view, the mechanistic theory of nature has
shaped the modern world, underlies the ideology of technological progress,
and is still the official orthodoxy of science" (p. 17).
And furthermore about this reluctance to change: "It has had
many consequences, not the least of which is the environmental crisis" (p.
Nevertheless, it is our duty to shed popular or convenient
positions when they are contradicted by the evidence (or else give up our
endeavor's claim to be a truthful one).
In so doing, Sheldrake's (1991a) conclusion is that
[T]he modern changes in science have effectively transcended each of these
features. These changes in science
have not happened as part of a coordinated research programme designed to
overthrow the mechanistic paradigm.
They have happened in specialized areas, seemingly
unconnected with each other, and often without any consciousness that this
was leading to a change in the overall world view of science.
What I am going to suggest is that we can now see that this
has effectively refuted the mechanistic world view within the very heart of
science itself. (p. 18)
And similarly, as concerns Materialism
Inert atoms have given way to the idea of atoms as structures of activity.
Matter is not fundamental in modern physics.
Energy and fields are fundamental.
Energy is what gives things actuality or activity; it's like
the flow of change. Fields are
what organize the flow of energy.
As David Bohm says, "Matter is frozen light,"
It's the energy of light, or light-like energy trapped within
a small space going round and round upon itself within fields.
So matter is energy bound within fields.
And as Sir Karl Popper has pointed out, "through modern physics,
materialism has transcended itself," because matter is no longer the fundamental
explanatory entity, no longer the fundamental feature of things.
Fields and energy are the most fundamental things.
With Materialism in disrepute, it is logical
to consider the alternative of Idealism.
Idealism is the position, in philosophy, that states
that matter's existence is dependent upon our perception of it, that we cannot
know that matter exists outside of our perception of it, and hence that what
is most fundamental about Reality is the observer, not the observed . . .
that the observed always presupposes an observer, prior to that.
This position fits in exactly with the idea of "biologically
constituted realities" as I have described it elsewhere (1995).
This idea is that "worlds," including "physical worlds," are
dependent upon the particular biological paradigm that constitutes the observer.
Another way of saying that is that the "structure" of the
observer (most notably, what is commonly called the "species") determines
the "world" that will be apprehended.
By "structure" I naturally mean a "psychic" structure
(which we mistakenly label a physical structure such as the anatomy of a
species, of course, because of our culturally constituted materialist bias)
as opposed to a physical structure—for after all we are herein arguing for
the more fundamental reality of psyche
over matter. At any rate, it
follows that an infinite number of worlds are possible, corresponding to an
infinite number of perceivers.
That is to say that perceivers consist in an infinite number of conceivable
"biological paradigms" (i.e., species) as well as the individual biological
structures that comprise each species (i.e., the individual perceivers or
members) which are by definition of similar, but
not identical, construction.
At any rate, in our materialistic age, such an "Idealist"
position that posits the essence of World as psychical or subjective is
looked down upon. Indeed, it
has been roundly dismissed as "logically impeccable but incredible."
Rationalism As Egoistic Self-Abuse
Similarly, we have an argument against
Idealism—more specifically the version of it called
panpsychism, which is, by the way, the position being asserted here—by
Wittgenstein in his Philosophical Investigations
. His conclusion is that the
position of panpsychism is unintelligible.
Stating "Could one imagine a stone's having consciousness?"
he concludes that if one could it would only amount to "image-mongery" (Sec.
390, p. 119e). The implication
is that since we cannot do something adequately—that we cannot understand
something completely—there is something wrong with
This kind of reasoning qualifies for the "All-Time
Boners in Philosophy Award."
For the argument—while claiming not to be saying anything about the truth
or falsity of a position, nor about its provenness or unprovenness—would
want us to evaluate positions, and even possibly dismiss them as viable (i.e.,
as possibly true), based upon whether we (as a species) are capable of understanding
them with our intelligence.
Whereas, not only does this limit our knowledge endeavor—removing
it from any possibility of speaking of truth unless it somehow (miraculously,
I suppose, or through some sort of chosen-by-God kind of privilege)
happens to coincide with what is intelligible to us; not only does it
eliminate the scientific
and philosophical enterprises in their attempts at venturing, ever on, after
what may actually be true (or at least "truer" than we had previously held);
but it presupposes that what is unimaginable at one time, or to one person,
will be unimaginable, or unintelligible, to all others in all other times.
This is one particular instance where Rationalism displays
its egoistic self-abuse . . . hence its inherent fallacy.
For we know by looking at the record that what is unimaginable
at one time, or to one person, ends up being imaginable to another.
For example, do we suppose that an early "animistic" hunter-gatherer
could imagine a physical universe as we picture it today—with black holes,
a heliocentric solar system, a Big Bang, quarks, and quasars?
Do we say that because this primal person could not imagine
these that we must dismiss them as possible truths (i.e., as possible good
models of our reality). Or must
we say that our conceptualizations of these things amount to "image-mongery"
and thereby dismiss them on those grounds.
This last point leads beyond it in compelling us to realize that
all forms of what we call "intelligible" venturing after truth are already
a matter of "image-mongery."
That is to say that all our attempts equate with imagining models of what
is; none of which can be said to actually constitute the thing described inasmuch
as the map cannot constitute the territory.
Hence we are led, again, to a realization of the inevitably anthropocentric
nature of such arguments as Wittgenstein's attack on panpsychism—and the equivalent
degree of arrogance that corresponds with them.
For the argument reduces itself to "if we can't imagine something,
it doesn't exist!"
Leaving behind such a fatuous and uninspired rationale, let us return to
the position of Idealism anew.
For—even admitting these claims of the unimaginability
or incredibility of an Idealistic or panpsychic position—that was then, and
this is now. It may have been
unimaginable in Wittgenstein's time or incredible from Joad's perspective
to consider a non-materialistic view of Reality.
However, in an age that has witnessed LSD; a revival of shamanism;
the emergence of virtual reality; the concepts of quantum physics, holographic
paradigms, morphic resonances, cellular consciousness, and holotropic minds;
and consciousness research in almost every branch of the natural and social
sciences at this point . . . that in such a day it might be ripe to reconsider
some of what has been prematurely, and I might say arrogantly, set aside.
("Arrogantly" based upon what I've said elsewhere  about
the anthropocentric bias that arises without an appreciation, which comes
with an understanding of biologically constituted realities, of the fundamentally
limited and species-relative nature of views of Reality.)
Hopefully, we can set aside, to at least a little degree,
some of the anthropocentric egotism which obscures any
truly reasonable attempt at constructing fruitful reality models.
That being so, we need to admit of the possibility (not of
the "intelligible-to-Wittgenstein possibility," but of the
real possibility) of the prior fundamental reality of psyche over matter,
of the observer over the observed.
From the preceding it should be clear that I believe
that consciousness is the only
thing of the Universe, or that it is at least the only thing knowable of the
Universe, and why we would have such difficulty in acknowledging this obvious
fact. Still, despite our modern
difficulties with this worldview, it is not an uncommon position in
philosophy. As Patrick (1952) describes Idealism,
Idealism, too, asserts that reality is one, that
one being mind or spirit.
For the Idealist matter is at best a representation or construct of mind.
The world of "matter" is but the appearance of mind to itself.
The world which the physical scientist talks about is, as
Eddington says, in The Nature of the
Physical World (p. xv), a "world of shadows."
is, in the final analysis, is of the nature of mind.
Patrick (1952) elaborates further, quoting
A. S. Eddington, at the end of his chapter
"On the Nature of Things" closing his striking book on
Space, Time and Gravitation, comes to the conclusion that something
of the nature of consciousness forms the essential content of the world.
The theory of relativity has passed in review the whole
subject-matter of physics. It
has unified the great laws, which by the precision of their formulation and
the exactness of their application have won the proud place in human knowledge
which physical science holds today.
in regard to the nature of things, this knowledge is only an empty shell—a
form of symbols. It is knowledge
of structural form, and not knowledge of content.
All through the physical world runs that unknown content,
which must surely be the stuff of our consciousness.
Here is a hint of aspects deep within the world of physics,
and yet unattainable by the methods of physics.
And, moreover, we have found that where science has progressed
the farthest, the mind has but regained from nature that which the mind has
put into nature.
We have found a strange footprint on the shores of the
unknown. We have devised profound
theories, one after another, to account for its origin.
At last, we have succeeded in reconstructing the creature
that made the footprint. And
lo! it is our own. (Eddington, Space,
Time, and Gravitation, pp. 200-201, from Patrick, 1952, p. 116)
to Transpersonal Reality
Everything that we say exists is dependent
upon our subjective experience of it.
So all we really can know exists for sure is a subjective
experience of anything. Beyond
that, the proposing of anything else as existing is pure speculation.
So essentially all that we can know to exist is
experience—that which is,
in any particular moment, for oneself—the perceiver or receptor of
This is solipsism, pure and simple of course.
But it is the best place of all to start.
As W. T. Stace wrote, "The initial position of every mind
must be solipsistic," and further, that while continued investigation might
eventually lead to "very good reason to believe in the existence of other
minds," still, "each of us must begin from within his own consciousness"
as a "solitary mind" (Theory of Knowledge
and Existence , pp. 65-66).
And so it is that from this initial
starting point of solipsism a compelling deduction is next made—and it
can be made, on the basis of one's experience alone—that others exist.
How so? One deduces
the existence of others from one's experience that there is something outside
of the bounds of that which we call one's self which happens to "impinge"
on one's self. Or we can say
that we discover "wills" other than one's own "will" . . . and this is especially
obvious when they are at odds or in conflict with one's own will.
We also deduce the existence of an Other from the fact that
there are aspects of one's experience that are completely surprising and unintended
and thus "unwilled" by oneself—one discovers creations which are to all appearances
and upon all reflection other than one's own.
Now, these elements alone would imply simply that experience
contains the unintended, the contrary, and the surprising.
However, these surprising and unintended occurrences can be
seen to have meaningful patterns to them.
They are meaningful in the sense that we are able to deduce
that these "patterns" are themselves centers of experience, centers of will
or creation, in much the same way that oneself is.
This is a compelling deduction, based on the evidence of one's
experience, but is not a necessary one.
Having the compelling conviction that others (that
is other experience containers, or experience screens, or experience perceivers)
exist, we are informed (i.e., "impinged"
upon in meaningful [to us] ways) by these "patterns" (entities) of experiences
which are not like our own.
At least we are "told" and led to believe this through the
"communications" that we have with these alleged "others."
Thus, the World emerges as meaningful patterns of experience
within oneself (within one's experience, one's experiential world) which reveal
themselves as separate from us
to varying degrees (and we label the degree of separation in accord with their
similarity with us: thus, humans—very similar; animals—less so; other living
things—less again; inanimate things—even less; and so on).
We Are All
So far, so good.
We have our normal world here; the way we normally think of
reality. Then along come other-than-normal
experiences. We experience, or
find out indirectly, experiences that are supposedly those of one or more
of those supposedly separate others!
(e.g., psychedelic or other altered-state experience of
another's experience, from another time and place, especially).
We are led to conclude that therefore other's experience is
not separate from
one's own, that that was a mistaken view built up on insufficient experience
(evidence). We conclude that
there is a "bleed through" of experience from what was thought to be separate
Other evidence/ experiences (such as experiences
of being or "identifying with" what were thought to be other "things" or
other "species"—this is how we named those patterns that were supposedly
farthest from our own experience) convince us that there is no separation
either between what we called oneself and what we called world, others, other
species, and so on.
We are led to conclude that we are part of all
that exists, as far as we know of things existing, or at least that we are
so in potential. That is to
say we discover that there are no definite and impenetrable boundaries where
we thought there were distinct separations.
The World as far as we know it appears to be characterized
by interconnectedness, overlapping identities, and "porous," indistinct,
or illusory boundaries.
It is by this empirical-existential means that
I have come to know (and others have come to know—according to the patterns
that have been made known to me through the other patterns in my experience
called communication) that one's
subjective experience is not separate from that of others.
I repeat, the basis of this belief of non-separation lies
in my understanding that (1) people in certain other-than-normal states are
able to experience what "other" people have experienced in different times
and places—and this is verifiable; (2) the phenomena of morphic resonance
and morphogenetic fields—which point to a sharing of subjective space or a
Common Intersubjectivity—are also
able to be empirically validated; and (3) various other experiences of "experience-sharing"
are verifiable—such as the trans-species experience and identification with
aspects of the so-called "material" world, which have both been described
by Stanislav Grof in his many
works as occurring quite frequently.
So we are part of All That Is (as far
as we know it) and the perceived boundaries are only illusory.
The next element in this argument enters with the realization
that those supposed other-than-us, separate things that impinge on us do so
in ways that lead us positively forward into better and better experiences,
even despite our intentions . . . and this, if only known in hindsight.
Even events constituted mainly of supposedly inanimate "others"
(i.e., actions of the "physical" world) reflect a helpful tendency.
Thus we conclude that there is something outside of us that
is both helpful to us and higher than us (in that it knows what is better
for us even when we do not).
We call this unknown, powerful, helpful, and everywhere and always present
We Are God
But since we have found we are not
separate from the so-called Other, the so-called World, we must conclude that
we also are not separate from that helpful thing that is part of what we
thought was Other, and World.
Thus, the conclusion is that one is part of All
That Is (insofar as one is in any way aware of what is), that one mistakenly
concluded at one time that one was separate from that All because of insufficient
evidence (and we learn later, also because of fear that caused us to retreat
from the evidence for our essential unity which we
did have), that All That Is is beneficent overall (or at least, if this
ends up being wrong in the long run, it would be better that we make this
mistake than even to get it correct), and that we are part of that beneficence
in the All That Is, which we call God.
It is on these sorts of grounds that my viewpoint
has come to approximate that of primal, or indigenous, societies
—a viewpoint that Western culture has termed
pantheism—as well as to approximate the mystical teachings of all spiritual
traditions and the perennial philosophy on the essentially Divine nature of
the self. These perspectives
can be summed up in that all that exists is God, that all that can be seen
and perceived are manifestations of God, that all that can be experienced
is God, that therefore Experience itself is God, and that I also am God in
that I am part of the All That Is (which is God) in that I partake of that
How "Within" Can
Also Be "Outside"
Despite the time-honored traditions
and the revered societies and cultures that have maintained the preceding
worldview, Westerner's find it hard to consider such perspectives without
getting trapped in the boxes of solipsism, narcissism, "navel-gazing."
—points to the problem Westerners have in that, with their materialistic
bias causing them to equate the self with the body, they cannot imagine a
Divine Within or a God as Self or Experience without picturing it actually
inside that body,
and hence separated from the world outside!
Then to take the further step of calling the physical world
"illusory" has them imagining that world disappearing, leaving only one's
body, suspended in a vast and empty space.
Not very appealing.
Not very logical or intelligent either, but entire
paradigms and philosophies are based on such cognitive prejudices and cultural
constructions of thought.
Nevertheless, living in the Western world as we
do, the question must be addressed:
Is this Experience solipsistic?
What is its ontological status?
By way of answering and to reiterate, the Common-Sense Realism
that is taken as the basis for scientific claims about the material basis
of reality is itself overturned by science.
Hence on what basis is such a transpersonal reality to be
founded as I've described? What
is the ontological status of this model of radical subjectivity and how can
it fit with and make sense of the elements of our experiential worlds?
Jung attempted to answer these questions with his metaphysic,
yet he has been criticized on both flanks, by scientists and religionists.
Scientists have called him too mystical in his
implications of a higher ontological status to psyche than to matter.
But we have discussed how scientists themselves have overturned
the notion of any ontological status
to matter—letting us know that the status of our material world is dependent
on the perceiving organism.
Hence that leaves the psyche or subjectivity of the perceiver with a higher
Yet from religious circles Jung's metaphysic has
been criticized as being "merely psychological."
It is said he has destroyed the old gods.
Yet one could only think of psychological as in any sense
"merely" only if one attributes a higher ontological status to matter than
to psyche. Thus, that so-called
religious people would criticize in this manner displays in them an inherent
materialistic, not spiritual, worldview.
At any rate, Jung has not destroyed the old gods,
science did that, physics and astronomy did that.
What Jung has done is to give such gods and spiritual realities
back to us, although on a more enlightened level.
The old gods were always "merely psychological," but the "merely"
part of it can only exist if one underestimates the psyche.
And this usually happens when one overestimates the outside
world. And here I think Jung
sees remarkably well.
He warns against the mistake of forgetting that
the outside world is experienced as a function of the psyche, that one's perceptions
are dependent upon the psyche.
So what could be more fundamental than the psyche?
It is the only thing that one can ever
really know to exist! The
outside world is an inference as Jung said, and it is well not to forget that
whenever one goes about discussing reality.
This is not to say that the outside world does not exist,
but merely that if one may legitimately assume anything then it is that the
psyche exists for it is directly perceivable and
not that the outside world exists as it is perceived because it is only
If the external world were to exist as it is perceived
(the theory of Common-Sense Realism), then one would need to assume that the
psyche, or the brain, or the perceptions, whichever you wish, is perfect,
is capable of sensing exactly what is out there.
But then this is ridiculous, and even the relatively limited
means of modern "scientific" psychology has shown that different individuals
perceive different things according to their mental set, attitude, and so
on. And as to whether or not
one individual's experience of external stimuli is exactly equal to another
individual's of the same stimuli, there is no evidence nor any means of obtaining
evidence that it is, and there is some evidence that it varies at least a
little (for example, the same stimulus may be said to have different intensity,
The point is that all is ultimately dependent upon
the psyche. So what kind of
facts could possibly be ultimately
more valuable than psychic facts?
We perceive and experience the world within and
the world without, the one directly and the other indirectly.
We interpret these experiences and call it
reason; there is no rational mind if there has been no experience.
Therefore, experience is fundamental and what is experience
but that which is the psyche, or, in a sense, produced by the psyche.
No psyche, no experience, no perception, no outside world.
In this light it seems that in relating religious life to
the psyche, Jung is closer to building a foundation for it than reducing
it to nonsense.
To me, it seems that the reason people shy away
from the idea that ultimate reality is within is that it seems then so limited.
It seems that when a person encounters the concept of a reality
within there is a tendency to picture in some way a small world within one's
physical body, or at least to imagine that it would be limited to within one's
ego. And since one externally
views one's body as being a certain size and shape, and, most importantly,
separated from everything in the whole world that is not oneself, one gets
the feeling that if there is something, some kind of reality within, that
it is likewise separated from all else and hence becomes of little value;
thus the term "merely psychological."
Yet, to me, this concept is not necessary and may
be replaced by a new one.
Allow me to propose an image which, although it
makes no claims for ultimate truth, expands the mind sufficiently to be able
to imagine a situation in which "within" may also be inclusive.
Eastern mystics and psychedelic researchers have frequently
used terms such as "planes of existence," "planes of reality," or "levels
of experience" in attempting to describe their journey within.
The implication is that there are other states of consciousness
or of experience at which the body and physical reality are no longer experienced
as subject-object, in other words, that one somehow has access to the Universe
and is no longer separated from it.
However, for the externally-oriented Western person,
as mentioned, it is hard to imagine how within could also include the without.
Mandalas have often been used by the mystics to illustrate
this situation where descending into one's self is also a release into a greater
reality, and mine will be on that order.
Imagine the earth as a hollow globe with a cloth
material covering the surface.
Imagine the center of the globe as the source of all; and from this source
extends roots in all directions, supply lines which proceed to diverse points
on the surface. At the surface
are figures which have emerged from the center and have protruded with layers
of cloth enveloping their self, somewhat like Halloween sheet ghosts.
And the sheet acts to filter reality, so that a limited perception
is possible. (Somewhat far-fetched,
I admit, but it serves to illustrate the point.)
Domains or "Levels"
1. Sensory/ Materialistic/
2. Recollective-Analytic/ Rational/
Culturally Constituted Realities
Biologically Constituted Realities
4. Integral/ Raw Experience/
Ground of Being/
As you can see from the diagram, an obscure perception
is possible of the relative reality of the external world including the other
people in it.
Thus, it is possible to imagine humans as having
their roots in a Source which is likewise the same for all.
This cosmological mandala resembles the Sri Yantra in meaning
when it is said of it that from the center emanate forces which are manifest
on the surface as physical reality, maya, or illusion; so that what we see
are the diverse surface manifestations of one Source or one Ultimate Reality.
Yet it is not that the external reality does not
exist, rather that it is filtered through the sheet of our ego.
And this is not to say that external reality does not exist;
rather that it is transitory, not ultimate, and that it is also not perceived
as it really is even in its relative reality for it is distorted by the individual
ego, which is language, memory, in one word
Conceptual reality forms our external world and
is necessarily relative and idiosyncratic.
Yet the reality within is ultimate reality and is the same
for all. It has been called World
Soul, Mind-at-Large, Atman, and the Void.
In this light, for example, one will not make the assertion
that psychic phenomena if it arises from the psyche is therefore not valid
or real or true. If one conceptualizes
as I have described, one may think that if a person has "died" and gone back
to the Source, it is possible for that person to visit a relative in a dream
and rise from the depths of that person's unconscious (being therefore a psychological
reality, "merely"), because in the framework I have mentioned we would all
be connected at the Source, at the center.
And one could easily understand how it would be possible for
a man like Edgar Cayce to know things that others know or have known, having
access to the roots of all through the Unconscious.
In other words there may be an intuitive link between us all.
And of course the Common Intersubjectivity I've described
earlier—with shared experience and overlapping identities—is clearly understandable
in this model.
The point of all this is that it is possible to
imagine a metaphysical framework (and one only has to look to the East to
see that it's been done) in which "merely psychological" realities can be
both ultimate and inclusive.
Reality to the Fall From Grace
Invisible Others Exist
If subjectivity or psyche is ultimately
more real than the material world as presented to us by our external senses,
it follows that certain "psychic" realities may exist and even be more real,
even though not manifesting in the physical world.
Thus, this position, this worldview necessarily includes the
position that psychic or "invisible" realities—e.g.
, God, Spirit, "allies," spirits, and so on—(which are seemingly separate
from us but which ultimately we are part of) may exist though in common-sense
(i.e., anthropocentric) reality we do not normally concede they exist.
This position can be supported at even the most fundamental
levels. In addition to the argument
presented earlier about the existence of quasars to hunter-gatherers, at the
simplest levels of argument there are few people who would assert that realities
that are not directly perceived, even by our most sophisticated instruments,
do not exist, when their existence is compellingly thrust upon us by their
effects and by the congruence that their existence has with the principles
upon which our world is found to run.
If one could not see the other side of the moon,
one would not say that it did not exist.
There are those among us who would theorize that
it is made of green cheese, but that is another matter.
No, even the least dimly lit among us would not assert that
it ceases to exist when it is out of sight.
Nor would we say that electricity does not exist simply because
we normally cannot see it.
Our operations on the world simply would not be possible, logically so,
if the world operated like that.
However, I believe that we are not normally aware
of these other realities, call them "spirit," or "other consciousnesses,"
because our past experience influences us to believe, and therefore perceive,
in particular distorted ways.
These ways are prejudiced by our past experience (1) as a spiritual entity,
(2) as identified with a particular species form, and (3) as identified as
a particular person.
Yet our prejudices are challenged continually,
in both lesser and greater ways, by the other realities which we do not see;
for these realities impinge upon our experience whether we acknowledge their
existence or not. That something
is able to do that is a part of the definition of something that is considered
"objectively real" as opposed to being "imaginary."
(Thus in this case they would be "objectively real" subjective,
or psychic, or experiential realities.)
So it is that some people, having become aware of
this, will allow themselves to be taught by these experiential challenges
to their prejudices and will therefore become aware of some of these other
"invisible" but "realer than real" realities once again.
Also, it is in the process of being
taught by the incongruence of one's prejudices with That Which Is, that one
can come to learn the roots of those prejudices in one's "past" experience
and can come to know that one's experience was less prejudiced "prior" to
those experiences and that one was more aware then of the "greater reality"
of which I have been speaking.
So a corollary of this learning is the realization that our so-called "development"
is actually a process of reduction of awareness through various painful experiences
which, curiously enough, "civilized" cultures have come to rationalize as
being "good" for an individual in the course of that person's "development."
This gradual reduction in awareness in the course of an individual's
"development" is what I call devolution
. And I use that term because
it carries the meaning of the reverse of evolution and the opposite of forward
Finally, the startling conclusion arising from
all this is that "civilized" societies' distinction from the other 99% of
human societies that have existed over the several hundred-thousand year
history of our species lies in a peculiar pathology that is a result of a
meaning as above—that occurred to us as a species in that time.
This distinctive mental illness is characterized by reduced
awareness, which—for reasons having to do with the pain of cognitive dissonance
and the need, therefore, to rationalize as good
any experience (regardless of its true value) in which one finds oneself—is
elevated (desperately) to an undeserved status in our worldview and is mistakenly
said to be a result of an evolution
. In our desperate struggle
to justify the pathetic and meager state in which we find ourselves (and
thereby to beat back the pain of realizing how much we have truly lost),
we promote our meager "civilized" state far above that which is
truly high and good and better for our species and for the experiences
of the individuals within that.
Correspondingly, when we are confronted with aspects
of that better way of being, exemplified by certain other people in certain
other cultures, we feel the urgent need to scapegoat them, lest we become
aware of our Western craziness; thus we project onto them the characteristics
of that pathology which is, in actuality, inside of ourselves but which we
are frantically, and uncourageously, running from.
This plague, which has arisen and afflicted us
in the last 1% of our history, thus creates the "kitty-drowners" and "butterfly-mashers"
of the world. These things being
true, we are able now to understand how it could be that we would find ourselves,
at this point in time, on the brink of a self-destruction so all-encompassing
that it would take most, if not indeed all, other life forms on this planet
down with us into oblivion. (Have a nice day!)
(2) Reality Is
Not the Interpretation of That Experience
Interpretation Brings Metaphor
Raw experience has the only ontological
reality that we can know. Thus
interpretation of that experience creates distortion. Furthermore, interpretation
brings metaphor into existence.
By metaphor I mean the symbolizing
or reflecting or map-making that we do so as not to experience Reality directly.
Fearful, for reasons to be described later, of looking directly
at Experience, we, like Perseus, turn our backs on it and seek to discern
its mirrored image in the polished shield (i.e.
, psychological defenses) of our egos.
But with this first gap, error is introduced, just as a rippled
pond distorts the image of the moon reflecting in it.
Metaphorical realities then become all that can truly be known
in the common sense of "knowing."
It makes perfect sense then that, if metaphors are what we must use to convey
one's experience to another, metaphors that hover closest to the realities
they describe, that hover close to the raw experience, have the most to say
or convey about the nature of the Reality they are reflecting. This does not
give metaphors an ultimate ontological status then—as is done in archetypal
psychology, where the metaphors hover close to experience—nor does it assign
metaphors an ultimate ontological status when they are furthest and most
generalized from experience—as, for example, in the "Platonic" abstractions
upon abstractions, the "fundamental" laws and principles of science.
No, metaphors are still reflections at all levels,
they are not the Thing-In-Itself (the Experience).
Still, there are close-hovering metaphors—ones that, let us
say, are reflecting off the least disturbed pond or the most polished, least
distorted shields. Thus, it is
the attempt to seek out better metaphors, more closely mapped on to direct
Experience, closer to God ("honest to God"?) metaphors, if you will, that
is the intention and purpose in this work. Thus I seek to go, in the following,
below even the relatively low flying ones of Jungian psychology.
I seek to find ones laid deeper, closer onto the bio-spiritual
experience of the individual, and related to patterns of experience associated
with the pre- and perinatal times of one's life.
We find that this takes us into, and beyond, the archetypal.
We find it confirming much of archetypal psychology and providing
new light and new vantage points of other parts of it, sometimes major parts
Then we see it opening up to new vistas on a transpersonal
reality beyond even this—and likewise providing both confirmation and new
Time Is an Abstraction As Well
Obviously then, this Experience that
is direct and is not an abstraction must be experienced in the Now.
For past and future are abstractions; they can only exist
as memories or imaginings that exist in the Now.
Thus there is only the Now, and direct Experience in the Now.
And it is from this base upon which, I believe, all good theory
on the nature of reality is based.
It is within this understanding of past and future
that I weave my meanings of the terms
regression, re-experience, and
reliving, as they are used throughout.
Regression commonly implies going back in time; more so, it
means to return to a "lower" state.
Yet regression in the field of pre- and perinatal
psychology—which is the field that most informs this work—means simply to
return in time and implies no evaluation of that state as "lower"—only meaning
"previous." In this sense
it is identical to its meaning in the Freudian term,
regression in the service of the ego.
Yet from a transpersonal perspective, rooted firmly
in the Reality of the Sole Existential Moment—the Now—regression is impossible.
The past or future does not exist except as abstractions,
usually cognitive ones, in the Now.
We have to admit that to say one goes back in time
is a mere conventionality of speech.
We clarify it by saying that "to regress" means
to go more deeply into the experience of Now.
And when immersed in that experience of Now one discovers
patterns of experience and feeling—which were always there, subtly, almost
imperceptibly, but were simply not focused on—which one discovers afterwards
to seem to have been caused in a remembered past (admittedly an abstraction),
one says one has "regressed."
We use the terms reliving and
re-experiencing also for such events.
But I emphasize that these are conventions of speech.
We mean by regression, re-experiencing, and reliving that
a person comes more fully into a Now and happens to discover patterns of
experience that are related to the patterns of experience in the Now that
one calls one's memories—only one has a fuller, more vivid, and more immediate
experience of them than is normally the experience of "memories."
It is in this coming more fully into the Now that
we can see the same direction in this maneuver of "regression" and "reliving"
as in the more commonly known ones of spiritual practice, such as meditation.
Experience Is Divine
Since the terms
God or the Divine are usually
associated with what is most real or what is the highest reality, I use those
terms (God and the
Divine) to refer to that Reality, Highest Reality, or That Which Essentially
Is throughout the text.
So since Reality can only be that which is directly
experienced, and we can know nothing other than that, then Experience is God.
Experience is the Divine, cognition is essentially illusion.
I do not mean that the experience of cognition is illusion,
for that itself is Experience, not simply cognition.
When I say that cognition is illusion, I
mean that the contents of cognition
are illusion; and even more so, the results of cognition or reason are illusion.
They are maps solely—reflections
only of the That Which Is.
Now, maps can be useful. They can reorient us and
send us back to Experience in a manner that allows us to experience What Is
in a different way, maybe even a better way.
But they are not the Reality itself any more than a picture
of a beach is the actual waves hitting the sand or the feeling of the beach-goer
basking in the sun. Yet a picture
of a beach may allow someone experiencing a beach to have the thought of looking
around for prone bodies and may open them to a different experience of beach
because of that, whereas otherwise one might continue having the same, or
similar, experience again and again.
It is in this way that maps are part of our experience
of the Other, are part of our direct
experience, which "impinges" on us and leads us, ultimately, into greater
If, furthermore, that Direct Experience has other
characteristics associated with the Divine—e.g.
, it guides us in living, provides us with values, assists and "saves"
us, and basically helps us to grow and be better beings ourselves—then essentially
that Reality is acting as God and deserves to be called by that name and
worshipped as such. That Experience
might have these characteristics is not something that can be deduced rationally
or in the traditional scientific manner—it is outside those domains.
But it can be empirically tested on the individual level,
much as Ken Wilber (1977) has described that mysticism can be tested empirically
on the individual level—i.e.,
if you as an individual follow these particular steps, such and such will
happen to you, or will be observed by you.
It is in this sense that one can say that an assertion such
as that Experience provides values and assists us can be tested in a scientific
manner. Once that experiment
has been accomplished, one can go to the spiritual literature and see if Experience
As Divine does not make sense of much of what is found there, indeed much
of what is incomprehensible otherwise.
This experiment is one that can only be done by
each person for him- or herself.
While this conceptualization of God as Experience
or Reality as Experience may seem unusually phrased, I explain that I am meaning
the same thing by these statements as I believe is meant by phrases such
as "Reality As Consciousness" (Wilber), or "I Am the I Am" (the meaning of
The Bible). I believe it
means the same as saying in Hinduism that Brahman (the ground of all Being)
is equivalent to Atman—the "ground" of one's individual being.
As explanation of this statement, Satya Sai Baba explains
that the only reality is the "I" or "the witness," which is the watcher and
Experiencer preceding all maya or illusion.
But if this is so, then the Experiencer is Experience itself,
is Awareness itself, for how can one distinguish the Experiencer from the
contents of Experience—a point that is also made in these traditions.
Also, what else is to be meant by the terms that
one should "look within" or "search within" when seeking out the presence
or guidance of the Divine? If
"looking within" does not mean looking into one's direct
experience, what could it possibly mean?
This is also no different from what Nietzsche meant
in describing the empirical basis of all true knowing.
He pointed out that what was truly real could only be that
which one directly perceived.
But he did not mean what one perceived
only with one's major five senses—i.e.
, seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling—as his famous assertions
have been taken to mean in the founding of modern science, but rather he meant
a radical empiricism that could be founded only upon what one perceived in
the sense of the totality of one's experiencing.
The Uses of Normal
Certainly there is theory based on
scientific premises and research that is considered to be real and factual.
And the replicatibility and verifiability of these pronouncements
add further to their credibility.
But we are always to remember that they are abstractions, generalizations,
of experience. Further, the experiences
that they are usually generalizations of are those of an observer of an event
that may be happening to another person or thing (which for that person or
thing might be a direct experience but for the observer is already one step
removed); therefore it is usually an abstraction of an abstraction.
These abstractions of abstractions are then combined and worked
together to form higher order theories and laws which are then another level
of abstraction removed.
Not that these abstractions don't have their uses
and purposes. The point is that
we make a grave mistake when we presume that these abstractions
are the things that they describe and the events whose actions are outlined.
They have their purposes, as maps do, in terms of guidance
and direction on how to control and predict such events and Realities.
Yet we are engaged in a completely different endeavor
when we seek to understand Reality as opposed to merely controlling or predicting
it. We are engaged in a completely
different endeavor if we seek to understand people as opposed to merely controlling
or predicting them as well.
To do that we need to reverse the direction of abstractions and look directly
into Experience, as it presents itself and not as it is interpreted.
Even one tiny step of interpretation removed, one split-second
of analysis later we are no longer in Reality, in Experience, we are in abstraction.
Thus, there is a particular methodology
that is relevant to this endeavor.
One that is radically different from the supposedly
"empirical" one of the sciences.
I say "supposedly" because this is in fact a more empirical approach—at
least in the sense that Nietzsche meant when he used the term empirical,
which became a foundation stone of modern science, but which modern scientists
have apparently forgotten. These
methods are the heuristic, the
, and the interdisciplinary.
Such a model as I propose to develop
in the body of this work must needs be largely speculative, based, as much
of it is, on subjective reports.
So the ultimate relation between these experiences and other human cognitive,
behavioral, and experiential structures—their degree and manner and direction
of influence—will need to remain open.
Still, endeavors such as this are in the strongest
traditions of the social sciences.
This sort of hermeneutic approach is what has been
called the "left-hand" of science, and it provides both the exploration of
areas that cannot be served otherwise as well as it teases out implications
and avenues for further research otherwise unseen.
Hermeneutics is the interpretive branch of science.
It seeks to discover meanings inherent in events as perceived.
And while normally this endeavor is seen as an inferior route
of understanding, within our dominant materialistic paradigm, and is only
begrudgingly allowed on the basis that observers do apparently and irrefutably
have some influence on events they perceive and are apparently needful of
meaning, the preceding analysis should hopefully have made clear why I believe
the hermeneutic route makes possible a
superior understanding of an "object" of study.
For one cannot go into an objective study of something
that is not on a more fundamental level a going into an aspect of one's
own experience. It is by
acknowledging, boldly and up front, that subjective and inherently interpretive
base of any study that one can most likely turn it to one's advantage in discerning
the deepest and most important understandings of what is within one's experiential
focus of study.
As an example of how this can be so, take the analogous
technique of participant observation in anthropology.
It is the time-honored and required approach that anthropologists
use in studying other cultures.
It is based on the acknowledgment that a purely "objective" observation
and analysis of a culture is profoundly flawed and that the only way one
can hope to have the smallest possibility of understanding another's culture
is to participate experientially, to the extent that one is able, in the events
of that culture.
So just as one cannot imagine that a detached perspective
of a culture could possibly be superior to a participant perspective, so also
is this participation vitally necessary and superior to other techniques in
various other types of study.
I submit that the one under consideration in this work—the spiritual and
philosophical aspects of pre- and perinatal experience—is one such.
In a similar way, the importance of
the observer is emphasized in the tradition of heuristic research in humanistic
psychology, as described by Clark Moustakas (1990).
As he explains it, heuristic
refers to a process of internal search
through which one discovers the nature and meaning of experience and develops
methods and procedures for further investigation and analysis.
The self of the researcher is present throughout the process
and, while understanding the phenomenon with increasing depth, the researcher
also experiences growing self-awareness and self-knowledge.
[H]euristic research involves self-search,
self-dialogue, and self-discovery; the research question and the methodology
flow out of inner awareness, meaning, and inspiration.
When I consider an issue, problem, or question, I enter into
it fully. I focus on it with
unwavering attention and interest.
I search introspectively, meditatively, and reflectively
into its nature and meaning.
My primary task is to recognize whatever exists in my consciousness as a
fundamental awareness, to receive and accept it, and then to dwell on its
nature and possible meanings.
With full and unqualified interest, I am determined to extend my understanding
and knowledge of an experience.
I begin the heuristic investigation with my own self-awareness and explicate
that awareness with reference to a question or problem until an essential
insight is achieved, one that will throw a beginning light onto a critical
human experience. (p. 11)
Relatedly, one can see then why this
investigation is of necessity an interdisciplinary approach.
Since experience at its "deepest"—before it is overly abstracted,
interpreted, or devolved—is by nature wholistic, it crosses disciplinary
boundaries in constructing metaphors that most closely map onto it and most
helpfully describe it. Another
way of saying this is that any one discipline cannot contain the whole; and
it should be obvious that the disciplines are arbitrary slicings of the whole
pie of experience. That being
the case, experientially-oriented methodologies as I've described and experientially-based
studies as I am herein carrying out cannot help but overlap disciplines.
And knowing this one begins to wonder at the arrogance of
those who would seek to confine the vast expanse of whole and unabstracted
Experience within their chosen field of play.
At any rate, the most critical legs of the endeavor
coming up are the religious, the philosophical, and the psychological.
But an anthropological perspective provides this investigation
a foundation of cross-cultural and cross-temporal perspective as well as breadth
of understanding of human experience required to facilitate the most fruitful
conclusions. If one is looking
at human nature, one should aim at a conceptualization that acknowledges all
cultures, past and present.
Also, the importance of context, emphasized most strongly in anthropology,
must be understood.
This investigation is also necessarily interdisciplinary
in its requiring an understanding of basic reproductive, embryological, and
intrauterine biology. Thus, though
deprecated by those who assert the purity of disciplinary boundaries, an
interdisciplinary method to this topic is a necessary but also valuable approach.
Because of the current lack of deliberate reflection
on the implications of the reports that are the basis of my research—that
is, especially those involving prenatal re-experience—I feel that the significance
of the investigation to be presented here cannot be overstated.
The Best Possible
Map: Both Kinds of Knowledge Combined
I will be describing a model based
on such inquiry as I've described above, hovering as close as possible to
the experiential reality I am modeling.
Yet it will be aided by other ways of knowing, more
traditional, more scientific ones.
However, in that it will have be essentially informed
by the participant observer himself, i.e.
, me, as well as the experiential reports of others who have journeyed
into the same general domain, it will seek to go beyond the interpretations
that are possible from solely the traditional sources.
That is, that to say Experience is Divine is not
to say that it is perfectly true in the way that it is immediately interpreted.
Interpretations are one step removed to be sure, and so immediately
introduce the element of error in that abstraction.
In addition, Experience being Divine does not mean that all
experiences are equally fertile in providing us with fertile and useful
interpretations or understandings.
It is my belief that all experience is perfect
in itself and can not be otherwise.
That is a belief based upon my experience.
It is not a necessary assumption for this work, but is something
I share for the purpose of explaining how it is possible that Experience can
be Divine in the sense of that word
Still, we are aware that experience is sometimes
called delusional or hallucinatory.
This means essentially that it does not fit very
well with the experiences of others who report experiences of that variety.
But it is possible to think of these experiences as being
perfect for the individual experiencer and yet not compatible with others
of a similar variety. Then when
we say that they are not real, we can be meaning that they simply do not
conform to a general map for a particular group of beings (although they
are Real for the person to whom they occur) and thus cannot be used usefully
or to any good purpose by that group . . . by any other outside of the individual
involved. So we distinguish
between Reality as What Is and Reality as what is useful to another.
Since I am
basing my model on What Is—i.e.
, direct experience, as closely mapped upon that as possible—but I am
seeking to create a low-hovering abstraction that might be useful to others,
I do not simply leave off with the descriptions of experience by myself and
others but I measure them against the other kind of abstractions available
in the Now—those that are associated with science and with the generalizations
of the experiences of others.
It is the combination of these—much
as one needs both particle and waves in understanding light—that I feel comes
closest to providing what is helpful, interesting, and yes, useful, in terms
of our understanding of our Reality.
1. I prefer to use the term
psyche with which to oppose matter, rather than
mind, or "the mental," as is traditionally done in philosophy.
For I find that Mind
means much less than what is intended here and leads to many misinterpretations
in philosophy in general.
Despite its long tradition of use,
Mind is still confused with
mind, in the common sense of the term, meaning intellect, thoughts,
ideas, concepts, and so on; and hence is considered to be ultimately rooted
in language. Such a train
of thought which excludes the feeling or "bodily" component of the psychic
(cf., Gendlin, 1992) or the experiential part of existence (cf., all
existentialists) bespeaks a reality compatible to rationalists who appear
to know of no experience outside of their thoughts.
But there are others of us whose experience is constituted
of much more than what is thought of, commonly, as "mind."
Hence, in the tradition of Carl Jung, it seems
psyche is the appropriate term.
For it is a term that points to the possible
inclusion, in subjective reality, of "feelings," "passions," archetypal
and transpersonal noncognitive/nonverbal experience, and the psychic.
The best term of all for what is meant here by the Absolute
Idealistic Reality is probably Experience.
But that is a term that is also, on its surface, heavily
loaded with connotations and the baggage of a traditional philosophic
heritage. So it is a position
I will lead up to gradually and attempt to demonstrate in the analysis
following. For now, Jung's
use of psyche—as more inclusive
than mind—will suffice to point us in the right direction. [return to text]
2. This is a description, according to Toms (1992, p. 89), that has
been originally attributed to C. E. M. Joad. [return to text]