Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Question of Balance

As we have seen, with the commencement of this stage (Band 3, Level 2), the real (conscious) polarities (external and internal) have already been substantially integrated in a nondual manner.

This therefore leaves the unconscious free to powerfully project itself into experience in an imaginary manner.

By its very nature, this requires that symbols serve a dual purpose. From one perspective, they are interpreted in a localised real manner. However at a deeper level, they now radiate a universal meaning in an archetypal fashion.

Now a degree of confusion is always initially present, where any undue attachment to the symbols in question, reduces their pure archetypal meaning (of an imaginary nature).

So in contrast to earlier real attachments (i.e. to symbols understood in a directly conscious manner) we now have the more refined imaginary attachments (i.e. to symbols that are understood in an indirect conscious manner as archetypes of a universal spiritual meaning).

Now the very nature of this level is that experience takes on profound vertical type characteristics, with rapid switching as between "higher" and "lower" stages increasingly taking place.

So in fact a two-way form of integration begins to unfold in experience. Thus from the "higher" transcendent perspective, one attempts to integrate in a top-down manner, "lower" stages; then in a reverse immanent manner, one attempts to integrate "higher" stages from the perspective of the "lower" in a bottom-up fashion.

However, because up to this point the transcendent aspect will have been especially dominant, a certain imbalance is likely to be initially present, where one places too much emphasis on the value of the "higher" stages (typically understood as spiritual) and corresponding too little emphasis on the value of the more instinctive "lower" stages (understood as physical).

Certainly, this was true in my own case, reflecting what I now see as a corresponding imbalance in the traditional Catholic emphasis on a mistaken hierarchy. Here the physical body (and its instinctive sense promptings) are placed on the lowest rung with reason and the intellect higher and then spirit (i.e. transcendent spirit) on the highest rung of the hierarchy. Thus from this perspective, the role of the aspiring contemplative is to use reason to discipline the lower senses before ultimately letting it go in the pure experience of the spirit.

However from the immanent perspective this hierarchy works in reverse. Thus, it is imperative here in terms of integration to allow the primitive impulses of the unconscious to speak for themselves, by gradually letting go of the censoring influence of reason. Then finally with full freedom allowed for such emotional expression, the involuntary nature of unconscious projection ceases, with spirit becoming fully immanent as the source of all one's experience.

However as I say, to someone trained from an early age (indeed indoctrinated) this change in emphasis from transcendent to immanent does not come easily.

So what typically happens is that one notices a recurring pattern in one's experience.

At one moment one seems to be flying high with a universal meaning attaching to one's spiritual revelations. However, inevitably a degree of attachment then builds up with respect to such activity.

This then sends out the mistaken message to the unconscious, that such spiritual consolations are more worthy of the disciple than exposure to primitive impulses (such as intimate erotic fantasies).

Therefore the "lower" unconscious attempts to compensate for this imbalance by sending - what in the spiritual literature is referred to as - "temptation" i.e. where one is subtly invited to participate in the physical experience that formerly one unwittingly repressed.

Quite simply, as long as this imbalance exists i.e. of the transcendent dominating the immanent direction, then "lower" level projections, when they occur, will always necessarily contain an involuntary element.

Now of course one cannot hope to correct this imbalance by adopting a permissive "anything goes" attitude in respect to the physical unconscious. Rather the task is to slowly let go of the censoring activity of super ego control, so as to gradually allow ever deeper primitive impulses to surface.

And when one learns to listen to these properly in an affective manner (properly understanding their nature) their involuntary nature ceases.

So the battleground - as it were - of this level relates to the slow unravelling of imaginary attachments.

And once again, certainly in my own experience, we have here both "higher" attachment to archetypal spiritual symbols (reflecting an unduly transcendent emphasis) and then corresponding "lower" attachment to primitive physical impulses (reflecting a lack in the corresponding immanent emphasis).

Thus both of these are fully complementary. Therefore success in erasing the "higher" attachment, makes it correspondingly easier to gradually erode the involuntary nature of primitive instinctive attachment.

However it is a long journey. So we will initially look at the nature of this new refined "higher" imaginary (in both affective and cognitive terms) before switching to corresponding "lower" imaginary activity.