Psychology, the Numinous, and Gebser's assumptions regarding consciousness~

(Lynlee Lyckberg) #21

yes Ed, I have read Feuerstein’s book Wholeness or Transcendence. Thank you for the original title. I love his work~ X

(Lynlee Lyckberg) #22

I agree, and I disagree. yes, Gebser is speaking of the projection. and yes, a mystical experience can cause a psychotic break. (This is the basis of the work done by Stan Grof and others around the idea of spiritual emergence).
My outside reader is someone who works with people in extreme states and he studied under John weir Perry (His dissertation chair). This work involves holding a container for people to go through their so-called psychotic breaks and arrive intact on the other side rather than demonizing their affect and medicating them.
This is also tied into the idea of the shaman as someone who experiences something alien to the dominant paradigm of the culture, and then transforms self to help heal the culture. same notion, although this is much to complex too simplify here really.
The question then, really becomes ‘what is the nature of mystical experience and what is the nature of psyche’? Again, the entire point of this is that “wholeness” includes DEATH, and that is NOT something that we can definitively KNOW until we pass through its gates. We can speculate and theorize, and make up mythic stories… we can have OBE’s, or experiences that open us up to the emptiness that contains everything. (and we can imagine that we know what this is or is not.)
but for me, the truth is that we cannot know.
As I stated before, according to Otto Rank, the TRUTH is our mortality (that we have a limited existence in this particular form), our BEAUTY is the dream of IMMORTALITY (that we can continue on somehow, somewhere, although that differs for different mythological traditions).
Gebser also alludes to Kant’s notion of the sublime (the Beautiful), and Freud calls it the unconscious death wish.
We long for something ELSE, not realizing that when we do so, we miss our precious lives in the here and now.
That is the entire point for all of them, including Gebser, who reminds us that an integral consciousness takes this into account, that death walks with us every moment of our lives, waiting to accompany us on the next leg of our journey, whatever THAT is (beyond all belief about what that is.)
An integral consciousness, then, takes past, present, and future into account, by acknowledging that the past is important because it lead us to this point (extreme technology and a deep dive into extinction/annihilation) and the future is what we are individually and collectively creating. Mythic stories are designed simply to remind us of the possibilities for creative renewal, and they offer cultural specific guidelines for doing so. they are metaphors for our reason for being here and the ways that we are serving something greater than our own selves by being here. We can take these or leave them, or we can create our own. The point is, atheists and literalists both miss the point of mythic stories, and that is a shame. They can be so very useful to us in our 11th hour of annihilation…
anyway, thanks for sharing thoughts~ X

(Lynlee Lyckberg) #23

and yes, these are dead ends in Gebser’s opinon. the point is, regardless of WHICH modality (structure) we interpret these experiences through, the fact remains that we HAVE these experiences, and we do NOT know definitively what they are or what they mean, nor can we know and describe this experience EXCEPT through one or more of these modalities. Again, we have to return to our caveats regarding these experiences, and simply state that they are experiences of something unnameable. The question becomes, how do we hold people who have had these experiences if we as a culture deny that they occur (or consider our explanations of them as erroneous?) the definitions are also only metaphors, and the least plausible form is the one from the mental structure. I am not sure what Gebser offers us to replace our exisiting ways of “holding” this experience… except that for me, his approach holds ALL of the possible ways of understanding this experience as equally valid and potentially helpful. I will have to think about this more in regard to the efficiency and deficiency states of each of these structures. Remember that the deficient state of ONE structure is simply the efficient state of another, so, really, there is overlap and differing terms for the same exact thing. (which is hardly exact at all really, as everything is always moving unless it is concretized. )
(In Vedic science, I believe this is the kundalini experience, which is also said to be disorienting and potentially deadly for those who are uninitiated or unprepared.) I believe that there is great truth in this. and unless you have had such an experience, you really cannot know what it is or how disorienting it can be~

(Eric Towle) #24

Well, you’ve really got a lot going on here and I’m not sure what you are agreeing with and disagreeing with regarding my previous post but I certainly appreciate the detail of your thought. I would say I generally agree with your further considerations here although if I may pick out just a few points to respond to: The whole deal as I see it with Gebser is to not be shoved down the wrong hole when it comes to any kind of experience, numinous or otherwise, to make sure we are using the efficient mode of the correct structure to emotionally respond, mythologize, quantify and such and to intuit truth though integration which allows an intensification of consciousness leading eventually to the acquiring of additional dimensions and hence, more information and on and on and on.

For me, its not that we don’t know what these experiences are or what they mean “EXCEPT” (as you say) “through one or more of these modalities.” Meaning , in my understanding, is not provided by phenomena of any kind. Meaning is created by the intersection of events with consciousness–that is the only meaning that ever exists. When we develop more structures then the meaning will change and both and all future meanings will be right. If we just say, that we can’t know the meaning of the “Great Mystery” then I think Gebser would chide us for indulging in a bit of deficient magic thinking that gets in the way of the meaning-making that we rightfully should do through other structures. It isn’t important what we will know in the future that we don’t know consciously now. We are origin, so we are holons, we contain the whole while not being the whole consciously, so things are outside and inside at the same time and time itself is contingent and we’re going some place buit when we get there we’ll recognize it as the place we’ve always been. Gebser is trying to get us to stop battering away at all this with the deficient mental/rational that just confuses things terribly and leads to fits of escape into the “mysterium” or we become fascists, or some other error that drags us away from consciousness as we thrash around at the end of an age.

(Lynlee Lyckberg) #25

interesting~ yes. and again no. (for me).

[Meaning , in my understanding, is not provided by phenomena of any kind. Meaning is created by the intersection of events with consciousness–that is the only meaning that ever exists. When we develop more structures then the meaning will change and both and all future meanings will be right. If we just say, that we can’t know the meaning of the “Great Mystery” then I think Gebser would chide us for indulging in a bit of deficient magic thinking that gets in the way of the meaning-making that we rightfully should do through other structures.]

yes. I agree. meaning is NOT provided by phenomena of any kind. I absolutely agree. WE give all events their meaning according to our level of consciousness. indeed, this is true.

[When we develop more structures of consciousness then meaning will change. ]

Of course, because we will be able to interpret (or give meaning to) events and experiences from the place of a much broader understanding.
Are we there yet? who knows… maybe some folks are, and maybe some aren’t, and it’s all perfectly fine. EXCEPT that in the deficient phase of mental consciousness, we disregard ALL other structures AND we move to the place of annihilation of self, of other, of the divine. (Neitzsche stated that God is dead, and this removes the necessary divine referent that enables us to live with the contingencies of life).
It’s all good and fine to annihilate the divine as a “thing” (which it never was for me anyway), but from MY perspective, the whole trick of integral consciousness is to avoid annihilation of ANYTHING at all. self, other, OR the divine…
This requires facing our fear of the OTHER (God? the numinous? death? other beings with whom we share the planet? projections of our Ego?) Who knows? For me, it’s all equally as real as it is unreal, and my psyche cannot tell the difference.
In other words, I am always in the Bardo, but as soon as I realize that, it is lucid and I am not in Illusion of the real anymore.
really really, this is some intense philosophical stuff. I am guessing that Gebser speaks from a strictly Western perspective, and that it is only because we place an Eastern overlay upon this that we see correspondences between the two. I really don’t know. But it isn’t possible to understand Gebser unless we consider all the other ideas floating around him at the same time that contribute to his thought.
Many have stated that Sri Aurobindo and Teillhard de Chardin came up with similar ideas around the same time (slightly before Gebser).
This is the idea of the ideological God-man (naranyan, uber mensch, or superman) in consciousness that we are all theoretically becoming, the God who learns who or what it is through the development of humanity.
this same idea is found in Judaism as the Olan Tikkun and in Vedic sciences (Samkhya and Vedanta where Purusha~ pure potential of consciousness desires to know himself and merges with Prakriti ~ pure potential of matter in order to become conscious and discover who or what He is. In Vedanta, this concept later becomes unified as Brahman.
All of this points to the mythical moment of divine consciousness that requires the awakening of only ONE being. :wink:
For me, this is ALL an illusion and simply alludes to metaphors of individual consciousness, although our differences in belief along with technology DO threaten literal annihlation.
Collective Awakening is an ideal that will not happen until every person faces individuality/Ego (masculinization of consciousness) first (which is connected to maturation, so …)
Then, and only then can we move into a mature unity consciousness. I do think as a collective, we are beginning to grapple with either our demise, or our awakening to a creative solution to the impending crisis which is accelerated by technology and its capacity to effectively make human responsibility nearly impossible.
Again, I don’t see it happening as everyone on the planet is in a different place with it according to their own inner process of belief and maturation. (and as Joanna Macy would point out, it might be too late, we might be past our ability to change things.)
WHAT THEN? What if we are barreling so quickly towards this teleological end that is largely self-created? or perhaps ISN’T self created? can we really know? what does THAT awareness (really, an awareness of the Numinous) look like?
The MYTH that we can become this uber-mensch/superman is a very old idea. It is what Hitler also advocated, to the extent that everything that threatened that idealism was destroyed.
For ME, integral consciousness doesn’t mean eliminating the magical at all. (or the archaic, or the mythical, or the mental). It simply means recognizing when we are operating from the deficient aspect of those modalities, and realigning with them in their efficient phases. In fact, we need ALL of the structures of consciousness even MORE as we move into a super technologized world. Accessing these earlier structures of consciousness might be the ONE thing that allows us to remember our human mortality.
As I stated earlier, the magical is alive and well in us through our language and how we use it to create out world. There is deep belief that the spoken word creates the world we live in, and there is truth in this as well. We find this belief in every system and it is inherently connected to myths regarding how the world comes into being.
yes, we are the origin. and yet. there is something greater than us at work that we are powerless to. Anyone who has experienced the numinous will attest to this.
I think Gebser isn’t at all suggesting that we eliminate earlier structures. They are still alive and active in us, and will continue to be so. I think he is asking us to begin to recognize how they actually DO unconsciously inform and drive us. This is the heart of myth. It remains a force in our lives long after we imagine we have left it behind.
Sorry if I am not clear~
what I am agreeing with is your idea that we absolutely project everything that is not incorporated into consciousness.
what I am disagreeing with is the idea that we CAN fully integrate everything we project and integrate everything into consciousness~
For me, as soon as we arrive at full integration of the unknown, a newer experience appears on the horizon. such is life. we never really reach the place that forever eludes our knowing.
I think Gebser kind of says this, and kind of doesn’t. except that he DOES state that either time fulfills itself in us (meaning time ends when we do as a species/self-annihilation?) or we fulfill ourselves in time (meaning that we come to an awareness regarding wholeness as an illusion, and we ALLOW life to be exactly what it is).
IDK. thanks for the conversation~

(Ed Mahood) #26

Thanks for the quick and detailed response. And thanks most of all for the citation … I need all the help I can get these days; I got myself side-tracked on a self-induced Gebser project and have been all over the text for other reasons, but oddly covering some of the ground you refer to. Be that as it may. Let me add this:

Overall, Gebser is rather positively disposed to Otto and speaks highly of him in several places. I, too, would consider Otto a theologian and have dealt with him, what little I have, in this context. Gebser is very explicit in insisting that the concept of the numinosun is one “coined by our age for the purpose of comprehending a non-conceptual and irratinoal phenomenon.” (EPO, 201) What Gebser does say is that Otto picked up this notion and reformulated it as a concept; that is, an artifact of the mental-rational structure. He says, “The concept of the numinous is an attempt to grasp and define a primoridial experience […].” (EPO, 193) That is what we generally do in many of our discussions: defininng terms and strictly holding on to these so that everyone knows what we’re talking about.

The phrase to which you are referring reads “Würden wir vom religösen Standpunkt aus an diese Frage herantreten, dann enthält dieser Begriff vom Numinosen des Theologen R. Otto eine überweltliche Macht, eine göttliche, der sich der Mensch gläubig unterwirft.” The Barstad/Mikunas translation does the sentence justice, to be sure, but I read it more like, “Were we to approach this question from a religious standpoint, then the theologian R. Otto’s concept of the ‘Numinosen’ contains an other-worldly power, a divine (power) that the person (experiencing this) faithfully submits to.” Yes, it’s clunky, but style isn’t the issue here (thank goodness). In other words, as a concept, the notion of “divine power” (generally conceived mental-rationally as outside the individual) to which the individual gives himself up in accordance with that person’s beliefs. To my mind, Gebser is not saying that Otto’s numinosum is mere belief, rather it is being interpreted outside the (vital) experience itself. My feeling through this part of the text is that Gebser is merely trying to show that we should engage the experience more directly, more immediately than through a concept.

I need to add, however, that though I used the word “experience” rather loosely here, Gebser and the German language approach the notion a bit differently. There are two verbs which we translate as “to experience” in English, namely erleben and erfahren. The nouns derived from each are Erlebnis and Erfahrung. Barstad/Mikunas dealt with this issue by translating the former as “vital experience” and the latter as “lived experience”. For example, “That roller coaster ride was quite the experience” (Erlebnis) in contrast with “Living abroad for two years was quite the experience” (Erfahrung). When Gebser is speaking of the “numinosum” it is always Erlebnis/erleben.

Now, Gebser was certainly familiar with Rank, even though he is mentioned only once (on p 68), and this positively in regard to the work that he and Freud and others did of making us all more aware of myth and the mythical. It seems to me that while there are certain parallels between what Rank was doing and what Gebser was up to, they are not congruent. Gebser doesn’t appear to be directing his text at the individual but rather at humanity as a whole. Rank is very much concerned with the development and situation of the individual; that’s what psychologists do. Their findings will be generalized to others of the same day and age, but I don’t think that Rank was particularly interested in the differences in mentation between the average individual 10,000 years ago as compared to the 20th century. Gebser certainly was, at least as I read him. This is certainly no denigration of Rank’s (or Freud’s or anyone else’s) work, rather they are following different paths which, in places, certainly overlap, but the focal points of each are very different.

Having said that, I find it far more interesting, for example, that in 1949 another major work on consciousness was published, namely Erich Neumann’s The Origins and History of Consciousness. I find this one particularly interesting because Neumann was teaching at Jung’s institute at the time he wrote it, and so was Gebser, but neither of them mentioned the other in the works. What was that all about? Still, in some regards I can understand why that happened. Neumann’s primary thesis is that there are three phases of mythological development that humanity has experienced and these are reflected in the development of the individual. Should anything go wrong with the individual’s dealing with these, it can lead to personal issues that need to be resolved. In other words, his focus is almost entirely on the development of the individual, using humanity as a backdrop. Gebser, in my mind, postulates a much more intimate involvement in which consciousness is not an overcoming of archetypes but rather an intensification of awareness, in which the fate of the individual is secondary. But that’s just my take on it.

Thanks again for the pointers and clarifications.

(Lynlee Lyckberg) #27

no, thank YOU for this excellent response and the German text and translation which does change the meaning slightly. I keep thinking of the two aspects of language always present in German …
one aspect which is always the noun and its corresponding twin, the verb. thus. it (BEING) is always “coming into being” AND “manifesting fully” all at the same time.
Rank does refer quite explicitly to the reading of entrails (as part of the divine right of kingship) and the development of the concept of the “soul” (and the Greek psyche) which is something that Gebser discusses also. Similar but different I suppose. However, the idea of soul as a construct (and the later Greek notion of psyche) is critical to both.
I have read the Neumann work that you mention as well, along with The Great Mother, and it IS curious that neither Gebser nor Neumann acknowledged the other. Thank you for pointing out that Neumann’s work, like Rank’s, is on the individual rather than the collective, which is certainly the most important focus of Gebser’s work.
I am also curious as to why Gebser does not mention Poincare, although he was obviously in France shortly after Poincare’s theories were being developed and was certainly influenced by them.
It is my thought that Gaudi’s work on the Sagrada Familia was among the first architectural examples that actually demonstrates both Poincare’s mathematical theories and Gebser’s idea that the change in mathematical theories along with changes in science and language are all indicators of the shift (mutation) in consciousness.
I think it is important to recognize that Gebser states that his ideas first took shape around 1932, nearly 80 years ago (Poincare developed his theories around 1880 or so and the Sagrada Familia was initiated in 1882). SO we aren’t “just now” entering this stage of consciousness, it has been around for quite awhile now, for almost one generation at least. It’s just that many of us are now becoming aware of the milieu in which we already are immersed (and have been) for quite some time.
I agree about your take on Gebser’s work, that it is really an intensification of awareness about the teleological direction of humankind~ outside and beyond individual fate. it is, instead, addressing the fate of the collective based upon the intensity and heat (speed) of the path we are already on.
as I said in my previous message… what does that look like?
In my mind, that is exactly what creative visionaries are trying to find an image for.

I know many people love Alex Grey’s work and see him as a visionary… but for me, this is NOT the vision that is trying to come into view here…

(I have issues with him to be quite honest, and I think that if people knew the truth about his work, they would be horrified. It is a breach of necessary ethics that divide art and science (and subsequently becomes problematic in all of this for me.)
I see the crossing of a necessary boundary between art and science, as seriously detrimental to our capacity to develop a sense of ethics. Scientists like Gunther von Hagens with his body worlds who create works of art as commodities for sale to wealthy patrons frustrates and grieves me to no end. but that is a discussion for another day.

My point here is that we need to try and understand what is coming into view, or what is already HERE, fully formed, in our midst, simply awaiting our perception of it.

alas, it is late again, and I need to try and sleep, so, for now, blessings~
will chat again soon~

(Eric Towle) #28

One final statement on this topic: I think we agree on the basics but when you say that you disagree with the notion that one can fully integrate everything we project, I would just respond with the further speculation that–we integrate everything we_ need to_ if approached integrally, that all of the numinous experience, for instance, can produce meaning for us if integrated by all structures efficiently. We won’t integrate all of such experiences into consciousness if consciousness is interpreted to be mental alone, that’s for sure. And it is the mental that people are generally using when they look at overwhelming experience and call it a mystery. This is a dead end, it goes nowhere and delivers nothing. It’s junk food for the mind. Now if a person looks at their numinous experience and gives it meaning by saying that they are encouraged by this event in it’s demonstration of something larger than themselves that shows that the universe isn’t just random events but has some higher intelligence, then they have integrated the event into an efficient mythological construct, that allows them to “take heart” an efficient magic feeling state, while at the same time filing it away in some mental system of coming to terms with eternity or God, whatever. That is full integration. So if you say that we can integrate part of these events but there is always the unknown part we can’t then, I would think, that part gets consigned to the deficient magic notion of “mystery.” And, if I’m reading Gebser right, he would say that this is to allow an event to “irrationalize” us, which is to say, dominate and subordinate us. Recognizing that we contain origin means we are never dominated from the outside, its only a game we’re playing with our greater selves or the “itself.”

Sorry, I don’t mean to hair-split here, its just that I think these details are crucial because its my experience that we open these little cracks in our philosophies and demons come rushing in, that is to say, doubts. When you say that “we never reach the place that forever eludes our knowing” aren’t you just rationalizing in a spatial quantified inner landscape? Isn’t this just the vanishing point of three point perspective? Isn’t that deficient? Aren’t we supposed to be “seeing through” this by diaphany? I’m not criticizing, I’m just trying to figure this out for myself. Perhaps I’m missing something.

Thanks for your consideration

(Lynlee Lyckberg) #29

I am not at all speaking of integration by the mental alone, and I think you grossely misunderstand what I am trying to articulate. I am speaking of “experience” NOT “mental thoughts about experience”. The ultimate EXPERIENCE is the cessation of life (the unconscious) which we CANNOT KNOW (mentally OR physically) until it happens. IN FACT, the only way we can imagine that we KNOW this is mentally. (That being said, we can also intuit this, or believe that we can facilitate and control this, or we can be unconscious to this. These differing ways of assimilating experience all address differing structures of consciousness here). and I do believe that all beings operate primarily from one or more of these structures, while others remain relatively inactive. This is where I see Jung’s work reflecting Gebser’s structures. Gebser’s point is that in the contemporary era, human beings have become over invested in the mental, and in doing so, relegate the sensory (archaic, and perhaps the magical and mythical, though I see less of that) to the dust bin.
From both a Jungain and a Gebserian perspective, the quintessence requires a reclaiming of the forgotten pieces in order to arrive at a more mature and balanced (expanded) place.
Full integration of the numinous while in THIS form is impossible. THAT is my point. But an awareness of it enables us to make better choices in THIS life, here and now.
We can develop some conceptual (or perhaps even some experiential) imaginal idea of the numinous, but it is forever beyond our grasp. THAT is my point here, and that is my stuck point with Gebser, UNLESS we come to understand the implications (annihilation) of what he alludes to as part of a full integration of consciousness.
I don’t think I ever said that we cannot know the meaning of the Great Mystery (although I do believe that if we imagine it as a singular absolute, I am pretty sure that that’s not it). Meaning is entirely dependent upon perspective, experience, cultural dictates, consciousness, belief, etc…
We have our sense organs alone to determine the meaning of experiences, and the imaginal capacity of the psyche to creatively decide what those mean. (although some paths in Vedic science would perhaps claim that the moment of individual awareness ~ mahat~ is the birth of the ego and the beginning of maya).
ah. the vanishing point of 3 point perspective. In the twentieth century, that dissolved into abstraction, or the lack of a comprehensible image at all. There, the path disappeared into the field (back to the ourobouric undifferentiated state of chaos). As an artist, this is my understanding of it. This is why, for me, abstraction is crucially important for understanding the aperspectival, although it CAN lead to annihlation as well, as is witnessed by the suicides of numerous abstract expressionists from the 1950’s. Our ability to exist without a referent is really really psychologically difficult.
Re-presentations of the real (perspective) are not the real itself, and are also simply abstractions. All visuals depicting the real through the mechanism of perspective all arrive at an impossible place where the lines do not meet up and must cleverly be disguised on the picture plane somehow. The point is, what is real is beyond our ability to define, contain, conceive of it really. And if we mistake images of the real for the real, we miss it too. (Magritte comes to mind here).
I am not sure what your issue with me is, but quite frankly, we don’t have to agree on anything, and that is quite alright with me~ :smiley:
Thanks for your thoughts as well~ best~

(Lynlee Lyckberg) #30

tell me how you understand the “efficient” structure of the magical.

(Lynlee Lyckberg) #31

and my understanding of “seeing through” (diaphany) is seeing through our OWN mythological stories, the places where WE have beliefs that keep us from being fully present in our lives. So, if YOU operate from a magical consciousness that is deficient (which includes a denial of it), then your work is to recognize that in yourself rather than another.
Gebser states that “Transparency (diaphaneity) is the form of the manifestation (epiphany) of the spiritual” (6). What this means for me is how the spiritual (the Numinous~ awareness of death?) appears to each of us personally (or collectively?); the event that brings us to an awareness of this and irrupts and disrupts our current mindset, changing us forever. Either we have this individual epiphany, or we will be forced to collectively have it in the form of a global catastrophe. (Jung says that when we are unconscious of an inner truth, it manifests outside of us as fate.) to render transparent our own origin is to recognize that it’s ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and that the time spent in between is fleeting. I don’t see Gebser pointing to a divine outside of this really, as in a God that he thinks we all have to believe in. What the numinous IS has been the subject of philosophical debate since the beginning of time (although not called that).
Gebser calls unity a “reduced wholeness.” (118). I think this means that as soon as we concretize wholeness, (imagine that we can grasp it) it is limited and smaller than what actually IS. Gebser clearly distinguishes between the irrational (deficient phase) and the arational (efficient phase) of the mental structure (147), which has to do with going beyond what is knowable and measurable to disregarding it completely by regressing to a state of undifferentiated chaos devoid of the mental. For me this is also what Jung refers to as Individuation, the ability to be present to the knowable and the unknowable at the same time.
The state of the integrum is neither dominated by matriarchy nor patriarchy, but simply recognizes the origin (and our being) as a gender neutral state that deals in polarities strictly as a caveat in matters of consciousness.
for gebser the limitations to our knowing the aperspectival are simply tied to spatial (or visual) representations of it… therefore what is real includes the invisble as much or more than the visible.
I am agnostic, meaning that all I know is that I do not know.
Gebser states that integral consciousness is the state of living the four structures together, simultaneously (in their efficient phases), commensurate with their respective degrees of conscious awareness. (272).
i think in essence, freedom from time allows us to live within time while recognizing that it is a construct that helps us navigate our existence. It’s just when we forget that there are other experiences of time, including no time, that are available to us as well. we cannot live in the liminal indefintely, but it is useful to help become aware of space and time constructs that we function within.
anyway. I could go on forever in what I see. That doesn’t make it absolute in any way.
but being transparent is seeing through your own structures, in whichever form they appear and get in your way. Transparency or diaphaneity never ends. but it is never about “other.” :wink:

(Eric Towle) #32

Thanks very much for that thoughtful reply. Its not that I have an issue with you, I’m just trying to deepen my own appreciation for the material and your thought is so detailed that it makes a good sounding board for my own inquiry into the details that I haven’t quite fully groked. I’ve been studying Gebser for years and each pass deepens my grasp. What I’m really interested in this time is not so much the philosophy as a set of principals but his instructions as to how to actually implement the whole project as a way of life. It seems to me some times that there’s so much minutia that I’m waiting for a picture to resolve out of what seems contradictory chaos. Just taking on board the simple integration of all the structures really does have great value alone for our society at this moment in history but I keep hoping to find a kind of skeleton key to the deep experience of the Gebserian Satori. That’s really the selling point. If its as hard to reach as the Zen variety then Gebser is never going to take off as an alternative to the current degenerate rational materialism that is wrecking the world. Perhaps the mutation will just pop up when the anxiety reaches critical mass but it sure would be nice if we could help it along a bit and avoid the dystopian future.


(Ed Mahood) #33

Quick question of clarification from me.

You wrote,

but I’m not sure how I understand this, hence my question: is the following “equation” correct:

spiritual = the Numinous = awareness of death

That’s the impression I’m getting, but I’m not quite following. I realize it’s just a small piece of a longer statement, but I stumbled over it.

Thanks in advance for the clarification.

(Lynlee Lyckberg) #34

peace to you too dear one~ don’t mind me… I am tired and overwhelmed, and speak off the cuff often. I appreciate your responses. The answer from where I stand? I really don’t know. Are you familiar with Joanna Macy’s work? I think we are all thinking similar thoughts about the future fate of the planet~ LOVE LOVE LOVE while we are here, with whomever we cross paths with~ That is what keeps coming up for me~ I am sorry for being intense… it is my nature~ and I have to love self despite that~ <3

(Lynlee Lyckberg) #35

yes. that is correct. even if it does seem like a cartesian dualism. (again, it’s merely a caveat in language to contrast the spiritual with the material, even if they really are one seamless reality and experience.)

the spiritual/Numinous (for me) refers to the idea of that which is eternal or immortal in us (the Greek psyche). the part that is connected to the numinous, (divinity, the unknown, the Great Mystery?) that animates us, flows through us, flows around us, flows beyond us (everything that is).

I mean, ultimately, life and death are all one seamless reality… it is ALL spiritual. and in the Tibetan tradition, it’s all one dream after another, endlessly. (The Bardo’s.) IDK.
Death is just another rebirth, whether it’s on the individual level or on the collective level. We return to the matrix that we came from perhaps.
In Gebser’s context, (and for me) I think ‘wholeness’ (w)holiness requires an acknowledgment of (or an awareness of) the other half of experience.

these are complicated and complex philosophical ideas we are wrestling with.

I might be completely wrong about all of this…
who knows… x

(brucesanguin) #36

Eric, I’m really appreciating your comments and observations here. I agree with your sense that we are Origin, manifest in time and space. And that our relative experience of the numinous and interpretation of that experience gives us a snap shot of the various consciousness mutations that are functioning in us - what we have projected out so that we can objectify it, and when the time is right internalize it. But what I find myself wanting to hold on to - and this may be my own deficient mental structure, or it could be a new mutation railing against/breaking down the rational structure altogether?- is that there is actual Otherness. It seems to matter to me that, yes, I may be Origin materialized in space and time, but there is actual Otherness, that saves me from the isolation of this all being me/Me, Bruce/Origin. The many, and not just the One, are actual, and matter. Get a sense of what I’m getting at?

(Eric Towle) #37


I get where you’re coming from and I certainly agree that we live in the multiplicity of manifestation and we get great pleasure in encountering the other in the great adventure of life. The point I’m trying to make is that, certainly we can use the dividing mind to split off all kinds of things in the universe–that which is beyond death, that which other’s including animals are experiencing, etc. but for Gebser, that’s not the point.

The book is called: THE EVER PRESENT ORIGIN, not “the sometimes present origin,” or “you’ll never know all of origin,” its called “The Ever Present Origin.” This means that Gebser is asking us to intensify our minds beyond the divisions so that we can perceive origin “shinning through” all the differences while maintaining them. It is impossible to know every facet of God, the universe, whatever–we shouldn’t even try. The deficient mode of all the structures leads us into certain errors. It is very sticky business trying to ferret out all of the ways we do this. It is not an error, in my opinion and your’s, that we encounter “otherness.” The great achievement of the Gebserian mind is to create community through recognizing origin in all while maintaining otherness–a community of unique individuals. To do this we must get over our tribal, deficient magic, way of understanding community, where we have to share so many ways of being in order to be considered part of the in-group.

We are in this difficult moment in history where we teeter back and forth between the isolated individual–a product of the complexification of evolution that moves people to unique individuation–and the mindless masses, that provide comfort in mutual validation. Fundamentalist churches and fascist armies are made up of individuals who have run away from their own unique expression as evolving beings. The answer to this dilemma is to realize The Ever Present Origin. Not to get hung-up on the otherness, or all the things we can’t know. That is my point.

(Lynlee Lyckberg) #38

and I am thinking that the “other” you are referring to here is the numinous itself, and NOT other as in subject /object human, animal, manifest other.
is that right Bruce?
and I agree that an acknowledgement of otherness is essential, otherwise it’s just back to an unconscious unity, (the archaic structure), and Gebser isn’t suggesting a return to that either.
I think a better term for me than “wholeness” regarding the structures is perhaps working to find a sense of “balance” within the structures… an inner sense that doesn’t get pulled into any of the deficient aspects of the structures through expanding consciousness, but can remain in balance even as the shifts occur. (still point of the turning world for me).

(brucesanguin) #39

Thanks Lynnlee, your comments are very helpful. Yes, the Other as the “itself”. But what was clarifying in your comment is that the alternative to Otherness is magical unity. Somehow I still want to give this ontological status, but not as in the mythic god. Just that otherness, and therefore relationality as a fundamental constituent of the universe, is primordial. Even as we can awaken to being the presence of the EPO in this form, still in this form we relate to That wherever we experience as a genuine other. Still working it out.

(brucesanguin) #40

thanks Eric, yeah, the only “we” I’m interested in is that which arises from the communion of differentiated individuals. I appreciate your perspective.