I submitted the first draft of my dissertation to my committee a couple of weeks ago. I’m aiming to defend in March. Here’s a sneak peak of the table of contents. I still need to fill out the introduction and conclusions. Originally, I had no intention of writing so much about Kant, but he proved to be rather central to my effort to rehabilitate speculative philosophy. The guardian of the threshold, you might say.
Title: Cosmotheanthropic Imagination in the Post-Kantian Process Philosophy of Schelling and Whitehead
Introduction: Imagining Cosmos, Theos, and Anthropos in Post-Kantian Process Philosophy 6
Chapter 1: Kant as Guardian of the Threshold of Imagination 7
1.1 Whitehead, Schelling, and the Aftermath of Kant 13
1.2 The Kantian Mode of Thought 18
1.2.1 Thinking 21
1.2.2 Desiring 28
1.2.3 Feeling 32
Chapter 2: Descendental Philosophy and Aesthetic Ontology: Beyond the Kantian Mode of Thought 42
2.1 Aesthetic Ontology as Elemental Phenomenology 53
2.2 Aesthetic Ontology as Transcendental Empiricism 56
2.3 Towards a Descendental Aesthetic 66
Chapter 3: The Inversion of Kant: Towards an Organic Cosmology 86
3.1 The Refutation of Kant’s “Refutation of Idealism”: From Subject-Substance Correlation to Process-Relational Creativity 103
3.2 From Geometric Conditions of Possibility to Genetic Conditions of Actuality 118
Chapter 4: Etheric Imagination in Naturphilosophie: Towards a Physics of the World-Soul 128
4.1 Traces of Ether in Kant’s Opus Posthumum 132
4.2 Etheric Imagination in Schelling and Whitehead 142
4.3 Nature Philosophy as “Spiritual Sensation” 150
4.4 Etheric Imagination and Vegetal Metaphysics 157
If you’re a Bay Area local, do try to attend this conference celebrating the work of Stan Grof Oct. 24-25 (Friday and Saturday) at the Hotel Whitcomb. It is being sponsored by the new Center for the Study of Psychedelic Medicine at C.I.I.S. and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.
This fall, the California Institute of Integral Studies and the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness Program is hosting a unique conference honoring the lifetime achievements of Stanislav Grof in the several fields to which he has made such major contributions, including consciousness research, psychiatry and psychology, psychedelic studies, religious studies, philosophy, and esotericism. Scholars and researchers from many disciplines will explore and build upon Grof’s extraordinary expansion of our understanding of the human psyche as well as the range and power of psychotherapeutic approaches. Grof will respond to the diverse presentations, followed by open dialogue with the participants.
Presenters will include:
Christopher Bache, Ph.D.; John Buchanan, Ph.D.; Fritjof Capra; Rick Doblin, Ph.D.; Jorge Ferrer, Ph.D.; Leonard Gibson, Ph.D.; Charles Grob, M.D.; Paul Grof, M.D.; Stanislav Grof, M.D.; Diane Haug, M.A., LPCC; William Keepin, Ph.D.; Sean Kelly, Ph.D.; Ralph Metzner, Ph.D.; Annie Mithoefer, B.S.N; Michael Mithoefer, M.D.; Thomas Roberts, Ph.D.; Tav Sparks; Richard Tarnas, Ph.D.; Kylea Taylor, M.S., M.F.T.; and Jenny Wade, Ph.D.
Bryant posted a great piece on textual transference and the role of love in learning. He has succeeded in making me wonder what it is exactly that gives ideas their alluring personalities. How is it that sympathy and charisma have such an effect in the world, while cold-hard facts and rationally deduced truth seem to fall on deaf ears? If an idea isn’t interesting enough for its teacher to sustain a relationship with a student, it will die a mere logical possibility lacking effective deployment in the relational world.
I share Bryant’s sentiment here:
“I…recognize that the world is saturated with many different loves and that these loves carry people in many different directions… Often in directions contrary to my own. The best I can do is continue to speak and write and hope that in doing so I encounter those from whom I can learn and grow.”
I would add, though, that I think love operates at various levels; it isn’t simply the psychological invention of individual human beings, it is a cosmic energy. So is wisdom. I hope not only to encounter other humans, animals, plants, and elements to learn from, but also to participate in the soul of the world from whom we each receive our life.
“The philosopher in me, of course, is offended by transference.”
I don’t think philosophy is inherently adverse to love. On the contrary, it seems as though love is the very essence of wisdom (and, as you suggested, love is clearly at the root of learning).
I’m not sure about this:
“When the atheist sets upon the believer, systematically destroying those beliefs, for example, he would do well to remember that it’s never just about the beliefs but that there’s a whole network of libidinal attachment to family, spouses, lovers, friends, rituals, festivals, etc, of which the beliefs are but the tip of the iceberg. Tenacious attachment to these beliefs might very well be, in many cases, tenacious attachment to these other libidinal investments.”
I don’t think atheism should be opposed to belief. Atheism is not the opposite of positive belief, but agnosticism. Atheism is also a system of beliefs rooted in a mostly unspoken network of drives and familial/communal rituals. Even the agnostic, as metaphysically skeptical as they may pretend to be, is still an enculturated animal operating in the world according to some unconscious imaginative background, and to that extent is the historical product of a set of communal practices. In the Jamesian sense, a belief is anything we are willing to act on, despite at first lacking certain knowledge of it. Love, since it is at the root of learning, is the original belief, the belief from which all else, cosmic and human, follows. Without it, there is nothing. Nihil.
The love of wisdom seems to come natural to Homo sapiens.
- The Creativity of Causality in Bios and Cosmos: a response to Levi Bryant (footnotes2plato.com)
- Science, Art, Religion: The Role of Speculative Philosophy in the Adventure of Rationality (footnotes2plato.com)
The movements of the soul, as Jungians well know, tend to manifest in polarities. The most fundamental of these polarities is that between birth and death: to be alive and animate is already to be dying. Likewise, daytime consciousness is only possible when one has slept properly the night before. Remaining cogent requires of the ego that it remain in steady rhythm, sinking into the darkness of dreams each evening in order to arise again refreshed in the morning.
There is little scientific consensus concerning the reason, physiological or otherwise, that the human soul must cycle through its solar and lunar phases. Shakespeare, it seems, was right: the soul is ungraspable, being such stuff as dreams are made of. Rational inquiry provides little clear and demonstrable information regarding why sleep and dreams should be necessary. Death, too, presents the rational ego with a complete mystery unbreachable by empirical or logical study. Shining the ego’s light on the strange facts of sleep and death does not reveal them for what they are, but only reflects consciousness back upon itself. The nature of the soul, we are at first forced to concede, is largely unconscious.
“The hypothesis of the unconscious,” writes Jung, “puts a large question mark after the idea of the psyche.” Philosophers had for many centuries assumed that the structure and function of the soul was already known in every detail, but as the 19th century came to a close, the burgeoning discipline of psychology began to reveal a far more complex and even irrational subterranean source of conscious processes. Rather than working with the static and compartmentalized model of the soul constructed by Scholastic thinkers, Jung was forced by his experience as a clinician to develop a dynamic, living relationship with psychic processes. As his practice matured, Jung came to realize that the soul is not a scientific object at all; on the contrary, it is what makes such objectification possible: “every science is a function of the psyche, and all knowledge is rooted in it.”
But how is psychology—the science of the soul—to proceed if its foundational hypothesis admits the existence of an autonomously functioning unconscious? The cultural philosopher Jean Gebser recognized this difficultly, and though he had the highest respect for Jung’s groundbreaking work, he nonetheless called into question the concept of the unconscious:
“There is no so-called unconscious. There are only various modalities (or intensities) of consciousness: a one-dimensional magical, a two-dimensional mythical, a three-dimensional mental consciousness. And there will also be an integral four-dimensional consciousness of the whole.”
Gebser suggests that the concept of the unconscious may still be used to describe the relationship between a structure of consciousness one dimension less than the incremented structure above it, but rejects entirely the dualistic framework, wherein consciousness is opposed to an unconscious. Jung himself rarely if ever collapsed the psychic terrain into so neat a dichotomy, but Gebser’s phenomenology of consciousness in terms of a potentially ever-present, and yet also historically unfolding series of structures assures that such a rationalistic reduction is avoided.
In light of Gebser’s important critique of the notion of an unconscious, Jung’s work will be interpreted in what follows as the tentative beginnings of an integral psychology. Both Gebser and Rudolf Steiner will provide important additions and amendments to Jung’s psychology, so as to avoid the undue reduction of spiritual realities to psychic projections. The purpose of psychology, I will argue, is to enter conscious dialogue with the archetypal energies of the soul, re-connecting with its magic powers of synchronicity and mythic powers of polarity so as to heal the dualistic split our mental-rational civilization has hewn between cosmic and human intelligences. Jung’s practice of “active imagination,” as artfully displayed in The Red Book, will provide a working example of how this dialogue can be initiated and sustained. Though plenty of references will be made, the synthesis—or better, synairesis—of these three men’s ideas will not be an exercise in textual exegesis. Rather, my aim is to creatively weave each figure’s most important insights into an integral whole.
Individuation as Integration
“In the analytic psychology of C. G. Jung,” writes Gebser, “we can discern a manifest attempt to overcome…the psychic dualism that is the terminological heritage of Freud’s materialistic psychoanalysis.” Gebser points specifically to Jung’s theory of individuation as the most promising move in this direction. The archetype of the Self is, for Jung, both the center and the circumference of the psyche. It unifies all opposites, not by submerging them back into undifferentiated unconsciousness, but by luring the psyche toward a more complex form of wholeness, wherein eventually maximum interior differentiation (perfect individuality) is achieved alongside maximum exterior harmony (complete communion).
Whereas for Freud, the desire for psychic wholeness is nothing but a regressive infantile longing for a past existence in our mother’s womb, for Jung it represents our human need to simultaneously discover our cosmic extent and penetrate to our spiritual essence. In this section, I will speculate upon how the complex wholeness of the incarnating Self re-situates the dualistic partiality of egoic consciousness. These speculations concerning the emergence of the Self rest upon the premise that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, or that the individual in some sense contains and relives the collective history of the species. Jung, Gebser, and Steiner are all in agreement on this point, which is subtle but important. While the evolution of consciousness is collective, real action takes place as a result of individual transformation.
“In our unconscious we have to find the most essential transitional forces for the whole of human kind,” says Steiner, “just as we must find in the individual the most important forces for the development of a fully awake consciousness.”
Recognition of the mutual interplay between the individual and the collective should be at the heart of any deep inquiry into the psyche. The psychologist must take great care not to neglect the power of the one in favor of the many, or vice versa, since in the first place any especially insightful individual’s attempt to reveal what for most remains occult depends upon successfully speaking in a tongue that the ears of the spirit of the times are capable of hearing. The confrontation with the unconscious that lead Jung to produce The Red Book forced him into solitude, and though he knew there was no way to rationally justify the gnosis imparted to him by the spirit of the depths, he was compelled nonetheless to communicate its symbolic meanings to others. Individuation, though individual, is never simply an inner process, but is bound up with the transformation of other people and of the world itself: “…the spirit of the depths in me,” writes Jung, is “at the same time the ruler of the depths of world affairs.”
Gebser’s approach to the evolution of consciousness (i.e., the incarnation of the Self) rests upon the phenomenological observation that, in the course of human history, “clearly discernable worlds stand out whose development or unfolding took place in mutations of consciousness.” These world-structures (which Gebser classifies into archaic, magic, mythic, and mental, each with its respective spatiotemporal character) remain present and effectual even for our contemporary, deficient form of mental-rational consciousness. Humanity has not overcome each structure as if climbing a ladder, leaving lower rungs behind; instead, our path has been one of dimensional intensification, whereby each increase in dimensionality depends upon the structural integrity of the prior layers. Gebser’s realization that our species is in the midst of the collapse of an old, and the emergence of a new structure of consciousness, namely the integral-aperspectival, is congruent with Jung’s ego-shattering encounter, as recounted in The Red Book, with the “new God” being conceived and born out of the human soul.
Prior to composing The Red Book, Jung had achieved the heights of professional acclaim. By 1910, at age 35, he had received an honorary degree from Clark University and been elected to the presidency of an international psychoanalytic association. The new scientific understanding of the psyche that Jung was at the forefront of securing gave no outward indication of the as yet unconscious inner turmoil that would soon be unleashed upon the world. In 1913, Jung received his first hint in a waking vision of a “terrible flood” that covered all of Europe with “yellow waves, swimming rubble, and the death of countless thousands.” The visions continued to trouble Jung into 1914, producing a great inner uncertainty. He began to fear he was on the way to “doing a schizophrenia,” and in April resigned from his positions as president of the International Psychoanalytical Association and lecturer at the University of Zürich. More dreams of catastrophe haunted him until finally, on August 1st, 1914, war broke out in Europe, relieving Jung from the worst of his fears:
“Now I was sure that no schizophrenia was threatening me. I understood that my dreams and my visions came to me from the subsoil of the collective unconscious.”
Jung’s personal visionary experiences during this period mirrored the collective European psyche’s descent into the underworld beginning with the First World War. Gebser, writing several decades later, places the early 20th century at the climax of the mutation from the alienated rationalistic ego of the deficient mental structure of consciousness to the holistic and re-enchanted consciousness of the integral structure. This mutational process is still underway today, and though signs of integration can be found, nothing guarantees the success of such an epochal transformation. In The Red Book, Jung artfully exemplifies for collective view the imaginal process of soul-making that can remind the autonomous, perspectival ego of its origin in a shared substratum of myth and magic. Jung’s practice of active imagination can aid the transformation out of mental-rational consciousness, giving rise to the conditions necessary for a second birth, not of the water but of the spirit.
The shortcoming of modern psychoanalytic theory, Jung realized, was certainly not its verification of a psychic totality deeper than egoic consciousness, but its objectifying and epistemologically skeptical method of inquiry into the nature of this totality. Modern psychology had turned the soul into a scientific object. This basic lack of openness to the meaning-producing capacity of the soul inevitably lead to the reductive explanation of its living symbolic processes in terms of impersonal mechanistic forces. “I had to accept that what I had previously called my soul was not at all my soul,” writes Jung, “but a dead system.”
Gebser, too, goes to great lengths in The Ever-Present Origin to point out the disintegrative effects of an exclusively mental-perspectival form of consciousness unable to divorce itself from “an exclusively three-dimensional spatial framework”:
“We of the European-Atlantic cultural community have as of yet been unable to make the leap at the crucial moment from the three-dimensional world of our fathers into the fourth-dimensional reality of our day. And as long as we fail to make this leap, crisis, uncertainty, and anxiety will continue to prevail; and they can destroy us in the short run unless we can realize the new world reality.”
For Gebser, the “illuminative” potential of pure consciousness is “definitely not restricted to spatialization and temporalization.” But trapped in the three-dimensionality of the mental-rational structure, consciousness becomes spatially frozen, unable to conceive of time, the fourth-dimension, in terms other than that of partition and division (i.e., quantity). Time loses the qualitative texture of its flow and its transparency to the wholeness of eternity, becoming the fractured clock-time of mechanistic physics, wherein the simultaneity of spatial extension constitutes all of reality. There is literally no room for the soul and its mythos in the spatial world of the disembedded ego, and so they are forced into preperspectival subconsciousness, there generating through compensation the collective neurosis inflicting techno-industrial society.
“If the world is regarded only through wakefulness,” writes Gebser,
“it loses its undivided dream-like and somnolent aspects and precipitates their separation. The dividing deed leads to…the death of man and his entire culture.”
Jung and Gebser each recognized the direness of our situation: Wakeful egoic consciousness must come to terms with the deeper undivided temporal polarity constituting its psychic totality if our civilization is to survive the mutational process that has already begun on this planet. The soul must awaken not just to the bright light of noonday, and from dreams beneath the dim midnight moon, but to the clarity that transluces all relative spatial-orbital horizons to reveal the fourth-dimensional hypersphere beneath. Here, at the hearth of the world, light returns to shadow, night completes day, and the angel of death rounds each of our lives with a peaceful sleep. The ego must admit its dependence upon sleep, dreams, and death (which is also to say, upon the structural integrity of archaic, magic, and mythic consciousness). It must forego the hubristic desire to murder the “self-existing being” of the soul by reduction to the abstract concepts of learned scholarship.
Aperspectival-integral (i.e., individuated) consciousness will not involve the dissolution of the ego and its directed mode of rational thought, but rather the integration of this mode with the imaginal and unitive modes of the mythic and magic structures. The rational ego has re-made the world in its own image, constructing cities more suited for machines than human beings. The majority of Western humanity now dwells in deadened environments that lack altogether the numinosity that encompassed earlier forms of consciousness. The lack of integration of these earlier structures must not be mistaken for their lack of, albeit deficient, influence over our daily lives. The power of magic and the meaning of myth may lack the transparency provided by a fully individuated and integrated consciousness, but just because our deficient-mental society is ignorant of their effects does not at all make these effects negligible.
On the contrary, as Jung makes clear, “nobody can dismiss these numinous factors on merely rational grounds”:
“They are important constituents of our mental make-up and cannot be eradicated without serious loss…Even tendencies that might be able to exert a beneficial influence turn into veritable demons when they are repressed…No wonder the Western world feels uneasy, for it does not know how much it plays into the hands of the uproarious underworld and what it has lost through the destruction of its numinosities.”
The meaning-making function of the non-perspectival structures has been subverted by the anti-myths and black magic inherent to the techno-scientific worldview. Not psychic wholeness and civilizational resilience, but material power and social control now constitute our general modus operandi. The values and purposes of the larger Earth community have been negated by a Cartesian mechanistic science whose methods are predicated upon the evacuation of soul from nature. Descartes’ cogito, the founding mythos of our disenchanted way of life, functions as an anti-myth, since in its enactment it ostensibly denies its own mythic origins by claiming to be a purely rational derivation. Economic progress has become the sole raison d’être of Western civilization, a progress measured only in terms of the accumulation of fiat currency. The unchallenged power of paper money, which now mediates almost every interpersonal encounter of our lives, is the result of a fetishization, the undue attribution of magical power (i.e., numinosity) to something inanimate. Originally invented to be a means to an end, money has today become the end itself.
In his diagnosis of the ills of modern society, Gebser attempts to steer clear of
“the abyss into which many are plunging and will continue to plunge as long as they regard the task only from its negative aspect as renunciation, and not from its other aspect as work yet to be done.”
The task, that of bringing to awareness an integral, individuated mode of consciousness, is not at all that of shedding more primitive ways of being and knowing. The Enlightenment project aimed at the total rationalization of life employed itself with precisely this task. The near divinization of the ego and its superficial desire for complete control has not eliminated the non-rational, but merely pushed the instincts of the magic and the archetypes of the mythic structures into subconsciousness, where they still fester in their deficient mode and find compensation through all the great social ills of our time.
“We must bring our original mind back to consciousness,” writes Jung,
“where it has never been before, and where it has never undergone critical self-reflection. We have been that mind, but we have never known it. We got rid of it before understanding it.”
Re-acquainting ourselves with the ever-present origin of consciousness is no simple task, since individuation cannot be accomplished by mental reflection alone. In the next section, Jung’s method of active imagination will be explored and developed along side Steiner’s spiritual science in the hopes that a possible way toward the integration of body, soul, and spirit is uncovered.
Activating the Imagination
For Jung, the initial irruption of psychic disturbances that he later came to describe as the result of a process of “active imagination” were more traumatic than constructive. In the year prior to the outbreak of war, Jung had been experiencing great doubt in his own professional motivations. In his autobiography, he recounts the anxiety he experienced at this time (December 1913) in response to “the fantasies which were stirring in [him] ‘underground.’” Eventually, on December 12th, he built up the courage to “let [himself] drop”:
“Suddenly it was as though the ground literally gave way beneath my feet and I plunged down into dark depths. I could not fend off a feeling of panic. But then, abruptly, at not too great a depth I landed on my feet.”
In the depths of his solitude, Jung met himself. “We are alone and our being together threatens to become unbearably boring.” He decided to educate himself, to teach himself a greater form of self-esteem, “or else our life together will become wretched.” Jung then enters into a dialogue and dispute with his own mirror image, which in typical enantiodramic fashion, is simultaneously his Self/spirit and his shadow. “This confrontation,” he would later write, “is the first test of courage on the inner way, sufficient to frighten off most people.”
The point of imaginatively activating the unconscious in such a way is not merely to wonder at the play of images. Some contemporary Jungians even warn that carelessness in the practice of this method may lead to psychopathology. Rather, active imagination should serve as the preparatory work necessary for achieving genuine spiritual inspiration along the way to individuation.
According to Steiner, human beings long ago lost immediate contact with the spiritual world due to the emergence of the ego, which has redirected all our attention to the physical body and the external sensory world. Our task today, says Steiner, is to consciously develop the imagination so as to transform it from a generator of fantasies into an organ of perception. “When our soul really attains to imagination,” says Steiner,
“it senses in its life of visualizations something akin to what it feels in its life of perceptions. In the latter the soul feels its direct contact with the outer world, with corporeality; in imagination it feels an indirect contact with a world that at first also appears to it as an outer world, but this is the outer world of the spirit.”
Steiner’s mention of the “outerness” of the spiritual world disclosed by imagination is meant to emphasize the independent (though not separate) existence of this realm. Jung also suggests that the numinous images, or archetypes, encountered in such altered states of consciousness are autonomous living entities, not to be confused with mere projections or personal memories. They should be engaged on their own terms as beings no less real than our own ego.
For Jung, individuation is all that can prevent human civilization from spiraling into the disorder and chaos of mass-mindedness. “The change must begin with one individual,” he writes,
“Nobody can afford to look around and wait for somebody else to do what he is loath to do himself. As nobody knows what he could do, he might be bold enough to ask himself whether by any chance his unconscious might know something helpful, when there is no satisfactory conscious answer anywhere in sight.”
The method of active imagination is Jung’s way of gaining access to the intelligence and transformative power of the subterranean structures of the psyche. Like Steiner, he realized that modern human beings had become so captivated by the ego’s ability to predict and control nature that we have “simply forgotten the age-old fact that God speaks chiefly through dreams and visions.” It is not in the outer sensory world, but within our own hearts and minds that the deeper meaning and spiritual truth that we long for is to be discovered.
Steiner, however, levels an important criticism upon those approaches to psychology that would limit the transformative reach of the archetypal beings encountered within the imaginatively activated soul. Jung is careful to guard against the intellect’s tendency to dismiss or rationalize the intense emotions that numinous encounters produce, but as Steiner points out,
“If the soul never emerged out of itself, but merely kept wanting to experience desires and emotions—anything from the deepest reverence to disgust—nothing would happen that is independent of the soul.”
For Steiner, the whole point of developing one’s capacity for imaginative perception is to rise above the limited subjectivity of the egocentric soul. Active imagination develops self-understanding, but the aim is not just to know oneself truly; it is also to will what is good. All stirrings of conscience, according to Steiner, emerge in the liminal space between the subjective emotionality of the soul and the transpersonal intuition of the spirit.
Though Jung limits himself to phenomenological descriptions of the psyche’s manifestations in his more scientific writings, in The Red Book—perhaps because of the collective importance of its message—he goes beyond the appearances in an attempt to grasp the occult reality that they symbolize.
In “Scrutinies,” as was mentioned above, Jung recounts his inner experience of hearing the call of conscience. The dialogue can be read in several ways, as a conversation between the Self and the ego, between the spirit and the soul, or between the Self and the shadow. What is clear is that Jung encounters a higher self who is disgusted by the “sensitivity and desirousness” of his ego: “What is concealed in you,” says this higher self, “I will drag out into the light…I will crush your superiority under my feet.”
The Self continues:
“I will burn out of you the contents of which you were so proud, so that you will become empty like a poured-out vessel… You should be a vessel of life, so kill your idols.”
The false idols the Self demands be killed are Jung’s sense of pride, self-righteousness, and ambition. The Self chastises Jung’s ego for putting his personal concerns above the whole of humanity. “You are responsible to humanity in everything that you think, feel, and do.” This experience represents the rising of the collective unconscious to awareness, and the harsh treatment Jung’s ego receives is reflective of just how far modern civilization has strayed from its instinctual roots. A universal spiritual will emerges within him, reminding Jung of the impotence of his finite personality. Steiner suggests that learning to identify with this will, rather than remaining in an egoic relation to it through the emotions of reverence or disgust, allows the human soul to build a bridge into the spiritual world, such that true inspiration from spiritual beings becomes possible.
“As a rule,” says Steiner, “spiritual events are much closer to emotions than to conceptions.” The thinking function is unable to reconcile itself with the powerful emotionality of the unconscious; the individual human being must include other modalities of consciousness to make sense of the feeling-toned images that erupt from its depths. Active imagination makes it possible for the alienated ego to develop an awareness of and renewed participation in the mythic archetypes binding it together with the collective psyche of humanity. Jung’s method directs attention to the symbolic visualization of numinous emotions, which may indeed be heralding the presence of higher worlds. Individuation is a process of imaginative generation, wherein a separate soul becomes pregnant with the universal Self.
“If forethinking and pleasure unite in me, a third arises from them, the divine son, who is the supreme meaning, the symbol, the passing over into a new creation.”
Jung offers the modern individual a new path of initiation with no outward cult or ritual. It is a path of solitude and inner development. Successful initiates pass through the threshold of the ordinary world and “[arrive] among the beings who bring about spiritual events.”
Conclusion: Concrescence of the Spiritual
“Previously the spiritual was realizable only approximately,” writes Gebser,
“in the emotional darkness of the magical, in the twilight of imagination in the mythical, and in the brightness of abstraction in the mental…The mode of realization now manifesting itself… ensures that… it is also perceptible concretely as it begins to coalesce with our consciousness.”
Gebser’s entire project was to reveal the integral transparency of the structures of consciousness, such that each played its proper role in the perception of the whole. In his eyes, the rise of the unconscious and its contents at the turn of the 20th century corresponded to “nothing other than the psychic form of time’s irruption into our consciousness.” Jung, too, was drawn to understand the role of time in psychic development. He spent his last decades working out the nature of the synchronicity between psyche and cosmos. An essay of greater length would have allowed for a deeper look at the way in which the timeless and spaceless unity of the magical structure accounts for the qualitative texture of time as experienced mythically. From the point of view of the nascent integral structure of consciousness, space-time is psychically relative, as much of Jung’s research documented. This psychic relativity of space-time does not mean that integral consciousness is without space and time; rather, it is space- and time-free, no longer limited by the partial perspectives of simple location. Integral consciousness is synairetic, able to bind the parts into a whole without enclosing them in a system.
As Jung, Gebser, and Steiner have helped to make clear, the evolution of consciousness has both individual and collective elements. It draws upon the earthly power of instinct and the celestial influence of spiritual beings. The degree to which we remain unconscious of these powers and influences is that to which we fail to participate in the “merging or coalescence, the concrescence of origin and the present.” The human being is potentially the consciousness of the Earth, which “on its great journey across the millennia…hastens through the changing landscapes of ‘heaven,’ transforming its own countenance and [humanity’s].” It is my hope that this essay will in some small way aid our continued realization of this potency.
(1) Gebser, Jean
The Ever-Present Origin (transl. 1985)
(2) Jung, Carl
Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1989)
On the Nature of the Psyche (1969)
The Red Book (2009)
The Undiscovered Self (1990)
(3) Main, Roderick
Jung on Synchronicity and the Paranormal (1998)
(4) Wehr, Gerhard
Jung and Steiner: The Birth of a New Psychology (2002)
 OTNOTP, p. 77
 EPO, p. 204
 For Gebser, “consciousness is not identical to the process of thinking, nor is it limited to awareness of the ego… [It is] the ability to survey those interconnections which constitute us: it is a continuous act of integration and directing” (EPO, p. 204).
 “Our questioning of the validity of the concept of the unconscious in no way invalidates it; rather our questioning must be understood as a concretion and differentiation of a general phenomenon that only gradually reveals all of its aspects” [emphasis mine] (EPO, p. 397).
 Synairesis literally means “to synthesize, or collect,” but “whereas synthesis is a logical-causal conclusion, a mental (trinitary) unification of thesis and antithesis (which falls apart because it becomes itself a thesis as a result of dividing, perspectival perception), synairesis is an integral act of completion encompassing all sides and perceiving aperspectivally.” (EPO, p. 312).
 EPO, p. 397
 “As the evolution of the embryonic body repeats its prehistory, so the mind grows up through the series of its prehistoric stages” (UDS, p. 138).
 public lecture 5/1/1919
 The Red Book, p. 229
 ibid., p. 230-231
 EPO, p. 1
 The Red Book., p. 243
 ibid., p. 197
 ibid., p. 231
 ibid., p. 201
 See John 3:5. “…except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The spiritual potential of active imagination will be explored in the next section.
 The Red Book, p. 232
 ibid., p. 231-232
 EPO, p. 204
 ibid., p. 232
 Just as the shadow of a sphere is a circle, the shadow of a hypersphere is a sphere. The Earth known to the materialist physics of the mental-rational structure of consciousness is the shadow of a higher dimensional, spiritual event.
 ibid., p. 232
 UDS, p. 133-134
 EPO, p. 425
 UDS, p. 138
 MDR, p. 179
 The Red Book, p. 333
 ibid., p. 334
 See Jungian psychotherapy (1978) by Michael Fordham, p. 149: “…active imagination…can be, and often is, both in adults and children put to nefarious purposes and promotes psychopathology”
 lecture 12/15/1911
 UDS, p. 140
 ibid., p. 141
 ibid., p. 142
 lecture 12/15/1911
 The Red Book, p. 334
 lecture 12/15/1911
 The Red Book, p. (Elijah & Salome)
 lecture 12/15/1911
 EPO, p. 542
 ibid., p. 396
 Jung’s research revealed at least two distinct types of synchronicity: 1) that related to psychically relative space-time, and 2) that related to the notion of qualitative time. The limits of this essay do not permit a fuller articulation of the difference, but in short, it seems that, in theory, both types depend upon the unity of the magic structure, the first as filtered through the integral, and the second as filtered through the mythic structure of consciousness. See Jung on Synchronicity and the Paranormal, p. 15
 EPO, p. 542
 ibid., p. 541
The upshot of genetic studies leads in two (!) directions: a narrow path and a broad one. The narrow road heads toward simplistic, monogenic causes. It wants to pinpoint bits of tissue and correlate them with the vast complexity of psychic meanings. The folly of reducing mind to brain never seems to leave the Western scene. We can never give it up because it is so basic to our Western rationalist and positivist mind-set. The rationalist in the psyche wants to locate causes you can put your hands on and fix.
Machines provide the best models for meeting this desire. Take them apart, find their inner mechanisms, and then adjust their functioning by modifying their ratchets, enriching their fuel, greasing their connections. Henry Ford as father of American mental health. Result: Ritalin, Prozac, Zoloft, and dozens of other effective products for internal adjustments that we consume in abundance, millions of us, daily or twice daily. The simplistics of monogenic causes eventually leads to the control of behavior by drugs–that is, to drugged behavior.
Robert Plomin, on whose passionate, prolific, and perceptive writings this chapter has frequently relied, urgently warns against using genetics in a simplistic manner. He states: “Genetic effects on behavior are polygenic and probabilistic, not single gene and deterministic.” I gather from him a warning to psychiatry: Do not capsize your noble vessel under the weight of pharmaceutical, insurance company, and government gold, and do not set your compass toward Fantasy Island, where genetics will define “disease entities in psychiatry.” “We have learned little about the genetics of development [how genes act and interact over time] except to appreciate its complexity.” Therefore we can never arrive at that equation where one defective gene equals one clinical picture (except for true anomalies like Huntington’s chorea).
These warnings have little effect; simplistic thinking fulfills too many wishes. The heads of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison are carved into the Mount Rushmore of the mind. The monster of mechanism appears in every century of modern Western history and must be watched for by each generation–especially ours, when to hold out for “something else” besides nature or nurture means believing in ghosts or magic.
Ever since French rationalism of the seventeenth (Marin Mersenne, Nicolas de Malebranche) and eighteenth (Etienne de Condillac, Julien Offroy de La Mettrie) centuries and right through to the positivism of the nineteenth (Antoine Destutt de Tracy, Auguste Comte) in which all mental events were reduced to biology, a piece of the collective Western mind had been yolked like a dumb ox to the heavy tumbrel of French mechanistic materialism. It is astounding how people with such subtle taste as the French and with such erotic sensibility can go on and on contributing so much rationalist rigor mortis to psychology. Every import that arrives from France must be inspected for this French disease, even though it carries the fashionable label of Lacanism, Structuralism, Deconstruction, or whatever.
Today rationalism is global, computer-compatible every-where. It is the international style of the mind’s architecture. We cannot pin it to a particular flag, unless to the banners of the multinational corporation that can spend big bucks turning psychiatry, and eventually psychological thinking, and therefore soul control, toward monogenetic monotheism. One gene for one disorder: Splice the gene, teach it tricks, combine it, and the disorder is gone, or at least you don’t know you have it. The narrow path leads back to the thirties and forties of psychiatric history, though in a more refined manner and with better press releases. From 1930 into the 1950s, correlating specific brain areas with large emotional and functional concepts provided the rationale for the violence of psychosurgery and the lobotomizing of many a troubled soul at odds with circumstance.
The narrow path is yet more retro, going back to the skill analysis of Franz Josef Gall (M.D., Vienna, 1795), who settled in Paris and was much appreciated by the French. From him came the “evidence” that skull bumps and declivities could be correlated with psychological faculties (a system later called phrenology). Much as they are today, the faculties were given big names, such as memory, judgment, emotionalism, musical and mathematical talent, criminality, and so on. Refinement in methods over the years does not necessarily lead to progress in theorizing: 1795 or 1995–material location, and then reduction of psyche to location, prompts the enterprise.
The contrary direction to narrowing nature to brain simplistics is expanding nurture to a far more embracing notion of environment. If environment means literally what’s around, it must also mean whatever is around. This because the unconscious psyche selects quite arbitrarily among the stuff encountered every day in the environment. Tiny and trivial bits of information may have huge subliminal psychic effects, as the days’ residues in dreams show. We do dream of the damnedest things! Much of each day is never noticed or recalled, but the psyche picks up the environmental flotsam and delivers it to the dream. The dream–a processing plant recycling the environment, finding soul values in junk. The dream–an artist, appropriating images from the environment for recollection in tranquility.
Because we walk about in fields of psychic realities that influences our lives, we have to broaden the notion of environment in terms of “deep ecology,” the hypothesis that the planet is a living, breathing, and self-regulating organism. Since anything around can nourish our souls by feeding imagination, there is soul stuff out there. So why not admit, as does deep ecology, that the environment itself is ensouled, animated, inextricably meshed with us and not fundamentally separate from us?
The ecological vision restores to environment also the classical idea of providentia–that the world provides for us, looks out for us, even looks after us. It wants us around, too. Predators, tornadoes, and blackflies in June are only pieces of the picture. Just think of all that’s delicious and sweet-smelling. Do birds sing but for each other? This breathable, edible, and pleasant planet, invisibly serviced and maintained, keeps us all by means of its life-support system. Such would be an idea of nurture that is truly nurturing.
“Environment,” then, would be imagined well beyond social and economic conditions, beyond the entire cultural setting, to include every item that takes care of us every day: our tires and coffee cups and door handles and the book you are holding in your hands. It becomes impossible to exclude this bit of environment as irrelevant in favor of that bit as significant, as if we could rank world phenomena in order of importance. Important for whom? Our understanding of importance itself has to change; instead of “important to me,” think of “important to other aspects of the environment.” Does this item nurture what else is around, not merely us who are around? Does it contribute to the intentions of the field of which we are only one short-lived part?
As notions of environment shift, we notice environment differently. It becomes more and more difficult to make a cut between psyche and world, subject and object, in here and out there. I can no longer be sure whether the psyche is in me or whether I am in the psyche as I am in my dreams, as I am in the moods of the landscapes and the city streets, as I am in “music heard so deeply/That it is not heard at all, but you are the music/While the music lasts” (T.S. Eliot). Where does the environment stop and I begin, and can I begin at all without being in some place, deeply involved in, nurtured by the nature of the world?
I’ve just been reading Christopher Bache’s book “Dark Night, Early Dawn,” and he, not unlike Christian de Quincey in his book “Radical Nature,” argues that the interpersonal and collective dimensions of spiritual experience have been paid too little attention. Taking intersubjectivity into consideration requires a return to our embodied experience as beings embedded in a world among others.
They both recognize the tendency for New Age thinkers to reject the atomistic/mechanistic model of nature and in the very next breath operate within the same Cartesian paradigm to explain how the individual soul exists apart from and survives the death of the material body. Bache describes the transpersonal experiences generated by his psychdelic practice (and the collective testimony of thousands of other practitioners) to argue for an understanding of the soul not as a private and distinct personality whose essence might change bodies like clothing, operating independently of some form of energetic embeddedness in an environment (ie, a body), but as that inner aspect shared by all embodied forms that is itself formless. Ultimately, there is one body, one organism: the cosmos itself.
Bache does not deny reincarnation, however. He just points out that it has both temporal and spatial dimensions. Temporal reincarnation involves the continuous passing on of some form of experience from lifetime to lifetime. Spatial reincarnation involves the simultaneous sharing of a transpersonal level of experience between still living organisms.
For there to be a truly post-modern transpersonal theory (ie, a transpersonal reformulation of the Modern ontology separating mind from matter as two entirely distinct substances), we need to develop a system of thought and means of lingusitic expression that recognizes the inherent interpenetration of spirit with matter. We are not ghosts in machines, but conscious organisms arising out of and returning to a single formless field of potential.
On a practical level, a post-atomistic transpersonal theory (or spiritual worldview) requires recognizing the co-arising nature of one’s identity. Enlightenment is not a solitary, but a collective achievement–in the same way that your consciousness is not an immaterial ghost in possession of a physical body, but the cooperative unification of trillions of cells. An individual person may realize their essential oneness with all that is in a moment of private revery, but to participate with the rest of the species in the continual unfolding of time, they must acquiesce to the general drift of the group movement, even if they attempt to persuade it toward peace and beauty. Otherwise they risk cruxification, which may be an option for some. The point remains that karma is collective. Transcending it is a social as much as an individual task.