Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Magical Personal History

Another aspect of the magical thinking I described in my elaboration of my introductory post is the way I think of my personal history. In the magical mind state, I see my past as a series of discoveries that promised to be the answer – going to grad school, doing the Gurdjieff work, Buddhist practice, psychotherapy – and them not working out. So the past, in this view, is a series of attempts at salvation. Disappointment and despair set in because experience seemed to have taught me that nothing works, i.e. nothing saved me. I was looking for something that would be It, what I would do, so that I wouldn’t have to search anymore or have to question things fundamentally all the time.

It's an essentially religious, or magical, way of constructing personal history because it is based on salvation and redemption. Some bad (read: sinful) way I am would be transformed by finding the true path.

The alternative view is that my life is a process, a development, and these were encounters I had which I was drawn to, learned from and some of which I incorporated into my present way of being.

A therapist was talking about my process of self-development. I told him that I don’t know if I have a process. He said, “your process is finding out whether you have a process or not.” It’s a curious, profound, contradictory intervention. On the one hand, it leaves me still struggling to make something meaningful about my life, and yet it also suggests a way of understanding even that struggle as that meaningful path. But on the other hand, the struggle itself doesn’t allow the belief in the meaningfulness of the struggle.


wmgreene said...

Well, Critic, as I have stated elsewhere, you have done a magnificent job in presenting the innermost aspects of yourself.

But, it seems that you are looking for some feedback, so in that event, I must say, that when I look at your overall conclusions, I would tend to agree with the therapist who said, “your process is finding out whether you have a process or not.” And, I don’t think anyone (and that includes you) will understand what I mean until you look first at the state of being which Wilber has achieved and then compare it to your own, beginning with the subject of spiritual growth relative to physiological functioning. And, by this I mean that heaven is not a place that one goes to after they die. Instead it in us and all about us and that is something you can only achieve as you search out your own process of being.

For example, in the bible it is stated that “in heaven there is no night” and if you check it out you will find that as a result Wilber’s search of his process of being he no longer needs what normals define as sleep, and remains conscious at all times during his rest periods.

And if my statement relative to the bible offends you, consider that Wilber’s Buddhist beliefs led him into a process of discovering how to forge his chi, which actually means to strengthen the bonds between the finite and infinite, and that is why he remains conscious at all times, no longer needing what normals define as sleep.

What I’m saying is heaven awaits you my friend; I agree with the therapist who said, “your process is finding out whether you have a process or not.” But, if you do proceed I recommend that before you (or anyone else) go traipsing off in search of an in search of that romanticized condition by which all "mental and physical suffering vanish" (attainment of the higher ranges of consciousness) I strongly suggest that you (or anyone else) consider “The stages of mindfulness meditation: a validation study, presented by Brown, D.P., & Engler, J. (1980) in The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 12 (2), 143-192, where the full productive response to the world, which in its highest form is referred to by Eastern contemplative traditions as the 4th level of enlightenment, is assessed using the Rorschach test. Using this simple test, researchers Brown and Engler were able to show that the critical differences in the perception of reality for those deemed to be fully enlightened is that the individuals who were assessed to be fully enlightened were able to attend to all the minute aspects of the reality imposed by the Rorschach test simultaneously!

Thus, according to the evidence produced by the Brown and Engler (1980) research, if a person does not have the perceptual ability to manifest literally every aspect of consciousness that modern psychology normally associates with pathology (e.g., schizophrenia, manic depression, etc., etc.) as well as the psychopathology of the average (normality), then they can not be defined in terms of the psychological state of wellness.

As such, given the fact that enlightenment and the correlated assessment relative to the term of wellness may be simply defined in terms of the ability to attend to all the minute aspects of the reality imposed by the Rorschach test simultaneously, if a person is along the path to getting there and finds themselves (and their relative states of consciousness) being defined in terms of the pathological states normally associated with those same minute aspects of the reality imposed by the Rorschach test and they did not know this was an expected outcome of the process of enlightenment then they might find themselves in a kind of trouble that they would not experience if they had otherwise attained the proper support systems for this type of growth therapy. But, that’s just my opinion, take what you can use and leave the rest and don’t be bothered by what you leave behind.


Jeff Meyerhoff said...


Thanks for the compliment.

Yes, it appears true that accomplished meditators can retain a witnessing consciousness even through sleep.