The Three Factors in Experience
and Their Cyclic Transformation - 2
What psychology today calls the ego is a subjective factor in experiences in which an evolving person tries to come to terms with parents, partner, the cultural environment, and with the body that is the essential source of power his is the case until a radical transmutation of desires has occurred. The ego is the first manifestation of subjectivity at the human level because, with the development of collective cultures, the generic power of instinct is no longer fully adequate to deal with increasingly complex and changeable situations. Cultures are matrices for personhood. I Just as the embryo begins to act as a foetus when it kicks against the maternal womb placing boundaries to its growth, likewise when a baby rapidly developing as a person on the basis of his or her particular biological temperament starts to feel frustrated in the satisfaction of his or her desires by the family "don'ts" and cultural taboos, the subjective factor in experience calls upon the mind to find procedures which could lead to desire-satisfaction in spite of the "don'ts."
The sum-total of these procedures, and their repetitive features, constitute the ego. To the parents they define the "character" of the child, which may be "good" and easy to handle, or "bad" and difficult. What the parents usually fail to realize is that they are not referring to the child alone, but to a family situation in which they are active and determining participants. The child's ego is an answer to the total situation; it does not develop outside the parent-child relationship. It is only that part of the evolving personhood which refers to the possibility of effecting a change in a frustrating situation. When, in spite of the more or less devious or dramatic procedures suggested by the mind and generally manifesting as muscular acts like crying or smiling, the situation does not change, the subjective factor — tense with repressed desires and perhaps the memory of physical harm — detaches itself from the family situation. What the psychologist Fritz Kunkel called "the breakdown of the We-consciousness" occurs. The shocked and distraught subjective factor in the experiencing child seeks and is able to disengage itself from situations it cannot change. Situations still occur, but they now seem to occur outside a rather mysterious entity, the subject. This subject first becomes identified by the name given to the child by the parents and the peer-group; but in a still more basic sense it is "I myself." In this assertion, the subject as "I" proclaims its being as separate from and exterior to all situations.
In previous writings I have referred to this process of detachment as the process of individualization. It can only operate gradually and it may be a very difficult, deeply upsetting process, which other factors in the person resist. Their resistance often generates acute psychic storms as well as psychological problems. The process of detachment does not only occur in early childhood or adolescence. It may be experienced whenever a person has accepted a limiting, but perhaps much-needed structuring relationship giving a sense of order and security to the confused and anarchistic personality — whether it be a relationship to another person (as in marriage), or to a set of religious or socio-ethical assumptions which at the time appear relevant and valid. If the process of individualization is "successful" in the sense that it does not merely emphasize and make rigid an ego intent on forcefully and jealously asserting its independence from all situations, this process may lead to the next stage in the possibility of development of a human type of subjectivity. I have referred to that stage as the state of individual selfhood.
This state assumes the at least relative independence of the subject, "I," from existential situations, but its legitimate evolutionary development necessitates a new factor which may be slow to develop: a sense of responsibility for choices that now can be made freely as an independent as well as autonomous "individual person." The detachability of the subjective factor from human experiencing acquires a positive meaning only when the subject assumes responsibility for the selection of one of several alternatives. Only then can the process prove itself attuned to the essential quality of the cyclic tide of being during the long human period of the cycle — from the symbolic Noon to Sunset.
The next stage in the development of human subjectivity, the Pleroma type of subjectivity, can only be reached through a lengthy, arduous, and often tragic process of radical metamorphosis of the three factors implied in human experience. The desires of the relatively isolated subject have to be transmuted; the formative and structuring mind has to operate in terms of transpersonal, integrative and compassionate desires free from biological and cultural compulsions; and a new kind of energy has to be made available. It becomes available after the strictly biological type of organization has become transubstantiated, and eventually totally attuned to, a super-biological and planetary kind of power gradually being concentrated in the Pleroma.
The condition of subjectivity manifesting at the Pleroma level evidently transcends our mental power of understanding. One can only state that a difficult-to-imagine combination of individual selfhood and group- unanimity seems to operate in it Though it is a stage of the Movement of Wholeness beyond the strictly human state, Pleroma beings are still related to humanity and its evolution. They participate in that evolution at both an objective and subjective level — thus as controlling factors in the evolution of the planet, and as inspirers and guides for human individual selves struggling to overcome their attachment to both biology and culture. (What the unfoldment — or rather the infoldment — of Pleroma consciousness means cannot be suggested, except that it seems logical to relate it at a certain stage to the radiant state of starhood instead of to the dense and heavy condition of planethood. This implies a galactic or cosmic situation. The process reaches its ultimate possibility of fulfillment in the Godhead state — a state of nearly absolute subjective oneness. In that state subjectivity operates as total, all-inclusive Compassion, the supreme and most sublime mode of desire. Through divine Compassion a new world is created, a new opportunity for the failures of the past to reach the fullest possible experience of Wholeness.
As the principle of Multiplicity asserts itself once more after the symbolic Midnight, the trend toward an objective actualization of the Godhead's compassionate desire in the concrete substantiality of an eventual state of planethood assumes an ever greater influence in the Movement of Wholeness. The almost totally unified Mind of the Godhead — the eonic Mind that experiences a whole cycle in a timeless instant — differentiates into "celestial Hierarchies," each of which represents a single basic aspect of the Godhead's Mind.
This mind — as we shall presently see — is involving through a series of transformations which the human consciousness can only intuitively perceive as reflected images. Esoteric traditions tell us that during this period of involution (from the symbolic Midnight to Sunrise) the two great principles of Unity and Multiplicity are in a state of what we may interpret as "conflict" — just as we think of conflicts when considering the often stressful, symmetrical relationship between the many egos and an organized society during the period of evolution of humanity (from Noon to Sunset). Various mythological narratives refer to "wars in heaven," and religious traditions give great importance to the personification of the process of division and differentiation gaining momentum during the rise of the principle of Multiplicity — a principle which always acts as a denial and repudiation of any experience of oneness.
Though in the situation religions assume to be the Creation of the universe the two great principles of Unity and Multiplicity are of equal strength, the desire to be many and to experience being in a multitude of ways has an aggressive kind of power. It forces the trend toward Unity to retreat (as it were) inward. All the latter trend can do is to contain the expansive energy of whorls of protomaterial and subatomic elements within spiral-like structures. What was once subjective centrality uses its available energy in order to build and give a firm reality to circumferences. Mind operates within these circumferences, impressing the existing archetypal structures upon the plastic and receptive substratum of being which not only fills space but (in its essential Beness) is space, the infinite ocean of potentiality.
Even at the primordial level of beingness called "matter" we should assume the existence of a subjective factor in the elements with which the human mind has to deal Hydrogen, iron, or uranium "experience" at their level of wholeness; but obviously the nature and quality of these experiences and of the subjective factor in them differ vastly from those of human experiencing, because the situations being experienced in both instances differ so greatly. Yet the dualism of atomic or chemical attraction and repulsion, present in all matter, is analogous to what is experienced in human situations as a pleasure/pain, love/hate or success/failure polarization.
This dualism takes a somewhat different form at the level of biological organization, especially when a differentiating type of structural replication operates as sex. Mind then is feverish with the urge to discover new techniques of self-multiplication which makes possible the haunting satisfaction of the increasingly differentiated desires of an atomized kind of subjectivity. However, when the phase of maximum multiplicity is reached, a reversal of the cyclic Movement occurs. After this symbolic Noon, the strictly human type of subjectivity begins to be a possibility because new situations, now with a human character, result from the altered relationship between the principles of Unity and Multiplicity. As we shall see, these situations are profoundly affected by the mysterious but powerful Presence of the quasi-divine prototype of personhood, the Supreme Person.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1986 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill
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