SPIRITUALITY STUDIESVolume 9 / Issue 1 SPRING 2023
Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 Publisher: The Society for Spirituality Studies Published in partnership with the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue and the European Union of Yoga Available online: www.spirituality-studies.org Editor-in-Chief: Doc. Dr. Martin Dojčár PhD. Graphic Design: Martin Hynek Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org ISSN 1339-9578 Donate Spirituality Studies’ mission is to deliver top-quality studies, articles, educational materials, and information related to spirituality in its multiple forms. At the same time, the journal provides a forum for sharing personal spiritual experiences. By combining academic and experiential approaches to spirituality, Spirituality Studies aims to provide a unique platform for dialogue between a variety of viewpoints, approaches, and methodologies in the study of spirituality. Spirituality Studies publishes all articles under the open access policy, allowing their unlimited public use. Please consider donating to support the continued publishing of Spirituality Studies as an open-access journal for free. ←← Cover: Icon of Ajahn Mun by Ajahn Jotipālo Copyright © Ajahn Jotipālo 2019 Content 1 Editorial Martin Dojčár 2 Multidimensional Consciousness System Discovery Monique Rebelle 12 Realms of Consciousness and the Real Samuel Bendeck Sotillos 23 Dhā ranā from the Perspective of Computer Science Gábor Pék, Gejza M. Timčák 40 Imagination, Time, and Spirituality – Mircea Eliade’s Timeless Grasp of Reality Barbora Čaputová 52 From the Facticity of Phenomenality to the Mystic Absolute: Variations of Truth in Kabir’s Poetry Hari M. G. 62 The Mystical Experience of Sophia in the Life and Work of Vladimir Sergeevich Soloviev Ján Dolný, Róbert Lapko 70 Contemplative in Action: Fundamental Aspect of Spirituality of St. Augustine of Hippo Miloš Lichner 78 Mindful Attention to Everyday Social Categorization Russell Suereth 88 Meaningful Contexts of Interpretation of Transpersonal Experience by Representatives of the Eastern Spiritual Practices in Ukraine Oleksandr Zubariev
Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 1 EDITORIAL Editorial There is one opener opening the realm of spirituality inherent in every human being: it is the inversion of consciousness. Spirituality begins with inversion or internalization of consciousness, otherwise, it remains beyond the scope of one’s reach. In its latent state, as a pure potentiality in us, the very reality of it can easily be questioned or even denied. This may be true for millions whose consciousness has been totally absorbed by objects. If such an absorption happens, one lives with and from objects. A human existential bond to objects, however, has its fatal consequences: it determines the quality of one’s consciousness and being. Under these circumstances, consciousness becomes narrowed and shaped by objects that dominate one’s attention; and being becomes tied by sensory perceptions that are accompanied by mental and emotional reactions to them. The notion of existence provides an apt description of such a state. One “comes out of the Self”, as the etymology of the Latin word existentia suggests: ex – “out of, from”, sta – “to stand”. Thus “one stands outside of one’s Self” as a quasi-independent entity, as an ego, which is the bases of human individuality. In the state of existence, one’s very Self remains hidden and covered by a non-authentic self – ego, that is, consciousness limited to sensory perceptions and mental experiences. The importance of inversion of consciousness is crucial to spirituality. Due to this process – reversing the natural flow of consciousness to objects – consciousness is broadened and liberated from the shaping force of objects or, more precisely, from the sensory and mental activities of the ego. In the perspective of this liberating process, consciousness appears multidimensional and finally is realized as such, i.e., as detached from all sensory and mental activities – the unlimited and unconditioned consciousness. The 2023 Spring edition of Spirituality Studies brings forth a good portion of studies on this and related topics. The honest hope of all involved in its production is that it may shed some light on these crucial spiritual processes for either research or experiential purposes. Cordially Martin Dojčár
2 Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 Multidimensional Consciousness System Discovery Received January 10, 2023 Revised February 22, 2023 Accepted February 23, 2023 In her study, the author shares her observations from her spontaneous experience of Kundalinī rising to support her interpretative model of Multidimensional Consciousness System that was construed on the bases of this experiential knowledge. The model is proposed as an original interpretation of the phenomenon of Kundalinī rising. The study also provides initial theoretical testing based on a comparison with some reports on the same phenomenon from selected spiritual traditions. Key words Kundalinī rising, chakras, consciousness, selftranscendence, non-religious spirituality Monique Rebelle
Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 3 Monique Rebelle 1 Introduction Anyone can experience a spiritual awakening. I begin with this statement to denote the times we live in and how much easier it is these days to for us to understand that the concept of spirituality is not necessarily linked to religion in its institutional form as it used to be for centuries. It is rather the other way round: each religion draws from innate spirituality and expresses it in accordance with its own belief system. The phenomenon of non-religious spirituality is on the rise (Pew Research Center 2017). Spiritual awakenings may bring strange physical sensations, extremes of sexual or emotional lows and heights and unusual states of awareness. Some can appear as sudden moments of blissful joy and clarity but later, after the inexplicable, wonderful state fades away, the sense of bewilderment, confusion and loss might set in. For many of us spiritual awakenings let us feel love and connection with something much greater than us in every way. Other times we can receive communication, healing or guidance from other than human beings. There may be perplexing or illuminating mystical visions and philosophical epiphanies full of wisdom and deep spiritual truths. Then, there are times, when in the process of a full awakening, new and unprecedented insights can take place. By presenting the Multidimensional Consciousness System, I am introducing an original way of understanding the phenomenon of Kundalinī energy and the structure, and function of the subtle body, according to my own experience. The insights offered in this article, in particular observation and interpretation of dimensions of perception, and a new take on Kundalinī energy can be considered milestones on the road to a more consciously evolved human being. Monique Rebelle is a spiritual teacher, painter, and an author. Born in Poland, she dedicated her life to art at the age of fourteen. In 1992 she experienced a spontaneous Kundalinī rising. Subsequently Monique has spent twenty-five years evaluating her experience and eventually began providing spiritual teaching. She authored the book Transcendence Calling: The Power of Kundalini Rising and Spiritual Enlightenment. Her email address is email@example.com. ←← #123 Open Transit © Monique Rebelle.
4 Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 2 Personal Experience Background My experience happened without any religious background, and yet afterwards I was able to compare elements of my experience with already known spiritual processes and their outcomes and present a new way of perceiving our human consciousness. At the time my experience took place I did not consider myself a spiritual seeker, but a painter who after 17 years of visual investigation suddenly, while painting, came across exhilarating discovery of abstract dimension. Three years later, because of lack of financial success with my artwork and for other personal reasons, I became depressed and finally also suicidal. I had no understanding what spiritual enlightenment could be, did not know the word Kundalinī and did not believe in chakras. The day of the experience I was trying to stop myself from ending my life by intuitively practicing a method I had used subconsciously in the past, in times of strong emotional pain. I was able to keep a discipline to paint at least 4-5 times a week – sometimes more, sometimes less often. Especially when feeling depressed I would make myself sit in front of the painting. I would stare at the painting still feeling depressed, but after a while I would always pick up the brush and start painting. Sometimes I could feel a sensation of my emotion flowing through the brush into the painting. That exercise used to allow me to “move away” from the painful emotion and focus on painting. About 15 minutes before the beginning of my spontaneous experience, although not having a painting to turn to, I could “step out” of the overwhelming emotion. I needed to do it gradually and follow a specific procedure that came to me in the same intuitive manner as the idea of “moving away” from the emotion. When I did that, I found myself in a very particular place I called emptiness. There was no emotion, it felt like a vacuum and looked like a desolate landscape without a focal point. Because the violent emotion kept on coming back, I knew I needed to repeat all the steps that led me to emptiness and try to dwell in that state as long as I could. After several tries, I remained in the unique state of emptiness for about a minute, when I realized I was not breathing. I began breathing slowly and focused on my breath. This time, the ingenuous practice turned out to be the first step into transcendence and most magnificent, sublime experience that lasted about 25 minutes. When the phenomenon was taking place, I did not even call it spiritual. I had never expected anything like it, and I had no words for it right after, but I still, without words, I knew very well what happened. It was only later that the words began to appear. 3 Personal Kundalinī Rising Experience After my experience I spend a few months contemplating the event and making notes of the process I underwent. The experience happened in the state of utmost clarity, and I had no problem writing everything down precisely as I witnessed it. The final result of the experience left me with a sense of complete understanding and feeling happy, and “at home” in every situation, every day. At the same time, I knew that although what I went through was very intimate and personal, the great value of the experience and the process that took place is something that has been observed and celebrated in the spiritual and artistic traditions for thousands of years. Almost a year later I reached for the book that – in the whirlwind of serendipitous events that took place – simply jumped out at me, of the bookshelf only ten days after the experience. I did not want to read it sooner not to alloy the authenticity of my own state and understanding of it – it was all very new and fresh, transformation was still happening, even a year after the experience. The book was a transcript of talks with Ramana Maharshi in the years 1935–1939 (Venkataraman 1989). Getting acquainted with Ramana Maharshi’s vocabulary and phraseology was a great help for me in my initial attempts at explaining what happened and the state I was in. Another serendipity occurred when I took a trip to Maui, Hawaii, and stayed there, in the spiritually oriented community, for over two years. At the time (1992–1994) information about Kundalinī energy was not well known, but there were a few books about Kundalinī and chakras that gave me orientation on
Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 5 Monique Rebelle Illustration 1. Energy Pattern Torus by Space Wind, 2021. what is available on the subject. One of the more informative ones (although not always fully aligned with my observations) was Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith (1990). Mostly by using the knowledge gained during the experience, but also from helping others on their path, and participating in meetings of the Kundalinī rising experiencers group in the years that followed, I was able to come to more conclusions about the subtle body and Kundalinī rising. 4 Kundalinī Rising Process Considering all these factors, I came to understand that in general, there are two kinds of Kundalinī rising experience – partial and full risings. Partial Kundalinī risings are much more common, and their results are not always positive. A full Kundalinī rising ends in the Kundalinī energy traveling through each chakra and exiting through the crown chakra. Optimally, the energy takes some time to circulate through the chakras (forming a torus shape energy pattern), clears all of them and infuses with new energy. If the process is very fast, it is difficult to distinguish the stages of the passage. In my case the Kundalinī process was very smooth, and I was able to understand it clearly. Without any previous knowledge about the phenomenon, either theoretical or experiential, I could observe my consciousness transcend and travel through subsequent worlds, which I soon after called dimensions of perception.
6 Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 Illustration 2. Major Chakras and N dis for Kundalinī Rising, author and date unknown. Upper Brahma Nadi Bindu Brahma Nadi Brahma Randhra Sahasrara Padma Thousand-petaled Lotus AJNA CHAKRA Kapala Kapatam – Gateway to Skull Talu Saraswati Nadi VISUDDHA CHAKRA Hrit ANAHATA CHAKRA MANIPURA CHAKRA 3 Granthis in Saraswati SVADHISTHANA CHAKRA MULADHARA CHAKRA Maha Moksha Dwara – Door to Liberation Chitrini Nadi Vajra Nadi Susumna Nadi Lakshmi Nadi Manas 10 Knots in Chitrini 3 Lingas in Susumna Upper Chitrini Nadi Upper Vajra Nadi Susumna Nadi
Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 7 Monique Rebelle When Martin Dojčár discusses the nature of transcendence of individual consciousness (self-transcendence) in his Self-Transcendence and Prosociality, he makes a reference to the following description of Ramana Maharshi’s own awakening (2017, 74): “So ‘I’ am a spirit, a thing transcending the body. The material body dies, but the spirit transcending it cannot be touched by death. I am therefore the deathless spirit.” Later, when contemplating the occurrence, I realized that there were seven dimensions of perception I could clearly distinguish. The notion of stages leading to a full awakening is known in from many sources. Slavomír Gálik explores them in his comparative study on Saint Teresa of Ávila and Rōshi Jiyu-Kennett (2021, 2–17) when comparing the seven stages of prayer to the seven chakras. According to the tradition of Tibetan Tantra, my experience of Kundalinī rising represents a case of direct Citrini nādī rising, which allows for exploration of each chakra on the way up beginning with the first chakra and ending at the seventh. Citrini (also chitra) is described as an “energy channel” (Sa. nādī) that “starts at Bindu chakra and ends in the Svayambhy Lingam in Mūlādhāra chakra. Its color is silvery white and relates to the guna sattva. Citrini nādī is the channel for the movement of Kundalinī. It is not a separate nādī in the usual sense, but only a vivara, a hollow passage.” (Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia 2023). 4.1 Some Observations on Kundalinī Rising The experience of full Kundalinī rising leaves no need for any external information. If there is any knowledge needed, it can be retrieved with the powers of the fifth and sixth chakra, in the psychic, intuitive and visionary way. It is a different form of investigation than the linear inquiry used by the third chakra mind. In my understanding, Kundalinī is an individual unit of consciousness. My whole being was involved in the experience and there was nothing left outside of my being and the experience itself. Therefore, Kundalinī energy is not just physical energy that awakens when Kundalinī rises, but our Kundalinī is all that we know, all that we are aware of – the total sum of it. Ultimate consciousness has no form or any other attributes, no motion, but by inhabiting the self-created subtle body, it coils up at the bottom of the spine as a single, slumbering Kundalinī – energy resting in a form of a coil as the Sanskrit etymology of the word suggests – “coiled one”. In the wake of my experience, I realized that Kundalinī in the subtle body (including the physical organism) becomes survival, sexual and creative. When comparing the nature of the process I went through with what is known about the subtle body and chakras, I agreed that the chakras indeed can be called energy centers or energy vortexes. However, it is not chakras that I first noticed when my consciousness kept on discovering new stages of the process. It became clear to me that our human consciousness functions on several unique levels (planes, spheres, or dimensions) and each of those levels is different and operates on distinct principles. Each is a separate world. Our daily life experience is a fusion of those worlds. I call them dimensions of perception. The focus I was able to attain during my experience allowed for understanding that Kundalinī is an individual unit of consciousness and chakras are the gates to the ever-present dimensions of perception. By continuing this direction of investigation, each chakra in an individual can be to various degrees open, closed, developed, congested, and also vary from someone else’s chakras in color and brightness. The dimensions, however, exist regardless, beyond the cycle of individual life and death. An individual can have a very limited access to one or more of the dimensions, but the dimensions, nevertheless, contain all of their data at all times. Taking under consideration the nature of each dimension as I experienced it and drawing a parallel between the respective chakras, it becomes clear that the structure of the subtle body with Kundalinī and chakras exists within the totality of ultimate consciousness and expresses individual life by engaging in energy exchange with the dimensions.
8 Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 Illustration 3. Individual Unit of Consciousness and Dimensions of Perception by Monique Rebelle, 2017. UNITING WITH DIVINE CONSCIOUSNESS THE GATE TO THE DIMENSION OF CONNECTION AND SOUND THE GATE TO THE DIMENSION OF PURE INTELLECT THE GATE TO THE DIMENSION OF INTUITION AND VISION THE GATE TO THE DIMENSION OF UNIVERSAL LOVE THE GATE TO THE DIMENSION OF MIND AND WILL THE GATE TO THE DIMENSION OF EMOTION THE GATE TO THE DIMENSION OF MATTER KUNDALINĪ, AN INDIVIDUAL UNIT OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 9 Monique Rebelle 5 Multidimensional Consciousness System Overview Following my experience and research, I propose a model of Multidimensional Consciousness as an original interpretative structure, a system that embraces all aspects of consciousness. In my understanding, there are seven main dimensions that human can engage with throughout the lifetime. Each of the dimensions needs to be explored as a separate world with specific qualities and individual methods of transcendence. In this article only the main characteristics of each dimension are listed. The First Dimension of Perception: The Material World. The first chakra, which is open in all of us who are present in a physical form in our physical reality, allows us to experience our corporeal being and feel it through the main five sensory organs: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. It is all that we can call a material world, starting with the smallest, invisible particles (electrons, atoms, molecules), and conclusively manifesting monumentally in huge objects like cosmos and galaxies. In my understanding the measures of length, width and depth are only the sub-dimensions of the material dimension. Colors associated with the first chakra/dimension are reds, browns, grays, and black. The note that resonates with it is C. The Second Dimension of Perception: The Emotional World. Although when accessing the information about the character of the second chakra we can often learn that the nature of the second chakra is emotional, sexual, and creative, in my view the sexual and creative characteristics are the attributes of our Kundalinī lodged in the body. The second chakra opens us up to the dimension of all emotional ranges, from most negative to most positive. Raw emotions appear as a reaction to a particular situation we encounter before our mind formulates an opinion about it. The colors associated with the second chakra/dimension are all variations of orange and pink. The note resonating with the second dimension is D. The Third Dimension of Perception: The Mind and Will. The chakra located in the region of solar plexus opens us up to the world of thoughts and decisions. During my experience my consciousness (Kundalinī) entered the third chakra and cleared it from all my life stories, concepts and mental structures and restored it, for a time being, to a perfect analytical tool resembling a computer. Our human existence is dominated by the power of the first three chakras and the respective first three dimensions are the ones our consciousness is busy with most of the time. The dominance of the first three chakras over the whole subtle body and our subordinance to the third chakra of mind and will creates what we call ego. I understood that time is a sub-dimension of the third dimension of perception. The mind needs time to operate, while other dimensions function without it. The colors associated with the third dimension are all shades of yellow, the note is E. The Fourth Dimension of Perception: Universal Love. Spiritual masters have been talking about this dimension for many centuries, even millennia, because they experienced it on their own beings. During my experience I could clearly feel the moment of receiving the grace, a phenomenon known in many religious and spiritual traditions. This is when our consciousness enters the sacred aspect of life, the supernatural showers us with abundant flow of love and saves us from the states of misery and hopelessness, it can save our lives. Some of us, who have this chakra open and developed, can often feel that love. It has no boundaries, no time, and no designated space, except maybe the personal hub of the fourth chakra in the subtle body. The fourth chakra opens us up to the true love that we can feel deep in our hearts. In my experience, during the passage through the fourth chakra, there were flowing translucent greens and some fuchsia, and pinks as well. The note F resonates with the vibration of the fourth dimension. The Fifth Dimension of Perception: Sound and Connection. This rich dimension has to do with the element of connection, exchange of energy. Our fifth chakra facilitates the act of giving and receiving energy, communicating in various ways with other people, animals and also – what science is unable to prove so far – with other beings that don’t necessarily have physical bodies. It is the group consciousness, group healing, group rituals, music, rhythm, and dance. Any form of energy exchange, including telepathy and psychic insights, are taking place in the fifth dimension. With the fifth chakra open one can receive visits from angels, ascended masters, ancestors, animal spirits, spiritual guides, and many others. The events of connecting with such entities are known from NDEs, OBEs and other kinds of spiritual experiences. Color blue is a background for the animated theater of the fifth dimension and the leading sound is note G.
10 Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 The Sixth Dimension of Perception: Intuition and Vision. This sphere is even more complex than the fifth, the passage through the sixth chakra allows for a visit to many layers of this dimension. By exploring the sixth dimension we can intuitively grasp the meaning of sacred symbols and sacred geometry, significance of colors, visions, archetypes, gods and deities, esoteric sciences like astrology, numerology, and more. This is the immensely creative dimension where even whole religions are conceived. In this dimension we are no longer supported by the collective exchange of energy. Here we are investigating on our own using the process of Self-Inquiry, by intuitive comprehension (as differing from the linear, logical method of the third chakra mind). If this process is activated, in the final stage of exploration of the sixth dimension one can see through the illusion of our mundane reality of the first three dimensions, one can self-realize as an eternal soul and continue transcending to the next chakra. Dark purple or indigo and the note of A are associated with the environment of the sixth dimension. The Seventh Dimension of Perception: Pure Intellect. It can be also called Divine Wisdom because the conclusions that come from having the seventh chakra active are deep spiritual truths conveyed in philosophy and poetry by sages, and spiritual masters. These truths are universal and reveal themselves initially without the presence of thoughts, but by a realization of unity with the ultimate consciousness or God, and the nature of that ultimate consciousness. The experiences of breaking open the seventh chakra and entering the seventh dimension are very much the same for every person who gets there. It leads to a state of bliss and complete awareness, of a full presence and understanding that one is being created and one creates simultaneously, at every moment, in a flow of divine inspiration, engulfed in the brightest light. Shades of light violet turning into white light and the note B resonate with the seventh dimension. 6 Conclusions The outcomes of personal experience, resulting in discovery of the system of multidimensional consciousness, subjectively confirm the existence of the chakra system and Kundalinī energy, but also bring information that shines a new light on the function of particular elements of subtle body complex. For example, Kundalinī in a living human takes on the function of survival, sexuality, and creativity and the second chakra is simply the gate to the dimension of emotion. Each of us possesses the subtle body and is able to experience transcendence of consciousness through the dimensions. To go through a full experience and observe the system of multidimensional consciousness, the knowledge about Kundalinī, subtle body, and chakras is not needed. What is needed is a series of practices that will train and cultivate chakras. Still, even with practices, the timing of a full Kundalinī rising taking place cannot be predicted or guaranteed in one lifetime. Chakras are the gates to the seven spheres, each of particular nature, extending beyond individual chakras and their lifespan in an individual. This new, groundbreaking knowledge about ever-present dimensions can be utilized in better understanding and application of our consciousness, it can allow for a more effective progress of the human race towards more beneficial and able beings.
Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 11 Monique Rebelle Acknowledgement The Illustration 2. Major Chakras and Nadis for Kundalinī Rising is published with the kind permission of Joan Shivarpita Harrigan granted to the author. References Judith, Anodea. 1990. Wheels of Life. St. Paul, MN: Levellyn Publications. Dojčár, Martin. 2017. Self-Transcendence and Prosociality. Frankfurt am Main, DE: Peter Lang. Gálik, Slavomír. 2021. “St. Teresa of Ávila and Rōshi Jiyu–Kennett: A Comparative Study.” Spirituality Studies 7 (1): 2–17. Venkataraman, T. N. 1989. Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi. Tiruvannamalai, India: Sri Ramanasramam. Pew Research Center. 2017.“More Americans now say they’re spiritual but not religious.” Accessed January 1, 2023. www.pewresearch.org. Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia. Entry “Tantra cosmology.” Accessed January 1, 2023. tibetanbuddhistencyclopedia.com.
12 Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 Realms of Consciousness and the Real In our post-Enlightenment world, reality has been reduced to only that which can be known through the faculty of reason, or empirically verified by the five senses; all higher levels of knowing have virtually been banished. Current approaches to psychotherapy have failed to discern that, without a proper understanding of the mind in all its dimensions, any discussion about effective mental health is not even possible. This paper seeks to demonstrate that certain pernicious limitations in modern Western psychology today have served to distort our understanding of consciousness. This, in turn, has undermined our ability to deliver efficacious mental health treatment, where every dimension of a human being is taken into account. Samuel Bendeck Sotillos Received February 28, 2023 Revised March 14, 2023 Accepted March 15, 2023 Key words Consciousness, perennial psychology, mind, epistemology
Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 13 Samuel Bendeck Sotillos Samuel Bendeck Sotillos, PsyD, LMFT, LPCC, CCMHC, NCC, CPRP, MHRS is a practicing psychotherapist who has worked for years in the field of mental health and social services. His focus is on comparative religion and the intersection between culture, spirituality, and psychology. His works include Paths That Lead to the Same Summit: An Annotated Guide to World Spirituality (2020), Dismantling Freud: Fake Therapy and the Psychoanalytic Worldview (2020), and Behaviorism: The Quandary of a Psychology without a Soul (2017). He edited the issue on Psychology and the Perennial Philosophy for Studies in Comparative Religion (2013), and his articles have appeared in numerous journals and periodicals. He lives on the Central Cost of California. His email contact is samuelbendeck@yahoo. com. Man is in this world already in heaven or hell. – Jakob Böhme (quoted in Hartmann 1891, 292) Samsara, the transmigration of life, takes place in one’s own mind. Let one therefore keep the mind pure, for what a man thinks that he becomes: this is a mystery of Eternity. – Maitrī Upanishad 6:24 The manifestations of mind outnumber the / myriads of dust-motes / In the infinite rays of sunlight. – Milarepa (1977, 97) The whole world of existence is imagination within imagination. – Ibn ‘Arabī (quoted in Izutsu 1984, 7) 1 Introduction While modern Western psychology has, occasionally, acknowledged the importance of the transpersonal realm and other dimensions of reality, it nevertheless remains afflicted by a reductionist Weltanschauung that thwarts its clinical efficacy and treatment modalities. We are reminded that “the materialistic consensus which undergirds practically all of current mainstream psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy of mind is fundamentally flawed [note: and that] current mainstream opinion in psychology must change” (Kelly et al. 2010, xiii, xiv). By contrast, holistic psychologies rooted in the spiritual traditions have fuller access to the realm of consciousness – in the multiplicity of its forms – along with their corresponding epistemological modes. Across the world’s religions, “Mind” is the source of all things because it exists prior to the created order and pervades all of reality. The life of the mind is often taken for granted and when a thought enters it, without fully realizing its power, we can find ourselves propelled into very confused and dark spaces. The basis of a thought’s validity is seldom considered any more. The notion that because thoughts arise, they must somehow reflect reality, is very deceptive and can in most cases be totally false. If a thought has no foundation in what is real, then what is the point of occupying our minds with it? Yet, our ordinary minds are disconnected from their centers, such that what is higher within them is lost to the onslaught of mental “white noise” that we all generate.
14 Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 For most people in the present day, the consciousness that we inhabit is not a friendly one; rather, it betrays a myriad of hostilities that serve to undermine our vision of the transpersonal Self. In such cases, our mind is our worst enemy. By means of the contemplative practices found in humanity’s spiritual traditions, we can glean ways of grounding our thoughts and emotions in our moment-to-moment experience through an abiding connection to the sacred. Without a “vertical” perspective on the metaphysical basis of consciousness, we will become captive to the fragmented excrescences of our cognition. To ignore this is, in a sense, to throw ourselves out to sea in the midst of a storm, the consequences of which can be deleterious to our psychological well-being. The objective of this paper is to demonstrate that modern Western psychology has failed to understand the enigma of consciousness due to its reductionist assumptions and its uncritical reliance on Cartesian bifurcationism. A proposed remedy for this failure is to adopt a proper “science of the soul,” which is found in all of the world’s religions, where the sacred remains pivotal to an authentic understanding of the person. A comparative methodology grounded in epistemological pluralism has been used to critically examine the claims of modern psychology in light of the deeper insights found across humanity’s spiritual cultures. 2 Consciousness and Modern Psychology The genesis of the desacralized and reductionist outlook that dominates psychology today is likely to be found in the ideas of John Locke (1632–1704), one of the most influential thinkers of the European Enlightenment. To him was attributed the theory of empiricism and the associated notion of tabula rasa, whereby human beings are considered to be born with a “clean slate” or “blank canvas” rather than being an image of the Divine. The foundations of modern psychology – especially behaviorism and psychoanalysis – need to be understood for what they are: namely, an unbridled assault on what it means to be fully human. Any so-called psychology that abolishes the soul and Spirit, and regards the mind or consciousness as a mere epiphenomenon, is not a true “science of the soul.” In the winter of 1913, John B. Watson (1878–1958), known as the “father of behaviorism,” delivered a lecture at Columbia University entitled Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It, which became widely known as the “behaviorist manifesto.” This address inaugurated one of the most powerful currents in 20th-century psychology. Watson’s (1913, 163, 177) attack on the “science of the soul” is usefully encapsulated as follows: The time seems to have come when psychology must discard all reference to consciousness; when it need no longer delude itself into thinking that it is making mental states the object of observation… This suggested elimination of states of consciousness as proper objects of investigation in themselves will remove the barrier from psychology which exists between it and the other [note: modern] sciences. Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), who developed the psychoanalytic “talking cure” and laid the foundations for the discipline of modern psychology, also had a reductionistic interpretation of the mind (1963, 144): [T]he ‘essential nature’ of consciousness: we see the process of a thing becoming conscious as a specific psychical act, distinct from and independent of the process of the formation of a presentation or idea; and we regard consciousness as a sense organ which perceives data that arise elsewhere. Although Freud’s one-time protégé, Carl Jung (1875–1961), is often considered a pioneer of transpersonal psychology who recognized the need to include the spiritual dimension in psychology. Nevertheless, his own interpretation of consciousness is limited to the empirical ego and does not encompass anything that is transcendent to it: “Consciousness is the function or activity which maintains the relation of psychic contents with the ego” (Jung 1923, 536); or “Consciousness can only exist through continual recognition of the unconscious” (1980, 96). In this context, Cyril Burt (1883–1971) offers this assessment of the discipline: “Psychology, having first bargained away its soul and then gone out of its mind, seems now, as it faces an untimely end, to have lost all consciousness” (1962, 229). Since its emergence, modern Western psychology has not been able to establish a healthy epistemological pluralism to support both the ordinary and transpersonal dimensions of mind, seeing as it has abandoned its roots in metaphysics and spiritual principles. When souls are living in a state of forgetfulness, their consciousness is obscured. This prevents them from truly knowing themselves, as they fail to see that the endless stream of thoughts in the mind has an ontological status that is only contingent or provisional. What is required for a proper and abiding psychological orientation is to stabilize one’s psychic center, by having it anchored in a reality that is transmundane.
Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 15 Samuel Bendeck Sotillos 3 “As Above, So Below” According to traditional thought, the macrocosm and microcosm mirror each other. This is conveyed in the Hermetic maxim: “In truth certainly and without doubt, whatever is below is like that which is above, and whatever is above is like that which is below” (quoted in Burckhardt 1986, 196). All levels of reality exist both within and outside us given our fundamental unity in the Absolute. According to Islamic spirituality, “Man is a little cosmos, and the cosmos is like a big man” (quoted in Ibn ‘Arabī 1975, 11). Not only are we in the cosmos, but the cosmos dwells in us. Similarly, there is a correspondence between the soul and the cosmos, including our posthumous states and consciousness in this life. For in the deepest recesses of the human microcosm there reverberates another world – more real and enduring than this one, yet fully present, here and now, at the very heart of existence. As Muhammad is recorded to have said: “Paradise is closer to you than the thong of your sandal, and the same applies to hell” (quoted in Eaton 1985, 110). The Divine is an irreducible whole that cannot be artificially sundered into disjointed parts – every dimension of existence reflects the whole of Reality, and each realm of cognition is permeable to the whole. If we pay attention to our minds and their fluctuating states, we can see how much of our experience in this life is susceptible to momentary cognitions. Although we cannot underestimate the power of consciousness, we need to also emphasize that “Mind is indeed the source of bondage and also the source of liberation” (Maitrī Upanishad 6:24). Indeed, the tradition of Vedānta – one of the six “perspectives” (Sa. darśana) of Hindu philosophy – teaches that the “mind” (Sa. manas) according to the Vedānta is the by-product of “illusion” (Sa. māyā). The mind cannot know itself through its own efforts, as it requires the agency of what lies beyond the empirical ego in order to do so. Just like the “ordinary” self, consciousness itself cannot be understood at its own level – this is a fundamental issue with which the discipline of modern Western psychology has yet to grapple. Our minds create a dream-like reality that can appear to be quite vivid and all-encompassing, but this is a chimera. In such a state, we are captured by distorting mental fragments that prevent us from discerning the whole, which is why we are often apt to be deceived. For this reason, the life of the mind can become a quagmire of distress and confusion. It ought to be obvious that existence, as a whole, cannot simply be reduced to the functions of our precarious cognition. So, while the mind is unable to create reality as such, our perspective on life can still have a powerful impact on our psycho-physical flourishing. The endemic relativism that has undermined the discipline of modern Western psychology is underscored by American psychologist Carl Rogers (1902–1987): “The only reality I can possibly know is the world as I perceive and experience it at this moment… And the only certainty is that those perceived realities are different. There are as many ‘real worlds’ as there are people!” (1995, 102). A similar view was held by Freud (1989, 217): “Fundamentally, we find only what we need and see only what we want to see.” By expunging the very notion of truth, we become imprisoned in a solipsistic cul-de-sac. As the New Age mantra proclaims: “You create your own reality” (Watkins 2006, 41). For this reason, the French metaphysician René Guénon (1886– 1951) observed that an experience of existence that excludes higher orders of reality can only give rise to “The Illusion of ‘Ordinary Life’” (2004, 101). Our thinking about the world and ourselves is rooted in our state of mind, which is situated in a particular individual perspective. This varies, from moment to moment, in each person. Our thoughts can also conflict among themselves. Without an awareness of this, our attention is often diffused outwardly into the world, and we lose touch with our sacred center – which is a direct reflection of Reality. It is through a comprehensive “science of the soul,” as taught by spiritual traditions, that we can distinguish the psychic from the Spiritual, as well as the relative from the Absolute. According to the Māndūkya Upanishad (1:1:4): “Two kinds of knowledge must be known – that is what the knowers of Brahman tell us. They are the Higher Knowledge and the lower knowledge.” This discrimination cannot be found in modern Western psychology, as it has rejected its metaphysical and spiritual foundations. 4 Liberation and Bondage Throughout all spiritual traditions, we find examples of how both heaven and hell – and everything in between – are present within the human psyche. The Anglican divine William Law (1686–1761) writes: “There cannot be the smallest Thing, or the smallest Quality of any Thing in this World, but what is a Quality of Heaven or Hell, discovered under a temporal Form” (1893, 116). The English poet John Milton (1608–1674) confirmed this in his famous poem, Paradise Lost: “The mind is
16 Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 its own place, and in itself / Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven” (1895, 33). The Māndūkya Upanishad describes four “states” (Sa. avasthā) of consciousness that are central to human beings: “waking” (Sa. jāgrat), “dreaming” (Sa. svapna), “deep sleep” (Sa. sushupti), and the underlying substratum of all three states corresponding to the gross, subtle, and causal realms (Sa. turīya). The “Self” (Sa. Ātmā) is the principle of all states of consciousness and all degrees of its manifestation. It is important to note that the perspective of modern Western psychology begins and ends with the waking state of consciousness; meaning that all facets of life are analyzed from the waking state, with other realms being, for the most part, disqualified as they cannot be empirically verified. Contrary to the belief that “the psyche is a self-regulating system that maintains its equilibrium” (Jung 1985, 153), what we find, in fact, is that consciousness alone regulates all levels of a human being. A “science of the soul,” grounded in metaphysics and ontology, sees the waking state as a relative point of reference; not one that is absolute. For this reason, it can account for multiple realms of consciousness. In Sānkhya–Yoga, we find the cosmological principles of the three gunas and their psychic correspondences: “When ‘sattva’ predominates, consciousness is calm, clear, comprehensible, virtuous; dominated by ‘rajas’, it is agitated, uncertain, unstable; overwhelmed by ‘tamas’, it is dark, confused, passionate, bestial” (Eliade 1973, 23). In Buddhist cosmology, there are six realms that constitute life in samsāra (Sa. the cycle of birth-and-death): hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, fighting spirits, and gods. If we conceive of these worlds – not only as posthumous states that we experience after death – but as realms in which we can become immersed here and now, we can better understand not only the nature of the mind, but also extreme cognitive states and their relationship to mental health. By having recourse to a proper metaphysical perspective, we can make sense of the well-known insight by Ādi Śankara, the eighth-century sage of the Advaita Vedānta tradition: “There is in reality no transmigrating soul different from the Lord” (1962, 51). 5 Toward a Multidimensional Model of Consciousness Beyond the corporeal and psychic realms, traditional forms of wisdom maintain that human beings can occupy multiple states of consciousness. Buddhist writer Marco Pallis (1895– 1989) explains: “Man is but one of an indefinite number of states of the being” (1949, 127). William James (1842–1910), the “Father of American Psychology,” notes a similar idea (1985, 388): [O]ur normal waking consciousness… is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness… No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded. How to regard them is the question… At any rate, they forbid a premature closing of our accounts with reality. The sacred psychologies of diverse cultures, throughout the world, provide us with a context for understanding these other states of mind. Due to their limited scope, empirical epistemologies fail to discern these realms of consciousness, as they only take into account “horizontal” dimensions of reality. We are reminded that “Heaven or Hell… comprise regions and degrees—in both the ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ dimensions—but the ‘life’ or ‘movements’ in these abodes cannot be penetrated by earthly understanding, unless it be through rare and fragmentary images” (Schuon 1970, 139). For this reason, Toshihiko Izutsu (1914–1993) points out (1994, 6–7): Such a vision of reality, however, is not accessible to human consciousness as long as it remains at the level of ordinary everyday experience. In order to have access to it… the mind must experience a total transformation of itself. The consciousness must transcend the dimension of ordinary cognition where the world of being is experienced as consisting of solid, self-subsistent things, each having as its ontological core what is called essence. There must arise in the mind a totally different kind of awareness in which the world is revealed in an entirely different light. That at any given moment we are in a particular state of mind or realm of consciousness, including extreme states, does not mean that they are not real. They can be just as vivid as our experiences in the external world of matter –
Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 17 Samuel Bendeck Sotillos seeing as all realms coexist in reality – but it must be remembered that our current temporal existence is subject to impermanence and countless vicissitudes. No matter how real the contents of the mind may appear, they are grounded in an order of reality that is individual and highly conditioned, rather than in the transpersonal. 6 Cognition and the Real Our cognition is instrumental in traversing the multifarious states of consciousness and can act as a support to the spiritual path when rooted in a sacred ambiance. This is attested to in the Ashtāvakra Gītā of the Hindu tradition: “You are what you think” (1990, 3); in a Buddhist text, the Dhammapada: “All that we are is the result of what we have thought” (1965, 3); in Jewish scripture: “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7); in the New Testament: “We… beholding… are changed into the same image” (2 Corinthians 3:18); and in the Islamic tradition: “You are your thought” (Rūmī 1983, 96). Both a horizontal and vertical understanding of existence are needed to fully grasp the nuances of the human psyche, yet mainstream psychology, for the most part, confines itself to a purely secular outlook. Without opening the “eye of the heart” (Lat. intellectus) we cannot discern the true nature of reality. According to the Bhagavad Gītā (2:16): “The unreal never is: the Real never is not. This truth indeed has been seen by those who can see the true.” In the same way that a Hindu proverb speaks of a “rope… mistaken for an illusory snake” (quoted in The Māndūkya Upanisad with Gaudapāda’s Kārikā and Śankara’s Commentary 1949, 71), human beings superimpose a separate ego onto the transpersonal Self, giving rise to a plethora of confusion and suffering. For this reason, discernment is essential for our mental health. Time and time again, spiritual traditions call us to “remember that thou goest in the midst of snares” (Ecclesiasticus 9:13). In Plato’s (429–347) allegory of the cave, people mistake shadows for the real world. The experience of being shackled in a cave can be likened to a psychosis of delusional thinking or hallucinations about the reality of the shadows in our minds. To face the real world beyond the “cave” requires entering a spiritual path, in order to restore true vision through the “eye of the heart.” From the aspect of ultimate reality, we need to “see through” the phenomenal world of fleeting appearances, so as to behold the transpersonal order (quoted in Osborne 1978, 91): It is like a cinema show. There is light on the screen and the shadows flitting across impress the audience as the acting of some story. Now suppose that in this film story an audience is also shown on the screen. The seer and the seen will then both be on the screen. Apply this to yourself. You are the screen, the Self has created the ego, the ego has its accretions of thoughts, which are displayed as the world, trees, plants, etc., about which you are asking. In reality all these are nothing but the Self. If you see the Self it will be found to be all, everywhere and always. Nothing but the Self exists. From this metaphysical perspective, we can understand the Buddha when he remarked “Our life is the creation of our mind” (1973, 35). The eighth-century Buddhist yogi, Saraha, observed that “Mind is the seed of everything, from which sprouts both [note: samsāra] and nirvāna” (quoted in Buddhist Scriptures 2004, 482). The Sage of Arunachala, Śrī Ramana Maharshi (1879–1950), explains: “You carry heaven and hell with you” (Maharshi 1996, 46). John Smith (1618–1652), one of the Cambridge Platonists, writes: “The foundation of heaven and hell is laid in men’s own souls” (1859, 151). Boethius (480–525) stated: “Nothing is miserable unless you think it so; and on the other hand, nothing brings happiness unless you are content with it” (2002, 24). Within the Jewish tradition, this insight is framed as “A man is shown in a dream only what is suggested by his own thoughts” (The Babylonian Talmud: Berakhot 1948, 341–342). The Persian poet Sanā’ī (d. 1131) expressed this thought as follows: “Your heaven and hell are within yourself: Look inside!” (quoted in Nasr 1987, 397). Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) also proposed a similar view: “To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven” (quoted in Gilman et al. 1961, 71). 7 Ordinary and Transpersonal Dimensions of Mind According to the diverse spiritual traditions of the world, there is a transpersonal dimension in human beings that is both transcendent and immanent. It lies beyond the compass of conventional ratiocination and integrates all the multi-faceted dimensions of a person – with all the epistemological consequences that this entails. Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin (1796–1850) points out: “Thought may be utilized for holy or unholy purposes. Should not a man’s intellect elevate his thoughts to the Supreme Mind?” (quoted in The Hasidic Anthology 1963, 91). The perspective of two minds, one ordinary and the other transpersonal, is captured in The Laws of Manu (1:14): “From himself he also drew forth the mind, which is both real and unreal.” Sri Ramakrishna (1836–1886) declares:www.spirituality-studies.org