11 - Dynamics of States and Structures at Higher Levels

Underhill gives the example of Madame Guyon as a woman whose mystical progress was largely states led though ultimately acquiring enough structural development to attain to the unitive life.

Where the emphasis is primarily on states, unconscious dynamics - which operate in a direct complementary fashion - tend to dominate. Therefore the very rapid switching of (mature) transpersonal and (confused) prepersonal expressions of these states continually takes place in spiritual development.

Because one never stays at any stage for long, it can then become extremely difficult to develop adequate structural development with respect to any stage. This problem can then be compounded through a natural tendency to get absorbed in the rich variety of states characterising one’s experience.

So if adequate structures are to take root one must largely ignore feelings so as to increase the "stickability" factor with respect to various tasks.

When the emphasis is primarily on structures the opposite problem can easily become manifest, so that spiritual development tends to largely plateau at a given stage.

I would see the great philosopher Hegel as a very good example of this tendency.

His key insights undoubtedly came from religious type intuitions. These in turn enabled the development of philosophic structures which - in many ways - correspond with "higher" stages of development.

However because of over-emphasis on the intellectual structural aspect, the corresponding contemplative states of these levels did not develop in like manner.

Thus ultimately Hegel was guilty of substantial reductionism, where spiritual contemplative experience gradually became reduced to mere philosophical - albeit dynamic paradoxical - expression.

So if - for example - one has a great capacity for the intellectual development of structures at the "higher" levels , this may need to be considerably curtailed so as to enable the states of pure contemplative development - appropriate to these levels - to take place.