Sequence of Development
Differentiation and Integration
We will now return to an important point regarding the manner in which development of personality takes place.
The two key tendencies involved are differentiation and integration respectively. Differentiation is enabled in a direct sense through the conscious, whereas the complementary task of integration is aided through the unconscious process.
Differentiation within a given stage of development requires the positive (conscious) direction of experience. However progression to "higher" stages requires in addition the negative direction of experience. In Hegelian terms at any given stage, the positive direction (i.e. structures developed) represent the thesis, the negative direction (i.e. mirror structures developed) represent the antithesis and the dynamic relationship between both sets results in a new synthesis in experience. This then becomes posited as the thesis of the next stage. In this manner new "higher" stages of development progressively emerge in experience.
The problem with the linear level is that mirror structure development - while being essential to fuel the dynamics of growth - remains merely implicit. In the early prepersonal stages the unconscious is still very active. However progression to new stages is measured by the extent to which the child can free itself of the influence of the unconscious. Not surprisingly its energy gradually fades until by the formal linear stages it has been largely dissipated.
The first task in life is the differentiation of conscious structures. This is achieved through the ability to directly posit phenomena in experience, thereby separating the conscious from the unconscious. Implicitly the very interaction as between the world and self requires the development also of mirror structures. However as this activity depends directly on the unconscious, these mirror structures lose their strength as the linear stages unfold. This explains very well, why in conventional development, there are no further levels of personality development beyond the linear. Because the positive direction of conscious development is now so specialised, very little generation of the alternative (unconscious) negative direction is possible. Thus the necessary creative fusion as between both directions - which is required to move to higher stages of development - no longer takes place.
The critical factor enabling so much further development of stages at the transpersonal levels is the radical explicit development of mirror structures. In Christian mystical theology, this is referred to as the purgative way. Thus for someone who is destined to go through all the different transpersonal levels, a very high degree of mirror structure development is required.
Thus differentiation at a given stage (i.e. horizontal development) is directly related to the positive (conscious) direction of experience.
The movement to "higher" stages (i.e. vertical development) is directly related to the negative (unconscious) direction of experience.
Integration - in direct terms - pertains to development of the unconscious. The degree of unconscious activity required is related to the level of development involved. The formal linear stages involve a strong focus on conscious understanding. Therefore a very limited degree of unconscious activity is required to maintain personality equilibrium. Putting it another way, if a high degree of unconscious activity was involved it would challenge the very assumptions on which such linear understanding is based.
This is precisely the problem faced by someone destined to move on to the transpersonal levels of understanding. In attempting to achieve personality integration at the later linear stages, a high level of unconscious activity is generated, creating a synthesis which actually undermines any notion of a separate objective reality.
This also entails that personality integration at the conventional linear levels is at best very limited, where a world-view based on mere conscious specialisation of the personality - and thereby distorted - is maintained.
Thus integration - within a given stage - is related to an appropriate level of unconscious development. For someone destined to stay at the linear level, integration is possible provided that at each stage of development the role of the unconscious becomes increasingly limited, serving only the needs of the specialised conscious mind. For someone however, destined to go on to the transpersonal levels, such integration is not possible due to an excessive development of intuitive unconscious ability.
At each stage of transpersonal development, a familiar pattern emerges. New structures are initially differentiated in experience. One later attempts to integrate within this stage through appropriate mirror structure activity. However this inevitably creates a new "higher" synthesis of understanding, pushing the personality into a more subtle stage of development. The attempt to integrate within a given stage thus continually proves problematic as it leads to a newer "higher" stage of development.
Integration within a given stage therefore depends on an appropriate level of unconscious activity. Progression to "higher" stages results from a new creative synthesis at the culmination of each stage.
With the progressive development of so many "higher" stages at the transpersonal levels, a new problem arises as to how to achieve backward vertical integration of these stages with earlier stages. This is a key problem which - in my opinion - is not adequately dealt with in either the spiritual or psychological literature.
This is where the distinction as between "real" (cognitive) and "imaginary" (affective) modes is so important. During the circular level, development though progressively more intuitive stages takes place under the control of reason. Primitive instincts are therefore inevitably repressed. Thus we have the development of "real" superstructures. As one is continually led to "higher" stages of development, true backward integration with earlier structures is not possible. Therefore, during the circular level an extreme transcendent focus of development is evident. One attempts to achieve integration by moving to progressively "higher" stages of development. However, because of limited integration with earlier stages of development, this leads to a growing mind-body split culminating in the major "dark night" crisis.
Thus during the circular level, only forward vertical integration takes place in the development of "real" transpersonal superstructures.
With the point level there is now the corresponding development of "lower" imaginary substructures. These enable this necessary backward integration to take place.
However the point level still has a pronounced vertical focus. Further "high level" superstructures and "low level" substructures develop with both forward and backward integration taking place. One progressively learns to integrate superstructures with substructures and substructures with superstructures respectively until ultimately such distinctions become meaningless.
We have now dealt with the horizontal and vertical aspects of development.
The final task is what might be referred to as diagonal development. In other words, one now learns to differentiate and integrate both within and between different levels and stages of development.
This requires very pure development of the will (transfinite) so that one can switch to and from all phenomena (both real and imaginary) without attachment. This is the task of the radial level.
I have already outlined my basic theory of personality types. The first "real" group is most suited to horizontal development. Personality development for this group can be largely achieved within a modified form of the linear level. Though this of course does not exclude spiritual development, purely transpersonal stages of development would have little relevance here. The second "imaginary" group is more suited to vertical development. At least some exposure to the more intuitive transpersonal stages would be necessary to attain personality integration. The third "complex" group is most suited to diagonal development. It is with this type - in certain circumstances - that the fullest range of differing stages of development would be required to achieve a satisfactory personality equilibrium. The map of development outlined in this book is especially relevant for this third group.
It is of course true, for example, in relation to conventional linear development - though the majority of adults pass through all its stages - that personality characteristics and abilities vary greatly. In particular the moral capacity of such individuals can considerably differ. It is therefore possible for example. to be psychologically advanced at this level and yet be an intrinsically evil person.
In a qualified sense, this is true also of the circular, point and radial levels also. Even at the most advanced radial level, personality characteristics and abilities can vary greatly. However in the most fundamental moral sense there is a basic equality. It is hard to see how anyone living at the radial level could be a "bad" person, for the integration achieved at this level is fundamentally a spiritual one. It is of course theoretically possible that such a person could subsequently fall from grace, but given the permanent union with the spirit that this level entails, this is highly unlikely.
Chronology of Development
I will now attempt to give a time sequence to the main levels. By its nature this is highly provisional. Everyone's personality development - while sharing features in common with others - is ultimately unique. No psychological map can exactly fit each person.
Linear Development ( - 15)
Transition to Circular Level (15 - 17)
The linear level of development is the easiest to identify with, and shared by the great majority in our culture. For someone destined to go on through all the main transpersonal stages, there are likely to be signs even from an early age of what is to come. Such a person, may have a strong sense of being unique and set apart, and - irrespective of ability - will never quite fit in with conventional expectations.
Movement on to the transpersonal levels can have already started by late adolescence. This can be a highly confusing time fraught with a severe existential crisis. It may only be many years later that one will be able to look back, and see one's problems then, as being fundamentally due to the decisive shift in consciousness taking place.
In general, the longer one progresses into adulthood - without such a crisis - the less likely that the full range of transpersonal experience will ever unfold. The attraction of earthly concerns is very strong. One has to very quickly speed into to the stratosphere, as it were, to break this intense gravity pull.
I do not believe that anyone really chooses radical transpersonal experience. Rather like a strange illness it is thrust upon one. One can pay an enormous price in terms of misunderstanding and social isolation. Yet, it is one's vocation; one would not have it otherwise.
Circular Level (17 - 26)
Transition to Point Level (26 - 30)
The early stages of the circular level may proceed very rapidly lasting in each case one or maybe two years. The most decisive is the final "dark night" stage which could well last for five or more years. The transition stage is also likely to last about five years, and provides an opportunity to redevelop worldly skills.
Point Level (30-40)
Transition to Radial Level (40-45)
The point level involves many different stages and substages of development. At least ten years would be required to see it through in its entirety. The transition to the radial level is also likely to take a number of years. Part of the problem here is that no clear boundaries exist between this transition period and the radial level.
Radial Level (45 -
One is likely to be well into middle age before the radial level, bringing true maturity of personality blooms. Indeed it may take another ten years or so before it reaches its final dynamic phase. This would leave - given a typical life span - perhaps twenty years at this fullest stage of development.
This certainly contrasts strongly with conventional personality development which would be largely completed by the early 20's.
In our culture, though certain behavioural characteristics and abilities typical of the more advanced levels are relatively common, very few are destined to go through all these transpersonal stages to full unity in their entirety. It is a very arduous task leaving one for long periods an outsider. Also I believe that it really is a vocation. In the deepest sense the true disciple is chosen and will feel driven towards this goal irrespective of conventional norms.
Very often serious transpersonal development is interpreted as withdrawal from the world. In various religious traditions, aspirants still join monastic communities, thus symbolising this withdrawal.
Though all genuine mystical development necessarily entails radical detachment, paradoxically this can be best realised by staying in the world. The only appropriate reason for pure detachment, is to enable pure and selfless attachment again, in free and committed involvement with the world. Matter in itself is not evil. Rather it our distorted relationship with the world that so often results in evil. Though temporary physical withdrawal from the world may be necessary in terms of deepening the transpersonal attitude, permanent withdrawal may be very damaging. Despite one's best intentions it can foster an attitude that is otherworldly and indeed unhealthy. Also inevitably, someone who is physically cut off from contact with wider society, will lose touch in many ways with its concerns. Indeed it is this deeply ingrained attitude - often associated with transcendent masculine spirituality - that creates barriers for Western religious institutions in adapting to the world.
Map of Development
We will conclude with a tentative map of all the stages of development.
THE LINEAR LEVEL
For convenience, we are including in this level all the prepersonal stages of development
This is the first separation of conscious and unconscious processes in the emergence of physical life.
This is the first separation of cognitive and affective modes in the emergence of instinctive behaviour.
This is the first separation of objective and subjective directions in the emergence of composite (i.e. natural) phenomena in experience.
Integer (or Integral)
This represents the highest stage of (mere) physical development. With the growing development of the negative direction, self knowledge and increased permanency of objects in consciousness is possible.
This involves the horizontal ability to fragment and analyse the contents of experience.
This has both cognitive and affective aspects (i.e. concrete ideas and perceptions) and objective and subjective directions (i.e. the world and the self).
This involves the "higher" vertical mental ability enabling fragmentation of the dimensions of experience (i.e. conceptual analysis)
Again this has both cognitive and affective aspects and both objective and subjective directions.
This is the attempt to integrate the earlier rational and pre-rational stages and relates to the more authentic existential, spiritual centre of personality. Though transcending the linear level, such integration is assumed to take place with the structures of that level remaining intact.
TRANSITION FROM LINEAR TO CIRCULAR LEVEL
These are the mirror structures which give an explicit negative (as well as positive) direction to experience. They represent the dynamic undoing or cancelling out of conscious phenomena in experience, which is the basis for pure intuitive experience. In Christian ascetism, this is referred to as purgation.
This relates to the dynamic undoing of the concrete contents of experience. Again this involves cognitive and affective modes and objective and subjective directions.
This relates to the dynamic undoing of the formal dimensions (i.e. concepts) of experience.
Again this involves cognitive and affective modes and objective and subjective directions.
Realistically, at this stage, mirror structure activity - which is very arduous from a psychological perspective - would be largely confined to the concrete contents of experience. In other words deeper conceptual understanding of the linear level remains largely intact.
THE CIRCULAR LEVEL
Irrational and Anti-Irrational Stages
This level relates to a "higher" intuitively inspired understanding based on the principle of the complementarity of opposites. This implies an inherently dynamic and relative world-view based on an alternative logic, which - compared to the absolute linear level - is paradoxical. Thus - relative to rational linear structures - all the structures of this level are in mathematical terms irrational.
The key feature of this level is that both directions (positive and negative) are explicitly developed and integrated in experience.
Concrete Irrational (Positive)
These are the supersensory structures and involve the interpretation of concrete phenomena in dynamic relative terms. It involves various sub-phases.
Firstly there is a period of peak intuitive illumination (without reduced translation) which is an exhilarating and joyful experience.
This is followed by an attempt to translate in reduced conscious terms through the language of paradox. These translations are in relation to both affective mode (where sense symbols serve as universal archetypes) and cognitive mode (where scientific understanding takes place in dynamic relative terms).
Concrete Irrational (Negative)
These are the mirror supersensory structures and involve the undoing of the subtle phenomena of the previous stage. Again this involves various sub-phases.
Firstly there is a period of peak illumination, experienced in darkness (again without reduced interpretation). In contrast to the previous stage such illumination is extremely distressing, exposing clearly the misery of self.
This is followed by the undoing of the reduced paradoxical translations of the previous stage (i.e. the development of corresponding mirror structures). Again this relates to both cognitive and affective modes.
There is then the unfolding of internally based (negative) structures. Intimate personal experience becomes interpreted in terms of the complementarity of opposites. This represents a profoundly existentialist position based on authentic spiritual conviction.
Realistically mirror structure activity in relation to these internal structures would not take place at this stage.
Formal Irrational (Positive)
These are the suprarational structures and involve the dimensions of experience in direct fashion. In other words the formal conceptual systems of experience are now interpreted in terms of the complementarity of opposites. Again there are several sub-stages.
Firstly there is a spiritual phase in a new period of joyful peak illumination, deeper than previously with a transforming effect on personality.
This is followed by a cognitive phase the attempt to translate this experience in reduced conscious terms through the paradoxical means of the complementarity of opposites. The very concepts used to model reality are now seen in dynamic relative terms.
There will also be an affective phase, where emotional experience is translated through spiritually transparent images.
Formal Irrational (Negative)
These are the mirror suprarational structures and involve the undoing of the subtle translations of the previous (and earlier stages). Indeed it involves the radical erosion of all conscious phenomena whether rigid or subtle. This is the "dark night" and is the most arduous of all stages on the spiritual journey.
Again there are various sub-phases.
There is initially intense spiritual illumination, reawakening internally in enhanced cosmic terms, the misery of self and the human condition generally.
Now follows the familiar pattern of the undoing of all conscious phenomena of the previous stage in relation to both cognitive and affective modes.
There then is the emergence of highly refined cognitive internal structures. One becomes extremely conscientious, where personal moral decisions - though seemingly minute - assume universal significance. Also at an affective level, there is a highly generalised sense of identification with human suffering in all forms.
Next follows mirror structure activity in relation to these structures, so that there is nothing left in consciousness. This is the arrival at a state of pure faith which is transcendent intuition concealed in darkness.
TRANSITION FROM CIRCULAR TO POINT LEVEL
The transition from circular to point level involves a decisive shift in experience. With the erosion of conscious activity, one is deeply immersed in the unconscious. Subsequent experience represents projected material with only an indirectly conscious meaning. Formerly the world was experienced as "out there" (i.e. as conscious). Now it is experienced as "in here" (i.e. as unconscious) which indirectly can be expressed as "out there" through imaginary format (in the precise mathematical meaning of the term).
In some ways this stage is similar to the corresponding stage at the linear level. However whereas the former is experienced as "real" (i.e. directly conscious), this is experienced as virtual or "imaginary" (i.e. indirectly conscious).
Again we have both cognitive and affective modes and external and internal directions.
The major distinction here is that a high level of anti-structure activity is involved, so that these structures like virtual particles in physics tend to be very elusive and transient.
These structures bear similarity to their "real" counterparts of the linear level now relating to the deeper conceptual regions of personality (i.e. dimensions). They are formed both with respect to cognitive and affective aspects and external and internal directions.
They are however only indirectly conscious, representing essentially projections of unconscious desire. Also they - unlike their "real" counterparts - are very closely associated with anti-structures making them short lived and transient.
THE POINT LEVEL
The key defining aspect of this level is the attempt to reconcile the line and the circle i.e. to see reality neither in terms of the linear (rational) or circular (irrational) paradigms, but rather as the relationship between both. Like (pi), these stages - again in the precise mathematical meaning of the term - are transcendental.
Concrete Transcendental: Real
These relate to what I have referred to as advanced superstructures, operating out of the "higher" rational aspect of personality. The structures of this stage are highly subtle and intuitive. They have both external and internal directions, and also cognitive and affective modes of expression, which are extremely closely associated.
Formal Transcendental: Imaginary
These relate to what I have referred to as advanced substructures, operating out of the "lower" instinctive aspect of personality. These are very much complementary to "higher" level structures. Usually there is a lag so that - having already emerged at the rational level - they develop later also at the irrational level (concrete and formal). Again they have affective and cognitive modes of expression and internal and external directions which are very closely associated.
The formal aspect of these structures refers to the repressive effects of super-ego control on fantasies.
Formal Transcendental: Real
These represent an even more advanced stage of superstructure control, where rational intuitive ability becomes largely denuded of interference from the instinctive self. It represents the highest marriage of intuition and rational ability in a new world-view which I have expressed as psycho-mathematical. Every (rational) mathematical is matched by a complementary (intuitive) psychological relationship.
There is only a cognitive mode of expression here, with two directions of experience which are extremely closely related.
Concrete Transcendental: Imaginary
These structures represent the most advanced stage of development of substructure activity, where instinctive response becomes largely freed of any "higher level" rational control. This in turn leads - in sexual terms - to the marriage of masculine and feminine principles within the psyche.
In observing reality, conventional science asserts solely the masculine principle i.e. the impersonal nature of physical phenomena. One now clearly realises that the feminine principle equally applies to all such phenomena. In other words every object has dual aspects entailing both a "real" impersonal and an "imaginary" personal existence.
TRANSITION FROM POINT TO RADIAL LEVEL
These relate to a purely intuitive understanding of reality, free of secondary translations.
They also initially have two aspects.
This is the particle aspect of spiritual illumination, often referred to as the contemplation of immanence. This literally provides the light to psychologically appreciate the uniqueness of physical phenomena.
This is the wave aspect of spiritual intuition, referred to as the contemplation of transcendence. This literally provides the light that psychologically transcends phenomena. In other words it enables one to appreciate the universal generality of all relationships.
The most complete transfinite experience involves the harmonisation of these two aspects in what simultaneously combines both the wave and particle aspects of spiritual light. This is pure mystical awareness, sometimes referred to as the plenum-void or dazzling-darkness.
THE RADIAL LEVEL
The radial level involves the complete harmonisation of both positive and negative directions, and real and imaginary modes, in what are now understood as dynamically complex stages of development.
Though direction and mode are now integrated, there is still - initially - some degree of separation in terms of process (i.e. finite and transfinite understanding).
All phenomena are now seen as enjoying a (mathematically) complex finite existence (with both real and imaginary aspects). These have - relatively speaking - a four fold aspect in terms of mode (cognitive and affective) and in terms of direction (external and internal), with a very high level of interpenetration between the four aspects.
These are the complementary stages relate directly to the spiritual light i.e. pure intuition (through which the finite phenomena are experienced). We can identify here four complementary aspects (two directions and two modes), though again there is a high level of interpenetration involved.
This relates to the latter stage of the radial level (sometimes referred to as transforming union).
Here there is such a high degree of fusion as between finite and transfinite structures, that they cannot be validly separated. This is true simplicity, representing at one and the same time, both full differentiation and integration of all activity.
As the above outline suggests, we have a fascinating way of ordering psychological experience. We have come full circle, where transpersonal psychology and mathematics merge.
Put simply, every mathematical operation (statically interpreted) has a complementary corresponding psychological operation (dynamically interpreted).
In such terms, objective and subjective directions are positive and negative, and cognitive and affective modes real and imaginary with respect to each other. Thus our four basis structures (thinking, perception, judgement and feeling) can be represented by the four axes in the complex plane. Finally, conscious (phenomenal) and unconscious (spiritual) experience are finite and transfinite with respect to each other.
All the various stages of development can be translated precisely in number format. Every (quantitative) number type has a dynamic (qualitative) complement which, however, is rarely recognised. We have - as we have seen positive and negative, real and imaginary, finite and transfinite numbers. We have also rational, irrational (algebraic) and transcendental numbers. All these numbers - and the various combinations involved can be mapped precisely with corresponding psychological structures.
Thus, if for example, we take a positive real finite (mathematical) number type which is transcendental, this will have a complementary positive real finite number type (i.e. psychological structure) which is also transcendental. This - as we have seen - relates to the stage of the point level, where one cognitively interprets (external) reality in terms of the dynamic relationship of both the rational (linear) and holistic intuitive (circular) paradigms. Each number type as a mathematical quantity is thereby exactly matched by a corresponding number representing a psychological quality.
Thus the (full) number system itself - qualitatively interpreted - provides a remarkably ordered approach to psychological development.
In the end, the spectrum of psychological development - encompassing the full range of prepersonal, personal, transpersonal and ultimate stages is mathematical.
We have traversed many stages on this voyage of transformation. Now reaching the conclusion of our journey, we find that we have arrived back at the starting point. This point, this centre is now everywhere, without beginning nor end, fully immediate, yet eternal. It is so obvious. What was long sought for, was here, always present.
Now, saving this ultimate realisation, all else is vanity.