True love is so elusive
If one on finding love
Eagerly embraces it
Then it will quickly vanish
Leaving only emptiness
For with love
To find is to lose
And to lose is to find
It is really a continual search
Never quite ending
Somehow always beginning
When one no longer
Seeks to find love
But rather rejoices
In the search for love
Only then can one
Truly find loveINTRODUCTIONI have already mentioned how a life style - based on (mere) specialisation of the conscious process - is unbalanced and distorted. Therefore true personality integration requires moving considerably beyond the linear level.
Yet it has to be recognised at the onset, that very few people do achieve significant development at the other levels. This requires explanation.
Evolution and the historical cultural process are important factors. Certainly in the West, life is based on specialised use of the conscious process and the prevailing rational paradigm is very much the product of the linear level. Indeed Western psychology in its whole analysis of personality development is largely confined to linear understanding. Though all major religions traditions, in principle are based on achieving the goal of spiritual living considerably transcending this level, in practice they often tend to encourage a conformist mentality which can so easily stifle authentic development. In short, the path of real growth is often painful, requiring considerable courage, where one - for lengthy periods of time - becomes an outsider forsaking the comfort of conventional supports.
A lot also has to do with personality. Perhaps most people fall into the "real" group I have already mentioned. For these, radical questioning of the prevailing paradigm is unlikely to arise. For others, accommodating to conventional norms can be more problematic. Many people, in fact, are prone to psychological illness, because they are especially sensitive to conflicting messages from the environment, which lack any overall coherent pattern. In an important sense their psychic problems are often accurate barometers of this wider lack of integration in society. While not trying to minimise the need for help for psychologically ill people, conventional treatment designed to enable them to fit back into untreated "sick" society, therefore cannot ultimately be very successful.
True personality growth - beyond the linear level - is in fact a special vocation or calling. It is a rare gift, and those who receive it very likely to have that very personality profile that leaves them especially vulnerable to the inherent conflicts of normal aspirations.
In practice the term "vocation" is often devalued being identified with conventionally defined roles. True vocation - almost by definition - means breaking with convention entering on an undefined path in search of real freedom. Those who succeed carry the process of cultural evolution significantly forward, and often acquire the power to inspire others with deeper insight into their true unlimited cosmic potential.
The circular level, is sometimes referred to as the subtle realm. There is a considerable literature on its various stages in the East. However, the highly intuitive approach adopted here does not translate very successfully into the more rational format of Western culture, often appearing "vague" and not sufficiently related to prevailing concerns. This level is also involved in all genuine mysticism. However, because accounts of this authentic spiritual experience clash so readily with any conformist dogmatic approach, they are usually treated with suspicion, and if accepted at all, only after careful censorship by the religious authorities.
I would perhaps be helpful at the onset to express in a very general way the key features of the circular level. More detailed clarification will then follow later.
Firstly, the circular level involves the differentiation and specialisation of the unconscious process. When undifferentiated, unconscious experience remains at the level of the merely instinctive. With sufficient differentiation however, it becomes transformed into a pure form of illumination, which is spiritually intuitive insight.
As at the linear level, there are various stages in this growth resulting in the development of new structures, which I will refer to as superstructures. In contrast to the active structures of the conscious process, these more refined structures can be fruitfully referred to as passive structures
These superstructures are directly based on the developing unconscious process and its significant generation of intuitive insight. However indirectly, they must be translated into conscious format for communication purposes. Also, even though consciousness is now more refined and subtle, there is still an attempt to keep intuitive development under rational control. Due to this "superior" use of reason, it is customary to refer to these stages as involving the emergence of "higher" consciousness or an "over" mind.
The Holographic Paradigm
Because intuition is based on the principle of the complementarity of opposite poles and reason on that of the separation of opposite poles, this inevitably means that when expressed in conscious rational form, these superstructures appear profoundly paradoxical.
Indeed the intuitively based understanding based on the circular level is sometimes referred to as the holographic paradigm.
Once again there are remarkable similarities here as between physical and psychological notions.
In physical terms a laser beam represents a beam of intensely focused pure light. Likewise in psychological terms refined intuition can also be viewed as intensely focused spiritually pure light.
Now for the purposes of creating a physical hologram light can be split into two complementary beams, which we will refer to - for convenience - as the positive and negative beams respectively.
For the purposes of creating a psychological hologram the primary spiritual light can also be split into two complementary beams which are the positive and negative poles, respectively of conscious understanding. (This notion indeed forms the fundamental basis of Taoism. Here absolute reality, which is undivided, expresses itself phenomenally in the form of relative complementary poles).
When physically one of the two split beams (i.e. the positive) is reflected off an object and then combined with the complementary negative beam an interference pattern is obtained. This interference pattern when illuminated with laser light produces a recognisable holographic image.
When psychologically one of the split poles (i.e. the positive and objective conscious direction), is reflected off an object and then combined with the complementary negative and subjective direction, again a (psychological) interference pattern results. This interference pattern when illuminated with (unconscious) intuition produces a recognisable holographic image (i.e. phenomenal reality).
This remarkably illustrates the new nature of understanding that unfolds during the circular level. Phenomenal reality loses its rigidity and achieves an amazing transparency and plasticity. In the most fundamental sense it is seen as illusory, being only a temporary relative expression of a deeper underlying absolute reality.
Conscious understanding is thus the result of a dynamic interference pattern, involving both objective and subjective poles. In other words it is always relative. Not alone is this the case but this dynamic conscious interference pattern itself is meaningless in the absence of holistic (unconscious) intuition. Intuition is always essential - even in the most abstract areas of "pure" mathematics - to meaningfully interpret symbols.
Thus the circular level can be identified with the unfolding of the holographic paradigm, just as the earlier linear level can be identified with the unfolding of the rational paradigm.
However there are many different stages in development at the circular level, involving subtle variations in the nature of holographic understanding, which I will be at pains to outline. Also - just like the linear level - the circular level is eventually superseded. So the holographic paradigm itself represents only one way of understanding reality.
Intuition involves a both/and logic. In this logic, every proposition is both true and false simultaneously. Putting it less dramatically every proposition has only a relative validity.
Reason on the other hand involves an either/or logic. Here a proposition is understood as either true or false separately. In this sense every proposition has an absolute validity.
Great confusion therefore can result from the attempted translation of experience through the alternative format. For example, intuition in itself is entirely simple, obvious and non-polar. However when it is indirectly translated through the rational format - it is bi-polar - and can appear paradoxical and even contradictory. Likewise when reason is translated through the intuitive format, it also appears paradoxical.
Indeed much of the problems during the various stages of the circular level arise from the attempted translation of experience through an alternative format i.e. intuitive through rational means, or rational through intuitive means. However this inevitable conflict is also the spur to further growth.
It is the significant development of mirror or anti-structures that enables transcendence of a given superstructure level, with consequent progress to higher levels. This leads to one of the most characteristic features of the circular level, in that it involves marked extremes.
Unlike the linear level, where there is sole (explicit) development of (positive) structures, at the circular level there is (explicit) development of both positive and negative superstructures. In other words, each positive stage of superstructure development is followed by a corresponding negative (or mirror) stage of development, where complementary anti-structures are developed. The fusion of structures and anti-structures is the very means of developing ever more refined levels of intuitive development
Like the phases of economic activity, there is a pronounced cyclical nature here to psychological development. The positive stages are the boom periods, with much expansion and a pronounced flow of (spiritual) illumination evident. The negative stages - by contrast - from an external viewpoint - are the slump periods, with contraction inwardly in the psyche and characterised by a great deal of painful spiritual purgation.
As with the linear level, we will - for convenience - divide the circular level into physical, mental and spiritual sub-levels involving distinct stages of development of both positive and negative superstructures. This time, we will refer to them as superphysical, supermental and superspiritual sub-levels. Of course, in practice a considerable amount of overlapping is involved. However, there is still a definite tendency for development to start with the external (affective) sensory mode, then to switch to the internalised (cognitive) rational mode, before settling at the more centralised (volitional) mode of intentionality (or will).
The Supersensory Structures
As we have seen, someone who seriously embraces the circular level, has to undergo the first of many existential crises. Though not directly recognised at first, during this time, significant growth of (negative) mirror structures takes place cancelling out surface conscious experience and leading one to ask fundamental questions about the meaning of life. Disillusionment with conventional social attitudes and expectations leads to the painful search for a new more authentic vision. One is likely to feel alone, in the dark without really knowing where to turn. This painful uncertain experience is the very means, by which the ego is slowly weaned from unsatisfactory routes to fulfilment.
Eventually, in a manner which always remains somewhat elusive and mysterious, the crisis is finally resolved through a movement and commitment to a higher level of reality.
This resolution is often understood in the context of religious conversion. For some time there is a marked struggle as between the ego pursuits associated with the linear level (e.g. pleasure, recognition, achievement etc.) and an emerging unselfish spiritual principle (characteristic of the higher levels). Conversion represents the decisive resolution of this conflict which can happen both suddenly and dramatically. Through finally opting for the higher principle, struggle gives way to peace and happiness. Like in a deep well, the waters of the unconscious - during the transition - fill up below. Now, when tension gives way to relaxation, they are free to flow to the surface of consciousness, nourishing it with new meaning.
There often follows an exhilarating honeymoon period, where reality itself now becomes bathed in a marvellous and wonderful light. For a while one lives a charmed existence where everything speaks of joy and goodness. In a religious context, these spiritual illuminations are usually interpreted as confirmation of God's favour and can act as a powerful stimulus for further spiritual commitment.
However, conversion to the circular level, can take place in ways that are not normally understood as religious. It is the very disillusionment with conventional norms that so often marks the authentic search for meaning. Needless to say the alternative situation is equally true. A religious vocation in itself provides little evidence of this decisive transformation in consciousness. So, an independent approach, combined with a healthy scepticism for all institutionalised forms of truth, can in fact often represent genuine signs of progress.
As it is the affective mode, which is especially developed at this stage, a deep experience of falling in love can be the ideal catalyst for supersensory development. At one level, though the feelings aroused will be similar to normal romantic experiences, an essential transcendent aspect must also be involved.
One of the problems associated with the popular conception of romantic love, is that there is often an undue loss of self involved. The object of one's affections tends to become idealised in the projection of unconscious desires desperately seeking an emotional outlet. In other words a lack of balance can be involved with too much emphasis on the role of the (external) beloved, and consequently too little on the responsibility of the (internal) self in achieving happiness. Not surprisingly, infatuation so often gives way to frustration and disillusionment as the "quick fix" route to fulfilment inevitably fades.
For someone at this supersensory stage of development, despite the normal surface feelings, the underlying dynamics of falling in love tend to be quite different. In the best sense of the word a platonic relationship is likely to be involved, where feelings of joy and wonder, and a deep sense of beauty are powerfully evoked through contact with another special person.
There is a dynamic tension involved, where self is not unduly lost. Love is experienced not so much as arising from the other person, but rather from the unique dynamic of the relationship, involving both lovers in a complementary manner. For example a man experiencing powerful new "feminine" feelings of beauty in a relationship with a woman, may realise that he is being equally awakened to the - hitherto - unconscious - feminine dimension of his own personality. In other words a strong shared archetypal dimension emerges in the relationship ultimately transcending the two (separate) people involved. In spiritual terms, this can be interpreted as a strong affective experience of God. Again taking the man to illustrate, this is often especially helpful in terms of realising that archetype in his own personality whereby he can better see God with a feminine image.
The essence therefore of this type of relationship, is that there is a complementarity of male and female characteristics, fusing in a new enhanced spiritually affective awareness.
This in turn tends to imbue other relationships with this same awareness.
For this to be possible, the (internal) self must be sufficiently developed, to counterbalance in the relationship undue attraction to another person. The resulting dynamic tension of opposites that results generates a growing awareness of a shared spiritual experience as being the true purpose of the relationship.
Because, the emphasis is on upward movement of consciousness, there is still a repression of the instinctive and purely physical emotions. Therefore a transcendent (as opposed to immanent) spiritual perspective emerges which tends to have a general holistic focus.
Nature symbols can be helpful in terms of portraying this stage. Overall, the circular level is characterised by an increasing emphasis on unconscious development. "Night" - with its connotations of darkness - is a symbol commonly used to portray the unconscious. "Day" with its connotations of light - is the complementary symbol used to portray conscious life.
This stage represents the first real step on the unconscious journey. In natural terms, it can be likened to dusk, where daylight is still present but starting to fade. However, just as in nature, this sunset period can be hauntingly beautiful.
In psychological terms, an absence of (natural) light favours a more generalised approach, where specific details are not so intrusive. This is exactly the situation here. Natural emotion is still present but in a somewhat holistic fashion.
The Psychological Spectrum
The circular and point levels, in fact operate in different energy systems from the linear level. Because of this, various forms of perception and reasoning - not possible at the lower linear level - now become possible.
Indeed, there exists a spectrum of psychological energy or radiation, that remarkably complements the physical system of electromagnetic radiation.
As is well known, natural light - within which normal physical perception takes place - comprises just one narrow band on the overall spectrum of radiation.
Likewise in psychological terms natural understanding - which relates directly to the linear level - also compromises only one small band - of the full spectrum of psychological understanding.
Physically, radiation is a function of wavelength and frequency, with the product of both remaining constant. It is very similar in psychological terms. Even the very terms - used to sometimes describe understanding - suggest this. Conscious understanding of the linear level is often referred to as active, in contrast to unconscious understanding of the circular level, which is passive. In other words, we could speak of the latter understanding as, relatively speaking, of lower frequency. It is also - as we have seen - of greater wavelength in that it is more holistic. Also, and very importantly, just as physical radiation, outside the natural light waveband is not visible to the naked eye, likewise psychological radiation - in processes of understanding, outside the linear level - is not visible to the naked eye of understanding unable to see beyond this level.
This raises a very obvious problem of communication of all understanding which goes beyond the "natural" conventional level. Those who have not experienced the widely varying subtle forms of understanding of circular and point levels are not in a position to pass judgement on them. Inevitably, they will tend to reduce them to the linear - and then, when not meeting criteria appropriate to this level - dismiss them. They are like people who not being able to naturally see X-rays, or radio waves, therefore deny the relevance of their existence.
Thus, this first stage of (positive) supersensory understanding involves moving decisively beyond the natural light waveband of the linear level, into wavebands of greater wavelength and lower frequency. The mind, literally is able to tune in at a higher waveband of understanding, more subtle and intuitive, where understanding becomes increasingly generalised and archetypal in quality. Natural symbols - which are still utilised - increasingly resonate with a spiritual quality - ultimately transcending everything in creation.
Further (positive) stages lead to ever more subtle radiation of even greater wavelength and lower frequency. So, when radiation reaches infinite wavelength, it is of zero frequency.
At this point of perfect stillness, psychic (conscious) activity itself ceases in direct pure comprehension of the absolute.
It is fascinating that the parallels are so direct in physical terms. Radio waves are at the far end of the spectrum of long wavelength and low frequency and are now being greatly employed to glean information on the overall size and historical origin of the universe. The radio itself of course is a source of global communication. So the holistic nature of communication at "high" wavebands psychologically, is replicated in complementary communication physically.
Indeed, someone at this level, tends to pick up information from the environment, not so much through natural perception, but rather through an extrasensory intuitive capacity which operates like a psychological radar system.
Latent paranormal abilities often surface during this stage of development. This is not so surprising as all such "psychic" activity is heavily dependent on intuitive insight. Thus extrasensory powers of telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, psychokinesis, and charismatic gifts such as healing, prophecy and discernment are frequently much in evidence. Sometimes, astral abilities surface.
For example out of the body experiences can occur at this stage. The fact that these are commonly deemed so strange, indicate how much the localised conscious perspective of the mind, (exclusively) contained within the body so dominates our culture. From an unconscious (spiritual) perspective mind is universally located, existing everywhere in general (and nowhere in particular). Out of the body experiences require a certain dislocation in the normal control of conscious over unconscious perception allowing one to simultaneously perceive reality from both perspectives. This is most likely to happen in that relaxed state which marks the threshold between waking and sleeping activity. (Near death experiences would be an important example of this threshold in an ultimate context).
Though certainly very interesting, these psychic and astral abilities are not an essential aspect of development. Indeed too much reliance on them can be positively counterproductive leading to pride and feeding of the selfish ego, which is the chief enemy of authentic progress. However, even the normal intuitive powers, characteristic of this stage can be very valuable. One is given an increased facility, through an integrated holistic vision, of insight into the hidden dynamics of human behaviour, and the interconnectedness of seemingly unrelated events.
Though, the main emphasis is on affective supersensory experience, there is associated with this, development of a cognitive kind also.
It is the corresponding equivalent, on the circular level, of concrete operational thinking on the linear level.
This time one is enabled to operate passively as it were on the physical environment, forming a somewhat impressionistic relative world-view, where linear type constructs begin to lose their relevance.
Indeed one could readily identify with Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity as a model of the physical universe, in many important respects in keeping with the inherent intuitive experience of this stage.
For example, the relativity of space and time has an important psychological counterpart. With the development of a spiritual centre in the personality, experience of space and time changes dramatically. Spiritual intuitive awareness takes place in the present moment. Consciousness of phenomena, however take place in a world moving forward in space and time. Thus there is a continual dynamic interaction as between spiritual activity in the present moment and conscious events in space and time. Thus returning to one's spiritual centre, requires the continual reverse process of psychologically cancelling out forward movements in space and time. Now, as we have seen, this comes through the mirror structures, which literally negates (positive) conscious activity. Thus in relative terms, this mirror activity reverses the direction of space and time, so that it moves backwards. There is therefore in experience a continual dynamic dialectic, whereby positive movements in space and time, are counterbalanced by negative movements, so that space and time are experienced as relative. The consequent fusing of these opposites leads to enhanced spiritual awareness of the present moment. This spiritual centre is in turn the means through which one can withstand the continual tension of the polar opposites of conscious experience where activity inevitably is always - in a relative context - both past and future in space and time.
This is also of course true in the complementary physical sense also. When I perceive an object, I am never seeing the object as it is. I am always seeing what is relatively both past and future in space and time. This can be most easily appreciated in relation to distant objects. For example, it takes about 8 minutes for the light of the sun to reach Earth. Thus when I look at the Sun, I am seeing both into the past and future in space and time. The Sun (as object) is negative (i.e. 8 minutes past in space and time) relative to me (as observer). However in reverse terms, I (as observer) am positive (i.e. 8 minutes future in space and time), relative to the Sun (as object) which is now negative. Now clearly for local objects, perception is almost instantaneous. However the fundamental principle remains the same. We never can observe what directly is (in phenomenal terms).
Thus when we insist on maintaining the essential two-way dynamic relationship as between observer (subject) and what is observed (object), movements in space and time are always - in relative terms - both positive and negative.
This has dramatic implications for science. As scientists - by definition - never can observe what is phenomenally, but only what is relatively past and future in space and time, the search for the fundamental particles is ultimately doomed to failure.
As mystics of all ages testify, the essence of reality is not phenomenal (which is always polarised and transitory), but rather spiritual (which alone presently exists).
This also provides an insight into the nature of paranormal powers.
The (conscious) linear level of understanding leads to a fragmented view of reality where events have only local cause-effect connections and thereby largely separate from the rest of reality. By contrast the (unconscious) circular level leads to a holistic view, where all events are fundamentally interdependent and thereby related to other events. There is in terms of this perspective, a global coincidence of opposites, where all reality is interconnected in the same present instant.
When one experiences reality in a one-way linear forward moving direction, only local cause-effect relationships to events - moving forward in space and time - are obvious. However when one experiences reality in a dynamic two-way relative fashion where events move both forwards and backwards in space and time, then the fundamental synchronicity of all events becomes more apparent. Again quite literally, events which would appear as dramatic coincidences from a linear perspective tend to happen on a very regular basis with intuitively inspired people. Most significantly, they do not view reality in a detached impersonal fashion but rather as an equal friend with whom they share an intimate dialogue. It is this balanced and deeply respectful attitude to nature which makes paranormal experience commonplace.
The paranormal in fact always involves, in various ways the ability to see beyond local cause-effect connections into the global interdependence of all reality, where startling new relationships become evident.
Let us take precognition as an example. With the conventional linear model of time, there is a clear distinction between past and future. Events which are in the past have already happened; events in the future have yet to happen. However from the relative perspective this is unsatisfactory. Events both in the past and the future (in linear time) are fundamentally connected through the present moment. Thus in this sense, the past is being continually created through the present moment. In other words a past event (as objective) has no meaning in itself. It is only when brought into relationship with the subjective mind in the present that it acquires meaning. And as this relationship continually changes so the meaning of the (past) event also changes. If the event as objective is past in time (relative to the subjective observer), then this subjective observer is thereby forward in time or future (relative to this event). So the actual dynamic relationship, which takes place in the present moment involves twin components which are relatively speaking past and future with respect to each other.
In like manner, the future (in terms of objective events), is continually being created through the present moment. The future does not arise in a vacuum, but rather from subjective present intentions. Thus the objective event is now future (relative to subjective mind), whereas the subjective mind is past (relative to this event). So once more the dynamic and meaningful relationship, existing in the present involves what is - relatively speaking - past and future in time. So just as the past can be changed through the present moment, likewise the future can be changed in similar fashion.
Precognition is strongly based on experience of the future already being contained in present events, allied to sufficient confidence to intuitively read this future pattern.
Indeed the conventional linear viewpoint of forward moving time is very limiting in that it tends to reduce responsibility in terms of dealing with life.
If for example a person has suffered psychological damage from some (objective) event in the past, healing cannot take place without changing the meaning of the event. This in effect necessitates adopting this relative view of time and literally creating the power to change the event through the present. Needless to say, people with the healing gift are often extremely intuitive and experientially adopt this approach with a high level of confidence.
More Physical Parallels
The famous formula in The Special Theory is of course E = MC2 which expresses the equivalence of mass and energy. This has a remarkable counterpart on the psychic plane. Just as tremendous amounts of physical energy can be generated from small amounts of matter, in like terms, large amounts of psychic energy can be generated from small amounts of (psychic) matter (i.e. conscious phenomena). This is the very spiritual fusion process I have already mentioned. Indeed we could define the very process of spiritual development as the gradual releasing of the enormous psychic energy which is inherent in all phenomena. As this energy is released spiritually, phenomena slowly dissolve in experience, taking on an increasingly transparent aspect.
In eroding the outer (rigid) surface quality of phenomena, one is enabled to penetrate within to reveal their true secret which is spiritual.
Modern physics tells us that the universe is created in a highly symmetric state but that these symmetries are broken or hidden in everyday reality. It is only at extremely high levels of energy that this original supersymmetry or total unification of all reality (in the origin of creation) is achieved.
It is exactly complementary in psychological terms also. Progression in the higher levels of understanding (circular and point) leads to ever higher and purer levels of spiritual energy being released. The purpose of this development is to achieve again that total unification of all reality (in realising the ultimate goal or destiny of creation). Indeed we could accurately refer to these transpersonal levels as high energy psychology, which provides the appropriate understanding to intuitively interpret the complementary findings of high energy physics.
Another interesting notion - with a psychological equivalent - is the speed of light. This represents a maximum speed in nature, and matter ceases to exist (as mass) at this speed.
Spiritual energy, can be represented, in psychological terms, as a pure or maximum degree of conscious activity, where the continual positing and negating of phenomena is so rapid, that they are effectively cancelled out in the present moment (like physical energy). As is evidenced by deep contemplative activity, (conscious) phenomena no longer exist at this level.
However, Einstein's world-view is still somewhat rigid. Though clearly originating from an intuitive perspective, he was always anxious to formulate his views in terms of the classical rational perspective. He never quite grasped the inherent complementarity of psychology and physics, and that the very mental constructs used to model reality are themselves always relative. In terms of relativity, he only went half-way, trying to isolate it to the objective physical world. He sadly continued throughout his life to follow the vain quest of a detached objective global model of physical reality (unified field theory) modelled within a conceptually linear framework.
An example of a more speculative holistic model relevant to this stage is that of Teilhard de Chardin (esp. "The Phenomenon of Man") He takes a dynamic evolutionary perspective, where the development of psychic and physical reality are explicitly interrelated.
According to de Chardin evolution is a process by which increasingly complex life patterns emerge from matter leading to reality becoming progressively more spiritualised. His evolutionary perspective on a cosmic scale is therefore broadly equivalent with the development of consciousness I am outlining here on a personal level. Indeed, it is people who are able to evolve beyond the (conventional) linear level, who are the key pioneers in terms of the progress of cosmic consciousness.
Interestingly, de Chardin has a dual perspective on energy, which fits in with the complementary approach, I was outlining earlier. He talks of "tangential" energy which can be identified with physical energy and "radial" energy which can in turn be identified with psychic energy. Both of these energy forms are present in terms of all matter interactions. Where material forms are lowly organised, physical or "tangential" energy will predominate. With more complex organised forms i.e. where matter becomes more spiritualised, psychic or "radial" energy is of increasing significance. Thus evolved conscious life forms such as human beings, represent matter at a high level of spiritual organisation.
The main value of de Chardin's thesis is in coherently showing that there is no real dividing line as between material and spiritual reality. Scientific and religious world-views are - properly understood - largely complementary. Again it is linear consciousness that leads to their separation.
Phases of Development
There is a marked cyclical pattern to each of the stages at the circular level. There are several phases involved which underline the key dynamics of development. I will therefore summarise now, these key phases of the (positive) supersensory stage.
A period of uncertainty and blind searching - arising from the breakdown of the linear level - gradually is resolved leading to a commitment to a higher principle of reality. There is a shift from the (physical) conscious notion of reality as the separation of opposites, to the (spiritual) unconscious notion as the complementarity of opposites.
Often, this transition is characterised by a dramatic conversion or turning point. Suddenly a period of considerable suffering and stress gives way to a new spirit of peace and relaxation. The fruits of spiritual fusion, that have already taken place in the dark depths of the unconscious during the time of trial are now free to rise to the surface of consciousness. Here, they burst forth in a brilliant and unexpected illumination flowing through the senses as the expression of a refined form of pure intuition. This is usually associated with "peak experiences" of exhilarating joy and well being, where life is experienced as both mysterious and wonderful, full of ultimate purpose.
Though these really intense experiences generally do not last long, they can be extremely important as powerful experiential confirmation that one is on the right path
At later stages, when all seems lost, even the dim memory of such special moments can greatly help in the continual exercise of faith.
During this phase, illumination - though not quite so intense - is still very plentiful.
There now follows a period during which one starts interpreting or translating reality in terms of this new intuitive vision. This translation is largely confined to an external affective level. Because considerable mirror or anti-structure development has already taken place in terms of the external senses, there is a dynamic tension in experience, where external perception of symbols is to a considerable extent counterbalanced by internal perception. One is aware of objects - not so much existing of themselves - but rather as given meaning through interaction with self. In other words, the subjective self is experienced as an equal partner in the dynamic creation of meaning. This in turn lessens the rigidity of symbols (which comes from a one-way static linear interpretation), giving them a new transparency and luminosity. In other words, objects from a natural perspective now have a more flexible and elusive identity. This loosening in rigid identity considerably deepens appreciation of the general interaction between all objects. Thus from a supernatural perspective they now are experienced as having a holistic archetypal significance, ultimately speaking of a transcendent spiritual essence pervading all creation.
Interpretation of the natural world moves - in terms of the external senses - from the rational model of the linear to this highly intuitive model of the circular level.
Overall this represents a very exciting and life enhancing phase of development.
Certain serious problems start to surface at this time.
The rapid translation of reality taking place during the previous phase - though so stimulating - eventually leads to a certain amount of mental exhaustion.
Also, a considerably different world-view emerges, without supportive recognition, which starts to clash with conventional views. Much of one's interest and energy may have shifted to this holistic intuitive perspective. However, the demands of everyday life depend considerably on the continued use of the rational linear mode.
Thus one starts to experience a growing conflict as between one's private inclinations and conventional social expectations. Worse still, because so much psychic energy has been transferred to this new intuitive level, very little may be left for natural activities. One begins to notice - slowly at first - a deterioration in one's overall capacity for "normal" activity. Structures, developed at the earlier linear level, now start to fall into disuse as one begins to lose identification with this level.
There is now a minor turning point in this upward cycle - what would be called a point of inflexion in mathematical terms - where translation into new intuitive modes continues - but at a diminishing rate. However it is still largely a positive phase, with much light still present.
The conflicts, which first surfaced during the previous phase, now intensify. One has progressed considerably on this new path and thereby left the old comfortable path even further behind. One now feels considerably more lonely and exposed to danger, experiencing continual difficulty in fulfilling expected roles.
Also, the initial flow of intuition, considerably slows down. What inevitably happens is that the ego now shifts to this new level and starts to identify with the indirect products of consciousness experienced. In other words though symbols should be freely experienced, mediating a spiritual meaning, because the ego is still strong, one starts to become possessively attached to these symbols. With nets of wonder one still tries to capture symbols. However the imagination now proves too coarse and so their meaning eludes one's grasp. This in turn causes a severe clash with authentic spiritual experience. Thus instead of the spirit continuing to radiate outwardly, one is led inwards in an attempt to resolve the clash. A new crisis starts to loom. One becomes increasingly aware - not of the creative spirit permeating physical reality - but rather of one's own inner selfishness. A significant moral problem becomes apparent. One finds it necessary to try and shift the balance away from intuitive back to "normal" physical reality.
There is now a downward turn or recession in intuitive development. One still maintains the belief, that through willingness to forego previous satisfaction, that the situation can still be contained. Though there will still be some moments of light, during this phase, one's overall mood becomes darker and more despondent.
Conflicts now reach a serious turning point. This phase explains a great deal about the true dynamics of development. When at the supersensory stage, intuitive development is comparatively moderate one does not greatly lose contact with previous linear development. One, by and large is able to successfully integrate intuition when required with former rational ability, without undue difficulty.
However, if intuitive development is particularly intense, this backward integration of intuition with reason becomes impossible. This is due to the fact that one experiences a deep need to reach purer more spiritualised forms of truth, free of ego disturbance, while simultaneously losing touch with normal linear rational experience. Thus a new severe existential crisis emerges. One has already progressed too far up this tricky mountain slope and one sees no means available of getting back to dry land. The real dilemma is that there appears nothing that one can do to ease the situation.
Because ego possessiveness is now more subtle, being mainly tied to what is only indirectly conscious (i.e. the phenomenal products of intuitive consciousness), active attempts at maintaining self control and discipline can only have very limited effect. In any case the power of the ego has by now considerably diminished.
One again feels now extremely vulnerable and helpless. One moves inexorably into a new deeper existential crisis anxiously awaiting deliverance.