Tag Archives: new stages of consciousness

Consciousness in Transition

A large part of education will always be devoted to the formation of a persona, which will make the individual… socially presentable, and will teach him not what is, but what may be regarded as, real; all human societies are at all times far more interested in instructing their members in the techniques of not looking, of overlooking and of looking the other way than in sharpening their observation, increasing their alertness and fostering their love of truth.” — Depth Psychology and a New Ethic — Erich Neumann.

An historical view of our development will attest the fact that we’re currently entering a new stage of consciousness. A brief look at the scientific advances of the last century ought well convince the most hardened skeptic. The intellectual creativity and focus required for them are truly astounding. But, the increase in focus they represent is at the expense of another vital function of a more diffuse nature, a different kind of awareness: the religious function.

While Neumann’s quote may not apply to the relatively few specialists who’ve thrust intellectual objectivity into the collective spotlight, their love of truth is restricted mainly to the material world. Another reality lurks behind today’s fascination with objectivity. Psychic law dictates that the greater our focus on objects, the more we lose sight of the subject — ourselves: what we do with things and how we relate to life, its purposes and meaning. Human instincts are finely tuned to an irrational earthly existence, now obscured by rational truths — yet still driven by age-old spiritual fantasies. Neumann:

Every kind of restriction may be imposed by the collective. But whether it is a case of a taboo in a primitive tribe, a social convention or a moral prohibition, whether it is a question of not mentioning certain subjects or of not admitting certain facts or of behaving as if certain non-existent entities in fact existed or of saying things which one does not mean or not saying things which one does mean — every time it makes one of these demands the collective will be guided be certain principles which are vital to…  the development of consciousness. Without these values it could not exist — or such, at least, is its firm conviction.

Neumann here puts his finger on the modern dilemma; for, these same values, without which we’re convinced humanity can’t exist, now threaten to destroy the civilized world. From constant global tensions to open hostilities to outright war; from the willful destruction of our habitat for no more than our own greed and convenience to the sheer waste of finite resources built into it (all of which would be deemed psychotic in the individual), the shadow-side of our collective natures — the regressive ideologies, stunted politics, run-away technologies, fake news, and all the rest — conspires against us.

The ego will receive the reward of moral recognition… to the exact extent to which it succeeds in identifying with the persona, the collectivised facade personality — the… reason being that this facade personality is the visible sign of agreement with the values of the collectiveFrom this point of view, it makes no difference whether the persona-personality by means of which ego identifies itself with the demands and values of society… belongs to a medicine man or a solicitor, a chieftain or a party functionary, a king or an artist. It is equally irrelevant whether the society which imposes this collective mask… is primitive or civilised, democratic or Fascist.”

Neumann goes on to discuss the “contrast between “conscience” and the “inner voice” as a basic conflict between the individual and society which creative design is to raise consciousness beyond the torpor of convention and adapt it to ever-changing conditions, internally as well as externally, for consciousness evolved to adapt in two directions at once. “This contrast is most clearly exemplified in the founders of new religions and ethical movements; these were invariably “criminals”, and it was inevitable that they should be treated as such. Abraham… Jesus and Luther… all these were regarded as criminals…

On the authority of conscience, the persona excludes a number of psychic components. In part, these are repressed into the unconscious, but in part, too, they are controlled by the ego and consciously eliminated from the life of the personality. All those qualities, capacities and tendencies which do not harmonise with the collective values — everything that shuns the light of public opinion, in fact — now come together to form the shadow, that dark region of the personality which is unknown and unrecognised by the ego.”

These psychic facts are “the expression of our own imperfection and earthliness, the negative which is incompatible with the absolute values… our inferior corporeality in contradistinction to the absoluteness and eternity of a soul which “does not belong to this world”. Such has been our general history up to the last generation…

But, it can also appear in the opposite capacity as “spirit”, for instance when the conscious mind only recognises the material values of this life. The shadow represents the uniqueness and transitoriness of our natures… it is our own state of limitation and subjection to the conditions of time and space.

Here we enter a modern phase of spiritual possession in which the old values and ideals begin the transition into their opposites — in full accordance with psychic law. Since the shadow contains all that’s incompatible with the collective values with which the ego-facade identifies; and since these values have unconsciously shifted from a subjective search for truth to the ‘objective’ world through a symptomatic (and symbolic) obsession with it, ego identifies not only with the forgotten gods of its projected history, but seeks to further transcend its nature by identifying with the new god of it’s own intellect.

(My next post will be a continuation of this one.)

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The Anthropocentric Effect

“Overwhelming evidence found by an international team of scientists have shown that humans have altered the Earth to the point that the Earth has entered a new geological time period, a press release by the Australian National University (ANU) said on Friday… The exact starting date of the Anthropocene remains uncertain, although it is likely to be around the middle of the 20th century, at the start of the nuclear age and a time of accelerating population growth and rapid industrialisation.”  (Read here.)

The story of the momentous shift in human consciousness taking place today continues to unfold in every facet of modern life. Whether we trace its roots to such ideas as the divine gift of earthly dominion or the psychology of in-fear-irority which drove the violent physical conflicts of our ancestors to master each other and the environment, the most consistent core, cause, and calamity of human history can be summed up in one word: vanity.

There’s no doubt it was a powerful and effective compensation for an animal whose only real natural defense was the capacity to think creatively, to organize that thought and to act collectively. Without claw, fang, or physical prowess the only compensation Nature provided to balance a natural world with the new subjective experiment can also be summed up in one word: conscience.

Moral reflection is as fundamental to the spiritual imperative as the vanity which twisted our history into its present state — the fate of every collective ideal since Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s fate. This is the same theme as Jung’s dream of the turd which shattered the church: a symbol of the rejected function; what ego sees as waste and disgusting. (See also my post on the black dot.)

This wasted symbolic function, which is designed to recycle old forms into new life, is now excreted in such concrete and consuming mass that it collects on our shorelines by the tons, poisons our air and water — even circles our planet like a swarm of biblical locusts. Reflection is painful; it’s the psychological equivalent of the brute physical conditions of a natural world. Our present fate hangs on our ability to confront this strange, new psychological realm. It’s the opposite of the one we fancy we’ve achieved:

So, he is an evil animal, turning reason into the admiring mirror, instead of admiring reason. His nations take on the whole appearance of logic — with courts and laws and constitutions and high principles: then the collective ego — the instinct vanity makes blind — takes their helm and the most elevated and noble nations make a daily business of such things as the lowest huddle of savages  would shun or kill a man for.

So wrote Philip Wylie in 1947. Many may sense the contradictions, though more often than not they appear everywhere but in ourselves. Yet, we are the parts that make up the whole:

So, with Everyman’s ego… First, the layer of familial vanities — the false pride of his homes and parents. Next, the vanities of his school, his clubs, and lodges. Always, the vanities of his church and nation. He incorporates them. He calls them his faiths, his convictions, loyalties, friendships, codes, beliefs, and the noble appurtenances of his soul. They are logical to him and just. He is the court and the interpreter. They are his shining armor. (What  a way to meet subjective life, in armor!) They are his weapons, too — the weapons of his righteousness…”

Thus life appeared in the mid-twentieth century. Its essence is still there, but each small pride is today becoming smaller and more diverse. The provincial fealties uniting a country half the population of today are breaking down, not just under the influence of technology in an increasingly interconnected global community but under an increasing subjectivity which signals a new stage of consciousness. Wylie saw it coming:

The conscience is there and will always be. The reason is there. But they are not allied, in the man or his state or his church. Instead, because of temporal regard, of vanity, there always seems to be… a special condition, which appears to give leave… (backed by a myriad of private motives) to compromise some measure with principle…. Yet, one exists for the other — or the older for the newer — conscience for reason. To use the latter in any form limited by the ego is to set in motion, through conscience, and through instinct, the opposite danger.”

That the new emphasis on objectivity and science is a compensation for an unconscious increase in subjectivity is not considered by either the sciences or the religions. Those in whom we entrust our futures, the politicians, are the nearest examples of the “greed and opportunism” (Wylie’s words) with which this new subjective ego-stage replaces the collective values of the past:

A world made to seem great by a few centuries of objective reasoning approaches, for want of equal subjective honesty, a state of uninhabitability — not just from wars, from bombs, from deliberate plagues, or from the disastrous sequelae of wars — but from its own psychological conditions… It is the individual of whom the mass is composed, and if he is of poor character, the group will have that quality… The individual represents the whole. To be changed, he must change himself.”

This uncertain subjective realm is a symbolic one; yet we make, with everything in our power, concrete realities of it. To confront it requires introspection and a re-evaluation of everything we’ve been taught. My book (see also, Amazon) is just one small example of the way an individual begins to examine what we are.

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