The Value and Shortcomings of Modern Psychology

To finish up Chapter 2, our author explores the limits and future of psychology when it comes to the unconscious…

Today, existential psychotherapists tend to refute the concept of man’s unconscious because the doctrine became a “convenient blank check on which any causal explanation can be written…”  ImageBut Dr. Rollo May writes:  “…this is the ‘cellar’ view of the unconscious, and objection to it should not be permitted to cancel out the great contribution that the historical meaning of the unconscious had in Freud’s  terms… the far-reaching enlargement of personality, which is its real meaning, should not be lost… I would propose… to agree that being is at some point indivisible, that unconsciousness is part of any given being…”

So where do psychology and religion coincide?

And today at least one psychiatrist begins to relate Jesus’ description of the inner realm to man’s unconscious domain.  Dr. Stanley Blanton writes: “Trust and believe in the hidden power within you.  A psychiatrist might say, ‘Have faith in your unconscious.’  A minister might say, ‘Have faith in God.’ Personally, I see no conflict between the two ideas.  Indeed, they may well be the same idea, expressed differently.  After all, it was the founder of Christianity who said that ‘the kingdom of heaven is within you.'”

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One thing psychology (along with religion) hasn’t recognized yet is Preston Harold’s concept of Jesus as the breaker of the Messianic mold…

Dr. Blanton does not appear to grasp the implication in his statement, just as Schweitzer apparently fails to grasp the implication of his – that the Messiah mold is broken, and this as aftermath of Jesus’ work.  Jung, too, reveals a finding of inestimable importance, but does not appear to have realized its significance.  ImageAccording to Progroff, Jung saw that: “…some variation of the image of Jesus Christ is inevitably the center around which the symbol of individuation is expressed.  ….from a psychological point of view, the authenticity of the Christ symbol derives from the fact that it expresses the Self in symbolic form.”

Clouding this discovery is the orthodox Messianic concept of Jesus which prohibits Jung’s grasping the idea that Jesus’ mission was to make Himself a symbol of the Self in each man, a physical substitute for the Ego, becoming the unifying principle that promises reunion with self-nature itself, for Progoff says that Jung does not imply that “Jesus is any the less real as Christ.”  The Messianic question is bypassed.

So we all seem to have a blind spot that keeps us from recognizing that from Jesus’ own perspective, His mission was to make Himself obsolete as a Messiah come from without to save.  But He does save as much as we recognize Him as a outward sign of an inward reality, an inward grace, and that inward reality/ grace is the gift of our “I.”

How can “I” be revealed as the Christ of God in man?

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O Israel, if you would but listen to me!

There shall be no strange god among you;

You shall not bow down to a foreign god,

I am the Lord your God… -Psalm 81:8-10

“I,” the Authority-Ego is no stranger, is not an outsider or foreigner to the ego-group, “Israel,” although this One is not committed to the precepts of the conscious domain upon which “Israel” operates.

We finish up with a few observations about the role of psychology from the last paragraphs of chapter 2…

Today, psychologists, become in many ways a modern priesthood, tend to guide men around these precepts.  But some protest this: “There is a fear of the unconscious, that is of the life-force itself, from Imagewhich we all seem to recoil [Rank].  The apparent therapeutic effects of those methods that proceed in terms of ‘analytic hyperconsciousness’… seem to ‘work’ only because they avoid the shaking contact with the depths of the psyche that is the source of their original fear, and would also be the source of creative healing if the contact were permitted [Progoff].”

In the words of the Psalmist, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”  He who has experienced the depths of the unconscious approaches with an educated respect and this is as it should be – all psychologists acknowledge the danger attendant upon probing these depths.  But this does not mean that contact with the Authority within should be avoided, for: “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.  Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth him that fear him.  For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”

Rank saw that psychology does not or cannot give man the faith he needs to make him whole, that for the most part psychology is capable only of explaining, not of believing – it “was produced from the neurotic type and corresponds to it.”  But psychology’s explanations are valuable.  Through them man may discover what it is that he fears and then come to understand the error, the neurosis, that is seeping through his civilization.

And with that we are ready to move on to Chapter 3!  See you there.  Until then, peace…

I and Thou

We are now nearing the end of Chapter 2, and Harold  brings us to the subject of Self-estrangement, which is the experience of the separation of the conscious and the unconscious, and how it may be healed.  He begins:

ImageAs Whyte points out, it is not the separation of consciousness and the unconscious realms “but their unification as aspects of one complex continuous activity which is now held to be primary.”  Jesus’ words indicate that man’s psychic division is as a cleaving, that the divided state is only “as if,” that being is indivisible.  He says that Son of man is: “…as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.”  ImageThis one goes on to prepare the way, apart from consciousness, but it is not lost to its love of life: the ego-group.  “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

The Authority-Ego gives the ego-group authority to do their assigned work, while it also commands the porter to watch.  I wonder who plays the role of the porter?  The super-ego?  Peter, one of the elect, as the recognizer of the coming of Christ in man?  The problem with these answers is the porter is supposed to “watch,” which is synonymous with being “awake.”  We learned a few posts ago that I-consciousness, which coincides with super-ego, cannot always be awake; it is not a constant as is the Authority-Ego which neither slumbers or sleeps.  So the role of porter will remain a mystery for now.  

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Now on to how Self-estrangement may be healed…

The idea of Self-separation and Self-estrangement has long been voiced by man.  Robert deRopp writes that the meaning of the word yoga, “is similar to that of the English word, to yoke.  A yoke unites two beings…” – the separated self, jiva, and the origin, atman, “the One seen behind the many.”  The anxiety generated by a sense of Self-estrangement has also long been recognized.  The discourse between Arjuna and Krishna heals Self-estrangement, and so do the words of the Hebrew prophets, as though consciousness speaks to the One in saying: “Whom have I in heaven but thee?”  And the One speaks to consciousness in saying: “…and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.”

Just because we immediately experience the separation of I/thou as a reality of our lives does not mean that it actually is…

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The sense of himself as both “I” and “thou” which is operative in everyone does not indicate that the unity of one’s being is an illusion.  As the ego-group contemplates the God-head, it must ascribe to the Authority in its life the “thou” or moving role while it remains “I” at rest.  Because consciousness may center itself in or around the seat of Self in being, one may “Be still and know that I am God…” that the “Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”  As the ego-Imagegroup calls itself by the name, “I,” the Authority-Ego becomes “Thou, O Lord” because it can in no way become a part of the personality, a self-image in the group.  

I like the idea here of the ‘thou’  as having a moving role.  This supports the reading of the Hebrew “I AM that I AM” as also being future tense: “I WILL BE what I WILL BE.” 

Jesus’ words with regard to the kingdom of God that are translated “within you” may also be translated, “among you” – but the difference in possible translation is of no concern when the ego-group is recognized to be myriad selves and the kingdom, seat of “I-being,” is recognized to be in the midst of “you,” among “you,” within your pluralistic being, although it is not any one of “your” conscious selves that acts a part to make up personality.

This recognition of our ego-group as a myriad of selves, the truth that we have no actual one ego ruling our lives but are made up of many egos vying for position, THIS is the beginning of healing our Self-estrangement:

Until man understands that he has no ego as one-entity in his conscious domain, he cannot begin to understand that the one-entity within him is Lord: Authority emanating from the unconscious, master of both domains, and through its work the destructive impulses are eliminated as the good and evil of his own world are brought to face reality, truth, life as it is: all held in love.  All that Jesus says of the unconscious indicates that it is in no way static: it is ever “coming” to consciousness and thus it insures man’s becoming in time.

ImageWhat Harold is saying here is exactly what the great rascal-sage Georges Gurdjieff taught as the basis for his “Fourth Way,” or, if you like, “Esoteric Christianity.”  From his book, “Views from the Real World:”

TRY TO UNDERSTAND THAT WHAT YOU USUALLY CALL “I” IS NOT I; there are many “I’s” and each “I” has a different wish. Try to verify this. You wish to change, but which part of you has this wish? Many parts of you want many things, but only one part is real. It will be very useful for you to try to be sincere with yourself. Sincerity is the key which will open the door through which you will see your separate parts, and you will see something quite new. You must go on trying to be sincere. Each day you put on a mask, and you must take it off little by little.

Gurdjieff says the healing of Self-estrangement begins when we are sincere enough to want to understand the reality of our situation.  When we are, we can then begin “The Work” and allow Authority-Ego to take more control over our lives.

We’re getting close to finishing Chapter 2.  It’s just around the bend; hang in there!  Until next time, peace…

Three Realms of the Unconscious: Part 2

We now look into our pre and subconsciousnesses and how they were defined by Jesus…

Preconsciousness may be readily defined: Freud conceived it to be that which is latently conscious but may be readily called to consciousness.  Jesus delineated this level: eyes that see, ears that hear.  Subconsciousness represents a state of unconsciousness that Jesus referred to as seeing and yet unseeing, as hearing and yet unhearing.  ImageThe subconscious is the lowest stratum of consciousness which…contains knowledge that has not been consciously catalogued because the knowledge has been stored automatically…  The answers it hands to consciousness incorporate everything that comes as stimuli, and everything that has been a part of environment or experience, for nothing escapes it.  

So our subconscious is a repository of all our experiences.  Even though we may not remember  a particular experience, it is lurking there, never “forgotten” by it.  It is always present and can be called or brought to consciousness when looking for an answer…

The subconscious is both as old as the man and as new as the instant, Imagenow, when the answer it gives represents a new analogued sum of existence, wherein the whole of one’s experience has been computed, and this sum prompts him to specific response.  The subconscious, then, is the seat of “my-being.”  It is “me” in terms of  the sum of “my” experience.  

What doesn’t lurk in the subconscious is anything that we have NOT experienced.  Harold explains:

But the unconscious is the seat of “I-being” which is the governing factor in one’s life because “I” has knowledge of what has been experienced and what has not been experienced, of what has been consciously catalogued and what has been unconsciously catalogued, of what has been repressed and must sooner or later be faced in consciousness.

Our “I” is aware of what we have done and what we haven’t done, as it is aware of our glorious possibilites.  But is also aware of all the hurts and failures we repress and would rather not deal with.  Just because we don’t like particular members of our ego-group doesn’t mean we can just set those aspects aside and they will disappear with no consequence.  Harold continues…

Jesus says that not all who knock shall enter Authority-Ego’s realm.  Under certain conditions the door is closed, and there shall be Image“weeping and gnashing of teeth” when you see “yourselves*” thrust out.  These words pose the concept that psychic disorder ensues when repressions, which are painful self-images, return to the conscious domain after gaining strength and undergoing a metamorphosis in the unconscious. Because these selves have known the unconscious and its Authority, they think themselves blameless and in good standing.  “We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.”  They do not recognize themselves to be pain or error incarnate.  When the time comes that repressions must be faced in consciousness, the “door” to the unconscious must be shut, and this psychic act generates the anxiety, depression, and despair that accompany the individual’s awareness of Self-estrangement.

*read “yourselves” here as the repressed egos of the ego-group

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I am not sure how repressions “gain strength and undergo a metamorphosis” in the unconscious, nor do I know why the door must be “shut.”  But I do understand that our repressions must be dealt with in the light of day if they are to be overcome and reintegrated healthily into our lives.  I suppose shutting the door gives no recourse for these repressions to become unconscious once again, and we are left to deal with the reality with which we are confronted.  It is the only way forward.

The last quote above finishes with the concept of Self-estrangement which we will begin exploring in the next post.  Until then, peace…

Three Realms of the Unconscious: Part 1

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With all this exploration of the inner psychic structure of the human being, we now come to a vital point in our discussion.  This is the distinction between the subconscious and the unconscious…

Psychologists fail to draw a sharp distinction between the subconscious and the unconscious.  The two states are not synonymous.  Like a rainbow,, consciousness is comprised of three primary divisions: “I-consciousness” or superconsciousness, preconsciousness, and subconsciousness.  All of these levels are but colorful spans-of-knowing that may be likened to a rainbow rising up from and sinking into the horizon of the unconscious, an unknown world, the great promise in life, man’s kingdom which has not yet “come” to him.

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The brilliant psychologist/poet Harold McCurdy writes, “The intensity of ‘I’-consciousness varies through an immense range but once it has arrived it becomes a point of stability in the flux of experience.”  He pointed out the reality of outside forces intruding on consciousness, sometimes taking full possession and…

…producing unwanted, irrational desires over which the “I” has no control, so that the conscious “I” is not “master in it’s own house.”  Because “I-consciousness” is not a constant as would be Lord who neither slumbers nor sleeps – because it is such a variable and is not “master” – it cannot itself be the Self that man is conscious of when he experiences “I-consciousness.”  In the view of this study, “I-consciousness” coincides with superego.  Like the disciples sleeping as ImageJesus agonized in the Garden, it cannot always be awake; Jesus’ foretelling that Peter would deny Him dramatizes that superego is not the psychic master in man, although Peter’s grasp of the Christ in man symbolizes the coming of “I-consciousness” to the superego-group.

Here we see that Peter as a member of the superego/disciples/elect, is the particular outer symbol of I-consciousness, which recognizes the coming of Authority-Ego in the human being.  And this recognition of the coming of the Christ in man is what is symbolized by Peter holding the keys to the kingdom of heaven.

In Part 2 of this this post we will look into the preconscious and subconscious levels of our psyches.  Until then, peace…