A Cosmological Context for Transpersonal Psychology
Transpersonal psychology accepts the reality and the possibility of experiencing transcendent/spiritual states of consciousness. However, without any kind of context for these, their meaning or understanding--like that for the "unconscious"--can be limited and vague. Words and concepts are inherently limiting in their capacity to express the reality of states beyond the mind. This article will sketch a simple cosmological framework which hopefully may prove helpful in providing a meaningful way to understand the particulars of our psychology and our life in the world and how it all fits together holistically. Naturally, this is a large assignment, and therefore just the basic elements will be outlined the innumerable details left for later elaboration. These ideas have been drawn from Theosophical and metaphysical sources. It's hoped this perspective may be helpful or at least interesting.
I. THE BASIC ELEMENTS OF REALITY/LIFE.
Underlying all manifestation and life is the fundamental triplicity of:
A. Spirit: Primordial Energy: "Father " aspect: Positive Essence
B. Matter: Levels, Planes: "Mother" aspect: Receptive Life
C. Consciousness: Quality, Light: "Son" aspect: Kingdoms of Being
A. Spirit/Primordial Energy/"Father " aspect/Positive Essence: To further differentiate these, spirit refers to the vertical pole; that energy which enters into matter. Like light which goes through a prism, spirit becomes divided into seven basic emanating energies which may be described as:
1. Energy of Will/Power; The will to initiate, to impel and destroy. Related to politics, occultism.
2. Energy of Love/Wisdom; The will to unify, to become Self aware. Related to religion, the psyche.
3. Energy of Activity/Intelligence; The will to intelligently and purposefully evolve. Related to finance, abstract thinking.
4. Energy of Harmony/Conflict; The will to harmonize the intuition and its expression in form. Related to art, the intuition.
5. Energy of Knowledge/Science; The will to act via the discriminating mind to liberate. Related to concrete thinking.
6. Energy of Devotion/Idealism; The will related to the underlying Cause. Related to ideology/theology and mysticism.
7. Energy of Ceremony/Organization; The will to express in matter. Related to business and magical thinking.
B. Matter/Levels, Planes/"Mother" aspect/Receptive Life: Matter refers to planes or levels of increasing density and decreasing vibration in which the primordial spiritual energies move down through and fecundate. This is the horizontal aspect which is also differentiated in a septenate. Each plane has its essential nature and features. These are (from the lowest up):
1. Physical matter--both dense and vital or etheric matter, which grounds and ensouls the tangible forms.
2. Sentient matter. This polarized emotional vibration gives sensitivity to subjective impulses and capacity to respond.
3. Mental plane--both concrete and abstract. The type of matter of which thoughts are created.
4. Intuitional level of synthetic knowing. This is the first of the "formless" planes where everything is interconnected in unitary beingness. Intuition provides direct knowledge of things in their timeless essential reality.
5. Spiritual plane. The home of highest will or purpose underlying things.
6. Monadic plane. The solar synthesis of all manifestation.
7. Divine or cosmic. The highest level of abstraction, vibration and energy which transcends solar existence altogether.
C. Consciousness/Quality, Light/"Son" aspect/Kingdoms of Being: Consciousness results from the interpenetration and interaction of the energies of spirit and matter. A hierarchy of kingdoms of beings comes into existence, each having its own type and level of consciousness. These embody and express increasingly refined vibrations of light capable of realizing increasingly more of the potential within its sources. Beginning with the lowest these are:
1. Mineral kingdom. This type of consciousness has as its goal the development of a radiant (radioactive) vibrancy.
2. Plant kingdom. The goal of the consciousness of the plant kingdom is refined sentient responsiveness (2nd plane).
3. Animal kingdom. The goal is mental development (3rd plane).
4. Human kingdom. The goal for human consciousness is the development of the intuition/buddhic faculty (4th plane). Humankind represents the macrocosm for the three subhuman kingdoms and is the linking kingdom between the material and the spiritual.
5. Kingdom of souls. This is the consciousness of the higher self of man which seeks to come into manifestation through mankind. Consciousness on this level lives by laws of spiritual being which seeks to realize its intrinsic will or purpose. Descriptions of mystical and transpersonal states are within this level of consciousness, which has been momentarily invoked by man.
6. Spiritual kingdom. Those Lives embodying still higher aspects of Planetary and Solar Being.
7. Divine. Those Cosmic Lives whose Source transcends all levels of manifestation.
II. THE BASIC STRUCTURE OF REALITY/LIFE (SPACE)
The basic cosmological structure might be called the great Chain of Being. If we look through the microscope or the telescope, life extends to almost infinite degree in regular steps of hylozoistic (life within life) complexity. Assuming that each level is a life with its own degree of consciousness, some discrete stages we might name are:
A basic cosmological tenet is that all lives are both composed of smaller units and are themselves parts of larger wholes. An implication of this is that the conception of God is to a certain extent relative and refers to that next higher level which is all-encompassing to the particular entity. (For humans this is the Planetary Logos.)
A concept connected to this Chain of Being is that of the chakras or centers which make up the functional organs of each unit. The main chakras in the human exist up the spinal area in vital or etheric matter and each have certain organs or glands which are their physical counterparts. From the lowest these are:
1. Base of spine/adrenals/power/self-preservation, survival, security
2. Sexual center/sex organs/creation/self-perpetuation, sexual attraction
3. Solar plexus/pancreas/desire/self-gratification, appetite, acquisition
4. Heart/thymus/life/self-consciousness, love
5. Throat/thyroid/mind/self-will, intelligence
6. Ajna-Third Eye/pituitary/intuition/Self-awareness, spiritual direction
7. Crown chakra/pineal/spiritual Being/Self-realization
On the planetary level each kingdom likewise embodies one of the centers of the Planetary Being.
1. Basic center/the mineral kingdom/the basic reservoir
2. Sexual center/the plant kingdom/consecrated creation
3. Solar-plexus/the animal kingdom/instinctual life
4. Heart center/kingdom of souls/the inner life
5. Throat center/human kingdom/agents of will and intelligence
6. Ajna center/soul integrated humanity/intuitive wisdom
7. Crown center/synthetic spiritual Lives/the essential Life and Purpose
To extend this chain further, the planet as a system of interpenetrating spheres is itself a center in the solar Being, as That Being is in turn a chakra (part of the heart chakra actually) in a still larger Cosmic Life composed of numerous solar systems. This chain goes on beyond what we can know since the seven planes of matter enumerated do not in fact comprise the totality but the lowest outer aspect of still higher Cosmic levels. For our purposes, the outer limits are defined by certain stars and constellations (like Sirius, Ursa Major and the Pleiades) which have an essential and intimate relation to our solar system. Ultimately, however, the entire universe is a Living Existence composed of multitudinous Beings.
An additional facet of this whole Chain of Being is that it is qualified and energized by the Primordial Spiritual Energies so that at any particular time each unit and center is expressing one or other of these specific Energies as these cycle in and out of manifestation. For example, in man, his mind may vibrate to the 1st aspect which would predispose it to be more adapted to a controlling political mindset than if it vibrated to the 5th ray of scientific type thinking.
III. THE BASIC PROCESS OF CYCLIC INCARNATION AND EVOLUTION (TIME)
The basic cosmological process is one of cyclic involution and evolution, where waves, breaths or emanations of spirit successively move deeply into matter and later, having reached the densest point of incarnation, begin at the mineral kingdom the evolutionary ascent back to the originating Source. These great life streams therefore move within and through the successive kingdoms of nature over the eons of time constituting solar and planetary life. This explains the progression of evolution both within each kingdom and within the overall Chain of Being. This implies that in each kingdom there is a path of development and organisms both more or less advanced along this line. In the animal kingdom, for example, these range from simple amoebas to higher domesticated animals whose increased contact with mankind is helping to prepare them for eventual individualized incarnation in the human kingdom. In the human kingdom, this process accounts for the existence of apparent evil, which is involutionary energy that is out of its proper place in the scheme of things and unduly interfering with evolutionary intent.
Another feature of cyclic incarnation is the dualism or polar nature of the matter through which consciousness evolves. This is related to sex and the transformative element in evolution. Sex is a universal phenomena. Planets and stars have their complementary partners and seek union. Sex derives from the urge within incarnate life to fully realize and manifest the spiritual source or essence within it. As a result, the form expressing the indwelling consciousness evolves as more of its potential is realized. Initially, the outer form cannot contain the totality so the expression is split or polar. Over time, as a result of the processes of sex and evolution, harmonization of the outer dual expression and realization of the inner oneness take place, and of the purposes of incarnation are accomplished.
One way of looking at the stages of development in man is to examine in which chakras consciousness is focused. In the process of development the energies of the higher chakras eventually dominate or subsume in energies of the lower ones. There is a definite process of transmutation.
solar-plexus to heart: selfish desire is transmuted to love
sexual center to throat: physical creativity transmuted to the intellectual or artistic level
basic center to head: an instinctive but unconscious man becomes a separate personality
heart, throat to third-eye and crown: form a self-centered to Self- centered
Man is at first instinctive or primitive and living in the three lower chakras. With the awakening of the throat chakra he begins to develop the capacity to think and act for himself. When the heart center opens he begins to be able to live in a more decentralized and altruistic way. With the opening of the ajna center, he begins to become aware of the spiritual life of which he is a part.
A certain perfection or realization of inherent potential is necessary before man can complete his experience in the human kingdom (and move on to life in the soul kingdom). This involves the whole human story--the trials, the sufferings, the learnings, the achievements and the glory or realizations. In mankind this gradual process of evolution is augmented by an initiatory process, which involves the guidance, testing and empowerment by the overlighting soul kingdom. These initiations have been portrayed--among other places--in the life of Jesus.
1. Birth/7th ray, physical plane/throat center/duty/the germ of the higher self is vitalized on the physical plane, which is mastered
2. Baptism/6th ray, sentient plane/heart center/love/the individual acquiesces to the love of the soul and chooses the middle way and emotional mastery
3. Transfiguration/5th ray, mental plane/ajna center/service/the individual develops mental discrimination and devotes his life to some pioneering service
4. Crucifixion/4th ray, intuitional plane/sacrifice/life of the personality is sacrificed for that of the Whole
5. Resurrection/3rd ray, spiritual plane/identification, synthesis/all five planes of human evolution are mastered and the individual has fully completed the human agenda
In the kingdom of souls there is also a course of necessary evolution so that the final goal for liberated or resurrected man is not a fixed or final one. An additional component adding to the complexity of the process of evolutionary development has to do with the particular Spiritual Energy or ray which is qualifying the different bodies or constituent parts of man. For example, the method of integration and synthesis for a personality qualified by the 3rd ray energy is quite different than that of a personality resonating to the 6th ray energy. It is only with the consideration of these esoteric factors in addition to astrological, environmental, racial, cultural and personal conditioning can a truly complete and transpersonal science of psychology be ultimately established.