Saturday, November 10, 2012

Transpersonal Consciousness

What we consider “normality” is actually a form of arrested development. That idea is not new. Rather it is a more precise formulation of Abraham Maslow’s comment, “What we call normality in psychology is really a psychopathology of the average so undramatic and so widely spread that we don’t even notice it.” But if normality is a form of arrested development, then what arrests it? Retarding forces seem to operate within both the individual and society.

Growth involves movement into the unknown and often requires surrendering familiar ways of being. Consequently we tend to fear growth. The tragic result is we deny and defend against our greatness and potential. These meta-defenses, as we might call them, have been described in many ways. Erich Fromm viewed them as “mechanisms of escape,” while Maslow called their net effort “the Jonah complex,” after the biblical prophet Jonah, who tried to escape his divine mission. Kierkegaard described how we seek “tranquilization by the trivial,” while others speak of the “repression of the sublime.” The crucial point is that our transpersonal potentials do not remain undeveloped merely by accident; rather we actively defend against them.

Defenses against transpersonal development also operate in society. Cultures seem to function not only to educate, but also as collective conspiracies to constrict consciousness. As such they mirror and magnify individual ambivalence towards transcendence.

Roger Walsh and Frances Vaughan make those points in their book, Paths Beyond Ego. There observations do hit an exposed nerve of truth. Society does little to cultivate transpersonal experiences that sit below the surface of our consciousness. Religion is a core belief that handles this aspect of human education. But, religion has been more restrictive than open in its approach to understanding different aspects of consciousness, especially individual consciousness. Religions encourage development up to a certain point and beyond that point a fear sign is posted and society conforms to the sign and leaves the territory beyond it shrouded in mystery. Religions try to make the individual whole using fragmented information. So society is conditioned to believe that our consciousness is fragmented.

Our core beliefs are just a sliver of our conscious mind. Once we identify the power of our individual mind we can rearrange, renew, change or completely disregard our beliefs. Beliefs do not exist on their own; there are strings of consciousness that originate, perceive and understand them before we do. Beliefs automatically move toward the consciousness that is already connected to them. That’s why religion is so important to us. Religions give us a way to describe what we don’t believe we know. But when the smoke of religious control starts to choke our consciousness, we realize that what we know is greater than the fragments of truth we have been spoon fed by objective rhetoric.

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