Book III


Developed by Hiranya


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© Barbara Stone, 1999

"We need to say to the personal conditioned self, "Even though you are incapable of appreciating the grandeur of the cosmic sacrifice, I, that Self which knows that you are incapable, take you and throw you into the cosmic fire." - - Rishi Valmiki (Iyer, 1983, p. 14)

In the usual Yogic tradition, you are requested to take full responsibility for your life. That means the recognition that whatever may emerge from working with these lessons is part of your life and, therefore, is your responsibility. We all receive the lessons we need from one source or another, and our only choice is whether we attend to them or not. So, if you find yourself with this guidebook in hand with the intention to make your way through it, it is because you are meant to do this kind of self-investigation.

This material is not intended to be, nor to take the place of, psychotherapy. It is designed to assist psychologically healthy adults to more fully understand themselves and their spiritual journeys. These guidebooks do not diagnose or treat psychological disorders. If you are engaged in psychotherapy already and have doubts about whether you should work with them, please consult your psychologist and follow his or her advice.

If you are not willing to take complete responsibility in these contexts, please do not use the guidebook.

The author, Hiranya Barbara Stone, EdD, is a transpersonal psychologist with specialized training in Yoga psychology and Buddhism. She taught developmental, educational and social psychology at Drew University for 18 years and is presently a mentor for the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. Hiranya has had training and experience in human relations development and group dynamics at the National Training Labs Institute, and in the development of high trust community with the late Jack Gibb. She spent a year at The Naropa Institute, a Buddhist graduate school, teaching and studying in their Contemplative Psychotherapy program. Hiranya is a Yoga teacher certified by Yasodhara Ashram in Kootenay Bay, B.C. to teach Jnana, Kundalini, Hatha, Bhakti, Karma and Japa Yogas. She is the founder and director of House of Spirit Yoga and Retreat Center.

Unit I. Primal Repression



Unit I. Primal Repression

Unit II. Understanding

Unit III. Development of Intellect and the Blocking of Consciousness

Unit IV. Social Roles, Conformity and Subordination

Unit V. Ego, Power and Control, Suffering

Unit VI. Emotional Upheaval

Unit VII. Male Sexuality

Unit VIII. The Sound of Silence

Unit IX. The Internal Critic and Disempowerment

Unit X. Empowerment

Unit XI. Karma

Unit XII. Healing


Appendix A. Concrete Operational Thought

Appendix B. Dream Interpretation

Appendix C. Buddhist Wheel of Life


Figure 2-1. The Person

Figure 2-3b. The Sephiroth (from Book II)

Figure 2. Spiral Model of Spiritual Development (Book I)

Figure 3. Yoga Psychology (Book I)

Figure 3-1. Emperor Card from Tarot

Figure 3-2. Information Processing

Figure 3-3. Problem Solving

Figure 2-1. The Person

Book III. Broken Will and Empowerment


Let's suppose you work for a living whether that is a regular job, doing housework and/or raising children or some other form of self-employment. In any case, you must get up in the morning and prepare to get going. So it begins. . .

The alarm goes off shattering your dream and jarring your sensibilities. Perhaps it is winter and the sun is not yet up. Darkness prevails. You stretch and burrow deeper into the covers murmuring petulantly about the demands of modern society that you arise at an ungodly hour and begin to work before your body is quite ready. Finally you set your feet out and pad into the bathroom. Looking into the mirror, you see new signs of the aging process or perhaps of a hangover. Your teeth feel fuzzy. In the shower, your body awakens and begins to tingle. Soon you are confronting breakfast. If you are a "night person," this may be a somewhat joyless occasion. Before you know it you find yourself in the car easing into frenetic traffic on your way to a day you may feel you, personally, did not design.

Or perhaps you are a stay-at-home mother. In this case, you may have to usher a set of children through the rudiments of the routine mentioned above. At points along the way, you recognize you are nagging them - again. When they are finally out of the house, you must clean up the ravages of their hasty departure, do the dishes, put in a wash, make a market list, call your mother, have a second cup of coffee, visit with a neighbor, put the baby down for a nap, put the wash in the dryer and a second load in the washer, make the beds, make a list of things to do, put the second load of wash into the dryer and sort the first load. These sorts of activities may continue all day without your giving a thought to what it all means.

Maybe you are self-employed. If so, you may experience some of the above plus some nagging tendencies to procrastination. You read the paper, have a second cup of coffee, play with the dog, write checks to pay the bills, putter in the garage, have a third cup of coffee, go get the mail, make some calls, have lunch. Finally you sit down to work only to find that inspiration has fled or that you resent having to do things on a schedule.

So what? So all jobs have their routine aspects. Have you ever thought that the ability to go through a day completely mindlessly is the product of conditioning. We all have an entire repertoire of habits that allows us to reel off whole routines of behavior patterns without thinking about them at all. You may drive to work and, once there, have no memory of how you got there. Or you may cook an entire meal and remember only what you were thinking about while you did it, perhaps not even that. It is true that habits save us from the drudgery of re-thinking each task every time we do it, but the end result is often that we stagger through life without much sense of enjoyment or accomplishment because we are always on automatic pilot. This is a kind of social hypnosis that we fall into as a result of the routines we set up for ourselves. And it can get to be a tedious bore. A great deal of depression is the direct result of such unthinking mindlessness in our lives.

Loss of Will/Disempowerment. Emergence of the ego inaugurates a battle of wills. This may begin in the preschool period as early as two years, but it is not until the school age period that the battle is finally lost. Authority and acceptance issues converge upon the child and require conformity. With maturity of the ego, parental voices are internalized and the superego, or critic, emerges. This is an internalized source of harassment that keeps the individual within the boundaries of conventional social behavior when there is no parent nearby. With repression of the non-conforming aspects of Self, the false self, or persona emerges, and the shadow is forced out of awareness. A split takes place between the body and the mind as the body's functions are found to be less than an ideal part of one's identity. The mind is capable now of screening out unwanted perceptions through a cognitive filter.

The children become self-conscious as they become able to take the viewpoint of an other thus losing more of their natural spontaneity when those others are critical or judgmental. Peers take priority as the ones to please, and the peer culture takes over the socialization process teaching conformity as a means to belonging. Mental development proceeds more rapidly with formal instruction at school, and children learn to compartmentalize experience and "reality" into the concepts and cognitive structures with which we are all familiar. Intuition takes a back seat, and is ridiculed because it is not directly observable by the senses. So it is gradually filtered out of awareness, another loss of consciousness. The same has already happened to clairvoyance and other extrasensory phenomenon during the preschool period.

The will is broken through a combination of self-instruction from the critic aspect of personality, peer pressure and various assorted authority figures. One has to obey the rules in order to exist; to cooperate, in other words, and give up self-will. Obviously one has to do this to survive in any society, but all too often, the individual's self-empowerment (Will in a larger sense) is also damaged or destroyed. The crucial factor is loss of genuine choice in favor of automatization. This is engineered by installing a fear of not belonging during a period in which children are totally dependent on others for survival, and they know it. The middle way is hard to find, and many of us are victims of over socialization in this sense. Women, especially, are prone to disempowerment due to socialization in catering to men (Rich, 1976), and must work to recover that facility in themselves.

This third book of Return to Spirit deals with the loss of will and initiative as the result of conditioning that children receive from their education in the school system. This system focuses on development of intellect and verbal ability at the expense of intuition, spontaneity, creativity and joyousness. As a result, we often plod through life wondering why we are not happy or why we feel empty and alone though we may have achieved success in a material sense and status in our communities. In fact, we have probably actualized only a half of our natural potential: that which is tied to the conditionable mind. The rest of our birthrights have quietly been relegated to the recesses of our being because they were either not rewarded in school or were frankly discouraged. And, because we were also conditioned to defer to various authority figures, we gradually lost our sense of personal power.

Third Chakra Themes

The Yogic system of chakras is able to shed some light on these issues because it offers us information about how the intellectual mind, ego, critic, sexuality and emotions run our lives. And it provides some ideas that may help us undo some of the powerful conditioning to which we have been subjected.

In the third chakra, the issues addressed will apply to the first of two mental bodies or sheaths (Figure1). This is called manas, the conditionable mind. It is often called the sixth sense because it also provides us with information. It is intimately connected with all of the physical senses who serve as its servants to provide it with specific information about the outside world.

The realm of existence in this chakra is the sva(rga) loka or the celestial realm. Some of the tattvas or tendencies to manifest are related to heat such as anger, thirst, radiance, and pungency. The associated guna is rajas which is dynamic energy. This suggests we might look at aggression and violence with attendent ways of dealing with them.

Third Chakra   Let us look at some of the symbols and review the spiritual issues of this level of development. If you will consult the chapter on the Manipura Chakra in Johari's (1987) book Chakras: Energy centers of transformation on pages 59-62 and the colored prints, you will find other diagrams of the third chakra. Each of the symbols in the chakra diagram has a special meaning for the issues of spiritual development associated with the chakra

Circle. The circle represents wholeness and also, in this chakra, the sun or yang, masculine-like energy. Rather than the receptivity we encountered in the second chakra, this chakra is much more lively, proactive and outwardly-oriented. So it seems reasonable to look at male sexuality, work and karma which is the concept in Yoga that relates to cause and effect.

Grey-blue Petals. These are the color of rain clouds and signify difficulty in seeing things clearly. Sight is the sense of the third chakra. So we will be dealing with all aspects of vision including blindness, insight, visions, knowing and understanding as well as the actual act of seeing and "seeing" or clairvoyance.

As you have probably noticed, as we go up the susumna, the number of petals around the chakras increase. This means several things. First of all, it means the senses become more refined as does self-expression. The petals are associated with speech, and you will see a Sanskrit letter on each petal. As our awareness increases, we must become more careful about and responsible for the effects of what we say to others. The spoken language produces sound vibrations. And we have seen how vibration is the basis of creation. So we need to consider what we are creating with the speech we use every day. Mantra is an even more refined aspect of speech and has the power to change the frequencies of the bodymind.

Bija. The large Sanskrit letter in the middle of the chakra is the seed sound. When this sound, Rang, is entoned properly, it helps digestion and fosters longevity. Instructions for chanting it is in the Chakras book.

Agni Mandala. The large red triangle in the center represents a rotating disk that is a symbol for power. It is also called a fire wheel. Fire is the element of this chakra and because of the volatility and heat of fire suggests the emotions, particularly the ones related to anger. Emotions are related directly to the ego as we shall see later on and may generate a great deal of heat if they are not controlled. Emotions can interfere with clear vision.

Ram. The ram is a powerful and stubborn animal and we may associate it with stubbornness, self-will, strength, persistence and pride. In this chakra, it represents the ego that wants to have its own way. The ego is the most powerful personality aspect and coordinates all the other aspects in the personality. A subsidiary of the ego is the inner critic which is the internalized voice of authority. Rams are noted for their hard-headedness especially in mating fights. We say someone is hard-headed when they insist on having their own way. Since rams are male and since this is a yang-like chakra, we will look at male sexuality.

The Deities. The male deity, Rudra represents the power of destruction inherent in the emotions. He sits on a tiger that represents manas, the conditioned mind. He is holding a damaru or drum which signifies the rhythms of life and a trident that stands for body, mind and speech. The goddess is Lakini who has three faces with three eyes in each suggesting the power of visualization and the inner sight of clairvoyance. She is holding a thunderbolt, a symbol of power that can set a fire; and/or the passions; a fire weapon; and arrow shot from the bow of Kama, the Lord of sex, and she is dispelling fears.

The Plan of Study

Book III is based on the Manipura Chakra and this book completes our study of personality and the false self. We have followed the neutral energy of life through the first two chakras and seen how it begins to manifest, then how it takes the forms of receptive yin-like energy. Now we are going to look at how this life movement comes forth in more proactive, yang-like creations.

Duality. Here we will revisit duality or separation which, at this level, can be conceived of as separation from our true identity and from our own natural powers. It is in this stage of personality development that the ego becomes powerful enough to create repression. This is separation of a new and different character since it means forgetting parts of our experience that are too difficult for the ego to handle.

Sight. When sight is taken to a more refined level, it may become understanding. So we will explore the various forms vision can take on higher levels of consciousness.

Intellect. As in every chakra, we will look at the aspect of mind that is related to the stage of development being considered. In this case, it is the conditionable mind or intellect (manas in Yoga). We will see how it is developed in children and discover some ways of quieting it when appropriate, so higher consciousness may manifest.

Social development. The period of development that corresponds to the third chakra is the time during which children are in elementary school. Their social development during this period is a time when they learn to conform and to subordinate themselves to authority. We also see how peer groups play a role in maturation of the capacity for intimacy. Leadership roles emerge here along with all the power ramifications of social stratification. Children also learn how to take the initiative or feel guilty if they do not. And they begin to develop work habits which ideally lead to productivity in the work world later on.

Ego is rather like the chairman of the Board in the personality and, as such, has tremendous power. It is the primary cause of maya and our loss of identification. So we will review the Yogic and Buddhist teaching on ego as well is those of modern psychology to see how to unravel its machinations in order to regain our freedom.

Emotions. The fire of this chakra is reflected in our emotional upheavals. It is important to learn how to control them, so we can harness their energies for the spiritual journey. There is an important connection between the intellect and ego that needs to be understood in order to gain peace of mind.

Male Sexuality is dominated by testosterone which fires up both lust and aggression along with all the other territorial imperatives that accompany mating. We will look at some problems these drives cause in our society.

Sound of Silence offers some ways to gain more control over our speech and an understanding of the value of silence.

The Critic emerges at about age five or six and is a major player in disempowerment since it carries parental authority, warnings and judgments over into adulthood.

Empowerment. Since we will have explored how children are disempowered by their schooling, we will also examine power itself, its different forms and uses, both legitimate and illegitimate. As a part of this, we shall look into the aspects of Spiritual Will and personal power. Free will, choice-making and responsibility are related to these topics.

Karma is included here because it is the law of cause and effect. As soon as we gain some control over ourselves and the environment and become self-sufficient, our choices cause effects for which we are responsible. So we need to know how this system works. Karma is also applicable to taking action in the world, so we will look at work. And the third aspect of karma is selfless service - how to work for others.

Healing. Finally we will see what healing principles can be applied to counteract the negative conditioning that we may wish to change.

Some of the objective for this book follow.


1. See how the primal split/separation occurred and what maintains it.
2. See how the development of intellect diminishes consciousness.
3. Discover how social conditioning produces conformity, need for acceptance and a broken will.
4. Examine the role of ego in use and abuse of power, authority and control.
5. Work with projections of parents and the shadow onto others.
6. Release, recognize and integrate the shadow.
7. Examine ego defenses and resistance.
8. Learn how to deal with negative emotions through understanding their source and through transmutation into finer feelings.
9. Examine male sexuality and its relationship to dominance, aggression and rape of the planet.
10. Develop techniques to deal with conflict.
11. See how speech is used to control others.
12. Bring the internal critic down to appropriate size.
13. Learn how to recover one's own personal power.
14. Discriminate uses and abuses of power and their relationship to ego.
15. Examine the relationship between free will, responsibility and choice.
16. Evaluate the role of work in the spiritual journey.



The following list of books is arranged by Unit and is cumulative (book is listed only in the first unit in which you will use it), so you can see which ones to secure first. You may want to leaf through the exercises or outline if you are in doubt about how much each book will be used. If you prefer not to buy all of them, it is fine to borrow them through library loan at your local library. However, if you do this, be sure to give the librarian some lead time to find and get them here. Several of them you will already have. They are marked with an asterisk (*).

Unit I. Primal Repression

*_______ (1953). The holy bible: Revised standard version. New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons.

Feng, G. and English, J. (Eds.) (1972). Tao te Ching. New York: Vintage Books.

Iyer, R. (Ed.) (1983). Return to Shiva: From the Yoga Vasishtha Maharamayana. New York: Concord Grove Press.

Wilber, Ken. No boundary: Eastern and western approaches to personal growth. Boulder: Shambhala, 1981.

Wolf, Fred Alan. The spiritual universe: How quantum physics proves the existence of the soul. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1996. (optional)

Unit II. Understanding

Huxley, A. (1982). The art of seeing. Berkeley: Creative Arts Book Co. (optional)

Unit III. Development of Intellect and the Blocking of Consciousness

Holmes, K. (Ed.) (no date). Way to go: Sowing the seed of Buddha. Dumfriesshire: Kagyu Samye-Ling. (Kagyu Samye-Ling Tibetan Centre, Eskdalemuir, Nr. Langholm, Dumfriesshire, DG13 OQL)

*Pearce, J. C. (1989). Magical child: Rediscovering nature's plan for our children. New York: Bantam.

*Rama, Swami, Ballentine, R. & Ajaya, Swami (1976). Yoga and psychotherapy: The evolution of consciousness. Honesdale, PA: The Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy.

Unit V. Ego, Power and Control, Suffering

Bly, R. & Woodman, M. (1993). Facing the shadow in men and women. (audio tapes) Pacific Grove, CA: Oral Tradition Archives, P. O. Box 51155.

Kohn, A. (1986). No contest: The case against competition. Boston: Houghton- Mifflin.

*Kornfield, J. (1993). A path with heart: A guide through the perils and promises of spiritual life. New York: Bantam.

Peck, M. S. (1981). People of the lie: The hope for healing human evil. New York: Simon & Schuster.

* Phillips, R. (1990). Emergence of the divine child: Healing the emotional body. Santa Fe: Bear & Co.

Trungpa, C. (1976). The myth of freedom and the way of meditation. Boulder: Shambhala.

Zweig, C. & Wolf, S. (1997). Romancing the shadow: Illuminating the dark side of the soul. New York: Ballantine Books.

Unit VI. Emotional Upheaval

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.

*Moore, M. M. & Franklin, J. (Eds.)(1991). Bartholomew: Planetary brother. Taos, NM: The High Mesa Foundation.

Welwood, J. (Ed.) (1983). Awakening the heart: East/west approaches to psychotherapy and the healing relationship. Boulder: New Science Library.

Unit VII. Male Sexuality

Crum, T. F. (1987). The magic of conflict: Turning a life of work into a work of art. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Desai, N. (1980). Handbook for Satyagrahis: A manual for volunteers of total revolution. New Delhi: Gandhi Peace Foundation; Philadelphia: Movement for a New Society.

Trungpa, C. (1984). Shambhala: The sacred path of the warrior. Boulder: Shambhala.

Unit IX. The Internal Critic and Disempowerment

Yasodhara Ashram Society (ED.) Hari Om (cassette tape). Spokane: Timeless Books.

Unit X. Empowerment

Assagioli, R. (1978). The act of will. New York: Penguin Books.

May, R. (1972). Power and innocence: A search for the sources of violence. New York: Dell.

Narayan, R. K. (1977). The Ramayana: A shortened modern prose version of the Indian epic. New York: Penguin Books.

Unit XI. Karma

Easwaran, E. (1984). To love is to know Me. Petaluma, CA: Nilgiri Press.

Unit XII. Healing

Arguelles, Jose & Miriam (1985). Mandala. Boston: Shambhala.

Arrien, A. (1993). The Four-fold way:Walking the paths of the warrior, teacher, healer and visionary. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.

*Johari, H. (1987). Chakras: Energy centers of transformation. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books.

*Radha, Swami S. (1987). The Divine Light Invocation. Spokane: Timeless Books.

*Rama, Swami, Ballentine, R. & Ajaya, Swami (1976). Yoga and psychotherapy: The evolution of consciousness. Honesdale, PA: The Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy.

* You may already have these books.

Other Suggested Readings

Arrien, Angeles. The Tarot handbook: Practical applications of ancient visual symbols. Sonoma, CA: Arcus, 1987.

Barendsen, Kristin. "Sing the Body Ecstatic" in Yoga journal, March/April, 1997, 92- 99, 155-8, 166.

Brownmiller, S. (1976). Against our will: Men, women and rape. New York: Bantam.

Easwaran, E. (1972). Gandhi the man (2nd Ed.). Petaluma, CA: Nilgiri Press.

Erikson, Eric. Identity, youth and crisis. New York: Norton, 1968

Forsee, D. (1999). Can you listen to a woman? A man's journey to the heart. Spokane, WA: Timeless Books.

Gendlin, Eugene T. Focusing: New revised instructions (2nd. Ed.) New York, Bantam, 1988.

Iyengar, B.K.S. (1981). Light on pranayama:The Yogic art of breathing. New York: Crossroad.

Jaynes, Julian. The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1976.

Judy, D. (1992). Healing the male soul: Christianity and the mystic journey. New York: Crossroad.

Keen, S. (1991). Fire in the Belly: On being a man. New York: Bantam Books.

Miller, D. Patrick. "My Healing Journey Through Chronic Fatigue" Yoga journal, November/December, 1992, 61-67, 123-5.

Miller, W. A. (1992). Your golden shadow: Discovering and fulfilling your undeveloped self. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.

Pelletier, Kenneth R. Mind as healer, mind as slayer: A holistic approach to preventing stress disorders. New York, Dell, 1977.

Sadhu, Mouni. The Tarot. No. Hollywood, CA: Wilshire Book Co., 1978 (or later)

Selye, H. (1956). The stress of life. New York: McGRaw Hill.

Taimni, I.K. The science of Yoga. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1975.

Tannen, D. (1990). You just don't understand: Women and men in conversation. New York: Ballentine Books.

Vivekananda, Swami. Jnana Yoga. Hollywood, CA: Vedanta Press.

Waite, Arthur, E. The Rider Tarot Deck. New York: U.S. Games Systems, 1971

Woodman, M. (1990). The ravaged bridegroom: Masculinity in women. Toronto: Inner City Books.

Woolger, R. J. (1988). Other lives, other selves: A Jungian psychotherapist discovers past lives. New York: Bantam Books.

Yogananda, P. (1988). Where there is light: Insight and inspiration for meeting life's challenges. Los Angeles: Self-realization Fellowship.

Unit I. Primal Repression


1. How it Works
2. Dualities
3. Separation
4. Incarnation, Involution
5. Longing to Return
6. Sunyata

Materials Needed: Journal

Books needed (in this order)*:

Tao Te Ching
The Holy Bible
No Boundary
The Spiritual Universe (optional)
Return to Shiva

Practices and Exercises:

Spectrum of consciousness
Return to Shiva

* See References at end of unit for author, etc.

How It Works

Consider that you have a four-year old child, a boy perhaps. He has just had his fourth birthday party and is tired and cranky, doesn't want his supper because he is full of candy and cake. He frets through his bath and throws a temper tantrum when he has to be tucked into bed. "I hate you, Daddy," he strikes out with a fist and narrowly misses your jaw.

"Never mind," you tell him. "I still love you. Now go to sleep." And you turn off the light as you leave, gently closing his door. His sobs follow you downstairs.

Now, picture this same scene two years later, same party, same fretful child. However, he is six years old now and a great deal has happened in the last two years. He fusses through his bath and gets increasingly angry as bedtime approaches. When you tuck him in, he says, "You hate me, Daddy." and he turns on his side away from your attempted embrace and goodnight kiss.

What has happened?

Your dear little son has sealed off his access to the Dynamic Ground, according to Michael Washburn (1995) and is blossoming forth with one of the first signs of ego maturity, a defense called projection. [Projection occurs when someone sees in another person something s/he does not accept in her/himself and then reacts to it. Usually projections are negative, but they can also be positive if the person has a negative self-image and cannot accept good things in him/herself.] Washburn calls this separation process primal repression. Furthermore, this fast-growing youngster has also distanced himself from his parents in an analogous process called primal alienation. How do they work?

Primal Repression

The Dynamic Ground is our basic life and psychic energy, power and spirit. It is the dynamic life, the ". . original dynamic, creative, spontaneous source out of which the ego emerges, from which the ego then becomes estranged, to which, during the stages of ego transcendence, the ego returns, and with which, ultimately, the ego is integrated." (Washburn, 1995, p. 4) One of the basic assumptions here is that there are two types of dynamic expression, psychic and spiritual, that are born from a single source, ". . a single fundamental power, Libido or psychic energy on the one hand and numinous spirit on the other." (p. 5) In terms of the model upon which these books are based, the Dynamic Ground would be the Spirit to which we are all trying to return. It would also be Sunyata in the Buddhist tradition. We will come to that concept later on. Since we will be using Washburn's model extensively during this book, I will develop his theory a bit further.

The usual form of transpersonal, psychological theory divides human development into three phases: pre-egoic, egoic and trans-egoic meaning that we focus on the development of the ego and its travails during the lifetime of a spiritual seeker. This is especially relevant since the ego is seen to be the major obstacle to enlightenment. Washburn differs from other theorists such as Ken Wilbur, however, in his efforts to unite psychoanalytic theory with transpersonal psychology thus taking the spiritual journey into consideration. Without going into too much detail, let us look at these three stages.

Pre-egoic Stage. This stage lasts from birth until roughly five years of age when the ego reaches its full potential. During this period, the child is still in touch with the Dynamic Ground. I interpret this to mean that the child may still remember where it came from and be conscious of the numinous power of the Divine One who created it. Although the ego is developing, it is still at the mercy of the Ground and may be overpowered by It from time to time. If we observe young children carefully, we can see a progressive separation from the Source that parallels psychological development. We have already seen that happen in both the infancy and preschool periods as a result of socialization. However, at this point, the ego is only a body ego, that part of us that is still frightened when an airplane flies through turbulent rivers of space. Instincts govern behavior, and the child is still capable of wonder and enchantment. It is still merged with the Ground. This is our four-year old birthday child, but the ties to the Ground are weakening.

Egoic Stage. At the threshold of the egoic stage, there is a massive internalization process during which the child becomes capable of thinking using verbal mediators. It also internalizes its parents' prohibitions, rules, assumptions about how things are, prejudices, opinions, etc. So that now the internal critic can replace the parent as a guide for proper behavior. We sometimes call it the conscience.

At this transition point, a struggle ensues between the ever more powerful ego and the Ground largely, Washburn says, because of the ego's fear of engulfment by the Ground. In other words, the ego has begun to acquire a concept of itself as a separate entity and it wishes to preserve and enlarge that perception. So, as it gathers even more strength, it gains control over consciousness and becomes able to force the Ground into the back of the mind, sealing it off from awareness. This is called primal repression because it is the first case of true forgetting or elimination of awareness of something or some power and authority from the focus of attention. As the repression becomes reinforced through experience and habit formation, the Ground soon is no longer available to consciousness even if the person were willing to experience it. This marks the dividing line between forgetting and true repression.

However, there is one catch. The Ground is the original Power and It does not go away, but remains a force that presses to be released. For example, one of the forms It takes in adulthood is libido or sexual drive that functions rather like a safety valve. Under ideal conditions, the repression works fairly well. However, if the ego's repressive mechanisms are severely tested by some trauma or if they are inadequate, the forces of the Ground may defy the seal and try to break through it. This threat causes the ego to call up secondary defenses to protect the original repression. Such defenses because they are now rigid and inflexible create neurotic symptoms. And the whole enterprise becomes much more fragile and open to sabotage. This results in a type of fear called anxiety because the object of the fear is unidentifiable such as in the case of a threat to repression. Here we find our five-year old child who projects his "hatred" onto his father. Denial is the first evidence of repression and projection follows closely.

Success of primal repression ushers in the egoic stage that is often called the stage of the mental ego. One of the reasons for this is that it is during the school age period of development that the intellectual mind flowers and takes control over the individual's life. [Note: Intellect is being used here to distinguish left hemispheric cognitive structures that are rational and analytic from intuition which is a largely right hemisphere structure.] The intellect and the ego enjoy a kind of coalition in which they share power, ownership and authority. The conscience, or critic as it will be called in these books, is called in then to enforce the separations that support the mental and egoic regimes. Having achieved all this, the ego is now in a position of undisputed power.

There are three substages of the egoic period: latency (school age during which the mental and social tools necessary for adulthood are acquired), adolescence (sexual potency threatens the ego's solidarity and brings on an identity crisis) and young adulthood (sexual maturity and vocational choice allows an integration of identity, intimacy and ability to work). Characteristic of the egoic period is a stable infrastructure that insulates the ego from the Ground, a sense of individuality that is held separate from others and usually from the body, identification with the mental part of self and dissociation from the instincts, apparent self-control and independence, emergence of intellect in the form of concrete and formal operations, and a sense of emptiness and alienation (Washburn, 1995, p. 6)

Trans-egoic Stage. This stage, if it is going to occur, is usually ushered in by the midlife crisis, and it puts one on the road to enlightenment. The symptoms are familiar to most of us: a sense of emptiness and dryness in life. All that we have acquired and/or the status to which we have risen give us no pleasure and are as dust in our mouths. The worldly goals that have been reached have no meaning. A deep, profound longing surfaces but the yearning has no target. We are seriously alienated. Many people begin their spiritual journey at this point searching for that intangible something that must feed the yearning. According to Washburn (p. 7) this period is marked by two substages: regression in the service of transcendence and regeneration in spirit.

1. Regression in the Service of Transcendence. During this time the ego finds its way back to the Ground and assumes the role of servant to the Ground. The interval during which this journey occurs is called The Dark Night of the Soul because the alienation is intensified and the individual may lose touch with a previously experienced divinity or god. This is the spiritual desert, and the dying to the world and its pleasures that occurs is called the Dark Night of the Senses. Later in the period one may experience visions, raptures, ecstasy, intuitive insights and other extrasensory perceptions that are occasioned by the reconnection with the Dynamic Ground. However, a spiritual emergency may occur if the person is not prepared for these experiences, or if those around him/her are frightened by such manifestations.

2. Regeneration in Spirit. The ego is spiritually transformed by and integrated with the Ground. This is the point of enlightenment or unity consciousness that we see as the goal of the spiritual journey. The fears and negativities of the Dark Night are transmuted into more positive feelings such as joy, love, compassion, peace and harmony. Intellect and worldly pursuits are transcended, and the individual seeks to serve others for the benefit of the whole of humanity. The separations that supported repression are overcome, the ego is now empowered by the Ground, there is an awareness of spiritual Presence, intuition and imagination are reawakened, spontaneity, wonder and awe are restored, contemplation is energized, values are sacralized and outreach to others takes the forefront of awareness. (Washburn, 1995, p. 7)

Primal Alienation. Another development at this same stage needs to be understood. Primal alienation occurs because the young child cannot deal with the fact that all its needs are supplied by one person (usually the mother) and that this person is both nurturing and denying. [Note that this means the person who is the primary caregiver and this may not necessarily be the mother.] Mothers must gradually withdraw assistance from children in order to support their emergent independence, to teach them how to take care of themselves and to function in a less than perfect world where others will be making demands upon them for self-control and cooperation. This means the child cannot have all its wishes satisfied which, in the normal course of events, usually leads to anger and frustration. Thereafter, the caregiver is seen as the target of this anger, but s/he is also the primary caregiver who supplies food and all the other needs of the child. So both the child's rage and love are directed at the same person which results in a painful conflict of emotions. The caregiver is seen simultaneously as the source of intimacy and the threat to independent existence. The energetic reversals and ambiguities of this dilemma escalate until the child finally withdraws from the symbiotic intimacy of infancy so the ego can stand alone in its separation and identity. This act initiates the self-other dualism that is the prototype for all human interactions. We come to see ourselves as separate, independent individuals and, from this point on, we continue to seek another with whom we can be truly intimate. But the symbiosis in not recoverable, and, henceforth, the loss of self-identity in a relationship is considered by society to be pathological except during the act of sexual intercourse. So now we understand why the young son turned his face to the wall. He was withdrawing from an ambivalent set of feelings for his parent and protecting his individual identity.


. . . Once again the lesson of the opposites: nothing can be defined or exist by itself, but only through its opposite; only when they are mutually supportive can there be a release of creative power between the perpetually generated polar forces. The basic theme of many Mandala rituals is the transformation of destruc- tive energy through harmony of the opposites. (Arguelles, 1985, p. 92)
We are crucifixion points of these opposites (Tarnas, 1998, p. 28).

A major recurring theme in all mystical traditions is that of the need to overcome dualities or separations. This is reflected in the use of "unity consciousness" as a goal in the spiritual journey. But we find this rejoining exceedingly difficult since our perceptions of the world around us and all of our training as children support the view of self versus other. The very acts of sensation and perception presuppose a person comprehending something else. In fact, there is a whole field of psychology that is devoted to explaining how we take in sensations and through the use of the brain convert the neural impulses to perceptions that have color, shape, intensity, wholeness and integrity. However, this is still dualism. And all our traditions tell us that dualism stands in the way of accurate perception of the way things really are. How can this be?

I know a lot. I have spent my entire life learning things - about the world, other people, how my body and mind work, what to expect from the universe and society, what I look like, how I come across to others, etc. All dualism. As long as I set myself up as an observer, I'm in dualism. Even when I'm observing my own mental machinations, it is dualism. It is just that, in that case, the separation is between parts of my own mind. Our brains may even be wired up to encourage this kind of information processing. And the convictions are so strong that we find it difficult to even entertain the notion that there is only One. It is only in meditation that we can find out the truth. For, as we gradually relax and let go of our mental activity, the dualisms begin to disappear and a seamless perception of reality begins to emerge. At first it comes and goes but gradually stays longer and longer until finally we can slip into a state of consciousness called samadhi in which the unity consciousness persists for a longer period of time. In this state we are in touch with the Dynamic Ground. We experience our identity with It.

So who would want to do that? Don't we need to function in the world, make our livings, tend our children, leave our legacies to the world? Of course we do. But how can we do all these things if we are blissed out? Well, tapping into the source of all that is, is profoundly energizing and renewing. It can even build to ecstatic heights that far outdistance mere orgasms. Furthermore, we can tap into the Source of all knowledge and power in order to carry out our life's purpose. However, it is perhaps only fair to say that we are not allowed to contact or use this power until we are sufficiently committed to the One that we do not abuse the privilege.

It is a fascinating challenge to attempt to see yourself as The One. Try to take the Hindu teaching "I am That" literally and see if you can get your mind around it. If you can understand it, truly understand it, can you also feel it? Can you be the One?

Exercise: Dualities

Read verses 1,2 and 4 in the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu. Assuming that the Tao is the Dynamic Ground, why do you think it cannot be named? Why is the named the "mother of ten thousand things?" Why does desire contribute to dualism? Do you experience it that way? In verse 2, do you agree with the use of dualism that is presented? What solution does the sage present for dealing with dualism?

Sit for 15 minutes and meditate on the fourth verse. Read it over to yourself a number of times before you sit down. Memorize it if you can first. Then see what comes up from your unconscious process on the topic. Make notes in your journal if you learned anything new.


All traditions have a myth about the loss of innocence or awareness of the Ground/God. The Garden of Eden is the one that is most probably familiar to all of us. The general outline of the story is as follows. The Lord made the earth and all that is in it. Then He created man and woman, named Adam and Eve respectively. He placed them in the Garden of Eden where all their needs were supplied, but told them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Soon a serpent appeared and tempted Eve to eat the fruit of this tree and she gave some of it to Adam as well. When the Lord discovered they had disobeyed him, He sent them out of the garden into the world to earn their bread through their own efforts. And He placed an angel at the gate of the garden so they could not return and eat of the tree of Life. This is generally referred to as a story of the "Fall."

Why was it a "Fall?"

Exercise: Separation

Read the first three chapters of Genesis in the Holy Bible. Notice first that there are two versions of the creation of humans. The first one says that both man and woman were created together in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Then in Genesis 2:7 and 2:18-25 God created Eve from Adam's rib. It is only in this second version that woman is subjugated to man. One wonders why. Does it represent the subjugation of the feminine principle to patriarchy, perhaps? It is also in this second version that the two are said to be naked and the story continues to the temptation. There is nothing of intrigue in the first version. Do you think this is curious? Perhaps the first version is the one of wholeness and Oneness, and the second is an account of how dualism came to be. Let us see.

In every scripture there are multiple meanings, and one has to learn how to decode the imagery and symbols in order to get at the deeper message. So let us try to get at the deeper significance of the story of the Garden of Eden. Let's treat the story as a dream and analyze it.

Directions: Copy the essential story line in your journal, so you have something to work with. You can use your own version, the Bible's or the one given here. Then make a list of all the key words in it such as The Lord God, garden, Eden, Adam, Eve, tree, good, evil, serpent, rib, naked, sleep, knowledge, fruit, die, husband, fig leaf, apron, etc. When you have your list, put the story aside and focus on the list. Take each word out of context and free associate to it. Write down all the meanings for it that you can think of. Consider what the thing does as well as any puns or phonic similarities to something else in addition to the obvious meanings. You are dealing with your own symbol system now, so write down what comes up in your mind. Do not use any dictionaries. Words represent both concrete meanings and abstract ones, so look for abstract or spiritual associations too. For example, "sleep" can mean unconscious. Look for deeper significances as you want to discover the underlying meaning of the story. When you have completed your free association, rewrite the story substituting one of your meanings for each of the words listed from the story. You have to do this by intuition in order to choose the right word. If you get stuck, put the work aside and sit quietly for a while letting the whole thing gel. Sometimes the feeling tone helps to select the right word. When you are satisfied that you have the complete myth, copy it in your journal. Then make notes about how the process impacted you. Keep in mind that every part of the story represents a part of you including the main characters and the other symbols. That is, this tale is meant to tell you something about yourself as well as the state of things in the universe.

Now see if you have the answers to these questions:

1. What does the Garden of Eden represent in your life? in the lives of all of us?
2. Who or what represents the ego in this story?
3. What is the reason for dualism? What is its purpose?
4. What is the significance of nakedness?
5. What part of you do Adam and Eve represent? Is it more than one part?
6. Why is it important to have knowledge of good and evil on the spiritual journey?
7. Why create pain in childbirth?
8. What child will be born?
9. Who is the husband in you? the wife? Why does the husband rule?
10. Why protect the Tree of Life from Adam and Eve or that part of yourself they represent?
11. What is it that God does not wish to live forever?

Please reflect on these questions over several days if the answers do not come forward immediately and make note of your insights.

Other Splits

"The subject-object divide, the sense of radical distinction between self and world. . . is fundamental to the modern mind. The modern mind is constituted upon it" (Tarnas, 1998, p. 29).

We have spoken about the separation of the individual from the Ground or Source of all Being. This is the primary split, the prototype of all separations that follow and model themselves upon it. Let us see what other dualities there are in our lives.

In all relationships there is self and other. "I love you" states the fact. There is "I" who is doing the loving and there is "you" who is receiving it. We don't often say "We are in love" which might be closer to the truth. "I am in love with you" is still separation. Do you see? It is almost as if we push ourselves apart in order to enjoy the coming together that option provides. The deepest intimacies are those between mother and child early in life and between lovers in orgasm and/or in love. The first pair gives us a memory to strive for and the second approaches fulfillment. But neither are complete unity. We always yearn for our larger part, for Spirit. When self-consciousness arises at around five years of age, that says we have 0become consciously aware of ourselves as the object of others' attention. It marks the establishment of the primal alienation that is the underlying container of relationships.

Then there is the self as subject and objects in the world of things. We perceive, manipulate, control, create and destroy objects as well as perform an infinite number of operations on them. We could call this a self vs environment separation. We experience ourselves as separate, self-moving, self-motivating beings with the potential for making choices and for impacting the way things are. We think we can change the world or at least our own little piece of it.

Another important split we achieve is that of mind versus body. Most of us learn to live in our heads and to view the body as a vehicle that merely carries us around so we can do our chores. And we get angry at it when it breaks down or does not function properly. Aging is expecially insulting to an ego identified with the mind. Those of us who live in our heads often have problems with the throat which is what connects the head and the heart. We may also have trouble with our hearts, not being able to keep them open and vulnerable to others. We will revisit this topic later.

Constricting the picture even further is that pattern of identifiying ourselves with the ego only and viewing both the body and mind as outsiders. In this case, we set up a false self-image or facade to present to the world and essentially say, "This is who I am." None of the rest of this is my doing, nor is it part of me. Such a false front is called the "persona."

Yet still another variation or separation is a distinction between inner and outer. We have a feel for the inner self, the "I" that no one else can ever really know or contact. Then there is the rest of the world including, perhaps, our minds and the personas we project out into the world that, on some level, we know is not really ourselves. A further distinction is made within when we talk about the Higher Self as opposed to the small self that is represented by the ego. This latter separation is based on instinctual knowledge of our identity with the Dynamic Ground. We sometimes talk about the soul and the spirit as if they were also separate entities within ourselves. We seem to be given to putting parts of ourselves in boxes. What complicated maneuvers! Why would we do this?

Marie-Louise von Franz said ". . if we can stay with this tension of opposites long enough - sustain it, be true to it - we can sometimes become vessels within which the divine opposites come together and give birth to a new reality" (quoted in Tarnas, 1998, p. 28).

Exercise: Spectrum of Consciousness

Read No Boundary by Ken Wilbur. Notice that he bases his text on the separations we have been discussing. On pages 10 and 11, he presents the Spectrum of Consciousness depicting the various levels of consciousness depending upon where we draw the boundary between self and not-self. He then goes on to show which therapies are appropriate for each level of development. As you go along, notice similarities between Wilbur's model and that of Washburn. What are some of the major discrepancies?

See if you can identify where you fall on the spectrum. Where do you draw the boundary of self vs not-self? Observe yourself for several days and see if you wander about the spectrum or whether you stay put for the most part. If you wander, what determines where you draw the line? Do you like where you find yourself? If not, what might you do about it? Could you make a list of the parts of yourself you would like to reclaim? If so, what is keeping them separate? Design a program of remediation.

Incarnation, Involution

In the beginning there is the End
And this is without Name and Form
From the Formless there comes the Formed
From the Atom of Ether there comes the Atom of Fire
From Fire Air, from Air Water, and from Water
There finally comes the Atom of the Earth
And from the Earth a Crystal, and from this the Mineral Kingdom
And from the Spiralling Dissolution of the Crystal
Comes the Cell, and from the Cell
The Colony, and from the Colony
The Kingdom of Plants and Animals
And the Kingdom of the Animals is Crowned
By the Kingdom of Man And Man himself is
Crowned with the Tiara Of Self-Reflective Awareness
By which all these Things may come to be Known
And this Crown, this Tiara of Self-Reflective Awareness
Is itself but the Bottom Rung of the Ladder of Divine Renewal
The Ladder by which the Power of the Eternal
Ascends and meets itself in the Light of the End (Arguelles, 1985, p. 91)

One way to conceptualize these issues is in terms of Spirit becoming embodied. Several traditions teach that the Divine One wished to experience the world, so It created the world, then came into our bodies to experience it. This is called involution, Spirit coming down into a body. It is widely believed that Spirit, in doing so, lost some consciousness and forgot who It was thus taking on our various human identities. Compare this idea to Washburn's emergence of ego and primal repression. In this context, we are all Spirit masquerading as individual people. But we are all still only the one Spirit. There is something in us that resonates to this idea when we feel like we don't belong in our body or in the particular place in which we find ourselves. Children's fantasies about being adopted are analogous. They know they do not belong here. It is as if there is a nascent memory of the homeland.

All of the avatars in history are living examples for us of incarnation and involution. Jesus was quite open about it. "I and my "Father are One," he said. And he meant us to take that literally not only for him but for all of us. In Hinduism, the incarnate gods are depicted with blue skin color to denote their embodiment of the Divine One. Involution literally means "entanglement," Spirit entangled in a physical body. Mouni Sadhu (1978)gives an interesting explanation of the process in his Introduction to The Tarot. The Kabbalah diagram (Figure II-3b in Book II) is an example of involution. As you read down the diagram Spirit comes increasingly into matter.

Optional Exercise: Involution.

Read The Spiritual Universe by Fred Alan Wolf. He is attempting to prove the existence of the soul using quantum physics. In the process, he offers an interesting model for how spirit might have truly become incorporated into matter and the reverse. His description of the quantum soup sounds suspiciously like the Dynamic Ground, the bubbling source of energy from which all creation emerges.

As you read, try to make connections between this theory and other explanations you have encountered. If you need a crib sheet for the concepts, try to find a copy of Space-Time and Beyond by Bob Toben and Fred Alan Wolf. This is a cartoon-like explanation of modern physics which is now out of print. However, it may be available through interlibrary loan or through an out-of-print book dealer.

Evolution, Longing to Return

Jil Purce (1980, p. 11) presented a model of the spiritual journey in The Mystic Spiral in which one orbits around a central axis drawn from the Divine One to the human being in increasingly wider circles during the first part of life and increasingly narrow circles during the last half of life (Figure 2). We can think of the projection of the axis as involution and the winding back to the source as evolution. Evolution is the return of spirit from Its embodiment in matter/the body to the Ground. This interpretation keeps its original meaning of rising to a higher level, but it takes on deeper significance if we think of the agent doing the rising as the Divine One Itself. In Sufism, the message we are given is that the Beloved (Spirit/Ground) lives in our hearts and wishes to be manifested in our lives. If this is so, it provides the motivation for embodiment. And it also explains our longing to return.

One way to return is through meditation and contemplation during which we quiet our minds and allow awareness of other levels of reality to come through. We can think of this as a return to the Ground or absorption. Arguelles (1985) put it very nicely:

. . . Technically what occurs is the reabsorption of cosmic forces. In the process of construction these forces were projected out from the chaos of the unconscious; in the process of absorption, the powers are drawn back in again. Prior to the construction there was a relative state of chaos; after the absorption there is a new sense, or state of order. Consciousness has been articulated and expanded. What was relatively unconscious has now been brought to light and raised to a new level, with the consequent increase in light - illumination - for consciousness as a whole. (p. 96)

This means for all of us. Some say that meditators benefit all of creation: by making the unconscious more conscious in just this way. In this context, when we use the word "unconscious" to refer to the Ground, we do not mean that the Ground is unconscious. Nothing could be further from the truth. What use of the term means is that we are unconscious of the Ground. In Its scope and power, we can be aware of only a little bit of It.

Exercise: Return to Shiva:

Read Chapter 18 in Return to Shiva. In Yoga all forms of the goddess represent manifested creation. In this case, we have Kali, but it could also be Shakti, Kundalini or Prakrti and the meaning would be the same. All forms of the god represent the potential for manifestation or consciousness. Here we have Shiva. But he can also be Purusa. You will remember the idea that Kundalini rises through the chakras to rejoin Shiva, sometimes called Purusa at the crown chakra to produce unity. This means the dualities are overcome and one's perception becomes single and wholistic. Recall book I and Figure 3 to see the original division and to note how the goddess, in this case Prakrti, represents all of creation while Purusa represents consciousness or the unmanifest. It is the same idea coming from a slightly different branch of Yoga.


We have already met the Buddhist concept of form. Its other side is emptiness or sunyata. It is difficult to imagine nothing, a great void with nothing in it. But maybe we do not have to. Fred Alan Wolf (1996) has told us that there is no such thing as a void or empty space; that even in a vacuum there is a busy, bubbling froth of energy. So it does not take too much of a leap of faith to imagine this quantum foam as the source of everything that is created. Think of it also as the Ultimate Reality depicted in the Samkhya Yoga diagram in Figure 3 from Book I.

Nearly every tradition talks about the "Word" of God as being the vehicle of creation. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). The original Greek for "Word" in this context was Logos. Somewhere in my travels, that I can not recover now, I ran across another translation of Logos as "vibration." Now this makes a huge amount of sense taken with what we know about creation from modern physics. For, when anything is taken down to its uttermost diminution, all form disappears and nothing is left but vibration in space. So we are back to quantum foam.

Now, if this reasoning is correct, God is vibration. And vibration was the original state of things before creation of all the forms with which we are familiar. This is by no means a new idea. We saw in Jnana Yoga (in Book I) that the notion of there being no time, space nor causation is certainly not new since the author was giving these lectures in 1896. He says, "Time depends on two events, just as space has to be related to outside objects. And the idea of causation is inseparable from time and space. This is the peculiar thing about them that they have no independent existence" (Vivekananda, 1976, p. 116). And Vivekananda went on to point out that these three things are necessary for the manifestation of anything concrete like, say, the universe and all that is in it. It is the view of Advaita Vedanta, of which Vivekananda was a teacher, that there is only One being-thing, and that everything exists within that One and is, consequently, divine. "If you go deep enough, all will be seen as only variations of the One, and he who has attained to this conception of Oneness has no more delusion" (Vivekananda, 1976, p. 143).

Vivekananda went on to say that the universe comes into existence, then is destroyed, then comes into existence once again continuing in a rising and falling sort of configuration; and that all that exists follows this same pattern of vacillation. Each cycle has a period of inactivity and another of activity, i.e., vibration because vibration is just on-off pulses. He says "In the beginning, the whole of the universe has to work likewise for a period in that minute form, unseen, and unmanifested, which is called chaos, and out of that comes a new projection" (p. 221). The period of inactivity of which he speaks is sunyata, or emptiness, in the Buddhist model. You may remember the Buddhist saying, "Form is emptiness and emptiness is form." Well, form is manifestation and emptiness is the inactivity or chaos (by which he means unseen and unmanifested, and not disordered as we tend to think of chaos).

So here we have a new take on the process. We are not actually dealing with separation or dualism in the world and the universe we experience, but instead with cycles of activity and inactivity, on and off vibrations that concur with what the physicists are discovering about the way things are. The fact that we do not perceive the world as simple vibration but as a kaleidoscope of everchanging, magnificant creation is due to the way our brains change vibrations into perception.

If we look at how the brain is constructed and then study the psychology of perception, we see that both make use of the vibrations that exist to enable us to construct our views of the world. All our sensory receptors are responsive to vibration whether it is in light, sound, touch or chemical stimulation, and they transmit that information to the neurons in a pattern of on-off firing. These impulses then travel to different parts of the brain and, after some practice, repetition and early learning has occured, the patterns begin to result in perceptions. We then see, hear, taste, smell and feel the world in all its glory. Computers and modern electronics are all based on the same on-off firing principle taking their modus operandi from the human body. Please note the diagram in Figure 3 again to see that the ancient Yogic seers understood the role of energy/vibration in sensation and perception.

So what does all this mean for us as individual people trying to make do in a crazy world? It means that, if you can learn how to slow down the vibrations, as you do in meditation, you can begin to vibrate in sync with the Source of all vibration because quieting the mind quiets the senses and with them the frenetic sensory vibration that is our usual experience of reality. And that is immensely soothing.

Furthermore, Vivekananda says,

. . all our misery comes through ignorance, and this ignorance is the idea of manifoldness, this separation between man and man, between nation and nation, between earth and moon, between moon and sun. Out of this idea of separation, between atom and atom comes all misery. But the Vedanta says this separation does not exist, it is not real. It is merely apparent, on the surface. In the heart of things there is Unity still (p. 142).

Later on Vivekananda identifies this Unity as Universal Intelligence and says that Universal Intelligence is what we call God (p. 225). He continues on page 283 saying:

. . if there is a God, that God must be both the material and the efficient cause of the universe. Not only is He the creator, but He is also the created. He Himself is this universe. . . that which all ignorant people see as the universe does not really exist. What are you and I and all these things we see? Mere self-hypnotism; there is but one Existence, the Infinite, the Ever-blessed One. In that Existence we dream all these various dreams. It is the Atman, beyond all, the Infinite, beyond the known, beyond the knowable; in and through That we see the universe. It is the only Reality.

And, in case the pronouns bother you, he adds, "The Vedantist does not call It either He or She - these are fictions, delusions of the human brain - there is no sex in the soul" (p. 284).

So we have reduced the problem of separation to one of a simple misconception. Would that it was so easy to correct the misconception!

Exercises: Sunyata

1. Read verses 20, 21 and 40 in the Tao Te Ching.

In verse 20, why is the poet different? Who is the great mother? Why does he imply that learning is the source of our troubles?

In verse 21, what is this Tao? How would you connect it with what you have just read?

In verse 40, do you see the rising and falling of the universe?

2. Read "The Ten-versed Hymn" in Return to Shiva. This is an example of the "neti, neti" approach to explaining how things are. "Neti" means "not this."

3. Concentration exercise. Prepare to sit for meditation as usual, but have a beautiful flower, a candle or something lovely to look at on the altar or on a table before you at eye level. Sit with your back straight and the chakras aligned, head erect. Focus your attention on the object you have chosen and gaze at it fixedly. You may blink, but do not let your attention wander. If it does, bring it back to the object gently and resume your watching. If your eyes want to go out of focus, that is all right. If you persist long enough, you may experience a kind of oneness with the object. First the peripheral vision will disappear, then you will feel yourself becoming the object or flowing into it. Allow your own experience and, when you are finished, make notes in your journal about what happened and what it means to you.


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Wilber, K. (1981) No boundary: Eastern and western approaches to personal growth. Boulder: Shambhala.

Wolf, F. A. (1996). The spiritual universe: How quantum physics proves the existence of the soul. New York, Simon & Schuster.

You have now completed Unit I. Primal Repression and now understand better how we have lost our original connection to the Dynamic Ground, otherwise known as Spirit. In Unit II. Understanding, we will see how the refinement of ordinary vision or sight results in new psychic powers and singlepointedness.

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