Stages of Satori|
Mystical satori (or mysticism) and intellectual satori are only stages to the final reality (see the preceding article Three Satories). Cosmic satori itself has three stages, and I use the term ‘enlightenment ’ for them.
Note on terminology that I use :
‘satori’ applies to any of the states that I am considering, whether founded on emotion, mind or will. But ‘enlightenment’ refers only to states of will.
Any state of satori is a wonderful achievement. But is there any sense of limitation attached to them ? . Are they states of unending bliss or does the seeker still experience the sorrows of life ? . In particular, does abreaction cease in any state of mind ? . It certainly does not in ordinary consciousness. Is the seeker who has reached enlightenment free from sorrow ? . This question is answered by considering the achievements of the modern Indian teacher Shri Aurobindo (1872 – 1950).
Aurobindo divided the states of cosmic enlightenment into three classes, according to his empirical experience.
-- First he experienced the enlightenment typified by yoga practice. I call it yoga enlightenment or personal enlightenment. In this state the ego of the yogi is supreme. The world dissolves into unreality : it becomes nothing more than a dream or illusion.
-- Then later he experienced the state of total peace and utter silence. The Buddhist term for this is Nirvana. Here both the ego and the world exist but they are empty forms ; the ego has no desires, no motivation, no drives.
-- Eventually Aurobindo experienced what he called the universal consciousness. Now the world becomes emphasised. Everything has its own value ; nothing is more important than anything else. The ego loses its self-importance. God is seen in everything and everyone. In the seeker, in his consciousness, the universal state is the state of Oneness, of spiritual union. In the centre of unconscious matter, the universal state is that of pantheism.
Aurobindo thought that these three stages were a progression, so that the universal consciousness was the final and supreme reality. My view is different, and it is derived by considering the relations between the three states.
First I consider personal enlightenment. Here the ego has achieved conscious union with its soul. This is enlightenment based on individuality and immanence : god is found within the seeker. It is the state that typifies my idea of a monad, a self-sufficient being. Only for a monad is the world a dream world.
The state of Nirvana is the state of the transcendent or impersonal god : it is a state of complete monism. The absence of all desires and motivations indicates a state of equanimity.
In universal enlightenment, the world is emphasised instead of the ego. The world and the ego are opposite polarities of reality. This means that the world is in a binary (or complementary) relation with the ego. Hence universal enlightenment is a binary state to personal enlightenment.
The fact that it is part of a binary relationship indicates that the universal consciousness cannot be the final reality. Binaries indicate transitional states. Only a monist state can be the final destination (because it is not in any relation to other states).
In my view, Nirvana is the supreme reality ; after experiencing it, Aurobindo descended into the universal state. All that personal enlightenment means is that for the moment the yogi has perfected his own individual development within humanity"s current grade of evolution. Then he needs to begin to focus on developing the world of humanity, by striving for the universal consciousness. Aurobindo could not stay in Nirvana because his own evolution was still incomplete.
Limitations to Enlightenment
The two states of personal and universal enlightenment are still states of incomplete evolution. Why is this ?
The Indian sage Shankara produced the idea that the worlds of reality are forms of illusion : everything that exists is ‘maya’. However, he could not explain why this illusion is present. He was both right and wrong. Illusion certainly exists, but not in the manner that he thought. The illusion of the spiritual path that ensnares nearly every seeker, high or low, is the feeling of glamour. There are two forms to the illusion.
The first form of illusion centres on the individual. The spiritual life of the seeker is romanticised as a glamorous life in its ups and downs, in its joys and sorrows, in its challenges. This is the mark of individuality, of the monad. Its highest expression is yoga enlightenment. The illusion of glamour means the glamour of faith. The seeker orientates around his faith in himself. His faith enables him to overcome the challenges of life.
The seeker prefers a life of solitude, or perhaps lives in a retreat with a few disciples ; he cannot see that his spiritual solitude is also his spiritual prison. Within personal enlightenment the seeker is still trapped by his fear of relationships. He is still trapped by his fear of humanity. Glamour is the defence mechanism that hides this fear. Only by seeing through glamour, by seeing through the entrancement with his monad status, can the seeker take the next step, the step that leads to the love of humanity.
This next step, the step from personal enlightenment to the universal enlightenment, is not as familiar as the well-worn steps of yoga ; yoga theory usually takes the limelight. Universal consciousness is probably discussed in early Christianity under the concept of ‘charitas’, or charity (though this assumption of mine is speculative). Also, in Tibetan theosophy, the develop of group spirituality is considered to be more important than the development of individual spirituality.
The monad can only be persuaded to help humanity by adhering to the concept of duty. Personal enlightenment is achieved by the use of will power, and duty fits in well with will power. However, I prefer idealism (which depends more on emotion than will) and so I prefer to help because I like helping. I dislike duty. Once the love of humanity begins to develop then duty can be transcended.
The second form of illusion is encountered once the love of humanity begins to develop. Now the illusion of glamour means the glamour of love. Love becomes the means by which challenges are surmounted.
Both personal enlightenment and the universal consciousness are paths centred on power. Personal enlightenment comes first in order of attainment since the seeker needs to develop the power of individuality before he can handle the power of love. Only when the seeker tires of power can he tread the path to Nirvana.
Abreaction in its Cosmic Form
I arrange these states of enlightenment in a progressive sequence below.
a) Monadism or immanence
b) Universality or pantheism
c) Monism or transcendence
The difference between immanence and pantheism is that, while they are the same, yet the first focuses on consciousness within life forms and the latter on the consciousness within physical matter. The difference in focus generates a specific effect : the immanent god within the first consciousness generates abreaction in some forms of life.
Also, older terminology used ‘eros’ for immanence, ‘charitas’ (or ‘charity’ ) as a probable equivalent of the universal state, and ‘agape’ for transcendence.
In ordinary life, the emphasis on the ego represents a focus on narcissism, whilst the emphasis on social concerns represents an equivalent focus on jealousy. As a person evolves in terms of sensitivity and idealism, so guilt is always just below the surface of consciousness.
Now I extend these ideas to the states of enlightenment.
In monadism the ego is emphasised and the world has just minor importance. Narcissism in vanity mode is supreme. In universal consciousness the world is emphasised and the ego has minor importance. Now jealousy and / or guilt are sovereign. This is the reversal of (or the backlash from) the previous state. In the final state of monist transcendence the ego achieves detachment from all concerns.
In states (a) and (b), abreaction is still experienced, but it ceases in the monist state. The relevant stage of abreaction remains a permanent reality so long as enlightenment is maintained, that is, narcissism is the permanent stage of state (a) and jealousy and/or guilt is the permanent stage of state (b).
Moreover, these separate states of enlightenment can be considered to be stages of cosmic abreaction. Putting the sequence the way that I have done shows that the progression follows the standard sequence of the abreaction of guilt. The thesis, then the antithesis, finally the synthesis and detachment. The psychological stages are :
|Narcissism,||then||Jealousy / guilt,||then||Detachment|
This is cosmic abreaction
On Earth, sorrow is gross in its intensity. In higher states of consciousness, sorrow is refined, and perhaps may better be described as having awareness of one’s limitations. If my views are correct, then the only state of consciousness in all reality that is permanently free from sorrow is Nirvana.
Aurobindo suffered from the standard Hindu delusion about god, that god can be defined in terms of joy, that is, god is characterised as the triplet : being – consciousness – joy (in Indian terms : sat – chit – ananda). Aurobindo tried to make contact with the source of pantheism within physical matter, a source that he thought was the wellspring of eternal joy. As fast as he chased supreme joy he experienced the backlash of supreme abreactive hate, and never understood why. The Hindu characterisation of god trapped Aurobindo into recurring periods of sorrow.
Emotions such as vanity modes, jealousy, and guilt have their spiritual uses in lower states of consciousness. On a mass scale, spiritual vanity can give rise to some idealistic movements, such as the revolutions aiming at freedom. Spiritual jealousy can give rise to idealistic movements that aim at world peace. The functions of guilt and resentment in spirituality can be looked at in the light of Nietzsche"s critique of Christianity. Guilt is the genesis of many religions, as well as of the desires for purity and perfection. So religion (or a humanist faith) is important in the pattern of reality, but it is not the highest state.
Despite his magnificent achievements in exploring consciousness, Aurobindo still made serious errors in the interpretation of his results. He maintained the same attitude to the rational part of the intellect that all Indian teachers have had, that is, that it is usually a hindrance to spiritual achievements. However, it is only rationality that can detect errors and self-deception.
As an example I consider the issue of receiving guidance from god.
Many teachers, including Aurobindo, thought that god spoke to them in clear words and sentences. I consider this to be self-deception. I give my views on this issue.
There are two modes of communication from ‘above’ to the seeker – either thoughts or feelings are transmitted. Communication is either from god, or from astral guides, or from the seeker’s soul.
For a person seeking goodness and/or traditional truth, an internal voice can be heard. Traditional truth is known and so can be transmitted verbally to a seeker who is content to follow tradition. Similarly, goodness is developed by following known rules and precepts, and these can also be transmitted verbally. If the message is distinct, exactly as if the seeker is listening to a clear voice, then the communication is from an astral guide. In the case of a person such as Aurobindo, the astral guide is likely to be a very high-level one. The voice does not come from god ; if it did it would neutralise the seeker"s free will.
Whether the soul uses the internal voice method I do not know ; my soul communicates to me either through dream imagery or by inducing songs in my head. The message in the song is the message that the soul wants to communicate to me.
For a person seeking truth that is new or unconventional, no clear voice is heard. Instead, the message is vague and nebulous, so that the seeker has to formulate it in his own words. The reason for this is that the seeker is likely to be a rebel against tradition, and so will exhibit ambiguous and perhaps rebellious responses to any influence that may impinge on his free will.
The vague and nebulous communication is likely to be from god (or from the soul). God gives the feeling of truth concerning the seeker"s problem, and not a verbal statement.
The feeling of truth is just high-level intuition. Then the seeker interprets that feeling within his own perspective. This allowance for interpretation means that the seeker is able to assimilate the answers (the answers reflect the seeker"s needs). The seeker"s perspective always has limitations (due mainly to having an insufficiently-developed intellect), and so the answers that he derives from his communications with god always contain errors.
In my view, god does not speak to seekers directly and verbally.
That responsibility is delegated to guides.
Author Bio :
Copyright © 2002 Ian Heath, owner of a map of psychological spirituality suitable for modern times.
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