Storms to the Stormy
“You create the reality you know” — Seth
In this post, I want to continue unwrapping the deeper significance of the profound quote from Seth’s The Unknown Reality as I first presented it the post entitled “The Most Haunting Words in All Literature“, moving along to how the so-called “unconscious” is asserting itself and making itself manifest in our times.
But, first a word on usage.
Ego consciousness must now be familiarized with its roots, or it will turn into something else. You are in a position where your private experience of yourself does not correlate with what you are told by your societies, churches, sciences, archaeologies, or other disciplines. Man’s “unconscious” knowledge is becoming more and more consciously apparent. This will be done under and with the direction of an enlightened and expanding egotistical awareness, that can organize the hereto neglected knowledge–or it will be done at the expense of the reasoning intellect, leading to a rebirth of superstition, chaos, and the unnecessary war between reason and intuitive knowledge.
When, at this point now, of mankind’s development, his emerging unconscious knowledge is denied by his institutions, then it will rise up despite those institutions, and annihilate them. Cult after cult will emerge, each unrestrained by the use of reason, because reason will have denied the existence of rampant unconscious knowledge, disorganized and feeling only its own ancient force.
Seth frequently insists that the word “unconscious” be placed in quotes, to emphasise that it is a concession to our present limited understanding, whereas the truth of the matter is that it is the ego consciousness that is the actual unconscious and ignorant factor and the psyche is not divided between a place called “the unconscious” and another place called “consciousness”. This reflects our tendency to cast psycho-dynamic processes into spatial terms which are really only suggestive metaphors that we now take far too literally. Likewise, Jung’s famous “collective unconscious” is not unconscious at all. It is the ego consciousness that is asleep and the “collective unconscious” that is the fully conscious and active dynamic, as revealed, initially, by Freud and then by Jung.
In some ways, the truth of the matter is the complete inverse of how we represent it to ourselves, resulting in a distorted understanding of ourselves. But, as William Blake put it in one of his Proverbs of Hell, “Anything possible to be believed is an image of truth” — nonetheless an image only. This is the nature of the relationship between “fact” and “truth”, which has become confused over time. The “facts of the matter” and the “truth that sets free” are quite separate, but nonetheless related, issues.
This is why Seth, as a concession to our deficient understanding, insists on putting “unconscious” in quotation marks, or referring to the “so-called” unconscious, so I have continued with that practice.
Here, then, I want to begin exploring how the so-called “unconscious” is asserting or manifesting itself in our time, in the way Seth suggests, and in terms similarly described by cultural historian Jean Gebser as “irruption”, “intensification”, “concretion”, or “presentiation” (making present).
In an earlier post, I already discussed how the mode of manifestation of the unconscious is in terms of synchronicity and non-locality, since the unconscious does not know time or space (as you may well glean from some of your dreaming activity). It is the ego consciousness that is oriented towards, and in, spacetime. This atemporal and aspatial character of the “ancient force” is reflected in many of the great cosmological myths of antiquity, which speak of a time before the separation of Earth and Sky, or, as in the Book of Genesis, before “the waters above were divided from the waters below”, that is before the first glimmerings of ego consciousness emerged from the Void or Abyss; before the duality of “here and there”, “this or that”, “now or then”, and so on. The myths describe the earliest state of consciousness — the “archaic” in Gebser’s terms — that it was non-differentiated, and did not know time or space as divided between past and future, inner and outer, or even time and space as being different.
This condition or state of primal consciousness, however, remains an abiding and “ever-present” legacy of the psyche. It has been called “ocean” or “oceanic feeling” (Freud’s term), “infinite and eternal”, and Seth’s still abiding “ancient force”. Only as ego consciousness grew in definition and strength, and therefore percipitated and crystalised out of the ancient matrix (ie, “Mother” or “womb” as the word means) did the ocean subside and become “the unconscious”. Today, we call the fully individuated ego consciousness “mind” — and it is what Gebser is referring to as “the mental-rational structure of consciousness”– but which is today losing definition and is in danger of complete disintegration. This is the present theme of an impending “dark age”, of “end of times”, of “breakdown”, of “post-Truth”, “post-Enlightenment”, “post-Democratic”, “post-modern” politics and society, of “loss of self”, of David Ehrenfeld’s “Coming Collapse of the Age of Technology“, and so on and so forth. They are all round about ways of speaking of the loss of definition, and the disintegration, of the ego consciousness structure called “mind” or “the mental-rational structure of consciousness”.
In some ways, this loss of definition of the ego consciousness or modern “mind” is the consequence of the bestirring and irruption of the “unconscious”, and at the same time, a cure for the ego’s self-destruction. As the old saying of the alchemists goes, and it applies here, “the cure for the disease is in the disease”.
Since non-duality is the condition of the unconscious, and synchronicity and non-locality (or translocality) its mode of manifestation, its irruption throws the ego consciousness into a state of crisis, since the ego consciousness is a creature of time and space, and these properly ordered, arranged, distributed, and organised in terms of past, present, future, or subjective and objective — forwards, backwards, inwards, outwards. The mind functions in terms of discriminations, definitions, differentiations, “compare and contrast”, as you were taught in school. The ancient force, however, knows none of this. But in its will-to-be it relies on the mature, developed ego consciousness as guide, partner, conduit, or midwife of its manifestation. This is why Seth places such great importance on the need for an “enlightened and expanded egotistical awareness” to properly organise and orient, in space and time, the manifestation of the ancient force which will otherwise emerge in violence and chaos, not because it itself is violent and chaotic, but because it is raw energy — the raw energy of life, the same energy that drives the stars and planets — and it won’t be denied. It is with good reason it has been compared to the ocean, but also experienced as flood and deluge, as storm and hurricane, and the wind that sweeps through the worlds. And since it is non-differentiated energy, it can be experienced simultaneously as Genesis and Nihilism, as creation and overwhelming destruction at the same time.
And that is the essential theme of Rumi’s poem “Green Ears”
It is in connection with this (to our current way of thinking) strange character of the unconscious, that its mode of manifestation is synchronicity and non-locality, that I brought up the book by Arthur I Miller called Deciphering the Cosmic Number: The Strange Friendship of Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung. Dr. Miller, who is an historian of science, also wrote a book about the strange connections between Albert Einstein and the artist Pablo Picasso. Dr. Miller’s pursuit of “strangeness” and the eerie tells me he’s on to something.
And what he’s on to is what we have been referring to as the emergence of unconscious knowledge, becoming more and more evident to the ego consciousness. It is the feeling of “strangeness” — or of the eerie, the uncanny, the anomalous — that arises precisely because it has become presence. For the significance of the meeting of Pauli and Jung is this: Pauli is the father of quantum field theory, and that involves the issue of non-locality. Jung is the explorer of synchronicity. The fact that the quantum physicist and depth psychologist should come together like this is strange enough. But it’s how they got together initially that is strange. The great physicist Pauli, initially came to Jung as a patient suffering from a severe “Jekyll and Hyde” problem. In fact, Pauli was the spitting image of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The doctor-patient relationship evolved also into a collaboration between psychologist and physicist to reconcile, not just the issues of synchronicity and non-locality and what this means for our mental model of the cosmos, but also to overcome the dichotomy between subject and object.
The account of their collaboration and struggle is, in fact, a vivid illustration of Seth’s remarks of the need for an “enlightened and expanded egotistical awareness” necessary to organise the emergence of the unconscious, and one that was directly and immediately lived by Pauli in terms of his symptoms, for which he was a kind of living laboratory. I also might mention in this regard another similar book entitled The Quantum and the Lotus by Matthieu Ricard and Trinh Xuan Thuan. Oddly, Ricard, a French cell geneticist, is the Buddhist monk while Thuan, Vietnamese by birth, is the somewhat skeptical astrophysicist. The two books run very parallel to each other.
The other thing to note about these two examples of the attempt of the ego consciousness to restructure and expand is that it takes place not through mental dialectic, but through dialogical method. This might seem unrelated to anything significant until you also note that the highly-regarded quantum physicist, David Bohm, author of Wholeness and the Implicate Order, also wrote a book entitled On Dialogue, and dialogue as a new mode of social thinking. And who were Bohm’s interlocutors in this dialogical process? Krishnamurti and the Dalai Lama. (Bohm’s “Implicate Order” is, by the way, Seth’s “unconscious knowledge”, or what Seth also refers to sometimes as “Framework 2”).
None of this is arbitrary or random. It is a pattern, and it attests to the struggle of the ego consciousness to expand, restructure, and organise the emergence of the new unconscious knowledge, just as much as Gebser’s Ever-Present Origin was his own great effort to organise and share his own experience of the “irruption”; as much as Nietzsche and his experience of the Dionysian; as much as the ecological approach to thinking today is also an attempt to restructure the ego awareness to incorporate more unconscious and intuitive knowledge — that of wholes.
Dialogue, and not dialectics, is the mode of intercourse between the ego conscious and the unconscious. And we’ll see later why this is necessarily so. For it is through speech and grammar that the energies of social and psychic life are organised, ordered, arranged, and distributed. And this makes understanding the functions of speech and grammar critical to our prospects of survival. That also means that the debasement and degradation of speech and grammar, by propaganda, by advertising, by “perception management” and the manipulation of “the optics”, etc, destructively diminishes and undermines those prospects.
And this brings us to the basic theme of this post, highlighted in that other quote from Seth “you create the reality you know” — “storms to the stormy”. It may seem a stretch indeed to suggest there is a direct connection between the turbulence of climate change today and the turbulence of the psycho-dynamics of ego consciousness and the irruption of the “ancient force” — the problem of “how to tame your dragon”, as a recent children’s animated film put it, significantly. Those who will admit that climate change is being anthropogenically driven may not accept that it is immediately connected with psychic turmoil and turbulence, although they may admit that man’s actions and their impact on the environment are driven by subjective states (greed, desire, need, want, etc), and that therefore the turmoil we see in human societies today has some connection also with global climate change, extreme weather events, biospheric degradation and the general distress of the Earth.
But to suggest that all that might be connected to the bestirring and emergence of the unconscious and the ancient force might be too hard a pill to swallow. We will look to science and technology to save the day, not to psycho-dynamics.
Unfortunately, such views are senseless. Science and technology did not emerge from nothing. They, too, originate in psycho-dynamics, and the particular form in which they emerged is tuned to the historical structure of consciousness from which they emerged — the mental-rational structure. To treat them as separate from those roots is to treat them as idols — as autonomous forces. In fact, it is largely science and technology that have brought us to the brink of this precipice. So how could more of the same extricate us from that potential fate that Seth foresees? that unless certain changes of a biological and psychological nature are made, “the race, as such, will not endure”?
It should be evident therefore that new science and new technology can only be redemptive if there is a change in the structure of consciousness itself — in the psycho-dynamics of the relationship between ego consciousness and the unconscious. Any new science and new technology will be contingent upon the restructuring of the ego consciousness, and such restructuring can only come about by admitting into our awareness new “unconscious” and intuitive knowledge in a disciplined, organised and orderly way.
The ego structure must open itself to this. Until now, the ego consciousness wanted to be a closed, final, and definitive system — the horror of Fukuyama’s “End of History” being this writ large. But as Nietzsche said, “the will to a system is a lack of integrity” — that is to say, a lack of integrality. The fate of the human race now pivots on this restructuration and this new integration of conscious and unconscious. It is the issue of another of Blake’s sayings,
“The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, & breeds reptiles of the mind.”