Mikropsychos

Aristotle, much like Castaneda’s teacher don Juan, once made a distinction between what he called the megalopsychos and the mikropsychos, and he associated the former with youth and the latter with old age, not necessarily in physical terms so much as in energetic terms. The megalopsychos we might translate as the “Great Souled” or “big hearted”, and mikropsychos as the “Small Souled”, or the “petty-minded” and mean-spirited. In those respects, we can call the former “inspired” and the latter “expired”.

I am going to take the liberty of re-interpreting Aristotle’s meaning in energetic terms, in terms of expansion and contraction, and in light of Rosenstock-Huessy’s “Cross of Reality” as we’ve explored that over the last few postings.

Once again, here is the basic model of the Cross of Reality

Rosenstock-Huessy's "cross of reality"

Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality”

One of the first things to note about the model is that, in contrast to other holistic or integralist models such as Ken Wilber’s AQAL model, is that the cross of reality is dynamic. Consciousness is inherently radiant or expansionary in that sense of its thrusting backwards, forwards, inwards, outwards — its “thrown-ness”, as the words “ob-jective“, “sub-jective“, “tra-jective” and “pre-jective” signify. This “thrown-ness” or “pro-jective” character of consciousness is actually what is called “intent” or the “intentionality” of consciousness. That is to say, consciousness is multi-directional. And intentionality of consciousness means, essentially, that consciousness creates form.

Space and time are not like empty “containers” therefore. The spaces and times are, in effect, constituted, legislated, and regulated — ie, “articulated” — by the intentionality of consciousness itself, through the agency of grammatical forms. It makes no sense at all to speak of past or future, or inner and outer spaces, except in reference to consciousness.

Consciousness is energy. Consciousness is dynamic. Hence, the cross of reality is described as being “eco-dynamic”, and as mentioned, radiant. The arms of the cross of reality are rays. That means, consciousness, as energy, is expansionary, but also contractual. Because of the principle of coincidentia oppositorum — the coincidence of opposites, “polarity”, or the principle of complementarity — the intensification of consciousness, which is an influx of energy called “inspiration”, is simultaneously an expansion. In other words, the more powerfully you live, the bigger the cosmos, approaching the Infinite. We refer to that as “expanding one’s horizons”.

Consciousness is also subject to contraction, and so the cross of reality is also subject to contraction, too. This is what Blake means when he laments that “man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern”. In effect, that is the contraction, and that is also what Aristotle means by the term “mikropsychos“. It means, correspondingly, the contraction, depletion, diminishment, exhaustion, expiration of energy.

The “Great Soul” or megalopyschos has energy in superabundance, and is liberal or generous with it, even squandering it. You might recognise that as what Castaneda’s teacher, don Juan, refers to as “personal power”. The influx of new energy that results in the intensification of consciousness is what we call “inspiration”. It has also been called “the quickening” or “the vibe”. This is the purpose and function of yoga and of Castaneda’s “magical practices”, as well as other forms of “exercise”, which preserve “flexibility”. What that really means, though, is keeping open the channels through which energy (or vigour) flows through the body, and especially at those points where it tends to become blocked. “The Spice Must Flow”, as it were.

Energy is inherently expressive or creative. That’s what we mean by “intent” and “intentionality”, and why it hasn’t much to do with what we call “will” directly. Just as faith is different from belief, or reason different from rationality, or wisdom from knowledge, or the whole from the totality, so intent is different from will. This distinction (which shouldn’t be too overdrawn however) is why people like Jung (or Nietzsche) speak of a distinction between “the Self” and Ego, or soul and mind, the intuitive or the intellectual, or what Seth calls “the You of you”. What we call “belief” or “will” or “rational” or “knowledge” or “totality” is only surface and foreground effect, image, and veneer, and a confusion. Behind these “shadows” and “shades” of the real lie something more profound still, which we call “background” or “undercurrent”. Their eclipse by the surface or foreground or “objective” bias is what Nietzsche means by nihilism — “all higher values devalue themselves”. This is what Blake also means when he speaks of the contraction of consciousness behind the walls of the cavern, so that man now lives in “the Ulro” — the world of shadows.

Nietzsche referred to this also as his distinction between the Dionysian and the Apollonian consciousness. Nietzsche’s true self is “not what says “I”, but which does “I”. That’s the difference between what we call “will” and what we call “intent”. When what we call “will” no longer aligns with “intent”, this results in duplicity. Duplicity is, in effect, the estrangement of the Ego nature from its core Self or vital centre, which is its energetic core that coincides with the centre of the cross of reality. At the periphery or eccentric or centrifugal is depletion. That’s the parable of the Prodigal Son in a nutshell.

And that’s the significance of the first few lines of Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming”

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

The four consciousness functions outlined by Carl Jung correspond to the four directions of the cross of reality not by any coincidence. The four consciousness functions of thinking, sensing, intuiting, and feeling are four forms taken by the singular energy that is consciousness. What is called “equanimity” is the harmonious functioning of these four faculties of consciousness, when the arms of the cross of reality are held in balance. That can only be accomplished when one returns to the vital centre. This has been referred to as the “return of the Prodigal Son” to his original home. The “vital centre”, which is also called “ever-present origin”, and is also called “the Jewel in the Lotus”, is also the root of speech. And it is said that he or she who arrives at the root of speech, this is the same as “enlightenment”. And, yes, the centre of the cross of reality corresponds to what we call “enlightened ego consciousness”.

Jung's four psychological functionsThe expansion of consciousness is called “Being”. The contraction of consciousness is called “Nothingness” or Oblivion, and belongs to the narcisstic. The one belongs to “Genesis”, and the other to the Nihil. The former is energy organised into expressive form by the intelligence and is called “Logos“. The latter is energy become disorganised, formless, or only potentiality. This was earlier called the difference between “actus” (or actual) and “potens” (or potential). “Being” is the realm of the actual, which we call “realisation”. “Non-being” is the realm of the potential, which we call “Infinite”, or “Void” or the formless. But from the formlessness, all things become possible as infinite potentiality. This is the “dance of Shiva”.

I hope I’ve made myself understood? I think I needed to examine this before attempting to interpret the meaning of don Juan’s distinction between “nagual” and “tonal“, and the meaning “four enemies of the man of knowledge” — fear, clarity, power, and old age — and why they are particularly relevant to us today.

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2 responses to “Mikropsychos

  1. abdulmonem says :

    If consciousness is behind the movements of time and space, why does it not appear as the basic field in side it all activities manifest themselves.
    What is consciousness if not god ,in whom all opposites are present as the Sufis say. Back to the essential question that is to have faith or be faithless.

  2. LittleBigMan says :

    A very profound essay. Thank you for this peerless work.

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