The Migrations of the Soul, II
Animism, vitalism, spiritualism, and mentalism (or psychism) — let’s continue with this theme and pattern as being “four ages” and as being the migrations of “the soul” through the fourfold human form.
And in no way should these be thought of as “progressions”, but more as “articulations”. While it is indeed “evolutionary”, it’s a mistake to think of that evolution as a progression following a linear trajectory and timeline. Evolution here means simply an “unfolding”.
Questions of truth or falsehood here are irrelevant. One is not truer than the other. They have an effective mode of functioning and a defective or aberrant mode of functioning which we call “decadence”. Where they are found in close proximity to one another, they are typically hostile to one another. That hostility, though, typically reflects the exhaustion of the further possibilities for development of one mode of being now become aberrant or defective, and the emergence of another or new development as it enters into its “effective” mode. Thus, “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” expressed the antipathy of the mythical consciousness for the magical consciousness, or of vitalism for animism, while the dismissal of the mythic as “lie” (Plato) expressed the antipathy of the emergent mentalism for the mythic consciousness as it, in turn, entered into its defective or aberrant mode of functioning, having exhausted its possibilities for further articulation.
Today, in our time, “mentalism” itself has become deficient, aberrant, and decadent, and has exhausted its possibilities for further articulation and development, which many are calling “post-Enlightenment”. Many sense this, and express that sense as fear of a new “dark age”. But unless the life essence has now completely exhausted itself in physical reality in pursuing all its possibilities of expression, then this “dark age” is simply another transition from a mode of being and structure of consciousness that has reached the end of its tether, and will be superceded by a new and more effective expression and articulation. Or, just as possible, it may revert itself to other modes of articulation — animistic, vitalistic, spiritualistic, and no doubt all will be attempted. Fascism already attempted the return to vitalism, the magical, and the myth of blood. Others, contemptuous of “modernism” (ie, the mental-rational) wish to return to the “spiritualism” of the High Middle Ages, or to nativism and shamanism (animism). While such reactionary responses may be tried again, they proved not to be sustainable, and indeed are not sustainable.
The anticipation of a new articulation (not reactionary) is what informs Nietzsche’s “overman”, Gebser’s “integral consciousness”, Aurobindo’s “supermind”, Rosenstock-Huessy’s “metanoia”, or William Blake’s “Albion”. Everything has been tried except the impossible. So why not try the impossible? The impossible is what has been also called “cosmic consciousness”.
What we call “soul” is, in human beings, the life essence or the vitality becoming self-aware and individuated, sometimes to an extremity which we call “egoism”. Animism, vitalism, spiritualism, and mentalism are just so many responses of the vitality or life essence of “soul” to the circumstances of physical existence. A lot of people confuse these things as being of the same nature. As far as the mental-rational or psychistic consciousness goes, animism, vitalism, and spiritualism are all “occult”, but they are quite distinct, and they are, and remain, part of our human autobiography, with one or another achieving dominance and the others returning to semi-latency or subordination (suppressed or repressed). So, with animism, the life essence is associated with the limbs, members or sinews; with vitalism, with the heart and blood; in spiritualism with the air and tongue; and in mentalism with the brain and nervous system. Earth, air, fire, water, or respectively, metabolic system, respiratory system, nervous system, or circulatory system. Obviously, the full life is not contained in any one of these systems, but is expressed in all of them.
So, in that sense, the human form has never been in equilibrium, except perhaps in a few isolated cases. Some one function or another of that awareness has asserted dominance — sensing, feeling, willing, or thinking. But there is a fifth possibility, which has been only weakly sensed and realised in human history as the “quintessence” or as mysterious “fifth element”. That is the intuitive, and basically the intuitive is another term for “integral consciousness”. What we call “hunch”, “lucky guess”, “gut feeling”, and so on is the latency of the intuitive, but it is, in effect, associated with everything that is considered “the uncanny”. The intuitive is the harmonious functioning of all these different aspects of consciousness, and is the state we call “equanimity”, and which is represented in the mandala form when the “four souls” as it were, are in balance.
But quite evidently, if this intuitive is indeed the “fifth” (and which is called “the Self” or “true self” or Atman, or what you will) it required the articulation of the other four functions of consciousness — equivalently, Gebser’s archaic, magical, mythical, and mental — before it could become emergent possibility and to know itself as identical with the life essence and the life process.
At present, the “intuitive” seems wispy, effervescent, vague, “mystical”, but that is because it hasn’t been developed. It is, nonetheless, the same as the empathetic, and if there is an “empathy deficit” today (and that is certainly a chief aspect of the mental-rational deficiency) it is because the intuitive has not been activated. And everything that the mental-rational consciousness today finds “spooky” or anomalous or impossible, like synchronicity, entanglement, telepathy, “paranormal” — all that is associated with the intuitive. So “integral consciousness” and “intuitive awareness” are practically interchangeable terms in that sense, and in that sense too, intuitive awareness is something distinct from sensate consciousness or analytical rationality. It’s not a “synthesis”, but an integration.