The Perinatal Matrices & the Mandalic Infrastructure
I have made a case that stage-level III corresponds with Washburn's RIST and his 'regeneration in spirit', transcendent 'regressive' domains where occurs the healing of the ontological split, the necessary basis of the mental-ego's personal and historical development. In terms of the trajectory of the Return arc, the eighth principle at level III clearly also corresponds with the Grofian encounter with the perinatal matrices situated between the existential centaur and the subtle transpersonal level. The perinatal encounter brings forth a full range of profound transformations, unearthing experiences and complexes associated with all and any of the matrices. As the eighth principle is experientially accessed, the higher levels of the 7th/1st axis unfold and re-activate the primal ground—the birth experience itself as symbolized by the horizon. Hence, within an appropriate intentional setting including a trained guide or 'sitter', there can take place a reliving of the actual birth experience. Where the divisive horizon originally operated as the underpinning or foundation of self development on the Outward arc, it is now beginning to dissolve, to become permeable.
Engaging levels 7/1 and 8/2, the use of certain powerful shamanic and psychotropic methods and breathing techniques such as Grof's holotropic breathing challenge the life/death boundary at the deepest cellular and pranic level while activating the birth matrices. In Grof's conception, standing as an intersection or frontier between the personal and the transpersonal, this 'perinatal dimension' is an experiential reliving, at a higher level of the archetypal framework, of that which informed the original birth process. The transition from intrauterine life to birth is symbolized in the most concrete biographical sense as a movement from the twelfth principle across the horizon at birth. This apparently collapses the entire process from BPM 1 to BPM IV into one margin of the astrological developmental cycle which conceals the multidimensionality of the matrices. Since Grof's 'perinatal' dimension is more than a stage in a process and signifies more than the memories of one's actual birth experience, the archetypal structure of the perinatal demands to be mapped in terms of our overarching model.
Contrary to Wilber's interpretation of the perinatal encounter as a regression back and 'down' to birth, the Grofian 'boundary' clearly falls at the beginning levels of the Return arc since there is no way of explaining or mapping the process as a simple regression back along the trajectory of the Outward arc. Rather than pure mind or soul, this boundary condition is thoroughly organic since it is the body, the organic level, which constitutes the boundary between life and death, between this incarnation and other incarnations and bardo states—all dimensions of which are powerfully accessed through perinatal experiences. In stage-level III it is the downward embrace from the seventh and eighth dimensions which constitutes Grof's perinatal structure-level while the upward movement within the same archetypal dimension constitutes the process of soul development. These upward and downward movements together lead to the higher levels of the ninth principle culminating at point M (i.e. the M/N axis).
Distinct from the original biological experience itself, it is Grof's re-experienced perinatal level which logically speaking provides entry into the realms of the transpersonal. It is correctly modeled, not only above primal level I in the sense that the conscious re-experiencing signifies a higher level of development, but most significantly is modelled from the other side of the archetypal polarity—that is, directly over the third quadrant. The higher level experience must embrace both the original point of view of the self (Q1) and the point of view of the mother/world matrix (Q3) within which the self originally developed. It is logical that the actual post-egoic developmental encounter with the perinatal dimension would be mapped at point D of the original horizon of birth rather than at point A. The individual's birth experience can, therefore, be seen to be archetypally implicated with the third quadrant history of the species.
As Grof makes clear, the matrices are not simply stages of the physical birth process; they are archetypal deep structures which reveal the holographic interpenetration of different realms of the unconscious and the developmental stages of the individual and the collective. Given that the twelfth principle together with the Ascendant map the concrete fact of conception at BPM I to birth at BPM IV, the challenge is to map the four matrices as implicit within the total structure. Precisely because Grof‘s findings involve, not simply the structures of consciousness/unconsciousness but the structures which undergird the very foundational interface of mind and body-world, psyche and soma, the matrices engage the ontological level beneath the noospheric level, namely, biospheric level B which was briefly introduced in chapter 16 and which is more extensively described in chapter 19.
Wilber called the lowest of levels fulcrum 0, but unlike our mapping of the lower levels, his concept diminishes the developmental and transpersonal significance of Grof's matrices. The astrological model is more adequate than Wilber's in that it recognizes that the matrices identify the archetypal deep structures all the way up and down rather than denoting only the biospheric and primal psychic level. Our model demonstrates that a fully complete integration on the Return arc implies a full transforming embrace of levels, not only down to A/D (the birth moment beginning stage-level I) but all the way down to the bottom of level B1 of the Gaian matrix. Further, as an implicit archetypal lattice work underlying the manifest post-birth structures of our model, the matrices are distributed as an overarching historical archetypal sequence as Tarnas describes (see chapter 4).
Tarnas and Grof have already pointed out striking correspondences between the matrices and the appropriate outer planets: Neptune for BPM I; Saturn for BPM II; Pluto for BPM III; Uranus for BPM IV. In light of the fact that by general astrological agreement, the water signs and houses denote the entry points to the unconscious levels of the psyche, it is particularly meaningful that the twelfth principle, with its ruler Neptune, decisively corresponds to the meanings and phenomenological manifestations of BPM I, both as the original fusion experience in the womb and as experiences of transcendent Oneness, Void, or Emptiness at 12/6 level IV. (Midway between these two octaves of the 12th lies the multi-perspectivalism and constructivism of 6/12 postmodernity). With an equally convincing archetypal fit, the eighth principle (Pluto as ruler of Scorpio and the 8th house) decisively corresponds to BPM III. Similarly, the introverted and self-contained fourth principle (Moon and Cancer) clearly corresponds to BPM II, especially when we consider the influence of the contractive Saturnian tenth principle which in terms of our developmental model is precisely the fourth/tenth axis symbolizing the consolidation of the dualistic mental-ego.
The ten lunar months of pregnancy can be seen as a broad recapitulation of the biological evolutionary trajectory through biospheric level B.1 Conception which takes place at level B1 does not, however, take place at point D/A, the origin of cellular life, but rather at the 8/2 axis (level B1). As is explained in chapter 19, the eighth principle is the evolutionary source of sexual reproduction, the production of the complex cell through fertilization rather than simple cell division denoted by the 7th principle (i.e. 7/1 B1). The arc from biospheric phase 8/2 to phase 12/6 corresponds with the first perinatal matrix or BPM I and marks the period sometime during which the incarnating human soul first becomes associated with the developing and phylogenetically recapitulating fetus. The vertical band which lies between and connects biospheric level B2 and primal noospheric level I (N1) marks the transition where the entire birth process can be seen as concentrated across the Ascendant point, from BPM I to BPM IV. But as Grof's research has revealed, the birth process is a complex and significantly formative process which passes through certain stages, stages which are holographically linked with various levels and domains and which, consequently, cannot be simply compressed into the horizon of our model. Nevertheless, the horizon which at the lowest level (C1) signifies the very origin of the universe—the the Big Bang—and at the next highest level, nothing less than the sudden appearance of life (B1), at this level signifies the momentous event of human birth. The actual biographical experience of the individual birth process is compressed on the vertical axis within this band while the archetypal matrices are distributed across the full dimensionality of personal and transpersonal domains.
While BPM I 'recapitulates' the historical biological trajectory of evolving life, BPM II, which initiates the process of birth, enacts the historical birth into self-reflexivity of the human being—the N/M transition. We must map this trajectory, then, as a 'grand trine' prior to the 'grand cross' which symbolizes the concrete manifestation yet to be2. So from the Neptunian twelfth (level B2) fully formed at the end of BPM I and ready for birth, the first contractions of BPM II occur at the N/M axis, or the fourth principle. From there the journey through the second matrix leads to the Plutonian eighth principle which marks the onset of the third matrix, and from there to the concretizing Ascendant at (BPM IV). This demonstrates the broad archetypal resonance of the grand stages of evolutionary development of consciousness.
In light of Tarnas's account of the matrices as they reveal the grand archetypal sweep of history on cultural and psycho-spiritual levels (see chapters 3 & 4, or Tarnas 1991, pp 429,430), we can describe the process in terms of our astrological framework. The transition from the fully developed fetus at the end of the intrauterine stage BPM I (12th pr) to the onset of BPM II broadly underlies and corresponds to the first great stage—our primal stage I, the Q1/Q3 dialectic. The onset of birth, BPM II, takes place precisely at the angular point N (4th pr) which underlies the formation of the mental ego, self consciousness, the difficult birth of the uniquely human self reflexivity. The realm of BPM II is centrally symbolized by the entrenched dualistic principles at 4/10 and underlies the dualistic egoic period—our stage II. As said, BPM I is the archetypal matrix of stage-structure I. BPM II is the archetypal matrix of the uniquely self-reflexive intentional stage-structure II. The recapitulation of the historical advent of the fully and uniquely human at point N, the actual onset of birth, covers the entire ground of the history of the human species from the fourth up to but not including the eighth principle. For both pre-self reflexive and mental-egoic humans, BPM III and BPM IV do not recapitulate history but rather pre-figure yet unknown future territory. BPM III finds its quintessential expression in stage-level III transcendence. It is BPM III, breaking free of the restraints of BPM II, which looks simultaneously upward, downward and backward into the past of the human species (level I). This archetypal structure corresponds to our stage-level III, the beginning of egoic transformation, and is initiated in the seventh and centered in the eighth principle—the Q3/Q1 dialectic. Following this logic, BPM IV would correspond to the last great stage of transcendence or constitute a rebirth into a new cycle.
If instead of rebirth, there occurs a pure absorption in the Ultimate Void state, then it is actually the highest manifestation of BPM I or the twelfth principle, which as Ultimate Emptiness, signifies the highest goal of development. Beyond BPM III, there is either the liberating transcendence into BPM IV signifying a new separative birth, or an ultimate experience of absorption into the Void state which is the highest level of the twelfth principle (BPM I). But even this experience can be followed by a new BPM IV birth. Interestingly, it is only BPM I which archetypally resonates at both lowest and highest levels. Among existing models, I think the astro-transpersonal model is the most adequate with its spiral path, beginning and grounded in the prebirth twelfth principle, then rising full circle through BPM II to BPM III, then back to BPM I at the highest level. More usually, from BPM III the spiral moves directly to the Ascendant BPM IV bipassing by undercutting the highest level of BPM I (i.e. 12th principle level IV). The latter trajectory actually maps the 'near death experience' where a 'light' or 'light being' is witnessed, but without a complete absorption in the 'Clear Light of the Dharma-Kaya.' (See Bache below).
The Third Quadrant Locus in Terms of the Perinatal Encounter
Stage-level III is the entry point of transformation, the phase where a reliving in consciousness can occur in relation to the matrices in marked contrast with the normal noospheric state in which one is shaped and conditioned unconsciously by the matrices. Just as the mental-egoic stage corresponds to the contracted BPM II, the unfreezing of BPM II occurs in BPM III aptly symbolized by stages 7/1 and 8/2 where the 'unfreezing' of the stage II mental-ego occurs. According to Grof, BPM II is often the first matrix to appear in therapeutic work—not surprisingly, since most of us are at stage II and BPM II is here being identified as the archetypal structure informing stage II. It is precisely this structure that we have to bring to light before we can move onto BPM III. Christopher Bache asserts that the matrices are a stage in a process rather than a deep level structure. This claim finds confirmation in the sense that the eighth principle (level III) signifies the conscious encounter with the matrices as a stage of development. Nevertheless it still makes sense to speak of the matrices as structures distributed as an archetypal lattice at all levels.
In the astro-transpersonal model, the eighth principle is connected with the initial encounter with the 'ground', the intentional reliving of the original life and death encounter which takes place through the birth process and also through the historic species encounter with death. Noticeably, this is precisely the developmental 2/8 axis where at level B1 the biological origin of sex and death occurs, and where at stage-level I the species originally became conscious of death. Here is the interpenetration of the individual with the history of the species, with nature and with the animal kingdom. As Grof describes it, "...somewhere in the process of perinatal unfolding, a strange Mobiuslike leap seems to occur in which deep explorations of the individual unconscious turns into a process of experiential adventures in the universe-at-large, involving what can best be described as the superconscious mind." (p127).
Stage III, the point where the matrices are re-encountered, is then the phase-structure which when looked at in the larger overarching sense, archetypally coincides with Grof's third matrix. The eighth principle at stage-level III denotes not only the actual transformational encounter with the matrices, but also, in the overarching sense, the third perinatal matrix. BPM III is precisely that structure which informs the developmental and (future) historical stage-level where the intentional accessing of the matrices occurs. The stage II mental-ego which archetypally coincides with the second matrix, is that experiential ‘entity’ (the empirical self) which re-encounters the birth process and is precisely that which will be transformed through it.
Planetarily, it is Pluto which is the most clearly associated with the third matrix—an intense, dynamic, titanic, sadomasochistic, sexual and scatological life and death drama. In typically Plutonian and eighth principle fashion, "while the no-exit situation (BPM II) involves sheer suffering, the experience of the death-rebirth struggle represents the borderline between agony and ecstacy and the fusion of both." (p120) Grof characterizes this as a 'volcanic ecstacy' in contrast to the 'oceanic ecstacy' of the cosmic union. This matrix includes images and symbols of power, tyranny, exploitation, and subjugation of others in which one becomes capable of experientially identifying with the oppressor. Essentially, it is the re-activation and repolarization of the original 2nd/8th system—the body-ego/Great Mother system.
All the matrices are implicit at all stages, but the mental-egoic stage is centrally constituted by BPM II. But we do not become conscious of the matrix structure itself on the Outward arc. To become conscious of any matrix, one must already be experiencing from the point of view of the Return arc. The relived intrauterine experience (BPM I) and the experience of no-exit (BPM II) are themselves informed by the point of view of level III symbolized by BPM III. It is when, and only when, BPM III becomes conscious of itself that there is an interpenetration of individual and collective, of self and other. Until the 8/2 phase, BPM III informs the species collective unconscious.
While Wilber situates Grof's matrices solely at his fulcrum 0, he does acknowledge that the matrices do in fact have a broader application at other and higher levels or fulcrums in that they describe, at each stage and level, the developmental sequence from fusion (BPM I) to differentiation (BPM II and III) to integration (BPM IV). But this three-fold reading fails to take into account the fourfold character of the matrices. In addition to a clear refutation of Wilber's distortions of Grof's perinatal view as reductionist, Grof (1996, 14) points out that this alleged correspondence is glaringly inaccurate since it conflates the second and third matrices under the term 'differentiation,' whereas they empirically correspond to vastly different phenomenological and transformational dimensions. BPM III is precisely the structure that archetypally resonates to the so-called spiral of return, that mobius-like dimensional feature that turns in upon itself beyond the linear trajectory of the ego, opening up into a multidimensional interconnected reality. In that this is the very process overlooked and rejected by Wilber it is understandable that he would conflate the second and third matrices. Although the eighth principle is not the beginning of the Aries to Pisces cycle, it clearly signifies, in terms of the vertical axis, the actual experience of the birth canal both into and out of 'this world'.
Affirming the adequacy of our astro-transpersonal matching of the quadrants and corresponding perinatal matrices, Grof's reference to the connection of war symbolism both to BPM II and BPM III clearly illuminates the 'below horizon' quality of BPM II and the 'above horizon' quality of BPM III:
An individual under the influence of BPM II is involved in scenes of violence in the position of the helpless victim, whereas the aggressors are always identified as the others....The nature of war experiences associated with BPM III is very different. Although the actual imagery may be similar, the subject does not identify exclusively with the victim, the oppressed, and the down-trodden. He or she also has experiential access to the emotions and physical sensations of the aggressor and tyrant...In this matrix, all the roles can be experientially explored, but the actual emphasis seems to be on the relationship of the protagonists and their interaction with each other. The predominant emotional atmosphere is that of wild instinctual arousal involving aggression, anxiety, sexual excitement, a strange fascination, a peculiar mixture of pain and pleasure, and a scatological component. (1985, 407).
Whether described by Grof or by Washburn, this encounter with the shadow, with the depths of the primal unconscious, is marked by experiences of estrangement, disillusionment, anxiety, 'black holes,' cataclysm and apocalypse, all quintessentially eighth principle factors.
Grof's earlier psychedelic therapy and later holotropic breathwork and other techniques appear identical with the traditional shamanic journey which can be understood as an accessing of the collective and phylogenetic unconscious. "Collective memories can be related to any country, historical period, racial group, or culture....The choice of the cultures and geographical areas can be quite independent from the subject's own racial and ethnic background, country of origin, cultural tradition, and/or even previous education and interests." (1988, 81) These powerful cross-cultural identifications and relivings fall clearly within the domain of the collective and unconscious third quadrant sphere. Ferrer points out a most interesting difference between these contemporary psychic journeys and traditional shamanic journeys in asking "why this transpersonal access to cross-cultural spiritual symbolism had not been reported before in the world religious literature or pictorial history, even in those traditions that ritually uses entheogens, breathing, or other technologies of consciousness modification." Ferrer answers, approving of Grof's own suggestion, that the access to cross-cultural symbolism may reflect the emergence of a novel evolutionary potential of the human psyche, offering a number of suggestions: the decline in the West of a dominant religious matrix, the lack of a specific mythic or religious structure and aim in the sessions, an attitude of open inquiry, and a general contemporary global interconnectedness. Such differences clearly show that these transpersonal domains disclose themselves in relation to the psychic traveler, that reality at this level, though clearly beyond the boundaries of the small self, is not some purely objective reality waiting to be revealed. But it is precisely this constructivist and participatory insight along with the cross cultural experiences which affirms the stages and levels of our model. That is, consciousness, having become situated in the 6/12 postmodern structure and opening to the connective and global seventh principle (7/1) will now encounter a deeper and wider access to the third quadrant domains, a richer and more complex dimensionality of enactment than that of the shaman experiencing these domains from the social form of a predominantly mythological stage-level I.
The Opening to the Subtle Levels at Phase 9/3
Wilber & the 9/3 level
We have seen that stage-level III—the dialectic of the third and first quadrants at stages 7/1 and 8/2—corresponds to Wilber's descriptions of the nature/psychic level. Wilber's concept of the nature/psychic when combined with Grof's and Washburn's accounts mapped as our third stage (Q3/Q1) produces a picture that describes how we get from the centauric level to the awakening of the transpersonal and transcendent in phases 7/1, 8/2, and 9/3—a transformation of the original structures of dualistic thought and the development of a higher order synthesizing capacity. According to Wilber, 'nature-nation' mysticism gradually gives way to 'deity' mysticism, a progressive movement through the levels of the transpersonal corresponding to the movement from the 8/2 to the 9/3 stage. Here is disclosed "a divine union of Soul and Spirit, a union prior to any of its manifestations as matter or life or mind." (1995, 293) The way to this marriage is fraught with challenges and possible pathologies chronicled by St. Teresa of Avila. As Wilber describes; "She gives clear and classic phenomenological descriptions of so many of the subtle level apprehensions: interior illumination, sound, bliss, and understanding beyond ordinary time and place; genuine archetypal Form as creative pattern (not mythic motif); and psychic vision giving way to pure nonverbal, transverbal, subtle intuition; all summating in the 'union of the whole soul with uncreated Spirit." (1995, 298).
Wilber's description of deity mysticism clearly demarcates it from the previous 7/1 and 8/2 phases. "This new depth, this new within, which is a new beyond, utterly transcends nature..." (p300). Stages 7/1 and 8/2 are thoroughly involved with, even though transformative of the natural and organic dimensions of 1/7 and 2/8. Stage 9/3 is non-concrete and more subtle in its nature, a subtlety manifesting even at the original 3/9 level as mind and concept. At the transcendent level, 9/3 is the source of the fundamental archetypal forms to be directly apprehended. We have seen that on the Outward arc of development, the ninth principle denotes the source of the idea and intuition of the One God, and also of Plato's transcendent Archetypes or Ideas. In fact, according to Wilber, this subtle level was the very source of the idea of the One God or One Goddess realized by those most advanced persons of the axial age who transcended the average level of collective consciousness. These higher level glimpses, as in the life and teachings of Jesus, were, however, 'interpreted down' to fit the prevailing mythic-rationalism of the period (and of course to serve the sociopolitical purposes of organizing large numbers of diverse peoples and fulfilling the tenth principle archetype). It is the same archetypal structure we are speaking of here; namely, the ninth principle manifesting at a different level. As the ninth principle follows the eighth through an upward ecstatic movement of the soul's union with the still personal God, in this dimension of deity-mysticism "the soul becomes one, literally one, with the deity-form, with the dyani-Buddha, with God. One dissolves into Deity, as Deity—that Deity which, from the beginning, has been one's own Self or highest Archetype." (Wilber 1980, 69). Quoting Lex Hixon, Wilber describes the Hindu notion of the ishtadeva:
The Form of Presence of the ishtadeva appears as vibrantly alive, composed from the radiance of Consciousness. We are not projecting the ishtadeva. The primal radiance which assumes the form of the ishtadeva is actually projecting us and all the phenomena that we call the universe. Gradually we realize that the Divine Form or Presence is our own archetype, an image of our own essential nature. The ishtadeva does not disappear into us; we as individuals disappear into the ishtadeva...Yet there is no loss of our individual being as we blend into the object of our contemplation, for it has been our own archetype from the beginning, the source of this fragmentary reflection we call our individual personality. (1980, 70).
According to Wilber the high-subtle begins at the sahasrara chakra of kundalini yoga, an intense practice grounded in 8/2.
The deep structure of this overall realm...is simply that of archetypal form; it is marked by transmental illumination, intuition, and beginning gnosis, which brings a profound insight into the fundamental or Archetypal Forms of being and existence itself. It is not Formless, however, or radically transcendent, but rather expresses insight into the subtlest forms of mind, being, deity, and manifestation. In Theravadin Buddhism, this is the realm of the four 'jhanas with form,' or the four stages of concentrative meditation into archetypal 'planes of illumination' or 'Brahma realms.' In Vapassana or insight meditation, this is the stage realm of illumination and rapture and initial transcendental insight....it is the realm of angelic forms, ishtadevas, and dhyani-buddhas, all of which...are simply high archetypal forms of one's own being....At its peak, the soul becomes one...with the deity-form, with the dhayani-buddha, with...God....But this is not God as an ontological other, set apart from the cosmos, from humans, and from creation at large. Rather, it is God as an archetypal summit of one's own Consciousness. (1990 pp 93,94).
Washburn & the 9/3 level
Washburn also describes a stage beyond his 'period of regressive deconstruction' which corresponds to our 9/3 structure. He describes it as a period of healing reconstruction, a period which in Western Christianity is symbolized by baptismal waters or purgatorial ascent into heaven, by the universal transubstantiation of alchemy and by the Eastern Tantric kundalini and shakti. There is a "calming of physicodynamic potentials", a "purging of mental-egoic resistances," and a "mending of the psychic fissure caused by primal repression." (1995, 205) The end of Regression-in-service-of-transcendence' and the beginning of 'Regeneration in Spirit' occurs as "the ego is released from the abyssal gravity of the Ground," and as the "violence with which physicodynamic potentials assert themselves diminishes." (p206) The potentials (somatic, instinctual, creative-imaginal, and archetypal) are defused of their repressively accumulated and overloaded energy, but the energic power of the Ground is not something which can be defused or tamed and may continue to affect the ego in violent ways—"it 'pierces', 'wounds', 'ravishes', 'wildly inflates' and 'intoxicates' the ego." (p.207) As the ego is purged of its remaining resistances the power of the Ground becomes more positive. The body gradually becomes the basis of the ego's own polymorphously sensual life, the autosymbolic process comes to fashion more creative visions, and the sexual-aggressive drives become sources of feelings that enrich and fortify experience.
Whereas the ego had previously disconnectively withdrawn from interpersonal intimacy, there is an opening of the ego to others as a "salutary disclosure" rather than as a painful exposure. "The power of the Ground forcibly penetrates the aperture between the ego and the nonegoic realm." At first the ego resists the process but then, in affirming and cooperating with spirit, it begins to struggle against its own contracted state, becoming progressively more open and less resistant to the movement of spirit. The mending of the 'psychic fissure' is accomplished by the power of the Ground once the ego ceases its resistance. With a new and sensual grounding in the body, "the ego is no longer helplessly pinned down in the posture of passive openness. It is rather strong enough at this point that it can begin to choose its cognitive mode, whether receptive-intuitive or active-operational." (p218) There is a movement from ‘virtual hallucinations’ (8th) into ‘genuine visions’ (9th), from ‘demons and infernal depths’ (8th) to ‘angels and celestial heights’ (9th), from ‘wild inflations’ (contaminated 9th) into ‘calm infusions’(optimal 9th), from ‘eruptive ecstasies’ (contaminated 9th) into ‘composed ecstasies’(optimal 9th). Such a transformation moves through stages from ‘cognitive manias’ to ‘cognitive raptures’ to ‘self-induced transports’ and then to ‘mature contemplation’ in which the ego becomes fully integrated with the non egoic sources of cognition being the final and ‘Integrated stage’ (which points toward point M at the beginning of level IV).
According to Washburn, various supernormal powers sometimes accompany the awakening to spirit and may be considered, as in Hinduism and Buddhism, as dangers which can entrap the spiritual seeker or, as in Christianity, as values to be cultivated. In the early and middle stages of regeneration, awe and ecstacy are most pronounced but are gradually transformed into a sense of blessedness and bliss where the ego is more attuned to the Ground. "As regeneration nears integration...the world begins to lose its enchantment and begins to take on the qualities of an earthly heaven....The world...ceases being enchanted and becomes hallowed; it ceases being marvelous and becomes resplendent; it ceases being to any degree alien to the ego and becomes home." (p227). Despite doctrines of sudden enlightenment, the regeneration process spans many years. Although the process includes sudden awakenings and satoris, it takes time to integrate the emergent potentials with egoic structures and functions. Beyond Washburn's "Regeneration in Spirit" lies his stage of 'Integration' which seems to me to refer to our M/N axis as the culmination of stage-level III, rather than to level IV and the ultimate emptiness of phase 12/6.
Grof & the 9/3 level
Although the matrices may characterize various psychological types, generically speaking, most today are living out the deep stage-structure BPM II as a mental-ego. Beyond this, some enter the transcendent level symbolized in the overarching evolutionary sense by BPM III, the perinatal transformation accessing the transpersonal levels. In the depths of the eighth principle one encounters the third perinatal matrix. Moving from stage 8/2 into stage 9/3, there is an archetypal reenactment, but at a higher level, of the original separation from the primal Great Mother as one originally awakened to the realm of conceptual mind. In the higher sense, now one is moving from Soul to Spirit, but in a way which is still implicated with a reliving and transformation of the lower and primal levels of stage I.
In his generally perennialist cartography of the dimensions and levels of the transpersonal, Grof' (1988) cites three broad categories of transcendent experience;
(1) extension of consciousness within consensus-reality and space-time.
(2) extension of consciousness beyond consensus-reality and space-time.
(3) experiences of a psychoid nature.
The first category which alters space and time includes such experiences and dimensions as 'identification with other persons or animals', 'group consciousness', 'oneness with life and all creation', 'ancestral experiences', 'racial and collective experiences', etc. According to Grof, this roughly corresponds to the astral-psychic domain of the lower subtle realm. Some of the experiences of the second category are; 'energetic phenomena of the Subtle Body', 'encounters with Spirit Guides and Superhuman Beings', 'experiences of universal archetypes', 'intuitive understanding of Universal symbols', 'experience of the Demiurge and Insights into cosmic creation', experience of Cosmic Consciousness', and the 'Supracosmic and Metacosmic Void'. Most of the experiences of this second category, according to Grof, belong to the higher subtle realms while
the experience of the final God or Cosmic Demiurg (savikalpa samadhi) seems to correspond to the lower causal level and the experience of formless consciousness transcending all dualities (nirvikalpa samadhi) or the Void (sunyata) to the higher causal level. The Absolute or the Ultimate then would be the experience of the Suchness of all levels and consciousness in its original condition. (p44)
We see from this that the experiences categorized as belonging to the astral-psychic realm clearly fit our 7/1 and 8/2 dimensions involving the third quadrant phylogenetic past, all of nature, the group consciousness, and a polarity shift to the consciousness of the 'other'. In terms of the movement from 8/2 to 9/3, the ninth principle at this level is clearly the Subtle level with its encounter with archetypes, universal symbols, and guides comparable to Wilber's 'deity-mysticism' and Washburn's 'regeneration in spirit'. In terms of the level of the encounter with the perinatal matrices taking place within the third Quadrant, particularly at the level of 7/1 and 8/2, the movement from BPM III to the release and rebirth of BPM IV can be seen as the end of 8/2 and the transition to the ninth principle subtle level:
A classic symbol of the transition from BPM III to BPM IV is the legendary bird, the Phoenix, whose old form dies in fire and new form rises from the ashes and soars toward the sun." (BtB p.119) The 'death-rebirth experience' "represents the termination and resolution of the 'death-rebirth struggle'....This experience of total annihilation and of 'hitting the cosmic bottom' is immediately followed by visions of blinding white or golden light of supernatural radiance and beauty....the subject experiences a deep sense of spiritual liberation, redemption, and salvation. He or she typically feels freed from anxiety, depression, and guilt, purged and unburdened. This is associated with a flood of positive emotions toward oneself, other people, and existence in general. (1985, 123,125)
From this point there may be a rebirth into a new cycle at the appropriate level depending on what remains of the ego attachments, or it may presage a further and higher development to the levels of the causal, the Demiurge and then the Void, the ultimate and highest level meanings of the first perinatal matrix or the twelfth principle. But this takes us beyond our story.
The Perinatal and Subtle Realms According to Christopher Bache
The work of Christopher Bache offers us a nuanced phenomenological account of the psychic and subtle realms, engaging the theories of Grof and adding a richness and dimensionality through direct deep personal transcendent experience along with a theoretical clarification. Resonant to some of the darker descriptions of the transition from ordinary to transpersonal states, one of Bache's key concerns is an exploration and explanation of the frightening Near Death Experience. Although comprising a relatively small percentage of the larger number of positively transcendent NDE's—the journey 'out of the body' and 'down the tunnel' to encounter a transcendent being of light—Bache identifies the frightening NDE as an atypical spontaneous encounter with Grof's perinatal matrices. Normally the energy released through the typical NDE propels one from level II directly into a ninth principle level III experience—subtle light, spiritual being, love, transcendence. But in the case of the negative NDE, it appears that one 'falls into' the eighth principle. Here is the individual's perinatal interface with the species mind. According to Bache, it is as if there were insufficient energy to propel one through and up (in our terms) to level nine, so instead of being propelled through the eighth principle 'tunnel', one gets 'bound up' in it as it were; one experientially opens into it inadvertently to encounter the perinatal domains (which we have clearly identified in our model as corresponding with stage 8/2). Actually, Bache's experiential and philosophical work leads us to conclude that the eighth principle is the third perinatal matrix journey through the birth canal, the possible opening (through the Grofian process) into the collective unconscious domains of the perinatal. It is the archetypal tunnel which enfolds and protects the soul from the collective or species historic unconscious.
Bache extensively describes his own interior journey into the perinatal domains where he experienced a collective suffering entirely beyond the suffering of the individual. This consequently compelled him to rethink Grof's conception of the perinatal domain. To confront such dimensions of collective human suffering appeared to serve no direct personal therapeutic purpose, and Bache was led to the conclusion that such a personal encounter with that which was entirely beyond the personal, an intense experience of the suffering of all of humanity, must serve a collective or a species purpose. In his account we need to see evolution not only as serving the development of individuals where individuals in order to develop through transegoic levels must come to terms with the species mind (collective unconscious), but as a possible eventual transformation of the species mind itself.
In fact it is the marriage of Eastern and Western wisdom at this point in history which makes the next evolutionary step possible for the collective—individual and collective to develop all the way up together. When a particular individual pulls ahead of the majority level as particular individuals always have, that individual is still directly connected to a corresponding higher level of the universal as well as being rooted in the primal collective. The level III domains accessed and described by Bache are characterized by a state of full consciousness of both sides of the individual/collective duality. As said, on the Outward arc, individual and collective operate as a duality of consciousness and unconsciousness, but on the Return arc consciousness expands to embrace both consciousness and unconsciousness, individual and collective at the same time. On the Outward arc, both sides developed in dialectical tension, but now both sides come together and develop together, and developments at any level draw up the rest behind.
If Bache is correct, then at this point in history it is the increasing opening of more and more people to level III which is making possible the evolution of the collective (from average stage II to advanced forms of stage II, thence to stage III) in a way that was not possible through the Eastern esoteric and meditative practices—not possible before a more broadly available universalizing perspective along with concrete advances in human rights and the foundational breakthrough of feminism. Traditional Eastern methods aimed toward subtle and causal levels largely bypassing the full dimensionality of levels 7/1 and 8/2 (except as the formalized precepts of the sangha). Thus individuals were enabled to ‘escape’ Samsara without appreciably affecting collective evolution—that would await the marriage of Eastern contemplation and Western action. But there is also a more prosaic explanation; just as pioneers suffer more than those who come later, as more and more people enter the dark night, such encounters, because of greater knowledge, would likely be less protracted for each person. Nevertheless such a fact may be due as much to a phenomenon like Sheldrake's morphic resonance as to the increased clarity and availability of spiritual teachings and guidance transmitted through the medium of culture. Or, because the collective has reached a critical point where it must be sufficiently transformed in order to save the biosphere and allow further evolution to take take place, we may be looking here at Aurobindo's idea whereby the spiritual practice of certain individuals (his integral yoga) directly facillitates an eventual 'descent of the supermind' which will transfigure human life on the planet.
I have said that on the Return arc the third quadrant does not stand in either/or relation to the first quadrant (as were the first and third quadrants at level I), even as the central tone of development continues around the cycle. Axes 7/1 and 8/2 are essentially an integrative 'both/and'. But in light of Bache's emphasis on the collective dimension, we might want to put a stronger emphasize on the seventh and eighth principles than on the first and second. The experiences through the seventh and eighth dimensions—at least how they initially emerge—are predominantly experiences of the collective or unconscious species-mind. Interpreting it this way, the true integration of individual and collective beyond the initial predominance of the collective, would await the next stage-level, level IV. In this sense, at lower levels of the transegoic domain, the ego confronts the collective unconscious, but at the next stage a true marriage of the particular and universal can take place beyond personal and collective history, an experienced unification at the higher level of Soul where "each soul is permanently a unity (a self) and yet all are, in their total, one being." (Plotinus, p. 257).
In the original transition from stage I to stage II the simultaneous increase of both the Day and Night forces led to a duality—an either/or division. At this higher level, we might now interpret this simultaneous increase as the full differentiation in consciousness of the individual mind and the species mind which is the ground for the ultimate integration (stage-level IV) where neither dimension is dualistically distinct, yet where neither is ultimately subsumed in the other. This idea points to the Ultimate level truth: 'form is emptiness; emptiness is form'. So in 9/3, the central experience is 9, a full absorption into the divine spirit or light, the greater whole. But this brings forth the enhanced insights and translations of third principle individual mind—the transformed individual resulting from the experiences of stage-level III. Most importantly, there is still at the 9/3 phase a distinction between entering and leaving the state of samadhi, between nirvana and samsara, individual mind and sacred mind.
In speaking of individual and collective, Bache claims that "in ordinary states of consciousness these two levels of mind are so deeply intertwined that they are difficult to disentangle, but in nonordinary states of consciousness they can sometimes be clearly differentiated, with one standing out from the other as clearly as the solo instrument from the orchestra in a concerto." (p 170). We might possibly interpret this as a direct seeing, from the higher standpoint, of the original increasing distinction occurring through stage-level I. At 1/7 we can say that in fact the individual and species are undifferentiated and entwined. By 4/10 they have actually become differentiated to the point of a duality. But the duality, though felt, cannot be bridged since consciousness is primarily identified with one or the other of the poles. However, upon entering the collective pole in stage-level III, both poles are now clearly seen as poles. But a more adequate explanation might be that because the original foundational Q1/Q3 duality has now been bridged, the duality, rather than between self and other is now between the ninth principle transcendent level III, the samadhic absorption of the self into Spirit, and the level of the incarnate (both individual and collective level II). Rather than a duality, the distinction is a polar differentiation held in consciousness—a fluid movement back and forth from the ordinary state to the state of transcendent consciousness.
But this is not the Ultimate identity of form and emptiness, emptiness and form, samadhi and immanent embodiment. The path to the Ultimate level from this state (9/3 realized at its apex as M/N, level IV) is what 10/4 and 11/5 are all about (see chapter 18). Bache describes the general nature of his experiences as coming from the subtle level of consciousness beyond the psychic level and before the causal level, corresponding, I believe, with our ninth principle (beyond the 8th) and culminating at point M. In Bache's words: "...as all who continue past this point in their work discover, the breakthrough to these ultra-clear God soaked dimensions represents only a midpoint on the spiritual journey. The bliss of reconnecting with the source of one's existence, of remembering who and what one is underneath the many layers of conditioning is not the final goal but only a turning point." (p.275,276) This is precisely our point M following 9/3 and beginning stage-level IV. It remains to explicate the astrological cartography of this last great stage of the evolution of consciousness in chapter 18.
East and West
In terms of their cultural essence, Earth's so-called Eastern and Western hemispheres may be taken in a poetic sense to be reflecting the left and right hemispheres of the brain; the Eastern philosophies, religions and cosmologies possessing a right-brained holistic and connective character and the Western characterized by a more left-brained linear and agentic nature; consider, for example, the metaphor of Indra's net from the ancient upanishads compared with Aristotle's, Ptolemy's and Dante's naively concrete cosmological metaphor. In our time, these modes of thinking and knowing—one producing advanced science and technology, the immanent; the other producing the experiential modes for accessing ineffable states of being, the transcendent—have been coming together to produce what is hopefully a potent evolutionary synthesis.
Stage-level III is an undercutting of the mental-ego but not its full transformation. While it brings modifications to the mental-egoic structure, it does not yet constitute the transforming reunification of subject and object which is the aim and practice of Zen Buddhism, for example, a largely meditational stage IV philosophy and practice. Stage III is the next major advance of historical and collective evolution (as distinct from individuals traditionally reaching 'enlightenment' in esoteric enclaves) made possible through the contemporary collective marriage of East and West, and within a changing West, of male and female. Paradoxically, despite the more culturally 'collective' nature of the East and despite the Bodhissatva vow (in Mahayana Buddhism, the committed expression of compassion toward all sentient beings), transformation took place largely independent of the larger currents of collective evolution. The mutually enriching marriage of individual and collective evolution is only now becoming a possibility as Western transformational methods profoundly influenced and awakened by the East, forge their own path, a journey into the unconscious depths of the individual and the collective. As our model shows, this leads into and through the 'collective unconscious ground', awakening not only past personal traumas and experiences of the primal level but also engaging those domains which have subsisted on the 'other side' of these original experiences. Hence, the new Western methods—an eclectic combination of meditational and psychotherapeutic techniques—are entirely appropriate upon the pathway of collective evolution and cover ground that was not possible for Eastern methods as the latter had no engagement with possible social change and collective evolution.
Because of this entirely new stage of evolutionary history with all its implications for possible collective transformation, our understanding of the Return arc dictates that we cannot simply import the Eastern philosophies and spiritual technologies and tack them onto the historical stages as does Wilber.3 In his encyclopedic study of the multidimensionality of psyche and soma as revealed and developed through extra-normal experiences and transcendent methods East and West, co-founder of the Esalen Institute, transpersonalist and novelist Michael Murphy calls directly for an integral approach which brings traditional teachings into the active arena of contemporary historical unfolding.
To the founders of most mystical philosophies, the world was not an arena in which livelier, more conscious forms appeared in the course of time, but a place marked essentially by suffering and death....Viewing the manifest world as a place to escape from, some of the greatest mystics have helped orient religious practice away from the integral development of human nature....Such attitudes need not rule our thinking, however....The universe itself, as revealed to us by modern science, invites us to open our imagination and correlate our sense of human possibilities with evolution's dynamism. A vision of human advance embedded in the facts of cosmic development...gives new perspectives to certain phenomena associated with religious life, including charisms and siddhis. [our 8th principle!] For in order to realize a richer existence upon earth, we need capacities for creative interaction with our material existence. To interact with other people and our physical environment in the light of higher consciousness, we need perceptual, communication, and movement abilities, volition, kinesthesis, and vitality, as well as the unitive awareness, love, and delight that are understandably celebrated in the sacred traditions. (pp. 172.173)
The importation to the West of Eastern world views, teachings, and practices has been anything but smooth, with numerous stories of abuses of power, money and sexuality on the part of so-called 'enlightened' teachers, not always blatantly bogus imposters and con-men, but even those who have legitimately received the imprimatur within recognized traditions, who have spent years apparently genuinely accessing transpersonal levels and undergoing rigorous spiritual training. Failures at the interpersonal, emotional and sexual levels cannot be attributed solely to those 'peakers' and eclectic seekers who have merely accessed temporary higher states yet failed to integrate them into the ethical and social patterns of everyday life. We now know that even prolonged accessing of the higher transpersonal levels (levels III and IV) does not itself guarantee, at least within the contexts of many of the traditional practices, truly integral experience and behaviour. Meditation and spiritual practice are in fact often insufficient by themselves to correct emotional, sexual and relational problems. Jack Kornfield (1993) faces these issues squarely and presents them with ruthless honesty having experienced (although himself ethically impeccable) the disjunction between higher states achieved in spiritual enclaves and the ongoing work and challenges of integrating spirituality into contemporary ordinary life:
Our deep personal work and our meditative work must necessarily proceed together. What American practice has come to acknowledge is that many of the deep issues we uncover in spiritual life cannot be healed by meditation alone. (p245) ....After decades of experience with Eastern practices in the West, we have begun to see quite clearly the results of failing to include the area of personal problems in our practice....Because the issues of personal life are often the source of our greatest suffering and neurosis, of our deepest attachments and greatest delusion, we fear them and may unconsciously use spiritual practice to avoid dealing with them. How disappointed certain students become when they leave their ashrams and monasteries (Buddhist or Christian) and find that after ten or fifteen years they still have not faced their life, not faced the root fears and the areas of suffering that limit and entangle them. (p247).....Because awareness does not automatically transfer itself from one dimension of our life to another, compartments remain in the areas where our fears, our wounds, and our defenses are deepest. Thus we encounter graceful masters of tea ceremonies who remain confused and retarded in intimate relations, or yogis who can dissolve their bodies into light, but whose wisdom vanishes when they enter the marketplace. (p249)
All this starkly reveals that true spiritual advancement involves the downward reach, the embrace of levels N1 and N2 (levels I & II) as surely as it does the upward reach into levels T1 and T2 (levels III & IV); in fact the movement upward into T1 and T2 is, without the sustaining structure of sangha and socially reinforced precepts, unbalanced and dangerous without the equal downward embrace of N1 and N2. It is precisely the primal issues of sex, power and money—all issues pertaining to the original Q1/Q3 structure—that are being stirred up in the West. Again, in the words of Kornfield:
Traditionally, in Asia, vows and moral precepts have protected teachers and students from sexual and other forms of misconduct. In Japan, Tibet, India, and Thailand, the precepts against harm by stealing, lying, sexual misconduct, or abuse of intoxicants are understood and followed by all members of the religious community. Even where certain precepts have been relaxed or modified (such as allowable drinking in China or Japan), everyone understands certain strict cultural norms for the behaviour of teachers. Whole communities support this, for example, by dressing modestly to protect the teacher and student from sexual interest, by jointly knowing the appropriate limits concerning the use of intoxicants or power. In modern America these rules are often dispensed with...(p259).
But at this point in collective history these traditional structures are inevitably being replaced as post-patriarchal modes of relationship become possible and necessary. The personal journey becomes intertwined with the collective unfolding as never before and new responsibilities are being taken on by any individual who would access the higher transpersonal levels, individuals who can no longer take refuge in the fixed collective structures of sangha and precepts; something else is happening now, something much bigger and more challenging. Not only is one challenged to return to the market place and adjust to it; one is now called to engage in the transformation of the market place. Contemporary Buddhists such as Thich Nhat Hanh and Ken Jones (2003) have called for an 'engaged Buddhism' which recognizes the interrelation of individual and social thus breaking with certain traditional quietistic streams that emphasize individual transformation while lacking, in Jones’s terms, a sufficient appreciation of the historical and sociological realities and the need for social change.
The Buddhist teaching, if it is to be sustained into the next millennium of our crisis-ridden planet, must be socially and ecological engaged....The self is the ultimate reference point for the social structures and processes into which history has translated it. Note, however, that this translation cannot be made in direct and simplistic terms, such as attributing world war to individual aggressiveness. Buddhism needs sociology, and sociology Buddhism, in order to make this translation credible, comprehensible—and liberative. (Jones 2003, p. 39-41)
What we are seeing is not that the psychological work would have been best completed on the Outward arc before entering the transpersonal as Wilber argues from his linear perspective (including his 4-Quadrant model); rather, we are seeing that the work of integrating the split, a split that occurred through stage-level I, can take place only through the level III journey and its downward and most challenging embrace of level I dimensions. Due to the fact that Outward arc development inevitably involves the distinction of personal consciousness and collective unconsciousness, a combinant upward spiritual and downward psychotherapeutic approach addressed by Kornfield and many others can only be accomplished once the level III process has began to unfold and not before, as is implied in Wilber's model. So many of the pathologies of level III are not explainable simply in terms of unfinished business on the Outward arc but as new challenges on the path of the Return arc of evolution as a truly integral upward and downward embracing movement, embracing that which could not be embraced from within the framework of the personal biographical level.
Understanding the Possible Species Transition Beyond Current Destructive Modes of Level II.
And now (to continue the discussion begun at the end of chapter 15) we come to the most ultimately pressing question of all, namely, "How does the entering of the Return arc levels even by increasing numbers of 6/12 relatively mature individuals accomplish an actual global transformation, a transformation which is sufficiently widespread and profound to save the biosphere? How can both biosphere and humanity survive to accomplish what appears to be the grand cosmic purpose of the evolution of, first functionally intelligent and then more fully realized and integrated beings?" Specifically, how are we to understand and map this process in terms of our model?
First, we know that in the course of cosmic evolution, the cosmic level (level C) did not cease to exist or become transformed into something radically 'other' when the biosphere (level B) evolved, even though the biosphere became constituted in part by a transformed physiosphere (the Gaian interface of the earth's chemodynamics and living cells). Similarly, the biosphere was not transformed by the advent of humans even though the embodied mental-social noosphere constituted in part a transformation of the biosphere as neuronal higher brain transforms and later as its destructive modification by industrialization. So too, the noosphere (levels I & II) will continue to exist (as long as the biosphere holds out) even as people access levels III & IV. So we cannot say exactly that levels III & IV (the Return arc) constitute a further or extended evolution of mind and society, of the noosphere. Any further transformation of the noosphere, of embodied human interactivity of that majority of humans who have not and will not in the foreseable future enter the transpersonal levels, must be understood strictly in terms of the noospheric structure-level— of course, partly in response to transpersonal realizations of 'leading edge' individuals, just as changes in the biosphere, even though destructive changes perpetrated by humans at level II, need to be mapped at level B.
Much has been said about the increasingly pressing global environmental crisis which appears to render our age as either an endpoint, at least for human and other complex species, or as a critical transition to a new order of things, the social,cultural, spiritual and scientific lineaments of which have become increasingly apparent over the last few decades. We are about to 'hit the wall' and if our astro-transpersonal map is accurate and we have been seeing, through the postmodernism of the twentieth century to the present, the manifestations of the 6/12 structure and the emerging new perspectives and values which lie just beyond the relativistic chaos, then this 'wall' is obviously the ground of all life itself, our foundational relation to the biosphere signified by the horizon (Gaia herself). As the inevitable outcome of the narrowly agentic and exploitative noospheric path, the impending global crisis and all the lesser warning crises leading up to it are to be understood in terms of the outcomes and lessons of the 6/12 structure culminating at the horizon. It is fitting here that Virgo and Pisces symbolize disease and crisis resulting from destructive habits but also the attempt to regain health through right and balanced living and periods of mindful convalescence. It is the 7/1 structure which symbolizes our emerging realization of the fundamental interconnectedness of our species across all biological and socio-cultural boundaries and divisions and the integral relation of our species to the biosphere. As 7/1 makes itself increasingly felt by a larger number of interconnected persons, the question is, will this begin to accomplish a 'good enough' change of noospheric beliefs, values, institutions and practices following a more or less adequate 6/12 adaptive response to the evolutionary pressure (the karmic debt of the repressed underlife now coming due)? Or in the event of a stubborn refusal of humanity to bring levels I & II to a more promising expression, will we witness an entrenched noospheric process as a critical devolution and regressive collapse?
In our model, it is the 'I/Thou' structure, our 7/1 axis, which signifies that to which Thomas Berry (1999) refers in calling for a vision of the future that will sustain us in the transformation of the human project, a future which "can exist only when we understand the universe as composed of subjects to be communed with, not as objects to be exploited." (pp x,xi) The archetypal meaning of stage-structure 7/1 suggests that human connection is becoming immediate and foundational again but in a new way. Not in the old tribal group-mind sense, the 'blood relative' sense, nor in the community-conformist 'us and them' sense, but in a way that cuts across all previous distinctions and rankings, this process hopefully begins to positively effect transformations of the socio-cultural and political forms of the noospheric structure, whether through direct cultural communication and teaching from advanced individuals or through Sheldrake's fields, Aurobindo's 'descent of the supermind' and so on. That is, the Outward arc will begin to be transformed from the "bottom up"—structure 7/1—a transformation of relational immediacy and connection including a new sense of connection with and valuing of the biosphere (level B).
Without jettisoning what is essential in governmental, scientific, economic and ecological principles, rules, laws and practices, the ground of social life would more and more take on the form of person-to-person contact and exchange—noospheric structure 1/7 now being awakened through the evolutionary actional force arising from the experiential realization of 7/1. At this point, decentralization would not replace global and national structures, but rather these structures would make the personal, connective and local possible within the general framework of synergy, global responsibility and human rights. Under such a future possible unfolding in accordance with the 7/1 deep structure, the big ideas would not eclipse the immediacy of human interaction, connection, mutual respect, cooperation. Already we have seen early exemplars of 7/1 consciousness manifest in the social and political plane in such public personages as Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, the latter two with their ‘Truth and Reconcilation Commission’ after Mandela was freed from prison, himself amazingly free from the poison of hatred and the need for vengeance. It may be that level I consciousness (the 1/7 & 2/8 dimensions of people) will experience an immediate effect from 7/1 and 8/2 exemplars through the felt presence of the energy field, the power of the other who has stepped beyond like the traditional shaman as well as through Sheldrakean phenomona. But level II consciousness through its cultural medium will optimally respond to the leading-edge teachings of the more advanced beings.
While we might realize the beginnings of a foundational re-integration of the primal Q1/Q3 polarity in response to the emergence of 7/1 consciousness, this is still a long way from envisioning a radical social-institutional transformation actually taking place. There must be further cycles of development of the Q2/Q4 relation (level II) situated within the 6/12 phase thus achieving a more individual-collective integrated level manifesting as a 'local-to-global' interconnected diversity and multiperspectival cognition—an age which Duane Elgin in his visionary account of a possible future human evolution, has characterized as a "reflective consciousness and the era of communication and reconciliation" where cooperation builds a more ecological and economically sustainable future.
In its underlying philosophical conception of a sacred Pythagorean geometry where "the same geometry that structures physical space also structures psychological or perceptual space", where an "unseen organizing framework within which and through which all life evolves" constitutes "the underlying matrix for all existence and evolution", (p24) Elgin's evolutionary model is indeed compatible with astrology. Following a general historical consensus Elgin describes four great stages from archaic to hunter-gatherer to agrarian to industrial-scientific and then on to an imminently emerging fifth stage of reconciliation, the critical turning point which will determine whether we indeed have an evolutionary future (our later 6/12). Beyond the fifth stage he goes on to paint transpersonally inspired imaginative accounts of possible future stages envisioned as resulting in a condition of global integration reminiscent of Teilhard's Omega point, namely, Elgin's sixth, seventh and eighth stages.
Elgin cites a number of developments in the late industrial stage (his fourth stage; our 5/11 and early 6/12), namely, global communications, developments in democratic participation, the environmental movement, the feminist movement, the emergence of a Gaian perspective, consciousness research, the effects of the new physics and an emerging global spirituality as marking the transition into the fifth stage of "reflective consciousness and the era of communication and reconciliation". In this stage an imminent global collapse (described in catastrophic though certainly not in exaggerated terms) demands "a new level of human maturity", a series of increased communications and deep reconciliations on many fronts—economic, ecological, political spiritual, racial, ethnic, gender, generational. The crisis at the end of the Outward arc requires a profound and multifaceted global response drawing on elements and capacities currently present, the successful fulfillment of which through an eco sustainability involving significant social change will take us into the Return arc. Elgin describes the hoped-for mature expression of his fifth stage (our mature level 6/12 phase):
It is the power of a witnessing or reflective consciousness that provides the practical basis for building a sustainable future. Reflective consciousness will enable humanity to stand back from counterproductive behaviour and to choose more ecological ways of living. With reflective consciousness we can objectively witness environmental polution, religious intolerance, poverty, overconsumption, racial injustice, sexual discrimination, and other conditions that have divided us in the past. With a more detached perspective combined with skills of conflict resolution and the tools of mass communication, we can achieve a new level of human understanding. With understanding we can discover an authentic vision of a sustainable future that serves the well being of all.
Elgin's descriptions, not only of the emerging fifth stage but also the future sixth, seventh and eighth stages are, in terms of the cosmically architectured future of our species, largely congruent with the astro-transpersonal phases 6/12, 7/1, 8/2 and 9/3. Unfortunately Elgin's account of the correlations of these future socio-cultural consciousness stages with Wilber's transpersonal levels (given in his appendix rather than integrated into the body of his work) does not accord with the account I am offering here. For one thing, Elgin equates the late phase of the industrial stage with Wilber's centaur and his own fifth stage of reconciliation with Wilber's low subtle, whereas his (Elgin's) 'reconciliation' dimension as a socio-cultural order is clearly not transpersonal. Further, he asserts a correlation between his own integrated eighth stage and Wilber's Ultimate level, whereas I see it as corresponding to Wilber's subtle 'deity mysticism', namely our 9/3 phase (level III) which is as far as human socio-cultural development can still be meaningfully comprehended from this point in history. But he would need to be speaking here of a society constituted entirely of enlightened avatars, an entirely fictional future historical stage where all bodhisattva vows have been accomplished. This idea clearly does not accord with my argument above concerning the continuity of the biosphere once the noosphere emerges, and the continuity of the noosphere—presumably a transformed noosphere, for the present one could not go on existing—as transcendent levels (level III & IV) are accessed by more and more persons. Elgin seems to be referring to a state where the noospheric level and the transpersonal level have become one level which is certainly not possible by our phase 9/3, and by the ontology of our model, not possible ever. Notwithstanding Elgin's own interpretation of the phylogenetic and ontogenetic correlations, I suggest that Elgin is actually tracing, in our terms, the possible future of humanity from the end of the Outward arc to what it could become through the transformations of the noospheric level as the ‘downward’ embrace from increased awakenings in the transpersonal.
Provided humanity can rise to the challenge and save the world from irreversible ecological catastrophe, we will move from Elgin's fifth stage of objective insight and mature intentionality (our 6/12) to a stage of deep bonding and community "beyond the polarity of observer and observed" to "an intimate connection with the underlying universe". In this stage of "compassionate understanding and deep bonding among the human family" people discover that "they are capable of creating a civilization in harmony with the biosphere, one that can endure into the far future". Elgin's sixth stage indeed corresponds to the first stage of the Return arc where we experientially and existentially discover the value equivalence of self and other, the identity underlying all polarity and difference, the bonding of love and compassion expressed as an all inclusive ethic of caring and a fundamental shift in the hierarchial social dynamic of the Outward arc occurring at primal structure 1/7. We can see that stage 7/1 awakens the possibility of that stage where the "earth is recognized as a living organism" establishing an ecological ethic that recognizes the 'rights' of all life forms. Such a rising consciousness will be that which can transfigure the foundations of the social forms of collective 'embodied-life-in-the-world', namely structure 1/7 of the noospheric level.
As any new phase is ushered in when internal contradictions and limitations within the current phase begin to make themselves felt, by the end of his sixth stage (our 7/1), according to Elgin, humanity eventually begins to feel the limitations of the world order: "Bonding turns to bondage. Union turns to uniformity. Cohesiveness turns to constraint. Increasingly people will feel suffocated and controlled—on a leash of love, bound by the golden chains of a compassionate society. Having learned to maintain ourselves, a billion or more creative individuals will now want to explore the possibilities for surpassing themselves." (p.175). I am not sure whether I quite buy this analysis of the overarching global picture of a future embodied human world, but Elgin’s description certainly reflects the archetypal meaning of the aesthetically and ethically harmonious Libra (7th) and its inevitable overflow into Scorpio's (8th) depths revealing "the dynamism of the universe in its process of continuously arising anew....the planetary civilization will move beyond a concern with maintaining itself to surpassing itself." (pp.184,179) Elgin describes (rather aptly for our model) the 'flow consciousness' of his seventh stage (our 8/2) as the expression of an increasing number of creative self-explorers pushing their limits and liberating the creative potentials of the species beyond the compassion-based cooperative conformity of his fifth stage (our 7/1). But more specifically, I think we are seeing a society which is ever more deeply and widely informed by the permeable boundary between immanent life and transpersonal inter-penetration, a dynamic interface of different dimensions coming to pervade society's professions, institutions, and spiritual practices—astrological modes of understanding, discovery of soul through past life regression, openings through OOBe's, shamanic and extra-sensory ways of experiencing and communicating with nature, with each other and with entirely transcendent dimensions. Society at emergent 8/2 begins to become more truly transpersonalized beyond just a significant minority of shamanic explorers, bringing forth profound guiding narratives for the rest of humanity still at the noospheric level, thus re-enacting, at a higher level, the original shamanic cosmic ordering of the tribes .
Following the era of 'flow consciousness', Elgin's eighth stage of "integral awareness and the initial maturity of planetary civilization" (a stage with even a galactic reach) logically refers to the global-social manifestation of our 9/3 phase. But Elgin's explication is entirely too speculative, and in its bringing in elements from higher mystical levels and drawing parallels with the last of the Zen oxherding pictures, this stage appears itself to be a conflation of a number of possible stages which are not comprehensible in species terms. But it does seem to refer to the possibility of a unifying truly spiritual-wisdom order which goes beyond the still rather concrete experiences and cosmologies—the perinatal, the occult, the siddhis—of his seventh stage (our 8/2). And it remains intriguing that his intuitions do seem to bear such an archetypal resonance to certain of our most appropriately situated categories within the astrological cartography.
Also relevant to the idea of a globally integrated stage is the account of the futurist Peter Russell who envisions the eventual emergence of a social superorganism (a Gaiafield suggestive of Teilhard's Omega point, completing the process of noogenesis) which arises out of the exponentially increasing complex global network of communications: "As the communication links within humanity increase, we will eventually reach a time when the billions of information exchanges shuttling through the networks at any one time would create similar patterns of coherence in the global brain to those found in the human brain. Gaia would then awaken and become her equivalent of conscious." (p101) Referring to the natural social unities of bees, termites and fish, Russell appropriately answers the concern that such a concept as a unified global mind suggests a loss of individuality. He maintains that "a human social superorganism would not entail our all becoming nondescript 'cells' who have given up their individuality for some higher good" and that a "shift to a social superorganism would essentially mean that society had become a more integrated living system." (p.97).
What we are apparently looking at here—both in terms of Russell's and Teilhard's vision—is a description of the 9/3 phase of level III—a pure spiritual collectivity within which the full potentiality of each realized individual is manifest rather than being subsumed like a worker ant. I find the transforming technological vision of Russell's hard to swallow but there is indeed an archetypal resonance between the postmodern global communications networks at the higher levels of 3/9 (i.e. within the noosphere from the perspective of 6/12) and the pure global complex mind of 9/3 at level III. This underscores the need for a preservation of much of levels I & II in order to realize level III. But most significantly, our model makes clear that realizing the 9/3 level cannot happen until we have managed to cross the D/A threshold and become established in 7/1 and 2/8 consciousness which is a less ambitious and less utopian spiritual leap. Nevertheless, while it is entirely relevant to map and articulate the various stages and levels of consciousness development along the Return arc, rather than engaging in speculations about the far future, it is most relevant and imperative to seek clarity as to what lies most immediately ahead and how we might best get there as a global community
Outward Arc Maturity
The highest completion of stage 6/12 implies a mental-cultural level change, a mental/cultural paradigm shift consisting of a softening of established dualities. This implies an increasing balance within individuals between the 'male' and 'female' principles, between assertion and connection, the rational and the imaginative. Such individual development occurs in relation to fourth quadrant institutional structures which are committed to the values of fair gender relations, international cooperation, human rights and environmental protection in a post-capitalist, post-consumerist, and post-classist economy, encouraging both individual authentic expression (Q2) and effective participation (Q4).
Yet since the imminent telos of stage 6/12 is the horizon at D/A, such a creative and preparatory process is possible only because more and more individuals are now encountering the higher integrated and transpersonal levels of the Return arc, thus supplying the compass for optimal 6/12 developments. Certainly, as said, such a leading-edge individual evolution cannot be completely separated from the collective evolution called for and possible at this time. As Peter Russell (1983) writes:
The urge that many people feel to grow and develop inwardly may well be the force of evolution manifesting within our own consciousness. It is the universe evolving through us. This inner evolution is not an aside to the overall process of evolution. Conscious inner evolution is the particular phase of evolution that we, in our corner of the universe, are currently passing through. From this perspective the movement toward a social superorganism and the mystical urge to know an inner unity are complementary aspects of the same single process, the thrust of evolution toward higher degrees of wholeness. (pp159,160).
The relatively few people who have accessed and even gone beyond 7/1 are powerful voices not only through the 'morphic resonance' of prayer and meditation but as guiding beacons for those who can attend, listen and translate these higher principles into their own optimal 6/12 (level II) terms, functions, technology, and social systems.
Christopher Bache equates the immanent global crisis with the archetypal dark night of the soul and with the perinatal death-rebirth process, citing among others the catastrophic account that Elgin gives in his fifth 'reconciliation' stage. In the spirit of chaos theory where higher orders spontaneously emerge from out of far-from-equilibrium conditions, Bache sees a likely rebirth occurring out of the ashes of environmental catastrophe. He speaks of the necessary 'collapse' of the species ego, the dissolution of the separate self occuring in the catastrophic pressure cooker of ecological disaster. But like the collapse of a sophisticated society like the Soviet Union. the collapse of the ego does not bring about a higher order but only a pathology from which there may or may not be a long, slow and difficult recovery having lost not only the worst qualities of the structure but also the finest. The ego is not a mistake; I believe that only when the ego has come to some degree of maturity and is more or less ready to relinquish its absolute control through the dawning awareness of its limitations, through the characteristic humility of both Pisces and Virgo, can there be a positive transformation and transcendence rather than a collapse.
I am not easy with a too direct application of chaos theory to human society as a whole except to acknowledge that at a certain critical point (late in 6/12) an increasing number of individuals may be pushed to their limits and beyond to become true evolutionary leaders. But certain core elements of the previous noospheric infrastructure must still remain in place in order for the next stage to be viable—e.g. as took place with the survival of Greco-Roman texts and artifacts particularly through the Islamic Middle Ages finding rebirth in the Renaissance. The required step for humanity is not through some rising of the waters of the unconscious (though this is actually happening through global warming) so as to have the higher order emerge despite ourselves, despite our ignorance, our resistance and our fear. The karmic pressure is compelling us to awaken and to take responsibility, to mature through levels I & II and to forge our own future. As Michael Murphy (1992) puts it:
The choice to cultivate our greater possibilities is ours, not God's. All high-level human change involves our subjectivity. There will be no further human development unless some of us work to realize it. Doctrines of automatic or necessary human advance have fallen into disrepute. Happily, objections to the inevitability of class struggle, the Absolute's dialectical progress, of God's unstoppable march toward the Omega point have won the day. But such objections do not negate the fact that we harbour potentials for further development... (p.198)
Indeed the challenge lies with each of those who have reached the fully self-responsible 6/12 phase of development.
Although each period of history is archetypally constituted by a deep structure associated with the BPMs, as pictured in the astro-transpersonal model we as a species—meaning a critical mass of people—have not yet reached that period which can be characterized by the conscious accessing of the perinatal domain. Specifically, we are not even close to the stage-level where a significant number of people willingly and intentionally undergo a shamanic journey into and through the collective unconscious, or where the collective unconscious spontaneously arises into the species mind once that mind has been made a fertile ground. In the case of the individual, the level III perinatal journey presupposes a more or less mature, even though often troubled level II consciousness. But the crises and destructions cited by Bache are the result of a failure (as yet) of level II consciousness to meet its evolutionary challenges. The crisis of threatened extinction and wholesale environmental destruction will have come about through a radical failure of consciousness, not as the spiritual trial of those who consciously and willingly enter the perinatal crucible of transformation. The period in our possible future marked by the transforming perinatal encounter (presaged by various individuals from ancient shamans to contemporary consciousness explorers) would bring about crises in response to a deepening and widening of consciousness, an intentional opening of the primally repressed ground, consciously engaging the matrices, not simply acting them out as we have been doing on the Outward arc.
Applying the matrices to history means that on the Outward arc history is driven by the unconscious matrices, but on the Return arc there is now a consciousness of the matrices. But the matrices only become conscious through the journey of consciousness (i.e. as individual embodied consciousness) ‘into’ the collective unconscious. Only if the mass failure and disaster actually has the effect of driving the survivors into level III where they would not have otherwise been drawn, is it reasonable to speak of a rebirth. Even if such is possible, it tends to negate any of the gains made through level II.
If indeed the astrological map is a reliable picture of individual evolution and of species evolution at least up to the present, then I am inclined to judge that the great crisis which determines whether or not we move across D/A through an evolutionary or a regressive trajectory4 cannot be described in the archetypal terms of the perinatal stage as such. The perinatal journey is a conscious journey uncovering the matrices rather than simply, as has been the case historically up to now, enacting the matrices. This future possible conscious journey of the species where numerous individuals have gone before refers to level III once 7/1 has been successfully engaged. The evolutionary showdown, at least in its present and earlier stages, might then seem to refer to a period at the end of the second perinatal matrix—mid and late phase 6/12, before the matrices become conscious of themselves so to speak. If we are able to meet these challenges and survive, it is only by accomplishing the evolutionary leap across the critical threshold so that we may then embark upon an extended period of history of a species-wide willingness to engage the 7/1 eco-connectedness mode. This crossing of the threshold leads in the overarching sense to the collective enactment of Grof's third perinatal matrix, most fittingly in the face of overwhelmingly difficult and titanic environmental karma accumulated from stage-level II. The difference between Grof’s and my explication on the one hand and Bache’s on the other revolves around the fact that Bache does not make a clear differentiation between the second and third matrices except to describe the latter as a later stage in the death/rebirth struggle.
Regarding Bache's framing of the species mind, the 'group-mind', to be precise, does not go through BPM III and awaken to level III. The group mind is third quadrant level I and it is the marriage of level II individual mind and level I group mind resulting from the intentionality of level II mind moving beyond itself into level III that affects the perinatal transformation. The fourth quadrant collective consciousness of level II is constituted by networks of egoic individuals and is not an entity, both in the sense of the level I original species mind or the level III transcendent universal. Level II is about the creation of the individual in self-responsible relation to other individuals within collectivities; so in order to move on from there, the action has to come from the individuals and not from a species mind which refers to level I—that is, until the marriage of the level I species mind and level II mature individuals occurs in level III soul-space (i.e. individual/collective soul space).
Nevertheless, having stated a position somewhat at variance with Bache's account, it does seem possible that the manifestation of the period in history characterized by the third perinatal matrix will not wait forever while we stubbonly entrench ourselves and refuse to move onward as if we could take our sweet time to begin entering the Return arc only when we are ready. It seems that we do not have the time. Once begun (several millenia ago) the birth process can be seen to move inexorably onward, whether we are ready or not. We have been given the inherent capacity to weather this journey, to die and be reborn. So if Bache is right, the complete failure to respond to the early environmental warnings in a mature 6/12 fashion (at the time of writing, the failure looks most likely, though the evidence of extreme weather and melting ice caps is now making itself felt to a larger public) over the 21st century will lead to a condition aptly symbolized by the third matrix, but then possibly in its most pathological form. A failure to respond creatively to the global environmental catastrophe might be seen as getting stuck in the birth canal symbolized by an abortive, i.e. an entirely unconscious living out of BPM III. That is, if Bache is right, then I do not believe that a creative rebirth is possible. In other words, while we are in 12/6 crisis mode, the Return arc is immanent as the next step we must take. What we are required to do more and more now is bring the Outward arc to completion sufficient to enter the Return arc. The failure to consciously meet the challenge means that things will get worse and worse so this last phase of history indeed becomes an unconscious and therefore fatal BPM III.
Catastrophes that happen as the result of human ignorance can be learning experiences for some, but external fated destructive forces for many. Such catastrophes which have come at the end of civilizations in the past, now visit upon us the possible end of global civilization. I believe that, if it is final, this process corresponds to the 6/12 karmic endpoint, the result of the Outward arc, and is not the third matrix journey which occurs when individuals awaken sufficiently to take that journey into themselves and into the ground-unconscious to fully face up to the shadow—the karmic legacy of continued unconsciousness. Nevertheless, a time of such catastrophic finality may coincide and in some sense contribute to increasing numbers of people awakening to 7/1 and even 2/8 which will then perhaps have an inordinate effect in relation to their numbers on level II collective processes.
1. I am not ressurecting the original biologically concrete claim attributed first to Von Haeckel that 'ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny', but am claiming only that ontogeny and phylogeny reflect and express the same underlying deep archetypal structures which accounts for the general resonance of embryonic development and evolutionary history which led von Haeckel and others to make such a claim.
2. For the non astrologer, a grand trine signifies an equilateral triangle formed by the relationship of three or more planets located at its three points. From the Ascendant point the grand trine connects the Aries, Leo, and Sagittarian points (1,5 & 9). From the ascendant point, the grand cross is formed by the fourfold axis itself.
3. Wilber 2006 (back to Sense and Soul perhaps) admits these Eastern systems are only one part -- the Upper Left quadrant.
4. Or more precisely, whether increasing numbers of persons accessing these dimensions will be that factor sufficient to effect important concrete changes in actual noospheric collective social practices and institutions for a sustainable world for the next few centuries at least.
Continue to Chapter 18