From the space of level III a radical transformation of level I has taken place. Stage-level III has indeed brought about a profound reconnection of that which had become separated and distinct through the stage I process of evolution, a palpable awareness of the dynamic interconnectedness beyond time-space of self and other, individual and collective, as well as a reconnection with a reenchanted biosphere (even a reenchanted cosmos) which is no longer taken as an object to be exploited. It was on the basis of this original distinction that the mental/cultural structures of both the mental-ego and the rationally-ordered society were constructed, the mental-egoic superstructure being built over the primal division. But rather than being fundamentally transformed, structure-level II has only been modified by the foundational restructuring occurring through stage III due to the fact that the second/fourth quadrant structure is ontologically distinct from the first/third quadrant structure. Nevertheless, a new foundation for a decisive transmutation and transcendence of duality has been established both for the individual and for the collective.
For the particular 'leading edge' person' on his or her experiential journey through stage III, there has been a deep transformation on personal, interpersonal, subtle-organic and body-nature levels, but not yet a complete transformation of the individual's conditioned mental structures, even though, as said, these structures have been deeply modified beyond the mature-egoic and centauric stages. The same holds on the collective and institutional level in terms of any future historical unfolding, some of the possible scenarios of which we briefly touched on at the end of chapter 17. Although a duality subtly remains at the individual-mental level, the egoic infrastructure in its original form is no longer necessary, since a kind of 'immortality' has been achieved and the 'original unity' of body and nature, self and matrix (horizontal and vertical) has been regained through the higher level stage III synthesis. Level III, horizontally translated through second/fourth quadrant mental-cultural space, symbolizes on the individual level that the person, having gone beyond the average mode evolutionary level, no longer experiences society and its institutions as standing outside of him or herself. The way now is to participate, naturally and nonidealistically, in raising the general level of consciousness while increasing one's self knowledge in the fullest sense. This level III modification of the second/fourth quadrant structure resulting from stage III awakenings may manifest not only as a deepened creative participation in a social and cultural life now attuned with the biosphere, but as a sharpened practice of self knowledge, a self investigative process which is, however, not yet the pure meditative watchfulness of level IV.
In the wake of level III experience, this 'self knowledge' implies an awareness of the nature and origin of one's second quadrant mental-egoic structures originally formed in relation to the fourth quadrant social matrix. Though not yet a level IV practice, such a practice of self knowledge goes beyond the search for religious ecstacy, extraordinary experience, unity with God, or Guru. No longer driven by existential imbalances and alienation, once this particular chasm has been bridged one moves beyond the personal psychological work that was possible at the highest levels of stage II, work that was concerned with illuminating the shape and origin of our deepest positive, negative, and ideal self concepts, our scripts, our personae, our projections, and our shadow. As one inevitably 'returns' to the world and fully integrates one's stage III experiences, there is an ongoing process of becoming ever more deeply aware of the social paradigms and injunctions by which one has been conditioned while exposing the roots of these paradigms embedded in the collective historical unconscious.
In stage III, the energic, contractive body-egoic self comes to merge with the transcendent. But, having stood in abeyance through this process, the subtle and intangible second quadrant mental self now translates and integrates this merging experience into a more insightful Q2/Q4 self/world structure, one's continued complex individual expressivity 'in-the-world'. And, now increasingly free of self-centered drives and needs, this new individuality becomes capable of a true moral self determination as a free and autonomous participator in Kant's envisioned “kingdom of ends,” that ideal condition where others are no longer treated as means to personal ends, however subtly, but only as ends in themselves (certainly a higher octave of the Aquarius dimension—perhaps the modified 5/11 structure, or even the yet higher 11/5). Bache speaks of the nature of the individual after transcendent expansion:
If the goal is not simply transcendence but integrated transcendence, then there must be a cognitive structure that anchors this integration....It is the repeated recovery of coherence within ever deepening experiential fields that drives my sense that even as the self dies, a deeper form of individuality is being liberated....it is not individuality itself that is the illusion but our sense of being isolated from the whole...As the isolation of the private mind is consumed in spiritual practice, the self or ego dies....From ashes, however, springs forth not just the freedom of transindividual experience but a truer form of individuality as well....In this open-ended evolution, the body loses its significance (Q1 Level I) entirely as providing the center of one's identity, and yet the experience of being a coherent center of conscious awareness is continuous with one's experience of being an embodied "I". (Q2/Q4 structure after Stage/Level III). (p. 264-265).
It is this individual subtly transcendent witness which will come to look into itself and deconstruct itself through stage-level IV, dying completely into Emptiness (sunyata) at the causal level of the twelfth principle.
Stage-Levels III and IV—a Comparison
We are not just a part of the whole—a level III realization; we are the whole—a level IV realization. From this highest of levels through a downward reach, the relatively free and spontaneous self of a modified structure-level II now becomes, or realizes itself as, the Whole. But first, the individual's will must have surrendered to the larger Whole through level III. With structure-level II having been profoundly modified—entirely new beliefs and cosmologies, new mental translations—new karma continues to be created through embodied existence in time; a fundamental duality between ordinary embodied consciousness and transcendent consciousness remains. Passing in and out of deep samadhi, level III openings and deepenings are followed by inexplicable contractions and depressions; in terms of its symbolic appropriateness, only in the 12/6 phase of level IV will the samadhic state achieve constancy. 'This side' of level IV we are still subject to karma, not just individual karma but both individual and collective karma, a condition marked by the M/N axis at the ground of level IV—“the world nexus woven deep into the stuff of the spontaneous self-development of our being-in-time”. Keiji Nishitani captures the relentless quality of this karmic nexus, the boundary beyond which lies the realization of Sunyata, and of which the failure to penetrate ensures the endless round of transmigration:
While there are limits to obligations imposed by social or legal regulation, the debt essential to existence is as elemental as existence itself. It is infinite because in doing something, that is, in the very act whereby we exhaust our debt, we sow the seeds of a new debt….In the very work of freeing ourselves of the ‘existence’ that weighs heavy upon us…it is simply our own existence that we are preserving in the process…The home ground that gives birth to the debt is the homeground of the karmic activity that works to dissolve it. Each of the deeds that remove the debt invariably return to the home-ground of the debt, in each case reinstating the debt….So it is that our Dasein, even as it endlessly steps outside of itself, by that very act never departs its own home-ground but keeps itself shut up perpetually within itself. The self is at all times, unendingly, itself, permanently tethered to itself. This self-contradictory dynamic of ’tying oneself up with one’s own rope’ so to speak, is the essence of our existence. (1982, 239,240)
Stage-level IV marks a transition beyond this karmic boundary; living in the moment at the causal/ultimate level, karma is dissolved just as it arises in each moment; no new karma is generated. I would like to quote rather extensively from the rather difficult yet insightful analysis of Nishitani concerning the relation of time, karma, nihility and emptiness because I think his thoughts well exemplify the archetypal character of the Saturnian 10/4 structure at the base of our level IV. This structure is both the universal karmic ground of all time-based becoming, emanating down into timespace in endless cycles of transmigration and, at the same time, the gateway to the ultimate form/emptiness of sunyata (or as Nishitani puts it, form-sive-emptiness)—our 12/6 phase:
[W]e are because we produce time ourselves as the field of our transitory becoming. To that extent our being can never be rid of itself. A debt that we must constantly pay off and an infinite burden that we must constantly lighten, our being is yet endlessly reborn out of our own home-ground. In this way, an infinite drive rises to self-consciousness at the ground of our own being and doing, at the home-ground of our Dasein. At the home ground of Dasein, where we find the wellspring of that infinite drive, we become aware of an infinite self-enclosure, or what Toynbee calls ‘self-centeredness.’ The ancients took this elemental self-enclosure, this self-centeredness that is the wellspring of endless karmic activity, as the darkness of ignorance (avidya) or ‘fundamental darkness.’ (242)….When our being within time consists of a constant doing, this doing must needs take hold in the infinite openness of nihility which transcends being in general and all ties of causal kinship in the world-nexus that form its determinations….[I]n order that being not freeze into permanent immobility, there must be an impermanence, a transience unhindered by being. And this is possible only if doing, being-at-doing, is grounded in nihility. Only then can being-in-time, as an essentially unending and constant new becoming, and time without beginning or end…be constituted at one and the same time….Although the ebb and flow of the total nexus “since time past without beginning” is conceived as an infinite chain of causal necessity, its having no beginning implies, conversely, a before previous to any and all conceivable pasts. For such time to have no end means that it has an after that is future even to the most remote of possible futures. Any such before and after (beyond any definite before and after) lies in the present of every man and makes the present into free and creative activity.…doing opens itself up on each occasion to the openess of nihility and thus preserves the dimension of ecstatic transcendence (245)….The infinite openness of time in both directions is an introjection into time of the openness of the eternal nihility opening up at the home-ground of the present. (247)…In its ultimate home-ground, the self-being of man is not human…At the ground of our being human lies a level of pure being beyond any determination to the human….That our existence is in interrelation through causal kinship with all other things in an unending world-nexus is due to the fact that…we contain a horizon of intercommunication with the being of all things in the world. Within this horizon we are a sheer being-in-the-world as such, rid of all particular determinations….The standpoint of karma…has to be abandoned to reach the standpoint of emptiness, a disengagement that signals a conversion from the standpoit of nihility to the standpoint of sunyata. It is a conversion from the field of samasara to the field of nirvana, and thence to the field of samsara-sive-nirvana.(250)…[T]he standpoint of sunyata is the standpoint of radical deliverance from self-centeredness. It does not even leave room for the self-centeredness of religious consciousness…[T]he standpoint of sunyata is constituted only at a bottomless point…beyond all standpoints of any kind related to will, through an absolute negation. It is in such a bottomlessness that the standpoint of sunyata is the standpoint of the Existenz of non-ego…. As an Existenz of non-ego, being, doing and becoming in time all emerge into their nature on the field of emptiness which is their absolute negation. And on this field constant doing is constant nondoing. Constant coming to be and passing away is constant non-coming to be and non-passing away….Being in a restless, incessant becoming, a turning on the wheel of transmigration, means not departing the homeland of unbirth.(252)…On the standpoint of sunyata, to which man “returns emptyhanded,” all doing presents that character of playfulness from one moment to the next within the passing of time without beginning or end. In other words, all being-at-doing (samskrta) as the dynamic nexus of being-doing-becoming takes the shape of a non-doing, of “taking things as they come.” (253)
Through stage-level IV we move toward the ending of duality between samadhi and our in-the-world consciousness—ultimately the end of the very duality between samsara and nirvana. It is through the stages and structures 10/4 and 11/5 where the work is to be done to bring the level II mind fully in accord with the realization grounded at the highest level of stage III (9/3 phase). At level III the self is lifted up 'out of itself' so to speak; it loses itself in the cosmic power of spirit. At level IV, knowing itself as non-ultimate and infused with cosmic energy and love, the 'self' looks steadily and directly into itself rather than being transported 'out of itself' as it was through the OOBE's, NDE's, bhakta and/or mystical ecstasies of stage III. The words of the ecstatic saint and devotee of the Divine Mother, Ramakrishna, tell the story of this crucial leap:
After initiating me...the Naked One asked me to make my mind free of function in all respects, and merge in the meditation of the Self. But, when I sat for meditation, I could by no means make my mind go beyond the bounds of name and form and cease functioning. The mind withdrew itself from all other things, but as soon as it did so, the intimately familiar form of the universal Mother appeared...But at last, collecting all the strength of my will, I cut Mother's form to pieces with the sword of discrimination...There remained no function in the mind, which transcended quickly the realm of names and forms, making me merge in samadhi. (Goleman, p46. Quote from Swami Saradananda, 1963, 255)
The Language of Self and No-self
We need to be careful not to conflate the ordinary mental-level insight as to the non-being of the self with the higher level realization of No-Mind. Rather than as an illusion, individuality at Stage-level II, as intellectually realized from the 6/12 perspective, should be seen as simply limited. Much has been made of the unreality of the self, invoking Hume's famous introspective and unsuccessful search for an entity called himself beyond the sensory, mental, and affective data constituting the phenomenal stream of consciousness. While it is correct that the mental-ego is a self concept rather than a substantive entity (noted by Hume and also by the postmodern deconstruction of the self as well as by cognitive science and proponents of the field of AI [artificial intelligence]), the absence of a 'real' self at this level is not equivalent to Buddhist No-Mind. Such reasoning overlooks a critical level where we need to find our deeper ‘Selves’ or our larger ‘field of being’. One cannot jump from scientistic objectivistic nihilism (which merely rules out of court any subjective ontology) to transcendent No-Mind. This ‘nihility point’ reached by Western thought tends to be applied in a clumsy fashion. Nishitani expresses a deeper insight regarding the relation of being and nonbeing which lies behind the literal negation of self:
[N]on-ego does not mean simply that self is not ego. It has also to mean at the same time that non-ego is the self. It must reach self-awareness as something come from the self’s absolute negation of itself. It is not the case that the self is merely not self (that it is non-ego). It must be the case rather that the self is the self because it is not the self. Were it simply a matter of the self not being the self, the way would still be open to follow Nietzsche in taking the Will to Power as the true self, or the ‘selness’ of the self. It would be equally possible to take the Eastern notion of karma, or something like Schopenhauer’s Will to Life, as the selfness of the self….Yet in all these, the standpoint of the true non-ego is still incapable of appearing in complete fashion. Only by going a step further does the standpoint of true non-ego appear in the reversal, ‘self is not self (self is non-ego), therefore it is self. This reversal is precisely that existential self- awareness wherein the self is realized…as an emergence into its nature from non-ego. (251)
As Jung pointed out, the desperate condition of humanity at present is that humankind 'lacks a soul' and that the challenge now is to discover the soul-self behind the non-ultimate linguistically constructed ego-self the project of recovery —to which Hillman directs his work. Stage-level III bridges certain divisions—self and other, individual and group, body and nature, this incarnation and other incarnations, this world and other worlds beyond death. This process breaks down boundaries and reveals an overarching level of Being (Soul) where beings are not individually separate and divided one from another. Such a state can be realized only when the thinking mind stops and stands back (though ready to jump back in at the appropriate stimulus). This thinking mind is a constructor of reality, but it cannot directly construct this reality, it has to stop and allow witnessing—a pure transcendent experiencing.
A higher 'Self' is real relative to the mental-ego level. It is that which gives us the intuition of a continuous watcher of the mental process; it is that which is incarnated and re-incarnated and which 'leaves the body' at death (and as preglimpses through OBE's and NDES's). Level III turns out to be the deeper and central experiential core of one's being hidden in unconscious depths until it emerges, not as specific memories or phenomenological content, but as an energic and psycho-physical presence and power. As a larger ‘field of being’, this 'self' has a genuine reality beyond and relative to the mental-ego, referring to the next and higher soul level—our level III. Of course, from the point of view of level IV, the self is indeed non-ultimate. Alan Watts (1957) takes care to distinguish between the doctrine of anatman and the actual assertion as to the unreality of the Self. "[T]he anatman doctrine is not quite the bald assertion that there is no real Self (atman) at the basis of our consciousness. The point is rather that there is no Self, or basic reality, which may be grasped, either by direct experience or by concepts." (p. 47).
Similarly, in the face of introspective seeking, just as we should not confuse the absence of the empirical subject with ultimate no-mind, we should not confuse, as Nishitani is at pains to establish, the notion of nihility (the 12th principle at level II) with that of emptiness (the 12th principle at Level IV). Varella et al perceptively point out that nihilism
arises initially in reaction to the loss of faith in objectivism. [It is a response] to the collapse of an objective self (objectivism) by asserting the objective non-existence of the self (nihilism)….[F]aced with the discovery of groundlessness, we nonetheless continue to grasp after a ground because we have not relinquished the deep seated reflex to grasp that lies at the root of objectivism. This reflex is so strong that the absence of a sold ground is immediately reified into the objectivist abyss….[T]he mere absence of an objective ground is reified into an objective groundlessness that might continue to serve as an ultimate reference point.(239, 240).
At the highest levels of the 10/4, 11/5, and 12/6 phases, we move beyond the psychic, perinatal, and subtle levels of transcendence to a domain which fulfills the high subtle and moves through the stages that Wilber identifies as the causal and ultimate levels. So before proceeding further along these lines with our analysis of level IV, we need to hear what Grof, Washburn and Wilber have to say about these phases of development.
Stanislav Grof and Level IV
As we have seen, Grof (1988) describes in detailed phenomenological and empirical terms a range of transpersonal experiential domains that lie beyond the perinatal realms, in terms of perennialist consensus, the high subtle realms. We have already heard from Grof that, "the experience of the final God or Cosmic Demiurge (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) His further description of this highest of levels straightforwardly captures the essence of level IV:
The experience of the Void is the most enigmatic and paradoxical of all the transpersonal experiences. It is experiential identification with the primordial Emptiness, Nothingness, and Silence, which seem to be the ultimate cradle of all existence. While it is the source of everything, it cannot be derived from anything else; it is the uncreated anbd ineffable Supreme....While nothing concrete exists in this state, nothing that is part of existence seems to be missing there either. This emptiness is thus, in a sense, pregnant with all of existence, since it contains everything in a potential form....Subjects who are having this experience accept as self-evident that various forms of phenomenal worlds can emerge into existence out of this void without any obvious cause...The Void is emptiness that is pregnant with form, and the many forms on various levels of existence are essentially empty. (147,148)
In our model, the ultimate void is actually located at the highest archetypal level of the deep structure which denotes the first perinatal matrix. This does not dispute Grof's own claim that "the perinatal dynamic seems to represent an intersection or frontier between the personal and transpersonal" (p163) which is pictured precisely in our model as axis D/A (7/1 and 8/2) which both joins and separates the noospheric Outward arc levels and the transpersonal Return arc levels.
Michael Washburn and Level IV
Although I have claimed that the astro-transpersonal model incorporates important features of Washburn's transpersonal model and actually constitutes a resolution of the pre-trans dilemma—a resolution to the problem of the incommensurability of Washburn's and Wilber's models—I do not believe that Washburn's last stage, his 'Integrated' level, shows any particular resonance with phases 10/4, 11/5 and 12/6. In the case of Washburn's articulation of what for him are the highest transpersonal levels, we will have to judge whether he is in fact describing the low and high causal or whether he is solely describing the fulfillment of Stage 9/3 at the point M/N. Integration is about being a complete human being. According to Washburn (1995), it is after the two poles of the psyche are reconciled and united through regeneration in spirit that the poles begin functioning as a fully developed bipolar system.
The psyche, which from inception is bipolar in fundamental constitution, now becomes bipolar in fully actualized fact. At this point both of the psychic poles finally function to the full extent of their powers and in integrated unity, as one....This integration of opposites, however, is not an integration of equals. The nonegoic pole has primacy over the egoic pole. The ego can enter into union with the Ground only by becoming an instrument of the Ground. The psyche then, although bipolar, is not truly bicentric. The egoic pole has no true centre in itself; it is truly centered only when it is rooted in the Ground....The ego is a self; it is a self-conscious subject with a unique personal identity. As a self, however, it is most truly itself when it is an expressive vehicle of spirit. (244)
Contemplation is a state achievable by the integrated ego through its own disciplined efforts. The power of the Ground is mobilized and channeled toward the object through the ego's undivided attention, charging the object and being pulled toward it to become absorbed in it. Rather than a trance state, absorption is a state where the ego remains conscious and able to exercise operational and volitional faculties. The capacity to channel the power of the Ground and the capacity for creative cognition now coincide through sustained focused attention. In his words:
By sustaining focused attention, the ego not only enters into dynamic fusion with the object of attention but also embarks upon a symbolic-noetic investigation of the object." "Unlike people at the mental-egoic stage, who love life from the 'outside in,' internalizing social roles, codes, and categories. integrated people live life from the 'inside out,' spontaneously following the promptings of their deepest inner nature. Integrated people are the true individuals so lauded in existentialist literature....Except for their outreaching spirit and deep genuineness, most integrated people do not stand out in any way. The only requirement for attaining integrated existence is that one have an ego that is strong enough to reunite with the Ground....Integration is an inherited destiny belonging to the human race as a whole. (1995, 237 - 248)
I believe that these descriptions refer to the culmination of level III at M/N rather than level IV, but it remains uncertain.
Ken Wilber's Map
Wilber divides the causal level into the low and high causal. The causal "represents the culmination of events which began in the high subtle. In the high-subtle...the self was dissolved or reabsorbed into Archetypal deity, as that deity—a deity which from the beginning has always been one's own Self and highest archetype." He is speaking here of our 9/3 phase (level III). He goes on to describe: "In the subtle realm, the self dissolves into archetypal deity...In the low-causal, that Deity-Self in turn disappears into final-God, which is its Source and Essence." As the "deity-Archetype itself condenses and dissolves into final-God" it can be "variously described as an extraordinarily subtle audible illumination or bija-mantra or point source from which the individual ishtadeva, yidam or Archetype emerged in the first place". In our model, he would be referring here to phases 10/4 and 11/5.
Wilber relates the low causal level to the language of Buddhism: "In Theravadin Buddhism, this is the culmination of the fourth jhana (the highest jhana of form) and the beginning of the fifth and sixth jhanas (the lowest jhanas without form)." The jhanas refer to different stages and levels of a particular type of meditation, namely concentration meditation as distinct from insight meditation. He describes the low causal in relation to the now well known meditational practice of vipassana as that "great transition insight from the pseudonirvana of subtle-form (our 9/3) to the cessation, nirvanic, or formless state of the high causal” (our 12/6). He is here referring to the transitional territory prescribed in our model by 10/4 and 11/5. Referring to the ten oxherding pictures of Zen, Wilber relates the low causal to "the seventh of the ten oxherding stages to enlightenment: the transition from formal consciousness to formless consciousness." The ten oxherding pictures, which visually capture the existential issues of the successive stages of the meditational seeker after enlightenment, can be found in Philip Kapleau's now classic work, The Three Pillars of Zen. They begin with seeking the ox, finding it, training it, and so on, until both ox and self are forgotten, and then even beyond that state of emptiness, the enlightened one returns into the market place, 'in the world but not of it' (our transformed noospheric Q2/Q4 from the space of Q4/Q2). The seventh is called "Ox forgotten, self alone"—the ox has been realized as the meditator's Primal-nature.
Wilber goes on to describe the high causal, "the final-God Self is reduced likewise to its own prior Ground: it dissolves into Formlessness, or Infinite and Unobstructed Consciousness....There is here no self, no God, no final-God, no subjects, and no thingness, apart from or other than Consciousness as Such." (1990, 96-97) In our model, this clearly refers to the last and highest stage, phase 12/6. In the causal, that state of pure formless awareness, pure consciousness as such, the pure Self as pure Spirit, there is "no longer the Supreme Union of God and Soul, but the Supreme Identity of Godhead." (95, 301). "This Godhead is radically free of any finite or created thing, whether of matter or nature or mind or visions or Soul or God. Eckhart refers to this completely transcendental, free, or unmanifest state by words such as 'Abyss,' 'unborn.' 'formless,' 'primordial origin,' 'emptiness,' 'nothingness.' " (95, 303) The pure Witness cannot be seen for the simple reason that it is the Seer—the Seer is pure emptiness, the clearing in which all things arise; anything seen is just more objects.
But beyond the formless causal lies the nondual embrace (the development from nirvikalpa to sahaja samadhi—Ramana Maharshi), a seeing that the Witness is everything, the formless and the world of form are not-two. Brahman is the World! "Passing through nirvikalpa samadhi, Consciousness totally awakens as its Original Condition and Suchness (tathata), which is, at the same time, the condition and suchness of all that is, gross, subtle, or causal. That which witnesses, and that which is witnessed, are only one and the same. The entire World Process then arises, moment to moment, as one's own Being, outside of which, and prior to which, nothing exists. ..the center of Formlessness is shown to be not other than the entire world of form." (1990, 99) Here is the tenth oxherding picture, sahaja samadhi, the Turiya state, the Svabhavikakya.
I maintain that it is our stages 10/4, 11/5, and 12/6 which, at the highest transpersonal level, map these domains broadly described by Wilber. From our 9/3 through 12/6 we pass from an entry into the high subtle to its fulfillment, and through the low and high causal to the ultimate level. As the ninth clearly refers to the subtle realm of transcendent unity, from Wilber's description, the twelfth principle (i.e. the 12/6 axis) clearly corresponds to the high causal leading to the ultimate level symbolized by the horizon at the highest level sustaining all of creation. The symbolism of the tenth and eleventh principles at this level (the 10/4 and 11/5 axes) may not be so apparent but will become clearer as we go.
Level IV Mind
The resultant modifications of stage-level II from the awakenings of stage-level III involve a dropping of false earthbound views, erroneous views based on the self concept and its duality. Although both stage-level I and stage-level II of the Outward arc refer to the human noospheric level, as said, stage-level I is still very much grounded in nature, body, instinct and the senses whereas stage-level II is exclusively mental and constructivist. Where the Q2/Q4 structure at level II can be referred to as mind, so Q4/Q2 at level IV can also be referred to as mind, or more correctly, as higher mind. But where level II mind is conceptual, level IV mind is pure insight, empty of all concepts. Level IV Mind is the looking into and a seeing into the nature of Mind itself, how worlds are created through the activity of Mind. It is no longer insight into the content of mind, into its particular phenomenology, but insight into the process of mind as it arises from the 'Ground' (i.e. from the top of the model, but for a fuller account of the 'Ground' see chapters 21 & 23). Daniel Goleman differentiates such a meditative illumination of the mental-egoic structures from ordinary psychotherapy: "Therapies break the hold of past conditioning on present behaviour; meditation aims to alter the process of conditioning per se so that it will no longer be a prime determinant of future acts. [transforming level II from level IV awareness] Consciousness is the medium which carries the messages that compose experience. Psychotherapies are concerned with these messages and their meanings; meditation instead directs itself to the nature of the medium, consciousness. These two approaches are by no means mutually exclusive; rather, they are complementary."(1988, 173-174)
At stage-level II, the fourth principle refers to the mediating structural foundation of the mental-ego, namely, its converting of the group unconscious into the personal subconscious (see chapter 9). By the end of stage II and the beginning of stage III, the content of the original conditioning (self concept, introjection of super-ego, formative scripts, injunctions etc) is gradually revealed to therapeutic self-investigation. But by level IV, the fourth principle signifies a direct observing insight into the nature of the process of the foundational structuring of the mental-ego itself. Deeper than the actual biographical content, this process is an insight into the nature of the creation of egoic selfhood and the non-ultimacy of the ego. Stage-level IV consciousness is, then, presiding over the great dissolution of these mental structures, this phenomenological Maya, as it dissolves into the Absolute Void.
As we have seen in Chapter 17, the downward embrace through stage III (the perinatal, kriyas and other phenomena arising in Kundalini type practices) is combined with the upward movement. The downward embrace is a re-opening of the boundaries of repression and containment—the dynamic flowing together of the energies of consciousness and unconsciousness, small self and great cosmos. The Q3/Q1 structure transforms and includes the original Q1/Q3 structure—an integration which can never be finally accomplished until the liberation of the collective. Unlike stage III, stage IV is not an unlocking of the lower repressed and contained psychic material (which is why the makyo phenomena are not given value in the practice of causal-based Zen). Rather than a dynamic interpenetration of energies, here is an event of pure Insight, a profoundly watchful insight into the depths and breadths of the psyche relating level IV awareness to level II mental-egoic selfhood (the Q4/Q2 structure over the Q2/Q4 structure). The telos of stage-level IV is a spontaneous stopping of the chains of mental events when the ultimate nature of this samsaric process is revealed to understanding. The downward transformation of symbolic structure-level II from the consciousness of structure-level IV is, consequently, a different kind of process than that which occurred in stage-level III.
Level IV is a deconstruction of the high Subtle 'Oneness experience' itself. On the Vedantic path to the causal level, Ramana Maharshi instructs us to ask, "Who is experiencing this ectastic oneness"? Now, in stage IV, the 'self' will look into itself, will enquire into itself up to its ultimate disappearance into Void-Emptiness. While stage III is still a complex experience of a self opening up to and becoming unifed with a larger whole, with the total energy field, the telos of stage IV lies beyond experience all together. The totality of widening energy fields and the dissolving of boundaries, the expansion of consciousness from individuality to collectivity, the wide ranging phenomenology of the bardo realms, all indicate that stage-level III is, to a significant extent, constructivist. So while level III expansion is the larger and ever widening journey of the self, of the particular reincarnating soul, stage-level IV moves entirely beyond the constructivist domain into pure trans-individual and trans-collective Being-Reality.
Contrary to how one might be tempted to read the astrological cycle through the fourth quadrant, the movement from 11/5 to 12/6 is something other than an ultimate expansion of consciousness where consciousness has grown ever larger and more inclusive until it includes the entire cosmos (remember that the Night force is decreasing through the fourth quadrant). The notion of ultimate consciousness expansion would apply more to the inclusive and expanding 9/3 phase culminating at point M (the maximization of the second hemispheric Night force). As the American zen roshi Philip Kapleau (1980) puts it:
Enlightenment, or seeing into one's True-nature, is much more than an expansion of consciousness or a heightened awareness. True awakening takes place when both the conscious and subconscious minds—or the eight levels of consciousness, to use Buddhist terminology—have been 'broken through' and the mind emptied of all fanasies, images, thought forms, and blissful feelings....with awakening comes the understanding that relative mind and absolute mind are two aspects of our True-nature. (18)
According to Daniel Goleman the two fundamental strategies in meditation are concentration and mindfulness. "Concentration leads the meditator to become one-pointed and finally merge his attention with its object. Mindfulness leads the meditator to witness the workings of his own mind, coming to perceive with detachment [phase 11/5, level IV] the finer segments of his stream of thought. The altered states produced by each are radically different." (174) This account agrees with Washburn: "two main types of meditation are widely practiced...receptive mindfulness leading to insight and, second, concentrative practices leading to absorption". (1995, 153) Washburn aptly characterizes the former as a "mirrorlike attention' and the latter as a 'laserlike attention.' Although all meditative practices begin at phase 6/12 (level II), the concentrative methods refer primarily to Q3 (level III) whereas the mindfulness methods refer primarily to Q4 (level IV). In this sense, level IV can be seen as an Insight level beyond the pure concentration of energy. The 10/4 and 11/5 axes refer then to the total awareness and insight into the nature of the patterns of conditioned mind. Whereas the third quadrant opens within to an absorption in the universal, the fourth quadrant attains insight awareness into the patterns of mind practiced fully in the world.
While Raja and Kundalini yoga are given by Goleman as examples of the concentration methods and Gurdjieff and Krishnamurti are given as examples of the mindfulness methods, he cites Theravada, Zen, and Tibetan Buddhism as 'integrated' practices employing both insight and concentration. The intentional practice of such an integrated form as cited by Goleman can be located at point M (i.e. M/N level IV). The Eastern awareness-insight methods begin at M and require supreme commitment and discipline; in the esoteric Eastern tradition they are held to be possible only for the few. Steadfastly watching from point M as in Zen and Vipassana, the energic and phenomenological content of level III may arise. But through firm and resolute 'sitting', one refuses to open and surrender to the implicit dimensions of these levels which manifest as various energic states including makyo (8th principle) and the 'cave of satan' (9th principle).
From the Theravada Buddhist Abhidamma ascribed to the fifth century monk Buddhaghosa, we can briefly map the correspondences of each of the meditative schemata outlined by Goleman with the astrological categories. The first schema describes levels of development through concentrative and absorptive meditation known as jhanas. Ever deepening concentration on the object eventually leads to a state of rapture and one-pointedness free of any thought of the object. This is the second jhana which, as a particularly controlled concentration of energy, would correspond to our eighth principle (i.e. 8/2). This is followed by experiences of bliss and equinamity through the third and fourth jhanas where all sense of any remaining bodily pleasure has ceased. These are the jhanas corresponding to our stage 3/9. The fifth jhana—the first of the formless states—is described as consciousness of infinite space, equinamity and one-pointedness where all perceptions of form have ceased—our 10/4 phase. In the sixth jhana attention is turned to infinite awareness, "the thought of infinite space is abandoned, while objectless infinite awareness remains"—our 11/5 level. The meditator enters the seventh jhana by "turning his awareness to the nonexistence of infinite consciousness.... the seventh jhana is absorption with no-thing-ness, or the Void, as its object. That is, the meditator's mind takes as its object the awareness of absence of any object." (18) This is clearly the domain of the twelfth principle (level IV).
The second schema maps the levels of development beginning with mindfulness, proceeding through insight and ending in nirvana. In the concentrative methods, the meditator enters formless states but as a temporary penetration into level IV domains rather than a full accessing of these dimensions as in insight practice. But “the path of insight differs significantly from the path of concentration....Nirvana destroys 'defiling' aspects of mental states—hatred, greed, delusion etc.—whereas jhana merely suppresses them." The path of mindfulness and insight may or may not be preceeded by concentrative jhana practice. "The first realization in insight is that the phenomena contemplated are distinct from mind, the faculty whereby mind witnesses its own workings is different from the workings it witnesses." (Goleman, 23) The next realization is that "these dual processes are devoid of self" leading to a state of detachment from the world of experience. Eventually there arise visions of brilliant light, rapturous feelings, devotional feelings, sublime happiness, with a clear understanding of non-permanence. This rather seductive level has been called a 'pseudonirvana' and clearly refers to our 9/3 phase. The following stage is called the stage of Realization where perception of passing moments is flawless and reality is experienced as in a constant state of dissolution. "At this point the meditator realizes the unsatisfactory quality of all phenomena.....He becomes absolutely dispassionate and adverse toward the multitude of mental stuff—to any kind of becoming, destiny or state of consciousness." (Goleman, 28) This stage might be seen as corresponding to our tenth principle (level IV), being an awareness of the totality of content. Then the meditator begins to access the level of 'effortless insight'. "It occurs to the meditator that only in the ceasing of all mental process is relief possible. Now his mind no longer fastens onto its contents....At this point, the meditator's ability at simply noticing becomes strong and lucid" (29). "Contemplation is quick, effortless, indefatigable". Detachment from mental phenomena is at its peak. This ultimate encounter with the nature of mind before the full ‘letting go’ corresponds to our 11/5 phase. "At this moment, a consciousness arises that takes as its object the 'signless, no-occurrence, no-formation': nirvana. Awareness of all physical and mental phenomena ceases entirely." (30) Here is certainly our twelfth principle (level IV).
Cross-Cultural Study of the Stages of Meditation by Daniel Brown
Drawing on Daniel Brown's cartography of meditative states comparing the Tibetan Mahamudra, the Hindu Yogasutras and the Theravada Vipassana, we will map the stages from the high subtle through the causal level in terms of the categories of stage-level IV. Beyond the preliminary practices, mind-body training, precepts, concentration etc. we come to the stage of Insight Meditation. Causal-based Buddhist meditative techniques tend to directly cross the 7/1 and 8/2 psychic/subtle domains without going into them, without exploring their fuller dimensionality (unlike the practice, experience, and mappings of Grof, Bache, Monroe etc.). Here we are looking at a process which is grounded at the ninth principle level. Brown describes insight meditation as "a high-spead analysis of the stream which unfolds over time as a 'succession' of discontinuous movements" whose aim and possibility is to "gain insight into how the world of ordinary experience and the self are constructed..."(246) From this state of mindfulness "...a unity experience comes forth in which all the potential events of the universe come forth simultaneously as a dimension of the same underlying substratum." (255). Grounded in the ninth, such a unity experience points directly to our tenth principle (i.e. 10/4, level IV). Brown continues:
There is a common structure to the experience at least in the Mahamudra and Yogasutras. Each is a variation on the theme of interconnectedness. The ordinary time/space matrix of ordinary perception is transcended and awareness opens up to another order in which all the potential events of the universe and the fabric of potential connections between these events comes forth. Within this undivided interconnectedness of the universe, interactions occur not by causal laws but by relative relationships to everything else. Positionality in space and properties also depend on relative relationship to everything. (p.255)
Moving to the next stage called 'extraordinary samadhi', Brown describes it as an opening up of
awareness to the level beyond the time/space matrix of ordinary perception [constituting] a profound shift in consciousness—what the Mahamudra calls the 'extraordinary mind'....The meditator becomes aware of subtle acausal interactions, called vasanas...the extraordinary samadhi has a common structure across traditions. In terms of structure, it represents an undivided wholeness...wherein parts exist only in their relationship to all other parts. One relative mind-moment contains the information of the entire universe through its interconnectedness....The Buddhist concept of dependent origination and the Hindu description of the vasanas convey such acausal interactions....The meditator learns "to 'couple' or 'remove the interval' between the extraordinary and ordinary mind. This is done by first entering the extraordinary samadhi and observing the return of the ordinary mind in the transition back to waking consciousness. Through repeated practice the state becomes contiguous...The resultant state of meditation is paradoxically in and out of time. (256-258)
I believe that this process refers to the 10/4 axis at the beginning of stage-level IV. Consistent with Nishitani’s account of the karmic nexus (above), the tenth principle is aptly described as "the storehouse of karmic activity" where "the meditator comes to recognize that all observable events—simultaneous or successive, subtle or gross—are but emanations as a consequence of this subtle karmic activity." (p259) And referring to the way in which the fourth principle is being accessed within this higher space of awareness, "through practicing session after session, subtle reactivity [lunar fourth principle] drops away and the meditator comes to realize events in a new way, just as they are in their primordial state." (p.259)
As we move beyond the 10th/4th axis: "...awareness changes its direction away from the emanating interconnected events toward itself....moment-by-moment awareness itself becomes the object of mindfulness....moment-by-moment awareness has nothing further to alight upon, so enlightenment is said to become the object of awareness." (260) This is the pure mind observing mind, the domain of the eleventh principle now no more identified with the fifth principle self-centre. At this point the meditator must not only learn to discriminate between ordinary gross reactivity and the "spontaneous activity of the primordial state” (11th principle), but he/she must "negate subtle activities of meditation which also interfere with the realization of enlightenment." (260) Here at this highest level of the 11th principle arises the issue of dropping the final vestiges of the rational mind and its immensely intelligent, necessary and useful technologies of transformation that have gotten us to this highly advanced point; the attachment to eleventh principle reasonableness here is indeed great. So by "dismantling the coordinates of ordinary perception" one has arrived at stage 11/5 gaining "access to a non-ordinary, or extraordinary, structure of consciousness which does not operate by ordinary psychophysical laws." Beyond this level we see in the movement from 11/5 to 12/6 that a "deconstruction of even this deep structure results in enlightenment". (264) Brown writes: "all events, content and activity—everything—drops away. This is called 'cessation'. What remains? Vast awareness." (261) But "the second moment of enlightenment, path-enlightenment, is characterized by a return of observable events, now viewed from a different locus of awareness." (262) "While the content of ordinary experience returns, the perspective is now vastly different." (263).
Although the invarient sequence of stages identified by Brown has only been touched on here, I wanted to demonstrate a suggestive resonance between these successive dimensions and the archetypal essence of the highest levels of the astrological picture. Having established a general schemata drawn from Wilber, Goleman and Brown, we can now further develop the astrological model.
The ninth and twelfth principles—the telos of the third and fourth quadrants at all levels—represent two ultimate archetypes of the spiritual. On the first two levels, the noospheric level: where the ninth is religion, the twelfth is the spiritual; where the ninth denotes the historical Jesus, the twelfth is the holy spirit, where the ninth is John the Baptist, the twelfth is Christ; where the ninth is orthodox Christianity, the twelfth is gnosticism. At stage-level III the ninth is the experience of unity with the divine. It is the object of transcendent striving, of spiritual hunger and divine discontent, of the yogas and concentrative meditations aimed at absorption, the realization of temporary samadhic states, of ecstacy, and freedom from the chains of mundane embodiment. At this same level III (horizontally translated), the twelfth principle signifies universal compassion and transformative spirituality-in-action growing out of ninth principle mystical experience. But at stage-level IV, the twelfth is the realization of ultimate Emptiness, Suchness, Nirvana. Apparently influenced by Neoplatonism, Christian mystic Meister Eckhart opened up through a ninth principle ecstatic relationship with the Divine to discover a twelfth principle Emptiness as the ground of both self and god, passing from God to godhead. “When I say further: ‘God is Being’—that is not true. He is something quite transcendent. He is a Not-Being above Being.” (Eckhart, quoted in Otto, 42). “In Eckhart" writes Nishitani, "the pursuit of subjectivity necessitates the distinction between God and godhead. For the ground of subjectivity is to be found only at the point that one reaches beyond God for the absolute nothingness of godhead." And consistent with Zen's ‘form is emptiness, emptiness is form,’ “we must not suppose that Eckhart looked on absolute nothingness and the ‘uncreated I am’ as a never-never land far removed from actuality….Even though the field of godhead is called an absolute nothingness, Eckhart insists that it needs to be lived right in the midst of everyday life in the immediacy of which it discloses itself.” (Nishitani, 64).
Short of level IV awakenings, from the ninth principle plateau the self inevitably ‘falls back’ into the ‘ordinary’ world. In this respect, Ramana Maharshi distinguishes between nirvikalpa samadhi—the ninth principle culminating at point M/N—and sahaja samadhi—the twelfth principle culminating at point A/D:
When we have tendencies that we are trying to give up...and have to make conscious efforts to keep the mind one-pointed or free from thought, the thoughtless state which we thus attain is nirvikalpa samadhi. When, through practice, we are always in that state, not going into samadhi and coming out again, that is the sahaja state. In sahaja one sees the only Self and sees the world as a form assumed by the Self. (1962, 184)
One struggles to re-attain the ineffable state, sometimes falling back into the eighth principle—a 'dark night of the soul'. From the point of view of Zen, the telos of which firmly places it as a stage-level IV practice, the ninth denotes the 'cave of Satan' described by Kapleau as that state of deep serenity and bliss where one is “bedeviled into believing it to be Self-realization", a pseudo-emancipation requiring an inspired effort to go beyond it. Similarly, the eighth principle can manifest as a seduction by the siddhis (occult capacities and powers) and makyo ("visions, hallucinations, fantasies, revelations, illusory sensastions") which should hold no fascination to the steadfast stage-level IV meditator. As Yasutani Roshi instructs: "Whenever makyo appear, simply ignore them and continue sitting wholeheartedly." (Kapleau, 1980, 44)
This 'falling in and out' or 'falling back' from states of absorption or samadhi relates to the psychological idea of the difference between a temporarily accessed trans-egoic experience and a trans-egoic experience which actually effects a permanent change in the structure of the psyche. Goleman describes such altered traits as distinct from temporary altered states: "Altered traits are ongoing transformations in the nature of the meditator's consciousness and persist no matter what activity he may be engaged in....Altered traits are changes in consciousness that have become habitual and effortless; thus, they are an automatic feature of the person's baseline states of consciousness. They remain after the initial effort ceases." (p175)
While the ninth domain is attainable by many who utilize the right methods and struggle to achieve their goal, the twelfth domain cannot be attained. Beyond the ninth, one must enter the 'gateless gate': the tenth and eleventh principles are the gateless gate. The ninth is attainable through yogic concentration on an object of meditation through the methods that produce altered states, but the twelfth is possible only through radical insight into the very nature of Mind. Insight can occur only when hankering after the ecstatic absortion of the ninth principle ceases, only when one knows that the ninth is not the ultimate state.
The tenth principle (axis 10/4) is the intentional knower/watcher of mind practiced with absolute commitment and self control; a renunciation of both worldly desire and spiritual hunger, a complete self mastery and dedication to the path of Insight—indeed a Capricornian mastery. When, under the highest form of the eleventh principle, there is pure insight and understanding beyond striving, an understanding arising from an all-consuming watchfulness in the tenth beyond the lure of ecstatic samadhi in the ninth, then there can be a spontaneous occurrence of enlightenment under the twelfth principle.
Only through insight can the root of self and samsara be rooted out. In this spirit, Krishnamurti (1971) repeatedly insists that methods cannot get one to the silence which is the end of thought. The mind may learn that "I can see very clearly only when I am quiet" so "then it says, "How am I to be quiet? Surely such a question is wrong in itself; the moment it asks 'how' it is looking for a system....when you ask 'how', then there is the division between the observer and the thing observed." (p45) When the mind sees profoundly that it is not quiet, only then can it become spontaneously quiet in a state of non-hankering. This state of silent inquiry is not enlightenment (i.e 12th), but is the condition (11th) where enlightenment, the eternal mystery, may spontaneously arise. Such counsel has its precedent even within the Mahayana tradition itself where the "brilliant master of dialectic", the "enlightened Subhuti, repeatedly rejects any finite, systematic technique of meditation on Prajnaparamita":
This is a teaching without any path to its realization...The various spiritual paths or contemplative methods that purport to control, escape from, renounce or destroy limiting structures are ultimately useless, because no structure has ever been or could ever be sunbstantially encountered, much less stopped or dismantled. (Cited in Hixon, 25,26)
If 10/4 is the ongoing dedication and austere commitment of watchfulness and absolute self control, not missing a beat, seeing into the root of each thought-state as it arises, then 11/5 is the complex insight of the nets and webs of mind from past to present, individual and collective, the fruit of absolute understanding of maya and samsara, of self and other and of endless worlds; then further, it is a growing tired of all this endless Creation.
Where we pass directly from the D/A axis to the M/N axis as in Zen and causal level insight meditations, the experiential dimensionality of the third quadrant (level III) is provided by the tradition itself. In this sense the seventh principle denotes the precepts governing behaviour within the foundational social context of the sangha. The eighth principle denotes the concentrative energies as amplified through group living and sitting within the sanga. The ninth principle denotes the teachings, 'the awakening of faith', the whole cosmology and the being/instruction of the guru/teacher. This direct path is reserved only for the most committed and hardy of the spiritual mountain climbers. Of course, the Eastern path of the saint, of kundalini yoga, of devotional practice or bahkti are level III practices specifically. Level III is available to a larger number since these experiences do not require the absolute sustained efforts of level IV. As Walsh tells us: "Shamanism continues to offer today what it has offered for hundreds of thousands of yesterdays, a relatively easy means—and for most of human history perhaps the only means— of controlled transcendence." (249, 250). Yet the path of level III tranformation varies in accordance with the capacity of the individual to open, surrender and go with the cosmic flow of things.
The first and third quadrants at both levels I and III are primarily energic and experiential while the second and fourth quadrants at both levels have more to do with understanding. After the cosmic transformative experiencing of stage-level III, a new understanding is called for—the highest levels of Buddhism. At different levels, the dimensionality of Q1/Q3 despite participation is largely given—the incarnating soul, the body, the collective unconscious, the past, while the dimensionality of Q2/Q4 is discovered as knowledge. Stage-level I is instinctual, stage-level II mentally constructivist. Stage-level III is an experiential journey of, and through, soul realms which becomes established as the higher Self following the completion of stage II—a realization of Soul while embodied (which as said, is still constructivist from the point of view of the ultimate). Then stage IV, following stage III, brings ultimate Wisdom—the ability to translate experiencing back into the socially constructed world of humanity, to both experience and understand Emptiness and Suchness. Stage II understanding is conceptual, constructivist, translational while stage IV understanding is higher wisdom and insight into form and emptiness, the arising and impermanence of all phenomena and the emptiness of all phenomena (12/6). Ultimately, such understanding is not an experiencing or witnessing because that still implies things to be witnessed and experienced, as is still the case at level III.
The way in which the Q4/Q2 structure stands over Q2/Q4 from level IV marks the new mode of looking into the source of individual mind, the mind's endless creations which arise from the experience of the foundational mental-ego, the root of which survived the expanding and deepening experiences of level III; the mental-egoic self was not dissolved in its foundational essence. Although the self was able to surrender to the Cosmic Ground by the end of Stage III, it nevertheless remains, albeit in altered form, and reasserts itself and its creative activity. The psychotherapist Mark Epstein (1995) emphasizes the essential psychological dimension of Buddhist spiritual experience: "Far from being a mystical retreat from the complexities of mental and emotional experience, the Buddhist approach requires that all of the psyche be subject to meditative awareness...This examination is, by definition, psychological. Its object is to question the true nature of the self and to end the production of self-created mental suffering." (pp 3,4) In his attempt to bring together Eastern and Western approaches to psychotherapy, Epstein maintains that "psychoanalytic interpretors, and the naive meditators who have followed in their wake, have drawn inspiration only from concentration practices, and not from the more essential practices of the so-called Great Doubt. They have emphasized the oceanic experience, but not the more terrifying lack of inherent identity." (p96) But as level IV lifts up and integrates level II, "conceptual thought does not disappear as a result of meditative insight. Only the belief in the ego's solidity is lost." (p99). As level IV looks directly into the level II process, "meditation is not a means of forgetting the ego; it is a method of using ego to observe and tame its own manifestations. Development of the capacity to attend to the moment-to-moment nature of mind allows the self to be experienced without the distortion of idealization or wishful fantasy.” (p94).
Control and Surrender
Stage-structure II—the mental-egoic level—is about developing control: taking control through an intentionality based on intelligence and going beyond the instinctual drives of body and emotion. But while the second quadrant is about control, the third quadrant—at any level—is, of course, beyond rational control. What unfolds there does not accord with our intentions, expectations or attempts to direct the unfolding of things. Normally (i.e. at level II) it is relationship with others, the third quadrant, that requires us, for better and worse, to drop our agentic selves and open to communion. Will and reason have to get out of the way—give up their habitual 'in charge' role. Here reason must only attend and listen, 'accept' the irrational and the unpredictable as it arises and 'go with the flow'—the interpretor and translator pushed to the limits of its flexibility. So in keeping with this general archetypal meaning of the third quadrant, in stage-structure III, the controlling mind/will is called to let go and surrender, allow and open to all that is beyond it, to blend with all of which it is a part. It is called to surrender both to the collective unconscious realms (perinatal, past lives etc.), and to transcendent Soul realms. Level III is an immersion and absorption from which one inevitably falls back to an earlier state, evoking a longing to recapture the higher state, setting up a spiritual hankering and a quest for transcendence.
So stage-level III is an opening and a surrender—a giving up of control to processes at relational and transcendent levels. But by stage-structure IV a new and higher level of 'control' is called for. 'What 'remains', so to speak, of the stage II self comes back into play and is now to be realised at a level which includes the greater Whole. Stage III was happening beyond the control of the self, and one had to learn to skillfully ride the waves of existence: the greater Kosmos is already there as an Infinity to be opened into. Level III is the higher octave of being-as-an-integral-part of Nature—now an integral part of a multidimensional trans-time/space Kosmos. But the telos of stage IV is the discovery of one's identity with the Kosmos: ultimately the Kosmos as Emptiness. The Self discovers its Self as Emptiness. No longer is one surfing the wave; one is the wave. Level IV awareness is thoroughly immanent, concerned with each phenomenon as it arises, an awareness that leads to a consciousness of Emptiness that lies at the core of even the highest level III transcendent experience, unity with the divine. Stage-level IV grounded at M/N is an intentional act of commitment to an unremitting practice of insight self-awareness moment to moment. This is full conscious intentionality after the immersion in the emergent species unconscious of stage III. It calls for the strongest integrated ego (structure-level II). It is awareness from the whole and of the whole—both the whole of consecutive moments without the wandering of attention and the whole field of experience arising.
So the transpersonal quality which defines level III is one of stopping and giving up control, while the self, now entwined with 'other', with the cosmos, comes to reveal its hidden and awe-inspiring depths and multidimensionality. The rational self indeed remains, albeit as transformed witness. Yet that which it has witnessed, though a much larger truth, is still constructed in relation to the karmically shaped self. In level IV this transformed and opened self is now called to look directly into its own self nature. Here is an ultimate capacity for attention, discipline and control which is not 'power over', not born of an unconscious self structure. No longer identified with bodily, emotional and energic experience, this is pure mind looking into pure mind. Level III does not call for this moment-to-moment awareness in ordinary waking consciousness in the world. The experiential multidimensionality of level III was still essentially conditioned by Mind (Soul level) in the largest sense. Past lives, the Bardo realm, Kundalini, other worlds—these are Mind-constructed realities (beyond the individual mind of course). At level IV, consciousness goes to the heart of the Mind constructive process itself.
Mind and Emptiness
When the robe and the bowl—symbols of transmission of the Buddhist dharma down through the ages—were to be handed down from the fifth to the sixth patriarch of Chinese zen (chan), the well known story goes that the chief monk, Shen Hsui, expecting to receive the title of the sixth patriarch, wrote a stanza on the wall to demonstrate his depth of understanding of the dharma. It read:
Our body is the Bodhi-tree,
And our mind a mirror bright.
Carefully we wipe them hour by hour
And let no dust alight.
Hui Neng, an illiterate peasant working in the monastery's kitchen, yet secretly known by the fifth Patriarch to have already achieved enlightenment, wrote a different verse under the first. Upon finding it, the Patriarch, who had not wanted to stir up dangerous monastery politics, rubbed it out giving his conditional approval to the verse of Shen Hsui as an important guide to zen practice. But that night he secretly awarded Hui Neng the robe and the begging bowl, bidding him safe journey on his path of spreading the dharma. Hui Neng had written:There is no Bodhi-tree,
Nor stand of a mirror bright.
Since all is void,
Where can the dust alight?
Shen Hsui's verse most clearly captures the quality of the diligent practice of steadfast mindfulness (10/4) and the insight into the nature of mind as a mirror which in itself is untouched by its contents (11/5), unstained and unaffected by mental defilements which are only like superficial dust that can be swept clean through moment to moment attention. But the verse of Hui Neng represents a quantum leap of insight into the 12/6 to A/D level of realization. Mind is not even an unstained mirror, since from the beginning not a thing is, neither mirror nor dust—all is Emptiness.
Beyond pure Emptiness is the Realization of the ultimate identity of nirvana and samsara: a condition aptly symbolized by the 12/6 axis (the highest octave of the symbolic balance of the Day and Night forces) culminating in the transcendent Unity of A/D at the highest level. In his introduction to the classic Mahayana text, The Awakening of Faith by Asvaghosha, Yoshito Hakeda expresses this clearly:
The Mind...represents the Absolute as it is expressed in the temporal order. The Mind necessarily contains within itself two orders or aspects—the transcendental and the phenomenal, the universal and the particular, the infinite and the finite, the static and the dynamic, the sacred and the profane, the Absolute and the relative, and so on. The Absolute order, therefore, does not exist apart from the relative order; rather, they differ epistemologically but not ontologically. Man is presented as being located at the intersection of these opposing orders. The state of man, who belongs intrinsically to the Absolute order and yet in actuality remains in the phenomenal, finite, and profane order, is expressed in terms of the Tathagata-garbha or 'Matrix of Tathagata'....The concept of the 'Matrix of Tathagata' grew up out of attempts to explain how man, while residing in the temporal order, at the same time may possess the potential ability to instate or reinstate himself in the infinite order...to attain enlightenment...(Hakeda/Asvagosha, 13)
In Yogacara Buddhism, an earlier school of Mahayana Buddhism than the madyamika (Nagarjuna) and Zen (Hui Neng), there is the concept of eight levels of consciousness. The highest of these levels, the eighth level, is called the 'store consciousness', the alaya vijnana, which I suggest corresponds in our model both to the 11/5 level of pure Mind and the 10/4 structure of the ultimate trans-individual karmic source which is the archetypal foundation of the actual structure of the phenomenal world at all lower levels. According to Jeremy Hayward the alaya vijnana
literally translates as 'basis-of-all consciousness'...the underlying structure in the developing process of consciousness which represents the capacity of consciousness to construct future acts on the basis of past habits and behaviour. It is the 'store consciousness' because it stores the impressions or 'seeds' of all past actions as potentialities for the activation of future actions. It is thus also known as the 'retributive consciousness' because from within it all past actions eventually come to fruition in retributive consequences....As the store of all past impressions, this consciousness is like a vast library system, or like the memory storage system of a computer....[pure tenth principle!] the eighth consciousness does provide a basis for the sense of continuity [time]—it is in the eighth consciousness that the seed of personal identity resides during the transitions between momentary perceptions, and during the discontinuity of physical death. (253,254).
It is point M (i.e. M/N) which holds the form of structure-level III, the between-life bardo state. In later schools of Buddhism there is a level of awareness beyond the eighth consciousness which is purely non referential emptiness. Beyond Shen Hsui's perfectly polished mirror—the eleventh principle (11/5)—is the emptiness of even this mirror-mind itself—the twelfth principle (level 12/6). D.T. Suzuki describes the Buddhist conception of the nature of the absolute as both emptiness and phenomena:
Zen is a school of Buddhism and has developed from the enlightenment-experience of Sakyamuni. This experience is best expressed by the doctrine of sunyata, which means 'emptiness'. (p261) When sunyata is awakened to itself or becomes aware of itself, which is 'knowing and seeing' itself, we have another name for it: sunyata is tathata, 'suchness'....While sunyata may erroneously appear to be negativistic, there is nothing in the concept of tathata that would suggest the idea of negativity. Tathata is the viewing of things as they are...(p263) If sunyata denies or rejects everything, tathata accepts and upholds everything; the two concepts may be considered as opposing each other, but it is the Buddhist idea that they are not contradictory, that it is from our relativistic point of view that they seem so. In truth, tathata is sunyata, and sunyata is tathata.(p264)
The indologist Heinrich Zimmer speaks of the highest level of being according to Yogacara Buddhism: "The universal 'repository consciousness'—pure thought, in and of itself—is the wellspring of every possible creative idea and hence of the unending series of transient thoughts through which are realized both the life-process of each individual and panorama of the whole phenomenal world." (531). Zimmer describes how this view gives rise to a doctrine of karma unlike that of the Hinayana which sees karma
as solely, or even primarily, a function of the life ignorance of the individual, representing the continuity of one specific causal chain"....Instead of an action being a 'seed' which is to bear fruit, it itself is the fruit of a seed in the 'repository consciousness'. Karma is this universal 'seed' of which all action is the fruit; an imaginary seed, fertilizing as it were the unstained immaculate womb of the alaya-vijnana, causing it to bring forth imaginary individuals, imaginary universes. (532)
I believe that this might be seen as an apt metaphysical account of the downwardly creative emanation of pure eleventh principle Mind in interaction with the tenth principle archetypal Karmic ground of all phenomenal manifestation.
The ninth, tenth and eleventh principles can also be understood as signifying the bodhisattava in the deepest sense born from the love and realized unity in the ninth principle which is not content with the samadhi or absorption of the ninth as long as the collective remains unreleased (i.e. as long as there are still unenlightened sentient beings—which means for eternity). At the fourth stage or transcendent level, tenth principle becomes the absolute on-going commitment to Awakening within the context of the true bodhisattva vow. Noospheric tenth principle reveals the cultural, conventional, and the non-absolute foundation that originally conditioned one's mental-egoic self. Hence, from the transcendent perspective the fourth principle's 'inner' foundation—the complex self concept based on the self-creating inner dialogue (3:4)—is seen for what it is, and in the face of such direct penetrating awareness can no longer stand. An inner ‘void’ or bottomlessness begins to emerge; consequently one's character structure is realized to be that which held this larger reality at bay, controlling its emergence and giving it the shape with which one inwardly identified. At 10/4 we contact the Source of ‘this world’ which is more than this physical plane, including as it does numerous planes or rings in the bardo. As long as we are established somewhere in level III (but not yet in level IV) we will continue to return to this physical plane. Drawing on accounts such as that of Bache, Monroe etc., we can speculate that only as the Soul moves decisively across the M/N boundary can there be the ‘choice’ not to return to the physical plane.
From the point of view of the eleventh principle (level IV), the bodhisattva actively works for the transformation and liberation of the collective. Eleventh principle reveals that indeed one's enlightenment does imply the enlightenment of all sentient beings since we are all absolutely connected with one another. Here is the ending of all attachments and influences and the realization of the spiritual brother/sisterhood at the low causal level. Fifth principle (level IV) then symbolizes that the power of self (Leo) is for the enlightenment of all sentient beings. Enlightened beingness no longer with 'character structure' (4th) shines forth non-egocentrically like the Zen master, authentic, powerful, thoroughly present without the attached egoic nucleus. 11/5 looks into the creation at their Source of 'All Worlds' going beyond even the worlds of the level III Bardo. 12/6 enters the Ground from which 'All Worlds' arise.
Twelfth principle (level IV) illuminates the Whole, the ultimate ‘don't know’, the final letting go, the Causal and Ultimate levels. Sixth principle (level IV) symbolizes consciousness still operating through a physical presence, like the monk in the last of the Zen oxherding pictures, totally in the world—humble, selfless, thoroughly serving and perfected. As Lex Hixon (1993) describes, upon awakening "the bodhisattva vow remains in full force, even exponentially increasing in compassionate intensity, yet it is no longer understood as a vow to change or transform any structure in any way....The bodhisattvas vow simply that all beings become conscious of universal enlightenment, which is the fact that the intrinsic nature of awareness, or life itself, is just Buddha nature—simple, direct, total." (cited in Hixon, p.37). Rather than the relative absorbed into the absolute,
[t]he relative is a full partner in mystic union with the absolute. In fact, because it is the proper sphere of compassionate action, the relative becomes more prominent, more spiritually charged, than the absolute....[t]his exaltation of relativity, this adamantine concern for relative existence, implies that compassion, far from being an external or secondary adjunct to transcendent insight, must itself become the primary expression of unitive awareness. Such Gnostic Great Compassion permits one to embrace the absolute, which is transparent openness, and the relative, which is the harmonious functioning of all possible structures [both being Piscean archetypes], at the very same time and with the very same passionate gesture of heart and mind. Selfless love for all beings thus itself becomes the radical wisdom of nonduality. (p10)
In terms of actual human beings 'attaining enlightenment' beyond the purely metaphysical accounts of our model, we are reminded of the timeless identity— symbolized by the beginningless and endless circle—of the Absolute and the Relative by these words of the famous 13th century Japanese zen master, Dogen:
Students, even if you gain enlightenment, do not stop practicing, thinking that you have attained the ultimate. The Buddha Way is endless. Once enlightened you must practice all the more.