The Unveiling of Origin

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Magic Garden, by Paul Klee, 1926

In the consciousness mutations, there is a process of rearrangement in a discontinuous and intermittent (sprunghaft) form apart from spatially and temporally dependent events. These processes of relocation make it possible for the intensified spiritual origin to be assimilated into human consciousness. Origin itself comes to awareness in a discontinuous mutation: consciousness mutations are completions of integration (Gebser 39).

In my article, Origin and Beginning, I have attempted to say a few words about what the idea of “Origin” means to Jean Gebser. You might want to peruse that prior to reading this installment. 

Basically, I see Gebser’s Origin as similar to what Hermeticism calls The All. Speculating further, one also finds similarity between Origin and Giordano Bruno’s idea of God. Bruno’s theological thought stemmed from an anti-Neoplatonic cosmology, but seemed to embrace a Neoplatonic theology. He agrees with Nicholas of Cusa and Plotinus that God was totally beyond every concept and knowledge. In fact, as Plotinus asserted, God is even beyond ‘being,’ understood as ‘being something specific and determinable’  (Mendoza 140). Gebser views Origin as the ground from which all things spring forth. But this originary presence is not to be viewed as a telos, or as some origin in the past. Origin is non-temporal and non-spatial in every way. It is ever-present.

Now, in the above passage, Gebser is describing the mutations of consciousness as processes that do not follow any regular pattern, and that irrupt chaotically. They are “rearrangements” of consciousness, and they are completely free of any temporal and spatial dependencies. Intermittently and discontinuously, consciousness becomes rearranged by means of mutation in order to further integrate and assimilate what Gebser refers to as “the intensified spiritual origin.” This is the intermingling of the divine (for want of a better word to describe God) with our humanity. It is a complete reacquaintance with Origin, the true spiritual essence. Our true Self is this integration of God and man. It is what William Blake called the Poetic Genius, and it is what Jesus meant when he said, “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” (John 10:34, KJV). The entire enterprise of Gebser (and of Jesus, for that matter) was one of bringing to awareness the nature of our True selves, that we are destined to be god-humans. Furthermore, this destiny is probably programmed into our DNA, but there are many ways to reject one’s destiny. If we choose complacency over action, the integral mode of consciousness cannot revolutionize our lives.

Now, soul is said to be the bridge between spirit and matter. Plato referred to this as metaxy, the state of in-between-ness. It is the middle way between all polarities. As Nietzsche said, “Man is a rope fastened between animal and Superman–a rope over an abyss” (Nietzsche 43). Soul is the via regia to the integral mode of consciousness, to Origin, to the intermingling of God and man. It is up to us to actually place ourselves on this road and begin traveling. In other words, there is a volitional element involved.

Physicist David Bohm describes how the man’s Weltanschauung can be changed:,

Man’s general way of thinking of the totality, i.e. his general world view, is crucial for overall order of the human mind itself. If he thinks of the totality as constituted of independent fragments, then that is how his mind will tend to operate, but if he can include everything coherently and harmoniously in an overall whole that is undivided, unbroken and without border (for every border is a division or break) then his mind will tend to move in a similar way, and from this will flow an orderly action within the whole (Bohm ix).

To remain in our current state of consciousness, the deficient mental-rational, means utter and complete fragmentation. This is what we see all around us everyday. Whenever a nation refuses to allow refugees safe passage across their borders, it is evidence that said nation is enmeshed in the deficient mental-rational mode of thought. Whenever any of these refugees commit acts of terror against those nations that do offer them shelter, it is an example of the deficient mental-rational structure of consciousness. But, as Bohm says, if we can see things in a holistic manner, the rearrangement of consciousness will occur and humans will intermingle with the gods. We have a very long way to travel.

 

Works Cited

Bohm, David. Wholeness and the Implicate Order. New York: Routledge, 1980.

Gebser, Jean. The Ever-Present Origin. Trans. by Noel Barstad and Algis Mickunas. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1985.

Mendoza, Ramon G. The Acentric Labyrinth. Rockport: Element, 1995.

Friedrich Nietzsche. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Trans. Walter Kauffman and R.J. Hollingdale. New York: Penguin, 1969.

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The Doctors of Soul: Plotinus

Plotinus, from The School of Athens, by Raphael

Plotinus was the greatest of Neoplatonists. He never called his philosophy Neoplatonism. The name was created in the 19th century by stuffy European historians who enjoyed splitting history into periods. He lived circa 205-270 C.E. Plotinus considered himself a Platonist, even though he developed his own brilliant philosophy. His magnum opus was The Enneads, which were written in Rome. In the ways of soul, he was a master.

On the surface, Plotinus did not seem to be very influential to Jung’s thought. According to James Hillman, “Jung’s references to Plotinus and Neoplatonism are few. Plotinus appears not to have been one of Jung’s direct or favorite sources, and at least two standard works on Plotinus in Jung’s library stand there still with pages uncut” (Hillman 149). However, the two shared a common concern: “what is the nature of psychic reality” (Hillman 150).

In his essay, Plotino, Ficino, and Vico as Precursors of Archetypal Psychology, Hillman presents several points in Plotinus’ thought that are common to depth psychology, and, specifically, to archetypal psychology. First, humans can act unconsciously. Plotinus believed the soul possesses memories which are unconscious. These can exist concurrently with consciousness. Plotinus has even been called “the discoverer of the unconscious,” by H.R. Schwyzer, in his work, Consciousness and Unconsciousness in Plotinus (379, 390). Also, Plotinus believed in one universal soul, which can be compared to what we know as the Anima Mundi.

Hillman’s next point concerning Plotinus’ teaching is that “consciousness is mobile and multiple.” By this he means that consciousness does not necessarily need to be tied to just one aspect of the psyche, such as the ego. Plotinus believed in the multiplicity of consciousness, just as archetypal psychology does. Plotinus says in (Plotinus I, 1, 9), “man is many,” meaning man possesses many sides, both good and bad. Jung, says Hillman, presents a similar multiplicity of consciousness in his idea of the dissociability of the psyche into many complexes each with its light of nature, its spark or scintilla” (ibid.).

Plotinus was probably the first thinker to distinguish between a strictly ego-consciousness, our daily, quotidian mode of consciousness, and the total human psyche, which includes symbolic modes of consciousness. He also believed that each soul is commensurate with the universal soul, as well. Referring to this notion, Hillman comments that “we become precisely the activity we enact, the memory we remember; man is many, Proteus, flowing everywhere as the universal soul and potentially all things” (Hillman 151). The idea of the protean human harkens back to the ever-changing fiery flux of Heraclitus’ world, and his idea of the unlimited depths of soul.

Plotinus believed the imagination is primary to the soul. In fact, conscious experience would not occur if not for imagination. It is similar to a mirror in that, “by means of it the reflection of consciousness takes place” (ibid.). Not only that, but “imagination is an active power of the soul alone, independent of organs, and thus a purely psychic activity” (ibid.). Jung was also of the mind that “every psychic process is an image and an ‘imagining,’ otherwise no consciousness could exist” (qtd. in Hillman, 152). So, it is not far from these assertions to say that Plotinus was very close to the notion of archetypes in the unconscious psyche.

Next, Plotinus believed in the identification of personal soul and world soul, which both Jung and Hillman assert. It is a paradoxical union, where there is, in fact, a slight distinction between personal and collective, but there really isn’t. The lines between collective myth and personal imaginings blur in metaxical, paradoxical beauty.

Finally, for depth psychologists like Jung and Hillman, as well as the ancient Doctor of Soul, Plotinus, the soul is foundational. It is the bedrock for all other learning, teaching, and philosophizing. Hillman says,

Plotinus and Jung share a root vision based on the primary metaphor of soul, so that everything said is both a statement of the soul and by the soul as well as a statement on and about the soul. Soul is both subject and object of their concern” (Hillman 153).

Of the Doctors of Soul covered so far, Plotinus is the one I know the least about. Doing the research for this article has opened up new avenues of thought and imaginings that I hope will bear much creative fruit. 

Bibliography

Hillman, James. Loose Ends. Irving: Spring, 1978.

Plotinus. The Six Enneads. Trans. by Stephen Mackenna and B. S. Page. http://classics.mit.edu/Plotinus/enneads.html

Schwyzer, H.R. Bewusst und unbewusst bei Plotin. in Les sources de Plotin. ed. E. R. Dodds, W. Theiler. (Geneva: 1957.  

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