The Enlightened Intersubjective and its Properties
In my last post, I wrote about Enlightened Communication. But this way of communicating invokes a very specific state, which I call the Enlightened Intersubjective, and which has very specific properties. First of all, it is an intersubjective state. This means that it does not occur in one individual, but is invoked between individuals. Andrew Cohen writes: “What was once a subjective experience becomes an intersubjective experience. Because we meet in the Authentic Self, the difference between the one and the many disappears and the enlightened mind becomes the one voice speaking to itself”. Or in the words of Chris Parish: “Emergence happens betweenpeople. At this point in evolution, we can’t be fully human without other people. Historically, the fact that human awakening happens between subjects is still a relatively new discovery”.
Referring to Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of morphic resonance, Chris calls this consciousness a field rather than a static property: “Consciousness really is not subject to time and space at all… it is nowhere and everywhere, you can’t grasp it… It is not separate from us, [or] between us… it is more like a field”.
So does this consciousness only occur between people? Using the lens of the four quadrants of Integral Theory reveals that more dimensions are active than obvious at first sight. It arises in the collective interior or Lower Left, but this is paired with a strong individual interior experience in the Upper Left. And, assuming that this state is related to Sheldrake’s morphic field, the interior experience would coincide with collective exterior, or Lower Right, networks of morphogenesis, which is channeled through the individual’s individual exterior, or Upper Right neurological capacity. So even if the Enlightened Intersubjective may arise in the Lower Left, it actively connects all quadrants or dimensions of our experience. But then what is cause and effect; what is the “home” of this unusual phenomenon?
The answer might be in the fact that this field is far from static. Participants describe getting in touch with this consciousness as a dynamic surge. Andrew Cohen describes it as “a tidal wave rushing in, a consciousness that seemed to collectively surge forth… and then, just as quickly as it rushed in, like all waves do it would return back to its source and disappear”. I dug up a letter I once wrote to Andrew Cohen (in December 2002): “As soon as we sat down, I felt a surge wiping the room clean of all self-centered motivations, and when we spoke, a [wild] current was created that took us far beyond what we could understand”. Chris Parish describes it as a strongly felt “self-arising impetus to move forward”. If looked at from an Evolutionary Enlightenment perspective, this consciousness holds the dynamic expression of what Andrew Cohen calls the Evolutionary Impulse. And placing this dynamic emergence in the context of the quadrants, we can see that while catalyzed by the collective act of human communication, it emerges or, in Ken Wilber’s language tetra-arises, in all quadrants simultaneously.
Yet this wild emergence is not the only dimension. According to Chris Parish, “people often say that after these discussions, or even in moments of quietness between thoughts, they feel that their experience is deeper than a whole day of meditation; it is totally at peace”. One participant says: “We were as One Body. This unity destroyed all boundaries between meditation and communion, speech and silence”. Another participant describes what Chris calls an “interplay” of Being and Becoming: “When someone spoke, it was like they stepped forward from some unborn place to become. As soon as they finished speaking, they seemed unborn again, and my mind could not remember who had just spoken”. What we are seeing here is the state of Being, or the empty ground of Enlightenment, which seems opposite to the dynamic surge of emergence described previously.
Nonduality? Paradox? New State?
Are these the properties of mere randomly occurring phenomenological states? If that were the case, there could not be the coherence in all the various descriptions from participants. Phenomenological states are states like being happy, angry, or bored; states that come and go, subject to internal and external influences, but without specific structure. In my own experience of Enlightened Communication I can have an experience of the Enlightened Intersubjective that is unequalled in its exhilaration, yet go through a phenomenological experience of anxiety (about not “knowing” the right answer), fatigue (because of a late night), or irritation (because of an annoying participant); but the coherence in participants’ descriptions of seemingly contradictory state experiences points to the existence of a structure behind them.
It is here that I turn to the classical state-sequence of the great traditions, which have been brought together in a theoretical framework for the first time by Integral Theory. Pioneer Daniel P. Brown, who compared three major Eastern traditions and found great similarities in the stages of spiritual realization, identified the sequence of “gross preliminaries and training, then subtle experiences of light and luminosity, then variations on formless absorption or causal “black near-attainment”, [and] then breakthrough into nondual realization”. Depending on the tradition, these are stages of increasing embrace of the non-manifest, or divine, or primordial nature of Spirit. Although one can peak-experience any one of these states, when training them in a spiritual tradition they tend to occur in this specific sequence, and can even be invoked at will.
I tried holding the Enlightened Intersubjective against the light of this sequence. In beginning an Enlightened Communication session, participants often walk in fresh, and we can assume that they come in from a gross state of awareness. But by beginning the discussion and requesting from each participant to leave their personal issues behind and focus on a spiritual text, a discussion unfolds that quickly takes everyone into a subtle dimension. Participants are encouraged to focus as much as on what is said as on what is not said but sensed between them; rather than focusing on the gross reality of words spoken, one tunes into the source they come from. The more the subtle field of consciousness becomes a felt reality, the more participants are able to tune into it and gain confidence in its reality.
And here, we are getting to the point. On the one hand, participants gain enough confidence in the subtle reality of the field of consciousness that they gain access to the state of “deep meditation” that Chris Parish described. This sounds very much like opening a door between the subtle and the causal state. At the same time an emergence takes place, causing animated, sometimes fiery discussion, described by participants as the “surge” or “current”. How do these two phenomena go together? The nature of the causal realm is that the manifest dimension of reality falls to the background; one gains confidence in a non-manifest reality, and as one enters the causal realm, one lets go of the manifest. But here, in the Enlightened Intersubjective, one feels rooted in what Brown called “formless absorption”, yet passionately engages in manifest form and one’s own creative emergence as a human being.
Could it be that the Enlightened Intersubjective is a quick road to nondual awareness? This might be so, but it still does not solve the problem of the trajectory taken: the nondual state classically only takes place after absorption in the formless, or cessation, experienced in the causal state, which is usually a hard-fought state that requires a painful process, called dark night of the soul, of letting go of one’s attachment to the manifest. Here, there is no exclusively non-manifest realm, nor is there a dark night to go through; what we are seeing is the highly unusual and previously unknown simultaneous occurrence of two seemingly opposite states, which build on each other yet are distinct, and arise in one process rather than as separate, static qualities.
I think that we are seeing a new state phenomenon, which, given that Enlightened Communication takes place in the context of a new evolutionary spirituality, would make sense. The traditional sequence of gross-subtle-causal-nondual seems to now include the possibility of gross-subtle-causal/evolutionary-nondual. Logically, with the emergence of a new, evolutionary enlightenment, the spiritual states themselves would be evolving, too.
Next: Part 3 - Other States of Emergence, and Seeing the Obvious/Invisible
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