Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ego transcendence?

In re-reading the "context-transcendent meaning" thread this morning recall this post, where Bonnie provides a Cook-Greuter paper. My comment following it has been pasted below, relevant to recent ruminations:

One immediate problem I see with CG's scheme is that despite her protects to the contrary she maintains the increasingly complex hierarchical scale from postformal into ego transcendence, as if one has to be postformal first before going post-symbolic. In other words, as I criticized Commons et al in the real and false reason thread, it extends this formal operational, linear progression into post (and post post) formal operations. Whereas I don't think it even requires postformal operations to go post-symbolic. However one can, and often does, interpret post-symbolic experience metaphysically so it does require a postformal interpretation to go postmetaphysical.

Now CG does go into the state v. stage differentiation, which is import here. Here she agrees with Wilber that the transcendental experience is available at any stage but only as a fleeting “state” experience. We then interpret it from the level of our ego development or “stage.” When one can stabilize these states they can become higher stages. Here she agrees with Wilber before he went postmetaphysical with the WC lattice, but she hasn't kept up with this last development. Hence she continues to interpret the post-symbolic with eastern meditative descriptions of ego transcendence in very metaphysical terms. At least Wilber is moving away from this, although not completely.

Now CG does note that Commons et al with their higher postformal stages are still stuck in more complex symbolical thinking, a criticism I also had in the real/false reason thread. And I agree with CG that there is a different kind of processing that happens in post-symbolism attained through methods like meditation. But where we part ways is when she continues to frame it in those traditional eastern, metaphysical ways. And she has this “stage” after construct aware, which most traditional meditators never reach.

Hence she starts conflating the construct-aware stage with some of the traits of the meditative tradition, like noting at this stage is the first time the ego becomes aware of itself, transparent to itself. I do not disagree that this stage is valid, or that one characteristic is indeed this ego awareness and transparency. It is indeed a further development over how most meditators interpret their nonetheless ego “transcendent” experiences. The latter thought does not equate to this level of interpretation.

CG's reasoning though is that such “state” experiences per above are only temporary for such meditators until they stabilize them in such higher stages. No, they never ever have to reach a higher than formal stage to stabilize such transcendent experience. Without the WC lattice and postmetaphysics her model is still quite limited about this apparent dilemma.

Another romantic and metaphysical notion CG maintains is that these “state” experiences are themselves the goal of enlightenment, and that they are what they seem on the surface: direct, immediate and unmediated by symbol, aka our friend the myth of the given all over again. All gift-wrapped in traditional interpretation that the symbolic ego is the bad guy here, the one that prevents us from this permanent, pristine, pure and ever-present experience of God. We see this in her unitive stage, where one merely accepts, and directly perceives, reality “as is.”

Again, I have no disagreement with even the unitive stage, just her metaphysical interpretation of it and its placement in the scheme (see references below). Another thing I noted in the real/false reason thread is that one can be partially post (or post post) formal in some domains or contexts while still remaining formal or metaphysical in others. Or even within the same domains in different contexts. There isn't a a monolithic one-size-fits-all “stage.” That in itself is still a formal characteristic carried over into an otherwise post (or post post if you're really into being superior, as developmentalists tend to be) view. All of which of course would say I haven't yet reached the unitive stage because of what I just said. In that they still remain like Wilber tied to their monolithic and hegemonic kosmic addressing.

My opinion if further reinforced by CG's concluding propositions, that we take up a traditional meditative practice and surrender to the guru to be properly “verified” in our ego transcendent experiences, and to help stablize them. Recall the traditions themselves are still stuck in metaphysical interpretations, interpretations that CG retains in describing the unitive stage and beyond. Still mix-and-matching like Wilber in this, but as I said, Wilber, while still guilty of it, has gone beyond it in ways CG has yet to fathom.

As to my own interpretations of all this, which are well know to long-time readers of the forum, see for example the referenced real/false reason thread as well as more recent threads like “what 'is' the difference,” “integral postmetaphysical nonduality,” or “kosmic addressing of mystical experience.”

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