Saturday, June 22, 2013

Andrew Cohen, Craig Hamilton and evolutionary enlightenment

Over at IPS Balder started a thread on Cohen stepping down as Guru. I re-posted the following from an '09 IPS Gaia thread on Hamilton's authentic enlightenment program.

Speaking of old posts and threads, recall this one from Gaia on Hamilton and Authentic Enlightenment? I've enclosed my concluding remarks from the thread below, relevant here as well.

Speaking of idealization, recall what Epstein said in the Buddhism & Psychoanalysis thread:

“At the core of the self-representation as agent lies the narcissistically invested ego, an idea which the ego has of itself as perfect and inviolable. The ego ideal involves a sense of inherent perfection…. While concentration practices can temporarily suspend ego boundaries and provide a deep sense of ontological security through the merger of ego and ego ideal, insight practices operate within the ego system itself.

“Concentration practices do indeed evoke the ego ideal and the oceanic feeling in a manner well described by generations of analytic commentators, but the mindfulness practices, which define the Buddhist approach, seek to dispel the illusory ontology of the self encapsulated within the ideal ego.”

So from Wilber we have the notion that it is the self-system that is the key to integrating all the levels, lines, states, types, etc. The latter includes the so-called transcendental or causal meditative state and the cognitive line itself. So first off “enlightenment” cannot be the combination of the highest state and highest cognitive level, since the self system not only can be but most often is split within itself and at numerous levels (via subpersonalities) simultaneously. This split does not just occur in deep dysfunction like Sybil but is the ordinary state of everyone's self-system, to some degree. If modern psychoanalysis has taught us anything it's that we're all fucked up. So as Kornfield says, we have to explore this with trained personnel to get at it. And no, just using your ILP home starter kit by yourself isn't going to cut it.

In a very real sense each of us is all over the place in lines, levels and states. So it's hard to see how this typical selfsystem, with its own competing sub-personalities and worldviews, can integrate anything without some form of self-system therapy. And meditative traditions in themselves just aren't going to get at this, given that they were created without the benefit of the psychoanalytic enactments from an entirely different cultural base. Meditative traditions just don't have a clue in this regard.

Plus we have to look at the embedded cultural and sub-cultural dysfunctional biases built into the eastern meditative traditions. One of these is the bias toward the transcendental and states of consciousness that seemingly support such “objective” realms. Hence we have deep concentrative practices that seem to elicit an experience of oceanic oneness with the universe, a place that is “perfect and inviolable.” We can see this remnant in Wilber’s model with the notion of the antecedent-transcendental self. It’s the same as consciousness per se as the ultimate measure of all altitude. As Heron notes it’s the ultimate consciousness state that acts as the arbiter and supposedly integrator of all, even above the proximate and distal self. Since the self is what ties everything together he has to have this transcendent principal in the self-system lest it be just another state or stage to be integrated.

Yet then we have the notion that even those who have achieved such a transcendental state of so-called enlightenment have completely fucked up human personalities. So the transcendent aspect of the self-system did not integrate all the other level, lines, states etc. If we’re to believe Epstein that the transcendental self is a narcissistic ego idealization causing the problem in the first place then we need to “dispel the illusory ontology of the self encapsulated within the ideal ego.” We need to get at a more grounded practice might have us operating within the ego system itself, via mindfulness and therapy. Then we might obtain a more accurate picture by actually integrating the various aspects of body and psyche within ourselves, families and cultures and from this vantage create more equitable, human ideas about “spirituality.”

To return to Hamilton’s original comments, I’d agree with him that we need to redefine spirituality and nonduality as an “enlightened humanity” by way of an integration of the various lines. He says it’s not “discover[ing] that only the Absolute or Unmanifest is ultimately real” through a meditative line that is divorced from all others. The nondual includes the relative realm of pain and suffering.

On the other hand he does seem to maintain that old dualistic nonduality in that there really is an enlightened absolute that can transform the painful relative world. “Authentic” realization still recognizes “that the unmanifest ground of everything is a limitless perfection.” And this “true” nondual realization is the integrator of all the lines. In a sense it’s Wilber’s transcendental self at the heart of the self-system. It has the ego ideal written all over it.

Yet I agree with some of his conclusion in that we need to create and apply new spiritual forms relevant to our pomo culture. He just doesn’t go far enough and recognize the heart of the problem in ego idealization, and that the developmental ego is the means of our relative liberation. That realization is quite a transformative experience and gets us down to brass tacks instead of following illusory rainbows with their mythical pots of gold guarded over by leprechauns.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.