The first phase of the supersensory stage (Band 3, Level 1) as we have seen is of a positive nature.
Now to posit in holistic mathematical terms simply means to make conscious!. So positive in this context, implies a new enhanced form of consciousness that is so intuitively inspired that it breaks down the normal dualistic categories that define conventional understanding.
So in direct terms such intuition reflects a nondual source of spiritual light which then transforms and considerably "curves" normal consciousness rendering relationships circular and thereby paradoxical (from a dualistic standpoint).
However though the initial phase can be intense and exciting, it tends to lead to a growing sense of conflict.
The reason for this is quite simple! One has now been exposed to a new form of nondual consciousness (relating to the unconscious). However in many ways one will still be bound by everyday responsibilities and habits of understanding based on linear type consciousness.
Therefore a clash as between dual and nondual is inevitable with one not yet able to properly integrate this "higher" spiritual awareness into normal consciousness.
So as well as the old gross active attachments still exercising a hold on personality, a new type of passive attachment is increasingly likely to be present.
Once again active attachment arise from undue identification with the directly conscious phenomena of experience; passive attachment arise from corresponding undue identification with indirectly conscious phenomena (through which holistic unconscious awareness is mediated).
Now whereas one can take some active course to negate the first type of attachment (by going in the opposite conscious direction), one can only cope with passive attachment through the authentic deepening of unconscious awareness.
In the spiritual literature, the passive attachment relates to the desire for spiritual consolations (where one feels directly comforted by the presence of God).
However passive attachment would also arise with respect to both affective and cognitive experience.
For example an undue degree of emotional attachment in a relationship (though genuinely inspired by spiritual desire) would constitute a good example here! Also intellectual attachment to new types of understanding based on paradoxical type appreciation would again serve as an obvious illustration.
Passive attachment could also arise in a negative context. Indeed the very desire to pursue contemplation in place of - perhaps - more humdrum conventional activities again could easily constitute a passive attachment (of a more negative kind) where the motivation is the desire to avoid what one finds unpleasant.
Now as the initial illumination which started the stage begins to die out, these attachments are likely to grow considerably. One in effect can feel very uncomfortable, caught as it were as between two worlds. One may certainly have caught a strong glimpse of a new spiritual reality but will still be somewhat immature in this regard. However equally one will have moved sufficiently away from worldly concerns so as to no longer derive great meaning from them.
For a while one keeps as it were attempting to be part of both worlds. However as the conflict continues to increase, one unconsciously becomes increasingly aware of the need for a more radical surrender with respect to these lingering attachments.
So this paves the way for a deeper existential crisis in a the negative unfolding of this cyclical stage.
And again negative in this holistic mathematical context means the dynamic negation of conscious phenomena - strictly of attachment to such phenomena - which is the very means through which holistic unconscious awareness can deepen.
Once again, as I have been much influenced by St. John of the Cross in this respect, I will now refer to his spiritual interpretation of this stage as the "passive night of the senses".
From a psychological perspective this represents a new deeper level of immersion in the unconscious (which occurs without active intervention) though it may well be associated with a new change in one's life circumstances. In my own case I remember it happening quickly on leaving a job to go to University. So though it was all going to occur in any case, this change acted as a definite trigger.
So the growing unconscious awareness of the need for a purer spiritual commitment gradually takes place leading to a new type of (negative) conversion which can again happen in a dramatic fashion.
Suddenly one can find oneself plunged in darkness with all hell seemingly breaking loose.
In such a state one really is just in survival mode, with no means of truly communicating one's dilemma to others. In fact it generally compounds the misery to even try, as it is very difficult for someone (who may even have undergone similar experiences) to identify with the unique personal circumstances in which such crises occur.
What makes it worse is that from an outside perspective, the deeper spiritual basis of the problems will be concealed with only signs of pathology remaining.
In the initial phases of such an experience one may suffer considerable existential anxiety and indeed seem on the verge of a nervous breakdown. So the notion that this can be an indicator of rapid spiritual transformation might seem ridiculous to an outside observer!
Thus the real challenge here is to exercise an authentic degree of faith in the darkness. So all going well as one's old ego identity gradually unravels, it will be replaced by a stronger spiritual identity.
Now St. John communicates well, from his own obviously profound experience of such states, the painful nature of the cleansing (purgation) that takes place. This is due to the effect of the pure spiritual light shining inwardly, that thereby dramatically highlights ego imperfections. So this is why the night is "a passive night" as the erosion of sensory ego attachment now directly comes from the sharp contrast of ego desire with this pure spiritual light.
Needless to say the cleansing of affective and intellectual attachments equally takes place in a keenly felt manner.
The very idea of having warm feelings with respect to anything at this time is out of the question as one daily does one's best to deal with a continuing flood of negative emotions. Likewise from an intellectual perspective it is all quite humbling as even the most menial type of activities can prove problematic.
And because one is in continual darkness, the memory can be badly affected, with already acquired knowledge becoming eroded and great (temporary) difficulties experienced in acquiring new analytic skills.
Perhaps what struck me most during this period (which lasted more than a year) was a dramatic change in the experience of space and time.
Much of the anxiety that I experienced related to the fact that I seemed to be achieving considerably less and yet paradoxically seeming to have ever less time to do the little I was attempting. Also in terms of space, everything appeared to be getting more and more congested.
In particular I remembered arriving for meals each day at the college canteen feeling that the queues had become longer than previously. I am sure objectively that was not the case but from a subjective perspective it was certainly true! And of course this also interacted with an acute experience of the lack of time available, as it seemed to me then that I was endlessly stuck in queues.
Indeed such changes in the psychological experience of space and time are a very important feature of most human stress situations (to which far too little attention is devoted).
We are accustomed in our culture to adopt a strongly linear notion of time (in an absolute manner) which leads to the overlooking of this highly significant issue.
The truth is however that both physically and psychologically the nature of time and space is relative (so that especially during crisis situations its nature can change dramatically).
To put it bluntly the very scientific paradigm that we adopt is based on the "objectivist" fallacy i.e. that phenomena in space and time can be viewed in an abstract independent manner.
However all human experience is necessarily conditioned by the interaction of internal and external aspects in a merely relative manner.
So if time therefore moves forward for the external aspect, then - relatively - it moves backward for the internal aspect; likewise if it now moves forward with respect to the internal aspect, then - relatively - it now moves backward with respect to the external aspect.
So when the spiritual light shines externally (with respect to the world) one is conscious of time and space moving forward with respect to the world effectively acting as the dimensional container for all the phenomena thereby experienced.
However when the spiritual light shines strongly inwardly (as in the passive night of the senses) time and space are now - relatively - experienced as moving backwards with respect to the external world.
This is why the passive night is so disconcerting in terms of carrying out customary responsibilities, for one experiences a strong contraction in space and time, thereby associated with strong subjective feelings of congestion (where there never seems enough of space and time to contain the phenomena externally experienced). One thereby literally can feel a great sense of dislocation (in space and time) with respect to all one's customary activities.
And properly understood, this relativity does not apply simply to the psychological experience of space and time, but equally to the physical nature of such space and time (both of which are complementary).
Therefore my life long interest in the true nature of space and time is strongly based on personal experience (where their dimensional characteristics underwent dramatic change).