Sunday, October 27, 2013

Transcendence and Immanence

As we have seen, level 2 (Band 3) is geared to the unfolding of the imaginary polarities relating to the true relationship (without reductionism) as between whole and part.

Once again, it comes in two complementary forms. From the transcendent perspective, the collective whole (as quantitative) uniquely mediates the universal spirit (as qualitative).

From the complementary immanent perspective, each individual part (as quantitative) again uniquely mediates the universal spirit (as qualitative).

Thus from these two related perspectives, the spirit is mediated both through (collective) whole and (individual) part phenomena. In this way, through both quantitative aspects being related to spirit in a complementary fashion, whole/part reductionism is thereby avoided.

Whole/part reductionism - as we have seen - consists of interpreting both wholes and parts with respect merely to their quantitative characteristics (with the whole in any context interpreted as the sum of its parts).

However when we properly allow for both quantitative and qualitative interaction, ultimately both wholes and parts can serve as symbols (or archetypes) of a universal spiritual meaning.

Thus imaginary understanding, in the holistic mathematical context  in which define the term, relates to the appreciation of both whole and part symbols as mediating this spiritual meaning.


Now the transcendent aspect of the contemplative journey represents the desire to ultimately go beyond all form in the appreciation of pure spiritual awareness. When attachment to phenomena arises, a reduction of spiritual to material meaning thereby takes place.

So what happens with authentic transcendent spirituality is that experience of phenomena becomes increasingly more general, enabling them to serve as collective universal archetypes.

With sufficient development in this direction, such phenomena can become so refined that they no longer even appear to arise in experience with pure contemplative awareness remaining.

So spirit is seen here as ultimately beyond all form.

However as I have stated in previous blogs there are obvious shortcomings with this approach, in that the attempt to continually negate attachment can culminate in significant (unconscious) repression.


So the immanent aspect is based on letting the unconscious aspect speak for itself, by gradually allowing it to freely emit projections into consciousness.  In this way the spirit can be seen ultimately as deeply inherent with respect to all form

When the involuntary element of projection is gradually removed, the unconscious is then enabled to more freely express itself (without undue "higher" level attempts at control).

Thus the (masculine) transcendent direction of spirituality represents a refined attempt (guided by growing spiritual awareness) at cognitive control of development.

By contrast the (feminine) immanent direction represents the corresponding refined attempt (also guided by growing spiritual awareness) at affective response with respect to development.

Thus ultimately true success with respect to consolidating authentic spiritual awareness, requires the balanced interaction of both transcendent and immanent aspects i.e. the balanced interaction of both cognitive and affective functions through (masculine) control and (feminine)  response.


In our culture with the dominance of the masculine principle, undue attention is placed on the transcendent aspect of spirituality, which leads in important respects to a crucial imbalance.

For example in Christian contemplative writing, I have yet to say a proper account of the important role of unconscious fantasy in spiritual development. Too often, because of an unduly transcendent emphasis, an unhealthy stance is adopted, with fantasy treated merely as "temptation" and thereby something to be controlled (and inevitably repressed through the "higher" conscious).

As we have seen Level 1 (Band 3) is concerned the attempted integration of the real (horizontal) polarities in positive and negative terms. Real in this context relates to the conscious polarities that are external and internal with respect to each other. And remember this occurs through dynamic negation of attachment with respect to customary dualistic understanding associated with each pole!

By the time Level 2 (Band 3) begins to unfold, substantial 2-dimensional integration with respect to these polarities (in the personal and impersonal aspects of understanding) will have taken place.

Now the imaginary notion (which entails in analytic terms the square root of  − 1, essentially relates to the attempt now to convey such 2-dimensional appreciation through conscious symbols of a linear (1-dimensional) nature.

If we initially identify the positive vertical pole with transcendence, then + i relates to the means by which generalised conscious symbols mediate a universal spiritual meaning.

The negative pole in this context − i then relates to the negation of undue attachment to such symbols.

However we can change  the frame of reference to identify with the immanent direction.  + i now relates to the means by which individual symbols (emitted from the unconscious) can likewise mediate a universal spiritual meaning.

The negative pole − i now relates to the negation of undue attachment to such symbols.

However it is important to grasp that the process of negation is quite distinct in both cases.
In the former case this is achieved through a refined form of cognitive control; in the latter it is achieved through a corresponding refined  form of affective response!

Thus equal emphasis must be placed on both reason and emotion in this regard.

We will deal with this imaginary understanding with respect to both the transcendent and immanent directions of understanding in future blog entries.

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