Thursday, April 30, 2015

Uncovering Projections (3)

We return to a personal account of the "lower" imaginary" (i.e. fantasy) activity associated with Level 2 (Band 3).

Basically increasingly intimate exposure to such fantasy (of an erotic nature) requires the lessening of "higher" level superego control that in a complementary manner tends to repress physical instinctive response.

So I found a typical pattern repeating with ever greater regularity. A bout of "higher" level intellectual activity of an increasingly holistic nature, would then be quickly followed by a lower level instinctive reaction of a physical self still craving the equal recognition that was being denied.

And as long as I continued to identify with the  "higher" level activity (of spiritual, intellectual or emotional insight) as superior, then the denied "lower" self (still believed as inferior) would protest with increasingly intimate type fantasies of an erotic nature.

It was at this time that I made an interesting discovery.
Earlier during the extended "dark night of the soul", which lasted in it severest form for about 5 years, I seemed to be completely free of any kind of erotic impulse and as previously stated, misleadingly concluded that this thereby represented the inevitable consequence of authentic spiritual development.

However during that time, I suffered from fantasies of a different kind in a continual craving for food. Thus though I disciplined myself meticulously in this regard avoiding any kind of luxury when eating, the desire for food would persist.
So closely associated with a genuine spiritual craving, in a deep longing for the face of a God that remained completely absent in experience, there was also a complementary base physical craving in the longing for food.

Then I eventually realised that this all made sense. Therefore the dramatic transcendent ascent towards a purely spiritual meaning that was occurring at the time, created the compensatory instinctive desire to preserve the physical self. And the most basic way of preserving one's physical life is through food intake. There is also a deep social aspect to eating meals, where one can affirm one's identity with family and friends. And of course again because of the spiritual road being travelled, I was instinctively feeling the loss of this social support (associated largely with meal times).

And when I was out in the evening time, I used to also experience an ardent sense of longing when I would see the light on in people's homes, as if this light itself symbolised the loss of all the natural consolation that I was suffering in my life at the time.

So as I look back on this earlier "dark night" period, I would see it as representing a continual stripping of my masculine ego identity (and all the false sense of independence which that entailed).

And this period culminated with "everything going wrong" in that regard. So my father died, who had done so much to foster a confident male identity. Then I ran into difficulties with respect to security of employment and became deeply alienated from all social supports. However in retrospect, all this was necessary to make that radical surrender of self, which an emerging spiritual contemplative identity demanded.

Several years later, I had a vivid dream relating to this time, I was looking at a picture on a wall that was dated in the year (1975) when the crisis was at its most severe stage. This depicted a stag standing on a lake. And as I continued to look, the stag slowly disappeared under the water. So I saw this dream as depicting the drowning of my old masculine self in a new spiritual identity.

However this next level now related more to the recovery - if you like - of that unacknowledged feminine identity at the depths of my psyche.

Therefore to restore this acknowledged feminine aspect of an unconscious nature, I had to first lose the over-acknowledged masculine aspect (formerly associated with the conscious ego).

With such intense exposure to fantasy now taking place, I began to reflect deeply on the nature of primitive desire, where I made some surprising - and ultimately very fruitful - connections.

Essentially primitive instinct represents a basic confusion as between conscious and unconscious aspects.

Thus conscious meaning by its nature tends to be localised and specific; however unconscious meaning by contrast tends to be holistic and general.

So with primitive instinct an immediate collapse as it were takes place where the desire for holistic meaning becomes directly identified with specific symbols.

I could see here that there were deep connections with the true nature of prime numbers.

So properly understood the very nature of number combines both  analytic and holistic aspects in dynamic interaction with each other.

And the very reason why the ultimate nature of prime numbers seems so intractable in present Mathematics is precisely because the holistic aspect has become completely identified with its mere analytic meaning.

Putting it another way - which equally has direct scientific implications - with primitive instinct, the dimensions of space and time (which objects necessarily inhabit in experience) become immediately identified with specific objects. So consequently in such circumstances, the interaction of space and time with such objects becomes highly unstable and ultimately ceases to meaningfully exist.

There are close physical parallels here with quantum reality at the most minute levels of investigation (below the Planck length). So matter at this level is - literally - highly primitive (existing in a merely prime number framework). There are also close psychological parallels with early infant behaviour, where the recognition of phenomena is so primitive that it does not even seem to arise, passing out of memory immediately.

We rightly associate conscious experience of "real" phenomena with considerable object constancy, thereby giving it stability.

However by contrast unconscious experience of "imaginary" phenomena can be associated with objects of a very fleeting nature rendering it highly unstable.

One of the problems of our culture is that because of a great lack of development with respect to the unconscious, primitive instincts and desires (in all their forms) are invariably projected on to conscious phenomena and confused rigidly with them.

Thus a crucial distinction as between the fantasy development that now occurs at this stage of contemplative development is that one is largely able to distinguish what is "real" from what is "imaginary". Thus dealing successfully with such fantasy entails the continual residual attempt not to confuse such fantasy with conscious reality.

For example the very essence of sexual fantasy or "temptation", as the old ascetical writers would have viewed it, is that such fantasy instinctively seeks an immediate conscious outlet i.e. in the giving in to temptation. However the secret of dealing with it is in gradually coming to rest with it, accepting it as fully natural. This likewise entails the lessening of super ego control relating to over identification with one's "higher" self. In this way the involuntary nature of such desire is gradually lessened and the holistic emotional capacity of the unconscious can thereby become better integrated with one's conscious activity.    

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Changing Memories

It struck me after yesterday's blog entry, how unreliable in many ways our memories of the past can prove.

So in that entry I was recalling events from a time nearly 60 years ago (early 1958) when I was 9 years of age.

One can validly question in such circumstances  the accuracy of the events mentioned especially where little substantiating evidence from the time has been recorded.

However the idea that an objective account can - or even should - be given is somewhat fanciful.

Thus when we recall any event from our past, essentially we are recreating that event in the light of our experience of the present moment. So the emphasis on particular aspects of the event and indeed the precise facts involved can undergo subtle change (influenced very much by development that has since unfolded). Therefore given the sufficient elapse of time, considerable variations in one's account can take place, even when one sincerely attempts to do so as accurately as possible.

In a way this can prove very liberating, for the meaning of events that have already happened and indeed those anticipated to happen in future, undergo continued evolution through the light of present experience. So along with St. Augustine, time truly amounts to memories with respect to the past and future that always necessarily unfold in the present moment.

Thus there is nothing bad in our past for example that cannot be rescued through its successful integration with experience in the present moment. Or as Don McLean says in his wonderful song "Crossroads"

"There is no need for turning back
For all roads lead to where I stand
And I know I've walked them all
No matter what I may have planned"

One could therefore argue that the true purpose of memory is - not so much to recall accurately the exact objective details of past events but rather - to recreate these events in such a manner that they become better integrated with subsequent life experience.

Then when this is successfully achieved, true meaning can then be found in all past - and anticipated future - events, through the present moment (which is continually renewed).

This ties in very well with the notion of how one can continually obtain enhanced experience of earlier stages (from the perspective of more advanced stages that have subsequently unfolded). However this requires that development itself proceeds in an increasingly mature and integrated fashion.

Where this is not the case, unfortunately the reverse can happen where for example one might continually return to an unhappy past event in an increasingly embittered fashion. Unfortunately in such circumstances, no healing power can be brought to such an event. Rather it can threaten to take over the present, trapping one in permanent misery.

 So it should be clear from yesterday's account that this was not the voice of a 9 year old boy speaking. Rather it was - hopefully - that of a more mature adult, who now with the benefit of subsequent experience can invest these earlier events with a meaning that was not at all clear at the time they initially occurred.

Having said that, I have attempted (bearing in mind the qualifications made) to recollect these events as faithfully as possible..

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Early Chaos

I do not generally refer much to childhood experience.

Partly this is due to the fact that I do not remember it as an especially happy time. Perhaps because of this, memories do not readily come to mind.

However recently one such memory has indeed returned in a vivid fashion suggesting to me an event that played a crucially important role with respect to subsequent childhood development.

Like so many young boys growing up in Ireland in the 1950's , my earliest interests centred strongly around sport. Indeed I have maintained this interest over the years with opinions to offer - to anyone who cares to listen - on a wide variety of different sports.

In my earlier years I also actively participated at home and school level. For years the back garden of our house was a popular venue where neighbourhood kids congregated to play football.

In early 1958 - at the age of 9 - I was playing Gaelic football regularly in the school leagues. Things were obviously going well, as I came to the attention of the main teacher in charge of football who picked me for the school team as a potential young "star of the future".  I was then one or two years younger than most of my team mates.

However my first outing with the school team proved a disastrous experience. I remember on the morning of the match feeling deeply self conscious as if submerged at the bottom of a swimming pool. Needless to say it that state of mind I did not perform well. In fact the play on the field completely passed me by without my making a touch. Then after about 20 minutes I was mercifully substituted (by that same teacher who earlier had sung my praises). Sitting on the sidelines, I was oblivious to what was happening in the match, just wishing that the ground would open to swallow me up.

Later that afternoon, I remember standing at the front gate of my house looking up the street.
I realised then clearly that there would be no future for me in football, with the customary camaraderie of team mates. Something had fundamentally changed within me that I could not properly understood, where I stood entirely alone. And at that moment I felt far from any comfort and far from home.

Looking back now, I realise that what I was in fact experiencing was an existential crisis that was already defining the kind of future I could lead.

Now normally one does not associate such crises with young children who have not reached puberty. However - for me anyway - such a viewpoint makes little sense.

Just as it is accepted that it is possible in childhood to have  a peak mystical experience (of temporary duration) likewise it is perhaps even more likely that a young person can have an intense peak - or perhaps more accurately - intense valley experience of a profound - though temporary - existential kind. And this is especially the case if one is destined to undergo such experiences on a more permanent basis later in life.

So looking back now, that day was perhaps my first introduction into - what I would in future recognise as - "the dark night of the soul"  And there would be many other similar occurrences (sometimes of much longer duration) before adult development would seriously commence.

However there was a compensating flip side to that event, the significance of which I only have recently come to properly recognise.

In Ireland in those days, students sat a state examination, called the Primary Certificate at the end of preparatory school. One of the subjects in that examination was Mental Arithmetic, which entailed the ability to make a variety of calculations without external assistance. The advent of pocket calculators was still some time away!

A few weeks after that match we were introduced in class to a number of exotic field measurements (most of which subsequently I have never heard mentioned). For example there was the furlong (which admittedly is important in horse racing). Then there were the more obscure terms of perches and roods and then the widely used measurement of acres. So 40 perches = 1 rood and 4 roods = 1 acre.

And most important of all, 1 acre = 4,840 square yards.

So therefore is we had a rectangular field for example with length 80 yards and width 60 yards the area of the field would thereby be nearly 1 acre (i.e. 4,800 square yards).

And then I had that big insight that has been central to my life ever since!

To illustrate, let us make it even simpler, by considering a small rectangular table with length 3 feet and width 2 foot.  Now the area of that table will then be 6 square feet.

However if we now consider the multiplication of numbers 3 and 2 the answer will be given simply as 6!

In other words though we clearly can seen in the case of the table that a dimensional change in the nature of the units takes place, (i.e. from 1-dimensional to 2-dimensional) when 3 feet is multiplied by 2 feet , in the case of the multiplication of the two numbers (i.e. 3 * 2) this dimensional change is simply ignored. Thus quite simply, when 3 feet by 2 feet when we multiply numbers, a qualitative (i.e. dimensional) - as well as quantitative - change is necessarily involved in the nature of the units.

However, Conventional Mathematics simply ignores this qualitative aspect of transformation.

So, I clearly realised in that eureka  moment that the conventional mathematical understanding of the nature of multiplication was wrong (or as I would now say in more refined fashion, is of a greatly reduced nature).
And strange as it might seem I resolved in that same moment that I would eventually get to the bottom of this fundamental issue.

Thus as I walked out of that classroom, I had already sown in my mind the seed for a radical reinterpretation of  Mathematics (a task with which I am still intimately involved nearly 60 years later).

I now realise that these two defining moments in my life were in fact closely connected as death in one instance and rebirth in the other.

So the death of my sporting ambitions and the social comfort of being an accepted member of a group was to lead to a new solitary ambition (where I was confident that I could resolve a fundamental problem that others refused to recognise).

I have never wavered in that belief. It would not concern me if the entire mathematical profession was to unite against what they might see as "a delusional obsession" as I have experienced that moment of revelation, where I could see clearly the gross reductionism of accepted mathematical thinking. One day others will confirm  this when they too see the light.

Original discoveries in essence are very simple. However to make them it requires the capacity to stand outside the group (and its accepted conventional wisdom) to see reality in a new way that initially will receive the confirmation of no one. And very few people are willing to sufficiently go against accepted opinion  to possess this capacity.

Thus we are inclined to attribute original discovery with respect to ideas to inherent genius and great intellectual ability. However I would see the key requirement as this existential capacity to stand alone (whereby one can confidently affirm one's personally discovered truth against the world).

Then maybe on reflection such a capacity in fact does constitute one important type of genius!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Uncovering Projections (2)

Authentic spiritual awareness - in what can be described as the experience of God - entails a certain balance as between both cognitive and affective modes

Indeed from a dynamic experiential perspective, these modes operate in a fully complementary manner as conscious to unconscious respectively.

Thus when both conscious and unconscious aspects of experience are equally developed, the conscious (analytic) expression of one aspect e.g. cognitive, promotes the complementary unconscious (holistic) expression of the other aspect i.e. affective. Equally, the conscious expression of the affective aspect likewise promotes the complementary unconscious expression of the cognitive.

In this way both conscious and unconscious expressions of cognitive and affective can - though the volitional or conative aspect that serves to operate in a balancing manner - interact smoothly and creatively with each other.

So far however with respect to "higher" spiritual development, the (conscious) cognitive aspect has been in the ascendancy. Therefore in promoting the complementary affective aspect, it initially does so in an involuntary unconscious fashion.

Thus the unconscious thereby expresses itself through emotional projections, with their holistic nature initially hidden from understanding. Thus an important part of this "lower" psychological development is to slowly unravel the nature of such projections, so that their true message can be learnt.

Just as the pursuit of knowledge is directly associated with the cognitive, the corresponding pursuit of beauty is directly associated with the affective aspect. Finally the pursuit of being (as essential meaning) is directly associated with the volitional aspect of will.

In an important sense this volitional aspect is primary, and when properly used serves to harmonise both the cognitive (in the pursuit of knowledge) and the affective aspect (in the pursuit of beauty) respectively.

However we are here dealing directly with the affective aspect with respect to its "lower" unconscious expression through imaginary projections and fantasies.

Now from a spiritual perspective, we can for convenience identify two types of beauty.

The first type directly corresponds with the transcendent aspect.

I have mentioned before how in the Roman Catholic tradition, the Virgin Mary has come to assume an important role serving as an acceptable feminine archetype. However it is very much a disembodied archetype where the spiritual (i.e. transcendent) is clearly separated from its complementary physical (i.e. immanent) aspect.

Thus though recognised as the Mother of God, it has always seemed important in the tradition to emphasise her status as a virgin, with the divine birth thereby explained as a miraculous event without sexual intercourse being involved.

So the beauty consistent with the transcendent aspect is the kind of admiration, awe and respect that is inspired by one who is clearly set apart. So the awe that is inspired by this beautiful "other", corresponds with a sense of unworthiness with respect to the admiring self (that is greatly accentuated in the presence of such beauty).

Thus the very point of such an affective experience is to inspire the spiritual disciple to go ultimately beyond all limitations of form (e.g. self image) in the clear realisation of an archetypal notion of beauty.

Thus in the most accurate sense of the word, such a notion of transcendent beauty is platonic in nature.

As stated in the last blog entry, my fantasy life that greatly accelerated in intensity at this time was largely related to images of women who basically inspired this transcendent notion of beauty.

So the initial attraction of a more sexual nature naturally give way to a more platonic notion of beauty, which indeed seemed compatible with my spiritual orientation at the time (largely influenced by St. John of the Cross' "Spiritual Canticle").

However this was to gradually give way to a more primitive form of erotic fantasy for which my previous spiritual training had left me initially unprepared.

In fact this led me to deeply question my own spiritual tradition, which I felt has never honestly faced  - certainly in the writings of the mystics - this key aspect of psycho-sexual development.

So not alone must aspiring mystics confront their sexual natures (with all the primitive desires that thereby inevitably arise) but they must do so in a much more intimate fashion than would be customary in normal circumstances!

However, as I have said I have never come across an account in my tradition that openly deals with this vital issue.

At best what we get are but indirect and value loaded references that ultimately are greatly lacking in proper balance.

So rather than talking directly about sexual fantasy, generally the contemplative writers will refer to such matters in a negative fashion as "temptation", "promptings of the devil", "sense disturbances" "lustful desires", "fallen nature", "weakness of the flesh" etc.

This represents again very much the transcendent approach. So, though it may well be conceded that the onset of "temptation" is inevitable in the spiritual life, the disciple is clearly expected to resist it (through disciplined reason) when it arises. In this way the disciple hopes to overcome the "lower" senses and thereby become more firmly established in the "higher" life of the spirit.

However, though there is certainly a validity to such advice with respect to the transcendent aspect of spirituality, it is quite inadequate with respect to the complementary immanent direction (which is of equal importance).

So what inevitably happens through the repeated attempt to censor sexual fantasy is that a significant  repression of instinctive desire thereby takes place. Then when the demands of one's physical instincts are continually denied (in serving  one's "higher" self) a debilitating form of depression can set in (that mocks all one's previous attempts at spiritual progress).

Indeed I would consider that the problem of depression accompanying an extended "dark night of the soul" may often have its origins in an undue repression of primitive sexual desire.

Now this immanent aspect of the feminine archetype had indeed been emphasised in the previous pagan religions with the reference to an "Earth Goddess". However due to the strong transcendent emphasis of The Jewish - and later Christian and Muslim traditions - it was all but eliminated.

So a disembodied version of the feminine archetype has been promoted (where physical sexuality plays little role).. This in turn has led to an unbalanced suspicion of woman as "the temptress" that must be subjugated so that "good" men are not led astray.

This has in turn been associated with the mass exclusion of women from responsible leadership in their churches and an unhealthy obsession with sexual activity as a potential form of "sin".

Ultimately it culminated in a dreadful litany of sexual abuse of children by priests (which the authorities continually attempted to deny rather than address).

So let it be said clearly that the deep exploration of one's sexual instincts when appropriate does not represent "sin" or deviance. Rather it represents a vitally important type of wisdom (requiring considerable insight and discernment) that is ultimately necessary for the successful grounding of spirit in the world of nature.

Therefore when the spiritual aspirant, who may already long followed a transcendent path, reaches a stage where intimate sexual fantasy naturally emerges into consciousness, it is a sure sign that this issue now needs to be sensitively addressed (rather than repressed).

This requires the opposite of what is appropriate with respect to the transcendent direction. So rather than trying to resist such desire, one is required to gradually loosen super-ego control so as to listen in carefully and discern what such desires are telling us about our sexual nature.

Indeed it is this very process of acceptance, through loosening of excessive rational control, that gradually eliminates the involuntary nature of such instincts (though this may indeed take a long time).

So it is only when the involuntary nature of such projections ceases that the spirit can be properly integrated with one's physical nature (and by extension the natural world).

This represents the immanent culmination of spiritual development where "bottom-up" integration can be successfully combined with corresponding "top-down" integration of the psyche.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Uncovering Projections (1)

We now return to a personal account of the on-going development of Band 3 (Level 2).

As I have emphasised this is characterised by the dynamic interaction between "higher" and "lower" levels entailing the continual projection of "imaginary" consciousness as the indirect expression of the holistic unconscious.

So once again during Level 1, the emphasis is primarily on negation of undue dualistic attachment to the horizontal polarity set of external and internal. Progress in this regard then leads to the growing nondual experience of spirit  (expressed in an ever deepening contemplative focus).

Then with direct conscious experience now considerably refined and transparent to spirit, the unconscious regions of personality become free to express themselves through projection (in an indirect conscious manner)..

So whereas the earlier level (i.e. Level 1) was concerned directly with the "real" (i.e. conscious) polarities of internal and external, the present level (Level 2) is now concerned directly with the "imaginary" (i.e. indirectly conscious) polarities of whole and part that are experienced as positive and negative with respect to each other.

And just as the "real" polarities are experienced in a horizontal manner (within a given level of experience), the "imaginary" polarities are now experienced in a vertical manner (between different levels, as "higher" and "lower" with respect to each other).

Now when equal development has taken place with respect to both the transcendent and immanent spiritual directions, "higher" and "lower" are understood in a truly relative manner (as without absolute notions of hierarchical distinction). This in turn equates with a balanced approach to integration where both "top-down" and bottom-up" directions are equally emphasised.

However initially in contemplative development, the transcendent direction is likely to dominate over the immanent, though the extent of this can vary, depending on environmental, cultural and personality factors.

However in general it is true to say that present day society is largely characterised - especially with respect to scientific type appreciation - by the specialisation of (linear) reason.

Therefore, for one following a genuine contemplative path, reason can still remain very important as a means of disciplining wayward emotions and desires (not deemed compatible with a spiritual goal). One thereby follows the transcendent path to development based on the hierarchical distinction as between the "lower" body (with its primitive desires), "middle" reason and "higher" spirit.

So from this hierarchical perspective, reason is used to mediate as between the "lower" self (through disciplined control) and "higher" spirit.

Now it has to be said that for a well-intentioned aspirant, considerable progress can be made in this manner in the deepening of true contemplative awareness.

However, eventually a considerable problem is likely to emerge in that the continual attempt to discipline (through reason) the emotions and primitive desires, can unwittingly lead to unconscious repression of untrusted instincts.

Thus the earlier part of Level 2 (i.e. of Band 3) is associated largely with the spiritual affirmation of one's higher spiritual self. This takes place directly through refined spiritual illumination (i.e. as dim contemplation). Indirectly it also takes place through the unfolding of a new highly refined super-sensory capacity (where for example natural images are seen in holistic fashion as reflecting this new light of spirit). Also, as was very much true in my own case, it can be equally associated with an enhanced supra-rational capacity, amply radiating one's spiritual vision in intellectual terms.

However, this plentiful outpouring of the spirit (both directly and indirectly) eventually creates considerable strains with respect to one's "lower" shadow self (which is experienced as incompatible with the emerging light).

So gradually as this imbalance is more keenly felt, the "lower" self seeks compensation, through the projection of unrecognised desires and motives into one's conscious activity.

And as this process grows the "higher" illumination gradually fades, so that eventually one may become engaged in a ceaseless struggle with projections of all kinds.

And because the layer of direct dualistic conscious experience has by now become so eroded (though the arduous "dark nights" of the previous level) one thereby experiences these projections in an especially intense fashion.

In fact it often seems at these times that one's entire experience consists of this continual exposure to one's shadow self.

After a while, I could recognise a definite pattern to these projections, which were of both an intellectual and emotional variety.

In fact, I would say that the intellectual projections were initially much more difficult to assimilate, highlighting an imbalance in my own thinking at the time.

As already stated, this had now taken an extremely holistic turn, which I found well suited to forming exciting broad new frameworks with respect to mathematics, physics, economics and philosophy.

However, at an unconscious level, I had now greatly dismissed conventional analytic type understanding (which I wrongly deemed to be of lesser value).

So this led to growing communication problems with respect to academic colleagues and also with respect to practical activities, causing a great deal of hidden anguish.

Because the problem lay deep in the unconscious, I soon discovered that there was very little that consciously could be done to resolve the situation. Rather I had to learn to simply accept the problem while slowly learning to re-orient my overall attitude.

This however required the acceptance of another complete withdrawal from holistic intellectual expression that lasted about six years (from '83 to '89).

Thus though I had indeed made great intellectual progress in holistic terms, this had occurred in relatively short bursts of intense activity. In fact when I now look back over the 20 years or so (that spanned the two earlier levels (of Band 3) about 15 years were largely spent in the dynamic negation of undue attachment to holistic activity!

Thus in the quest for greater balance, one can grow to realise that what initially appeared as one's greatest strength can, from a spiritual perspective, also potentially prove one's greatest weakness!

Therefore, the ready willingness to address the shadow side of one's personality, whenever necessary, should always serve as the true measure of spiritual commitment.

There was also a growing exposure at this time to emotional projections of an increasingly erotic fashion. Because I now realised that I had repressed my emotional instincts over a long period (in the pursuit of a transcendent spirituality), I could see that this in fact represented a welcome development.

However, because the transcendent direction, though now moderated to an extent, remained dominant, this set limits as to the nature of what could yet be released.

When I look back now there was a consistent pattern to my fantasy activity at the time which typically would centre on attractive women e.g. on TV and in films and magazines that conformed to - what I would refer to - as the Virgin Mother archetype.

Indeed it has often impressed me how Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, though mentioned very little in the Gospels, subsequently has achieved a greatly elevated status, especially in the Roman Catholic religion.

In Jungian terms this could be explained as the need for a strong feminine archetype to counteract the unduly male notion of God in the Christian tradition.

Also it is clear to me that the reported keen devotion of many saints to Mary, contained a sublimated sexual aspect where she provided an acceptable notion of female beauty and desirable attributes that could be platonically adored and thereby fulfil the emotional longing for a God with a female face.

However this notion of virginal beauty (embodied in the Catholic tradition by Mary) that is compatible with the "higher" spiritual desire for transcendence, represents in fact a somewhat disembodied notion of the feminine. What is equally important to recognise is the more physical manifestation of the feminine archetype as the "Earth Mother".

Thus if one is to balance both the transcendent and immanent directions of spirituality, emphasis needs to be placed equally on both aspects (spiritual and physical).

Though the physical aspect in the notion of a Goddess as Earth Mother would have been common in the preceding pagan religions, unfortunately it subsequently became entirely lost in the development of Christianity.

Thus it has always been important in the Christian tradition to emphasise that Christ was conceived without the physical sexual act of intercourse being involved. And this would be consistent with an undue emphasis on the transcendent aspect of spirituality.

Now it is true that Christianity does emphasise the incarnational aspect of Christ (in God becoming man) which would suggest the counterbalancing immanent aspect.
However Christ made it very clear that his kingdom was "not of this world". And this is consistent with the strong emphasis on both his celibate state and virgin birth.

Thus I have long come to the conclusion that despite its profound spiritual  message and historical achievements, that Christianity in its very inception suffers from an unduly transcendent emphasis. This has subsequently then became consistent with an unbalanced emphasis on male domination both in religious and secular society that ultimately is supported in theological terms by a disembodied notion of the feminine archetype (which does not allow for its complementary physical aspect).

Though it is not my major concern here, this raises a key question - certainly for any Christian follower - as to whether it can thereby be ultimately consistent with a more equal society (where both masculine and feminine principles are properly valued). And this equality is required if we are to ever succeed in integrating both secular and religious aspirations.

However in my own case, at this time, this problem had not yet fully surfaced, as the exposure to erotic images was inspired by the ideal of feminine beauty where physical feelings quickly were sublimated in spiritual fashion. Thus though emerging from the "lower" immanent regions of personality, they were speedily converted in a manner still compatible with transcendent spiritual desire.