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 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.