Monday, August 24, 2015

Exploring the Feminine

As I have stated, the attempt to journey through this "highest" level (i.e. Band 3, Level 3) of transcendent spiritual development, was associated with the corresponding exposure to the "lowest" level of primitive instinctive response.

In this way, I was to learn the direct complementary nature as between the "highest" level (in transcendent spiritual terms) and the corresponding "lowest" level (in an immanent physical manner).

In normal infant development, we are conditioned to continually repress earliest primitive responses as the price for enabling the successful differentiation of conscious structures.

This is still very much the case even for development that would be considered healthy and successful from a conventional social perspective!

Though the unconscious is necessarily involved with such development, it is mainly in a reduced manner, whereby it serves the dominant need of conscious type understanding.

Thus true integration - compatible with the attainment of pure spiritual awareness - is not possible without the later return to the lower levels in the sustained quest to disentangle this earliest primitive repression.

It was at this time that I began to see more deeply into the nature of sexual desire.
And for a heterosexual man, this entails coming to terms with the deep roots of unconscious attraction to the feminine, experienced as somehow separated from one's conscious male identity. In other words, the feminine aspect feels thereby as in large part fundamentally missing with respect to one's unconscious.

Therefore it is in the very nature of sexual attraction to project this unconscious element on to women who one in various ways then consciously desires.

In my own case, I realised how much my former relationships with women typically entailed a slow and often painful learning process. I gradually disassociated from initial romantic attraction to find that the feminine aspect that I was searching for was in fact still lacking with respect to my unconscious development. And with this realisation the attraction invariably completely faded.

However, it was only now that I started to properly realise the true depths of this unconscious longing. This could ultimately only cease through unconscious acceptance of myself physically as a woman!

In other words complementing my conscious identity as a man (which role I could always happily associate with in social terms) was a still unrecognised unconscious identity as a woman (as my other self).

And in the quest for true psychological integration - inseparable from the balanced experience of spiritual union - was the requirement to fully accept this (unconscious) feminine identity. And again this did not just not apply in emotional terms but crucially and most intimately also in a physical manner!

In earliest development, the male foetus is initially inseparable from the female mother. Then as conscious life emerges one learns to slowly separate from the mother. Also civilisation rightly requires that the initial physical longing for the mother (of a primitive sexual nature) be unconsciously repressed from an early stage. This then frees up the conscious aspect of personality to become differentiated from the wider environment.

However fully recovering one's unconscious identity requires returning in psychological terms to this early stage to properly disentangle and thereby accept the incestuous nature of this desire.

And there are huge barriers in our culture to properly embarking on this process which is considered taboo and unhealthy.

Certainly I would agree that one should not attempt to explore such repressive barriers before one is properly ready from a psychological perspective. However for anyone truly embarking on the quest for contemplative mystical union, such psycho sexual development constitutes an extremely important element. However it has been greatly censored with respect to the accepted accounts of those who have attained union in the various traditions (especially Western).

So I realised that the conscious acceptance of myself as a male needed to be balanced by the corresponding unconscious acceptance of myself as female. Only then could the involuntary nature of sexual attraction cease through deep realisation that the feminine aspect that had hitherto been sought for without was in fact to be obtained through the unconscious realisation of this aspect in my own personality.

It is not that attraction to the feminine would then cease, but rather arise more freely as an integral expression of my spiritual identity.

However, I discovered that the barriers to such free acceptance (of my unconscious feminine self) were indeed greatly reinforced at every turn by enforced stereotypes of what constitutes an acceptable male identity in Western culture.

Even when one grasps at a conscious level that these stereotypes are highly unbalanced, it still can take a considerable time to properly realise this also at an unconscious level. For the unconscious mind has its own way of working which does not respond to conscious commands, no matter how urgent!

So it occurs slowly by a growing form of acceptance, where "higher" super ego control put in place from earliest childhood is gradually dissolved and unconscious realisation eventually attained.

However though the nature of the problem is indeed experienced at Level 3 (Band 3) it cannot be properly resolved at this level.

As we have seen though a degree of correction took place and Level 2 in terms of restoring an immanent direction, the emphasis on this outward journey of ascent is firmly on the transcendent aspect. This leads to a mainly top-down approach to integration where one attempts to integrate complementary "lower" stages from the perspective of the "highest" attained.

However this needs to be balanced by a corresponding emphasis on bottom-up integration, where one attempts to integrate the "higher" from the perspective of the revisited "lower" stages (now freed from involuntary repressive elements).

Though I did not clearly realise it at the time, this would require a further descent through the same three levels traversed on the outward journey.

I later began to see this in a Jungian manner with respect to the proper differentiation (and integration) of the four functions.

My strongest function was undoubtedly intuition. Then on the outward journey of ascent, I had sought to integrate this with the thinking function (Band 3, Level 1), then later the feeling function (Band 3, Level 2) and finally the sensation function. So in Jungian terms sensation for me represented the inferior function. However proper integration of the personality would require that this function be developed to a sufficient extent in immanent terms so that it would properly counterbalance intuition (associated with the transcendent direction).

Thus this process of developing the inferior function - so that it could serve in complementary fashion as the basis for bottom-up integration of the psyche - would require a further band (Band 5) entailing the descent though the same three levels (already traversed on the spiritual ascent).

Christian mystics often refer to the attainment of spiritual union as "Spiritual Marriage". In psychological terms, I now understood this to entail the integration of both the masculine and feminine aspects within the personality. This ultimately required the full acceptance of my unconscious physical identity as woman (as the mother archetype with which my identity was initially fused).

Without this full acceptance, sexual desire would always inevitably be involuntarily projected  to a degree on to women in the mistaken belief that this could bring conscious fulfilment.

So the paradox arises that to freely experience the full universal nature of sexual desire, one must become detached from any more limited (involuntary) expression of such desire.

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