Eclectic Paths To Integration
Part 1: Centers of Power
By Jonathan Bethel
The convoluted path that leads to the integration and illumination of the soul and personality is often a daunting, yet rewarding, undertaking, simultaneously riddled with pitfalls of despair and plateaus of bliss. To tread this path is one of the highest aspirations an individual can have, second only to the desire to help others on this path. The hermeticists call it the “The Great Work” - The Buddhists call it the path to Nirvana – The school of dialectics defines it as the synthesis of the thesis and the antithesis – Carl Jung defined it as the process of individuation with the reintegration of the shadow. Despite what we call it, the knowledge of personal integration has been with mankind since the beginning, and it is reflected in many of our religions, philosophies, and sciences. Countless traditions and schools of philosophy have left invaluable gems of wisdom, in the form of models, techniques, and spiritual disciplines. These are the gems whereby one may achieve the total apotheosis of life and create harmony within one’s reality. I am not talking about escapist techniques to avoid responsibility. I am talking about techniques and modes of thought that reach deep down inside the self and reorder the basic components of the soul, shaping the personality into a stable and eloquent structure. A personality that is fully capable and willing to meet the challenges of our modern civilization. The techniques and models I shall be discussing in this series of articles come from an eclectic assortment of integrative processes, derived from many ancient and modern sources. With these various powerful techniques and models, one may begin to align the personality with the soul and the divine mind beyond, reestablishing an authentic existence and imbuing life with an artistic ambience.
Models & Metaphors
Before getting started, I want to make the point that the models and metaphors used in this series of articles are only some, among the many thousands, for describing reality. We have entered the post-modern, deconstructionist, era; we now realize no single model contains the entire blueprint of truth. Whether we describe reality in terms of Newtonian physics, quantum physics, chaos theory, Christian ideology, Buddhistic philosophy, Taoism, or shamanism, we are merely choosing one “looking glass”, among many, to view reality. In truth, each model has its’ own unique knowledge to yield. Therefore, the true metaprogrammer may utilize any and all models in their acquisition of truth and integration of the self. Just remember, “The map is not the territory!”
Centers of Force
To begin with, I want to start by discussing two ancient metaphorical systems that describe reality in terms of a standing wave comprised of distinct internal resonant frequencies. That is to say, a system that describes our universe and ourselves as layers of vibratory frequency, much like the mathematical properties of music, color and light. The two systems that best describe reality in these terms are the Kabalistic Tree of Life, the Otz Chim, which comes to us via the mysticisms of Judaism. The other system is the ancient Aura Vedic chakra system, which came down through Hinduism and the culture of India. These two ancient systems of self work and initiation hold very powerful keys for unlocking greater awareness of the self and deeper introspection. They reveal both the demonic and the divine within, while allowing us to fuse these inherent opposites into a coherent holographic unity. Thus one can rid the self of its own fractured neurotic nature. Both systems rely on a metaphorical map consisting of individual meridians of energy or centers of emotion. One can think of this map as laid out over a vertical line running down the center of the body. Embedded along this line of force are several vortices, or centers, of dynamic energy. These centers, which in the Kabbala are called sephira and in Hinduism are called chakras or marmas, can be thought of as emotional points of ingress and egress.
Each system has its’ own unique way of describing these meridians and their locations, but the important point of commonality is the actual energy points located at the head, throat, heart, stomach, and groin. These systems diverge on two points, one being the placement of the bottom energy center, the other being the number of actual emotional energy center within the system. The Hindu Chakra system is comprised of 7 chakras that span from the top of the head to the base of the spine, at the groin. The kabbalistic system is comprised of 5 sephira along the “middle pillar”, located at the head, throat, heart, groin and feet. Both systems are completely functional, and it is a matter of choice which system you choose to work with. Both systems can also be incorporated into a system of self-integration simultaneously, if that is your will; it is really up to the student. I have watched many people experience much cognitive dissonance trying to make the systems match up perfectly. Its important to remind oneself that these are merely models and metaphors for dealing with subtle states of consciousness, not the actual states them self. It seems obvious that both of these systems are left over fragments from a much older unified system of self-initiation, one that was nearly lost to antiquity. One must not get caught up in the philosophical trap of trying to identify these centers as real or imaginary. Suffice is to say, they work as a metaphorical map for the integration of un-harmonized personal energy and emotion. In actuality, these Chakras, or centers of force, are the emotional analogs to the organs of our endocrine system. To emphasize again, these systems are comprised of a hierarchy of energy centers within the body. The important note being to identify the higher centers, such as the third eye or head charka with thoughts of gnosis, God, or the divine, while considering the lower centers as denser and associated with ecstasy, matter, and manifestation. The lower centers, or sexual generative centers, were originally considered to be the points where cosmic energy manifested on the material plane, only later to be associated with evil, darkness, and sin by the unintegrated puritanically repressed. Between the head and the base, or foundation, lies the conjunction point, the heart. It is the heart where manifestation and divinity come together; we define this state of consciousness as pure Love. One can consider these systems as operating like the individual instruments of a symphony. When these centers of vibration are in tune, we experience happiness, contentment, and harmony; however, when these chakras are out of vibratory balance, a cacophony of dissonant energy is the result, much like the disordered energy of our modern culture. As the Hopi say, “Koyaanisqatsi”, life out of balance.
It is these centers of force, these energies that we experience, that we define as our self. These dynamic patterns of energy are the root of our moods, attitudes, desires, and fears. They are the source of divine inspiration and gnosis, as well as the source of destructive tendencies and megalomania. Depending on how these centers are harmonized, we either function content or otherwise. In fact, we all are already well aware of these emotional meridians within our own body and how they react to various situations. Have you ever felt the tugging sadness deep in one's throat at the loss of someone close? Everyone has felt the warmth of love, within the heart, when you’re next to someone you love. How about the gnawing jealousy or fear in your belly at the thought of an unfaithful lover? Or, the sensual ecstasy that forms in the lower centers when engaged in intimacy. There is also the moment that realization dawns, and it feels like a light has gone off in the head. All of these feelings are expressions of the musical dynamic interplay of the totality of the self. Unfortunately, most of us have never learned how to tune our own instrument. We will return to the energy meridians later.
The Middle Way
Life operates on the formula of give and take. As we float down the river of life between the shores of pleasure and pain, we each receive the gifts and the losses of the universal intent. We have all experienced sadness and deep regret, as well as the bliss and happiness of our joyous moments, and we will continue to experience this ebb and flow of pleasure and pain within our lives. However, there is another mode of being, whereby one takes control of their own vessel and learns to steer it calmly and serenely toward a course of pure contentment, no longer a victim of circumstance. Yes, the outside influences of pleasure and pain will still be persist; only now, the individual has the ability to keep them self balanced, stable, and on course. It was the great Gautama Buddha that taught the middle way. He began his life in pure luxury, shielded from the pains and toils of the world. Upon learning about sickness, old age, and death, he renounced his luxury and took up an ascetic life for many years, avoiding all sustenance and thinking that his self-torment was the true path to liberation. However, one day while meditating with his disciples he heard a distant voice speaking of a musical instrument, “If the string is too tight it will break, if it is too loose it will not play”. Upon hearing this, a great realization dawned on Gautama, and he began the pursuit of the middle way, which eventually led to his total enlightenment and his ascent to the level of Buddha. Jesus also spoke of the path of integration, in the Gospel of St. Thomas, from the Nag Hammadi codex. When asked by the disciples if they will enter the gates of heaven, Jesus said, “When you make the two one - when you make the inside like the outside – and outside the inside – and the above like the down – and when you make the male the female one in the same – then shall you enter the kingdom.” These are wise words and ideas from two great teachers thousands of years before the idea of dialectical reasoning and the psychotherapies of Freud, Jung, and Maslow. In essence, Buddha and Christ were depth psychologist before there times. These men, as well as many before them and after them, learned the keys to the total assimilation of all life experiences into a dynamic wholeness.
The Great Tao - "Wei Wu Wei"
One of the great religious traditions that reflect the integrative and holistic nature of transformation is Taoism. Taoism is a philosophy that gets to the root of our basic opposition to the world around us. With Taoism the dyad is ever present; the interplay of yin-yang is a constant within our lives and the universe around us. Everywhere we look, we see polarities: day-night, good-evil, male-female, light-dark, wave-particle; consequently, these polar opposites are always seeking to dance toward equilibrium. This is the Way of the Great Tao, to move effortlessly through the fractal collisions of yin and yang. The Taoists prescribe to a principle called, “Wei Wu Wei”, which means, “do not doing”. It is the way of the Taoist to play the part of non-interference. Many believe that this is the path of slough and laziness, yet most miss the point, when it comes to “Wei Wu Wei”. It isn’t the lack of action or activity that the Taoist seeks; to the contrary, the Taoist seeks action while remaining detached from the experience. As the metaphysical axiom goes, “Be in the world, but not of it”. This is a very powerful philosophy to hold in one’s mind, while cruising through the highways and byways of life, with its’ many twists and turns.
In the words of the great sage Lao Tze:
“The Way that can be experienced is not the true way; the world that can be constructed is not the true world. The Way manifests all that happens and may happen; the world represents all that exists and may exist.
To experience without intention is to sense the world; to experience with intention is to anticipate the world.
These two experiences are indistinguishable; their construction differs but their effect is the same.
Beyond the gate of experience flows the Way, Which is ever greater and more subtle than the world.”
Other Articles in This Series:
Eclectic Paths to Integration
Part 2: Psychological Models - Freud
The Psychoanalytic schools of the twentieth century attempted to bring the psyche under the dominion of various maps and models, whereby the personality could be gauged, studied, and integrated. The psychological theories of Freud, Jung, Maslow, Assigoli, and Leary paved new roads in our understanding of the over all structure of the mind.
Eclectic Paths To Integration
Part 3: Shaman/Shadow
The dualistic nature of our universe sets the stage for the many rifts that form in our own mind, as well as the neurosis that we experience in our modern culture. The Us-Them, Light-Dark, and Good-Bad dichotomies are constantly pulling us back into a dualist mindset. The meta-programmer, the wise man, and the shaman have all learned the mental techniques whereby the fusion of opposites is assimilated into a higher synthesis of wholeness.
Jonathan Bethel is a writer and lecturer in the areas of futurism, philosophy, esoterica, psychology and science. Additionally, he runs an ezine called OmegaPoint.org focusing on the esoteric and philosophical implications of futurism.