Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Definitions and Synonyms

If there are any grandmothers, or grandfathers come to that, who have no desire to be taught how to suck eggs please look away now.  It occurs to me that I have submitted ten posts for your perusal, and I trust enjoyment, but that I have broken the cardinal rule of presenting material without first defining my terms.  This must be corrected forthwith.  I am of course dealing here with terms that are capable of definition and in anything like a satisfactory manner.

Let me begin by suggesting that our experiences of life can be divided broadly into two categories; those which emanate from "out there" and those which emanate from "in here".  The former group are capable of definition, whilst the latter are not.  The boundary between the two groups exists, roughly and not being too specific, at some interface between the brain and the mind.  The prime function of the ego is to concern itself with the "out there" experiences.  Without the work of the ego, the sub- and/or unconscious regions of the mind would appear to be unable to fulfil their functions.

Ego: This term when used in my posts is a non-pejorative word, is a collective of the intellect or Thinking function, the emotions or Feeling function, and the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, which together form the Sensing function.  C.G.Jung also added the Intuitive function which would seem to lie beyond consciousness. On the other hand, G.I.Gurdjieff does not include the Intuition in his idea of Centres, using only what he calls the Thinking, Feeling and Physical Sensing Centres in his definition of the ego.  (It is of interest that Myers and Briggs further added Jung's Introvert and Extrovert attitudes, as well as the Judging and Perceiving Functions to their personality profiling test to identify sixteen personality types.)  Other terms I sometimes use to describe the ego are the Unreal self, the Lower self and the Virtual self.

Not every region of the ego, however, appears to be conscious.  This finding has already been alluded to above, in the comments on the Intuitive function.  On the Tree of Life, used in the study of the mystical Qabalah, the Intellect, Emotions and the Physical senses are shown as three linked spheres.  However, each sphere is linked to a fourth sphere that represents the subconscious mind, the Treasurehouse of Images.  The ego thus depicted has its roots beyond or deeper than the conscious mind, roots that reach to the very foundations of our being.

Imagery: The use of the imagination, and its symbolic language of images, is very important in some stages of meditation.  I am not talking here about daydreaming, an uncontrolled wandering of the mind, but of something much more focussed.  Pathworking, visualisation, fantasy journeying are all terms which may be used to describe this interaction between the conscious mind and the sub- and/or unconscious mind;  between mind and Mind. It would probably be true to say that pathworking is rather like dreaming, except that the working is always under conscious control. Often the journey or path is decided in advance, in which case it is the unplanned symbols and images that arise that are of importance.  Sometimes, and this is where the real fun begins, the imagery arises spontaneously such as in, "A Walk in the Hills" posted on 25.5.2013.  There have also been occasions in my experience where a form of inner conversation has spontaneously arisen, as in "L'Abbaye de Boquen" posted on 27.4.2013.

In my posts, wherever I write passages in italics and with indented paragraphs, beginning and ending with a short series of full stops, that is where I am quoting from my private diaries and journals describing my journeys into the beyond-consciousness.  In all these passages of script I feel bound to report my findings as truthfully as possible, whatever the conclusions that may be drawn.  Otherwise it would seem like lying to, and about, a state of being that lies beyond my ego. Unacceptable.  Of course, interpreting the imagery is another matter entirely.  Sometimes the imagery can mean different things at different times, or different things at the same time.  I always try to look for consistency as against randomness, and confirmation from the material world where possible.   

Synonyms: Inevitably some indefinable words such as 'God' will arise in my posts.  When I use that word I do so as a synonym for some power, or pyscho-spiritual presence, that is far stronger and wiser than my ordinary consciousness.  Without that energy - another indefinable word - that drives that presence (or that is that presence) I would probably simply........stop!  Of course I could use other synonyms like Mind, the Infinite, the Ultimate, the Life-force, Mindfulness and, yes, the-experience-that-is-God.  But these synonyms are becoming all too pretentious for my taste.  I understand all too well people's aversion to the God-word for I lived with it long enough myself. (And please let us not get into the Father-word!)  

There is a mountain ahead that I wish to climb.  I will not stand and worry about the nature of this boulder that blocks my path at the foot of the mountain, whatever name is written on it.  If I cannot climb over it, I'll go around it.  I know that in the end the experience of climbing the mountain will far outweigh any problems I might have had with that boulder now lying so far below, and getting ever smaller as I climb.  And if one still can't call that obstacle below a 'boulder', why not call it a 'rock' instead.  As I said, I have a mountain to climb and I wish to get on with my journey.  I want to see the top and the far land that lies beyond.

In conclusion, I hope this weekday post has not been too boring, dry and academic.  Definitions can always be debated, but my purpose here has been to explain what my understanding is of the above terms, so that  what I write may be better understood.  The onus must be on me to respect my readers and therefore to make my writing intelligible.  The responsibility does not lie on the reader to figure out what I might have ineptly tried to say.

23 comments:

  1. Thank you for this, Tom! Clear and unpretentious definitions that will no doubt make it easier for me to read with an understanding that leads to deeper questions. So exciting!

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  2. Thank you Rouchswalwe. It is a joy to write for people like you.

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  3. This post just adds to my eagerness to read your future posts, Tom. IT is clear to me that your personal studies have been/are different than mine, which makes your blog all that much more attractive, from my point of view.

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  4. I have noticed a certain enthusiasm emanating from the readers of Gwynt. Who knows, perhaps by contributing our life experiences to the communal pot - so to speak - we may come up with something excitingly new. At the very least, we should perhaps experience a certain enlivening of the 'little grey cells' as Poirot says from time to time.

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  5. I would like to say something special that you could maybe clip behind your ears to look at once a while. Yah, and who am I? All I can say for now is that I printed your post and have it lying here on top of my pile of goodies.

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  6. I think Prof. Jacob Needleman when he asked the questions, "What am I?" and "What is God?" also said that they are similar questions, and indeed, they may be the same question.

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  7. Yes, "the little grey cells" are excited. (i am particularly fond of David Suchet's Poirot)
    :^)

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  8. Not only did I enjoy this post but I also finally did what I've been meaning to do these past few days and that was to go and read the other nine you've written. I think your intention to use the word God to describe that mysterious presence we intuit is a good one. You're right that there are many but God is description enough for anyone willing to consider there is more to creation than we can define in the materialist sense.

    I've long felt the universe is always speaking to us and guiding us through magical signs and symbols; it's our job to simply recognize them and then respond sensitively. When we recognize creation is speaking to us through signs, symbols and coincidences our first instinct is to try to understand the message: "What is being said here? What does this mean?" If it's not immediately obvious it can be frustrating, and sometimes as a result we spend too much time trying to make symbols say things that they aren't really saying. It's therefore important that we try to understand signs when they come, but we also have to leave room and space for the meaning of a symbol to naturally emerge, like a conversation.

    I'm happy after having read those earlier posts that I know you a little better now. I look forward to continuing the conversation.

    ps: It seems to me oldest children are very similar to only children in bearing the burdens of parental expectations.

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  9. Susan; Sometimes I think I do not, maybe cannot, give adequate response to the comments made here. Having read your comment, over and over again, I find myself in the happy position of not needing to respond, other than in the way I now am. Your comment says it all.

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  10. I prefer the spare hints and pointers of the tao te ching. Matter of taste.

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  11. Tom, like your other posts along these lines (or moving in that direction), I feel I have too much to say in response but that it could only be said in a long, 'live' conversation. So I'll end up simply adding my appreciation and saying nothing more relevant than "thank you".

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  12. Zhoen: One of the problems I had to overcome was whether or not to entirely reject all imagery and language relating to God and Christianity and go with some other form of expression. In the end I realised that Christian symbolism was the inner language that my unconscious was most comfortable with, and most knowledgeable about. It would have been bad enough taking on my thinking process, I wasn't about to take on my unconscious as well in some tiring, artificial half-life.

    For me it's a question of self-honesty, as I'm sure it is for you.

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  13. Natalie; I quite understand. And I do look forward to a possible meeting with you.

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  14. Tom, I could contribute something to your post, describing one of my own 'spiritual' (another word that needs refreshing) experiences but you'd have to go to the link where I wrote about it. It's here:
    http://www.nataliedarbeloff.com/articles3.html

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  15. Oh Natalie, I couldn't get enough of that. I reached the NEXT spot, clicked, but could go no further. How do I say this? It was.....oh God..... it was all about, at least one facet of, that greater experience......that IS God. But you also opened up a line of thinking that is feeding into another path I am investigating, the inner spiritual origins of good and bad, positive and negative, safe and dangerous.

    Yes! Yes! Yes! It is most assuredly NOT about being controlled. Who wants divine parents for goodness sake? Were not the material ones enough? I want experiential partnership! I want! I want! But it isn't about what I want, is it? It's about divine inheritance.

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  16. Tom, thanks for reading. The 'Next' link is just there waiting for me to add something else.
    That particular experience led to many others and in fact was quite life-transforming. But that's another much longer story which I will get around to adding to the autobio...I will!

    You're right, there's so much more to look into concerning both sides of spiritual experience and origins. I never felt in tune, for example, with that whole scene which goes under the heading of 'spiritism' - the occult, the séances, the 'chanelling' of dead gurus, etc. In my view, nothing to do with what I understand to be God.

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  17. Agreed. It also occurs to me that there is something involved here which may be what Maslow called a 'peak experience'.

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  18. Awesome! What can I add but thanks for voicing so many difficult things. I nod and appreciate, and as always envy the wordsmiths I meet. Meanwhile I silently put up images....

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  19. My pleasure Marja-Leena. I never expected any of my posts to be described as awesome.

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  20. Just keep writing as you climb, Tom, I will be reading!

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