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.