Wednesday, March 5, 2008

#31. Integrating the Four Functions

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Western culture is lopsided, and it's that lopsidedness which accounts for the great damage patriarchal attitudes inflict on women, minorities and the natural world. It's also the cause of the antagonism between rationalist science and dualistic religion and of much of our racial and religious conflict.

The main point of this post is that the four-fold "quaternary" perspective on the human mind can help us understand that lopsidedness. It can provide us with the basic tools we need for moving beyond the failures of religious dualism and patriarchal rationalism. Just as all four functions of consciousness are needed for our personal wholeness, so too we need all four ways of being religious for a contemporary healing of the Earth. I mean "religious" in the broadest sense, as I described in the previous post: what matters to us most.

If you haven't read the two most recent posts-- #29 (The Four-fold Mind) and #30 (Ways of Being Religious)-- you might like to read them in conjunction with this one. They go together.

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We know that our four-fold mind has its origins in the matter of the universe; possibly, as Jung suggested, in the four-fold bonding capacity of the carbon atom, and certainly in the four main structural lobes of the brain. But what's of primary interest here is not the cosmic or neurological origin of the four-fold mind but how it manifests itself at the level of human culture.

We're not used to thinking about cosmic evolution in cultural terms, but it's important to do so now in this time of Immense Transition. As I've said frequently in these postings, one of the great values of Biogenetic Structuralism is that-- in combining biological evolution with neurophysiology and cultural anthropology-- it does precisely that.

Seeing the four-fold mind from the perspectives of humanity's cultural evolution can help us to understand what's involved in the truly immense transition global humanity is experiencing as we move from the static worldview of previous centuries to the dynamic-evolutionary perspectives of modern science.

One thing we can see right away when we look at quaternary consciousness from the perspective of its cultural development is that the static worldview of the past has been characterized by the values and attitudes of patriarchy. Those patriarchal perspectives have dominated western civilization for several thousand years, so it's important for us to have a good idea just what "patriarchy" means.

Although it may sound strange, in its original sense "patriarchy" refers to something good. It describes the ancient male role, dating back to the Paleolithic hunting culture, of being responsible for providing food and protection for the lives of those not able to do it for themselves. It's in this positive sense that the word is used of the Old Testament "patriarchs," Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In terms of the four-fold mind, patriarchy is the White Buffalo (Sensation) function's focus on the immediate details needed for the survival of life; it's the way of service on behalf of all I described in the previous post on Ways of Being Religious.

But "patriarchy" has come to have a totally negative meaning nowadays. In terms of the four functions, "patriarchy" refers to the dominance of the Gold Eagle (Thinking) function, with its concern for distance, separation and ascetical effort, along with the neglect of Green Mouse Feeling and the denial even of the existence of Black Bear Intuition.

It's precisely this lopsidedness of patriarchal culture which accounts for so many of the world's problems, such as the denial of equal rights to women, the oppression of minorities, and the exploitation of the natural world.

It's the lack of Green Mouse Feeling's concern for devotedness to connections and relationships, for example, that allows the captains of industry and the CEOs of the corporate world to remain indifferent to things like the poisoning of the Earth's air and water and the destruction of life in ecosystems which had remained in balance for millions of years. It also accounts for contemporary horrors such as religious groups using children and mentally retarded women as suicide bombers and political leaders proclaiming the legitimacy of human torture.

Clearly, we need to move away from such patriarchal attitudes and to move towards a more integrated consciousness for the healing of the Earth and its peoples. And, as I've said, it's my main point: that an understanding of how the four-fold mind works at the cultural level can help us do that.

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From the quaternary perspective we can easily see that the patriarchal mentality is essentially a usurpation of the psyche's four-fold activities by just one of them; Thinking has so dominated the western mind that it even equates itself with consciousness.

And with the Gold Eagle function's emphasis on things like "power," "control," "victory and defeat"-- words which the media use interchangeably nowadays in reporting not just political events and athletic contests but also in describing the activities of the business world and the entertainment industry-- the significance of matter, body and personal relationships for the culture as a whole, and indeed, the very meaning of our lives, has been lost.

I feel the need to add a note here for those who are already somewhat attuned to the New Cosmology and feel impatient with the slowness of the Immense Transition taking place in our day. We can easily become frustrated if we don't keep in mind how early it still is in the change-over from the static to the dynamic-evolutionary worldview. It's only a hundred years, for example, since we humans realized that we live on a planet near a star in a galaxy, that our galaxy contains millions of stars and that it is just one among many trillions of galaxies. And it's only a bit longer, maybe a century and a half ago, since we've come to understand that the world itself is many billions of years old.

This recently-acquired in-depth perception of time and space is of tremendous significance. But our growing in-depth perception of the quaternary nature of human consciousness and its role in human culture is even more significant.

It's precisely because of the patriarchal mindset that contemporary leaders in the larger areas of our cultural life are slow to see that significance. Black Bear perceptions and Green Mouse values are missing from all of our communal concerns-- politics, religion, education, the economy and most especially the world of advertising. We await the accumulation of a critical mass-- a tipping point-- in the dawning of the big picture. We know that it's coming, but we need to keep in mind that the only way that it can come is by changes in the hearts and minds of individuals, one by one.

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Specifically with regard to the convergence of science and religion, we can readily see-- in terms of quaternary consciousness at the cultural level-- that it's the patriarchal dominance of the isolated Thinking function that accounts for our many centuries of religious dualism and scientific rationalism. With their similar emphasis on rules, laws and order, it's clear that both religious dualism and scientific rationalism are simply at different ends of the spectrum of the Thinking function's activity.

And once we become aware of the Thinking function's need for things like distancing and differentiation-- so well imaged by the Medicine Wheel's high-flying Gold Eagle-- we can also see the great value of the Green Mouse Feeling function's focus on connectedness, belonging and leaving out no one. Its concern for including every one is exactly the opposite of the isolation and hierarchical attitudes of Gold Eagle Thinking.

We also can see our need for a recovery of the Black Bear Intuition's way of vision when we look at things from the perspectives of quaternary consciousness. We need not only to hold on to the good things of the past, as Green Mouse does, but also to validate and encourage those creative persons among us who, with their strong Black Bear function, can share their life-dreams and new visions of the world with us. It's clear that we can't have a big picture without acknowledging our need for integrating the four functions.

My discovery of Biogenetic Structuralism was so exciting precisely because the Biogenetic Structuralist perspective is a wonderfully creative attempt to look at that big picture specifically from the science side of things, taking into account the combined data of evolutionary biology, neurophysiology and cultural anthropology. There are also perspectives from the religion side which attempt to take into account that big picture and I hope to describe some of them in future posts; but laying out the science perspectives first seems the right way for me to go.

What I especially want to emphasize here is our need to see that the process of healing wholeness, growth and development, centering, balance-- whatever we call it -- is essentially one of paying attention to the four-fold nature of the human psyche; and that, in attempting to integrate the four functions of the mind, we need all the help we can get.

The most stimulating and thought-provoking source of help along these lines I've come across is the work of the New Mexico artist and psychologist Steven Gallegos. I mentioned him several times in the previous post. In this one I want to share some of his thoughts which I see as especially relevant to our great need for integrating the four functions.

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His full name is Eligio Steven Gallegos. He offers workshops in North America and Europe on integrating consciousness specifically with the help of animal imagery. I hope you will check out his website. What follows are some insights about the four-fold mind that especially caught my attention in his book Animals of the Four Windows: Integrating Thinking, Sensing, Feeling and Imagery (Moon Bear Press, 1991).

With the book's odd title and its brevity (it's hardly 150 pages), I initially had the impression that it was just another of the many quirky New Age books still going around. But when I saw that it has an introduction by Steven Larsen, an author whose classic work on shamanism (The Shaman's Doorway) I've found to be especially solid, I was convinced that I should take it seriously. I'm very glad I did.

Gallegos calls the functions of consciousness "windows of knowing" and "modes of awareness." One of his main points is that these "windows" operate specifically via archetypal images which show themselves in the form of animals.

It sounds awkward at first, precisely because in our culture we are not used to seeing things via the Black Bear (Intuition) function, but his point is clear enough: the language or vocabulary of the psyche is, to a great extent, animal imagery. The Native American medicine wheel is a wonderful example of his point. Gallegos emphasizes, however, that if we look for it, each of us will find that we have our own animal imagery.

While there are many scholars and workers in the field of Depth Psychology dealing with various aspects of Jung's understanding of the un-conscious psyche, I don't know of anyone except Steven Gallegos who has done such interesting work in enhancing Jung's ideas about the functions of the conscious mind.

Gallegos' work is itself an excellent example of the value of the four-fold perspective. Because he is an artist as well as psychologist, with his strong Black Bear function he is able to talk about the big picture precisely from that artistic-Intuitive point of view which is so lacking in contemporary culture. Gallegos offers us an integrated and wholistic view of our need for an integrated and wholistic view!

In what follows I offer my understanding of some of his ideas focusing on the Thinking and Intuition functions, the functions which seem to me most specifically concerned with the healing of the gap between science and religion. I hope that my comments will spark you to read his books yourself.

Besides the idea that the four functions show themselves in the form of animal imagery, one of Gallegos' most basic and powerful insights is that the relationships which appear among the animal images makes clear their healing quality. In their relationship with one another the animals images connected with the four modes of awareness indicate that movement toward healing and wholeness is fundamental to the psyche. The conscious mind wants to be whole.

In the context of the New Cosmology, this movement toward wholeness which these "animals of the four windows" exhibit can be seen as nothing less than the dynamis of cosmic evolution, the same energy "that moves the sun and stars" (as Dante put it), operating within us at the most intimately personal level. That it operates by way of animal imagery is not a common understanding even among those familiar with the Jungian consciousness functions, and for that reason I see it as especially important in the work of what Thomas Berry calls "reinventing the human." I'm emphasizing these ideas because I haven't seen them spelled out elsewhere in the perspectives of the New Cosmology.

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Specifically with regard to the Black Bear (Intuition) function, Gallegos suggests that it might be better to call it "Imagery." He suggests that we reserve the term "Intuition" for the wholeness of the conscious psyche, which he describes as the "synergistic activity" of the four functions working together. He gives a good analogy: it's something like 3-D vision, which results when vision from separate eyes comes together "synergistically" to make something greater than its components-- in the case of conscious awareness, an in-depth perception of reality.

Gallegos says that Jung didn't distinguish between the Imagery function and the wholeness of the psyche simply because Jung was so good at Imagery and because Jung's Intuition (in Gallegos' sense) expressed itself primarily via imagery.

This sounds confusing, to be sure, especially for people who are familiar with the Jungian terminology. But I think it's important to mention since Gallegos not only frequently uses the term "Imagery" for the Black Bear (i.e., Jungian "Intuition") function; he also has some very important things to say about it.

This is yet another example of the struggle we have with words during the Immense Transition we're in. Personally, I've found it helpful to use the word "Imagination" for Gallegos' term "Imagery." It may also help to keep in mind that in more religion-oriented settings, the synergistic wholeness which Gallegos means by the term "Intuition" is often referred to "unitive-awareness" or "totality-consciousness." (This seems to me a real breakthrough in our understanding of mystical-unitive experience in contemporary-- and appropriately evolutionary-- language. Maybe the first, in the western religious tradition, since Meister Eckhart. But that's something for a future post.)

In any case, Gallegos' main point as I understand it is that, whatever we call this "window" which on the Medicine Wheel is imaged by the Black Bear, it is "the foundation of our consciousness of all and of everything." It "connects us to all and gives the All its presence and persistence." Gallegos notes that it does so precisely as Jung said, by "transmitting images" and that these images are nothing less than our "perceptions of the relations between things."

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We need to keep in mind that the Black Bear function is a way of seeing in the broadest, widest and most comprehensive sense, and that it is the realm not only of artists, musicians and poets but of all creative individuals. (And, in the perspectives of the New Universe Story, that includes you and me.)

Our Black Bear Imagination function-- in its desire to explore possibilities for the future and its seeking to have an authentic ("wholistic") perception of reality, truth, and the meaning of life beyond the conventional-- is the very opposite of the attitudes of the institutional churches and governmental and educational organizations which seek to censor and silence creative expressions which depart from the well-established conventional norms.

And censoring-- saying "no" to something good, putting a stop to a creative enterprise-- is the death of creativity and cosmic dynamism. An especially relevant understanding of how such censoring prevents healing can be found in a book by the well-known art therapist Shaun McNiff, The Arts and Psychotherapy (Charles C. Thomas Publishers, 1981). (That's another topic for a future post.)

In contrast to patriarchal censoring, Imagery consciousness puts us in touch with the cosmic process in terms of our own personal healing, growth and development. And it also empowers us to creative participation in the life of the earth and of human society in terms of ecological awareness and concerns for equality, peace and justice-- precisely what the New Cosmology is all about.

Knowing that we have a four-fold mind not only roots us in the Earth and allows us to see that our personal creative participation in the Earth's cultural development is nothing less than the on-going activity of the cosmic evolutionary process. It also helps us to see that Imagery is the fuel (or energy) for the dynamic cosmic process taking place within us. And thus it allows us to recognize the importance of symbol, myth and ritual in our personal and communal development.

I find it fascinating that the "Anthropology Plus" of Biogenetic Structuralism, the comments of Thomas Merton in his essay on William Faulkner and religion's roots in the imagination which I quoted in #26 (Help from Uncle Louie), and the insights of artist-therapist Steven Gallegos I'm describing here, all point us in the same direction: the great importance of symbol and ritual in our lives.

Despite how complicated these ideas at first may seem, it's worth taking time to think about them seriously. In terms of the convergence of science and religion, they helps us to understand why-- with its need for hierarchal power and superiority, and its fear of connectedness and relationships-- the patriarchal mind ignores the very existence of the Black Bear function which transmits our awareness of relationships to our consciousness and is the source of our empowerment to participate in the evolution of the universe.

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I hope I've said enough to make my main point, but I've got one more thing to share. Perhaps of greatest interest with regard to the lopsidedness of patriarchal culture is that Gallegos found to his surprise that it's neither Black Bear Imagination nor Green Mouse Feeling that's most severely damaged; it's the Thinking function itself.

Thinking awareness, he says, has been "misused, injured, chained, trapped" by patriarchal rationalism, precisely in its having had external authority imposed on it, rather than having been allowed to function properly from within.

Its natural mode isn't only concerned with distance, distinctions and differentiation, Gallegos says, but with movement. With its focus on the sequential flow of time, as I described in the previous post, our Gold Eagle Thinking function moves us naturally toward wholeness and communion and the completion of the "not yet." It "relentlessly searches for wholeness," as Gallegos says, and its "natural mode of operation is questioning."

And questioning, needless to say, is in the greatest contrast to the imposition of beliefs by external authority, whether parental, political or religious.

Jim Wallis, well-known founder of the Sojourners movement, says in his new book The Great Awakening (HarperOne, 2008) that "the two great hungers in our world today are the hunger for spirituality and the hunger for social justice." People don't want to go left or right," he says, "they want to go deeper."

Integrating the four functions can help. We've had enough of being lopsided.

sam@macspeno.com

1 comment:

Sam said...

While trying to eliminate numerous spam comments, I inadvertently deleted all comments at the END of the posts up until #90. BUT... they are still preserved in the collections of comments found in posts #32, #67 and #83.

One set of comments, however-- for posts #84 to #89-- has been completely lost. If you happen to have copied any of them, I'd much appreciate your sending a copy to me so I can restore them. Thanks.