Monday, November 5, 2012

#116. The Cosmic Evolutionary Process and the Individual

ARCHIVE. For a list of all my published posts:

This is the 16th in the series of blog entries I began with #101-- a collection of notes, essays and book reviews from my files all dealing in one way or another with the emerging new religious consciousness. They are mostly things I've written over the last decade or two to clarify my own thoughts but which I would like to make available for anyone who might be interested.

Post #116 contains notes and reflections on an essay I discovered "accidentally" (if there is such a thing) which helped me put good words on my understanding of how each individual's personal development is a participation in the evolution of the universe.

If you have questions and think I might be of help, you're welcome to send me a note:


Richard Taras, "The Transfiguration of the Western Mind" in CROSS CURRENTS, Vol XXXIX, Number 3 (Fall, 89) Reviewed Aug, 1990.

A friend of Anne's from MN sent her this article as a follow up to a conversation they had back in July when she was out there. I mention that to explain how I came to see it; I wouldn't usually be reading CROSS CURRENTS these days.

The article claims to be a philosophical, specifically epistemological, analysis-- in contrast to a religious or psychological understanding-- of the current "transfiguration of the western mind."

The author's main point evokes Hegel, Kant, Jung, Stanislas Graf and Rudolph Steiner. He says: some recent developments in depth psychology have "immense relevance" for solving some our most urgent and fundamental epistemological issues. I haven't been looking, but this is the first time I've seen any attempt to integrate academic philosophy with Jungian perspectives. It would seem to be yet another breakthrough.

What caught my attention was the author's insistence that "something is really is going on outside the mind as well as inside." Namely, that the cosmic process itself proceeds, at the human stage of evolution, by way of archetypal forces. And that it is in the co-incidence of these forces (which would be operative whether or not a given ego existed) with the inner development of an individual that the individual is energized (empowered). And our part, he says, is called forth by the cosmos itself (and is for the purpose of the cosmos' self-realization).

As Thomas Berry pointed out (and I see how significant a point is it in this context): in feminine/goddess religion there is perpetual but not permanent change. No transfiguration. No real development or evolution, so that nothing really matters (in the sense that the continual changes do not make any long-range difference).


There are several things of great interest here! One is the author's insistence that this is not psychology or spirituality but philosophy. (The theme of this issue of CROSS CURRENTS is "Philosophy and the Human Future.") If so-- if it is philosophy-- it certainly seems to be a return to philia-sophia in the original sense. And perhaps marks the acknowledgement of Jung, finally, in the last holdout against modern psychology: the philosophy department.


A second thing of interest is that the author is describing what I recently delighted in finding named within another context: the phrase "innerward physical transfiguration" that caught my attention in (a month-long period of reflection which I called) "my 30-day VQ."

I was delighted because it perfectly described what I've been feeling recently (with the content of the feeling being that it's been going on for a number of years now): that something is going on inside myself and something is happening outside, at the same time; and that my task at the moment is essentially to wait for their coming together. (It's nice to have one's symptoms described accurately!)


The third item of interest was the author's description of how the coincidence occurs, of the archetypal forces of the cosmic evolutionary process and the individual: "a recognition and union with the universal in the particular." That's epistemological language, to be sure; but it's also simply another description of the ritual process: the awareness of and an identification with sym-bol, for empowerment. This was exciting because it makes totally clear how ritual in general, and the VQ especially, is the very process by which the cosmos realizes itself. And it stresses how important is the inner/spiritual growth of even the seemingly most insignificant individual. Profound stuff!


Tarnas has a good description of archetypes: "autonomous patterns of meaning that inhere in and structure both matter and psyche." From a sociological-cultural viewpoint, he says, paradigms emerge when they are "archetypally appropriate." And the indication of their appropriateness is precisely their numinosity! So cosmic evolution takes place from both within and without at the same time. (See final note, below.) As I see it, new data, new tools (when I first wrote that I wrote "new doors"!) "arrive on the scene synchronistically as new assumptions and presuppositions emerge from many minds simultaneously, from the collective mind."

What's happening in our time is that relatedness/connectedness archetypes are breaking through after a long period of alienation. The cosmic struggle/death/rebirth process is "culminating before our eyes."

He means (in psychological and more precise language) that the human psyche, primarily ego consciousness-- and that understood essentially as the Thinking function-- having identified itself as masculine and all else as feminine, even the other aspects of consciousness, let alone the unconscious psyche and the non-psyche cosmos-- is finally sufficiently differentiated that it can begin to seriously think again about relating to the Rest.

The author sees this as a hiergamos. (But this, it seems to me, makes the same mis-identification the Western mind has made: to still see things from the point of view of the Thinking function in its mis-identification of itself as only-masculine and of all else as only-feminine. I.e., in his main insight the author reproduces the problem.)

That's not so much to emphasize that he's wrong as to say that there is yet another step in the mind's (i.e., in the conscious Thinking function's) coming to self-awareness: the recognition that the All, too, is masculine, as well as feminine. (And this is, as Gene Monick has shown us so well, the only real source of that courage needed to truly effect the hiergamos.)


In any case, a final quite valuable thought from the author: that "the new"-- what the transfigured Western mind is currently being opened onto-- "can not be grasped before it arrives." I want only to add that this is no less true on the individual level (not just on the cultural level). And that keeping this point in mind, for anyone undergoing "inward physical transfiguration," somehow makes the waiting a little easier.


A note with regard to Tarnas' idea that "Cosmic evolution takes place from both within and without at the same time." It means that the cosmic evolutionary process is in essence sacramental. And the recovery of that cosmic sacramental process is simultaneously a recovery of authentic masculinity. My "two facets" are shining all the brighter!

I see the recovery of the shamanic/sacramental vision as a (maybe the final?) step in the awakening (in the late 19th c) of humanity to the cosmic evolutionary process and (in the mid-20th c) to its role in it.

At the human level, the cosmic process is intrinsically sacramental; ritual is the means of our empowerment to participation in the evolution of the universe. And we will recover the sacramental/ritual process of empowerment simultaneously with the recovery of an authentic grounded masculine spirit. Ritual empowerment simply isn't a possibility for those who would deny sacred phallos.


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