Jean Gebser (1905-1973) The Ever Present Origin – Structures of consciousness:

1. magic structure – interchange whole for parts. Things are supposed to come and go.

2. mythical – understanding inevitable polarity of opposites. Polarities give way to one another.

3. mental (Rational) – either/or thinking, the Conceptual mind. But beginning to think dialectically allows us to think imaginatively. The price is separation of the whole and disintegration of the whole which is at the base of our fear of death. The solely rational is a deficient phase in the mental structure. Plays into concept of the boundaried self which is our permanent identity/soul with which we are born. Nucleated self-hood allows us to live in our mental centre.

The evolution of consciousness is not just stages but structures, more like rooms in a museum, not progressing from primitive to higher, not hierarchical, not about onward and upward. Each structure has an efficient and a deficient stage.

The idea of sequential development is a function of linear intellectual thought. We need to develop a deepening capacity to hold all structures within us each with its own special qualities, each retaining its own suchness. What is required in us is a new capacity to hold each. Each part gives to the other; each structure has its place. Nothing is wasted. The ego-self is not wasted; it is crucial for the unfolding.

The idea of a permanent sense of identity is not part of this.

Why did we come to think developmentally? People noticed stages seemed to be reflected in the development of children. Became all about personal evolution.

Most responses circle around the idea of dismantling the ego but this is not about getting rid of the ego. In fact nothing is wasted and each structure maintains something that needs to be maintained.

Our real “I”, the Self behind the self, is fluid, light, more spacious, and unboundaried. It takes an act of sacrifice to realize this deeper self and to connect with a deeper sense of belongingness. We need to learn to stand firmly here.

We need to atone for our sense of separation. Remorse of conscience is a powerful transformative agent. Start by confession and remorse.

We need to rebuild courage and conscience; as these are strengthened we become able to exercise trust.

The Martyrs:

The birth of the church happened in the midst of the blood of the martyrs.

Western veneration for martyrs is not because the church is morbid, but due to a quality of spiritual energy, a nutrient, that is released at the time of the death of a person who has died already. They are ongoing fountains of force; it is this life-force which changes worlds, the lack of which is paralyzing.

It’s your yearning that baptises you.

Martyrdom is the final degree on the spectrum of dying before you die / self-surrender, which is the core practice at the heart of Christianity = kenosis / self-emptying. Jesus emptied himself.

There are three stages/ thresholds to dying before you die:

Traditional structure for progress of spiritual journey: Purgative – Illumanitive – Unitive

1. Purgative – cleaning up of false self. Giving up of personal will/ ego/ false self. This is the first stage of the Christian journey. Christianity is set up to cater to this model. Dark night of the senses = bumping your head up against the wall of your ego programs. Works at level of self-will, personal history and preference.

2. When you have done that long enough you land in the Illumanitive stage = stage in which the phrase God is my “co-pilot” makes sense. It is a wonderful creative time. You get to be a self and serve God at the same time. Evelyn Underhill had no time for it. But it doesn’t last. It unravels and at this point Christianity starts losing the plot.

3. Next comes the Dark Night of Spirit – this is a deeper disruption. You are bearing more pain than you have personally merited. Eventually, you move out of this into the Unitive. Your will and God’s are fused. Christianity uses marriage mysticism to describe this stage – the bridal chamber. You have a deeper affective union with God.

4. No-self: This map was carried on until 1985 when Bernadette Roberts discovered yet another dark night – the Dark Night of self in which the structure of the self comes undone. I/Thous dissolve. As you disappear, God disappears. This is not a deeper union of wills, but a collapse of the structure of consciousness that gave us the concept of a separate self at all.

Finally, the mirage of self collapses. The whole structure disappears, the death of the self-structure. There is only the will of God. There is no longer mine and Thine. The structure of my me-ness is dismantled.

We used to think of the self as a thing which then clings and grasps. But grasping is not created by the self; the self is created by grasping.

The new operating system no longer needs the old paradigm. We are no longer projecting outward in an attempt to have a sense of self. Everything that created a sense of a separate self dissolves. There is only oneness.

So where are you? Nowhere at all.

John of the Cross had not completed the journey.

The difficulty in the Western road map is that we have been confused in what we mean by my “self”. Ego as a construct of consciousness entered through Jung. (Thomas Merton – the ego as sinful self). The need for story is hard to let go of.

There is life beyond the conventional self. There is a plenitude that is unbelievable. The universe is creating something out of nothing at every moment.

The True Self is God expressed in human form, the Divine force acting in consciousness. Egoic consciousness takes this and says, “I am god.” But what the no-self stage is actually saying is that “I have disappeared.” What creates selfhood?