10/23/10

Toward a science of persons

"The purpose of this course is integration."
A Course In Miracles

" .... an individual the totality of whose experience is split in two main ways; in the first place, there is a rent in his relation with his world and, in the second, there is a disruption of his relation with himself. Such a person is not able to experience himself 'together with' others or 'at home' in the world, but on the contrary, he experiences himself in despairing aloneness and isolation; moreover, he does not experience himself as a complete person but rather as 'split' in various ways, perhaps as a mind more or less tenuously linked to a body, as two or more selves, and so on."
This is how Dr. R. D. Laing begins his essay "The existential-phenomenological foundations for a science of persons," in the 1959 book, The Divided Self. Doesn't this description sound very familiar, and similar to the description in A Course In Miracles of ego-identification in the world?
"The separated ones were not interested in peace. They had already split their minds, and were bent on further dividing, rather than reintegrating. The levels they introduced into their minds turned against each other, and they established differences, divisions, cleavages, dispersions, and all the other concepts related to the increasing splits which they produced. Not being in their right minds, they turned their defenses from protection to assault, and acted literally insanely ....

".... No-one turns to fantasy unless he despairs of finding satisfaction in reality. Yet it is certain that he will never find satisfaction in fantasy ... Grandiosity is always a cover for despair. It is without hope because it is not real. It is an attempt to counteract your littleness, based on the belief that the littleness is real ... In sleep you are alone, and your awareness is narrowed to yourself. And that is why the nightmares come. You dream of isolation because your eyes are closed. You do not see your brothers."
And is this not the same as the early Twentieth Century Gnostic teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff and P. D. Ouspensky?
"First of all, what man must know is that he is not one; he is many. He has not one permanent and unchangeable 'I' or Ego. He is always different. One moment he is one, another moment he is another, the third moment he is a third, and so on, almost without an end. The illusion of unity or oneness is created in man first, by the sensation of one physical body, by his name, which in normal cases always remains the same, and third, by a number of mechanical habits which are implanted in him by education or acquired by imitation. Having always the same physical sensations, hearing always the same name and noticing in himself the same habits and inclinations he had before, he believes himself to be always the same. In reality there is no oneness in man and there is no controlling centre, no permanent 'I' or Ego.

"This is the general picture of man: Every thought, every feeling, every sensation, every desire, every like and every dislike is an 'I'. These 'I's are not connected and are not co-ordinated in any way. Each of them depends on the change in external circumstances, and on the change of impressions. Some of them mechanically follow some other, and some appear always accompanied by others. But there is no order and no system in that."
The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution
Is this not also the Gospel teachings of Jesus?
" And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? " Matthew 12:25 - 26
 Jesus "knew their thoughts" and he compared their thinking to a house divided . Jesus was teaching psychology!

These, and many others, describe the same condition. The psychology of the divided self has been recognized and studied since ancient times. For example, according to many Sufi teachers, there are seven levels of the self. They are seven levels of development, ranging from absolutely self-centered and egotistical to purely spiritual. But, whatever level or division an individual may inhabit in the normal course of life, it is only rarely that he or she questions the inevitability of the divided self or the desirability of healing the condition. .

The Sufi, the Gnostic, and the Christian-ACIM traditions hold to the hope and necessity for change and self-integration, but when asked "Why cannot all men develop and become different beings?" Ouspensky responded,"The answer is very simple. Because they do not want it. Because they do not know about it and will not understand without a long preparation what it means, even if they are told."

Or, as the Course states, "You never really wanted peace before, so there was no point in being told how to achieve it. No learning is acquired by anyone unless he wants to learn it, and believes in some way that he needs it."


-  oOo   -

Tom Fox
Louisville, Kentucky

1 comment:

davidknz said...

Good Post Tom... appreciated :-)