Human Spiritual Structure: Western Psychology
Notes in progress © 1998-2002 Alan McAllister  

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The Standard Analytical Description

Since at least the time of Freud, western analytical psychologists have divided the mind into three aspects:

This approach is limited to a view of the mind based on the experiences of a single unit being in a single lifetime. The main technique based on this view of the mind is psychoanalysis, which works with dreams and free association to map out the unconscious mind. Although this leads to the concept of an "observing ego" which is able to observe the workings of the normal conscious mind (ego), implying a possible hierarchy of "minds", this was never pursued, in part due to the limitations of a verbal technique for working with the non-verbal higher levels of mind.

Freudian Development

Freud postulated a series of developmental stages, starting with the oral stage and then moving through the anal and phallic. The later two may be associated with the psychologies of the muladhara and svadhisthana chakras. The oral stage is a rough, unconscious, reflection of the full devotion and trust that evolve in connection with the vishuda chakra.

Persons who feel that others will try to swallow them up if they get too close are probably projecting their own oral needs, needs for love and nurturing. Any issues that were unresolved at this early stage will need to be resolved before a person can perfect devotion for the Supreme later in life.

The Jungian Collective Unconscious

Jung expanded the concept of the unconscious beyond the merely personal, to include a collective component. This collective unconscious is most clearly expressed in dreams, myths, and art work, products of the intuitive mind, where the themes of this collective appear as "archetypes". This level of the mind is thought to guide the development of the conscious mind, leading it towards balance and the integration of all aspects of the self, but is seen as being primitive and very old, much closer to our animal forebears. This leads to an apparent contradiction that the oldest parts of the mind will lead it towards the highest.

There is also an archetype of the self, which exists in the collective unconscious and has an integrating tendency that influences the consciousness. It sends messages to the ego through imagery in dreams and symbols, but is never directly perceived. The ego has to consciously integrate these messages and generates the state of consciousness. It is supposed that no consciousness can exist without the ego as its center. Although the collective unconscious, which gives rise to the archetypes, (including that of the self) is universal, the archetypes, although similar, are ultimately individual.

While Jung went beyond the conscious self, and saw that the unconscious held learning as well as darkness, and that it transcended the individual, he did not acknowledge conscious states beyond normal waking consciousness. At best the idea was to integrate enough of the unconscious so that it would not swamp the ego. But the idea of transcending this situation and integrating the whole unconscious was not recognized as possible or desirable. All states beyond the normal consciousness were associated with the instinctual, biological collective unconscious, including the integrative higher states of consciousness. Therefore the idea of merging the self by expansion into higher conscious states could not exist. Merger could only be into lower "unconscious" states, therefore the ego was to be always maintained and defended. The conscious mind was still seen as separate and unique.

In Jungian work dreams are used, but they are as carrying messages for the conscious mind. The focus is on the symbolism of the dream itself and on seeking guiding messages from the deeper level of the collective unconscious. While these messages may indicate higher levels of mind, these are not expected to be directly experienced.

Cultural Mind

The cultural mind of a people can be referred to as a collective unconscious. This pushes us to act in certain ways, that vary from country to country and place to place. We begin to feel "settled" in a new place when we have adjusted to the local collective unconscious. [RF] This is related also to the programing of imposed samskaras [AHM]. There is also a collective consciousness, which is universal, and contains the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of the species. It corresponds to Sheldrake's morphogenic field, which apprently allows new skills and knowledge to be transfered over large distances without physical contact. [RF]

These cultural minds are one form group mind.

The Transpersonal Mind

In normal ego consciousness each mind is distinct from all the rest. There are many differences. As the mind expands it begins to overlap more and more with other minds. It is also understood that the ego is not destroyed, so much as transcended. It is still there to serve the conscious self, but consciousness no longer identifies with it. Mahat witnesses the Ego and encompasses it. At the pinnacle of expansion there is unity, but the ego may still remain individual, just and is the body. However if the samskaras become the same, or are all removed, the individuals cannot remain separate.

Although Jung saw the evidences of this transpersonal mind they were confused with the instincts and not recognized as evidences of a truly higher state of consciousness. In terms of the kosas, the personal unconscious mind is the subconscious mind of manomaya kosa, while the unconscious mind of the atimanas kosa is the beginning of transpersonal mind.

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Created March 5, 1998.
Last updated September 20, 1998.
© Alan McAllister

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