February 25, 2018

February 25, 2018

Session Thirteen is the next segment of the Retreat offered through Contemplative Outreach in conjunction with Spirituality & Practice.   The Retreat now begins to take us deeper into the spiritual journey by helping us to understand, through psychology, how our “emotional programs for happiness” lead us into emotional turmoil.  Father Keating has done “seminal” work using several models of psychology to help us understand the human condition and how it affects us and how we can use this knowledge to help ourselves on our spiritual journey and help others as well.  From the retreat, “Fr. Thomas' intention is to help us understand why we need healing and what needs to be healed; in other words, what is being transformed. In Invitation to Love he says the primary goal of this teaching is "practical: to provide a solid conceptual background for the practice of contemplative prayer and the spiritual journey for our time. “

In Romans 7:15, St. Paul notes, “What I do, I do not understand. 
For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.

We have all had this experience in which we said something we wished we had not, or took actions we regretted later and often we ask ourselves, “Why did I do that?”  Father Thomas helps us to understand ourselves in this next segment of the retreat by sharing several models of Consciousness development.  He explains in Mystery of Christ, “  "The Gospel calls us forth to full responsibility for our emotional life. We tend to blame other people or situations for the turmoil we experience. In actual fact, upsetting emotions prove beyond any doubt that the problem is in us. If we do not assume responsibility for our emotional programs on the unconscious level and take measures to change them, we will be influenced by them to the end of our lives."

Here is an outline of the Evolutionary Model that Father Keating explains in the 30 minute video for this Session.

1. Uroboric: Immersed in nature, food, water, shelter and prompt fulfillment of needs, no separate self consciousness  

2. Typhonic: Magical, emotional, hunting culture (clan), formation of body-self. 

3. Mythical membership: Verbal, socialization, farming culture, city-state, nation/race

4. Mental-Egoic: Rational personhood, full reflective self-consciousness, cooperation, industrial technological society

5. Intutitive: Sense of oneness with the cosmos,  of belonging to the human family, inclination to serve rather than to compete

Keating explains that archeologists, anthropologists, historians and other scientists have contributed to this understanding of human development and it begins 4 to 5 million years ago.  The first stage is the longest stage, lasting about 5 million years, and it is called Uroboric, which means reptilian.  The human at this stage of consciousness is concerned with food, shelter and the prompt fulfilling of needs.  There is not separate consciousness from other humans or animals; at this stage, the human is immersed in nature and doesn’t see herself as a separate entity.

The next stage of consciousness is labeled Typhonic, which means half human, half animal and still, the human is most concerned with the fulfillment of instinctual needs.  There is a glimmer of a separate self during this stage, “And a Typhonic consciousness emerged, which is the emergence of a body self from nature. This is the first really significant distinction of self-identity.” There are two significant aspects of the Typhonic stage, “one is the inability to distinguish imagination from reality, the difficulty to distinguish the part from the whole.”  This stage lasts about 200,000 years and Father Keating notes how long it takes for consciousness to develop. 

Around 50,000 BCE, language was developed and things begin to change more rapidly.  This stage is called Mythic Membership and the most notable aspect of this stage is the importance of the group to humans.  The beginnings of the typical hierarchy we still see reflected today in governments and organizations begins in this level of consciousness.  Here is a brief summary from Keating, “The Mythic Membership level of consciousness is identified by anthropologists as emerging somewhere from twelve to ten thousand BCE. This is the development of the city state, a period of socialization. And the great factor that seemed to bring that about was the discovery of farming. And farming over against hunting means you now have a surplus and can plan the future and some people can have the leisure to give their attention to religious ritual and exercises, to money matters, to planning for the future, to storing up resources, and enjoying the possibility of a future. All of these revolutionary developments in consciousness brought about a gradual stratification of society, with kings and nobles and patrons and clients and slaves, and, not the least, soldiers.”

The final evolutionary stage in this model is labeled the Mental Egoic.   In this stage, rational or logical thought begins to appear and is valued over the previous stages of thought.  Therefore, although this is positive in many ways, the mind begins to be valued over the body and what we now perceive as “masculine thought” is given more value than what is perceived as “feminine” which is more body/nurturing aspects.

Keating concludes his explanation of the evolutionary model by noting “There is a further stage of consciousness—the Intuitive—which is a beginning to access the spiritual level of our being and it may be expressed by psychic gifts; but more importantly, it’s expressed by insights into the sense of belonging and unity with God and with the universe. In the view of this Evolutionary Model then, it proceeds beyond the stage in which is the common level of consciousness now into possibilities of growing even further.”

Finally, Keating explains that Ken Wilbur has looked at all of these evolutionary stages and researched how each human being goes through these stages in a lifetime, or is given the opportunity to go through these stages.  He notes “And that insight might be put this way: that each of us from the time of conception until about fifteen or sixteen passes through each level of consciousness that the human family as a whole has been through or still lingers in, because not everybody has climbed these stages.”

Humans can move back and forth between stages, depending upon what is happening in their lives and they can get stuck at a certain stage also.  Keating concludes “There is in us, then, both the values and the dis-values of each one of these levels. Ideally, the process would involve integrating all that was good at the previous level of consciousness into the new level which usually provides a higher synthesis and a greater range of awareness and growth. At the same time if there’s a fixation emotionally at one of these early levels, then the fixation is not integrated and then accompanies you through the rest of life. As one’s intelligence, perhaps spiritual life, physical nature grows, there remains the unintegrated value system from one of the previous levels of consciousness that is obviously not only inappropriate, but introduces a kind of civil war or pathology that is translated into the afflictive emotions of anxiety, turmoil, uncontrollable anger, lust, and the other afflictive emotions that we’ll be discussing later when we look at the Existential Model.”

Resources for further study refer the retreatant to read the Introduction and Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 in Invitation to Love (20th Anniversary Edition). 

Whew!  -Anne