POWER TOOLS for the 21st Century
Chapter 8 ::: Enlightenment - Sun
Mystical States of Consciousness & Free Will
By Richard Alan Miller, © 2007
When I taught Parapsychology and Shamanism at the University of Washington in 1976, the only real books on the subject were mostly rehash of such works as Carlos Castaneda and various Brazilian Bruhos (sorcerers). I wanted something with more depth. That's when I discovered Dr. John Curtis Gowan work at Northridge.
Gowan was a veteran educational psychologist whose primary work involved the fields of guidance, measurements, and gifted children. This led him toward the nature of creativity, and the first title in his all-important trilogy: “The Development of the Creative Individual.” This joining of the Erikson affected stages and the Piagetian cognitive stages unified Periodic Development Stage Theory, where creativity was identified as the cognitive development stage beyond formal operations.
The second book, “The Development of the Psychedelic Individual” identified psychedelia (mind expansion), as the subsequent cognitive stage beyond creativity (corresponding with Eriksonian generativity period). This led him to write his third and most important book in the trilogy “Trance, Art, & Creativity.”
This monumental trilogy led him to receive a Nobel Prize in Psychology. The third book became a classic work on the ontology of mystical states, and eventually to the development of the Northridge Development Test. This third book named three modes of contact between the conscious ego and the collective preconscious.
I used this third book for more than eight years, finding it absolutely consistent with my understandings of various mystical states and observed paranormal phenomena. It was basically a psychological analysis of the relationship between the Individual Ego and the Numinous Element in three basic modes: Prototaxic, Parataxic, and Syntaxic (modes of consciousness).
The taxonomy goes from a state of complete cognitive chaos (such as schizophrenia) through other types of dissociation and trance (which are regarded as prototaxic model). This then goes to a middle ground of parataxic modes, which involves some amelioration of the relationship with the conscious ego through successive states of archetype, dream, ritual, myth.
The final stage of consciousness, known as Art (syntaxic mode) implies some cognitive control (involving creativity, biofeedback, and meditation) among others. Definitions are now needed to proceed with this ontology.
The Numinous Element - To begin this journey, one must postulate the existence of the numinous element, what Jung called the “collective unconscious.” (also known as “The Spirit of Man.”) The Aztecs called it “Smoking Mirror,” which indicates an impersonal aspect. Also known as “the clear light of the Void,” it tends to not be personal in nature.
For reference, one would never think of playing with high voltage electricity without the most careful insulation preparations. Similar precautions are also necessary with the numinous element. In the prototaxic mode, the requirement is the excursion of ego-consciousness and the loss of memory of the encounter. In parataxic mode, the matter is handled through ritual and images.
The Three Illusions - First discussed in Laurence LaShan monumental work “The Medium, The Mystic, and the Physicist,” the physical universe is associated with our ordinary states of consciousness, and does not represent ultimate reality. Ultimate reality is also outside time, as it is outside space.
Ultimate reality also transcends our sense of separate personal consciousness. Space, time and personal consciousness are thus the three illusions. It was Mark Twain who once said that every idea goes through three stages: “First people say it is impossible, then they say it conflicts with the Bible, and finally they end up believing it believing it.”
Prototaxic Experience - Characterized by loss of ego, known as Trance states of consciousness.
Parataxic Experience - Characterized by the production of images, whose meaning is not clear or categorical, known as Art states of consciousness.
Syntaxic Experiences - Where meaning is more or less fully cognized symbolically, with ego present. This state is known as the Creative State of consciousness.
Ontology of Mystical States
Trance States of Consciousness:
Group Trance Dance
Paraphernalia and Familiars
Autohypnosis and Autogenic Training
Death of Agent
Healing and the Conquest of Pain