Divine Mothering

“Separation Anxiety”

 

Stuart Sovatsky

California Institute of Integral Studies

San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

 

 

Drawing from Bhakti Psychology of Divine Mother Worship and existentialism, I consider consciousness as Divine Mother, as infinitely creative light of sentience congruent with eternal impermanence. I examine infantile “separation anxiety” as, in part, an initiatory spiritual experience into the infinity of consciousness and its congruence with eternal time deified as Mother Kali, the awesome/terrifying Creatrix of endless duration itself. Further, I show how the psychoanalytic concept of “self-soothing” can be understood as another aspect of Divine Mother, Her compassionate love for all who struggle for betterment or long for succor. Indeed, She can be understood as the primary motivator of all human compassion when the hormonal chemistries of compassion are viewed as the materialization of Her originary Love. Finally, I suggest that the psychotherapist’s focus on empathic listening be expanded to include admiration, awe and reverence for his patient’s struggles. Likewise, a parent’s comforting of her baby  should include reverential pride and admiration (not just reassuring soothing) for her baby’s daunting encounter with the infinity of consciousness, under-described as mere “separation anxiety” in psychoanalysis.  In this way, spiritual aspects of Indian Psychology might be preserved as it draws from materialistic Western Psychology to create its own treatment modalities.

 

 

Introduction:  Bhakti, Longing and Spiritual Maturation

 

In the Indian psychology of Bhakti Yoga, intense longing, itself a kind of ambiguous “suffering,” is believed to mature the Bhakti Yogi’s capacity to love and have creative faith, regardless of life’s challenges.  The ambiguity of such longing-suffering lies in this: On the one hand, such longing feels and sounds emotionally painful—the grievous longing of the new widow or widower for the dearly-departed one, the romantic longing of separated lovers, the loud cries of the infant suddenly separated from her mother, a devotee who longs for a glimmer of the divine, or a battle-bound soldier’s terrified longing for divine (or any kind of) intervention to quell immanent warfare via some last-minute, peaceful negotiation. On the other hand, such longing can also awaken a deeper love in the bereft for the dearly departed or between separated lovers, or a “self-soothing” independence in the ever-maturing infant, or the devotee cries might break-through into a kind of ecstasy, or the soldier’s longing might lead him to a later career in diplomacy or at least a way toward the most honorable wartime conduct that inexorably awaits him. In any such situation, Bhakti Yoga teaches that great power lies in sustained longing, a power that can mature such a Yogi toward saintly levels, if she can learn how to appreciate this bittersweet and, at times, anguishing mood.  As Mahadeviyakka lyricized:

 

            Better than meeting

            and mating all the time

            is the pleasure of mating once

            after being far apart

 

            When he’s away

            I cannot wait

to get a glimpse of him.

 

Friend, when will I have it

both ways,

be with Him

yet not with Him,

my lord white as jasmine.

(Ramanujan, 1973, p. 140)

 

 

Initiations Into the Infinity of Consciousness and the  Eternality of Time Via Terror and Awe

 

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna describes the vision of infinite consciousness beholding the vast expanse of the universe:

 

                                    Look, Arjuna: thousands,

                                    millions of my divine forms,

of every color and shape.    

 

Look: the sun gods, the gods

of fire, dawn, sky, wind, storm,

wonder that no mortal has ever           

beheld! Look, Arjuna!   

 

The whole universe, all things,

animate or inanimate,

are gathered here—look!—enfolded

inside my infinite body.

 

But since you are not able

to see me with mortal eyes,

I will grant you divine sight. Look!

Look! The depth of my power!

 

[11.21-24, Arjuna responds:]

Your stupendous forms, your billions

of eyes, limbs, bellies, mouths, dreadful

fangs: seeing them the worlds

tremble, and so do I.

 

As you touch the sky, many-hued,

gape-mouthed, your huge eyes blazing,

my innards tremble, my breath

stops, my bones turn to jelly.

 

Seeing your billion-fanged mouths

blaze like the fires of doomsday,

I faint, I stagger, I despair.

(Bhagavad Gita, S. Mitchell, Trans., pp. 122-126)

 

In Indian Psychology, such divine sight that reveals the terrifying vastness of the universe is not considered distant and elsewhere from one’s immediate consciousness. Indeed, it begins with the very consciousness by which you now read these words. Advaita teaches that which is here as consciousness is where to look for the first inklings of that same infinity revealed in the Gita to Arjuna. Likewise, consider the spiritually astute predecessor to Freud, Ludwig Feuerbach who, in a Vedanta-like fashion, asserted that human consciousness is the infinity that overly dualistic traditions ascribe to some external Deity, discontinuous from humanity, as such.[i] 

 

Consciousness, in the strict or proper sense, is identical with consciousness of the infinite; a limited consciousness is no consciousness; consciousness is essentially infinite in its nature. The consciousness of the infinite is nothing else than the consciousness of the infinity of the consciousness; or, in the consciousness of the infinite, the conscious subject has for his object the infinity of his own nature. (Feuerbach, 1841/1957 pp. 2-3)

 

In Vedanta, in Bhakti Yoga and in certain existential theologies, each individual is ineluctably embedded in (or constituted as a subject by) his or her own personal infinity of consciousness. That is, a conscious subject who declares that he or she has found “a limit” within his or her own consciousness should not confuse us. Her consciousness will necessarily be there and presciently in the imagined realm “beyond the limit” just as well, thus the use of the word “limit” will have been ill placed. And, of course, there is always the next moment and the next, wherein another happening will be experienced. The more daunting experiences await hidden behind words like “immanent terror,” “becoming unbearable,” and perhaps most mysteriously behind the words, “immanent death.” Yet, the nondualism of Advaita and Bhakti Yoga both insist that personal consciousness is equal to all such experiences. Indeed, for better or for worse, it is indestructible and such is our divine nature. 

 

Yet, each of us also becomes variously perceiving of the many “other”[ii] or “finite” objects of consciousness, at least from birth onward. We get distracted by the myriad objects and by the habituated familiarity of our “self-sense” from any yet-to-be-fathomed depths of our own infinity of consciousness. Meditation is typically presented as a “method” to get in touch with ground  consciousness. But, consider meditation or sustained moods of devotion to be a reaction, a “spellbinding” or attention-commanding reaction to something profound: the inward discovery of one’s own infinity.  A sustained, inner “My God!!” that goes on and on. Such a breakthrough into “new” (to us) dimensions of our own consciousness will necessarily be among both the most innate of discoveries and the most amazing.

 

How could we miss knowing so fully what we, as consciousness itself, are? By merely undervaluing sentience, as leveled down by the linguistic practices of the more “materialistic” cultures that become focused more on the objects of consciousness than on the wonder of subjectivity and feeling itself, the matters of the spirit. Thus, materialistic-leaning psychoanalysis deserves a perspicuous examination wherever it claims to define the “ground” or “core” of human nature: the “id,” “sex-desire,” as (nothing but) brain chemistry or survival adaptations, or as “wounded core.”  For, in Indian psychology, subjectivity or consciousness is understood as filled with all the powers of creation. As the focal point of Indic vidya, consciousness or awareness—this very sentience now now now—is God. As such, this God includes the mysterious dark-into-light frontier of the Source of consciousness, Kali-Ma, the Dark-Into-Light Source of all mothering/nurturing care, alive in the consciousness of each of us.

 

Instead of a “primitive id” of aggressive instincts or a “fundamental libido” driven by the desire for sexual release, Yoga psychology finds a supreme Kundalini power at the base of the body-spirit connection.[iii]  Bhakti Yoga further carries libidinous hungers into the desire, not just for sexual pleasure, but for a commingled union of souls  with each other, and a closeness within family, community and world; thus, the central maxim of Sanatana Dharma: “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam—The world is, indeed, one family.”

 

Within the maturational schema of the seven chakras, we find that Western psychology primarily goes only so far as the survival instincts of the first, the sexual urges of the second, and the ego-confidence of the third chakras. The Bhakti longings and loves of anahata chakra, however, transform the personal urge to survive into the collective compassion for all to survive, sex into a devotional play (“Where man and woman worship one another is the play of the divine,” notes the Tantra Shastras), and egoic confidence into ever-greater capacities of concentration and intuitive perception (as in dhyana and samadhi). Lacking a life-long understanding of human maturation, as in the four ashramas, old age is seen as a deteriorating condition headed horribly toward death, itself known as maha-samadhi (‘great knowing of the source-of-consciousness”) in the Indian Psychology. Given such discrepancies between the two systems, any hybridizing of psychoanalytic and Indian psychologies should proceed very cautiously.

 

 

The Longing of Infants in Psychoanalysis Re-examined From a Bhakti Perspective

 

Let us wonder, then, if there might be Something mysteriously profound going on at some subtle (physiospiritual) level (the “level” of embodied consciousness itself) when a mother-object (as object relations psychoanalysts call her) leaves her baby, and the baby, now crying, struggles (as psychoanalytic theories posit) to develop “self-soothing” coping skills to ameliorate her “separation anxiety.”

 

What is this tearful “anxiety” that springs up so immediately when the mother-object departs from the infant’s field of perception? And what is it that “mounts” as the duration of separation goes on and on and on? From the perspective of Bhakti Psychology, might not this infantile emotional out-pouring be seen as the baby’s voicing of his or her first inklings of an endless congruence of intrinsically infinite consciousness with cosmically eternal time (in vivid contrast with the mundane time of mothers who come and go)? Might she be experiencing Goddess Kali as awesome Eternal Time that nurtures everything into existence and withers them in the passing moment, only to nurture them again and again, endlessly? And, via this Yoga or, rather, this Viyoga (longing as “union during separation”), she becomes evermore equal to such a perception, to the point of embodying some degree of Her complete maturity. What is such “complete maturity?” To embrace the whole, to shudder in so doing and, then, to go forth in creative living, even in the most desperate of situations. Such is the teaching of the Gita and many other scriptures. 

 

But, from Whence does this “self-soothing”—this “spiritual Mother’s Milk”—precipitate its comforting warmth into the baby’s highly stimulated inner sensorium? Is the endocrine system (endorphins, etc.) a visceral conduit or anatomical synonym for what the non-dualist, Feuerbach called the “tears of God,” that is, God’s love precipitating physically into human bodies—to be reductively named in the (a-spiritual) theories of object relations as (mere) “self”-soothing? (See Rein & McCraty, 1994; McClelland & Kirshnit, 1987; Cantin & Genest, 1986.)

 

In qualified nondualism (dvaita/advaita), as in Feuerbach, theological predicates translate into attributes of human consciousness, rendering consciousness holy and awesome, rather than “mere” physiology. Whenever a sense of awe or terror emerges when there is no ostensible danger at hand, and it is “all in one’s head,” then some part of what sustains that inner awe or terror is some perceived sense of the limitlessness of consciousness. But then comes this “self-soothing.” Why should there be such a thing? Viewed through Darwinian theory, self-soothing would be depicted as an adaptive behavior that supports the survival of those who enact it. Yes, of course. But Bhakti dvaita/advaita Psychology goes on to posit an infinite depth of goodness in “self-soothing”--that is, the depth of the self or (Self) from whence this soothing comes, a depth that goes on and on and on and on, deeper and deeper, further and further, however subtle (or “insubstantial”) this soothing quality might at first seem. Perhaps it never ends in time or in the limitless divisibility of sentience itself. Linguistically, “it” quivers in the word, “possibility”; bio-chemically, it vibrates at some molecular level of secretional thresholds. In yogic parlance, perhaps it emerges from ananda-maya kosha, the causal or most subtle dimension of the human being. .

 

Consider that these spiritual depths point toward “homeopathic levels” of significance: the realms of “faith the size of a mustard seed ” that legendary voices tell us can “move mountains.” Whose faith? That of the on-looking Mother (the linguistic forms of life and secretional thresholds she lives in) and, via her so faith-filled hugs and utterances, the infant’s own inwardly developing faith (biochemical responses).

 

And whose faith before that? The faith-guided perceptions of infant psychologists who authoritatively tell parents what they posit “is going on” in their infants’ experiences, and those so-trained therapists who tell their adult clients (perhaps themselves now parents) the “archaic developmental meaning” of their current “anxious” feelings. Here we see the “worlding” of various infant-enculturating worlds (linguistic forms of life), woven through with linguistic-somatic threads of faith in some model of parenting practices to be passed on from one generation to the next by intonation of word and flickering qualities of tear and touch and look.

 

Thus, at this point in the creation of Indian Psychology, it is imperative to question what Western Psychology calls its interpretive “ground” of  “facts.” Perhaps due to lacking the introspective precision of meditation, the latter has not researched these subtler realms of living subjectivity, wherein awe and terror commingle, and within the subtleties of awe hovers the maturing and soothing radiance we might as well call Divine Mother.

 

Such a premise is in keeping with the Bhakti understanding of tears of longing and devotion, of the rasa of such ardor. And in following the wave-releasing contours of these endorphin-like secretions, caregiver and infant feel them waveringly intensify. Such oscillating biochemistries are in keeping with the vibrational Shakti traditions, wherein maturation of the devotee causes her to oscillate, as well.  Thus, the alchemical or rasayana impact (literally) of “rocking the baby,” akin, no doubt, to the adult Judaic faith-rocking of davvening, that of Islamic zikr-rocking, yogic kriya-shivering, Pentacostal prayer quivering, Quaker and Shaker “quaking” and “shaking” and so on, throughout the world’s many religious “traditions.”[iv] (Sovatsky, 1998, pp. 123, 153)

 

Imagine that when mother departs, the so-left infant’s inward focus of attention now more undistractedly feathers out into the undivided limitlessness of his or her own consciousness. He or she feels a daunting awe and even terror—like some naïve astronaut terrifyingly dazzled by the boundlessness of an outer space he or she suddenly finds himself or herself in (or, possibly, like the person who finds himself or herself, on and on, still conscious well after his or her vital signs have ceased).

 

What if we are willing to believe that the baby cries out, “WaaaaWaaaa,” not merely in the agony of clinically significant anxiety or merely in desperate longing for the return of his or her mother, but also as a profound response to being abruptly initiated a little further into the daunting infinity of his or her own conscious depths?[v]

 

If we are willing to so believe, then this crying is most certainly an infant’s version of what Kierkegaard originally meant by his nonclinical, theologically-rapt term, “angst” (a term Western psychology has borrowed, but bereft of Kierkegaard’s original spiritual purport): A dreadful (yet potentially faith-provoking) uncertainty that we feel when merely touched by the next moment of the Eternal-Infinite, when known (accepted) as such—a wavery profundity within the immediacy of time-flow that is diluted and disguised by our quotidian, linearly time-scheduled lives and contemporary a-spiritual Western psychologiy and neuroendocrinology.[vi]

 

Listen to a baby crying at such times and imagine as you comfort him or her, as I have many times, that there is something “profound” (not just “anguishing”) that is happening and see what you think. Try living in that form of life, one that honors Indic vidya: that divine powers live within our very consciousness, from fetal quickening onto one’s final breath and beyond. 

 

Consider, moreover (no scientific evidence prevents us from so doing), that the baby’s crying and crying might involve a complex reaching into a terrible and beautiful space akin to Krishna’s description of the Universe seen from the Divine perspective. If the baby’s cries involve, to some degree, the ambiguity of a “spiritual terror” upon initiation into the immense and almost threatening beauty of infinite time, then the parental hug should be one admixed with protective comfort, awe, and an admiring pride. If his or her tearful utterances are deemed/named “separation anxiety,” as in Western psychology, then the hug is a comforting apology, a salve on a wound, the termination of a trauma. The difference between these two hugs—is it not all the difference in the world? Why? Because each hug takes place in a different universe: one where at least a hint of the shimmering Divine is Mother granted, and one where it is not.  

 

Renowned psychoanalyst, D.W. Winnicott believed that in the gap of the crying baby’s “need” and the mother’s “failure to adapt to her baby’s needs”(in Winnicott, Shepard & Davis, 1989, p.156), the baby develops his or her ability to think which “becomes a substitute for maternal care and adaptation.” The mother can thereby “exploit the baby’s power to think” by continuing to fail to come to her crying baby. Thus, for Winnicott and his many followers, thinking becomes a “defence against archaic anxiety and against chaos and against disintegrative tendencies or memories of disintegrative breakdown related to deprivation (p. 157).

 

The pathos of Winnicott’s depiction feels impenetrable and utterly persuasive. Yet, if we believe in a spiritual profusion, thinkable but also beyond thinking (e.g., the wordless knowing of meditation or homeopathic [“spiritual”] levels of soothing endorphins), this scene becomes more complex and we must find a way into this complexity. Otherwise, and in spite of the Winnicottian “good enough mother” (itself a sensing of the merciful, this time, an expert’s mercy for “imperfect” mothers everywhere), the spiritual-temporal poignancy of this gap where urgency reaches into the uncertain, into the endlessness of time, is missed.[vii] The possibility of contacting the Divine Mother is elided.

 

Should we care if something at so subtle of levels is being missed in the (possible) over-pathogenicizing of such cries? Faith, its possible growth, and the possibility that there is Something being missed asks us to care. I believe the entire Indian tradition of Sanatana Dharma asks us to care. 

 

There can most certainly be the temporally mounting terrors of abandonment, or worse, much worse. For much worse happens for all sorts of faith- or hope-diminished reasons, negligence, or even “acts of nature.” Yet, there is also the barely thinkable spiritual dimension into which, perhaps, only an ever-increasing sense of urgency is able to reach. Winnicott believed he heard “archaic anxiety,” “chaos,” and “disintegrative breakdowns” in the inarticulate cries of the left-alone infant. A Bhakti Yogi might believe she hears (has faith that she hears) something else, too, that humbles infant or adult thinking, yet permeates us with wisdom of the infinite and can mature us into its vast security.

 

Of course, the child should be hugged by a “good enough mother,” as Winnicott calls her. Yet it is a different child—frightened, vulnerable, yet also a noble and spiritually initiated child—who is hugged, and thus a far more admiring and honoring, not just soothing and protective hug that he or she receives. And it is a mother who receives her infant’s blessing, not just his or her gaping need. And the child who is not then hugged? His or her possible cries call us even now, and we adults cannot rest easy until he or she is embraced. Yet, the hug that comes to him or her, as soon as possible, let it be such a soothing, loving, and honoring embrace. And then, let us see over the generations the difference that this and many, many other such subtle, “spiritual” refinements (drawn from Indian and other spiritual psychologies of the world) might make in childhood development and thus, in our human world.[viii]  

 

Thus, the gradations of awe-of-the-eternal of those transfixed in mystic rapture or meditative stillness (dhyana); or in privately anxious, decisive moments (awaiting a birth, an execution, a sunset, a mother’s return); or in chronically autistic or catatonic (confusingly called, “timeless” states, instead of “infinite time” states) self-absorption or in oscillating dissociations; or in a seemingly interminable suicidal depression; or in the mushroomings of psychotic terror and panic disorders, with their endlessly repetitive obsessive thoughts, memories, guilts, rages–as endless as the endless divisibility of consciousness itself, of time itself.   

 

For, the metaphoric sea that Stanislav Grof (1989) quipped “drowns” the psychotic and in which the Yogi “swims” is, from the perspective of Indian Psychology, the unfathomable sea of infinitely divisible sentience conjoined with eternal time—with its somatic correlate, the neuroendocrine-emotional sea (rasa) of the body in which we swim. [ix]

 

Thus, we could ask, is there a greater and under-explored depth of the “self” that has this (amazing) innate capacity we call “self-soothing” and even more profound powers “further down” such as an “undying awareness”—that is, an eternally-nourished “immortal soul?” [x]

 

And is it not in these same depths that enlightenment uroborically (self-soothingly) foments its ananda biochemistries, and in which the faith-begging hells of anxiety, depression, autism, dissociation, or psychosis brew their more morbid (internally secreted and reabsorbed) biochemistries?  For, in these depths of infinite time and consciousness are bottomless and spiraling grounds for much confusion, especially for any faith-diminished developmental psychology. Thus, Arjuna faces the battlefield of death and mayhem to be counseled out of his despair by Krishna’s revelation of the powers of duty and the challenge to become equal to the vast, awe-provoking expanse of the real universe.

 

Thus, through various “prematurely” (before one has gained embodied wisdom imparted by meditative appreciation of eternal time)[xi] catalyzing-catastrophic events throughout our lifetime, heaven suddenly breaks through the quotidian with the daunt of the infinite. Yet, lacking any sort of (spiritualized) clinical language to differentiate the heavenly awe from the hellishness of the mundane, finite catastrophe, the divine biochemistries of endless awe commingle most unfortunately (and undeciphered) with the feelings of situational danger to brew dark endocrine concoctions. The finite terror (and its “post-traumatic” aftermath), not merely endless time itself, confusingly feels like it is what will last forever.  Kali seems terrifying, with Her skulls and blood. But She is actually showing us She is equal to the greatest terrors and thus we are safe to seek refuge with Her—but refuge that returns us to the fray of life. Thus, we mature and become evermore equal to the challenging conditions of living and dying, time and time again, incarnation after incarnation.

 

Without a proper name (“form of life,” as Wittgenstein would add) such as “Divine Mother” to tease out the spiritual component of the experience, one understands/lives his or her traumatic experience in a purely mundane way and thus comes to feel “endlessly” (not merely sudden-catastrophically) doomed.[xii] We might easily discern the spiritual from the mundane at, for example, a funeral where something “spiritual” or “profound” is differentiable from the sheer anguishing sorrow of grief; likewise, the “spiritual inspiration” at weddings can be discerned from the mundane, partying joys.

 

In the mere flow of perpetuity, conjoined with some all too finite “fear” or “concern,” is what Kierkegaard (1946) called the ‘sickness unto death.” In this purely psychological terror (the real danger being over), one longs for an end that does not come—only more of the eternal (time) comes, and with it more obsessive terror. At such times, can one find the slightest trickle of spiritual Mother’s Milk? And from where? Perhaps from hypothalamic polypeptides and the pineal gland source of soothing endorphins and (scientifically verified) radiant, rejuvenating melatonin—the legendary “third eye,” where kundalini yoga locates shambhavi mudra, “delight gesture of subtle envisioning of the Divine” and amrita, “eternal life nectar.”

 

In other words, might babies, children, adults and the dying—those at each ashrama of life—be involved in constant maturations of shraddha, of bhakti (the “spiritual emergence” of transpersonal psychology) regarding some “edge” of their own (spiritual-temporal-sentient) depth to believe in, or barely believe in, or to disbelieve in, felt/named variously as nonspecific terror, anxiety, emptiness, the future, overwhelming awe, or eternal time?

 

And, is not this “edge” the perpetual edge of the (inexplicable) arising of the very next moment of eternity (the “right now” that is always “right now”) and its passing away and the arising of the next and the next (what I will denote below with a series of t, t, t, t, t, t’s) with its overlooked, perpetual mystery of the “never happened before”—forever forward? No wonder waking up to this sense of ever-fleeting time (anicca) is the core of the difficult-to-attain enlightenment of Buddhism, and of the ecstatic Eternal Dance of Shiva, the Infinity of Kali-Ma and the ek-static (“moving”) Heraclitean stream—even now, t,t,t,t,t,t,t as you t,t age t,t,t and read t,t,t these very words t,t,t,t,t,t,t,t,t,t…

 

If there is such a depth (of consciousness, of self, of anxiety, of temporal impermanence, and of soothing), if we believe in it and believe what we say about it has substance, then a cornerstone of Western psychoanalytic theory—“separation” and its “anxiety”—may need to be reassessed. [xiii] And Indian Psychology has much to offer on this matter.

 

Likewise, the mood of the therapeutic “holding environment”(a clinical analog to a mother’s soothing “holding” of her child and a fundamental concept and practice in Self Psychology) may also need to become more complex than is created by the step beyond psychoanalytic “neutrality” known as “empathy,” so hard-won by Self Psychologists. For, if there is a Divine Mother sending us blessings and succor that deepens its effectiveness via our meditation upon Her, there may be more going on than empathy can best respond to in the maturational anxieties of infants and adults, alike.

 

Indian psychotherapists might someday express their “clinical admiration,” or “clinical awe” with clients whom they see as engaged in various spiritual struggles with faith (to sustain humbled confidence while under duress.

 

References

 

Cantin, M., & Genest, J. (1986).  The heart as an endocrine gland. Clinical & Investigative

   Medicine, 9(4), 319-327.

 

Coward, H. (2002). Yoga and psychology. Albany, N.Y.: State University of N.Y. Press.

 

Feuerbach, L. (1957 [1841]). The essence of Christianity (G. Eliot, Trans.). New York: Harper.

 

Feuerstein, G. (1998). The Yoga tradition.  Prescott, AZ: Hohm Press.

  

Grof, Stanislav. (1989) Spiritual Emergency. Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher.

 

Harper, K. and R. Brown. The roots of tantra.  Albany, N.Y.: State University of N.Y. Press.

 

Jnaneshvari. Trans. by V. G. Pradhan. Albany, NY: State University of N.Y. Press.

 

Kierkegaard, S. (1946). A Kierkegaard anthology (R. Bretall, Ed.). New York: Modern Library.

 

McClelland, D., & Kirshnit, C. (1987). The effect of motivational arousal through

   films on salivary immunoglobin A. Psychology and Health, 2, 31-52.

 

Mitchell, S. (2000). Bhagavad Gita: A new translation. New York: Harmony Books.

 

Ramanujan, A. K. Speaking of Siva. (1973). Baltimore: Penguin Books.

 

Rein G., & McCraty, R. M. (1994). Long-term effects of compassion on salivary

   IgA.. Psychosomatic Medicine, 56(2), 171-172.

 

Rilke, M. (1939). Duino elegies. (J. B. Leishman & S. Spender, Trans.). New York: Norton.

 

Sovatsky, S. (1998). Words from the soul: Time, East/West spirituality and psychotherapeutic

   narrative.  Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

 

Washburn, M. (1994). Transpersonal psychology in psychoanalytic perspective. Albany, NY:

   State University of New York Press.

 

White, D. G. (1996). The alchemical body. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

 

Wilber, K. (1980). The pre/trans fallacy. Revision. 3(2), 51-72.

 

Winnicott, D. W., Shepherd, R., & Davis, M. (Eds.) (1989). D. W. Winnicott: Psychoanalytic

   explorations. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Wittgenstein, L. (1968). Philosophical investigations (G. E. M. Anscombe, Trans.) New York:

   Macmillian.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes

 



[i] While Feuerbach internalized the divine realms as potentials of consciousness itself, Freud and his followers reduced such realms to mere infantile longings for a “supreme being” who does not exist, longings that one must outgrow. This atheistic reduction has endangered any religion that falls beneath the psychoanalyst’s gaze, and should remain a concern of Indian Psychology in its assimilation of psychoanalytic or psychodynamic theory. Likewise, his biologization of consciousness paved the way to reduce consciousness to a matter of mere brain physiology. On the other hand, Feuerbach described his internalization if divine realms as a raising up of human consciousness to a more profound level, a theologization of subjectivity itself, a making of it “infinite,” as the quote clearly shows.  

[ii]  The postmodern concern with difference takes its ontological hold here – that which is other from the differentiated, the One. Further, are the problems of “what” constitutes a difference, and by whose authority is this standard to be chosen and applied, and who is to abide by that authority, in infinite regress, perhaps all the way back to the One – yet by whose authority shall we choose to “believe” that there is a One that can be regressed to? And if this One is to have any attributes (benignity, for example), who defines them and what verifies their ontic existence, beyond the mere positivism of logical, persuasive utterance. Via the sensual or aesthetic descriptor, “union” or “unitive experience,” the semantic-interrogatory stance becomes more emotional, more infused by endocrine chemistries. The grammatics and semantics of serious interrogation give way to the wonderings of sheer (almost wordless, perhaps) wonderment and awe. This youthful or matured wonder-awe might (be said to) “begin” where the limits of ponderous postmodern discourse (limits which Sokal and Bricmont [1998] revealed to us with no little humor) “end.”

 

[iii]  See Sovatsky (1998) pp. 141-178,  for a discussion of the “postgenital puberties” of the spine (urdhva-retas), tongue and pineal (khecari mudra) eyes (shambhavi mudra), and brain centers (unmani mudra) as outlined in Kundalini Yoga.

[iv] See McNeill (1995) on social rhythmic practices as a basis for human and cultural evolution.

 

[v]  Even Jesus is said to have cried out when being crucified as he began to feel the greater magnitude into which he was ostensibly dying.

   We also face the question of how much spiritual significance can credibly be granted to babies. See R. D. Laing  (1982).

 

[vi] Thus, mystics resort to both geographical deserts and meditative emptiness “deserts” to dwell undistractedly in their own Infinity. Thus, too, the tantric view of emotional fluctuation, the theory of rasa and alchemical emotion transmutations.  See D. G. White (1996).

 

[vii] Wilber, Washburn(1994) and others speak of the pre-egoic experience of unitive states of consciousness and that of post-egoic states.  I am focusing on how this so-called ego can quake even for the most matured of saints, given a deep enough (or sudden enough) look into the shimmering abyss of infinitely divisible consciousness and its congruence with relentless time-passage. I believe I am also granting more (unverifiable?) intelligent sentience to infants, more spiritual import to the “ego-shattered” (“psychotic” “borderline,” etc. persons), and more vulnerability to the saintly-enlightened (particularly as they become more socially influential) than many other transpersonal writers.

 

[viii] The Jnaneshvar Gita states that kundalini (“coiled” Mother-Energy) causes yogis (by uncoiling) to “move their bodies as children do.” The self-soothing baby’s pulling on his or her own limbs is, again, more spiritual “Mother’s Milk.”

 

[ix] Thus, I have distinguished the “present” of conventional therapies—being present with the client—from this “deep present.” Thus, too, we find the basis for the modern exogenous alchemy of psychopharmacology.

   In my continuation of Lee Sannella’s work since 1981 on what he called “the transcendence or psychosis” question, I have found that  (I grant that), in vivo, there is much fluctuation between the overwhelmingly transcendental and the floridly psychotic.  Further complicating the situation is the (nonomnipotent, but significant) effect of the therapist’s (helpful person’s) confidence and verbal competence in talking with such people about the spirituality of their experience. “You mean I’m not crazy?” can be a most salutary client response to a therapist’s  “spiritual explanation” for (at least part of) what this client is experiencing.

 

[x] In the yogic physio-spiritual anatomy, amrita (hormone of immortality), akin no doubt to purportedly age-reversing melatonin, is the most potent distillate of the Mother Kundalini’s glandular alchemy.

 

[xi] Thus, various cultures expose their youth to a trying rite of passage into adulthood to temper their bodies with the endochemistries of the eternal. In yoga, the internal alchemy of urdhva-reta (refinement of the seed juices) saturates the transmuting yogi in the bodily precipitates of the eternal. Similarly, sexual orgasm (with its rush of endochemistries) is said to offer a glimpse of the eternal. Certainly childbirth and parenting bestow their own wisdom of potentially eternal perpetuation and personal maturation.

 

[xii] Here, what Wittgenstein (1968) called “language games,” the consensual vocabulary of a discipline, become “forms of life,” literally dictating what experiences an individual can and cannot be having. Likewise, we find the dangers of “shadow-work” psychotherapy, where positive emotions (including forgiveness) are not uncommonly held as suspect, and whose proponents claim that there “is always more work” that “can be done.”

 

[xiii] Indeed, we will have taken a firm step into a far more spiritually charged human existence.