An Imaginal Perspective on the Nature of Reality,
Consciousness, Experience, and Perception
by Iona Miller, ©1993
ABSTRACT: Our notions about ourselves and the nature of the world (worldview) around us are filtered through our prejudices about "the way things work". We never apprehend reality directly--only our world-simulation which is congealed from the convergence of our sensory input channels and the information-creating processes of chaotic neural activity. The brain filters and creates reality.
Brains are chaotic systems which create internal perceptual patterns that substitute directly for sensory stimuli. These stimuli are evoked potentials or evoked fields--standing waves in the brain. Imagination has the ability to induce real-time changes in the psychophysical being.
Imagination embodies the power of transformation. It may be accessed through obvious imagery, such as dreams, vision, and other sensory analogs, or viewed directly in symptoms, behavior patterns, emotional patterns, mental concepts, and spiritual beliefs.
The imaginal process is our primary experience and it permeates and conditions all facets of human life. During experiential psychotherapy, the sensory-motor cortex system is influenced through imagination. Psyche affects substance at the most fundamental level, through chaotic neural activity.
Imagination is not a talent of some men, but is the health of every man.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
In answer to the introductory question of what is consciousness, it is this flickering process that combines corollary discharge with the messages on all the sensory lines. These sensory lines at once carry fresh input and are shaped by previous experience. Like them, consciousness bears the imprint of both the recent past and the expectation of future action, real or imagined, that will shortly involve the most intimate reaches of the brain and body
--Walter J. Freeman, MACHINERY OF THE MIIND
"Chaosophy" is a natural philosophy emerging from the implications of research in complex dynamic systems. It is a radical re-visioning of our notions about the way things work in the universe. Our notions about the nature of our existence are conditioned by our understanding or comprehension of state-of-the-art scientific awareness as well as cultural and spiritual experience.
Chaos is being investigated in many different phenomena, and is a major influence in developing a new paradigm. Some of the most promising results are coming from consciousness studies and experiential psychotherapy. There are many psychological and philosophical implications to chaos theory which reflect on our apprehension of the nature of our existence. It is helping us create an integrated view of psyche, soul, and nature.
Chaos theory reflects on the age old questions of determinism, stability and change, creativity, free will, and the underlying nature of spacetime. It is well established now that most movements in nature, ranging from the orbits of planets to behavioral adjustments in life, are essentially chaotic.
Since the Enlightenment, the western mind has had trouble comprehending the nature of reality. We adopted a cause and effect, mechanistic notion of reality (the clockwork universe) which fit well with our level of observation. Therefore, it felt intuitively correct. But now we can observe the infinitely small and cosmic levels of dynamics, and find a counter-intuitive challenge to our causal philosophy, in quantum mechanics and chaos theory.
Einstein taught us that "all is relative" to the point of view or orientation of the observer. Relativity eliminated the Newtonian illusion of absolute space and time. Quantum mechanics introduced the uncertainty principle, mandating participation rather than observation. And chaos theory means dynamic processes are deterministic though unpredictable. This pretty much undermines the old scientific perspective of cause-and-effect predictability, repeatability, and objectivity.
Yet, our biology still seems to condition our philosophy. Neurologist Walter Freeman has suggested that, "the physiological basis for our human conception of cause and effect lies in the mechanism of reafference; namely, that each intended action is accompanied by a motor command ("cause") and expected consequence ("effect") so that the notion of causality lies at the most fundamental level of our capacity for acting and knowing. This trait results in the replacement of sensory stimuli by self-organized activity patterns that are contingent on past experience, present motivational state, and expectancy of future action."
But he goes on to say that, "the intuition of causality is essential for human understanding and action but it cannot validly be applied to the process by which intuition emerges." Intuition is an informational source which is non-linear and therefore can create quantum leaps in consciousness. Reality seems to depend on how you look at it.
Embracing the true nature of reality, embracing the darkness and chaos leads to new intuitive perceptions which accord with an expanded perspective--new images. The healing capacity of images is well known. When we become that chaos, our old notions and forms are de-structured.
Intuition makes a quantum leap, and what seemed counter-intuitive now seems to "make sense," viscerally, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Through imagination, we can "see through" to a deeper level of reality. It all depends on how one looks at it.
VIRTUAL REALITY CHECK
Mystics have always spoken of the illusory nature of consensus reality--ordinary consciousness--and so does quantum physics. Mind and matter are not separate, not two separate worlds. Matter embodies imagination; it mandates participation, not objective observation.
We are learning to "see through" the three great illusions of time, space, and the separate ego. There is no objective point of observation in the universe. Solid physical existence is a complex illusion. All is mind-stuff, an intangible, mythically or archetypally structured, virtual reality.
Charles Tart, the "altered states" expert, notes that "we already live in a variety of internally generated virtual realities...We live 'inside' a world simulation machine. We almost always forget that our 'perception' is a simulation, not reality itself..." We clearly experience the outer world indirectly through electrochemical changes in various receptor organs, which process raw neurological information. But consciousness is more than those electrochemical processes in the nervous system.
Identified with our ego (self simulation) it is no more than that. But there is a deeper current of microstates which conditions our perception of reality. Transpersonal experience creates a new interpretation, or perspective on reality. We live in a chaotic universe to which we are seamlessly wed. We are a chaotic system ourselves, and chaotic systems exhibit holistic behavior. Holism sees the world in all its diversity as connected. It's not only a case of "we are the world"; we are one with the whole universe of phenomena and being in the deepest sense. The unifying force is consciousness.
Our decisions about what is "real" in the world and ourselves is influenced by the virtual reality created by our world simulation process, according to Tart (1990). We can experience a sense of an internal psychological self beyond our bodily components--primal self image--and alterations in this image affect us in the real world. When the image changes creatively, so do behaviors, feelings, conceptualizations, and beliefs. Our self-simulation is a dynamic image which unfolds through a myriad of forms and patterns, microstates woven into a unified perception of consciousness.
Like fractal patterns emerging on the computer screen, no process-oriented therapist can fail to notice the aesthetic beauty of the unfolding process of the creative imagination. Experiential psychotherapy facilitates the participating, rather than observing self. Therapy is an art, and as such, it yields esthetic and physical pleasure as by-products. When the therapist joins with the participant, rather than remaining "objective observer", a co-creative shared reality emerges.
This shared reality is more than mutual hypnosis, or shared subjectivity. It is a virtual world that is essentially an artistic, expressive form--a "living form." Art embodies imagination. A work of art is an expressive form created for our perception through sense or imagination, and it expresses human feeling. A work of art expresses a conception of life, emotion, inward reality--the logic of consciousness itself.
Process work is experience set-off from the general flow of life experience. It is AN EXPERIENCE which stands out and presents itself as having some kind of unity. These states can occur spontaneously, but are facilitated through therapy. Other examples are sudden illumination, esthetic appreciation, opening to nature, simple recognition to dramatic realization, awe. An experience always has aesthetic appeal. They are self-consciously recognized as being our own personal experiences where we are reflectively aware of our awareness.
Not all awareness is heightened awareness. To know is one thing and to be is another. This is the gulf which experiential therapy bridges. Inviting someone deeper into their process--inviting them to become the image--means a temporary disidentification from personality and ego.
"Me-experiencing-this" is superceded by the sense that "I AM" an incredibly wide variety of consciousness states in dynamic flux. Alienation and duality of self are suspended in favor of complex connectedness. The creative state is conducive to the evolution of novel relations and new meaning. This is expressed as a response of delight, distress, or surprise.
Immersion in this fluid flux of consciousness is virtual experience--imaginal, yes, but nonetheless real. It is poetic, metaphorical, epistemological. These images are the basis of "how we know what we know." They define us, and whatever they are, we are essentially that. Becoming them, we consciously realize experientially, "I AM THAT." The image "matters" as it is embodied.
When we have a therapeutic experience, it involves a degree of realization of "what it is like" to apprehend this given, to undergo this happening. It may not be actual experience, but it is influential experience. Creativity is an excited-exalted state of arousal with a characteristic increase in both information content and the rate of information processing. Imagination is embodied, objectified, expressed in the therapeutic process. It is knowing by living through, distinctionally different from knowing about. It carries a sense of immediacy--it always is happening in the "now."
Knowledge about natural phenomena, the way nature and ourselves work, can help us attune to deeper resources. Natural science deals with man as one phenomena among others in a natural world. We now see the influence and beauty of chaotic dynamics as it unfolds in the natural world and our own physiology and psychology. Embracing that, following nature's lead, we learn to cooperate with our own transformative process--through chaotic dynamics--through the mystification of science.
The therapeutic art is designed to elicit a full response: sensuous, intellectual, and emotional, not separated but interfused. It has an air of intimacy, of immediacy. The fullness of presentation matches the fullness of response--yielding a sense of lived experience--personal experience. Like art, experiential therapy is inherently humanistic--concerned with human feelings and values. It helps us embody those values, and the nature of beauty.
Beauty is an emotional value which affects our volitional and appreciative nature. It is not inherent in any thing, but is our own pleasure regarded as the quality of a thing or event. It is neither intrinsic nor objectified. It is the first-hand experience of a state of consciousness. It may not be in the eye only, but beauty is in the beholder. Yet the beholder doesn't stand on the outside looking in, but becomes the object of contemplation. When the focus of contemplation is the self, a complex feedback loop manifests of self contemplating self manifesting self, contemplating self.
Beauty as a state of consciousness is described in the Qabala and Hermetic Philosophy as the sphere Tiphareth, on the Tree of Life. In psychological terms it implies transcendence of the realm of personality and intimate knowledge of the transpersonal self. It corresponds with healing, creativity, genius, and bliss states or unitive experiences.
The direct path to this sphere on the Tree of Life is called "ART", and concerns itself with the paradoxical melding of the opposites. Art had its origin in magic. It is the path of transcendence from personality to Self, through the Middle Way. Art is the explication of the transformative process. Through art, common experience is transformed to archetypal, timeless experience. Art is nature transformed. Art shapes our perception of things outside ourselves, and embodies the workings of inner life.
Archetype, ritual, myth, and dream are other manifestations of this same parataxic mode, as is expressive therapy. It is characterized by the production of images who meaning is not clear or categorical (Gowan, 1975). In parataxic mode, symbols or images are used in a private or idiosyncratic manner. Through art, they can be shared with others, expressing feeling and transmitting understanding. In contrast, in the creative mode (Tiphareth) meaning is more or less fully cognized symbolically, with ego present.
In complex dynamics, the opposites to be wed are order and chaos. Order is "in-formation," the form within. Interesting transforms happen at the threshold of chaos. In therapeutic terms, this chaotic consciousness is where ego death is consummated and new order subsequently emerges.
The dynamic union of chaos and order is symbolic of our human process of transformation: old outworn forms break down (ego death), and that chaos is fertile ground for creative rebirth, rejuvenation. This Royal Wedding means nothing less than finding the lost soul--the alienated part of oneself which we normally call "Not-I."
In the ancient art of alchemy (another analog of the transformation process), the soul is depicted as a homunculus, or "small man." It was symbolically equivalent to the Philosopher's Stone, and the Elixer or Universal Medicine. This homunculus personified the unconscious as an Inner Man, a hermaphroditic being, a spirit in the bottle, a "brain child."
Zosimos and Paracelsus spoke of the homunculus as devouring himself, rending himself with his own teeth, like the Urobouros serpent which bites its tail and gives birth to itself. Both homunculus and uroborous are symbols of paradox. What an image of the dynamics of chaos and order, as it appears in experiential psychotherapy. The image typically appears before dissolution of the center into its unconscious element--the undifferentiated consciousness of the ground state.
The liquid form of the philosopher's stone is the called the "universal solvent," and chaos is certainly that. As such, it reflects the self--the prima materia, the massa confusa of the original chaotic state. Consciousness occurs in a continuum accompanying the flow of matter and energy in and through brains. Our apprehension of all of our experience is conditioned by our input channels, the sensory and extrasensory (or metaphorical) systems. Intuition is one such meta-sensory channel.
Walter Freeman believes that perception begins with an internally generated neural process that prepares the organism to seek future stimuli in the outside world. Between the experience and the input that triggers the experience, something is "added" to conscious experience by the transformational processes that lead from sense organ to brain. Invariant stimulus from the environment (physical space) arrives as information in sensory space and finally proceeds to cerebral space as meaningful input. Experience is synchronized cerebral, sensory, and physical (survival) space-times.
Meaning is a function of the level of arousal at which it is experienced. The symbolic interpretation of one's own central nervous system activity, the integration of information to systemic meaning depends on the level of arousal.
Higher levels of arousal, and thus more complete withdrawl from physical space-time into cerebral space-time, narrow the field of attention and deepen the experience of meaning (Fischer, 1969). Meaning results from integration of information within the systemic context of a self-referential, self-organizing system.
The brain interprets this input, along with its own creative addition of (virtual) information, and creates a simulation of perceived reality. It is a convergence of the body sense of muscles and joints, the viscera, and the outward-looking senses.
Nerve signals from all over the body are sent to the thalamus, which has sections made up of neurons assigned to each body area. These signals are passed on to the neurons in the somatosensory cortex which contains the brain's own map of the body. Our experience and expectations are geared to our perceptions, which have a wide range of subjective interpretation.
Consciousness is intimately linked with the sensory-motor cortex (parietal lobe). The sensory cortex is typically "mapped" onto the brain as a small, distorted human figure called the "homunculus." Though they are analogous, the homunculus of alchemy (the soul) is not equivalent to the homunculus in the brain.
Rather than the elusive "seat of the soul," the sensory homunculus is part of the "hardwired brain," a skin-map in the cortex. Yet it is implicated in the somatic part of spiritual experience. Each part of the sensory system is assigned a particular region in proportion to other parts. Both sensory and motor cortices have about the same layout of corresponding points. The body is reflected in the cortex.
[insert homunculus/brain diagram here]
A specific sensory to motor ratio is the reflection of the subjective and objective facets of our nature. With eyes closed we can experience the universe inside ourselves in sensory imagination, that is, subjectively. With eyes open we can change "what there is" outside ourselves through voluntary motor performance, that is, objectively.
These experiential and experimental facets are implicit in the nature of self-referential, self-organizing systems. Self-reference implies that the universe exists subjectively, that is, in reference to the self; self-organization, or goal seeking, refers to the ability to rearrange the outside universe (Fischer, 1967).
There is the complementary notion in the medieval consciousness science of alchemy. In alchemy, the homunculus is sort of the primal test-tube baby to be created through a dynamic process in the Hermetically-sealed retort vessel. Paracelsus alleged that the entity could be created from semen that is gently heated in the vessel for 40 days, then "magnetized." It feeds daily on the hidden mysteries of nature. Some of the ancient philosophers were said to have been begotten by this process.
Jungian psychology reads this process as the creation of a renewal of spirit which takes place in the psyche when psychic contents are prevented from "leaking out" and being lost. "Heating" is symbolic of amplifying or intensifying the transformative process. In terms of chaos theory, "magnetizing" the entity might insinuate the formation of a strange attractor as the complex core of the system. An attractor describes a temporary stability far from equilibrium. We can conceive of it as a polarization of gray matter.
The homunculus is the archetype of the magical child. It is thus an embryonic symbol of rebirth, or re-creation of self by Self. In alchemy, the homunculus is generated by a succession of transformations through the four elements to reach its essential nature. The elements may be corresponded with the four arenas of human life: physical-earth; emotional-water; mental-air; spiritual-fire. The homunculus mapped on the sensory cortex gives us access to this transformational system through the imagination.
This phenomenon has been dealt with in yoga as kundalini, the serpent power. When it is activated there is a stimulus spreading along the sensory cortex of both hemispheres of the brain. Stimulus may be induced electrically, mechanically, or imaginally. When induced through imagination, the experience is virtual in nature, yet just as "real," in terms of psychophysical results.
A (real or imagined) stimulus moves along the cortex, setting up acoustical standing waves in the cerebral ventricles (Bentov, 1977). Vibrations that arise in the ventricles are conducted to the gray matter of the cortex which lines the fissure between the two hemispheres. These vibrations stimulate and eventually "polarize" the cortex in such a way that it tends to conduct a signal along the homunculus, usually beginning from the toes upward. This creates a stimulus-loop, unlike the normal input-output of normal signal processing. When nerve cells interact, there is the seed of a bodily action within each pattern that arises through chaotic dynamics.
Self-stimulation of the pleasure centers of the brain may be created by circulating a current along the sensory cortex. When body motion is involved, there is cross-talk onto the similarly-mapped motor cortex. Standing waves can be induced mechanically through resonance by pulsating a magnetic field around the head at frequencies of 4-7 Hz (Theta), or through the auditory channel by eliciting frequency following response.
Areas of stress in the body may produce symptomatic responses when stimulated through the homunculus. It usually appears as localized pain. Severity is proportional to the degree of stress encountered. Participants in process work report paradoxical sensations of hot-cold, and pleasure-pain.
Pain and temperature are intimately related, and initiate experiences of suffering and comfort, chills and thrills. "Heat and cold" are the archetypal guardians residing in the brain stem. These signals are processed in the amygdala of the limbic forebrain (frontolimbic system).
Pleasure and pain are mediated by the ergotrophic (sympathetic nervous system) and trophotrophic (parasympathetic) systems of arousal, and their neurotransmitters, noradrenelin and serotonin. At their extremes, they paradoxically convert into their opposite. Arousal and involvement with the outer world (action) is mediated by the ergotrophic system; tranquility and the inner world (contemplation, relaxation)) by the trophotropic system.
Sympathetic nervous system activity involves goal-orientation, increased tone of striated muscles, cortical desynchronization, excitement of smooth muscles of the eye, heart, and vascular system, goose-flesh, inhibition of gastrointestinal activity, increase in adrenomedullary secretions, and rise in blood sugar.
Parasympathetic activity is characterized as satiety, decreased respiration, cortical synchonization (alpha, theta), inhibitory effects on smooth muscles of eye, heart, and vascular system, muscular relaxation, increased visceral activity, and fall in blood sugar.
Hyperarousal can be symbolized as a Plenum; hypoarousal as a Void. When the sensory cortex is overwhelmed, it paradoxically switches to void-consciousness. Paradoxes provide the dynamic for transcendental experiences and the attainment of creative consciousness. The shift takes place as we move from a sense of "I" or ego toward the transpersonal self, or no-boundaries condition.
Pain and anxiety arise from an inability to verify the state of arousal through cortical interpretive models or voluntary motor activity. But in the bliss state, there is no separate "I" left to become anxious, feel pain, or "freak out." It is characterized by oneness with everything.
The paradox of the ergotrophic and trophotropic systems is that they not only represent the guardians or obstacles of spiritual paths, but they are also the paths themselves. Increased trophotrophic arousal represents a perception-meditation continuum which culminates in samadhi, while increasing ergotropic arousal represents a perception-hallucination continuum which culminates in ecstasy (Fischer, 1971).
Jung described a "full void" he called the pleroma as a source of Everything--a sense of vastness, of emptiness that is nevertheless ordering. In complex dynamics, ordering does not come from a single "somewhere" but from everywhere and nowhere--from the void that is full.
The sensory/motor ratio may be increased either by enhancing the sensory component (overloading the nervous system with drumming, dancing, sweating, music, mental or physical stress), or by inhibiting the motor component. The paradoxical shift happens because of sensory input overload coupled with motor activity impairment.
In this meditative-like state, the brain produces endorphins and enkephalins which block pain perception and create feelings of well-being. The electronic signal is converted into a chemical messenger, forming the material basis of emotions (Pert, 1988).
Neuropeptides and their receptors are the key to understanding how mind and body are interconnected and how emotions can be manifested throughout the body. It makes more sense to speak of an integrated entity, since this information network is based in chaotic dynamics, and chaotic systems are holistic.
An interesting feature of peptides is that they grow directly off the DNA which stores the information to make our brains and bodies. The brain's cells create neuropeptides. About 60 neuropeptides have been identified so far. There are receptor sites for them in the body as well as the brain. They are intimately linked with the function of the immune system and the biochemistry of emotions. They float within the body, attaching to receptors which sort out the information exchange in the body.
Receptors are concentrated within the limbic system of the brain which mediates emotion, and other nodal points like the back horn of the spinal cord, (brain stem). This is the first synapse in the brain where touch-sensory information is processed. All senses enter the brain through a nodal point for neuropeptide receptors. Most signals enter through the old brain, or "reptilian" brain, the serpent which lies sleeping within. Chemically speaking, neuropeptides mediate our drives, bringing us to a state of consciousness and to alterations in those states (mood state). They integrate brain and body.
The agents of the immune system (monocytes) are mobile cells which have receptors for every neuropeptide. Receptor sites also create neuropeptides. Immune cells make the same chemicals which control mood in the brain. Emotion-affecting biochemicals control the routing and migration of monocytes. The immune system distinguishes between self and non-self, preserving the integrity of the organism.
Neuropeptides are signaling molecules. They signal receptors. Biochemist Candace Pert, who discovered endorphins, postulates that "receptors have both a wave-like and a particulate character, and it is important to note that INFORMATION CAN BE STORED IN THE FORM OF TIME SPENT IN DIFFERENT STATES."
The molecular substance of all receptors of all species is the same, down to the simplest of animals, demonstrating the simplicity and unity of life. So, there are 60 or so signal molecules for enlivening emotions or flowing energy. Pert notes: "The identical molecular components for information flow are conserved throughout evolution."
Mind is information flow with a physical substrate. The brain, glands, and immune system are joined in a bi-directional network of communication where the information carriers are neuropeptides. Mind holds the network of bodily parts together.
Pert maintains that, "it is possible now to conceive of mind and consciousness as an emanation of emotional information processing, and as such, mind and consciousness would appear to be independent of brain and body." Walter Freeman says, "a conscious "willed" action begins as a self-organized pattern of neural activity in the limbic system."
FREE WILL AND GOAL-SEEKING BEHAVIOR
Just prior to his death in 1961, Jung was asked about his idea of God during an interview. Jung's reply accents the chaotic elements of life. His answer was that, "To this day God is the name by which I designate all things which cross my willful path violently and recklessly, all things which upset my subjective views, plans and intentions and change the course of my life for better or worse."
We find this sentiment echoed in alchemy, where the transformation of God is also the secret and essential meaning of alchemy. The prima materia to be transformed into the Philosopher's Stone via the alchemical process is sometimes identified explicitly with God. Both seem to be saying that God manifests in our lives through chaotic intervention that is much like a fluctuation, state change, or bifurcation.
As we participate in the recycling of consciousness, we become identified with God and the I-Thou (subject-object) dichotomy is transcended. This transcendental notion is reflected in physics: the observer is the observed. We identify "God" or evolutionary dynamics as the prime agent of chaos--chaotic dynamics in action. This is a naturalistic or pantheistic philosophy wherein God is identical with the holomovement (Bohm) of the universe. Consciousness is a more subtle form of matter.
In physics, the Uncertainty Principle speaks of the fundamental nature of indeterminacy. Chaos theory reveals the determinacy within the most apparently random influences. Therefore, the naturalist point-of-view or natural philosophy must imply "indeterminate-determinacy" or "determinate-indeterminacy." This paradox appears convoluted enough to reflect the nature of reality--a chaotic world of probabilities. It is deterministic in principle, yet virtually random in practice.
This paradox once again raises the question of the plenum/void. In quantum mechanics the vacuum state contains no real matter or light, yet has in it (through the uncertainty principle) all possible matter and light in the form of so-called 'virtual particles' or 'zero-point' fluctuations. The state of pure consciousness is also said to contain all possibilities, to be a state of pure potentiality in the sense that it is empty but lively (Gowan, 1980).
We encounter phenomena analogous to "indeterminate-determinacy" in consciousness journeys. We cannot predict just how the imagery will unfold, but it does conform to certain archetypal patterns and forms. These patterns appear to be self-organizing, self-generating, and self-iterating. They are chronic, having a tendency to recur over time, as one form of iteration.
Experientially, we can move through the dialogical experiences (I-Thou) of the symbolic or archetypal layers of the psyche into the clear light of the void which is All and No-Thing (Unitive). This is the ground state of consciousness. Only from this unstructured state can we "formulate" and express our True Will, in alignment with the whole, rather than personality's desires.
For centuries philosophers have conjectured over the amount of "play" in the web-work of fate, and to what degree we control our own destinies. Jung commented on the limitations of normal human will--the will of the ego--and its limitations in "On the Nature of the Psyche":
The will cannot transgress the bounds of the psychic sphere: it cannot coerce the instinct, nor has it power over the spirit, in so far as we understand by this something more than the intellect. Spirit and instinct are by nature autonomous and both limit in equal measure the applied field of the will.
This autonomy of the deeper self is why we are limited in our self-mastery, and creates the impotence we feel when faced with "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune." There are many things in life we can't control despite our best efforts. There are many things we wouldn't want to control if we could.
The independent will of the deep self appears as "God's Will." From the transcendent perspective personal free will is a moot point, since it is subject to being "overwritten," through chaotic intervention. It is not exclusively an inner or outer reality, though it has aspects of both. Immersion in the imaginal drama of the psyche changes us in fundamental ways. Chaotic intrusions from the outer world can also be meaningful in our spiritual life.
To Jung, will was simply freely available psychic energy, which could be directed by an intervention of consciousness--a decision to apply that energy in a specific way for a purpose--intent. Its availability is determined by one's freedom from distorted or deformed patterns.
Neurotic or pathological patterns keep the energy tied up, stuck, unavailable. When the energy is freed up it becomes available. If will means freedom of choice, then the question becomes "to what life purpose do we direct our will?" Does the ego learn to subordinate itself to the totality of self? Is ego free of identification with the power instinct?
Freedom of will remains a mystery. 'Will' implies intention and power to implement that intention. This determines our values and choices. Ego's perspective is too circumscribed and linear to make informed decisions. Becoming permeable, opening to the complex, non-linear input of intuition and spirituality may help. We are often forced from our course through lack of self understanding as well as external opposition.
Will is a dynamism which implies degrees of freedom within the constraints of "indeterminate - determinacy." It operates along a continuum which includes instinct, impulse, ambition, drive and compulsion. It is a form of energy that can overcome other forms of energy, such as feeling or sensation.
A will turned toward self-understanding develops psychological faith in the reality of imaginal experience through self-reflection. Psychological faith is reflected as the love of images, and confirms the reality of the soul as image-making power.
The inner world is just as "real" as the outer, although different. This acknowledgement translates into an alignment with one's wholeness, beyond simplistic wishes and personalistic desires. They are real in different ways that can be recognized and experienced. One world is visible, the other invisible or virtual or implicate (enfolded). But the two apparent worlds are one. Matter is not different than consciousness--but consciousness is not limited to matter.
The rational mind cooperates with the soul, once it is convinced there is something beyond itself. At this stage, will or change comes through an imaginal or meditative process. The alchemists had an operation for the incubation of images known as the meditatio--a sort of brooding on imagery--a way of being in imagination.
In terms of human biology, Walter Freeman suggests that neural activity patterns emerging by chaotic dynamics express a drive toward a goal in the form of commands to the motor and sensory systems. Sensory consequences are fed back into the limbic system through the entorhinal cortex.
Sensory input converging onto the entorhinal area is channelled into the hippocampus, then returned to the entorhinal and motor cortices and finally passed on to the motor system--action. Emergent properties within the entorhinal area condition behavior. There is spontaneous, self-organized, dynamic production of goal-oriented behavior.
Freeman boldly asserts (1990) that, "Philosophical and psychological considerations suggest that the cyclical process of emergent goal-seeking, reafference, and sensory feedback constitute the basis for what we perceive as subjective consciousness." This process leads to perception, concept formation, a "cognitive map."
Consciousness is an intrinsic emergent property. Through the chaotic process of emergence, order appears "spontaneously" (or instantaneously) within a system. A willed action begins as a self-organized pattern of neural activity in the limbic system, initiating a motor command to the sympathetic system and a corollarly discharge within the somatosensory system (parasympathetic).
Complex feedback (confirmation of change) from these systems constitutes integration. This process contains the essence of our relationship to our world. Yet, this process cannot be said to "create" nor contain consciousness. Consciousness emerges from chaos. Their essence is one.
Creation is instantaneous. The flow of energy washes life and consciousness into the world. Chaos reflects the wildness and irregularity in nature, and in ourselves.
Virtually random element endow chaotic ystems with the freedom to explore vast ranges of consciousness and behavior patterns within the creative flow.
In process work, adherence to the principles of chaosophy means that we don't try to create with the will. There is no need to do so. We simply notice and follow what is naturally happening, following nature's lead. Chaos is nature's guide, the matrix of formation of imagery, consciousness, and matter.
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THE MULTISTATE PARADIGM:
The Un-named Dream and Parallel Universes
by Iona Miller, ©1993
ABSTRACT: In the Creative Consciousness Process (CCP), participants frequently encounter typical archetypal imagery at the threshold of chaotic consciousness. One of these reiterating images is that of grayness, black/whiteness, amorphousness. There are analogous reports from mystics and physicists about a fundamental cloudiness to the perception of ultimate realities. Relevant associations include parallel universes, the scientific notion of "observer effect", and the mystical notion of "the witness" or observer self.