I Observe I Believe

I believe that we all have an upstairs, and a downstairs.

The upstairs is what we call waking awareness, and we usually identify this as our self, our personality. The downstairs we have given various names such as the unconscious, sleep, the underworld, or even heaven.

Between the upstairs and downstairs most of us have a very stout threshold or barrier. For most people not very much gets through this threshold that is recognisably from the unconscious.

In our own culture Freud was the one who first pointed to that dark area and began to explore it in any consistent way. Not that he was the first to enter beyond that threshold, but he seems to have been the first to really define some of the darker side of that underworld.

I can’t think of any other culture in the past that demonstrated the birth trauma, infant sexuality, and enormous angers, pains and torments that can arise out of the relationship of the infant, child and youth with their parents and siblings.

Freud didn’t actually explore very far into this amazing underworld. If we think of his journey as something like an archaeologist digging into a great tomb, then what Freud ran into was a mass of rubble blocking the way to further exploration. It was rubble that in general has to be cleared before the vastness of that interior can be appreciated. The rubble, in fact is made up of the massive amount of experiences, feelings, angers, urges, that we manage to keep below the surface of awareness; that we hold beyond the threshold of waking, imprisoning them in the darkness of the unconscious.

Depth psychology began to explore beyond the boundaries that Freud reached. Its practitioners discovered that not only were there dark memories and hurts in that realm; not only repressed and forbidden behaviours and fantasies, but also huge areas of what was later called transpersonal experience. By this they meant that in that dark realm our personal self links with our family, with humanity, and with the hidden forces of the universe. This was particularly explored and mapped when LSD was used for psychotherapeutic purposes, and an unaccountable number of people could look into the realm themselves. See Myself and I by Constance Newland.

Freud saw the split between the conscious and the unconscious was rather like the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He felt that the contents of the unconscious were basically repressed and unsocial desires and behaviours. But as psychotherapy developed it was seen that the character of Mr. Hyde was only monstrous because it had never been allowed expression in everyday life. It had never been allowed to develop and mature or as a part of our waking personality. The work done later in the explorations made possible through LSD psychotherapy was an amazing expansion of the world of the unconscious.

The psychiatrist R. D. Laing uncovered another aspect of this. He saw that the structure of our society creates the huge division between the conscious and unconscious. So many things are forbidden expression in family and social life that we are trained to repress massive areas of ourselves, and so in some degree turn these taboo feelings and desires into monsters to be hidden in the dark.

Something that I believe happens as we age, or if we meet stress or a shock, is that the threshold between our waking life and our underworld breaks down. Then these dark creatures begin to emerge. We see this in countless thousands of people in today’s world who only manage to carry on existing through the use of anti depressants and other medical drugs.

To most people it seems highly unlikely – unlikely that nearly all of us carry this dark world within us consisting of childhood miseries and of repressed parts of ourselves that were never allowed to grow. But most people have, not even for a moment, broken through that threshold into the darkness and light of that interior realm. And even if they have, they usually rush headlong for some means of pushing it back into the darkness. At least in part this is an explanation for the amount of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs that decrease our awareness.

I believe that the suffering we see in the elderly is at least in part due to them never having met and integrated the creatures of light and darkness in their underworld.

But there is another world than the darkness. It is a world of growing awareness, a world in which you can heal and transform.  Here is a persons experience of it.

Example: I simply dissolved into what was total “no-thing-ness” yet at the same time the most intense, blissful aliveness I have ever known. I think this is what is meant by the mystical notion that so-called normal human life is really a state of chronic forgetfulness of “who we really are.” Needless to say, I was bowled over by all this at first, and spent many weeks coming to terms with it.”

See Near Death Experiences – Techniques for Working your Dreams – Summing Up – Secrets of Power Dreaming – Questions

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