This is a slight revision of an extract
from pp. 21-23 of Sacred Science
The map, in figure 1 below, is rooted in
my lived inquiry. It is simple map of divinity. It is not only a crude map
of being, but also a map of primary options for creating a path. Each of the
four quadrants on the map is interrelated with every other and with the
experiential centre. The design is not meant imply that there is some exclusive
connection between the transcendent and the subtle, or the immanent and the
Figure 1.2 Fivefold path of integrative heart
As a map of being, of what there is, it conjectures that:
- There is a spiritual consciousness informing everything and also beyond
everything, ineffable splendour.
- There is a spiritual life within everything as its interior source, its
pregnant depth and ground. By spiritual life, I mean a vitalizing
principle that is anterior to our normal distinction between the animate and
- There are subtle realms of invisible powers and presences.
- There is the world of human society, nature and the visible cosmos.
- There is individual human experience here and now.
- There is divinity which is the integrated One-Many totality of these five
modes of being.
These modalities also generate a practical working
hypothesis, another set of categories whose directions provide the creative
options for a self-directed and comprehensive journey for the soul.
- Inward ascent to the heights of spiritual awareness beyond all name and
- Inward descent to the depths of spiritual life within, the ground of all
- Outward ascent to engage creatively with the presences and energies of
- Outward descent to become actively involved in social change and planetary
- The transformation of these four processes within present breadth and
wholeness, within the ever-present reality of immediate present experience,
through our own growth in divine autonomy in co-operation with others
similarly engaged. This is an activity of the heart through which the four
processes can flow in continuous interaction. The map of the unified path is
thus five-fold: inward ascent and descent, outward ascent and descent,
integrated through autonomous heart into an expansion of immediate present
All maps of this sort are provisional. They have a triple
destiny. They are grounded on lived inquiry. They provide a tentative framework
to guide such inquiry, both individual and co-operative. They are in principle
open to revision by such inquiry.
This extract is from pp. 8-10 of Sacred Science
I find it helpful to distinguish between the spiritual,
subtle, the phenomenal and the divine. Here is how, grounded in my lived
inquiry, I shall use these key terms:
- By the spiritual I mean a comprehensive, all-pervasive, dipolar
consciousness-life that appears to include human consciousness-life, to be
beyond it and to be within it. Note here that I am bearing witness to spirit
in two complementary and interdependent modes: spirit as transcendent and
present consciousness and spirit as present and immanent life. By spirit as
life I mean a moving, vitalizing principle that is anterior to our normal
distinction between the animate and the inanimate. For my taste, spirit as
consciousness and spirit as life are too often conflated, life usually being
ignored or reduced to consciousness. So only consciousness is mentioned as
‘the proper subject matter of transpersonal psychology’ (Cortright,
1997: 49). Transpersonal experience is viewed only as transpersonal states
of consciousness (Hunt, 1995).
- By the subtle I refer to extrasensory capacities in humans, and to
energies, domains, presences and powers to which those capacities may bear
witness. At one level it is far beyond the phenomenal realm, at another
level it permeates it. At the latter level, the subtle has often been called
the psychical, as in the field of psychical research.
- By the phenomenal I mean the manifest human world, which, among
other things, includes the physical, biological, psychological and cultural
- By the divine I refer to an integrated One-Many reality including
the spiritual, the subtle and the phenomenal.
The subtle and the phenomenal may be regarded as
complementary kinds of content of the consciousness-life that is the spiritual.
The divine is a wider and more inclusive term than the spiritual. It is the
spiritual, the subtle and the phenomenal as a total epiphany, a sacred
manifestation. I experience the divine as the presence of what there is
here and now. I also call the divine the presence of Being. A simple diagram
symbolizes the divine, as in figure 1.1.
Figure 1.1 The divine
The circumference represents spirit as the infinitude beyond,
a transcendent consciousness, which informs everything with the archetypes of
creation. The centre represents spirit as the infinitude within, an immanent
life, which moves everything with indwelling potential. The inner circle
represents the phenomenal, the intermediate circle the subtle. All these four
together symbolize the divine. The point about the phenomenal circle of human
experience is that it can open both to the circumference and to the centre, in
qualitatively different dipolar practices. The whole model is an experiential
conjecture, a working hypothesis, not a dogma.
The transpersonal, ego and person
‘Transpersonal’ is a term much in vogue for designating
the spiritual and subtle. Since I use it myself in this book I need to explain
what connotation I give to it.
The Latin prefix 'trans' in transpersonal is highly ambiguous
and has several meanings. It can mean 'beyond', as in 'transcend'. Or it can
mean 'from one state to another', as in 'transform' or 'transfigure'. This is
the ambiguity. Some writers use it to refer to what is beyond the person,
as if personhood is something transcended and left behind, or discarded like a
dead skin. They confuse the person with the limiting ego, and so mistakenly kill
off both at the same time.
By the word 'transpersonal' I refer to the person changing
from one state to another, emerging from identification with egoic separateness
into intrinsic personhood: distinctness of being within a wider and deeper
unity. In this sense 'transpersonal' means 'transforming'. Personhood is not
left behind. On the contrary, it enters into its true estate, unique
participation in here and now divine presence, the heritage which has awaited it
Another meaning of 'trans' is 'through', as in 'transparent'.
And this is another meaning I attach to 'transpersonal': subtle and spiritual
energies manifesting through the person and their full range of creative
activities in the world.
In summary, I do not mean by ‘transpersonal' a state that
is beyond personhood and implies its dissolution and negation. I mean a state in
which personhood is transformed from being identified with egoic separateness to
a state of resonant attunement with, and participation in, Being; and is
transparent for psychic and spiritual energies. The person is fully expressive
in the world, and celebrates distinctness of being within unitive awareness.
This calls to mind Aurobindo’s ‘gnostic individual’ who is:
…in the world and of the world…universal but free in
the universe, individual but not limited by a separative individuality. The
true Person is not an isolated entity, his individuality is universal for he
individualizes the universe. (Aurobindo, 1970: 972-73)
In unitive states, as I experience them, the relative
distinctness, uniqueness, autonomy of each entity is both enhanced and
transfigured by their participative relations with each other and the whole. In
the wider scheme of things, I hypothesize, there is a divine integration of the
spiritual, the subtle and the phenomenal uniquely within each being and
universally within the totality.