Thursday, December 24, 2009

Embodied Participation in the Mystery - Jorge N. Ferrer, Ramon V. Albareda, and Marina T. Romero

I found this interesting article through a link on the P2P Wiki page on Jorge N. Ferrer, a participatory spirituality pioneer. I had only seen Ferrer referenced in other articles, so his work is basically new to me. I'm not sure I buy into their argument (I'm still largely agnostic on these issues), but they present an very intriguing perspective.

Here is the beginning of the article (which opens as a MS Word document):

Embodied Participation in the Mystery: Implications for the Individual, Interpersonal Relationships, and Society

Jorge N. Ferrer, Ramon V. Albareda, and Marina T. Romero

We postulate the existence of an intelligent and creative primordial energy or Mystery that is the ultimate principle of life and reality. This Mystery pervades the cosmos in two polar energetic states: the Dark Energy and the Energy of Consciousness.1 Energetically speaking, whereas the dark pole of the Mystery is dense, amorphous, and undifferentiated, the conscious pole is subtle, luminous, and infinitely differentiated.

The Dark Energy is the Mystery’s immanent life and dynamic fountain of generativity at all levels. The Dark Energy is spiritual prima materia—that is, unactualized spiritual energy in a state of transformation, saturated with potentials and novel possibilities. We see matter and the physical universe as initial manifestations of the Dark Energy and as therefore having an interior or experiential dimension. In the human realm, the Dark Energy is the source of our vitality and natural wisdom, as well as the organizing principle of our embodiment, sexuality, and instinctive life. We can distinguish between two states of the Dark Energy: One contains both the creative wisdom of the primordial order of life and historically accumulated human tendencies aligned with that primordial order, and the other stores historically accumulated human tendencies that are in tension with such primordial order. In this context, we can say that the physical body and its vital energies enable human beings not only to creatively participate in the immanent dimensions of the Mystery but also to filter and purify conflictive energetic tendencies stored therein.

The Energy of Consciousness is the Mystery’s transcendent life and dynamic telos of the cosmos toward the expansion of outreaching love and wisdom. In the human realm, the Energy of Consciousness is the source of our self-awareness and spiritual discernment, as well as the organizing principle of the psyche and its transcendent function. Like the Dark Energy, the Energy of Consciousness exists in two different states: the energy of spiritual consciousness, associated with a higher knowledge that transcends rational understanding, and the energy of human consciousness, associated with the knowledge generated by the human mind, which can be either aligned or in tension with the principles of spiritual consciousness. Both energetic states are intimately connected to the process of knowing, which includes the capacity to see (to be aware of), to understand (to see beyond superficial awareness), and to comprehend (to see and to understand the interrelationship of the various elements that constitute reality, as well as to discern its meaning). Given this connectedness, we can say that the mind and consciousness enable human beings not only to creatively participate in the transcendent dimensions of the Mystery but also to align human knowledge with its principles.

We are not proposing a dualistic system here; however, although the Energy of Consciousness and the Dark Energy are ultimately the same energy in different states, we believe that their distinction is crucial.2 We make this distinction because, as we suggest in the remainder of this essay, the dynamic interplay between these two polar energies may be one of the primary motors of the evolutionary process, and human alignment with their distinct principles may, therefore, be fundamental for individual, interpersonal, and social harmony.

Let us first look briefly at the evolutionary process in light of this dipolar account of the Mystery.

In its widest sense, evolution can be seen as involving the progressive differentiation and integration of the Dark Energy and the Energy of Consciousness. In human life, it is likely that the Energy of Consciousness historically emerged by means of an inhibition of the Dark Energy. Far from being an evolutionary mistake or aberration, this temporary inhibition may have been essential to avoid the reabsorption of a still relatively weak, emerging self-consciousness and its values into the stronger presence that a more instinctively driven energy once had in human beings. In other words, the inhibition and/or regulation of the primary dimensions of the person—somatic, instinctive, sexual, and certain aspects of the emotional—may actually have been necessary at certain stages of human evolution to allow the emergence and maturation of self-consciousness and its cognitive, emotional, and moral qualities.

If we are correct about the general dynamics of this process, it may help explain the rise of a mind-centered Western culture that has devalued primary qualities and values such as matter, the natural world, the body, and sexuality and tended to see them in tension with, or even opposition to, the flourishing of psychological, social, and spiritual qualities. In the context of the world’s religious traditions, this may be connected to the widespread consideration of certain human qualities as being spiritually more “correct” or wholesome than others, such as equanimity over intense passions, transcendence over sensuous embodiment, and chastity over sexual exploration. To put it bluntly, humankind’s evolutionary path has been laid out in accord with a dichotomizing view of reality that has created opposing bands that struggle against each other, with certain behaviors and values considered “bad” or “lower” and others “good” or “higher.” This form of evolution, although perhaps historically necessary, has generated an intrapersonal and interpersonal model -now deeply seated in human nature- based on confrontation, conflict, struggle, war, and regressive or paralyzing tendencies.

Humankind is living in a unique historical moment. We are convinced that the degree to which human consciousness has developed enables us to take a qualitative leap forward in the evolutionary process. We suggest that we are now collectively prepared to cultivate ways of life based on the integration of polar qualities that have always been seen as opposites, or even as mutual enemies—ways of life that, in general, are based on the integration of the Dark Energy and the Energy of Consciousness. We are, of course, not talking about a return to a state of primordial undifferentiation of these energies, but rather of a process in which both energies, while remaining clearly differentiated, move toward a creative synthesis that brings forth a more integrated state of being affiliated with novel qualities and possibilities. In other words, having developed self-reflective consciousness and the subtle dimensions of the heart, it may be the moment to reappropriate and integrate the more primary and instinctive dimensions of human nature into a fully embodied participation in the Mystery.3 The remainder of this essay briefly explores a selected sample of practical implications that this embodied participation may have for the individual, interpersonal relationships, and society.4

Read the whole article.


Thomas Arthur said...

Hey William,

Here's some more writing by Ferrer that I find inspiring.

To me his critique of the "cognicentric" approach to integral transformative practice is right on the mark. The distinction between integral practice and integral training is a brilliant move.

Thanks for highlighting some of his work.

WH said...

Thanks Thomas - I look forward to reading more of his writings!