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Integral Psychology, Phenomenology, and Self-Analysis
A Map of the Psyche
The Psychodynamics of the Surface Psyche
The Larger Psyche Gestalt
Fractal Representation of Self-Levels / Faculties


It is only logical that an integral theory of everything must also incorporate psychology. In fact, psychology will be central to any such theory, just as physics is central to a scientific Theory of Everything (T.O.E.). This is because the integral metaphysical worldview deals with Consciousness, and is in fact a Theory of Consciousness, just as a universal physics theory is a Theory of Matter and Energy (or rather, the unification of all the laws and principles behind matter and energy). And because (i argue) Consciousness includes matter and energy, because there is nothing else but Consciounsess (or Awareness or I-ness, or Self (Atman-Brahman), a Consciousness-based Theory of Everything will by its very nature incorporate a matter and energy and fundamental particles and fields Theory of Everything (T.O.E.)

In the previous section, I suggested an esoteric Metaphysical paradigm, in terms of four parameters or gradients of being (ontoclines) which make an overall map of all possible states of existence and states of consciousness. As the microcosm of this, we can present a truely integral theory of psychology.

A comprehensive psychology must encompass all elements of the psyche. This means it will both broader than most modern psychology, perhaps more equivalent to the new movement of Integral Psychology.

Psychology means the study (logos) of the soul (psyche). In Neoplatonic metaphysics, soul or psyche is part of an ontological gradation. So, rather than being about everything in individual consciousness, including mystical states, Psychology should be the study of that segment of the individual consciousness between the physical and the noetic, its internal dynamics and interactions with "the world" (intersubjectivity) and with those hypostases, authypostatons, and irradiations both from above/behind/within (closer to the Source or "Everything") and below/without (further from the Source). It should also (following Ken Wilber's argument for the need for an all-inclusive ("integral") approach) be able to incorporate and include all other psychological approaches and schools, and thus serve as an integral psychology

The integral psychology proposed here is metaphysical and hence not able to be accepted in postmodernist academia. However it is, I feel, necessary to go outside the accepted secular western paradigm to arrive at a larger explanation of reality. What is proposed here (in keeping with this overall Provisional Metaphysical Theory of Everything) is a gradational-emanationist model of reality, in which the self consists of a number of distinct irradiations, which participate in larger hypostases and authypostatons.

The Tripartite Self

The esoteric psychology of many of the world's Wisdom Traditions differ from the limited metaphysics of materialistic and dualism, Dualism on two grounds. First they acknowledge a higher spiritual reality above, and sometimes also (although not as often) a denser reality below Second the duality of mind and body is replaced with a series of three or more faculties, one being an intermediate faculty between mind and body. These are called body, soul and spirit in alchemy and Rosicrucianism; rational soul, irrational soul, and body in Neoplatonism and many other philosophies; mental, vital, and physical in Sri Aurobindo's system; intellectual, emotional, and moving center in the Gurdjieff-Ouspensky Fourth Way; physical, emotional, and mental body in theosophically-based New Age and pop-guru teachings, and so on. Other terms are nous (knowledge) and orexis (desire) in Aristotlean and Neo-Scholastic philosophy and faculty psychology.

As with the colours of the rainbow, one can divide the spectrum into any number of gradations or hypostases. In his later work Plato replaces his earlier simple dualism of body and soul with a three-fold soul: logistikon (rational mind, the decision-making faculty), thymos (spirited passion, an intermediate principle), and epithymia (lower desires and appetites).

A Fractal Representation of Self-Levels / Faculties

The above model of the psyche is complicated by a number of further factors. These are:

Fractal Subdivisions. A number of esotericists, such as Lurianic Kabbalah, Max Theon, Sri Aurobindo, and Gurdjieff and Ouspensky (Fourth Way), propose a fractal psychology, in which each faculty is divided according to the same configuration as the whole. Two examples are shown here, one three-fold and the other four-fold.

Four-fold Consciousness according to the integral psychology of Max Theon
Three-fold Consciousness according to the integral psychology of Sri Aurobindo
Four-fold Consciousness according to the integral psychology of Max Theon. "Nervo" = emotional or desire being Three-fold Consciousness according to the integral psychology of Sri Aurobindo. "Vital" = Theon's "nervo"

A six- or seven-fold fractal psychology would be a lot more complicated (and obviously impossible to portray in a simple diagram). Also, comparing the diagram above with the table showing Sri Aurobindo's integral psychology and the six-fold model suggested here, we can see that some the fractal sublevels of Aurobindo are the same as actual levels in the 6- or 7-fold model (this is especially the case with the "Vital" which divides into four sublevels)

Occult Psychology

In occult cosmology, each level or strata of being is made up of sublevels from most material to most spiritual.   And because each octave repeats itself in each world (as the Jewish Kabbalists, Hermetic-Magickal Qabalists, and the Theosophists all agree) there is a two-fold causation: from mental to emotional to etheric to physical (i.e. right to left on the following diagram, these being subplanes), and from spiritual to psychic to physical (top to bottom on the above, these being planes).  So for example the principle of Emotional Spiritual transpersonal love not only determines the Etheric Spiritual principle of higher will, but also the Emotional Psychic principle of interpersonal emotions.

The various sub-levels are described with differing degrees of clarity or confusion, and completeness or incompleteness, by different esotericists and clairvoyants.  Consider the Physical level.  In the above table there is the distinction between the Physical or Material psychic (the lowest sub-level), the "astral plane" or as termed in Theosophy plane of desire (kama-loka), so called because the "substance" of that plane is the same as what we experience when we desire or will something, and the upper two, Spiritual, sub-levels.  The Adyar-Theosophical clairvoyant C.W.Leadbeater's "Lower Astral" subplanes would be at least partially equivalent with the lower two Astral-Physical sub-levels, his "Upper Astral" subplanes with the Emotional sub-level, and his entire "Mental plane" with the upper or mental sub-level.

Sri Aurobindo as we have seen, presents a more workable division of Material Vital, Central Vital, Emotional, and Mental-Vital sub-levels ("Vital" here obviously being equivalent to Psychic or Astral or Affective, not to "prana", which is included in the Etheric sublevel of the Physical Plane).

In any case, the lowest of these four principles corresponds here to the nefesh behemis of the Hassidic Kabbalists, the Undersoul of Ann Ree Colton, the lower or hindering aura and thoughtforms of the Rainbow Bridge authors [need to add ref/link], and so on.  And because each subplane has its full complement of sub-levels (chakras, sefirot, or whatever you want to call them) that means that the "material vital" or "undersoul" can in turn be divided into four or seven or however many sub-levels.  The Rainbow Bridge authors refer to five distinct zones: the zone of ideas and ideals (= mental sub-level), of values and self-worth, of emotions and desires (both being included in the emotional sub-level), of instinctual reactions (the etheric sub-level), and of physical restrictions.  So here we have the full series, but only on one particular plane or stratum of being.

From this, we can understand causation.  Remembering that, according to the law of emanation, each higher stratum influences and determines the strata below it, that means that this material-subtle layer determines not on the material-physical body, but even the physical intellect (mental body) and physical emotions as well.  This explains how this inferior and rather subconscious stratum - the "undersoul" or whatever you want to call it, at the material end of Subtle world spectrum - can over-rule and control even the highest faculty - the physical intellect or mental body - of the physical or Gross world spectrum.  So, in terms of psychological causation from even this one stratum of being, we have the following situation:

SPIRITUAL                                         Mental
                                     Emotional    (spiritual
                                     Spiritual    knowing)
                        Etheric      (transpersonal |
                        Spiritual    love)          |
           Hylic        (higher will)   |           |
           Spiritual       |            |           |
           (spiritual      |            |           |
           existence)      |            |           |
PSYCHIC       |            |            |         Mental
              |            |           \|/        Psychic
              |            |         Emotional    (imagination
              |           \|/        Psychic      intuition,
              |         Etheric      interpers-   inspiration)
             \|/        Psychic      onal love)        |
           Hylic           |            |              |
           Psychic        _|_          _|_            _|_
   ----- ("undersoul") ---------------------------------
  |       physical   vitality     emotional     mental  |
  |       component  component    component   component |
    ........|............|............|.......... \|/ ...
PHYSICAL    |            |            |          Mental
            |            |           \|/         Body
            |            |          Emotional    (thinking,
            |           \|/         Body          physical
            |          Etheric     (self-centred  intellect)
           \|/         Body         emotions)
          Physical     (sensation)

The material psychic "undersoul" blocks or distorts the influences from the higher principles.  Hence the four bodies that make up the physical-material bodily consciousness are influenced and inspired by the "lower astral" undersoul rather than by the "higher astral" and "spiritual" principles.  And although the undersoul itself is (according to the principle of emanation) originally caused and continuously maintained by these higher principles, it still has a valid and dominant existence on its own plane.  Just as magic and psychic influences are valid and applicable on the etheric-physical and higher planes, but not on the material-physical plane, where the sheer intractability and inertia of matter blocks its direct expression in this universe, so the higher spiritual light can function and express itself on its own planes, but is blocked by the material-psychic stratum.  The way out of this dilemma is to "spiritualise" or "purify" the material-psychic principle - as the Hassidic Kabbalists, Ann Ree Colton, the Rainbow Bridge authors, and others explain - and hence render it "transparent", so it does not block the expression of the higher principles.

I have dealt with this particular topic at some length, because it is an important one, but one could equally consider the relevance and the influence of any of the other psychic strata (indeed, in a sense they are all equally important).  In this way, an occult psychology - a true psyche-ology or "science of the soul" - can be formulated.  In such an occult psychology, the present materialistic psychologies are subsets - valid in their own right but subordinate to the whole - that deal with one or more of the four physical-material bodies, and even alternative practices are included here.  According to the wider cosmology presented here, behaviourism and experimental psychology can be seen to be concerned solely with the reflexes of physical and the etheric bodies, and try to explain human conscious in these terms; Reichian and other body therapies, and alternative healing practices such as homeopathy and acupuncture, explain the human entity only in terms of the etheric body; Freudian and Neofreudian psychoanalysis reduces the human spirit to the structures and blockages in the emotional body; and likewise gestalt therapy, rebirthing, primal screaming, try to resolve everything through getting at problems at this level on its own or in conjunction with the etheric; intellectual therapies such as rational-emotive therapy, reality therapy, transactional analysis, etc, deal with the emotional body on a superficial level, the emphasis being perhaps more on the mental; and Eastern meditation (Buddhist, Patanjali, etc) uses training and control of the mental body to resolve neuroses and attain transcendent states of consciousness.

Seven Faculties and Irradiations

Building on Sri Aurobindo's theory of types based on three evolutionary purushas, I would like to propose here a psychology based on seven "vertical" faculties or individual irradiations, each of which in the individualisation of the universal prakriti of that hypostasis. I interpret the "purushas" as the self-sufficient (Proclus uses the term authypostaton) inner-pure-consciousness or aspect of pure noetic being. Originally I played with the idea of four principles (which could be equated with Theon's four-fold system) but felt this was insufficient to account for all the psychological gradations. So I'm now tentatively suggesting six rather than three principles because that way each inner-pure-consciousness purusha can be associated with, and indeed considered identical with, one of the seven chakras of traditional Tantric iconography (the highest or Sahasrara is not considered a chakra like the others - see Arthur Avalon Amazon com The Serpent Power; see also the Sant Mat system for for the chakras as "octaves"); other associations can be made with the "immortal atoms" of Leadbeaterian and later (Alice Bailey, Ann Ree Colton) theosophy (compare also the "Hara" or midline described by Barbara Brennan in her book Light Ascending). Identification with the chakras means each purusha is also loosely associated with various correspondences (allowing for the symbolic and teaching-specific nature of the original correspondences) like the four or five elements (of Western, Indian, and Chinese thought). They can also be correlated with Platonic, Aurobindonian, Faculty Psychology, and Theosophically inspired New Age ontology/metaphysics.

The table is as follows

Psychophysical Level of Self Level/
Description Chakra Plato
(3 fold soul)
Faculty Psychology Aurobindo "Theosophy"/
New Age
Nous Higher Intuition Descent of higher insight Sahasrara
Higher Mind Spiritual

Cognition Rational/Cognitive Mind Ajna Logistikon Cognition Thinking Mind Mental
Conation Intentionality Vishuddha   Conation Vital Mind
Affect Feelings, Higher Emotions Anahata Affect Mental Vital Higher Emotional
Thymos Ambition, Striving, Power Manipura Thymos Central Vital
Epithymia Desires Swadhisthana Epithymia Physical Vital Lower Emotional
Physis Etheric body Vitality, Double Physical Consciousness Muladhara   Etheric
Organism Physical Organism Body Consciousness Sensation Physical Physical

This gives two ontological parameters - from self-sufficient to irradiation, and from mind to body. This is shown as follows:

Hypostasis / Universal Prakriti self-sufficient purushas Irradiation
Nous Higher Potentialities Spiritual-Intuitive

Universal Mind / Ideation/Truth Mental Purusha - associated with Ajna chakra Cognition/Rational Mind
Universal Dynamic Mind/Will Emotional-Mental Purusha - associated with Vishuddha Conation/Intentionality
Universal Love Emotional Purusha - associated with Anahata Affect/Feelings/Higher Emotions
Universal Higher Astral Emotional-Vital Purusha - associated with Manipura Thymos/Striving/Power
Universal Lower Astral Physical-Vital Purusha - associated with Swadhisthana Epithymia/Desires
Universal Nature Physical Purusha - associated with Muladhara Vitality, Physical Consciousness

Each irradiation or stratum of being (right column, above) also has a conscious, preconscious, and unconscious aspect, although the proportion or percentage of hypostasis that is unconscious increases the further "down" into "matter" or "density" one goes.

Further complexity results from the interaction between the various faculties and subfaculties. Since several are often at work at the same time, it might be difficult to distinguish the pure faculty. These however would correspond to occult inner macrocosmic planes or worlds, and hence are distinct on their own level. But when acting as irradiation in the psychophysical consciousness they are obviously far less distinct.

In addition, each faculty and irradiation has its own dynamics. Freudian and Jungian psychodynamics for example describe the interplay of several different faculties.

Finally, there are trans- , supra- and inter- personal influences and factors, which might be on the universal, occult, or the surface level, that further complicate things, often involving influence and irradiation by forces that are not part of the individual psyche.

Subjective and Objective - The Concentric Axis

In addition to the above "Vertical" dimension described above, there is the "Concentric" dimension of the psyche or consciousness. At its simplest, this involves a polarity or dichotomy of subject-object, inner-outer, mind-matter, conscious-unconscious, yin-yang.

diagram from Jung - Archetypes (author unknown)
Depth Psychology and to a lesser extent Transpersonal Psychology represent a more detailed exploration of the Inner-Outer or "concentric" polarity. No one has studied this area better than Carl Jung. The following (right) represents a diagramatic representation of the Jungian system. Here we have the outer and the inner world, the latter consisting of progressively deeper layers of the unconscious. The collective unconscious - the deepest level of all - represents a whole world in itself.

In another diagram presented in a lecture Jung has even more layers. I don't have the reference (I came upon this many years ago) or a copy of the diagram, which showed concentric circles, but if I recall correctly it was (from outer to inner) sensation, thinking, feeling, intuition, affect, personal unconscious / shadow (these may have been distinguished), and collective unconscious.

Another perspective is provided by Sri Aurobindo's integral psychology, which describes a trichtomy of innermost Divine Soul, inner, and outer being

Other spiritual psychologies are presented in Vedanta (beginning with the Mandukya Upanishad), in which four states of consciousness are described. These are Waking, Dreaming, Dreamless Sleep, and the Fourth (i.e. the Absolute). Waking and Dreaming are self explanatory, but Dreamless Sleep here refers to a very deep level of consciousness in which the awareness is near (but not quite at) the Absolute. Another approach is taken by Buddhist and Patanjalian maps of meditative states which distinguishes between form and formless dhyanas or samadhis, and Yogachara Buddhism, which refers to an Alaya-Vijnana or "Storehouse Consciousness" that has intriguing similarities with the Jungian Collective Unconscious. This collective or universal consciousness is the source of the individual Manas and Mano-vijnana consciousness, which correspond more to the Ego (conscious) of western psychology (not the "ego" of pop-guru-ist teachings).

Taking into account then these various references and teachings mentioned above, the following is a suggested series of hypostases of being from Inner to Outer:

Integral Psychology, Phenomenology, and Self-Analysis

The practice of Buddhistic, Gurdjieffian, Aurobindonian, and other such techniques of introspection is a wonderful way to understand the workings of the psyche, consciousness, and therefore reality as a whole. This is an introspective, phenomenological approach, but also in keeping with the Eastern and contemplative traditions (and combines two of the many fields of Integral Wiki link Consciousness Studies). By means of simple detachment, mindfulness, and observations of one's own stream of consciousness, anyone can become a scientist and student of the nature of reality. Indeed, such self-remembering (as Gurdjieff called it) or self-awareness is absolutely essential if one is to make serious progress in self-transformation.

A Map of the Psyche

Of all the psychological diagrams currently available, my favourite is the Psychosynthesis (Roberto Assagioli) "Egg Diagram"; shown below

Egg Diagram 1. The Lower Unconscious
2. The Middle Unconscious
3. The Higher Unconscious or Superconscious
4. The Field of Consciousness
5. The Conscious Self or "I"
6. The Higher Self
7. The Collective Unconscious

Here we see both the "vertical" (lower-higher - The Lower, Middle, and Higher Unconscious), the "individual-collective-universal" (the Individual "egg" and the Collective Unconscious), the "inner-outer" (the field of consciousness and the Unconscious), and the "self-nonself" (The Higher Self, the "I", and the Field of Consciousness again) parameters all represented. There are, moreover, also interesting parallels with the integral psychology of Sri Aurobindo.

The Psychodynamics of the Surface Psyche

Depth psychology distinguishes between the conscious mind or Ego, and the Unconscious (in Jungian psychology this latter is further divided into individual and collective). In Sri Aurobindo's psychology, these are the surface consciousness or "Outer Being", and the Subliminal or Inner Being (in a sense "higher") and Subconscient ("lower", equivalent to the Freudian Unconscious)

The following diagram presents the dynamics of the Surface Being or Psychoanalytical Ego, in terms of the Integral Psychology presented here

The Dynamics of the Surface Psyche

still under construction

The Larger Psyche Gestalt

The surface psyche is in turn part of a larger psychic gestalt, as shown here

The Mandala of the Psyche

still under construction

My own analysis of the nature of consciousness, using an Aurobindonian-Assagiolian paradigm, results in the following map of consciousnsess:

Following Sri Aurobindo, there are three purushas that constitute the inner being and represent the three centers of organisation (of mind, affect, and body). These are not normally experienced, except in deep mystical states. They are in turn organised by a fourth purusha, the Divine Soul ("Psychic Being", or what Jung would call the Archetype of the Self). The purushas generate transpersonal or higher spiritual impulses, but these are countered by the lower or obsessional thoughts and miasmas of the subconscious - at best atavistic remnants and old habits and old ways of thinking, and at worst psychopathological compulsions that have a lot of force. Between these two are the various impulses and thoughts of the middle unconscious, some of which are satellites of the psyche, residing in the aura and the subtle vehicles, others are movements from the outside. It is even possible to feel spatially where a thought or feeling enters the aura; they come from outside, as the Samkhyan philosophy teaches

By not giving the thoughtforms energy, they disappear of their own accord, and in this way one can increase the sphere of influence of calm and tranquility within one's psyche. Thus integral psychology and integral yoga are the same, there is really no difference between them. It is the task of the sadhak who has chosen the difficult but immensely rewarding path of self transformation to project light into this lower side of his or her nature, by being centered in the divine purushas, and not giving the subconscious and the middle unconsciousness and external impulses energy. Eventually this leads to the integral transformation (Psychicisation and Spiritualisation)

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content by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 12 August 2004, last modified 27 November 2005
incorporates Occult Psychology page, originally uploaded 29 November 1998