On Lacunae (2/2)
by, 09-16-2011 at 03:14 PM (210 Views)
...Through my meditation, I have been becoming more aware of letting go of thoughts, categories and other self-imposed restraints. Meister Eckhart has been a surprising source of inspiration. As I sit, I remind myself of Eckhart’s words; that those who are truly poor in spirit (Matt 5:3) are those that want, know and have nothing. (2) To want nothing and to know nothing are related. In self-cultivation, there is no thing to be known, rather it is a state of mind or a state of being that is being cultivated, neither of which can be accurately pinned down by words. It is a state of being that is not yet attained, so how can the individual honestly believe that they know the destination and want to be there before they have even arrived? The last notion he brings up is to have nothing. He brings this up in the context of having a place in one’s self in which God can work. In the context of integration, I believe that a person leaves behind the illusory notion that the psyche must take a fixed form, or in my metaphor of the lake, that the sailboat has an intrinsic orientation. A sailboat with no distinguishable features like a bow or no fixed orientation denoting port or starboard does not worry which way the wind blows. My realization then is that in order to integrate, one needs to leave behind the very notion of clinging to or preferring certain lacunae.
I have concluded that in order to integrate, each and every one of us needs to take steps towards “learning to spend more time in the middle of the lake,” exposed to the full spectrum of reality’s demands and free from limited perspectives. I see more clearly the allure, but also the weakness of retreating into one’s favorite lacuna. A short passage from Schleiermacher has stuck with me since I first read it in 2001. He writes, “To know of only one point of view for everything is exactly the opposite of having all points of view for each thing; it is the way to distance oneself directly away from the universe and to sink into the most wretched limitedness, to become a true serf, bound to the place on which by chance one may be standing." (3) Does this not echo the spirit of disintegration and integration? To know one point of view is to become a slave to a single orientation, but to entertain all views, according to Schleiermacher, is the very heart of religion itself.
Schleiermacher also addresses what it is like to make the transition from disintegration to integration and what awaits those that make this decision. Schleiermacher is interested plumbing the deepest depths of integration, but I still find his thoughts to be highly applicable and insightful. He writes, “Observe yourselves with unceasing effort. Detach all that is not yourself, always proceed with ever-sharper sense, and the more you fade from yourself, the clearer will the universe stand forth before you, the more splendidly will you be recompensed for the horrors of self-annihilation through the feeling of the infinite in you.” (4) To remove the self-imposed constraints brought on by the desire for continuity, monotony and simplicity, one truly needs to detach all that is not his/herself, and this can only be accomplished through careful observation. This is exactly what Eckhart had in mind too. Our petty preferences for our most familiar lacuna do not define us, but we feel that the more time we spend there, the more time they will somehow define or account for the authentic “us.” This is the artificial sense of self identity from which Schleiermacher suggests that we fade. Letting go of the familiar, especially when it is familiar modes of self-identity is terrifying, which he makes note of, but there is a reward. That is the universe announcing itself more authentically.
Just as an aside, I find this experience, especially how Schleiermacher defines it, to be selfsame as Freud’s “oceanic feeling.” Defining this term he writes, “It is a feeling which he would like to call a sensation of 'eternity,' a feeling as of something limitless, unbounded--as it were, 'oceanic.' This feeling, he adds, is a purely subjective fact, not an article of faith; it brings with it no assurance of personal immortality, but it is the source of the religious energy which is seized upon by the various Churches and religious systems… One may, he thinks, rightly call oneself religious on the ground of this oceanic feeling alone, even if one rejects every belief and every illusion.” (5) This experience is a human experience and it strikes me what integration leads to when one becomes truly poor in spirit as defined by Eckhart. I find it absurd to even consider such an experience could even be possible from an fixed position of disintegration.
To return to a more mundane definition of integration, Riso and Hudson write, “[Sixes’] courage arises from a feeling of real inner solidity and of profound connection with themselves and with all living things. Thus, integrating Sixes, like healthy Nines, can approach tremendous challenges and even tragedies or threats with inner balance and equanimity.” (6) This suggests to me that a Six, when integrating, loses his/her “idea” of self (the idea they want, know and have) and start to become what they really are. This also suggests that a Six stops resorting to authority figures outside of itself and spontaneously and effortlessly becomes an authorityitself. This is a being that is infinitely flexible and infinitely adaptable to whatever chaos life can manage to deliver. This is also a state of mind that entertains all positions for each problem that arises, entertaining and applying those that are useful intuitively, rather than resorting to a single source of authority. This is also to say that if the psyche retreats to a single lacuna, it will be incapable of fully and adequately relating to or dealing with life itself.
The integrating Six needs to lose his/herself in the sense of retreating to an absolute me that is shored up with whatever external badges of authority they happen to promote. Emotionally speaking, they need embrace the anxiety and fear that is present when they venture out of their lacunae into the big lake of an authentic, mature existence in order to become better adapted to none other than change itself. They also need to be aware of the lacunae of which they are not ordinarily aware so that they may deliberately invest more attention into what is unintentionally neglected. If choosing a path of self-cultivation of the personality, Sixes also need to ask themselves, “how deep down the rabbit hole do I want to go” as integration leads to experiences unfathomable from our ordinary position of disintegration. This strikes me as a simple formula for Sixes to investigate if they wish to pursue integration. I know I’ll be doing so.
(1) Riso, Don Richard & Hudson, Russ. The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types. New York: Bantam Books, 1999. 243.
(2) 199 Eckhart Meister, Eckhart. Meister Eckhart: The Essential Sermons, Commentaries, Treatises and Defense (Classics of Western Spirituality) . Translated by Edmund Colledge & Bernard McGinn. Mahwah, NJ : Paulist Press, 1981. 199.
(3) Schleiermacher, Friedrich. On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers. Translated by Richard Crouter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. 62.
(4) Schleiermacher, 68.
(5) Freud, Sigmund. Civilization and its Discontents. Translated by James Strachey. New York: Norton & Company, 1961. 11-12.
(6) Riso & Hudson, 257.