‘The Horizon’, Part 3, Chapter 18: about adversity as an invitation to identify a personal pattern, what biosophy can learn from holistic medicine, and an overview of the Path of Mirrors
“Mind and body — each is reflective of the larger whole.”Margaret Newman
In chapter 17 we looked at personal experience as a private affair. That could have been the end of this book. Yet human everyday life is also a shared experience. At first glance this seems like a paradox, but there is a simple explanation:
Each individual human Consciousness is unique and independent to some degree, and at the same time it is embedded in collective human Consciousness. The individual is like one single cell in the organism of the collective. Therefore individuals can learn from experiences of others.
Processing mundane negative experiences is quite a big challenge because we don’t know much about it yet. It’s a shadowy area of human understanding — a field of knowledge in its infancy.
Not many people think about it as a worthwhile area of exploration because it seems too ordinary, too irrelevant, too personal, too close to the bones. It stirs up emotions, which makes it uncomfortable to work with, if not impossible to think about with a clear head.
Why should we worry about our private little everyday negative experiences, while there are so many big catastrophes, and proper dilemmas, and real human tragedies to give our attention to?
This ‘insignificant’ daily stuff is the substance from which we create our human life. Very often it is precisely those ‘irrelevant’ small events that make the difference between disease and health, failure and success, divorce and a happy marriage, a wasted life and a fulfilled one, inner war and inner peace.
What if this reflected a pattern of a phenomenon of greater dimensions? The ‘real’ wars, disasters, and conflicts we see all around us may well be reflections of the same pattern we carry within.
As a field of knowledge, biosophy — i.e. the knowledge of transforming mundane negative experience into personal wisdom — is in its infancy. But we can learn from related areas.
Physical illness, for instance, is a specific type of negative experience to which humans have always devoted a lot of attention. In our culture there are two fundamentally different approaches to treating disease.
In holistic medicine, physical symptoms are understood as efforts of the physical organism to heal itself. For example, a fever “is the result of the effort made by the body to defend itself against an infection or a poison,” the Swiss naturopath Christopher Vasey points out.
In conventional medicine, symptoms are interpreted as signs of illness which need to be eliminated. A fever, for instance, is generally considered undesirable and potentially dangerous; so the aim is to ‘bring it down’.
These are two very different attitudes, and we can observe the same fundamental difference in our approach to personal negative experience.
Generally speaking, any personal negative experience is considered ‘bad’. Wanting to eliminate the apparent evil is an automatic reflex. All conventional solutions to personal negative experience, including many so-called ‘alternative’ methods, are based on this assumption.
In holistic understanding, the body is a self-healing organism, i.e. it has the capacity to regenerate itself. And this self-healing capacity is not limited to the physical organism.
In the Solo System we view individual human Consciousness as a living organism — this includes the Body and all mental Faculties. Therefore any negative personal experience can be regarded, from the holistic perspective, as an effort of individual Consciousness to heal itself.
In her book Health as Expanding Consciousness health care researcher Margaret Newman writes, “We can see that mind and body are not separate interactive phenomena, but manifestations of the same larger reality. Contrary to previous thinking, one does not cause the other as in ‘mind over matter’ terminology, but each is a reflection of an underlying pattern of a phenomenon of greater dimensions. Each is reflective of the larger whole.”
“The integration of negative experience gives immunity against adversity.”VB
Margaret Newman’s explanation is consistent with the ‘implicate order’ formulated by the quantum physicist David Bohm. The implicate order is an underlying pattern from which an ‘explicate order’ arises.
To put this into an image, the implicate order is like the ocean, while the explicate order expresses itself as waves appearing and disappearing on the surface, current and countercurrents under the sea level, vortices in the water etc.
In his book Wholeness and the Implicate Order David Bohm writes, “Now, we are proposing that in the formulation of the laws of physics, primary relevance is to be given to the implicate order, while the explicate order is to have a secondary kind of significance.”
This shows an interesting parallel with Roberto Assagioli’s sub-personality (= explicate order) and the underlying core (= implicate order) which we came across in the previous chapter.
The question is, how can we apply this knowledge to the transformation of negative experiences into personal wisdom? What does this mean in practical terms in everyday situations?
Our first motivation for working on a primary negative experience is the wish to move beyond a specific type of negative event.
Based on the current dominant understanding in our culture, we tend to fight against apparent external circumstances, we even fight against our own negative experience.
Moving beyond a negative event seems only possibly by confronting an opposing force. The goal is to conquer a specific offensive or uncomfortable aspect of life, in the hope to clear the space for a more pleasant experience.
From the holistic perspective we see the negative event as an immature aspect of ourselves and an opportunity to discover something new. This means we welcome the information presented to us and are willing to work with the negative experience.
In other words, moving beyond a negative event becomes a cooperation between complementary forces. The goal is to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of life.
In principle, this approach is very simple. The application, however, can be surprisingly difficult.
As soon as an adversity ‘collides with our inner world’ so to speak, a personal negative experience comes into existence within our Consciousness. The only way to move beyond this event is through the experience itself.
Our automatic reaction, however, is to resist the discomfort. The dominant attitude of ‘fight or flight’ is deeply imprinted into the fabric of our own Consciousness, even if we like to see ourselves as a ‘holistic kind of person’.
Then you may find a way to relieve yourself temporarily of the impact of a negative experience by ignoring it. You may feel ‘empowered’ by overriding it with positive experiences. You may resort to survival strategies and distract yourself for a while, but it will not vanish from your inner world.
Primary negative experiences are like immature inner creatures, as we have discovered. They remain in the Dark Side, where they wait for opportunities to grow up.
The processing of negative experiences has 2 major benefits. The development of dormant potential has already been mentioned a couple of times, this is one of them.
The second major benefit of fully processing and integrating a primary negative experience is that it gives you immunity against a particular type of adversity. It also makes you stronger and more balanced in general.
With regular practice this biosophical work improves the balance of the inner ecosystem, which has many beneficial effects in the outer world. The effects of this work reach far beyond the transformation of one particular negative event.
“The universe isn’t mine: it’s me.”Fernando Pessoa
Personal experiences are the waves and ripples on the surface of the inner ocean. They are also the currents and countercurrents under the sea level, and a host of other underwater activities all the way to the bottom of the seabed.
Initially we can only see superficial events and apparent causes. If we want to change our negative experience we need to ‘dive into the ocean’, metaphorically speaking.
In The Book of Disquiet the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa wrote, “Eternal tourists of ourselves, there is no landscape but what we are. We possess nothing, for we don’t even possess ourselves. We have nothing because we are nothing. What hand will I reach out, and to what universe? The universe isn’t mine: it’s me.”
Viewed through the materialistic lens of our culture, experiences are phenomena we either want to have, or get rid of. We either become very possessive of them, or deny their existence. We think personal experience can be copied, pasted, and deleted at will.
What if we are our experience?
It seems we are possessed by our negative experience. My negative experiences occupy me, until I have the courage to own them.
When hitting upon a negative experience we erroneously assume that the experience itself is the problem. The real problem lies in our hostile attitude towards negative experience, based on lack of awareness of the transformative powers of human Consciousness.
The transformation process begins as soon as we change our negative attitude towards our personal negative experiences. It unfolds gradually, as we enter our inner world and gain deeper insights.
We need to experience the underlying patterns of our Consciousness that produce the negative phenomena. Delving into the deeper layers of the inner world broadens our understanding of ourselves, and the experience changes because we can see it in a bigger context.
The Hungarian Illustrator Istvan Banyai gives a beautiful demonstration of this principle in his picture book called Zoom. The images are also available online here.
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.”Antoine de Saint Exupéry
If experiences and events are reflections of an underlying pattern — and if the processing of a primary negative experience stimulates the transformation of an immature pattern — then the skilful integration of such an experience must affect the entire organism.
In this sense, every negative experience can be interpreted as a healing impulse. It can be taken as an invitation to dive into the inner ocean and explore its depths.
The 8 Paths of Responsibility of the Solo System are invitations to practice a cooperative attitude towards personal negative experiences. As with any new practice, it is good to ease into it gently. The 1st Path is a perfect ‘warm up exercise’ for our biosophical work.
The Path of Mirrors is ruled by the Faculty of the Body, and it stimulates Self-Reflection. An important function of human Consciousness is our capacity to reflect on ourselves, in the sense of thinking about ourselves and our life, contemplating, pondering etc.
The word reflection, however, also means mirroring. We have a vague idea that the different Faculties of our Consciousness ‘communicate’ with each other via some sort of ‘reflection’, but they are not merely ‘reflections of one another’, as Margaret Newman pointed out.
Every activity of every Faculty of our individual Consciousness is reflective of the larger whole.
In the Solo System the term Self-Reflection means looking into the different ‘Mirrors’ provided to us by our 8 Faculties. This means attentive observation. Only at the final 2 steps some deeper contemplation might be helpful.
In other words, we don’t reflect on what happened in the sense of a rational analysis. We want to suspend the rational and habitual ways of thinking as much as possible here.
We want to practice ‘seeing with the heart’, because as Antoine de Saint Exupéry said so beautifully in The Little Prince: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Instead of viewing through the head, we want to look at the reflections of an event in the 8 Mirrors without the habitual prejudices and with an open heart. Each Faculty of Consciousness reflects the experience in its own way.
The Paths of Responsibility consist of 8 steps each, and every step gives a Healing Impulse.
The Path of Mirrors is suitable for processing an adversity. Here we are particular interested in negative events which seem to catch up with us no matter how hard we try to get away from them.
In other words, it may seem as if you are under the spell of a particular type of misfortune. If you catch yourself thinking, ‘Why does this always happen to me?’ — you can take it as an opportunity to explore the Path of Mirrors.
All personal adversities are related to an underlying pattern which is often not obvious to the experiencer. The negative events can look quite different on the outside. However, as we dive deeper into the personal experience we discover the common threads.
The Path of Mirrors is a biosophical process that can help you find pieces of your personal pattern beneath the negative experience of the adversity.
Here is an outline of the Path of Mirrors with its 8 Healing Impulses
1st Mirror — Body — Incident
The first Mirror is the Incident itself. Look into the ‘Mirror of the Body’ and ask:
In response to this question look at the adversity and receive a reflection of the event at the material level. Describe what actually happened.
2nd Mirror — Intellect — Speculation
The second Mirror is the Speculation you automatically make with the rational mind. Look into the ‘Mirror of the Intellect’ and ask:
What speculation am I making to explain this incident to myself?
In response to this question look at your inadvertent rational reaction to the adversity. Allow your spontaneous thoughts come into your awareness and capture your speculation.
3rd Mirror — Instinct — Trauma
The third Mirror is the Trauma of the experience. The term ‘trauma’ is used here in the sense of Peter Levine’s definition, that most of us are traumatised by relatively minor events. “We become traumatized when our ability to respond to a perceived threat is in some way overwhelmed.” (From the book Healing Trauma)
Unresolved trauma is stored in the memory of human Consciousness and ‘attracts’ negative experiences and events into our orbit. Emotional reactions triggered by a negative event are usually linked to personal trauma. The experiencer ‘relives the trauma’ even if only in a very slight way.
Look into the ‘Mirror of the Instinct’ and ask:
What is my Trauma? In what way do I feel traumatised by this event?
In response to this question become aware of your emotional reaction to the adversity.
4th Mirror — Imagination — Drama
The fourth Mirror is the Drama of the experience. The term ‘drama’ is used here in the sense of a vivid and striking scenario that takes place spontaneously in your own phantasy.
The Imagination translates the adversity and personal response into a dramatic scene which is unique to the experiencer.
Look into the ‘Mirror of the Imagination’ and ask:
What is the Drama I see myself caught up in?
In response to this question look at the ‘dramatic scene’ produced by your Imagination as a reaction to the adversity.
5th Mirror — Intuition — Imprint
The fifth Mirror is the Imprint of the experience. The term ‘imprint’ describes a lasting impression left by a negative experience in individual Consciousness. The current adversity seems to flow into a preexisting Imprint like a molten substance into a mould.
You look into the ‘Mirror of the Intuition’ and ask:
What Imprint is shaping my experience?
In response to this question look at the imprinted belief triggered by the adversity.
6th Mirror — Inspiration — Pattern
The sixth Mirror shows the Pattern of the experience. When an experience repeats itself, it can be considered a pattern. Elements of an experience we recognise as familiar belong to our personal pattern.
Look into the ‘Mirror of the Inspiration’ and ask:
What Pattern do I recognise in this experience?
In response to this question look at your reactions triggered by the adversity in steps 1-5. Find out whether you have had similar reactions before and identify elements of your Pattern from the familiar aspects.
7th Mirror — Soul — Essence
The seventh Mirror shows the Essence of the experience. This is the core of the immature experience, or the blueprint of the pattern.
Look into the ‘Mirror of the Soul’ and ask:
What is the Essence of my experience?
This step might require a deeper contemplation. The Essence can be derived from the common denominator of the reactions of all Faculties.
8th Mirror — Will — Need
The eighth Mirror reveals the Need of this ‘immature experience’. This Need is a fundamental requirement for the experience. It can only grow into maturity if this Need is fulfilled, and only you can fulfil this need.
Look into the ‘Mirror of the Will’ and ask:
What is the fundamental Need of my ‘immature experience’?
In response to this question identify the fundamental Need of the immature aspect of yourself, which has come into your awareness through this experience.
Once you have identified the Need spend a moment contemplating how you can begin to practice fulfilling this essential Need.
This completes the Path of Mirrors.
© Veronika Bond, 2017
This article is a draft of chapter 18 of The Horizon, volume 2 of The Solo System.
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