The Path of Prisms

Veronika Bond The Horizon Leave a Comment

‘The Horizon’, Part 3, Chapter 25: About change as a healing impulse, what biosophy can learn from salutogenesis, and an overview of the Path of Prisms

 

“Change is always unforeseen. The consistent is always made up of a thousand inconsistencies.”Jean Gebser

In the previous seven chapters we explored a range of events that can interfere with everyday life. In this final chapter we take a closer look at the phenomenon of change itself.

Some changes in life are expected, and we like to mark the occasion with a rite of passage — e.g. weddings, funerals, a ceremony at the end of a university course.

Some changes we eagerly yearn for, they fill us with hope until we reach the important turning point — e.g. meeting a companion for life, healing from a long period of illness, or climbing a significant rung on the career ladder.

Some changes are dreaded, because they disrupt the ‘good life’ — e.g. a serious accident, loss of property or loved ones,  any kind of crisis.

Change is evolution, progression, transformation, regeneration, growing up and growing more mature.

Change is endings and new beginnings. This seems perfectly natural. It happens all by itself. The question is: how do we experience change?

Sometimes we desperately want life to change — for the better of course — but a familiar unpleasant experience returns in a new guise. In this case the phenomenon of change is particularly difficult to grasp.

Why does an external modification not bring about a corresponding internal change?

What kind of internal shift is necessary to promote a favourable new course of events?

The difficulties we have with change seem to stem partly from a need for material security, partly from reluctance to face negative emotions, and partly from a lack of understanding of the complexity of human Consciousness.

It is relatively easy to handle change in the visible dimension of the outer world. You can see what you want to be different. You can plan certain improvements and make them happen according to your resources. If that’s not an option you can adjust at a pinch.

The trouble is that this outward orientation doesn’t take the totality of the inner reality of human Consciousness into account.

If we don’t go through an inward process of transformation — and this process is always experiential and highly personal — then any so-called external ‘change’ is often only a superficial manipulation, and the desired effect cannot last.

The philosopher, poet, and Consciousness researcher Jean Gebser says, “Change is always unforeseen. The consistent is always made up of a thousand inconsistencies.”

If we cannot foresee change, how can we make it happen? Is it even possible to influence the course of destiny to our advantage?

Change is a component of our human evolution. The way we handle changes in everyday life is closely connected with how we explain those fundamental phenomena. Jean Gebser suggests to look at evolution in an entirely new way:

“The theory of evolution which is valid today, as is the case with development and progress, are young theories, only about a hundred years old. They capture… only half of reality … only the visible and provable. The whole reality, however — if it is accessible to us at all — encompasses also the invisible half.”

That ‘invisible half of reality’ shapes our own Consciousness and the world we live in. We need to get to know the invisible in order to grasp our evolutionary process more fully.

In our current understanding evolution is equated with progress. An ‘evolved being’ is at a ‘higher developed state’, which is forever the goal of change.

Jean Gebser sees this very differently. He explains, “that we have to realise the evolution as a time- and space-bound retracing, which is predetermined in the region of the non-visible.”

In other words, reality exists in its totality in dimensions which are only partly visible to us. What we perceive as ‘evolution’ or ‘progress’ is the discovery of preexisting phenomena in a dimension beyond our current perception.

When we realise this ‘predetermined evolution’, we catch up with what is already in existence. Our discovery in the time- and space-bound dimension then gives the impression of evolution as progress.

Jean Gebser’s ‘alternative theory of evolution’ provides access to essential resources for personal transformation.

 

“Spontaneous healing is not a rare phenomenon in medicine.”Herbert Kappauf

Some changes come into our lives unsolicited. They demand attention and force us to deal with them as a matter of priority.

In previous chapter of this book we have met several people who were faced with such a challenge when they were diagnosed with cancer. Some of them experienced a so-called  ‘spontaneous remission’, others learned to live with the disease, one of them died in a ‘state of enlightenment’.

When Herbert Kappauf came across his first case of spontaneous remission as a young oncologist he was surprised about the unfriendly response he received from his colleagues.

After mentioning the case in a talk at a medical conference, the chairman, a renowned scientist, protested: “This isn’t science!” He was appalled about the topic being mentioned at all at a scientific conference.

Fortunately an older colleague reassured the young doctor. Herbert Kappauf remembers: “Having been rebuffed in this manner a time-honoured professor approached me. He smiled and said: the honourable Mr. Chairman apparently hasn’t understood what science is: namely that it begins with questions.”

His early experiences inspired Herbert Kappauf to research the controversial field of spontaneous remission in cancer. In his book Wunder sind möglich (Miracles are possible) he reminds of a fundamental fact: “Spontaneous healing as such is not a rare phenomenon in medicine.”

Many infectious diseases, injuries, and bone fractures heal spontaneously, as long as there are no complications. Even in heart attacks or skin diseases spontaneous remissions are not regarded as ‘extraordinary’.

Cancerous diseases, however, are known as ‘malignant’ and lead to death sooner or later. The strong association between cancer and death can override our faith in the natural self-healing power of the organism, “even though nearly every other cancer patient can now hope for a long-lasting cure.”

Herbert Kappauf explains that systematic research of spontaneous remission in cancer has been difficult because of the separation between research in the laboratory and actual treatment of patients.

“Inexplicable remissions of tumours are not observed in laboratories but in the consultation room or at the bedside.”

After over 20 years of research into the phenomenon of spontaneous remissions of cancer the German oncologist comes to the conclusion that any claim of a ‘miracle method’ or strategy is highly questionable.

However, these findings don’t deny the existence of spontaneous healing of cancer. On the contrary, they encourage us to explore healing potential within ourselves, rather that search for external salvation. The secret to the cure doesn’t lie in the method but in the individual.

Spontaneous healing from a life threatening illness is a highly personal journey. For those who follow the call it leads to a deeper understanding of oneself, captured in this poem by Mary Oliver:

One day you finally knew
what you had to do,
and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice –

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognised as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

(from Mary Oliver, The Journey)

 

“You saved me from talking about house prices.
You obliterated my craving for alcohol.
I would say I am grateful
but am not ready for that, just yet”Anthony Wilson

In the introduction to the book Miracles Are Possible, Walter M. Gallmeier, a professor of oncology, points out that since the 19th century “modern medicine focused on researching the principles of pathogenesis and its therapeutic manipulation.”

In other words, researchers were looking for aberrations from the normal healthy functioning of the body. Whenever they found the ‘cause of a disease’ they believed that the disease itself could be eliminated by fighting against the causative factor.

A new field of research was introduced in the 20th century by the American Israeli sociologist Aaron Antonovsky. In the 1960s he worked with women, who had survived incarceration in concentration camps in Germany.

It was in this context that a ‘peculiar inconsistency’ attracted his attention. He observed that many of these women were coping with life surprisingly well. They didn’t seem to suffer from post traumatic stress, as one might have expected. It appeared as if the hardships they had experienced had made them more resilient.

His observations lead Aaron Antonovsky onto an exciting new path. He began to question the common perspective of health and disease as polar opposites. Instead, he recognised the states of good and ill health as a continuum.

Rather than searching for causes of a pathological development he began to look for causes of the development of health and called it salutogenesis.

‘Independent thinkers’ such as the oncologists Herbert Kappauf and Walter Gallmeier became interested in the concept of salutogenesis. They understood that health is not a state that is lost during illness, but that the organism has lost its balance — that this equilibrium needs to be maintained and can be restored.

“Through the analysis of spontaneous remissions we might be able to learn more about the processes and cycles in the human body, which maintain and restore health.”, says Walter Gallmeier.

The focus of salutogenesis is not the ‘aberration’ — i.e. a pathological set of symptoms, which can be analysed in a laboratory — but the individual in her or his current situation. Salutogenetic therapists aim to help their patients to find out what they need in order to restore their healthy balance. Naturally, those needs are different for everyone.

When the English poet Anthony Wilson was treated for a cancer of the lymphatic system he discovered how important poetry was for his wellbeing.

In his poetic memoir Riddance he shares his journey from the initial diagnosis to the uncertain territory of remission. Here is an excerpt of one of his poems ‘inspired by’ the disease:

You gave me time to notice –
apple blossom, hand movements,

You saved me from talking about house prices.
You obliterated my craving for alcohol.
I would say I am grateful
but am not ready for that, just yet.

(from Anthony Wilson, Tumour)

 

“It is important to be involved as a participant in the processes that make up one’s own destiny and everyday experience.”Aaron Antonovsky

Through developing the concept of salutogenesis Aaron Antonovsky recognised that certain people had a natural resilience which enabled them to not only recover from stress and trauma but become stronger as a result of the experience. He identified three essential components of this resilience:

1 —  Comprehensibility: you have to be able to understand and integrate what is happening.

2 — Manageability: you have to have the necessary resources to cope with the situation.

3 — Meaningfulness: the situation has to have significance, value, or meaning for you.

When these three components are present they generate a so-called sense of coherence (SOC) within human Consciousness. In salutogenesis the SOC is considered the basis for the maintenance and restoration of a healthy balance.

Again, the sense of coherence is very personal, and it can change from one situation to the next. For this reason Aaron Antonovsky warns against emphasising the cognitive aspect of the SOC too much. Instead he highlights “how important it is to be involved as a participant in the processes that make up one’s own destiny and everyday experience.”

Meaningfulness is particularly important because it stimulates our motivation to make an effort towards recovery.

The principles of salutogenesis are not limited to the continuum of physical health and disease. They can be applied successfully to any kind of imbalance in the inner eco system.

Instead of focusing on pathogenetic factors, salutogenesis researches causes of health. The attention is directed towards the self-healing and life generating powers of the human organism.

As a principle this is not new. In homoeopathy it is known as the dynamis or vital force. In India it is called prana, and Eastern Medicine refers to it as chi (in China) or ki (in Japan).

Like Jean Gebser, Aaron Antonovsky views the human organism as a continuum. This means that the known and the unknown, the visible and the invisible, the pleasant and painful aspects make vital contributions to our life and wellbeing.

According to Jean Gebser true transformation can only be reached when we manage to reconnect with the ‘eternal origin’ of our Consciousness. This is our regenerative inner source which provides new information, guides towards deeper understanding, and gives renewed strength. This is the vital source we need to access in order to ‘retrace our evolution’.

Interestingly, any life threatening situation, trauma, or crisis drives us towards a personal connection with this inner source — which explains Aaron Antonovsky’s ‘puzzling observations’.

In the following passage Jean Gebser explains why this is so:

“There is the primal fear. There are primal situations pregnant with fear, in which the primal fear breaks through without hindrance. It swells up from unknown depths and floods us, so that it seems as if we cannot stand up against this underground force… But the powerful abysses of life, where the primal fear dwells, are also home to the root system of life.”

Therefore the darkest, scariest and most painful experiences enable us to connect with the primal source of life and propel us to ‘miraculous’ heights.

However, this doesn’t mean everyone has to go into the deep and scary inner darkness every time they want to make a change. It simply means experiences of darkness give us an opportunity to learn to connect with the dark ‘root system of life’.

Poetry, or any other creative pursuit can do the same thing. Art, music, and any form of creative writing can be used as a ‘hotline’, and establish a strong personal link with this vital source.

Creativity inspires us to welcome unforeseen change, to look at the world with fresh eyes and an open heart, to be receptive for new information from deep and mysterious sources, to befriend our primal fear, and to explore the invisible realms of our reality.

 

“when you have walked a long while,
the miracle won’t fail to appear,
because miracles always happen,
and because we cannot
live without grace.”Hilde Domin

The Path of Prisms is designed to make change more manageable, understandable and meaningful. Since all changes are ‘unforeseen’ — even if welcome and predicted — they always provide an opportunity for an ‘evolutionary growth-spurt in Consciousness’.

Change brings about a new situation, reshuffling the constellation of ‘inconsistencies’. The change may be unsolicited and disruptive, it may be expected, or even planned. In any case it demands a reorientation.

Every growing period offers an opportunity to retrace a ‘more evolved’ and more ‘wholesome reality’ than the previous one. And this is already predetermined within the invisible realms of our reality.

 

Overview of the Path of Prisms

The Path of Prisms is suitable for the experience of CHANGE as a healing impulse. The ruling Faculty is the Intellect, and the process stimulates the development of Coherence.

The visible and invisible parts of our reality are not separate from each other. Whenever our external visible circumstances change, then our invisible inner condition must change too, and vice versa.

The 3 aspects of the sense of coherence, as defined by Aaron Antonovsky, are represented in the first 3 steps of the Path of Prisms, albeit in an inverted form.

Before entering the Path of Prisms, take a moment to evaluate your current sense of coherence in relation to the change you are faced with. On a scale of 0 to 10 make a spontaneous assessment of your ‘SOC’ (10 = highest, 0 = lowest).
Answer the following questions by identifying the appropriate number:

1 —  How well do I understand this change?
0 — 1 — 2 — 3 — 4 — 5 — 6 — 7 — 8 — 9 — 10

2 — How well can I cope with this change?
0 — 1 — 2 — 3 — 4 — 5 — 6 — 7 — 8 — 9 — 10

3 — How meaningful is this change to me?
0 — 1 — 2 — 3 — 4 — 5 — 6 — 7 — 8 — 9 — 10

 

1st Prism — Intellect — Confusion

When you are faced with change — whether desired, expected, or unsolicited — you are moving into confusing territory, because change is always a step into the unknown. You cannot yet understand the new situation, a lot of new information about visible and invisible aspects of your reality are neither processed nor integrated.

Turn your attention towards the confusion and ask yourself:

What am I confused about?

2nd Prism — Body — Overwhelm

The change and confusion about the new situation are unsettling. How will you cope with the situation? Do you have the inner and outer means to handle this change successfully? Stress and doubts may trigger an experience of being overwhelmed. Ask yourself:

What am I overwhelmed by?

3rd Prism — Will — Priority

The experience of being overwhelmed points towards an area which needs special attention, either directly or indirectly. During a period of being overwhelmed by new demands you have to focus your attention of what is most important to you right now. Ask yourself:

What is my priority now?

4th Prism — Soul — Evolution

At the 4th step on the Path of Prisms turn your attention towards the inner changes you need to make in order to comfortably handle the external changes. Ask yourself the following 2 questions:

A — Who do I want to become in order to handle this change with ease?

B — How will I experience life, having gone through this evolution and become more mature as a result?

5th Prism — Inspiration — Conception

In the first 4 steps on the Path of Prisms you receive significant information about yourself in relation to the experience of change. From your answers to the questions at those steps you can extract the essence of your next ‘evolutionary stage’. This is the ‘seed-information’ of the new and more wholesome reality you are growing into.

Summarise your conception of yourself in relation to the change. Fill in 4 keywords based on your answers to the previous question

A — Area of confusion: I am confused about………..

B — Issue of overwhelm: I am overwhelmed by …………..

C — Current priority: My priority is…………

D — Evolution: I want to become …………..

6th Prism — Intuition — Discipline

Having received this essential information you are now ready to cultivate and support the new constellation of your Consciousness that wants to come into being in yourself and your life. The ‘new form of being’ is currently in its fetal state. It has entered your awareness, out of the darkness of your invisible reality; now it needs your loving care and attention in order to grow. This requires discipline and commitment.

What discipline am I ready to commit to in order to nurture my evolving being and reality?

7th Prism — Imagination — Play

Discipline helps to establish new habits. It ensures that the new evolving life gets the attention it needs in order to take root and flourish. At the same time we know that the most effective way to learn something new is through play.
At this step on the Path of Prisms you are invited to get creative. In the act of playing all aspects of yourself and your reality are involved, the visible and the invisible. Play enables you to develop new skills with a lot of enthusiasm and minimal effort. Ask yourself:

How can I play with the new information I have received?

How can I play as if I already am my ‘more evolved being’?

How can I expand this experience in a playful way?

8th Prism — Instinct — Tracing

Now reevaluate your sense of coherence in relation to your situation Answer the same questions by rating your understanding, manageability, and meaningfulness, as you did before starting this process.

1 —  How well do I understand this change?
0 — 1 — 2 — 3 — 4 — 5 — 6 — 7 — 8 — 9 — 10

2 — How well can I cope with this change?
0 — 1 — 2 — 3 — 4 — 5 — 6 — 7 — 8 — 9 — 10

3 — How meaningful is this change to me?
0 — 1 — 2 — 3 — 4 — 5 — 6 — 7 — 8 — 9 — 10

To complete this Path you can compare your results and notice a potential shift. Your answers enable you to trace your progress.

 

Changes can be daunting, because the journey into the inner world is always a solitary adventure. You have no idea where your path will take you, and there are no guarantees for a desired outcome. Yet its uniqueness makes your journey so rare and precious.

If you have the courage to enter the powerful abysses of life, and if you learn to turn the primal fear into a loyal ally, then you will find traces of noble elements in the depths of your inner root system.
You may surprise yourself and go willingly, in search of your primal source of power, retracing your evolutionary path, no matter how hard.

The German poet Hilde Domin referred to this inner journey as ’the hardest paths’. Here is an excerpt from her poem with the same title:

The hardest paths
are walked alone,
the disappointment, the loss,
the sacrifice
are lonely…

All the birds are quiet.
All you hear is your own step,
the step the foot has not yet walked,
but will walk it.
Standing still and turning around is no good.
It must be walked….

And yet when you have walked a long while,
the miracle won’t fail to appear,
because miracles always happen,
and because we cannot
live without grace.

(from Hilde Domin, The Hardest Paths)

 

© Veronika Bond, 2017

This is a draft of chapter 25 of The Horizon, volume 2 of The Solo System.

It is complemented by an e-letter, containing additional background information about the progress of the book and the creative process.

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Supplies for inner growth - the Friday Letter

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