This post continues to elaborate on how the Ageless Wisdom model sees psychic powers evolving up the levels. In addition it elaborates a little bit more on some of the view of Integral along these lines. Again, this conversation is showing up here because it relates to the Chela on the Thread stage, which has as part of its tasks learning to distinguish between “higher and lower” psychic powers.
In the previous post, Chela on the Thread, Psychic Powers, I, I spoke more at length about the various levels in the Ageless Wisdom model and how they relate to the various psychic powers. In this post, I will no longer introduce you to the levels. Instead, I will give a brief overview of the five senses and how they evolve up the levels according to the Ageless Wisdom teachings. I will also speak more at length about how the Integral model talks about “higher and lower” psychic powers, by helping us understand the difference between magical thinking and real psychic phenomena.
Once again I am placing the following two charts here for reference only.
And, I am again placing this chart on how psychic powers unfold by way of the five senses. As a reminder, psychic powers don’t so much involve “extra” sensory perception, as they involve extended sensory perception. As we move from level to level, we learn to refine and extend the five senses so that they are capable of functioning at the higher level.
Before I go through these in more detail, a reminder from what I spoke about in the previous post on Chela on the Thread, Psychic Powers, I where I mentioned that what most people consider to be psychic powers, are really not very evolved. That is why those powers are shared with the animal kingdom. (And, by the way, animals and even insects can have those powers developed to a more of a degree than humans do). When it comes to most psychic powers as understood in the popular arena, these are considered in the Ageless Wisdom teachings to be kind of primitive, which is why they are associated with the emotional (or astral) plane. See chart below.
In the Integral method, I mentioned how Integral speaks of people going backwards to “pre” conventional levels of thought. In the Alice Bailey teachings this is similar from shifting backwards from the mental plane into the emotional plane. In Integral, they would say it is going back to the magical realms. (Note: I have taken the time to transcribe Ken Wilber’s thoughts on this. If you want to hear his exact words about why people regress and hang on to magical thinking — what the Ageless Wisdom would call regressing back to the emotional plane — I encourage you to read the transcript here).
In the post previous to this on Chela on the Thread, Psychic Powers, I, I started to go up the levels using the charts above to describe how psychic powers progress. I started to explain how when these powers progress, they move into something most of us don’t consider psychic anymore. Which leads me to a digression as I compare this approach to Integral. In the transcript I created on Ken Wilber’s talk on Magic vs. Psychic, he is essentially talking about the need to use our minds (what would be called the “lower concrete mind” in Alice Bailey terms), to really take a 2nd and 3rd person look at what is really going on with psychic powers. Are they factually true? Do they really exist? Or, are we just giving into magical thinking (going “pre” conventional, what Bailey would call logical mind thinking, versus “trans” conventional, what Bailey would call higher abstract mind or even heading into the Intuitional plane). However, Wilber does not expand into what the Ageless Wisdom teachings say that essentially even if psychic powers can be scientifically tested and proved as “real,” that doesn’t mean these powers (like telepathy for example), qualify as a “higher” psychic powers.
For example, someone may say they are telepathically in tune with someone else. To verify this, a scientific experiment could be set up. That person could write down what they want to say to someone, and then telepathically send the message to someone else. In turn, the other person could write down what they receive. Then they could compare notes. If what the person sent telepathically was pretty much the same as what someone received telepathically, we could say scientifically and factually, telepathy existed between the two of them. This was a true psychic power; it was not just magical (or wishful) thinking. OK. That’s fine. As I have often joked with people, pretty soon we will all put down our cell phones and be telepathic. We will engage in what Alice Bailey calls in her book Telepathy and the Etheric Vehicle, “mind to mind telepathy.” The point is, so what? So what if I can tell you telepathically what I had for lunch today, or about the fight my boyfriend and I had, and you get the words I said and know they were correct. What real significance does that have for our higher spiritual development, level of consciousness, or spiritual maturity?
It is this sense of “so what” and “show me the significance” that these charts are trying to get at. It doesn’t matter if the psychic powers are “real” (or provable) in the sense that Wilber and others speak of. It matters if they are relevant. And, they are only relevant in a significant way if we go up the scale of spiritual evolution where (as I mentioned in the last post (Chela on the Thread, Psychic Powers, I), the words describing these powers may not seem psychic to others in the popular way in which most people describe psychic powers. These words include things like imagination, comprehension, divine vision, active service, etc. Keeping this in mind let’s evolve the senses up the levels.
Exploring the Sense of TOUCH.
As I have already written about, Touch. Please click on that word to find that post.
I would like to evolve the remaining “psychic powers” listed here. Before I start here is the chart again.
Exploring the Sense of HEARING.
As with all the senses it is pretty easy for us to get what hearing is about on a physical level. We can even explain it in terms of the ear and how sound works and so-forth. As we move to the Emotional Plane (or “astral” plane, or what Wilber would call “magical” level), sound becomes clairaudience. That word essentially means “clear hearing.” However, it is hearing on the “astral” plane. What we hear will be distorted. It will not be clear. We may believe we have heard someone correctly, or we may believe we know what someone is saying telepathically, but if we had to prove it factually, it will be off somehow. For example, I was once in meditating with a group of people. The person leading the meditation started to claim to have certain psychic insights coming to him from a higher being. Not agreeing that his perceptions were correct, I stopped meditating and opened my eyes to look at him. When the meditation was over he congratulated all of us for having gone really deep in that meditation and because we were all with him he was able to contact spiritual beings he had been unable to contact before. When I told him that quite the opposite, I had been so put off I wasn’t even meditating anymore, he refused to believe me. This is an example of “clairaudience” on the emotional or astral level. It is the same thing as Wilber’s magical thinking. We simply don’t want to be objective and look at the facts. We don’t want to face the fact that at the emotional level, the odds that we are getting it right, are often at 50 – 50 at best. A coin toss, tea leaves, and a tarot card would give us the same approximate odds of success — not very good ones.
As we move into the Mental Plane, at the level of Lower Mind (below the dotted line in the chart at the top of this post), the odds that our clairaudience has some basis in fact get a little bit better. Here we begin to engage the lower concrete mind (as it is called in the Ageless Wisdom model), or the scientific mind. We take some time to look at the facts, to investigate things objectively, not just subjectively. This is “higher clairaudience.” What we send telepathically, most likely is received accurately. I say to you silently, “I feel happy today.” You tell me that you picked up telepathically, “You are happy today.” We both agree we are on the same page.
As we move up to the Intuitional Plane, the meaning of clairsentience shifts. Clear hearing no longer means, “I got the facts straight, that is what I said.” Now, it becomes comprehension. Beyond, “I heard what you said” is “I understand what you said.” I get the meaning of it. In modern terms we call this “deep listening” or “active listening.” Any well trained counselor, or even an effective parent, CEO, or leader has to learn to go beyond superficial words to get to the real meaning and context that those words convey. The practice of “Non-Violent Communication” (now called Compassionate Communication) established by Marshall Rosenberg is one training recently developed that helps people along these lines. To use his approach effectively, you go beyond simply getting the meaning and context of what someone is saying, you actually get the “felt-sense.” Through the use of sound and deep listening we actually comprehend more and more the significance of what is being said. We understand the impact of our actions, words, and behaviors on others. We are able to communicate the impact of their actions, words, behaviors on us. As for what is meant by comprehension of four sounds at this level, perhaps it has to do with the physical words, the emotional tone, the mental meaning, and the intuitional plane significance or impact. That is my sense of it for now.
Finally, we get into the Spiritual Plane (also called Atmic plane). Here the word Beatitude is used. Why is beatitude used here? It might help to get a better understanding of what beatitude means. To begin with the word connotes being blessed (the beatitudes associated with Jesus often begin with, “blessed are the poor, blessed are the meak” and so forth). Beatitude also can be associated with the sense of grace. Grace implies a certain sense of compassion, forgiveness, absolution. In addition, beatitude used to be a title you gave to someone in a position of authority. In the Orthodox Christian church for example, the patriarchs were addressed as “Your Beatitude.” Now they often say, “Your Grace.” Put together, it could be that at the level of the Spiritual Plane those who truly comprehend what is going on (with individuals, social groups, and the planet as a whole), are in a position of spiritual authority where through their compassion and deep understanding of what is going on, they can bestow grace of absolution. In many ways it is like the statement Jesus used when being crucified on the cross, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” In other words, in listening deeply we hear the true intention, we understand the ignorance, we know what words to say to bring comfort, absolution, and hope. We listen and speak in such a that the people who receive our words, or our teachings, feel enlightened after the encounter. They may even feel reborn.
Exploring the Sense of SIGHT.
Once again we have physical sight, which is easy to understand. And, if desired we can go into the deeper levels and explain how the eye works and so forth. On the Emotional level, we have clairvoyance (clear seeing). Much as I talked about in hearing, what we see at the emotional is distorted. The auras I think I see in you, others may not see, and what I am seeing may not be real, or only an approximation. At the Mental level, again similar to hearing, there is a greater willingness to use the mind to test it out, to be objective, to find out what may or may not be so, which moves us into the realm of “higher clairvoyance.” As we get into the Intuitional plane the words Divine Vision are used. We “see” increasingly in “wholes.” Our vision is one of the bigger picture, of how wholes within wholes within wholes come together in one even greater whole. Since the Intuitional plane is above the higher levels of the Mental plane where abstract mind is, it is increasingly common that the pictures we seeing are increasingly complex and possibly even geometric in form. More and more we see the patterns that underlie all that is. Until at last on the Spiritual plane, Realization sets in. Through our sight, we now realize or know the patterns, not merely in an abstract way going from the outside in, but from an inside out approach that includes Identification with the Oneness, or Whole.
Exploring the Sense of TASTE.
The senses of taste and also of smell we are told in the Ageless Wisdom teachings are the hardest for humans to develop well. We all have the capacity to taste on a physical level, and most of us will taste many things in life. But, how is this sense evolved as we go up various spiritual levels? Here the words used in the Alice Bailey teachings are quite fascinating. Taste on the Emotional level becomes imagination. Since the word imagination is connected with “image,” you would think that word would be more connected to sight, not taste. Perhaps the connection can be made by reflecting on what happens when we taste something, or are getting ready to taste something. For example, take some time to imagine a sweet sticky cinnamon roll. Stop and actually do this before you read further. After you are done ask yourself, did you see a sweet sticky cinnamon roll first? Did you smell it first? Or, did you taste it first? If you tasted it first, did you imagine at the same time that you had actually tasted it vs simply thinking about it? Perhaps what is being implied here is that when it comes to taste it is hard not to actually imagine one is tasting the real thing even when they are not. Taste also can be connected to addiction at the emotional level. Notice how almost every addiction is connected to taste — alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, even sex. Taste is involved. In relationships, people get a “taste” of someone and start to imagine all kinds of things about what “may be.” They no longer deal with the reality of what is, their imaginations run off with them, and the next thing you know so called “love” addictions follow. Even there, we are imagining love is present, when the truth is, there isn’t much love there at all.
On the Mental level we have to get out of these emotional imaginings and addictions. Here we shift into discrimination. We start to sort it all out — the true from the false, the real from the unreal. In our modern time, many people have a hard time with the word discrimination because it gets associated with prejudice. Actually, that connection is appropriate here. Judgments take place on the mental plane. And, since we have not yet entered spiritual realms, it is quite common for the judging mind to become the judgmental mind. When we think about the Stages of Discipleship we remember that at the stages of Little Chelaship (a stage that is mostly connected with Integral’s Green level) judgment isn’t used too much. In fact, it it shunned. This lack of discrimination (sorting out the real from the unreal) often gets people into trouble. The epidemic of being taken advantage of at these stages by false gurus is precisely because there is not enough discrimination going on. At the stage of Chela in the Light, there is more discrimination, but it is loaded with criticism, one-up man-ship, and judgment. In our desire to be on top of the heap (intellectually, spiritually, socially, economically, even sexually), we can spend a lot of time sorting out who is beneath us, why and how. One of the dangers of using levels systems presented in Ageless Wisdom and Integral teachings is how they can lead us into using the lower concrete mind in such a way it motivates us to make ourselves special and on top, and everyone else worse and on the bottom. (“Oh, he’s so Orange.” “You Little Chela you”). Head becomes detached from heart, a problem that has to be resolved as we move into the Accepted Discipleship phase where head and heart need to come together and lower mind criticism comes to an end.
As we move into the Intuitional level, head and heart are united. At this level in regards to the sense of taste, the word intuition is used. In the book From Intellect to Intuition, Alice Bailey uses the word intuition in a very different way than the masses do. Intuition is not a hunch. It is not vague. It is not a gut feeling. These are more what she would call “instincts.” On page 26 of From Intellect to Intuition, Alice Bailey defines intuition as “clear synthetic vision.” Intuition is also connected later in the book to illumination. It appears as if true intuition allows us to put together various “tastes” into something new. This new something includes all the various tastes, but transcends them. In popular vernacular it is interesting to reflect on the phrase “someone has good taste.” What does that mean? Perhaps it means that he/she knows how to put various ingredients together (foods, ideas, people) so that something new and wonderful (illuminating) comes out of it. Again, we don’t normally think of such things as psychic powers. As we see time and again in the Ageless Wisdom teachings, that is precisely the point. These Soul powers (the word psyche means soul) are higher, in the sense that again they have more meaning, and more significance when utilized.
Finally at the Spiritual level, I have decided to invoke a cooking metaphor. When someone tastes a particular recipe and it has surpassed all expectations to the point where words almost fail to describe it, one word is often chosen — Perfection! We simply can’t imagine it tasting any better (or being any better) than it does. It becomes indescribable. Something has become so refined, so subtle, so sublime it leaves us completely satisfied. It even makes us whole.
Exploring the Sense of SMELL.
Here, I confess my capacity to describe these levels is getting limited. Maybe it is because smell is a sense the Ageless Wisdom teachings say few people every really develop well. On the physical level, we smell all the time. But, few of us know how to register those smells in a conscious way. Smells usually have to be very strong before we pick them up. Yet, as anyone who works in the perfume industry knows, smell is very powerful. It is interesting to note that with perfume and also with cooking, smell is frequently connected with something enticing, entrancing, and even erotic. Smell seems to be intimately connected with attraction or repulsion in a way no other sense accomplishes. On the Emotional Plane the words spiritual idealism are used. These two words seem very similar to the word imagination associated at the emotional level with the sense of taste. How is emotional idealism different from imagination? Let’s look again at smell, especially in regards to pheromones. Pheromones are chemical substances produced and released into the environment that in turn affect the behavior or physiology of others. Again we have the connection with attracting and repelling, but we also have “affecting the behavior and physiology of others.” Smell, unlike all the other senses (hearing, touch, seeing, tasting) seems to have a very powerful, and yet mostly unnoticeable, or subtle impact. Hence perhaps the words emotional idealism.
We are told in the Ageless Wisdom teachings that there is the idea, then the ideal, then the idol. When we emotionally idealize someone, we are attracted to that person in ways that we often don’t understand. Never mind if that person (thought, belief, ideology) isn’t really good for us, it “smells good.” Perhaps you could argue that it sounds, looks, feels and tastes good as well. The problem with smell is that unlike the other senses it may be lot more difficult to sense what is really going on here. Someone can put on new clothes and get a new hairdo, or say the right words, or smother you with hugs, and at some level you may pick up fairly quickly that something is off. These appearances (looks, words, hugs) may only be there to deceive and manipulate us. But, smell? That can be trickier. I mean lavender not only smells like lavender when someone puts it on, it IS lavender that has been put on. The smell itself is not artificial, whether you lather it over a person who isn’t very good for you or not.
On the Mental plane then we not only need discrimination (a word associated with taste on the mental plane), we need discernment (a word similar to discrimination). But, this is a special kind of discernment. It is “spiritual discernment.” Why this choice of words? Somehow or another it seems to imply that we have to bring through the spiritual “essence,” compare it to the “smell” we are picking up, and discern if this smell comes from the outside (lathered on), or the inside of a person. After all, there is a difference between the natural smell of an individual, and the smell that person chooses to put on.
What is interesting is that we are then told that as we move onto the Intuitional plane, we move from emotional idealism (connected with the emotional plane) to Idealism. What is the distinction here? The answer may be found by remembering that on the Emotional plane any sense is distorted. It is covered with glamour. It is not what it appears to be. So, perhaps on the Intuitional plane, Idealism comes closer to the Idea. And, that leads us to the phrase, “All Knowledge” that we are told is connected with the Spiritual (or Atmic) level. To borrow a phrase from Mr. Spock, “Fascinating.” We are being given a clue here. Smell, has to do with knowledge. Smell, unlike any other sense, leads us from the unreal to the real. Smell is very powerful. At all levels it can attract or repel. Great ideas, when stepped down, may still have a lingering smell of their original truth, but as they become ideals and then idols, that same smell can turn rotten. All Knowledge turns into half-baked truths. Or, that All Knowledge may be stepped down into flat out distortion and misdirection. How then, do we present spiritual truths so they remain inclusive (all knowledge) and not partial? How do we keep the original purity of the smell from becoming diluted or faded? Surely, the capacity to both lift into the realm of All Knowledge, and to keep that as much in tact as we can when moving about in the manifest world, must be a challenge. Yet, both are challenges we seem to need to master if we are to use the sense of smell — well!
One final note: Before I close out the commentary on higher and lower psychic powers, I wanted to include something from Integral. It is their Quadrant chart. Though I have no intention to discuss it here, I invite those of you who are so inspired to consider that any smell might be placed at the intersecting point of the Quadrant, and then evolved up the four levels. For example, hearing. We could look at how we hear things on a personal subjective level (Quadrant I: Self and Consciousness). Or, we could investigate the way hearing breaks down by examining the structure of the inner ear and so forth (Quadrant IT: Brain and Organism). We might then go on to explore how what people hear, or listen to impacts them on a collective level (Quadrant WE: Culture and Worldview). Finally, we could look at the larger global impact of sound as a whole (Quadrant ITS: Social System and Environment). Have fun with that adventure in discovery. Feel free to post a response if you have attempted to work any of that out.
Have comments, questions, suggestions? They will be posted so long as they are civil and expand the discussion.
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