One Flower Opens
Articles By Piero Ferrucci - From What We May Be
At some times in our life a mysterious inner barrier loosens, and we experience directly that which we have been yearning for or vaguely felt or perhaps just heard about or never surmised at all. In that incompatible moment the most exquisite, the most prodigious flow of realization enters our awareness: we have contacted the highest realm of our being, our superconscious.
"It all happened in a second, but it was the most important moment of my life," says a woman reporting such an experience. "This was Reality. I had been through a long sleep and suddenly woke up. There was this overwhelming love, and it wasn't I who was very loving, or something that was loving me, love itself was just there. Even the air seemed to be alive, the nothingness seemed to be scintillating with this love. It all suddenly made sense." And the practical consequences were certainly no less intense than the subjective feeling. This woman, who had been refusing to feed herself for several months and was on the point of dying of starvation, decided to start eating again after this experience and gradually regained her health.
Even though these phenomena are intrinsically valuable and practically relevant, for years they have been excluded from the study of psychology and relegated to the supernatural, explained away as pathological, or dubbed self-suggestion. Rarely have they been studied as natural facts, as we can study a leaf, for instance, a bird, or a planet. Fortunately, in more years studies have been published giving more satisfactory descriptions and explanations, and research has shown how superconscious or transpersonal states are not the monopoly of a few, but rather common occurrence in the life of many. However, we are still far from being able to answer fully some fundamental questions concerning transpersonal states. For example, how do they manifest themselves? What influence can they have on the psyche? What is their meaning and function in human existence? What are the laws that govern them? Which techniques can be used to evoke them? Answering these questions is certainly an enormous task, and the consideration in this chapter and the next ones very far, of course, from being exhaustive are an attempt to formulate a few working hypotheses.
We can perhaps start by pointing out how inadequate it is to believe, as it is sometimes implied, that there is a single stable state of "enlightenment" or "liberation," to be reached once and for all and to be enjoyed permanently. I particularly recall that when I tackled Assagioli on this point he replied, smiling: "Life is movement, and the superconscious realms are in continuous renewal. In this adventure we move from revelation to revelation, from joy to joy. I hope you do not reach any 'stable state.' A 'stable state' is death."
To understand how this is the case, it is sufficient to consider a few of the nearly infinite variety of forms which superconscious experiences are reported to take:
The sudden solution of a difficult problem
Seeing one's life in perspective and having a clear sense of purpose
A transfigured vision of external reality
The apprehension of some truth concerning the nature of the universe
A sense of unity with all beings and of sharing everyone's destiny
An extraordinary inner silence
Waves of luminous joy
A deep feeling of gratefulness
An exhilarating sense of dance
Resonating with essence of beings and things we come in contact with
Loving all persons in one person
Feeling oneself to be the channel for a wider, stronger force to flow through
An intimation of profound mystery and wonder
The delight of beauty
A sense of boundless compassion
Transcendence of time and space as we know them
The rhythm of superconscious experience can also vary greatly. Because of their suddenness and beauty, they are sometimes compared to fireworks or to meteors crossing the night sky, rapidly appearing in all their splendour and then vanishing. At other time, they are more gradual and take the form of an unfolding revelation comparable to a wonderful landscape slowly becoming visible as the fog which concealed it disappears.
It spite of their variability, there seems to be a recurring factor in the transpersonal experiences of people from many cultures, times, and walks of life: a rare glimpse of, or even a full contact with, a timeless essence, a living entity which is perceived as unchangeable, silent, pure being. In psychosynthesis we call this entity the Transpersonal Self. The working hypothesis here is that the Transpersonal Self is at the core of the superconscious, just as the personal self, or "I," is at the core of the ordinary personality.
However we may want to classify them, superconscious or transpersonal experiences are facts. It would be hard to deny their reality while so many people bear witness to their existence. But what is their meaning? Why do they exist? Are they exceptional or random or, perhaps, even bizarre and abnormal manifestations of the human mind?
Of the many answers given to these questions, possibly the most reasonable explanation of transpersonal experiences maintains that they represents the next steps in the course of our human evolution. This was already the thesis of Richard Maurice Bucke's book, Cosmic Consciousness.
Comparing evolution to a growing tree, Bucke says:
We know that the tree has not ceased to grow, that even now, as always, it is putting forth new buds, and that the old shoots, twigs, and branches are most of them increasing in size and strength. Shall their growth stop today? It does not seem likely. It seems more likely that other limbs and branches undreamed today shall spring from the tree, and that the main trunk which from mere life grew into sensitive life, simple consciousness, and self-consciousness shall yet pass into still higher forms of life and consciousness.
Similarly, Teilhard de Chardin claimed that biological evolution the version prevailing since Darwin's day is only an aspect of the "mighty tide" of the evolution of consciousness, bringing humankind towards the "interminably and understructibly new." More recently, Abraham Maslow saw "peak experiences" and "meta needs"( needs for beauty, love, truth, justice, order, and so on) as being the highest part of nature and the most recent acquisition in our inner evolution. He claimed that they should be seen as aspects of human biology, and that they should not be the object of the scientific study. "The spiritual life," he said, "is part of our biological life. It is the 'highest' part of it, but yet part of it."
It is difficult to argue with total certainty that humanity is evolving and concentration camps, nuclear weapons, the horrors of war, the unequal distribution of wealth, don't help prove the point. But we can surely agree that single human beings can grow. Their awareness can expand into realms that they experience as intrinsically valuable, that have a dimension of universality, that evoke mystery and wonder, and that posses a revelatory, healing, and transforming power. Superconscious experiences are subjectively felt as a step forward in personal evolution, as a wonderful unfolding of what was previously existent only in a potential state.