authored by Martin Euser
Vitvan's psychology in a nutshell
Summary: This article deals with Vitvan's description of functional activities (psychology) which forms an integral part of his new Gnosis. Some keywords: frequency registration, levels of development of awareness, objective manifold of values (objective consciousness), threefold division of the human being, Autonomous Field, vital-dynamism, psycho-dynamism, Mind-level dynamism (motivating factors), semantic blockages, gunas.
Note that the School of the Natural Order has given me permission to use the diagrams, figures, etc., from Vitvan's writings by word of Pat Murray, for which I thank him and the staff of the School. Also, Juan Schoch (aka PC93 - Pharaoh Chromium 93) deserves a lot of credit for his past work since it is from his site (two years ago) that I've downloaded all the diagrams that you find in my articles on Vitvan.
Vitvan deserves a wider audience and if my articles about him and his teachings contribute a little bit in popularizing some of his ideas drawn from the perennial philosophy, or Gnosis, then these articles will have served their purpose.
Note that I will use my knowledge and experience pertaining to these matters in order to elaborate a bit on Vitvan's ideas and to provide some additional insights. Thus, this article is a reflection of how I understand Vitvan's teachings and how I place his insights into the larger framework that one can call the Hermetic body of teachings, including parts from Kabbalistic traditions, Gnosis, Alchemy, Theosophy (*1), Rosecrucians, Sufism, Buddhism, Vedanta, esoteric Christianity, etc., etc.
Where you see square brackets some explanatory text has been interspersed by me in order to clarify the meaning of a word or phrase.
Note (*1) (Theosophy: a term coined by Ammonius Saccus, the great synthesizer of occult knowledge in the second century AD)
Science and philosophy have their place as well, of course, in this body of teachings.
In addition, I want to say that I find it rather childish for anyone to consider his or her School or tradition as the best one, superior to any other school, tradition, etc. I have encountered such opinions too often and perceive these as crystallizations in the thought-process.
One of Vitvan's greatest contributions to the Gnosis (sometimes called "perennial philosophy" or "Hermetic philosophy") is his inclusion of psychology into his body of teachings, enabling Western people to better understand what these teachings are all about.
In addition, he incorporated some ideas from physics into his work, notably the concept of a field about which I will have to say some things too. The integration between physics and psychology has been pleaded in favor of by Dion Fortune (author of Mystical Kabbalah) and I wholeheartedly agree that there are many analogies between physical and psychological processes. Some examples will be given by me later on in this article, or my next one.
Of course, providing referents for the terms used is a practice about which Vitvan is meticulous. I have provided an introduction to Vitvan's use of general semantics in the first article in the Highlights series and I will follow his approach as far as possible, often referring to Vitvan's writings and lectures. The main focus of this article will be, however, on Vitvan's psychology in relation to the Gnosis. While on this topic, it may interest readers to know that one of Vitvan's students, Alta LaDage, has written a book on the relation between Qabala and psychology titled "Occult Psychology". This is available on the web.
OK, let's start with a look at the following diagram:
Diagram 1: Autonomous Field, Psyche and Outer Configuration
(From Vitvan's book/lectures on "Functional activities")
Diagram 1 shows four basic levels in which a human being can be divided:
Mind or Autonomous Field
Higher psyche or human soul
Lower psyche or animal soul
Physiological organism ('body') or outer representation
I will discuss these levels using material from Vitvan's "Practice of the Way", "Functional Activities" and "The Christos", using some quotes to acquaint you with his style of writing and with his approach to the topics discussed here.
Note that levels two and three are often taken together as the psyche, leaving us with a threefold division of the human being.
The Autonomous Field is likened by Vitvan to an electromagnetic field. You all know the picture of a magnet with its positive and negative poles, and the lines of force flowing between these poles. Put a piece of paper on the magnet, scatter iron filings upon the paper, gently tap on the paper and you will see the iron particles align themselves along the lines of force. That provides a graphic image of the power of an electromagnetic field. Now, did you actually see the electromagnetic force? No, you didn't. What you saw was the effect of the force-pattern on the iron particles. In an analogous manner the Autonomous Field has its patterns, which form the basis for the formation of the various vehicles (psyche, 'body', etc.).
Remember, we single quote the word 'body' because we cannot find a suitable referent for it.
In his book 'Practice of the Way', Vitvan stresses the importance of looking at our 'bodies' as something different than a 'thing', an 'object'. He proposes to use the phrases 'bundles of forces', 'configuration of units of energy' instead of the word 'body'. You can use these phrases as an exercise to make yourself aware of the fact that 'this body' is an energy-system, a bundle of forces, configured in living matter. Vitvan explains that the human nervous system can't register the high rate of incoming light-particles. Instead it forms "gestalts", images appearing substantive in the psyche (see Vitvan's books "The Christos", "Veil of Maya").
Instead of separate points of light, contours of 'objects' are being perceived by the human eye and 'objects' appear to be solid, massive.
Back to the Autonomous Field: the word "autonomous" means independent, self-contained. Vitvan adds to his description of the Field the terms "Self-luminous Light", "a Self rolling wheel", and says that "the Higher Self, the True Self represents autonomous function".
When you grow into that consciousness of the Self you will depend less and less on the opinion of others. You don't need the approval of another anymore.
The Autonomous Field should not be identified with the nervous system or any other part of the physiological organism, Vitvan says. It can function independently of the 'body' and the psyche. It is made of a substance called "Light" or "Mind". The capital letters indicate a difference with the lower case terms. Ordinary light is not meant, nor the brain-mind or cortical intellect. In theosophical terms, this Light is also called Buddhi. It is a radiant, conscious substance, through which the Self (Atman or ray from Logos) is active.
The Self is also called "The-Power-To-Be-conscious" in Vitvan's teachings. It's called that way because this Power is in a state of development, not yet fully expressing Itself on the levels of psyche and the 'body'. This Power is self-evident as Vitvan remarks in the following quote:
"when we begin this structure of thought with the statement, "There is a power to be conscious," we challenge you to doubt it, deny it. With what power do you doubt? With what power do you deny? That's the power we're talking about! For going on fifty years I've been shouting that, preaching it. Once I said it to a very brainy man, Count Alfred Korzybski, and he countered, "Oh, the power to be conscious. Why, consciousness itself is nothing but the aggregation of the cellular structure of your nervous system plus its overall unification. And that's what you call consciousness."
Vitvan said to him, "If that is so, how does it come about that an abstract quality such as fear, terror, or love--to name a few--can bring about such drastic changes as the rechemicalization of one's whole system? Let us take just one quality, terror. There are many cases on record where sudden and instantaneous terror has turned dark hair gray in an instant. So what is the implication? That water cannot rise above its own level. If consciousness were nothing else but the aggregation of the cellular structure of the natural system plus its organization, if that's the referent for the word consciousness, then there isn't any abstract quality that could rechemicalize and reverse the situation."
Regarding the Autonomous Self, Vitvan says: "in its individualizing-self or field there is one center through which the consciousness, the Power-to-be-conscious, sees, hears, smells, tastes and touches. When that Power-to-be-conscious in its Autonomous-Field Self comes into earth-life, the physiological organism is developed as a representation of the structural pattern of the field. So that we can say, the physiological organism is an exteriorization, a representation of the pattern of the Field in Mind-substance".
In other words, the 'body' is essentially made in the image of the Self, albeit that it may not be perfect. The same remark can be made regarding the psychic nature, although that nature has particularly become polluted with thwarted desires during the evolutionary process. But that's another story about which you can read more in Vitvan's books/lectures "Functional activities" and "The Christos".
Ok, we have discussed three factors now: Autonomous Field, psychic nature and configuration.
The 'body' or the configuration of units of energy into forms "stands as representative of the total content of the psychic-nature"
Vitvan likes the term "psycho-logical processes" or "psycho-logical studies" which are described by him thus: "how one feels, why he feels; how one desires, why he desires; how one loves, why he loves (the necessity--for "why" means the necessity to love); how one thinks and why he thinks; we can group these together and add sensation functioning. Sensation functioning in feeling, sensation functioning in desiring, sensation functioning in loving and in thinking. Gather those up and make a synthetical picture and say - qualities or gunas of the psycho-logical processes or functions of the psychic-nature. The term, psycho-logical processes (remember that means from sensation to thinking) is what we call the content of the psychic-nature, but the introduction of the term will cause beginners in this study to feel at home, if they are well read in modern psychological, psychiatric literature and practices. But the point for students in this school is to constantly remember that the configuration is nothing except the representation, the representation of qualities, gunas, content of the psychic-nature"
Then he goes on describing psychosomatic diseases of which the cause should be treated instead of only relieving the symptoms. He says: "By going into the content of the psycho-logical processes, that is, the content of the psychic-nature, you will find the cause of what is represented in the configuration".
I like to comment that that is per definition true for psychosomatic diseases, but there are also environmental factors that may have a profound effect on one's health and state of the 'body': pollution of water, nuclear fall-out, food additives, etc. This could lead to somato-psychological disorders where outside factors influence the health of the nervous system and one's well-being. It's a two-way street: 'body' and psyche influence each other.
Also, there's the point that tendencies built in former lives may configure into one's body, build into one's gene-structure and into one's psychic nature. Those in objective identification, identified with the image-appearing-substantive in the psyche will deny this, but that means nothing to the perceiver of the natural order process.
Besides the configuration and the psychic-nature one can discover a third factor.
Vitvan asks: "What causes the psychic-nature to perk? What makes it function? What motivates it? What causes it to operate?". He answers: "there is a power with which you feel, desire, love, think, etc. THERE IS A POWER WITH WHICH YOU ARE CONSCIOUS. YOU CAN DENY EVERYTHING IN THIS UNIVERSE, EVEN THAT THERE IS A GOD, BUT YOU CANNOT DENY THE POWER WITH WHICH YOU DENY. Try to deny the power with which you deny, or with which you act or affirm or believe, and you will see we have the third factor; WE HAVE THE POWER-TO-BE-CONSCIOUS. "
"Then we turn to the power with which one is conscious and we find that it is a certain activity, motion. This steps us up to a higher level of course, because IT IS THE POWER THAT MOTIVATES--WHAT? MOTHER-SUBSTANCE, LIGHT-ENERGY-LIVING-MATTER".
"The Mother" symbolizes Light-energy, from which etheric-substance, protoplasm, cytoplasm, configurated energy, in units that we label atoms, develop. We can think of all of that 'matter' as a referent for the word "Mother."
Another referent for "The Mother" or nature is that which gives birth, because nature seen as a cosmic process constantly gives birth to new forms, new manifestations. This includes the process called 'death' or 'dying' because it is essentially a change in the state in which the Power-to-be-conscious is aware of Itself in the Mother-substance.
Vitvan uses the term "mattergy" to describe the mother-substance in living-energy, living-matter. He says that he has been describing "how the evolutionary process is merely a metamorphosing process of Light into energy and energy into living-matter; and the return, living-matter into energy and energy into Light" You will sometimes see the term "lightergy" used by him as descriptive of Light-energy substance. Light is meant here as the Light of the Logos - where the Logos is the result of the working of the Power-to-be-conscious in the Light-Mother or Aditi [a Sanskrit word].
In Vedic literature one encounters frequently the terms "gunas". A little explanation is in order as this is a very important concept in Vitvan's description of the Gnosis. Traditionally there is mention of three gunas, or qualities, in nature: sattva (harmony, balance), rajas (activity), and tamas (passivity, inertialness, resistance). One can apply these qualities to all processes in the manifest universe, including fields such as physics, psychology, biology, etc.
Gottfried de Purucker (G. de P.), an eminent contributor to the wisdom-literature, has elaborated a bit on the gunas in his "Dialogues of G. de P."
He makes a subdivision of the gunas in order to clarify the interrelationship between them.
For example, traditionally the tamas-guna is seen as inferior, being associated with qualities such as passiveness, laziness, etc. But this is really a simplification of matters, as one can see when one considers qualities such as onepointedness, steadiness, etc. He says that in such a case the tamas-guna has an aspect of sattva displayed. In other words, he subdivides the gunas in such a way that each guna has the three phases sattva, rajas and tamas. Rajas-guna can have a sattva-aspect (for example: quick action to save a drowning person) and sattva guna can have tamasic qualities (meditating while one got stuck on the railroad is not a very good idea..).
And so forth.
I'll close this part with an observation of Vitvan which I can confirm:
Misleading tendency in some New Age circles discussed
For some reason, unclear to me, a tendency can be observed in some New Age circles to think that development of consciousness is all sweetness and light. Nothing could be further from the truth as all serious students on the Path know. When one begins to make some progress with development of the higher psyche, there will be struggles of a psychological nature within one's constitution. Vitvan describes this struggle eloquently in his work "The Christos" where he mentions the expurgation of the tamasic qualities in one's nature. Bad tendencies will have to be changed into constructive ones, energies will have to be re-canalized.
Vitvan uses the analogy of an electromotor with the thinking process and says that when you want to stop an electromotor you simply switch off the power. You don't try to stop the motor with your hands, you don't fight it.
He adds that you should focus attention on the motivating force behind the form or expression when you want to change a habit. Don't fight the expression, but use the force behind the expression (thought, act, speech, etc.) for constructive, creative purposes.
This amounts to the same method as I described in Theosophy Basics, part two, where the use of positive thinking is described to re-canalize one's thinking process.
In addition I want to state that development of consciousness is not an isolated affair of the individual. We are all integrated into a field of consciousness Vitvan calls "the race-psyche".
Development by interaction is most natural and necessary. The life of the recluse is essentially selfish, because mostly limited to the development of one person. That kind of development will get stuck, sooner or later, however lofty the state of consciousness reached may seem to be.
Blavatsky hints clearly at this in her work "The Secret Doctrine" where she says that no-one can attain enlightenment without having helped at least some other fellow humans to grow in understanding respecting the Cosmic Process. This is natural order process. All is inter-linked and interwoven in the web of life.
Also, development is never a flight from reality. Vitvan says:
In our School we say--"Only as one fulfills the state in which he is now conscious of himself can he expand his consciousness beyond that state." Be true to yourself and fulfill the process. The One who represented the Power in earth life [the biblical Jesus] said, "I come not to destroy the law of the orderly process (we say, the natural order) I come to fulfill"; and we put great emphasis upon fulfillment to prevent flights from reality, to prevent running away, creating an escape mechanism, in the guise of trying to get into a higher level of consciousness, getting away from it all, etc.. We have to stand and face the music, play every note of it--fulfill it all. I stress this so that new students in our work will not get the idea that we are going to help them take a flight.
That ends this part of Highlights (2). Next will be motivating factors, semantic blockages and some analogies between psychological processes and physical processes.