A Divine Becoming

This post is a reaction to reading Ken Wilber’s Developmental Sequence of Meditation that flows through the states of Psychic, Subtle, Casual, and finally Non Dual. I encourage you to read it first and have faith that if you can quiet the “monkey mind”, you can avoid the distractions that will try to prevent you from making it back to my post.  http://integrallife.com/member/ken-wilber/blog/stages-meditation-interview-ken-wilber

I really like parts of this. I want to like all of it, but I can’t.

The metaphysics just don’t resonate with me. I feel glimpses. I agree with the direction. But then when the statements crystallize it feels wrong and empty. It feels like it is searching for something that is not there.

It is more evolved than “Magic“, but I feel Magic Residue.

I can quiet my monkey mind. I can rest in emptiness and death. I can close my eyes and feel absolute silence. But I just don’t see the Divine there.

I have felt ecstatic feelings of oneness and wholeness before, but they fade. The emotional rushes seem to only occur for me when I discover something new. It’s the reward and excitement of a new developmental wave crashing to the shore of my awareness. But if I try to recreate the wave, to surf it again, the feeling is not as intense. I like that I cannot return. It makes sense. A reward for progress that is ephemeral removes the temptation of complacency, aligning the whole system for further growth and expansion. Happiness and bliss are not the destination. Rather they serve as feedback mechanisms that journeyer is journeying down the right path.

I think as I explore, what I don’t like here is an implied sense of Pre-Determinism. A sense that we are expanding into shapes that already exist. Potentials already fully incarnated, just waiting for us.

There’s an attribution of Divinity, of Spirit, of Self, of Wholeness to the past. There’s an implication that these things have always been whole and full. And it seems the mental models here often rest on conceptions of the infinity, totality, and purity of the Big Bang. But it feels like this model begins to crumble if the assumption that there was nothing before the big bang is wrong. And I believe that to have a significant probability after diving deeply this past year into John Smart’s work on developmental cosmology and developmental cosmic intelligence. It is one of the most beautiful synthesis I’ve seen of the Lower Right and integrates well with many other dimensions or lines I have been exploring in the Lower Right Quadrant and in the other three.

I believe the implications of this collapsing belief is that ideals like Spirit, Self and God are no longer seen as if they already exist. Instead they are seen as ideals unfolding into existence. God comes at the end, not the beginning. It is a process of asymptotical becoming.

All we can awaken to are the potentials that have already arisen. To go further we must create. We must build. We must transcend. We must continue to evolve and develop. Awakening just to where we are and where we have been is beautiful at first, but becomes stale if it is not seen in the perspective of what we can become. When I see how much room we have to grow and I feel that growth happening, the edge being pushed, that is what gives me a new ecstatic rush of the Divine, The Spirit and The Self. I am not tapping into a “whole” or an “infinity” that already exists, I am approaching wholeness. We all are. Our consciousness, our body, our community, our ecosystem approaching wholeness together.

They did not start out whole. They started out with the potential for wholeness. With the Big Bang a seed was planted. But the seed was not the tree of life. The seed was the potential for the tree of life. And now that tree blossoms. Expanding at an accelerating rate into the unknown. That dance, that movement forward, is the expression and the becoming of the Divine.

  • ShutUp
    December 30, 2011

    What the fuck are you talking about?

  • Jeff Bellsey
    December 30, 2011

    Max, I love your struggle with this question. I offer you two further breadcrumbs on your search, and you may have already encountered them.

    The first is a talk by Sam Harris on happiness and spiritual experience (http://youtu.be/SpaVLLObU80). This talk was excerpted from a conference of atheists in ’07. So it’s a bit of a beginner talk, but nevertheless: he starts from the perennial question of whether happiness can *precede* and therefore be *independent of* any temporal or material change (sense pleasure, creative success, etc). It’s a wonderful talk by someone who has depth in both the creative and the still.

    The second is a TED talk by Daniel Kahneman (http://bit.ly/tckdrh). In it he draws the distinction between two essential selves: the experiencing self and the remembering self. One could use this distinction as a reference point from which to interpret the progression Wilber describes (or Kegan in CDT – http://bit.ly/vVtTpi). I hope this talk sparks something for you, as it has for me.

    • Max Marmer
      December 31, 2011


      Thanks for sharing these talks. They both were great. Though I think both were only mildly associated with the specific ground I was exploring in this post, mainly because I’m no longer married to spiritually-averse atheistic rationalism, although I was at some points in the last 2-3 years, and because I don’t believe happiness is the goal. 

      I really like the Experiencing Self Vs. Remembering Self dichotomy, and it’s further evidence that we need to stop seeing ourselves as one “I’ but rather a mind that is collection of many different parts often in conflict. 

      I was reading the abstract of a neuroscience paper recently that used similar language. From the abstract: “”To characterise these two aspects of awareness, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine monitoring of enduring traits (’narrative’ focus, NF) or momentary experience (’experiential’ focus, EF)”

      Here’s the paper – Attending to the present: mindfulness meditation reveals distinct neural modes of self-reference (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2566754/)

      In Sam Harris’ talk his cadence strangely resembled Peter Thiel’s very closely, as well as Reid Hoffman’s. I wonder if there’s some pattern around a worldview inducing a particular way of speaking. 

      And with respect to his points about finding bliss retreating to the cave in solitude, I think David Deida is wise to point out that this type of endeavor is strictly a masculine expression. A feminine exploration beyond a life of “reiterating our pleasures” would be pursued more communally and in energetic fullness, rather than expansive emptiness. 

  • Shane Lofgren
    January 5, 2012

    Hey Max, I stumbled across your blog in my Google Reader not too long ago and recently have been reading through your posts when I have a spare minute.  You do an excellent job of aggregating and distilling good ideas from a wide variety of sources that I never encounter otherwise and adding your own worthwhile analysis.  This post in particular has inspired me to resume my own explorations in meditation that had fallen by the wayside awhile back.

    Thanks, and keep it up.