Sep 04, 1994 06:08 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins
N> TO Bill and Jerry S. and Jerry HE re Jungian/theosophic
> I too resonate to the psychological interpretations that are
> current these days and have a real curiosity about how to
> explain the concepts of the subconscious, unconscious etc using
> the 7-fold model. Any thoughts?
I think the problem has partly to do with our getting lost in
words, and partly to do with the obstacle that standard main line
psychology is far more limited in its area of inquiry than the
area covered by the seven principles. Another problem has to do
with the depth of understanding of the audience to whom we would
want to "explain" the concepts to concerning both the seven
principles and of psychology.
Putting aside the more fringe schools like "psychosynthesis" and
the "third force" schools that are more heavily influenced by
"new age" thinking than the other way around, psychology limits
itself to considerations that correspond to kama-manas downward.
Of course, we also have to keep in mind that HPB was writing in a
pre-Freud era, therefore we can't expect her to use Freudian or
Jungian jargon. However, we have recently run across a
psychology text published in 1869 that turns out to be quite a
revelation as to how consistent HPB's language was to the
psychological jargon of her time. Further, we are also fortunate
that the basic issues that "psychology" (or "mental philosophy"
as they called it then) was concerned with in HPB's time are
primarily the same as those issues that the psychoanalytic
movement struggles with today. The major difference today is
that psychology is now treated as a science, where in HPB's time
it was treated as a philosophy. In her writings, HPB does use
the words "consciousness," "unconscious," "memory,"
"reminiscence," "intellect," "sensation," "will" etc. all of
which were used in pre-Freudian psychology and carry much the
same overall meanings then as they do today. Therefore, I think
we can look at HPB's teachings concerning psychological issues as
just using a different philosophical models to explain the same
I think the most important differences between HPB and the modern
schools of psychoanalysis concerns the basic suppositions about
the origin and nature of consciousness. For the main line modern
schools, consciousness is still assumed to be a product of the
brain, and current research leans towards the idea of it being
molecular in origin.
For HPB, consciousness as we experience it, is that which is
impressed upon the physical brain, but consciousness in its
broader sense goes beyond the molecular, though she did speak of
molecular activity as being evidence of (physical) consciousness.
HPB also defined fourteen basic fields of consciousness that are
within our possibilities of experience. Each field has infinite
subdivisions, thus we never return to exactly the same state of
consciousness at any two instances in our life. An analogy that
occurs to me is the river that flows by. Thus we can never step
into the same water twice.
As for "subconscious," Freud originally used the term
"preconscious" (See Interpretation of Dreams: pub. in 1900),
which not only predated Freud, but is still used in the French
school (Lacan). However the difference between subconscious and
preconscious has more to do with the shift in context between
Freud's original and revised model. In Freud's early model, he
was concerned with how the unconscious and preconscious process
information. Here, Freud saw the preconscious connecting
memories together logically and chronologically, thus implying
(but never stated) a linguistic structure to the preconscious.
His later theory Freud switched from the "conscious;
preconscious; unconscious" model, to the "ego; Id; superego"
model. Freud's "unconscious" is unstructured, but still holds
personal memories that rise to the subconscious from time to
HPB's use of the word "unconscious" is the same as Freud's only
so far as it is defined as that which is not conscious. However
Freud's model of the dynamics of the unconsciousness is much
different from HPB's.
That brings us to Jung, who subdivided the unconscious into a
personal and collective unconscious. Within the collective
unconsciousness are collective images from humanities past
experiences. This idea seems to be identical to HPB's teaching,
though for the term "collective unconsciousness" she used the
term "collective consciousness" with the same meaning. However,
HPB's use of the term "consciousness" here is much broader than
Jung's and includes realms that Jung would call unconscious.
As for HPB's seven fold model, the modern mainline psychoanalytic
movement is primarily concerned with what HPB covers in
kama-manas downward. This is because, as HPB pointed out; the
ordinary person "has no experience of any state of consciousness
other than that to which the physical senses link him." (SD II:
701). The higher states of consciousness that do not register on
the brain, are the same as complete unconsciousness to us, and
are ordinarily "experienced" in very deep sleep, but not
Obviously just the few ideas here could expand into a whole book,
but I hope that these few words will serve as food for thought
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