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Double-Helix: A New Model for Developmental Psychology click here homework help accounting online quality assurance assistant resume samples follow url it cover letter for resume go to site business plan writing services in kenya prescription order viagra online narrative writing essays term paper breast cancer here viagra for sale in australia essay helper paragraph is viagra under the counter 100 best college essays droga parecida al viagra pay for my dissertation essay creator online excite a homework help site click essay about life challenges comprar viagra online en usa go help writing papers resume software engineers go here ubuntu 8 10 kinit no resume image Double-Helix:  A New Model of Developmental Psychology

Peter A. Kirkup

P.O. Box 188206, Sacramento, CA  95818

Ever since patterns of development have been identified, models of development have emerged and been articulated.  The “vertical spiral” model is the most common since the 1970’s, providing the flexibility to incorporate diverse research findings.  Using rarely reported findings from the history of developmental psychology, the author proposes a new model for the field. A double-helix model enriches the vertical spiral by tracking the interactions of conscious and sub-conscious perceptions and ideas, capturing the texture of everyday experience and its cognitive ambiguities and emotional ambivalences.  Additional benefits of the double-helix model include:  1)  key developmental pivots are more clearly identified within a larger pattern (such as the inter-relationships between savoring skills and coping skills); 2)  the role of language in human development is more fully appreciated, particularly in relation to the self-control skills that are essential for adult happiness; 3)  the place of spirituality is explicitly integrated, throughout the life-span and beyond formal operations.  These findings support some of the neglected features of the developmental psychologies of Jerome Bruner and Jane Loevinger.

Keywords:  developmental models, double helix pattern, Jerome Bruner, language development, 

spiritual development, gratitude

This article serves as a review of the history and philosophy of the field of developmental psychology and develops and details a model that makes a theoretical course-correction in line with an admission made by Jean Piaget in a little-cited letter about Lev Vygotsky’s work (1962).  Because the field has ignored Piaget’s 1962 admission that he would have changed his theory in 1934 if he had read Vygotsky’s work back then, the cognitive-constructivists have populated a theoretical branch that is no longer on the main developmental trunk, and have lost contact with the higher limbs that have become apparent to those not constrained by Piaget’s cognitive 


The model presented here makes the explicit assumption that learning and development are intuitive and spontaneous processes that involve both the conscious and subconscious aspects of social interactions.  First, the model will be set in its historical context, then the main features of the model will be described.  Next, the contents of the model will be outlined, and then the model will be compared to the ideas of Piaget, while  highlighting the benefits of the model in relation to controversies in the field.

Models of Change in Development

Humans have always attempted to make sense of the world, in order to predict and influence matters of relevance to survival and happiness.  Over time, different models of change have implicitly or explicitly dominated prognostications.  The first models were circular, based on the recurrence of seasons in the agricultural cycle.  As civilizations advanced, linear models became more prominent (particularly in the “West”) to account for developments beyond the revolving changes in the circular model.  But, the accuracy of linear progression models becomes hard to maintain, given the twists and turns of development and regressions in the normative 


Two models seem to address these contradictions: 1)  the ladder (or staircase) model — which provides foot-holds to prevent severe regression, and resting places on the way up, and 2) the “vertical spiral” model (personal communication, Cook-Greuter, 1-11-2017, Menlo Park) — which incorporates “twists and turns” into the pattern.  Most models of developmental 

psychology in recent decades, explicitly or implicitly, have been based on the vertical spiral model, tracing consciousness and cognition through stages and levels (thus, incorporating the “ladder” model), as the mind becomes more complex and mature.  (Fowler’s depiction from his  1981 book is shown below.)

However, the problem with the vertical spiral model is that it can be disorienting, in the sense that, as one moves up and revolves on the spiral, there is an impulse to “look over one’s shoulder” to see what lurks there.  This can be considered a metaphor for the subconscious.  Adding a second side to the spiral would help to track the sub-conscious information through the developmental process (also referred to as implicit “background” in relation to the explicit “foreground” of consciousness).  Thus, a double spiral, or double-helix, model is suggested here.

When tracking the conscious and subconscious sides of the spiral, it becomes apparent that there are two types of conscious strands and two types of subconscious strands, and that, at certain junctures in development, they switch places in a recurring pattern (more circles within the larger pattern).  Those two types of consciousness are affirmation and negation.  Here is how they work:

Elements of the Double-Helix Model

This section will detail the dynamics of the elements of the model:  sub-consciousness, consciousness of the world, and consciousness of the self.  In this context, the sub-conscious is similar to the concepts of the tacit dimension (Polanyi, 1966), the implicate order (Bohm, 1980) and the collective unconscious (Jung, 1936).  

In the history of developmental psychology, researchers in the Freudian psychoanalytic tradition study the development of emotions, with an emphasis on instinctual processes (oral, anal, phallic), while researchers in the Piagetian constructivist tradition study the development of cognitive processes (sensori-motor, pre-operations, concrete operations, formal operations).  At the same time, the cognitive-behavioral and systems theory traditions of clinical psychology, along with social learning theory, have used the ways that thoughts, behaviors, and feelings 

interact, in order to help clients resume a normal developmental trajectory.

The double-helix model integrates the cognitive, emotional, and social aspects of 

development into one “cognitive spinal cord” (Bhuwan Joshi, PhD, Spring 1977, Santa Cruz). It is based on the circadian rhythm as the context for learning by the newborn, where daytime sights and sounds become distinct and familiar, and sleep restores the nerves and stores the memories.  The visual graphic is depicted in profile, with the front to the right on the conscious side with the sun (day), and the back to the left on the subconscious side with the moon (night).  As a theory of emergence, the model also considers the relationship between consciousness and sub-consciousness to be one of the relationships between what is explicit and what is implicit:  the explicit emerges from the implicit (and feeds back into the implicit).

Since consciousness emerges from the sub-conscious, the relationship between the two is that of the potential to the actual, the focus to the periphery, etc.  But to get to the specific 

dynamic, we need a good metaphor.  Wittgenstein’s later philosophy provides one.

When questioned about the philosophical underpinnings of their developmental theories, both Jerome Bruner (see 1983, as well as Shotter, 2001), and Jane Loevinger (1983) cited 

Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophical methods.  In this tradition, the double helix model can be described metaphorically by Wittgenstein’s answer to the question:  What is the aim of your 


“To shew the fly the way out of the fly bottle ”  (Philosophical Investigations # 309, pg. 103).

If we identify the world as we know it as the bottle, and the self as the fly, then the aim of philosophy is to escape the limits of the world as we know them.  When we do so, we ultimately find that we have entered a new bottle with its own limits (unless the bottle we are leaving is the material world, itself).

If we track this through development, we first know the world through images, even though the adults around us communicate in symbols.  Once the infant learns the limits of the world-of-images, he seeks to find ways to get to what he wants and away from what he doesn’t and imitates his parents as ways to try to get out of the bottle.

The dynamic of this involves the interplay of consciousness and sub-consciousness.  

Before infants focus explicitly on the self, their sense of self is implicit, sub-conscious, and 

potential.  This implicit sense of self becomes explicit when the infant consciously imitates the parents and crawls and toddles to seek safety and help.

Similarly, during the time that infants are developing their motor skills, the sense of the symbolic is implicit and potential.  The infant imitates speech because he yearns to join the speech (or sign language) community.   He has become a separate body who yearns to belong, once again.  In this way, the fly escapes the bottle, only to later find that the escape is into a bottle with greater scope and elaboration.  Through training, the child is finally triggered into the inspiration that “everything has a name,” and the world becomes filled with objects that have symbolic value and meaning.  The model depicts this general schema in the following ways (reading from the bottom to the top):

Consciousness is yellow (with the daylight of the sun on the right) and sub-consciousness is blue (with the darkness and the moon on the left).  As consciousness emerges from  sub-consciousness, this depiction reveals the circadian rhythm as the basis of human awareness.  The “saw blade” pattern between the conscious and sub-conscious sides shows the continuous interplay between consciousness and sub-consciousness.

Green is for affirmation and a sense of belonging, 

related to the skills of savoring the world (“Go for it!  The world is your oyster!”).  Red is for negation and a sense of separateness, related to the skills of coping (“Stop and think!  Look before you leap!”).  At first, we enter a new bottle with a new sense of hope, and then we find we are a fly trapped in a limited world-view.

In the language of the double helix model, we escape the old bottle by entering a new realm of consciousness, experienced as an inspiration.  Once we realize the limits of the new realm, we are thrown back on ourselves in confusion.  As the “fly” explores the new realm, 

inspiration waxes and then wanes as confusion wanes and then waxes back into consciousness of the self, initiating a “sphere” of development secondary to the initial realm (the “sphere” depicts the self as externalized into consciousness).  In this way, inspiration and confusion form a sine/cosine pattern:

Our consciousness of the world is experienced as a “realm” of awareness, in the sense that it 

initially appears immersive and all-inclusive.  As doubts creep in and eventually mount into 

self-consciousness, the “self” emerges as a limited operator projected into the world of action.

In our ordinary, day-to-day life, our cognitions and emotions are mixed:  reality is 

 ambiguous, and we are ambivalent.  But, when we have an epiphany, we have experiences that are unalloyed.  Rudolph Otto (1954) identified these experiences as having a mystical, or 

“numinous” quality, and he named them mysterium fascinans (the positive experience of 

fascination) and mysterium tremendum (the negative experience of fear that makes us tremble).  Translated into terms suitable for developmental epistemology, the model uses the labels 

“inspiration” and “confusion”.  [“Inspiration” means “breathing in creativity” and ” confusion” means the fusion of mind and body, as in “blushing in embarrassment”]. We are drawn into the world through inspiration; we are thrown back on ourselves in confusion.  

These experiences need not be dramatic and can be quite subtle.  They are more likely to be dramatic if the development comes significantly delayed or at great effort, such as when 

Helen Keller finally acquired language.

On a finer scale, each new way of knowing the world, and subsequently the self, goes through three stages of development:  Formation, when the new way is first realized; 

Comparison, when two or more formed ideas are compared; and Relation, when the ideas 

become coordinated in a system.  A simple, but accurate, example is of the development of the simple declarative sentence:  at first, the “one-word” sentence serves as a holistic symbolic communication, which is then clarified with the “two-word” sentence.  Later, basic syntactic 

categories take over, putting the words into a system which is linguistically called a sentence (e.g. subject-verb-object).  After that, the linguistic knowledge of the world is over-shadowed by the internalization of language, where subjectivity is explored in a similar three-step fashion.

Contents of the Double-Helix Model

A brief description of the four realms and their accompanying spheres of 

self-consciousness are presented here with normal age approximations.  These realms are 

embedded, rather than being separate ways of knowing and, therefore, they continue to add to our experience after we have entered a new realm (albeit more tacitly).

Imaginal (0 to 9 months):  Infants first know the world through the images formed by their senses — they learn how to “pick things out” with their eyes, their ears, their tongues and their noses and fingers.  As more of the world becomes familiar and they bond with their care-giver, infants come to realize unfamiliar things as “strange.”  With the advent of “stranger anxiety” (approximately 9 months of age), infants use their growing physical abilities to seek out the familiar and avoid the unfamiliar.  They prefer to explore the unfamiliar from the secure base of the bond with their care-giver.  Self-consciousness in this realm focuses on the self as agent of actions that have immediate results (9 months to 18 months).

Symbolical (18 months to 3 1/2 years) Infants in the imaginal realm learn how to imitate the words used by those around them before they understand the symbolical power of words.  Once children understand the symbolical nature of words, they enter a whole new realm with new powers.  Words are very effective tools that children use to help them get what they want and need (which helps explain the happy tyranny often referred to as the “terrible twos”).  The fact that most children get through their terrible twos between three and four years of age without significant trauma is a testament to the patience and persistence of most parents.  As a result, children shift from using language for controlling others to internalize language for controlling themselves.  While doing so, children learn modesty, manners, subjective verbs, and 

counter-factual sentences.  Self-consciousness in this realm focuses on the self as a subject whose experience is different from the experience of others:  Junior wants Mommy to clean up after him, but Mommy wants Junior to clean up after himself (3 1/2 years to 7 years).

Cultural (7 years to 12 years) Children and youth in the cultural realm are learning how to be contributing members of society.  Around age seven, children start to apply the self-control they have learned to engage in culturally relevant and expected performances.  In the “Concrete 

Operations” phase (seven to twelve years old) children become increasingly agile at performing increasingly complex routines of various types (anything from multiplication tables to gymnastic routines).  Their focus is on gaining the approval and admiration of others (“Look at me!  Look what I can do!”).  Children who are competent and successful at these tasks tend to have 

excessively high self-esteem.  Puberty is usually sufficient to derail that, but not always.  The abstract abilities of “formal operations” and its associated self-consciousness shifts the focus from “how good are you at doing that?” to “how good is it to do that?”  Actions become


Figure 4:  The model reads from bottom to top, with affirmation and negation emerging from subconsciousness into consciousness, and then submerge back again.

evaluated by principles, and not living up to principles engenders a sense of guilt.  On top of this, principles sometimes contradict one another.  All of this contributes to the notoriously low self-esteem of many adolescents.  Self-consciousness in this realm focuses on the self as character, that is stronger or weaker when compared to others (12 years to adulthood).

Spiritual (18 years to death):  Adults in the spiritual realm are shifting from “either/or” formal logic to “both/and” systemic logic.  It is the difference between a closed, formal system, and an open, dialogic system.  This is generally in line with “dialectical thinking” research, some of which tends to be overly complex and jargon-laden (e.g. Basseches, 1984). Simply stated, this is a realization that we belong to the universe, and we should be grateful, as a result (see Capra & Steindl-Rast, 1991).  The adult realizes this as a mature attitude that cannot be maintained 

naively, and one must be ready to cope flexibly with life’s challenges.  Ultimately, no matter how well life treats a person, the limit on this spiritual way of knowing reality is death itself.  And, for those whom life treats harshly, the ability to maintain a life-affirming stance in the face of evil is a form of spiritual self-preservation.  Self-consciousness in this realm focuses on the self as a steward of creation, both as a creature and as a co-creator, who can discern the difference between humility and humiliation, helping others while sacrificing the self for the common good, when necessary.

(Note:  The spiritual realm is based on spiritual knowledge.  This does not mean that children and youth cannot experience spirituality in life:  the bright-eyed smile of the infant bonding with his mother is an implicitly spiritual experience, but the infant does not have spiritual knowledge, per se).  Generally, the natural curiosity and wonder of children is spiritual in the intuitive sense, and empathy at all ages speaks to our spiritual bonds.  Indeed, our very capacity for joy may be rooted in inspiration and the spiritual aspect of life — intuitive people have a sub-conscious awareness of this, more than that of some of their peers.  It is not a sentimental notion that joy is inherent in life– the literal and emotional labors of mothers attest to this hard truth.  In the end, it is not individuation, alienation, or autonomy that matters, but rather belonging, meaning and bliss (see Hart, 2013).

Developmental Challenges and Adaptive Responses

Outlined below are the developmental challenges presented at each level of development, and the adaptive responses that lead to continued social and emotional growth.  It has similarities to Erik Erikson’s model, but differs in various ways (such as having two stages in infancy — 

image and agent — whereas Erikson has one — basic trust vs. mistrust). 

Imaginal Realm:  Initially, the challenge for the infant is life itself — for the infant to thrive, it must adhere to life.  If the infant’s body or environment are too unhealthy, it can fail to thrive (even with a lack of caregiver bonding, first described by James Bowlby as “hospitalism”).

Next, the infant uses the caregiver attachment as a base to explore the unfamiliar and, possibly, unsafe world.  To do this, the infant needs to be able to “go to” the unfamiliar and “get back” to the caregiver as an agent.  The infant now can begin to regulate the fight or flight instinct and face fear with wariness, as a way to learn about the unfamiliar.

Symbolical Realm:  Language brings the child into the social world of family and visitors, where the child has a “place” to belong.  It is important for the child to persevere in learning 

language and other skills, to thrive in the newly symbolic world.  Parents “bathe” their child in language to boost her learning and ability to belong.

Next, the child learns that his impulsiveness and the expectations of self-regulation (clothing, toilet-training) create challenges to belonging that generate shame.  Through the internalization of language, the child learns how to “stop and think,” in order not to be rude or an 

embarrassment. These self-control skills are crucial to life-long social success (generally referred to as “executive skills”).

Cultural Realm:  School-age children who have sufficient self-control skills can shift their 

attention to fulfill the roles they take or are given.  These roles require that the child promise to learn how to be competent at the tasks involved and promise to perform those tasks when 

expected by the rules of the role (e.g. a student promises his parent to do his homework).  

Children are “enculturated” into these roles and learn them by trusting a mentor.  These 

performances are “concrete operations” — the child has no way of evaluating her performance outside the standards of the performance itself. Other ways of doing things are generally 

considered the “wrong ways.”  Children are learning inductive reasoning at this time — 

generalizing from the particular.

Next, the adolescent discovers that a perfectly competent performance can be wrong because it is evaluated in a different context.  For instance, someone who is good at tricks on the bicycle, and who might be applauded for winning a competition, is likely to get a different response when doing the same tricks on a crowded sidewalk.  He may be sure of his skills for avoiding hitting anyone, but others are likely to be startled, and this could result in an accident.  “Performance artists” tend to become self-centered and thoughtless when they have no awareness, or when they question their own motives.  The abstract skills of “formal operations” allow youth to evaluate their assumptions and beliefs as theories and conceptions, rather than as final and absolute truths.  In a similar way, trust in individual mentors can be challenged or broken by disappointments or betrayals.  Young people are learning deductive reasoning; arriving at particular conclusions based on abstract principles.

Spiritual Realm:  Adults who have established a stable identity and a trustworthy character are often burdened by the demands of their own conscience and by their inflexible problem-solving styles.  This is where the “intuition of being” (Jacques Maritain, 1956) and gratitude (David Steindl-Rast, 1984) become life-savers; when a person doesn’t take anything for granted, 

everything becomes a gift for which to be grateful. This allows one to have faith in humanity, even when trust in an individual has been lost.  It also allows one to entertain, or be entertained by, multiple perspectives which can then help with more imaginative and flexible 

problem-solving styles, and more harmonious relations.  One learns how to be more giving 

without being taken advantage of.  Adults are learning abductive reasoning at this time (see Fann, 1970) — finding patterns between different sets of considerations.  Pattern detection and recognition are the basis of mature discernment.

In the end, we ultimately come up against the final limit—death— no matter how spiritual we have become.  At the same time, many individuals experience the living-death of oppression, imprisonment and torture.  In these circumstances, a strong-hearted spirituality helps provide the discernment to maintain a sense of humor, perceive who is a friend and who is an enemy (or 

untrustworthy), and project forgiveness, (which is a difficult challenge, and not just wishful thinking). Regrets are faced with the perspective that “the only sadness is the sadness of not 

being a saint” (Bloy, 1897), establishing a spiritual resilience that isn’t hampered by unnecessary fear, shame and guilt.  We can see this resilience in the examples of Nelson Mandela (victim of apartheid) and Dietrich Bonhoeffer (victim of the Nazis).

The Double-Helix Model and Piaget’s Genetic Epistemology

Many researchers and theoreticians have followed Jean Piaget’s theory of genetic 

epistemology and its associated concepts of assimilation and accommodation, and the 

constructivist perspective on the development of logical reasoning, without sufficient 

philosophical, theoretical, and empirical  review (to give Piaget credit, his initial findings were so innovative and startling that Einstein called him a genius, making it difficult to dig 

systematically into the many questions posed by his theories).  The double-helix model opens itself up to critical review, extrapolation, and development.

Piaget identified assimilation with Freud’s pleasure principle, and accommodation with Freud’s reality principle (see Vygotsky, 1986, pg. 262).  Although this is similar to affirmation (savoring) and negation (coping), there are significant differences.  Piaget considered 

accommodation as a process of slowly replacing assimilation, as the egocentric child becomes more objective (a gradualist model) — at the same time that the developing person is 

“de-centering” his/her perspective, he/she is also “dis-embodying” his/her thought (making it more abstract — what Kohlberg called “de-ontologizing,” or removing the content from the process analysis).

In contrast, the double-helix pattern has four phases of accommodation, where what is being assimilated are the coping skills themselves (the person is self-consciously focusing on how she is going to cope, rather than on the savoring goal that the coping is meant to 

successfully achieve).  First, by being attracted to sensory images, the infant learns that she needs to move herself as an agent, in order to obtain what she wants.  Next, the young child, now using language, learns that he is a subject of experience different from others’ experiences, and needs to be thoughtful of what he says, and where he does private things.  Further on, the adolescent, having learned to master some of the important performances that are expected by the culture, learns that she will be judged by the content of her character — how she balances self-discipline and self-indulgence (and all the other polarities that confuse the adolescent).  Finally, the adult that has gained a spiritual perspective of gratitude will, at some point, find himself needing to apply the spiritual discernment that is necessary to have good judgment without being 

judgmental, and maintain a life-affirming attitude in the face of adversity.  In Piaget’s model, 

abstract formal operations are the end point — in the double-helix model, formal operations are one domain of character development which is later subsumed under spirituality (if that is achieved).

In the larger picture, Piaget’s epistemology is stuck in the Kantian assumption that all knowledge is gained by the mind’s “invention” (or, in Piaget’s phrase, “to know is to invent”).  In his Insights and Illusions of Philosophy, Piaget puts forward the materialist scientistic view that there is no true wisdom beyond objective scientifically and quantitatively measured 

knowledge, and that objective knowledge will eventually supplant notions of wisdom, making wisdom obsolete (in this, he included both psychoanalytic “instinct” theories and idealistic 

“wisdom” theories as naive and outside scientific consideration).

An alternative view is that knowledge is not only invented, it is also discovered.  In this sense, we not only impose our mind’s templates on reality, but reality itself is open to discovery, in its various aspects.  Moreover, it is the reason that all constructivist models of development (including Lawrence Kohlberg’s and Robert Kegan’s) may be on shaky foundations, because any model that excludes the “logic of discovery” (Karl Popper) is not “true to life” (i.e. consonant with our experience).  This perspective appears to be consistent with Vygotsky’s critique of 

Piaget and Jerome Bruner’s related overview of “The Culture of Developmental Psychology” (1986).  Bruner’s article lays out the range of views on developmental psychology, from the emphasis on instinct, by Freud, to the emphasis on cognition, by Piaget, and finally, to the more balanced view of Vygotsky, that brings body and mind together in intuition and the “zone of proximal development” (the social process of mentoring by parents, teachers, and peers).  Piaget’s 1962 admission that, if he had read Vygotsky’s work in 1934, he would have changed his theory (Vygotsky, 1986, pg. 274-5 n9 and supplement) seems to be generally 

ignored in the developmental literature.

Advantages of the Double-Helix Model

The double-helix model identifies four phases of individuation in the fullest life span:  agency, subjectivity, character, and discernment.  While other models (e.g. Kegan, 1982) identify alternating phases of belonging and autonomy (individuation), the double-helix provides a more holistic, integrated, and detailed perspective.

Two significant controversies in the field of developmental psychology are addressed with the double-helix:  the nature of language and the basis of spirituality. Piaget considered 

language to be secondary to the symbolic function of cognition, whereas Vygotsky considered language to be primary (making symbolization part of a social process).  The double-helix 

perspective and patterns provide evidence that Vygotsky was correct— that symbolization 

develops through adults shepherding infants into the linguistic world (see: March 2011 TED Talk, “The Birth of a Word”, by MIT researcher Deb Roy, as well as Chin, et al. 2012).  The double-helix perspective further emphasizes the importance of the “internalization of language” in thought, a process crucial to self-control and the stage which Loevinger identifies as 


Loevinger’s “self-protective” stage and Vygotsky’s internalization of language are 

considered by Piaget to be “pre-operational,” being in line with Piaget’s dismissive attitude 

toward developments during this stage/period as “egocentric.”  In the same vein, Kegan totally ignores Loevinger’s “self-protective” stage and the executive functioning skills involved.  

For humans as tool-makers, language is the “mother of all tools,” and, if we dismiss its importance, we weaken parents’ and teachers’ abilities to help children gain the “executive skills” they need to become articulate young adults who are able to creatively solve problems.

Before his untimely death in 1987, Lawrence Kohlberg had turned sour on the spirituality studies in which he had engaged with L. Clark Power and James Fowler (see Kohlberg, 1984).  After Kohlberg’s death, spirituality studies died out in the secular academic world of 

developmental psychology, with Power exiting the field within a few years, and with Fowler 

being unable to maintain secular interest in the issue (probably due to his explicit religious 

affiliations).  Kohlberg’s and Power’s writings made important contributions, but they focused on our position in the cosmos, which can seem remote, when considering our down-to-earth 

concerns.  This present focus on spiritual development emphasizes intimacy and gratitude, which may be considered more feminine themes, in contrast to the more masculine concern of our place in the universe.  Joining the two would seem like the best option for success here, with success being defined as generating theories that promote stability of intimate relationships and social harmony, through creative problem-solving.

Recent Research

Language Acquisition

In their review of cutting-edge research on language acquisition and conceptual 

development, Bowerman and Levinson (2001) find that the relation between language and 

cognition is multi-faceted, in a way described by Langer (2001) as “mosaic.”  Other research finds that this “mosaic” supports Vygotsky’s theories that language is primarily communicative (Tomaselo, 2001), and that language enhances and transforms cognition (Gopnik, 2001), rather than just reflecting it.

The perennial question in language development mirrors the nature vs. nurture argument in psychology: Is language primarily learned through experience or is it a biological instinct that is hard-wired into the human brain.  The answer seems to be that it is an instinct that is triggered by social interaction.  The search for language universals has encountered an increasingly 

shortened list of candidates, including the concept of syntax itself (Chomsky’s “deep structure”).  But now, with the help of advanced statistical computations, MIT researchers have helped 

identify what may be the one truly universal language feature called “dependency length 

minimization”, or DLM (Futrell, 2015).

DLM is a technical term which means that speakers arrange words to make their meaning easy for a listener to understand.  For instance, “old lady” gives the listener an idea of who the lady is without first thinking “the lady” is young before later hearing that she is actually old.  This easy ordering of words that are semantically close aids the listener’s short-term memory to be able to focus on the communicative intent, rather than the separate bits of information.  The MIT team sampled 37 languages and found that all were statistically significant for 

“non-randomness” of word order.  This  extensive evidence strongly suggests that the primary function of language is communicative intent, rather than cognitive-mapping of the world.  It is also congruent with the perspective that language not only expresses cognition, but also transforms cognition.  Language’s demonstrated role in memory also highlights the social function of language, in that the ability to recall through linguistic coding makes for a more reliable social partner.

Dan Slobin spent 35 years trying to define the universal generative syntax that would 

account for the language acquisition findings across several languages (Slobin, 2001).  Along with the many researchers trying to define the same universals, he kept finding exceptions to the generative rules they were testing.  The general conclusion in the field now is that syntactic 

devices are not universal generating principles, but common solutions to common problems.  The only word-order universal is: “Say it in a way that makes it easy to understand.”  This was Slobin’s initial theory, and at the end of 35 years of testing the alternatives, he came back to that initial theory—In my end is my beginning” (Slobin, 2001, pp. 442-443).

It is interesting that computers are now necessary to identify the massive bits of 

information needed to clarify the social context of language acquisition (Roy, 2011) and the communicative intent of word-ordering (Futrell, 2015).  No longer can we say that the way 

language is acquired is hidden in “the mists of time” (e.g. Bates. 1976, pg. 72, who uses the “language has no birthday” metaphor).

Being “hidden in the mists of time,”  can mean different things.  One meaning is that it doesn’t really exist except by inference, and that a qualitative shift actually occurs in increments that themselves don’t constitute an “event.”  The other is that the event is elusive but real, 

none-the-less, and that we need more accurate observations to capture it.

There are two ways to capture an elusive event:  1) record things in real-time and then slow-down the recording to analyze the findings, with the help of computers (as with Roy’s MIT TED talk), or 2) study individuals with neurological damage who still manage to achieve a shift, but it would become much more evident because of the length of time it takes to get to that shift.

In the case of language development, the latter was researched by Oliver Sacks in his book, Seeing Voices (Sacks, 1989), about deaf people and their acquisition of Sign Language.  A few things become startlingly clear when someone has no language until later in life (such as Hellen Keller or Ildefonso, pg. 56; see also Schaller, 1991).  First, without language, these 

individuals are isolated, confused, and have a palpable “yearning” for language as the code that needs to be cracked for human communication (pg. 39).  Second, is the realization of the symbolic value of words that comes suddenly, intuitively, and is accompanied with a rush of positive emotion, like escaping from an endless prison sentence.  And last, with both Verbal and Sign languages, the same areas of the brain are used for language development (with Sign Language additionally employing some visual parts of the brain).   Neurological studies show that words are first learned holistically, intuitively and spontaneously, in the right hemisphere of the brain, and are then transferred to the left side of the brain, to develop word order and syntax (pg. 103).  Thus, the one-word sentence is a gestalt for the communicational intent, whereas two-word sentences require an analysis of the way words work together.  This is a neurological depiction of the double-helix model where “symbol formation” pops out of the subconscious into 

consciousness intuitively and is then subjected to word-order cultural communication patterns (“symbol comparison”).


Figure 5:  The entrance into the Symbolic Realm is shown by the green line of affirmation emerging from the subconscious and “popping up” into consciousness, here depicted as a “green button”.


Spiritual Development

1990 was the last year that Lawrence Kohlberg’s associates published articles on 

spirituality and development (see Kohlberg, 1990a & 1990b, as well as Cook-Greuter, 1990), and subsequent efforts have failed to gain the attention of mainstream developmental psychology.  Michael Levenson (2005) wrote the following about the neglect of spirituality studies in 

developmental psychology: “Indeed, this situation perfectly reflects psychology’s discomfort with its most obvious subject matter, conscious experience, in favor of the apparently comforting confines of mechanistic constructs, such as behavior and cognition.”  (pg. 158).  In 2016, Levenson amplified this conclusion by writing: “Given the current focus simply on the development of measures, it is not surprising that, to our knowledge, no longitudinal studies of religious 

development in adulthood exist.”  (pg. 194)

Outside of the academic field of developmental psychology, research on spirituality has continued in the positive psychology movement, especially in relation to wisdom and gratitude (which are the intellectual and emotional doors that open to spirituality in the double -helix 

model).  In practical terms, it is encouraging that Robert Sternberg’s research on wisdom (2005) finds that an essential trait of wisdom is creative problem-solving (see especially Labouvie-Vief, [1990, pg. 75] who correlates creative problem-solving with Loevinger’s stage of autonomy, in which ambiguity is dealt with flexibly, and the capacity for intimacy deepens).  This pragmatic view of wisdom is also shared by the Berlin Wisdom Paradigm (Baltes, 2000).  Some practical approaches to creative problem solving include Donald T. Saposnek’s perspective of Aikido principles guiding professional mediators to be more effective (Saposnek, 1986) and Kirkup’s perspective on forgiveness as an inter-personal value and skill (Kirkup, 1993)

Since the field of developmental psychology appears to have abandoned the study of 

spirituality, we will not go further into the issues involved.  Suffice it to say that, although the study of spirituality is complex and tricky, the ignorance or shunning of spirituality studies has deformed the field, making it too constrained by deductive logic, formal operations and 

quantitative methodologies.

Research Grid

In order to further sort out the details of an optimal life-span developmental pattern, we will employ a research grid, where various research findings are lined up in relation to each 

other.  This methodology built on the initial clinical findings of Andrew Stack Sullivan and Erik H. Erikson and was elaborated by the sentence- completion methodology of Jane Loevinger, and the ethical dilemma interview methodology of Lawrence Kohlberg.

To make the grid fit the real estate of a book page, it has been divided into three 

sections—One grid of major theorists who have studied life-span development, and two smaller grids focusing on infant/child development and adolescent/adult development.  The two smaller grids include more detailed research findings of the major researchers and of the more 

specialized researchers.

This grid includes many of the research studies that lend supporting evidence to the 

accuracy of the Double-Helix model.  Generally speaking, the researcher whose findings carry the most complete set of information relevant to the double-helix model is Jane Loevinger, whose research appears to be the most empirical of the life-span models.  Neither Piaget nor Kohlberg admit to spiritual development beyond formal operations. In contrast, both Kegan and Fowler, although basing their theories on Piaget and Kohlberg, extend their research into the “meaning making” of spiritual development.  A significant remnant of their reliance on Piaget is their dismissal of the importance of the developments that Loevinger identifies as 

“self-protective,” and Vygotsky identifies as the “internalization of language.”  Indeed, even though Piaget and Kohlberg identify phases of development during the 4 to 7 year old age range, neither Kegan nor Fowler bother to identify any distinct developments at this age range (other than Kegan’s interesting but limited article on “The Loss of Pete’s Dragon”).

Table 2:  Life Span Grid


* This asterisk signifies that/when Kohlberg went soft and sour on the idea of spirituality at the end of his career.

Table 3:  Child Grid


Table 4:  Adult Grid




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Bhuwan Lal Joshi: Class Notes by Peter Kirkup

During my years at Cowell College, UCSC, I took 2 classes from Bhuwan.  These included Psychological Theories and Systems of the East, and the first in his Consciousness Series:  Archaic Consciousness, Modern Consciousness, and Consciousness for a Post-Modern World.

Although I did not take his last two classes (he died during Post Modern, which was completed by Norman O. Brown), I following the course and course readings for Modern Consciousness (by this time he was my thesis sponsor).  I was on leave during the Fall of 1978 when he died teaching Consciousness for a Post Modern World.

When I returned in the Winter Quarter of 1978, Bhuwan had died.  Although I was able to attend the Memorial Service held on the Upper Lawn at Cowell College, I was not aware until recently that some students and colleagues had put together a book of memories (Voice from the Himalayas, 2005).  

In 2017, I was informed by Cowell Provost Alan Christie that there was a memorial stone to Bhuwan, but placed where it was not easily seen.  Alan let me know that Bhuwan’s widow, Sushila, was concerned that the stone be placed in a more suitable location.  I helped Alan locate the most proper location for the memorial — under the oak tree in the upper lawn at Cowell College where Bhuwan loved to hold classes seated in a circle.  The stone is now located next to where Bhuwan’s sat, where people can sit and ponder the wonders of nature on one of the most beautiful campuses in the world.

In 2019, during the Cowell Memorial Service at the UCSC Alumni weekend, I promised to transcribe my class notes and submit them to the Cowell College Archives.  This is because I realized that my class notes are more extensive than those included in The Voice from the Himalayas.

Notes on Style

The pace of Bhuwan’s talks and his aphoristic style of presenting material lent itself to a chant-like taking of notes — the telegraphic style of hand recording notes somehow matching Bhuwan’s expository cadence.  Breathing, speaking, and writing had an entrained rhythm for me in his classes.

Aside from the acoustic environment created by Bhuwan, he also presented material in mandala form.  I doodled a number of these, and have tried to keep that format intact without having to learn how to re-create them electronically.  Specifically, I hand drew the mandala circles after printing out the text, and then scanned the result into the transcribed notes.  In one example, I scan the original diagram to show how I included the information while adapting the format somewhat to make the electronic version easier for me to create.

The notes are almost all verbatim.  I have made some spelling corrections, and have tried to verify the spelling of a number of Sanskrit words.  That being said, Bhuwan often presented spellings somewhat different than the current standard dictionaries, often leaving out vowels that historically, or popularly, are not included (e.g. Rta for Rita:  cosmic order).  I have also made minor format and grammatical changes to clarify the meaning.  The few clarifying comments that I added are presented in [brackets].  I have also added some internet pictures for the fun of it.

Bwuwan’s “Anthropology”

Not included in my notes, but still very vivid in my mind, are Bhuwan’s perspectives on Human Evolution and Anthropology.  Included in his studies of materialism, individualism, and reductionism, was a critique of the Hunter/Tool-Maker image of the first humans.  I don’t know the reason I have no notes on this:  it may be that his views were shared outside of class, or it may be that I was so intrigued with his views that I had no need to write them down.  In any case, I have viewed human interactions and taught students about Bhuwan’s views on fire, cooking, and storytelling (which includes music and dance) for 40 years now (as a clinical social worker).

Bhuwan was aware that the mother of all tools is language, and that no technological innovation occurs without the aid of language.  Other animals make primitive tools (birds, monkeys), but humans need to cook in order to store food and digest it sufficiently to support the growth of our human brains in infancy.  

But what is the birthplace of language, as well as its nursery and classroom?  Around the fire, where cooking and storytelling occurred.  Certainly not on the hunt, where signals serve to direct the group effort (which also included hunting dogs — grey wolves).  No, it was remembering the hunt, extolling the hunters, and planning the next hunt, that language serves.  And even more so, motivating the people to work harmoniously for the survival and benefit of all. 

So when someone tries to tell you that we are basically grunting individuals who would turn on each other at the drop of a hat, give them a vague smile and tell them that Bhuwan has a class for them!

Of course, The Far Side has a perspective on this:

I think Bhuwan (and St. Francis) would be please to know that there is a new academic discipline call “Anthrozoology.”  It studies the co-evolution of humans and animals, particularly the mammals of dogs (all domestic dogs are descended from grey wolves), cats (human’s fiercest predator before domestication as “mousers”), and horses (which give us “horse-power”).  Even Freud had a therapy dog!

Psychological Theories and Systems of the East

Tivo Bhava:  given phenomenon — veiling, mystery

Explicate the cosmic mystery by personalized mysteries — our natural mode.

We do not grow up, we forget.

The understanding of nuclear physics is child’s play in comparison to the understanding of child’s play.

Maya:  Mind, Man, to Measure.

Ma:  to measure.

The errors of measurement — we always produce an error in measurements.

How much error is there?  Fact vs. Artifact.

Imagination/Magi:  The ability to appreciate and do magic.

Myth:  magical reconstruction of the universe.

A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy

Vedas 1,500 BC to 900 BC

Upanishads 900 BC to 700 BC


Yoga Sutras Attempts to systematize archaic knowledge

Other Systems

Stop at 2nd century BC.

People didn’t have the historic sense of Westerners or Chinese.  They had no sense to calibrate time.

Disease = the loss of tradition.

To Know = re-minding.

The future will take care of itself if we remind ourselves of our origin.

Memory is for those who have forgotten.

Civilization is a diffusion of culture.

If we can harmonize what we do with the dead, there is nothing left to be done.

Yajma:  Sacrifice

Yaj:  to join.

Unification Ritual — balance relationships with the dead.  Without it, the universe would collapse.

Rta:  The Order of the Universe  [Rtavan, AnRta]

Science = the search for hidden likenesses.

Commitment comes once we understand purpose.

How to use language responsibly?  injunctions   Vac:  speech

Original meaning of cosmetics was to help understand the cosmos, not misleading.

Amrita:  immortality.  When one has embodied the cosmos.

Mritu:  Physical body loses Rta.

Riltu:  Seasons.

Satyam:  truth (is) — Asat

Brhat:  big (to grow)

Satyam Rtam Brhat

what is     what is true     what is great

Swami Nikhilanande:  The Upanishads

Heinrich Zimmer:  Philosophies of India


  1. Commentary on an Upanishad
  2. Compose an Upanishad for modern times (learn to become a translator)
  3. Whatever…

Causality:  Why does the human mind engage itself in what it does?

Lila:  a dance, the body coming out

The Cosmic Dance (bronze statue)

5 Sequences

  1. the creation 
  2. the preservation of what is created
  3. destruction
  4. the veiling (mystification)
  5. release from the veil of ignorance

11th chapter of Gita — revealing of truth (absolute)

Free from pleasant preoccupation, fear and anger

Fascinating & Horrifying

Raised Right Hand — drum (sound)

Instrument of Creation

Speech (vac)

create whatever world you want — rhythm

Gesture of Protection — 2nd Hand

Flame — Instrument of Destruction

Dance is a Mystification

Hand pointing to raised foot

Trunk of the Elephant

Uplifted Foot represents release

Foot of the Cosmic Dancer planted firmly on the earth

Forgetfulness:  human condition

Uplifted Foot:  release

Circle, ball of fire, friends of fire, the fiery dance with which we warm our lives

All this is fire, the fire is latent in the world — the vanity of ownership (appropriating the earth)

Re-collection of Tuesday

Every day is covered by a particular veil — ambiguous expression

Swa bhava:  true, intrinsic, innate nature

Must penetrate the veil of ambiguity, the curtain of empirical reality

“truth” is also a veil

enigmas can only be restated in ambiguity

art, poetry — ambiguity is genuine

Sam Vega:  aesthetic shock — it will move, it has power

Kavi = Seer (poet)

their reflection is one step removed from experience, intuition

Civilization — systematization of culture

Sam Vega languishes in civilization — they have forgotten

Mimansa:  reflection

Unitive Vision is lost

Sam Vega is the essence of being alive

With this, we can never be things (commodities)

To pour out rather than take in, this is what a child does

the search for truth is intellectual greed

Rta is a delicate system

must be kept in balance by humans who pour themselves out

Agui:  Fire

Yojma — come with fuel in hand

Faith is the greatest fuel, a willingness to be moved

Samaya:  Time (come together) — time is when we come together (human time)

Kala:  Absolute Time (death)

When we come together, we form Samsara (the world — not equivalent to the earth)

Reformer — altruism or vanity?  Tries to make the rest of the world in the image of his own (the world is psychological)

Trivium:  language, grammar, rhetoric

Quadrivium:  arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music

Education:  6 Roles

  1. Kalpa (sacrifice rituals)
  2. Siksha (correct enunciation)
  3. Chhanda (verse)
  4. Nirukta (etymology)
  5. Vyakarana (grammar)
  6. Jyotisha (astronomy)

Bhu (earth)

Bhuva (atmosphere)

Swa (sky)

Aesthetic Shock (Sam Vega)

experience can be made into a concept (personal, as a baby)

A Vega = Arousal (alive)

Sam Vega — to be aroused with the rest of the universe (personal & cosmic) makes you a participant.

There is life in the universe, there are only potentialities

There are not things, but energy

Vega = Passion, Force

A = uncontrolled, egocentric

Sam = participant in Rta

Reification = making things out of the universe

Inert & Alert — principle of motivation

Concoct an energy force to put in action

Everything is Alive

A Vega:  the condition we are born in

question is not to find a motive force, but to tame this innate force

We are all born artists — how can individual passions be translated into compassions?

— incorporate the transpersonal into art for it to be great art.

Artistic Creation

  1. artistic impulse (intuition) Samsara:  moved by passion in a confluent way by any facet of life
  2. modulate the arousal into a statement of beauty and truth (Sam Vega) impersonalization/personalization
  3. technique (craftsmanship) express in social way, externalization
  4. critics — pours himself into the world of art, and renews the life of the artist

By his interaction, he brings beauty to art, pouring out rather than taking in

Critic is as important as the Artist.

Sandhya:  coming together of two contrary forces (day and night come together in the morning)

The Fusion of Opposites — every sentient being must participate in this fusion.

Descartes:  discourse on method.  Fission:  Hammer apart to reconstruct.  How to penetrate doubt (tiro bhava).  

Explication — enemy of ambiguities.

Implication — poetry, metaphor, art — to exploit ambiguities (what lies in between the words)

John Weaver, The Universe as Home for Man (American Scientist, Nov./Dec. 1974)

Life – Continuity – Death

human universe, ambiguity

“a consequence of having held the veil”  release = freedom

Critics trying to understand this work of art called the world

You must pour out more for release

Knowledge is a process of participation — reenact the past

Proper emotional attitude is necessary for the reenactment

It is innate to us, but may be forgotten

You cannot learn or live passively

No such thing as a detached knower — participation in the production of knowledge

What he brings to bear in what he is looking at — any knowledge

Upanishads:  explication through implications.

Reflecting — isomorphic (equal forms, metaphoric)

The same symbols in a wide variety of situations (richness of imagination)

We are always at home — nothing is to be excluded

6 Systems:  Categorical Reflections

Categories are not to be questioned

Vid:  to know

Veda:  knowledge (not to know)

Vidyartha:  student

Artha:  desire

re-source — meaning

money, power — utility

To put meaning into the Universe

— problem of modern age is meaninglessness — utility without meaning

Vita Raga Bhaya Krodha:  without pleasant preoccupation, fear, anger; i.e. tranquility, peace.

9 Emotions:  erotic, heroic, odious, furious, comic, terrible, pathetic, wondrous, peaceful

Vidyartha:  use the first 8 to obtain the 9th.

To feel at home wherever we are:  Modern Man, “the syndrome of topophobia.”

The navel of the universe is where you are — there are many ways there

— Pagan  Attitude — when we are born, we are all pagans

Vrata:  Commitment

  1. Tapas — practice (adequate emotional condition — glow, warmth, heat); after obligation, you must engage in practice for originality.
  2. Then the Desire (then the world comes into being)

       the nature of desire — a centering process (how to focus yourself)

       Out of this vast array of objects, we focus on certain ones (object-relationships)

       Cathexis/valient:  a sign of vitality — centering is the key activity

       We must learn non-egocentric centering

       We must learn non-ethnocentric centering

Buddhist:  we must stay in the human world, or

Brahman (non-anthropomorphic):  to bring the human mind to its ultimate ends, even if it isn’t human.

The Innocent Eye (conceptual barrier obstruct):  

Everything has a Center (the art of self-deception)

The Wheel:  It Turns and Returns (something we find)

Veda:  Inspiration

Upanishads:  Isomorphic Meditations

Inspiration — Hidden Likenesses (All Traditions):  This is always the Center

Extrapolate these things for social purposes

6 Orthodox Systems (externalizations)

Nyaya:  Logic and Epistemology (that which leads you from here to there)

Vaiseskhika:  Particularities (accepts empirical reality — how to use knowledge for transformation?)

From Information to Transformation:  How to be Reborn (atomic theory)

Samkhya:  enumeration, descriptive analysis — roots of Buddhist Thought

How to transform through exhaustive analysis

Yoga:  oldest systematic psychological handbook, technique of transformation

Purva Mimamsa:  antecedent reflection, transformation through ritual (“headless tradition”)

Uttara Mimamsa:  consequent reflection (Vedanta), end of knowledge (pinnacle) and theory of perception (the world is mental)

Ontology:  Theory of Being

Satyam Tram Brihat (the real, the true, the great)

Satyam Siram Sundaram (the real, the good, the beautiful)

Knowledge (cognition), Action (volition), Feeling (connation)

Perception, Will, 9 Moods

Expression is ambiguous:  Veil cannot be removed, only uplifted

Epistemology:  Source and Limits of Knowledge

4 Steps in Artistic Creation

  1. inspiration:  image
  2. intermediation:  idea
  3. externalization:  expression via symbols
  4. criticism:  renewal of the creative process


  1. Indra-Urtra Struggle
  2. the opening of the cave
  3. the golden gem
  4. Ka Who
  5. That one
  6. Purusha:  the Person
  7. Prajapati:  the source of life (Gods, men, demons)
  8. Kala:  Time

Natarata:  genesis (why all this?)

Deep Image

The Universe as a Dance of Matter

Life as a Dance.  Consciousness as a dancer.

The individual as a dancer.

The Universe as a stage.

The Universe as a Play of Consciousness

The Dancer and the Stage are inseparable.

The Mind and Matter are inseparable

  1. Sristi:  Creation
  2. Sthisti:  Preservation
  3. Samhara:  Destruction
  4. Tiro bhava:  the veil of appearances
  5. Anugraha:  Freedom (the veil uplifted)


  1. the overcoming of amnesia (apasmara)
  2. psychology of re-minding (re-membering, re-cognition, identification, unification)


  1. Sam Vega:  aesthetic shock
  2. Vrata:  commitment
  3. Tapas:  the glow of incubation

Mandala/Perception Matrix 


Da:  adequate emotional condition

Gods:  self-control (power)

Man:  to give (greed)

Demons:  be compassionate (cruelty)

Ontic-Thirst:  to saturate the self with being (to live as fully as possible)

Modern Man:  the ability to capture the surfaces of things.

To live without ontic-thirst is to slay the Self.

I am my brother’s keeper vs. I am my brother.

Translators  [Joshi considered English to be the best language for Indian philosophy]

We all translate, put things in our own terms

Major part of learning is not to get in our own ways

How to unveil the ambiguity of the Upanishads?  translation

Try not to impose a new veil

Gross Veils vs. Transparent Veils (no attempt to mislead, this is necessary)

We are all born poets — reconstruct the Upanishad

Etymology — to understand the blossoms, you must understand the roots

Delusion = Ideology, a cultural view of the way things should be (seen as truth)

The ignorance of the learned is more profound than that of the simpleton.

Once-Born = Innocent Bodies, they will manage their lives

Twice-Born — always inventing chains, intellectual addiction

All that is wrong with the world is seen by intellects

Knowledge of the Many & Knowledge of the One

Abstract Mentality always “knows” what is right, most rigid rules

Must not feed vanity — teaching can be dangerous (problem of exploitation)

Concrete Mentality — less stringent rules

How to re-unite the knowledge of the many with the knowledge of the one.

Knowledge is a tool — know its limitations — truth is one step removed from the real

Reconstructing:  Two Aesthetic Choices

digital processing

analog processing

See yourself in the Mirror, you have invented


Where do ideas and meanings come from?  (desire for profit or power?)

Why were the Upanishads written?  

The Lady of the River comes from a source greater than individuals

We are space-time vehicles

You understand to the extent that you are ready to understand — openness

What time is it for you?  Right emotional condition

9 Qualifications for Being a Student

  1. sense of discrimination (what is transient and what is permanent)
  2. attitude of indifference towards pleasure — seek not only pleasant knowledge — all that has been acquired can be dis-acquired
  3. state of mental quietness
  4. sense of control of the senses (mastery)
  5. cessation of the active and passive faculties of the mind (reaction — sense organs present the world to us passively)

Action — attributes of the participator (speech, grasping, locomotion, evacuation,   reproduction)

6) patience

7) constant concentration of the mind

8) faith (in student, teacher, subject)

9) yearning — desire for release from ignorance or knowledge

A Self Portrait

What does it mean?  The artist gazing at the viewer and the viewer gazing at the artist

When does one truly understand a self-portrait?

Self Significance:  The meaning of anything lies within itself.

When somebody tries to perceive their self-significance, they are both subject & object (I & Me)

Self-Consciousness:  “Me “ has self-significance/“I” is trying to extrapolate this self-significance.

Historic Consciousness — History is the highest form of communal self-consciousness

What is the way out of historic-consciousness?  Shared subjectivity

A way to penetrate other people and things.

The medium for understanding?  Enter Mythic-Consciousness, an exemplar of the universal human mind penetrating the world.

Two modes vacillate:  Historic & Mythic

Time & Eternity

Myths exist in us (trans-historical)

We must overcome historical amnesia

Reconciliation of opposites, the fusion of opposites/melting of dichotomies

True knowledge is healing

(wet is the way we define the state of water)

—the self-healing property of organisms — doctors only remove the barriers that stand in the way of healing

Surrogate living is fractured — we need healing

Medicine should be preventative, not curative

Psychoanalysis is part of the disease trying to cure itself

Knowledge should unify — if it doesn’t, it is part of the disease

To see the Unity is to destroy Self-Consciousness

Marriage is one of the best educational institutions

1 + 1 = 1

Self & Other to Self & Self-Reflection

Civilization — Material prosperity covering up ontological vacuity

Inner richness — renew artistic perception of childhood, remove your censor that you put in the way.

Upanishads:  psychological translations of Vedic Poetry

An inquiry into the origins of mythical translation

The Renewal of the Universe:  

New Years

Twilight Hours

Meals (renewal of cosmic body):  even the myth must be renewed 

Indra tore the Universe in half, but there was no existence

Vrtra covered the cosmic waters — cannot be killed, but can be subdued

Sources:  1) Gita (chapters 2, 11, 16), 2) Sankhya, 3) Yoga-Sutras

Fear, at any time in life, is a form of the´original fearfulness of childhood

Thinking in the presence of others:  you fear what you know, you fear what you don’t know

Sankhya:  Ideology, 1st System (physics/psychology/evolution)

Descriptive Analysis (Yoga/Buddhism)

Yoga Sutras:  A Book of Psychological Techniques — a psychology of will transformation from one level of consciousness to another

  1. enjoyer (through the senses)
  2. actor (operator) we leave our marks on the environment

5 Sensory Modalities, passive and active

In both cases, mind is involved

the 6th sense of reception & the 6th sense of action process all sensory inputs (thought, cognition)

  1. receives sensations, perceives sensations, cognizes sensations
  2. will — to learn non-egocentric centering

Kratu — that which transmigrates

Willfulness:  the will to find the right will, the will to remain unwilled.

Kena:  Why?

Brahma:  the Eternal

Atma:  the Universal (I)

Agni:  Fire, Will

Vayu:  Wind, Life-Force

Indra:  Thunder, Lightning, Rain — Intelligence (luminous mind)

Uma:  Celestial Light over the snowy summits (female principle)

Sara Swati:  lady of the streams, the first light when the sun comes up

Drama — out of tension emerges truth

Indra (Thunder, Lightning) —> Parjanya (Rain, giver of other lives)

Indra as the rain-giver

Myths can be handled on many levels — a naturalistic experience, elemental forces

Vrtra — lid that covers where the rain-clouds have been hidden — an expert in the art of weaving illusions (the reluctant rain-bearing cloud)  

[note:  Vritra is a snake that blocks water and causes draught — the snake was slain by Indra to bring rain]

Tatvamasi:  That Thou Art  

Soham:  That I Am

Hansa:  Swan

Can separate the milk from the water in the milky-ocean (apparent from the real)

Human Consciousness:  an awareness of coherence

knowledge is always centered

we are trying to cohere the world that we see

Yajnu:  fire sacrifice — renewing the cosmos

Sandhya:  meditation — renewing the microcosmos 

Man is defined as a mental being (etymologically) — composite of thoughts, sensations, will

Fire is a Being who has 7 Tongues:

  1. Kali:  black smoke
  2. Karali:  frightening spread
  3. Manojava:  fast flame tips “swift as thought”
  4. Sulohita:  bloody red
  5. Sudhumravarna:  white flaming smoke
  6. Sphudingini:  scintillating
  7. Viswarnchi:  Phoenix (cosmic delight) 


Mental being specialize in truth constructions

All truths are approximations to the real

Truth:  an attempt to make correspondence between subjective and objective worlds

Consciousness:  a state of coherence

Disappointment:  something predicted didn’t come out

— negative feedback, criticism — one of our greatest resources

Katha Upanishad:  lessons of death, the disappointment of mortality

Yama:  Death (negation, limits, ordainer)

(Spain, Russia, Ireland, India, Hebrews, etc.)  (Schopenhauer, Goethe)

Nachiketa:  innocent, naive, thoughtless, impertinent

Svadda:  openness, sincerity, faith — more than a perception (cognition and will)

knowledge and practice of truth are inseperable

[Parable] Father:  Conspicuous Philanthropy

Disguised act of self-promotion

was not giving up his most treasured property, but rather his useless objects

“To whom shall you give me, father?”  verbal arrow

No = symbolic version of death

— “to death I will give you” (answer hidden in the question — need to learn to state question correctly)

The Power of Svaddha

Yama:  the first step in Yoga

Manu:  the first man (mental being)

Yama:  the first mental being who died (experienced the limits of life)

Role:  the one who waits for everyone

he takes them to the land of the forefathers (reconcile the present with the past)

the one who judges

The Yoga Path (will over habit to regain freedom)

  1. Yama:  death to habituation — requires simplicity of Svaddha
  2. Niyama:  counter-negation — do not let non-conformity become a habit, it is not a personal crusade
  3. A Soma:  centering — literally, learning to sit
  4. Prana Yama:  link with cosmos — learning to regulate respiration (individual contact with the universe)
  5. Pratyahara:  turning away from food (intake) — mental reduction diet for self-indulgent fantasies
  6. Oharana:  process of holding
  7. Dhyana:  the point of holding
  8. Samadhi:  putting it in harmony — the effortlessness of will

Intermediaries to Brahman

Uma:  a certain grasp of truth which not even Indra has — represents a degree of complexity which is a reflection of the truth

Playing is the Given

Display is the social function

Power of Reproduction — Power of Death


Real  correspondence  Truth

Images __________Images


selection < > mutation

Truth by Correlation (correspondences)

How do we establish Correspondences?

  1. constant connection
  2. necessary connection
  3. acausal connection

How do we Learn?

  1. disappointment
  2. imprinting (mantra)
  3. imagination

How do we make errors?

  1. fear
  2. anger
  3. passion
  4. sloth

How do we avoid errors?

  1. non-attachment, openness, integrity
  2. effort

Society and my body (senses)

taming the wild powers of imagination

everything had to be imagined before

The Thirst for Being (what is the full being?)

Atman is the acausal connection with the universe

Mundakha — 1) know your self-portrait, 2) learn to watch someone sleep


form content

silence ____________________     sound

I                     I

sound I implication     I phonemes

I                                      I

phonemes I knowledge     I words (morphemes)

I                                      I

morphemes I     I words

I                                      I

words I explication     I lexicon

I                                      I

lexicon I     cycle     I grammar

I                             I

grammar I___________________I sentences

sentences statements

statements compositions (stylistics)

composition meaning

meaning understanding

understanding silence

The Gita (The Song)

Confrontation with Fear, Death, Confusion

Archer rationalizes his unheroic behavior

“had lost his memories” — recovers in 18 chapters

“Man is never what he says he is, he is always what he wants to be.”  Schopenhauer

Freud and Marx missed the sovereignty of the will — means of running away from the problem in sophisticated ways.

The Art of Living and the Art of Dying involve commitment



Person:  Multiverse


  Transcendental Ego (Atma)

            Vijnaya (subjective knowledge)

  Empirical Ego (Jiva)


Self (Swa)

Celestial Beings (Bhuva)

Natural Sciences (Bhu) 

[For formatting purposes, I changed the diagram.  Here is how it first appeared in my notes.]

Time:  The Interpretation

You must take hold of your own perceptions — do not bask in others’

Yoga-Sutras:  Touch is the only immediate verification, the only way to build a personal sense of reality

Life is a tension between living and dying.

The Veil can never be removed (like a man trying to sit on his own shoulders, you can think of it)

Man is both the subject and the object of nature.  Disappointment is the greatest teacher — leads to introspection.

Nature:  Prakriti:  Maya

nature is differentiation (error)

Person:  Parusha

the subject who understands he is object

critical self-consciousness

dialogue is the given — develop it

Veil cannot be uplifted, only penetrated through effort and non-attachment

abhyasa vairagva (removing the colors)

Sankhya:  elaborate classification

Without introspection, we are preoccupied with Maya

First understand what is around us (Prakriti)

5 Gross Elements (earth, air, fire, water, space)

5 Subtle Elements (sound, smell, touch, taste, light)

Human Body:  10 Organs

5 of perception, 5 of action (speech, grasping. locomotion, reproduction, procreation)

receiver and actor in the environment

Manas (the mind) still defined in bodily terms

the 6th organ of perception and action

The Integrator

Ahankara:  I am-ness

Developmental History

Child begins to understand the difference between I and Me.

— the unequal situation (appears) — playful ways to get even.

Transpersonal I:  kinship with other humans and the universe (Boddhi)

awakening — “alarm clock” — discrimination

Mahat:  the great discriminator

Prakriti ——————> Purusha

Clarificaton:  beyond inertia and motion and tranquility

Gunas:  tamas, rajas, sattwa (isness, thatness, tranquility)

Develop your self without trampling others

Rajas:  activity (hysteria)

Tamas:  inertia, darkness (depression)

Beyond the 3 Gunas, to be free even from freedom!

[Gunas = going out]

Archaic Consciousness

Upasana:  meditation, education

Sandhya:  meeting point (time)

Sunrise/Sunset:  moment of birth

Regeneration of time, agreement

Tirtha:  ford, a place of crossing (space)

Acceptance of Universe

We are caught in temporal and spatial processes, but these can be suspended any time we want to regain ontic-fullness — a break from the ultimate pursuit of activity.

Images, Visions:  stimulation of the mind’s eye

Comes out of language in metaphor

Indwelling — plunging into the greagt lives of mythical heroes

Ritual is very important to transcend the ego — pay homage to great mythical heroes.

Cannot be neutral during moments of Inspiration

Sam Vega:  aesthetic shock, transports from mundane historical existence

There are times more conducive to awakening — how much do we have to lose in order to gain emotionally that is harmonized.  Contrast to A Vega  — rank emotionality (unharmonized).

Universe is governed by obligations.

Teacher has 3 Main Functions

  1. to enunciate the body of knowledge that is being transmitted — set basic outline (siksha = sounds right)
  2. exposition or filling out (upadesa upapatti = formed right)
  3. Initiation — to plunge into (diksha):  once the knowledge is received, make it a part of oneself — diffuse it through your being

Exemplary Beings:  prophets, visionaries who suspended or transcended time and space (the sense of eternity).

Darsana:  Vision — philosophy is the ability to see the unknown regions of knowledge

Kavi:  Seer — poetry is the ability to see images, how to differentiate authentic images from spurious images.  Concern with the genesis of knowledge rather than the self. 

Superimposition = Adhyaropana

3 Different Kinds of Events

  1. synchronous and non-synchronous
  2. contingent and non-contingent
  3. causal and non-causal

Art is the expression of the information of ideal beauty.

Men perceived as gods, animals, machines…

How to raise the I-It relationship to an I-Thou relationship [Freud/Buber]

Superimposition of signs on symbols, making them common-place.

Not only can we regenerate the life in life, but we can also generate life in tokens.

How the Universe Affects Us:  9 Principal Moods (tranquility)

  1. sense of mystery (strangeness)
  2. erotic sense
  3. heroic mood
  4. comical
  5. tragic
  6. disgust
  7. frightening
  8. anger

Ek-Stasis:  breaking out

En-Stasis:  developing within

a sense of unification (love) with concreteness

4 modes:  lovers, parent-child, friends, master-servant

Overcoming the I-It barrier.

The Idea of the Holy Rudolph Otto

“Erschauern” [shiver] (fear, respect, majesty, fascination) the affective presence of an immediate presence.

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom (Kali, Yahweh)

Humans try to assimilate the “wholly other” into the human realm

There are things beyond the human grasp — must remind ourselves that it is an alien force that supports the universe. (Atman was the attempt to know Brahman)

Mysterious, furious, terrible

Atithi Devo Bhava:  God is the stranger

Atithi, Tithi = date (one who follows a different calendar — cannot be made to follow human calendar)

The Progression of Fire

  1. blackness
  2. terrifying energy
  3. tongues of flame (thoughts)
  4. conflagration — overflowing red
  5. purple overflowing
  6. scintillating sparks
  7. phoenix (golden) arises out of the ashes

The Supreme Assertion:  to defy death willingly until the bitter end — to die willingly with no complaints — assert life through death


To strive for fullness of being — only true activity

— become like cultural heroes

— become like the gods

— become like the source

To free oneself from Subjectivity

Creation = over-flowing generosity, comes from (has a share in) the Creator — the original creation.

Every worship is poetry in action, to participate in the creation

Ritual of Eating = Primal Man Consuming Time

The Transformation of Nature in Art, Ananda K. Coomaraswany

The Crest Jewel of Discrimination, S. Prabharananda, C. Isherwood

4 Types of Mentality (Temperaments), Hymn to the Primal Person (Rig Veda)

  1. intuitive, imaginative, mythic, poetic (subtle)
  2. bridge between subtle and gross
  3. pre-occupation with gross (visible)
  4. happy and unconcerned with distinctions

How do we tame individuality (subjectivity)?

The New World:  symbol of the individual separating from society — wandering as a process of emergence

Develop a strong “I” in order to shed it.

To be a great teacher, you must merge with the greatness of your teacher.

Initiation:  restoration of lost memory (recollect)

5 Barriers to Overcoming Subjectivity (Yoga Sutras)

  1. primordial delusion (superimposition) that universe is to be understood strictly in terms of ego-processes (mistaken identity).
  2. sense of personal authorship (“I am the doer”)
  3. hedonistic model of behavior — search for pleasure and avoidance of pain(ful truths)
  4. clinging to habit

Wise Man should not be co-opted by society, but neither should be co-opted by pride.


The drummer who drums alone and obliterates time and space

After the performance, he abideth alone in his happiness 

(The Primordial Drummer Who Never Stops Drumming)

A true Dancer is unaware that she is dancing (freedom)

To attain freedom from error — time trying to attain eternity

Deep Sleep as the state before and beyond Desire

Desire creates dualities

Deep Sleep absorbs dualities

The beats of the drum, the steps of the dance, come together in a statement of life

Must be done correctly, but correctness is not enough to become a symbol

Play (Lila):  not instrumental behavior, has no discernable purpose (games are corrupted play)

The King of Dancers:  where does the cosmic dance take place?

The Center of the Universe and the Center of the Heart (Shiva)

The Drum:  creation of the universe

The Fire:  destruction of the universe (changes, but does not obliterate)

The Palm:  fearlessness, security — the finger points to uplifted foot = ambiguity (but to those who know, it is freedom)

Creation —>  Preservation —>  Destruction —>  Freedom

One foot is always grounded in subjectivity (forgetfulness)

Ambiguity:  it is, and it is not

destruction (negation) is the taming of subjectivity

the multiverse of the universe

Sense Heirarchy

sight (modern emphasis)

sound (archaic synthesis of all senses)




One cannot see the invisible, but there are ways of sensing it

The Sounds of the Universe

With the right sounds, we can penetrate the mysteries of the universe that cannot be penetrated by sights (Om)

Bali — The Dawn of the World

Truth is always ancient, never new — that which steers things through all things

Sanatana:  that which is eternal

(Scriabin:  Poem of Ecstacy)

Logos Rta

Ariostos (character) Dharma

Breathing as the basic repetition.

2 Kinds of Sounds

Unstruck Sounds:  silence (universe of unstruck sounds is the original universe)

Struck Sounds:  audible universe comes from unstruck sounds — this is the smaller universe

Is the sound of a Bell from the Clapper or the Bell?  — it comes from the two against each other

Language reveals not through adjectives, but interjections

world cursing and universe bestowing

these reveal rather than hide

Regenerate time = now

Regenerate space = here

Regenerate life = we are the primordial beings

Brahma Muhurta:  primordial moment before creation or dissolution

Regeneration of Time — body, mind, speech

Vedic Initiation (Sandhya)

  1. Achaman — sipping of water, purification
  2. Indriya Sparsa — touching of body parts (body becomes center of universe)
  3. Sprinkling of water on body parts — energizing the body
  4. Pranayama — learning to breathe with dignity, keeping the whole body of the cosmos alive (layers)
  5. Repetition of Vows:  protection from corruptions in mundane world
  6. Second sipping of water
  7. Mental Circumambulation — traveling through the universe mentally — 10 directions (4 cardinal directions, 4 diagonal directions, 2 zeniths)
  8. Upasthana:  approaching the presence of the great one, a series of praises (if the other steps have been done with the proper attitude)
  9. The Great Savitri (mantra):  this is asking permission to meditate on the splendor that illuminates the whole world (The Great Vivifier, inner and outer)
  10.   Offerings — homage, submission
  11. Further Offerings
  12. Peace Incantations

The Mystery of Sounds (the flesh and blood of rituals)

Science as Magic vs. Science as Technology (science that has lost its head)

Works of Art as Magical Products — can accomplish purposes 

Science as Mythology, principles of explanation (scientists as storytellers who incessantly worry that their story may be wrong)

Sounds that help us transcend the profane space

Pure sound is above lyrics and words — the ultimate ingredient is very simple:  the voice as recreating the primordial time

What does the profane say to the sacred?  Samsa (praise) — if you truly praise the ancestors, you will become like them

Mellifluous:  the creation of sounds spiraling up

Shattering:  the destruction of sounds descending, falling down

Praise is the bond of affectivity — to learn the non-judgmental mode (or positive judgment)

Suspending Space — The Fire Sacrifice — the ultimate transformer

Fire as the best messenger upwards — the power of the daemon

The efficacy of the sacrifice depends on the faith of the practitioner (sraddha)


  1. lay the bricks in a certain way (sometimes in the shape of a phoenix)
  2. 3 People:  conductor (chants), assistant (libations), silent witness (spirit of sacrifice)\


  1. Sipping of Water (maintain attitude of faith) 
  2. Symbolic washing of parts of person (sense and locomotion)
  3. Fire put in sacrificial plate (ask permission to contemplate fire)
  4. Fan the Fire
  5. Feed fire with fuel
  6. Offer liquid fuel
  7. Sprinkle water and repeat incantation
  8. Offer more clarified butter:  sparks — the sign of the messenger
  9. Praise (Projapati, the lord of life)

How did the Lord of Life create the universe?  The basic element, desire.

How we copulate with our desires

Projapati wanted to be many, so he copulated with his desires

We create our desires and copulate with them — incestuous relationship

a single desire becomes many, but when Projapati is tired, we must maintain the world for him/her  — desire always eludes.

3 Levels of Initiation

  1. participation in the cosmic heirophany
  2. teacher and initiate (new life and/or power) — life is a condition of potency
  3. human social indoctrination

Always a Process of Renewal

Must be an incredible process, results in ascending, regeneration, re-invigoration — then return to the credible.

Fire is the support of the universe — it dwells in the hearts of the wise

Katha Upanishad  (Initiation by King of Death)

there is the good and the pleasant — he who chooses the pleasant misses the end

Pleasure & Knowledge — knowledge that is beyond reason, beyond cause and effect

Om:  light and shadow

Nachiketa (नचिकेत) The Thoughtless One

naive mind, free from preoccupations —> the perfect learner

Death initiating Life —  qualified as a teacher, death verifies life

(The Origin of the Species is the presence of death in life — the transformation of life)

Affirmation through Negation, Life Devouring Life (the tragic sense of life)

3 Deeper Urges than any normal temporal temptation (power, profit, fame — the temptations of death)

The True, the Beautiful, and the Good as One

Judgement is a human intervention

It is incumbent on teachers to find students to transmit the knowledge, pass on the tradition of truth

One should not travel to wander aimlessly in pleasant obscurity

A pilgrimage should always return to where it started from — must return to the affair of life.

Romantic Hero fights to return from exile, to regain paradise.

Indians did not believe they were ever in exile, that we only forget the home in which we live

They did not separate Sky from Earth, but rather it was meant for them to be married [Black Elk]

Submission:  purification prepares the initiate with the proper attitude

Submission is not just a personal act, but something with an inherent community responsibility.

Dance:  an affirmation of life (balancing of tensions)

Why do we affirm?  

a time of need — every time is a time of need, particularly when the presence of death is the strongest

recognition of the symbols of death — irrelevant things become relevant

Infiltrators of Truth/Practitioners of the Profane

Phillip Rieff,, The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud, Fellow Teachers:  Of Culture and Its Second Death, Freud:  the Mind of a Moralist

researchers & therapuetics

want money want praise

Truth cannot be learned without submission and discipline, free from sadism and masochism

Cultural Revolution in China put man over machine, put peasant over technician

must turn inward to find truth rather than run wander (or run) away

Endless resources to solve a difficulty (or problem) exist at any place and time

A culture has the resources of its own solution

Must understand the Local, or you don’t understand the Universal

If there is a problem, the worst thing you can do is to ban it (must deal with your culture)


Buddhist Reaffirmations (3 Jewels)

  1. submit to the exemplary being
  2. submit to the truth
  3. submit to the community of truth

Breathing:  Intercourse with the World

doesn’t draw in air properly

doesn’t let out air properly


True understanding and true delusion both have a mandala

Pure form — not determined by contents or uses

Archaic people did not segregate psychotic people from social life

Mandala — as it divides, it unifies

They exist in all cultures, but can be forgotten (amnesia)

Depression — unwillingness to wake up

Freud studied neurotics, Jung studied psychotics

Neurotic Triangle:  hypomania, depression, hypochondria

6 Human Conditions (psychological states)

  1. gods (power and philanthropy)
  2. titans (power)
  3. humans (weakness)
  4. night spirits (haunting paranoia)
  5. animals (deliberate forgetfulness)
  6. citizens of hell (loss of will)

Attachment Aversion Infatuation

passion anger delusion (rationalization)

pig cock snake

lust envy delusion

Poetic Speech  the mandala of grammar is almost broken — a different kind of mandala communicates

Schizophrenic Speech  the mandala of grammar is broken — a different kind of mandala fails to communicate

Mandala  statement of integration inherent in consciousness

mandala as a means of reintegration

Initiation  to reground, bring back the mandala 

Pure Form:  contentless (empty)    <Grace>

Grounded by content (ego)          <Causality>

Breaking sunlight into constituent elements:  white light —> colored lights (truth as colors)

Pacifiers (Suppressors of Thought)

Chewing Gum (for mouth)

TV (for eyes)

Muzak (for ears)

Difference between perceptual truth and conceptual truth (e.g. mathematics)

From a stable to a dynamic universe

  1. red – differences
  2. yellow – unification of differences
  3. blue – a return to source  (origins, human system of truth —> numinous system of truth —intimations of immortality (reality) should be approached effortlessly, without ambition (truth as life-enriching)
  4. white – transcendent

Mutuality:  relative (blue) reaching out for white (absolute)  empirical <—> transcendent

Causal Nexus:  Links to 6 human conditions

the tying of knots and the untying of knots (effect <—> cause)


12.   Death:  Corpse

11.   Birth:  Childbirth

10.   Pregnancy:  Copulation

9.    Clinging:  man reaching for fruit

8.    Craving:  woman offers drink to seated man

7.    Feeling:  man and woman embracing

6.    Touch:  man with arrow in his eye

5.    6 Sensory Fields:  6 empty houses

4.    Name/Form:  boat with 4 passengers, monkey steering

3.    Consciousness:  monkey climbing a tree

2.    Habits:  potter making pots endlessly   

1.    Ego Delusion:  blind man feeling way with stick

Mythological Landscape:  walking as initiation, the land as a feeling

To lose a sense of self and become the land in a flow of (hidden) moods

The Absolute is in the Relative

energy = father matter = mother

Alchemy:  Philosopher’s Stone

turn matter (base metal) into gold (pure consciousness)

Matter is Gold

Elixir of Life:  turn mortality into immortality (essential juice of matter)

truth — mortality is immortality

Consciousness is embedded in Matter

Matter is the Potentiality of Consciousness — different gradations of matter

(Waiting is a Period of Grace — letting results become manifest) (receptivity and the gift in the process of transmutation)

3 Processes of Alchemy

  1. dissolve everything (mass of confusions)
  2. wait for coagulation
  3. resulting metal synthesis (rebirth)

Joyous acceptance of the world — we need the base metals for the new synthesis

Tantra:  Sexual Symbolism

The Miracle of Life (birth)

Symbol of Creation as Union of Opposites

Mating as the fulfillment of Love

Creation as a Consummation

The world is inherently lovable

(Manipulation:  first we turn ourselves into an object — ego — then we turn everything else into an object)

Sulphur (male) & Mercury (female)

Salt (synthesis)

Subjective Alchemy vs. Objective Alchemy — objective alchemy needs modern physics

Ramakrishna  [Joshi assigned Romain Rolland’s biography]

What do you do when the ground pulls you down?  You raise yourself up with the help of the ground.

Ramakrishna used the passions — they were not hindrances, but vehicles (as is the intellect)

World is not to be rejected — use Maya to transcend Maya

(distinctive of alchemy, Tantra, Ramakrishna)  [include Hasidic concept of the Evil Urge]

Everything you need, you have — process of self-realization

(coiled spring = latent energy)

Lust — learn how to become a child (woman as mother)

Envy — community as life-style, community as devourer

Woman as Sukti (Maya which allows itself to be transcended)

Sukti as Shiva

The Earth always assimilates the foreigners

The return of the Goddess to foreign masculinity (the intrusion of Calcutta)

It is at the Lotus of the heart that one hears the unstruck sounds (lotus-meanings)

(struck sounds = sounds of duality)

Central nervous system and Conceptual nervous system (Donald Hebb) 

Susamna (?) Potentiality

Ida (vowels) — negation

Pingala (consonants) — affirmation

16 vowels, 36 (-2) consonants


  1. Basic Source  (basic) — red:  4 petals
  2. Individuated Self (genital) — vermillion:  6 petals
  3. Navel Plexus (navel) — blue-black:  10 petals
  4. Unstruck Sounds (heart) — red:  12 petals (transition – divine enters)
  5. Purity Center (vowels) — purple:  16 petals
  6. Command Center (white) — 2 petals
  7. White — 1,000 petals

50 Letters in 20 Mandalas

This is the end of my notes from Bhuwan’s classes.

Hello world!

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This is where I will post updates.  I have shut down the comments because of too much spam and repetitive and vague comments.  If you want to contact me, you can do so through my LinkedIn account — please include a message about why you are contacting me.

Recently I was contacted by Dr. Susanne Cook-Greuter and the Loevinger family thanking me for my writings on Jane Loevinger and her contributions to developmental psychology.  Dr. Cook-Greuter invited me to join the Growth Edge Network, an international group of practitioners interested in issues of adult development.  My correspondence with Susanne has resulted in an article I posted on The Chambered Nautilus Metaphor of Human Development.

I re-configured the Welcome To My Projects section —  there is now a group of trainings under Coping Skills Trainings, including Determinants of Behavior:  Temperament and “Goodness of Fit”, and Self-Control Trainings for Impulsive Latency Age Boys.  I have also completed an article Literary Depictions of Developmental States under the Philosophical Perspectives section (including Calvin and Hobbes, Jane Eyre and other favorites!).  Also in Research Findings is an article about Lawrence Kohlberg and Karen Armstrong titled Good Vibrations:  Chronic Disease and Spirituality, as well as a practice article called Creative Problem Solving:  How to Avoid Ridiculous Arguments with Bratty Children.  Enjoy!

A reader asked about how to get going writing.  Procrastination and disorganization are both major factors in my writing, but I find that if I can make procrastination into mental rehearsal and take notes, that gets me started.  The organization thing is a whole different matter, as I often lose track of things when they stack up.  Just keep stirring that pot, and get some things into files, and that pretty well does it!

Here’s an idea of my creative process.  I observe a lot — no cell phone to block my view of reality when I am out and about (I will bring a book to go places, but it doesn’t rivet my eyes and I can notice interesting things happening around me).  I probe reality (asking pertinent questions, offering timely comments or amusing asides, or just helping out!).  I research in libraries, bookstores, and on the internet (key search words can get you almost anywhere, at least in the USA).  Then I ponder (sometimes scratching my head, sometimes pulling my lip — I don’t have a beard).  Then I jot down notes of late night thoughts that would elude my memory if I didn’t memorialize them.  Then, from my researches, I pull quotes from interesting sources arranged around themes that I am interested in.  Then I construct my outline, fill in details, add more details, make sure to include transitions to keep readers oriented, and finally polish the whole thing up.  Kind of like how P.G. Wodehouse wrote.  Only worse.

To learn how to write well, one has to read a lot of good writing, both fiction and non-fiction.  A rich vocabulary helps one be articulate, both speaking and writing.  Various turns of phrase are apt in certain situations and to particular audiences.  Children’s literature populates the basement and ground floor of our imagination.  Perhaps more than anything else is being able to detect and use metaphors.  A good metaphor can go a long way, even up to the point of a double helix model!  But most metaphors are more limited in their descriptive and predictive powers, and it is important to intuit and determine the limits of a metaphor in relation to its target.  For instance, the developmental metaphors of “scaffolding” (Vygotsky) and “moral musical chairs” (Kohlberg) help the imagination understand the concepts being presented, but neither of these metaphors are very strong (e.g. Bruner replaced “scaffolding” with “formats”).  So, notice your metaphors, and find the best ones to fit your subject!