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..:: Objectivity ::..

By

Alan Schneider

                                                                                                                                                

               Now, I have been a serious student of every kind of spiritual activity as an avocation for most of my life, and the consideration of what kind of postmortem “experience” might follow our excursion through the world of the physical senses (and their interpreter, the Freudian ego), has always been a significant part of that avocation. And even after all of the truly remarkable perceptions I have had, the truth is that I’m not absolutely sure what these altered states of consciousness indicate about the possible nature of the “afterlife”! We simply cannot tell with certainty until the moment of death. But, there are definitely some interesting theories that have gained my respect over the years, particularly some Hindu Vedic ones.  

            The Hindu religion has as a fundamental tenate that the practice of meditation, which necessitates temporary withdrawal from the senses in a hypnogogic trance state, can, if pursued long enough (generally over a period of several years) result in the experience of Samadhi, the blissful union with the Ultimate State of Consciousness, experienced as the Brahman, the universal essence underlying all objective manifestation and lesser levels of experience. I have attained this condition myself, and even gone to the extent of writing a manuscript about it. I was very moved by my Samadhi, to say the least, but the question that must be asked in any intelligent discourse on the subject is this: what literally and objectively happened to me during my Samadhi experience?  

            Hindu religious theory maintains that the individual ego meets and merges with the Logos (i.e. God) during Samadhi. I would say that I certainly met and merged with something of enormous psychic power and presence, whatever it may have been, and this made a profound and lasting psychological impression within my personal psyche. But, was this the God of my familiarity from the Scriptures, the omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient Being that is the Source of all Creation?  

            The most effective scientific explanation for my Samadhi experience of which I am aware has been constructed by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, who carried Freud’s work on repression beyond sexual involvement to existential involvement. Jung took the bold step of postulating that the Psyche amounts to far more than the interaction of instinct, waking consciousness, and external social conditioning (Id, Ego, and Superego, respectively) claimed by Freud. Based on an extensive study of the mythologies of every culture in history that he could access information on, Jung constructed the Theory of the Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious. He maintained that personal consciousness originated from a realm beyond personal identity, a collective realm that was inborn in the structure of the individual mind, and the brain supporting that mind, existing in a dimension of experience that lies beyond human comprehension – beyond the comprehension of the ego, that is – the comprehension of the Soul is an entirely different matter. In meditation, the ego is allowed to become dormant, opening the doors of perception to the realm of the Archetypes. And even though the Archetypes themselves cannot be directly experienced by human perception, they persistently generate archetypal symbols which can be perceived by human observers, particularly in deep meditation. The Soul is just such an archetypal manifestation.  

            In Jung’s view, the total psyche is characterized as a bright spot of conscious awareness (the ego), surrounded by a ring of personal subconscious material which can be both id and superego. Both psychic structures float on the surface of the much larger sphere of the total Psyche. The ring of personal subconscious material is frequently maintained at the unconscious level by trauma – repressed psychic injury. Deep beneath the level of the personal unconscious is the realm of the archetypal symbols, and at the center of the oceanic sphere of the Psyche is the Primal Self, the origin of all knowable experience on any level under any conditions, including the Archetypes and archetypal symbols. Interestingly, Jung explained psychosis as the emergence of archetypal symbolic material into consciousness through a “broken”, dissociated ego. The persistence of psychotic reactions was explained by the relentless driving influence of the Primal Self at the center of the psychic sphere, continuously generating a flood of archetypal symbols which the healthy, functional ego is capable of screening out, but the dissociated ego is not. The key to observing archetypal symbols in non-psychotic cases resides in temporarily relaxing the ego in meditation, permitting the archetypal symbols to manifest in a more orderly and controlled fashion.  

            The ego is reduced in presence during meditation, but this also makes rational assessment a problem. The sense of linear time is frequently lost, as is the sensory perception of physical location. I did not know when or where I was in Samadhi, just that “I” was something present as an observer somewhere, and going through a succession of perceptual stages of increasing intensity. I had no sense of my body whatsoever, not even breathing or posture. My eyes were closed as well. This makes objective self-observation well nigh impossible, and I was unfortunately working alone on the occasions in which I have reached the level of the Jungian Primal Self – i.e. God – in Samadhi. I am not sure how much the presence of others would have mattered in any case, but they might have been able to at least bear witness to my external state. I suppose that an electroencephalogram might also be useful under these circumstances, in conjunction with various other external monitoring procedures. 

            If I did, in fact, contact the Primal Self, as I believe, and if this Jungian structure is the reality behind the Sage’s experiences of the Divine, as I strongly suspect, then I have met God while still in the flesh, and more than once at that. I personally suspect that I may have a genetic expression that predisposes me to this kind of experience, although Hindu Yogis regularly attain Samadhi and even remain in that state indefinitely while conducting their daily affairs, such as these are. In most cases, those “affairs” consist of experiencing Ananda – i.e. spiritual Bliss – and telling any concerned parties about God’s infinite Love, radiant Light, and the many manifestations seen in the Chakras, and described in the Vedas.  

            With the previous provisos, I can say that I have a pretty clearly defined construct of what the afterlife might well be like, and what steps the dying individual may conceivably pass through on the way to “the other side” of mortal consciousness. What I experienced in Samadhi was a succession of fantastic images of increasingly abstract character and, in Jungian terms, increasing numinousity, or psychic intensity, culminating in a vision of a flower-like structure composed of brilliant colored light, with a core of pure white light (the Chakra Sahasrara) which occupied the entire field of my consciousness, perceived at the time as the totality of the universe! The core of white light was quite probably an observation/experience of the Jungian Primal Self, accessed in deep meditation. I feel constrained to say here that this experience was in no way enhanced by any chemical substance use whatsoever, and occurred solely in the context of a lengthy and carefully structured investigation into specific alternative states of consciousness that preceded the event by several months. 

            There is possibly a final merging with the Divine Consciousness in the condition of Mahasamadhi – literally physical death – that is also part of Hindu theory and Vedic cosmology, as the Atman (or Soul) returns home to God either permanently, or to another physical incarnation to experience and (hopefully) release more Karma in another living body. Based on all my life experiences, including the “Little Samadhis” that I have attained to date, this is the explanation of the afterlife that most fully explains those experiences, and the one that I offer to others at their request for such information.

                                          - With Love, Alan -

                                  (CR2008, Alan Schneider)

 

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