The "Concentric" or Inner-Outer dimension is totally different from (but sometimes confused with) the vertical series of planes of consciousness as described by Theosophy etc. A number of stages of manifestation can be posited here, from the outermost to the Absolute. These are each associated with their own states of consciousness and states of existence.
From one perspective, it might be supposed that the "Concentric" Axis is not so much a hierarchy as a "polarity" is the familar dichotomy of subject-object, inner-outer, mind-matter, conscious-unconscious, yin-yang. This has been described in detail by Stan Gooch in his book Total Man. Also pertaining to this parameter is Sri Aurobindo's integral psychology, which incorporates a trichtomy of innermost, inner, and outer being presents a more esoteric perspective than that of Gooch. So does Chabad Kabbalah, according to which each sefirah has two aspects: Pnimiyut, Inwardness, innermost point, essence or core, the Divine Light, Chitzoniyut, outwardness, externality, the lowest point (Schochet, 1979 pp.127-8). For a psychological analysis, C. G. Jung presents a detailed explanation of the various aspects of the outer and the inner psyche, the latter consisting of progressively deeper layers of the collective unconscious
The Mandukya Upanishad, which was the foundation for all later Indian (Hindu and to a lesser extent Tantric Buddhist) psychology, speaks of the Self having four "feet" or states of consciousness. These are Waking, Dreaming, Dreamless Sleep, and the Fourth (i.e. the Absolute). Waking and Dreaming are self explanatory, but Dreamless Sleep here refers to a very deep level of consciousness in which the awareness is near (but not quite at) the Absolute.
In Shankara's Advaita Vedanta and all subsequent thought, including all current gurus and pop gurus, and the New Age movement in general, along with integral thinkers like Ken Wilber (ref link), the first three states of the Mandukya are matched with the five self levels of the Taittiriya Upanishad, which have now been downgraded to "koshas" or sheaths. The pranic, manasic, and vijnanic koshas are identified with dreaming and the subtle body, and by implication with psychic experience. In this way they confuse the "horizontal" inner-outer with the "vertical" physical-spiritual ontocline. Only Sri Aurobindo presents a different, original, interpretation on the Taittiriya, and, for that matter, distinguishes these two parameters in his own integral psychology.
A very different, much more empirical-experiential approach, is taken by Buddhist and Patanjalian maps of meditative states. Here we have a distinction between form and formless dhyana or samadhi. The Buddhists have 8 or 9 samadhic levels or "jhanas" (Pali; = "dyana" in sanskrit), arranged in a linear manner, from the most "superficial" to the most self-absorbed. This roadmap of meditative states was also then equated with Buddhist cosmology (in the distinction between Desire Gods and Heavens, Gods and Heavens of Pure Form, and Formless Gods and Heavens). A further development is found in Yogachara Buddhism, with the concept of an Alaya-Vijnana or "Storehouse Consciousness" that has intriguing similarities with the Jungian Collective Unconscious. This collective or universal consciousness is the source of the individual Manas and Mano-vijnana consciousness, which correspond more to the Ego (conscious) of western psychology (not the "ego" of pop-guru-ist teachings).
The following table is a suggested list of concentric hypostases according to Kabbalah, Theon, Sri Aurobindo, and Barbara Brennan.
|Level||Universe or Region||Vedanta (Mandukya Upanishad)||
(levels of the soul/souls)
(four divisions of the Physical)
|Sri Aurobindo||Jung||Barbara Brennan|
|enl.4||Infinite Bliss and Delight||Brahman / Turiya (in part)||En Sof (in part)||n/a||Ananda||
|enl.1||Innermost Being||Neshamah||n/a||Innermost Being / Psychic Being||Archetype of the Self|
|4||Purushas||Causal / Dreamless Sleep||Mental of Physical||Purushas and Inner Being||collective unconscious, archetypes||Soul Star|
|3||Inner Being||Subtle / Dream||Ruah||Psychic of Physical||Tan Tien|
|2||Eso being (Intermediate)||Nefesh||Nervo of Physical||(not defined)||Personal Unconscious||Human Energy Field - Auras and Chakras|
|1||Outer Being||Gross State (Waking)||Nefesh and Body||Physical of Physical||Outer Being||Conscious||Physical|
Taking into account then these various references and teachings mentioned above, the following is a suggested series of hypostases of being from Inner to Outer:
Infinite Bliss and Delight that aspect of the Supreme which is infinite Bliss (ananda); the psychophysical consciousness interprets this as the Transcendent Deity of the Heart. The ultimate goal of the mystic path of the Heart.
Monadic - the transcendemt individual divine principle.
Innermost being - the essential core or essence of the being, Pnimiyut (Kabbalah), or Innermost Being (Sri Aurobindo, this equates with the Psychic Being (Soul) which will be considered under the rubric of the evolving individual); Formless Samadhi might go here as well
Inner - the vast region of potentials and realities hidden from the narrow surface consciousness, but revealed through meditative and yogic practices, and studied by Depth and Transpersonal Psychology. This is the Collective Unconscious of Jung, the "inner planes" or "inner spheres" of occultism (in part), the "Inner Being" according to Sri Aurobindo; the Alayavijnana of the Yogachara and Vijnanavada school of Mahayana. Sri Aurobindo's Intermediate Zone and Da Free John's "5th Stage of Life" might be located here; Kundalini awakening, higher psychic experiences, contact with deities, etc
Esobeing - a transitional physical, psychic and spiritual region between the vast inner sphere and the outer consciousness; includes the personal unconscious, the dream state, hypnosis, trance, meditation, and drug induced, schizophrenic and natural-healthy altered states of consciousness. Of course these don't all occupy the same "mindspace", because the gradations and near infinite combinations and sub-combinations of the other three axii have to be considered as well. Some examples of the Middle/Intermediate Being in psychology are the Unconscious of Freud, the Shadow or Personal Unconscious of Jung, the Lower, Middle, and Higher Unconscious of the Psychosynthesis of Roberto Assagioli, the "inner planes" (in part) and "pathworking" of occultism, and the perinatal matrixes and other such phenomena described by Grof. In part also the "System B" of Stan Gooch.
Outer Being - the surface physical and psychic consciousness and preconsciousness, the Ego or waking consciousness of Freud and Jung, the Field of Consciousness (as usually considered) of Assagioli, the mundane consensus reality, ordinary consciousness, the conscious and personal unconscious. Can be itself divided into an Inner, Middle, and Outer as follows:
Although it seems like there is a progression from light to dark, spirit to matter, positiove to negative, etc etc, with the former being closest to Godhead or Absolute, the various esoteric monistic teachings are unanimous in asserting that opposite polarities or dualities emerge from an original unity (in Lurianic Kabbalah Hesed and Gevurah from the En Sof or Keter, in Tantra Shiva and Shakti from the Supreme principle (Parasamvit, Paramashiva, etc), in Taoism yin and yang from the original Tao). This can be shown as follows:
Stan Gooch, Total Man
John Lilly Eye of the Cyclone
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