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Ken Wilber - the Causal Realm

The following page is from a research notes page by external link Allan Combs which is no longer on line (original url http://www.unca.edu/~combs/HCP/II/Narrative/9causal.htm ). I have kept the quotations, which are interesting, but left out the correspondences Of Wilber's Causal Realm with other systems, as I feel these are - like the tables in the back of Wilber's Integral Psychology - rather forced. - MAK


An informal phenomenological narrative:

"Nature retreats before its God, Light finds it own Abode. That’s all I keep thinking as I enter into this extraordinary vastness. I am going in and up, in and up, in and up, and I have ceased to have any bodily feelings at all. In fact, I don’t even know where my body is, or if I even have one. I know only shimmering sheaths of luminous bliss, each giving way to the next, each softer and yet stronger, brighter and yet fainter, more intense yet harder to see.

Above all, I am Full. I am full to infinity, in this ocean of light. I am full to infinity, in this ocean of bliss. I am full to infinity, in this ocean of love. I cannot conceive of wanting something, desiring something, grasping after anything. I can contain no more than is already here, full to infinity. I am beyond myself, beyond this world, beyond pain and suffering and self and same, and I know this is the home of God, and I know that I am in God’s Presence. I am one with Presence, it is obvious. I am one with God, it is certain. I am one with Spirit, it is given. I shall never want again, for Grace abounds, here in the luminous mist of infinity.

Around the edges of this love-bliss there are tender tears, the faint reminders that I have so wanted this, so longed for this, so desperately yearned for this—to be saturated to the ends of the universe, to be full and free and final. All the years, all the lifetimes, searching for only this, searching and suffering and screaming for only this. And so the tender tears stand at the edge of my infinity, reminding me.

Out of this Light and Love, all things issue forth, of this I am now certain, for this I have seen with the eye of my own true soul. Into this Light and Love, all things will return, of this I am now certain, for this I have seen with the eye of my own true soul. And I have returned with a message: Peace be unto you, my human brothers and sisters; and peace be unto you, my animal brothers and sisters; and peace be unto you, my inanimate brothers and sisters—for all is well, and all is well, and all manner of things shall be well. We are all of the same Light and Love, of this I am now certain, for this I have seen with the eye of my own true soul."


"Exactly how long I was Light, I cannot say. How long Form existed, I cannot say. How long I have been neither, I cannot say.
On the other side of Light, the Abyss. On the other side of Love, the Abyss. How long, I cannot say.
    I once was a rock, I remember that, and push pull crash, I remember that. I roamed the universe of myself in slumbering abandon, and truth be told, it was humorous, always.
    I once was a plant, then an animal, and thirst and hunger, I remember that. I ran toward, and ran away from, the forms of my own lust. I wandered driven, starving, dying. But truth be told, it was humorous, always.
    I once awoke as human beings, and entered into the school of my own becoming. I first worshipped myself in the form of my other, I wor­shipped my slumbering self. I moved toward my own skin, dear nature, and I approached me now with wonder, now with terror, and did unend­ing trembling and ritual pleading to deal with the terror I induced by my own sleep. But truth be told, it was humorous, always.
    I once awoke as human beings in search of me as heavenly other, in my own form as misty mythic mystery, still asleep, but barely. I sacrificed aspects of my still slumbering self in order to appease the terror that my own twilight still evoked. But to awaken all at once, you see, would have ended the game right there. And truth be told, it was humorous, always, even as I cut into myself.
    I soon awoke as human beings who, in striving to be a light unto themselves, were dimly on the trail of the Light that I am, even in my otherness. In one great move I stopped looking for me out there. In one great move, I awoke to a consciousness of light. In one great move, I turned within, or began to, and I could sense that this game was getting old, because I was now on the trail of I. Truth be told, it was humorous, even as it was starting to end.
    And then one day, sitting alone as my otherness, I saw myself as a ball of Light and Love, and knew the Great Awakening was upon me.
    In the next move in the school of myself, I entered into Me, as that Love and Light itself, and I was with I to infinity. And this I recognized altogether, in a whisper of breath that embraced all space, and a flash of Light that contained all time.
    And then, the Abyss beyond all beyonds. Some would call it radical Freedom, infinite Release, ultimate Liberation, the great Redemption, boundless Being. I wouldn’t know, for there is no I to know, in any form, sacred or profane, and so there is only this radical Formlessness, which remains its own remark. It is not bliss, it is not God, it is not love. It is not holistic, it is not Goddess, it is not interwoven anything. It is not infinite, it is not eternal, it is not any conception or object or state whatsoever. I-I am not light, am not love, am not spirit, am not bliss. I-I am not bound, am not free, am not ignorant, am not liberated.
    But this much can be said: where there is not this Emptiness, there is only suffering.
    All this I remember, in the school of myself. All this I have seen, in the history of my own discovery. All this I sing of now, to the audience of myself. All this I promise to others, who are the forms of my own slum­bering. All this others will also see, as they awaken from their otherness and return their slumbering selves to the Awake-ness that has always existed, undiminished and untorn, in the heart of what they are.
Exactly how long I was Light, I cannot say. How long Form existed, I cannot say. How long I have been neither, I cannot say.
    On the other side of Light, the Abyss. On the other side of Love, the Abyss. How long, I cannot say.
    But I know I will empty even this Emptiness, and therefore create a Kosmos, and therefore incarnate as the world of Form, and enter with Wakefulness the children of my own Awareness."

 

"Around the sea of Emptiness, a faint edge of bliss.

From the sea of Emptiness, a flicker of compassion.

Subtle illuminations fill the space of awareness,

As radiant forms coalesce in consciousness.

A world is taking shape,

A universe is being born.

I-I breathe out the subtlest patterns,

Which crystallize into the densest forms,

With physical colors, things, objects, processes,

That rush upon awareness in the darkness of its night,

To arise as glorious sun, radiant reminder of its source,

And slumbering earth, abode of the offspring of Spirit."

One Taste;  pp. 148-151.

From descriptions of the major stages of insight meditation.

       Q: That’s very clear. So what about the next level, the causal?

A: You’re sitting there, just witnessing everything that arises in the mind, or in your present experience. You are trying to witness, equally, all the dots on the wall of your awareness. If you become proficient at this, eventually rational and existential dots die down, and psychic dots start to come into focus. Then, after a while, you get better at witnessing, so subtler objects or dots start to show up. These include lights and audible illuminations and subtle Deity forms and so on. If you continue simply witnessing—which helps you disidentify from lower and grosser forms, and become aware of the higher and subtler forms—even subtle objects or subtle dots themselves cease to arise.  You enter a profound state of nonmanifestation, which is experienced like, say, an autumn night with a full moon. There is an eerie and beautiful numinosity to it all, but it’s a “silent” or “black” numinosity. You can’t really see any­thing except a kind of silvery fullness, filling all space. But because you’re not actually seeing any particular object, it is also a type of Radi­cal Emptiness. As Zen says, “stop the sound of that stream.” This is variously known as shunyata, as the Cloud of Unknowing, Divine Igno­rance, Radical Mystery, nirguna (“unqualifiable”) Brahman, and so on. Brilliant formlessness, with no objects detracting from it.

It becomes obvious that you are absolutely one with this Fullness, which transcends all worlds and all planes and all time and all history. You are perfectly full, and therefore you are perfectly empty. “It is all things and it is no things,” said the Christian mystic Boethius. Awe gives way to certainty. That’s who you are, prior to all manifestation, prior to all worlds. In other words, it is seeing who or what you are timelessly, formlessly.

That’s an example of the causal level; that’s jnana samadhi, ntrvi­kalpa samadhi, and so on. The soul, or separate-self sense, disappears, and God or separate Deity form disappears, because both—soul and God—collapse into formless Godhead. Both soul and God disappear into the Supreme Identity.

{An interview published in Quest, 1994 Spring ,  pp. 43-46.}

 

“The low-causal, which classically is revealed in a state of consciousness known as savikalpa samadhi, represents the pinnacle of God-consciousness, the final and highest abode of Ishvara, the Creatrix of all realms….At the low-causal, that deity-Archetype itself condenses and dissolves into final-God, which is here seen as an extraordinarily subtle audible-light or bija-mantra from which the individual ishtadeva, yidam or Archetype emerged in the first place, Final-God is simply the ground or essence of all the archetypal and lesser-god manifestation which were evoked- and then identified with- in the subtle realms. In the low causal, all of these archetypal Forms simply reduce to their Source in final-God, and thus by the very same token and in the very same step, one’s own Self is here shown to be that final God, and consciousness itself is transforms upwards into a higher-order identity with that Radiance. Such, in brief, is the low causal, the ultimate revelation of final-God in Perfect Radiance and Release.”
Wilber, K. (1980) Amazon com Atman Project. Chapter 9, pg.83

“Beyond the low-causal into the high causal, all manifest forms are so radically transcended that they no longer need even appear or arise in Consciousness. This is total and utter transcendence and release into Formless Consciousness, Boundless Radiance. There is here no self, no God, no final-God, no subjects, and no thingness, apart from or other than consciousness as Such.”
Wilber, K. (1980) The Amazon com Atman Project. Chapter 9, pg.84

“John Blofeld describes beautifully this progression (from gross to high causal) from the Vajrayana Buddhist view: “ As the rite progresses, this deity (ishtadeva) enters the adept’s body and sits upon a solar-disc supported by lunar-disc above a lotus in his heart; presently the adept shrinks in size until he and the deity are coextensive ( the beginning of the subtle realm); then, merging indistinguishably  (becoming one with deity in the high subtle realm), they are absorbed by the seed-syllable from which the deity originally sprang (the low causal); this syllable contracts to a single point (final-God); the point vanishes and deity and adept in perfect union remain sunk in the samadhi of voidness (the high causal).”
Wilber, K. (1980) The Amazon com Atman Project. Chapter 9, pg.84,
Blofeld, J.(1970) The Tantric Mysticism of Tibet, New York: Dutton, 1970

Lex Hixon, representing the Hindu view…naturally continues the account into the causal: After the ishtadeva-archetype has emerged and one has identified with it (in the high-subtle realm), then “ that archetype dissolves into its own essence, or ground (the causal realm)… There is now perfect release into the radiance of formless Consciousness. There is no ishtadeva, no meditator, and no meditation, nor is there any awareness of an absence of these. There is only radiance……

...Precisely the same sequence is described by Zen texts on koan study. After the initial stages of concentrating on the koan (this is equivalent to visualizing the ishtadeva or dhyani-buddha), a point is reached where the individual dissolves into the koan- he becomes one with the koan in a superabundance of consciousness: not a loss of awareness but an extraordinary intensification of it. This is called “the man forgotten”- that is, the separate subject is forgotten in union with the koan, which now alone is. This is the subtle state. As this process intensifies, the koan itself is forgotten- that is dissolves itself into its own prior ground of Formlessness. This is called “the dharma (the koan) forgotten” or “ both man and dharma forgotten”- and this is the high-causal of formless samadhi. This overall process is so consistently and similarly described by all the traditions which reach this high realm that we can now be certain of its general features. They are unmistakable.

...Let us note that this state itself- the high causal of “both man and dharma forgotten” or “both subject and object forgotten”- is know as nirvakalpa samadhi (Hinduism), nirodh (Hinayana Buddhism), jnana samadhi (Vedanta)- and it is the eighth of the ten Zen ox-herding pictures which depict the stages to supreme Enlightenment.”
Wilber, K. (1980) The Amazon com Atman Project. Chapter9, pg.86.
Hixon, L. (1962). Coming Home. Garden City: Anchor.


Vishnu Complex: Transition from F-8 Subtle to F-9 Causal

Wilber, K. (1999) “Odyssey.”Collected Works. Vol. 2, pg. 43.

"There is a saying, by Hanns Sachs, I think that psychoanalysis ends when the patient realizes that it can go on forever. The same type of realization, as it were, began to cure me of the subtle level fixation, the Vishnu complex. For the Vishnu complex is precisely the difficulty in moving from subtle soul to causal spirit. The subtle experiences are so blissful, so awesome, so profound, so salutary, that one never wants to leave them never to let go, but rather to bathe forever in their archetypal glory and immortal release- and there is the Vishnu complex. If the Apollo complex is the bane of beginning meditators, the Vishnu complex is the great seducer of intermediate practitioners……..The ultimate state was not an experience, but the very nature and ground of all experiences. It was that vast background out of which spring various experiential realities…. Experiences whether sacred or profane, high or low, are all based on the duality between subject and object, seer and seen, experiencer and experienced. Even in the soul-sphere, itself incomparably more real than the lower levels of matter, body and mind, one is merely engineering for a subtler subject, a more extraordinary object. The witness of these divine states still remain intact. The real awakening, however, is the dissolution of the witness itself, and not a change of state in that which is witnessed.

The Causal Level

            You’re sitting there, just witnessing everything that arises in the mind, or in your present experience. You are trying to witness, equally, all the dots on the wall of your awareness. If you become proficient at this, eventually rational and existential dots die down, and psychic dots start to come into focus. Then, after a while, you get better at witnessing, so subtler objects or dots start to show up. These include lights and audible illumination and subtle Deity forms and so on. If you continue simply witnessing- which helps you disidentify from lower and grosser forms, and become aware of the higher or subtler forms- even subtle objects or subtle dots themselves cease to arise. You enter a profound state of nonmanifestation, which is experienced like, say an autumn night with a full moon. There is an eerie and beautiful numinosity to it all, but it’s a “silent” or “black” numinosity. You can’t really see anything except a kind of silvery fullness, filling all space. But because you’re not actually seeing any particular object, it is also a type of Radical Emptiness. As Zen says, “stop the sound of that stream.” This is variously known as shunyata, as the Cloud of Unknowing, Divine Ignorance, Radical Mystery, niguna (“unqualifiable”) Brahman, and so on. Brilliant formlessness, with no objects detracting from it.
            It becomes obvious that you are absolutely one with this Fullness, which transcends all worlds and all planes and all time and all history. You are perfectly full, and therefore you are perfectly empty. “It is all things and it is no things,” said the Christian mystic Boethius. Awe gives way to certainty. That’s who you are, prior to all manifestation, prior to all worlds. In other words, it is seeing who or what you are timelessly, formlessly.
            That’s an example of the causal level; that’s jnana samadhi, nirvakalpa samadhi, and so on. The soul, or separate self disappears, and God or separate Deity form disappears, because both- soul and God- collapse into formless Godhead. Both soul and God disappear into the Supreme identity."
Wilber, K. (1999). Stages of Meditation. Collected Works, vol.4, pg.360-361.

Wilber Correlates

General Self Sense: Spirit
Specific Aspects: Pure Self/ Witness
Fulcrum: F-9 Causal
Pathology: Failed differentiation, Arhat’s disease
Treatment: Path of Sages
Moral Span: (Post-postconventional) Buddhic, always already, all manifest and unmanifest reality.
Locus: Self liberation in primordial awareness
Affect: infinite freedom. Release, bodhisattvic compassion
Levels of ‘Food’: spiritual exchange
Gender identity: beyond gender
Worldview name: causal, formless, sage
Worldview general characteristics: union with source of manifest realms; formless mysticism; causal unity



Low Causal
High Causal



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