From the Ego to the Superconscious


TONY: It seems to be a popular illusion, these days, that because Christianity is dead or in terminal decline, we are abandoning religion and accordingly going backwards.  It is as though, with the demise of Christianity, one should lament over the dreadful tragedy which has befallen us.

STUART: And you don't see it like that?

TONY: No, I don't see it as a tragedy at all.  Rather, as something for which to be grateful, not, however, because Christianity should be regarded, in somewhat Nietzschean vein, as having been a bad thing - which it by no means entirely was - but simply because it means that we are progressing towards something higher and better, to a new religious awareness which is destined to supersede the old, dualistic one.  We are abandoning Jesus Christ for the Holy Spirit, abandoning dualism, based on the ego, for transcendentalism, centred in the superconscious, and are accordingly growing closer to our ultimate salvation, a salvation which Christianity itself foresaw, in its own symbolic fashion, and therefore should endorse.

STUART: You mean that, strictly speaking, Christians ought to be relieved that the Church is in terminal decline, instead of worried - as many of them now are?  In other words, they ought to encourage us towards the heavenly goal which Christianity anticipated, instead of imagining that only Christianity can take us there, and that its decline is consequently something to be lamented?

TONY: Yes, in a manner of speaking.  Though I am aware that there is a degree of confusion and despair at the root of the pessimism which seems to characterize the thinking of so many of us these days.  But I don't think we need fear that, whatever the fate of Christianity, religion is a dead issue.  On the contrary, the pessimism of a Huysmans or a Malcolm Muggeridge can certainly be countered with the requisite enlightenment concerning the overall course of evolution and the necessity of our going beyond Christ, in order to attain to the salvation which the Church has promised us for so long!  Let the Church have the rest it deserves, after the long struggle it has waged on behalf of the spirit through the centuries!  Its function as a midway stage between paganism and transcendentalism was admirably sustained.  We couldn't have managed without it.  But such a function cannot continue for ever, and now that we are entering a transcendental era - as confirmed by the rapid growth of interest in meditation - it should be apparent that the decline of the Church is a logical thing, an inevitable part of our destiny, about which we needn't be, in any degree, ashamed.  Even professed Christians, if they aren't to get in the way of their faith, should begin to see it as such - to see in the decline of belief in Christ the rise of identification with the Holy Spirit.  At least that should apply to the more spiritually evolved of them, whose minds are coming increasingly under the sway of the superconscious.

STUART: I seem to recall that, in The Anti-Christ, Nietzsche regarded the development from a dualistic religious framework to a transcendental one as a regression, the concept of a good God signifying, in his estimation, a weakening of the spiritual strength of a people, a failure of the will to power, rather than an improvement.

TONY: Yes, it is indeed ironic that the author of the book to which you allude should have unwittingly advocated a Christian standpoint in his assumption that man 'has as much need of the evil God as of the good God'.  After all, Christianity did in fact represent that very assumption - the figure of Christ being opposed by the Devil in one context and endowed with a good/evil integrity Himself in another, as, for example, in His capacity of banisher and redeemer at the Last Judgement.  But Nietzsche didn't really understand Christianity, and consequently what he says about it is often erroneous, as in the example you allude to, in which he identifies the highest religious awareness with a combination of love and fear, only to condemn Christianity for not representing it.  But that is precisely what Christianity does represent, being the midway-point between the religion of the subconscious, in which fear predominates, and the religion of the superconscious, in which only love prevails.  To Nietzsche, however, the progression from a God of Hate to a God of Love via a dualistic compromise would have signified a regression, which just goes to prove how devilishly wrong he could be!  For, in reality, the progression to a good God represents the zenith of religious evolution, not, as he foolishly imagined, its nadir!

STUART: Doubtless he would have preferred us all to be quaking beneath the anger of some wrathful deity in the future, offering up blood sacrifices as a means to securing some paradoxical salvation?

TONY: Which, fortunately, won't be the case; for in the superconscious there will be little room for either fear or hate.  Naturally, we will still be dualists to some extent, even in the more advanced stages of transcendental life.  For man is ever a dualist and cannot possibly, while he yet remains human, be anything else.  He may be predominantly evil in his early development, balanced between evil and good in his middle development, and predominantly good in his late development, as between pagan, Christian, and transcendental alternatives, but he will always possess some kind of dualistic integrity.  Only at the transformation-point to the Superman, which should signal his entry into the post-Human Millennium, will he become entirely good, entirely spiritual, and thus abandon the last vestiges of his humanity.  Until that time comes, however, he will always be at least partly sensual, partly evil, as befitting the nature of man.

STUART: Yet, at this point in time, he should be more good than evil, considering that, according to your theory, he is in transition between the ego and the superconscious?

TONY: Yes, I would be inclined to think so, though only, of course, on the basis of a generalization appertaining to those of approximately the same cultural integrity.  For we are certainly more spiritual than our Christian forebears, particularly those of 7-800 years ago.  And they would have been more spiritual - and hence better - than their pagan forebears of some 2-3000 years ago, and so on, right back to the earliest men who, on the strength of their predominating sensuality, were undoubtedly the most evil.

STUART: And before them?

TONY: Well, naturally, the beasts out of whom man evolved, or is alleged to have evolved, would have been even more evil, because so sensual and absolutely lacking in spiritual values.  The earliest men, living most of their lives in the subconscious, would at least have had some contact with the spirit, a faint glimmer now and again, perhaps, of something deeper than themselves, which it was obligatory to fear and, if possible, appease.

STUART: Not the very earliest men, surely?  After all, there is quite a difference between men of, say, 30,000 and men of about 3000 years ago, quite apart from the distinction between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, as between two entirely different species.

TONY: Of course there is!  But what particularly distinguishes a man from a beast is his religious sense, or capacity for worship.  So if one is to refer to the earliest-known bipeds as men, then one must accredit them with at least a faint glimmer of religion, even if, by later Christian standards, it was extremely mundane.  Now if early men lived entirely in the subconscious, they wouldn't have been capable of having a religious sense at all.  For it is from the superconscious that the light of spirit comes, the feeling for gods and supernatural powers in general.  Thus there must have been some connection between the subconscious and the superconscious even in the most primitive men, if only somewhat tenuously.  But, being so much more under subconscious influence, they were obliged to animistically treat the 'intimations of immortality' they experienced as part of the sensual, palpable world, rather than as something completely distinct from it in a separate, transcendent world - an Other World.

STUART: Which presumably continued to be the case, to varying extents, right up to the time of Christianity and its inherent dualism?

TONY: Yes, until such time as, by dint of gradual expansion, the superconscious began to play approximately as great a part in man's religious awareness as the subconscious, and a kind of dualistic balance was struck between the two chief realms of the psyche in the ego, or conscious mind, which, contrary to popular assumptions, isn't really a distinct realm of the psyche at all, but a compromise region in which both the subconscious and superconscious minds struggle for supremacy.

STUART: You mean that the ego corresponds to Christianity and democracy, in that it signifies the fusion of two essentially antithetical minds in part of an evolving spectrum of psychic development?

TONY: Indeed I do!  For just as Christianity signifies a religious transition from paganism to transcendentalism, and democracy a corresponding political transition from royalism to socialism, so the ego represents a psychic transition from subconsciousness to superconsciousness - the essential dualism of life acquiring a tripartite appearance with the transitional stage coming in-between, just as the dark and the light are fused in the twilight, and thereupon assume a new appearance.

STUART: So the ego corresponds to a kind of twilight zone of the mind brought about by the fusion, or balanced clash, of the two great adversaries - the evil subconscious and the good superconscious, the bridge to the sensual and the bridge to the spiritual.  Really, that is a most paradoxically illuminating theory!

TONY: To be sure!  And the superconscious is destined to triumph, as the decline of our traditional religious and political allegiances adequately attests.  For, thanks in large measure to the expansion of our urban environments in recent decades, a majority of us are now more spiritual than ever before, and thus psychically better than ever before.  We are no longer balanced between the sensual and the spiritual, like our Christian forebears, but biased on the side of the spirit, not, as yet, to any appreciable extent, since we are still in transition between the ego and the superconscious, but nevertheless to some extent - to an extent, I would argue, which should give us cause for hope concerning our future progress.  The psychic twilight is becoming progressively lighter, as we draw closer to the superconscious and accordingly have more to do with it than ever before.

STUART: Although it must be said that quite a few people, including the illustrious likes of Freud, Jung, Adler, Reich, et al., preferred to dwell on the subconscious this century, and seemingly related more to the past than to the present, which, in an age of transition to something higher, seems rather strange, to say the least.

TONY: Yes, it does in a way.  But it is indicative of the fact that we are no longer tied to the subconscious to the extent of our Christian forebears, but can look down on it, so to speak, from the predominantly analytical level of the superconscious, and accordingly treat it as a foreign body or, at any rate, as something to be investigated rather than simply experienced.  Formerly, people would have been too much its victim, too closely attached to it, to be able to detach themselves from it to the extent of the great psychologists you mention, and thereby impartially investigate it from the transcendent vantage-point of another person, another mind.

STUART: The modern split mind?

TONY: Quite!  Although it is as well to remember that, in man, the mind, or psyche, has always been split, always divided into two parts, though people formerly lived mostly in the subconscious part and weren't particularly conscious, in consequence, of the split.  At least this is true of most people until the age of Christianity, which, as we noted earlier, signified a greater balance between the two parts of the psyche.  But the notion of the modern split mind is really something of an exaggeration or overstatement.  For, in reality, the Christians were more split than ourselves.  Having evolved beyond their psychic balance in favour of the superconscious, we are simply more intellectually aware of the split, since the recipients of more light.  Hence the sharp rise of psychology in the twentieth century, the looking back or down on the subconscious that it largely entails.

STUART: One is reminded of what Arthur Koestler wrote, in Janus - A Summing Up, about the emotional old-brain requiring to be brought under greater control, in order to preclude the possibility of further eruptions of those irrational tendencies which he alleges to have been responsible, hitherto, for the greater part of human suffering ... in the guises of war, rape, crime, mindless violence, etc., and at the slightest provocation.  It would seem that our 'divided house', to use his phrase, should, in its alleged imbalance on the side of the old brain, be regarded as constituting a kind of biological mistake which ought to be rectified, apparently, by the introduction of some new anti-emotion pill, in the interests of mankind's future survival.  For if the rational new-brain continues to be dominated by the emotional old-brain to the extent it appears to have been in the past, we could well fall victim, so Koestler contends, to mass suicide through nuclear war in the not-too-distant future.

TONY: Well, however that may be, I don't think we need assume, like Koestler, that the old brain and/or subconscious part of the psyche is quite as powerful as formerly - not, at any rate, among the more civilized peoples of the world!  On the contrary, our evolutionary progress is all the time drawing us away from the old brain and further into the new brain, further into the superconscious, so that its traditional hold on us is, by and large, a thing of the past, scarcely to be feared in the present.  Indeed, the very fact that Koestler could come to the conclusion that the old brain required to be brought under greater control ... is sufficient proof of our growing bias on the side of the new brain, and once again reflects the tendency of modern man to look down upon the subconscious from the vantage-point of a higher mind.  Only a man who had evolved beyond the balance between the two brains, the two minds, would be in an intellectual position to criticize and oppose the old brain in Koestler's manner.  One could hardly expect a Christian to do so, still less a pagan!  So, much as the old brain may still have some influence on us, it is by no means one that is likely to grow stronger but, on the contrary, progressively weaker, in accordance with our ongoing transcendental evolution.  Thus the alleged need for a special pill to give the new brain greater control over the old one would seem to be quite superfluous, insofar as we are steadily gaining greater control over it through the artificial influence of our industrialized and urbanized civilization.

STUART: Then what about the biological mistake which our 'divided house' apparently constitutes, in Koestler's considered opinion?

TONY: Frankly, I don't believe there is one!  For the age-old opposition of the subconscious to the superconscious, even when there is an imbalance in favour of one or the other, strikes me as being perfectly in accord with the dualistic nature of human life - a nature, however, which is destined to be transcended, through the victory of the superconscious, at some future point in time.  Early man, you will recall, lived predominantly in the subconscious and was correspondingly more instinctively emotional than middle man, who lived in a balanced context of transition between subconsciousness and superconsciousness, Hell and Heaven, Satan and Christ.  Late man, on the other hand, will live - and is already beginning to show signs of living - in the superconscious predominantly, and therefore will be more spiritual than middle man, whose dualistic condition precluded him from ever transcending the emotional to any appreciable extent.  But at the climax to our evolution, represented in dualistic terminology by Heaven and in transcendental terminology by the post-Human Millennium, we shall cease being dualistic altogether and thus live wholly in the superconscious, as befitting the Superman.  Then the journey from the diabolic beginnings to the divine endings will be complete, and man will cease to exist.  The 'divided house' will have been completely overcome in the interests of the spirit.  Needless to say, we still have some way to evolve before that happens!

STUART: So it would seem!  Clearly, the ego, or conscious mind, isn't quite the antithesis to the subconscious it was once considered to be, but only the fusion-point, as it were, of the two psychic adversaries - the dark and the light.  And the latter is destined to triumph.

TONY: Indeed it is, as our latter-day consciousness more than adequately attests.  You can be sure that the conscious mind of today, signifying a kind of superconscious one-sidedness, is very different from the consciousness which, in the heyday of pagan civilization, betrayed a subconscious one-sidedness.  Unlike our distant ancestors, we don't live predominantly in the dark, shaking or cringing before the old evil powers which obsessed their minds and induced them to offer-up blood sacrifices as a mode of propitiation.  We have no taste for the Lawrentian 'dark gods of the loins' - not as a rule, at any rate!  Although it has to be admitted that there are people for whom the subconscious has proved of overriding interest this century, not least of all the great psychologists themselves.

STUART: Whose investigations of the subconscious presumably ran contrary to the grain of evolution?

TONY: Yes, in a manner of speaking.  Though, as I remarked earlier, it is only in such an incipiently transcendental age as this that it becomes possible to take an objective interest in the subconscious and consequently regard it as a kind of foreign body.  But you can rest assured that the historians and analysts of the deeper psyche, such as Freud, Jung, and Reich, stand in a poor relation to such spiritual leaders as Huxley, Isherwood, and Heard, whose work on behalf of the superconscious puts the subconscious preoccupations of the above-mentioned psychologists in the psychic shade, both literally and metaphorically.  Only transcendentalists are worthy of the claim to genuine spiritual and intellectual leadership, certainly not the foremost psychologists!  The latter, by contrast, stand in a reactionary relationship to the age, signifying, in their concern with the instinctual life, a retrogression to primitive criteria.  Indeed, one cannot be surprised that Huxley should have had a distinctly cool attitude towards psychology in general.  For a man who spent so much of his time writing on behalf of the superconscious could hardly have been expected to possess any real enthusiasm for those who dwelt on its antithesis!  One recalls his dislike of Jung's symbolism, the emphasis Jung placed on so-called sacred mandalas and kindred archetypal patterns in the pursuit of spiritual illumination, as an illustration of the incompatibility between his own rather more advanced abstract spirituality and the subconsciously-influenced, emotionally-tinged symbolic 'spirituality' of the psychologist.  And one can't imagine Jung's strong interest in alchemy - that atavistic sublimation of animism - particularly appealing to him either!  Indeed, it may well transpire that the great psychologists will appear demonic to the eyes of a future generation, who will see them as the twentieth-century equivalent to the Black Magicians and Sorcerers of the Middle Ages.  After all, Freud's overriding interest in sex and Jung's more than passing interest in alchemy, not to mention astrology and the occult in general, can scarcely be described as typifying the direction of evolution towards spiritual transcendence!  One cannot be surprised that the superconscious was largely if not completely ignored by such men, or that they came to oppose the subconscious with the ego!  For the superconscious would scarcely have cast a favourable light upon their manifestly retrogressive predilections!  Only a psychologist could have come-up with the disgraceful contention, voiced by Wilhelm Reich in The Murder of Christ, that the Saviour regularly had and endorsed sex.  From a theological standpoint, about which we can only suppose Reich to have been entirely ignorant, the idea of a carnal saviour is monstrous, betraying a total disregard for the symbolic status of Christ as spiritual leader or exemplar, and a no-less total ignorance of the path of evolution!  For if Christ had sex, if He is to be regarded as a sensual being, then what kind of spiritual example can He be expected to set to the millions of people who aspire to following in his divine footsteps?

STUART: Not a particularly credible one, I should think!

TONY: Indeed not!  For the essence of Christianity lies in regarding Christ as a godlike being, nay, as the Son of God, rather than as an ordinary sensual man subject to the carnal appetites of ordinary men!  Thus when, in accordance with theological wisdom, Christ is elevated to the status of God, it is ridiculous to consider Him sexual.  As if the road to salvation lay in the advocacy of sexual pleasures, instead of in the overcoming or reduction of them through civilized spiritual progress!  Truly, there is nothing if not a gross affront to human evolution in Reich's - as in D.H. Lawrence's - advocacy of regular sex as a means to salvation!  But one must assume that, at heart, the age is too wise, too much the heir of Christianity, to be particularly impressed by such neo-pagan delusions.  And the same, I would imagine, applies to psychology in general.  For, if I may be permitted to quote from Dr Faustus here, we are 'entering upon times, my friend, which will not be hoodwinked by psychology' - extremely ironic as it is that Thomas Mann should have put those memorable words into the mouth of the Devil!  But it is also true to say that we are entering upon times which will not be hoodwinked by Mephisto, considering that he is destined to be left behind, together with the psychologists, in the dungeon of the subconscious, as we proceed further into the superconscious and thus draw closer to our ultimate salvation in transcendent beatitude.  No longer will man have 'as much need of the evil God as of the good God', as Nietzsche contended, but only need of the good God - the Holy Ghost, in which love alone prevails.  That man should formerly have had need of a dualistic religious awareness ... is perfectly understandable.  But to infer from that fact that he should therefore always have need of it, is to betray an ignorance of what man actually is, that is to say, a being transitional between the beastly and the godly.  One might as well suppose that he will always have need of great egocentric art - despite all the evidence to the contrary which already presents itself.  All Nietzsche really meant by man, in the above-mentioned aphorism, was second-stage cultural man, man torn between the dark and the light.  That, fortunately to say, is only man in his prime as man, not man biased towards the godly and therefore at his highest stage of evolution.  But cultural man in the West is being superseded, as you well know, by post-cultural man, and so the traditional arts are in decline, if not already extinct.  For the period of egocentric art only comes to pass when a people are balanced between the subconscious and the superconscious, the sensual and the spiritual, neither before nor afterwards.  And now that most of us have evolved beyond that balance in favour of the superconscious, we can only produce transcendental art - art which is less sensual than its egocentric precursor but, for that very reason, on a higher rung of the evolutionary ladder and consequently closer to ultimate divinity.  For, paradoxical as  it may seem, post-cultural man is spiritually superior to cultural man and therefore not given to sensuous representation of the spiritual to anything like the same extent.  Thus, for him, egocentric art is something to look down upon rather than look-up to, as though from the pre-cultural viewpoint.  For him, the sensuous content of great art is unworthy of true spirituality; it is merely a compromise between the Devil and God, rather than a reflection of the Holy Ghost.  God clothed in the flesh isn't a thing he can regard with complacency, for he knows only too well that true divinity must ultimately transcend the flesh, being purely spiritual.  And so, cut off from the sensuous influence of nature to the extent that he now is in his great cities, he turns away from egocentric art, as from an irrelevance, and proceeds with the art pertinent to himself - a predominantly, if not exclusively, spiritual art whose essence is abstract.  For beyond Christian art there is transcendental art.  But beyond transcendental art there is only God, purely and simply!  Even the bright, light-suggesting pitchful circularities of the latest avant-garde works will cease to be viable as, eventually, we abandon art altogether and give ourselves up to the pure contemplation of abstract spirituality.  In the meantime, however, the production of transcendental art will doubtless continue, and continue to reflect our mounting allegiance to a God of Love in the superconscious.  There can be no possibility of art subsequently relapsing into the old Christian dichotomy of Devil and God, a dichotomy which engendered some of the finest egocentric art in the entire history of cultural man, but a dichotomy out of which we are progressively emerging, thank goodness, in a new and superior guise.  The battle against the subconscious may still be far from over, but, for a growing number of us, it is already more than two-thirds won!

STUART: What more can one say?