Wilber’s conception of the spectrum of consciousness
An attempt to build up a general taxonomy of different psychoanalytical conceptions was made by the American psychologist K. Wilber in his conception of the spectrum of consciousness. According to this conception the spectrum of our consciousness consists of levels determined by the boundaries we ourselves set up for what we are and what we are not. A new-born baby doesn’t realize a boundary between itself and the outer world around. It lives like within itself without realizing something another (outside) exists. It itself is the whole Universe for itself. Wilber called this blissful (or quasi-blissful) state Uroboros the state of quasi-unity with the Universe. But this state can’t last forever and soon it finishes and the baby comes to the next stage the stage of Typhon a creature half-fish, half-animal that discerns already the difference between itself and the outer world but can’t realize the difference between the now and then and in cause of it living completely in the present. This stage finishes when the child becomes able of realizing the go of time. Having come to it, the child observes that anything including itself changes. After realization of the constant changes the thought of death and the fear before it comes. The child resists the idea of its future death and beget, the idea of the difference between itself and its body (the changes and death concern only the body but not the real self). So the idea of Ego appears. The boundary goes now via the line Ego-Body. The body will die but the Ego will live forever in some transcendent world. But the perspective to die terrifies as earlier. In order not to die before the predestined term the child gets compelled to control its body, alienating itself thereby from it. Later the idea that not anybody but only few chosen will get there emerge. How to get into the number of chosen? The answer is given by different religious teachings which prescript some or other norms of behavior. In order to correspond to these norms, the child starts suppressing any of its impulses and desires contradicting them. So the idea of some true ego, true I appears. And the boundary between I and non-I (the ousted elements) emerged. This is the line of evolution that goes without deliberate participation of human. Individuality has gone this way almost automatically under the pressing of outer obstacles. Under their influence it identifies itself with new and new limits of itself until in the end it becomes a normal person, a respectful member of society, full of different psychic complexes, the quantity of which is sufficient to make the individuality predictable and governable. Further development is possible only with direct and voluntary participation of the person and goes in the direction of non-identifying itself with the set boundaries. This is already not evolution but involution that is the movement in the opposite direction.
The upper level of the achieved “normality” is determined by the boundary between ‘I’ and ‘Shadow’. ‘I’ (the Freudian ego) is a set of qualities I recognized for myself; unrecognized qualities are forced out into the sub-consciousness and go on influencing from there. It looks like I turn away from them but they don’t disappear and follow me like a shadow (whence the name is from). The ousted qualities pursue me, afflicting conflicts of mainly moral character. For example, I’m ready to recognize that I’m kind and responsible but not ready to admit the presence of some aggressiveness or untraditional sexual inclinations within. And I try to force out the latter but it pursues me like my shadow, that means I constantly come across demonstrations of it not within but out of me, from the side of the outer world. So the suppressed inner aggression comes back to me from outside (it seems to me that it’s not me but my environment is the source of it). The way of solving the level problems and self-development accordingly consists in realizing all the ousted and taming one’s own shadow. The latter means obliteration of the boundary between the ‘I’ and the ‘Shadow’.
When it’s been attained, one comes to the next level where the boundary goes via the line ‘Ego-Body’. Ego = I + Shadow. That means, I have realized and accepted my inner as it is, but my body remains beyond my control and is something outer to my consciousness. If the previous level’s problems were purely psychic, then here they are psycho physiological. A psychoanalytical teaching like that of Freud is useless here. The way forward consists already in taming one’s own body. On this level other approaches such as those of Reich or Lowen, hatha-yoga or gungfu are needed. When the body has been mastered, the third level starts. Ego + Body = Centaur (the mythic half-man-half-horse creature). On this level neither psychic nor psycho physiological problems arise as a rule. But spiritual questions remain. They concern, however, not the human as itself but its relation with the Universe around. The boundary goes here through the line ‘Centaur-Universe’. This is the last of existing boundaries human is to overcome. The further self-development supposes the movement towards the Universe as the whole. The saints, buddhas etc. are the creatures who have gone over the last boundary and perceive all the Universe around as their own part, making no difference between themselves and other world. They know no limits and are all in all and forever. The transcendence of the last boundary compounds the context of any true mystic experience .