[An ASKLEPIA FOUNDATION Journal]
THE CREATIVE FLOW OF MEANING
An Introduction to the Nonunitarian Philosophy
Creative Consciousness Process
by Iona Miller, ©1993
ABSTRACT: In nonunitarian, discontinuous transformations,
a system opens itself to novelty and potentiality by dissolving into a
state of nonlocal communion with the whole and reforms unconditioned by
the past. Nonunitary transformation is based in the dissolution of
all forms and structures, and creative emergence of unconditioned creativity--metamorphosis.
In this organic model of multiple universes and states of consciousness,
everything is involved in a pattern of continuous rebirth, and everything
is the manifestation of the underlying creative potential, transcending
physical and spiritual boundaries.
Evidence provided by anthropology, psychotherapy, experimental psychology,
and common human experience strongly suggests that the capacity for imagery
is species wide and that human adults have a continual, night-and-day stream
of it, to which they may or may not attend.
--Michael Murphy, THE FUTURE OF THE BODY
The perfection of that which rests in itself in no ways contradicts
the perfection of that which circles in itself. Although absolute
rest is something static and eternal, unchanging and therefore without
history, it is at the same time the place of origin and the germ cell of
creativity. Living the cycle of its own life, it is the circular
snake, the primal dragon of the beginning that bites its own tail, the
--Erich Neumann, ORIGINS AND HISTORY OF CONSCIOUSNESS
The postmodern era has seen the fall of the modern notion of a mechanistic
personality living within a clockwork universe. The reification of
a single, stable unified self was deified in monotheistic cultures.
But in our current pluralistic society, we find expression through a number
of "selves" within each context or event.
The romantic tradition of a profound and stable center of identity has
given way to a functionalist dynamic image of self as multiple shape-shifting
identifications. A deeper truth of our culture is that we have come
to "worship" many gods, giving attention to diverse and contradictory aspects
of ourselves. But we have retained the romantic notions that powerful
forces lie buried deep within the psyche, such as passion, inspiration,
creativity, even madness.
The pragmatism of modern life leads to excessive demands for attention
to deal with the here and now of ordinary consciousness. To survive
in the complex world, we may have narrowed our self image, perceptual continuum,
and sense of potential. As a cultural movement, modernism is crumbling.
It is being replaced by a perhaps even more skeptical distrust of all metanarratives
for describing the nature of reality.
Gergen (1991) lists such reasons as "populating of the self, demands
of multiple audiences, and repetition of images" as factors which reinforce
the postmodern notion of multiple selves or systems operating within each
In contemporary society we play many roles, wear many hats during any given
day. Simple roles are no longer adequate "containers" for self.
We reveal ourselves through different social masks and by expressing different
facets of ourselves in different relationships.
The notion of "authenticity" gives over to that of relativity. Being
"romantic" or "functionalist" become ways of participating. Our uniqueness
is not self-determined but reflects the patterns of our relationships,
and the deep context in which they occur.
Creative Consciousness Process is a postmodern psychotherapy, which operates
on the premise of following nature's processes, rather than a mechanistic
model of cosmos and human beings. The organic process of natural
unfolding is one of order emerging from chaos and recycling back into chaos
through the de-structuring or deconstruction via the flow of creative regression.
The centroversion of a strong ego may have been the psychological goal
of the past, but the cultural mandate is now one of radical pluralism,
identification with a multiplicity of views. Creative regression
is neither a fragmentation nor shattering of the ego into disparate parts.
Rather, in CCP, it is a "guided tour" of the myriad of potentials for being
from the most embryonic forms of consciousness to the most complex.
Ego consciousness is superceded in favor of an animated realm of infinite
When the unifying perspective of the ego reaches its apex and decline,
it needs to be renewed through immersion in radical multiplicity, dissolving
its boundaries to experience that greater than itself. Ego returns
to the unconscious, voluntarily dissolving into its underlying essence.
This immersion is like a baptism, a renewing bath in unfathomable holy
CCP is empirical in the sense that it is based on observation of psyche's
phenomenal display. But it is a participatory, rather than an "objective",
experiment. The process is guided by experience and theory, but CCP
was not constructed from any original theory of consciousness. It
emerged from spontaneous deepening of experiential psychotherapy.
CCP uses a stratified map of consciousness which helps the guide orient
within the phenomenology of the process.
It is "reductionistic", not in the sense of reducing the whole to its parts,
but of reducing manifest imaginal phenomena down to creative essence--reducing
all psychic material to its primal elements. It draws its legitimacy
from "functionalism"; it works, consistantly facilitating emergent forms
of creativity and healing. Thus, CCP fulfills its intentionality.
In terms of physics, we can view CCP as analoguous to the eternal flux
of implicate (nonmanifest, enfolded) and explicate (manifest, unfolded)
realities. In CCP, the transformative process leads from a stratified
phenomenology of imagery into less structured representations, and finally
into nonrepresentational perception. Thus consciousness crosses the
abyss between the phenomenological and nonphenomenological domains.
Both domains accomodate transformative events.
CCP recognizes consciousness in the primal, universal flow of active information.
This phenomenological model views consciousness as a self-directed intentionality
with the ability to override its physical substratum, and even genetic
instructions to manifest a creative course of unfolding, by introducing
"missing information." CCP is phenomenological because it deals with
events--phenomena--as we directly experience them and interpret them.
In the human psyche, this process manifests as the upwelling spring of
emergent imagery which conditions our entire perception of reality.
The so-called stream of consciousness flows through all manifestations
of phenomenal existence, conditioning it with its dynamic global imprint,
a universal pool of active, intentional, evolutionary information.
The flow of psychic energy carries the deep context of the whole.
This emergent flow of deep context embodies meaning. Therefore direct
perception of meaning is inherent in participation within this flow.
Most of the time we ignore this "window" on our psychic processes.
But we can enter this imaginal world within the context of experiential
psychotherapy. Philosophers such as Hegel and Bergson have spoken
of this intrinsic ability which CCP evokes and facilitates.
Experience has subjective connotations which imply participation in the
cycle of immersion and reflective release; a nonreflecting experience of
giving up of self and volition to the flow. In the therapeutic context,
the consciousness journey provides a ritualistic structure for the process
of letting go of ordinary identifications of self and world.
Therefore, this surrender/subjugation of the self to ritual and flow is
a prelude to increased freedom through ritual. Immersion paves the
way for empowered emergence. The process becomes a communion, the
ritual form of which is constituted by consciousness, being led along by
itself, engrossed and carried along in suspense--suspension of self--within
the scintillating context of the whole.
THE CREATIVE FLOW
The creative flow of meaning is facilitated by intentionally turning attention
toward imagery. The stream of consciousness can become accessible
through the faculty of introverted intuition. In his early work,
Bergson emphasized the immediate, nonconceptual character of intuition.
He emphasized it as a direct participation in, or identification with,
what is intuited.
In self-referential processes intuition is an immersion in the indivisible
flow of consciousness, a grasp of pure becoming. Ultimately, unlike
the relative knowledge of intellect which remains detached from its objects,
intuition enters into what it knows, dispensing with symbols (Murphy, 1992).
The stream of consciousness unfolds a dynamic panoply of unfolding imagery
in which we can immerse ourselves. Participation in the stream of
consciousness reveals multiple selves, multiple ways of being, multiple
states of consciousness.
Intentionality sets the tone of the process. In CCP, creativity and
healing are the intentions which condition positive expectations.
By recycling our consciousness, we feed these emergent images back into
the system, amplifying certain patterns. The amplification is reflected
in subsequent emergent imagery.
Intentions act like magnetic fields, moving attention toward some objects
and away from others, keeping our mind focused on some stimuli in preference
to others (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990).
Each image contains the gestalt of an individual's existential condition,
encoding all potentialities and limitations simultaneously. Like
fractals, each image contains a certain self-similarity with others, reflecting
all levels of organization.
The whole is contained in the part; the entire therapeutic "problem" is
implied within any discrete image. Each image emerges from the creative
context which links all events, real and imaginal--the underlying destructured
phenomenal field--a meaningful void.
Consciousness is patterned by self-referential circular (non-linear) causality:
consciousness shapes the self and is in turn unpredictably shaped by it.
It conjures the image of the serpent Ouroborous, eating its own tail.
In the self-referential imagery process, images are fedback, or recycled,
Disorder, or conflicting information and intentions in the psyche, include
pain, fear, rage, anxiety, etc. In consciousness journeys, the guide
is always open to sensing the nature or essence of the dis-ease, what shape
or form the obstruction to flow takes.
Instead of attempting to harmonize, "work through," or order these disorderly
systems, CCP intentionally amplifies them through feedback, then de-constructs
them by adventuring further into their depths--into chaos--the organic
transformation process which then creatively re-patterns the liberated
energy locked up in their expression.
As we follow the stream of consciousness back to its source of emergence,
many typical phenomena appear. Raw, archetypal energy is conditioned
in its appearance on discrete levels of organization. As consciousness
seeks form, it is channeled and patterned first by archetypal and mythic
dynamics, which constitute the deeper strata of the psyche. These
are archetypal states of consciousness.
It is also conditioned to the extent that it encounters resistance to its
free flow. The obstructions it encounters in the personality strata
of psyche are psychophysical blocks composed of "frozen consciousness,"
held osified by the forces of repression. They are the result of
interaction of self and environment--existential obstructions within the
flow of manifest and nonmanifest energy, resulting from trauma. These
states of consciousness appear in a virtually unlimited number of idiosyncratic
Particularly in youth, trauma leads to the mobilization of defense and
survival mechanisms. Later, these become power struggles, problems
in our relationships to self, others, and the environment--blocks in the
flow of relationship.
One of these primary defenses is the reconstruction of one's sense of boundaries--one's
primal sense of self within this world. Under the chaotic threat
of traumatic events, we constantly redraw our boundaries in an attempt
to preserve the sanctity of self. Various defenses invoke the actualization
of different potentialities for survival. These defenses tend to
persist into adult life, long after the immediate threat is gone.
Maladaptive coping mechanisms obstruct the free flow of psychic energy,
or libido. The obstructive patterns are the source of our psychophysical
dis-ease, and may be de-constructed through CCP. Following the stream
of consciousness into deeper strata of the psyche, into more primal and
fundamental states of consciousness, allows the old forms to dissolve.
Dissolving all boundaries in the journey, we become open to re-patterning
by the creative source.
In CCP, we follow the natural unfolding of imagery quite closely, generally
choosing to guide the journey toward a more deeply enfolded domain of experience.
Each transform of image is virtually a different state of consciousness,
as identification migrates through forms and patterns. The metamorphosis
may be smooth--"morphing"--or discontinuous. Morpheus, the maker
of forms was also the god of dreams, according to Ovid.
Unitary consciousness is just one example--a special case--of nonunitary
consciousness. Discontinuous, or nonunitive transforms are separated
by transitive states which are often blank or void of perceptual content.
These microstates may allow repatterning of each transform by global intentionality.
Integral practice in CCP reveals that each transform also manifests in
the physical body. Each tranformative practice has physical effects.
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, FLOW: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Harper
& Row, New York, 1990.
Gergen, Kenneth, "The Decline and Fall of Personality," PSYCHOLOGY
TODAY, Nov/Dec 1992, p59-63.
Harding, M. Esther, PSYCHIC ENERGY; ITS SOURCE AND ITS TRANSFORMATION,
Princeton University Press, 1947.
Murphy, Michael, THE FUTURE OF THE BODY, Tarcher, New York, 1992.
Neumann, Erich, THE ORIGINS AND HISTORY OF CONSCIOUSNESS, Princeton Univ.
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Miller and Vickie Webb.