Frank Visser, CLIMBING THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN: Reflections on Ken Wilber's “The Religion of Tomorrow”
INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
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Barclay Powers is an author and futurist filmmaker. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies from Columbia University and has an extensive background as an independent scholar. He has studied Chinese, Tibetan and Indian meditation, yoga and martial arts traditions for more than 30 years. Powers is currently releasing multiple media projects worldwide in film and print, related to the evolution of consciousness based on his studies with numerous masters of ancient wisdom traditions. His most recent film, The Lost Secret of Immortality, based on his book, won best spiritual/religious/Christian film at the Great Lakes International Film Festival, 2012, the Silver Palm Award at the Mexico International Film Festival, 2012 and best spiritual documentary at the New York International Film Festival, 2011. See his website at www.lostsecretofimmortality.com for information on the book, graphic novel and film.
The Consciousness Singularity
The Reversal of the Fall of Man
Shawn Mikula, noted neuroscientist, explains the singularity as follows:
The “Consciousness Singularity” refers to a hypothetical point of time in the future when human consciousness, at both the personal and species level, experiences an abrupt transition, a phase transition of sorts, into a collective state of transcendence that is conceptually impossible for us to imagine "what it's like" with our current limited cognitive abilities.
Tilopa, a legendary Mahasiddha founder of the Mahamudra tradition, describes the consciousness singularity as follows:
At first a yogi feels his mind is tumbling like a waterfall;
The Consciousness Singularity
The consciousness singularity is the eventual result of the convergence of Buddhist and Taoist meditation with neuroscience. It differs from the omega point, and technological singularity theories substantially because it does not imply an imaginary point of emergence in the future. Instead, the consciousness singularity can be described as a neuroscientific model of the classical Asian vitalist description of spiritual awakening or enlightenment, in both conventional and Tantric versions of meditation theory. The actual transition to a legitimate hypothesis of enlightenment as the union of physical, subtle and super subtle structures of the human body will be gradual.
The scientific establishment will not leap to acknowledge the reality of the Dharmakaya super subtle body, which has been known as the shengtai or embryo of enlightenment in China for thousands of years as the goal of meditation. When successfully translated and scientifically understood, as a substrata of enlightened consciousness created during early embryonic development the consciousness singularity will eventually describe the Dharmakaya/Original Face as the awakened point of origin, the completion stage of meditation and enlightenment.
This is not a new discovery by any means. Instead, it is a scientific explanation of Buddhist and Taoist meditation theory that may very well change history and the Darwinian definition of consciousness evolution. From a conventional scientific perspective the consciousness singularity literally reverses the narrative of Western history because the original goal of science, the Hermetic Androgyne, is the Tantric Dharmakaya/Original Face, the goal of the Indo-Tibetan Mahamudra tradition. Chinese civilization revolves around the shengtai spiritual embryo, which is also the basis of the classical medical and inner alchemical traditions of meditation and qi gong.
The completion stage of Tantric meditation, the union of subtle and super subtle structures of the body was known as the Coniunctio in the West, the marriage of dragon and tiger in Chinese meditation, and the union of mother and child lights (Dharmakaya/Rupakaya) in the Mahamudra tradition. This means that the consciousness singularity may eventually open the eyes of science for the first time since the Philosopher's Stone has been considered a myth. The fall of man has been the loss of the Dharmakaya/Original Face as the enlightened origin of consciousness within the human species, a dormant subtle body structure, which returns the individual to the original state of inner illumination when the completion stage of meditation is achieved.
The Fall of Man
The idea that modern human beings have de-evolved or degenerated from a much higher state of consciousness described as a golden age by mythology, and the fall of man by Western religions, is fundamentally incompatible with Darwinian concepts of evolutionary progression. This hypothesis of a higher substrata of consciousness which lies dormant in all human beings is consistent with Buddhist, Taoist and Hermetic models of human consciousness evolution. Three approaches to higher consciousness restoration include shamanism, yoga and meditation, and qi gong and inner alchemy. These inner energy practices occur in many civilizations, and are the central focus of the contemplative traditions, which are based on the ideal of achieving inner illumination or spiritual awakening. Although there have been many scientific glimpses of dormant inner genius within the human mind, as in savant syndrome, a clear neuroscientific explanation of Nirvana or complete enlightenment, as the union of the three bodies, physical, subtle, and super subtle, has not emerged to collectively reverse the ongoing state of the fall of man – unconsciousness. From a scientific perspective we are unknowingly unconscious and unable to currently grasp that our pre-natal consciousness is actually still enlightened and remains dormant. Since Integral Theory has confused the causal body with the Dharmakaya/super subtle body, this model of meditation and spiritual awakening has not been successfully explained. Since real meditation is based on regressing consciousness back to its point of origin and literally watching it dissolve into nothingness, the distorted Integral evolutionary model is highly problematic, and prevents the progressive spiritual awakening which is its stated goal.
Based on thousands of years of Asian inner science, it is valid to assume that we are living in the dark ages because Western science is unable to acknowledge that its Darwinian narrative of the evolution of consciousness is incomplete. Model dependent realism has so shaped the dominant narrative that the Asian vitalist theory of subtle body activation and union, the Trikaya, cannot be considered. Most importantly, six hundred years ago early science was well aware of the Coniunctio, the subtle body union that resulted in the Hermetic Androgyne when Tantric yoga resulted in a complete kundalini activation, which reversed the fall of man by activating the pineal gland. Much of the scientific skepticism surrounding the alleged myth of the Philosopher's Stone cannot be maintained when the Indo-Tibetan Mahamudra tradition, and Chinese internal alchemy is accurately explained. The basic scientific fact has not been noticed that both Buddhism and Taoism have ongoing meditation traditions based on the concept of the embryo of enlightenment, which means that the Philosopher's Stone, which reverses the fall of man resulting in Nirvana, is still being regularly achieved in Asia as the goal of meditation. The true beauty of the dark ages, the last six hundred years of science, is the astonishing conviction that shamanism is schizophrenia, meditation is artificial catatonia, and enlightenment is Oriental religious delusion/embryonic nostalgia. Science fell into the trap of model dependent dogma that simply rejected the last three thousand years of Asian inner science, which it was not able to translate accurately using reductionist materialism. The best-kept spiritual secret in the world is that sexual union and entheogenic plants, when used according to Tantric inner yoga theory, have the ability to fully activate the pineal and pituitary glands, which permanently reverses the fall of man. This is also the goal and result of the completion stage of meditation. The actual mechanism of enlightenment within the body of all human beings is called the embryo of enlightenment in Buddhism and Taoism, and the Hermetic Androgyne in early science. This mechanism remains dormant within the reproductive system of every human being until enlightenment is achieved. It can be described as a pre-natal enlightened substrata of consciousness created in early fetal development.
The fall of man as explained by the Gnostic version of narrative reversal, is thus the loss of the knowledge of the kundalini/pineal gland activation, which is known as the spiritual embryo/Original Face in East Asian meditation traditions where it is the goal of spiritual awakening. One of the lessons of the historic rediscovery of the Hermetic Androgyne as the Original Face in the early 21st century is that model dependent realism has not led to the necessary use of a super position of mechanistic neuroscientific and vitalist meditation models to explain the Coniunctio, or subtle body union as the inner alchemical experiential recreation of origin. The entire Western understanding of mysticism is linked to transpersonal psychological explanations, which have not been able to understand the idea of higher original consciousness, as the result of chi/prana activation that opens the energy meridians of the body and the third eye, based on an enlightened substratum of pre-natal consciousness. A vitalist model cannot be used because the mechanistic reductionist narrative has told itself that chi does not exist as the basis of meditation and enlightenment, as well as pre-birth and post-birth subtle body union. Although the classical Chinese and Indo-Tibetan explanations of inner illumination have been fundamentally accurate for thousands of years these vitalist models cannot be considered because of Western bias. Proof is that the alleged convergence of neuroscience and Buddhism has ignored the physical, subtle, and super subtle three-body framework, which is necessary to understand the completion stage of meditation. From the perspective of a Zen adept who has actually seen the true Original Face, the spiritual embryo of Taoism, modern consciousness studies are totally incomplete because reductionist neuroscientific models must ignore the kundalini, and pretend that the pre-birth yang super subtle body does not exist, or dissolve into the yin post-birth subtle body at the time the Coniunctio is achieved and inner illumination restored. Although Mindfulness/Vipassana has achieved neuroscientific credibility, the actual mechanism of enlightenment has not been understood or included in the highly watered down Western version of meditation that excludes the liberation of consciousness, moksha, as the primary goal. There is nothing that science would like to avoid more than the complete liberation of consciousness, because this would force the Darwinian paradigm of the dark ages to be rejected in terms of its incomplete definition of human origins.
Linking meditation with stress reduction is the opposite of the radical promise of freedom that the union of the three bodies defines as the goal of complete consciousness evolution. Neuroscience is like Integral Theory in this respect, trapped by an incomplete or non-existent model of spiritual awakening, because genuine inner illumination is based on vitalism, which is no longer accepted by Western civilization. The entire worldview of neuroscience will be forced to revise the scientific definition of human evolution as progress when the concept of inherently enlightened pre-birth consciousness or chi is collectively understood as the most advanced structure of consciousness. This is why Gopi Krishna described the kundalini as the current of genius within mankind. The ultimate genius within mankind is the starting point of the human body, which contains an enlightened genetic blueprint of the illuminated state prior to the fall of man. The embryo of enlightenment/Dharmakaya takes the complete evolution of consciousness to a whole new level of multidimensional consciousness integration – Tantric Buddhahood. Because the multiverse exists in terms of both super position and entanglement of probabilities, when one individual of the 21st century achieves complete enlightenment, all other inter-dependent probable versions follow suit, like the holographic Net of Indra.
"Imagine a multidimensional spider's web in the early morning covered with dew drops. And every dewdrop contains the reflection of all the other dewdrops. And, in each reflected dewdrop, the reflections of all the other dew drops in that reflection. And so ad infinitum. That is the Buddhist conception of the universe in an image."
The entire range of Chinese and Indo-Tibetan non theistic meditation models revolve around three bodies, physical, subtle postbirth yin, and super subtle pre-birth yang, which are unified by what are labeled as the three treasures or energies: jing, chi, shen, or nadi, prana, and bindu. These three essential components of chi/prana cultivation and consciousness refinement are vitalist Asian medical models of inner illumination, which have been excluded from the unknowing Integral or Western neuroscientific bias of meditation researchers, teachers and practitioners. The central concept, reviled by Integral Theory, is that the pre-birth reproductive energy or chi is enlightened in a dormant form within the body of all human beings. This means that the actual goal of meditation that results in enlightened super consciousness is based on energetic regression to the actual source of consciousness, the starting point of the body, the original chi/Mind, which is still illuminated outside of post-birth time. The poverty of meditation expertise among Integral experts explains the confused theistic pseudo-nonduality, which has not understood the permanent transcendence or synchronization of time, which occurs after complete enlightenment is realized. It is this process of chi/prana refinement and cultivation, which is the basis of opening the energy meridians of the body, and awakening the third eye by meditation or Tantric yoga. The key art motif of the Himalayas of yab/yum sexual union depicts the Coniunctio, the union of yin/yang subtle bodies at the time of complete enlightenment. Yab/yum is the Tibetan pronunciation of yin and yang. The Nihuan point or mud pill in Chinese medicine refers to the pineal gland. Nihuan is the Chinese pronunciation of Nirvana. Chinese medicine and inner alchemy are based on a meditation and qi gong theory of opening the energy meridians of the body to awaken the third eye and restore the original enlightened consciousness. It should be noted that this meditation model is not consistent with Darwinian or Integral concepts of the evolution of higher states of consciousness, although it is factual and has been repeatedly achieved by enlightened adepts throughout history. A central aspect of the current dark ages is pretending that this reality isn't so. It is virtually identical to refusing to look in the microscope or in the telescope to see what's really there.
The Integral Western concept of continuous forward progression, prevents the fundamental spiritual evolution of meditation practitioners, who don't understand that enlightenment is within the reproductive system of the body, as the dormant super subtle body/Original Face, and does not occur in the brain until pre-birth and post-birth chi or consciousness is fully united by the Coniunctio, the goal of meditation that results in the Trikaya - complete integration of the three bodies. Unfortunately, Mindfulness, Zen and Integral Theory have omitted the essential subtle body and chi/prana meridian theory of inner illumination based on activating the dormant reproductive energy of the body. Modern researchers have not understood that unless the inner energy meridians of the body are fully opened, the third eye or pineal gland cannot be activated.
The idea that the origin of consciousness is enlightened, and seen and dissolved or returned to void, at the completion stage of meditation or Tantric yoga, has not been understood by Western philosophy or science. Throughout Tibetan history the enlightened adept is described as having successfully returned the Dharmakaya to void. This is why the Integral concept of theistic nonduality is incomplete. The attempt to combine conflicting systems has resulted in losing the direct experience of the completion stage of meditation, which results in void, non-self and awakening. The end result is form as emptiness and emptiness as form, not God is the true Self. The Western concept of the Self is a psychological interpretation of a dormant enlightened pre-birth subtle body structure, which prevents the goal of meditation from being understood. However, inner alchemy has also existed within civilizations that had theistic descriptions of the divine as their basis, and in this sense the Original Face might be described as the face of God within. The ideal of Integral Theory to unite Eastern and Western science and spirituality is valid, but it requires a super position of vitalist and materialist frameworks. Additionally, the embryo of enlightenment, the basis of many Asian traditions of spiritual awakening, must be recognized by Western science for the Golden Flower to be correctly defined and understood as an enlightened dormant subtle body structure within the reproductive system of all human beings. The superiority of the Integral model is in its partial understanding of the three bodies. When the causal body is replaced by an accurate understanding of the Dharmakaya/Original Face as the dormant Buddha nature, the true consciousness singularity may become possible collectively. Currently, ethnocentric bias cannot acknowledge the vitalist dependent model of the inner alchemical golden elixir, because it means that Western science and religion as they are currently described are mythic narrative structures without a clear understanding of ultimate human potential – complete enlightenment.
Transpersonal psychology is really the only field that has acknowledged the possibility of the validity of the Asian concept of enlightenment/super consciousness, as complete individuation, but a real scientific explanation of the phenomenon may eventually substantially change the Darwinian concept of human origins. The completion stage of meditation, the union of the three bodies, physical, subtle, and super subtle, means that there is a Buddha within the primate, which represents the authentic identity or true nature of every individual. This also means that if we define the spirit and soul, as pre-birth and post-birth subtle bodies, which are united at the completion stage of meditation, the Coniunctio, the last six hundred years of science has been a journey into the dark ages in which reductionist materialism has created an artificial fantasy description of ourselves. We have been told that the Philosopher's Stone never existed, because vitalism has been disproven yet it is regularly achieved in China, and has been known as the spiritual embryo or Golden Flower for thousands of years. Although entheogenic plants have been hypothetically connected with the origin of language a complete kundalini activation, or the Original Face, has not been suggested as the origin of consciousness itself as the completion stage of meditation would indicate.
Although the embryo of enlightenment is well known in Asia, and the Hermetic Androgyne appears in alchemical engravings throughout Europe, the Philosopher's Stone, which reverses the fall of man, is considered to be a myth, because Tantric yoga has not been understood in the West in modern times. The goal of Tantra is the complete liberation of consciousness, not a better middle class relationship, which Integral Theory fails to point out. The narrative of human origins that we have been given by science is one in which apes evolve into men. Instead, a worldwide inner alchemical tradition suggests that realized beings may have crossed with primates in some way, even if only in dreams, possibly resulting in the creation of language/consciousness. Realized beings may have been enlightened humans from earlier civilizations. If the origin of language is enlightenment, does this describe a mutation in consciousness that spontaneously emerged, or was it taught to early humans? It seems likely that many of the culture heroes of ancient civilizations may have been realized beings, particularly based on Chinese mythology. The story of the Yellow Emperor explains the origin of Chinese medicine as Tantric instruction by enlightened teachers. From an Asian inner science perspective, it would be absurd to assume that realized beings have not played a significant role in human cultural evolution, since the pre-birth consciousness or super subtle body is the enlightened point of origin. This is consistent with the idea of a golden age, prior to the fall of man, which actually represents the true potential of humanity to achieve complete liberation of consciousness – the union of the three bodies. The three archetypal illuminated characters – the shaman, the yogi, and the alchemist have represented inner illumination/awakening in multiple civilizations where they became sages, Buddhas, and immortals in historical descriptions.
The Big Bang, Darwinian evolution, and Integral Theory do not negate the reality of enlightenment as the origin of human consciousness, when the mind is fully regressed to the starting point of the body, and the Coniunctio experience restores the original state of inner illumination, the reversal of the fall of man. The most “primitive” reptilian structures of the body, the pineal gland, and a complete kundalini activation, the pre-birth yang super subtle body, the Filius Philosophorum, result in super consciousness when fully activated by meditation, qi gong, or Tantric yoga. The scientific problem is that there is no way of measuring or quantifying the Coniunctio, or Tantric Mahamudra experience of the recreation of conception, which restores the nondual enlightened face of the Dharmakaya/Buddhahood, and then returns it to void.
From the perspective of Dzogchen, Mahamudra, Taoist and Hermetic models of complete consciousness evolution there is an enlightened Prima Materia, a genetic blueprint from the beginning of time lying dormant within all human beings, as a substrata of enlightened consciousness. The origin of science was the quest for the Philosopher's Stone, which was never lost in China and is still regularly achieved although rare. The convergence of meditation and neuroscience has led to the potential reversal of the fall of man, which can actually be described as collective reductionist scientific amnesia, which refuses to remember the embryo of enlightenment as the enlightened origin of consciousness, which can be directly observed by any person who reaches the completion stage of meditation, qi gong or Tantric yoga. This theoretically means that the omega point attractor, the real consciousness singularity, the transcendental object that renders time obsolete, is our own Original Face, the reality body of absolute truth, the deepest level of ourselves. At the beginning of the 21st century science is in the process of rediscovering a dormant subtle body structure of prebirth enlightened consciousness, which means that there is a Buddha within the primate. Zen has always exclaimed, “See the true Self [Original Face] and become a living Buddha.” The ultimate artifact that radically changes humanity for the better is the modern discovery of the oldest embryonic subtle body structure of consciousness, the enlightened Original Face that dissolves into emptiness at the completion stage of meditation. The omega point, that reverses the fall of man, is the divine spark within the first chakra of all human beings, which negates causality, as we now know it, when used to open the third eye. The idea that the goal of meditation, qi gong, and Tantric yoga is literally a causality violation based on the inner recreation of conception has the potential to radically expand the post post-modern understanding of complete consciousness evolution.
The concept that the I Ching is a map of time, which points to an illuminated center of primordial time that is still connected to the Tao, within the pre-birth consciousness of all human beings, has not been generally understood as the inner alchemical goal of Chinese civilization, the realization of the Golden Flower. The entire framework of neuroscience may eventually be upgraded by the rediscovery of the Coniunctio, as the completion stage of consciousness evolution, which reverses the fall of man and restores the original enlightened mind. Jung appears to be one of the only modern thinkers who recognized the significance of the Coniunctio, the union of pre-birth and post-birth subtle body structures, although he misunderstood a physiological process of inner alchemical union/marriage, with a psychological process of individuation. Since Integral Theory is based on transpersonal psychology, an incomplete psychological model of awakening has obscured the process of three-body unification, which is the basis of many of the contemplative traditions. The good news is that the completion stage of meditation solves the problem of unifying science and spirituality when complete awakening is fully explained by Western neuroscience. However, Mindfulness, or Zen as they are currently understood represent obstacles to the understanding of the completion stage of meditation – the Trikaya. The completion stage of meditation means that consciousness has successfully regressed to its own point of origin within the body, which activates the pineal gland, when the three bodies are fully united. This negates the barrier between original time/consciousness and the present continuum. The omega point, the enlightened attractor at the end of time, may very well be the collective discovery of the embryo of enlightenment as the dormant transhuman genius within all humanity waiting to awaken the collective unconscious, and restore the Unus Mundus of complete inner illumination, the reversal of the fall of man. As it says in the I Ching, the oldest map of time, “Understand the heart of the mind, see the Original Spirit, and arrive at destiny.” The Yuan Shen or Original Spirit is the original Chinese term for the Dharmakaya/Original Face, the embryo of enlightenment. The original spirit, or embryo of enlightenment has been the esoteric focus of Asian spirituality for thousands of years; in the West it was called the Philosopher's Stone.
The Problem with Western Buddhism
The idea that the most important aspect of Buddhist meditation and awakening has not been understood by Western practitioners and neuroscience, as well as many Asian lineages, is not easy to discuss when the expert authorities are often limited by their own respective world views. You see this when Integral teachers discuss Buddhism, they have not understood the completion stage of meditation, but present the radical promise of freedom as watered down self-help and stress reduction. The stress reduction convergence with Buddhism/neuroscience is probably the most damaging aspect of the American distortion of enlightenment, which characterizes current Western understanding. There is an implicit assumption that neuroscience has defeated the conceptual framework of complete awakening/Nirvana, when actually the reverse is true because the union of the three bodies is a breakthrough in plane, which suggests that Darwinian theories of human origins may be incomplete. The single greatest flaw of Integral Theory is the wildly distorted conventional establishment perspective that evolution has successfully replaced the most ancient spiritual ideals of complete liberation of consciousness. Integral Theory goes one step further than science in confusing descriptive models, combining Western/Asian theistic ideology with evolutionary emergence does not explain genuine spiritual awakening based on uniting the three bodies, physical, subtle, and super subtle. Although Integral Theory has not successfully integrated science, and the theistic and non-theistic contemplative traditions, this process is possible because the deepest level of every human being is actually fully enlightened consciousness, and this can be realized by anyone who can reach the completion stage of meditation, qi gong or Tantric yoga.
Theoretically, Buddhist enlightenment may eventually be explained using both mechanistic and vitalist models of consciousness evolution, as Western science succeeds in explaining the goal of meditation - seeing the Original Face. The reality is that a neuroscientific explanation of the actual mechanism of enlightenment, the Original Face/Dharmakaya super subtle body, which dissolves into emptiness at the final meditation experience of awakening has not been understood or considered by researchers, practitioners and scholars. The concept of an enlightened dormant pre-birth subtle body within all human beings is too close to the homunculus concept, or the divine spark within man to be considered to be academically credible. The core theory of Zen is that the Original Mind or origin of consciousness itself is awakening, and the true nature of the individual is enlightenment a substratum of consciousness created during early fetal development.
The recent convergence of neuroscience, consciousness studies and Buddhism, has not resulted in an understanding of the Tathagatagharba, the embryo of Buddhahood, which is also known as the spiritual embryo in Taoist meditation, a dormant subtle body within the reproductive system of all human beings, created at an early stage of embryonic development. This essential structure results in spiritual awakening when fully activated, and is the foundation of East Asian meditation theory, resulting in emptiness, non-self and enlightenment, and is well known and explained by classical Chinese medical definitions of inner illumination. It is why enlightenment is described in Taoism as the union of pre-birth and post-birth chi or consciousness. Lui Ming, a Chinese adept, says in Thomas Cleary's translation of Understanding Reality:
"The valley spirit is the unique energy of primordial nothingness; this is what is called the spiritual embryo. ...Confucians call it the Great Ultimate [Tai chi] or Ultimate Truth. Buddhists call it Complete Awareness or the Body of Reality [Dharmakaya] or the Relic of Buddha. Taoists call it the Golden Elixir, the Spiritual Embryo or the Valley Spirit [Original Spirit]."
Buddhism describes this dormant pre-birth subtle body as the Tathagatagharba, the embryo of Buddhahood. It is also referred to as shengtai. Unlike Tibet, when Buddhism reached China the embryo of enlightenment was already well known as the basis of spiritual awakening within Confucian and Taoist traditions. Both inner alchemy and the I Ching revolve around the spiritual embryo as the original basis of Chinese medical knowledge. Modern Zen and Mindfulness/Southern Buddhism have lost the concept of the embryo of enlightenment for the most part.
The term sheng-t'ai furthermore occurs in the writings of Tsungmi, a patriarch of the Hua-yen School of Chinese Buddhism. In a passage on the origin of Zen, Tsung-mi speaks of nourishing the spirit (shen) and allowing the sacred embryo to grow. Ma-tzu Tao-i, one of the most famous Zen masters of the 8th century, also used the term.
Western Buddhism is admirable in rejecting superstitious cultural baggage, which is not compatible with modernity and science. This is actually the promise of Integral Theory as well, which it simply doesn't deliver because it hasn't understood spiritual awakening. The problem here is that genuine Buddhist awakening, the real Original Face, the embryo of enlightenment, is not measurable or quantifiable, and meditation and awakening is based on vitalism. Vitalism has allegedly been disproven by the West, although it is the basis of acupuncture, tai chi, qi gong, yoga and Asian spirituality as a whole, which are exceedingly popular, and increasingly scientifically validated. This is why the convergence of neuroscience and meditation, like Integral Theory/evolution and enlightenment, is a Western distortion of the process of complete consciousness evolution, which prevents real enlightenment from being understood. It is actually remarkable that the Western model of awakening has completely ignored the Buddhist and Taoist qi gong explanation of spiritual enlightenment, which is proven, tested and highly accurate with very little cultural superstition remaining in current medical models. Although there are obviously phony versions, a genuine core theory exists and is readily available in modern times. Most importantly, the concept of enlightened pre-birth consciousness or chi within all human beings is the opposite of original sin. The hypothesis that the union of pre-birth and post-birth consciousness or chi, the goal of meditation reverses the fall of man, and restores the original state of inner illumination has been ignored by both neuroscience and Integral Theory.
Western Buddhism, in general, has an extremely distorted understanding of the goal of meditation in the West, because the acknowledged experts in the field cannot understand the connection between chi/prana and complete awakening, although it is well explained by classical Chinese medical theory. The end result has been a complete mistranslation and a misunderstanding of Buddhism in which the real Original Face/Dharmakaya, a dormant subtle body, which dissolves into emptiness at the completion stage of meditation is still unknown. This oversight largely perpetrated by unconscious, ethnocentric bias and incomplete meditation prevents the radical Bodhisattva promise of liberation of consciousness from fully transforming Western concepts of human potential in the 21st century. Theoretically, a worldwide culture of awakening may possibly result from a correct scientific understanding of the embryo of enlightenment, as a subtle body structure that may be the basis of human fetal development, as well as spiritual awakening. From a Chinese perspective the pre-birth consciousness/chi of all human beings is inherently enlightened.
Comparing the development of the embryo to the revelation of Buddhahood is typical of neidan texts of the Ming period. For instance, the Xingming guizhi (Principles of Balanced Cultivation of Inner Nature and Vital Force) uses Body of the Law (fashen, dharmakaya) as a synonym for shengtai. The birth of the embryo represents the appearance of the original spirit (yuanshen) or Buddhahood and is understood as enlightenment. The process leading to the birth of the embryo consists of the purification of inner nature and vital force (xing and ming). Thus the true inner nature and vital force come into being, which in turn is equated to the return to emptiness. The embryo also indicates the unity of body (shen), heart (xin), and intention (yi) in a state of quiescence without motion.
Essentially, an artificial version of secular Buddhism has emerged, which has replaced the Original Face/Dharmakaya, the embryo of enlightenment with transpersonal psychology and neuroscience. Unfortunately, transpersonal psychology and neuroscience cannot explain the spiritual embryo in their current form because it is an unknown vitalist subtle structure that is unmeasurable. It is the actual mechanism of real awakening or enlightenment and can only be seen from the inside. Theoretically, all it might take is for the Guru and the Pandit to create a debate over the embryo of enlightenment as the basis of the awakening of the historical Buddha, and tremendous positive change might eventually result worldwide. This is what they might do if they were real Bodhisattvas. A scientific understanding of the real Dharmakaya/Original Face has the potential to unite religion and science with the ultimate evolution of consciousness, which is the true nature of the individual.
This hypothesis of awakening is a well-known fact in China, and has simply gone unnoticed and untranslated in the West because it requires a vitalist framework to understand and translate it successfully. As previously noted, the classical Zen saying, "See the true Self and become a living Buddha," is a reference to the embryo of enlightenment, a subtle body, not a psychological self, which is a highly distorted Western interpretation and translation. Similarly, the I Ching states, "Understand the heart of the mind, see the Original Spirit, and arrive at destiny." Thomas Cleary, Eva Wong, Charles Luk and Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming are highly regarded translators that have done a good job explaining embryonic enlightenment in their descriptions of inner alchemy and awakening. When one reads Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming's Qi Gong Meditation Embryonic Breathing book, one can only wonder how this body of knowledge has been omitted from both science and Integral Theory in the 21st century?
The only real impediment to this understanding of enlightenment at this point, is the inability of Western scholars and teachers to admit that they have ignored and mistranslated the most important aspect of Buddhism, the embryo of enlightenment, that results in awakening at the completion stage of meditation when it dissolves into emptiness. All of the mirror symbolism in Buddhism metaphorically describes the Original Face/Dharmakaya the embryo of enlightenment, sometimes called the "bright mirror wisdom," which permanently awakens and transforms the consciousness of the meditator. The end result is complete awakening - non-self, void and inner illumination or enlightenment. This is not a mystery in China, although it is rare it is still regularly achieved, and has simply not been successfully translated or understood in the West.
Lord, the Tathagatagharba is neither self nor sentient being, nor soul, nor personality. The Tathagatagharba is not the domain of beings who fall into the belief in a real personality, who adhere to wayward views, whose thoughts are distracted by voidness. Lord, this Tathagatagharba is the embryo of the Illustrious Dharmadhatu, the embryo of the Dharmakaya, the embryo of the supramundane dharma, the embryo of the intrinsically pure dharma. [E]ither covered by defilements, when it is called only "embryo of the Tathagata"; or free from defilements, when the "embryo of the Tathagata" is no more the "embryo" (potentiality) but the Tathagata (=the Dharmakaya)(actuality).
The Opening of the Third Eye
Opening the third eye is the ideal in many cultures, which underlies three of the major branches of spirituality: Asian shamanism, yoga and meditation, and inner alchemy. A consistent theme in the majority of liberation of consciousness based introspective traditions is the activation of the human body's inner energy. This is called chi/prana in Asian systems that result in complete enlightenment, and the opening of the third eye, after the subtle inner energy meridians of the body have been fully opened by spiritual practices, which results in realization. The Mahamudra tradition and the Six Yogas of Naropa are a clear example of an ancient collection of Tantric practices that result in complete consciousness evolution when mastered.
Perhaps the most important concept underlying the theory of spiritual awakening is the idea of the divine spark within man. It is this primordial blueprint, which underlies the Gnostic concept of the Anthropos, and the Hebrew mystical Adam Kadmon, which were both incorporated in Hermetic models of inner illumination based on activating the pineal gland, which may have gone back to Egypt as well as other civilizations. Alchemists and sages knew of this spark of light, contained within the first chakra of the body, and it was called the Prima Materia before science rejected spiritual alchemy, which did not occur in China. The Prima Materia refers to the first matter, the embryonic starting point of the body. The classical Chinese medical tradition is originally based on an ancient knowledge of Tantric inner yoga, which goes back, allegedly, to before the Yellow Emperor. Many Chinese meditation systems were originally based on inner alchemy. East Asian Neidan, and qi gong traditions are based on a theory of chi refinement and activation, which results in the opening of the third eye at the completion stage of meditation. As noted previously, the pineal gland is called the Nihuan or mud pill, in classical Chinese medical alchemical qi gong theory, and Nihuan is the Chinese pronunciation of Nirvana.
The Indian kundalini model is also based on the idea of a dormant enlightened energy, contained within the first chakra at the base of the spine, which is raised to the top of the head, and opens the third eye resulting in the experience of inner illumination. This concept of the serpent power being connected to divinity is represented by the symbols of the uraeus, caduceus, and oroborus, which represent the activation of the pineal gland in many ancient religions, which were based on spiritual alchemy and prophecy. Gnostic traditions often reversed the Biblical narrative of good and evil, and some sects considered the serpent to be the symbol of divine knowledge. The Rod of Asclepius is still used as the symbol of medicine. Both the Vedic Soma, and possibly even the Gilgamesh story, seem to refer to entheogenic plants, which combined with a kundalini activation, may have resulted in profound spiritual states of consciousness. The scholar, David Frawley, does a good job of explaining Soma in this way, as a combination of entheogenic plant use and kundalini activation.
When we explore the theory of Tantric yoga, in terms of opening the third eye, we find that the secret of alchemy in ancient civilizations may very well have been entheogenic plants, combined with sexual yoga, which opened the third eye by a kundalini activation. There have been both celibate teachers like Bodhidharma, and Tantric Mahasiddhas like Padmasambhava in Tibet. Most importantly, this may have been the secret science of pineal gland activation in many ancient civilizations including Egypt, as well as Hebrew mystical traditions. This process is well explained by modern Chinese medical qi gong theory, and Southern Taoism is characterized by a sexual yoga method of opening the third eye. Unfortunately, modern Zen has completely lost the original subtle body theory, and the qi gong systems of the Shaolin Temple, which may be similar to the roots of many ancient Asian spiritual traditions, which resulted in true adepts or sages, who had experienced inner illumination and the opening of the third eye, the goal of enlightenment. Many of these systems describe the original state of consciousness of humanity as primordially enlightened, and describe higher illuminated consciousness as the true nature of the individual. The Biblical fall of man appears to refer to the loss of this original state of divine spiritual consciousness, based on the activation of the pineal gland. Regaining this original state of inner illumination was the esoteric goal of many ancient civilizations. As the serpent told Eve, “If you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God.” This is obviously very similar to the Indian theory that a complete kundalini activation, the fruit of meditation, returns the individual to an illuminated state of consciousness, which is equivalent to God. Dzogchen refers to Nirvana, the post-Coniunctio experience as the fruit of meditation, and the literal origin of consciousness. The central problem of Integral Theory is that Darwinian evolutionary models cannot explain the enlightened origin of consciousness, or spiritual awakening from their current perspective.
According to many esoteric traditions, the human being can be divided into three bodies, physical, subtle, and super subtle, (called gross, subtle and causal by Ken Wilber), body, soul, and spirit. The soul is the dream body, and the spirit is dormant within the first chakra until it activates the pineal gland at the completion stage of the inner alchemical process. The Hermetic alchemical description of the three bodies is corpus, anima, and spiritus, and the goal of complete inner illumination was achieved by the Coniunctio, the union of subtle, anima and super subtle, spiritus represented by the twin serpents of the caduceus. The Indo-Tibetan Mahamudra tradition calls the Coniunctio experience the union of mother and child lights. The super subtle body is called the Yuan Shen Original Spirit, or spiritual embryo in Chinese alchemy, the Anthropos in Gnosticism and Manichaeism, and Adam Kadmon in Hebrew mysticism. Buddhism calls it the Tathagatagharba embryo of enlightenment, which appears as the Original Face or Dharmakaya, and dissolves into emptiness when Nirvana is achieved. Clear/white light unitative formless meditation experiences are not the actual complete enlightenment experience, which opens the third eye permanently. The actual concept of nonduality is a direct reference to the Coniunctio experience, which has been misunderstood by many teachers and scholars that have not reached the completion stage of meditation. Mahayana and Tantric Buddhism describe enlightenment as the union of the three bodies physical, subtle and super subtle. The super subtle body is dormant within all human beings probably created either at conception or during the first forty-nine days of fetal development. Modern translations of ancient spiritual traditions have consistently confused the spirit and soul, and have been unable to identify them correctly as prebirth and post-birth subtle bodies, as clearly defined by Chinese qi gong traditions. The Integral correlation of the causal body with the Dharmakaya and deep sleep or unconsciousness is a remarkable distortion of non-theistic nondual traditions of spiritual awakening. Actually mixing Advaita Vedanta and modern Zen, and Mindfulness traditions have resulted in repeated confused spiritual cults, which unknowingly victimize their followers by using psychological frameworks of consciousness evolution instead of real spiritual physiological awakening.
The dormant pre-birth subtle body, when united with the postbirth subtle body by the Coniunctio, the alchemical marriage, resulted in a true illuminated prophet or sage in many ancient cultures whose spiritual systems were based on achieving inner illumination, the complete activation of the pineal gland. Modern psychological interpretations have completely overlooked this dormant super subtle body, which opens the third eye, and reconnects the sage with the divine origin, which is dormant within all human beings as the spark of light. The Bible describes it as the pearl beyond price; in Indo-Tibetan spiritual systems it is known as the wish-fulfilling jewel or chintamani. The Golden Flower or Golden Elixir is a well-known Chinese metaphor for enlightenment, and Taoist alchemy calls the Coniunctio the marriage of the tiger and dragon. The dragon or serpent is a virtually universal metaphor for this dormant super subtle body, which was also called the Philosopher's Stone or Hermetic Androgyne, the goal of spiritual alchemy. The Original Spirit within the first chakra, which activates the pineal gland at the completion stage of inner alchemy, is the reason for the esoteric Hebrew saying, “Keter is within Malkuth”, a reference to the macrocosm of the highest chakra contained within the microcosm of the first chakra, the divine spark of light, and vice versa. As it says in the Emerald Tablet, “As above, so below.”
(Note the 'spiritual embryo' in the lower abdomen.)
The activation of the pineal gland is the basis of Chinese spiritual and medical traditions, and this process is often described as the union of pre-birth and post-birth consciousness or chi. Opening the third eye is the goal of qi gong, using the spiritual embryo which is the end result of the completion stage of inner alchemy, also known as the Original Spirit, or Yuan Shen. Perhaps a whole body DMT release fully activates the pineal gland during the subtle body union experience, which is the esoteric goal of Tantric traditions of enlightenment, as well as Buddhist and Taoist qi gong systems. This experience is sometimes described as embracing singularity, swallowing the universe, or seeing the Original Face. It is well known in China that this process can result in a pituitary growth hormone release, which can return an elderly practitioner to middle age with the hair and teeth growing back. This is regularly reported in Chinese newspapers and never mentioned by Western researchers. This process of opening the inner energy meridians of the body through chi refinement is the basis of all Chinese meditation traditions. Modern Zen practitioners have not understood that the Original Face is a reference to the spiritual embryo, which is a dormant subtle body within the first chakra, the divine spark of light, which dissolves into emptiness at the time of enlightenment. The premise is that a human being that moves the spark from the lower torso to the brain, and activates the pineal gland, regains the original state of enlightened inner illumination. This is not a hypothetical framework. Western mechanistic materialist frameworks have rejected vitalist models of consciousness evolution, which prevents Western scholars from correctly understanding and translating the inner alchemical process of chi refinement, which results in the spiritual embryo.
It could be argued that Terence McKenna's prediction of the paradigm-shifting discovery of the ultimate artifact might very well be the Taoist spiritual embryo, which exists in a dormant form in all human beings as the divine spark of light, waiting to activate the pineal gland. This means that the Philosopher's Stone is still being regularly achieved in Asia, and is clearly explained by the Chinese classical medical model of enlightenment.
As it turns out, at the end of time as we know it, science and spirituality have a common origin, the Original Spirit, a dormant subtle body which opens the third eye at the completion stage of meditation, Tantra, and inner alchemy.