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Ken Wilber on Real Archetypes


For the mystics – Shankara, Plato, Augustine, Eckhart, Garab Dorje archetypes are the first subtle forms that appear as the world manifests out of formless and unmanifest Spirit. They are patterns upon which all other patterns of manifestation are based. From the Greek arche typon, original pattern subtle, transcendental forms that are the first form of manifestation, whether that manifestation is physical, biological, mental, whatever.And in most forms of Mysticism, these archetypes are nothing but radiant patterns or points of light, audible illumination, brilliantly colored shapes and luminosities, rainbows of light and sounds and vibration – out of which, in manifestation, the material world condenses.

The real Archetypes are subtle seed-forms upon which all of manifestation depends. The entire Kosmos emerges straight out of Emptiness, out of primordial Purity, out of Nirguana Brahman, out of Dharmakaya, and the first Forms that emerge out of this Emptiness are the basic Forms upon which all lesser forms depend for their being.

Those Forms are the actual archetypes, a term which means “original pattern” or “primary mold”

LIGHT – (of which) all lesser lights are pale shadows

BLISS – all lesser joys are anemic copies

CONSCIOUSNESS –all lesser cognitions are mere reflections

SOUND – all lesser sounds are thin echoes

You are looking at the basic foundation of the entire manifested world.

According to Carl Jung archetypes are the basic mythic forms devoid of content. He uses archetypes as basic mythic structures that are collective to human experience, like the Trickster, the Shadow, the Wise Old Man, the Ego, the Persona, the Great Mother, the Anima, and the Animus. They are not so much transcendent as they are existential. They are simply the facets of experience that are common to everyday human condition. They are collectively inherited in a psyche. It is very important to come to terms with those mythic “archetypes”.

If I am having psychological trouble with my mother (so called mother complex), it is important to realize that much of that emotional charge comes not just from my individual mother but from a Great Mother, a powerful image in my collective unconscious that is in essence the distillation of mothers everywhere. That is the psyche comes with the image of the Great Mother embedded in it, just as the psyche comes already equipped with the rudimentary forms of language and of perception and of various instinctual patterns. If the Great Mother image is activated, I am not just dealing with my individual mother, but with thousands of years of the human experience with mothering in general. So, the Great Mother image carry a charge and has an impact far beyond what anything my own mother could possibly do on her own. Coming to terms with the Great Mother, through the study of the world myths, is a good way to deal with that mythic form, to make it conscious and thus differentiate from it. But those mythic forms have nothing to do with mysticism, with genuine transcendental awareness.

Why, according to Wilber those archetypes are not transcendental?

They are not transcendental because there is confusion between collective with transpersonal (or mystical), like Jung did it. Just because my mind inherits certain collective forms does not mean those forms are mystical or transpersonal. We all collectively inherit ten toes, but if I experience my toes I am not having a mystical experience. Jung “archetypes” have virtually nothing to do with genuinely spiritual, transcendental, mystical awareness; they are collectively inherited forms that distill some of the very basic, everyday, existential encounters of the human condition – life, death, birth, mother, father, shadow, ego, and so on. Nothing mystical about it, collective, yes, transpersonal, no

There are collective pre-personal, collective personal, and collective transpersonal elements. Jung does not differentiate those and because of that it skews his entire understanding of the spiritual process. It is important to come to terms with the forms in both the personal and the collective mythic unconscious; but neither one of those has much to do with real mysticism, which is first, finding the light beyond form; then finding the formless beyond light.  

Health Spectrum 2012