Becoming Not Yourself: The Centaur Stage of Infant and Toddler Learning Involves Learning You Are Not OK and Continues the Separation from Innate Divinity

 Mythology - Painting - Birth of Venus (1)  

The Newborn Is the Centaur — Half Human, Half Animal … Half Human, Half Divine: The Second Fall From Grace, Birth, Part Four—The Biosocial Bands … The Cultural Veil

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To Summarize

To summarize, “The breaking of the vessels generated vileness in divinity and then vicariously in creation” (Shoham, 1990, p. 40). That is, the creation of sperm and egg created the possibility of corruption, of difference in intention from that of the divine. That is the beginning of evil. Then, “the expulsion of man from pantheistic paradise, resulted in the creation of the first human polar archetypes” (p. 40). So with birth there is the creation of the first polar archetypes—the creation of past and future, space and time, and birth and death.

In such manner, then, are the patterns of ego and “mind” separated and severed from underlying and forgotten (but not unfelt) patterns of archetypal, karmic, psychic, and universal self existing as body. [Footnote 1]

The newly emergent conceptual bank is ripe for the impressions of society and culture, hence, the emergence of the biosocial bands.

Biosocial Bands: The Cultural Veil

A Vast Screen That We Throw Over Reality

Most importantly, these are the postnatal, infantile, and early childhood experiences. Wilber (1977) has a narrower conceptualization of them, yet his elaboration still holds:

[T]he Biosocial Band, as the repository of sociological institutions such as language and logic, is basically, fundamentally, and above all else a matrix of distinctions, of forms and patterns conventionally delineating, dissecting, and dividing the “seamless coat of the universe.”

Thus the Biosocial Band, if it isn’t directly responsible for all dualisms, nevertheless definitely reinforces all dualisms, and so perpetuates illusions that we would ordinarily see through. . . . The Biosocial Band, as a matrix of distinctions, is thus like a vast screen that we throw over reality. (p. 135)

Biosocialization: Nursing and Nurturing Events Create Templates for Later Language and Logic

Language is important in structuring experience, as well as are all the other factors of socialization alluded to by Wilber above, but the fundamental biosocialization occurs at the mother’s breast, so to speak. Postnatal hospital experiences and nursing experiences are foremost events in the structuring and patterning of all later form, including that of language and logic. Later on, weaning, toilet training, and other infant and early childhood experiences have secondary but still immensely strong influences in shaping the very way that reality is perceived and reacted to.

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The Cultural Veil

However, compared to earlier (biological and biocultural) experiences, these postnatal experiences are heavily culture-rooted. Therefore they are hugely variable. And they in turn serve eventually to shape the exoteric contents of culture. This is to be contrasted with biocultural influences at the transpersonal bands, the womb level, where (relatively) universal biology makes for relatively universal patterns and structures. [Footnote 2]

This Postnatal Body-Ego Is “Animalian” Compared to “Vegetative” in the Womb

At birth we have the beginnings of the idea that is the ego. But Wilber (1977) points out this is initially a body-ego. Therefore, if the womb could be called vegetative, this state of body-ego could be called animalian. The child is severed from direct transpersonal access, but these realities exist as bodily felt feelings. Through the emergence of the biosocial bands, however, that sense of bodily and transpersonal awareness is increasingly replaced with ego consciousness and consciousness of cultural form.

The Centaur Is the Toddler — Half Human, Half Animal … Half Human, Half Divine

So this initial socialization is patterned upon a foundation of bodily feelings (which are themselves the remnants of transpersonal realities). Thus, it is fitting that the symbol Wilber (1977) uses is the Centaur—half human, half animal—the conceptual, cultural, “civilized” portion melded, as it were, to the remnants of transpersonal reality, which at this point are only experienced as bodily pushes and pulls, patterns of feelings, “instincts.” [Footnote 3]

The “Primal” Person Is to Cycles of Nature as the Baby Is to Mother’s Routines for Caring

The relation to transpersonal realities here is far from identification. We talk instead of attunement to cosmic rhythms or living in accordance with natural cycles. For the “primal” or “archaic” person (the person of pre-history), these rhythms may be seasonal and related to agricultural processes and cycles of nature. For the young child, these rhythms are biological and cultural. The newborn must find a way to strike a balance between its own cycles of hunger, thirst, sleep, defecation, play, and needs for touch and affection, and the cycles of its caretaker—whose rhythms, even under optimal conditions, are not going to synchronize with the newborn’s as perfectly as was the case in the womb.

Becoming Other Than “I”

This tension, then, pushes the emergence of the biosocial bands. For with the passage of time this discrepancy widens. At first an attempt is made to cater to the newborn’s rhythms. But more and more the infant is required to conform to external cycles: from feeding on demand to on a schedule, from nursing to weaning . . . eventually there is toilet training. At each stage the child is told, in unmistakable ways, that he or she is not O.K. the way that she or he is, that she or he must conform to outer patterns. This continues throughout the infant and toddler years until the age of about four or five.

Learning to Forget and Forgetting How to Feel

Thus, this process of layering of bands of biosocial learning—of learning to forget and forgetting how to feel one’s inner pushes, pulls, and feelings—widens, with each new repression, the wall between self and divinity. And this depiction characterizes the state from birth on and through the infant and toddler years. It extends up until the time of another, even greater, separation—another major splitting or fall from grace, the creation of another major duality in consciousness. This phase occurs around the age of four or five and is called by Arthur Janov (1970) the primal scene.

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Footnotes

1. This statement is in direct contradiction to Wilber’s later formulations of his theory (1980 and on) because he claims that matter, existing as body, is a lowest form of consciousness. I point this out because this discrepancy demonstrates clearly how he has unconsciously accepted the primacy-of-the-physical-universe postulate of the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm. The resulting epiphenomenalism is evident in his statements that “the great chain of being . . . can be listed as matter to body to soul to spirit” and that “you are born with a material body, but eventually a fully developed mind emerges . . . [later] when the soul emerges . . . [later] when the spirit emerges” (1989, p. 463).

Thus, it seems that, despite the impressively presented new-paradigm vision he brings to us in The Spectrum of Consciousness, Wilber’s later formulations crumple under the weight of old-paradigm developmental theorists (see Wilber, 1980) whose theories are based on the idea that mind evolves out of matter, that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of brain activity and not the reverse.

Swayed in this way by the kind of thinking that seeks to understand body (and mind) from the outside—as separate object—the new-paradigm understanding that matter and body are metaphorical reflections of Consciousness fades in its influence on his formulations. Furthermore, swayed by developmentalists that, in typical Western linear style, assume a progression through time; the new-paradigm viewing point of the Eternal Moment, of the illusory nature of time and, consequently, of the controversial character of cause and effect is also lost in Wilber’s writings.

2.  It must be admitted that these biological underpinnings, as universal as they would seem to be, are to some degree culturally affected. These biocultural influences arise through what the mother eats, drinks or doesn’t drink, smokes or doesn’t, uses or doesn’t, thinks, and feels during the course of the pregnancy. For these biocultural influences on consciousness see Verny (1981; 1987), Noble (1993), Janov’s later writings (e.g., 1973, 1975, 1983), the Journal of Primal Therapy, and publications of the Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH), especially the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal.

3. I realize that Wilber later changed from his position in The Spectrum of Consciousness concerning the Centaur. In later works he has claimed that the Centaur should be reserved for only the adult post-ego period. This change highlights our philosophical differences. Obviously my analysis here, based upon pre- and perinatal psychology, supports his earlier position and strongly disputes his later one. It underscores what I consider a glaring discrepancy on his part. For he both acknowledges a pre-birth existence for soul and consciousness (1980, pp. 160-176) but then constructs his structures of development in a typical Western anti-reincarnational and anti- new-paradigm way as if that pre-birth existence does not exist (and both in the same work).

This contradiction may be partly due to his source of prenatal psychology being the Tibetan Book of the Dead. I get the sense that his use of such a “spiritual” source (as opposed to our empirical Western experiential ones) has somehow prevented him from taking seriously the notion that the person “really” does exist prior to the time of birth. (He puts quotes around events when discussing the happenings before birth (1980, p. 162), indicating the dubious category he has assigned them. Also, he says that one may consider these events metaphorically, symbolically, or mythically (1980, p. 162)). Obviously, prenatal (as well as past-life) psychology affirms the importance of taking such a notion and such prenatal events seriously and regrets his later formulations.

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To Read the Entire Book … on-line, free at this time … of which this is an excerpt, Go to Falls from Grace

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About sillymickel

Activist, psychotherapist, pre- and perinatal psychologist, author, and environmentalist. I seek to inspire others to our deeper, more natural consciousness, to a primal, more delightful spirituality, and to taking up the cause of saving life on this planet, as motivated by love.
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5 Responses to Becoming Not Yourself: The Centaur Stage of Infant and Toddler Learning Involves Learning You Are Not OK and Continues the Separation from Innate Divinity

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