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Creativty, Healing and Shamanism: Part 2

by Carlisle Bergquist, M.A., Ph.D.c.

A Dynamical Systems Model of exceptional encounters in Brazil.
© 1996 Carlisle Bergquist, MA, Ph.D.c.

A Transcendental Creative System in Dynamic Process

Creative acts are often surprising. The results may differ from the original goals. Systems engaged in creative acts have many critical variables or, more accurately "control parameters" (Abraham, Abraham & Shaw, 1990) within which creative processes occur as expected. Beyond the threshold of any control parameter the system may change radically. The outcome may be creation or annihilation. Examples of such control parameters might include, but are not limited to, the following; under or over performance by any subsystem in the system, environmental stress on the system, noise or distortion within the system, system overload, and other features that thwart prediction. The three individuals in this writing may have had experiences that shifted their control parameters as follows.

Amyr says he discovered his paranormal abilities as a young boy when he met a small green man on the street who took him to an another planet he calls "Esna." This exceptional experience might have caused such sever stress that many individuals would have turned and run away rather than accompany the green man. Thus, this experience was transformative for Amyr because it changed his existing state. It likely exceeded his control parameters for normal consciousness but not to such a degree that it annihilated him as a creative system.

Neiva Chaves Zelaya, became a truck driver and operated independently around the country as she could find work. In 1957 she moved her trucks to Brasilia to engage in the work of building Brazil's new capitol city. Thus, the control parameters changed both with the death of her husband and her choice of a rather unusual profession for a woman in her culture. These parameters took another more radical shift in 1958 when she began to see and hear spirits. In both encounters, the stimuli exceeded the control parameters for normal functioning in many individuals. Neiva responded to these stimuli by contacting her priest, then a psychiatrist and finally the spiritualist groups of Brazil to comprehend to the new phenomena. If either provocation had exceeded the control parameters beyond her ability to adjust, she might have ended up as a poor widow, or in the later case, judged insane. Instead, Neiva listened to her spirit guides and developed a new religion.

Ingestion of Santo Daime stimulates the chemical make up of the body. Thus, in my personal experience it was the initiating input that changed the control parameters of my consciousness. Once ingested there is little to be done but surrender and experience the changes that follow.

Thus individuals, as creative systems responding to the transcendental, are complex dynamical systems rather than linear processes as they first appear. Stress on an individual creator does not have a predictable result as these examples demonstrate. It is therefore worthwhile to consider chaos (or dynamical systems) theory to model the dynamism of these individual creative processes as part of a transcendental creative system. This writing will specifically apply the chaos model to the two forms of the creative process it outlines, to shamanism and, to the three individual examples just introduced. I will define the terms related to chaos theory used in this comparison as the discussion unfolds.

I have proposed that transcendent creative acts (like those of shamans, healers, or visionary creators) occur in response to a collective need, urge or, wish. The depiction of creation in dynamical systems theory will help expand this thesis. Also useful is a network model of consciousness described by Carl Jung (1969) that delineates four main areas: personal consciousness, personal unconsciousness, collective consciousness, and collective unconsciousness. I further propose that beyond these forms of consciousness exists a field I will call undifferentiated consciousness; i.e., consciousness that is not allocated to any individual entity or collective such as the collective human consciousness described by Jung. This is perhaps what Buddhist philosophy (Radhakrishnan & Moore, 1957) terms the void. Thus, the creative process is one of momentarily dedifferentiating the individual ego (conscious and unconscious) and returning to this undifferentiated consciousness to redifferentiate in a new morphic field charged by the collective need. The following model will show this disintegration and reintegration process.

An Eight Stage Chaos Model of Exceptional Creative Experiences.

This is a model of the creative process as it might occur in the individuals who bring the transcendental into the empirical. I have adapted Abraham, Abraham & Shaw's (1990) "Blue Sky Triplet" that shows Jung's (1969) proposed process of enantiodromia to accomplish this task. This essay extends the Blue Sky Triplet into a sequence of bifurcations or Blue Sky Catastrophes that delineate the conversion of the non-manifest to the manifest. Thus, these dynamical models will illustrate the process of a creator, healer and shaman or, as Eliade said, "the manifestations of something of a wholly different order." The following series of phase portraits (called figures #1 --#8 in this essay) will show the creation process as it might occur when a shaman or creator surrenders his or her individual ego structure to the tasks of the transcendental creative system as evoked through the collective mind of their society. I will outline this theoretical dynamical model first, and then apply it to each of the four examples.

Phase portrait #1:

Phase portrait #1 shows the four areas in Jung's network model of consciousness. In this essay, the area outside the two conjoined circles Fig #1represents the infinite pool of undifferentiated consciousness within which Jung's four areas exist. The two small central ovals represent the unconscious in this diagram and those that follow. I designate them as repellors in this diagram because psychic material flows from the unconscious into consciousness in the creative process. The cyclic attractor comprised of two conjoined circles that surround both repellors represents normal consciousness. The collective conscious and unconscious show on the left, while the personal conscious and unconscious occupies the right side of the phase portrait.

The phase portrait represents the interplay between the collective consciousness and personal consciousness with a cyclic attractor that indicated that psychic energy flows to the collective and personal consciousness from both the unconscious ( the inset) and from the infinite undifferentiated consciousness (the outset). Psychic materials drawn to the cyclic attractor move between the collective to personal domains to indicate the interchange that occurs in normal life between the group and the individual. Information markers and matter-energy flow to the attractor (consciousness) from the inset (the subconscious and unconscious realms) from the environment and, from the area of undifferentiated consciousness immediately outside the conjoined circles. The outset of this cyclic attractor is indefinable and exists somewhere beyond this diagram. That is, individuals and, we as a collective, do send information markers and matter-energy to the undifferentiated consciousness but the location of that saddle is perhaps in the "unknowable" as Castaneda (1981) reports of Don Juan's teachings.

This suggests a further paradox that this diagram cannot represent. Information and matter-energy that come from the basin outside the cyclic attractor (arguably) also enters the system through the unconscious (the repellors at the focal points) therefore connecting the repellors of this diagram to the outer basin. This paradox may be similar to the torus described by Itzhak Bentov (1988) wherein he proposes that created form flows through a field from one polarity to the other. Thus, as if falling into a black hole it may reappear in a quasar-like white hole and return to the universe as we know it. Speculatively, information markers and matter-energy that go beyond the diagram's outset in this example might reappear as psychic openings bursting through the collective unconscious and personal unconscious and into consciousness.

Phase portrait #2:

When control parameters change beyond a system's normal limits (as indicated in phase portrait #1) that system responds. In this case, the collective (which includes the personal) mind responds first: this is the idea of a collective need of wish. When the input of information, matter-energy, or one of the Fig #2other control parameters exceeds a critical value a catastrophic change occurs in the system. Phase portrait #2 shows the first Blue Sky Catastrophe in which another attractor appears "out of the blue" in the area between the collective unconscious and consciousness: this represents the need or wish of the collective causing the catastrophe. The trigger event may or, may not be widely perceived but, the sensed need could remain subliminal. Nevertheless, it annihilates homeostasis and the system begins to exert pressure on its subsystems to regain equilibrium. This is the beginning of the preparation stage in Wallas' (1926) four stage model of the creative process. Using the creatosome model in this writing, this would be the stage when the system begins to divert resources to reproduction.

Phase portrait #2 shows that the inset and outset fuse into a homoclinic saddle connection and form a second cyclic attractor around the collective unconscious. This portrays the diversion of resources at a subconscious level from the conscious free-flowing interchange between the individual and the group to the collective urge.

Phase portrait #3: Fig 3

Tension builds in the system as the need solidifies. The urge to respond likewise intensifies within its subsystems. Many individuals feel this urge and potentially may become the vehicle of creation. Phase portrait #3 shows an individual drawn by this urge. The personal unconscious comes into increasing relationship with the cyclic attractor in the collective subconscious. This relationship may be quite chaotic for the personal unconscious as it evokes material as if by an archetypal influence.


Phase portrait #4:

The stress to the individual continues to increase as they surrender to this archetypal calling. Normal consciousness progressively weakens as the creative task (the solution of which remains subliminal) consumes the individual creator. Fig 4This is the beginning of the incubation stage of the creative process. In the creatosome metaphor this would be the period when the strands begin to separate from the original diploid state. The original structure dismantles as new information markers and matter-energy flood the system. When one or more of the control parameters exceed another critical threshold, Blue Sky Bifurcation #2 occurs bringing greater instability.

Phase portrait #4 shows a critical moment in the creative process and, in the life of any person who is creating. As the phase portrait indicates, the stress annihilates the outer cyclic attractor (normal consciousness). It collapses and vanishes into the blue leaving another homoclinic saddle connection in its place. Thus, the personal ego and its relationship with the group disintegrate. Finding the solution to the creative task consumes the person. The supporting structure of day to day life and relationships wanes into an undifferentiated consciousness. All that is nearby exists in the basin of the remaining attractor (collective need): what is farther away is unavailable. This condition is extremely perilous. It can result in death or insanity for the individual or, the failure of the creative task. However, with additional input (that is, support of friends, inner strength, serendipity) this symbiotic situation will eventually conclude with a re-individuation of the personal unconscious. That is, while one basin continues to exist around the single attractor, the personal unconscious breaks from the direct symbiotic response to the collective urge as phase portrait #5 will show.

Phase portrait #5: fig 5

Phase portrait #5 shows an opening or break between the flow from the individual unconscious and the collective attractor. It is much like the moment in the birth process when the symbiotic relationship between mother and fetus shifts with the opening of the cervix. Pressure from the womb of undifferentiated consciousness begins the separation process; a separate inset from, and outset to, the saddle replaces the homoclinic connection. The individual strands of the creatosome (like the chromatids they imitate) separate and cross over leaving a new state in the individual. A new relationship congeals with Blue Sky Bifurcation #3 as phase portrait #6 illustrates.


Phase portrait #6:

Fig 6

"Ah-ha!" -- Illumination comes to the system with Blue Sky Bifurcation #3. This is represented by the appearance of the new periodic (cyclic) attractor around the personal unconscious. The ego is still diffuse; thus, the attractor draws from both the personal unconscious and undifferentiated consciousness. The new cyclic attractor exists within another homoclinic saddle connection. This represents a response to the collective urge (the left cyclic attractor) with which it is in varying degrees of entrainment. One might speculate that the greater the entrainment between the new attractor (the creation) and the collective urge; the more precisely the manifestation will fulfill the collective need. Perfection would require 100 percent efficiency within a creative system; it is therefore unlikely with the arguable exception of Deity.

Diligent ruminations upon resolution now change the creation from an originally intangible calling, to revelation. The creative person must work to actualize the inspiration, to make it real in the world. The creation takes form and moves out of the realm of the subconscious. Thus, after Blue Sky Bifurcation #3, the creator distances the new cyclic attractor (the creation) from its symbiotic connection with the collective urge. In a manner of speaking, like any infant, it individuates (Mahler, Pine, and Bergman, 1975).

Phase portrait #7:

Fig 7


Phase portrait #7 shows the new periodic attractor (the creation) moving toward such individuation. The saddle insets are now actual separatrices though the outsets remain virtual. Separate basins now spiral inward to both attractors from the infinite undifferentiated consciousness.

The process described thus far shows how an individual becomes opens to a collective urge and surrenders their psychic and physical processes in response. Comparing this stage in the process with the metaphor of the creatosome, we have now seen the double helix separate, cross over, change the creative person with the diffusion of the ego, merge again with the flow of information from the ineffable beyond in the illumination stage to produce the new creation, now it must be verified. In a living systems model, these steps occurred as internal subsystem processes after ingestion of matter-energy and input transduction of information across the system boundary. The system must now deliver the new creation to the world for verification. Likewise, the individual creator must re-integrate and come back into free exchange with the group consciousness. Thus following the output of the new creation, the system changes once again as shown by Blue Sky Bifurcation #4 in phase portrait #8.

Phase portrait #8

As in birth, a new born creation enters into the world and stands alone. Phase portrait #8 is an extension of the bifurcation sequence adapted above. It indicates Fig 8yet another bifurcation in which the individual creator re-integrates (redifferentiates) and achieves balance between the internal focus that led to the creative event and, interaction with the society in which s/he dwells. Also implied in this representation, is the feedback from society about the creation. Thus, the personal consciousness and collective consciousness again exchange a free flow of information markers and matter-energy. The cyclic attractor surrounding both the collective unconscious and personal unconscious (repellors) and the cyclic attractors that have formed around them represents this stable state in phase portrait #8. In this diagram, as in the world, as long as the new creation satisfies collective need, it will continue to exist. This is verification, the final stage of the creative process.

Application of the Dynamical Systems Model to Four Examples.

Phase portrait #1 is the starting state for the individual examples in this writing. For the shaman, it is before s/he receives the "calling" and begins the initiation process even though they have witnessed it in their culture. Amyr indicated a pivotal event when he met the green man. Thus, phase portrait #1 indicates his childhood life before this transition. Amyr's grandfather however, also manifested physical apports so a personal paradigm that accepts such phenomena precedes his transition. "Auntie" Neiva experienced a relative normal consciousness until near the middle of her life when she began seeing spirits. Before the spirits, she experienced the stress of losing her mate which may have prepared her for her later alteration of consciousness. Otherwise she lived an ordinary lifestyle. Phase portrait #1 also represents my state of normal consciousness before the meditation ceremony and ingestion of Ayahuasca. I have described these examples together for phase portrait #1 since they all represent a baseline, or starting point from which the changes occur. I will depict the remaining stages of the dynamical model separately for each example to tell each story with continuity.

Carlisle Bergquist is a psychotherapist, psychological researcher and relationship counselor skilled in Psychosynthesis, spiritual emergence and transpersonal issues.

Visit his site at

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