Reason is the dominant tool of the first attention, what the Shamans of Ancient Mexico call everyday life. Beyond the first attention is the second attention, the world of energetic life, which is replete with all things irrational.
The Hindus note, for instance, that the emotional body component of the energy body, which is the home of powerful emotions and passions, is a prominent feature of the second attention.
Jung calls the second attention the collective unconscious, which lacking consciousness to guide volition, operates through the activation of powerful archetypes that can overwhelm the reasonable ego of the first attention, causing it to perform outrageous acts. To preserve the order and decency of normalcy, Jung asserts that these deeper dimensions of the psyche are repressed and housed in what he called the shadow, a component of the second attention.
Reason and shadow are mortal enemies, hence the natural tendency to keep them separated. Reason insists upon the rules of logic and fairness for decision making. Shadow insists upon the release of intense emotions and passions as its modus operandi, reason be dammed. Reason, in its own condescension, snubs the irrational shadow, misjudging the power of the repressed.
The history of humankind reflects the occasional reckoning of these two dominants in the clashes of world wars. Our current world predicament is a prime example of reason clashing with the formidable energy of the irrational. The world is rapidly disintegrating into such a primal clash at this very moment.
At a fundamental level the worlds of the first and second attention are layers of the same onion. As humans we are both consciously reasonable, solid beings, as well as irrational, energetic spirit beings. The totality of ourselves requires that we integrate these worlds despite their inherent opposition. Evolution is absolutely requiring such an advance at this time. How can we achieve this integration without the ultimate disintegration, Armageddon?
To begin, reason must address the limitations of its own belief system: “Things aren’t that bad… no one would let that happen…” In fact, the shadow thrives on letting anything happen that offers it powerful release.
Next, reason must recognize that shadow is a dimension of its own self. Reason often doubts this, despite the many addictions or obsessions that it notices in its own functioning. Does it also notice its fascination and vicarious excitement with the emotional outbursts of now? Reason always believes that it has things under control, or that things are, ultimately, under control.
Reason must accept responsibility in developing a relationship with the energetic world of the second attention. When people discover the out-of-body world, they are often at first driven by insatiable desires, repressed in the first attention of everyday life. Maintaining the operation of reason, with the intents available in the second attention, is critical for deep responsible exploration.
I strongly recommend Robert Monroe’s three books, which detail his own journeys into the second attention with the evolving accompaniment of his first attention, reason. With his success and guidance, he is truly deserving of the title of American Shaman.
Exploration and reconciliation with the deeper dimensions of the self offer a playing field of deep soulful satisfaction, which checks the tendency of the shadow to need to project itself upon habits and outer events that mesmerize the ego and take over consciousness.
Ego must humble itself to the existence of energies within the self that are far more powerful than ego itself. Ego has reason, but that’s no match for the irrational. Ego, in its humble smallness, can say no however. What change would happen overnight in the world if all individuals just said no, not driving today, not consuming today? Such a world strike of no would force a different relationship with power.
Nonetheless, ego must not be unreasonable in its demands. The world of the irrational, the world of passion and spirit must be lived. Beyond the shadow of doubt, reason must join with its passionate, spirited, irrational self in deep exploration and life, beyond reason.
Living the irrational, with reason,