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Including the physical process of refraction as a model for the mental process of illumination

John Heron

Human Potential Research Project

Department of Educational Studies

University of Surrey


Surrey GU2 5XH

in association with:

British Postgraduate Medical Federation (University of London) 33 Millman Street,

London WC1N 3EJ.

February 1984


This paper was presented in a much abbreviated format a meeting, on 3 May 1967, of the Centre for Spiritual and Psychological Studies in London. It is published here for the first time. I have made only a small number of minor deletions, alterations and additions to the original text.

John Heron


1. Introduction

2. The Principle of Analogy

3. The Concept of Transphysical Matter

4. The Concept of Minds in Relation

5. Mental Individuation and Embodiment

6. The Refraction Theory of Illumination

7. Corollaries of the Refraction Theory of Illumination


1 Introduction

1.1 There is a change of metaphor, between title and sub-title, from inspiration to illumination. I wish to deal eventually with a particular kind of inspiration or illumination, which I shall call ‘illuminism’, and to introduce by use of the principle of analogy a set of concepts and principles which may perhaps help toward a. more careful and systematic study of it.

1.2 But in order properly to introduce this refraction theory of illumination, I must lay its foundations carefully by examining the presuppositions on which it is based. There are four such presuppositions which together constitute an organic structure, a framework of interrelated ideas, which I shall deal with in the following order:

1.2.1 The principle of analogy.

1.2.2 The concept of transphysical substance (ether, akasha).

1.2.3 The concept of minds in relation, of intermental fields.

1.2.4 Mental individuation and embodiment.

There will be considerable digression en route in order to develop these ideas adequately. But first a few more introductory comments.

1.3 The metaphors of inspiration and illumination have become to a considerable degree interchangeable and overlapping. Strictly speaking this is a matter of analogical laxity, since there is a clear distinction between the physical processes of inspiration and illumination.

1.4 As a metaphor, inspiration should perhaps more properly be reserved for the infusion of vitality and life, or subtle energy (at whatever level) into the human being from some supernatural source; while illumination should be reserved more for the infusion of thought and awareness into the human psyche from some supernatural agency. As it is, both terms in their figurative sense have tended to acquire something like the second meaning.

1.5 Of course one can give no one precise account of how either of them are actually used: each has a wide range of overlapping meanings depending on the context of their use (cf. Wittgenstein’s family resemblance theory of meaning). I shall use them to some extent interchangeably, but I shall have particularly I .mind throughout the illumination metaphor.

2 The principle of analogy

The principle of analogy, or the philosophy of analogy; sometimes called the doctrine of correspondences; or organic philosophy; it has some affinities with Jung’s principle of synchronicity. It is in many ways a dangerous and difficult area of thought. My own characterization of it, in outline, is as follows:

2.1 There are threads of meaning or intelligibility interwoven through a wide range of phenomena so that in certain respects and to a certain degree the without reflects the within, that is, external physical states and processes may be seen as symbolic externalizations of internal psychomental states and processes. This principle is an extension, across the objective-subjective polarity, of the dictum stated by Emerson that ‘Nature is an endless combination and repetition of a very few laws’, or as Bacon wrote, ‘the same footsteps of Nature treading or printing upon several subjects or matters’. Thus one may say that the laws of mind are analogous in their modes of operation to those which regulate matter. Cf. the three gunas of the Samkhya system (India, 7th century BC): active, restraining and equilibriating principles evident both in the gross material realm and in the subtle psychomental realm. ‘Guna’ originally meant ‘thread’ or ‘cord’.

2.2 But although the laws operative within and without may be said to be analogous, they cannot be said to be identical; because one cannot properly reduce the objective to the subjective, or vice versa. All one can say, I believe, is that correspondences can be established across the bridge of their reciprocal interaction. This, of course, is the essence of the artistic and poetic vision, of aesthetic inspiration; but any purely theoretic and non-aesthetic handling of it has to be extremely cautious.

2.3 Obviously there are also correspondences within the objective physical realm itself: thus in science, inductive reasoning and hypothesis formation are rooted in analogy. And the principle of simplicity or unity is a guide-line of the scientist’s faith. In fact in some areas there is a mistaken and excessive tendency to search for the very few unifying principles under which all phenomena can be subsumed. Cf. the thoroughgoing matter-in-motion materialism of Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), and his contemporary descendants who seek to maintain a purely behaviouristic view in psychology. This results from a failure to respect:

2.3.1 The differentiation introduced by the subjective-objective polarity, to which I have referred in 2.2 above.

2.3.2 The differentiation introduced by the principle of hierarchy.

2.4 The principle of hierarchy suggests that there are both differential levels of awareness and differential levels of objective reality. Further, that towards the apex of the hierarchy the subjective-objective contrast becomes increasingly subsumed within the embrace of an ultimate unity. (Cf. Karl Jaspers’ concept of the Transcendent or the Encompassing – das Umgreifende – ‘the presence of Being is in the movement which grasps and permeates subject and object simultaneously’.) But in so far as there are such differential levels, then if there are certain principles which operate at all levels, they do so at each level in a distinctive mode; so that again one can only assert correspondences between the levels, just as one can only assert correspondences across the subjective-objective contrast.

2.5 One may summarize by paying that the principle of analogy suggests that there are similar rhythms, structures and configurations, corresponding yet distinct in their own mode, at different levels, both within and without, and as between the two. Thus such notions as inertia, reciprocity, distillation, sublimation, refining, latency, oscillation, polarization, diffusion, refraction, etc., may have their analogues, corresponding yet distinct, among all sorts of phenomena at all sorts of levels.

2.6 It is important to stress that this principle of analogy is just a postulate. a principle of faith, or a guide-line to enquiry. Any particular correspondence that is advanced must be shown to hold adequately – it must be justified according to the appropriate criteria. These criteria include:

2.6.1 Comprehensiveness: the proposed analogy subsumes adequately all the relevant phenomena.

2.6.2 Internal coherence: the proposed analogy is stated in a manner that is free of internal contradiction.

2.6.3 External coherence: the proposed analogy does justice to the nature of the phenomena under consideration.

2.7 Analogical thinking is basic to the human species, is the primal mode of human thought. It is the foundation of the development of language (cf. Owen Barfield on early language). It characterizes dream work generally: cf. Freud’s primary process; Jung’s concept of the activity of the collective unconscious and the archetypes in dreams, myths, folklore, active imagination, etc. It is endemic among primitive peoples: cf. M. Eliade, Myth and Reality and the concept of mythopaeic thinking. It is traditional in oriental culture: cf. Indian three guna theory, Chinese five element theory and Book of Changes (I Ching). It is central in the processes of creative inspiration among both artists and. scientists. It is, in short, a mode of thinking we need to cultivate. But

2.8 It has great dangers lurking within it, and it is important to be clear about these.

2.8.1 Excessive fascination for the idea that one can find out by some dramatic imaginative and inspirational feat some set of notions which provide the key to universal knowledge. (Yet even here one remembers the extent to which the founders of modern science in the 16th and 17th centuries were inspired by Platonic and Pythagorean ideas; especially Kepler whose three laws of planetary motion were preceded by some extraordinary analogical hypotheses based on the Platonic solids.)

2.8.2 Superstition based on surface resemblances: the blight of much primitive and archaic thinking.

2.8.3 Uncritical credulity in the face of any apparent analogy: failure to apply the criteria mentioned in 2.6 above.

2.8.4 Narrow a priori dogmatism and the imposition of patterns of rigid thought onto nature and the universe.

2.8.5 With consequent failure to develop scientific methods of enquiry based on actual observation and experiment. Such excessive reliance on narrow and to some degree arbitrary analogical thinking held China back from developing any adequate empirical sciences (cf. Dr Needham, Science and Civilization in China, especially volume II). And resistance to the birth of science in Europe stemmed largely from the absurdities of misplaced analogical reasoning (Fr Sizzi and the moons of Jupiter as reported by L.S. Stebbing in A Modern Introduction to Logic, 1933).

2..9 Finally, one may note that what particularly distinguished the founders of modern science – Kepler, Galileo, Newton, etc. – was the combination of great speculative boldness and analogical daring in framing hypotheses with great patience in observation and/or with great insistence on rational canons of method and evidence. It is the mutual fructification of rationality and analogical insight which is potent.

3 The concept of transphysical matter

The second presupposition of the refraction theory of illumination is the idea of material but non-physical levels of being. This notion has already been implicitly introduced in 2.4 under the principle of hierarchy and the idea of differential levels of objective reality. Basically this is the theory that there are two fundamental kinds of stuff – physical matter and what I shall call transphysical matter – a polarity of substances whose reciprocal interaction constitutes the universal tension in the objective realm, and provides the ambience for what Plotinus called ‘the way down’ and ‘the way up’. One uses the term ‘matter’ as a convenient designation for what one thinks of nowadays more as discrete packets of energy, or as a structure of elementary actions (cf. David Bohm’s concepts in theoretical physics).

3.1 There are at least four theoretical models which I have formulated for conceiving this transphysical matter: theories of attenuation, agglomeration, etheric transformation, polaric substance. Without pausing to examine these theories here, we may at least make a few hypothetical suggestions about transphysical matter.

3.1.1 However conceived in detail, one may say it has the property of greater rarefaction, of being less dense, than physical matter.

3.1.2 It has, within its own compass, differential orders of density which constitute a groundwork for different levels of objective but non-physical reality.

3.1.3 At its lower levels of density it constitutes a groundwork for structures and processes in the realm of physical matter; hence it stands ina significant relationship of potency to the physical realm.

3.1.4 It is peculiarly susceptible to the impress of the “willing” of centres of consciousness; hence in many ways it may be conceived as constituting a third realm, driving out the Cartesian bifurcation of reality into the two mutually exclusive dimensions of thought and extension. For the relation between mind and transphysical matter in its refined modes may be such that it can be enunciated in the following principle: no thought process without some transphysically extended effect.

3.2 However, the notion is so alien to our modern western world view, to what C.D. Broad calls the basic limiting principles which delimit the range and structure of our thought about the world (Religion, Philosophy and Psychical Research, 1953), that I wish to give some account of its persistent occurrence in various forms in the history of human thought, although I can only do this in barest outline.

3.2.1 It appears in various guises in the animism, dynamism and shamanism of so-called primitive religion. The mana of the kahunas of Polynesia: a potent supernatural fluid which can be charged into objects, is an anchor or foothold for spirits. Cf. also the orenda of the Iroquois, manitou of the Algonquins, wakanda of the Sioux, the original meaning of kami in Japan. For a contemporary account: G. Sandwith, Firewalkers of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, 1958. See also the symbolism involved in the shamanic ascent into heaven (works of Mircea Eliade on shamanism).

3.2.2 But the concept has also occurred in the metaphysical and cosmological systems of some of the greatest speculative intellects.

China The great Neo-Confucian thinker Chu Hsi (1131-1200 AD) ‘the supreme synthetic mind in all Chinese history’ (Needham, op cit) Two basic concepts: li, the principle of organization, the universal cosmic pattern containing in itself all smaller and more limited patterns; and chhi, matter-energy, tenuous non-perceptible matter or aethereal waves, out of which chih – solid, perceptible physical matter – is formed by gyration and centrifugal coagulation. (Jesuit missionaries’ accounts of Chu Hsi may have influenced Descartes’ theory of first matter and his vortical theory of gravitation and cosmogenesis.)

India The ancient Samkhya system of philosophical realism, founded by Kapila, 7th century BC: among the evolutes of prakriti (the one universal substance or prius of all creation, alongside purusa or pure spirit) are akasha and the five tanmatras, which together constitute subtle matter, vibratory, radiant, full of energy, and out of which gross physical matter evolves. The atomistic pluralism of the Vaisesika system, another realist philosophy, c. 6th century BC: six basic explanatory categories, one of which is that of substance; nine substances, one of which is akasha – a continuous, simple, infinite substance, the substrate of sound, binds gross physical. atoms together and provides their cohesive force. see S. Radhakrishnan, Indian Philosophy, 1931.

Ancient Greece Aristotle, 4th century BC: aether, celestial matter, the fifth element – translucent, bright and incorruptible – out of which is made the celestial spheres which carry the sun, moon, planets and stars. God, the Unmoved Mover, starts everything into motion by acting on the aether of the spheres. (Aristotle of course misapplies the concept, but it is the sort of role it plays in his thought which is of interest.) Also pneuma, analogous to his aether: a subtle, active material principle by means of which the soul effects bodily movement and receives sense impressions from the body. Both aether and pneuma act as intermediaries between the immaterial and the material.

3.2.3 Finally, it is of interest, in the history of modern science, to trace the history of the ether as an empirical concept, that is, as a postulated substrate of certain physical processes. One strand in this concept derived from Plato’s idea of a world-soul and the anima mundi of mediaeval speculation; the other strand derived from the Aristotelian aether. Thus the notion of an ethereal medium played a prominent part in the speculations of the founders of modern science (see E.A. Burtt, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science, 1925). Descartes, Boyle, Gilbert, Newton in the 17th century all take seriously the probable role of the ether as a basis of a variety of physical phenomena. Newton suggests it is diffused through all space, like air but far more subtle, and that the whole frame of nature is a condensation of it (in his letters to Boyle and Oldenburg). He hypothesized that the force and action of the ether is the explanatory basis of magnetic and electric phenomena, transmission of light, physical sensation, and of the ability of the physical body to move at the command of the will. He did not elaborate this hypothesis in his Principia because of the insufficiency of experimental data. Thereafter, the concept of the ether became closely connected with the phenomenon of light, and after the determination of the finite velocity of light by the Danish astronomer Roemer in 1675, became the luminiferous ether, the universal medium necessary for the propagation of light waves. When Maxwell showed in 1864 that light is a particular type of electromagnetic wave, the ether became the general vehicle for electric and magnetic fields and the transmission of light. A great experimental search for the ether began, on the fixed assumption that the earth was moving through a stationary ether, hence there should be an ether wind or ether drift in the opposite direction to the earth’s motion. The Michelson-Morley experiment of 1881, using an interferometer and repeated many times, failed to detect the ether drift as having any effect on the behaviour of light: light waves were apparently not at all affected by the movement of the earth through space. The ether concept was finally interred in Einstein’s special theory of relativity in 1905: his first basic postulate was that the ether cannot be detected (not, of’ course, that it does not exist); and none of his calculated results of the special theory involve any reference to an ether. The result is that today the ether is, in orthodox science, commonly regarded as ‘an unnecessary assumption’ (Penguin Dictionary of Science); and electromagnetic waves are simply stated as ‘not requiring any known material medium for their propagation’

3.3 Thus the concept of the ether, even in the minimal form of an invisible medium or substrate for certain physical effects, has disappeared from our scientific world-view. which has reached a nadir point of conceptual parsimony. Yet this particular issue in science is by no means closed, and for the following reasons.

3.3.1 The Michelson-Morley experiment of 1881 (mentioned above) was primarily responsible for the demise of the ether concept in science. But this experiment was based on the assumption that the ether is stationary and the moving earth drags some ether with it. But if one adopts a contrary assumption that the earth is moving with the ether, is being carried in it, is ether-borne – then the negative results of the experiment become more intelligible, for on this assumption, no ether drift would be detectable. For further development of this important idea see C.E. Last, Man in the Universe, 1954.

3.3.2 There are nests of problems both at the microscopic and the macroscopic levels which are ripe for solution along hitherto unexplored lines: the binding force of the atomic nucleus; problems arising from Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle; problems concerned with entropy, especially in living things; formation of gaseous nebulae, and so on.

3.4 However, the concept of transphysical matter, the ether, in its different degrees, has been kept alive in important areas outside the somewhat arbitrary limits involved in the prevailing conventional world-view. As an empirical hypothesis, the notion of transphysical matter-energy has been developed in the following ways:

3.4.1 It has been conceived as providing a form and force field for the building up of visible physical forms. Thus Sir 0. Lodge in Ether and Reality, 1926; Beyond Physics, 1930. Dr Guenther Wachsmuth in The Etheric Formative Forces, 1932: deals with the etheric-field theory for terrestrial gravitation, rotation of the earth, tides, rise of sap in trees, cold light, causes of colour and sound, shapes of things. See also G. Adams’ work on crystal formation and plant growth (Space and the Light of Creation, The Plant between Sun and Earth). Important pioneer works even if they prove to contain many errors.

3.4.2 It has been conceived as constituting a medium in its different degrees for vitality, sensation and emotional and mental experience. This ancient view (cf. the Samkhya system, Aristotle’s pneuma, Newton’s view) has received an interesting-formulation in Some Unrecognized Factors in Medicine (Transaction of the Theosophical Research Centre, 1949).

3.4.3 It has been conceived as constituting a medium for the transmission of interpersonal vital energy. See L. Eeman in Cooperative Healing. I think it may also be proposed as an important hypothetical intermediary for the interfusion and exchange of interpersonal emotion and thought, and thus has an important role to play in interpersonal psychology, the empirical study of which is a comparatively recent development. For example, I believe there is a transphysical component in perceiving and responding to the gaze of another person.

3.4.4 It has been conceived as constituting the medium for extra-sensory communication between one human being and another a medium, that is, for telepathy, clairvoyance, etc. This view has been advanced by H.H. Price in an article in Philosophy, 1940; and by Raynor Johnson in The Imprisoned Splendour, 1953.

3.4.5 It has been conceived as constituting the medium which the discarnate inhabit and in which they are embodied. This important notion needs much more careful and systematic study than it has hitherto received. The hypothesis here is that of the transphysical domain as the locus of surviving and higher order sentients of different kinds. C.D. Broad, who has a very cautionary view of survival, suggests (Lectures on Psychical Research, 1962) there may survive a psi-component – ‘a kind of highly complex and persistent vortex in the old fashioned ether’. John Hick in Theology Today (1960), has put forward the thesis of a resurrection body in a resurrection world as part of an argument for the so-called eschatological verification of religious statements.

3.5 A mathematical model for conceiving the interaction of transphysical forces with the physical realm has been put forward with some thoroughness by G. Adams in terms of polar-Euclidean geometry. Whether this proves to be adequate remains to be seen.

3.6 The metaphysical rationale of the hypothesis of transphysical matter is that:

3.6.1 It provides a bridge between the creative activity of mind or minds and the realm of physical forms, since it is conceived as being peculiarly sensitive to the impress of mind (see 3.1.4 above).

3.6.2 It provides an individuating principle which makes the survival of physical death and the moral continuity of experience beyond this life intelligible.

3.7 Among the various attitudes one may take to the notion of transphysical matter are the following:

3.7.1 Deny its existence altogether. And this can be done in terms of either philosophical materialism or philosophical idealism.

3..7.2 Subjectify it: regard it and its appearances as the projection of subjective psychological processes. Jungian psychology has a tendency in this direction, partly because of the very obscure metaphysical status to be attached to Jung’s concept of the collective unconscious.

3.7.3 Consider it another dimension of illusion or maya: the attitude of some kinds of orientalism. Thus Sankara (died 820 AD) in some moods in the advaita vedanta.

3.7.4 Accept its objectivity as a component of the real: Samkhya system, Aristotle, Chu Hsi, etc. My own view.

4 The concept of minds in relation

This very important third presupposition of the refraction theory of illumination holds that any individual mind stands in a contrasted but necessary and interdependent relation with other minds. Further that the development of the increasing relative autonomy of any individual mind necessarily involves a reciprocal relation, or relation of mutuality, with other such minds: that is to say, the autonomy and creative uniqueness of a person cannot properly be considered apart from his or her relationship with other persons. Individual autonomy of thought, creativity and outlook is correlative with interpersonal reciprocity, both conceptually and in experiential fact. The theme of persons in relation occurs in contemporary existentialism and phenomenology, e.g. in the works of Martin Buber, Gabriel Marcel, Max Scheler, John Macmurray; but I wish to apply it more extensively, particularly in the direction of subliminal intermental fields (see below).

4.1 The contrasted but necessary relation between any individual mind and other minds may be applied even to individual sensory perception if you regard perception as a process of participating in the creative ‘consciring’ or activities of those higher order sentients who sustain both the natural world and your own body and perceptual apparatus. Such a startling view is implicit in Douglas Fawcett philosophy of imaginism (World as Imagination, 1916; Divine Imagining, 1921); and lurks,. rather guardedly within Owen Barfield’s Saving the Appearances, 1957. More recently see James Hillman, Archetypal Psychology, 1983.

4.1.1 Some thinkers have seen a gradual metamorphosis of consciousness in man’s perception of the world, commencing with a collective participation (through perception) in the sentient life behind phenomenal appearances, proceeding through a phase of extreme individual isolation and alienation from the world in perceptual experience, toward a phase of conscious and controlled perceptual participation of an individualized kind. (Barfield and colleagues; this view is implicit in Buber’s epistemology.).

4.2 The contrasted but necessary relation between individual mind and other minds applies also of course at the psychosocial level: individuality emerges from the collective consciousness of society, tribe and family; and is thereafter in part constituted by the social relations which provide its frame of reference and social identity. (For the primacy of intersubjective experience see Max Scheler, The Nature of Sympathy, Part III, 1954.)

4.2.1 A person, or individual mind, only emerges in terms of his or her usage of a common language, common norms. of behaviour. and common institutions; terms of interpersonal or social relations.

4.2.2 In any social relation the individual person is also occupying one or more social roles; and his self-identity or self-image is in part constituted by how he thinks others estimate and characterize his various, role-performances. (Cf. M.Argyle, The Psychology of Interpersonal Behaviour, 1967; also Laing, Ellerson and Lee, Interpersonal Perception, 1966.)

.4.2.3 The psychosocial uniqueness and creativity of a person is inseparable, then, from standard norms and expectancies which attach to the social roles he occupies. His uniqueness consists in his interpretation, adaptation and possible alteration of these norms.

4.3 But the same principle of minds-in-relation or intersubjectivity can be applied also, I believe, and in many ways much more crucially, at the level of creative thinking in art, science, philosophy, etc., and at the level of creative moral and spiritual behaviour. All such creative mental activity is the product of a colloquium or at least a dialogue, in which advances made by an individual are the product of a field of intermental transaction established between the individual mind and other minds.

4.3.1 This intermental transaction may be between one human mind and another or others, past and present. In conversation, reading, drama, art, music: this is the cultural, hermeneutic field.

4.3.2 It may be between one human mind and a discarnate or transphysically embodied mind or minds. In this case we have what I will call a ‘subliminal intermental field’. The influence and significance of such subliminal intermental fields in creative, moral and spiritual inspiration requires, I believe, more attention than it has so far received.

4.3.3 Creative mental activity may involve both 4.3.1 and 4.3.2 simultaneously; but it involves at least 4.3.1, and I am inclined to think it always involves 4.3.2 also.

4.3.4 But neither of these transactions precludes their being rooted, in each individual mind concerned, in some basic interrelation between each mind and the ultimate ground of its being. This is the Tao field.

4.3.5 It may be noted in parenthesis that where the mental transaction is between human minds, this may occur at two levels: the level of verbal interchange; and the level of unspoken thoughts, impressions and feelings.

4.4 I wish therefore to suggest that creative inspiration in its highest form involves the following elements:

4.4.1 The autonomous activity of the imagination, mental power and judgment of the individual creative mind.

4.4.2 Which among other things works on material and stimuli provided directly or indirectly by other human minds, past and present.

4.4.3 And which is to a greater or lesser degree related to promptings from the hidden and ultimate ground of its being.

4.4.4 And whose creative insights are a function, in part, of the field of intermental transaction established between it and minds in the transphysical domains.

These four elements in the inspirational process provide a basis for distinguishing between different kinds of inspiration depending on which of the four elements is emphasized.

4.5 Where the emphasis in the inspirational experience is on relation with the ultimate ground, then we are concerned with the roots of religious experience, and enter the field of mysticism. ‘ There is introvertive and extrovertive mysticism – the inner way or the unifying vision (cf. W.T. Stace, Mysticism and Philosophy. 1961; Rudolph Otto, Mysticism East and West, 1932).

4.5.1 Extrovertive mysticism or the unifying vision may include the sense of intermental transaction between the individual mystic’s mind and other transcendent minds. Cf. Plotinus’ account of his vision of the world of archetypal intelligences: “for each is the whole and is wholly all, yet still it is not mingled but is again itself separate.” Particular things or minds are seen as embraced within the One, yet still retain their particularity.

4.5.2 But there seems to be considerable possible variation in the range and level of this unifying vision. Thus Ramakrishna saw the immediate objects of sense-perception ‘soaked as it were in bliss – the bliss of God’, and thereupon fed the food reserved for the temple image of the divine mother to the cat.

4.5.3 But at whatever level, and with respect to whatever content, the vision operates, there seem to be two inseparable elements in the experience: awareness of the Unity and awareness of the units – two elements which are distinct yet inseparably conjoined and mutually enhancing.

4.5.4 Introvertive mysticism, the inner way or the way of unknowing, seeks to attain a realization of that unmanifest principle ‘beyond all name and form’ (Upanishads), which transcends all empirical and conceptual multiplicity. Any awareness of higher order intermental transaction seems to be totally occluded or transcended by this type of experience. But paradoxically this does not necessarily mean that such transaction is not instrumental in providing the appropriate conditions for the experience.

4.5.5 In extrovertive mysticism, the emphasis is on an inspirational relation with the ground of all being; in introvertive mysticism with the ground of the individual mind.. But one may note that in neither case is the distinctness of. the individual concerned lost: for one may overcome separateness without losing distinctness of being (a distinction which the Buddhist doctrine of anatta or non-existence of the soul fails to observe).

4.5.6 There is a great divide between Greek thought, also oriental thought, and Judo-Christian thought on the interpretation of the mystical relation. . For the Greeks and Orientals, part of man participates in the divine nature; for the JudoChristian thinkers there is an infinite dissimilarity in kind between God and man.

4.5.7 The mystics’ interpretation of their experience very much depends of course on the philosophic and/or religious traditions of which they are a part, that is, on their intermental transactions with other human minds. In general, in order properly to assess mystics’ experiences and their reports of them, it is important I believe to take into account the influence of all four elements mentioned in 4.4.

4.5.8 Finally there is the mysticism of action or voluntaristic mysticism, which has received insufficient attention in the literature of the subject. Here the creativity of the individual will is caught up in the creativity of the primal source and issues forth in acts of great moral and spiritual significance. But again one has to take into account here the influence of the other three elements: the individuals own judgment, the impact of other human minds, and the impact of subliminal intermental fields.

4.6 Where the main emphasis in the inspirational experience is on the creative activity of the individual human mind (4.4.1), then we have what I will call productive inspiration, that is the creative thinking of artists of all kinds, scientists, inventors. The creative process is traditionally classified into four stages: preparation, incubation, illumination, substantiation or the working out and verifying of the illumination (G. Wallas, The Art of Thought, 1921). But still today not much is known about the illumination or insight phase: we need initially a phenomenology of the creative process, that is, a careful description of it just as it presents itself to those who undergo it, particularly during the illumination stage. A groundwork for this is provided by Rosamund Harding’s Anatomy of Inspiration, 1942, which collects together the comments of artists and scientists on the inspirational process.

4.6.1 Clearly the artistic and scientific achievements of other human minds contributes a large part of the material upon which the productive inspiration works.

4.6.2 But I suggest that subliminal intermental fields are also crucially relevant; that is, the new idea emerges out of a pregnant field or zone of subliminal awareness in which the human creator’s mind is participating. His or her insights occur within the productive ambience provided by virtue of his unconscious affinity with higher order minds in the transphysical domain. Ideas are given him, drop into his mind; .or their emergence is preceded by a great sense of expectancy and buoyancy and accompanied by an extraordinary sense of elation, emancipation and sailing among the isles of the blest.

4.6.3 About such subliminal mental fields and the appropriate conditions for productive human participation in them we know very little. I can only point to this as a crucial area for study and investigation by enlightened psychologists.

4.6.4 It would be entirely misleading to suppose that productive inspiration is only at work in the artistic and scientific fields, in philosophy, literature and so on. For it is at work in the whole sphere of practice, that is to say in the world of social and interpersona1 relations, in the fulfilling of one’s various social roles: in the reinterpretation of such roles, infusing them with creative originality; or in the creation of new roles. We need to acquire the realization that it is in our social performances, in relating to others, in creating and sustaining social groups and institutions, that productive inspiration can take hold and create new social forms and attitudes. And here again we have to take into account the productive ambience provided by subliminal intermental fields.

4.7 Where the main emphasis in the inspirational experience is on the relation with the products or activities of other human minds, then we have what I will call spectator inspiration associated, for example, with the contemplation of art forms, music, poetic images, philosophical concepts, also with observing the actual real-life behaviour of other persons (or contemplating related accounts of such behaviour). Spectator inspiration is of crucial significance both educationally and recreationally, and is an important component of any spiritual conception of life. I would like to make a few comments about the contemplation of art forms.

4.7.1 An art form comprises in a unique way a synthesis of discrete elements such that the distinct quality of each is enhanced by virtue of its harmonious unity with every other: for example a vase, in which linear contour, three-dimensional shape, colour and surface patterning, texture, chiaroscuro, all mutually enhance each other’s impact by virtue of the unity sustained between them. The same can be said about images in a poem or the mutual impact of word on word, and about the elements of a musical composition, or the diverse aesthetic ingredients of a painting, etc.

4.7.2 This remarkable property of an art form may be regarded as a symbolic expression of the same sort of relations characteristic one may suppose of transcendent intermental fields – as revealed, for example, in the Plotinic vision (4.5.1) – where the unique distinctness of each mind may be enhanced by its reciprocal relations with every other in a mutually elevating harmony. Music may become uniquely revealing if responded to in the light of this hypothesis – a hypothesis which underlines the earlier suggestion that productive inspiration in art occurs within a subliminal intermental field.

4.8 Where the main emphasis in the inspirational experience is on the subliminal intermental field, that is to say, on relation with minds in the transphysical domains, then we have the various forms of overt spiritism. The lower reaches of this kind of inspiration I shall call ordinary spiritualism, the middle and higher reaches I shall call ‘illuminism’, for in this case something significant in the way of knowledge and. awareness is usually claimed as an outcome of the practice. In the refraction theory of illumination which follows later, I am mainly concerned with the illuminist form of spiritism. Ordinary ‘good neighbour’ spiritualism I shall pass over as scarcely falling within the scope of such terms as inspiration and illumination in their more .elevated meaning.

4.8.1 Illuminism, then, involves a conscious and overt transaction between a human mind and a mind or minds in the transphysical domains somewhat beyond the range of deceased-relative spiritualism. See 3.1.2.

4.8.2 These minds may exist at differential objective transphysical levels, and may be of different degrees of spiritual elevation, knowledge and moral stature. Given a hypothetical existence, there are no necessary assumptions to be made about their integrity.

4.8.3 The mode of communication involved may be thought transference, clairvoyance, clairaudience, automatic writing or various other types of mediumship.

4.8.4 The content of what is thus received may give ostensible illumination about the physical realm, about transphysical .realms and experiences, arcane cosmology and transhuman destiny.

4.8.5 The various phases and forms of illuminist seership, the conditions under which they operate, have received practically no serious and responsible examination whatsoever. There are a host of important problems to consider: The nature of the motivation of the human mind concerned; and in general the psychological make-up of this type of individual. The effect on transmission of the conscious and unconscious content of the seer’s or medium’s mind; and the effect on transmission of the seer’s participation in human intermental fields. The motivation, attitudes, psychological make-up and social performance of the followers of illuminist doctrines. Specifying the criteria for distinguishing between subjective and objective content in any transmission received; and most important, specifying the criteria for distinguishing between the true and the false, the probable and the improbable, the acceptable and the unacceptable, etc., inany clearly determined objective content. The conditions of training for this kind of seership.

4.8.6 Finally, the justification for inviting this kind of inspiration must be ‘ carefully examined; that is to say, one must set forth its proper relevance for human affairs. I will assume here that it has such a relevance, since illuminism may represent an important or perhaps the only means of acquiring a closer understanding of those subliminal intermental fields’ which I have suggested ‘are crucial in productive inspiration and a great deal that is of value in human affairs may be attributed to productive inspiration.

4.8.7 Illuminism byno means excludes concurrent mystical inspiration,; also it may perhaps occur in the mode of transphysical communication without determinate content, i.e. in themode of communion; and it may conceivably be a group as well as an individual practice, especially in this latter mode.

4.9 This completes my survey of the four elements of the inspirational process; and although in each case considered there is a primary emphasis on one of the elements, I think it might reasonably be maintained that the other unstressed elements are present in some form or another. And it is certainly an interesting quest ion to ask to what extent they should be consciously acknowledged to be present.

5 Mental individuation and embodiment

The third presupposition of the refraction theory of illumination holds that an individuated mind, a mind with a distinct identity, is always necessarily embodied, either in a physical or a transphysical vehicle.

5.1 The assumption here is that without bodies, physical or transphysical, there is only Mind but no distinct minds. A bodily vehicle provides the means of individuation for a mind.

5.2 It is only because we have bodies of which we have unique proprioceptive awareness, and which provide us with a unique perspective on the world, that we learn to distinguish our own experiences from those of other people, and thereby acquire the sense of our own identity. This assertion has to be taken in connection with 4.2.

5.3 Any intelligible notion of surviving physical death, if it is to be survival of the same person, involves the notion of a transphysical body and a transphysical realm for it to inhabit.

5.3.1 But if the conditions of personal identity are to be continuous across the divide of physical death, then there must be some transphysical vehicle which is (1) interwoven with the physical vehicle during physical existence, but (2) survives the death of the physical vehicle, and (3) is the non-physical foundation or storage place of memories acquired during physical existence.

5.3.2 Thus we have the, important hypothesis that man is a doubly embodied being; embodied, that is, both at a physical level and at a fairly dense or gross transphysical level.

5.3.3 Hence the possibility of intermental fields at a transphysical level both between human minds and other human minds, and between human minds and minds outside physical existence.

5.4 A further postulate is that any kind of intermental transaction between two persons necessarily involves some kind of interaction between the vehicles of those two persons.

5.4.1 This is because transmission of some determinate content or impact presupposes some determinate configuration of the intervening medium. For those outside physical existence, such interaction, especially in more telepathic transactions, may occur at a very subtle level of the transphysical; although of course it may also involve more obvious forms of transphysical interaction equivalents of speech, gesture and so on.

5.4.2 Intermental transaction between humans may involve only transphysic al mediation or interaction, as in interhuman ESP. But ‘if it involves physical interaction (via speech, gesture, touch, sight, etc.) then it always and also involves transphysical interaction, interwoven with the former..

5.4..3 Intermental transaction between a human mind and a mind outside physical existence, as inilluminism, involves an interaction between the more refined transphysical at one end and the more gross transphysical-cum-physical at the other.

5.5 Summarising these presuppositions with respect to the particular kind of inspiration I wish to consider here, we have the following:

5.5.1 Illuminism involves a transaction between minds embodied in a more refined transphysical dimension of being, and minds embodied in a more gross transphysical-cum-physical dimension of being.

5.5.2 This transaction has as its necessary condition a transmission from refined transphysical to near physical and physical states. Crudely put, the illumination proceeds from and through a more rarefied medium to and through a more dense medium.

5.5.3 I am now in a position to state- the refraction theory of illumination, with special reference to illuminism.

6 The refraction theory of illumination

The theory draws an analogy between purely physical sources of illumination on the one hand, and transphysically based but purely mental sources of illumination on the other; and in particular between the purely physical principles of refraction, diffusion and total reflection, and certain cognitive and psychological principles about the reception of mental illumination from minds outside physical existence.

6.1 The analogy is drawn primarily between an external physical process and an intersubjective or interpersonal cognitive process; but it may also be drawn secondarily between the external physical process and the transphysical to physical processes which accompany the interpersonal cognitive process. Thus there is a sense in which the analogy is drawn both across the objective-subjective contrast, and across different hierarchical levels. As follows:

6.2 Refraction in physics is concerned with the bending of light rays as they pass obliquely from one medium into another of different optical density.

6.2.1 The principle of (physical) refraction may be stated as follows: if you are situated in a dense medium (say water) and look up to a source of light which is situated above you in a more rarefied medium (say air), then if the rays of light from that source approach you obliquely (i.e. are at an oblique and not a right angle to the boundary between the two media) then that source will appear to be higher than it actually is. That is to say, the ray is bent toward the vertical as it enters the denser medium.

6.2.2 Or it may be put this way: if you are situated in a dense medium and you shine a ray of light obliquely upwards into a more rarefied medium, then the ray will incline back toward the horizontal when it enters the more rarefied medium, and it will appear that you are illuminating a higher region in that rarefied medium than in fact you really are.

6.2.3 Or again: if you shine light into water at an oblique angle to the boundary between the air and the water, any object you illuminate in the water will appear to be higher than it actually is.

6.3 The analogue of this simple physical law is what I shall term purely for convenience the law of transphysical refraction, which may be metaphorically stated as follows: a ray of illumination passing obliquely from minds in transphysical realms to human minds in denser and physical realms will incline more towards the vertical as it enters the physical realm. Thus from the point of view of the human mind in the physical realm the source of the ray appears to be higher than it actually is.

6.3.1 This maybe regarded in a secondary sense as pointing to some fairly direct analogy between physical refraction and the transphysical and physical processes that are the necessary. condition of the intermental transaction of illuminism.

6.3.2 But I regard it primarily as a metaphor for certain purely cognitive distortions, which, unless allowance is made for them, will tend to condition the reception or perception of illumination from minds outside physical existence. The basic distortion here is that the intimations and inspirations received by the human mind from transphysical realms and their occupants appear to have a more remote and exalted origin than is in fact the case.

6.3.3 One effect is that the source of the illumination – the originating mind or minds – may-be uncritically invested with an excess of status by the human mind. Thus-the minds beyond may be mistakenly regarded as unimpeachable authorities, and as infallible sources of arcane knowledge. Further, because they appear to have such knowledge. it may be-mistakenly assumed they have commensurate power and-ability. Finally, it may be mistakenly assumed that the extended knowledge they appear to possess is a guarantee of their moral integrity and of-the purity and soundness of their motivation. The conditions of perception in this field, in short, tend to exaggerate the ‘image’ of the transmitting personality.

6.3.4 Another effect is that the content of what is imparted, in so far as it deals with ostensible arcana, may be regarded as so remote from, so far beyond the range of, our earthly experience that it is exempt from any really discriminating analysis in the light of appropriate canons of probability, validity and credibility.

6.3.5 A related effect is that the content of what is imparted may appear as inflated with more significance and meaning than it actually merits, so that it tends to arouse an attitude of psychological conviction and an intuitive certitude as to its self-evident truth. So again one may say that-the conditions of perception in this field tend to create illusions of insight and understanding. Hence if one believes anything at all in this field, one tends to believe too much.

6.4 Examples of these effects are legion. Psychics, sensitives and seers generally are well-known for being over-identified with and over-impressed and over-convinced by their visions and insights. Followers and believers, who are not overt psychics or seers, tend to show the same effects with respect to what they hear and read in this field; that is to say, the same effects are operative at a more unfocussed intuitive level of consciousness. I regard each of the following as cases of illuminism, that is, of instances in which there was a transaction between a human mind and a mind or minds outside physical existence (in the ordinary sense); but in each case I believe there was a greater or lesser degree of misperception, distortion and illusion involved in the transaction.

6.4.1 Swedenborg (1688-1772) and his followers regarded his illumination as proceeding from the Central heaven presided over by ‘the Lord’, ‘the God-man’. See his The Divine Love and Wisdom, Heaven and Hell, etc.

6.4.2 Joseph Smith (1805-1844), the Mormon prophet, and his followers regarded his visionary guidance as imparted by exalted and unimpeachable angel authority.

6.4.3 Madame Blavatsky and her followers have regarded her teachings as imparted by ‘masters of wisdom’ of great attainment and moral stature.

6.4.4 In the above instances we are concerned, I believe, with various kinds of elevated distortions involved in the psycho-spiritual life, a kind of pneuma-pathology, and in each cape different degrees of allowance have to be made for these effects. I am not suggesting, of course, that everything imparted is worthless, but some things are clearly suspect and the problem in each case is to determine precisely what. Each of the three (and many other cases could be cited).was consciously caught up in a subliminal intermental field – but how valid were the moral and spiritual credentials of the inspirers in each case? This whole area is due for a more systematic and conscientious study than it has hitherto received.

6.4.5 In passing one may note that spiritualist groups in general often tend to accord too much status and significance to controlling guides and/or healers, etc.; and to be overimpressed by an inspirational rhetoric whose actual substance is very slight.

6.4.6 Finally one may note at both the spiritualist and the illuminist levels that there is often a remarkable failure to apply adequate canons of judgment and criticism to the teachings received. This is partly due to the fact that (1) any excess of scepticism or misplaced criticism will disrupt the operation of the intermental field whence the inspiration arises; (2) any subliminal mental field consciously entered into tends, by virtue among other things of its emotional impact, to disperse and lull the judgment and critical acumen of the human minds involved. But the crucial question here arises: what criteria are appropriate for evaluating the content of illuminist doctrines? This is the central problem which stems from this paper, but it is too important to deal with summarily and requires a paper on its own.

6.5 I return now to the second statement of the law of physical refraction (6.2.2). There isa seer’s analogue of this which may be stated metaphorically as follows: the ray of human vision, insight or understanding, when it seeks to penetrate obliquely upwards from the physical into the transphysical realms to reach the knowledge and experience of those therein, inclines back toward the horizontal (back toward the physical) as it enters those realms, and thus appears to be grasping higher (and more accurate) realizations than is in fact the case.

6.5.1 Basically this may be stated as the tendency for transphysical states and experiences and the ideas therefrom to appear before the human mind too much in corporeal terms, in physically relevant concepts, categories and patterns of thought. One may say this is an example of analogical insight not allowing for hierarchical differentiation (2.4); a tendency to convert ‘vertical’ into ‘horizontal’ relations.

6.5.2 Perhaps one example of this effect is the theory of reincarnation, which could be regarded as converting the notion of successive embodiments in different transphysical realms into the notion of successive embodiments in the physical realm. If this were so then the theory would convert an ‘upward’ hierarchical progression into a purely ‘horizontal’ earthly progression.

6.5.3 Astrological theory may be cited as another example. Astrology may be regarded as converting the notion of cosmic influences proceeding to the physical earth from transphysical zones into the notion of planetary and zodiacal influences conceived in terms of very simple astronomical patterns. it is not difficult to expose the inconsistencies and geocentric preoccupations :of astrology. But it may still be regarded as a distortion of a deeper truth.

6.5.4 A much cruder example is the doctrine of eternal recurrence – the idea that every physical event will be repeated in exactly the same form and an infinite number of times. This has been advanced recently by the Gurdjieff-Ouspensky school; it overcame Nietzsche with the force of an obsessive revelation; and of course dates back to the doctrine of Apokatastasis of the Stoics in the 3rd century BC. This may be regarded as converting the notion of similarities in the cyclic patterning of events into notion of identity of content within each cyclic pattern.

6.5.5 The theory of planetary rounds, which occurs in some schools, may be another example.

6.5.6 Finally, of course, there is the tendency among some believers to seek an unwarranted personal reference in intimations from the beyond.

6.6 There is also an analogue for the third form of the law of physical refraction (6.2.3). If any mind in the transphysical realms seeks to illuminate (obliquely) a human mind in the physical realm, then that human mind will tend to appear higher in stature than it actually is.

6.6.1 Thus perhaps some persons in the transphysical (depending on the angle of downward vision) may see the human beings they contact as having greater spiritual and psychic capacities than in fact is the case, may perhaps overestimate their motivation, commitment, etc.

6.6.2 Again, minds outside physical existence may not, in contacting human minds, appreciate sufficiently and make proper allowance for the autonomy of earthly existence, for the special conditions and principles that determine the value of earthly performance, experience and realization.

6.6.3 Or it may be a failure to appreciate the peculiar practical and psychological problems of physical existence. And so on.

6.7 To summarize: the law of transphysical refraction suggests, by analogy, that the following effects are to be allowed for in any serious approach to illuminism..

6.7.1 The human mind tends to overestimate the status and significance of the transphysically based source of the illumination, and of the content of the illumination.

6.7.2 Yet at the same time, the human mind in so far as it exercises its insight and understanding upon the content received tends to conceive it too much in earthly concepts and categories. Hence there is a curiously dual and almost contradictory type of distortion: the content is spiritually vaunted while being over-corporealized. Unless allowance is made for both these tendencies, a subtle and disturbing sense of illusion remains.

6.7.3 Minds in the transphysical may tend to overestimate the status of the human beings they illuminate, that is, to see them as spiritually more elevated than in fact they are. While this may be uplifting and in a sense helpful for the human persons concerned, yet, unless allowance is made for this effect, it can breed sustained and subtle private illusions.

6.7.4 Finally, minds in the transphysical may tend to see human beings too much as potential discarnates or embryonic spirits, and hence fall short of according to physical experience its own proper value and autonomy.

6.8 It is considerations such as these, I believe, which must be taken into account if illuminism is to be examined seriously not merely in a theoretical but also in-a practical way. A subtle sort of discrimination is required. Excess critical acumen can lead to outright sceptical rejection of the whole idea of illuminism – this is intellect deformed by in-adequate insight; yet at the other extreme we have excess exercise of intuitive modes of appraisal – with resultant illusions of insight.

6.9 What, then, is the overall significance of the illusory effects outlined above? In this connection one has to remember that belief in some sort of transphysical realm has characterized the majority of literate and pre-literate societies throughout the greater part of their history.

6.9.1 During the long phases of mankind’s immaturity, these illusory effects may have served to foster and sustain some degree of spirituality, transphysical orientation and amenability to necessary influence from transphysical realms, among human beings.

6.9.2 But if so, this result was achieved at the expense of superstition, credulity, bigotry, fanaticism, fallacious doctrines, lack of adequate physical knowledge, and a certain infection of the will.

6.9.3 Hence in the West at any rate, two processes arose historically to veil the transphysical realms and progressively exclude them from the human world-view. Christianity,which narrowed the field down to the Trinity and the saints, with principalities and powers obscured by the dogma of the risen Christ. Christianity also had either indeterminate or bizarre notions of the life beyond physical existence. The investigation of physical nature from the 16th century onwards, which had to suppress and ostensibly overthrow the ancient doctrine of occult and final causes behind the scenes of nature in order to make any headway at all against archaic and immature modes of hierarchical and analogical thinking.

6.9.4 The transphysical dimension of reality re-presented itself on the human scene in a small way, and in a somewhat bizarre way, through . ordinary spiritualism, starting in 1848 in America; and again in a rather bizarre way through the doctrines of occultism in the last quarter of the 19th century. But in both cases it has tended to devour the minds and souls of those committed to it in the various groups and schools, because 1 believe that as yet no proper allowance has been made by any of them for the sort of illusory effects I have outlined. There are as yet no properly formulated criteria for evaluating doctrines of illuminist origin.

6.9.5 Physical science has matured human judgment, cast out superstition, by establishing criteria for distinguishing . between what seems to be the case and what really is the case in the physical world. The transphysical dimension of reality still awaits the same kind of approach: but the illusory effects which await us here are likely to be much more subtle than for example the illusory astronomical effects which delayed the appearance of the heliocentric theory for so long. This, of course, is precisely the challenge – and a source of unending interest for any questing human mind.

7 Corollaries of the refraction theory of illumination

Following through the analogical implications of the above theory, one may consider metaphorically the angle of vision of human understanding and seership, the obliquity of the ray of illumination from a transphysical source, and some analogues of the physical principle of diffusion of light.

7.1 There is a corollary to the law of physical refraction and this is the principle of total reflection.

7.1.1 It involves the notion of the critical angle, which is the limiting angle of incidence (angle between incident ray and normal or line at right angle to the surface) in a denser medium resulting in an angle of refraction of 90 degrees (the angle of refraction is the angle between the refracted ray and the normal). Thus for water the critical angle is 48.5 degrees, so that a ray of light passing obliquely upward through water at this angle will not pass out of the water.

7.1.2 Now if the angle of incidence of a ray of light passing, say, from water to air is increased beyond the critical angle, no part of the incident ray will enter the air, but the ray is totally reflected from the water boundary. In general, if you are situated in a dense medium and shine a light obliquely upward into a more rarefied medium at an angle of incidence beyond the critical angle of incidence for the denser medium, then it will simply reflect back into the medium from which you shine it.

7.2 A rather obvious cognitive analogy can be drawn from this principle of total reflection.

7.2.1 If you attempt to understand the transphysical dimension of reality in terms of concepts that are too horizontal, that is, if’ the ray of your insight is only slightly supra-earthly in its orientation, then it will disclose nothing but the physical realm from which it originates. That is to say, the principle of total visionary reflection is at work.

7.2.2 This leads me to the theory that, to speak in purely metaphorical terms, each human being has, from the point of view of his or her understanding of the transphysical dimension of reality, a characteristic angle of incidence – that is, certain limits are set on his capacity for upward vision, these limits being determined by relative density of embodiment and a variety of other factors.

7.2.3 For very large numbers of people, this angle of incidence seems to be increased beyond the critical angle, so that their vision, when directed toward higher dimensions of being, simply curves or is reflected back to earth – they see, feel or hear nothing of a higher kind.

7.2.4 For others the upward vision is orientated so that it is refracted at the critical angle: their vision skims, as it were, along the boundary between the two-realms, and they glean intimations of other dimensions of being in art, nature, science, etc.

7.2.5 For a minority of true seers and illuminates, their higher vision is orientated more steeply upwards so that the incident ray of their insight is refracted into the transphysical universe. And these, I think, we must divide into two kinds: Those who are insufficiently aware of the illusions of insight and so fail to make adequate allowance for these refractive illusions in relaying and interpreting the illumination received. Those, a minority, who do make allowance for these illusions so far as they are able.

7.2.6 Finally, perhaps, there are those whose vision pierces straight upwards, who have as it were no oblique line of regard into the transphysical and therefore are not subject to the illusions we have examined.

7.3 One may indeed ask, if such a theory is anything like correct, why there is this kind of variation; and why in particular in so many people there appears to be a total lack of higher vision.

7.3.1 Perhaps the answer lies in something like Bergson’s theory of the function of the physical brain: its task is to screen out a mass of transphysical impressions that are not relevant to the achievement of a relatively autonomous zone of experience in the physical realm.

7.3.2 But this filtering role of the physical brain has not always operated as effectively as it does today in the West, and even today the brain is much more porous, so to speak, lets more through among certain oriental and primitive peoples than in our western culture. Hence we must consider the possibility that the screening or filtering effect of the brain can be very considerably accentuated by cultural, i.e. environmental and educational, influences – human intermental fields.

7.3.3 Such influences are particularly acute in our culture. Our world-view – which permeates our whole cultural life, in education, the home and elsewhere – is one which severely accentuates any purely biological tendency to screen out transphysical impressions. On the one hand this makes for certain forms of vigorous and robust human judgment; but on the other hand I suspect that many people in our culture suffer an inappropriate degree of what might be called visionary inhibition: that is to say, their capacity for significant upward vision it thwarted and blocked by the constraints of our current worldview. These constraints may stem from a narrow theology as well as from the basic limiting principles of contemporary science.

7.4 In presenting the various analogues of the law of physical refraction the notion of obliquity was maintained: the line of inspiration or ray of illumination was regarded as proceeding obliquely from the transphysical to the physical realms. This notion provides a convenient metaphor for distinguishing between different orders of minds beyond physical existence.

7.4.1 There will be those at a lower transphysical level who will direct a very oblique ray of illumination toward the physical realm – resulting in considerable illusion of the kinds already mentioned.

7.4.2 There may be those at somewhat higher transphysical levels who direct more vertical ray of illumination, resulting in much less distortion and illusion.

7.4.3 From the latter one might reasonably expect that any comprehensive set of ideas imparted would include self-correcting notions, such as: Possible criteria for human minds to apply in evaluating the material transmitted. Detailed disposition or geography of transphysical states as an aid to human orientation. Emphasis on verification through techniques of human seership.

7.4.4 Finally, one may speculate on the metaphor of a truly vertical line of inspiration, free of any distorting or illusory effects.

7.5 The final corollary stems from an analogue with the physical principle of diffusion of light.

7.5.1 Physically, when light falls on a rough, irregular surface, it will be scattered or diffused, that is, reflected in many different directions. Similarly, the sun’s rays are diffused or scattered by dust particles in the atmosphere otherwise there would be near total darkness in the shade and dazzling glare in the light.

7.5.2 Diffusion can be increased by transmitting light through semi-transparent substances such as frosted glass, semitransparent paper, glass blocks, etc. This prevents glare.

7.6 By analogy one may suggest a law of illuminative diffusion.

7.6.1 Illumination passing from the transphysical into the physical realm will tend to be diffused and scattered. This metaphor may be developed in several ways.

7.6.2 There is the cognitive principle that attempts by the human mind to express and develop in conceptual form the intimations of illuminism may tend initially to suffer from ambiguity, confusion, inconsistency, sometimes a near chaotic profusion of inadequately cohered and interrelated concepts.

7.6.3 But there is a positive form of this principle to the effect that illumination from minds beyond achieves its most effective spread at the human level in terms of conceptual diffusion, that is, when developed in terms of a wide range of organically interrelated concepts.

7.6.4 One may also suggest that a certain looseness of structure or open mesh to systems of ideas that refract intimations from the transphysical domains provides for more effective illumination. A certain porosity of thought structure is required. If the structure of ideas is too tight, the mesh too fine, the excursus of argument too persistent, then illumination from beyond is occluded. There is a maximum reflection and diffusion of light if the explicating ideas are well spread out with generous facets facing in diverse directions. To achieve this is a matter of fine judgment and discrimination, and is certainly no invitation to careless thinking.

7.6.5 It is not so much the arguments that are advanced in support of some idea that are important, it is rather the organic coherence of this idea within the whole system of ideas of which it is a part. Of course good reasons must be given for this idea or that idea, but it is basically the comprehensiveness, the internal and external coherence (2.6) of the set of ideas as a whole that is of paramount importance.