Transformation: Understanding the Three Levels of Masculine Consciousness
Robert A. Johnson
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Presenting an original and vital model for psychological development, the brilliant and pioneering author of He, She, and We offers a new understanding of the stages of personal growth through which maturity and wholeness can be achieved.
Using quintessential figures from classical literature--Don Quixote, Hamlet, and Faust--Robert Johnson shows us three clearly defined stages of consciousness development. He demonstrates how the true work of maturity is to grow through these levels to the self-realized state of completion and harmony.
In Johnson's view, we all reach the stages depicted by Don Quixote, Hamlet, and Faust at various times of our lives. The three represent levels of consciousness within us, each vying for dominance. Don Quixote portrays the innocent child, while Hamlet stands for our self-conscious need to act and feel in control though we have no real connection to our inner selves. Faust embodies the master of the true self, who has gained awareness by working through the stages.
and end his misery. His son takes him to the center of a field and convinces the suffering old man that he is on the edge of the cliff, and Gloucester hurls himself over the “edge” only to land in the middle of the field in which he was standing. But so great was his suffering that he thinks he has gone over the cliff, and so now he stands up enlightened and relieved of his suffering. He recognizes his son and utters some of the most sublime lines in literature. Gloucester did his “suicide”
The next-lower caste consists of the rulers and warriors—people less concerned with consciousness. Castes lower than this are the domain of tradesmen and workmen. The system keeps the large majority of people in simple consciousness, with higher consciousness available only to those few individuals whose caste gives indication that they can survive the passage through complex consciousness. This system certainly has its flaws, of course. One of the most severe problems with the caste system is
Proverbs in many languages point out these three levels of consciousness. One story, for instance, relates that the simple man comes home in the evening wondering what’s for dinner, the complex man comes home pondering the imponderables of fate, and the enlightened man comes home wondering what’s for dinner. Simple man and enlightened man have much in common, including a direct, uncomplicated view of life, and so they react in similar ways. The only true difference between them is that the
that is the ideal of medieval man. Don Quixote admits under his breath that he is not sure Dulcinea even exists, but he vows to give his life for her. They never find Dulcinea, but she animates their journey from beginning to end. It is the fair lady who is the eternal quest of medieval man—whether she is real or not—as Don Quixote admits. She exists in the heart of the searcher, which is all that matters to two-dimensional man. He never tests this inner vision against outer reality; once one
such things that it were better my mother had not borne me.” He then adds insult to the injury: If thou dost marry, I’ll give thee this plague for thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery, farewell. Or if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool, for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery go, and quickly too. Farewell. It is characteristic of complex man, caught between functioning by instinct