Reflections about the Correlation Between
The Aware Self Process and the Subpersonalities,
The Whole and the Parts; Ourselves and our Neighbors.
Far from leading to a fragmentation of the psyche,
‘Voice Dialogue’ processes
Further in us an interactive wholeness;
A re-membering of who we are.
Today science progressively unveils that every human being is a cosmos; that every single cell contains a universe. Physicists propose that an implicate order gives sense and direction to elements, that unfold and enfold, that divide and join up into constantly renewed and significant shapes and structures (1). In a similar way, the process of consciousness also evolves ‘through separating and connecting,’ as cells do... mysteriously ‘One and diverse.’
We can experience this through ‘Voice Dialogue’ practice which gives each of our Inner selves its own place in connection to one’s Central Awareness of them. This 'inner relationship scheme' and relating as such, is, for me, the very dynamic that leads to personal evolution, and the evolution of Consciousness itself.
The Whole Contains the Parts
Creating an Aware Connection Between the Whole and the Parts
By facilitating and then separating from inner contents, we unveil an Inner vastness, the perception of a Core-beingness, of an aware, relational and expanding Self. It underlies all what we identify ourselves with: We suddenly experience ‘who we are’ as a flowing organic whole; a becoming more alive, more rooted and more flexible. It helps us transcend ‘exclusive identification’ with a specific me or Inner self. It strengthens our ability to envision - with growing compassion and detachment - whatever and whoever inhabits us or surrounds us. We discover what it means to be ‘fully present to oneself ’and ‘fully present to the other,’ here and now.
This Aware self process results from practising a conscious identifying with,
followed by a conscious dis-identifying from…
one’s mental, emotional, sensory and behavioral moves.
Relating is only complete when it brings two or more separate elements or persons to interact in reciprocity. As long as the child is in the womb, in a fusional state, identified with the mother, the two of them do not yet have a relationship in its fullest mature sense. This is also a characteristic of fusional love in primary relationships and will likewise prevent aware self-relating as long as we are fully identified with our Inner voices or subpersonalities.
The child’s identity and individuation builds up alongside with a progressive separation: from the mother, father and family; from feeling one in the womb, to becoming a mature, self-reliant adult. From birth on, separation is a must, if one means to develop into an accomplished human being. ‘Conscious relating’ implies the bridging of at least two distinct units. Observation of babies in orphanages - subjected to constantly changing caretakers - has shown that the lack or the discontinuity… of reliable bonding impairs their health, damages them psychically and can even lead to their death, in spite of being bodily taken care of. A young child, a ‘responsive me,’ needs someone who loves and mirrors it in a continuity of mutual and affectionate connection. Emotional face-to-face relating is what sustains our growth in heart, mind and spirit.
My hypothesis - corroborated by my ‘Voice Dialogue’ work - is that what proves true of consistent relating to the biological child… will prove true of consistent bonding with one’s Inner child. And this, whatever the wounds we carry from a distant past! Indeed - even though we are time bound, regarding our stories and our aging - our psychical reality is always in the now.
Our aliveness will fade and wither, problems will increase, intimacy cannot flower, when we remain blindly identified with - and therefore disconnected from - our Inner selves. States of ‘inner fusion and confusion prevent conscious relating to who we are and what we feel: We cannot see, mirror, or care for our suffering selves as long as we remain identified with them. And consequently we will unknowingly project them outside on oblivious recipients.
Developing an Aware Self process - by ‘a separating out’ of our subpersonalities - will allow us to become our own Witness, Spiritual friend and Caretaker. Getting to know our different voices /selves/energies/ from inside - via facilitation - and then stepping out of them, generates empathy, aware self-mirroring, and gives us access to the enriching multiplicity of our many primary, vulnerable or disowned energies. We then realize that we can, simultaneously, relate to, encompass and transcend whatever inhabits us.
By extension, it will help us to feel compassion for others; to give, to share and receive in a balanced way.
Biological and psychological inputs go hand in hand, reflect each other, like twin mirrors.
A Voice, a Feeling, a Sensation, a Thought, a Reaction... Is Always a Person.
Working with ‘Voice Dialogue facilitation’ makes one marvel at how intensely a given voice /energy/subpersonality/ manifests as a ‘real and total being,’ despite the fact that it is only an aspect of ourselves. A subpersonality is characterized by an age, a sex, a time of birth, a name, a world of emotions and a mind of its own, and a distinct energetic body. This voice-person inside us has private hopes and fears, a life purpose, a personal experience of joys and pains and a full potential for evolution, provided the Aware self process recognizes it and starts to relate to it.
Again and again, when facilitating, I feel touched by the pain, the sensitivity, the love and the presence that a subpersonality manifests when it is deeply acknowledged and listened to. Every one of them is in full measure an individual to be respected, to learn from, to value, to interact with.
Each Part Contains the Whole
Each Human Being, and even each of Our Cells... Contains the Universe
How can an inner voice, a given self, which is only a facet among many others inside us, simultaneously cover the whole range of human and transcendent beingness? Although man is but a minute fragment of creation, ordinary men and women, as well as saints, philosophers, artists, scientists, shamans, of all times and cultures, have described experiences of overall Oneness; Oneness with the Source of Consciousness itself, with unlimited, shining, loving reality.
This was often met by distrust and strongly rejected by sceptics, by religious fundamentalists and political powers. I think here of two emblematic examples.
I think of Christ, who claimed: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’ ‘I and the Father are one,’ (2) and who was crucified for affirming to be the Son of God.
I think of the Persian Sufi mystic Al-Hallâdij Ibn Mansûr (c. 858-922) who was tortured and crucified for having said: ‘Ana al Haqq,’ ‘I am the Truth.’ (3)
How does such an epiphany reflect itself in the wondrous alchemy of our bodies, where each of our cells - though only an infinitesimal particle of our organism - carries in its genetic code a yet unfathomed amount of information, perhaps even the total potential and energy of life itself? Easy to explain how the whole contains the parts; more baffling and exiting to discover that each part might also contain the whole. This premise sheds also some light on the following question: ‘How come that the ‘separation processes’ of ‘Voice Dialogue’ don’t lead to or add to a fragmentation of the psyche?’ (4).
25 years later, after intense personal and professional practice in this field, I could witness to the fact that, on the contrary, conscious differentiation heals inner division, heals disconnection from self and others, and helps to perceive oneself as an ‘organic and pacified living whole,’ while at the same time including all facets of inner and outer diversity.
A New and yet Ancient Model of Deep Relating
The mirroring process between the whole and the parts, the parts and the whole, opens up an audacious perspective in which ‘heightened awareness’ is a new way to relate to ourselves, to others, to the whole universe. I here refer to an almost incredible vista, a deep knowing that we contain every other and that every other contains us. Discovering this, in my own flesh and energy, as a reality of my Aware self and Inner family of voices, encourages me to believe that it may be true on a much wider range. This is a vision of a universe birthed and upheld by Transcendent Consciousness.
Recognizing the Source of divine wholeness in every being, in every manifestation - whatever our religious background or the absence of it - can begin through the ‘Voice Dialogue’ process. There, we can acknowledge each of our own Inner selves. Even though they may be just multiplied ‘ego-show,’ they are also our flesh and blood and totally similar to the humans around us! Let us begin to treat our Inner selves with tenderness and understanding; to care for them, relate to them and set them free in our aware love; and be surprised to see how they transform into happy and trusting human beings inside us.
‘Love thy neighbor as Thy Self,’
falls within the scope of the second commandment.
The world we perceive is a giant mirror of ourselves... reflecting our own harmony, beauty, insights and loving deeds or, at other times, reflecting our wounds, disharmonies, inner conflicts and value judgments. In the latter case, Inner world and Outer world manifest as the expression of a schizophrenic mind: White against black, right against wrong, you against me, me against me.
A wise integration of our disowned energies amounts to a wise integration of our neighbors in areas where we reject them. It means peace, based on acknowledgment rather than exclusion. To be a stranger no more, an enemy no more to oneself, to befriend oneself, leads to universal tolerance. It may demonstrate that each of us can be uniquely himself and yet enclose and redeem every other.
The Hologram as Consciousness Model
Not only the experiences of mystics and philosophers invite us to such insights, but also physicists and scientists of our time now uncover more and more holistic models. The holographic photograph is one of them and illustrates strikingly this relationship between the totality and the parts and - why not - between the Aware self process and the various Inner selves.
The hologram, or three dimensional photograph, was first discovered in 1947 by the mathematician Dennis Gabor. In 1971 he was the single recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention and development of the holographic method.
Outlined in a simplified way, a hologram is obtained by dividing a laser beam, so that it will interact from several angles of reflection with a photographed object by means of a half silvered mirror. The different ‘photographic viewpoints,’ when superposed, form a ‘model of interference’ which will then be imprinted on a photographic plate. Illumination of this plate, results in a three dimensional image (in full relief).
The three dimensional aspects are not just simulated for the eye. They have acquired spatial characteristics: The picture will modify as the observer walks around it, and so changes his position in relation to the holographic image. And if we study a holographic image - of a leaf for example - through a microscope, we can observe its cellular structure.
And there is even more to it! When you shatter a hologram, each of the broken off fragments still reveals the whole image, still contains the whole information. This shows us that possibly a total memory could be stored in every part or fragment of matter; a memory, a wholeness that doesn’t get impaired when the parts are scattered and separated from each other (See 5 & 6).
Indeed, the facilitation of our voices/ subpersonalities/ and the subsequent Aware self process, the multi-angled mirroring that this entails, will unfold something akin to the holographic procedure. This gives us challenging lines of exploration with the ‘Voice Dialogue model.’
Could it be that each subpersonality, is not only to follow up for itself, but also holds information concerning all other selves, mine and yours; and that in reciprocity, our Aware self process can reflect, harbor, and at the same time transcend, the infinite kaleidoscope of our inner and outer universe; a holographic universe embedded in every aspect of creation and in every single human being. Let us realize that what can heal us through relating to our Inner family of selves, can also heal the outer world.
I would like to share my anticipation; share the hope that if more and more people witness and practice the ‘Voice Dialogue process,’ our diversity will become a cosmic mirror that opens us up, not only towards being fully ourselves, but also to an understanding of all voices/selves/ in our fellow-beings.
I hope we will awaken to the sense of a ‘creation wide oneness’ that underlies and surpasses our differences, that unfolds towards peace and transformative relating… because we embody all other human beings; because every other being houses us (5 & 6).
© 1993 Adelheid Oesch
(1) David Bohm, "Wholeness and the implicate order" Arc Publ.
(2) King James Bible, Gospel of John 10.30 &14.6
(3) Louis Massignon, ‘Hallaj: Mystic and Martyr’
Abridged and translated from the French by H. Mason. Princeton Univ. Press 1994
(4) John Rowan, ‘Discover your subpersonalities’ Routledge Publ. 1990
(5) Stanislav Grof, ‘Beyond the Brain’ State . of N.Y. Press 1985
(6) Karl Pribram, ‘Languages of the Brain’ Prentice Hall 1971