Part Ten of The Unseen Sea
If you have been following this series of posts, you may have detected a liberal use of the name LUCA. The Last Universal Common Ancestor was a term coined by evolutionary biology to refer to the first cellular life which can be traced back to be the common originator of all current life on Earth. The original LUCA, forming herself as a self-replicating spiral of RNA/DNA and ‘pulling’ a spherical membrane around her to protect her new form from the now-hostile environment, could hardly have exhibited all the properties that I have attributed to her in the previous posts.
I am, of course, using the fact that she was the ancestor of us all to illustrate that there was One Life on Earth and, in terms of inheritance, she is still it. I know of no other term that tries to retain this single view of organic life, complete with its total history and, most importantly, the harvest of the conscious attributes of the separated self. ‘Life on Earth’ is fine, but LUCA implies so much more…
So far, in our journey into the enneagram, we have focussed on two things: the first is the primal part that fear plays in our psychological makeup. The second is how the evolution of the mind has enabled us to make pictures of what we fear. Dealing with these abstractions of danger has become far more corrosive than facing the actual danger – if and when it is actually present.
That so much of what generates fear never actually materialises is the nature of a society that lives, constantly, with anxiety. For example, few of our lives will actually be threatened by terrorism, and yet we react as though it is all around us. Modern fear has allowed it to change the way we live.
Anxiety is a powerful mechanism that affects us all. There comes a point when we have to call a halt to the conventional means of responding to such mass emotions, or face the loss of major elements of our civilisation.
The power of the image came late in LUCA’s development. It required a sophisticated response mechanism that not only remembers the nature of threats, but can abstract them into generalised cases so that a picture can be formed of what might be. The same mechanism can also be used in the most positive way – the image is at the heart of our creative powers, angel and devil in one package. Few of us would wish it away, so it is doubly important to see how that mechanism – now a part of the brain – can be balanced in its reactions. That this can be done implies a ‘higher brain’ or mind; one which is capable of observing the survival brain’s functioning and its effects on the whole organism – instincts, sexuality, movement, emotions and thought.
For now, let us return to finding a home on the enneagram for Image, Fear and something else that created them both.
The enneagram has nine points, spaced at forty degree intervals, clockwise, around its circumference. The ninth, like the number twelve on a clock face, is at the top. The numbers run clockwise, but their internal connections are not so simple. Numbers Nine, Three and Six form an equal sided triangle, shown in our own version, here, in blue. The remaining six numbers are connected in the sequence 1-4-2-8-5-7 and back to 1.
Here are Nine different qualities of life divided into a group of three and a second group of six. The two internal figures – the six ‘diamond’ and the three triangle, do not connect with each other. Instead they designate a world of the ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ powers, respectively, each of which co-exists with the other in a very specific way.
The whole Nine form a unity in perfect balance; but not in perfect isolation.
The whole is a picture of Life, its types and its processes. The enneagram maps Life by way of LUCA’s psychological history, which is also the story of human consciousness. This journey takes us from LUCA’s earliest reactions of being ‘alone’ to the most sophisticated divisions of our adult psyches, and shows where each came from. On one level it mirrors how LUCA developed our brain. One another, it shows the relationship between the isolated individual she became and what was left behind… in that sea.
The world of the Image is at three, and the world of Fear at six. Which leaves the inner triangle without a crown, until we remember LUCA’s first action–that which gave her life in the first place–was to turn away from open interaction with the sea of active chemicals and make herself into a separated form with a inbuilt directive to survive at all costs.
In creating the in-here she also created the other side of that coin, the out there. Modern psychology would call this an example of Object Relations.
That act of separation, and of recognition of self and other drove everything that followed. The turning away, by creation of the protective and separating cell, from the all-substance which contained the pre-organic soup, became the backbone of life. This first happened at the RNA/DNA level, and then, billions of years later, at the level of the literal backbone of the vertebrates, those dominant life forms with real backbones who now face a future where they are literally capable of destroying the planet that gave LUCA its life in the first place.
But this is not a negative series of posts. Good forces are on ‘our’ side, too… But we should never forget that we are still LUCA underneath – and driven -unless we chose to interfere by an act of will – by her basic needs.
End Part Ten.
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Read the previous parts of this series:
©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2016 images and text. All rights reserved.