This piece is the next in a series looking at various forms of evolving notions of spiritual awakening. Earlier pieces explored the origins of the teaching of the self as curved-in-on-itself in St. Augustine, as well as how practices of somatic regulation could be used to bring coherence to this core wounding, leading to the most recent exploration of how such a path becomes truly a wholly distinct path unto itself (immanence vs. Transcendence). At the conclusion of that piece, I suggested the possibility of a third pathway called Incandescence. This piece will explore the incandescent way.
But first a very quick review of the terms transcendence and immanence. Transcendence is the realization of the state of liberation free from time, death, finitude, and limitation. It is the realization of Eternal Conscious Life as both source and substrate of all reality. Immanence builds upon transcendence but brings that liberating transcendental realization into the very flesh and bone of existence. Immanence, as explored in the previous piece, unites paradoxically liberation with “non-liberation”, separation and non-separation, duality and non duality. Time, limitation, embodiment, finitude, and death, all of which (and much more) exist as part of this mortal coil, become not impediments to realization but the very locus of such awakening. Even shadow, ego, and the most creaturely of human traits are to embraced in this immanent pathway.
I ended the last piece with this section:
In Incandescence the interpenetration of matter and spirit becomes so intense that it generates a heat as if it’s gone “white” or “blue”. It’s not a subtle white light one might see in a vision or dream…The heat is “white” because it’s gone ultra-searing. The friction between matter and spirit rubbing up against one another, like two sticks, causes a fire to arise—a fire that is a light (incandescent).
Contemporary spiritual teacher Saniel Bonder, whom I explored (in part) in the last piece, calls this incandescent phase of the process The White Heat (or White Hot Yoga of The Heart). The White Heat is an intensification of the process begun in immanence. One may only come to incandescence through the doorway of immanence.
For a true transcendental awakener, it’s very possible (indeed likely) that they become a spiritual master. For one walking the path of immanence, no such safety or spiritual hierarchy is feasible or even possible. On the path of immanence one becomes a devotee, a sovereign being living in awe and wonder seeking companions in devotional life. In incandescence, one must even release the mantle of the devotee and becomes God only knows who or what.
In incandescence one begins to burn like a supernova. Incandescence retains the qualities of conscious realization from transcendence and devotional love from immanence but something new comes to the fore: the alchemical fusion of spirit and matter.
In immanence spirit and matter “marry” in Bonder’s terminology. They paradoxically unite. In incandescence there is a merging (or rather e-merging) between matter and spirit. In a previous piece I explored the dual traditions of alchemy, especially covering the less well known second tradition of alchemy which did not aim to turn lead into gold but rather turn gold into white gold (The Philosopher’s Stone or Elixir). In a subsequent piece I explored the work of Sri Aurobindo as an expression of that second alchemical pathway in spiritual teaching.
The white heat is another variation of this second form of spiritual alchemy. The “gold” of immanence—which is a rare realization—can become the even rarer “white gold” or rather “white heat” through the path of incandescence.
Not all pathways lead up the same mountain in other words.
As mentioned in the previous piece, in the path of immanence the core wound never becomes healed or fixed. Instead the core wound becomes conscious and in so doing reveals itself to be a strange place of healing (The Core Wound/Core Wellness).
In incandescence that core wound/core wellness becomes the crucible of this alchemy. It becomes the locus of incredible heat, churning and radiating love and light. The core wound/wellness becomes a roiling, broiling, bubbling space of liquid, plasmatic heat and light.
If transcendence is often described as “up” and immanence as “down” (waking up vs waking down), then incandescence is all directions simultaneously. There’s no more “down” as one has gone to bottomless depths and there’s no “further down” anymore.
In incandescence one simply radiates. There’s no direction anymore (or all directions simultaneously which is the same thing). There’s simply the expression of this light-heat, this heat-light. To the degree that one is or rather expresses incandescence there is an underlying core of this white hot expression while they are doing the normal things of life.
In Sanskrit there’s the word bhava (as in bhava samadhi). Bhava is to burn up. The path of immanence is about being undone in God. In immanence the devotee “unwinds” in divinely human life. Incandescence, by contrast, is the way of immolation.
Shadow tendencies, the ego, the core wound/wellness, all these remain. They melt in the incandescent liquid light-heat.
Bonder sees this white-hot process as a kind of apocalypse—apocalypse meaning an “unveiling.” For more on apocalyptic theologies see my earlier piece on the subject. This combination brings into creative fiction traditions of non dual awakening (often though not exclusively from The East) with the Western (or more accurately Middle Eastern) traditions of apocalyptic theology.
In Christian theology there is the teaching of already but not yet. The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth is said to be already present yet not fully manifest. In a rhyming fashion, the white heat is already present as The Heart of all Being and Becoming while its full effects are not fully manifest. The creative tension of living in that betwixt and between zone of full realization yet not fully manifest is yet another source of the friction generating the white heat.
That intermediate zone of (always) already full realization but not yet fully manifest is the space of emergence. A very warm, even hot, Eros charges itself in these liquid light-filled waters. The great medieval Christian realizer Meister Eckhart referred to the inner life of the Godhead as a boiling (bullitio in Latin) that eventually lead to a “boiling over” (e-bullitio, root of the English world ebullience). Like a pot of water with a lid on it that comes to boil and then flows over the edges, Eckhart saw all of creation “overflowing” from the inner boiling of the The Godhead.
In a similar vein, in incandescence one boils inwardly and then that white heat “boils over” or spills out into life. Whatever such a person may or may not be doing at the moment, underneath, above, and through it all they are simply sending that incandescent signal, radiating that specific light-heat.
Just as immanence is a radical death/rebirth type experience in relationship to transcendence, so is incandescence as compared to immanence. As the melting and melding of all parts of one’s being accelerates in incandescence, everything crystallizes. There is a distillation of one’s being to the utmost core. In immanence the various parts of one’s being—from the most spiritual and transcendental to the most shadowy, wounded, reactive and everything in between—learn to co-exist, cohere, and integrate. In immanence there is the paradoxical realization of simultaneous Wholeness and brokenness at the core of our divinely human experience.
In incandescence all those parts boil and fuse and melt into each other until it is not always clear which is which and what is what. There’s a two way transduction here occurring: transducing spirit into matter and matter into spirit. Spirit is becoming materialized and matter is becoming divinized. That process begins in immanence but goes into another gear in incandescence.
The white heat is the “off gas” or the outflow of the alchemical melting and melding of spirit and matter. The white heat radiates from and as a person as a consequence of them undergoing such a melting-melding in their own being. In so doing perhaps one is becoming more and more aligned to the very Heart itself, which itself may be doing something very similar (melting and melding) to reality itself. But those cosmic wonderings are at best I would say intimations, wild hunches to be taken equally seriously but equally lightly (awaiting further confirmation).
But whatever may or may not be true cosmically of this realization, Incandescence accelerates and intensifies yet another dimension of the process begun in immanence: namely autonomy and communion.
In immanence, there is the paradoxical simultaneous realization of unity and radical uniqueness and individuality to all beings. We are all One as the saying goes though the Oneness is precisely in and through and as radical uniqueness.
Or in the more poetic words of U2:
“We’re One but we’re not the same/
We get to carry each other.”
In the realization of The Heart one realizes oneself to be The All and yet radically singular and distinct—a unique manifestation of The All in a very specific time, place, body, and form. The Oneness therefore does not override the uniqueness/specificity.
As one becomes radically more singular and sovereign, there is paradoxically much greater space for true relationship. We’re one but we’re not the same again. That space of one but not the same is yet another space of Eros and evolutionary propulsion. Here the white heat starts really boiling.
Communion (or relationship) can be here with any sentient beings—human, animal, plant, cosmic, heavenly, psychic-animistic, etc. We’re one but we’re not the same. The one but not the same is very much like the already-but-not-yet nature of the realization,. These are all different sticks being rubbed together whose friction generates the white heat.
For Bonder at the core of this white hot process is the cultivation of radical trust in Life. The white heat is the incandescence of The Heart after all. It is growth and deepening embodiment of supernal Love. And as The Letter to the Corinthians famously put it, “Faith, hope, and love. These three remain.”
The radiant Love of The Heart leads to a deepening trust (faith) and hope in existence, in Life. It is this quality that above all may be most needed in the present time.