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Ontological Addiction theory (OAT) presently construed as “the maladaptive condition whereby an individual is addicted to the belief that they inherently exist” risks being caught in a performative contradiction. This is related to an implicit transcendetal reductionsist assumption operative in its conception. Any assimulation and application of skillful means to mental health within a western context will also seek to integrate the insights of the Western Enlightenment and the value of the individual. Critically this entails a developmental appreciation of the problematic perception of egoic individualism as distinct from the conception of an individuating ‘whole person’, with ontological import. Thus OAT could positively be supplemented, reconstructed and reconceived as Ontological Affirmation Theory.
Van Gordon et al. (2016), in laying out OAT, chart a path from (i) becoming aware of the imputed self, (ii) deconstructing the imputed self, and (iii) reconstructing a dynamic and non-dual self in order to overcome the ontological addiction, described as a “maladaptive condition whereby an individual is addicted to the belief that they inherently exist” (ibid, p. 1). And indeed, overcoming egoic addictive suffering is at the core of contemplative traditions worldwide, whilst subtle significant distinctions remain as to respective ‘self-systems’. Set within a conscious evolutionary frame, some of the contemporary mapping of this territory, only relatively recent in its articulation, holds profound implications for our way of being and becoming in the world. Our conceptions of ‘reality’ and ‘illusion’, what we value and strive for, our sense of purpose and the very meaning of our lives are all at play.
2. Developmental Implications for Contemplative Paths
3. Radical Ontology
This echoes Teilhard de Chardin’s (1959) profound contention that the artificial separation between humans and cosmos, lies at the root of our contemporary moral confusion. Jorge Ferrer (2017, p. 15) similarly emphasises the “key difference between modern individualism and spiritual individuation is thus the integration of radical relatedness in the later”. The practical and ethical significance of such a ‘radical ontology’ of personhood cannot be overstated, insofar as ‘we-space’ research (Gunnlaugson and Brabant 2016) also signals how profoundly such an ontology impacts on collaborative success (or lack thereof) in groups, teams, organisations, communities and indeed, given our ‘metacrises’ (Rowson and Pascal 2021) one might add for, ‘nations’. As McCallum et al. (2016) states, with relevance to an ethic of care:
For us as practitioners, this philosophical view of differentiated and yet unified field of consciousness provides a way of understanding the radically interdependent nature of relationships between parts and whole, individuals and groups, and sub groups within larger and larger collectives…in the instance of individuals who are recognised with genetic or social “frailties”, the degree to which a community understands these individuals not as “other”, but as being integral parts of a larger whole will determine approaches to care, allocation and resources, etc.
Fittingly, de Chardin poses the question, “what is the work or works of man if not to establish, in and by each one of us, an absolute original centre in which the Universe reflects itself in a unique and imitable way?” (ibid, p. 287). This characteristic of evolution, he claims, is underscored in any domain, “whether it be the cells of the body, the members of a society or the elements of a spiritual synthesis”, (ibid, p. 288) in the principle union differentiates. Teilhard thus maintained:[F]ar from being mutually exclusive, the Universal and Personal (that is to say ‘centred’) grow in the same direction and culminate simultaneously in each other. It is therefore a mistake to look for the extension of our being or of the noosphere in the Impersonal.
[T]he peak of ourselves, the acme of our originality, is not our individuality [ego as over identified with the individuating function] but our person; and according to the evolutionary structure of the world, we can only find our person by uniting together.[though] not every kind of union will do…it is centre to centre that must make contact and not otherwise…[as] the true ego grows in inverse proportion to ‘egoism’ (ibid, pp. 289, 290).
4. Evolutionary Awareness-A Fourth Turning of Buddhism
This entry is adapted from 10.3390/rel12100893
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