Primal urge is division towards individuation. Secondary urge is to coalesce - formation of groups for safety, reproduction and survival.
Our current challenge is to recognise that we are one (in love) but in order to be one (in love) we need to separate (in love)
Thank you for sharing this. I think there is also a third stage, and that is a return to our individuation with the understanding of our interconnectedness and interdependence as well as the unique contributions that each and every of us have and bring to the group, which should be treasured and cultivated.
In other words, the first stage is a naive egotism, where we feel separate, alien, disconnected, dropped into an existence with similarly separate and potentially hostile egos that we need to fear and defend ourselves against. Most of us experiencing this PMR are in this stage, as we are new to VRs and just figuring things out. Hence the fierce divisions, contempt, hatred and violence against others based on the extent to which they are different from us--different in their appearance, gender, sexual orientation, beliefs, which side of the river they live on, and other ephemeral and relatively meaningless differences. Tom characterizes this PMR as a kindergarten--this reminds me of that popular book in the 90s, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten
: share with others, don't hit people, don't cheat or lie, and so on. On a deeper level, this means figuring out where "we" end and "others" begin and drawing boundaries around each. Coming to terms with our "orphanhood." Learning how to fight for ourselves and what matters to us without seriously hurting others. Learning how to care for others without completely losing who we are.
The second stage is an awareness that we are far more similar than we are different. This may be accompanied by a mystical experience: enlightenment/one with God/nirvana/awakening/transcendence/nonduality: a realization that we and everyone and everything else, are permeated by the same identical force of being, so that excessive attachment to the individual identity is harmful to the whole. As you point out in your post, this is a period of coalescence based on shared values and understanding of our interdependence. We are in it together: what are the impediments to our unification, and how can we create a reality that brings out the best in all of us? Many people in this PMR VR are slogging towards this stage, and a few are actively engaged in building a more cooperative, peaceful, and just society along these lines.
The next stage is a return to the kingdom with a newly expanded vision of both one's individuation as well as our shared bonds. There is a confidence, knowledge of who we are and what we are about, peace, joy, humor, compassion, sadness (as Tom points out in the books
, "a realistic and empathetic understanding of the unnecessary self-inflicted pain that heaps misery on the world and its people"). It is rare to come across people in this PMR who have reached this point, but you know it when you see it. These are our visionaries, the ones showing the way and living a life in harmony with those values.
From a couple YouTube comments Tom wrote years ago
Ego is self-awareness in the service of fear. The awareness of separation, of ourselves in a VR, does not have to engender fear, but initially it often does. Eventually we grow up to enjoy our self-awareness without fear or belief (i.e., with love if we evolve positively). Because we learn that even though we are separate in our VRs, we are still one with All That Is, still connected with everything -- a solution to simultaneous cooperative oneness while being individual.
The IUOC must maintain and evolve itself, within the VR. In the VR, the IUOC must deal with "other" by making choices. Initially the choices tend to be rather self centered and self focused (at that point, with no previous experience in VRs, the self is all the IUOC knows, trusts, or understands). Needless to say, the IUOC gets feedback appropriate to the choices made.
My own thoughts on this are inspired partly by the Zen saying: "Before I had studied Zen for thirty years, I saw mountains as mountains, and waters as waters. When I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that mountains are not mountains, and waters are not waters. But now that I have got its very substance I am at rest. For it's just that I see mountains again as mountains, and waters once again as waters." They are also inspired by Carol Pearson's remarkable book Awakening the Heroes Within
, where she describes archetypes within the phases of developing Ego, Soul, and Self similar to the phases described here.