Inception and Formative Spirituality

I just watched Inception, the 2010 drama that won, among other awards, best cinematography and best visual effects at the academy awards this year.  I must say, I loved the film.  Then I must say, it highly disturbed me.  What was it? Perhaps it was the suspense of human frailty traveling to places that only gods should have access.  What made the movie so captivating was how accurately it portrayed the depths of the human person.

In his Science of Human Formation, Adrian van Kaam locates six different regions of the human consciousness.  Inception explored four.  van Kaam’s six include:

  1. Focal Vocal- the focused or attentive pieces of the human.  This is our awake stage.  We easily give voice to what exists in this region.
  2. Pre-Focal- This is the richest part of our consciousness and memory.  Imagine a constant interplay of our unique interests that give momentum to our focal-vocal.  We access this level often but we seldom  voice what echoes around in it.
  3. Infra-Focal- These include the bodily, life calling, individual, and personal ambitions and impulses that we are unaware that we carry around.  This is kind of like the subconsciousness.  It is somewhat buried, unvoiced but available to access. What exists in this region cannot be verbalized.
  4. Inter-Focal- The area of our sub-conscious that engage shared traditions usually stored in myths, symbols, arts, cultural writings, or family. This is a level of shared subconscious.
  5. Trans-Focal- This level is that piece of our sprit that has most direct contact with the wider spiritual universe.  This is our spirit being open to the Holy Spirit. This is where we store our aspirations and become inspired. What goes on here cannot yet be verbalized.
  6. Intra-Focal- This phrase describes the whole of our consciousness. This is stepping back and looking at the whole picture. We notice from this vantage point how our memory, imagination, and anticipation pull from and impact each level of our subconsciousness.

In the end, we continue to explore the human sub-consciousness, because something deep inside us observes an under appreciation for  the depth of the human psyche.  We know that our fears, loves, impulses, ambitions, aspirations, awe, and inspirations work together in a mysterious way that cannot be measured but only experienced.  Nice work, crew of Inception for reminding us of this.  Now we must translate the message from drama to reality…