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Advice from Zandtaomed

Unconscious "Fragmenting"

This is an investigation into the path, pathtivism, and how the path can cope with a PTSD-fragment.


WARNING – I have not worked in therapy or in meditation with anyone who has this unconscious fragmenting of trauma - nor having a PTSD-fragment. Normally I only write from experience but that is not the case here. With PTSD it is necessary to focus on insight and trust the path that has caused fragmenting, and avoid integration processes if possible. The book "A Guide to Awareness and Tranquillity" by William Samuel, a war vet himself, is recommended as suitable for focussing on insight. But with the vipassana aspect of MwB in pathtivism, insight can just as easily be the focus, and therefore Zandtaomed can be as suitable for people suffering from PTSD.



Fragmentation is nature's way of helping us cope, it is a process that can be hugely beneficial if managed. Whilst paths usually require integration, in the situation of PTSD nature has quite sensibly drawn a curtain over the trauma causing the PTSD-fragment. Accept nature's way of handling the trauma; the path has created the fragment, trust your path.

But as with all fragments their nature is to seek reintegration. In the case of PTSD fragments that force needs to be channeled to help you follow your path - as motivation for spiritually or socially worthwhile action. Without some form of activity the desire for re-integration might need to be repressed leading to addictive behaviours such as alcohol addiction.

Through following the path PTSD-fragments can become unconscious. Insights gained on the path can provide sufficient strength that there is no need to attach to the egos of the PTSD-fragment and what was a fragment becomes unconscious - an unattached memory.


With this study it is worth looking at how it arose - from an acquaintance who suffers from war trauma. In converstaion he said I had something, nice of him , so he went away to read about the Pathtivist Trilogy. The only feedback is "interesting". He copes with his trauma through drinking and wants to engage when he is drunk, something that is a complete waste of time as he has forgotten by the morning – he accepts this. Here’s the rub. Pathtivism talks about the inner journey and integrating fragments, but how can pathtivism ask someone to go inside to relive the pain of war trauma? The pain of the trauma was buried for a very legitimate reason.

This is how the investigation started, and it starts with the known – my experience. The process of fragmentation has been a huge benefit in my life, it has made difficult times tolerable. Let's examine the benefits of three times in which fragmentation has occurred.

The first was during my childhood, I am not going to discuss too many details about my parents. According to my inner child my parents were chosen because of fragmenting, my inner child told me that he wanted the fragmentation that would occur during childhood. Childhood was repressed and middle-class, it was not happy not unhappy just growing up in a conditioned way without major trauma (all childhood has some trauma) becoming a young adult with a career path and qualifications – the middle-class objective; no wife though – 2 out of the middle-class 3? Even though there was no authenticity as a child, there were some tools to begin life as a functioning adult. The fragmentation that occurred during childhood was of benefit, it helped me cope but it was just coping – not path.

The second stage to consider is fragmenting during upheaval – discussed in detail in the Treatise. During this time childhood fragmentation partially integrated itself, it is when I started to follow my path. It was a fundamentally unconscious process of defragmentation. After uni 18 months into the world of work career held no meaning, I was increasingly drinking, not sleeping, and heading down to bottom. At one point I did something totally stupid at work, and was quite rightly sacked – my work was incompetent anyway. Running home to my parents, over a period of a month I remember only one thing - walking past a pub thinking how much enjoyment there was in the sound of happiness but knowing that way was not for me any more. My parents unquestioningly offered me a haven but this did not help the fragmentation because it was reinforcing the patterns of fragmenting from my childhood; returning to London (from Manchester) there was a vague plan. At that time this vague plan was intrepid for me – go back to London, go to an agency and get a non-career job and stay in a BandB after getting it, all in the same day. That was wild for such immaturity. Ending up in a cobol programming cubicle working on a salary package in Hounslow and renting a loft space in Chiswick, there began the bells and banjoes that I now associate with the 2nd tetrad of MwB.

This second fragmenting example was an unconscious defragmentation of the childhood fragmenting. Without making a single conscious decision there was a blowing away of all the fragmentation that had got me through childhood; there started the path. Because of a fragmented childhood and immaturity, there began a long period that I call my second childhood growing up whilst on the path. At the time of upheaval a new fragment was created - this fragment was the MAWP, a fragment that came from middle-class upbringing. This fragment only became integrated long into my retirement when integration finally became 100%.

The third example of fragmentation occurred mid-life. Falling in love that was unrequited a great deal of pain was experienced in the relationship. Eventually the pain drove me to leave the relationship but fragmenting that pain life began on the path again. The fragment was there but unnoticed it seemed that life was authentic at that time. Some time later, maybe 7 or 8 years, I was in Nyanga, went deep inside, relived the pain that had been fragmented and as a result re-integrated the fragment. This Nyanga has been discussed throughout the Pathtivist Trilogy, and is included in the integrating fragments chapter of the Companion.

Fragmentation has been a process that has been of huge benefit in my life. Whilst fully supporting the notion where appropriate that we must integrate all fragments so that we can be 100% dedicated to the path, the actual process of fragmentation is a helpful process that nature has provided. But that fragmentation has eventually to be integrated. In the pathtivist trilogy that integration has been done by going inwards, reliving the experience and thus reintegrating the fragment. With regards to the PTSD fragment there has to be questions, in such questioning we ask how do we still become 100% dedicated to the path witha PTSD-fragment?

PTSD fragments have a great deal of pain, and the integrating process needs to be considered differently. With the pain of the PTSD fragment being so much, reliving is not appropriate but if the fragment is not managed then it will continue to disturb as is the nature of fragments, the nature of needing to be integrated. So how does it reintegrate if it is not relived and released? Can sucha fragment be considered motivation for action? The PTSD fragment is naturally and sensibly created to handle the pain but in the case of the PTSD fragment it is not reintegrated by reliving and releasing; it is reintegrated by providing motivation for action. As a result the PTSD-fragment changes its nature, rather than being a fragment requiring integration the motivational use changes the fragment making it an unconscious memory - termed unconscious "fragmenting" to make a point. Without the action in daily life the pain is there needing to be integrated yet it cannot be because of too much pain, but if it is a motivation for action then it has been reintegrated, not released through reliving but reintegrated through motivation and the ensuing action.

To examine this contention we will look at examples – case studies for jargon. However these case studies are not from experience but from observation, having not worked with, or conversed with, any of these people my assessment of the effects of the PTSD fragment can only be theoretical.

Vets within the anti-war movement have so much power, there is such a strength in who they are. It would not be difficult to see that their pain could be their motivation and strength.

Case Study - Clare Dubois is a powerful warrior in the movement to save Gaia – In her Batgap interview she discussed a transition in her late 30’s from, my words, PTSD victim to activist. What if the pain from her abuse motivates her Gaia activism? Had she released the PTSD fragment? Was she still attached to it but using the PTSD fragment as motivation for her activism? I don’t recall Clare talking of meditation as a means of dealing with her trauma but as treesisters they promote meditations from nature.

Case Study - In her TED talk Shauna Quigley talks of her relationship with a black pain she calls her wound. She has conversations between her wound and her witness mind, and so heals herself. At the time of the TED talk there was no intention to relive and release, although she calls it her wound she did not see it as pain to be relived but a wound to inform her for healing. Having a conversation between her witness mind and her wound was an inner journey but she did not speak of meditation, her first awareness of the wound and witness mind just happened when she was a teenager but she did not engage with it until she was a young mother – the birth of her son being an imperative to deal with her trauma by reconnecting her witness mind and her wound.

Case Study – Through Inner Child work I came to understand my family dynamics – far more than was personally understood. Although unwilling to discuss details, fragmentation was a very important coping strategy. Through fragmentation my mother was able to cope with many issues – not particularly of her own making. As she grew older her life became more spiritual and fulfilling in a sense of personal achievement – as opposed to maternal success. But throughout her life to varying extents she was fragmented. At one time we did discuss this kind of thing, something she was rarely willing to do, and it was clear that there was an unconscious aspect to her life associated with fragmentation. The reason for discussing my mother a little is to point out that in her case fragmenting was a positive coping mechanism. At no stage in her life was she interested in integrating fragments despite becoming more spiritual later in life.

Review – Suffering has always been considered a motivator for following the path so there is no reason for not seeing suffering of PTSD in this way. This examnation began by asking about meditation and integration work, is it appropriate to go into the PTSD-fragment to relive and release it? Typical of that type of integrating of fragments was described above as Nyanga.

Looking into this has led to a very important conclusion concerning fragmenting. Let's examine my own experience and then explain its relevance to PTSD fragmenting. Fragmentation has already been described as beneficial, but can we develop a better understanding? Consider the Nyanga example above. During the relationship there was much pain and suffering. After the break-up life slowly started again finding purpose – through politics that had started during the relationship. At one stage I wrote a book, Kirramura, and as with any genuine writing it included inner work – creating with the muse. At those earlier stages in my life writing was accompanied by bells and banjoes (the guys) – what would now be described as jhanas or piti and sukha. At no time during that writing, nor during the time of political activism was there a need of the emerging relationship trauma to reintegrate. Following the path, my trauma had become a fragment, following the path as much as I was aware of then.

Now there is only path and ego. Clearly the fragment is an ego so what become clear is that the path created the fragment. As the path created the fragment, that means you can follow your path at the time and not be disturbed by the fragment. As with the time between the break-up and Nyanga the path was followed but was not disturbed by the fragment …. until it was disturbed at Nyanga. During childhood the path had fragmented my trauma so although being middle-class and repressed I coped with my upbringing; at the upheaval of 23 the path was mostly integrated and followed.

Now an important spiritual lesson is to learn to trust your path so if your path has created a fragment then trust its purpose and follow your path. On reflection the path protected me in childhood by fragmenting, and after the break-up the path protected me from pain until it was able to be integrated at Nyanga.

Now the PTSD-fragment might provide motivation for following the path or it might not, but what is important is to follow your path and not be concerned about the fragment, the path created the fragment; let the path handle the fragment.

Now the fragment is an ego and the process for forming egos is attachment. So there is the ongoing conditioning process of attaching to ego. In this case it might be addiction, attaching to trauma through alcohol addiction. So rather than burying the trauma the addiction attaches to it, tries to make it conscious through the association of drink and trauma. Following your path even if there is trauma, PTSD-fragment or whatever, is the answer – as always.

That is a bit of a glib conclusion – however valid. The pain that is PTSD-fragment cannot be treated in any way glibly. We have so far that following the path is the answer, the path created the fragment and we must trust the path, but then we have to look at the inner work that following the path with a PTSD-fragment requires. For example the bull-at-the-gate relive and release of Nyanga is not appropriate because of the level of pain, but Shauna’s conversation with the fragment is inner work that worked for her.

Question to investigate – Given that the path can harmonise the PTSD-fragment, and given that the path can use the PTSD-fragment as motivation, how do we use meditation to maintain that harmony? Trust the path but look at inner work.

Case Study - William Samuel I have been looking at this partly in the wrong way, and this has led to a change of title to Unconscious "Fragmenting", reading William Samuel has cleared that up. In his book "A Guide to Awareness and Tranquillity" he describes how he himself reached Transcendent Tranquillity and how he teaches it. Basically he describes a number of insightful moments that using his term helped him transcend. From a little reading it can be seen tah he focusses on the insights, and through insights people can transcend. He focusses only on that which causes transcendence and achieves tranquillity - harmony.

This is not what pathtivism as a totality does but it is how I learned - learning through insight. Let me stress, learning through insight happens on the path we all learn through insight; how else can we genuinely learn other than through insight?


".....There is something incongruous about a man who fought as an infantry soldier in two wars, slashing his way from mortal combat and destruction to esoteric Self-discover and Light, isn't there? Somehow it doesn't fit. Unless, of course one makes the connection and intuits how human extremity leads to spiritual insight, how darkness makes the light plain and how guilt uncovers primordial guiltlessness. If one has heard of Arjuna's selection on the battlefield where the final struggle between light and darkness is waged, he might not wonder how I dare write this book......"

She also said "That quote is from William's last book, which he wrote in 1986, many years after his first three books. Titled "The Child Within Us Lives! A Synthesis of Science, Religion and Metaphysics" It's on Amazon - It's brilliant" I have not looked at this book.

For Samuel his war experience did not invade his consciousness as trauma, it was unconscious, his path had made it unconscious - hence the change in title from PTSD. For Samuel his war experience became unconscious, the same as for most of us for whom memories remain unconscious. Because he followed the path Samuel was a compassionate man his compassion cannot have been comfortable with "slashing his way through mortal combat". Yet at a break in his time of combat he visited a spiritual teacher. What for some is trauma, for Samuel is unconscious. His path focusses on the conscious, this is a positive use of fragmenting in which he lived in harmony with his traumatic past.

This makes it totally inappropriate to call it a PTSD-fragment in the case of Samuel. He achieved Transcendent Tranquillity in a conscious way by focussing on insight moments that gave him tranquillity - and for others as he was a great teacher.

This insight leads to three important changes in approach. Firstly there is the harmonious approach in which potential trauma is harmonised as an unconscious fragment. The path creates this harmonious unconscious fragment and the path is followed without trauma just gaining insights along the way. In terms of what is written above this unconscious fragment might well have been motivational but does not have to be recognised as such. On balance what is gained from the path belittles what might have developed as trauma

Secondly there is the PTSD-fragment which is completely different in character. As with fragments described in the pathtivist trilogy this fragment has an integrating nature, it wants to be recognised and re-integrated; the unconscious fragment does not need this, it is in perfect harmony with the path - the potential trauma is just a memory. PTSD - Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the trauma is causing stress and disorder. With a PTSD-fragment the re-integrating nature is causing stress and disorder. This re-integrating nature could be used as motivation for following the path. In the case of the anti-war vets the re-integrating nature has acted as motivation and strength for their anti-war campaigning, with Shauna her inner fragment was the partner that motivated her path. With Samuel his fragment was unconscious, maybe motivational maybe not.

The third change concerns pathtivism and the notion of integration. Whilst throughout my path insight has produced learning, the general emphasis towards the end of the description of this inner journey has been towards a 100% dedication to the path, this dedication was not only 100% of time but also 100% of being without fragmenting. As pathtivism developed it became more concerned with total integration. This process of total integration is not appropriate for people with unconcious fragments living in harmony - it is like poking at a resting snake who is not interested in you.

With Samuel there is no focus on integration but a complete focus on a path of learning from insight. Focus on the insights only. On the path there is no PTSD-fragment but there is an unconscious fragment, but fragment might not be an appropriate word. By nature fragment wishes to re-integrate, unconscious memories are just that - memories with no ego attached. The process of the path is to leave it unconscious. To make a point from now this will be termed this unconscious "fragment" because the path has made the potential fragment unconscious; following the path has made the potential fragment an unattached memory - in its most conscious state a motivator.

Not only has this changed the title but it has also changed the direction of this study.

In essence the path makes any PTSD-fragment unconscious, that would be the objective of any path work with people suffering from trauma. The essentual approach is to focus on the benefits gained from insight rather than any approach concerning integrating fragments.

More Study ..................................


Fragmentation is nature's way of helping us cope, it is a process that can be hugely beneficial if managed. Whilst paths usually require integration, in the situation of PTSD nature has quite sensibly drawn a curtain over the trauma causing the PTSD-fragment. Accept nature's way of handling the trauma; the path has created the fragment, trust your path.

But as with all fragments their nature is to seek reintegration. In the case of PTSD fragments that force needs to be channeled to help you follow your path - as motivation for spiritually or socially worthwhile action. Without some form of activity the desire for re-integration will need to be repressed leading to addictive behaviours such as alcohol addiction.

Through following the path PTSD-fragments can become unconscious. Insights gained on the path can provide sufficient strength that there is no need to attach to the egos of the PTSD-fragment and what was a fragment becomes unconscious - an unattached memory.

Question to investigate – Given that the path can harmonise the PTSD-fragment by making the fragment unconscious - an unattached memory, and given that the path can use the experiences as motivation, how do we use meditation to develop and maintain that harmony? Trust the path but look at inner work.

Case Study - Bart Marshall In this clip Bart Marshall begins by talking of the Vietnam war, about his initial gung-ho attitude, and how experiencing a blackness when injured started him on his path – he also mentioned time-stopping moments when bullets were flying.

“In Vietnam when I was twenty-one a hand grenade or mortar round the circumstances made it difficult to determine which--blew me into a clear and brilliant blackness. For the next thirty-seven years that glimpse of infinite emptiness, so intimate, so familiar, kept me looking almost obsessively in esoteric books and far corners for an explanation of myself. Then, “suddenly,” the veil, as they say, was lifted.

“A few months after that occurrence, as my interest in reading began to slowly return, I found myself drawn mainly to the sayings and writings of old masters. What did Buddha have to say? What did Christ? Lao Tsu? Patanjali? I wanted to read them with new eyes. Oddly, in those thirty-seven years of seeking, I had never read the Ashtavakra Gita, and indeed was barely aware of its existence. Then recently, as I sat at the bedside of a dying friend and teacher, another friend placed it in my hands. I opened it and was astonished. Here, in one concise volume, was all that needed to be said. I immediately acquired other versions and poured over them. Each had its good points, but none of them spoke the way my inner ear was hearing.” from his preface to the Ashtavakra Gita in his book “The Perennial Way”.

In the discussion he describes 37 years of being an up-and-down seeker trying to find this blackness that was light until finally there was awareness on a plane. After a meeting with Douglas Harding his final awakening came from the Headless Way whilst sat on a plane returning to the US.

In this interview and his Batgap interview, he describes very clearly different understandings indistinguishable from insights and understandings found in pathtivism. They came from his seeking spurred on by his “blackness” as an injured soldier. So far the suggestion is that the suffering provides motivation, whilst Bart was surely in pain at the time it was the experience of “blackness” that determined his desire for truth. Throughout his seeking there has been meditation but at no time did he discuss integration of trauma. As with William Samuel he was seeking insight and not attempting to relive and reintegrate fragments. This again points strongly to pathtivism not being an approach for dealing with people suffering from a PTSD-fragment ie avoid pathtivism. He did not discuss the experience of trauma although his feelings during the Vietnam war were discussed at the beginning of this. From outside it suggests that his seeking let go of any fragment leaving it back in memory, making the possibility of a PTSD-fragment unconscious.

In the Batgap interview Bart discusses an approach that can lead to awakening but he has not written a book on it yet. For reading we can still use William Samuel's work.

Concluding with pathtivism

Meditation within pathtivism is Buddhadasa’s MwB, and as he says here “If you are successful at practicing vipassana, the insight aspect of meditation, then you will be able to go beyond this problem (Zm - the problem he is talking about is attaching to positive and negative). If you can successfully develop samadhi so that the mind is very firm, clear, awake and active, then one can practice successfully the insight aspects of mindfulness with breathing” (taken from the talk solitude audio here). In other words following MwB you can practise vipassana and develop insight through the development of samadhi, one of the 4 Dhamma comrades.

Why I have avoided my own pathtivism is because of the focus of integration within the Companion. It has been my experience that through MwB meditation brings out repressed trauma. This has been something Zandtaomed has focussed on because of spiritual bypassing. There are many(?) questioning spirituality because of this bypassing recognising the need for integration.

But in the case of PTSD (war or otherwise) the path chooses a sensibe strategy to fragment such memories because of the pain and suffering they must cause. What I have examined so far particularly with William Samuel and Bart Marshall is that if the focus is on insight then there is no need to disturb the fragment the path has created - turning it unconscious as a memory. With the vipassana aspect of MwB this can also be true, but because of my focus in the Companion I had forgotten this. This brings me almost full circle in that it is not necessary for war vets to avoid pathtivism but they must focus on the insight aspect of MwB (vipassana). Trust the path of insight that it will leave alone the trauma.

That leaves the practical question. In whatever inner work you use “what do you do if instead of producing insights the meditation work starts to unearth trauma?” Whilst the path can be trusted I am not wise enough to know whether this cannot happen. And it is a practical question that I cannot answer as I do not work with such people.

With regards to the path and PTSD emphasise insight and trust the path.

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