connecting psychotherapy and spiritual growth for human awakening
In this article Richard Harvey argues that all forms of popular peddling of spirituality are false from the spiritual perspective.
Richard: Yes, therapy, counseling and healing methods that are exclusively mental can never bring you to meaning or satisfaction, because they are mental. The point is that the means dictates the outcome. So if you want to satisfy the intellect, the mind, the rational self, the way is through talking and mental processes. But this kind of satisfaction will be merely mental, imaginary, a fantasy of real satisfaction, a fiction. It is what it is.
But what about the other extreme, the other possibility? Because if you truly want to fulfill your longing for the divine, the means must incorporate the end and what could that mean? Since you are in search of yourself, your divine self within, then you must adopt a means that is in no way redolent of searching at all, since all searching necessarily distracts you from what is already present in you.
Now people say to me, as you have done, that therapy is incompatible with spirituality. Because therapy supports the ego and spirituality dismisses it. Western psychology wants to create a healthy ego and Eastern spirituality wants to destroy it. Well maybe, but, first, I don’t subscribe to east or west. I subscribe to truth and reality; the rest is imaginary. Second, spirituality has always been psychology and spirituality; it just hasn’t always been made as explicit as I am making it. Look at the wonderful ancient stories in Buddhist, Taoist (see for example “Taos Gift”), Christian and Sufi literature of the individual struggle with the small self toward the divine—what is that if not the role of individual psychology in spiritual practice and discipline?
My compromise in inner work methodology and philosophy is not my preference or imposition on you or anyone else to have to do it a certain way. It is how people need to do it in the present era when ego-processes have become so complex, sophisticated, blatantly deceptive and wily, and predominant in the contemporary psyche. If it were up to me, I would go straight to non-seeking. I would have you close your eyes and enter into a profound silence. I would have you love and celebrate the world in all its forms and be attached to none of them. I would have you merge with the divine with abandon, courage and total surrender. But people don’t want that, or they don’t know that they want it, or they don’t know enough that they want it desperately enough to apply themselves to practice and experience all they need to experience to get through the layers of the spiritual processes.
Most of all, of course, people have become ignorant of the fact that they don’t know that the ego has totally taken over in all areas of life. In all human fields of human endeavor, including both worldly and spiritual aspects, the ego has spread like cancer and humankind is suffering its illness unaware that it is ill.
I have devised The Three Stages of Human Awakening (See outline at human-awakening) to give you a method, a device and a practice that allows you to move through the realms of the ego-dominated life, to the life of compassion and genuine caring, to the spiritual, transcendent and divine realms of true spiritual practice. This is the meeting of psychology and spirituality of the individual with consciousness and this does give meaning and satisfaction in the fullest sense. It is not merely mental activity. It is most certainly not mental absorption and entrapment. As to breaking through to the other side, there is none, neither is there a special time nor an evolving human development from a spiritual perspective. I would refute these notions today from a spiritual perspective and ask others to join with me in refuting them. Not to incite any conflict but to stand up for concepts and expressions of truth and reality that will disappear if we do not represent them.
The spiritual pertains to eternity, the absolute, the unchanging and undying essence of Self, the truth and reality. Its relation to the outer world is therefore absolute and unchanging too. Any, any, description of the spiritual in terms of modern day events, characteristics and the changing conditions of human beings in time and space is merely a temporary, adaptive reflection of the divine absolute—no more the moon than the moon’s reflection is really the moon. So almost all, without exception, popular peddling of spirituality is false from the spiritual perspective.
So in conclusion, if you want mental rewards practice mentally, if you want superficial rewards practice superficially and shallowly, and if want, real authentic rewards practice genuine spirituality and understand that you must start where all aspiring adepts have started, which is in transcending your attachments to the individual self-centered, self-aggrandizing, self-obsessed gross world of materialism, gain, conflict and suffering.
This article was published on this site in October 2012.