connecting psychotherapy and spiritual growth for human awakening
Only a human society rooted in real spiritual wisdom and insight can create a sacred culture, where people behave with mutual respect, belonging, and compassion, a global society with love and devotion as a practical, viable basis for action, responsibility… and relationship.
Inner work and therapy, by whatever name we may choose to call it in the future: mentoring, attending, soul work, psycho-spiritual journeying, wise guidance, shamanism, shepherding, loving discrimination, spiritual hand-holding, being there, is required for the sacred evolution of humanity. How indispensable and inevitable it is to learn to live from our true nature and further, how vital it is to apply a means that actually leads us to authentic spirituality.
Both traditional and modern psychological and spiritual, inner and outer methods of enquiry have tended toward developmental and progressive approaches to understanding. They have been rooted in and supportive of and they have generated a self-inflicted restlessness. Since they support seeking they are inherently unable to succeed. For about two thousand years, humanity has been living under the all-pervading influence of romanticism, adventure, and questing. The predominant cultural understanding about inner discovery, self-understanding, and self-knowledge has been based on a journey-adventure-questing model; a paradigm that, in spite of being almost universally unsuccessful, we remain attached to nonetheless. We may be attached to it out of ignorance or we may be attached to it out of our unconscious urge for self-sabotage.
Whatever the reason, I would like to propose that we embrace a new paradigm and adhere to a more informed, intelligent (in the fullest sense of that word), and profoundly wise means of attaining spirituality, the precious depths of wisdom, beauty, creativity, and devotion that is inherent in each and every individual human being. It is a paradigm in which the individual is not enslaved to the pattern of suffering but is intrinsically free. It is a paradigm in which the matters of the inner world are approached by appropriate and effective means and a paradigm that reflects a real understanding of the spiritual.
When we turn toward inner work it is important to understand that the laws of the inner world are most often inverse in relation to the laws of the outer world. In other words inner and outer worlds are diametrically opposite, complementary but wholly different. For example, if your character is based on a life-statement such as: I am only of value if I work hard (which is a common point of view in a materialistic culture), then the way to get somewhere with your inner work is to relax, let go, put your efforts into non-doing, and feel more. You make more progress by not trying, particularly not trying to get somewhere. But in the outer world apathy and inaction are simply not getting anything done. It doesn’t matter how long you relax around the dirty dishes, recline on the sofa, take a nap, or watch TV, the dirty dishes will still be there when you return. Nothing happens in the outer world, nothing is accomplished without effort, a certain aggression, go-getting, outward motivation, penetrative active power. In the inner world it is entirely different, upside down and inside out in fact! This way is generally very yin, female, yielding, deepening, understanding, accepting; discovery through deepening into yourself, soul and spirit.
So the outer world is male; the inner world is female – predominantly. In a primarily male, phallic, patriarchal, possessive, materialistic world the way into psychology or spirituality seems as if it must be also acquisitive (orientated to progress and possession), active (all about doing and achievement), and consequently journey-orientated. For hundreds of years therefore we have been given these accumulative step systems to inner liberation. Dante’s journey into hell and paradise, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, St John of the Cross’s ten steps on the ladder of mystical love, Aristotelian, Sufi, Vedic spiritual systems with an underlying philosophy of progressive advancement.
Now, you might be thinking: Isn’t he discounting accumulative step systems to inner liberation while describing seven levels of consciousness (see my book, Your Divine Opportunity, pp.17-19.)? There exists a difference between deconstructing-falsehood-in-time and accumulating-goodness-in-time. Goodness can’t be accumulated. Only the veils and obstructions to the goodness-that-is-already, can be removed. Then there is and there is not progress in time: there is no time-indexed development of goodness; but there is a time-course to the deconstruction of the machinery that obscured that which is.
The underlying assumption of all of these apparently logical methods is that we must strive to shorten our journey toward the goal of self-knowledge or enlightenment. Contrast this now with these words:
There is no distance between you and yourself. There is no journey to where you already are. There is no time between now and the present.
The mystical philosopher Pascal made a crucial point while in mystical ecstasy. He said, “Console yourself – you wouldn’t seek me if you hadn’t already found me.”
So this is an overridingly important point I want to make. Spiritual attainment is not reached through any kind of progressive measure, way or means. The ways to spiritual attainment that have been offered over thousands of years did address issues which were called spiritual, but actually concerned fundamental aspects of the human predicament which are earth-bound, soulful, and correlated to human levels of existence. For progress to be made in these areas, progressive methods are appropriate. But when we confuse the inner with the outer, the spiritual with the human, and try to merge the two from this questing point of view, we fall between two stools and find ourselves nowhere.
This article was published on this site in November 2023.