Psychology and Spirituality

Psychology understands the person as being the product of biology and the forces that shape the personality, with “spirituality” taking place inside the body, mind, and to an extent a person’s social sphere.

Mysticism understand the person as being a concretization of a movement of a Beingness which transcends time, space, and form (including the “Archetypes”). This formless/boundless Beingness is actually the creative matrix of all time/space/form and can be communed-with in direct experience. This movement isn’t just “alive,” it is the very life itself, and is continually existentiating and acting-upon the person to carry-out a purpose that is mostly beyond comprehension but is totally trustworthy.

The spiritual adepts are consciously surrendered to this movement, letting it have its way with them. Most people unconsciously resist this surrender until they are checkmate by a life crisis or the rare gratuitous breakthrough of Spirit that perforates their egoic compensatory structure, exposing it as the patchwork “Rube Goldberg” that it actually is.

Spiritual practice is often treated in the self-help or mental-health spheres as a kind of psychotherapy-renamed, a self-improvement add-on to an existing identity. This impression is partly from psychotherapists appropriating and technique-ifying traditional practices such as “mindfulness,” deforming them into a Western psychodynamic view — which, when not purloining authentic spiritual practice, just-as-often sees it as dissociative, and so pathologizes experiences of boundlessness or egolessness even in obviously-healthy individuals.

Just as often, unready and self-appointed teachers who cannot draw upon pure Silence in a transmissible way find that psychodynamic techniques are more accessible both for themselves and their audience, renaming psychological or group-process techniques as “ grounded spirituality.”  This has led to a commoditizing and dumbing-down of “mindfulness,” traditional teaching-stories, and the poetry of historical masters such as Rumi.

The actual overlap between spiritual practice and psychotherapy is really only about 15% — with the bulk of spiritual practice inexpressible to those who have not had a certain supra-egoic or supra-conscious experience. Psychodynamic insight is just not the same as spiritual realization — though it is most desirable & necessary, especially in our time.

Nor is spiritual perception reached through psychodynamic processes, because the identification with our personal psychological processes — necessary though it may be in daylighting the unconscious — is one of the things standing in the way of authentic inner freedom. Psychotherapy is for the repair of life situations; spiritual practice is for the repair of that fundamental split between felt-identity and the boundless ground of universal Pure Being that is the deep root of all subjective, personal identity.

In other words, psychotherapy’s aims are cultural; spiritual practice’s aims are not even soteriological (which is again an attempt to frame it in familiar, unthreatening terms).

Integration doesn’t happen from inside fragmentation, but only when one can step outside the fragmented pieces into a larger sphere of awareness in which the fragmentation is a subset. Then you have some perspective and some leverage.

And when that breakthrough comes, it comes not as an intuition or concept but as an uprooting of one’s very identity






See also:

What the Teacher Does

Following a Spiritual Guide

Spiritual Teaching