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Positive News    H4'ed 2/16/21

Cultivating a Resilient Self Amidst Social Chaos - Part 3: The Spiritual Dimension

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Message Blair Gelbond


Recreating da Vinci's 'Vitruvian Man' (Canon Man)
Recreating da Vinci's 'Vitruvian Man' (Canon Man)
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Spiritual Dimension

So far, we have been speaking about issues concerning our day-to-day sense of self in a western context. Yet, there is more to us than that - a part of ourselves we can call the "trans-personal self" or soul. Most existential writings, although profound and valid for the human condition, had an incomplete understanding of human depth. However, my own studies, work, and personal explorations have revealed that the human self - "who we are" - is infinitely deep. Psychology began to explore these dimensions in earnest beginning in the 1960's.

Roberto Assagioli was a student of Freud who broke away from psychoanalysis to create a psychology that he named psychosynthesis, which included psycho-spiritual insights. These included the presence of a "trans-personal" dimension of self, which he linked with a superconscious level of consciousness. I trained and practiced for a number of years with Tom Yeomans - who studied directly under Assagioli.

The soul and the superconscious can be seen as doorway to the Universal Self (or Ground of All Being) - and our deepest identity: a transcendent, yet exquisitely subtle dimension described in terms of infinite existence, creativity, consciousness, compassion, bliss, and selfless love. Many from the 60's generation touched this level of experience through the ingestion of entheons, although there are many other doors, including prayer, meditation, childbirth, trauma, nature and sexuality.

The "soul" can be pictured as our spiritual center and ultimately as a pathway to the Universal or infinite dimension of awareness. From the start, though, it must be acknowledged that this is only one of a multitude of words for an experience of deep connection to Life - to the larger divine order, from which spiritual strength is drawn. The words are not the experience and this experience is described in a variety of ways, both in different cultures and by different individuals.

Psychology is maturing. Slowly, the spiritual dimension is becoming - not only part of the field - but central to its understanding of human nature, as well as its efficacy as a healing, guiding force in individual and social development. In any case, a deeper spiritual center within people is being recognized as real and influential; its relationship to one's personal existence-in terms of both our problems and possibilities-- is being explored. This deeper spiritual center has many names-- "Essence", "Big Mind", "Core Being", "True Nature"-- and each person will have his/her own way of referring to it.

"Soul" is here used to represent that core of consciousness and love in each of us that holds the potential for our full maturity: that which is seeking realization and expression in our everyday life. It does not need to be used in a religious context, though it can be, and often is. Here, it is used in its meaning of human depth, core qualities and values, and life purpose/ direction.

As Yeomans put it, the idea is that we are born as souls as well as personalities. Additionally, we are born into particular families, cultures, and conditions that appear to shape the development of both soul and personality.

In our culture the experience of "soul" is often marginalized and becomes quite hidden and peripheral in our conscious experience. The problem is not that the soul does not exist, but that the connection to the soul is lost, or attenuated, or wounded. When restored - through methods such as psychotherapy which incorporates a spiritual dimension, art, or meditation - soul-force can begin to flow, unimpeded, through our personality into the world.

It appears that the capability of experiencing transcendental states is built into all of us, and that a surprising number of otherwise "normal" people have known such states, but have been reluctant to discuss them in "polite company." Although many yogis and saints have learned to permanently reside in dimensions of love and expanded consciousness, the capacity and desire to achieve such altered states is part and parcel of our humanness.

However, the reality is that the complacency fostered by many of our economic and contemporary institutions often keep this possibility hidden. Those who have totally bought into modern culture are frequently disconnected from the possibility of spiritual experience.

The possible widespread traumas of the coming years may paradoxically, push our psyches beyond their usual boundaries - opening us to deeper dimensions of consciousness. In common parlance it is said that, "there are no atheists in foxholes." For some of us this may include the experience of Ultimate Reality.

Nietzsche said that suffering "forces us"to descend into our nethermost depths...I know that it makes [a person] deeper."

In The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran writes that, "The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain."

While we need not seek out suffering, we can be aware that, beneath its negative surface, there can be an opportunity for profound growth and deepening.


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Blair Gelbond Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I work as a psychotherapist with an emphasis on transformational learning - a blend of psychoanalytic and transpersonal approaches, and am the author of Self Actualization and Unselfish Love and co-author of Families Helping Families: Living with (more...)

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