The Bhagavad Gita presents guidelines for spiritual practice that can lead to total healing and the end of suffering. To become what we truly arecomplete, whole and blissfulis to live out our inner radiance, which is the selfless Self. Through practice, seeing, and insight, obstacles are removed. Remembrance of our true nature returns. While the process leads us to the goal, in one sense, it also is the goal.
Developing an integrated spiritual life occurs in stages. The first can be called the literal, tangible level where we accept what the mind and senses tell us, as real. At this stage, the life force gets projected onto externals such as money, material things, recognition and social life as entertainment. This limited way of being can be called the way of the world and its focus is on the gross body. The body is of great value, like a dormant seed waiting to sprout.
The second stage can be called the way of questioning, or the psychological, philosophical orientation where we begin to go within toward feelings, inner reflection, motivation, creativity, dreams and imagination. Here the life force becomes experienced within at both the personal and archetypal plane. The inner subjectivity of life is most valued and genuine relationships become more important than social life. The focus is primarily on the subtle body, but through experiencing deeper layers of the psyche, the causal body can also be included. When we enter the gate of this level, the seed has begun to sprout. As we encounter deeper archetypal places, a bridge from the psychological to the spiritual is formed. The forces of energy called gods and goddesses support us along the way. And when we pass through the final gate of this inner space, beautiful wonder buds are everywhere.
The third stage can be called the spiritual. Through our struggles, meditation, service and seeing, deeper purification proceeds. Momentary sparks of joy and unification lead us toward inner steadiness and mental concentration, ever linking the mind to universal energy. Gradually, devotion to Truth comes to dominate every aspect of our lives. And mind melts away without losing its capacity. At the culmination of this level, there are no more projections, no more reflectionseverything is as is. Then the sages say, all life, all matter, all happenings all feelings, all beings, ones Self are experienced as part of One whole, ever complete. Now the focus is nowtotality, unity, love, consciousness, Brahman, both at the formless and/or form level. The thousand petalled lotus is open.
One need not go through the second step of the psychological philosophical stage in order to embrace ones own spiritual nature. We can be plucked out of the mud at any time in accordance with our inner tendencies. But there can be a definite place for psychotherapy in the purification process. It must be acknowledged however, that although there are areas of overlap, therapy and spiritual work are not synonymous. For spiritual work originates from a higher level. Therapies with a spiritual orientation can serve only as a prelude and a link.
Therefore, in this age of melange and questionable alliances, the therapist should not take on the role of spiritual teacher. Spirituality should not be connected with money; for then it ceases to be spiritual. If the therapist reflects compassion, human values and a genuine inner presence, this in itself can aid healing no matter what the theoretical orientation of the therapist.
Meditation helps us let go of agitation and detach from our conditioning, through forming a link with a more subtle part of ourselves; beyond thought, beyond matter. This occurs through ascentconcentration on the higher(for example, mantra, Gods form, energy, breath, awareness). Depth therapy helps us go into our emotions and receive the images that emerge from the unconscious, both personal and collective. This occurs through descentconcentration on the lower(for example, emotions, images, dreams, needs, problems). Both disciplines guide us to go more deeply within and work through our confusion, for there is in Reality no lower or higher. Although the mind and emotions are considered unreal, they do prevent us from experiencing the Real. Therefore they are a force, which is to be taken seriously. Both the personal and transpersonal levels ever interact and influence one another.
When therapy is rightly experienced, it should serve as a container for the deeper healing energies to emerge and permeate the ego. This can bring emotions to the surface, induce conscious suffering and pave the way for a new quality of energy, as well as initiate more balance between emotion and thought. It can also begin the healing process of parental and societal wounding, and lead to more authentic self-expression in the realm of creativity and relationship. But therapy alone cannot fully heal as it does not address issues of desire, attachment and universal love from the vantage point of Knowledge. Nor does it induce deep adaptation to life as a whole. Some therapy can aid partial adaptation to ones inner and outer environment, but more is required for wholesome living. Contact with the Self as synchronistic happening or dream image can be a harbinger of wonder and numinosity that has a healing effect, as it is a link to the higher. This induces faith based on experience. Any connection with deeper layers of the psyche is fundamentally a spiritual process. But this is only a beginninga magical, wonderful, new beginning. In my experience, only ongoing, steady spiritual work contains the seeds for completing the process.
People who remain in therapy interminably still feeling incomplete, wounded and dependent on the external are usually clinging to prakriti, matter, and becoming more entrenched in the bondage of attachment. Their inner yearning might be better served by seeking the direct influence of a genuine teacher or teaching.
On the other hand, there are people who have been in spiritual work for years and use this as an unconscious way of suppressing emotions or avoiding relationships. There are others who identify with the guru, the spiritual collective, archetypal unconscious contents or the teaching in a way that reinforces grandiosity and prevents them from working through their personal suffering. In this instance, the ego mistakes itself for God rather than dissolving in God. Then in other cases, a genuinely humble, open person, who never learned to assert rightful individuality may be having problems finding his essence-space or unnecessarily taking on the suffering and/or projections of others. In each of these instances therapy could be helpful, as well as for those seekers who feel the need for personal emotional intimacy as part of the healing process.
Ultimately, this is an individual issue; general external guidelines are difficult to draw. Each person has his own path that will unfold as he continues to go more deeply within. Both the spiritual seeker and the therapeutic client need to develop discrimination in their choice of helper. For me it worked well to be in a Jungian analysis before beginning meditation and spiritual training. Because my analyst did not tend to interpret my unconscious material but simply brought her awareness presence in subtle participation, this allowed me to form a relationship with my inner Self without reliance on the imposition of extraneous mental concepts. When the therapist imposes unnecessary theory or interpretation on the client, this can interfere with the genuine discovery of his own essence. Deep therapy should not be an internalization process but rather a cleansing process, whereby one can be helped to form a direct connection with ones own inner lifethe deeper the better! If a person can develop an inner orientation that is open and not selectively defensive, this can lead to faith and trust based on experience and provide a good foundation for genuine spiritual work.
Personal growth turns into evolution with the advent of surrender. For surrender we need devotion. In surrender, our motivation is for the Totality called cosmos or God. Everything we do, say or think becomes linked to the universal life force, that we might serve the ongoing evolution of matter into spirit and thereby participate in uplifting creation.
There are numerous people who follow conventional religious traditions in an intellectual way or token manner. Their doubt remains because they have not yet established a link with inner experience. It is important to engage in methods that will help us leave behind the strictly mental realm and enter the realm of experience. To these human beings who long for something more but are afraid it doesnt exist, I acknowledge that I too was once an agnostic, a skeptic, a doubter. And for many years I was a seeker, a seeker who wanted to have faith but could find nothing to believe in. Then as deeper levels and interconnections between outer and inner became more accessible, I came to see there are genuine teachers; there are genuine teachings. These exist for each of us at our own level. All are available to our experience when we allow ourselves to follow our yearning. There is nothing more important.
When we sincerely surrender to our deepest yearning, the universal life force always responds. May we each discover the individual path that is right for us as we wind our way up toward the summit of the mountain! Here there is no more need for descent, as the summit is ever grounded in now.
from The Bhagavad Gita and Inner Transformation