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#4368 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - Editor: Jerry Katz
The Nonduality Highlights -





The following is an excerpt from the article at...



Psychology and Spirituality: One Path or Two?


by Mariana Caplan


It is very important to understand that our psychological blocks can actually impede our capacity to open to spiritual understanding and experience. Trauma and a sense of betrayal in childhood, which many have experienced to some degree, can result in a failure to trust the divine and life itself and in great difficulty in surrendering to the unknown. We learned from a very young age that the world was not a safe place, and that whatever "God" existed was not a god who would protect us from child abuse.


Feelings of abandonment and isolation in childhood can make it much more challenging to encounter and open to the experience of spaciousness that meditation offers, as it can be difficult to distinguish between non-dual emptiness and the experience of profound lack and psychological emptiness. Disappointment in childhood authorities, teachers and religious leaders can make it very difficult to trust spiritual teachers, teachings and even the divine itself. Undigested emotions from our past profoundly color our relationship to spiritual concepts, practices and experiences.


On the other hand, we can get so wrapped up in psychological processing that it becomes a kind of narcissistic self-involvement, leaving us trapped in a cul-de-sac that neither brings about the powerful capacity for compassion and wisdom that can be discovered through spiritual practice, nor produces the sense of social responsibility that Hillman claims the field of psychology has failed to pay attention to.


Many schools of mainstream psychology have routinely failed to take into account a broader spiritual perspective, frequently reducing profound spiritual insights to neurotic fantasies, infantile regressions and idealized projections. For example, I once consulted with a psychologist in her late 30s who was experiencing tremendous confusion about her spiritual life because her therapist had convinced her that her relationship with her spiritual teacher was purely a romanticized projection based on unmet childhood needs and a failure to individuate from her father.


A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and I am convinced that most spiritual scandals, as well as disillusionment among spiritual seekers and practitioners, are the result of spiritual teachers who have significant areas of psychological blindness. They assume their great spiritual insight has taken care of their psychological wounds when it has not. We are not weak, but courageous, when we dare to again face the things that we would rather not see and confront but in the end continue to blind us to the wholeness of all that we are.


Adapted from "Eyes Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path" (Sounds True, 2010)


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