Q. I am a little surprised about the
title of this chapter. Isn't psychology one of the most advanced disciplines?
A. Let's first start with history. Our tradition has
been dominated by Christianity for 2000 years. One of the greatest concerns to the Church
was the extension of its power. At a very early time, it therefore started a
"crusade" against all who claimed, that God could be found within. Why, because
God-realized persons didn't need an institution like the Church.
Q. What is the connection to your topic?
A. The Spirit is the Divine Within. To a religious
organization, aiming at controling people, this was very dangerous, indeed. So, the Church
started to purposely remove the idea of the inherent Spirit. They simply denied, that the
essence of human existence is spiritual. Instead, they started talking about the
"soul" as the innermost core. From that moment on a mixing up of Spirit and soul
Q. Indeed, what is the difference?
A. The dangerous thing is, that Spirit can be Realized,
e.g. people can claim their inherent Divine Nature. The "soul" on the other
hand, was in the hand of God, hence it couldn't become an instrument of liberation. The
confusion lasted until this very day, to such an extent, hat even science considered it as
the "centre of the personality". Thus, psychology and psychotherapy were born.
Q. What is the problem about it?
A. Like in all other sciences, the human soul was
separated from its context. People started studying it as an object on its own. This is
called reductionism. Nobody realized, that long ago the idea of a separate
"soul" had been an invention. Thus, during many decades psychology could develop
as a honorable science.
Q. Until this very day.
A. Exactly. It started with a very mechanistic
approach, focussing on psychological functions and behaviour, only. The first
"soul-healers" were Freud and Jung.
Q. So, what eventually has come out of this
A. The irony is, that both famous psychologists were
very critical on Christianity, however, they actually did the same the Church did:
reducing human Being to a mere soul, separated from its context. This context being the
Spirit and the body.
Q. Please, explain.
A. Let's talk about the theories of Jung. There are the
most popular, after all. Jung repeatedly has stated, that his only interest is "the
soul". He honestly admitted, that the way he proceeded was "to reduce every
dimension of existence to categories of the psyche, in order to be able to study
them". So the Spirit wasn't studied as the Spirit, but as an "image of the
Spirit". According to Jung the Spirit Itself belonged to other disciplines, like
metaphysics or theology. By doing so the reality of the Spirit was being put under the
Q. As you said, the same thing the Church had been
doing during the ages.
A. Exactly, even about his own key concept - the Self -
he was wasn't able to come up with a proper description. He only talked about "the
image of the Self (archetype) in the psyche".
Q. With what consequences?
A. Obviously, very grave ones. It deprived us from
becoming Whole. The "soul" or the "psyche" isn't something separate.
It is embedded in the Spirit. This has huge consequences for healing and therapy. The core
of my critcism is, that problems cannot be healed on the level they occur. You cannot heal
the psyche with psychology.
Q. I think many people would like to elaborate on that.
A. Healing means integration of aspects into the Whole.
Since the psyche - thoughts, emotions, desires - has its home in the Spirit, the former
can only be healed by the latter. It is like in the body. Cells can only be integrated
("healed") in an organ, an organ can only be functioning through being embedded
in the regulatory system of the body as a whole.
Q. So, the "soul" cannot be healed without
A. Correct. Therefore, separating them is suicidal.
While thinking - like Jung - that by reducing everything into its parts, you open ways to
healing, actually, the opposite happens. Can you heal a tree by cutting it into pieces?
Q. What changed people's
A. There are so many disciplines and schools nowadays.
It is very difficult, nay, impossible to discover a common denominator. That's why I only
can talk about my own findings.
A. The first extension of the study of the personality
was the theory of the unconscious. That was already quite some time ago. However, the
psyche ("soul") was still an isolated phenomenon. Three influences would prove
to be essential for the "liberation" of the soul: Buddhism, body-oriented
therapies, transpersonal psychology and practices like inner-personal dynamics.
Q. Could you explain?
A. The coming of Buddhism to the West shook the
Christian concept in its very foundation. Suddenly, there was an honorable religion
claiming, that something like a "soul" didn't exist. Instead, Buddhism focussed
on developing awareness - their description of the Spirit - ultimately aiming at
Enlightenment, which is the equivalent of saying that you may realize the Divine within.
In the West, not too long before, this would have been the gravest heresy of all.
Q. So, what according to Buddhism is the soul?
A. To an unaware person thoughts, images, desires,
emotions etc. are "within", your innermost core. By become aware, awareness
becomes the within. The consequence of awareness occupying your centre is, that what
previously had been the "within", now appears to be the periphery. Instead of
being "within", thoughts appear in front of you. They appear to be a (rather)
arbitrary flow of unstructured "objects". The shock is, that no consistent
entity like a "soul" could be discovered.
Q. The Christian concept thus being a false one.
A. It is dogmatism against self-experience. Eventually,
since many more people seek spirituality as a living truth, the outcome seems obvious.
Actually, 2000 years of misleading has come to an end. The fact, that the Spirit is your
innermost core - as Meister Eckhart already stated, one of the things for which he has
been condemned - while the "soul" is "just" a bundle of functions - a
definition which however, requires some adjustments - is a challenge to Christianity, one
that it will not be able to overcome.
Q. What would your definition of the soul be?
A. What we have seen right now is, that the
"soul" - rather than being a separate entity - looses its highest position in
hierarchy, once a person becomes aware. The "soul" exists not on its own, but
appears to function in the context of awareness e.g. the Spirit. By expanding the
latter, it becomes your (inner) Space. The surprise is, that thoughts, images, desires
etc., appear to have become the content of your expanded awareness.
Q. Having no structure at all?
A. To answer that question, I first of all have to
elaborate on the findings of body-oriented practices, as mentioned above. I am talking
about schools like Sensory Awareness, Eutonie, Haptonomie, Feldenkrais and Alexander. The
outcome of their experiences (including the meditation practices of Buddhism) is this. The
above mentioned discovery of the Spirit is being promoted by restoring conscious contact
with the body. The more you relax, while consciously watching and feeling your feet in
contact with the floor, your behind in contact with the chair, your breathing etc., the
easier awareness (inner observer) is going to establish itself. There appears to be an
inner feedback between the two.
Q. It seems an irony to me, because both the Spirit and
the body were taboo in Christianity.
A. You are a clever guy. The fact, that the body
("vehicle") is essential to developing the Spirit is a second major setback to
them. Everything turns out to be (totally) different. However, the story has not ended
Q. Please, continue.
A. Experience shows, that Buddhism was only right with
regard to the most superficial thoughts and emotions. Only those easily pass by in your
inner Space. Emotions that come from "deeper layers" prove to be more stubborn.
They tend to come back again, again and again, often being so strong, that you cannot
maintain observing them. The theory didn't seem to be complete. At that stage, I
personally was very happy to "discover" Voice Dialogue. Developed by Hal Stone
and Sidra Winkelman it is an approach, that emphasizes the inner dynamics between
awareness, the reflexion (which they call the conscious ego) and the various
Q. Why was this so crucial?
A. Unlike Buddhism, VD states, that in deeper layers
emotions do have certain patterns. They define them as complimentary complexes
(sub-personalities), related to both awareness and the ego. Insight in the dynamics gives
you a holistic picture of the psyche, in which all "parts" are interrelated. In
the many years that followed, I extensively tested the system. Only to conclude, that it
is (still) one of the most effective therapies ever developed.
Q. Let's go back to the beginning. There you stated,
that this essay would be on "A New Psychology".
A. It touches the core of psychological practice.
Despite all progress in the field - as mentioned above - common psychological practice is
still centered around the psyche as a separate entity. Problems belong to the
"psyche". Here, the psyche only exists as an arbitrary concept. It is not
related to the Spirit, nor to the body, nor are its inner dynamics understood.
Q. So, what about "problem-solving?"
A. Often, problems are not part of the psyche, but
arise because of the fact, that the psyche is considered a separate entity. It is like
approaching a sick tree, without considering the quality of the soil, the water supply,
local, regional and climatic factors, pollution etc. The core of the problem is
identification. First you accept the psyche as your "innermost being", while
subsequently attributing your problems to it.
Q. So, instead of I feel fear...?
A......may have nothing to do with the
"psyche" as such, but may have arisen, because your "psyche" is
alienated from its context: the Spirit and the body. After having restored it, it will be
mostly gone. Conclusion: your fear is the result of an "alienated psyche". Even
if your fear is still there, at least you wouldn't say "I feel fear", because
what you really are - awareness - cannot feel fear. Rather, you would say "there is
fear in me", indicating, that it is one of your (suppressed) sub-personalities, that
is feeling fear.
Q. The absence of the Spirit being the core issue?
A. This is a very intelligent remark. By being
identified with our problems, the psyche or "soul" only - like both
Christianity, psychology and even Goddess groups are doing - we are deprived of our core
empowerment: our Spirit, our Divine Spark Within. By reclaiming it we realize our True
Nature, our inner freedom.
Q. Deep within you are not identified with the fear.
A. Right. If there appears an inner distance between
you - the inner observer - and your problem, then thus you are not your problem. Again,
identification proves to be the real problem. If , on the other hand, you are not
identified, then you have already established an inner freedom, even if the problem would
still be there.
Q. Problems will be always there....
A. Identifying yourself with your problems is a never
ending story. In that case, problems will always keep you busy, e.g. dominate you. To
liberate yourself, you need to free yourself from identification. The psyche proves
to be a relative thing. It is embedded in a broader context. By restoring the realms in
which the psyche has its minor role, the psyche itself is put into perspective. Its
character is changing dramatically.
Q. Without having done something about your problem?
A. First of all, you restore conscious contact with
your body. As a consequence of that, awareness is born. You recognize it as your true
Self. By doing so, the psyche transforms itself from "the center of your
personality" to something secondary. It has moved from the centre to the periphery.
You now can say: "I - my consious Self - is here and my my problem is there".
Ergo: "I am not my problem". This is the first step.
Q. Please, continue.
A. Then it depends, how deep your problem is. If it is
rather superficial, body-awareness e.g. meditation practices will let it pass by, in such
a way, that sooner or later, your problem has disappeared into your inner Space. Other
cases require additional therapy. The insight, that your problems are related to
suppressed parts, originating from the past is crucial. At that time you weren't able -
for some reason or another - to integrate them into your conscious Being.
Q. A second chance?
A. Absolutely. Self-healing consists of still
integrating that particular part. In VD (or Emotional
Self-Integration, ESI), there are several steps through which eventually your problem
will become part of the Whole, once again. The discovery is this: once your problem is
part of the Whole once again, it ceases to be a problem. The problem wasn't the problem,
but the fact, that it wasn't integrated, was.
Q. Without trying to solve the problem as such?
A. During the process of consciously integrating the
part - without trying to "solve the problem itself" - all kinds of emotional
releases, insights and discoveries emerge. They are the "by-products", rather
than the goal. Problems are solved without solving them, yes. It liberates you from the
problem-solving obsession, while at the same time becoming a whole person.
Q. Indeed, A New Spiritual Psychology......
A. If you transcend the psyche - bringing it back to
its proper place - then problems will be transcended with it.
Q. Wow. Thanks a lot for this interview.
A. You are
Embracing your inner step-children
"Embracing Your Self"
Hal Stone and Sidra Winkelmann