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 emerged.
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
Q. So, what eventually has come out of this development?
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 table.
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
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 the Spirit?
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 minds?
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 yet.
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 sub-personalities.
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
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 facct, 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 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 welcome.
Embracing your inner step-children
"Embracing Your Self"
Hal Stone and Sidra Winkelmann