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