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#4514 - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - Editor: Jerry Katz

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  • Jerry Katz
    #4514 - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - Editor: Jerry Katz The Nonduality Highlights - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights ... Seeking Enlightenment: The
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 16, 2012
      #4514 - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - Editor: Jerry Katz
      The Nonduality Highlights - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights 


      Seeking Enlightenment: The Spiritual Journey of a Psychotherapist

      by Catherine Morrison 
      Seeking Enlightenment is both a personal and a professional memoir. It is a true story that I began to write while practicing psychotherapy as a young adult. With a deep interest in an evolutionary system of psychological evolution, I began the developmental story with the infant’s first weeks of life—when he is normally, but nevertheless “psychotically” oriented, not knowing inside from outside—and moved on through progressively more “healthy,” but still “dysfunctional” states, to the healthier “neurotic” stages of emotional life, and, finally, to Autonomy, the Western ideal of health. Because I was “staging” development, I was drawn to Jean Piaget’s cognitive—staging system, the most exacting and elegant such system in the field, and I found–as he had predicted—that it was eminently suitable for emotional development. However, his cognitive stages included three plateaus; whereas, I had found only two tiers of emotional development throughout my extensive and varied practice.

      Now, I needed candidates for a third plateau. Having had an ambivalent relationship with spirituality during most of my adult life, a three-day retreat with the Dalai Lama had made a believer out of me, so I knew this third level must be spiritual as His Holiness would definitely not fit on my first or second developmental levels. I began to explore Eastern enlightenment, and after two fruitless trips to India, looking for a guru, miraculously, my guru, Swami Dayananda came to my hometown to give a two- day seminar to MIT students, and, in so doing, he found me. Since that time, I regularly took courses at his ashram in Saylorsburg, PA.

      Swami Dayananda, unlike most Indian gurus I have known, was interested in Western psychology, and as he taught me about the evolution of spirituality, I told him about my psychological study which I called Jacob’s Ladder. As he instructed me about Eastern enlightenment, he suggested that I complete Jacob’s Ladder, by adding this Eastern component to Western psychology. He said that no one could be fully mature without spiritual growth. He called this maturation Ultimate Mental Health.

      The ancient Vedantins sometimes used the metaphor
      of a red-hot iron ball to symbolize the relationship of
      consciousness to the human mind. The glowing red heat
      and the hard round metal appear as a single entity, just as
      consciousness and the mind are taken to be one. In reality,
      the hot iron is a composite of fire and metal, seen as one
      through superimposition of the two elements upon each
      other. In its finely honed teaching methodology, Vedanta
      uses this as one metaphor to clarify that the mind derives
      its consciousness as a reflection of the unity consciousness
      in which it shines and not because it generates consciousness
      within itself. Though this notion of the isolated self
      in a separate body with a discrete awareness of its own is
      deeply ingrained in each of us through millennia of bodyidentification,
      it is false. The only true source of consciousness is atma or Brahman,
      The One-Without-A-Second.
      Vedanta teaches that this source of all, being non-dual, is
      the source of consciousness that reflects in the otherwise
      insentient cellular matter constituting our bodies as well
      as our brains. This phenomenon is compared with sunlight
      shining on the surface of a lake or a mirror, making it bright
      by reflecting in it.
      How does an essentially insentient brain, enlivened
      by reflected consciousness—but embattled with a self-centered
      ego that intuits progress along this third plateau will
      bring about its destruction—ever make the leap from that
      ‘ego-mind,’ even from a “prepared ego-mind,” to identify
      with pure consciousness and become enlightened? What is
      the progression along the third plateau? Our society seems
      to have lost the inspiration and the motivation as well as
      the map. We can look for some of all three in this chapter.
      The mystics are good map-makers of their personal routes
      toward the Unitive Life, while the Vedantins’ perfected
      teaching methodology shortens the quest and substantially
      diminishes its overwhelming anxiety. Diminished anxiety
      alone increases one’s capacity for receptivity to Vedanta’s
      message. We can benefit from the mystics and from others
      who record their paths toward enlightenment, and we
      can learn from today’s Vedantins whose well-systematized
      teaching methods still beckon seekers from around the
      world. Perhaps these models can reignite our interest and
      inspire us toward our own maturational and spiritual progress,
      and I feel certain they can help us find our way.
      Evelyn Underhill’s classic Mysticism is an important
      source of information about Western aspirants. She
      studied and cataloged the lives of nearly a hundred individuals
      as they sought union with God. She identifies five
      stages, three for preparation and two for fruition. She calls
      her first stage “Conversion” or “Awakening of the Self.”
      By Conversion, Underhill does not mean the novice or agnostic’s
      first introduction to the notion of God. Instead, she
      refers to a deep, often sudden, shift in one’s perception of
      reality, like that of St. Paul on the road to Damascus. In this
      Conversion, the self profoundly intuits that 1) God is real,
      2) the world is a mock reality, and 3) the self is one with
      divinity. My own Conversion experience, though far less
      dramatic than St. Paul’s, had the potency of a blow to the
      head, leaving me dazed. It accompanied the first complete
      Vedanta instruction I received from Swami Dayananda at
      the MIT lecture, reorienting my thought and galvanizing
      my passion toward the single goal of God-consciousness.
      Read more:
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