Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Psychotherapy
Goal of Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy's goal is to resolve the conflicts only on the psychological level. It attempts this by working on understanding the conflicts and their origins in childhood. It believes that through this understanding and the discharge of repressed emotions the conflicts will be resolved. But how can that be, when the most fundamental point in the conflict is the loss of Essence? The individual knows, although unconsciously, what he has lost. His personality is always subtly irritated by the hole in his chest. He will feel complete, he will be completely contented about this conflict, only if he regains what he has lost. There is no other way. Understanding or no understanding, completion and contentment will happen only when there is a hole no more, only when Essence is there, experienced and acknowledged.
Going Directly to the Empty Hole in the Unconscious Self-Image
In psychotherapy, patients or students sometimes spend a tremendous amount of time dealing with their feelings of lack, and with their fears and defenses. The analyst can spend much time analyzing all the associations and childhood experiences relating to these feelings. The personality is full of such memories, associations, and reactions, so there appears to be a lot of understanding. But there is generally no fundamental change. With the method we are introducing here, we can go directly to the empty hole in the unconscious self-image. Instead of analyzing and understanding every association and reaction to this lack, we can cut directly into all of them —they are only later accumulated images functioning as a veil—and go to the central experience, that of the genital hole. The associations and reactions to the hole are infinite; the student can try to understand why he feels passive, why he feels weak, why he is afraid of losing his strength, and so on, by connecting them to childhood experience. And of course when the genital hole is being dealt with directly, some of these associations do come up. However, they are not the point. The individual feels worthless, for instance, not because he or she was treated badly and not valued in the past. The worthlessness is maintained in the present by the deficient emptiness, which is due to a loss of an aspect of one’s Being. This loss is the primary event, not the events which led to it. Understanding one’s worth in terms of one’s relations to others in childhood can be useful and is often necessary, but it is not what will lead to transformation. Only seeing and understanding the lack, the hole itself, will lead to transformation, to the retrieval of what was lost.
The Void, pg. 93
Psychotherapy Does Not Acknowledge the Existence of Essence
Psychotherapy does not acknowledge the existence of Essence or the loss of Essence; therefore it is not oriented towards retrieving it. Psychotherapy is oriented towards making the personality healthier and stronger, making it function better. In dealing with merging Essence, psychotherapy does not usually go beyond the first step. The empty hole is almost never approached. Rather, the person learns to find better and more effective ways to fill the hole, which are seen as better relationships with people or a more satisfying intimate relationship with the person of the opposite sex.
Seeing Various Therapies as Understanding the Nature of the Mind
What interests us here is to see that psychotherapy is largely a process of expanding the self-image, which in our perspective means more openness and spaciousness in the mind. But since the mind is ultimately open and empty space, the process is actually the freeing of more space. The focus of psychotherapy, however, is in the modification of self-image in ways that allow the individual to function in a more tolerable and satisfying state of emotional health, a state called the normal condition. Through this process psychotherapy has helped many people suffering from emotional and mental distress. What if we go beyond this limit of trying to achieve a “normal” condition, if in fact we continue the process of working on the self-image starting with the normal person, the average healthy individual who already functions in a normal state? Working with such a person, who might be motivated to pursue such a process by an intuition of a deeper or truer state of being, we can continue bringing to consciousness elements of the self-image to be checked with “reality,” and allowing them to be modified or dissolved to encompass more “reality.” Through this process, the person’s experience of himself becomes more and more open and spacious until this openness culminates in the direct experience of the nature of the mind: space. It is a gradual process of thawing the frozen boundaries of the ego identity and liberating more and more space. The theory and techniques of psychoanalysis and the various therapies are used here not for the treatment of psychopathology, but for the understanding of the nature of the mind.
The Void, pg. 39
The Action of Any Kind of Psychotherapy
Whereas object relations theory concerns itself with the development of the psychic apparatus or structure, our inquiry here is into the actual material of the psychic structure, into the ontological aspect of it. What is the mind, what is it made of, and how does self-image determine our perception of it? In other words, what is the mind besides its content? Where does this content exist? One way of approaching the question is to investigate what happens when the self-image changes, i.e., when some of its boundaries are removed or modified. We already know how modification of the self-image can change a person’s experience and action in the world. This is, in fact, one way of seeing the action of any kind of psychotherapy. As some of the boundaries imposed on the individual by his self-image are dissolved, he gains greater freedom of perception and action. For instance, as the “weak” person understands his “weakness,” as he sees its genesis and understands its psychodynamics, this boundary of “weakness” is challenged and gradually dissolves. As the person stops thinking of himself as “weak,” his actions in the world change. In fact, he starts acting in ways that he had never thought he could, taking actions that he had thought only “strong” people could take, or even doing things that he had never thought anyone could do. Anyone who has participated in any kind of therapy, or is himself a therapist, or has experienced or seen a change of self-image, knows this very well.
The Void, pg. 17
The Psychotic Core Buried Deeply in the Unconscious
In fact, the accepted attitude in psychoanalysis and the various other psychotherapies is that dealing with issues relating directly to the symbiotic stage is relevant only for the severe pathologies, such as the borderline and psychotic syndromes. It is believed that normal or neurotic people don't usually need to deal deeply with issues of the symbiotic stage. These people do not experience important conflicts around this stage because the personality structure has developed solidly from it. For psychotherapy, there is no need then to go to such depths for normal people because they function well in terms of their ego structure. But our concern here is not therapy. Our aim is much more fundamental; it is the return to being. From our perspective, anybody who has lost the merging essence and wants to regain it must go back to the symbiotic stage and deal with its issues. And this is true for normal people, those who are neurotic, and everybody else, not just for the severe psychopathologies. In fact, we will see that if a person involves himself with the journey of return using the psychodynamic approach, the issues explored will be mostly what are usually considered in psychoanalytic circles as borderline, narcissistic, and psychotic issues. This means that all people, not just the ones afflicted with pathology, are narcissistic, borderline, and psychotic. However, these tendencies, termed the psychotic core, are buried very deeply in the unconscious, and the normal person never really deals squarely with these underpinnings of his character. Neither, of course, does he come to live the life of essence, unless he sincerely embarks on doing the work.