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Splitting

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Splitting

Coming into Contact with One's Split Off Hatred and Destructiveness

We refer to this structure as the rejecting object relation because rejection is its primary affect. The self feels that it is rejected, or is going to be, with various degrees of aggression. Furthermore, when someone begins to experience this object relation, it is experienced as actual rejection or the fear of it. Only upon investigation does one recognize the primitive core of this structure. To understand this object relation involves recognizing the defense mechanism of splitting, and therefore coming into contact with one’s split-off hatred and destructiveness. When one finally recognizes that it is one’s projected hatred that one is afraid of, and deals with the fear and the splitting, one then begins to feel the hatred directly. The direct experience of the hatred can take the soul to a clear experience of itself as the animal soul: ruthless, irrational, heartless, hateful, destructive, and very powerful. The natural human tendency is of course to reject this structure; one wants to feel that it is alien to oneself, thus the impulse toward splitting. But with sufficient openness and objectivity one can experience it fully, as a powerful entity, an alien animal form full of brute instinct and ruthless determination to get what it wants regardless of consequences to others. The qualities of selfishness and destructiveness turn out to be incidental and unintentional; this animal entity is simply not going to tolerate anything that stands in its way. The ruthlessness of the animal soul is not personal and not intentional; it will simply wipe out whatever stands in its way without hesitation or qualms.

Defenses Which are Generally Associated with Psychopathology do Not Completely Disappear in Normal Ego Development

We have observed that these defenses, which are generally associated with psychopathology—regressive refusion with psychosis, grandiosity with pathological narcissism, defensive detachment with schizoidism, and splitting with borderline conditions—do not really completely disappear in normal ego development. Our exploration of the deeper layers of the normal personality reveals that these defenses are still present and are in fact employed extensively. They become more active, or rather more consciously active, in the deeper stages of inner realization, revealing, in the presence of every ego individuality, structures that are, or are similar to, psychotic, borderline, narcissistic and schizoid structures. The individual does not usually become pathological when these structures emerge in consciousness, indicating thatthey are not the dominant structures in the personality, but they do cause considerable distress and anxiety. Thus we see that, although in the normal individual the well-adapted or “conflict-free” segment of ego predominates, the structure actually contains all the forms of the major pathologies, both structural and neurotic. We have seen that the various defenses against ego inadequacy involve regressions to various subphases of ego development, in the attempt to contact the support of the dominant essential aspect of each phase. Furthermore, the state of deficiency itself is a reflection of difficulties in the rapprochement phase, indicating the absence of the aspect of the Personal Essence.

Finding Yourself Splitting Yourself

So whether we are meditating or doing inquiry exercises or having a meal or talking with a friend or doing our job, we can always practice by being present, by being aware of what is happening in our experience and not doing anything to it. Because awareness is a manifestation of True Nature, it is natural for there to be awareness. But awareness is also necessary so we can recognize how we are meddling. We are usually meddling in a thousand different ways, but we often only notice one or two ways. Why? Because we are not completely aware of the situation. The more aware we are, the more we see the meddling, and the more we see the meddling, the better the possibility of ceasing and desisting, of not continuing to meddle. Now if you catch yourself meddling, that doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong. Let’s establish that right away because for sure you are going to catch yourself doing just that. When you meditate or practice, for example, you will find yourself interfering, manipulating yourself, splitting yourself. Since we know this is going to happen, we practice with it. We see it, we let it be, and we don’t do anything to it. Remember that ceasing to meddle doesn’t mean that you do something to stop. Just being aware that you are meddling—and seeing what meddling does is usually sufficient for it to stop by itself. You won’t have the feeling that you are stopping it; it just stops. And if you don’t do anything, you might begin to experience feelings arise in response to the meddling. You might feel kindness in response to the suffering involved in the meddling. You might feel the determination not to meddle, or you might feel the strength and the capacity to say, “I will be able to stay steadfast and not interfere.” Or you might feel enough love just to be genuine and not divided in yourself.

Resolving the Primary Split in the Ego

The story of the defense of splitting in relation to Being is a long and complex one. Here we will note only that resolving the primary split in the ego, the split between the bad and good representations, involves integrating the essential aspect of Power. The defense of splitting entails splitting away one’s Power, because it is associated with the all-bad self-representation, and projecting it outside. The result is identification with a self-representation that is all-good but powerless. This all-good, innocent, and powerless sense of self is experienced as confronting a world that is all-bad, hateful, and powerful. In this situation of powerlessness one experiences an excruciating vulnerability in one’s contact with the world, vulnerability to powerful and destructive objects. So the individual resorts to the schizoid defense of isolation (no engagement in object relations) and withdrawal (regression to primitive ego identifications). The defense of schizoid isolation is seen then to be related to the defense of splitting. Working through this defense of isolation, or defensive detachment, is involved in the process of personalization of the Human aspect of Essence, which is related to vulnerability.

Seeing that Splitting, Isolation and Withdrawal are, in a Sense, the Same Thing

Working through this sector of the personality, which involves dealing with very primitive ego identification systems, ultimately reveals the most elementary form of the personality. It is the regressed, at the same time undeveloped, part of the ego that forms the basic and most rudimentary sense of self and personality. One sees here that splitting, isolation and withdrawal are in a sense the same thing; they meet in one manifestation. One experiences one’s identity in a form of consciousness that is very subtle and delicate, but is characterized by being separate from Being, the nondifferentiated reality. One sees that the final, or conversely the most primitive, resistance is against Being, remaining separate from nondifferentiated Pure Being. The personality has an autonomous and differentiated existence, and hence the ultimate defense is a resistance that keeps the personality separate from Being. This defense is a withdrawal from contact with Being, which creates an isolation from it, with the final result being a primary splitting of Being and personality.

Splitting and Narcissism

The idealization of “special” others is a specific trait of central narcissism, as is grandiosity. In contrast, in oral narcissism these characteristics tend to be vague and mixed with various borderline defenses, such as splitting and projective identification.

Splitting as Defense

The first defensive operations are those of splitting and projection. The negative merging is split off, seen as separate and unrelated to the positive merging, and projected outside; thus it is perceived as part of the environment.

Splitting Away One's Power

The defense of splitting entails splitting away one's Power, because it is associated with the all-bad self-representation, and projecting it outside. The result is identification with a self-representation that is all-good but powerless.

Splitting is a Protective Mechanism that the Ego Employs to Continue Existing

It would be good for everyone here to spend some time observing your relationships. How do you experience your relationships? We have to perceive our tendency to divide into absolutes to be able to work with it. It is not enough to just hear about it. You have to see your minute-to-minute interactions with people. You have to see how at each minute, interaction is either all positive or all negative and rarely a mixture. But when we step back and look at our interactions, we realize that they are usually a mixture. It is extremely rare that when you are with another human being, the relationship itself is all purely wonderful or purely negative. You might feel all-wonderful, but the relationship is always mixed. The person may not be doing exactly what you want them to do, or whatever. So, although you might feel all wonderful, the relationship itself is not all-wonderful. And of course, engaging in the mental relationships involves all the judging and blaming of the other or
oneself, or the idealization of the other, or grandiosity about oneself. This splitting is a protective mechanism that the ego employs to continue existing. The ego cannot exist if there is true relationship. The ego’s continued survival depends on this separation of relationship into black and white.

Splitting Mother into Good and Bad Mother

The beginning of ego is really the splitting between positive and negative, between love and hatred, between pain and pleasure. That is how ego starts. Without the need to protect oneself from the negative, or to protect the positive part from the negative parts, ego would not arise. So ego is based ultimately on splitting. We see it manifest in relationships. These split relationships are the basis of ego. Without split relationships there would be no ego. At the beginning, in childhood, there is a relationship between the child and the mother, the parents, the environment. When the relationship is difficult or painful, the child deals with it by splitting the difficult from the easy, the love from the hatred. But to do that, you have to do it with your mind, because it is not real. You have to split your perception. You have to split your mind. You have to believe something that is not there. That is the beginning of mental structure. You have to split the reality into this and that, split mother into good mother and bad mother. Well, your mother is never all good or all bad. She is a mixture. So if you split her into good mother and bad mother, and you have to remember this and that, you are creating something in your mind that is not really there. In time, that becomes the mental relationship that you reenact in your life relationships. So there is the idealized mother, there is the frustrating mother, and there is the attacking mother. And your relationships with those three parts are what become reenacted in your life as mental relationships.

Splitting Your Perception

At the beginning, in childhood, there is a relationship between the child and the mother, the parents, the environment. When the relationship is difficult or painful, the child deals with it by splitting the difficult from the easy, the love from the hatred. But to do that, you have to do it with your mind, because it is not real. You have to split your perception. You have to split your mind. You have to believe something that is not there. That is the beginning of mental structure. You have to split the reality into this and that, split mother into good mother and bad mother. Well, your mother is never all good or all bad. She is a mixture. So if you split her into good mother and bad mother, and you have to remember this and that, you are creating something in your mind that is not really there. In time, that becomes the mental relationship that you re-enact in your life relationships. So there is the idealized mother, there is a frustrating mother, and there is the attacking mother. And your relationships with those three parts are what become re-enacted in your life as mental relationships.

The Process Through Which We Split Ourselves Off from a Sense of Unity with Everything

How can the child project out its feelings? To project we have to believe that emotionally there is an inside and outside. For me to believe this feeling is not mine, that it’s coming from outside so that it won’t have a disintegrating effect on me, I must believe that I am separate from the outside. The mechanism of projection necessitates the erection of boundaries around oneself, which result in the sense that we are separate from our environment. Projection and the erection of boundaries happen at the same time, and are interdependent. This then is the process through which we split ourselves off from a sense of unity with everything, which is the perspective of the true self, our essence. The truth is that experientially there are no boundaries, I am not separate from anything else. And energetically, I am not bound by my body. My body can eject food, but emotionally I can’t actually spit out my emotions and frustrations. So first there is a projection which necessitates the erection of boundaries, of separateness from the energetic field, from all existence. But in order for the child to project successfully, to feel that this feeling isn’t his, he has to stop feeling it. This means he must dull the feelings, or repress them or split them off. In order to project, we must suppress something in ourselves, we have to not feel a part of us. The projection and the dullness, suppression or splitting off of our feelings and sensations constitute the rejection which is modeled on the spitting-out mechanism. This rejection, of course, creates disharmony.

The Reason You Split Your Relationships, the Reason You Do Not See Them as They Are

What is the resolution of this situation? The resolution is to be aware, and to allow, accept, and acknowledge the real relationship that is actually happening, instead of trying to make it something different from what it is. But to be able to do that you need to manifest what I call the courageous heart. The real relationship is the relationship of the courageous heart. If you look at the reason you split your relationships, the reason you do not see them as they are, you will see it is because you are a coward in your heart. You are scared. Why do I say that? Because when you are splitting relationships, making them black or white, good or bad, what you are doing is separating love from hatred. You are separating what you see as the good feelings in your heart
from what you call the negative feelings. You either feel love, by itself, or you feel a negative feeling by itself. You do not let them co-exist. You do that mainly to protect your love. You are afraid of the negative feelings. If the other person is good, the relationship is good, you are loving, and you allow your heart to be there. The moment something negative comes in, it brings in the negative mental relationship. “It is fine to feel all angry and frustrated, it is fine to feel all loving, but I do not know if I can do both. What will happen to my love? It will be contaminated. It will be destroyed by the hatred, by the negativity.”

The Tendency of the Human Mind is to Look at all Relationships in Terms of Splitting the All-Good from the All-Bad

This might seem an extreme way of viewing normal relationships—we are not usually absolute in our responses to pleasant or unpleasant interactions. But it is true that we tend to make things one way or the other. This tendency is much more pervasive, ubiquitous, and powerful than we are usually conscious of. While the tendency might be mostly unconscious, it is a major force in determining our responses. If a person frustrates you or rejects you, you react by being hurt and angry, even hateful. All negative. If you believe that the other person loves you, that they are good and are satisfying you, you want to respond with positive, wonderful feelings, and you do not want to have any negative feelings. If you have negative feelings in those situations,
you feel they are disturbing and interfering, that it shouldn’t be that way. So that is the situation. The tendency of the human mind is to look at relationships in terms of splitting the all-good from the all-bad, while in reality, it is rarely ever all good or all bad. It is always a mixture. When you see a relationship in absolute terms of all good or all bad, it cannot be a real relationship. It is a mental relationship—something in your mind. It is not what is actually happening. A true relationship is not like that. When you look at and perceive things from that absolute perspective, obviously you are not involved in the real relationship. You are reacting and being involved in a mental relationship that is not actually there.

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