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PSYCHO-SPIRITUAL PSYCHOLOGY:

Richard Harvey answers questions about personal problems, therapy and spiritual goals.

That they are connected in a single process and that is available to you if you wish to see it through—or go the distance. Many people who come to therapy simply want to make things better—improve their relationship to themselves or others, be more confident, less neurotic, more self-assured. Some dissatisfaction or crisis in life causes them to seek help and when the issues are dealt with—healed, resolved—they carry on with a new improved sense of themselves.

But for some the exploration of the inner world opens a bigger door—a gateway into the unknown and they become fascinated by what it may mean for them. If they pursue therapy and inner work they “flip” the board, reverse the rules of the game, and find that they are no longer so concerned about improvements or progress, but more interested in relinquishing the hold their ego has on them out of an intuition that something deeper and more valuable awaits them on the other side of a process of loss.

This process has been called depth psychotherapy or major psychotherapy in the past. It is what Jung called individuation. Or perhaps what Maslow was indicating in the higher levels of his hierarchy of needs. This way of looking at personal growth is entirely different from the present popular notion of having what you want, making the world a better place (which translates as getting more of what you want) through work on self-esteem, positive reprogramming, spiritual channeling or whatever.

Teaching spiritual wisdom and practices is simply referring you to your inner understanding, which is innate in you as a human being. I distinguish between the act of teaching and assuming the role of teacher, because everyone should be their own teacher.

Well, speaking for myself, I wouldn’t! But your question is a very good one, because it highlights certain contemporary ideas and prejudices. Some of these ideas about therapy need to change to catch up with modern developments and some of the prejudices need to be confronted, because like all prejudice they are borne of ignorance.

Today it is perfectly viable to pursue spiritual goals in therapy, providing you find the right therapist for you. I would go further and say that the therapeutic specialty of psycho-spiritual psychotherapy is at the cutting edge of spiritual practice and living spiritual lives today, because nowhere else do we have such a linking of ancient thought, teachings, inspiration and modern day discoveries concerning humanity. So, in my view, if you are serious, go see the specialist—which is a therapist.

On the other hand any individual therapist, of course may not be up to the task. I am talking here of a psycho-spiritual (the other term is transpersonal) therapist or healer. And incidentally spiritual teachers are not always oriental or faraway and they haven’t been for a long time. About competing—well the thing to watch is “the grass is always greener” syndrome: if you find you are attracted to a therapist, healer or spiritual teacher and your mind or heart wanders off in search of a greater or more attractive one, you are experiencing a profound lesson in the psycho-spiritual process.

The first thing to realize is that usually what we’re looking for is right in front of us! Alongside this truth is the fact that usually we don’t see or recognize it, because we are so caught up in looking for it or seeking that it doesn’t seem to occur to us that we might find what we’re looking for! Hence it’s always more interesting to us to cast our mind ahead and aspire to some distant future in which our dreams will be realized.

Now, is the only time there is. This understanding is as old as the Upanishads and as modern as the latest self-help book. But to occupy the moment, we have to rein in our aspirations for an imaginary future time. Once we have done that, we have to “be”. Now, two things are incredibly difficult for us about what seems to be a comparatively simple matter to speak about.

First, we don’t know how to withdraw from the future and, second, we don’t know how to be, in the present or any other time. Our entire life is orientated to the past—modelled on past memories, coated with past assumptions and motivated by past desires.

Nothing, really nothing, is actively present, only the past rehashing itself over and over again. Western psychology has taught us that inside us is a shadowy realm known as the unconscious. It is symbolized in dreams by the basement—a dirty, dingy place we encounter in nightmares which mat be inhabited by monsters or threatening presences. Along with a veritable junkshop of material which we have thrown into our basement is the answer to why we should inhabit our lives orientated to the past.

For here we find all our shameful needs, fears and desires that were unmet, unrequited or unfulfilled when we were too young and helpless to do anything about it. Here in this darkness we dwell in our grief and our shame, too embarrassed and humiliated to face up to ourselves. While we don’t deal thoroughly with these inner dynamics and relationships, nothing will change, including the future, which is merely a reflection of the past.

So, this is why we project ourselves ahead of the present moment, idealizing a future which can never be any different from the past, except in fantasy. Think about it: how much of your time is spent imagining how life can be, wishing for things to be different from how they are. We aspire, by way of compensation for our dismal state of dissatisfaction, to better life conditions, improved relationships, more money or power or standing in the world. Our life moves ahead like a train that never reaches its destination, but is always in-between, always leaving, always arriving, never present.

The work is challenging and demanding, but not impossible. It is enabled through deep acceptance of how things are. And we cannot do it alone. We can try, but we will never take ourselves close enough to the edge, never tolerate the degree of suffering that we need to, to bring about the inner change that finally liberates us.

The second point is our inability to “be”. Deep inside, in our essence, we may experience a sense of presence from which being comes. But this subtle sense has not been validated, so we don’t give it value. If we did, we wouldn’t do so much. We would spend more time just being and when we can be, we can allow others to be. Feeling, valuing, communing would be words that described real experiences from our everyday lives. We would be less concerned about distractions that cause us to lose touch with ourselves and our sense of being.

Being is essential to presence, but also to love and caring, to compassion, to truly touching and experiencing the world.

But our experience, from the past, is that such openness caused us much suffering, pain and hurt. At some point, we made the decision to cease to be open and vulnerable to the world. We withdrew from this pure experience, compromised ourselves and concealed our essence to protect ourselves from hostility and insensitivity.

So, this is how we are unable to be in the present—the only place where life is. We are therefore detached from life.

We have to distinguish between the inner and outer worlds, between the absolute and relative worlds and between inner reflection of a psychological nature and inner reflection of a spiritual nature to answer this.

What Ramana Maharshi said was in response to the question, “Does one person’s realization help others?” And he says, “Self-realization is the greatest help that can be rendered to humanity.” Then he says,“the Self-realized person is helpful even though they remain in forest”, which I take to be a symbolic way of saying in seclusion. His answer to, “Wouldn’t it be better if they mixed with others?” is “There are no others to mix with.”

Now from the point of view of the relative, outer world and of our shared human psychology of perception this is obviously absurd! But he is speaking of beings who are Self-realized, which means that they have merged with the absolute where inner and outer are one. In Zen, the saying would be that they have swallowed the world, in other words they have realized that the outer world is inside them, rather than outside, which again sounds preposterous, until you understand that a Self-realized being is one who is totally identified with consciousness—not individual consciousness in the relative world, but the consciousness within which everything—everything— is arising.

This is very hard to understand from within the constraints of our accepted habitual way of thinking. But it should come as no surprise to people who have even a glancing acquaintance with the methods of Zen or crazy wisdom masters, whose methods are designed to shock us into awakening, that our habitual ways of thinking create the world as we are, not as it is (this is also the nature of projection in the sphere of psychology and interpersonal relationships). In other words Self-realization cannot, will not be proscribed by how we think about things.

So, if you have reached the point where everything is going on inside the consciousness you have realized that you are (you see, it even gets messy and almost impossible to talk about), then you are in relationship to everything all the time, regardless of your physical location (which is merely relative), since everything is going on within the sphere of your awareness, or consciousness. Paradoxically then, now you have the power to “do good” for example, to influence affairs and so forth, you don’t. You simply witness with compassion, devotion and love.

He said, “Psychoanalysis in essence is a cure through love.” And yes, you’re right, because deep acceptance embraces everything in its all-accepting field. One of the lessons of practicing therapy for me has been the absolute power of non-intervention, of simply letting things be, and, without interfering, things change through finding their natural balance.

 

 

What Is Spirituality?: The Quiet, Tacit Question of Existence

By Richard G Harvey  |   Submitted On June 18, 2011

 

What is spirituality?

Spirituality is everyday life. It is kindness. It is acceptance. It is practice and it is enlightenment, as well as the opposite of all these.

Spirituality is a redundant word, because, somewhat like love, it has been overused. If we are to use it with any specificity, as I think we should, we need to gather together all I have just said, together with the disparate definitions offered by others who are concerned with the so-called higher worlds and undertake a house-clearing, so that we know what we are talking about. If not, let’s think of a new word altogether! –because the function of language is to communicate.

Today we have a Tower of Babel situation; just look around at the vast array of spiritual teachers, religious traditions, new and ancient spiritual philosophies which are sometimes confused, vague or obtuse, but always confusing. If we are to truly communicate, I don’t think that spirituality should be any different to cooking or medicine or politics. Within these spheres of endeavor, if you are as confused as people seem to be in the spiritual sphere, we would be speaking nonsense with devastating consequences.

So what is the definition we should use to inform us?

Spirituality is the term that describes the higher functioning of human beings. Without a spiritual dimension, human beings are engaged solely with animalistic concerns, like belonging to a group, mating and procreation, acquisition and physical security. In the intermediate stages of human development we are concerned with identity, socialization, compassion for others and individual responsibility. Spiritual philosophies and methodologies are those which envelope all of these and go on to assume a higher aspiration for human fulfillment, an intrinsic need, felt by many, that we are more than we seem to be and that the world of appearances is not all there is.

Like Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?

Yes, like self-actualization and peak experiences in Maslow’s model. But also like the insights of the Upanishads, the Dhammapada, the Course in Miracles, Zen Buddhism, mystical Christianity, Sufism, and on and on through transpersonal systems and spiritual maps too numerous to mention. But what they have in common is human beings striving for the ultimate understanding in the belief that something elusive that is beyond the world of appearances gives meaning and significance to life.

Why is spirituality a concern of relatively few people?

Spirituality is universal. It is everyone’s concern to discover who they really are, through physical, psychological, mental, soulful and spiritual levels of the human predicament. We cannot judge how individual people are engaged with this, but arguably whatever a person is doing — thinking, working, forming relationships, vacationing — is an attempt to balance, engage with and understand self and the world. It’s a response to the quiet, tacit question of existence.

And that question is?

Who am I? No one is free of the consequences of this question. The only difference is in how we choose to answer it; in self-referral, self-definition or self-transcendence.

What about the etymological origins of the word? Spirit means breath, doesn’t it?

Spiritusmeans breath and espiritus means the breath of God, which is the word from which we derive our term inspiration. So spirit is about breath, the divine breath prajna, the interchange with the universe we experience when we breathe in and breathe out. When I breathe in the universe breathes out or inspires me; when I breathe out the universe breathes in or I inspire it. Which is it? From the spiritual standpoint there is no difference, because the universe and I are the same.

Spirituality then is about a relationship between soul, spirit and body?

Spirituality is also associated with questing in the form of a journey. It appears that we have to undertake a spiritual voyage, a quest, or some sort of ordeal in which we are transformed in some way through suffering. The forward moving narrative of that ordeal, the active search for that undertaking has been key to notions of spirituality for centuries. Depending on where and when we were brought up it took the form of the Pilgrim’s Progress, the Ramayana, the legend of Siddhartha, Dante’s journey through the underworld, the Native American vision quest and so on. What each of these narratives has in common is the principle theme of striving towards a spiritual goal through effortful persistence, strong will and determination.

Curiously very few of these spiritual maps see beyond effort. It is as if we are rewarded only when we push ourselves hard. Yet spiritual realization itself is epitomized by acceptance, receptivity, gentleness and surrender — all very soft attributes. Reading these accounts you would think that the only way to heaven is through hell.

And isn’t it?

Heaven and hell are points of view. You enter either one in any moment through your predisposition, which hinges on your attachment to the ego, or separation from the rest of existence. As diverse examples, both Jacques Lusseyrian during his incarceration in World War II and St John of the Cross in a Toledo jail in the Sixteenth Century experienced profound spiritual and divine epiphanies, in spite of enduring the most horrendous physical and mental mistreatment. Another example is Laurens van de Post who taught thousands of POWs in Java to resist bitterness and forgive their captors so that they survived the ordeal psychologically and emotionally intact, through adopting a spiritual strategy.

Does spirituality entail disidentification from the body?

Rather you relate spiritually to your body, as well as to everything else. What this means is that you center yourself in the essence that is common to everything that arises in consciousness and sense the source of all that arises.

Everything that arises at some point also ends?

But that which has no ending is the essence of spirituality. The spiritual quest is to discover and become one with the source of consciousness, the root of attention. Spirituality lies between what we call the mystical and transcendence; it is not an end in itself, our intention should not be merely to practice spirituality, but to penetrate further to where it leads. So, our understanding of mysticism, or the self-directed mystical path (as distinct from a religious path), leads us on a spiritual journey to self-transcendence and the meeting with the Divine.

For some this is God, for others Buddha Nature, infinity, the Absolute or Brahman. But all of these terms are intellectual constructs; they are merely ideas. There is only one appropriate response to a meeting with the Divine — awe-inspired, mystical, breathing silence, because in that great calm one finally encounters one’s true self, which is beyond ideas of mind, interpretation and description.

Spirituality leads to a meeting with the Divine?

Or a meeting with yourself; it’s the same thing. To know yourself, to find out who you truly are you must employ spiritual methods, remain constant to a spiritual practice, but then you have to shed that practice, leave it completely to arrive in the place it has been taking you. This is one of the difficulties in the Modern Era, as well as in ancient times. People are loath to destroy; they’d rather build up. Today we call it materialism. Chögyam Trungpaeven coined the term ‘spiritual materialism’ to describe how spiritual practitioners become attached to their accomplishments and their practice.

Spirituality is concerned primarily with inner aspects of the human being. It is true that a spiritual being shows certain traits, like love, gentleness, compassion and forgiveness. But none of these are worth anything at all unless they are genuine, truly experienced from the heart center of the person exhibiting them. To engage with the heart center one of the insights we must experience is that we do not lack… anything! Nothing whatsoever is wanting in the human experience when it is felt, seen, touched and experienced fully. When this insight has been understood fully, one has this experience of inner emptiness; it is profoundly receptive and resonating and it enables you to relate authentically with the rest of the world. It is the state of being-ness inside you, without activity, restlessness of any kind, without disturbance — inner or outer — it is solid, unwavering; you wouldn’t even call it spiritual, it would be more exact really to call it one’s natural state.

Is this ‘natural state’ available to all?

Yes of course. But you have to want it, and you have to want it badly. Also you must possess an inner integrity, a deep honesty about it and you must accept no substitutes! Because the spiritual path is beset with such distractions, difficulties, seductions and pretenses, urgings of the ego to let it all go and settle for some quasi-spiritual state that would be exalted from the point of view of the novice, the person who aspires to the spiritual rewards of the path.

What can you do in this quasi-spiritual state?

Set up as a spiritual teacher! Play superior, tell people what to do, entice others to act as followers or disciples, write a book about your ‘spiritual’ experiences, your enlightenment, while all the time you are simply preening your ego. It is hardly uncommon in this dark time; the period the Hindus predicted we would be in now — the kali yuga.

But the interest in spirituality, meditation and yoga is surely growing?

Well, interest isn’t necessarily enough. The spiritual world is full of dilettantes and pleasure-seekers and self-aggrandizement. This is not to detract from the sincere practitioners, the applied ones, but even there you see you can come across an ego trap, because some people’s ego is kept alive by enticements like ‘I will never succeed’, ‘I’m not good enough’ — it is simply the antithesis of ‘Look how great I am’, ‘I have succeeded because I am better than the rest’. Spiritually there’s no difference between these two points of view; they both serve the preening of the ego state.

So what should we do? I am beginning to see what you mean about the spiritual path being beset by seductions.

Don’t be seduced, apply yourself diligently, don’t stop until you get to the end of your spiritual journey, pick a teaching and a teacher that makes sense and don’t take anything on face value, rather question everything and don’t think for a minute that you can do it on your own.

Everyone needs a guru?

Everyone needs guidance from someone who functions as a teacher in their life and on their spiritual path, to preside over their spiritual endeavor and correct and encourage and question and cajole and provide a model of an authentic human being in the world. This is how we preserve faith, know that it is possible to succeed and cultivate the commitment and courage to carry on.

Richard Harvey, Psychotherapist, Author and Spiritual Teacher, makes the connection between counseling and psychotherapy and spiritual growth. He speaks particularly to those who are looking for more than they have found in therapy. And offers guidance to those seeking to undertake the inner journey – guidance free of dogma and grounded in what many of us experience as the “messiness” of our personalities.

Visit his website http://www.therapyandspirituality.com/ for inspiring ideas and practical help, and seehttp://www.therapyandspirituality.com/human-awakening.html for an overview of his approach.

 

I SHOT heroin and cocaine while attending Columbia in the 1980s, sometimes injecting many times a day and leaving scars that are still visible. I kept using, even after I was suspended from school, after I overdosed and even after I was arrested for dealing, despite knowing that this could reduce my chances of staying out of prison.

My parents were devastated: They couldn’t understand what had happened to their “gifted” child who had always excelled academically. They kept hoping I would just somehow stop, even though every time I tried to quit, I relapsed within months.

There are, speaking broadly, two schools of thought on addiction: The first was that my brain had been chemically “hijacked” by drugs, leaving me no control over a chronic, progressive disease. The second was simply that I was a selfish criminal, with little regard for others, as much of the public still seems to believe. (When it’s our own loved ones who become addicted, we tend to favor the first explanation; when it’s someone else’s, we favor the second.)

We are long overdue for a new perspective — both because our understanding of the neuroscience underlying addiction has changed and because so many existing treatments simply don’t work.

Addiction is indeed a brain problem, but it’s not a degenerative pathology like Alzheimer’s disease or cancer, nor is it evidence of a criminal mind. Instead, it’s a learning disorder, a difference in the wiring of the brain that affects the way we process information about motivation, reward and punishment. And, as with many learning disorders, addictive behavior is shaped by genetic and environmental influences over the course of development.

Scientists have documented the connection between learning processes and addiction for decades. Now, through both animal research and imaging studies, neuroscientists are starting to recognize which brain regions are involved in addiction and how.

The studies show that addiction alters the interactions between midbrain regions like the ventral tegmentum and the nucleus accumbens, which are involved with motivation and pleasure, and parts of the prefrontal cortex that mediate decisions and help set priorities. Acting in concert, these networks determine what we value in order to ensure that we attain critical biological goals: namely, survival and reproduction.

In essence, addiction occurs when these brain systems are focused on the wrong objects: a drug or self-destructive behavior like excessive gamblinginstead of a new sexual partner or a baby. Once that happens, it can cause serious trouble.

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If, like me, you grew up with a hyper-reactive nervous system that constantly made you feel overwhelmed, alienated and unlovable, finding a substance that eases social stress becomes a blessed escape. For me, heroin provided a sense of comfort, safety and love that I couldn’t get from other people (the key agent of addiction in these regions is the same for many pleasurable experiences: dopamine). Once I’d experienced the relief heroin gave me, I felt as though I couldn’t survive without it.

Understanding addiction from this neurodevelopmental perspective offers a great deal of hope. First, like other learning disorders, for example, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or dyslexia, addiction doesn’t affect overall intelligence. Second, this view suggests that addiction skews choice — but doesn’t completely eliminate free will: after all, no one injects drugs in front of the police. This means that addicts can learn to take actions to improve our health, like using clean syringes, as I did. Research overwhelmingly shows such programs not only reduce H.I.V., but also aid recovery.

The learning perspective also explains why the compulsion for alcohol or drugs can be so strong and why people with addiction continue even when the damage far outweighs the pleasure they receive and why they can appear to be acting irrationally: If you believe that something is essential to your survival, your priorities won’t make sense to others.

Learning that drives urges like love and reproduction is quite different from learning dry facts. Unlike memorizing your sevens and nines, deep, emotional learning completely alters the way you determine what matters most, which is why you remember your high school crush better than high school math.

Recognizing addiction as a learning disorder can also help end the argument over whether addiction should be treated as a progressive illness, as experts contend, or as a moral problem, a belief that is reflected in our continuing criminalization of certain drugs. You’ve just learned a maladaptive way of coping.

Moreover, if addiction resides in the parts of the brain involved in love, then recovery is more like getting over a breakup than it is like facing a lifelong illness. Healing a broken heart is difficult and often involves relapses into obsessive behavior, but it’s not brain damage.

The implications for treatment here are profound. If addiction is like misguided love, then compassion is a far better approach than punishment. Indeed, a 2007 meta-analysis of dozens of studies over four decades found that empowering, empathetic treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational enhancement therapy, which nurture an internal willingness to change, work far better than the more traditional rehab approach of confronting denial and telling patients that they are powerless over their addiction.

This makes sense because the circuitry that normally connects us to one another socially has been channeled instead into drug seeking. To return our brains to normal then, we need more love, not more pain.

In fact, studies have not found evidence in favor of harsh, punitive approaches, like jail terms, humiliating forms of treatment and traditional “interventions” where families threaten to abandon addicted members. People with addictions are already driven to push through negative experiences by their brain circuitry; more punishment won’t change this.

In line with the idea that development matters, research also shows that half of all addictions — with the exception of tobacco — end by age 30, and the majority of people with alcohol and drug addictions overcome it, mostly without treatment. I stopped taking drugs when I was 23. I always thought that I had quit because I finally realized that my addiction was harming me.

But it’s equally possible that I kicked then because I had become biologically capable of doing so. During adolescence, the engine that drives desire and motivation grows stronger. But unfortunately, only in the mid-to-late 20s are we able to exert more control. This is why adolescence is the highest risk period for developing addiction — and simple maturation may be what helped me get better.

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At the time, nearly all treatment was based on 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, which help only a minority of addicted people. Even today, most treatment available in rehab facilities involves instruction in the prayer, surrender to a higher power, confession and restitution prescribed by the steps.

We treat no other medical condition with such moralizing — people with other learning disorders aren’t pushed to apologize for their past behavior, nor are those affected by schizophrenia or depression.

Once we understand that addiction is neither a sin nor a progressive disease, just different brain wiring, we can stop persisting in policies that don’t work, and start teaching recovery.

Indeed, if the compulsive drive that sustains addiction is directed into healthier channels, this type of wiring can be a benefit, not just a disability. After all, persisting despite rejection didn’t only lead to addiction for me — it has also been indispensable to my survival as a writer. The ability to persevere is an asset: People with addiction just need to learn how to redirect it.

 

Spiritual Psychology As It Is

I am hard pressed to imagine how anyone in the helping professions can approach applied psychology in any form of counseling or psychotherapy without some awareness of the role of Spirit.  That, of course, is not because I was informed about the importance of Spirit during my training to become a psychologist.  On the contrary, there was absolutely no mention of Spirit – or Love for that matter – in my formal preparation to become a psychologist.  The secular foundation of my training and, by report, the training of most of my colleagues (with the noted exception of pastoral counselors) carefully avoided any mention of Love (i.e., Agape – the love of God for man and of man for God) or spirituality.  Rather, the focus was on the fundamentals of helping others such as how to be a good listener, the stages of psycho-social development, the history of counseling and psychotherapy, and, of course, the major theories of psychology.

I can understand why formal training institutions would want to avoid any mention of spirituality as an element in the healing and helping process. Doing so might easily lead to discussion of specific organized religions which are the most common conveyors of spiritual concepts and practices.  Better to avoid any controversial forays into that minefield!

However, it saddens me that we have not yet, as a culture, managed to come up with ways to discuss spirituality independently of specific religious traditions.  It is not as if the concept of Spirit is not part of our everyday lexicon.  Consider, for instance, the following:

He is in low spirits today.

It was a spirited performance.

He is such a free spirit.

We did it in the spirit of adventure.

It was a vexation of my spirit.

It was a testament to the human spirit.

I happen to be a very spiritual person who does not, at this time, have any specific religious affiliation. It is not that I have anything against organized religion.  Having been raised in a family that adhered to the tenets of a traditional religion I have a great appreciation for the value of such. I was provided with formal instruction about a Supreme Being, spiritual values, prayer, rites, ritual and ceremony. The structure and traditions provided a valuable foundation for my spiritual growth. And, of course, there was the benefit of having a community of people who are like-minded.

Eventually, however, I felt somewhat constrained by the religious dogma that seemed to divide and separate rather than to unify, and that eventually led me to investigate a wide variety of religious traditions and belief systems.  At the onset I thought I was simply looking for a better “fit” between my spiritual  inclinations and one of the various religious “clubs” that are out there.  However, I soon came understand that I was uncomfortable with any religion or philosophy that required adherence to a specific set of traditions, beliefs or practices. In large part this was because I was fortunate enough to have a variety of spiritual EXPERIENCES that were, to say the least, profound. While these experiences are by their very nature ineffable, they did make it clear to me that the “Beingness” and Truth of Spirit totally transcends all form – including the forms of religious beliefs and practices that human egos have constructed.

While my most profound spiritual experiences did not come during or as a result of religious practices, I have no doubt that others may well have been led to similar transcendent experiences as a direct result of their devout religious practice.  So, while I do not require formal religion for my own spiritual growth, I do not deny the benefits of it to others.

When I write that I am hard pressed to imagine how anyone in the helping professions can approach applied psychology without some awareness of the role of Spirit what I mean is that what draws us into any helping relationship is a desire to be supportive, to help, to assist in making things better. We do this because we care. We do this because some part of our being recognizes our essential self (spirit) within the other and is impelled to “care”. It is, at its essence, an act of love. And in the act of caring for another we are, in fact, caring for ourselves.

And that is what leaves me to this

, in my mind, all is spirit. There is no place where being in the world ends and spirit begins. But trying to explain this is a bit like trying to explain what water is to a fish.

 

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Being God is no big deal [Blog only?]

When we think of God, from the small perspective of the separated ego, we imagine one who is of inconceivable bigness. It must be so because it is that very bigness that gives littleness its identity. It is like a drop in the ocean contemplating its littleness in contrast to the entire sea.  And yet, when that drop surrenders all thought of separation it becomes that whole again.

When the falseness of the ego dissipates in the realization of “I AM”, the fun begins (W-pI.342.5.2).  In that expanded state of oneness the whole KNOWS it is both in and of each and every aspect of itself. With the expanded vision of Christ one sees that God is in everyone. And that is why it suddenly becomes no big deal – nothing special.

It’s in every one of us to be wise. Find your heart, open up both your eyes.
We can all know everything without ever knowing why.
It’s in every one of us, by and by.

~John Denver

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ACIL The first lesson 3.7

There is no form that is not thus. A form is but a representation. You see a thousand forms a day with different names and different functions and you think not that they are all the same. You place values on each one based on usefulness or pleasant appearance, on popularity or on reputation. Each one you place in relationship to yourself, and so you do not even see the form as it is but only as what it will do for you. You imprison form within your meaning, and still your meaning is truer than its form. You give all meaning to everything, and thus you populate your world with angels and with demons, their status determined by who would help you and who would thwart you. Thus do you determine your friends and your enemies, and thus you have friends who become enemies and enemies who become friends. While a pencil may essentially remain a pencil in your judgment, at least as long as it has all the qualities that you have determined that a pencil should have, few people can exhibit the qualities you have predetermined that they should possess at all times and in all places. And so one disappoints and another enthralls, one champions your cause and another denigrates you. In all scenarios you remain the maker of your world, giving it its causes and effects. If this can be so, how can the world be anything but symbolic, with each symbol’s meaning chosen by you and for you. Nothing is what it is, but only what it is to you.

“Love is the light in which form disappears and all that is, is seen as it is.” 39 Chapter 3 3.8

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BLOG ONLY

Kari,

I finished the three-day conference and I’m feeling very inspired to research some topics. I went to a workshop on gemstones and how they are used in healing. I’d love to learn more. I researched it and found it is very Biblical. This is what I posted on Facebook:

 

Did you know that gemstones have been used throughout history for healing and it’s Biblical?

Stones emit vibrations and frequencies.

They create strong energy fields which enable us to be charged with their energies.

The healing capabilities of stones are referred to in the Talmud, indicating that Abraham had a healing stone which hung around his neck with which he was able to heal people (Talmud Baba Basra16b).

The “Ephod”, the breastplate worn by High Priest in the Temple, contained twelve separate stones, each of which represented a different tribe. (Exodus 28:17-21)

Two stones, the Urim and Thummim, were inscribed with the sacred Name of God. The letters inscribed on the stones lit up in response to questions posed to indicate a positive or a negative response from God when asked a particular question. (Numbers 27:21)

Kings and queens would also have gemstones set in their crowns to obtain their benefits.

Hope you have a relaxing and fun weekend!

Kari

I would love to have the privilege of sitting down with you to chat about gemstones + healing + biblical foundations + science, etc. someday.

We have this vast playground called life to explore (it is our school, really,until we have learned enough and decide to ascend to our home in heaven), and gemstones are a part of that.

In brief, my thoughts are these.

Just as with oils, YOUR use of gemstones is quite likely to heal. The gemstones and the oils are what may be thought of as symbols or “containers” or conduits of your loving intent. The effectiveness of the oils and/or the gemstones is in the fact that you believe in them and, thus, your guests (some) will also believe in them. It is the belief that heals, not the specific properties of any object in this world.

And so it as been throughout the ages in all traditions of spiritual healing; and even in modern medicine. If there is a deep belief that incense, holy water, the Holy Eucharist, reading or touching holy writings or relics, taking various kinds of medicine, etc. will work – they are more likely (not guaranteed) to work.

The mind can align itself with – or deny – any FORM of healing action or object. Ultimately, it is the CONTENT of the healing offered that matters. When that content is LOVE then the form is only important in that it meets the client where he or she is at. That is, if they (and you) strongly believe in the Bible, and the FORM of healing offered is bible-based, they are more likely to accept the LOVE contained in that FORM as acceptable.  If they are more new-age-ish and deeply believe in crystals, gemstones, Tarot cards, astrology, etc., then that FORM of transmitting LOVING ENERGY will work for them.

But, let us be clear, just between you and me. It is NOT the gemstones or any properties in them or any properties in any THING in this world that heals. It is only LOVE that heals. In Truth, Love is all there is…LITERALLY! Only when we call upon Love to enter into our Holy encounters – no matter what FORM our prayers take – is true healing possible. YOU are a healer. You could do it with broccoli if you wanted to. YOU are the conduit through which the Holy Spirit enters into this world and rearranges people’s thought forms until they are free. The “props” are only helpful and necessary (temporarily, until we grow out of our need for them) because those of us who are still mired in the thought forms of separation insist on physical symbols to help us release the clutter and debris we have collected here to protect our fears. When fear goes our need for all things of this world goes. And our biggest fear is letting go or our illusions and dissolving back into LOVE. So, we go a small step at a time, using whatever “works” for us at any given time. And we forgive ourselves for being where we are, and for needing what we need to believe we are worthy of love and healing.

What makes me smile (lovingly, not snarkishly) is that bible-based Christians are willing to open their minds up to almost anything as long as there is a biblical basis for it. So, when I want to The Call revival at the L.A. Colosseum and a guy was demonstrating what secular folks would call “psychic readings” it was okay with the nearly 70,000 folks in attendance because they could accept him as demonstrating “words of knowledge”. Likewise, when someone like you uses gemstones – and offers biblical references to support the okayness of that – they will tolerate it and benefit from it. If it was not you, many in my church would dismiss it as “new-age” and/or daemonic. Chuckle, chuckle, :-). I have even been told that chiropractic medicine is daemonic – and was handed a book with a lengthy treatise on why. Two weeks later, that same person, in pain, went to a chiropractor and got relief. Chuckle, chuckle, :-).

Meditate on this for yourself and your clients:

What you believe is true IS true…

for you…

until it isn’t true anymore.

Like rungs of a ladder, we rely on various hand-holds and foot-holds (beliefs and truths) until we are free of any need of them. When we invite and accept spiritual EXPERIENCE we no longer have any need of beliefs or faith – we know that GOD IS, and that I AM.

Amen and Amen,

Love you,

Patrick

Hi again Kari,

I have bEen thinking more about our discussion and here is a brief follow-up.

Have you ever seen one of those 3-D art things where you stare at it for awhile and when your perception shifts you see a three dimensional figure “hidden’ inside? They look like this.

Hopefully you have. If you haven’t my analogy is lost.

The reason I mention them is that when I got home after seeing you the Holy Spirit urged me to dive into the gospel of Matthew and reread it – especially Jesus’ words (I have the red letter edition).

What happened is that while reading passages the first time I was able to get the usual “literal” meaning. However, after the 2nd or 3rd reading I was able to comprehend both the literal meaning and figurative meaning. That is, my perception or understanding of the message “shifted” much like the shift that happens in the 3-D art and I was able to see the meaning more compatible with that reflected in Jesus’ teachings in A Course in miracles (ACIM).

When speaking about the bible, the renown Joseph Campbell suggested that one could read it literally or metaphorically. That is, there is both what the words “denote” and what the words “connote”.

A word or phrase denotes its literal meaning (i.e., its dictionary definition), and it connotes all the meanings and associations it bears in addition to its literal meaning. 

It seems to me that if the messages in the bible were intended to have valid meanings for many generations it would make sense for them to be written so that the connotation would generalize to the minds of many generations as our intellectual understandings evolved.

I know this idea would frighten those who are seeking a firm and “true” foundation for their faith and, therefore, prefer the literal interpretation and I am really okay with that. Yet, something is gained in that, and something is lost. One gains the security of having a spiritually informed touchstone which may guide their way of operating in this world. However, what is lost is a guide that matches the collective consciousness as it has evolved. One is forced to rely on messages that are 2,000 years old, written by and for people that lived in a time when their knowledge and ability to understand more abstract concepts was more limited. And, it was translated so many times (Hebrew & Greek) that who knows if the original words of Jesus (denotation AND connotation)  have been preserved?

I, like you, am most interested in seeking the truth – whatever that may turn out to be. I rely on the Holy Spirit to inform me as I step aside and let Him lead the way.

No need for you to reply if it is not comfortable. Just wanted to elaborate on how I am trying to live a “both/and” spiritual life that is as inclusive as possible.

Blessings dear friend.

Patrick

We have to learn to speak their language so we may enter into their places of comfort and bring them from fear into the light.

From: Jan-Willem van Aalst <info@imergis.nl>
To: ‘Patrick Madden’ <pjmsmail-box@yahoo.com>
Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2016 12:20 PM
Subject: RE: Definitions of “soul” and “spirit”

Hello Patrick,
Thanks for sharing your thought process about your book with me.
 
I haven’t read any of Robert Perry’s publications yet, but from comments by Ken Wapnick and D. Patrick Miller I understand that Robert is often confusing levels I (nonduality) and II (duality) and that his essays are oftentimes an attempt to bring the nondualistic truth to the dualistic illusion instead of the other way round, in order to be able to hold on to some sort of individuality in nonduality, which strictly speaking is impossible. I cannot confirm such a view on Robert’s works from my own experience, though.
 
I think the removal of the term ‘soul’ in the published version of ACIM was done for a good reason: the term is simply used in too many different contexts and meanings: it might be equivalent to Spirit; at other times it’s something mysterious between mind and Spirit. In the published version, which is the version that its scribe wanted published per instruction of Jesus, this ambiguity has fortunately been undone.
 
In Robert’s text below about the soul, it seems to me that the pitfall is that we all can’t help but trying to construct some mental image of the soul, and then try to figure out how we might relate to that image. We cannot help but think of the soul as some sort of entity that shifts and changes, much as we tend to do with the ego.
In my humble opinion, to J/HS the word ‘soul’ is equivalent to our Will (capital W), which is at one with God’s Will. So it’s a driving force, not a “thing”. Try to substitute “Will” every time Robert Perry writes ‘soul’, and try to substitute ‘soul’ every time the Course speaks about our ‘Will’. A soul that is said to be ‘hurt’, ‘darkened’, ‘struggling’, ‘in pain’, etcetera, is just another way of saying our ego’s wishes are blocking our awareness of our true Will. A “soul that needs healing” or “a soul that needs to be freed from prison” are metaphoric ways of saying our decision maker needs to choose Will instead of wishes; the right mind instead of the wrong mind; HS instead of ego. The “you” that Jesus address in ACIM is always the decision making part of our mind, the only ‘activating agent’ that can consciously choose Love over fear, or God’s Will over the ego’s idle wishes. In this sense our Will is already at one with God’s Will; we just need to choose it once again, which is the meaning of “healing the soul”.
 
A book title such as “The Natural Soul” might well be titled “Our Natural Will”, which is indeed our Will as reflection of God’s Will. The “Dark night of the soul” that Ken Wapnick mentions (borrowed from John of the Cross) is the final mourning of the decision maker over the realization that our individualistic ego wishes are really only the insignificant ripples on the waves of the ocean that is our Will – the final realization that individuality was a flimsy mistake. It’s the final dip/hurdle before we choose to be at one with God’s Will forever – which, again metaphorically speaking, means the soul has finally been ‘cured’.
 
Well, that’s my two cents. I hope this helps!
 
Warm regards,
Jan-Willem van Aalst
J.W. van Aalst, Ph.D.
+31642746848
Van: Patrick Madden [mailto:pjmsmail-box@yahoo.com]
Verzonden: maandag 30 mei 2016 23:41
Aan: Jan-Willem Van Aalst <info@imergis.nl>
Onderwerp: Definitions of “soul” and “spirit”
Hi J-W,
In the process of writing my book on Spiritual Psychology I’m attempting to clarify in my own mind certain terms. In fact, I would like to begin the book with a “Clarification of Terms” – as the Course does – because there are so many different ideas about key words from different traditions (i.e. dictionary definitions, Wikipedia, biblical, psychological, the Course, etc.).
I am quite aware that “All terms are potentially controversial, and those who seek controversy will find it. Yet those who seek clarification will find it as well.”
Yet, I still have to let my readers know what I mean when I use certain terms. And that means that (for the purposes of my book) I have to decide what I want them to mean.
While exploring what the Course has to say I have found this in the definition of terms:
1. MIND — SPIRIT
C-1.1. The term mind is used to represent the activating agent of spirit, supplying its creative energy. 2 When the term is capitalized it refers to God or Christ (i.e., the Mind of God or the Mind of Christ). 3 Spirit is the Thought of God which He created like Himself. 4 The unified spirit is God’s one Son, or Christ.
I have also found an article by Robert Perry (see below) which I found quite interesting. Knowing how immersed you are in understanding the Course I thought you might also find it interesting. I am choosing not to agree or disagree with him. Just enjoying another learning opportunity.
“I trust my brothers, who are one with me.”

ADVAITA VEDANTA

For example, gold is the material cause of an ornament made out of gold. In the process of making the ornament, the metal does not change into something else. It is only drawn into another form, from a lump to an ornament; the gold remains gold. This kind of causality is called vivarta, where the material cause itself does not change into something else. The chAndogya upanishad makes very telling use of this kind of causality in its illustrations of how “Being” alone is the original cause (sadeva saumya idam agra AsIt, ekameva advitIyam), and how all perceived change is only in the realm of name and form, dependent on language (vAcArambhaNam vikAro nAmadheyam). The reality of gold is quite independent of what shape it is in.

“There seemed to be no doubt that there was a part of me I did not know, but which understood exactly what all this meant. It was a strangely split awareness, of a kind which was to become increasingly familiar.” (Absence from Felicity, pp. 97-98)

My blessing (and also my curse – in the sense of it being a constant preoccupation) is that I am obsessive in seeking the truth. I am also obsessive about language. I love words and the power of them. But I am also aware of how confusing words can be.

Words are but symbols of symbols – twice removed from “reality”. They may “denote” certain meaning or they may “connote” entirely different meanings.

“Words can have several meanings. The literal meanings, the denotation, are direct, realistic, and often found in the dictionary. What the word suggests or implies, the connotation, is symbolic, culturally constructed, and often influences the interpretation of poetry or literature. For example, the denotations of the word snake might be “reptile,” “scaly,” or “without legs.” Connotations of the word, however, might include “treachery,” “evil,” or “betrayal.” Writers of nonfiction assume that the denotation of words will inform the meaning for readers. On the other hand, poets or fiction writers may instill meaning beyond the literal by using words with culturally rich connotations.”

So, when it comes to nebulous and abstract concepts such as “soul” and “spirit” (which must be without substance because they can only have meaning in relation to what they are not – i.e., that which does have substance), it is easy to become lost. 

PSYCHOTHERAPY ACCORDING TO JESUS

PURPOSE:

The only form of therapy there is

Only the mind can be sick – only the mind can be healed

It is necessary so that the individual can begin to question their reality.

It is always some change in his perception of interpersonal relationships that enables him to open his mind.

The client must be helped to change his mind about the “reality” of illusions.

The purpose is to remove the blocks to truth.

Its aim is to aide the client in abandoning his fixed delusional system.

“God has given everyone a Teacher Whose wisdom and help far exceed whatever contributions an earthly therapist can provide. Yet there are times and situations in which an earthly patient-therapist relationship becomes the means through which He offers His greater gifts to both.”

ON THE TABOO AGAINST SEEKING (CONNECTING WITH) THE SPIRIT

“What greater purpose could any relationship have than to invite the Holy Spirit to enter into it an give it His Own great gift of rejoicing? What greater goal could there be for anyone than to learn to call upon God and hear His Answer?”

“Psychotherapy, correctly understood, teaches forgiveness and helps the patient to recognize and accept it.”

“Everyone who needs help, regardless of the form of his distress, is attacking himself, and his peace of mind is suffering in consesquence.”

The “self” which can attack and be attacked as well, is a concept he made up. He charishes it, defends  it, and is sometimes even willing to “sacrifice” his “life” on its behalf. [Constructivism]

This “self” he sees as being acted on by the external world. It can only react to those external forces as they demand. He is small and helpless compared to the power of the world.

Psychotherapy must restore to his awareness the ability to make his own decisions.

He must become willing to reverse his thinking, and to understand that what he thought projected its effects on him (external forces) were made by his projections on the world [what is out there came from in here]. The world he sees does not really exist. Until this is at least partly accepted the clientcannot see himself as really capable of making decisions [I’m a victim of circumstances]. AND HE WILL FIGHT AGAINST HIS FREEDOM BECAUSE HE THINKS IT IS SLAVERY.

Every client must begin to separate truth from illusion.

When he can see illusions as false, and accept the truth as true, his Teacher will take him on from there, as far as he is ready to go.

“Psychotherapy can only save him time.” [That is a good summary of our job – to save time (under the direction of the HS)]

Psychotherapy under [the Holy Spirit’s] direction is one of the means He uses to save time, and to prepare additional teachers for His work.

PROCESS:

Psychotherapy is a process that changes the view of the self.

At best this new “self” is a more beneficent self-concept.

But, psychotherapy can hardly be expected to establish reality. That is not its function.

IF IT CAN MAKE WAY FOR REALITY, IT HAS ACHIEVED ITS ULTIMATE SUCCESS.

The whole function of therapy is to help the patient deal with ONE FUNDAMENTAL ERROR – the belief that anger brings him something he really wants, and that by justifying attack he is protecting himself.

To the extent that he comes to realize that this is an error he is truly saved.

VERY IMPORTANT:

Clients do not enter the therapeutic relationship with this goal in mind.

Their aim is to be able to retain their self-concept exactly as it is, BUT WITHOUT THE SUFFERING THAT IT ENTAILS. [to retain the ego without the fear and anger and suffering]

WHAT THEY ARE REALLY SEEKING IS MAGIC.

Clients cling to the insane belief that this is possible. But, it is not possible to be “sane” and to cling to illusion of a separated self at the same time.

In the field of illusions the impossible is easily accomplished, but only at the cost of making illusions true – ya have to believe!

Our clients have already paid this price; now they want a better illusion.

At the onset, the client’s goal and the therapist’s are at variance. Both may cherish false self-concepts and their respective perceptions of “improvement” will differ.

ERROR: The client hopes to learn how to get the changes he wants without changing his self-concept to any significant extent. He wants to make the vulnerable invulnerable and the finite limitless. The self he sees is his god, and he seeks only to serve it better.

ERROR: Regardless of how sincere the therapist is, he is likely to want to change the client’s self-concept in some way that he believes is real. [but that is still operating in the field of illusion]. The task of psychotherapy, then, is to reconcile the differences between the hidden goal [hidden agenda] of the client and the goal [hidden agenda] of the therapist.

“Hopefully both will learn to give up their original goals, for it is only in relationships that salvation can be found.

LIMITS:

If it can make way for reality, it has achieved its ultimate success. Yet, the ideal outcome is rarely achieved.

Therapy begins [to take effect] with the realization that healing is of the mind

[GOOD STUFF] No one learns beyond his own readiness. But, levels of readiness change. And when either the therapist of the client reach a new level, there will be a relationship held out to them that meets the changing need.

Perhaps they will come together again and advance in the same relationship, making it holier. Or perhaps each of them will enter into another commitment. Be assured of this; each of them will progress. Retrogression is always temporary. The overall direction is one of progress toward the truth.

THE BASICS:

Very simply, the purpose of all therapeutic relationships is to free our clients from fear.  All pain and suffering is the result of fear of some kind, experienced at some level of the individual’s psyche. It is deep-seeded insecurity and fear that leads to the belief that one is vulnerable, that one can and should be attacked (i.e., judged, condemned, criticized, punished, etc.). 

Some of us do a pretty good job of managing this fear by attacking ourselves. We enable the critical judge within to compile a lengthy list of our faults and failings which justifies self-hatred in all of its forms. We attack and punish ourselves, thus saving others the trouble of condemning and punishing us. We may get some attention and sympathy for our efforts, but we still suffer, and fear is the underlying cause of that suffering. 

However, it works just as well the other way.  Some of us choose to attack, judge and punish others under the mistaken belief that pointing a finger outward will ease the profound fear we feel inwardly.  The old saw, “The best defense is a good offence” seems to make sense.  And that is why some of us try to manage our fear by attacking others.  Unfortunately, what we fail to understand is that when we choose to protect ourselves from our fear – our belief that we should be punished for what we have done (or for just being) – by attacking and condemning others we are only getting back what we are giving out. It is all an illusion; a trick. You simply cannot feel good by making others feel bad. Most ten-year-old children know this because they have experienced the pangs of conscience when they first tried it.  Yet, there are ever-so-many “mature” mature individuals who still think they will find peace – freedom from fear – by attacking others.

 by or that one can and should attack others by criticizing, blaming, condemning etc. 

Fear is the mental illness that underlies all problems in living.

The only antidote to fear is love.  And as individuals who are called to the helping professions, it is our good fortune to be in a position to approach our relationships with our clients with Loving Will and Positive Intentions.  After all, is it not Loving Will that brought us into the field in the first place?  Is it not Loving Will – the “call” we each heard at some time and in some unique way – that led us to even consider a career in counseling? For all true helper/healers this is true. Some part of their being knows that love is the ultimate answer to all of life’s trials and tribulations. It is the underlying source of all the talk therapies and behavior therapies, all the brand named therapeutic techniques, all the varieties of strategies and methodologies that have become available to us to tuck into our personal took kits. 

If our therapeutic approaches are not based in loving will and positive intentions what good could they possibly do? If one goes into a dark room with something other than a source of light, what good is it? The room remains dark.  In the absence of oving Will any supposedly therapeutic relationship is nothing but darkness speaking with darkness; fear enhancing fear, emptiness propagating emptiness, aloneness feeling more alone. 

Everyone who is suffering and needs help, regardless of the form of his distress, is attacking himself with critical judgment.  This self-destructive tendency IS the human condition.

 

WILLIAM JAMES

The Varieties of Religious Experience : a Study in Human Nature / William James Página 39 de 400

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/j/james/william/varieties/complete.html4/13/2009

We shall see abundant examples of this happy state of mind in later lectures of this course. We shall see how infinitely passionate a thing religion at its highest flights can be. Like love, like wrath, like hope, ambition, jealousy, like every other instinctive eagerness and impulse, it adds to life an enchantment which is not rationally or logically deducible from anything else. This enchantment, coming as a gift when it does come—a gift of our organism, the physiologists will tell us, a gift of God’s grace, the theologians say —is either there or not there for us, and there are persons who can no more become possessed by it than they can fall in love with a given woman by mere word of command. Religious feeling is thus an absolute addition to the Subject’s range of life. It gives him a new sphere of power. When the outward battle is lost, and the outer world disowns him, it redeems and vivifies an interior world which otherwise would be an empty waste. If religion is to mean anything definite for us, it seems to me that we ought to take it as meaning this added dimension of emotion, this enthusiastic temper of espousal, in regions where morality strictly so called can at best but bow its head and acquiesce. It ought to mean nothing short of this new reach of freedom for us, with the struggle over, the keynote of the universe sounding in our ears, and everlasting possession spread before our eyes.18 18 Once more, there are plenty of men, constitutionally sombre men, in whose religious life this rapturousness is lacking. They are religious in the wider sense, yet in this acutest of all senses they are not so, and it is religion in the acutest sense that I wish, without disputing about words, to study first, so as to get at its typical differentia. This sort of happiness in the absolute and everlasting is what we find nowhere but in religion. It is parted off from all mere animal happiness, all mere enjoyment of the present, by that element of solemnity of which I have already made so much account. Solemnity is a hard thing to define abstractly, but certain of its marks are patent enough. A solemn state of mind is never crude or simple—it seems to contain a certain measure of its own opposite in solution. A solemn joy preserves a sort of bitter in its sweetness; a solemn sorrow is one to which we intimately consent. But there are writers who, realizing that happiness of a supreme sort is the prerogative of religion, forget this complication, and call all happiness, as such, religious. Mr. Havelock Ellis, for example, identifies religion with the entire field of the soul’s liberation from oppressive moods. “The simplest functions of physiological life,” he writes may be its ministers. Every one who is at all acquainted with the Persian mystics knows how wine may be regarded as an instrument of religion. Indeed, The Varieties of Religious Experience : a Study in Human Nature / William James Página 39 de 400

 

 

“To the psychologist the religious propensities of man must be at least as interesting as any other of the facts pertaining to his mental constitution. It would seem, therefore, that, as a psychologist, the natural thing for me would be to invite you to a descriptive survey of those religious propensities.”

“I speak not now of your ordinary religious believer, who follows the conventional observances of his country, whether it be Buddhist, Christian, or Mohammedan. His religion has been made for him by others, communicated to him by tradition, determined to fixed forms by imitation, and retained by habit. It would profit us little to study this second-hand religious life. We must make search rather for the original experiences which were the pattern-setters to all this mass of suggested feeling and imitated conduct. These experiences we can only find in individuals for whom religion exists not as a dull habit, but as an acute fever rather. But such individuals are “geniuses” in the religious line; and like many other geniuses who have brought forth fruits effective enough for commemoration in the pages of biography, such religious geniuses have often shown symptoms of nervous instability. Even more perhaps than other kinds of genius, religious leaders have been subject to abnormal psychical visitations. Invariably they have been creatures of exalted emotional sensibility. Often they have led a discordant inner life, and had melancholy during a part of their career. They have known no measure, been liable to obsessions and fixed ideas; and frequently they have fallen into trances, heard voices, seen visions, and presented all sorts of peculiarities which are ordinarily classed as pathological. Often, moreover, these pathological features in their career have helped to give them their religious authority and influence.

WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

Most books on the philosophy [substitute psychology here]of religion try to begin with a precise definition of what its essence consists of. Some of these would-be definitions may possibly come before us in later portions of this course, and I shall not be pedantic enough to enumerate any of them to you now. Meanwhile the very fact that they are so many and so different from one another is enough to prove that the word “religion” cannot stand for any single principle or essence, but is rather a collective name. The theorizing mind tends always to the oversimplification of its materials. This is the root of all that absolutism and one-sided dogmatism by which both philosophy and religion have been infested. Let us not fall immediately into a one-sided view of our subject, but let us rather admit freely at the outset that we may very likely find no one essence, but many characters which may alternately be equally important to religion. If we should inquire for the essence of “government,” for example, one man might tell us it was authority, another submission, an other police, another an army, another an assembly, an other a system of laws; yet all the while it would be true that no concrete government can exist without all these things, one of which is more important at one moment and others at another. The man who knows governments most completely is he who troubles himself least about a definition which shall give their essence. Enjoying an intimate acquaintance with all their particularities in turn, he would naturally regard an abstract conception in which these were unified as a thing more misleading than enlightening. And why may not religion be a conception equally complex?

“There is a state of mind, known to religious men, but to no others, in which the will to assert ourselves and hold our own has been displaced by a willingness to close our mouths and be as nothing in the floods and waterspouts of God. In this state of mind, what we most dreaded has become the habitation of our safety, and the hour of our moral death has turned into our spiritual birthday. The time for tension in our soul is over, and that of happy relaxation, of calm deep breathing, of an eternal present, with no discordant future to be anxious about, has arrived. Fear is not held in abeyance as it is by mere morality, it is positively expunged and washed away. ” [Lecture II Circumscription of the Topic ]

Lecture III The Reality of the Unseen

PERCEPTS VERSUS ABSTRACT CONCEPTS— INFLUENCE OF THE LATTER ON BELIEF— KANT’S THEOLOGICAL IDEAS— WE HAVE A SENSE OF REALITY OTHER THAN THAT GIVEN BY THE SPECIAL SENSES— EXAMPLES OF “SENSE OF PRESENCE”— THE FEELING OF UNREALITY— SENSE OF A DIVINE PRESENCE: EXAMPLES— MYSTICAL EXPERIENCES: EXAMPLES— OTHER CASES OF SENSE OF GOD’S PRESENCE— CONVINCINGNESS OF UNREASONED EXPERIENCE— INFERIORITY OF RATIONALISM IN ESTABLISHING BELIEF— EITHER ENTHUSIASM OR SOLEMNITY MAY PREPONDERATE IN THE RELIGIOUS ATTITUDE OF INDIVIDUALS.

Were one asked to characterize the life of religion [spirituality] in the broadest and most general terms possible, one might say that it consists of the belief that there is an unseen order, and that our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto.

IT IS SPIRIT BUT WE MAY SPEAK OF IT (AND SCIENCE CANNOT MEASURE IT)

All our attitudes, moral, practical, or emotional, as well as religious, are due to the “objects” of our consciousness, the things which we believe to exist, whether really or ideally, along with ourselves. Such objects may be present to our senses, or they may be present only to our thought. In either case they elicit from us a REACTION; and the reaction due to things of thought is notoriously in many cases as strong as that due to sensible presences. It may be even stronger. The memory of an insult may make us angrier than the insult did when we received it. We are frequently more ashamed of our blunders afterwards than we were at the moment of making them; and in general our whole higher prudential and moral life is based on the fact that material sensations actually present may have a weaker influence on our action than ideas of remoter facts.

MORE ON IT DON’T HAVE TO BE REAL TO THE SENSES TO IMPACT US:

Immanuel Kant held a curious doctrine about such objects of belief as God, the design of creation, the soul, its freedom, and the life hereafter. These things, he said, are properly not objects of knowledge at all. Our conceptions always require a sense-content to work with, and as the words soul,” “God,” “immortality,” cover no distinctive sense-content whatever, it follows that theoretically speaking they are words devoid of any significance. Yet strangely enough they have a definite meaning FOR OUR PRACTICE. We can act AS IF there were a God; feel AS IF we were free; consider Nature AS IF she were full of special designs; lay plans AS IF we were to be immortal; and we find then that these words do make a genuine difference in our moral life. Our faith THAT these unintelligible objects actually exist proves thus to be a full equivalent in praktischer Hinsicht, as Kant calls it, or from the point of view of our action, for a knowledge of WHAT they might be, in case we were permitted positively to conceive them. So we have the strange phenomenon, as Kant assures us, of a mind believing with all its strength in the real presence of a set of things of no one of which it can form any notion whatsoever.

The whole universe of concrete objects, as we know them, swims, not only for such a transcendentalist writer, but for all of us, in a wider and higher universe of abstract ideas, that lend it its significance. As time, space, and the ether soak through all things so (we feel) do abstract and essential goodness, beauty, strength, significance, justice, soak through all things good, strong, significant, and just.

Such ideas, and others equally abstract, form the background for all our facts, the fountain-head of all the possibilities we conceive of. They give its “nature,” as we call it, to every special thing. Everything we know is “what” it is by sharing in the nature of one of these abstractions. We can never look directly at them, for they are bodiless and featureless and footless, but we grasp all other things by their means, and in handling the real world we should be stricken with helplessness in just so far forth as we might lose these mental objects, these adjectives and adverbs and predicates and heads of classification and conception.

“Polarizing and magnetizing us as they do, we turn towards them and from them, we seek them, hold them, hate them, bless them, just as if they were so many concrete beings. And beings they are, beings as real in the realm which they inhabit as the changing things of sense are in the realm of space. ”

“Plato gave so brilliant and impressive a defense of this common human feeling, that the doctrine of the reality of abstract objects has been known as the platonic theory of ideas ever since. Abstract Beauty, for example, is for Plato a perfectly definite individual being, of which the intellect is aware as of something additional to all the perishing beauties of the earth. “The true order of going,” he says, in the often quoted passage in his “Banquet,” “is to use the beauties of earth as steps along which one mounts upwards for the sake of that other Beauty, going from one to two, and from two to all fair forms, and from fair forms to fair actions, and from fair actions to fair notions, until from fair notions, he arrives at the notion of absolute Beauty, and at last knows what the essence of Beauty is.”

SCIENCE AS RELIGION:

In those various churches without a God which today are spreading through the world under the name of ethical societies, we have a similar worship of the abstract divine, the moral law believed in as an ultimate object. “Science” in many minds is genuinely taking the place of a religion. Where this is so, the scientist treats the “Laws of Nature” as objective facts to be revered.

THE “REALITY-FEELING”:reality-feeling

“It is as if there were in the human consciousness a sense of reality, a feeling of objective presence, a perception of what we may call “something there,” more deep and more general than any of the special and particular “senses” by which the current psychology supposes existent realities to be originally revealed. ”

“There was not a mere consciousness of something there, but fused in the central happiness of it, a startling awareness of some ineffable good. Not vague either, not like the emotional effect of some poem, or scene, or blossom, of music, but the sure knowledge of the close presence of a sort of mighty person, and after it went, the memory persisted as the one perception of reality. Everything else might be a dream, but not that.”

QUOTE: We shall see later that the absence of definite sensible images is positively insisted on by the mystical authorities in all religions as the sine qua non of a successful orison, or contemplation of the higher divine truths.

WADING IN THE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNES

I was having a nice talk today with the beautiful friend who cuts my hair. We were talking about a book I have been trying to write for some time and it suddenly occurred to me that I am not writing the book. Rather, the book is writing me! This flash of insight arrived with so much force that I burst into tears – surrounded by others in the shop who must have been wondering what was going on. I paid no attention to them and I did not care if they were observing me. Some moments are just too profound to interrupt with self-consciousness.

An intellectual understanding of this message from the ether was not immediately clear to me. As is sometimes the case with messages of great import, the revelation is too grand to fit into existing mental constructs and must be digested for a time before they may be fully understood. And then, they must be mulled over for an even longer period of time before the abstractness of the message may be converted into something that is communicable. For now, this is the best I can do.

This thought, “The book is writing me.” only takes on meaning when considered in wider context. Suffice to say that when this insight came to me I had been struggling for quite a long time to marshal all my talents and abilities to create a book that would have a positive impact on others engaged in the helping professions; specifically, counselors and psychotherapists. I’m talking several years!  Up until that day in the haircut shop I had spent a lot of energy being “concerned”.  Concerned about clarifying the main idea; concerned about the specific content; concerned about my limited writing skills; concerned that it seemed to be taking way too long to get it done; concerned that it would never be good enough, etc. But when the insight happened all such concerns dissolved. And I have no doubt that the lifting of these concerns is the true genesis of the tears that burst forth at that moment.

I had been approaching the writing of the book as I believe most writers do – linearly. That is, one gets an idea, then one maps out a plan or outline, and then one dresses up the skeleton of the idea with the “meat” of the book. This approach may work well for some, but not for me. My mind seldom operates in a linear fashion. I’m more of a simultaneous “lumper” than a sequential “sorter”. But, the gift of the insight was even more profound than that. What I understood in that ‘flash” was that in a way, (a way I will attempt to explain as we go along), instead of me constructing the book based on learnings and experiences in my life to this point; the idea of the completed book was constructing me! It was leading me to seek and to have experiences that would, in turn, become the contents of the book.

Since that moment I ceased thinking about writing the book in the same way. It became abundantly clear to me that I did not any longer have to be concerned about either the outcome or the process. Furthermore, and this is where it gets a bit spooky, the reason that I need not be concerned is because the book already IS. It has been conceived, and so it is.  All that remains is for the manifestation in form to work itself out; and since the book already is, and I can stop fretting about it.

Now you might wonder how I can assert that something already IS while, at the same time saying that it is in the process of becoming. Well, in order to do that one has to be willing to transcend the bounds of linear time – it is sort of a quantum physics thing. An analogy comes to mind. When those of us who love trees see a fully grown oak tree we revel in the beauty of it, giving little thought to its humble beginnings as an acorn. And yet, when we track backwards, in time, we can see that the entire tree WAS from the beginning what it is now – its potential just had to wait on time. You could, of course, argue that it did NOT have to be. Any number of things could have happened to interrupt the succession of stages from acorn to fully grown tree.  But, that actually supports my point. They did NOT happen. And so, we can state that, in truth, this particular tree, as it is now, always WAS, from the time it landed in fertile ground as a tiny acorn (and before that, for that matter). At that moment of beginning (let us call it conception) it was as it was meant to be even if only as “potential-in-the-process-of-manifesting”.

Not yet convinced? Let’s try another approach. About the same time I was given the realization that the book is writing me I was also given an image of a river – let’s call it “the Stream of Consciousness”. If one chooses to wade into that stream one can stand at the origin or head of the stream; or at some point in the middle of the stream; or at the very end of the stream where it joins with the sea and becomes no more a river but, rather, part of something greater. When we view it holistically, say from a perspective high above, we can see that from beginning to the end that river IS. Furthermore, no matter where one stands in the stream, one thing is certain; while the stream exists at all it IS – at its beginning (somewhere); at its middle (between beginning and end); and at that place where it ends.

And so it is with my book. Once I had conceived of it and declared my heartfelt intent to write it (and, believe me, I have been mulling it over for many years!) it came into being.  In the freedom of being untethered to time, I can confidently proclaim that it not only IS, but also that it was and that it always has been. Lest you doubt my ability and authority to play with time this way, the proof of what I am declaring is in the fact that you are reading the very book I was planning to write when I received the insight I am relating to you.

Up until this day I have spent a lot of energy being “concerned” about the book . That is, concerned about clarifying the main idea, concerned about the specific content, concerned about my limited writing skills, concerned that it seemed to be taking way too long to get it out, concerned that it would never be good enough, etc., etc. etc. Now, however, I understand something that has lifted the burden of these concerns completely. And I have no doubt that the lifting of these concerns is the true genesis of the tears that burst forth in the haircut place. Since the book already is, and I can stop fretting about it.

If I have not yet completely lost you with my time-tinkering I would just like to add that this missive about the writing of a book may easily be taken as a metaphor for our individual lives – the lives of our spirits or our souls. When we lift the veil and look past the constraints of time; when we open our minds and free ourselves from all limiting ideas passed on from generation to generation; and when we choose the Spirit of Wholeness (i.e., seeing it all from a perspective high above) rather than the shadowy limitations of the separated ego, we may come to understand that THE STORY of all of our individual lives; THE STORY of our return to love is also already completed. The script is already written. The book of life is, all at once, beginning, happening and completed. It sort of boggles the mind, doesn’t it? Taken – or better yet, accepted – in this way one may relax. Freed up from all worry about the future and all regrets about the past one may be mindful in the moment. One may rest in the full knowledge and peace of knowing that what is meant to be already IS. What you were meant to be you already are and always have been. The script is written. You are just living it out.

While we are experiencing “now” moments in the “flow” of life we can, if we choose, accept this truth: the fact that both the beginning and the end already ARE. In the holy books it is written that the Supreme One is the beginning and the end – the Alpha and the Omega – “I am that I am”. Meditate on this when you are in difficult times for there is a gift waiting for you there. You may be having the experience of being in “mid-stream”, but it is also possible, if you will open your mind to it, to experience “being-at-the-end-of-the-stream” at the same time.* For time itself, when the stream is apprehended as a whole, no longer has any meaning.

*This actually happens to people. Abraham Maslow called them “peak experiences” and William James spoke of them in “The Variety of Religious Experience”

 

It is a discipline of training the mind to hear and follow only the Voice for Love.

humor, gentleness, freedom, and joy flow from such a state of mind

The world we perceive (live in) It is a binary world – up-down; in-out, high-low, good-bad, even liberal or conservative. So it should be no surprise to us that in our field as in all things earthly thier is bifurcation and polarization when it comes to ferreting out what it is that works; or how it should work; or how to go about it. The latest iteration (though certainly not the last) is the rift between the EVP adherents and the CF folks. . This kind of ____ is inevitable but not necessary. It is inevitable because the human ego demands insists not only on constructing “realities” (even, and especially, in the form of theories about this and that) on identifying itself – this is how it preserves its so called “life”. [its a good thing there are sides so there is a place for me to abide].

But it is not necessary because it can be transcended. In fact, it must be transcended if we are to find the truth that is so true that it has the power to disolves away all binary divisions. That truth available to all but chosen by few.

DAVID-30DAY “At the foundation of any authentic healing, one must begin a real relationship with a higher power. Call it what resonates for you, be it God, Jesus, or Higher Self. During this month we will use the name Holy Spirit. This symbol IS the transforming agent, so it is very important to really try this on for the month. You are not the healer!! This is the good news”,

WADING IN THE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS

A book about life in that space betwee Alpha and Omega

The thing about fly fishing is that the beauty of it is indescribable. One simply cannot convey in words to another the sublime peace and joy that comes to those who choose to wade in water waving a stick; in search of a boil on the survace or a tug from below that signals that you and nature have once again connected.

 

Humberto Maturana: Spirituality is an expansion of awareness. Spiritual experiences always happen when we really see the beauty of a sunset or the face of someone whom we lolve, or sense something greater than our individual self.When we have this expansive experience, its as if we dissolve and become ;part of a larger whole. this seems to lead to a feeling of lightness, like Heidegger’s lichtung, so any problem merges with the background insteas of fully occupying the mesmerizing foreground, becoming part of the totality rather than being the totalityy.

 

for me, this expansion of awareness is primary, and gthe connections weith strengths and abilities that we have folows.

When I’m with a client and this happens, they can catch this mood from me. And when a client has this expereince of expansin, some of thgeir experience radiates to me and we both begin to glow.

REAL LISTENING: If I expand my awareness to include the client by doing the best I can to put aside my thoughts, ideas, feelings, and agenda, and really listen to not only what they are saying, butr also to who they are – their beliefs, wishes, hopes and concerns – there is a merging with each other. And in this shared spiritual space, the magic happens …except when it doesn’t, of course.

 

I like to think of my work as “selling water by the river”. We can be so absorbed in our tunnel vision view of our experiences that we don’t see the “river”. If we can help someone to see itk, they have acces to it, and then realize that it was there all along – onlyu it was overlooked, transparent, and unappreciated. I see it as a process of disclosing – of uncovering something present but hidden, and at the same time created.

It’s just a part of the human experiece – an ordinary ecveryday experience of spirituality patiently waiting for us to open our awarenbess to its presence.”

PEOPLE ARE NOT CARS:

I see my work as being more closely connected with the spiritual pracrtices of formal religions and shamanistic practices than scientific explanatiolns and technical treatments. I am increasingly wary of any explanation of the human conditionk, and prefer to honor the innately musterious experience of being alie. Classififcation s and treatment of techniques are perfect for dealing with cars, washingmachines, andcomputerd… but for human beings? I don’t think so. Our beautifully intricate complexities defy dissection and explanation, and invite wonder and appreciation.

 

NERD ALERT: Determining IF, WHAT, and HOW Psychotherapy Works

MAY 5, 2016 BY SCOTTDM LEAVE A COMMENT

OK, this post may not be for everyone.  I’m hoping to “go beyond the headlines,” “dig deep,” and cover a subject essential to research on the effectiveness of psychotherapy. So, if you fit point #2 in the definition above, read on.

 

It’s easy to forget the revolution that took place in the field of psychotherapy a mere 40 years ago.  At that time, the efficacy of psychotherapy was in serious question. As I posted last week, psychologist Hans Eysenck (1952, 1961, 1966) had published a review of studies purporting to show that psychotherapy was not only ineffective, but potentially harmful.  Proponents of psychotherapy responded with the own reviews (c.f., Bergin, 1971).  Back and forth each side went, arguing their respective positions–that is, until Mary Lee Smith and Gene Glass (1977) published the first meta-analysis of psychotherapy outcome studies.

Their original analysis of 375 studies showed psychotherapy to be remarkably beneficial.  As I’ve said here, and frequently on my blog, they found that the average treated client was better off than 80% of people with similar problems were untreated.

Eysenck and other critics (1978, 1984; Rachman and Wilson 1980) immediately complained about the use of meta-analysis, using an argument still popular today; namely, that by including studies of varying (read: poor) quality, Smith and Glass OVERESTIMATED the effectiveness of psychotherapy.  Were such studies excluded, they contended, the results would most certainly be different and behavior therapy—Eysenck’s preferred method—would once again prove superior.

For Smith and Glass, such claims were not a matter of polemics, but rather empirical questions serious scientists could test—with meta-analysis, of course.

So, what did they do?  Smith and Glass rated the quality of all outcome studies with specific criteria and multiple raters.  And what did they find?  The better and more tightly controlled studies were, the more effective psychotherapy proved to be.  Studies of low, medium, and high internal validity, for example, had effect sizes of .78, .78, and .88, respectively.  Other meta-analyses followed, using slightly different samples, with similar results: the tighter the study, the more effective psychotherapy proved to be.

Importantly, the figures reported by Smith and Glass have stood the test of time.  Indeed, the most recent meta-analyses provide estimates of the effectiveness of psychotherapy that are nearly identical to those generated in Smith and Glass’s original study.  More, use of their pioneering method has exploded, becoming THE standard method for aggregating and understanding results from studies in education, psychology, and medicine.

 

As psychologist Sheldon Kopp (1973) was fond of saying, “All solutions breed new problems.”  Over the last two decades the number of meta-analyses of psychotherapy research has exploded.  In fact, there are now more meta-analyses than there were studies of psychotherapy at the time of Smith and Glass’s original research.  The result is that it’s become exceedingly challenging to understand and integrate information generated by such studies into a larger gestalt about the effectiveness of psychotherapy.

Last week, for example, I posted results from the original Smith and Glass study on Facebook and Twitter—in particular, their finding that better controlled studies resulted inhigher effect sizes.   Immediately, a colleague responded, citing a new meta-analysis, “Usually, it’s the other way around…” and “More contemporary studies find that better methodology is associated with lower effect sizes.”

It’s a good idea to read this study, closely.  If you just read the “headline”–“The Effect of Psychotherapy for Adult Depression are Overestimated–or skip the method’s section and read the author’s conclusions, you might be tempted to conclude that better designed studies produce smaller effects (in this particular study, in the case of depression).  In fact, what the study actually says is that better designed studies will find smaller differences when a manualized therapy is compared to a credible alternative!  Said another way, differences between a particular psychotherapy approach and an alternative (e.g., counseling, usual care, or placebo), are likely to be greater when the study is of poor quality.

What can we conclude? Just because a study is more recent, does not mean it’s better, or more informative.  The important question one must consider is, “What is being compared?”  For the most part, Smith and Glass analyzed studies in which psychotherapy was compared to no treatment.  The study cited by my colleague, demonstrates what I, and others (e.g., Wampold, Imel, Lambert, Norcross, etc.) have long argued: few if any differences will be found between approaches.

The implications for research and practice are clear.  For therapists, find an approach that fits you and benefits your clients.  Make sure it works by routinely seeking feedback from those you serve.  For researchers, stop wasting time and precious resources on clinical trials.  Such studies, as Wampold and Imel so eloquently put it, “seemed not to have added much clinically or scientifically (other than to further reinforce the conclusion that there are no differences between treatments), [and come] at a cost…” (p. 268).

Until next time,

Rob McNeilly”Psycho” in psychotherapy is from the greek psyche or “soul, not “mind” so it is spiritual rather than intellectual.”

 

COURSE: An open mind becomes aware there are things it does not know ready to accept a “state” completly different from experience. ”A graceful mind “becomes aware that there are things it does not know.”

“Your clear mind is an alter where the gifts of God may be laid.”

W 169 “Grace is an aspect of the love of God

“It’s in every one of us to be free….”

DIVINE ALCHAMY (course): “Love alone can bring beauty out of the ashes of lost dreams.”“One lives and operates in two realms simultaneously. The visible world and the unseen, eternal reality.

“Apart from Spirit we can do nothing of eternal value.”[we are just rearranging the furniture in our jail cell.]

ADD ARNOLD PATTEN: Free will is what you would ask for and the worst of all…

 

I had a conversation with God a long time ago about this very same subject. Shouting at Him I was, arrogantly incensed at the futility of it all. We live, we love, and then we die. Poof! What’s the point? But He did listen – patient – and He did answer. And I was raised up above the battleground of live-fearing-death and I SAW. It is only the death of the separated self that I mourned – nothing really. The egoic self is but a substanceless shadow made to block the sun. And when it dies (surrenders) nothing of value is lost. When it dies, giving in to Truth in place of illusions it is like a drop in the ocean ceasing to be encased in dropness and becoming once again what it always was and could only have been – the perfect unity of oceanic oneness. Fear not for:
“Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.”

HAVING A NICE TALK WITH THE BEAUTIFUL FRIEND WHO CUTS MY HAIR IT OCCURRED TO ME THAT I WAS NOT WRITING THIS BOOK. RATHER, THE BOOK IS WRITING ME. NOT SURE THAT THIS MEANS YET BUT IT BROUGHT ON A VERY STRONG FEELING.

The abstractness of this insight is such that it is quite difficult to convey to others. Suffice to say that my struggle to marshall all my talents and abilities to create a book that would, in some meaningful way, have a positive and transformative impact on others in the fields of helping and healing ceased to be thought of in the same way. In a flash of insight it became abundantly clear that I did not have to be concerned – as concerned as I have been for the years I have been working on the book – because the book already IS, (end of the stream of consciousness) the  end already is even WHILE the middle – and all points from beginning to end, already ARE.

If I have not completly lost you yet I would just like to add that this missive about the writing of a book may easily be taken as a metaphor for our individual lives – or, if you will, the lives of our souls. When we lift the vail, open our minds and free ourselves from the limitations passed on from generation to generation and from the shadows ___ of the ego we may come to understand the the story of our return to love is already finished. You might say that the script is already written. The book of your life is all at once beginning, happening and completed. The triune Self. Taken (or accepted) in this way one may relax in the moment with the full knowledge and peace of knowing that what is IS and must be ON THE WAY TO BECOMINg what you are and have always been. The script is written. You are just living it out.

In conjunction I was given an image at church about a river (the Stream of Consciousness). One can stand at the head of a river, or at the midpoint of a river, or at the very end of a river – where it joins with the sea. No matter where one stands in the stream of it one thing is certain; while the stream may still be flowing it has – is a very real sense – already ended. The same is true for our lives (or the lives of our souls). While we are experiencing being in the “flow” of it we can, if we choose, accept the fact that both the beginning and the end already ARE. In the holy books it is written that the Supreme One is the beginning and the end – the Alpha and the Omega. Meditate on this when you are in difficult times for there is a gift in it there waiting for you. You may be having the experience of being in mid-stream but it is also possible if you open your mind to it, to BE at the end of the stream – and at the beginning of the stream for that matter – at the same time. For time when the stream is apprehended as a whole no longer has any meaning.

 

 

Bless your troubles as opportunities for growth. Resisting them simply serves to make them real.BOOK WRITING ME THOUGHTS:

To receive words the higher wisdom I pray for I must live by that wisdom. Expanning my words of loving in the world – gaining ever more clarity and documenting it.

The search for Truth is the search for Self. As Michaelangelo chipped away at everything that was not David in the marble statue of David, so must we chip away at everyting that it not the Truth, the Light and the Way of our own Holy Self.

Ev” erytime something is “wrong” with you see it as an opportunity to get something “right”.

Counseling is those who temporarily have more with those who temporarily have less. You need not worry about the right clients coming to you. They will come according to your readiness to serve and learn from them.

 

 

 

 

 

WHO YOU ARE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT YOU KNOW OR WHAT YOU DO

Ample research suggests that therapists differ in their level of effectiveness (Baldwin & Imel, 2012; Blow et al., 2007; Wampold, 2001). Even more striking is that therapist effects appear to be larger than treatment effects (e.g., Lindgren et al., 2010). Moreover, therapist training, experience, and theoretical orientation do not appear to explain the majority of therapist effects (e.g., Beutler et al., 2004; Okiishi et al., 2003; Stirman & Crits-Cristoph, 2011).
Therefore, it has been hypothesized that therapists’ personal characteristics may impact treatment (e.g., Black et al., 2005; Heinonen et al., 2012; Hersoug et al., 2009). If this is true, it would seem wise for clinical graduate programs to accept students who possess these important traits and to provide focused training in areas that may lead to personal growth in related areas.
In a recently published study, Anderson, McClintock, Himawan, Song, and Patterson (2016) explored whether clinical graduate students’ level of therapeutic effectiveness could be predicted based on an assessment conducted prior to training.
Due to issues inherent in measuring therapist characteristics by therapist self-report (e.g., social desirability, lack of insight into oneself etc.), they utilized the Facilitative Interpersonal Skills task (FIS), a performance based measure of therapist interpersonal skills in which students were asked to respond to a standardized video clip of a challenging clinical encounter. The students’ responses were then rated by expert coders on 8 dimensions including: verbal fluency, emotional expression, persuasiveness, warmth/positive regard, hopefulness, empathy, alliance bond capacity, and alliance-rupture repair responsiveness.
Anderson and colleagues found that in their sample of 44 graduate students who saw a total of 117 clients, the FIS strongly predicted patient self-reported symptom change in short-term therapies (e.g., < 8 sessions). Given that this was a prospective study, this suggests that students’ interpersonal skills when they arrived at graduate school (prior to receiving any training) later predicted their ability to help patients. These findings are in line with previous work by Anderson and colleagues (2009; 2015) which has also found that FIS predicts alliance and outcome both at termination and three month follow-up.
Swift - February 2016
Interestingly, in their 2015 work, Anderson and colleagues found that while FIS was an important predictor, training was not.
Taken together, these studies provide compelling evidence that:
  • who the therapist is matters
  • some therapist characteristics appear unrelated to training (i.e., are innate or acquired through experiences unrelated to schooling)
  • graduate schools may want to give important consideration to students’ interpersonal abilities during the application process
[Slavin-Mulford, J. (2016, February). Therapist characteristics that impact outcome. [Web Article]. Retrieved from:http://www.societyforpsychotherapy.org/therapist-characteristics-that-impact-outcome%5D
References
Anderson, T., Crowley, M.E., Himawan, L., Holmberg, J.K., & Uhlin, B.D. (2015). Therapist     facilitative interpersonal skills and training status: A randomized clinical trial on alliance    and outcome. Psychotherapy Research, Advance online publication. DOI:   10.1080/10503307.2015.1049671
Anderson, T., McClintock, A. S., Himawan, L., Song, X., & Patterson, C. L. (2015). A prospective study of therapist facilitative interpersonal skills as a predictor of treatment outcome. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.http://doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000060
Anderson, T., Ogles, B.M., Patterson, C.L., Lambert, M.J., & Vermeersch, D.A., Therapist effects: Facilitative interpersonal skills as a predictor of therapist success. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 65, 755-768. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20583.
Baldwin, S. A., & Imel, Z. E. (2012). Therapist effects, findings and methods. In M. J. Lambert (Ed.), Bergin and Garfield’s Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior Change(6th ed., pp. 258–297). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Beutler, L. E., Malik, M. L., Alimohamed, S., Harwood, T. M., Talebi, H., & Noble, S. (2004). Therapist variables. In M. J. Lambert (Ed.), Bergin and Garfield’s Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior Change (6th ed., pp. 227–257). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Black, S., Hardy, G., Turpin, G., & Parry, G. (2005). Self-reported attachment styles and therapeutic orientation of therapists and their relationship with reported general alliance quality and problems in therapy. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 78(3), 363–377.http://doi.org/10.1348/147608305X43784
Blow, A. J., Sprenkle, D. H., & Davis, S. D. (2007). Is who delivers the treatment more important than the treatment itself? The role of the therapist in common factors. Journal Of Marital And Family Therapy, 33(3), 298–317.
Heinonen, E., Lindfors, O., Laaksonen, M. A., & Knekt, P. (2012). Therapists’ professional and personal characteristics as predictors of outcome in short- and long-term psychotherapy. Journal of Affective Disorders, 138(3), 301–312.http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2012.01.023
Hersoug, A. G., Høglend, P., Havik, O., von der Lippe, A., & Monsen, J. (2009). Therapist characteristics influencing the quality of alliance in long-term psychotherapy. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 16(2), 100–110.http://doi.org/10.1002/cpp.605
Lindgren, O., Folkesson, P., & Almqvist, K. (2010). On the importance of the therapist in psychotherapy: A summary of current research. International Forum of Psychoanalysis,19(4), 224–229.http://doi.org/10.1080/08037060903536047
Okiishi, J., Lambert, M. J., Nielsen, S. L., & Ogles, B. M. (2003). Waiting for supershrink: An empirical analysis of therapist effects. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 10(6), 361–373. http://doi.org/10.1002/cpp.383
Stirman, S. W., & Crits-Christoph, P. (2011). Psychotherapy research: Implications for optimal therapist personality, training, and development. In R. H. Klein, H. S. Bernard, V. L. Schermer, R. H. (Ed) Klein, H. S. (Ed) Bernard, & V. L. (Ed) Schermer (Eds.), On becoming a psychotherapist: The personal and professional journey. (pp. 245–268). New York, NY, US: Oxford University Press.
Wampold, B. E. (2001). Therapist effects: An ignored but critical factor. InThe great psychotherapy debate: Models, methods, and findings (pp. 184–202). Mahwah, NJ, US: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

 

 

COMMON FACTORS VS. EMPIRICALLY SUPPORTED THERAPIES

Psychotherapy © 2014 American Psychological Association 2014, Vol. 51, No. 4, 519 –524 0033-3204/14/$12.00http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0038245

AUTHOR RESPONSE TO COMMENTARY Ten Things to Remember About Common Factor Theory Kevin M. Laska Bedford VA Medical Center Bedford, Massachusetts Bruce E. Wampold University of Wisconsin-Madison and Modum Bad Psychiatric Center Vikersund, Norway Recently, we (Laska, Gurman, & Wampold, 2014, pp. 467– 481) discussed the implications of taking a common factor approach for practice and policy. In this response to the commentary on our article, we reiterate 10 things that need to be remembered about common factor theory. Keywords: common factors, evidence-based practice, psychotherapy, outcomes It would be impossible, in the space provided, to address each claim made by the responders to Laska, Gurman, and Wampold (2014, pp. 467– 481). Instead, we outline 10 important points that inform the discussion and address most of the issues raised by the respondents Asnaani and Foa (2014, pp. 487– 490), Baker and McFall (2014, pp. 482– 486), Beutler (2014, pp. 496 – 499), Constantino and Bernecker (2014, pp. 505–509), Crits-Christoph, Chambless, and Markell (2014, pp. 491– 495), Hofmann and Barlow (2014, pp. 510 –513), Lambert and Ogles (2014, pp. 500 – 504), and Weinberger (2014, pp. 514 –518).

1. Common Factors Are Imbedded in a Scientific Theory The primary criticism of the common factor (CF) approach is that it is tautological, untestable, and therefore not subject to the same scientific rules as empirically supported treatment (ESTs). For example, “Part of this tension is due to the fact that, at present, proponents of the EST movement rely on empirical evidence to justify their preferences and views, whereas proponents of CF primarily rely on repudiation of scientific evidence” (Asnaani & Foa, 2014, p. 489), “Our view is that the ‘CF perspective’ should be subject to the same sorts of empirical investigations as any other ‘perspective’ on behavior change” (Crits-Christoph et al., 2014, p. 491), “We are concerned that the CF approach will not make rapid progress because it appears to rely on reverse engineering . . . it attempts to extract core therapeutic strategies by inferring and inducting them from a heterogeneous set of outcomes gathered across innumerable studies, patient groups, intervention intensities and durations, and so on” (Baker & McFall, 2014, p. 484).

This is the kind of gobbltygook you get when the ego gets ramped up.

Two ESTs could easily have the same fundamental mechanism of action in reality, despite contrary theory (i.e., the theory is wrong). The fact that a theory of mechanism might be incorrect does not by itself invalidate the worth of the therapy. Also, it simply might be that a disorder can be addressed similarly well via different mechanisms…. Finally, two treatments might affect outcomes via multiple mechanisms that are not wholly orthogonal. (Baker & McFall, 2014, p. 484)

 

 10. “Different Thinks for Different Shrinks” Our collaborator Dr. Al Gurman, who sadly passed away during the publication of this special issue, routinely emphasized the necessity that therapists base their practice on a variety of research evidence that “fits” within their worldview and how they see themselves as human beings. “This is not a call to ‘let them do whatever they want,’ but, just as different patients with different problems may need different methods and different therapists, so, too, do therapists need to have available to them different kinds of research that can help to improve outcome within their own preferred theory frame that makes sense to them about human nature” (personal communication, March, 2013). Given the substantial amount of evidence on the importance of therapist and patient factors on outcome (Baldwin & Imel, 2013; Bohart & Wade, 2013; Lambert, 2013), and the emphasis the APA’s Presidential Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice (2006) has placed on these factors, one conclusion that results from the CF approach is a greater emphasis on ideographic methods and individualized evidence-based practice
KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS:One of the aspects of all treatments is that the patients are provided an explanation for their disorder and that there are treatment actions consistent with that explanation. That is, the psychotherapy offered to the patient must contain a cogent explanation for the patient’s distress and a plan for overcoming his or her problems. Of course, explanations and treatments differ widely, but a therapy without any explanation—simply a relationship with an empathic therapist—is not sufficient, a point emphasized by Jerome Frank. Consequently, one cannot conduct a randomized clinical trial (RCT) comparing a specific treatment and a “common factor” treatment. There have been over the years comparisons between established treatments and “psychological placebos,” which are treatments that contain no treatment rationale and no treatment actions (i.e., they have no treatment structure and no cogent rationale for how they work). Although many metaanalyses of such comparisons have demonstrated that a treatment with a cogent rationale and treatment actions outperforms such “psychological placebos” (Lambert & Bergin, 1994; Stevens, Hynan, & Allen, 2000; Wampold, 2001), what is surprising is how effective the “psychological placebos” are— often as effective or nearly as effective as evidence-based treatments to which they are compared (Baskin, Tierney, Minami, & Wampold, 2003; Cuijpers et al., 2012; Honyashiki et al., 2014; Markowitz, Manber, & Rosen, 2008). [AUTHOR RESPONSE TO COMMENTARY Ten Things to Remember About Common Factor Theory Kevin M. Laska Bedford VA Medical Center Bedford, Massachusetts Bruce E. Wampold University of Wisconsin-Madison and Modum Bad Psychiatric Center Vikersund, Norway Recently, we (Laska, Gurman, & Wampold, 2014, pp. 467– 481) discussed the implications of taking a common factor approach for practice and policy. In this response to the commentary on our article, we reiterate 10 things that need to be remembered about common factor theory.

Psychotherapy © 2014 American Psychological Association 2014, Vol. 51, No. 4, 519 –524 0033-3204/14/$12.00http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0038245

 

 

 

 

DEFINE TERMS: Counselor, psychotherapist, psychologist, helping professionals, etc.

Joseph Campbell, when discussing his tremendously influential work, The Power of Myth, noted that myths are “the music we danceto even when we can’t name the tune” (   ). In like manner, when attempting to identify the “magic sauce” that truly makes a difference in helping human relationships, I contend that love is the music we dance to, even though we feel inhibited about naming that as the tune.

INTRODUCTION:

You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Read more at:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/p/pierre_teilhard_de_chardi.html

It has taken almost my entire adult life to fully understand that there is an essential and necessary connection between applied psychology (i.e., counseling and psychotherapy) and spirituality. I have come to understand that there is a sacredness in the joining of individuals in a helping human relationship with loving intention. And it is that very sacredness that is the sine qua non of all helping and healing.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller

 

I fully understand that this assertion can not be proven; at least not in the sense that it can be scientifically validated.  Even with all the wonderful new metrics we currently have available to assess the processes and outcomes of counseling and psychotherapy, we are not now, nor will we ever be, able to get down to the nub of what it is, exactly, that “really helps” when we are attempting to help another.  That used to bother me, but no more. I have now “phased out” of the ego-driven need to contain and control the processes of helping and healing by bowing to the false gods of logic and rational analysis. Furthermore, I am no longer a member of the professional club devoted to empirically validating (or relying on other’s validation of) this or that therapeutic practice. I am no longer in search of either the personal comfort of being able to “defend” my work, or the onorous burdon of appeasing third party payers who insist that my efforts must be “evidence-based”.  While I do not wish to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to research in the area of what works in helping human relationships, I am now convinced, due in no small part to that very research, that evidence-based practice is something of a chimera. It is becoming abundantly clear that one particular therapeutic approach is not demonstrably better than another (    ), and that positive outcomes in counseling and psychotherapy have more to do with what the client brings to the table (client factors), and the qualities and actions of effective therapists.  

Is it really any surprise that no one can seem to pin down what it is that distinguishes the “supershrinks” from the rest of the pack? (   ). No amount post-session questionnaires or “debriefings” after  a series of counseling sessions will be able capture and define the magic inherent in what is now being referred to as “healing involvement”.  One cannot capture love in a petri dish, or smear it on a microscope slide, or weight it out on a scale, or take its temperature.  One cannot capture that which is of the “mind” in order to directly measure it. The mind is etherial and it demands to be apprehended that way. While its effects may “matter” (i.e., thoughts are things) neither the mind nor the heart of man are accessible for scientific investigation. And that is as it should be. For if the mind and the heart – or the spirit – were directly accessable and palpable, we would no longer have such wonderful abstractions as love, or truth, or beauty, or forgiveness, or peace.

The first hints of what I now recognize as the sacredness of helping became evident to me when I was quite young. In those days I was onlyu aware of a certain “transfer” of what felt like “goodness” when I answered someone’s spoken or unspoken call for help. Those early exchanges were sweet with the aura of unbound innocence and blind acceptance of a purpose quite beyond selfish or conscious intent. Back then, guided only by instinct and intuition, I simply showed up and made myself available as a container or a communication device as the Spirit of Love went about the business of doing what it needed to do. It was an almost passive process. One in which the owner of this body and this mind agreed to both show up and step aside at the same time. It was the “stepping aside” that made room for the Spirit to operate in the space between two souls. It was the stepping down or “going-to-rest” of the personal self that made it possible for something different and wonderful to develop in the shared space of the “interpersonal self”.  I was conscious of the fact that helpful and healing messages were being delivered through me; but I was also conscious of the very clear fact that they were not “of” me. Some part of my being was operating on autopilot while some higher part of my being was administering to the person I was put there to help. No muss, no fuss; it just happened with lovely efficiency and without fanfare or any form of attachment to either process or outcome.

It was not, however, without emotion. In fact, it came with the most profound form of emotion I have ever experienced! I have searched for words to describe that feeling but have always fallen short of anything that comes close to capturing it. The word “sublime” serves as an approximation, but it would be better described as beatific*.

Euphoria also redirects here.

Bliss is a state of profound satisfaction, happiness and joy,

In modern vernacular we hear of people being “in the zone” or experiencing “flow-like” feelings. The mental state of “flow” is generally described something like this: “You are completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” Now, that is pretty good stuff! But, there is even more to it than that. There is an aesthetic aspect also. It is a beautiful thing to be a part of. It is a joyous occasion. It is the joy of knowing something special; and of knowing that you know it. It is a form of enhanced consciousness. You know that you are having the privilege of being present while something holier than you is operating in the room. It is indeed, sacred. 

I have spent my life attempting to experiece that feeling again. I suspect that many (if not most) of those called to the helping professions have experienced something similar. It is what we do and why we do it. It may be the reason your heart is drawn to those in need of help.  It may even be the reason you have chosen to read this book. It may be that you are in search of some signpost to guide you along the way path to enhancing your healing involvement. 

*Beatific, from Latin beatificus (“making happy”), first occurred in English in the phrase “beatific vision,” a theological allusion to the direct sight of God enjoyed by the blessed in heaven. Although “beatific” originally meant “conferring happiness,” the word now more frequently means “expressing happiness,” and a blissfully joyful look or appearance may be called “beatific.” A closely related word is “beatitude,” which can refer to a state of utmost bliss. (You may also know “the beatitudes” as a series of blessings from Jesus in the Bible.)

 

When I was having those early experiences I was relatively young and, in the best sense of the word, innocent. I was not old enough yet to know there was such a thing as applied psychology. I had neither the need nor the capacity to understand what was going on intellectually or spiritually. And there certainly was no thought given to connecting the two. It was not until I had matured as both a mental health practitioner and as spiritual being that the realization dawned on me that the “stuff” that makes good psychology work is really the same “stuff” that comprises what some of us refer to as spirituality or spiritual practice.  The same sort of “getting out of your own way” that is spoken of in flow-type experiences as “the ego falls away” is the core aspect of both excellent helping and of transcendent spiritual experiences. 

There are, of course, many engaged in the practice of counseling and psychotherapy who do not think of it as spiritual in any way. That does not really matter because, well…”a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. As long as one is motivated by loving will and guided by positive intention the “spirit” of one’s endeavors is enhanced (blessed) and positive outcomes may be expected. Just as one does not have to see gravity in order to attest to its effects, one does not have to profess a spiritual nature or adhere to specific spiritual practices in order to participate in its beneficial effects.   Even strict behaviorists are motivated by their desire to enhance more adaptive functioning and relieve suffering. Why else would they hang up their shingles? What is it that motivates them to be ever more successful in helping others? And the research is showing that the relationship (healing involvement) is the key element in successful outcomes even when behavioral approaches are utilized. Clients feel “cared for” by successful behaviorists. While the behaviorists may not think of what they do as “spiritual” per se, what else would you call that kind of “caring”? It certainly reflects a high degree of loving will and positive intention.

, and what is of love is of the spirit.

in all its forms is one of those abstractions that may easily be     in the realms of the spirit.

Love is the affinity which links and draws together the elements of the world… Love, in fact, is the agent of universal synthesis. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Read more at:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/p/pierre_teilhard_de_chardi.html

They may not call it that but it seems an awful like loving will

Though, having said that, I cannot think of a well-regarded colleague or other representative of applied psychology who does not admit to some form of belief in spirituality or 

You will not, however, hear this idea discussed in very much in professional publications. Furthermore, at the time of this writing an internet search for masters or doctoral degrees in the area of spiritual psychology yields no exact matches and only 10 schools that offer programs “related” to the search query.

Perhaps the most succinct way of describing the process of counseling and psychotherapy is that it involves removing blockages – blockages to more adaptive patterns of thinking and behaving that are often very apparent from the outside but not from the client’s personal perspective.

Helping professionals are those who [supposedly] know the way through the psychological and spiritual minefields that keep individuals from knowing themselves. Their function is to provide a sort of guide service in which they assist another in confronting fears, resolving hidden issues, learning from mistakes, and becoming open to new options.  

The difference between traditional psychologists and Spiritual psychologists is in the beliefs that underly their work – [their conceptual base-camp].

THERAPY IS REALLY REMOVING BARRIERS:The Persian poet Rumi had a clue when he stated, “Your task is not to seek for love, your task is to seek and find all the barriers you have built against it.” 

In essence “therapy” boils down to removing blockages. Removing the barriers that impede the client’s ability to find their true worth, their wholeness, their truth. And in the process we, the helpers, benefit in the same way by removing the blockages to our own truth – getting out of our own way.

We are entrusted with the duty of releasing the world from pain.

I DO NOT KNOW:

The most powerful attitude we can develop is admit that we do not know. We do not know (with any degree of certainty) what to say next or do next. What’s more, we do not know what anything means.

We must be willing to fire our own egos as our teacher and to curtail our inborn and natural tendency to construct or “miscreate” meaning.

We must have plans for they may, indeed, be inspired. But, keep them tentative and be open to superior plans to come to you during the holy encounter.

PARADISE LOST – You are not here to change the worldAs I acquired more knowledge of the world (constructs) – and the ability to miscreate – I lost, little by little, my ability to remain connected with the etherial. I recall reading somewhere that you are not here to change the world; you are here to keep the world from changing you.  Attempting to change the world is tantamount to rearranging shadows and chimeras.

A mind in tune with the Spirit of love (joy, truth, peace) is able to sort out what is important and what is not – [call it intelligent intuition]

 

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF WORKING ON YOURSELF:We can only teach them by showing them the happiness that comes from those who feeling the Spirit of love and the abundance of it’s gifts.

What you fear but teaches them to fear. It teaches them their fears are justified.

We cannot give what we have not received. We cannot teach what we have not learned.

 

 

 

THE HONESTY OF EQUINE THERAPY:Clients immediately apprehend your presence. I was recently involved in an equine therapy program and how dramatically different it is to see how people interact when the rules are changed. Around an animal that operates very well on instinct rather than mental games it is very difficult to get away with some of the interpersonal games one is used to. Animals KNOW and they react authentically; with congruence and honesty – unconcerned about your feelings.

Clients react instinctively to your love, acceptance, eagerness to lift them up without judgement or any form of attack. They have no need to defend themselves because they do not feel threatened.

 

TRUSTBecome content with what is without protest or fear. We become confident when we learn to trust. And then our clients sense our confidence and open up.

As long as we as helpers are constrained by the limits of our faith in a higher power beyond our self we will be only partially effective. At best we will be like stained glass; letting in some light but limiting it also and tinting it with the darkness of our impure faith.

RESISTANCE:

Every mind that looks upon the world he made (perception) judges it as cvertain, solid, trustworthy, and true. “I made it with my little mind and, by golly, I’m keeping it. I can do this because I am god of my own reality – my own realm.

The gifts of the Spirit of love are not acceptable to anyone who holds such beliefs. To accept the gifts of love and truth would be to be pressed into treachery against himself (ego). Therefore, he must deny the gifts (of higher thoughts) and suffer in order to preserve the world he made. It is the only home he knows; the only safety he believes he can find.

This is the self you savagely defend against all reason, every evidence, and all the witnesses of proof to show this is not who you are.

As lon

 

Most people have some sort of spiritual tradition as part of their culture. Typically, their childhood religion set their value structure and defined their self image. While religion is uplifting for some, for many others, religion is more problematic, resulting in fears, intolerant attitudes, self-loathing, isolation, and a host of psychological concerns that keep people from moving forward in their lives.

The exploration of an individual’s spiritual experience is a topic that touches every aspect of life. A typical spiritual history embodies everything from the innocence of childhood to memories of people they loved – from expectations of family, church and community, and identity issues of adolescence (see Adolescence Developmental Psychology) – to the disillusionment of adulthood. Many have lost their jobs and their homes or have had war experiences – and fear God has abandoned them.

Because issues of faith are foundational to self-worth and identity, therapeutic interventions in these areas makes real sense. A resolution of problems on the spiritual level often stimulates longer-lasting change because issues are addressed at a deeper level. A problem resolved in the heart is often no longer an issue for the mind.http://www.allpsychologycareers.com/career/spiritual-psychologist.html%5D

[“Spirituality and religious practices are integral parts of most cultures, an inextricable part of childhood as they form the family’s value structure, and color the lens through which people see themselves – even if they are no longer participating in the family, the culture, or the religion.http://www.allpsychologycareers.com/topics/spiritual-psychology.html%5D

[Spiritual psychology has been described as: ” a 21st century approach to living – a blending of science and spirituality. It’s a holistic approach that integrates both traditional and transpersonal psychology with any – and all – spiritual practices, and it’s particularly focused on spiritual growth.http://www.allpsychologycareers.com/topics/spiritual-psychology.html%5D

[Spiritual psychology often proposes alternative spiritual perspectives as a way of delving deeper and getting to the source of troubling issues. These alternative perspectives include a wide number of spiritual concepts and experiences that take us out of our normal way of perceiving.]

[These experiences might involve non-ordinary states of consciousness during which patients might have “ah-ha” moments, engage in conversations with their higher selves – an aspect of their souls – or have other transcendent experiences that change their understanding in a profound way. Transcendent experiences put us on the path to self-realization as we become more aware of the non-physical aspect of “self.” For more information see transpersonal psychology.

Spiritual psychologists believe that as individuals evolve and increasingly identify with their souls, they begin to realize that uniting with the soul is the purpose of their journey. They start to understand “non-duality” – the end of feeling separate and alone – and the beginning of feeling one with God, the Creator, or the Universe.]

[Rejection of one’s childhood religion can result in an increasing sense of disconnection or abandonment as one grows older. Spiritual psychologists view this as an emotional hunger – a lack of spiritual nourishment – because they believe that patients haven’t found a good way of engaging their spirits. An exploration of those early experiences in combination with more recent beliefs will bring reconciliation, setting the stage for a more satisfying attitude toward life.

For many people spirituality is more than just the backdrop of their lives – it’s a frantic search for God and that ecstatic connection. Guilt, self-recrimination, and self-judgment often block that access and are resolved through a therapeutic intervention emphasizing self-forgiveness, compassionate understanding, and unconditional self-love. As these approaches support the patient’s self-worth, the patient evolves from a needy child to a serious spiritual student.]

 

Global Master of Arts in Transpersonal Psychology

http://www.sofia.edu/academics/graduate-school-of-transpersonal-studies/master-arts-transpersonal-psychology-hybrid/

+1 (650) 493-4430
1069 East Meadow Circle Palo Alto, CA 94303 USA

What makes the Global MATP program unique?

Transpersonal psychology is the study and cultivation of the highest and most transformative human values and potentials—individual, communal, and global—that reflect the mystery and interconnectedness of life, including our human journey within the cosmos.  (Anderson and Braud, 2011, p. 9)

The Global Master of Arts in Transpersonal Psychology (G-MATP) provides an opportunity for students to study the theories and practices of transpersonal psychology and to apply wisdom principles to their personal and professional development. The program attracts educators, healthcare professionals, business leaders, organizational developers, therapists, alternative practitioners, entrepreneurs, and cultural creatives who wish to find more expansive ways to enhance their current profession.

It also gives students opportunities to explore and engage new career possibilities. This program particularly emphasizes transformative learning, realization of our higher human potentials and personal as well as professional applications.  The hybrid/online Master’s program values multiple ways of knowing.  Students learn in fully embodied ways that honor uniqueness, creativity, diversity, world wisdom psychology, and ecological consciousness.

Pictured: GMATP Chair Nancy Rowe, Ph.D.

Program Overview

Our two-year Global Master of Arts in Transpersonal Psychology (G-MATP) degree program offers an exciting opportunity to study the theories and practices of transpersonal psychology with specialization in transformative life coaching, creativity, or spiritual psychology.

The 46.0 unit program is designed for transformative learning, integration of transpersonal and wisdom principles, and personal and professional application. The G-MATP is an online program with some low residency requirements. It offers an opportunity to students to learn from home, which provides flexible study time to apply what is learned in their personal lives, their current work situations, and in the community where they live. In addition, students will attend 2 in-person residential seminars during the course of their MATP program, 1 in year one, the foundational year and 1 in year two, the specialization year.

This master’s degree program attracts educators, healthcare professionals, business leaders, organizational developers, social service providers, therapists, alternative practitioners, entrepreneurs, yoga practitioners, and cultural creatives who wish to find more expansive ways to enhance their current professions or explore and engage in new career possibilities that embrace the principles of transpersonal psychology.

This degree prepares students to follow their deepest passion and to apply transpersonal theories and practices in a variety of professions. Students generally find their right livelihood in a field related to people, creativity, education, or wellness.

As an example, the following video demonstrates how alumna Elisa Sciscioli integrated her passion in voice as she combined creative expression with her previous experience in music and singing. Click here to view the video.

A Masters of Arts in Psychology will be conferred after completion of the degree.

Whole-Person, Transformative Learning

Students in our program balance theory with practice, and find authentic ways to study and apply the material. We admit students who have the emotional maturity and discipline to work within a learning community structure that relies upon personal integrity and mutual respect, and who have the self-discipline to study at a distance.

Our approach to learning promotes whole-person, transformative learning. It encourages professional engagement with local or academic communities and appeals to students who find value in creative expression, transpersonal practice, contemplative reflection, and scholarly thinking. Students find community within an academic context and use this learning as a catalyst for transformation within self, community, and profession.

Program Goals: The Global Master’s of Arts (G-MATP) Program:

  •     Provides a general background in the theories and practices of transpersonal and spiritual psychology.
  •     Provides opportunities for students to cultivate and practice transpersonal qualities throughout daily life.
  •     Prepares students to apply theories, principles and practices of transpersonal and spiritual psychology in their personal and professional lives.
  •     Guides students to bridge transpersonal and spiritual psychology with theories and practices in their chosen specialization.
  •     Provides experiences for students to embody their learning, wisdom, health and wholeness using multiple ways of knowing.
  •     Encourages students to appreciate and embrace world wisdom approaches, diversity, and ecological consciousness.
  •     Supports students’ journey toward professional leadership in service to the broader community.

 

THE RELATIONSHIP:

Connecting with the Patient

“The therapeutic process belongs to patients – its their recounting of their own experiences that constitutes the roadmap for their therapeutic journeys. As patients tell their stories, the therapist becomes the story mediator, listening actively and asking questions that have eluded patients. Guiding patients through their stories is a subtle process. Without being intrusive, a therapist must keep the process moving.

The therapist – client relationship is often characterized by a strong energetic connection between two equal souls. While intently focused on the patient – hearing what is said, what is not said, the language that is used, and the emotion that is expressed – the therapist observes the thought processes, body language, facial expressions, and senses the deeper implications. http://www.allpsychologycareers.com/career/spiritual-psychologist.html]

[Principles of Spiritual Psychology

Because spiritual psychology is informed by Eastern spirituality, the therapeutic context includes elements that aren’t found in more traditional approaches to psychotherapy. Those elements concern the nature of human connections with God, a Creator, or a universal energy. Even in Western spiritual contexts such as Christianity, the conversation must include spiritual perceptions and constructs such as the soul or the presence of – and communication with – the unseen.

Spiritual psychology is, broadly speaking, theistic. Traditional Western religions believe God is separate from humans – living in heaven – although sometimes “He” is spoken of as living in the heart. In Eastern thought, God is the universe, having created itself, continuing to create itself, and being inseparable from humans because they are part of the whole creation. Therapists need to be able to treat these important distinctions with respect.

The therapist and the patient join in an empathic way, to journey into the spiritual morass, examining beliefs, conflicts, misunderstandings, blockages – anything that stands in the way of the patient’s healing and self-realization. Their combined energies create a safe space that allows even the most painful issues to emerge and be discharged.

Spiritual psychology understands humans as multidimensional beings with aspects of themselves residing in their physical life, in the different consciousness levels of their minds that aren’t readily accessible in daily life, and in the ‘realm’ of the spirit. (See the box, “What are the three levels of the mind?”)

While the mind is the source of impressions of day-to-day life – watching, interpreting, and storing memories of what it sees – the spirit is the grand observer, the non-judgmental librarian, and the presence of each person’s inner wisdom. This repository of wisdom located in the spirit is the reason that learning to access the spiritual level is so important.

Goals of a Spiritual Psychologist

Expanding spirituality – Helping patients learn how to connect to their own inner wisdom is one of the most powerful tools a therapist has to offer. The ability to hear one’s wise inner voice requires a quiet mind. As patients become more connected to their Creator, they attune to the higher thoughts and universal values such as love, compassion, generosity, beauty, among others – that the inner voice reflects.

Meditation and prayer are the foundations for spiritual expansion. Mindfulness – the practice of bringing the mind into the present moment – teaches patients that they don’t need to react to everything. It gives them the space to simply observe. Other meditative exercises allow patients to spend time contemplating concepts such as compassion or oneness with God.

Spiritual seekers often take strength from the successes of others. Therapists conduct group therapy sessions to stimulate and inspire their patients. The interaction with others who are struggling with similar issues can open the door to greater perspectives, allowing patients to also feel compassion for themselves.

Working through the issues that cause patients to feel separated from their souls enables greater spiritual growth. Spiritual beliefs unfettered by doubt and insecurity promote confidence and inner satisfaction, reducing the neurotic concerns of the personality, such as insecurity and self-judgment.

Self-realization is an understanding of oneself as a divine creation, a being filled with promise and deserving the full presence of God. In Eastern spiritual terms, the point of the journey is to understand that as part of creation, no one has ever been – nor can ever be – separated from God. The realization that everyone is part of God addresses issues of abandonment or isolation, and helps patients understand that the illusion of separation is something they can change.

A spiritual therapist working with patients who subscribe to Eastern thought will prescribe an ongoing meditative practice as well as a body therapy such as Tai Chi or Akeido. He or she may also use guided imagery to help process past crises, or relaxation therapies and visualizations to enable patients to discover and appreciate their strengths, joys, loves, and passions.

Self-actualization is the next step in enabling a patient to integrate new understandings, talents, beliefs, and dreams in order to become his or her best “self.” Contemporary spiritual philosophy suggests that as aspects of God, human existence is most honored by individuals becoming the very best they can be. Self-actualized people feel the full support of all their dimensions and turn their attention toward the service of humankind.

Patients who are ready to self-actualize have an open and accessible channel to their spiritual source. Typically, they have an established meditative practice and have freed themselves from the burdens of social guilt and expectation.

Critics of spiritual psychology don’t understand how talking changes the soul. Talking is simply one of the ways humans process information. New thoughts and perspectives come from the examination of old ones. It’s a building process everyone has experienced, and one that is at the heart of the talking therapy and used by all psychological approaches.

A change of perspective comes from within the patient, not from the therapist. The therapist is only the activator or guide who suggests going down one road rather than another. It’s really the fortitude of patients – observing experiences and options – that enables them to makes the decision to change.

Divorcing these experiences from the therapeutic process or discounting them as irrational does a great disservice to patients who are struggling with major life issues, issues that are central to one’s identity and purpose.]

It is quite difficult to talk about the divine in concrete, physical terms that everybody can understand. The divine, after all, is supposed to be just the opposite of that which is concrete and physical – the divine is “Godlike”.

In modern discourse even the idea of God has ­become somewhat tired in the minds of many. The idea of God has so many different connotations to so many different people that it just seems to have lost its punch. In part this is due to simple overuse as people become less affected by the word emotionally or intellectually the more they hear it. [This also happens with common curse words as witnessed by the proliferate use of the “F-word” in modern cultural media.] However, a more important reason is that the word God is most often used by those who have learned it second hand (so to speak) rather than having had a direct experience of God or God’s presence. Just as I can give you a sense of what it is like to ski down a mountain by discussing a ski trip, that would be nothing compared to having that experience for yourself.

. . . to such an extent that it has difficulty fitting into everyday twenty-first-century discourse. As it stands, it is almost embarrassing to many people, in many walks of life.

 

[KEEP? While I do not make any claim that this connection is empirically verifiable.]

FORGIVENESS

FORGIVENESS IS MY ONLY FUNCTION

I WILL STEP BACK AND LET HIM LEAD THE WAY

ON SPIRITUALITY AND THE CHRIST

“It is not necessary to be religious or even to believe in God to any recognizable extent. It is necessary, however, to teach forgiveness rather than condemnation. [cite]

“Psychotherapy, correctly understood, teaches forgiveness and helps the patient to recognize and accept it.”

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the practice of unconditional forgiveness, our royal road to attaining lasting inner peace.

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Forgiveness through the Holy Spirit lies simply in looking beyond error from the beginning, and thus keeping it unreal for you.  Do not let any belief in its realness enter your mind, or you will also believe that you must undo what you have made in order to be forgiven. What has no effect does not exist, and to the Holy Spirit the effects of error are nonexistent.  By steadily and consistently canceling out all its effects, everywhere and in all respects, He teaches that the ego does not exist and proves it.

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WHAT REALLY WORKS IN HELPING HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS?
This quote is from a little pamphlet titled: PSYCHOTHERAPY: PURPOSE, PROCESS AND PRACTICE. It is published by the Foundation for Inner Peace and it is an addition or addendum to the three volumes that comprise a form of spiritual teaching known as A Course in Miracles (ACIM). As a practicing psychologist I have spent my entire professional life pondering the key question that must be the driving force behind all efforts to help and to heal. That question is: “What really works?” It is with the help of this little pamphlet – and years of studying the Course – that I have finally drawn my own conclusion to the question of what really works. While one must bring to every helping human relationship certain essentials such as Loving Will, Positive Intention,  Knowledge, Skills, Intuition, and Creativity, at it’s core the sine qua non of all counseling and psychotherapy is Forgiveness.
“Everyone who needs help, regardless of the form of his distress, is attacking himself,  
and his peace of mind is suffering in consequence.”
I believe that it is accurate to say that every client I have worked with during the past thirty-seven years who made significant progress in mental and emotional well-being did so as a result of some form of forgiveness – either forgiveness of self or forgiveness of another. Forgiveness is an act of liberation; in fact, the only true act of liberation. If we are [   ] harboring any form of judgment, any grudge, or resentment, or any sense of victimhood, we are in bondage. We are bound by that decision (whether we made it consciously or unconsciously) to a person, place, and event that took place in the past. We are also hauling that heavy load with us, polluting the present.
THE FORMS OF FORGIVENESS
And what I mean by “some form” of forgiveness is that how one experiences forgiveness depends on one’s level of spiritual and psychological development.
At the lower levels, individuals still believe that in order to be rid of the heavy burden of “harm” (i.e., disappointment, resentment, hurt, anger, rage, hate, etc.) suffered as a result of another’s actions, they must forgive the person or persons who harmed them. This act of forgiveness, when made sincerely, does achieve the desired purpose. It does have the effect of releasing psychological bondage to the other(s) by severing the emotional attachment (i.e., unfinished business) to which the “victim” was clinging. It does, in effect, lighten the load of what some refer to as the “emotional pain body” that we carry with us as a result of traumatic events.
The other form of forgiveness – available to those at a higher levels of spiritual and psychological development –  is what may be termed “true forgiveness”. At this level the individual who is capable of more abstract thought becomes willing to reverse his thinking, and to understand that what he thought projected its effects on him (external forces) were made by his projections on the world. In other words, everything perceived as “out there” is actually projected from “in here” within our own minds.
Furthermore, and this often requires the ability to surrender deep-seated beliefs, the world we see out there does not really exist at all. It is an illusion – a bad dream. In Eastern philosophies it is called “Māyā”, a term which connotes a “magic show, an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they seem”. When we are sleeping we experience characters and events that seem very real until we awaken. And so it is with our waking “reality”. It all seems real until we awaken spiritually. This is what is at the core of all the great spiritual traditions – spiritual awakening.
QUESTIONING “REALITY” AND QUESTIONING ILLUSIONS:
The ultimate purpose of spiritual psychology (counseling and psychotherapy) is to help the individual begin to question his “reality” and to change his mind about the reality of illusions. The aim is to aide the client in abandoning his fixed delusional system and removing all blocks to the truth. The truth being that we create, promote or allow everything that happens to us. There are no victims.  Until this is at least partially accomplished the client will continue to entertain the belief that he or she is a “victim” of circumstances. And victimhood can seem like a great place to hang out. But, as every helping professional knows, victimhood is a horrible place to hang out. It is a jail cell of one’s own making. Not only does the “victim” suffer from the belief he has been harmed by some external force, he also suffers the self-imposed life restrictions that come with victimhood. How can he be happy and successful in life if much of his life energy is being put to the task of nurturing unhealed wounds?
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The world we see merely reflects our own internal frame of reference—the dominant ideas, wishes and emotions in our minds. “Projection makes perception” (Text, p. 445). We look inside first, decide the kind of world we want to see and then project that world outside, making it the truth as we see it.

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we will see a world of evil, destruction, malice, envy and despair. All this we must learn to forgive, not because we are being “good” and “charitable,” but because what we are seeing is not true.

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THE RELATIONSHIP IS EVERYTHING
Relating at the level of _____ and relating at the level of Christ:
It is, however, only at the level of Christ Mind that true union is possible, and has, in fact, never been lost. The “little I” seeks to enhance itself by external approval, external possessions, and external “love.” The Self That God created needs nothing. It is forever complete, safe, loved, and loving. It seeks to share rather than to get; to extend rather than project. It has no needs and wants to join with others out of their mutual awareness of abundance.
The special relationships of the world are destructive, selfish, and childishly egocentric. Yet, if given to the Holy Spirit, these relationships can become the holiest things on earth—the miracles that point the way to the return to Heaven.

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heavy burden of carrying around the weight of all the psychic energy it takes to maintain the client cannot see himself as really capable of making decisions [I’m a victim of circumstances].
  • It is necessary so that the individual can begin to question their reality.
The
  • The client must be helped to change his mind about the “reality” of illusions.
  • The purpose is to remove the blocks to truth.
  • Its aim is to aide the client in abandoning his fixed delusional system.
Until this is at least partly accepted the client cannot see himself as really capable of making decisions 
circumstances.

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To forgive is to overlook.  Look, then, beyond error and do not let your perception rest upon it, for you will believe what your perception holds. 4 Accept as true only what your brother is, if you would know yourself. Perceive what he is not and you cannot know what you are, because you see him falsely.  Remember always that your Identity is shared, and that Its sharing is Its reality.
The ego, too, has a plan of forgiveness because you are asking for one, though not of the right teacher. The ego’s plan, of course, makes no sense and will not work. By following its plan you will merely place yourself in an impossible situation, to which the ego always leads you. The ego’s plan is to have you see error clearly first, and then overlook it. Yet how can you overlook what you have made real?  By seeing it clearly, you have made it real and <cannot> overlook it.  This is where the ego is forced to appeal to “mysteries,” insisting that you must accept the meaningless to save yourself.  Many have tried to do this in my name, forgetting that my words make perfect sense because they come from God. They are as sensible now as they ever were, because they speak of ideas that are eternal.
This “self” he sees as being acted on by the external world. It can only react to those external forces as they demand. He is small and helpless compared to the power of the world.i
Psychotherapy must restore to his awareness the ability to make his own decisions.
Every client must begin to separate truth from illusion.
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THE WORLD OF PERCEPTION (THE DREAM)
When you have been caught in the world of perception you are caught in a dream. You cannot escape without help, because everything your senses show merely witnesses to the reality of the dream. God has provided the Answer, the only Way out, the true Helper. It is the function of His Voice, His Holy Spirit, to mediate between the two worlds. He can do this because, while on the one hand He knows the truth, on the other He also recognizes our illusions, but without believing in them. It is the Holy Spirit’s goal to help us escape from the dream world by teaching us how to reverse our thinking and unlearn our mistakes. Forgiveness is the Holy Spirit’s great learning aid in bringing this thought reversal about. However, the Course has its own definition of what forgiveness really is just as it defines the world in its own way.

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Spiritual Intelligence

On Sunday, October 14, 2012, Rev. Peter Graham addressed the congregation at the Community Miracles Center’s downtown San Francisco facility. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that lecture.

Spiritual Mind

Thanks to everyone for being here. It’s a great opportunity to give this talk. I feel excited about giving this talk. As I was thinking about what to do for this talk, this idea just popped up in my head. Maybe it came from the Holy Spirit. One thing I can say about spiritual intelligence – this is my feeling, and I don’t think it’s an arrogant feeling – all of you in here are probably in the top one percent of the spiritually intelligent, (laughter) especially in our culture. I think about what A Course In Miracles teaches and our traditional Western culture. Maybe in Eastern cultures, where they already have the idea that the world is an illusion and temporal, it is different, but in our Western culture, the idea of the world as an illusion is not accepted easily. So, welcome to the one percent.

I want to start my talk off by giving you a little history of intelligence testing and the identification of intelligence in the Western World. As some of you know, I’m a teacher in San Francisco in Special Education. I have had some training around intelligence testing, because the whole idea of testing abilities in education is important. There are some students, as you know, who have difficulty learning, or who have learning impairments. We try to identify these students so that we can support them in learning better. I want to give you a little history of intelligence measuring.

The first modern intelligence testing came about in the 1900s. This is what happened. In France, the government decided that they were going to educate all their children, ages five to fourteen. What they realized was that some children learned better than others. So the French government wanted to figure out, to identify, the kids that weren’t learning, so the government could try to support them better. At the time, there was a French psychologist named Alfred Binet. He was a good guy, a humanistic psychologist. He started going to schools and other areas where kids were, and tried to identify their behaviors. He was later joined by medical doctor Theodore Simon, another French man, who was interested in the same thing. They worked together and they came up with an intelligence test for children that became known as the “Binet-Simon.” That was the first scientific intelligence test we had.

This is what they did. They made a lot of observations of children. They said, “For a child that is five years old, this is typically what a five year old knows. This is what a five year old can read. This is what they can do mathematically. This is what they can do socially.” They came up with different criteria. When you were tested, using this new Binet-Simon test, if you could answer all the questions that an average five year old could answer, then you were considered typical for that age. If you were a five year old, but you could answer the seven year old questions, then you were considered above average. If you were a five year old, but could answer the ten year old questions then – “Wow!” You were off the charts. At the same time, if you were five years old but could only answer the questions that the average three year old knew, then you would be considered below the typical average intelligence. That’s how they established the standards of what intelligence was. Kind of cool – right? The whole idea was to help kids.

Now, leave it to the good old United States. There was a young student in Europe, at the time, named Henry H. Goodard. He was also in France, because he was studying in Europe. He heard about these intelligence tests. The only problem was that he was part of a movement called Eugenics at that time. The Eugenics movement was the one that postulated that white people were intellectually superior. Goodard brought the test to the United States. He hooked up with other Eugenics members in the United States, including a man by the name of Lewis Terman, who was a psychologist at Stanford University. They took the Binet-Simon test and they made a new test. It became – and modified versions are still used today – the first American intelligence test. It’s named the “Stanford-Binet.” Some of you may have actually taken this test. Many of you have probably heard of it.

The Stanford-Binet test’s first application was in World War I, because the government wanted to test people’s intelligence and put them in the best positions, so the U.S.A. could win the war. Intelligence tests in this country got off to a not so great start. The Holy Spirit, I’m sure, took the Stanford-Binet intelligence test and used it for good, in some instances. The Stanford-Binet test has been challenged, and it has been seen as culturally biased. There are many other intelligence tests that are used now.

Fortunately, for the good old U.S.A., we did have reform. In the late 70s and early 80s there was a Harvard psychologist named Howard Gardner, and he had a profound effect. He broadened our understanding of intelligence. He said that most humans had nine areas of intelligence. These are areas where we have a capacity to solve different kinds of problems and apply the solutions practically in our mirs. Here are the nine area. The first two are the areas that are required in schools and in education:

  • Linguistic
    • Logical Mathematical
    • Interpersonal
    • Intrapersonal
    • Musical Rhythmic
    • Naturalist
    • Bodily Kinesthetic
    • Visual Spatial
    • Existentialist

These are the nine areas of intelligence. What Gardner said was that we actually have all of them.  Even if you just like to listen to music, you’ve got some musical intelligence. It doesn’t mean you have to be Beethoven. We have all of these things.

The Existentialist would be more like us, more the philosopher kind, the interested in the spiritual world kind.
The Interpersonal would be like the politician or the leader.
The Intrapersonal would be like the therapist, the counselor.
The Musical Rhythmic would be all the folks who are good at music and creating that in the world.
The Naturalist, think of the environmentalist, John Muir perhaps.
The Bodily Kinesthetic would be like an athlete or the dancer.
The Visual Spatial would be the artist, the fashion designer, the architect.

Those are different kinds of intelligence. It’s really interesting. I thought to myself, what about Spiritual Intelligence?

A couple of years back there was a big movement about Social Intelligence.  Daniel Goldman wrote a book on that in 2007. What about Spiritual Intelligence? Maybe I could write a book on Spiritual Intelligence. I looked it up on the internet and, loo and behold guess what, people have already thought of this. (laughter) Actually quite a lot of people! There are many references to Spiritual Intelligence on the internet – the first ones that come up in my search were about the Kabbalah. I’m sure some of you know the Kabbalah is the Judaism mystical teaching. Some people say Jesus studied under these teachings. There’s a lot in the Kabbalah about getting in touch with spirit through the use of different practices. There was one web site on Spiritual Intelligence, that is Kabbalah related, and the term “Spiritual Intelligence” is legally registered. They have a trademark on it. We have to be careful about how we use it.

The web site had this to say about Spiritual Intelligence, “Spiritual Intelligence refers to the ability to practice and integrate the spiritual polarities of intuitive wisdom and practical knowledge, love and responsibility, and energetic action …” I like that. “… and humility. The goals of practice include the development of mindfulness, awareness of the divine, choosing an ethical path and acting in accordance with one’s chosen values for the benefit of self, others, community and the world.” (Center for Spiritual Intelligence /http://spiritualintelligence.com/)

That sounds a lot like our A Course In Miracles related mission statement for the Community Miracles Center. It has a lot of the same ideas – taking the principles of ACIM and applying them to our minds and bringing them to those who are interested in them.

That sounds like a pretty cool definition. This is my definition of Spiritual Intelligence as an A Course In Miracles student. I just came up with this, so I’m still working on it. Here’s my definition: “The willingness to accept the Atonement for myself as the overarching purpose of my life and the context in which I view all human perceptual experiences. The practice of which includes study, daily lessons, prayer, and the desire to see my brother/sister as myself through the practice of forgiveness.” The Course has inspired me to look at my life this way. I feel like when we say this word “intelligence,” all of us in this room do have this inclination. I think we need to recognize that and validate it. As we go through our life experiences, our healing experiences, we really are atypical. There truly are not many of us out there. The Holy Spirit wants everyone, but we here have a high sense of awareness of how spirituality plays in our minds. I really think we have to validate that for ourselves, because a lot of us may not have the traditional success in the world or what the world would say is a success. Some of us might, but some of us may not. However, Spiritual Intelligence is really needed for ourselves and for the world at this point in time, and we all have high Spiritual Intelligence.

Here’s what A Course In Miracles said in that reading we heard earlier, “You made the effort to learn, and the Holy Spirit has a unified goal for all effort. He adapts the ego’s potentials for excelling to potentials for equalizing. This makes them useless for the ego’s purpose but very useful for His. If different abilities are applied long enough to one goal, the abilities themselves become unified.” (OrEd.Tx.7.23)

All of us in this room have different talents, different gifts. The ego has different potentialities. The ego may use our gifts for the ego world, but if you are committed to A Course In Miracles – if you are committed to that curriculum as I think we all are – eventually it all becomes unified. We are healing our minds and healing the world. This is something that is certainly required. The Course is teaching us about that.

I’ve come up with my own idea here. What about our own Spiritual Intelligence Quotient. There’s the Intelligence Quotient, the “I.Q.” How about “S.I.Q,.” Spiritual Intelligence Quotient. How does A Course in Miracles increase our S.I.Q. I was thinking about that and thinking about my own practice.

One thing I know in my own life is this, I know when I get up in the morning, if I take the time to do the daily Workbook lesson and spend a few minutes – sometimes it only has to be five minutes – to set my mind, to set my inner clock to Holy Spirit, my day tends to be much better. I tend to be more centered; I tend to be kinder. I tend to not be as attached to my problems. I tend to be a better problem solver, a better decision maker. In that way, I’m approaching life with my Spiritual I.Q.

Some of you may know that this first eight weeks of the school year have been very challenging for me. Actually I’ve been really in my ego a lot. I have been attached to the problems in my work place. My Spiritual I.Q. has been down a little bit. It needed a little bit of inspiration. I think that is why Holy Spirit gave me this talk. Holy Spirit is telling me that I need to re-prioritize, step back for a minute, remember what this whole thing is all about.

Meditation is one way. A second thing is what I just talked about – context. I think A Course In Miracles gives us a context for our minds. “How does this increase my Spiritual Intelligence Quotient?” It increases it because it gives us that context. We go out in our minds as ACIM students and we have these Course ideas. The world is temporary. The world is my classroom. I’m learning a lesson here. The end of my body’s life span is not the end of me. We know these as ACIM students. We know that healing is a part of our minds. We know that our struggles with work, relationships, with money, with health, with our bodies – whatever it might be – should be seen within that context. If we can look at it, when we can remember – I certainly get caught up in the world. However when we do, we can remember, in that context, “Oh this is the purpose. I’m trying to see this in another way. I can learn a lesson.” Then it doesn’t have all the trappings of the ego.

When I get caught up in my job my ego says, “Oh, Oh! If I don’t do this I’m going to lose my job. If I don’t do this, people are going to think ‘X, Y & Z’” whatever the fear thoughts are. We get caught up in judgement. The judgement gives us the fear thoughts.

The other area that A Course In Miracles helps me in is this idea of purpose. The Course gives me confidence, but it also gives me purpose.” It answers the question, “What is my life for?” I think about it as a counter example. Think of the person who doesn’t have the A Course In Miracles context. A person who comes to my mind is a guy like Donald Trump. Not to pick on a brother, but I had to use somebody as an example. Here’s a guy who seemingly has it all – right? He has billions of dollars, even though a lot of his companies have failed; he still has lots of money. He’s famous. A lot of people like him.

I was watching this show a few weeks ago. He was in Scotland trying to build a golf course on a beach. There were property owners around who didn’t want him to build this golf course. He’s in a car and they are video recording him for the show. He’s yelling and screaming at the property owners who didn’t want their views blocked. He had bulldozers push the ground up so that it blocked their views of the ocean. Here’s this guy who is totally invested in the world, has all the gifts of the world, and he clearly was not being a very nice guy. He was being a jerk. I think about that.

On a personal level, I know friends of mine who are great people but they have a real block. They don’t have any spiritual connection. It’s really, really difficult for them. This purpose that we A Course In Miracles students have is a gift. We have a spiritual connection. I don’t think it’s ours to tightly hold on to, it is ours to give and to provide as an example to others. Sometimes our example can be given by just listening. Sometimes we are guided to share our experience with others, and that sometimes gives them hope. That’s up to you and the Holy Spirit in the moment.

Another thing I think is really important is prayer and this is something I forget a lot. The Song of Prayer tells us this, “Prayer is the greatest gift which God blessed His Son at his creation … Endless the harmony, and endless, too, the joyous concord of the Love.” (Song.1.In.1) I really like this one from The Song of Prayer too, “The secret of true prayer is to forget the things you think you need.”(Song.1.I.4) A Course In Miracles enriches our mirs because it is telling us, “Hello everyone. Wake up a little bit. You can pray anytime.” It tells us that our prayers don’t have to be perfect. We can bring anything to the Holy Spirit. We’ll get answered in the way we need to get answered. We do have problems that appear to be specific, and we’ll get specific answers. We do have the power of prayer. We do have the ability – what is the Course about – to change our thinking about things when we are in the ego. Prayer is a great way to increase our own awareness and to increase our own spiritual experience.

My last point about Spiritual Intelligence is this – inspiration. A Course In Miracles, for me, is inspiring. I don’t know if you have even had this experience. Sometimes I often have the experience when I go to teach my ACIM-1 class, and it’s right after work, my mind is frequently focused on the worries of the world. Then I open up the Course and I get this whole other perspective. That perspective shifts me. “Oh gee. That’s right. I remember. This is temporary. That’s right, there’s the Holy Spirit. That’s right, I’m loving. I can forgive this. There’s another way to look at this. This is not all there is.” For me, the Course is inspiring. This inspiration helps me to be a better example in the world and heal my own mind.

A Course In Miracles says, “There is a way of living in the world that is not here, although it seems to be. You do not change appearance, though you smile more frequently. Your forehead is serene; your eyes are quiet. And the ones who walk the world as you do recognize their own. Yet those who have not yet perceived the way will recognize you also and believe that you are like them as you were before.”(OrEd.Tx.155.1)

In closing I’d like to say we all, as students of A Course In Miracles, have many ways in which we can take our spirituality and heal ourselves and heal those who we encounter in the world. Sometimes we heal ourselves quietly. Sometimes it’s in communion with our brothers and sisters. Sometimes it’s in a way that we do not know or understand, but that the Holy Spirit is working out for us in His own way and in a way perfect for our own mirs. Today I think we need to validate and accept the gifts that we have. We do have high spiritual intelligence, and the world and ourselves are in need of it.

That’s my talk for today. (applause)

(Rev. Peter Graham is the Community Miracles Center’s 40th minister ordained by the CMC on February 23, 2002. He teaches our *ACIM-1* telephone conference call class on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. Pacific time. He works as a Special Education teacher and administrator for the San Francisco Unified School District.) 

 

© 2014 Rev. Peter Graham, San Francisco, CA – All rights reserved.

 

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REAL AND UNREAL, KNOWLEDGE AND PERCEPTION,
Perception is a function of the body, and therefore represents a limit on awareness. Perception sees through the body’s eyes and hears through the body’s ears.
This introduction is how A Course in Miracles begins. It makes a fundamental distinction between the real and the unreal; between knowledge and perception. Knowledge is truth, under one law, the law of love or God. Truth is unalterable, eternal, and unambiguous. It can be unrecognized, but it cannot be changed. It applies to everything that God created, and only what He created is real. It is beyond learning because it is beyond time and process. It has no opposite; no beginning and no end. It merely is.
The world of perception, on the other hand, is the world of time, of change, of beginnings and endings. It is based on interpretation, not on facts. It is the world of birth and death, founded on the belief in scarcity, loss, separation, and death. It is learned rather than given, selective in its perceptual emphases, unstable in its functioning, and inaccurate in its interpretations.

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TWO DISTINCT THOUGHT SYSTEMS
From knowledge and perception respectively, two distinct thought systems arise which are opposite in every respect.

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THE BODY, THE MIND, ILLNESS AND THERAPY
The body appears to be largely self-motivated and independent, yet it actually responds only to the intentions of the mind. If the mind wants to use it for attack in any form, it becomes prey to sickness, age, and decay. If the mind accepts the Holy Spirit’s purpose for it instead, it becomes a useful way of communicating with others, invulnerable as long as it is needed, and to be gently laid by when its use is over. Of itself it is neutral, as is everything in the world of perception. Whether it is used for the goals of the ego or the Holy Spirit depends entirely on what the mind wants.

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THERAPY AND THE VISION OF CHRIST
The opposite of seeing through the body’s eyes is the vision of Christ, which reflects strength rather than weakness, unity rather than separation, and love rather than fear. The opposite of hearing through the body’s ears is communication through the Voice for God, the Holy Spirit, which abides in each of us. His Voice seems distant and difficult to hear because the ego, which speaks for the little, separated self, seems to be much louder. This is actually reversed. The Holy Spirit speaks with unmistakable clarity and overwhelming appeal. No one who does not choose to identify with the body could possibly be deaf to His messages of release and hope, nor could he fail to accept joyously the vision of Christ in glad exchange for his miserable picture of himself.
Christ’s vision is the Holy Spirit’s gift, God’s alternative to the illusion of separation and to the belief in the reality of sin, guilt, and death. It is the one correction for all errors of perception; the reconciliation of the seeming opposites on which this world is based. Its kindly light shows all things from another point of view, reflecting the thought system that arises from knowledge and making return to God not only possible but inevitable. What was regarded as injustices done to one by someone else, now becomes a call for help and for union. Sin, sickness, and attack are seen as misperceptions calling for remedy through gentleness and love. Defenses are laid down because where there is no attack there is no need for them. Our brothers’ needs become our own, because they are taking the journey with us as we go to God. Without us they would lose their way. Without them we could never find our own.

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MORE ON FORGIVENESS
Forgiveness is unknown in Heaven, where the need for it would be inconceivable. However, in this world, forgiveness is a necessary correction for all the mistakes that we have made. To offer forgiveness is the only way for us to have it, for it reflects the law of Heaven that giving and receiving are the same. Heaven is the natural state of all the Sons of God as He created them. Such is their reality forever. It has not changed because it has been forgotten.
Forgiveness is the means by which we will remember. Through forgiveness the thinking of the world is reversed. The forgiven world becomes the gate of Heaven, because by its mercy we can at last forgive ourselves. Holding no one prisoner to guilt, we become free. Acknowledging Christ in all our brothers, we recognize His Presence in ourselves. Forgetting all our misperceptions, and with nothing from the past to hold us back, we can remember God. Beyond this, learning cannot go. When we are ready, God Himself will take the final step in our return to Him.

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TRUE FORGIVENESS:
What I am talking about is what we may refer to as “true forgiveness”. Understanding true forgiveness requires us to ascend to a higher level of abstraction.
It requires us to not only accept that there is a God (a Supreme Being or First Cause), but also to accept that we are actually created by and extensions of that very God. And, if this is so, then we cannot be anything but God. Thoughts do not leave their source. Anything created by God cannot be anything but God. To make it more easily understandable we say the God is the Father and that what he created by extending Himself is the Son of God. This one Son is forever innocent, forever lovable and forever loved. We do not believe this, of course. And that is literally the “hell” of it. We believe that we are separate beings, wrapped in bags of skin, independent from God and from all of creation. Not unlike a drop in the ocean thinking of itself as a individuated drop rather than as an integral aspect of oceanic oneness, the whole, we feel isolated, alone and scared.
True forgiveness calls on us to acknowledge that we (as the Son of God) cannot beattacked, and anger has no justification. Any perceived attack is merely a distorted call for Love. To be sure, bodies can be and are frequently physically attacked, with horrible consequences. The mind, however, can only be attacked if it chooses to be vulnerable and prone to projection. Verbal attacks can only hurt us if we choose to give these power over us; that is, if we interpret them as an assault, resulting in a stab of pain that justifies our attack in return. If, on the other hand, we interpret verbal attacks as the desperate call for Love that it truly is, we can actively choose to react in a loving way, without condemnation. This is done by quickly activating our observant decision maker “above the battleground”, and then asking the Holy Spirit (the voice of our collective Self) what to do. By doing so, we acknowledge that attack cannot have real effects, that we do not have separate interests, and that we’re equal as creations of God, albeit asleep, dreaming of fragmentation and separate interests.
WHO THE BOOK IS FOR:
On the following pages you will find sections of a book I am in the process of completing.  The book is being written for the benefit of anyone who has a deeply felt desire to help others lead happier, more satisfying and productive lives.  There are many labels that apply and all of them have slightly different meanings.  Our “tribe” includes psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, marriage and family therapists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, mental health counselors, school psychologists, school counselors, substance abuse counselors, pastoral counselors, and other human service professionals.  While the distinctions between these helping roles may be one of degree of training or focus, what is more important is what they all share in common.  In a very real sense, we are all in the same business. Call yourself what you will; pick a label that feels comfortable; choose a term that fits your background training and experience.  But realize that we are all in the business of enhancing the lives of others.
 BEGINNER’S INSECURITY:
Although I was quite sure I had found my calling during the early years of my practice, I was feeling more than a little insecure.  Just as the beginning doctor, lawyer, teacher and investment broker feels in over his or her head when first starting out, I felt at times like something of an impostor.  This natural and appropriate beginners insecurity led me to become somewhat obsessed with learning all I could about how to counsel others ethically and effectively.  Like most of my colleagues, I felt compelled to go far beyond the survey courses of current psychotherapies offered in my graduate programs and delved into tomes of works on psychology, philosophy, sociology and spirituality.  Driven by a strong desire to attain a level of competence that would ensure that I did no harm, my studies became a nearly diagnosable obsession.
SO MANY THEORIES!
As I studied the history of psychology and read in depth about the “talking cure” of the pioneering psychodynamic schools; the subsequent emergence of behaviorism as a dominant paradigm; the counterbalancing effect of the existential/humanistic school; and the parallel rise of the cognitive-behavioral and rational-emotive schools, I began to wonder how it was that there could be such a variety of perspectives – all of which had such face validity and such appeal, at least to me.  How could there be so many radically different “theories” about what it takes to be a helping professional?

“There seemed to be no doubt that there was a part of me I did not know, but which understood exactly what all this meant. It was a strangely split awareness, of a kind which was to become increasingly familiar.” (Absence from Felicity, pp. 97-98)

My blessing (and also my curse – in the sense of it being a constant preoccupation) is that I am obsessive in seeking the truth. I am also obsessive about language. I love words and the power of them. But I am also aware of how confusing words can be.

Words are but symbols of symbols – twice removed from “reality”. They may “denote” certain meaning or they may “connote” entirely different meanings.

“Words can have several meanings. The literal meanings, the denotation, are direct, realistic, and often found in the dictionary. What the word suggests or implies, the connotation, is symbolic, culturally constructed, and often influences the interpretation of poetry or literature. For example, the denotations of the word snake might be “reptile,” “scaly,” or “without legs.” Connotations of the word, however, might include “treachery,” “evil,” or “betrayal.” Writers of nonfiction assume that the denotation of words will inform the meaning for readers. On the other hand, poets or fiction writers may instill meaning beyond the literal by using words with culturally rich connotations.”

So, when it comes to nebulous and abstract concepts such as “soul” and “spirit” (which must be without substance because they can only have meaning in relation to what they are not – i.e., that which does have substance), it is easy to become lost. 

PSYCHOTHERAPY ACCORDING TO JESUS

PURPOSE:

The only form of therapy there is

Only the mind can be sick – only the mind can be healed

It is necessary so that the individual can begin to question their reality.

It is always some change in his perception of interpersonal relationships that enables him to open his mind.

The client must be helped to change his mind about the “reality” of illusions.

The purpose is to remove the blocks to truth.

Its aim is to aide the client in abandoning his fixed delusional system.

“God has given everyone a Teacher Whose wisdom and help far exceed whatever contributions an earthly therapist can provide. Yet there are times and situations in which an earthly patient-therapist relationship becomes the means through which He offers His greater gifts to both.”

ON THE TABOO AGAINST SEEKING (CONNECTING WITH) THE SPIRIT

“What greater purpose could any relationship have than to invite the Holy Spirit to enter into it an give it His Own great gift of rejoicing? What greater goal could there be for anyone than to learn to call upon God and hear His Answer?”

“Psychotherapy, correctly understood, teaches forgiveness and helps the patient to recognize and accept it.”

“Everyone who needs help, regardless of the form of his distress, is attacking himself, and his peace of mind is suffering in consesquence.”

The “self” which can attack and be attacked as well, is a concept he made up. He charishes it, defends  it, and is sometimes even willing to “sacrifice” his “life” on its behalf. [Constructivism]

This “self” he sees as being acted on by the external world. It can only react to those external forces as they demand. He is small and helpless compared to the power of the world.

Psychotherapy must restore to his awareness the ability to make his own decisions.

He must become willing to reverse his thinking, and to understand that what he thought projected its effects on him (external forces) were made by his projections on the world [what is out there came from in here]. The world he sees does not really exist. Until this is at least partly accepted the client cannot see himself as really capable of making decisions [I’m a victim of circumstances]. AND HE WILL FIGHT AGAINST HIS FREEDOM BECAUSE HE THINKS IT IS SLAVERY.

Every client must begin to separate truth from illusion.

When he can see illusions as false, and accept the truth as true, his Teacher will take him on from there, as far as he is ready to go.

“Psychotherapy can only save him time.” [That is a good summary of our job – to save time (under the direction of the HS)]

Psychotherapy under [the Holy Spirit’s] direction is one of the means He uses to save time, and to prepare additional teachers for His work.

PROCESS:

Psychotherapy is a process that changes the view of the self.

At best this new “self” is a more beneficent self-concept.

But, psychotherapy can hardly be expected to establish reality. That is not its function.

IF IT CAN MAKE WAY FOR REALITY, IT HAS ACHIEVED ITS ULTIMATE SUCCESS.

The whole function of therapy is to help the patient deal with ONE FUNDAMENTAL ERROR – the belief that anger brings him something he really wants, and that by justifying attack he is protecting himself.

To the extent that he comes to realize that this is an error he is truly saved.

VERY IMPORTANT:

Clients do not enter the therapeutic relationship with this goal in mind.

Their aim is to be able to retain their self-concept exactly as it is, BUT WITHOUT THE SUFFERING THAT IT ENTAILS. [to retain the ego without the fear and anger and suffering]

WHAT THEY ARE REALLY SEEKING IS MAGIC.

Clients cling to the insane belief that this is possible. But, it is not possible to be “sane” and to cling to illusion of a separated self at the same time.

In the field of illusions the impossible is easily accomplished, but only at the cost of making illusions true – ya have to believe!

Our clients have already paid this price; now they want a better illusion.

At the onset, the client’s goal and the therapist’s are at variance. Both may cherish false self-concepts and their respective perceptions of “improvement” will differ.

ERROR: The client hopes to learn how to get the changes he wants without changing his self-concept to any significant extent. He wants to make the vulnerable invulnerable and the finite limitless. The self he sees is his god, and he seeks only to serve it better.

ERROR: Regardless of how sincere the therapist is, he is likely to want to change the client’s self-concept in some way that he believes is real. [but that is still operating in the field of illusion]. The task of psychotherapy, then, is to reconcile the differences between the hidden goal [hidden agenda] of the client and the goal [hidden agenda] of the therapist.

“Hopefully both will learn to give up their original goals, for it is only in relationships that salvation can be found.

LIMITS:

If it can make way for reality, it has achieved its ultimate success. Yet, the ideal outcome is rarely achieved.

Therapy begins [to take effect] with the realization that healing is of the mind

[GOOD STUFF] No one learns beyond his own readiness. But, levels of readiness change. And when either the therapist of the client reach a new level, there will be a relationship held out to them that meets the changing need.

Perhaps they will come together again and advance in the same relationship, making it holier. Or perhaps each of them will enter into another commitment. Be assured of this; each of them will progress. Retrogression is always temporary. The overall direction is one of progress toward the truth.

THE BASICS:

Very simply, the purpose of all therapeutic relationships is to free our clients from fear.  All pain and suffering is the result of fear of some kind, experienced at some level of the individual’s psyche. It is deep-seeded insecurity and fear that leads to the belief that one is vulnerable, that one can and should be attacked (i.e., judged, condemned, criticized, punished, etc.). 

Some of us do a pretty good job of managing this fear by attacking ourselves. We enable the critical judge within to compile a lengthy list of our faults and failings which justifies self-hatred in all of its forms. We attack and punish ourselves, thus saving others the trouble of condemning and punishing us. We may get some attention and sympathy for our efforts, but we still suffer, and fear is the underlying cause of that suffering. 

However, it works just as well the other way.  Some of us choose to attack, judge and punish others under the mistaken belief that pointing a finger outward will ease the profound fear we feel inwardly.  The old saw, “The best defense is a good offence” seems to make sense.  And that is why some of us try to manage our fear by attacking others.  Unfortunately, what we fail to understand is that when we choose to protect ourselves from our fear – our belief that we should be punished for what we have done (or for just being) – by attacking and condemning others we are only getting back what we are giving out. It is all an illusion; a trick. You simply cannot feel good by making others feel bad. Most ten-year-old children know this because they have experienced the pangs of conscience when they first tried it.  Yet, there are ever-so-many “mature” mature individuals who still think they will find peace – freedom from fear – by attacking others.

 by or that one can and should attack others by criticizing, blaming, condemning etc. 

Fear is the mental illness that underlies all problems in living.

The only antidote to fear is love.  And as individuals who are called to the helping professions, it is our good fortune to be in a position to approach our relationships with our clients with Loving Will and Positive Intentions.  After all, is it not Loving Will that brought us into the field in the first place?  Is it not Loving Will – the “call” we each heard at some time and in some unique way – that led us to even consider a career in counseling? For all true helper/healers this is true. Some part of their being knows that love is the ultimate answer to all of life’s trials and tribulations. It is the underlying source of all the talk therapies and behavior therapies, all the brand named therapeutic techniques, all the varieties of strategies and methodologies that have become available to us to tuck into our personal took kits. 

If our therapeutic approaches are not based in loving will and positive intentions what good could they possibly do? If one goes into a dark room with something other than a source of light, what good is it? The room remains dark.  In the absence of oving Will any supposedly therapeutic relationship is nothing but darkness speaking with darkness; fear enhancing fear, emptiness propagating emptiness, aloneness feeling more alone. 

Everyone who is suffering and needs help, regardless of the form of his distress, is attacking himself with critical judgment.  This self-destructive tendency IS the human condition.

 

WILLIAM JAMES

The Varieties of Religious Experience : a Study in Human Nature / William James Página 39 de 400

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/j/james/william/varieties/complete.html 4/13/2009

We shall see abundant examples of this happy state of mind in later lectures of this course. We shall see how infinitely passionate a thing religion at its highest flights can be. Like love, like wrath, like hope, ambition, jealousy, like every other instinctive eagerness and impulse, it adds to life an enchantment which is not rationally or logically deducible from anything else. This enchantment, coming as a gift when it does come—a gift of our organism, the physiologists will tell us, a gift of God’s grace, the theologians say —is either there or not there for us, and there are persons who can no more become possessed by it than they can fall in love with a given woman by mere word of command. Religious feeling is thus an absolute addition to the Subject’s range of life. It gives him a new sphere of power. When the outward battle is lost, and the outer world disowns him, it redeems and vivifies an interior world which otherwise would be an empty waste. If religion is to mean anything definite for us, it seems to me that we ought to take it as meaning this added dimension of emotion, this enthusiastic temper of espousal, in regions where morality strictly so called can at best but bow its head and acquiesce. It ought to mean nothing short of this new reach of freedom for us, with the struggle over, the keynote of the universe sounding in our ears, and everlasting possession spread before our eyes.18 18 Once more, there are plenty of men, constitutionally sombre men, in whose religious life this rapturousness is lacking. They are religious in the wider sense, yet in this acutest of all senses they are not so, and it is religion in the acutest sense that I wish, without disputing about words, to study first, so as to get at its typical differentia. This sort of happiness in the absolute and everlasting is what we find nowhere but in religion. It is parted off from all mere animal happiness, all mere enjoyment of the present, by that element of solemnity of which I have already made so much account. Solemnity is a hard thing to define abstractly, but certain of its marks are patent enough. A solemn state of mind is never crude or simple—it seems to contain a certain measure of its own opposite in solution. A solemn joy preserves a sort of bitter in its sweetness; a solemn sorrow is one to which we intimately consent. But there are writers who, realizing that happiness of a supreme sort is the prerogative of religion, forget this complication, and call all happiness, as such, religious. Mr. Havelock Ellis, for example, identifies religion with the entire field of the soul’s liberation from oppressive moods. “The simplest functions of physiological life,” he writes may be its ministers. Every one who is at all acquainted with the Persian mystics knows how wine may be regarded as an instrument of religion. Indeed, The Varieties of Religious Experience : a Study in Human Nature / William James Página 39 de 400

 

 

“To the psychologist the religious propensities of man must be at least as interesting as any other of the facts pertaining to his mental constitution. It would seem, therefore, that, as a psychologist, the natural thing for me would be to invite you to a descriptive survey of those religious propensities.”

“I speak not now of your ordinary religious believer, who follows the conventional observances of his country, whether it be Buddhist, Christian, or Mohammedan. His religion has been made for him by others, communicated to him by tradition, determined to fixed forms by imitation, and retained by habit. It would profit us little to study this second-hand religious life. We must make search rather for the original experiences which were the pattern-setters to all this mass of suggested feeling and imitated conduct. These experiences we can only find in individuals for whom religion exists not as a dull habit, but as an acute fever rather. But such individuals are “geniuses” in the religious line; and like many other geniuses who have brought forth fruits effective enough for commemoration in the pages of biography, such religious geniuses have often shown symptoms of nervous instability. Even more perhaps than other kinds of genius, religious leaders have been subject to abnormal psychical visitations. Invariably they have been creatures of exalted emotional sensibility. Often they have led a discordant inner life, and had melancholy during a part of their career. They have known no measure, been liable to obsessions and fixed ideas; and frequently they have fallen into trances, heard voices, seen visions, and presented all sorts of peculiarities which are ordinarily classed as pathological. Often, moreover, these pathological features in their career have helped to give them their religious authority and influence.

WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

Most books on the philosophy [substitute psychology here]of religion try to begin with a precise definition of what its essence consists of. Some of these would-be definitions may possibly come before us in later portions of this course, and I shall not be pedantic enough to enumerate any of them to you now. Meanwhile the very fact that they are so many and so different from one another is enough to prove that the word “religion” cannot stand for any single principle or essence, but is rather a collective name. The theorizing mind tends always to the oversimplification of its materials. This is the root of all that absolutism and one-sided dogmatism by which both philosophy and religion have been infested. Let us not fall immediately into a one-sided view of our subject, but let us rather admit freely at the outset that we may very likely find no one essence, but many characters which may alternately be equally important to religion. If we should inquire for the essence of “government,” for example, one man might tell us it was authority, another submission, an other police, another an army, another an assembly, an other a system of laws; yet all the while it would be true that no concrete government can exist without all these things, one of which is more important at one moment and others at another. The man who knows governments most completely is he who troubles himself least about a definition which shall give their essence. Enjoying an intimate acquaintance with all their particularities in turn, he would naturally regard an abstract conception in which these were unified as a thing more misleading than enlightening. And why may not religion be a conception equally complex?

“There is a state of mind, known to religious men, but to no others, in which the will to assert ourselves and hold our own has been displaced by a willingness to close our mouths and be as nothing in the floods and waterspouts of God. In this state of mind, what we most dreaded has become the habitation of our safety, and the hour of our moral death has turned into our spiritual birthday. The time for tension in our soul is over, and that of happy relaxation, of calm deep breathing, of an eternal present, with no discordant future to be anxious about, has arrived. Fear is not held in abeyance as it is by mere morality, it is positively expunged and washed away. ” [Lecture II Circumscription of the Topic ]

Lecture III The Reality of the Unseen

PERCEPTS VERSUS ABSTRACT CONCEPTS— INFLUENCE OF THE LATTER ON BELIEF— KANT’S THEOLOGICAL IDEAS— WE HAVE A SENSE OF REALITY OTHER THAN THAT GIVEN BY THE SPECIAL SENSES— EXAMPLES OF “SENSE OF PRESENCE”— THE FEELING OF UNREALITY— SENSE OF A DIVINE PRESENCE: EXAMPLES— MYSTICAL EXPERIENCES: EXAMPLES— OTHER CASES OF SENSE OF GOD’S PRESENCE— CONVINCINGNESS OF UNREASONED EXPERIENCE— INFERIORITY OF RATIONALISM IN ESTABLISHING BELIEF— EITHER ENTHUSIASM OR SOLEMNITY MAY PREPONDERATE IN THE RELIGIOUS ATTITUDE OF INDIVIDUALS.

Were one asked to characterize the life of religion [spirituality] in the broadest and most general terms possible, one might say that it consists of the belief that there is an unseen order, and that our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto.

IT IS SPIRIT BUT WE MAY SPEAK OF IT (AND SCIENCE CANNOT MEASURE IT)

All our attitudes, moral, practical, or emotional, as well as religious, are due to the “objects” of our consciousness, the things which we believe to exist, whether really or ideally, along with ourselves. Such objects may be present to our senses, or they may be present only to our thought. In either case they elicit from us a REACTION; and the reaction due to things of thought is notoriously in many cases as strong as that due to sensible presences. It may be even stronger. The memory of an insult may make us angrier than the insult did when we received it. We are frequently more ashamed of our blunders afterwards than we were at the moment of making them; and in general our whole higher prudential and moral life is based on the fact that material sensations actually present may have a weaker influence on our action than ideas of remoter facts.

MORE ON IT DON’T HAVE TO BE REAL TO THE SENSES TO IMPACT US:

Immanuel Kant held a curious doctrine about such objects of belief as God, the design of creation, the soul, its freedom, and the life hereafter. These things, he said, are properly not objects of knowledge at all. Our conceptions always require a sense-content to work with, and as the words soul,” “God,” “immortality,” cover no distinctive sense-content whatever, it follows that theoretically speaking they are words devoid of any significance. Yet strangely enough they have a definite meaning FOR OUR PRACTICE. We can act AS IF there were a God; feel AS IF we were free; consider Nature AS IF she were full of special designs; lay plans AS IF we were to be immortal; and we find then that these words do make a genuine difference in our moral life. Our faith THAT these unintelligible objects actually exist proves thus to be a full equivalent in praktischer Hinsicht, as Kant calls it, or from the point of view of our action, for a knowledge of WHAT they might be, in case we were permitted positively to conceive them. So we have the strange phenomenon, as Kant assures us, of a mind believing with all its strength in the real presence of a set of things of no one of which it can form any notion whatsoever.

The whole universe of concrete objects, as we know them, swims, not only for such a transcendentalist writer, but for all of us, in a wider and higher universe of abstract ideas, that lend it its significance. As time, space, and the ether soak through all things so (we feel) do abstract and essential goodness, beauty, strength, significance, justice, soak through all things good, strong, significant, and just.

Such ideas, and others equally abstract, form the background for all our facts, the fountain-head of all the possibilities we conceive of. They give its “nature,” as we call it, to every special thing. Everything we know is “what” it is by sharing in the nature of one of these abstractions. We can never look directly at them, for they are bodiless and featureless and footless, but we grasp all other things by their means, and in handling the real world we should be stricken with helplessness in just so far forth as we might lose these mental objects, these adjectives and adverbs and predicates and heads of classification and conception.

“Polarizing and magnetizing us as they do, we turn towards them and from them, we seek them, hold them, hate them, bless them, just as if they were so many concrete beings. And beings they are, beings as real in the realm which they inhabit as the changing things of sense are in the realm of space. ”

“Plato gave so brilliant and impressive a defense of this common human feeling, that the doctrine of the reality of abstract objects has been known as the platonic theory of ideas ever since. Abstract Beauty, for example, is for Plato a perfectly definite individual being, of which the intellect is aware as of something additional to all the perishing beauties of the earth. “The true order of going,” he says, in the often quoted passage in his “Banquet,” “is to use the beauties of earth as steps along which one mounts upwards for the sake of that other Beauty, going from one to two, and from two to all fair forms, and from fair forms to fair actions, and from fair actions to fair notions, until from fair notions, he arrives at the notion of absolute Beauty, and at last knows what the essence of Beauty is.”

SCIENCE AS RELIGION:

In those various churches without a God which today are spreading through the world under the name of ethical societies, we have a similar worship of the abstract divine, the moral law believed in as an ultimate object. “Science” in many minds is genuinely taking the place of a religion. Where this is so, the scientist treats the “Laws of Nature” as objective facts to be revered.

THE “REALITY-FEELING”:reality-feeling

“It is as if there were in the human consciousness a sense of reality, a feeling of objective presence, a perception of what we may call “something there,” more deep and more general than any of the special and particular “senses” by which the current psychology supposes existent realities to be originally revealed. ”

“There was not a mere consciousness of something there, but fused in the central happiness of it, a startling awareness of some ineffable good. Not vague either, not like the emotional effect of some poem, or scene, or blossom, of music, but the sure knowledge of the close presence of a sort of mighty person, and after it went, the memory persisted as the one perception of reality. Everything else might be a dream, but not that.”

QUOTE: We shall see later that the absence of definite sensible images is positively insisted on by the mystical authorities in all religions as the sine qua non of a successful orison, or contemplation of the higher divine truths.

WADING IN THE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNES

I was having a nice talk today with the beautiful friend who cuts my hair. We were talking about a book I have been trying to write for some time and it suddenly occurred to me that I am not writing the book. Rather, the book is writing me! This flash of insight arrived with so much force that I burst into tears – surrounded by others in the shop who must have been wondering what was going on. I paid no attention to them and I did not care if they were observing me. Some moments are just too profound to interrupt with self-consciousness.

An intellectual understanding of this message from the ether was not immediately clear to me. As is sometimes the case with messages of great import, the revelation is too grand to fit into existing mental constructs and must be digested for a time before they may be fully understood. And then, they must be mulled over for an even longer period of time before the abstractness of the message may be converted into something that is communicable. For now, this is the best I can do.

This thought, “The book is writing me.” only takes on meaning when considered in wider context. Suffice to say that when this insight came to me I had been struggling for quite a long time to marshal all my talents and abilities to create a book that would have a positive impact on others engaged in the helping professions; specifically, counselors and psychotherapists. I’m talking several years!  Up until that day in the haircut shop I had spent a lot of energy being “concerned”.  Concerned about clarifying the main idea; concerned about the specific content; concerned about my limited writing skills; concerned that it seemed to be taking way too long to get it done; concerned that it would never be good enough, etc. But when the insight happened all such concerns dissolved. And I have no doubt that the lifting of these concerns is the true genesis of the tears that burst forth at that moment.

I had been approaching the writing of the book as I believe most writers do – linearly. That is, one gets an idea, then one maps out a plan or outline, and then one dresses up the skeleton of the idea with the “meat” of the book. This approach may work well for some, but not for me. My mind seldom operates in a linear fashion. I’m more of a simultaneous “lumper” than a sequential “sorter”. But, the gift of the insight was even more profound than that. What I understood in that ‘flash” was that in a way, (a way I will attempt to explain as we go along), instead of me constructing the book based on learnings and experiences in my life to this point; the idea of the completed book was constructing me! It was leading me to seek and to have experiences that would, in turn, become the contents of the book.

Since that moment I ceased thinking about writing the book in the same way. It became abundantly clear to me that I did not any longer have to be concerned about either the outcome or the process. Furthermore, and this is where it gets a bit spooky, the reason that I need not be concerned is because the book already IS. It has been conceived, and so it is.  All that remains is for the manifestation in form to work itself out; and since the book already is, and I can stop fretting about it.

Now you might wonder how I can assert that something already IS while, at the same time saying that it is in the process of becoming. Well, in order to do that one has to be willing to transcend the bounds of linear time – it is sort of a quantum physics thing. An analogy comes to mind. When those of us who love trees see a fully grown oak tree we revel in the beauty of it, giving little thought to its humble beginnings as an acorn. And yet, when we track backwards, in time, we can see that the entire tree WAS from the beginning what it is now – its potential just had to wait on time. You could, of course, argue that it did NOT have to be. Any number of things could have happened to interrupt the succession of stages from acorn to fully grown tree.  But, that actually supports my point. They did NOT happen. And so, we can state that, in truth, this particular tree, as it is now, always WAS, from the time it landed in fertile ground as a tiny acorn (and before that, for that matter). At that moment of beginning (let us call it conception) it was as it was meant to be even if only as “potential-in-the-process-of-manifesting”.

Not yet convinced? Let’s try another approach. About the same time I was given the realization that the book is writing me I was also given an image of a river – let’s call it “the Stream of Consciousness”. If one chooses to wade into that stream one can stand at the origin or head of the stream; or at some point in the middle of the stream; or at the very end of the stream where it joins with the sea and becomes no more a river but, rather, part of something greater. When we view it holistically, say from a perspective high above, we can see that from beginning to the end that river IS. Furthermore, no matter where one stands in the stream, one thing is certain; while the stream exists at all it IS – at its beginning (somewhere); at its middle (between beginning and end); and at that place where it ends.

And so it is with my book. Once I had conceived of it and declared my heartfelt intent to write it (and, believe me, I have been mulling it over for many years!) it came into being.  In the freedom of being untethered to time, I can confidently proclaim that it not only IS, but also that it was and that it always has been. Lest you doubt my ability and authority to play with time this way, the proof of what I am declaring is in the fact that you are reading the very book I was planning to write when I received the insight I am relating to you.

Up until this day I have spent a lot of energy being “concerned” about the book . That is, concerned about clarifying the main idea, concerned about the specific content, concerned about my limited writing skills, concerned that it seemed to be taking way too long to get it out, concerned that it would never be good enough, etc., etc. etc. Now, however, I understand something that has lifted the burden of these concerns completely. And I have no doubt that the lifting of these concerns is the true genesis of the tears that burst forth in the haircut place. Since the book already is, and I can stop fretting about it.

If I have not yet completely lost you with my time-tinkering I would just like to add that this missive about the writing of a book may easily be taken as a metaphor for our individual lives – the lives of our spirits or our souls. When we lift the veil and look past the constraints of time; when we open our minds and free ourselves from all limiting ideas passed on from generation to generation; and when we choose the Spirit of Wholeness (i.e., seeing it all from a perspective high above) rather than the shadowy limitations of the separated ego, we may come to understand that THE STORY of all of our individual lives; THE STORY of our return to love is also already completed. The script is already written. The book of life is, all at once, beginning, happening and completed. It sort of boggles the mind, doesn’t it? Taken – or better yet, accepted – in this way one may relax. Freed up from all worry about the future and all regrets about the past one may be mindful in the moment. One may rest in the full knowledge and peace of knowing that what is meant to be already IS. What you were meant to be you already are and always have been. The script is written. You are just living it out.

While we are experiencing “now” moments in the “flow” of life we can, if we choose, accept this truth: the fact that both the beginning and the end already ARE. In the holy books it is written that the Supreme One is the beginning and the end – the Alpha and the Omega – “I am that I am”. Meditate on this when you are in difficult times for there is a gift waiting for you there. You may be having the experience of being in “mid-stream”, but it is also possible, if you will open your mind to it, to experience “being-at-the-end-of-the-stream” at the same time.* For time itself, when the stream is apprehended as a whole, no longer has any meaning.

*This actually happens to people. Abraham Maslow called them “peak experiences” and William James spoke of them in “The Variety of Religious Experience”

 

It is a discipline of training the mind to hear and follow only the Voice for Love.

humor, gentleness, freedom, and joy flow from such a state of mind

The world we perceive (live in) It is a binary world – up-down; in-out, high-low, good-bad, even liberal or conservative. So it should be no surprise to us that in our field as in all things earthly thier is bifurcation and polarization when it comes to ferreting out what it is that works; or how it should work; or how to go about it. The latest iteration (though certainly not the last) is the rift between the EVP adherents and the CF folks. . This kind of ____ is inevitable but not necessary. It is inevitable because the human ego demands insists not only on constructing “realities” (even, and especially, in the form of theories about this and that) on identifying itself – this is how it preserves its so called “life”. [its a good thing there are sides so there is a place for me to abide].

But it is not necessary because it can be transcended. In fact, it must be transcended if we are to find the truth that is so true that it has the power to disolves away all binary divisions. That truth available to all but chosen by few.

DAVID-30DAY “At the foundation of any authentic healing, one must begin a real relationship with a higher power. Call it what resonates for you, be it God, Jesus, or Higher Self. During this month we will use the name Holy Spirit. This symbol IS the transforming agent, so it is very important to really try this on for the month. You are not the healer!! This is the good news”,

WADING IN THE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS

A book about life in that space betwee Alpha and Omega

The thing about fly fishing is that the beauty of it is indescribable. One simply cannot convey in words to another the sublime peace and joy that comes to those who choose to wade in water waving a stick; in search of a boil on the survace or a tug from below that signals that you and nature have once again connected.

 

Humberto Maturana: Spirituality is an expansion of awareness. Spiritual experiences always happen when we really see the beauty of a sunset or the face of someone whom we lolve, or sense something greater than our individual self.

When we have this expansive experience, its as if we dissolve and become ;part of a larger whole. this seems to lead to a feeling of lightness, like Heidegger’s lichtung, so any problem merges with the background insteas of fully occupying the mesmerizing foreground, becoming part of the totality rather than being the totalityy.

 

for me, this expansion of awareness is primary, and gthe connections weith strengths and abilities that we have folows.

When I’m with a client and this happens, they can catch this mood from me. And when a client has this expereince of expansin, some of thgeir experience radiates to me and we both begin to glow.

REAL LISTENING: If I expand my awareness to include the client by doing the best I can to put aside my thoughts, ideas, feelings, and agenda, and really listen to not only what they are saying, butr also to who they are – their beliefs, wishes, hopes and concerns – there is a merging with each other. And in this shared spiritual space, the magic happens …except when it doesn’t, of course.

 

I like to think of my work as “selling water by the river”. We can be so absorbed in our tunnel vision view of our experiences that we don’t see the “river”. If we can help someone to see itk, they have acces to it, and then realize that it was there all along – onlyu it was overlooked, transparent, and unappreciated. I see it as a process of disclosing – of uncovering something present but hidden, and at the same time created.

It’s just a part of the human experiece – an ordinary ecveryday experience of spirituality patiently waiting for us to open our awarenbess to its presence.”

PEOPLE ARE NOT CARS:

I see my work as being more closely connected with the spiritual pracrtices of formal religions and shamanistic practices than scientific explanatiolns and technical treatments. I am increasingly wary of any explanation of the human conditionk, and prefer to honor the innately musterious experience of being alie. Classififcation s and treatment of techniques are perfect for dealing with cars, washingmachines, andcomputerd… but for human beings? I don’t think so. Our beautifully intricate complexities defy dissection and explanation, and invite wonder and appreciation.

 

 

NERD ALERT: Determining IF, WHAT, and HOW Psychotherapy Works

MAY 5, 2016 BY SCOTTDM LEAVE A COMMENT

OK, this post may not be for everyone.  I’m hoping to “go beyond the headlines,” “dig deep,” and cover a subject essential to research on the effectiveness of psychotherapy. So, if you fit point #2 in the definition above, read on.

 

It’s easy to forget the revolution that took place in the field of psychotherapy a mere 40 years ago.  At that time, the efficacy of psychotherapy was in serious question. As I posted last week, psychologist Hans Eysenck (1952, 1961, 1966) had published a review of studies purporting to show that psychotherapy was not only ineffective, but potentially harmful.  Proponents of psychotherapy responded with the own reviews (c.f., Bergin, 1971).  Back and forth each side went, arguing their respective positions–that is, until Mary Lee Smith and Gene Glass (1977) published the first meta-analysis of psychotherapy outcome studies.

Their original analysis of 375 studies showed psychotherapy to be remarkably beneficial.  As I’ve said here, and frequently on my blog, they found that the average treated client was better off than 80% of people with similar problems were untreated.

Eysenck and other critics (1978, 1984; Rachman and Wilson 1980) immediately complained about the use of meta-analysis, using an argument still popular today; namely, that by including studies of varying (read: poor) quality, Smith and Glass OVERESTIMATED the effectiveness of psychotherapy.  Were such studies excluded, they contended, the results would most certainly be different and behavior therapy—Eysenck’s preferred method—would once again prove superior.

For Smith and Glass, such claims were not a matter of polemics, but rather empirical questions serious scientists could test—with meta-analysis, of course.

So, what did they do?  Smith and Glass rated the quality of all outcome studies with specific criteria and multiple raters.  And what did they find?  The better and more tightly controlled studies were, the more effective psychotherapy proved to be.  Studies of low, medium, and high internal validity, for example, had effect sizes of .78, .78, and .88, respectively.  Other meta-analyses followed, using slightly different samples, with similar results: the tighter the study, the more effective psychotherapy proved to be.

Importantly, the figures reported by Smith and Glass have stood the test of time.  Indeed, the most recent meta-analyses provide estimates of the effectiveness of psychotherapy that are nearly identical to those generated in Smith and Glass’s original study.  More, use of their pioneering method has exploded, becoming THE standard method for aggregating and understanding results from studies in education, psychology, and medicine.

 

As psychologist Sheldon Kopp (1973) was fond of saying, “All solutions breed new problems.”  Over the last two decades the number of meta-analyses of psychotherapy research has exploded.  In fact, there are now more meta-analyses than there were studies of psychotherapy at the time of Smith and Glass’s original research.  The result is that it’s become exceedingly challenging to understand and integrate information generated by such studies into a larger gestalt about the effectiveness of psychotherapy.

Last week, for example, I posted results from the original Smith and Glass study on Facebook and Twitter—in particular, their finding that better controlled studies resulted inhigher effect sizes.   Immediately, a colleague responded, citing a new meta-analysis, “Usually, it’s the other way around…” and “More contemporary studies find that better methodology is associated with lower effect sizes.”

It’s a good idea to read this study, closely.  If you just read the “headline”–“The Effect of Psychotherapy for Adult Depression are Overestimated–or skip the method’s section and read the author’s conclusions, you might be tempted to conclude that better designed studies produce smaller effects (in this particular study, in the case of depression).  In fact, what the study actually says is that better designed studies will find smaller differences when a manualized therapy is compared to a credible alternative!  Said another way, differences between a particular psychotherapy approach and an alternative (e.g., counseling, usual care, or placebo), are likely to be greater when the study is of poor quality.

What can we conclude? Just because a study is more recent, does not mean it’s better, or more informative.  The important question one must consider is, “What is being compared?”  For the most part, Smith and Glass analyzed studies in which psychotherapy was compared to no treatment.  The study cited by my colleague, demonstrates what I, and others (e.g., Wampold, Imel, Lambert, Norcross, etc.) have long argued: few if any differences will be found between approaches.

The implications for research and practice are clear.  For therapists, find an approach that fits you and benefits your clients.  Make sure it works by routinely seeking feedback from those you serve.  For researchers, stop wasting time and precious resources on clinical trials.  Such studies, as Wampold and Imel so eloquently put it, “seemed not to have added much clinically or scientifically (other than to further reinforce the conclusion that there are no differences between treatments), [and come] at a cost…” (p. 268).

Until next time,

Rob McNeilly”Psycho” in psychotherapy is from the greek psyche or “soul, not “mind” so it is spiritual rather than intellectual.”

 

 

COURSE: An open mind becomes aware there are things it does not know ready to accept a “state” completly different from experience. ”

A graceful mind “becomes aware that there are things it does not know.”

“Your clear mind is an alter where the gifts of God may be laid.”

W 169 “Grace is an aspect of the love of God

“It’s in every one of us to be free….”

DIVINE ALCHAMY (course): “Love alone can bring beauty out of the ashes of lost dreams.”

“One lives and operates in two realms simultaneously. The visible world and the unseen, eternal reality.

“Apart from Spirit we can do nothing of eternal value.”[we are just rearranging the furniture in our jail cell.]

ADD ARNOLD PATTEN: Free will is what you would ask for and the worst of all…

 

I had a conversation with God a long time ago about this very same subject. Shouting at Him I was, arrogantly incensed at the futility of it all. We live, we love, and then we die. Poof! What’s the point? But He did listen – patient – and He did answer. And I was raised up above the battleground of live-fearing-death and I SAW. It is only the death of the separated self that I mourned – nothing really. The egoic self is but a substanceless shadow made to block the sun. And when it dies (surrenders) nothing of value is lost. When it dies, giving in to Truth in place of illusions it is like a drop in the ocean ceasing to be encased in dropness and becoming once again what it always was and could only have been – the perfect unity of oceanic oneness. Fear not for:
“Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.”

HAVING A NICE TALK WITH THE BEAUTIFUL FRIEND WHO CUTS MY HAIR IT OCCURRED TO ME THAT I WAS NOT WRITING THIS BOOK. RATHER, THE BOOK IS WRITING ME. NOT SURE THAT THIS MEANS YET BUT IT BROUGHT ON A VERY STRONG FEELING.

The abstractness of this insight is such that it is quite difficult to convey to others. Suffice to say that my struggle to marshall all my talents and abilities to create a book that would, in some meaningful way, have a positive and transformative impact on others in the fields of helping and healing ceased to be thought of in the same way. In a flash of insight it became abundantly clear that I did not have to be concerned – as concerned as I have been for the years I have been working on the book – because the book already IS, (end of the stream of consciousness) the  end already is even WHILE the middle – and all points from beginning to end, already ARE.

If I have not completly lost you yet I would just like to add that this missive about the writing of a book may easily be taken as a metaphor for our individual lives – or, if you will, the lives of our souls. When we lift the vail, open our minds and free ourselves from the limitations passed on from generation to generation and from the shadows ___ of the ego we may come to understand the the story of our return to love is already finished. You might say that the script is already written. The book of your life is all at once beginning, happening and completed. The triune Self. Taken (or accepted) in this way one may relax in the moment with the full knowledge and peace of knowing that what is IS and must be ON THE WAY TO BECOMINg what you are and have always been. The script is written. You are just living it out.

In conjunction I was given an image at church about a river (the Stream of Consciousness). One can stand at the head of a river, or at the midpoint of a river, or at the very end of a river – where it joins with the sea. No matter where one stands in the stream of it one thing is certain; while the stream may still be flowing it has – is a very real sense – already ended. The same is true for our lives (or the lives of our souls). While we are experiencing being in the “flow” of it we can, if we choose, accept the fact that both the beginning and the end already ARE. In the holy books it is written that the Supreme One is the beginning and the end – the Alpha and the Omega. Meditate on this when you are in difficult times for there is a gift in it there waiting for you. You may be having the experience of being in mid-stream but it is also possible if you open your mind to it, to BE at the end of the stream – and at the beginning of the stream for that matter – at the same time. For time when the stream is apprehended as a whole no longer has any meaning.

 

 

Bless your troubles as opportunities for growth. Resisting them simply serves to make them real.

BOOK WRITING ME THOUGHTS:

To receive words the higher wisdom I pray for I must live by that wisdom. Expanning my words of loving in the world – gaining ever more clarity and documenting it.

The search for Truth is the search for Self. As Michaelangelo chipped away at everything that was not David in the marble statue of David, so must we chip away at everyting that it not the Truth, the Light and the Way of our own Holy Self.

Ev” erytime something is “wrong” with you see it as an opportunity to get something “right”.

Counseling is those who temporarily have more with those who temporarily have less. You need not worry about the right clients coming to you. They will come according to your readiness to serve and learn from them.

 

 

 

 

 

WHO YOU ARE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT YOU KNOW OR WHAT YOU DO

Ample research suggests that therapists differ in their level of effectiveness (Baldwin & Imel, 2012; Blow et al., 2007; Wampold, 2001). Even more striking is that therapist effects appear to be larger than treatment effects (e.g., Lindgren et al., 2010). Moreover, therapist training, experience, and theoretical orientation do not appear to explain the majority of therapist effects (e.g., Beutler et al., 2004; Okiishi et al., 2003; Stirman & Crits-Cristoph, 2011).
Therefore, it has been hypothesized that therapists’ personal characteristics may impact treatment (e.g., Black et al., 2005; Heinonen et al., 2012; Hersoug et al., 2009). If this is true, it would seem wise for clinical graduate programs to accept students who possess these important traits and to provide focused training in areas that may lead to personal growth in related areas.
In a recently published study, Anderson, McClintock, Himawan, Song, and Patterson (2016) explored whether clinical graduate students’ level of therapeutic effectiveness could be predicted based on an assessment conducted prior to training.
Due to issues inherent in measuring therapist characteristics by therapist self-report (e.g., social desirability, lack of insight into oneself etc.), they utilized the Facilitative Interpersonal Skills task (FIS), a performance based measure of therapist interpersonal skills in which students were asked to respond to a standardized video clip of a challenging clinical encounter. The students’ responses were then rated by expert coders on 8 dimensions including: verbal fluency, emotional expression, persuasiveness, warmth/positive regard, hopefulness, empathy, alliance bond capacity, and alliance-rupture repair responsiveness.
Anderson and colleagues found that in their sample of 44 graduate students who saw a total of 117 clients, the FIS strongly predicted patient self-reported symptom change in short-term therapies (e.g., < 8 sessions). Given that this was a prospective study, this suggests that students’ interpersonal skills when they arrived at graduate school (prior to receiving any training) later predicted their ability to help patients. These findings are in line with previous work by Anderson and colleagues (2009; 2015) which has also found that FIS predicts alliance and outcome both at termination and three month follow-up.
Swift - February 2016
Interestingly, in their 2015 work, Anderson and colleagues found that while FIS was an important predictor, training was not.
Taken together, these studies provide compelling evidence that:
  • who the therapist is matters
  • some therapist characteristics appear unrelated to training (i.e., are innate or acquired through experiences unrelated to schooling)
  • graduate schools may want to give important consideration to students’ interpersonal abilities during the application process
[Slavin-Mulford, J. (2016, February). Therapist characteristics that impact outcome. [Web Article]. Retrieved from: http://www.societyforpsychotherapy.org/therapist-characteristics-that-impact-outcome%5D
References
Anderson, T., Crowley, M.E., Himawan, L., Holmberg, J.K., & Uhlin, B.D. (2015). Therapist     facilitative interpersonal skills and training status: A randomized clinical trial on alliance    and outcome. Psychotherapy Research, Advance online publication. DOI:   10.1080/10503307.2015.1049671
Anderson, T., McClintock, A. S., Himawan, L., Song, X., & Patterson, C. L. (2015). A prospective study of therapist facilitative interpersonal skills as a predictor of treatment outcome. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. http://doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000060
Anderson, T., Ogles, B.M., Patterson, C.L., Lambert, M.J., & Vermeersch, D.A., Therapist effects: Facilitative interpersonal skills as a predictor of therapist success. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 65, 755-768. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20583.
Baldwin, S. A., & Imel, Z. E. (2012). Therapist effects, findings and methods. In M. J. Lambert (Ed.), Bergin and Garfield’s Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior Change(6th ed., pp. 258–297). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Beutler, L. E., Malik, M. L., Alimohamed, S., Harwood, T. M., Talebi, H., & Noble, S. (2004). Therapist variables. In M. J. Lambert (Ed.), Bergin and Garfield’s Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior Change (6th ed., pp. 227–257). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Black, S., Hardy, G., Turpin, G., & Parry, G. (2005). Self-reported attachment styles and therapeutic orientation of therapists and their relationship with reported general alliance quality and problems in therapy. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 78(3), 363–377. http://doi.org/10.1348/147608305X43784
Blow, A. J., Sprenkle, D. H., & Davis, S. D. (2007). Is who delivers the treatment more important than the treatment itself? The role of the therapist in common factors. Journal Of Marital And Family Therapy, 33(3), 298–317.
Heinonen, E., Lindfors, O., Laaksonen, M. A., & Knekt, P. (2012). Therapists’ professional and personal characteristics as predictors of outcome in short- and long-term psychotherapy. Journal of Affective Disorders, 138(3), 301–312. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2012.01.023
Hersoug, A. G., Høglend, P., Havik, O., von der Lippe, A., & Monsen, J. (2009). Therapist characteristics influencing the quality of alliance in long-term psychotherapy. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 16(2), 100–110. http://doi.org/10.1002/cpp.605
Lindgren, O., Folkesson, P., & Almqvist, K. (2010). On the importance of the therapist in psychotherapy: A summary of current research. International Forum of Psychoanalysis,19(4), 224–229. http://doi.org/10.1080/08037060903536047
Okiishi, J., Lambert, M. J., Nielsen, S. L., & Ogles, B. M. (2003). Waiting for supershrink: An empirical analysis of therapist effects. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 10(6), 361–373. http://doi.org/10.1002/cpp.383
Stirman, S. W., & Crits-Christoph, P. (2011). Psychotherapy research: Implications for optimal therapist personality, training, and development. In R. H. Klein, H. S. Bernard, V. L. Schermer, R. H. (Ed) Klein, H. S. (Ed) Bernard, & V. L. (Ed) Schermer (Eds.), On becoming a psychotherapist: The personal and professional journey. (pp. 245–268). New York, NY, US: Oxford University Press.
Wampold, B. E. (2001). Therapist effects: An ignored but critical factor. In The great psychotherapy debate: Models, methods, and findings (pp. 184–202). Mahwah, NJ, US: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

 

 

COMMON FACTORS VS. EMPIRICALLY SUPPORTED THERAPIES

Psychotherapy © 2014 American Psychological Association 2014, Vol. 51, No. 4, 519 –524 0033-3204/14/$12.00 http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0038245

AUTHOR RESPONSE TO COMMENTARY Ten Things to Remember About Common Factor Theory Kevin M. Laska Bedford VA Medical Center Bedford, Massachusetts Bruce E. Wampold University of Wisconsin-Madison and Modum Bad Psychiatric Center Vikersund, Norway Recently, we (Laska, Gurman, & Wampold, 2014, pp. 467– 481) discussed the implications of taking a common factor approach for practice and policy. In this response to the commentary on our article, we reiterate 10 things that need to be remembered about common factor theory. Keywords: common factors, evidence-based practice, psychotherapy, outcomes It would be impossible, in the space provided, to address each claim made by the responders to Laska, Gurman, and Wampold (2014, pp. 467– 481). Instead, we outline 10 important points that inform the discussion and address most of the issues raised by the respondents Asnaani and Foa (2014, pp. 487– 490), Baker and McFall (2014, pp. 482– 486), Beutler (2014, pp. 496 – 499), Constantino and Bernecker (2014, pp. 505–509), Crits-Christoph, Chambless, and Markell (2014, pp. 491– 495), Hofmann and Barlow (2014, pp. 510 –513), Lambert and Ogles (2014, pp. 500 – 504), and Weinberger (2014, pp. 514 –518).

1. Common Factors Are Imbedded in a Scientific Theory The primary criticism of the common factor (CF) approach is that it is tautological, untestable, and therefore not subject to the same scientific rules as empirically supported treatment (ESTs). For example, “Part of this tension is due to the fact that, at present, proponents of the EST movement rely on empirical evidence to justify their preferences and views, whereas proponents of CF primarily rely on repudiation of scientific evidence” (Asnaani & Foa, 2014, p. 489), “Our view is that the ‘CF perspective’ should be subject to the same sorts of empirical investigations as any other ‘perspective’ on behavior change” (Crits-Christoph et al., 2014, p. 491), “We are concerned that the CF approach will not make rapid progress because it appears to rely on reverse engineering . . . it attempts to extract core therapeutic strategies by inferring and inducting them from a heterogeneous set of outcomes gathered across innumerable studies, patient groups, intervention intensities and durations, and so on” (Baker & McFall, 2014, p. 484).

This is the kind of gobbltygook you get when the ego gets ramped up.

Two ESTs could easily have the same fundamental mechanism of action in reality, despite contrary theory (i.e., the theory is wrong). The fact that a theory of mechanism might be incorrect does not by itself invalidate the worth of the therapy. Also, it simply might be that a disorder can be addressed similarly well via different mechanisms…. Finally, two treatments might affect outcomes via multiple mechanisms that are not wholly orthogonal. (Baker & McFall, 2014, p. 484)

 

 10. “Different Thinks for Different Shrinks” Our collaborator Dr. Al Gurman, who sadly passed away during the publication of this special issue, routinely emphasized the necessity that therapists base their practice on a variety of research evidence that “fits” within their worldview and how they see themselves as human beings. “This is not a call to ‘let them do whatever they want,’ but, just as different patients with different problems may need different methods and different therapists, so, too, do therapists need to have available to them different kinds of research that can help to improve outcome within their own preferred theory frame that makes sense to them about human nature” (personal communication, March, 2013). Given the substantial amount of evidence on the importance of therapist and patient factors on outcome (Baldwin & Imel, 2013; Bohart & Wade, 2013; Lambert, 2013), and the emphasis the APA’s Presidential Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice (2006) has placed on these factors, one conclusion that results from the CF approach is a greater emphasis on ideographic methods and individualized evidence-based practice
KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS:

One of the aspects of all treatments is that the patients are provided an explanation for their disorder and that there are treatment actions consistent with that explanation. That is, the psychotherapy offered to the patient must contain a cogent explanation for the patient’s distress and a plan for overcoming his or her problems. Of course, explanations and treatments differ widely, but a therapy without any explanation—simply a relationship with an empathic therapist—is not sufficient, a point emphasized by Jerome Frank. Consequently, one cannot conduct a randomized clinical trial (RCT) comparing a specific treatment and a “common factor” treatment. There have been over the years comparisons between established treatments and “psychological placebos,” which are treatments that contain no treatment rationale and no treatment actions (i.e., they have no treatment structure and no cogent rationale for how they work). Although many metaanalyses of such comparisons have demonstrated that a treatment with a cogent rationale and treatment actions outperforms such “psychological placebos” (Lambert & Bergin, 1994; Stevens, Hynan, & Allen, 2000; Wampold, 2001), what is surprising is how effective the “psychological placebos” are— often as effective or nearly as effective as evidence-based treatments to which they are compared (Baskin, Tierney, Minami, & Wampold, 2003; Cuijpers et al., 2012; Honyashiki et al., 2014; Markowitz, Manber, & Rosen, 2008). [AUTHOR RESPONSE TO COMMENTARY Ten Things to Remember About Common Factor Theory Kevin M. Laska Bedford VA Medical Center Bedford, Massachusetts Bruce E. Wampold University of Wisconsin-Madison and Modum Bad Psychiatric Center Vikersund, Norway Recently, we (Laska, Gurman, & Wampold, 2014, pp. 467– 481) discussed the implications of taking a common factor approach for practice and policy. In this response to the commentary on our article, we reiterate 10 things that need to be remembered about common factor theory.

Psychotherapy © 2014 American Psychological Association 2014, Vol. 51, No. 4, 519 –524 0033-3204/14/$12.00 http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0038245

 

 

 

 

DEFINE TERMS: Counselor, psychotherapist, psychologist, helping professionals, etc.

Joseph Campbell, when discussing his tremendously influential work, The Power of Myth, noted that myths are “the music we dance to even when we can’t name the tune” (   ). In like manner, when attempting to identify the “magic sauce” that truly makes a difference in helping human relationships, I contend that love is the music we dance to, even though we feel inhibited about naming that as the tune.

INTRODUCTION:

You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/p/pierre_teilhard_de_chardi.html

It has taken almost my entire adult life to fully understand that there is an essential and necessary connection between applied psychology (i.e., counseling and psychotherapy) and spirituality. I have come to understand that there is a sacredness in the joining of individuals in a helping human relationship with loving intention. And it is that very sacredness that is the sine qua non of all helping and healing.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller

 

I fully understand that this assertion can not be proven; at least not in the sense that it can be scientifically validated.  Even with all the wonderful new metrics we currently have available to assess the processes and outcomes of counseling and psychotherapy, we are not now, nor will we ever be, able to get down to the nub of what it is, exactly, that “really helps” when we are attempting to help another.  That used to bother me, but no more. I have now “phased out” of the ego-driven need to contain and control the processes of helping and healing by bowing to the false gods of logic and rational analysis. Furthermore, I am no longer a member of the professional club devoted to empirically validating (or relying on other’s validation of) this or that therapeutic practice. I am no longer in search of either the personal comfort of being able to “defend” my work, or the onorous burdon of appeasing third party payers who insist that my efforts must be “evidence-based”.  While I do not wish to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to research in the area of what works in helping human relationships, I am now convinced, due in no small part to that very research, that evidence-based practice is something of a chimera. It is becoming abundantly clear that one particular therapeutic approach is not demonstrably better than another (    ), and that positive outcomes in counseling and psychotherapy have more to do with what the client brings to the table (client factors), and the qualities and actions of effective therapists.  

Is it really any surprise that no one can seem to pin down what it is that distinguishes the “supershrinks” from the rest of the pack? (   ). No amount post-session questionnaires or “debriefings” after  a series of counseling sessions will be able capture and define the magic inherent in what is now being referred to as “healing involvement”.  One cannot capture love in a petri dish, or smear it on a microscope slide, or weight it out on a scale, or take its temperature.  One cannot capture that which is of the “mind” in order to directly measure it. The mind is etherial and it demands to be apprehended that way. While its effects may “matter” (i.e., thoughts are things) neither the mind nor the heart of man are accessible for scientific investigation. And that is as it should be. For if the mind and the heart – or the spirit – were directly accessable and palpable, we would no longer have such wonderful abstractions as love, or truth, or beauty, or forgiveness, or peace.

The first hints of what I now recognize as the sacredness of helping became evident to me when I was quite young. In those days I was onlyu aware of a certain “transfer” of what felt like “goodness” when I answered someone’s spoken or unspoken call for help. Those early exchanges were sweet with the aura of unbound innocence and blind acceptance of a purpose quite beyond selfish or conscious intent. Back then, guided only by instinct and intuition, I simply showed up and made myself available as a container or a communication device as the Spirit of Love went about the business of doing what it needed to do. It was an almost passive process. One in which the owner of this body and this mind agreed to both show up and step aside at the same time. It was the “stepping aside” that made room for the Spirit to operate in the space between two souls. It was the stepping down or “going-to-rest” of the personal self that made it possible for something different and wonderful to develop in the shared space of the “interpersonal self”.  I was conscious of the fact that helpful and healing messages were being delivered through me; but I was also conscious of the very clear fact that they were not “of” me. Some part of my being was operating on autopilot while some higher part of my being was administering to the person I was put there to help. No muss, no fuss; it just happened with lovely efficiency and without fanfare or any form of attachment to either process or outcome.

It was not, however, without emotion. In fact, it came with the most profound form of emotion I have ever experienced! I have searched for words to describe that feeling but have always fallen short of anything that comes close to capturing it. The word “sublime” serves as an approximation, but it would be better described as beatific*.

Euphoria also redirects here.

Bliss is a state of profound satisfaction, happiness and joy,

In modern vernacular we hear of people being “in the zone” or experiencing “flow-like” feelings. The mental state of “flow” is generally described something like this: “You are completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” Now, that is pretty good stuff! But, there is even more to it than that. There is an aesthetic aspect also. It is a beautiful thing to be a part of. It is a joyous occasion. It is the joy of knowing something special; and of knowing that you know it. It is a form of enhanced consciousness. You know that you are having the privilege of being present while something holier than you is operating in the room. It is indeed, sacred. 

I have spent my life attempting to experiece that feeling again. I suspect that many (if not most) of those called to the helping professions have experienced something similar. It is what we do and why we do it. It may be the reason your heart is drawn to those in need of help.  It may even be the reason you have chosen to read this book. It may be that you are in search of some signpost to guide you along the way path to enhancing your healing involvement. 

*Beatific, from Latin beatificus (“making happy”), first occurred in English in the phrase “beatific vision,” a theological allusion to the direct sight of God enjoyed by the blessed in heaven. Although “beatific” originally meant “conferring happiness,” the word now more frequently means “expressing happiness,” and a blissfully joyful look or appearance may be called “beatific.” A closely related word is “beatitude,” which can refer to a state of utmost bliss. (You may also know “the beatitudes” as a series of blessings from Jesus in the Bible.)

 

When I was having those early experiences I was relatively young and, in the best sense of the word, innocent. I was not old enough yet to know there was such a thing as applied psychology. I had neither the need nor the capacity to understand what was going on intellectually or spiritually. And there certainly was no thought given to connecting the two. It was not until I had matured as both a mental health practitioner and as spiritual being that the realization dawned on me that the “stuff” that makes good psychology work is really the same “stuff” that comprises what some of us refer to as spirituality or spiritual practice.  The same sort of “getting out of your own way” that is spoken of in flow-type experiences as “the ego falls away” is the core aspect of both excellent helping and of transcendent spiritual experiences. 

There are, of course, many engaged in the practice of counseling and psychotherapy who do not think of it as spiritual in any way. That does not really matter because, well…”a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. As long as one is motivated by loving will and guided by positive intention the “spirit” of one’s endeavors is enhanced (blessed) and positive outcomes may be expected. Just as one does not have to see gravity in order to attest to its effects, one does not have to profess a spiritual nature or adhere to specific spiritual practices in order to participate in its beneficial effects.   Even strict behaviorists are motivated by their desire to enhance more adaptive functioning and relieve suffering. Why else would they hang up their shingles? What is it that motivates them to be ever more successful in helping others? And the research is showing that the relationship (healing involvement) is the key element in successful outcomes even when behavioral approaches are utilized. Clients feel “cared for” by successful behaviorists. While the behaviorists may not think of what they do as “spiritual” per se, what else would you call that kind of “caring”? It certainly reflects a high degree of loving will and positive intention.

, and what is of love is of the spirit.

in all its forms is one of those abstractions that may easily be     in the realms of the spirit.

Love is the affinity which links and draws together the elements of the world… Love, in fact, is the agent of universal synthesis. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/p/pierre_teilhard_de_chardi.html

They may not call it that but it seems an awful like loving will

Though, having said that, I cannot think of a well-regarded colleague or other representative of applied psychology who does not admit to some form of belief in spirituality or 

You will not, however, hear this idea discussed in very much in professional publications. Furthermore, at the time of this writing an internet search for masters or doctoral degrees in the area of spiritual psychology yields no exact matches and only 10 schools that offer programs “related” to the search query.

Perhaps the most succinct way of describing the process of counseling and psychotherapy is that it involves removing blockages – blockages to more adaptive patterns of thinking and behaving that are often very apparent from the outside but not from the client’s personal perspective.

Helping professionals are those who [supposedly] know the way through the psychological and spiritual minefields that keep individuals from knowing themselves. Their function is to provide a sort of guide service in which they assist another in confronting fears, resolving hidden issues, learning from mistakes, and becoming open to new options.  

The difference between traditional psychologists and Spiritual psychologists is in the beliefs that underly their work – [their conceptual base-camp].

THERAPY IS REALLY REMOVING BARRIERS:

The Persian poet Rumi had a clue when he stated, “Your task is not to seek for love, your task is to seek and find all the barriers you have built against it.” 

In essence “therapy” boils down to removing blockages. Removing the barriers that impede the client’s ability to find their true worth, their wholeness, their truth. And in the process we, the helpers, benefit in the same way by removing the blockages to our own truth – getting out of our own way.

We are entrusted with the duty of releasing the world from pain.

I DO NOT KNOW:

The most powerful attitude we can develop is admit that we do not know. We do not know (with any degree of certainty) what to say next or do next. What’s more, we do not know what anything means.

We must be willing to fire our own egos as our teacher and to curtail our inborn and natural tendency to construct or “miscreate” meaning.

We must have plans for they may, indeed, be inspired. But, keep them tentative and be open to superior plans to come to you during the holy encounter.

PARADISE LOST – You are not here to change the world

As I acquired more knowledge of the world (constructs) – and the ability to miscreate – I lost, little by little, my ability to remain connected with the etherial. I recall reading somewhere that you are not here to change the world; you are here to keep the world from changing you.  Attempting to change the world is tantamount to rearranging shadows and chimeras.

A mind in tune with the Spirit of love (joy, truth, peace) is able to sort out what is important and what is not – [call it intelligent intuition]

 

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF WORKING ON YOURSELF:

We can only teach them by showing them the happiness that comes from those who feeling the Spirit of love and the abundance of it’s gifts.

What you fear but teaches them to fear. It teaches them their fears are justified.

We cannot give what we have not received. We cannot teach what we have not learned.

 

 

 

THE HONESTY OF EQUINE THERAPY:

Clients immediately apprehend your presence. I was recently involved in an equine therapy program and how dramatically different it is to see how people interact when the rules are changed. Around an animal that operates very well on instinct rather than mental games it is very difficult to get away with some of the interpersonal games one is used to. Animals KNOW and they react authentically; with congruence and honesty – unconcerned about your feelings.

Clients react instinctively to your love, acceptance, eagerness to lift them up without judgement or any form of attack. They have no need to defend themselves because they do not feel threatened.

 

TRUST

Become content with what is without protest or fear. We become confident when we learn to trust. And then our clients sense our confidence and open up.

As long as we as helpers are constrained by the limits of our faith in a higher power beyond our self we will be only partially effective. At best we will be like stained glass; letting in some light but limiting it also and tinting it with the darkness of our impure faith.

 

RESISTANCE:

Every mind that looks upon the world he made (perception) judges it as cvertain, solid, trustworthy, and true. “I made it with my little mind and, by golly, I’m keeping it. I can do this because I am god of my own reality – my own realm.

The gifts of the Spirit of love are not acceptable to anyone who holds such beliefs. To accept the gifts of love and truth would be to be pressed into treachery against himself (ego). Therefore, he must deny the gifts (of higher thoughts) and suffer in order to preserve the world he made. It is the only home he knows; the only safety he believes he can find.

This is the self you savagely defend against all reason, every evidence, and all the witnesses of proof to show this is not who you are.

As lon

 

Most people have some sort of spiritual tradition as part of their culture. Typically, their childhood religion set their value structure and defined their self image. While religion is uplifting for some, for many others, religion is more problematic, resulting in fears, intolerant attitudes, self-loathing, isolation, and a host of psychological concerns that keep people from moving forward in their lives.

The exploration of an individual’s spiritual experience is a topic that touches every aspect of life. A typical spiritual history embodies everything from the innocence of childhood to memories of people they loved – from expectations of family, church and community, and identity issues of adolescence (see Adolescence Developmental Psychology) – to the disillusionment of adulthood. Many have lost their jobs and their homes or have had war experiences – and fear God has abandoned them.

Because issues of faith are foundational to self-worth and identity, therapeutic interventions in these areas makes real sense. A resolution of problems on the spiritual level often stimulates longer-lasting change because issues are addressed at a deeper level. A problem resolved in the heart is often no longer an issue for the mind.http://www.allpsychologycareers.com/career/spiritual-psychologist.html%5D

[“Spirituality and religious practices are integral parts of most cultures, an inextricable part of childhood as they form the family’s value structure, and color the lens through which people see themselves – even if they are no longer participating in the family, the culture, or the religion.http://www.allpsychologycareers.com/topics/spiritual-psychology.html%5D

[Spiritual psychology has been described as: ” a 21st century approach to living – a blending of science and spirituality. It’s a holistic approach that integrates both traditional and transpersonal psychology with any – and all – spiritual practices, and it’s particularly focused on spiritual growth.http://www.allpsychologycareers.com/topics/spiritual-psychology.html%5D

[Spiritual psychology often proposes alternative spiritual perspectives as a way of delving deeper and getting to the source of troubling issues. These alternative perspectives include a wide number of spiritual concepts and experiences that take us out of our normal way of perceiving.]

[These experiences might involve non-ordinary states of consciousness during which patients might have “ah-ha” moments, engage in conversations with their higher selves – an aspect of their souls – or have other transcendent experiences that change their understanding in a profound way. Transcendent experiences put us on the path to self-realization as we become more aware of the non-physical aspect of “self.” For more information see transpersonal psychology.

Spiritual psychologists believe that as individuals evolve and increasingly identify with their souls, they begin to realize that uniting with the soul is the purpose of their journey. They start to understand “non-duality” – the end of feeling separate and alone – and the beginning of feeling one with God, the Creator, or the Universe.]

[Rejection of one’s childhood religion can result in an increasing sense of disconnection or abandonment as one grows older. Spiritual psychologists view this as an emotional hunger – a lack of spiritual nourishment – because they believe that patients haven’t found a good way of engaging their spirits. An exploration of those early experiences in combination with more recent beliefs will bring reconciliation, setting the stage for a more satisfying attitude toward life.

For many people spirituality is more than just the backdrop of their lives – it’s a frantic search for God and that ecstatic connection. Guilt, self-recrimination, and self-judgment often block that access and are resolved through a therapeutic intervention emphasizing self-forgiveness, compassionate understanding, and unconditional self-love. As these approaches support the patient’s self-worth, the patient evolves from a needy child to a serious spiritual student.]

 

Global Master of Arts in Transpersonal Psychology

http://www.sofia.edu/academics/graduate-school-of-transpersonal-studies/master-arts-transpersonal-psychology-hybrid/

+1 (650) 493-4430
1069 East Meadow Circle Palo Alto, CA 94303 USA

What makes the Global MATP program unique?

Transpersonal psychology is the study and cultivation of the highest and most transformative human values and potentials—individual, communal, and global—that reflect the mystery and interconnectedness of life, including our human journey within the cosmos.  (Anderson and Braud, 2011, p. 9)

The Global Master of Arts in Transpersonal Psychology (G-MATP) provides an opportunity for students to study the theories and practices of transpersonal psychology and to apply wisdom principles to their personal and professional development. The program attracts educators, healthcare professionals, business leaders, organizational developers, therapists, alternative practitioners, entrepreneurs, and cultural creatives who wish to find more expansive ways to enhance their current profession.

It also gives students opportunities to explore and engage new career possibilities. This program particularly emphasizes transformative learning, realization of our higher human potentials and personal as well as professional applications.  The hybrid/online Master’s program values multiple ways of knowing.  Students learn in fully embodied ways that honor uniqueness, creativity, diversity, world wisdom psychology, and ecological consciousness.

Pictured: GMATP Chair Nancy Rowe, Ph.D.

Program Overview

Our two-year Global Master of Arts in Transpersonal Psychology (G-MATP) degree program offers an exciting opportunity to study the theories and practices of transpersonal psychology with specialization in transformative life coaching, creativity, or spiritual psychology.

The 46.0 unit program is designed for transformative learning, integration of transpersonal and wisdom principles, and personal and professional application. The G-MATP is an online program with some low residency requirements. It offers an opportunity to students to learn from home, which provides flexible study time to apply what is learned in their personal lives, their current work situations, and in the community where they live. In addition, students will attend 2 in-person residential seminars during the course of their MATP program, 1 in year one, the foundational year and 1 in year two, the specialization year.

This master’s degree program attracts educators, healthcare professionals, business leaders, organizational developers, social service providers, therapists, alternative practitioners, entrepreneurs, yoga practitioners, and cultural creatives who wish to find more expansive ways to enhance their current professions or explore and engage in new career possibilities that embrace the principles of transpersonal psychology.

This degree prepares students to follow their deepest passion and to apply transpersonal theories and practices in a variety of professions. Students generally find their right livelihood in a field related to people, creativity, education, or wellness.

As an example, the following video demonstrates how alumna Elisa Sciscioli integrated her passion in voice as she combined creative expression with her previous experience in music and singing. Click here to view the video.

A Masters of Arts in Psychology will be conferred after completion of the degree.

Whole-Person, Transformative Learning

Students in our program balance theory with practice, and find authentic ways to study and apply the material. We admit students who have the emotional maturity and discipline to work within a learning community structure that relies upon personal integrity and mutual respect, and who have the self-discipline to study at a distance.

Our approach to learning promotes whole-person, transformative learning. It encourages professional engagement with local or academic communities and appeals to students who find value in creative expression, transpersonal practice, contemplative reflection, and scholarly thinking. Students find community within an academic context and use this learning as a catalyst for transformation within self, community, and profession.

Program Goals: The Global Master’s of Arts (G-MATP) Program:

  •     Provides a general background in the theories and practices of transpersonal and spiritual psychology.
  •     Provides opportunities for students to cultivate and practice transpersonal qualities throughout daily life.
  •     Prepares students to apply theories, principles and practices of transpersonal and spiritual psychology in their personal and professional lives.
  •     Guides students to bridge transpersonal and spiritual psychology with theories and practices in their chosen specialization.
  •     Provides experiences for students to embody their learning, wisdom, health and wholeness using multiple ways of knowing.
  •     Encourages students to appreciate and embrace world wisdom approaches, diversity, and ecological consciousness.
  •     Supports students’ journey toward professional leadership in service to the broader community.

 

THE RELATIONSHIP:

Connecting with the Patient

“The therapeutic process belongs to patients – its their recounting of their own experiences that constitutes the roadmap for their therapeutic journeys. As patients tell their stories, the therapist becomes the story mediator, listening actively and asking questions that have eluded patients. Guiding patients through their stories is a subtle process. Without being intrusive, a therapist must keep the process moving.

The therapist – client relationship is often characterized by a strong energetic connection between two equal souls. While intently focused on the patient – hearing what is said, what is not said, the language that is used, and the emotion that is expressed – the therapist observes the thought processes, body language, facial expressions, and senses the deeper implications. http://www.allpsychologycareers.com/career/spiritual-psychologist.html]

[Principles of Spiritual Psychology

Because spiritual psychology is informed by Eastern spirituality, the therapeutic context includes elements that aren’t found in more traditional approaches to psychotherapy. Those elements concern the nature of human connections with God, a Creator, or a universal energy. Even in Western spiritual contexts such as Christianity, the conversation must include spiritual perceptions and constructs such as the soul or the presence of – and communication with – the unseen.

Spiritual psychology is, broadly speaking, theistic. Traditional Western religions believe God is separate from humans – living in heaven – although sometimes “He” is spoken of as living in the heart. In Eastern thought, God is the universe, having created itself, continuing to create itself, and being inseparable from humans because they are part of the whole creation. Therapists need to be able to treat these important distinctions with respect.

The therapist and the patient join in an empathic way, to journey into the spiritual morass, examining beliefs, conflicts, misunderstandings, blockages – anything that stands in the way of the patient’s healing and self-realization. Their combined energies create a safe space that allows even the most painful issues to emerge and be discharged.

Spiritual psychology understands humans as multidimensional beings with aspects of themselves residing in their physical life, in the different consciousness levels of their minds that aren’t readily accessible in daily life, and in the ‘realm’ of the spirit. (See the box, “What are the three levels of the mind?”)

While the mind is the source of impressions of day-to-day life – watching, interpreting, and storing memories of what it sees – the spirit is the grand observer, the non-judgmental librarian, and the presence of each person’s inner wisdom. This repository of wisdom located in the spirit is the reason that learning to access the spiritual level is so important.

Goals of a Spiritual Psychologist

Expanding spirituality – Helping patients learn how to connect to their own inner wisdom is one of the most powerful tools a therapist has to offer. The ability to hear one’s wise inner voice requires a quiet mind. As patients become more connected to their Creator, they attune to the higher thoughts and universal values such as love, compassion, generosity, beauty, among others – that the inner voice reflects.

Meditation and prayer are the foundations for spiritual expansion. Mindfulness – the practice of bringing the mind into the present moment – teaches patients that they don’t need to react to everything. It gives them the space to simply observe. Other meditative exercises allow patients to spend time contemplating concepts such as compassion or oneness with God.

Spiritual seekers often take strength from the successes of others. Therapists conduct group therapy sessions to stimulate and inspire their patients. The interaction with others who are struggling with similar issues can open the door to greater perspectives, allowing patients to also feel compassion for themselves.

Working through the issues that cause patients to feel separated from their souls enables greater spiritual growth. Spiritual beliefs unfettered by doubt and insecurity promote confidence and inner satisfaction, reducing the neurotic concerns of the personality, such as insecurity and self-judgment.

Self-realization is an understanding of oneself as a divine creation, a being filled with promise and deserving the full presence of God. In Eastern spiritual terms, the point of the journey is to understand that as part of creation, no one has ever been – nor can ever be – separated from God. The realization that everyone is part of God addresses issues of abandonment or isolation, and helps patients understand that the illusion of separation is something they can change.

A spiritual therapist working with patients who subscribe to Eastern thought will prescribe an ongoing meditative practice as well as a body therapy such as Tai Chi or Akeido. He or she may also use guided imagery to help process past crises, or relaxation therapies and visualizations to enable patients to discover and appreciate their strengths, joys, loves, and passions.

Self-actualization is the next step in enabling a patient to integrate new understandings, talents, beliefs, and dreams in order to become his or her best “self.” Contemporary spiritual philosophy suggests that as aspects of God, human existence is most honored by individuals becoming the very best they can be. Self-actualized people feel the full support of all their dimensions and turn their attention toward the service of humankind.

Patients who are ready to self-actualize have an open and accessible channel to their spiritual source. Typically, they have an established meditative practice and have freed themselves from the burdens of social guilt and expectation.

Critics of spiritual psychology don’t understand how talking changes the soul. Talking is simply one of the ways humans process information. New thoughts and perspectives come from the examination of old ones. It’s a building process everyone has experienced, and one that is at the heart of the talking therapy and used by all psychological approaches.

A change of perspective comes from within the patient, not from the therapist. The therapist is only the activator or guide who suggests going down one road rather than another. It’s really the fortitude of patients – observing experiences and options – that enables them to makes the decision to change.

Divorcing these experiences from the therapeutic process or discounting them as irrational does a great disservice to patients who are struggling with major life issues, issues that are central to one’s identity and purpose.]

It is quite difficult to talk about the divine in concrete, physical terms that everybody can understand. The divine, after all, is supposed to be just the opposite of that which is concrete and physical – the divine is “Godlike”.

In modern discourse even the idea of God has ­become somewhat tired in the minds of many. The idea of God has so many different connotations to so many different people that it just seems to have lost its punch. In part this is due to simple overuse as people become less affected by the word emotionally or intellectually the more they hear it. [This also happens with common curse words as witnessed by the proliferate use of the “F-word” in modern cultural media.] However, a more important reason is that the word God is most often used by those who have learned it second hand (so to speak) rather than having had a direct experience of God or God’s presence. Just as I can give you a sense of what it is like to ski down a mountain by discussing a ski trip, that would be nothing compared to having that experience for yourself.

. . . to such an extent that it has difficulty fitting into everyday twenty-first-century discourse. As it stands, it is almost embarrassing to many people, in many walks of life.

 

[KEEP? While I do not make any claim that this connection is empirically verifiable.]

FORGIVENESS

FORGIVENESS IS MY ONLY FUNCTION

I WILL STEP BACK AND LET HIM LEAD THE WAY

ON SPIRITUALITY AND THE CHRIST

“It is not necessary to be religious or even to believe in God to any recognizable extent. It is necessary, however, to teach forgiveness rather than condemnation. [cite]

“Psychotherapy, correctly understood, teaches forgiveness and helps the patient to recognize and accept it.”

_______

the practice of unconditional forgiveness, our royal road to attaining lasting inner peace.

______________

Forgiveness through the Holy Spirit lies simply in looking beyond error from the beginning, and thus keeping it unreal for you.  Do not let any belief in its realness enter your mind, or you will also believe that you must undo what you have made in order to be forgiven. What has no effect does not exist, and to the Holy Spirit the effects of error are nonexistent.  By steadily and consistently canceling out all its effects, everywhere and in all respects, He teaches that the ego does not exist and proves it.

___________________

WHAT REALLY WORKS IN HELPING HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS?
This quote is from a little pamphlet titled: PSYCHOTHERAPY: PURPOSE, PROCESS AND PRACTICE. It is published by the Foundation for Inner Peace and it is an addition or addendum to the three volumes that comprise a form of spiritual teaching known as A Course in Miracles (ACIM). As a practicing psychologist I have spent my entire professional life pondering the key question that must be the driving force behind all efforts to help and to heal. That question is: “What really works?” It is with the help of this little pamphlet – and years of studying the Course – that I have finally drawn my own conclusion to the question of what really works. While one must bring to every helping human relationship certain essentials such as Loving Will, Positive Intention,  Knowledge, Skills, Intuition, and Creativity, at it’s core the sine qua non of all counseling and psychotherapy is Forgiveness.
“Everyone who needs help, regardless of the form of his distress, is attacking himself,  
and his peace of mind is suffering in consequence.”
I believe that it is accurate to say that every client I have worked with during the past thirty-seven years who made significant progress in mental and emotional well-being did so as a result of some form of forgiveness – either forgiveness of self or forgiveness of another. Forgiveness is an act of liberation; in fact, the only true act of liberation. If we are [   ] harboring any form of judgment, any grudge, or resentment, or any sense of victimhood, we are in bondage. We are bound by that decision (whether we made it consciously or unconsciously) to a person, place, and event that took place in the past. We are also hauling that heavy load with us, polluting the present.
THE FORMS OF FORGIVENESS
And what I mean by “some form” of forgiveness is that how one experiences forgiveness depends on one’s level of spiritual and psychological development.
At the lower levels, individuals still believe that in order to be rid of the heavy burden of “harm” (i.e., disappointment, resentment, hurt, anger, rage, hate, etc.) suffered as a result of another’s actions, they must forgive the person or persons who harmed them. This act of forgiveness, when made sincerely, does achieve the desired purpose. It does have the effect of releasing psychological bondage to the other(s) by severing the emotional attachment (i.e., unfinished business) to which the “victim” was clinging. It does, in effect, lighten the load of what some refer to as the “emotional pain body” that we carry with us as a result of traumatic events.
The other form of forgiveness – available to those at a higher levels of spiritual and psychological development –  is what may be termed “true forgiveness”. At this level the individual who is capable of more abstract thought becomes willing to reverse his thinking, and to understand that what he thought projected its effects on him (external forces) were made by his projections on the world. In other words, everything perceived as “out there” is actually projected from “in here” within our own minds.
Furthermore, and this often requires the ability to surrender deep-seated beliefs, the world we see out there does not really exist at all. It is an illusion – a bad dream. In Eastern philosophies it is called “Māyā”, a term which connotes a “magic show, an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they seem”. When we are sleeping we experience characters and events that seem very real until we awaken. And so it is with our waking “reality”. It all seems real until we awaken spiritually. This is what is at the core of all the great spiritual traditions – spiritual awakening.
QUESTIONING “REALITY” AND QUESTIONING ILLUSIONS:
The ultimate purpose of spiritual psychology (counseling and psychotherapy) is to help the individual begin to question his “reality” and to change his mind about the reality of illusions. The aim is to aide the client in abandoning his fixed delusional system and removing all blocks to the truth. The truth being that we create, promote or allow everything that happens to us. There are no victims.  Until this is at least partially accomplished the client will continue to entertain the belief that he or she is a “victim” of circumstances. And victimhood can seem like a great place to hang out. But, as every helping professional knows, victimhood is a horrible place to hang out. It is a jail cell of one’s own making. Not only does the “victim” suffer from the belief he has been harmed by some external force, he also suffers the self-imposed life restrictions that come with victimhood. How can he be happy and successful in life if much of his life energy is being put to the task of nurturing unhealed wounds?
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The world we see merely reflects our own internal frame of reference—the dominant ideas, wishes and emotions in our minds. “Projection makes perception” (Text, p. 445). We look inside first, decide the kind of world we want to see and then project that world outside, making it the truth as we see it.

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we will see a world of evil, destruction, malice, envy and despair. All this we must learn to forgive, not because we are being “good” and “charitable,” but because what we are seeing is not true.

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THE RELATIONSHIP IS EVERYTHING
Relating at the level of _____ and relating at the level of Christ:
It is, however, only at the level of Christ Mind that true union is possible, and has, in fact, never been lost. The “little I” seeks to enhance itself by external approval, external possessions, and external “love.” The Self That God created needs nothing. It is forever complete, safe, loved, and loving. It seeks to share rather than to get; to extend rather than project. It has no needs and wants to join with others out of their mutual awareness of abundance.
The special relationships of the world are destructive, selfish, and childishly egocentric. Yet, if given to the Holy Spirit, these relationships can become the holiest things on earth—the miracles that point the way to the return to Heaven.

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heavy burden of carrying around the weight of all the psychic energy it takes to maintain the client cannot see himself as really capable of making decisions [I’m a victim of circumstances].
  • It is necessary so that the individual can begin to question their reality.
The
  • The client must be helped to change his mind about the “reality” of illusions.
  • The purpose is to remove the blocks to truth.
  • Its aim is to aide the client in abandoning his fixed delusional system.
Until this is at least partly accepted the client cannot see himself as really capable of making decisions 
circumstances.

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To forgive is to overlook.  Look, then, beyond error and do not let your perception rest upon it, for you will believe what your perception holds. 4 Accept as true only what your brother is, if you would know yourself. Perceive what he is not and you cannot know what you are, because you see him falsely.  Remember always that your Identity is shared, and that Its sharing is Its reality.
The ego, too, has a plan of forgiveness because you are asking for one, though not of the right teacher. The ego’s plan, of course, makes no sense and will not work. By following its plan you will merely place yourself in an impossible situation, to which the ego always leads you. The ego’s plan is to have you see error clearly first, and then overlook it. Yet how can you overlook what you have made real?  By seeing it clearly, you have made it real and <cannot> overlook it.  This is where the ego is forced to appeal to “mysteries,” insisting that you must accept the meaningless to save yourself.  Many have tried to do this in my name, forgetting that my words make perfect sense because they come from God. They are as sensible now as they ever were, because they speak of ideas that are eternal.
This “self” he sees as being acted on by the external world. It can only react to those external forces as they demand. He is small and helpless compared to the power of the world.i
Psychotherapy must restore to his awareness the ability to make his own decisions.
Every client must begin to separate truth from illusion.
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THE WORLD OF PERCEPTION (THE DREAM)
When you have been caught in the world of perception you are caught in a dream. You cannot escape without help, because everything your senses show merely witnesses to the reality of the dream. God has provided the Answer, the only Way out, the true Helper. It is the function of His Voice, His Holy Spirit, to mediate between the two worlds. He can do this because, while on the one hand He knows the truth, on the other He also recognizes our illusions, but without believing in them. It is the Holy Spirit’s goal to help us escape from the dream world by teaching us how to reverse our thinking and unlearn our mistakes. Forgiveness is the Holy Spirit’s great learning aid in bringing this thought reversal about. However, the Course has its own definition of what forgiveness really is just as it defines the world in its own way.

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Spiritual Intelligence

On Sunday, October 14, 2012, Rev. Peter Graham addressed the congregation at the Community Miracles Center’s downtown San Francisco facility. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that lecture.

Spiritual Mind

Thanks to everyone for being here. It’s a great opportunity to give this talk. I feel excited about giving this talk. As I was thinking about what to do for this talk, this idea just popped up in my head. Maybe it came from the Holy Spirit. One thing I can say about spiritual intelligence – this is my feeling, and I don’t think it’s an arrogant feeling – all of you in here are probably in the top one percent of the spiritually intelligent, (laughter) especially in our culture. I think about what A Course In Miracles teaches and our traditional Western culture. Maybe in Eastern cultures, where they already have the idea that the world is an illusion and temporal, it is different, but in our Western culture, the idea of the world as an illusion is not accepted easily. So, welcome to the one percent.

I want to start my talk off by giving you a little history of intelligence testing and the identification of intelligence in the Western World. As some of you know, I’m a teacher in San Francisco in Special Education. I have had some training around intelligence testing, because the whole idea of testing abilities in education is important. There are some students, as you know, who have difficulty learning, or who have learning impairments. We try to identify these students so that we can support them in learning better. I want to give you a little history of intelligence measuring.

The first modern intelligence testing came about in the 1900s. This is what happened. In France, the government decided that they were going to educate all their children, ages five to fourteen. What they realized was that some children learned better than others. So the French government wanted to figure out, to identify, the kids that weren’t learning, so the government could try to support them better. At the time, there was a French psychologist named Alfred Binet. He was a good guy, a humanistic psychologist. He started going to schools and other areas where kids were, and tried to identify their behaviors. He was later joined by medical doctor Theodore Simon, another French man, who was interested in the same thing. They worked together and they came up with an intelligence test for children that became known as the “Binet-Simon.” That was the first scientific intelligence test we had.

This is what they did. They made a lot of observations of children. They said, “For a child that is five years old, this is typically what a five year old knows. This is what a five year old can read. This is what they can do mathematically. This is what they can do socially.” They came up with different criteria. When you were tested, using this new Binet-Simon test, if you could answer all the questions that an average five year old could answer, then you were considered typical for that age. If you were a five year old, but you could answer the seven year old questions, then you were considered above average. If you were a five year old, but could answer the ten year old questions then – “Wow!” You were off the charts. At the same time, if you were five years old but could only answer the questions that the average three year old knew, then you would be considered below the typical average intelligence. That’s how they established the standards of what intelligence was. Kind of cool – right? The whole idea was to help kids.

Now, leave it to the good old United States. There was a young student in Europe, at the time, named Henry H. Goodard. He was also in France, because he was studying in Europe. He heard about these intelligence tests. The only problem was that he was part of a movement called Eugenics at that time. The Eugenics movement was the one that postulated that white people were intellectually superior. Goodard brought the test to the United States. He hooked up with other Eugenics members in the United States, including a man by the name of Lewis Terman, who was a psychologist at Stanford University. They took the Binet-Simon test and they made a new test. It became – and modified versions are still used today – the first American intelligence test. It’s named the “Stanford-Binet.” Some of you may have actually taken this test. Many of you have probably heard of it.

The Stanford-Binet test’s first application was in World War I, because the government wanted to test people’s intelligence and put them in the best positions, so the U.S.A. could win the war. Intelligence tests in this country got off to a not so great start. The Holy Spirit, I’m sure, took the Stanford-Binet intelligence test and used it for good, in some instances. The Stanford-Binet test has been challenged, and it has been seen as culturally biased. There are many other intelligence tests that are used now.

Fortunately, for the good old U.S.A., we did have reform. In the late 70s and early 80s there was a Harvard psychologist named Howard Gardner, and he had a profound effect. He broadened our understanding of intelligence. He said that most humans had nine areas of intelligence. These are areas where we have a capacity to solve different kinds of problems and apply the solutions practically in our mirs. Here are the nine area. The first two are the areas that are required in schools and in education:

  • Linguistic
    • Logical Mathematical
    • Interpersonal
    • Intrapersonal
    • Musical Rhythmic
    • Naturalist
    • Bodily Kinesthetic
    • Visual Spatial
    • Existentialist

These are the nine areas of intelligence. What Gardner said was that we actually have all of them.  Even if you just like to listen to music, you’ve got some musical intelligence. It doesn’t mean you have to be Beethoven. We have all of these things.

The Existentialist would be more like us, more the philosopher kind, the interested in the spiritual world kind.
The Interpersonal would be like the politician or the leader.
The Intrapersonal would be like the therapist, the counselor.
The Musical Rhythmic would be all the folks who are good at music and creating that in the world.
The Naturalist, think of the environmentalist, John Muir perhaps.
The Bodily Kinesthetic would be like an athlete or the dancer.
The Visual Spatial would be the artist, the fashion designer, the architect.

Those are different kinds of intelligence. It’s really interesting. I thought to myself, what about Spiritual Intelligence?

A couple of years back there was a big movement about Social Intelligence.  Daniel Goldman wrote a book on that in 2007. What about Spiritual Intelligence? Maybe I could write a book on Spiritual Intelligence. I looked it up on the internet and, loo and behold guess what, people have already thought of this. (laughter) Actually quite a lot of people! There are many references to Spiritual Intelligence on the internet – the first ones that come up in my search were about the Kabbalah. I’m sure some of you know the Kabbalah is the Judaism mystical teaching. Some people say Jesus studied under these teachings. There’s a lot in the Kabbalah about getting in touch with spirit through the use of different practices. There was one web site on Spiritual Intelligence, that is Kabbalah related, and the term “Spiritual Intelligence” is legally registered. They have a trademark on it. We have to be careful about how we use it.

The web site had this to say about Spiritual Intelligence, “Spiritual Intelligence refers to the ability to practice and integrate the spiritual polarities of intuitive wisdom and practical knowledge, love and responsibility, and energetic action …” I like that. “… and humility. The goals of practice include the development of mindfulness, awareness of the divine, choosing an ethical path and acting in accordance with one’s chosen values for the benefit of self, others, community and the world.” (Center for Spiritual Intelligence / http://spiritualintelligence.com/)

That sounds a lot like our A Course In Miracles related mission statement for the Community Miracles Center. It has a lot of the same ideas – taking the principles of ACIM and applying them to our minds and bringing them to those who are interested in them.

That sounds like a pretty cool definition. This is my definition of Spiritual Intelligence as an A Course In Miracles student. I just came up with this, so I’m still working on it. Here’s my definition: “The willingness to accept the Atonement for myself as the overarching purpose of my life and the context in which I view all human perceptual experiences. The practice of which includes study, daily lessons, prayer, and the desire to see my brother/sister as myself through the practice of forgiveness.” The Course has inspired me to look at my life this way. I feel like when we say this word “intelligence,” all of us in this room do have this inclination. I think we need to recognize that and validate it. As we go through our life experiences, our healing experiences, we really are atypical. There truly are not many of us out there. The Holy Spirit wants everyone, but we here have a high sense of awareness of how spirituality plays in our minds. I really think we have to validate that for ourselves, because a lot of us may not have the traditional success in the world or what the world would say is a success. Some of us might, but some of us may not. However, Spiritual Intelligence is really needed for ourselves and for the world at this point in time, and we all have high Spiritual Intelligence.

Here’s what A Course In Miracles said in that reading we heard earlier, “You made the effort to learn, and the Holy Spirit has a unified goal for all effort. He adapts the ego’s potentials for excelling to potentials for equalizing. This makes them useless for the ego’s purpose but very useful for His. If different abilities are applied long enough to one goal, the abilities themselves become unified.” (OrEd.Tx.7.23)

All of us in this room have different talents, different gifts. The ego has different potentialities. The ego may use our gifts for the ego world, but if you are committed to A Course In Miracles – if you are committed to that curriculum as I think we all are – eventually it all becomes unified. We are healing our minds and healing the world. This is something that is certainly required. The Course is teaching us about that.

I’ve come up with my own idea here. What about our own Spiritual Intelligence Quotient. There’s the Intelligence Quotient, the “I.Q.” How about “S.I.Q,.” Spiritual Intelligence Quotient. How does A Course in Miracles increase our S.I.Q. I was thinking about that and thinking about my own practice.

One thing I know in my own life is this, I know when I get up in the morning, if I take the time to do the daily Workbook lesson and spend a few minutes – sometimes it only has to be five minutes – to set my mind, to set my inner clock to Holy Spirit, my day tends to be much better. I tend to be more centered; I tend to be kinder. I tend to not be as attached to my problems. I tend to be a better problem solver, a better decision maker. In that way, I’m approaching life with my Spiritual I.Q.

Some of you may know that this first eight weeks of the school year have been very challenging for me. Actually I’ve been really in my ego a lot. I have been attached to the problems in my work place. My Spiritual I.Q. has been down a little bit. It needed a little bit of inspiration. I think that is why Holy Spirit gave me this talk. Holy Spirit is telling me that I need to re-prioritize, step back for a minute, remember what this whole thing is all about.

Meditation is one way. A second thing is what I just talked about – context. I think A Course In Miracles gives us a context for our minds. “How does this increase my Spiritual Intelligence Quotient?” It increases it because it gives us that context. We go out in our minds as ACIM students and we have these Course ideas. The world is temporary. The world is my classroom. I’m learning a lesson here. The end of my body’s life span is not the end of me. We know these as ACIM students. We know that healing is a part of our minds. We know that our struggles with work, relationships, with money, with health, with our bodies – whatever it might be – should be seen within that context. If we can look at it, when we can remember – I certainly get caught up in the world. However when we do, we can remember, in that context, “Oh this is the purpose. I’m trying to see this in another way. I can learn a lesson.” Then it doesn’t have all the trappings of the ego.

When I get caught up in my job my ego says, “Oh, Oh! If I don’t do this I’m going to lose my job. If I don’t do this, people are going to think ‘X, Y & Z’” whatever the fear thoughts are. We get caught up in judgement. The judgement gives us the fear thoughts.

The other area that A Course In Miracles helps me in is this idea of purpose. The Course gives me confidence, but it also gives me purpose.” It answers the question, “What is my life for?” I think about it as a counter example. Think of the person who doesn’t have the A Course In Miracles context. A person who comes to my mind is a guy like Donald Trump. Not to pick on a brother, but I had to use somebody as an example. Here’s a guy who seemingly has it all – right? He has billions of dollars, even though a lot of his companies have failed; he still has lots of money. He’s famous. A lot of people like him.

I was watching this show a few weeks ago. He was in Scotland trying to build a golf course on a beach. There were property owners around who didn’t want him to build this golf course. He’s in a car and they are video recording him for the show. He’s yelling and screaming at the property owners who didn’t want their views blocked. He had bulldozers push the ground up so that it blocked their views of the ocean. Here’s this guy who is totally invested in the world, has all the gifts of the world, and he clearly was not being a very nice guy. He was being a jerk. I think about that.

On a personal level, I know friends of mine who are great people but they have a real block. They don’t have any spiritual connection. It’s really, really difficult for them. This purpose that we A Course In Miracles students have is a gift. We have a spiritual connection. I don’t think it’s ours to tightly hold on to, it is ours to give and to provide as an example to others. Sometimes our example can be given by just listening. Sometimes we are guided to share our experience with others, and that sometimes gives them hope. That’s up to you and the Holy Spirit in the moment.

Another thing I think is really important is prayer and this is something I forget a lot. The Song of Prayer tells us this, “Prayer is the greatest gift which God blessed His Son at his creation … Endless the harmony, and endless, too, the joyous concord of the Love.” (Song.1.In.1) I really like this one from The Song of Prayer too, “The secret of true prayer is to forget the things you think you need.”(Song.1.I.4) A Course In Miracles enriches our mirs because it is telling us, “Hello everyone. Wake up a little bit. You can pray anytime.” It tells us that our prayers don’t have to be perfect. We can bring anything to the Holy Spirit. We’ll get answered in the way we need to get answered. We do have problems that appear to be specific, and we’ll get specific answers. We do have the power of prayer. We do have the ability – what is the Course about – to change our thinking about things when we are in the ego. Prayer is a great way to increase our own awareness and to increase our own spiritual experience.

My last point about Spiritual Intelligence is this – inspiration. A Course In Miracles, for me, is inspiring. I don’t know if you have even had this experience. Sometimes I often have the experience when I go to teach my ACIM-1 class, and it’s right after work, my mind is frequently focused on the worries of the world. Then I open up the Course and I get this whole other perspective. That perspective shifts me. “Oh gee. That’s right. I remember. This is temporary. That’s right, there’s the Holy Spirit. That’s right, I’m loving. I can forgive this. There’s another way to look at this. This is not all there is.” For me, the Course is inspiring. This inspiration helps me to be a better example in the world and heal my own mind.

A Course In Miracles says, “There is a way of living in the world that is not here, although it seems to be. You do not change appearance, though you smile more frequently. Your forehead is serene; your eyes are quiet. And the ones who walk the world as you do recognize their own. Yet those who have not yet perceived the way will recognize you also and believe that you are like them as you were before.”(OrEd.Tx.155.1)

In closing I’d like to say we all, as students of A Course In Miracles, have many ways in which we can take our spirituality and heal ourselves and heal those who we encounter in the world. Sometimes we heal ourselves quietly. Sometimes it’s in communion with our brothers and sisters. Sometimes it’s in a way that we do not know or understand, but that the Holy Spirit is working out for us in His own way and in a way perfect for our own mirs. Today I think we need to validate and accept the gifts that we have. We do have high spiritual intelligence, and the world and ourselves are in need of it.

That’s my talk for today. (applause)

(Rev. Peter Graham is the Community Miracles Center’s 40th minister ordained by the CMC on February 23, 2002. He teaches our *ACIM-1* telephone conference call class on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. Pacific time. He works as a Special Education teacher and administrator for the San Francisco Unified School District.) 

 

© 2014 Rev. Peter Graham, San Francisco, CA – All rights reserved.

 

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REAL AND UNREAL, KNOWLEDGE AND PERCEPTION,
Perception is a function of the body, and therefore represents a limit on awareness. Perception sees through the body’s eyes and hears through the body’s ears.
This introduction is how A Course in Miracles begins. It makes a fundamental distinction between the real and the unreal; between knowledge and perception. Knowledge is truth, under one law, the law of love or God. Truth is unalterable, eternal, and unambiguous. It can be unrecognized, but it cannot be changed. It applies to everything that God created, and only what He created is real. It is beyond learning because it is beyond time and process. It has no opposite; no beginning and no end. It merely is.
The world of perception, on the other hand, is the world of time, of change, of beginnings and endings. It is based on interpretation, not on facts. It is the world of birth and death, founded on the belief in scarcity, loss, separation, and death. It is learned rather than given, selective in its perceptual emphases, unstable in its functioning, and inaccurate in its interpretations.

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TWO DISTINCT THOUGHT SYSTEMS
From knowledge and perception respectively, two distinct thought systems arise which are opposite in every respect.

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THE BODY, THE MIND, ILLNESS AND THERAPY
The body appears to be largely self-motivated and independent, yet it actually responds only to the intentions of the mind. If the mind wants to use it for attack in any form, it becomes prey to sickness, age, and decay. If the mind accepts the Holy Spirit’s purpose for it instead, it becomes a useful way of communicating with others, invulnerable as long as it is needed, and to be gently laid by when its use is over. Of itself it is neutral, as is everything in the world of perception. Whether it is used for the goals of the ego or the Holy Spirit depends entirely on what the mind wants.

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THERAPY AND THE VISION OF CHRIST
The opposite of seeing through the body’s eyes is the vision of Christ, which reflects strength rather than weakness, unity rather than separation, and love rather than fear. The opposite of hearing through the body’s ears is communication through the Voice for God, the Holy Spirit, which abides in each of us. His Voice seems distant and difficult to hear because the ego, which speaks for the little, separated self, seems to be much louder. This is actually reversed. The Holy Spirit speaks with unmistakable clarity and overwhelming appeal. No one who does not choose to identify with the body could possibly be deaf to His messages of release and hope, nor could he fail to accept joyously the vision of Christ in glad exchange for his miserable picture of himself.
Christ’s vision is the Holy Spirit’s gift, God’s alternative to the illusion of separation and to the belief in the reality of sin, guilt, and death. It is the one correction for all errors of perception; the reconciliation of the seeming opposites on which this world is based. Its kindly light shows all things from another point of view, reflecting the thought system that arises from knowledge and making return to God not only possible but inevitable. What was regarded as injustices done to one by someone else, now becomes a call for help and for union. Sin, sickness, and attack are seen as misperceptions calling for remedy through gentleness and love. Defenses are laid down because where there is no attack there is no need for them. Our brothers’ needs become our own, because they are taking the journey with us as we go to God. Without us they would lose their way. Without them we could never find our own.

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MORE ON FORGIVENESS
Forgiveness is unknown in Heaven, where the need for it would be inconceivable. However, in this world, forgiveness is a necessary correction for all the mistakes that we have made. To offer forgiveness is the only way for us to have it, for it reflects the law of Heaven that giving and receiving are the same. Heaven is the natural state of all the Sons of God as He created them. Such is their reality forever. It has not changed because it has been forgotten.
Forgiveness is the means by which we will remember. Through forgiveness the thinking of the world is reversed. The forgiven world becomes the gate of Heaven, because by its mercy we can at last forgive ourselves. Holding no one prisoner to guilt, we become free. Acknowledging Christ in all our brothers, we recognize His Presence in ourselves. Forgetting all our misperceptions, and with nothing from the past to hold us back, we can remember God. Beyond this, learning cannot go. When we are ready, God Himself will take the final step in our return to Him.

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TRUE FORGIVENESS:
What I am talking about is what we may refer to as “true forgiveness”. Understanding true forgiveness requires us to ascend to a higher level of abstraction.
It requires us to not only accept that there is a God (a Supreme Being or First Cause), but also to accept that we are actually created by and extensions of that very God. And, if this is so, then we cannot be anything but God. Thoughts do not leave their source. Anything created by God cannot be anything but God. To make it more easily understandable we say the God is the Father and that what he created by extending Himself is the Son of God. This one Son is forever innocent, forever lovable and forever loved. We do not believe this, of course. And that is literally the “hell” of it. We believe that we are separate beings, wrapped in bags of skin, independent from God and from all of creation. Not unlike a drop in the ocean thinking of itself as a individuated drop rather than as an integral aspect of oceanic oneness, the whole, we feel isolated, alone and scared.
True forgiveness calls on us to acknowledge that we (as the Son of God) cannot be attacked, and anger has no justification. Any perceived attack is merely a distorted call for Love. To be sure, bodies can be and are frequently physically attacked, with horrible consequences. The mind, however, can only be attacked if it chooses to be vulnerable and prone to projection. Verbal attacks can only hurt us if we choose to give these power over us; that is, if we interpret them as an assault, resulting in a stab of pain that justifies our attack in return. If, on the other hand, we interpret verbal attacks as the desperate call for Love that it truly is, we can actively choose to react in a loving way, without condemnation. This is done by quickly activating our observant decision maker “above the battleground”, and then asking the Holy Spirit (the voice of our collective Self) what to do. By doing so, we acknowledge that attack cannot have real effects, that we do not have separate interests, and that we’re equal as creations of God, albeit asleep, dreaming of fragmentation and separate interests.
WHO THE BOOK IS FOR:
On the following pages you will find sections of a book I am in the process of completing.  The book is being written for the benefit of anyone who has a deeply felt desire to help others lead happier, more satisfying and productive lives.  There are many labels that apply and all of them have slightly different meanings.  Our “tribe” includes psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, marriage and family therapists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, mental health counselors, school psychologists, school counselors, substance abuse counselors, pastoral counselors, and other human service professionals.  While the distinctions between these helping roles may be one of degree of training or focus, what is more important is what they all share in common.  In a very real sense, we are all in the same business. Call yourself what you will; pick a label that feels comfortable; choose a term that fits your background training and experience.  But realize that we are all in the business of enhancing the lives of others.
 BEGINNER’S INSECURITY:
Although I was quite sure I had found my calling during the early years of my practice, I was feeling more than a little insecure.  Just as the beginning doctor, lawyer, teacher and investment broker feels in over his or her head when first starting out, I felt at times like something of an impostor.  This natural and appropriate beginners insecurity led me to become somewhat obsessed with learning all I could about how to counsel others ethically and effectively.  Like most of my colleagues, I felt compelled to go far beyond the survey courses of current psychotherapies offered in my graduate programs and delved into tomes of works on psychology, philosophy, sociology and spirituality.  Driven by a strong desire to attain a level of competence that would ensure that I did no harm, my studies became a nearly diagnosable obsession.
SO MANY THEORIES!
As I studied the history of psychology and read in depth about the “talking cure” of the pioneering psychodynamic schools; the subsequent emergence of behaviorism as a dominant paradigm; the counterbalancing effect of the existential/humanistic school; and the parallel rise of the cognitive-behavioral and rational-emotive schools, I began to wonder how it was that there could be such a variety of perspectives – all of which had such face validity and such appeal, at least to me.  How could there be so many radically different “theories” about what it takes to be a helping professional?
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