Saturday, December 19, 2009


So the lively force of his mind
Has brokem down all barriers,
And he passed far beyond,
The fiery walls of the world,
And in mind and spirit
Has traversed the boundless universe.

{Lucretius, De rerum natura}

"This stage follows the recognition that the necessary conditions to be fulfilled for the high achievement of Self-realization are a thorough regeneration and transmutation of the personality. It is a long and many-sided process which includes several phases: the active removal of the obstacles to the inflow and operation of superconscious energies; the development of the higher functions which have lain dormant or undeveloped; and periods in which one can let the Higher Self work, being receptive to its guidance.

It is a most eventful and rewarding period, full of changes, or alterations between light and darkness, between joy and suffering. It is a period of transition, a passing out of the old condition without having yet firmly reached the new; an intermediate stage in which, as it has been aptly said, one is like a caterpillar undergoing the process of transformation into the winged butterfly. But the individual generally does not have the protection of a cocoon in which to undergo the process of transformation in seclusion and peace. We must---and this is particularily so nowadays---remain where we are in life and continue to perform our family, professional, and social tasks as well as we can. Our problem is similar to that which confronts engineers in reconstructing a railway station without interrupting traffic.

Despite the challenges of the task, as we do our work we are conscious of gradual, increasing progress. Our life becomes infused with a sense of meaning and purpose, ordinary tasks are vitalized and elevated by our growing awareness of our place in a larger scheme of things. As time goes on, we achieve fuller and clearer recognition of the nature of reality, of human, and of our own higher nature. We begin to develop a more coherent conceptual framework which allows us to better understand what we observe and experience, and which serves us not only as a means of guidance to further knowledge but also as a source of serenity and order in the midst of life's changing circumstances. As a result, we experience a growing mastery of tasks which formerly seemed beyond ourselves. Operating, as we increasingly do, from a higher unifying center of personality, we harmonize our diverse personality elements into a progressive unity, and this more complete integration brings us greater effectiveness and more joy.

Such are the results, over a long period of time, which one generally observes to arise from the process of transmutation of the personality under the impulse of superconscious energies. But the process does not always proceed with absolute smoothness. This is not surprising, given the complex task of remaking the personality in the midst of the circumstances of daily life. As a general rule, some difficulties are almost always experienced, and one can observe temporary stages which manifest conditions the reverse of what has been described. This often occurs immediately after the flood-tide of exaltation has passed, and the individual settles down to her dual task of self-transformation while meeting life's demands. Learning the skill of one's energies in this fashion generally takes some time, and it may be while before the two tasks are implemented in a balanced manner, and ultimately recognized as one. As a consequence, it is not surprising to find stages in which the individual may become so engrossed in her task of self-transformation that her ability to cope successfully with the problems and activities of normal life may be impaired. Observed from the outside and gauged in terms of ordinary, task-oriented efficiency, she may seem temporarily to have become less capable than before. During this transitory stage, she may not be spared unfair judgement on the part of well-meaning but unenlightened friends or therapists, and she may become the target of pungent and sarcastic remarks about her "fine" spiritual/environmental/sensitive/creative/dreamer's ideals and aspirations making her weak and ineffective in practical life. This sort of criticism is experienced as very painful, and its influence may arouse doubts and discouragement.

Such a trial, when it occurs, constitutes one of the tests that may have to be faced on the path of Self-realization. Its value lies in the fact that it teaches a lesson in overcoming personal sensitivity, and is an occassion for the development of inner independence and self-reliance, without resentment. It should be accepted cheerfully, or at least serenely, and used as an opportunity for developing inner strength. If, on the other hand, the people in such an individual's environment are enlightened and understanding, they can help a great deal and spare her much unnecessary friction and suffering.

This stage passes, with time, as the individual learns to master her dual task and unify it. But when the complexities of the task are not recognized and accepted, the natural stresses of growth that are involved in the process can be exacerbated, last for long periods, or recur with an unnecessary frequency. This is especially so when the individual becomes too engrossed in the process of self-transformation, excluding the outer world with a single-minded and excessive introversion. Periods of healthy introversion are natural in human growth. But if they are carried to extremes or prolonged into a general attitude of removal from the life of the world, the individual may experience many difficulties not only with impatient and critical friends, coworkers, and family members, but also within, as natural introversion becomes self obsession.

Similar difficulties may arise if the individual does not deal with the negative aspects of herself revealed in the process of spiritual awakening. Rather than transmuting these, she may flee from them into inner fantasies of achieved perfection or imaginary escapes. But the suppressed knowledge of actual imperfections haunt her, and those around her challenge her fantasies. Under such dual stress it is not unlikely for the person to succumb to a variety of psychological troubles, such as insomnia, emotional depression, exhaustion, aridity, mental agitation, and restlessness. These in turn can easily produce all kinds of physical symptoms and disorders.

Many of these troubles can be greatly reduced or altogether eliminated by pursuing one's growth with energy, dedication, and zeal, but without becoming identified with it. This cultivation of a disidentified commitment allows a person the flexibility needed for the optimal pursuit of the task. The individual can then accept the necessary stresses of the new and complex process; she can refuse to fall into self-pity born of frustrated perfectionism; she can learn to view herself with humor and be willing to experiment and risk changes; she can cultivate a cheerful patience; and she can turn with self-acceptance of her present limitations to competent people-whether professional therapists, counselors, or wise friends--for help and guidance.

Another set of difficulties can be caused by an excessive personal effort to hasten higher realizations through the forceful inhibition and repression of the aggressive and sexual drives---an attempt which only serves to produce intensification of the conflicts and their effects. Such an attitude often is the outcome of too rigid and dualistic moral and religious conceptions. These lead to condemnation of the natural drives as "bad" or "sinful." Today a large number of people have consciously abandoned such attitudes but still may be unconsciously conditioned by them to some extent. They may manifest either ambivalence or oscillation between two extreme attitudes--one of rigid suppression, and the other of uncontrolled expression of all drives. The latter, while cathartic, is not an acceptable solution either from the ethical standpoint or the psychological. It inevitably produces new conflicts---among the various basic drives or between these drives and the boundaries imposed by social conventions, and by the demands of interpersonal relations.

The solution lies, rather, along the lines of a gradual reorientation and harmonious integration of all personality drives, first through their proper recognition, acceptance, and coordination, and then through the transformation and sublimation of the excessive or unused quota of energy. The achievement of this integration can be greatly facilitated by activating the superconscious functions and by deliberately reaching toward the Transpersonal Self. These larger and higher interests act as a magnet which draws up the "libido" or psychic energy invested in the lower drives.

A final kind of difficulty which deserves mention may confront the individual during periods in which the flow of superconscious energies is easy and abundant. If not wisely controlled, this energy flow may either be scattered in feverish excitement and activity or, on the contrary, it may be kept too much in abeyance, unexpressed, so that it accumulates and its high pressure can cause physical problems. The appropriate solution is to direct the inflowing energies purposefully, constructively, and harmoniously for the work of inner regeneration, creative expression, and fruitful service.

{Spiritual Emergency, by Stanislov Grof M.D., and Christina Grof}

{Images linked/Programming by DPC}

To be "normal" is a splendid ideal for the unsuccessful,
for all those who have not yet found adaptation.
But for people who have far more ability than the average,
for whom it was never hard to gain successes
and to accomplish their share of the world's work,
for them restriction to the normal signifies the bed of Procrustes,
unbearable bordedom, infernal sterility and hopelessness.
As a consequence there are as many people
who become neurotic because they are only normal,
as there are people who are neurotic
because they cannot become normal.

C.G. Jung on the Progressive Character

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