From Psychology to Psychosophy
Within the context of this article an attempt will be made to concisely articulate an evolution of thought extending from a knowledge of soul logic to the expanding parameters of a soul wisdom. Yet it would be remiss to begin our exposition without a few introductory remarks about the origin of the idea of soul.
The word "soul" is experiencing a revival of universal appeal. One cannot review the current best sellers list without finding one or more book titles with the word soul in it. The word itself has undergone an evolution of meaning. The Webster Dictionary defines it as "the principle of life, feeling, thought and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical." For the Greeks the word psyche, which implied soul, encompassed the realm of spiritual beings whom had a stake in the affairs of human beings. The tale of Amour and Psyche from the Golden Ass by Lucius Apuleius vividly portrays the Greek consciousness regarding Psyche as a focus of interest for the Gods and Goddesses.
Today the word psyche is often relegated to the fields of psychological terminology; whereas the word "soul has become a common descriptive lay term. Soul food, soul music, soul brother, soul sister, soul mate are but a few of the common ways the word soul is being used. The words soulful and soulless can be heard frequently to convey the intangible experiences with others or about others. It is without a doubt a time of "soul searching" on the part of our culture as a whole.
"no single word is so dead and forgotten
that the speaking mind cannot find it again
someday, stir it up and thaw it out...it can
again be comprehended and brought to life."
Karl Vorsler (The Spirit of Language in Civilization)
So much of the alternative views of conventional psychology are based on the idea of soul which fired the imagination of the Renaissance; particularly as it was applied by the Doctor of Soul, Marsilio Ficino, headmaster of the Florentine Platonic Academy of the second half of the fifteenth century. "The soul is not satisfied by mortal things, for it seeks again the eternal", wrote Marsilio Ficino to the magnanimous Lorenzo de Medici. It is just this sentiment that has swept through the minds and hearts of those seeking for the new paradigm of our times. This revival of the Renaissance idea of soul comes as no surprise to the astrologically inclined, for the great cycle of the outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) have returned to similar positions as they were in the time of the Florentine Platonic Academy. This great cycle of 500 years was known and proclaimed by the Rosicrucians as the cycle of the Phoenix. This symbolic image of the bird resurrected through the fire and ashes of the past signified for the Rosicrusian the "transmigration of souls" from one incarnation to another. So it is quite a matter of fact for star savants that the idea of soul reawaken and resurrect its importance for the life of modern human beings.
If we probe the context of the usage of the word soul in the Renaissance, we may arrive at the conclusion that it has deeper historical origins than Dante's epochal work of the Divine Comedy, wherein we find souls in different conditional states in Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. Through the translations of Plato and Hermes Thrice the Greatest credited to Marsilio Ficino we are led back to the Greek and Egyptian cultures of the ancients. In the figure of Marsilio Ficino we have an individuality who embodied the highest of esoteric disciplines regarding the mystery of the soul which existed in those ancient cultures.
Rudolf Steiner describes the loss of clairvoyance as a most painful transition of consciousness for the Egyptian initiate priests, who had the task to translate the spiritual beingÆs speech in the celestial heavens to the peoples of their community. As the stars (which were regarded as the origin of the soul) fell silent, the Egyptian initiate priests were led to the creation of a new way of knowing the spiritual beings beyond the stars, a new science of religion. This creation we know as the art and science of astrology; although in its origin within the mystery schools, it was a path of initiation knowledge known as astrosophy - star wisdom. The rich imaginative language of mythology was wedded to the star knowledge making it accessible to the common man and woman. This was then transmitted as astrological lore into the succeeding ages.
The star wisdom of the Egyptian initiate priests allowed them to administer the sacramental rites which honored birth, life and death. The soul was revealed in the celestial harmonies as being part of, not distinct from, the stars and the earthly matter. From this perspective an understanding of Karma and destiny was fostered in the mystery schools. Teachings of the virtues of the stars and planets became a training of the candidate for initiation to confront the mysteries of good and evil. Intimate to this teaching was the training of the priest to become physician, to deal with the matters of health and illness through an understanding of the heavenly correspondences with mineral, plant and animal kingdom.
By the eighth century BC with the emergence of the classical Greek culture, the mystery schools became few and less capable of transmitting the deep secrets of soul evolution. Yet the invincible striving of human kind was able to rescue a depleted mythology and retain imaginations of a life prior to birth, where human souls were one with the divine origin of all things. This imagination created the firm foundation for the emergence of philosophy, mid-wived by Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. It was this love of wisdom for the soul's evolution that led to an acute awakening of sense perceptions and an active, dynamic thinking in search for truths.
In fact one might say philosophy provided the basis for the emergence of psychology. Within the philosophy of Plato there lies the principle methodology of both medicine and psychology. Plato began his philosophical inquiry with the question, "What is the condition of human nature?" By this he meant the condition of the human soul. His observations yielded the following symptoms: a chronic tendency for human beings to choose vice over virtue, thereby suffering consequences of unrest, unhappiness and uncertainty. Plato's diagnosis was that the draught of forgetfulness had wiped away the soul's pre-earthly memory of its divine destiny to practice virtue. His prognosis was if the human being was educated in the way of the virtues he/she would turn away from vice and walk the path of truth, beauty and goodness. Out of this conviction Plato set out on a plan of treating the soul's amnesia by teaching the virtues of a moral life based on a love for wisdom. Herein lies the fourfold method of healing practices for both body and soul.
From the perspective of spiritual science one may arrive at the following correlation's:
Symptomology........ Observation of the physical sense perceptible disturbances of health - Physical Body
Diagnosis.................A way of knowing the origin and nature of the disturbances within the life - Etheric Body
Prognosis.................An application of the knowledge gained to envisionthe most positive outcome of a
particular disturbance; as well as to give the illness a context of meaning in the present biography ... Astral Body
Treatment plan..........The conscious intervention to create a healing situation
for the one experiencing disturbance or dysfunction in their life - Ego
Plato's contribution to philosophy is well recognized and beyond question, yet his contribution to the basis of psychology is either little understood or neglected. It was he who proposed the existence of a cosmic consciousness which creates a mathematical orderliness in all things. The dynamic and animating force of this cosmic consciousness Plato called soul. With these thoughts he gave us the image of the man of reason, the human being who has within himself a mathematical and ordering logos; i.e. a psychology, a soul logic. Plato was convinced that every soul had been traumatized and wounded by its birth in the human body and needed to spend its life on earth healing. His idea of healing can be summed up in one of his passages from Timaeus.
"As concerning the most sovereign form of soul in us we must conceive that heaven has given it to each person as a guiding genius - that part which we say dwells in the summit of our body and lifts us from earth towards our celestial affinity, like a plant whose roots are not in earth, but in the heavens ... The motions akin to the divine part in us are the thoughts and revolutions of the universe; these, therefore, every person should follow, and correcting those circuits in the head that were deranged at birth, by learning to know the harmonies and revolution of the world..."
In his Phaedrus Plato creates the art of differential diagnosis by explaining that the healer of soul must first determine the various possible infirmities of the soul. Only then may the practitioner select the appropriate healing speech. Only then will the logos of the soul be re-engaged to realign itself with the divine order of its own destiny.
This Platonic psychology is eloquently expressed in Marsilio Ficino's The Book of Life, particularly in the third section entitled "On making your life agree with the heavens". He stood at the threshold opening to the Consciousness-Soul era as a representative initiate who knew the soul mediated between the spiritual spheres above and the physical earthly matter below. Time and time again Ficino would refer to harmonics and revolutions of the heavenly bodies to give his counsel as physician, philosopher and priest.
If Plato embedded the seed idea of psychology within the soil of philosophical inquiry, then Marsilio Ficino cultivated this seed and saw to it that its roots were firmly planted in the soul's longing to re-imagine the world. The collective genius of his students (Raphael, Boticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Lorenzo de Medici, Pico della Mirandola to mention a few) gives ample testimony to this accomplishment. Yet, even with this budding power of imagination as a faculty of the soul, humanity's passage into the Consciousness Soul era became a dark one. The art of astrology and magic degenerated into dangerous charlatanry. The religious authorities lost their hold on the cultural life as voices for independence asserted themselves in countless fields of endeavor. Alongside the awakened imaginative faculties there arose the power of abstract thinking, and with it, natural science.
This development had the deepest impact on the evolution of philosophy. By the seventeenth century the thought forms of natural science and its mathematical discipline had a primary shaping power on the philosophical traditions. Rationalism was no longer applied to the correspondences of the heavenly order to the human being's life of soul, but to the intellect's capacity to order the shape and substance of reality upon earth. Empiricism was no longer a matter of soul experience, but of the objective phenomena of the sense perceptions. The spirit was no longer being sought for in the heavens, but in the human being and his/her relationship to all the tangible experiences to be found on the earth.
These gestures in the development of humanity's consciousness point to the characteristic theme of this era of Consciousness Soul; i.e. the search for the spirit within the individual and world soul. The darkness of this time becomes a vital necessity, if the light of spirit is to become an inner discovery and not an external astronomical monument of light in the heavens. However, without a continuity of the knowledge of the mystery schools to guide the way into and through the darkness, humanity experienced soul phenomena without a frame of reference to understand it. Mathematical Logic became the new measure for the philosophy of rationalism and empiricism.
A spiritual scientific study of three philosophical giants of the seventeenth century reveals quite interesting insights into the encounters humanity faced in the darkness. We can think of these philosophers as forerunners, who were able to experience the appearance of the beasts who lie in wait at the threshold of the spiritual world.
Rene Descartes' mystical experience on the banks of the Danube river, in which the "Angel of Truth" revealed to him that the universe is essentially a machine, gave rise to his conviction that the whole universe consists of mathematically measurable entities. Only those entities which could be weighted, numbered and measured could be considered objective realities; whereas those experiences brought to us through sense impressions were to be considered merely subjective interpretations of the impact of the motions of the objective entities.
In order to place this truth as modern scientific dogma before the world, Descartes imagined a knowing entity separate from the objective world - a disembodied human intellect, whose voice of reason is echoed in the statement, "I think therefore I am." The way of this knowing he articulates in his Discourse on Matter, as a path of negating all subjective interpretations until one arrives at a certainty. Descartes believed this certainty to be thinking; and mistakenly placed it before existence. Hence all existence was to be seen as a source for doubt. The only thing one cannot doubt, says Descartes, is that the human being thinks. This view implied that the soul was only a thinking entity. From this view soul as psyche gradually became mere intellect, disembodied from feeling and willing activity.
Through the progressive thinking of Descartes, humanity is brought to the encounter with the Beast of Doubt.
Francis Bacon emerged in the 17th century as both a prophet and visionary of the new philosophy of science. In his New Atlantis, Bacon expresses a method of thinking that will lead humanity to a new world; a utopia wherein the human being would be able to control the elements of nature through a magical means of technology.
In contrast to Descartes, Bacon did not see the need to distrust conventional wisdom of the time. He felt more inclined to unveil the wisdom of nature in its multifaceted expressions of power. Bacon's vision was a mechanistic science of control and predictability. He was so passionate about this enterprise he was willing to say, "If science has to put Natura on a rack and torture her secrets from her, so be it." In this sentiment the feeling of antipathy, if not hate, is expressed. For Bacon the soul was to become the absolute sovereign over nature; not as a part of it, nor as a subject to it.
It is this attitude which so often fuels a mad race on the part of natural science to exploit the resources of the earth and deny any negative impact technology may have upon human lives. The offspring of this philosophy of sciences is a virulent technology which acts as a kind of beast with no regard for the human soul. Some technologians of our time can even be heard expressing hate for any non-mechanistic approach to life, often disguised with cynical commentary and statistical reports disclaiming the non-scientific. Bill Gates exemplifies this phenomena as he responded to the question of soul in an interview, with these words, "there is no evidence to support the idea of a soul."
The last of the 17th century philosophers I would like to cite is John Locke. His distaste for metaphysics drove his philosophical considerations away from the platonic notion of innate ideas to a pragmatic theory of ideas. For him the human being is born a "tabla rasa" and acquires ideas either through sensation or reflection.
Rudolf Steiner offers a concise synopsis of Locke's views in his book, Riddles of Philosophy,
"in Locke, the evolution of philosophy produces a form of world conception in which the self-conscious soul
struggles for its existence in the world picture but loses this fight because it believes that it gains exper-
ience exclusively in the intercourse with the external world represented in the picture of nature. The self-
conscious soul must, therefore, renounce all knowledge concerning anything that could belong to the nature of
the soul apart from this intercourse with the outside world."
Through the writing of Locke we can find not only a strong objection to metaphysics, but a fear of the spiritual which is non sense perceptible and pre-existing to birth. This fear is the third beast we meet at the threshold of the spiritual world. It is an encounter which often attacks the will, casting the self-conscious soul back upon its bearer - the physical body, in all its instinctual drives and functions.
Further study into the philosophical tenets arising out of the minds of the 17th century thinkers would allow us to explore the many dimensions of the evolution of thought as it applied to the idea of soul. It is in this century when the whole being of Philo-Sophia begins to fall; and with it the spiritual context of the idea of soul. Yet, it is not merely a soul illness, as Plato would refer to it (amnesia); but an extraordinary approach of the self- conscious soul to the threshold of the spiritual world.
Descartes, Bacon and Locke met this threshold in an unprecedented manner; not as initiates trained in the seclusion of mystery schools, but as thinking human beings who felt free to discover a new world of spirit within the sense perceptible phenomena. Their one sidedness and its subsequent conclusions are really expressions of the human soul's response to the encounter with the beasts when unprepared and uninitiated.
It is interesting to note that two centuries earlier the idea of soul shaped the culture of Renaissance in Europe; and two centuries later the idea of psychology emerged and fused itself with the modern scientific culture of our present time.
No history of psychology can truly begin without acknowledgment to Sigmund Freud. He brought forward the inevitable enterprise of a philosophy of science which had to apply itself to the questions of the human soul. The advanced medical model for health and illness in his time seemed to be a rational choice for the development of soul logic; i.e. psychology. Freud often spoke of the soul in its universal nature and structure, its development, its attributes, how it reveals itself in all we do and dream. The Interpretation of Dreams 1900) opened up a portal to the threshold of a new dimension for modern consciousness, which today stands as a foundation for investigations of the soul phenomena; albeit that it is often done under the clinical term of the unconscious aspect of the psyche.
"The dream is a result of the activity of our own soul," states Freud. In his attempt to understand how this activity comes about he wrote a paper in 1905 entitled, "Psychical Treatment", which latter became the mature work of his, An Outline of Psychoanalysis written in 1938. In this paper, Freud endeavors to link his thinking with the Greek idea of soul.
"Psyche is a Greek word which may be translated as soul. Psychical treatment hence means, treatment of the soul. One could thus think that what is meant is; treatment of morbid phenomena in the life of the soul. But this is not the meaning of this term. Psychical treatment wishes to signify, rather treatment, originating in the soul, treatment - of psychic or bodily disorders - by measures which influence above all and immediately the soul of man."
Too often English translations have used the word "mind" instead of his intended word soul (Seele in German), hence giving psychoanalysis an intellectual overtone which suggests mind analysis only. "Psychoanalysis," Freud wrote, "makes a basic assumption whose discussion is reserved to philosophical thought but whose justification lies in its results. We know two kinds of things about what we call our psyche. It has a conscious and an unconscious aspect in the life of soul."
Sigmund Freud, too, stood before the threshold of the spiritual world observing soul phenomena. However, he saw how the human soul shrank before the abyss in hysteria and forgetfulness and assumed the contents of the abyss to be all the traumatic, unresolved experiences of one's life. This interpretation led him to dismiss the objective facts of spiritual experiences in favor of subjective complexes born of neurosis.
Word associations (logos linking) and identifications of repressions (lost memories) became key techniques for the psychoanalytical work. To a certain degree, this was based on the acknowledgment that Plato attributed all sufferings and disorders of human beings to the soul illness, amnesia. Freud followed this idea into a practice; yet he was not able to accept fully Plato's original meaning; i.e. the human soul has forgotten its pre-earthly life of unity with the divine order of all things. As a consequence, Freud's psychoanalysis was founded on an intellectual theoretical construction of the soul which provided a false sense of security in knowing the human soul, which had now evolved into realms of the abyss unprepared. In effect, Freud was thrown back upon himself and the illusion that the soul life was governed by the body's primal instincts, impulses, drives and desires for pleasure and pain. This thought has been an essential justification for the practice of conventional psychiatry. To paraphrase it, "if the soul is in distress, the mind is not functioning well and in order to adjust it one needs to find chemical substances to effect the physical apparatus of the mind (brain, nerve-sense system)."
In the work of Sigmund Freud we find an ascendancy of "soul logic" and a loss of any understanding of "soul wisdom" as once articulated by mystery school priests, philosophers and physicians. The sense of this tragic loss of understanding lived deeply in the soul of Carl Gustav Jung, one time student of Sigmund Freud.For Jung, the world of dreams was not, as Freud postulated, a fantasy formation as a symbolic disguise of basic drives, nor neurotic symptoms as compensatory gratification, but rather a spontaneous creative manifestation of the depth of the psyche which had profound meaning for the development of the dreamer. Symbols became for him a language of the all knowing unconscious; yet his understanding of the archetypes expressed through the symbolic language did not depart from Freuds emphasis of the primal instincts at play in the psyche. Jung described archetypes as "instinctual images", the forms which the instincts assume.
References to the mystical teachings of alchemy, astrology and magic abound in the Collected Works of Carl Jung. It does give testimony to the striving on his part to reclaim the loss of "soul wisdom"; yet his own need to assert Analytical Psychology as a scientific pursuit apart from religious or spiritual paths led him to abstract conclusions about the reality of soul and spirit. For example in his Collected Works volume 6, paragraph 797 Jung writes,
"I have been compelled, in my investigations into
the structure of the unconscious, to make a conceptual
distinction between soul and psyche. By psyche I
understand the totality of all psychic processes,
conscious as well as unconscious. By soul, on the
other hand, I understand a clearly demarcated functional
complex that can best be described as a personality."
Jung's reluctance to admit religious and spiritual conceptions into the core of his Analytical Psychology led him to conceive the spirit as psyche, as a goal-directedness which extended beyond the personality into realms of the archetypal. The latter, he considered to be the ruling powers, the dominate laws and principles of life. This type of abstraction, wherein we are left with concepts but no sense of interrelatedness with the spiritual beings that once generated the concepts, is quite pervasive in Jung's work.
In his early pursuits for the emerging paradigm of the twentieth century, Jung was willing to be more forthright with his own sense of the mystical and Gnostic methods for the obtaining of "soul wisdom". In a letter to Freud dated August 12, 1912, Jung cited the Gnostic conception of Sophia as a viable reappearance of soul wisdom to be found in modern psychoanalysis. Yet as he began to apply his own thinking to the dynamics of the psychic phenomena, he became more and more driven to cast his ideas in accordance to scientific nomenclature. A sort of brilliant materialistic thinking was wedded with the world of soul and spirit through Carl Jung. And for this, many of us can be thankful, but few who understand the tenets of spiritual science can be satisfied with the abstractions upon which Jung's work is based.
These two fathers of the field of modern psychology, Freud and Jung, advanced the progress of philosophy to its end. Freud's invention of the technique of "free association" not only linked itself to Plato, but further to the ideas of the laws of association investigated by John Locke and David Hume. Jung's deep interest in neo-platonic ideas and the philosophy of Schopenhauer and Kant led him to develop a psychology that returned philosophy back to metaphysical contemplations. In their attempts to transform philosophy (love wisdom) into a psychology (soul logic), we may imagine a bridge being built across the abyss as humanity began to cross the threshold into the spiritual world. Philosophy fell into its own abyss of existentialism, so aptly signified by Freidrich Nietzche's sad end of mental illness. Freud saw the soul being overwhelmed by the instinctual forces arising from the Earth to claim the body as its own and to dwarf the power of the rational mind with a flood of unconscious content. Jung saw the soul disembodied and longing to unite with the celestial Heavenly realm of images reflected in the Zodiac. Neither saw the triune unity of body, soul, and spirit; for neither found the spiritual science of their time capable of illuminating the darkness of the abyss.
As humanity approached the middle of the 20th century, wounded by the devastation of World War II and disillusioned by the attempts of existential philosophy to restore sanity, the need for psychotherapeutic interventions became inevitable and greatly desired. Along side Freud and JungÆs contributions streamed seven main psychotherapeutic modalities. Each one bearing a soul wisdom that can be attributed to a planetary genius.Streaming from the Moon we may imagine an inspiration which lies behind all the emotional flooding therapies. Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957), praised by Freud as an effective therapist, fostered a psychopathology based on the idea of sexual repression and social oppression. Both experiences, he postulated, shaped rigid character structures that bound up energy and prevented the instincts from being expressed. Analysis of the character structure and the attack upon it and the body armor which held it in place became the aim for the catharsis. Related therapies include Alexander Lowen's Bio-energetics, Arthur Janov's Primal Therapy, and Thomas Stampfl's Implosive Therapy. Through these therapies, emotions are evoked which are for the most part negative in nature-- disgust and fear primarily. The danger is to fall into identification with one's lower nature, to become merely a sexual energy machine or some type of giant metabolic battery. The soul is completely disregarded in this approach; yet practitioners would be more inclined to state their case as liberators of the soul even though their theories never address the reality of a soul within spiritual context.
Within the work of Eric Berne (1910-1970), we may find the genius of Mercury at work. In Transactional Analysis emphasis is upon the dynamics of communication. Everything in Transactional Analysis stems from the premise that human personality is structured into three separate ego states--Parent, Adult, and Child (PAC). For Eric Berne, these ego states were not theoretical constructs as were Freud's superego, ego, and id; but phenomenological realities that were amenable to direct observation. He saw his clients entangled in intra-personal conflicts with their ego states and/or their attitudes regarding their life scripts as well as experiencing interpersonal conflicts with those who played roles in their lives. Berne's therapeutic approach was primarily an educational one, wherein awareness of ego states was developed and cross transactions accounted for. Life scripts were rehearsed and rewritten according to adult choices.
The accessibility of the concepts and language of Transactional Analysis is quite an attractive feature of this therapy; yet its common sense approach is also its weakness. The depth of understanding that could be made is often not made due to the favor given to the everyday transactions of roles that are all too familiar. Eric Berne gazes into the threshold of the spiritual world and sees the soul's splitting into thinking, feeling, and willing entities, but extrapolates it back to ordinary consciousness--and thus misses the opportunity to see how the soul's inner dialogue takes place around the questions of a life script (Karma and destiny) with angels and higher beings.
Carl Roger's (1902-1988) client-centered therapy epitomized the humanistic psychologies in search of a therapeutic modality. The one basic motivational force to actualize one's self completely appealed to the generation of the sixties in a big way. The underlying basis of psychopathology asserted by Carl Rogers was an affirming view for the counter-culturists; for they, too, espoused views that conditional forms of love devalued the person. The emphasis on direct and intense expressions of feelings in the therapeutic process was another component of congruence for the humanistic idealism of the sixties.
Client-centered therapies place the individual soul needs and values as the central focus of the therapeutic process. Although a great deal of attention was oriented around feelings, at the expense of deepening consciousness through thinking and direct action of will, it remains an approach in the field of psychology that is most akin to the qualities associated with the planet Venus. It calls forth, from both client and therapist, the need to share intimate feelings and to find value in the interpersonal experiences. In fact, the emergence of the importance of self-esteem has its roots in such humanistic approaches to psychotherapy.
For all of Carl Rogers' contributions to elevate the dignity of every human soul, the contemporary criticism leveled at his work by leading psychologists is that it remains a humanistic philosophy--inspirational, but not necessarily effective for clients who have become more than neurotic. Reality Therapy, written by William Glasser in 1965, presented a new approach to psychiatry. Empirical observations of facts and behaviors were given a particularly refreshing context. Glasser put forward the idea, "no matter how irrational or inadequate his (the client's) behavior may seem to us, it has meaning and validity to him... In their unsuccessful effort to fulfill their needs, ... all patients have a common characteristic: they all deny the reality of the world around them." Facing reality in all its tangible and intangible aspects was not the only aim of reality therapy. It also directed its therapeutic process toward helping the client learn to fulfill his or her basic needs. In this respect, Glasser took Carl Rogers' ideas of the soul's intrinsic values and needs and went beyond the emotional complex into a cognitive and practical modality of therapy.
The "what" of a behavior, not the "why" of a behavior, is pursued by a reality therapist. The process is to lead from sense perceptible facts to consequences of behavior, questioning continually whether the desired results have been achieved--and if not, questions as to how it may be achieved are asked. The reality therapist becomes a resource for problem solving, an educator for the means and ways to meet basic needs. This approach is very directive. It seeks to empower the client to become more effective in his or her exercise of responsibility, to become the rightful ruler of their life. Within this approach is the ruling power of the Sun intelligence.
Reasserting the thinking and willing components to the feeling dynamics of the soul is indeed a step forward in the realm of psychology. Yet reality therapy's reliance only on sense perceptible experiences denies the world of reality in which the soul lives and breathes--in the supersensible realm. It is not possible to satisfy the longing of the soul without venturing into this realm and asking the questions: "Why me?"- "Why now?"
Many people who dared ask these two questions in search of a more inclusive sense of reality during the sixties found themselves converging at Esalen in Big Sur, California. There, they met Frederich (Fritz) Perls (1893-1970). His uniqueness, honesty, and spontaneity exemplified his approach to therapy. Fritz Perls' impact on Gestalt therapy is unparalleled. Some might say his name is synonymous with the Gestalt movement.
Fritz Perls unmasked a cultural persona of people playing games rather than asserting their true aims in life. He saw psychopathology as a fixation in a natural process of growth. The him, the neurotic person is one who acts "as if" the purpose of their life is to live up to a concept, a fantasy whether it be a curse or an ideal. This begins the "maya" of reality and the loss of authenticity. Becoming aware of the phony-ness then leads to deeper levels of pathology; ie: phobic postures, victim postures, catatonic postures and either death states or its potential release into a new sense of life.
The therapeutic process of Gestalt involves a slaying of the mind attached to maya and a re-enlivening of the senses by drawing attention to the "here and now." Assuming the "hot seat," wherein the re-enactment of the phony layers of self expose the unresolved and unfinished aspects of the true self, is not always a desired position; yet it is in this way that the defenses are broken down and the conflicts brought to the light of day. Gestalt therapy as a growth oriented approach can be considered a motivational dynamic in the field of psychology. It epitomizes the power of Mars in action.
Carried to an extreme, Gestalt therapy, like the nature of an unrestrained Mars impulse, can lead to anarchy. Perls' motto, "You do your thing and I do my thing" is not only action oriented, but also a shallow slogan that reinforces the development of narcissistic and egocentric individuals who have little reason to be concerned with others. It can have the effect of unleashing strong astral forces, desires, and appetites to satisfy the id while diminishing the presence of the ego. Such a result opens the door of the soul to the question of evil.
Victor Frankl (1905-1997), founder of Logotherapy, met this evil at the door of his soul. After suffering through three years in Nazi concentration camps in which his mother, father, brother, and wife were put to death, he became convinced that a will-to-meaning is the basic sustenance of existence. This view was a counterpoint to Friedrich Nietzche's existential philosophy of a will-to-power; even though it was Frankl who gave the following statement of Nietzche's true validity: "He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how."
Logotherapy revives the intrinsic philosophical endeavor within psychology. It does not regard the meaning of life as a secondary abstraction, but approaches it as a primary reality of human existence--a reality which is not given but which must be created out of the deepest reflections of one's experiences. Victor Frankl wrote in 1963 a kind of categorical imperative of Logotherapy: "So live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now." This demand to live each moment with acute awareness and explicit responsibility enables us to find the meaning of life that is unique to us at this specific moment in our life.
Thoughtfulness is a key ingredient to any successful approach in Logotherapy, from both the therapist and the client. What is actually being sought is wisdom; yet not at all in reliance to an ancient teaching of the past, but upon a discovery of its hidden existence in what appears as meaninglessness. Viewed in this light, Logotherapy may be seen as an inspiration from the spirits of Wisdom who inhabit the planetary sphere of Jupiter. Although Logotherapy introduces the search for a soul wisdom, it fails to provide a matrix for the understanding of the origin, nature, and destination of the human soul. Ignoring the ancient teaching of the ages about the soul reveals a certain modern tendency to proceed with investigations of the soul as if it is the first time humanity has done so. Such an attitude is but intellectual arrogance, the same vice that has led to the fall of philosophy. The decades of the fifties and sixties were seminal years for the development of system theories; not only in biology and cybernetics, but also in the fields of psychology. Systems are sets of organized units interrelated and delineated by boundaries around the system and its units. The communication in a family, as an organic living system, became a subject of research in 1952. Gregory Bateson with Jay Haley and John Weakland established the Double Bind Communications Project to test the theory that conflicting communications could produce symptoms of schizophrenia; while concurrent to their endeavor Donald Jackson with Virginia Satir and Paul Watzlawick founded the Mental Research Institute. Both organizations concluded all behavior is an expressive form of communication whether verbal or nonverbal.
System theorists assume all psychopathy is fundamentally an interactional process between family members rather than an intra-personal problem within one member Psychopathology serves as a homeostatic mechanism to help families maintain an internal balance for family functioning. This occurs when a family is threatened by change. Then members act to balance out the family state through psychotic or other pathological behaviors. This dynamic takes the form of unclear and ambiguous rules covert and overt within the family. Bateson identified this as the crazy making "double bind", wherein there is no way out of the tension of being wrong.
Salvador Minuchin (1922- ) took these system theories further. Primarily, he did this by focusing not so much on the causes of psychopathology, but what maintains it. He addressed the family rules that structured a family and sought to engage them in changing it or disengage them from being enmeshed within it.
Murray Bowen (1913- ) added the third component to this overall Saturnian approach to psychotherapy; i.e.: the Family Systems Therapy. He emphasized the need to have family members differentiate themselves from the family itself. Contemporary issues of fusion (absence of boundaries) and triangulation (victim, persecutor, rescuer) set two cornerstones for the therapeutic process.
No criticism can be leveled at the essential concept of the Systems approach to therapy û human beings are interrelated and shaped by forms of communication. Yet not all problems can be construed to be so simple and systematic; particularly in today's world where the new paradigm of an individual's karma and destiny must be assessed. When one looks into some of the dynamic concepts of system therapies, it can become evident that there is a lot of pouring old wine into new bottles. For example, in Bowen Family Systems Therapy there is a reliance on Freudian concepts of heritage (old wine) applied to the multi-generational family concept which relies on differentiation (new bottle). The impression is that differentiation is nothing more than the ego controlling the id. Triangulation can appear as a disguised form of the Oedipal conflict.
Without an understanding of the themes of karma, destiny, and individuation as a path to a higher self, System therapies fall into the danger of mechanics; and as such, may deal only with the skeletal corpse and not the life which wishes to emerge from it.
Among the seven main psychotherapeutic approaches that arose during the middle of this century, a resurgent interest in Carl Jung's ideas also came to surface. In the last four decades, a movement derived from Jung's analytical psychology has gradually matured and obtained an emancipation of independence. Its emphasis is upon synthesis psychology or what is actually termed archetypal psychology.
Marie-Louise von Franz's twelve lectures at the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich during the winter semester 1959-60, entitled Puer Aeternus, set the tone for this movement. The subtitle of the book reads as follows: A Psychological Study of the Adult Struggle with the Paradise of Childhood. Puer Aeternus was a child-god identified with Dionysus and the god Eros. He is the "eternal youth", who is born in the night in the midst of the ancient mother-cult mystery of Eleusis. He is destined to become redeemer of humanity. This identification was then implicitly transferred to the destiny of a psychology capable of moving beyond analysis of the soul to a synthesis of its true nature.
In 1972 James Hillman published three essays in Archetypal Psychology (given at Eranos meetings in 1966, 1968, and 1969) under the title, The Myth of Analysis. His aim was to illuminate the transformation of psyche into life, to invite the psyche to move with its illnesses into life and, therein, to find their symbolic and imaginative meanings that could liberate it from the fragmentation of itself. HillmanÆs assertion is that all psychological work must be rethought and our idea of the soul must be reimagined. "If, with insights, we penetrate analysis through to its mythical foundations, it collapses upon its three fallen pillars--transference, the unconscious, and neurosis-- which we prefer to call, in accordance with the mythical perspective, the erotic, the imaginal, and the Dionysian."
James Hillman has been a prolific proponent of Archetypal Psychology and a significant critic of all forms of psychology lacking in real life context and imaginal capacities for determining meaning. His co-authored book with Michael Ventura, We've Had A Hundred Years of Psychotherapy And The World's Getting Worse is a good example of the latter. His newest book, The Soul's Code, is a good example of the former. In this book, one can see the unique perspective of Archetypal Psychology as having a deep affinity with the planetary qualities of Uranus. It is the drive to break the boundaries of convention and to attempt to imagine the future. In this latest book, Hillman does just that. He proposes a dissolution of the nature or nurture theory of human development by calling to his reader to think of ôsomething elseö. Implicitly this "something else" leads to metaphysical contemplations of the nature of karma and destiny. Although Hillman is not explicit about the matter, he is knocking on the door of spiritual science with his thinking. There are those who enter the field of psychology and long to find in it a path for transpersonal development. They seek something beyond the active imagination of Archetypal Psychology. They seek a Transpersonal Psychology. Roberto Assagioli (1888-1975), founder of Psychosynthesis and noted theosophist, provided such a path.
Psychosynthesis set out to embrace the soul as well as the libido, the imagination as well as the pathological complexes, the will as well as the instincts, drives, and desires. It based its conceptual framework on the theosophical ideas of the soul in its sevenfold nature -(1) Lower Unconscious, (2) Middle Unconscious, (3) Higher Unconscious, (4) Field of Consciousness, (5) Conscious Self or "I", (6) Higher Self, (7) Collective Unconscious. Assagioli put forward the notion that all psychology must be oriented to the development of a Self-realization that is both personal and transpersonal. The way proposed is a path of the will. To be motivated to seek the higher self in relation to the world of all humanity û past, present, and futureû is the goal. It is a goal quite in accord with the planetary sphere of Neptune. All the techniques to reach this goal point to the activity of meditation.
There are today many blends of Archetypal and Transpersonal Psychology in the cultural mainstream of the field of psychology. Not all are necessarily based on the figures I've mentioned above; nor are all of these views considered valid or essential to the search for a new paradigm. Under a mixed banner, often titled "Spiritual Psychology", some of the most innovative minds in our culture are returning to religions and ancient forms of wisdom teachings. They seek the wisdom of the soul, the re-birth of its spiritual giving powers to heal a world in need of just that. It is a Plutonian metaphor for our time. Thomas Moore and Robert Sardello are representatives of this search; not only back to basic spiritual roots but forward towards imagination of a psychology for every man and woman who seeks the reality of soul communion with oneself, the other, and the world.
It is in this striving as well that I seek to formulate a Psychosophy based on the intuitive guidance of Rudolf Steiner's Spiritual Science. Through such a basis, the ideas of Karma, Destiny, and Reincarnation can be re-introduced to humanity in a way that is sacramental, educational, and healing. In this paradigm the soul can be understood as living simultaneously in Body and Spirit; not only in a personal, but transpersonal way as well. Hence I am Soul, You are Soul, the World is Soul. And all three live indivisably as a whole reality waiting to be re-cognized out of the Spirit.
By William Bento on August 27, 1997