Spiritual Pursuits, Biology, and Psychology

The problem with a lot, if not most traditional spiritual pursuits, methods, schools, etc, is that they have next to no knowledge of human psychology, much less human biology or physiology. So when someone is going through something like what I’ve described above the usual answer is to control your thoughts, control your emotions, fast, pray, curse the devil, whatever. And of course none of that works and the person in the depths of the transformation, with the accompanying depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and so on, thinks he or she is doing something wrong, or is cursed, or has bad karma, or whatever. And worse yet, these spiritual traditions tell people to renounce the world, give up the “low” life in favor of a “higher” “spiritual” life, etc—and with that attitude just about make it impossible for people to go into the mental and emotional spaces they need to go into to deal with the depression, anxiety, etc that comes along with the transformation—they make it impossible because they make it “wrong” or “unclean” or “fallen” or “sinful” to think about sex, or anger, or rage, or anxiety, or fear—and those are the very things that need to be dealt with during the transformation. So this is where “normal” and “spiritual” psychology interface and work in concert with each other.

You get to a point in all this where you’re not really dealing with personal issues so much as universal issues, at least as far as being on this planet is concerned—you’re dealing with survival, you’re dealing with species issues as well as national and racial issues, and you’re dealing with all the subconscious issues of the human race. How big a jump can you imagine it is, and how much work can you imagine it takes, to go from seeing and relating to yourself as someone born into the world from human parents to feeling like you’re giving birth to yourself. Beyond the basic biological issues involved, there are also the issues of being parented—including being loved and nourished and sustained by your parents—and a host of other things.

I find that a lot of people who get involved in spiritual groups are very afraid of facing any of the things I just mentioned, so the promise of something more, or better, or whatever, is very appealing. And these same people can form very tight knit groups that don’t tolerate differences very well—they need to have all the answers.

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