Saturday, May 24, 2014

What in the Hell Does "Psycho-Spiritual" Development Even Mean?

Let's pause for a moment in order to explore this fuzzy phrase, "psycho-spiritual development." First off, this is my provisional label which is more or less a synonym for soul-making. The phrase indicates that the developing human being is influenced by much more than just neuro-chemical and socio-political factors. Each of the words (psyche/soul and spirit) identify aspects of what is always occurring within ordinary human consciousness, moving us toward individuation and maturity.
 
The word soul refers to the rich and baffling dualistic drama that is played out moment by moment within each of us--the incompatible instincts that assail us, the inexplicable shifts in mood, the conflicting desires and sudden revulsions, the puzzling dreams, hallucinations and fantasies, etc. Soul designates the fields or patterns of transhuman archetypal ideas, emotions and actions into which each of us is immersed at birth. These universal psychological patterns enfold us long before they begin appearing in our individual identities.  

The word spirit on the other hand recognizes and identifies that innate universal sense that life ought to be fair and problem free. The term spirit identifies the transhuman propensity to feel a kind of entitlement to order, good health, meaning, knowledge and especially joy. But in the midst of our spiritualizings, soul (psyche) collides with spirit reminding us that this world does not often comply with our sense of entitlement to joy, order and happiness. The war is on, and from it comes a unique individual. This, in part, is the significance of the Chinese Yin/Yang symbol. Each side (psyche and spirit) is telling us a part of the truth about reality, but unless both are merged, as in the term psycho-spiritual, we do not have a balanced view of human existence. Human and cultural development require both factors. Forgetting one side or the other always ends in bad politics, disappointing religion and impossible relationships. As the Tao Te Ching (poem 22) says, "We live in a perfectly imperfect world."

Finally, I do suspect that our instinctive compulsion to crave joy and wholeness exists because it actually is the ultimate goal our existence--but it arrives at the end of the soul-making endeavor--and not likely while in this earth school. Move forward and through life's challenges--toward and into increasing joy.