Nonduality Part III

29 October 2017

The integration of Eastern religious philosophies with Western psychology over the past century has been matched by a desire for greater consciousness in the individuals attending therapy.  The “profession of psychology seems poised to implement a new paradigm” (Sleeth, p. xxxv, 2009) towards wholeness of person, overlap of theory and the inclusion of the spiritual realm.  In light of this trend, nondualism provides an ideal philosophical basis to healing because it solves the basic problem of human suffering: separation (Welwood, 2000).  The therapy that does not do this, we must admit, fails in dealing with either the wounded self or the ascending soul.  The nondual, which unites the ascending and descending directions of our spirituality (Wilber, p. 11, 1996) must be included in our expanding psychotherapeutic context, since we have found no other secular ideal that can fill that role.  For many years Western psychology has omitted the soul from its perspective of the whole person.  And while this distinction from religion and theism has been crucial, it has meant throwing out the baby with the bathwater – the human was reduced to its parts.  However, by including nonduality into the framework of therapy, we may keep God and religion out of the equation while still recognizing that movements toward non-physical unity have a healing effect.

As this occurs, and psychology in both its theory and practice merges more and more with spirituality, the synthesis of East and West becomes fluid and real.  ‘Nondual therapy’ is becoming a growing practice, and attempts are being made to find ways to insert nondualism into the therapeutic practice.  Because the nondual is essentially a space in which all other experience arises, it is available to a person approaching it from any level.  It does not, and in fact, should not be named.  It is not a single technique, nor is it limited to certain special scenarios or persons.  The therapist with a nondual approach simply opens to the transcendent unity that is present in the relationship with the client, and allows that unity to draw the meeting past other mental constructions (Prendergast et al, p. 117, 2003).  Therapy is largely a mirroring, and when the therapist holds a space that moves beyond ego and its problems, the client is drawn naturally along with it.   Crucially, as Wilber notes, “you can have a nondual state experience at virtually any stage” (Wilber, p. 235, 2006).  The result is that therapists with such an inclination can use their awareness of nondualism to bring greater wholeness and therefore healing to their clients, no matter what the client’s current world view might be. This is partly possible because the nondual can be merged seamlessly into the therapeutic dialogue.  It manifests simply as any number of ways that the therapist assists the client to deconstruct problems and connect with their own presence.  And as a general rule, this will have positive results.  Joy, compassion, love, peace, gratitude – these are some of the most powerfully positive states of being that we can achieve in life.   All of these are states that can be brought on by approaching the nondual (Prendergast et al, p. 3, 2003).




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