Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Occupying Oneself

Scott Bradley


It seems to me that most of what we call 'spiritual work' is actually psychological work. Yet in saying this it is important to understand this psychological work is a conscious re-integration with the entirety of our human experience which goes well beyond self-contained mind. The mind is the seat of our awareness, but it is healthy only when it is open in relation to the wider range of our experience.

One reason I am wary of the idea of the 'spiritual' is that it suggests a something within us, a reality, distinctly other than the united rest of us, the mind, the body, the world, and Mystery. This is a perennial belief, the idea that there is a 'spark' of the divine within us, the spiritual, which we must discover and through which we become 'spiritual'. This is a belief that lays the foundation for all manner of dualistic thinking and behavior.

It follows from this belief in a 'spirit' within that there is a Spirit without that acts upon us or, barring that, is something with which we must re-integrate. It is given various names — God, Mind, Dao. I would suggest that for philosophical Daoism, Dao is a state of mind, not a metaphysical reality. It is an orientation toward Mystery; it is not some entity that defines Mystery.

It needs saying here that this is a choice of paradigms, a model, by which to orient oneself in the world; it is not intended as a statement of truth. Truth, I confess, completely eludes me. This being the case, I can only seek to discover that orientation, that paradigm, which most honestly reflects my experience and most effectively integrates that experience into a whole and pleasant one.

What has been said thus far is intended as an introduction to the psychological work of occupying oneself. This involves not only re-integration with ("re-owning", as Perls puts it) all of one's psychological behaviors as revealed through a growing self-awareness, but also with one's being a body, being this world, and being in an open, empty orientation to Mystery. Occupying oneself thus involves not only being oneself as a distinct person, warts and all, but also being part of the whole which is nature, and not being oneself in relationship with that in which no identity abides.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

1 comment:

  1. Spiritual is a word I find myself using but I have no conviction of a spirit. I may if pushed warp the term spirit to be the totality. I'm not sure we have a word for what we're pointing at here so sometimes spiritual+disclaimers is the best.

    But yes, spiritual work, dual as can be, with the aim of oneness, is self-help and pacification. Its job being to realize all, including the seeming split, was already one.

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