"Vision of A New Culture"
The Great Learning


Introduction to Spiritual Psychology

In the beginning...

1. First of all a few principles. There is a lot of misunderstanding right from the start, concerning psychological concepts. This is mostly due to the lack of authentic spirituality at a time in which major psychological systems were developed. To start with: what in psychology is called "consciousness" - meaning the ego - is in reality not consciousness, but rather a function of the latter. Thus the board and the executive are mixed up here, giving rise to fundamental misunderstandings. For example, it is said that consciousness and unconsciousness are two opposite poles. Furthermore, it is assumed, that "the unconscious" is belonging to the archetypal world of the mother and the feminine respectively, while consciousness belongs to the masculine principle. Of course it is said, "it is a matter of emphasis, which means, that women also possess consciousness... only in a slightly different, yes, weakened form though". Moreover, it is stated, that the evolution of consciousness has been moving from the matriarchal to the patriarchal principle, and although the "aim" will be an integrated psyche, the hierarchical thinking behind is unmistakable. With regard to the newborn it is assumed, that its life in the womb and its first year as a baby is characterized by unconscious oceanic unity*.

* This criticism concerns the school of analytical psychology of C.G.Jung.

2. Lets indeed start at the very beginning. In what I call spiritual psychology it is assumed, that everything without exception - the entire universe - is part of the Great Consciousness or Great Spirit*. Everything - from the human bodymind, the grass, the trees, the animals to the clouds and the rocks - is finding itself uninterruptedly in Eternal Space, the former being the content of the latter. Which means, that from (before!) the very beginning conception, embryonic development and birth, are all taking place in the context of the Divine. Thus the baby, not in its appearance, but in its Essence is Divine. Which in psychological terms means, that it is not in an unconscious, but in a conscious state of Being. Anyone who has been close to a newborn may have sensed it. Almost all babies still have an aura of paradise and divine innocence around them (which of course can be disturbed by all kinds of circumstances). It is this innocence which fascinates us and makes us admire it. Not to speak of the experiences of countless mothers, who have this "feeling from within", while having their child inside of their bodies. Those who call this state "unconscious" mix this up with the absence of the ego, which is the possibility to reflect.

3. This means, both the fetus and the newborn ARE in a state of unity all the time. The reason we don't grasp this is threefold. The first is our ignorance about the Divine state (in ourselves), the intangible subtlety of it and the inability of the baby to communicate about it, because of the absence of self-reflection. It simply is lacking the tool - which is the ego, still to be developed - to do this. This has led to all kinds of misconceptions right from the start. Such as that the baby is born unconscious. Western science is only looking at the surface of things. What it is seeing there is a baby, "dominated" by its "animal functions", such as eating, drinking, defecating, peeing, sleeping, moving, crying and laughing*. Clearly all functions belonging to the area of the unconscious...Since the newborn is interwoven with the mother, the next step is to declare, that the "maternal principle" is equal to the unconsciousness as well. It stands for undifferentiated unity, darkness, vegetation, primordial instincts and absence of thinking. These definitions were and are made by men, not surprisingly thus, that they served another goal at the same time, namely to distinguish between the "unconscious" feminine principle and the "conscious" masculine one**.

* The existential situation of the baby thus being rooted in both "Heaven & Earth".
** One of the unforgivable errors of Jungian psychology.

4. Summarizing, the hierarchy between the two has served the oppression of females by males during many millennia. It is another explanation for the fact, that until this very day, no "serious" scientific work has ever dared to put things differently. In our view though, things are VERY different indeed. Even before mother and child were - like everything else in existence - Consciousness Is, hence both being embedded in It right from the start. Thus the newborn is equally part of the self-same Eternal Space, yes, in Essence it Is this Space. If every child is Divine, the consequences for the environment are far reaching. For, in order to optimally be able to taking care of it, we have to get in tune with this unfamiliar subtle Dimension. Now, if the mother really loves the child - which is the secret of motherhood - this resonance will be there spontaneously. However, this is not enough. Rather than leaving this kind of relationship to the mother only, the entire environment - from the family to the entire culture - should be transformed the same way. The supportive environment should extend itself in such a way, that the sense of true Self - despite the inevitable necessity of developing an ego - will never ever leaving the child. It is the "original treasure" which should become the heritage of every human being. Only then the reception of a newborn will become what it really is: the appearance on earth of another divine Being*.

* Rooted in "Heaven & Earth".

Spiritual psychology

5.  In fact this approach is not new. It is only new to those who still stick to one of the dominating systems of psychology. The greatest "sin" of psychology is, that they have separated the object of their study - the psyche - from its natural context, which is Consciousness. It is like studying a tree without including its roots. Hence, the "psyche" is considered to be something autonomous, an entity of its own and on its own. Not surprisingly thus, that it has become personified. To psychologists the psyche is the core - the structure - of our individuality, to many even the innermost core. Hence, the Babel-like confusion about the terminology. Spirit, soul, reflection, ratio, ego, self, consciousness, psyche, logos and mind are very often mixed up, very few knowing the difference between them. To the latter it will be shocking to learn, that the psyche isn't the uniform structure they think it is. The introduction of Consciousness is making the difference.

6. After the first year the newborn starts sensing the emergence of the polarity of I and not-I. It is the first step in developing the ego, which is the instrument of survival, functioning, pleasure, growing and experiencing in this life. This mechanism is responsible for the developing of the personality, the latter roughly being the result of including pleasure and excluding pain. The unpleasant part is often suppressed, hence every ego therefore is permanently accompanied by what it has denied: its shadow. There is an irony in this. Very often a "strong personality" is the result of a process, in which the separation between ego and non-ego - in which boundaries between the two are very "clearly defined" - is very outspoken. It takes a lot of energy to keep it that way. Not surprisingly thus, that quite often just these people - once exposed to extreme stress - are the ones prone to an early collapse. In fact everybody is split up between his or her accepted and non-accepted parts. Something which has great consequences for further development.

7. In common psychology the ego - or in their terms "consciousness" - is the only entity, that has to face the threats coming from the shadow (personal unconsciousness) and the collective unconsciousness, the storehouse of collective experience of (wo)mankind. Hence the emphasis on developing a strong "consciousness" (ego). Reminding the fact, that in our patriarchal society "consciousness" is equal to the "masculine principle", it will become clear that the former had a tool in its hands against what was (is) considered to be the motherly e.g. feminine unconsciousness. The first included linear thinking, the ability to analyze, to have an overview, to put everything in orderly categories, to look at things from the position of the observer and to be able to control and to manipulate life against what was considered vagueness, emotionality, irrationality, instinct, darkness, chaos and whimsicality. The teachings of certain psychological schools only (not deliberately though) added to the problem*, by stating that human beings not only have a personal unconsciousness, but also are exposed to an collective unconsciousness as well. Generally, by having to put a fight against it, the dichotomy between the supposed masculine and feminine principles was only to be intensified. It contributed to a massive growth of the ego as the only refuge. For women it meant quite the opposite: they had to face the male ego as an instrument of oppression.

*The analytical psychology according to C.G.Jung.

8. The way out starts with bringing clarity in the concepts. The foundation of life proves to be the Great Consciousness, the universal Intelligence, penetrating the entire universe, thus being the foundation of women and men equally. Hence, there will be no doubt as to both genders "possessing" absolutely identical Consciousness. Rather than emphasizing an infertile duality, both are sharing the same Divine substance as their common heritage. It is an example of the fact, that a stalemate between two parties can only be lifted by "introducing" a third principle. It is the reason why (the old) psychology would never be able to "solve the problem". Like everything else it has to go back to its roots - spirituality - in order to restore the wholeness. As I have said before, it all starts with introducing a "new" model of personality. A model in which there is a dynamic balance between Consciousness, the ego and the self (including the shadow).

A new model of personality

9. The tragedy of Western culture is the alienation of Heaven and Earth: being cut off from the Divine as well as from the body and nature. It deprived people of their existential foundation. This was due to deliberate policies of the Church. Without roots people were at the mercy of the "benedictions" of an institute, whose only aim it was (is) to exert power over helpless souls. Translated into psychological terms it meant, that through losing the foundation, a shortcut between the ego and the unconscious was established. Ideally the unconscious is the content of Consciousness. The latter being the context, the framework of the former. Being "locked up" this way, unconscious impulses, energies and complexes will not erupt easily. Hence, a conscious person doesn't feel threatened by the unconscious. Being aware he or she always will maintain an inner distance between the observer (the true Self) on the one hand and thoughts, emotions and desires on the other. The difference between this inner distance and the attempts of the ego to keeping distance towards its impulses is fundamental. The first is "organic" based on inner freedom - supported by a relaxed body-awareness - while the second is constantly fuelled with fear of being overthrown. As we have seen, this is also interpreted by the ego - again because it had to grow up without the support of the inner divine Spark - as "falling back into the maternal darkness".

Ego is (based on) fear

10.  In order to be able to function in this world Consciousness had to identify Itself with inner and outer phenomena. Bodily feelings, sensory sensations, emotions and desires on the one hand and the demands of the environment, learning about limits, rules and examples on the other all became incorporated in what is called the personality. Which is including those aspects which are determining gender. Although every woman and man is a unique blend of both female and male aspects, certain common denominators may exist for every sex. Thus, statistically men tend to identify themselves with the analytical/ reductionist/control/linear function of the mind, while females are doing the same with the holistic/feeling/bonding/experiencing/cyclic part. The pattern thus found may justify to speak of genetic/hormonal/ bio-chemical factors involved, apart from religious/cultural/social and economic characteristics. This is leading to a model in which the human personality can be defined as I/myself, in which the I - reflection - has a masculine and the self - experience - a feminine connotation. Ideally, these feminine and masculine principles should balance each other in each human being as a dynamic and complementary polarity. However, during many millennia males have identified themselves with one part, while excluding, denying, suppressing and exploiting the other*. At the same time women were not allowed to develop their inner masculine part, hence the stalemate between the sexes.

* See: http://welcome.to/thegreatlearning/   chapter "emotional self-integration".

11. One of the many insights psychology has given us is the mechanism of projection. Suppression of feminine aspects in males and of masculine aspects in females - something that has been conditioned during the course of education - has led to the situation, that males are projecting their inner feminine part ("anima") in females, while the latter are doing the same with their inner masculine part ("animus")*. Which usually means, that what you reject in yourself, you reject in somebody, in whom you unconsciously feel a "similar energy". If you reject your own emotions, you will denounce them in your girlfriend. Outbursts like "act your age" suddenly shows a violent undertone. And because these mechanisms are unconscious, you hardly ever notice, that in fact they do not (only) belong to the other, but to yourself. The more you condemn parts of yourself, the more sharp you will attack the other person. The way out is to start acknowledging the mechanism and the will to do something about it. This includes to consciously start accepting the rejecting parts, experiencing them in order to become part of the whole again. The aim is to become an integrated personality, in which both aspects are equally valued. The point is and this is what psychology usually forgets to tell us, that this integration process is only possible, if a third factor is added. This third factor is the spiritual dimension, the inner observer or true Self.

* Animus and anima are two concepts of the psychology according to C.G.Jung.

12. First of all, let me demystify this concept by telling where the true Self (spirit) is located. This can be done best by doing a simple exercise. Just sit in a chair, relax and close your eyes. Look at the inside of your eyelids as if you are watching TV. Sooner or later you will be able to conclude, that "you are here", while your eyelids "are there". If you take this experiment seriously, you will acknowledge, that a new dimension - however very minor - has been born: that of the inner observer. By doing this exercise regularly you will be noticing, that the inner distance between the observer and the observed is growing, paralleled by an increase in clarity, spaciousness, stability and inner peace of the latter. It is nothing less, than a new discovery. The watching proves to be your true identity! You realize "this is what I really am". Thus the true Self is born by stepping back. It is like changing your chair in the theater from the first row to one more in the behind. The more you move backwards, the more you will see in front of you. Thus, by becoming the observer sooner or later thoughts will be appearing in front of you. Your mind has turned upside down. While previously thoughts, emotions and desires were your within, with stepping backwards the observer - awareness/consciousness - has become your center, while your thoughts etc. prove to be your periphery. The paradox is this: the more inner distance is created, the more your processes are intensified. The more your observer expands itself, the more your processes appear to be the content of your inner Space.

13. Conclusion: your inner Space, spirit, true Self proves to be the facilitator, through which your processes - psyche - are able to flow freely. (Both your Self and your psyche have been freed...). The more it is opening up, the more the content may flow freely. Before I proceed, it is important to distinguish this inner distance and the inner distance  the ego is able to bring about. It is the core of misunderstanding, already mentioned in the beginning of my explanation. For instance, common language says: "I am aware of the fact, that yesterday things didn't run very smoothly". This "awareness" is very different from the real awareness/consciousness, that what we have called the observer. The former is part of the mind - the source of comment, judgement, interpretation, conceptualization and evaluation - while the latter is nothing less than a new inner quality (and is recognized as such). In order to distinguish them it would be more appropriate to once and for all giving them the names they deserve. "Reflection" in opposition to "awareness" will do, the former being part of your thinking processes - the floating part - and thus of your psyche, while the latter is part of the spirit and eventually of the Great Consciousness. Now, as I have said above, the inner observer facilitates parts of the I/myself to flow freely in its Space. The more it expands itself, the more parts will be able to pop up to the surface. After a while not only conscious parts will appear (in front of you), but also parts which until then were part of the suppressed unconscious. Because you are keeping inner distance all the time, the confrontation is fearless.

14. Connected to this it is important to remind how those inner parts became suppressed. Although generally applied to all kinds of emotions* like pain, anger and fear, I will limit myself to those categories, which are related to our topic. The mechanism is the same though. In the early years of life, any kind of emotion, feeling, thought or behavior, which for whatever reason couldn't be accepted was rejected. Either the things themselves have a too strong emotional charge or/and the child cannot cope with the (expected) condemnation from its environment. So, in a boy feminine aspects will be suppressed, while the opposite is true for a girl. Because these gender aspects are simultaneously linked to bio-physical characteristics, denying these parts mean a severe limitation of happiness, growth and fulfillment. It be draining energy all the time. Moreover, as has been said above, rejection of inner parts is responsible for the mechanism of projection, the source not only of much suffering, but also of the current stalemate between the sexes. The way out is called "conscious acceptance". Every rejected part is an inner stepchild. Many years ago it was not allowed to be part of the whole, hence it is "causing trouble" by still intruding the ego. Because it hadn't been part of the whole for a long time, it is still undifferentiated. Hence, its impulses are often unpolished, unexpected and therefore unwelcome. You may diagnose them as "shit" or "negativity". Rather than rejecting them again (often seen in people on the spiritual path), the solution is to acknowledge the process behind, the true nature of these your stepchildren and to still consciously embrace them*. The result: an aware, integrated, creative and whole person with an optimal relationship to his or her environment.

* See:  "emotional self-integration".

15. Obviously, this will have consequences for the theory of androgyny as developed by the school of analytic psychology. There it is assumed that the anima in men and the animus in women constitute a polarity with the "conscious" part (the ego). Thus animus and anima are exclusively part of inner-personal dynamics. To Jung to be androgynous means that you have achieved an inner balance between your  masculinity and your femininity, as two main aspects of your personality. Their mutual relationship is where it is all about. Here a fundamental question has to be asked. If androgyny is "bringing about balance between two factors", what is the balancing factor here? Imagine a pair of scales. The two parts cannot balance themselves. It cannot be the ego, since "he" is part of the game. It requires a "third factor". So there must be "something else", something that is not part of the same level, that brings about balance between masculinity and femininity. You will guess it. It is the transcendental dimension of the true Self within us, that is constituting our androgyny. Thus, masculinity and femininity do not only relate to each other, but also to the "third factor", our true Self. Without the true Self they cannot be balanced! Or: without the true Self masculinity and femininity cannot have an authentic dynamic relationship toward each other*. This is putting things in an entirely different light. How the relationship between masculinity and the Self e.g. between femininity and the Self can be defined? Androgyny proves to be not to be limited to the personality only. They are not "entities on their own". On the contrary, they derive their "existence" from the Divine. Therefore, they rather be defined as "functions of the Ultimate". Femininity then means the ability of being receptive to Consciousness, while masculinity means being the executive, the servant. The former includes sensitivity, receptiveness, intuition, attunement, subtlety, connectedness and surrender, while the latter includes implementation, creativity, strength, decisiveness, power etc. By putting it this way, androgyny has transcended the self-centered Jungian model of personality, having instead become a function of the Divine, as part of ongoing manifestation.    

* "Androgyny" as it usually understood is based on self-effort, the ego-identification with what is considered to be the "anima" and "animus". It is identifying yourself with concepts - a construct - rather the living reality. Only by first restoring the unity with the Source, femininity and masculinity become part of Life once again.

The environment

16. From the previous it would seem, that the aim of our effort has been realized. It is not so. The problem is an - religious, cultural, social, political and economic - environment, that appears not to be neutral. Women and men are still living in a society dominated by patriarchal institutions. The characteristics of our society are paralleling those on a personal level. It is a system based on reductionist/analytical/linear/control and power ("masculine") approach to reality in which egoism, greed, expansion, exploitation, violence and injustice are flowering. Since contact with the opposite ("feminine") principle, that of holism, connectedness, sustainability, intuition, inclusiveness and respect is lost, the former is lacking the opposite pole through which healing would be possible. It has on the other hand become a cancer growth, destroying the earth. The point is, that the feminine principle has been suppressed during many millennia, hence its inability to match the current patriarchal power. Hence the phenomenon of the majority of women - at least in the West - having adapted themselves to the system. They prefer to benefit from a materially comfortable life, rather than realizing their inner potential. Having their way toward true femininity - identification with feminine values - blocked many have chosen the path of dominance, power and greed as well, aiming at "doing better than men". The successful among them are indeed "worse than men". Unfortunately some psychology schools have only added to the problem. For instance by reducing feminine realities into categories of the mind. The most striking example is the Great Mother. Being the Ultimate Reality - the Bottomless Ground of existence - the Vacuum out of which everything - including the Divine - is born, while returning to Her in the selfsame Eternal Moment, analytical psychology has taken Her power away by making Her into an inner-psychological phenomenon.

17. As long as society is being stuck on "masculine" principles, having a harmonious relationship with your environment proves to be impossible. How can you be happy, if everything out there contradicts everything you believe in? Realizing your inner potential is thus one thing, changing society necessarily being the next step. What we dearly need is bringing the alienated reductionist masculine principle in harmony with the holistic feminine part. However, as said above, this feminine part has been suppressed in such a way, that even women "don't believe in it" anymore. It is thus an illusion - as advocated by the same psychological school - that by just taking care of your "individuation" (your personal wholeness) - society automatically will become transformed. If the pendulum has been fixed in one pole for such a long time, once freed, it will not immediately be swinging to the center. On the contrary: it has to move to the other pole first, before it eventually may end up in the middle. Hence, in order to establish a harmonious society, the feminine values have to become emphasized, empowered. It corresponds with reality. Women have been so abused, exploited and harmed by men, that the latter have guarded themselves against their own vulnerability. They simply have lost all confidence. In other words, in the current stage of history the masculine principle has to start serving the feminine.

18. In fact the gender issue is subordinate to the question whether identifying with a masculine or with a feminine world view. E.g. are you - as you are, woman or man - supporting a patriarchal or an integrated society? Having discovered who you really are - the true Self - your masculine and feminine aspects have become less important anyway. Having an inner distance to them, you may start playing with them. Being a man or a women less and less proves to be a matter of identity, they rather appear the be functional. Such a person is truly liberated, liberating others. The first step is to acknowledge/experience the hidden masculine e.g. feminine part in yourself, the second establishing contacts with people who are in the process of doing the same, thirdly, a joint effort has to be made of empowering the feminine principle in society. It will be clear, that men has to take the lead here. First of all, because of his transgressions in the past (present) for which he has a special responsibility. He may stay as he is, his masculine aspect being strong, analytical/linear/controlling, even aggressive. The change to be made though, is that instead of using these abilities for his own sake (and thus suppressing life), he should put them in the service of supporting the Whole. Others, experiencing their budding inner feminine part, their opening up of the holistic inner self, will spontaneously (...) feel the necessity of extending it into the environment. In both cases men will experience, that by starting to support feminine values, his best qualities will evolve: courage, intelligence, creativity, perseverance, nobility, dedication, compassion and self-sacrifice. Eventually, the challenge for women and men is the same: devoting oneself with all inherent abilities to the cause of the Whole.


(Back to the start of Han Marie Stiekema's website)

1997-2004 Copyright Han Marie Stiekema. All rights reserved.
Everyone may use this website as a source of inspiration. However, since it
is freely given, no-one can claim, copy or derive any text, rights,
position or status from this website.

Last revising: 11/11/13