Therapists as Positive Change Agents

During a critical transition point in my life, books by Swiss analyst Carl Jung had a magically powerful, formative influence. After leaving the United States to tour in Italy and Austria with a Brazilian chamber orchestra, I auditioned to join the master violin class taught by Sandor Vegh at the Robert Schumann Konservatorium in Düsseldorf, Germany.

The following year spanning 1970-71 was one of self-discovery and reinvention. [See Discovering the Missing Link, His autobiography Memories, Dreams and Reflections provided the clues I needed to reexamine my relationships and purpose in life. In conjunction, his introduction to the Wilhelm/Baynes translation of the Chinese I Ching initiated a life-long relationship with the text that continues to validate intuition and in-form important life decisions.

The Book of Change has been applied to countless disciplines for every imaginable purpose for over eight-thousand years. Leaders have respected the fundamentals of human dynamics to guide their businesses and nations. Military strategists have avoided no-win conflicts and won necessary battles based on the same principles. Healing sciences based on this wisdom, notably Traditional Chinese Medicine, balance extreme emotions to alleviate symptoms of physical disease.

 

Jung explored the universal experience of the dynamic inner-life which influences human behavior. These intangibles lie outside the parameters of empirical science, which deals exclusively with tangible, measurable experience. So he looked elsewhere for clues, including not only dreams, but ancient scriptures which can explain formerly taboo subjects. For example, both ancient Egyptians and Tibetans recognized the existence of the “bardo,” an intermediate level of existence to which departed souls travel. In each case, a Book of the Dead gives instructions on how to facilitate the process of “crossing over.”

More “A-ha” moments followed during the decade spent making acquaintance with the scriptures associated with yoga practice. I began to see the intimate connection between the Book of Change and yoga philosophy/science. Each informs the other. Conversely, each without the other is insufficient. It seemed that, throughout history, mosaic pieces of universal truth have been placed in different cultures, waiting to be reassembled into a larger picture.

 

Yoga scriptures included not only Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, but also the Upanashads. Yoga anatomy, including an evolutionary scale of subtle energy centers, is an invaluable concept for psychologists and healers. Whereas Chinese medicine focuses on internal organs and three energy centers — the lower, middle, and upper Tan Tiens — yoga anatomy names seven basic centers located at intersection points along the human spine. Their correlation with the repeated number “7” in the Old Testament is not coincidental.

 

But it was the premise posed as a question in the Manduka Upanishad that haunted me for years. “What is that, knowing which, all else is known?” I repeatedly asked myself that question, and applied it to everything I learned.

 

When I recognized the correlation between Einstein’s famous formula, e = mc2 and ancient teachings from around the world, I used the Positive Paradigm of Change to picture their common understanding. Then came another Aha! This Unified Wheel is fact That, Knowing Which, All Else is Known. It puts the mosaic pictures together in a way that is larger than the sum of its parts.

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cov wheel

Why then, I continue to ask, if this information is readily available, do people balk at the marvelous possibilities inherent in the Positive Paradigm of Change, refusing to go through the doorway it opens for those with the courage to enter? I addressed this briefly in The Fateful Fear of Self-Awareness, This blog contrasts the hollow shell of the prevailing empirical science paradigm with the universal, complete paradigm of diversity on the surface with timeless unity at the center. Bottom line: incomplete, inaccurate paradigms generate resistance to the unfamiliar.

But there’s more. Additional blogs expand on that fateful fear: “The Only Way Out is Through and Know When to Mistrust Inner Voices, The Chapel Perilous journey through the middle level of the Wheel takes soul seekers on what comparative religion legend Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey. Not everyone is equipped to face and survive that dark night of the soul alone.

 

Here’s where feedback from others more experienced and wise than ourselves can be invaluable. Those whose understanding encompasses a complete and correct reality map (Jungian therapists and self-aware Christians who adhere to the Bible, for example) serve as the agents of positive change, one person at a time.

 

With the combined tools of reason, empathy and intuition, they are the most qualified to help those willing to face their fears. Understanding discrimination in the full meaning of the term, they can skillfully steer us safely through the danger-fraught middle level of irrational prejudice, fears and delusions, to attain fuller Self-Awareness. They can lead us on the road to recovering the infinite store of treasures available on the far shore of life, ever present and waiting for us in the innermost center of the life wheel.

Here’s the picture of full-spectrum discrimination in Positive Paradigm context. It includes not only the rational and sub-rational definitions, but also the super-rational. In the Buddhist tradition, discrimination (buddhi) is defined as the ability to see through illusions and recognize the eternal at the center of change.

.Discrim3

In the past, those in psychological pain, suffering from self-doubt and looking for a better way to live, would have turned to sages or kings for guidance. At this stage in history, however, therapists as healers (meaning “to make whole”) are often the best secular refuge.

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One thought on “Therapists as Positive Change Agents

  1. Kathryn Madden, Ph.D.

    This is a fascinating post comparing aspects of Jung with Einstein. It would be intriguing to have a physicist of the classical school respond to Jung’s nature of the psyche.

    Like

    Reply

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