This is Post 8 in the ‘Meditation Guidance’ series. Summaries of the other articles in this series can be found here.
It is often claimed that meditation brings about psychological integration – that it helps us to become less scattered and more unified. This is certainly true, but I am hoping that it will be helpful for us if, in this article, I clarify the nature of the disintegration that is inherent in ordinary egoic consciousness, so that we can better understand why, ultimately, Consciousness itself is the only force that can bring about psychological integration. Clearly, the egoic will has a part to play, but the integration process that we speak of in spiritual and discourse is a ‘Middle Way’ in which the universal and the personal meet and are reconciled.
In the course of the development of psychology and psychotherapy practice during the 20th Century, an understanding was introduced that, while it was startlingly original at the time, also seems to be an absolutely obvious reality in everyday life. This was the idea of the Unconscious. The notion of the Unconscious has been conceptualised in detail in a variety of different ways, but the core idea is that the mind is structured in such a way that we all tend to have a variety of unconscious thoughts, feelings, desires, sensations, intentions and memories, that are entirely incongruous with, and even opposite to, the contents of our conscious mind.
Egoic parts – Soul parts – Psychological parts
This tendency for the self to continuously divide against itself leads inevitably to, not a single self but a profusion of opposing pairs of psychological parts. I am not talking about Schizophrenia here, or Multiple Personality Disorder – rather I am referring to a commonplace psychological reality that we are all familiar with in ourselves and others. We are all familiar with internal psychological conflict, and our language reflects this. When we are trying to make a decision, we say “Part of me feels this, and part of me feels that”. When we use the personal will to deny a thought, or a feeling, or a desire, we usually have a “reaction”, and suddenly find ourselves identifying with a part of ourselves that we had previously suppressed. Continue reading