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Spiritual Psychology

and Samskara Shuddhi

by Kiara Windrider, March 2004

Humans are multi-layered entities. We could meditate on a mountaintop for eons without significantly touching our underlying emotional traumas. Likewise, we could do psychoanalyze ourselves for a lifetime without moving a step closer to enlightenment.  How do we reconcile this uneasy alliance between our emotional and spiritual selves?

Psychology literally means “the study of the psyche”, which in Greek meant “soul”.  With the beginnings of the Age of Reason, the science of psychology became divorced from spirituality as behavioral scientists tried to understand the mind separately from the soul. When you separate mind from soul you are left with an insufferable complex of emotional neuroses, which is why the Freudian psychologies focused almost entirely on neurotic behaviors and their roots in human infancy. Likewise, when you separate soul from mind, you are often left with an infantile spirituality that cannot relate to the world of human relationships and complex emotions.

There is a wave of psychology emerging today that seeks to reconcile these two aspects of our human selves. Commonly known as integral, transpersonal, or spiritual psychology, it seeks to explore the full range of human potential in relationship with the soul.

There are many models of the human psyche proposed by various spiritual pioneers and psychologists, including Sri Aurobindo, Carl Jung, Robert Assagioli, Abraham Maslow, Ken Wilber, John Lilly, and Stanislav Grof, which provide useful maps for our journey into emotional and spiritual wholeness. Meanwhile, the Buddhist and Vedic understanding of “samskaras”, or reactive patterns, provides a context for some of the barriers we might encounter along the way.

One quick way to summarize all this is to view ourselves as three concentric layers of being. In the center is our soul, our inner being, our true self. This is who we really are, and in an ideal world, this is what we would experience and express from the moment of our birth.

However, due to our massively conditioned childhood realities, we are rarely allowed access to this aspect of our being. Therefore, our soul reacts to externally conditioned realities, creating a thick shell around our innermost being composed of various survival strategies and control dramas. Most of our repressions, fixations, denials, traumas, and neuroses are held within this layer. We could call this the disowned self.

A third layer out is our social persona. It is the smiling mask behind which lies the deeply repressed aspects of our disowned self. We often become so adept at living from our social persona that few are able to penetrate the masks of success, poise, and self-control to see the pain beneath. Often the bigger the mask the deeper is the pain. It is only when we risk taking off the mask and exploring the roots of our pain that we can move towards experiencing our true self. As we experience our true self, the healing of our disowned self can begin, and the need for our social persona dissolves. We become transparent beings able to access and reflect the light of our souls.

The Buddhist and Vedic theory of samskaras refers to dysfunctional patterns that trace their origins not only to childhood and birth traumas, but also to previous lifetimes. The law of karma is related to these samskaras. According to them, every moment lived unconsciously creates samskaras, or karmic imprints, where the light from the soul gets dimmed. Some are like a line drawn in water, which are immediately cleared. Others are like a line drawn on sand. They remain for a while until the tide comes in and washes them clean. Yet others are like a line etched in stone. These are the ones that replicate themselves lifetime after lifetime, always attracting similar energy patterns, and creating misery. These samskaras are the dark soot in an otherwise clear lamp that obstruct the light of our inner self from shining through.

How do we clear out these samskaras? Techniques such as Primal therapy, Gestalt therapy, Hypnotherapy, Holotropic Breathwork, and various other forms of experiential therapy assert that if we can break through the social persona and get in touch with our disowned self, we can heal it. Once we become aware of the roots of a dysfunctional pattern, the awareness itself can release the emotional charge. Clients are encouraged to get in touch with their emotions and trace them back to their roots, whether in childhood, infancy, womb, or prior lifetimes. Once this happens, they can release the charge, and re-script their lives based on deeper contact with their soul.

The ‘samskara shuddhis’ being taught at Golden City work with this understanding.  The term refers to a process of emotional clearing.  Additionally, Kalki and Amma’s grace is invoked. Energetic frequencies are invoked through grace which greatly assist in the cleansing of these samskaras. Grace is the antidote to Karma.

The goal of the samskara shuddhi is to provide relief from the misery of recurring dysfunctional patterns. It is not the same as getting enlightened, but can help create a state of readiness for the “diksha” of enlightenment. Ultimately, when we live from an enlightened state, we come into direct and permanent contact with our souls. There is no unconsciousness, and therefore no new samskaras get created. As the light of the true self shines through the layers of disowned self, all the old samskaras tend to simply evaporate like fog in the noonday sun.