SPIRITUAL JOURNEY GUIDEBOOKS
Designed by Hiranya
House of Spirit
Lee, Ma 01238
© Barbara Stone, 1995
Permission to quote has been granted by the following:
Quotes on pp. 52 and 150-51: Almaas, A. H., The Pearl Beyond Price - Integration
of Personality into Being: An Object Relations Approach, Berkeley: Diamond
Quote on pp. 60-61: A Cosmic Book by Itzhak Bentov with Mirtala, published
by Destiny Books, an imprint of Inner Traditions International, Rochester,
VT, 05767 USA. Copyright © 1988 by Mirtala, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quote on p. 66: Taimni, I. K., The science of Yoga, Wheaton, IL: Theosophical
Publishing House, 1975
Quote on p. 80: Chakras by Harish Johari, published by Destiny Books, an
imprint of Inner Traditions International, Rochester, VT 05767 USA, Copyright
© 1987 Harish Johari, e-mail: email@example.com.
Quote on pp. 103-104: Reprinted from, Emergence of the Divine Child, by Rick
Phillips, Copyright 1990 Bear & Co., P. O. Box 2860 Santa Fe, NM 87504.
Quote on p. 108: in process
Songs on p. 125: Songs and Prayers from Taize, Copyright 1980 by Les
Presses de Taize. (France) Used by permission of G.I.A. Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Quote on p. 127: Quote carved into wall of the Stanford Memorial Church,
Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA.
"The unexamined life is not worth living."
In the usual Yogic tradition, you are requested to take full responsibility
for your life. That means the recognition that whatever may emerge
from working with these lessons is part of your life and, therefore, is your
responsibility. We all receive the lessons we need from one source
or another, and our only choice is whether we attend to them or not.
So, if you find yourself with this guidebook in hand with the intention to
make your way through it, it is because you are meant to do this kind of
This material is not intended to be nor to take the place of psychotherapy.
It is designed to assist psychologically healthy adults to more fully understand
themselves and their spiritual journeys. These guidebooks do not diagnose
or treat psychological disorders. If you are engaged in psychotherapy
already and have doubts about whether you should work with them, please consult
your psychologist and follow his or her advice.
If you are not willing to take complete responsibility in these contexts,
please do not use the guidebook.
This is a course in Self-realization. That means coming to realize
or recognize who we really are, to rediscover our divine identity.
It is called Return to Spirit because the spiritual journey is a return to
the Source of all life and conscious awareness.
I would like to begin by defining some words I will be using throughout these
guidebooks. This is important because the meaning of each is unique.
However, the usage here may not be the same as what the word may mean to
you. So bear with me for a minute. Spirit with a capital “S”
will be used to refer to the Godhead, the Absolute, that Divine One from
whom all creation flows and in whom we live and move and have our being.
You may substitute whatever name you use to refer to that higher power. Spirit
with a small “s” (spirit) will refer to that spark of divine essence which
resides in each of us and which connects us to the larger Spirit. The
Self in Self-realization refers to our Higher Self, that in us which is conscious
and part of the Divine One. Soul is the feeling aspect of ourselves
and that part of us which is consciously making the spiritual journey.
If you believe in reincarnation, soul is that part of your essence that is
traveling through multiple lives and making its way Home. It is that
part which suffers the loneliness of separation from God.
In this work, I am trying to glean from all the religious and mystical traditions,
as well as from modern psychology, the main themes related to spiritual growth
and development. In this process, I am looking for general agreement
about the most important facets of the journey. My perspective comes
from transpersonal psychology which includes a 20-year professorship in developmental,
educational and social psychology followed by extensive training in Yoga
psychology and Buddhism.
During the last several years, I have been reviewing and integrating material
from all these sources. To my very great surprise, I discovered an
almost one-to-one correspondence between the teachings of modern psychology
and those of the ancient Oriental mystics. However, these two sets
of teachings correspond in reverse order to each other. Modern developmental
psychology outlines the development of personality and ego over the life
span while the mystics offer a set of practices to deprogram those aspects
of personality and ego that stand in the way of our return to Spirit.
Another fascinating mirroring lies in the emphasis of western psychology
and culture on the intellectual functions of mind (left-hemisphere dominance).
Eastern traditions, on the other hand, help people develop the intuitive
mind (found in the right hemisphere of the brain). Common sense would
suggest that optimal growth and development would balance and make use of
both sets of abilities. In these courses, I hope to work toward that
goal as well.
The basic idea behind these courses is that when we come into a body at birth,
we experience our first separation. Perhaps this is because the body
is so dense it hides us from Spirit. Whatever the reason, at that point
we begin to lose conscious awareness of who we are. This will be referred
to as loss of consciousness, not to be confused with fainting or coma although
there is, perhaps, an analogy there.
In the process of growing up, we lose more and more consciousness and move
further and further away from the Divine Source. The Yogis would say
we become covered with veils of illusion. We give up our authentic
Self or beingness and adopt a false self (the personality and ego learned
from the society in which we live). Figure 1 shows how this process
might occur and some of the losses we suffer.
The core of all the work being offered to you here is to raise Consciousness.
This does not mean the everyday awareness that enables us to survive in the
world, but a higher reality that means we are able to experience ourselves
as identical with the Divine Source at the same time that we are still rooted
in the worldly existence. We eventually become identified with the Divine
One, and the awareness that goes along with that perception co-exists with
our usual daily consciousness. We call it “Higher Consciousness” because
our perspectives have now all shifted into an universal realm that has no
boundaries. And our self-perception and identification change in such a way
that we can be grounded in everyday realities and, at the same time, be aware
of the Oneness of creation as the basic reality of who we are.
There is very little attention paid to this idea in western culture probably
because we are so deeply conditioned to thinking of everything in terms of
polar opposites which negates the concept of Universal Oneness. Eastern philosophies
come closer, but, they too, err on the side of a limited vision. It seems
that most religions are set up to assist and comfort human beings as they
come to grips with local demands made upon their energies. They also
put power in the hands of the clergy that direct them. To question this idea
means that one is ready to take responsibility for his/her own destiny without
dictation from someone with more socially-assigned power.
One last thought. This journey to higher levels is sometimes called Mysticism.
And when studied in detail, it becomes obvious that the parameters of Mysticism
are identical in every country and religious or philosophical tradition.
This is one of our basic and unifying ideas.
And so we begin our journey
Have you ever felt that deep, but undefined yearning for something or someone
that no amount of socializing or sexual contact can satisfy? It feels
like a hole in the heart, an emptiness that nothing seems able to fill -
at least for very long. Have you ever been at a party and suddenly
felt completely alone even though you were surrounded by people. Have
you looked around you and sensed the superficiality of the chatter and games
people play with each other? Have you ever said to yourself, “No one
really knows who I am, so no one could possibly really love me?” Have
you been or are you married or in a close relationship and ever felt lonely
or isolated even so?
These are symptoms of separation from the Divine One. It’s as if there’s
an elastic connection between us and the Source and the more we pull away,
the tighter and more compelling the stretch becomes. At some point
in life this pull becomes so strong it can’t be ignored. Perhaps that
is what is inviting you to return.
Separation from Spirit. Coming into a body, birth, separates us from
the Source because of the damper physical beingness puts on the spirit.
Being in a body requires
us to interact with the outside world primarily through our senses.
That, in itself, limits perception. Sensory-motor development
as described by Piaget (1952) traces in detail the growth process of body-centered
perception and the development of object permanence which begins with the
infant's realization that s/he is a separate person from mother. Body
consciousness and the body-image are established when the boundaries
of self are defined as the skin that protects the body from the outside world.
Separation. I am now an encapsulated single human being, different
and separate from all others. The increasing dominance of the body
senses eventually shuts out all knowledge of other extrasensory dimensions
such as psychic ones or the perception of auras, usually by the time a child
is three or four years old. It also establishes the strong tendency
to perceive everything in terms of dualities, a process for which the brain
is conveniently wired in columns(Pribram, 1971). Here is where we lose
the ability to perceive the continuity and wholeness of all reality.
In fact, the perception of wholeness is often referred to as the "primary
process" and viewed as something pathological if it is not controlled (read
repressed) by school age (see caveat later in this section for further explanation)
This initial separation from Spirit when it is also accompanied by very early
separation from the mother, particularly right after birth when bonding should
be taking place, may result in attachment to material objects, a process
documented by Joseph Chilton Pearce in The Magical Child. One could
speculate that the rampart greed in our American culture may have resulted
from that kind of deprivation. In fact, greed and security are prime
issues for people who become stuck at this level.
Soul Loss. The second stage of separation, which parallels the
preschool stage of development, is connected to the social training of children
that is associated with discipline by parents and other adults. This involves
learning how to get along in the society of others, manners, self-regulation,
toilet training, cooperation, etc. It is the period during which a
child develops a self-concept and attaches a value to him- or herself (self-esteem
or a sense of worthiness) and the ego begins to emerge. Sibling
rivalry and competition may arise if fostered by the parents. Withdrawal
of love and attention as a means of control by parents results in the child's
learning that love is conditional. This is the period in which a child
is most likely to be abused, physically and sexually. It is a time
of great soul loss because a child has to learn to become what others want
him/her to be, the false self. The wholeness of Self is sacrificed
for survival. It should be said here that no one is immune to this
process since we all go through socialization, and even the most compassionate
parent must limit the scope of a child's behavior with the accompanying ego
pain of not having one's own way. In fact, ego development depends
to some extent upon frustration. A highly permissive parent often produces
children with "character disorders" defined as inadequate ego.
A discrimination must be made about ego in these lessons. A normal,
healthy ego is essential for everyday functioning in the world. It
holds the personality together and interfaces the individual with the outside
environment and other people. To get rid of this aspect of ego would
result in psychosis, by definition. The "ego" that needs to be controlled
in spiritual development is that aspect of ego that wants to have its own
way and exercise excessive control, with the "bit in its
teeth." The proper role of ego is submission to the Higher Self.
Soul loss is the splitting off of part of the Self in the interest of self-preservation.
This is usually accomplished by repression when the ego becomes mature enough,
at about age five. These parts of Self are lost to experience
then, but the Self mourns them, and there is a subliminal awareness of their
loss. Modern shamans and some psychotherapists and hypnotherapists
are finding ways to enable their recovery.
The preschool period of development is one of fuzzy boundaries and great
heights of imagination since the mind has not yet come into the conceptual
period which puts limits on perception. So there is much less mental
control over reality than an adult enjoys. Desires are strong, and
this is what parents, without the cooperation of a mature ego on the part
of the child, must strive to control. The ego matures at about five
to six years of age according to Freud. It is then capable of repression
and other forms of defense mechanisms.
Loss of Will/Disempowerment. Emergence of the ego inaugurates
a battle of wills. This may begin in the preschool period as early
as two years, but it is not until the school age period that the battle is
finally lost. Authority and acceptance issues converge upon the child
and require conformity. With maturity of the ego, parental voices are
internalized and the superego, or critic, emerges. This is an internalized
source of harassment that keeps the individual within the boundaries of
conventional social behavior without a parent nearby. With repression
of the non-conforming aspects of Self, the false self, or persona emerges,
and the shadow is forced out of awareness. A split takes place between
the body and the mind as the body's functions are learned to be less than
an ideal part of one's identity. The mind is capable now of screening
out unwanted perceptions through a cognitive filter.
The child becomes self-conscious as s/he becomes able to take the viewpoint
of an other thus losing more of his/her natural spontaneity when those others
or judgmental. Peers take priority as the ones to please, and the peer
culture takes over the socialization process teaching conformity as a means
to belonging. Mental development proceeds more rapidly with formal
instruction at school, and the child learns to compartmentalize experience
and "reality" into the concepts and cognitive structures with which we are
all familiar. Intuition takes a back seat, and is
ridiculed because it is not directly observable by the senses. So it
is gradually filtered out of awareness, another loss of consciousness.
The same has already happened to clairvoyance and other extrasensory phenomenon
during the preschool period.
The will is broken through a combination of self-instruction from the critic
aspect of personality, peer pressure and various assorted authority figures.
One has to obey the rules in order to exist; to cooperate, in other words,
and give up self-will. Obviously one has to do this to survive in any
society, but all too often, the individual's self-empowerment (Will in a
larger sense) is also damaged or destroyed. The crucial factor is loss
of genuine choice in favor of automatization. This is engineered by
installing a fear of not belonging during a period in which children are
totally dependent on others for survival, and they know it. The middle
way is hard to find, and many of us are victims of over socialization in
this sense. Women, especially, are prone to disempowerment due to socialization
in catering to men (Rich, 1976), and must work to recover that facility in
Broken Heart/Disheartenment. It is said that men are cowed by
the need for gender identification/conformity at age five and women are not
caught until they are in their teens. Be that as it may, it is adolescence
that separates people in our culture from their core identification as competent
individuals. Adolescence is a time during which there is no meaningful
role for our youth, and they often mark time by playing the role of "teen-ager.
At a time of full emergence of sexuality and the need to know how to direct
it into socially acceptable forms, our society fails miserably to provide
guidance. The mind has now developed to the point where a person can
introspect and think about his/her own thinking. So a great deal of
existential questioning goes on with no answers apparent. The culture
is silent about what makes my life meaningful. Silent about Spirit.
Loneliness due to the separations that have been culminating combines with
sexual urges to produce romantic love which is fed by sex-role stereotypes
to produce remarkably deviant relationships. These are deviant in the
sense that they are not based upon anything substantial upon which to create
a lasting union with the other person. The heartbreak that results
from these tentative efforts at intimacy can still be felt in middle age
decades later. Who does not remember their first love?
Because we do not provide our children with any education about how to be
parents or how to be intimate in relationship, over two-thirds of the marriages
in this country end in divorce. We don't know how to be intimate.
And this ignorance causes untold heartbreak and anguish of loneliness.
It begins in adolescence when the urges come to fruition, when love affairs
fail and we are rejected or betrayed (often because of stereotypes of attractiveness)
. We are separated from our hearts, we learn not to trust them.
Openheartedness is something we need to relearn, along with the trust that
was forfeited back in infancy. According to Erikson (1968), development
of trust is the first task we have in life, one that is encountered in infancy
and which depends upon adequate loving and mothering for its fruition.
All other developmental tasks (autonomy, initiative, industry, identity,
intimacy, generativity and integrity) depend upon this one for their successful
emergence. When our hearts are closed, our lives go into a state of
rigidity as a defense against further vulnerability. And spiritual
development ceases. In the resulting isolation, adults try to find
meaning in relationships and family or in their work. But nothing can
substitute for the real Love and connection that we all seek. When
the pain comes to a head, the search begins...
The Yogic Solution
We have said that the eastern traditions, especially the mystical aspects
of them, offer a set of practices designed to help us find our way Home.
These include both spiritual practices such as meditation and also self-study
or self-examination. I will be using the Kundalini Yoga chakra system
as a scaffold upon which to build exercises in self-awareness which will
lead to higher consciousness and liberation from social hypnosis if a genuine
commitment is made to follow through to the end. This is not to say
that we will become anti-social or lose our moral and ethical sense.
What it does mean is that we are now able to freely choose our way of being
in the world and how we will manifest our God-given potential. We become
full of compassion for others yet free of the need for their approval since
we will have identified ourselves with the Divine One and need only that
guidance to find our way in the world.
The chakra system of Kundalini Yoga has its beginnings in the mists of time
before language was written down, some 4000 to 6000 years ago in ancient
India. The seers or mystics of that time had the power of clairvoyance
and were able to see the energy fields of human beings. What they discovered
was that the energy, or etheric body is composed of numerous channels, called
nadi. These move energy throughout the body. There is a central
channel called the sushumna near and corresponding to the spinal column.
However, it is not the same as the spinal column. Spaced along the
sushumna are numerous swirling centers of energy called chakras. Of
these, we will focus on the seven main ones about which we have the most
information. Chakras, when they are open, can receive life energy from
the outside world and it is then distributed throughout the body.
The early teachers of Yoga used the chakras to teach their students about
spiritual development. Instead of writing down the language of words
(which is intellectual and left hemisphere), they drew pictures of the chakras
as symbols of the intuitive understanding they had achieved. Although
all of the chakras operate simultaneously, assuming they are open, teachers
usually work with them one at a time for clearer understanding. So
we will begin with the first one and work through a guidebook for each of
the first six at least.
Each chakra has numerous pictorial symbols in it. Because they are
often likened to lotus flowers, they have petals which stand for speech.
There is an element (earth, water, fire, air and space) associated with each
one as well as one of the five senses. There is an animal in each of
the first four and many other forms and unique images. Each of these
symbols stand for something important to examine in ourselves. For
instance, earth in the first chakra refers to birth and nurturance as well
as grounding. One of the special values of a symbol is that it can
represent several things at once. The intuitive mind is simultaneous
in its focus rather than sequential as is the linear intellect. So
we have the opportunity to develop a more comprehensive view of who we are
and where we came from. The chakra system will be more fully explained
in each of the guidebooks.
If you choose to continue and to study in this way, you will have a chance
to work with each of the symbols and the parts of your being they represent.
As well, we will tie this self-examination in with the original psychological,
developmental processes that created your “veils” in the first place, so
they can be systematically removed thus freeing your soul to return Home.
The method used in these courses is taken primarily from Yoga and Buddhism.
Patanjali (Taimni, 1975) in the fourth century AD outlined a Yoga course
which if followed faithfully and systematically is designed to lead to enlightenment.
Buddhism emerged from Hinduism under Buddha's leadership during the 6th century
B. C. The two systems differ in orientation (transcendent vs immanent
focus) but both have valuable teaching to help illuminate the path.
The basic idea of Yoga is that ego (in its forms as self-will, desires, old
habits, concepts, ideas and attitudes which have hardened into inflexible
forms) blocks my perception and filters information coming in through my
senses, so I am no longer able to know who I am. I am separated from
the knowledge of my Divine Identity and lost in the chaos of materialism.
It is, however, possible to purify the system and return the power to its
rightful owner, my Higher Self, through direct, persistent inquiry into the
nature of all of ego's activities. I see it as a reclamation of my
Divine Identity. That it is possible to directly attack ignorance and
illusion and to reclaim my birthright is an opportunity of the first order,
and I am very grateful to Swami Radha and all of my friends at Yasodhara
Ashram for providing the vehicle, patterns, model and encouragement that
I need for this battle.
The aim of Yoga is to find out who I am and to develop higher levels of consciousness
and responsibility toward the goal of Self-Realization.
There is one final caveat. I realize that this model does not mesh
neatly with current models of development, either psychological or spiritual,
because it maintains that children are conscious at birth and that this consciousness
is lost rather than gained in the course of growing up.
The problem with conventional models is that they make an unwarranted assumption
that development of the conceptual mind is the standard by which to judge
successful development. This is not only very confining, but it is
also linear thinking. It is precisely the conceptual mind that blocks
spiritual development because it is linear in its processes. We can
already see how consciousness is progressively lost as the conceptual mind
develops. In the eastern traditions, it is manas, the sensory-motor,
conceptual mind, the intellect, that must be silenced in order for experiences
of the higher reality to come though. Spiritual development is more
nearly a process of unfolding or releasing what has always been embedded
in the person's essence. Its language is symbols, sound and intuition,
so we need to relearn these forgotten arts. This does not mean putting
the intellect and ego out of business but rather to integrate them with other
aspects of mind that are more useful in this pilgrimage.
It is worth checking to see if our beliefs about reality are consistent.
If I believe in reincarnation, that the soul or some part of my essence is
immortal, then it must exist before I am born as well as after I die.
This part of me is likely to be the seat of my consciousness since it is
what is carried over from life to life and what, presumably, undergoes spiritual
development. If so, there is no reason to believe that this consciousness
is necessarily lost because of birth. Rather, observations of infant
and child development suggest that it is probably surrendered or repressed
during the course of ego, social and conceptual development (cf Almaas, 1990).
Since it is already documented that babies are conscious at birth and that
it is possible to regain birth memories through hypnosis (Chamberlain, 1983),
this hypothesis is supported as well as the one that consciousness is lost
So, if we can maintain an open mind, we can check for ourselves whether the
model is truly representative of reality. This brings to mind another
caution. In order to regain our self-empowerment, we should always
question everything and, in the last analysis, trust our own experience.
There is a huge difference between a belief which is what we think we know
in the absence of experience and which is usually based on what someone else
has told or persuaded us and true knowledge which is based on personal experience.
We have been led to believe that we cannot have a direct experience of the
Divine One, that the church must intercede on our behalf. This is definitely
not true as those living within the eastern traditions might testify.
Spirit is alive and well in the daily life of millions, in India for instance,
bringing joy and peace and equanimity to whole populations who are relatively
deprived by American standards. The spiritual practices that can bring
about this reconciliation are well known and are the same in every religious
tradition. They are now available to anyone who wants to use them.
These guidebooks will follow the mystical tradition rather than the religions.
So everyone, regardless of religious or non-religious persuasion should be
able to make use of them for their own personal journey.
PLAN OF STUDY
The chakra system will be explained more fully in each of the workbooks.
Besides the Introduction, there will be one workbook for each chakra each
of which will include explanations, reading assignments, exercises to enable
your experience, assignments of reflective papers and perhaps some tapes
where needed. You will be asked to develop one or more new and different
spiritual practices for each workbook to give you samples from which you
may later choose compatible ones to follow in depth. In addition, you
will be asked to enroll in a Hatha Yoga class as an ongoing laboratory.
After Units 1-4 in this book, which are introductory in nature, each unit
in each of the guidebooks will be based on one of the symbols in the corresponding
chakra. And, taken all together, the symbols of a given chakra represent
all of the different spiritual development tasks at the level of that chakra.
Also, the units will put forth all the issues in psychological development
that correspond to each chakra. So, as you work toward understanding
your own past history of learning, you will be able to see how the system
works from the perspective of your own experience.
To summarize: The basic movement in life seems to be, starting at birth,
psychological learning and development that leads away from Spirit and higher
consciousness toward a complete separation that is sustained by a personal
ego and supported by a false self (called personality). After the turning
point when a person recognizes his/her dilemma and chooses to return to Spirit,
spiritual development, or the spiritual journey, begins. This development
can be speeded up using methods given us by ancient yogic teachers.
Some of these teachings are presented here as a series of lessons and exercises
based on the chakra system of Kundalini Yoga. They are intended to
lead you back to identification with your Higher Self, to higher levels of
consciousness and to unity with the Divine One.
In order to get any benefit from these studies, it is essential to do all
of the exercises and write the reflective papers. You will get even
more benefit if you find some way to discuss your papers with a teacher or
some fellow seekers. There will eventually be some guidelines available
for how to work in small groups.
Please keep in mind that here we are training the intuition whose tools are
different from what you were used to in school. We also aim to develop
knowledge rather than accumulate factual information. And knowledge,
in the yogic sense, comes only from direct personal experience. So
these guidebooks will have you learning by experience rather than by memorizing.
The assigned readings are given to enable you to establish a context for
your learning and to give enough background information for you to understand
the new practices. In order to learn most effectively, we need to have
some prior foundation to which we can attach the new material. You
will find that the explanations in the workbooks are relatively short and
the exercises are numerous.
Writing reflective papers enables you to bring the faculties of both sides
of your brain into play. The experiential exercises engage the right
hemisphere and the reading assignments and writing use the left, so trying
to integrate them synchronizes the learning from both. If you merely
read the modules, you will briefly entertain your intellect, indulge a superficial
curiosity and miss the point entirely. So I strongly urge you to do
each of the exercises as you come to them and to write down your reactions
to them, either in your journal or in a reflective paper. The work
is supposed to be cumulative, and so each exercise builds on the experience
gained in the previous ones. There is no right or wrong way to do these
exercises, however. It is your journey and the judgments of others
are irrelevant. I hope this makes sense to you.
Note: Unit VI. Birth and Beginnings is particularly appropriate
to the Christmas season, so you may want to plan to do this unit in December
in order to enjoy those associations.
The author, Barbara Stone, EdD, is a transpersonal psychologist
with specialized training in Yoga psychology and Buddhism. She taught
developmental, educational and social psychology at Drew University for 18
years and is presently a mentor for the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.
Barbara has had training and experience in human relations development and
group dynamics at the National Training Labs Institute, and in the development
of high trust community with the late Jack Gibb’s Astron program. She
spent a year at The Naropa Institute, a Buddhist graduate school, teaching
and studying in their Contemplative Psychotherapy program. Barbara
is a Yoga teacher certified by Yasodhara Ashram in Kootenay Bay, B.C. to
teach Jnana, Kundalini, Hatha, Bhakti, Karma and Japa Yogas. She has
recently completed certification in The Art of Spiritual Guidance at the
Silver Dove Institute in Burlington, VT. She was the founder and director
of House of Spirit Yoga and Retreat Center in Cedaredge, CO and is now residing