Within much of the spiritual literature of the new age is an attempt to use or manipulate spiritual laws for the Ego’s purposes. We are told that the secret law of attraction will bring us prosperity, wealth, health, love, and relationships. Interestingly, this is true. When we ask the Spirit for help, it is more than happy to give us what we need. What we often forget is that this help may come with a price further down the road. The Spirit may very well require that we evolve, becoming involved with a natural process of inner growth where we discover our central core, our divine inner Self.
At the beginning of the twentieth century this natural growth process was given a new name by Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist,
who separated himself from the theory and teachings of Sigmund Freud. Jung called this process Individuation. And using a concept derived from Hindu religious language “Atman”, Jung called the Divine center of the individual, the Self. This is both the center of each and every human personality, but also of the Totality of the Absolute Divine Universe. The Divine dwells within and without. Needless to say this paradoxical way of talking was hard for scientific minds to swallow at the time. Jung was being very empirical. He was describing the phenomena of psychic life as he and most mystics experienced it. Instead of using the word “Spirit” for the unknown and unknowable aspect of natural phenomena, he used “the Unconscious”. He was following Immanuel Kant, who stated that although we can know a lot about things, we cannot know the ultimate reality, in itself. God could be known by the things the Divine does, its forms of manifestation, but ultimately It/He/She is Unknowable. We just have to accept that. We can come to have a coherent picture of the energy matrix we call God, of the Self, but this can only be done through personal experience.
We can pray for healing and the Unconscious/Spirit will heal us. That is a well known fact. But once we have embarked upon this spiritual journey, we can’t just go back to our jobs and families once the symptoms have receded and we are “cured”. Often the unconscious wants to do some more leading and will point that out to us in our dreams, which might be seen as negative. The unconscious isn’t just interested in curing the symptoms, it wants growth. It has a list of things for us to do. As Marie-Louise von Franz said,
“This and that and the other thing must be done, and if the person does not obey the symptom will recur. It is as if people then really had to go out on the path of individuation for its own sake and not only just to be better off, or to sleep better, or become potent again, of whatever it may be. The bill has to be paid, for once the water of the unconscious has been tapped it runs on and cannot be turned off again. Every utilitarian approach to the unconscious, or just wanting to make use of it, has destructive effects.” (Individuation in Fairy Tales, 1977,1990, pp. 35 & 36)
We see this in the outer world as we do in the inner world. Nature has her own plans and purposes, her own ways of staying in balance, whether they are in the environment or in the psyche of humanity. Mother nature does not like being used and abused. Somewhere down the line, things will be put back in balance.
What frequently happens in spiritual counseling is we first see people when a crisis strikes. They come for healing of symptoms which are causing a lot of suffering. Once they learn to recognize and record feelings, images, and dreams in their journal, they begin to track the inner growth process. They share that process with an enlightened witness and this activity of honoring the unconscious will lead to the alleviation of symptoms. Once the symptoms disappear a person will be tempted to stop the healing process at that point and go on vacation. When the symptoms come back, so does the client. The work isn’t finished, actually it has just begun.
As long as the person continues to work on her/his process in cooperation with the unconscious, the symptoms will most likely recede, but one can never assume the work is complete until the Spirit/Unconscious says so. That’s when the dreams and visions reflect a plateau. The work might take a hiatus at that point and we can go on vacation, but we must always remember to respond when the spirit calls. We must respect the divine power which dwells within and remember we are servants of the Divine, not masters. When the Ego serves the Self in a cooperative and respectful way, all goes well. We have found the treasure hard to attain.