Reviewed by Errol Schubot, Ph.D.
In JRT Issue 6, Fall 1988
“Unconditional love and forgiveness” is the central theme of Edith Stauffer’s approach to healing. She bases her principles and practices on Psychosynthesis and on the concepts of the Essenes, an ancient sect whose beliefs are recorded in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Their practices integrated spiritual principles into everyday living, creating an atmosphere of peace, cooperation, and harmony within the group. Psychosynthesis, developed by Dr. Roberto Assagioli, carries a similar goal of bringing transpersonal concepts and awareness into practical application.
Stauffer understands the original purpose of spirituality, which is to create experiences and guidelines to bring the highest qualities into every aspect of daily life. She teaches the Essene concept of Napsha, an Aramaic word for our connection with God. She considers this connection to be “with the Source of life, with that higher intelligence that directs the orderly flow of all life.” The goal is to reach Rukha, a place of “transpersonal energy beyond personal concerns.” Rukha is the universal home, a place to rest, relax, and rejuvenate the mind. The purpose is to receive the love, wisdom and healing energy of the Source.
Stauffer typically uses a workshop format to teach these practices, because she believes that Napsha is more easily reached in supportive groups when group solidarity is present. She guides the seeker through many practices that are pathways for returning to an intimate and personal relationship with the Source. After establishing a relaxed state of mind and body, she uses visualizations that gently open doors to the Highest. Participants imagine moving into a center of light above the head where they allow the energy of the Source to flow through them. Stauffer reports that entering this place of rest creates a feeling in her participants of peace, security, love, and gratitude toward the Creator.
There is a controversy in healing practice between those who emphasize experiencing the most painful human emotions, bringing them to a cathartic release, versus those who advocate taking time to focus on the most positive aspects of the universal experience. All practitioners agree that both are essential, but the balance in favor of one polarity or the other shifts with the belief system of the healer. Stauffer acknowledges the importance of accepting and experiencing painful emotions, but she believes that positive experiences are the heart of the healing process. She maintains that physical symptoms and psychological conflict are a result of being cut off from, or being in conflict with, our Higher Self. She specifically states that a “problem is never solved on the level where it is created; it has to be taken to a higher level to be solved or healed.”
Stauffer creates specific exercises to instill the transpersonal values that underlie the Laws of Attitudes which make up the Essene Code of Conduct. The primary law of the Essenes states: “One who wishes to be whole (healthy) must love the Source of life with one’s whole being, must love oneself and all others of whom one is physically and mentally aware.” Workshop participants are first guided through relaxation and visualization to connect with their Napsha. Then they are instructed to contemplate specific transpersonal qualities, such as fairness, justice, forgiveness, humility, and unconditional love. For example, she instructs her participants to “Become aware of the quality of peace. Let that peace flow into your mind, your emotions, and into your body. Imagine a quiet peaceful lake. Be aware of the calm surface of the water. Now imagine your body, mind and emotions being calm like this beautiful peaceful lake. Let that peace pervade your consciousness. Rest in that peace.” Then Stauffer uses affirmations as a bridge to bring these qualities into practical purpose and use in everyday life. She conveys the importance of using affirmations to strengthen the established connection. The power of this approach is reflected in the experience of reported healing experiences of several workshop participants. For example, one participant shared the relief of an agonizing back pain that had been present for several years, another experienced the disappearance of many body lumps, and a third felt total release from stress during a lawsuit.
An excellent aspect of Stauffer’s book is her effective guidance on the importance of forgiveness. In accordance with the Essene philosophy, “When we block our love from another person, our energy shuts down. When harmony is restored, the healing energy starts flowing into the self from the Napsha and out to the other person.” A distinction is made between forgiving and pardoning the wrong. The process does not wipe out the wrong of another, but rather removes the demand that the other person perform in a certain way in order to be loved. After encouraging the emotional release of resentful feelings, Stauffer focuses on “canceling the expectations, demands, and conditions which are perceived as causing the loss of love; and re-establishing unconditional love.” Again, the essential aspect of all of these experiences is that the healing is made possible first by establishing direct contact with the Napsha and the light of the Source. Several examples from Stauffer’s workshops are given, including one in which a young woman named Pearl was able to feel compassion and love for her father, who had molested her, first by reliving past incidents with a supportive group and then by connecting with the love of the Highest.
This practice of acceptance and forgiveness is extended to the participant himself, and the inner child of the past. After merging into Napsha, the wrong is expressed, the forgiveness is received, and the participant appreciates the Highest for the release and freedom from guilt. In developing a relationship with the Source, Stauffer guides clients into identification with the position of the Higher Self. From this place of the Highest, she encourages workshop participants to “send out your love and forgiveness in abundance to your personal self. Cancel all the conditions and expectations the personal self is holding against itself. Assure your personal self that there is no expectation, demand, or condition the personal self has put upon itself that can separate your love from it.” Stauffer is emphasizing that after repeated experiences the Source becomes more than an energy of light and peace, but rather an intimate relationship, a tangible friendship that touches the place within the person that has always been yearning for love.
For many of her participants, Stauffer reports, this process opens the door to a transformed view of reality. There is increased intuitive wisdom available to guide daily decisions and a greater peace that pervades challenging situations. Stauffer also demonstrates how prayer is a useful form of communication with the divine; at the same time it is a “lifting up and calling down from the Source.” Stauffer affirms that prayer can help to create harmony with the Source as well as achieve practical results in daily life.
Another way of creating the connection with the Source is through the practice of meditation, Stauffer gives directions on how to practice three forms of mediation; reflective, receptive, and creative. In reflective meditation, the mind concentrates on a transpersonal quality, such as courage, compassion, patience, or beauty. In this form of meditation the mind is like “a mirror, allowing thoughts and ideas to reflect upon its surface, bringing insight and knowledge.”
In receptive meditation, the mind becomes silent and the connection with the Higher Self that has been practiced throughout the training is invoked. The meditator brings the seed thoughts of the reflective meditation to the Higher Self to receive messages, intuitions, answers, energy, and urges action. Receptive meditation is a way “to receive guidance, direction, ideas, and information from higher sources than your own mind and personality.”
Creative meditation is the bridge to bring the experiences of the previous meditations into form in everyday life. The meditator actively visualizes new projects, goals, solutions, and changes manifesting in everyday life.
Stauffer’s book is more than an excellent integration of spiritual principles and practices. It reflects the deep love and honor that she has for the human spirit, as well as her experience of the expanded potential that can emerge with an ongoing and intimate relationship with the Higher Self. The one limitation of her book is that she does not present any specific experiences of the participants in actually contacting the Highest. Yet her book will satisfy those who are looking for practical guidelines to integrate spiritual practices into their lives. Stauffer demonstrates the advantages of combining psychological practices with the energy, love, and wisdom that flow from a connection with the Source.