by Carl Silver, Ph.D.
Belief systems and theories, together with empirical data, are foundation stones upon which thought leads to knowledge and understanding. Within the therapeutic setting, “beliefs” may be more important to achieving an outcome than “science.” Dr. Silver directs his thoughts towards an interesting and provocative exploration of this topic.
My readings in the area of past-life regression therapy et al reveal occasional reference to altered states and their relation to the mythic, but always as tangential to some other focus rather than as a central theme. I propose that a grasp of the following two conclusions are central to eventual acceptance of this therapy into the mainstream of psychotherapeutic intervention:
A personal mythology and its requisite belief system is essential not only to healing but to its maintenance.
Regression therapy et al contributes richly to creation of a personal mythology in a society that provides little in this regard.
I am going to draw a functional relationship among four factors:
1. There is increased energy now available to humanity for healing.
2. People have a profound need for stable belief systems, a need that is not being met in the modern world.
3. A sound belief system always relies on a mythology to support it.
4. The above factors have profound implications for the psychotherapeutic process, particularly as they relate to past-life regression, dealing with discarnate entities, and transfer of so-called mind-fragments (what Baldwin terms “Mind-fragment”).
Throughout most of its history, humanity has lived in small rurally-based self-sufficient villages and tribes. Wide-spread development of cities and centralized government control is a relatively modern phenomenon. Villages and tribes had unshakable belief systems based on mythologies. The people were sane. The same cannot be said of urbanized modern society as a whole. Acceptable mythology is the only stable resolution to conflict and mystery. Concepts, rationales, and scientifically determined conclusions are far too unstable to replace mythology as foundational to stable society because they shift and change constantly.
As a child of the Western world, I was neither born into a strong, integrative belief system, nor raised in relation to one. Psychotherapy, along with life’s lessons, taught me much, but not how to feel as though I belonged anywhere. But when I began surrendering to past-life experiences with their sense of immediacy, something changed radically. Not only did I experience resolution of issues deeply and thoroughly, but I was generating a mythology of my own. This meant revelation of orderly development and internal consistency over time, piece by piece. Albeit not always pleasant or easy, I had a meaningful, intelligible past of incredible richness that yielded up wisdom at every turn. I began to experience the exciting realization that my current life existed against the background of an enormous sweep of time and history. There was intelligence behind it. I was palpably part of something grand and outrageous beyond words. Surrender in this life became easier. The future felt safe. Now I belong.
For most of the past several thousand years, healing powers and inner wisdom lay in the hands of relatively few gifted medicine people, shamans, and visionaries having the capacity to marshal and focus the higher energy levels needed for healing and transformation. Most people could not do these things; there was not enough energy to go around. Many modern-day psychics, visionaries, and spiritual masters however, have correctly identified the New Age as a time of increase in the level of available psychospiritual energy. This makes tools for awakening into conscious awareness available to more people. While this energy up-shift also translates as increased ability to understand natural laws and manipulate nature, it is not a mandate to technologize, technology per se not being an imperative. Nor is it a mandate for wide-spread proliferation of gurus or self-appointed spiritual and psychological teachers; although the dramatic increase of psychospiritual seeking in the 20th century is certainly an indication of something important unfolding.
To me the New Age means basically two things, both of which are expressions of responsible, therefore sane, human behavior. One is that of implementing the increase in available psychic energy for individual healing—spreading the wealth. The other concerns the operational relationship between groundedness in the material world and true spirituality; they are aspects of the same thing. New Age mentality means that we, as individuals, can be better positioned to deal proactively rather than reactively with whatever we must face, whatever lies ahead, and whatever we have already lived. It also means that the quality of our inner lives can improve dramatically now no matter what the world-at-large is doing. The New Age must be understood in terms of a shift toward individual consciousness that is more readily sensitive to nature—one’s own and the universe’s—rather than as an opportunity to maintain or increase the level of personal creature comfort or convenience at nature’s expense.
As a practicing psychologist and student of human nature, my interest in this area has relevance in terms of the meaning and effectiveness of psychotherapy/spiritual practice as a practical matter. New Age awareness helps remind us that our sense of the spiritual—the energy that creates and sustains all material forms—needs to be a conscious, integral aspect of our lives in relation to every act we perform, blessedly reminding us from moment to moment that there is spiritual consciousness in and behind everything. It will remind us constantly that everything in the universe is connected to everything else if we but pay attention. The implications are profound. It means having direct psychospiritual experiences such as, for example, communicating with rocks that speak wisdom, and discovering that past, present, and future are all accessible at the same time. It is the realm of the mythic, and represents a shift in emphasis from predominantly left-brain process to one in which right-brain process leads the way much of the time.
Utilization of psychospiritual awareness yields the most powerful tools for efficient personal healing, which means becoming comfortable with ourselves in relation to our place in the universal scheme of things. The therapist must be consciously aware of the energy up-shift and its implications for healing, else clients are inclined to remain oblivious of the fact that they have inner access to all needed answers to every relevant question. Clients now want, consciously or sub-consciously, a guide who is willing and able to assist in retrieval, recognition, and acceptance of truth, whether pleasant or painful, which means accessing aspects of the sub-conscious directly, making them conscious. Consciousness and inner experience are the same.
The cutting edge of all direct experience, of access to inner wisdom and its mythical expression, is non-linear and non-intellectual. It means that seeker and guide must spend a great deal of their time together in a non-linear state of mind if healing is to unfold optimally. This is, by definition, an altered state of consciousness, a key ingredient for healing of any kind. Altered states are ordinary and quite normal. Later, so-called left-brain linear thought processes are utilized in order to integrate prior healing experiences. Most, if not all, neurotic and psychotic states, are distinguished by the regular repressive activity of left-brain linear thought processes, often to near exclusion of right-brain non-linear ones. Inspection of societies always reveals belief systems with attendant mythologies, all of which grow out of primarily right-brain non-linear thought processes which are then collated and codified into systematized internal law and practice by primarily left-brain linear-thought processes. As we can see, both left and right are ultimately needed in a balanced way. Unbalanced societies today are usually unbalanced to the left—left-brain predominant. When that happens, predominantly right-brain productions are not trusted. They are seen as irrational and illogical by the “left-siders.” “Right-siders” become outsiders.
Was there really a pantheon of Greek gods and goddesses? Did the Lakota Sioux really receive their laws from a white buffalo calf woman who arose mystically from the plains, could slay those who failed to respect her, and then disappeared back into Mother Earth while the people watched? Was Jesus really born of an immaculate conception? The key here lies not in pondering whether such events really happened, but in the willingness to believe that “Spirit” or “God” or “Creative Force” is in and behind everything that manifests, and that It brings us the laws that guide us in how to conduct our lives. It means respectfully acknowledging right brain’s assertion that there is a force from which we ourselves come that knows everything, from which we learn through inspiration, and to which we yearn to return. It is the mythic—the creation of a quintessentially perfect story that will enable us to feel safe in the universe. Within such a context, even the worst-case scenario of so-called demonic possession can be sensed as that of a darkened consciousness that, at bottom, wants to be guided back to truth. The truth must be, of course, the client’s, not the therapist’s, else the latter is reduced to the manufacture of mere dogma with accompanying proselytization of the client.
Like many therapists, I have observed that people are often inclined to sense that their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors do not always seem like their own. As an example, the client might say, “I was five when my mother got right inside of me and set up housekeeping.” Once the therapist has determined that the client reality-tests well, the proper response is to suspend every learned model or construct and to be totally present wherever the client is. This is a crucial point, for the very notion of suspending one’s world-view imposes an existential crisis on the therapist. One is now at a fork in the road: either you find meaning in the productions issuing from the client, or you impose a grid, a diagnostic assessment. To choose the former is to enter the realm of the mythic, the creative. It is the state of mind in which bonding with the client occurs naturally and spontaneously, and is quite different from transference or counter-transference. On the other hand, to define or analyze is to opine and judge, during the course of which you pull away, separating from the client instead of bonding, No other choices are possible. If you pull away, you can only doubt yourself or find the client wrong or inappropriate, thereby creating illness both in yourself and in the client. To foster good psychospiritual health means to give up control, acknowledging whatever the client retrieves from sub-conscious mind, trusting that it will reliably reveal precisely what is needed. The profound need for personal resolution requires nothing less than this if the yearning to resolve is to have the stuff into which it can sink its teeth. The human journey includes being gently or rudely prodded into learning this.
As therapists, we are safe if we enter the unknown with the client in a state of love with its strong psychic protection. Otherwise there is danger, either from puffing up ego, or of getting injured psychically. Again, there are no other choices. It takes knowledge, experience, and freedom from needing to be viewed as important if we are to safely and constructively utilize solely what a client presents.
From a state of psychospiritual awareness—operating within and beyond the boundaries of three-dimensional reality and linear time—there are no dead ends nor any limit on avenues to healing. It is the realm of the mythic, the creative, the deepest human truth. There is ready access to all needed information and experience so long as one is free of attachment to rules that limit possibilities. Total presence, direct experience, and the magic that arises from these, produces a poignant and beautiful healing dance on behalf of both client and therapist. The therapist’s interpretations may be very clever, even brilliant, but they have limited intrinsic value.
From a psychotherapeutic point of view, New Age consciousness means much more than accessing denied emotionally charged material and serving the need for wholesome cooperative human interaction. It means in addition, addressing the profound need and readiness—in most people, for a belief system/mythology which fosters more efficient personal growth in a way that enables it to be more reliably maintained. One does not impose this kind of work. The client’s language leads the astute guide onward as touched on earlier. I am amazed at how many clients reveal the presence of forces within that are not themselves, and how easily they take to removal of these forces, even with no prior background. Conditioned by familiar internal cues and a linear sense of time and space, they tend to anthropomorphize their experiences in terms of past lives, invasion by others, and losses of parts of themselves to others. This tendency is quite natural and apparent to the therapist who is conscious of having had similar experiences. It can be said that the client wants permission and validation for working with these modalities directly.
Working psychotherapeutically with these inner responses is indeed mythic in nature, drawing directly on the client’s deepest and strongest inner resources, often fostering inner trust and self-confidence quite rapidly. In this work it is most important that direction come from the client, and that the therapist not try, however subtly, to force-fit the client into some kind of pre-conceived regression therapy model. This brings up a piece of wisdom that I learned while pursuing Native-American studies, namely that you can never really know which side of the line you are on: wholesome presence without opinion or mere manipulation with good intention. The solution is to realize that you can never be sure, and that your only hope is generosity of spirit in attitude and action, with constant respect for the client as a whole person who is equal to yourself rather than a mere laundry list of excess baggage and insufficiencies. After that, all you can do is to hope for the best. It also helps if the therapist can draw from many frameworks and models in order to minimize the temptation to force-fit the client into a preferred one.
New Age consciousness treats “entities” successfully with love and respect, a far cry from the Church’s approach historically, which has been and remains to treat these forces oppositionally as though they were dangerous enemies. In the New Age, love and respect replace fear and judgment effectively, even in the face of what appears most terrible. This kind of work diminishes the need for a great deal of what still passes for psychotherapy today, particularly anything having to do with analysis prior to direct experience.
As so many others in this field have written, whether a so-called past life is real or symbolic makes no difference in terms of therapeutic success. Even if symbolic, the client’s creation will always be an exquisite expression that embraces everything needed to address the problem at hand. Even if the client tolerates the work without a strong belief in the process, noticeable resolution occurs and seeds of the mythic are planted. Strong, sustainable belief systems can grow only out of the mythic. Our society limps along with relatively few individuals living from strong sustainable belief systems that govern every aspect of their lives. A so-called Jew, Christian, or Buddhist who prays or meditates on the weekend only to participate in harming or exploiting others during the week cannot live a truly integrated, coherent, non-violent life.
A useful way to view the New Age energy shift is to compare this therapeutic approach with current psychotherapy as a whole and with shamanism. The former does not recognize the work described herein while the latter does. Still, all effective schools of psychotherapy rely on considerable right-brain activity whether they make a point of it or not. However, little or nothing in them speaks directly to the absence of the mythic in our lives, leaving a great hole still to be filled. Shamanism, on the other hand, has dealt successfully with issues like possession by invasive forces of different types, relying on right-brain non-linear processes in the service of healing. However, the dark forces have not generally been treated with the love and respect that can now succeed in this new age. The talisman has been needed in order to provide the shaman with supernatural powers needed to safely confront such forces. In such a belief system, only a very strong shaman can effectively encounter these forces, meaning that relatively few people have been equipped do this work. Now, however, stepped-up availability of psychic energy means that any adequately prepared, truly loving therapist can safely do entity release work and other healing at least as easily as shamanic healers historically, and in less time.
There is a challenge to the New Age therapist however, that the old shamanic healer never had to face. Shamanism grew out of coherent societies living in balance with nature, and therefore the ongoing background community was conducive to maintenance of healing. In modern cultures today, there is no substantial supportive background community. Thus, very skillful follow-up work after healing is much more critical than ever before. This is an additional challenge, not only for the modern therapist but for the modern shaman as well.
It is from the mysterious realm within that creativity arises, the place from which we access universal truths and deep understanding, the place from which all compelling art and science arise. To use a modern metaphor, we turn on our inner personal computers and plug into “the great mainframe computer-in-the-sky” that knows everything. Then, whatever truth we are ready to recognize and accept is downloaded into the inner personal computer in a form that is non-threatening and manageable. When something is downloaded that is beyond our ability or readiness to safely comprehend, it simply fails to register, or we disregard it as irrelevant. Our ability to do this prevents overloading of our circuits. Using this parameter, we might be able to explain certain types of insanity as resulting from an inability to control the amount of downloading, causing the individual to overload and literally burn out. This explanation would seem to support cases where we see individuals who seem brilliant, utterly restless, and unable to successfully manage the details of their lives, often hallucinating, perhaps in a desperate attempt to drain off excessive psychic energy.
Nearly overwhelmed by a society that is hideously enthralled with its left-brain productions, we must always remember that accessing the mythic is our nature; the source of our ability to ascribe meaning to existence; the wellspring from which we must drink if we are to find our way to feeling consistently safe in the universe. Even the belief that life has no meaning is a belief, a form of meaning, albeit a dry one. It is mobilization, expression, and acceptance of the mythic and beliefs arising from it, that underlies sanity and inner peace. It is against the background of the mythic that deep regression therapy in all its aspects can be viewed as a relevant, ordinary process in our time rather than a fringe fanatic one. It is upon the foundation of the mythic that sustainable strategies are possible in the service of legitimizing and professionalizing past-life therapy et al, in the effort to bring it into generally recognized and accepted circles of psychotherapeutic intervention.
And not surprisingly, it shall be return to the personal mythic that inspires holistic healing as nothing else can if humanity is to survive with dignity, the global crises it now faces.