This is an excerpt from a class I taught in 2001 at my Institute for Full Permission Living. The particular class was entitled: "Beyond Therapy."

This is a very important subject, addressing the question of why some people go further than others, even though they may be engaged in the same therapeutic process.

Here's the excerpt:

What determines how far a person can go at any one time in an evolutionary process? The methodology of the therapy we have practiced offers techniques for increasing self-awareness and understanding, uncovering beliefs and freeing up feelings. Those are essential ingredients needed for actualizing the goal of fulfilled living. No therapy, however, nor any techniques, can overrule a person’s free will. That is one of the basic ingredients of being sentient and conscious, that we possess “will-power” - even to disregard our own natural instincts, even to thwart our own fulfillment. Our free will cannot be taken away from us. Even under the most controlled of circumstances, such as being literally imprisoned, human beings can still exert their free will finally by ending their own lives if they choose to.
But what might cause a person to hold back from surrendering the ego’s self-will when doing so would lead to freedom and pleasure in life? Why would someone “choose” to stay in a seemingly less evolved place, and what are the implications for us as therapists and generally as people in relationships in such cases?

All of the great spiritual teachings available to us, both ancient and modern, at some point speak of a kind of “giving up of the self” as the task in an advanced phase of development. In addition to the great fear of the unknown that this inspires, it also calls for the release of one’s identification with the ego’s self-will. This requires the elimination of pride as a force in one’s consciousness. To many, this will seems like the equivalent of death or annihilation. Thus, even after the achievement of much emotional freedom and a great deal of self-awareness, there can still be resistance to further letting go. While most of us experience a certain level of this “death of the ego” when we go to sleep, meditate or have an orgasm, to live that way seems, in most people’s imaginations, to be the equivalent of non-existence. In fact, the ego does not die in such moments; it is merely released from all but its one proper function - that of observing.

Pathwork Guide: “Man believes this split-off ego-consciousness to be his real self...Thus, the ego maintains itself with pride. It maintains its separate state by creating an unreal, artificial conflict between the self and others. It is always ‘I versus you’ and this always creates a spirit of one-upmanship.”

Epstein: “It is the self-concept, the representational part of the ego...that is the target of Buddhist insight...the self-representation is revealed as lacking concrete existence...Thus, meditation is not a means of forgetting the ego; it is a method of using ego to observe and tame its own manifestations. Development of the capacity to attend to the moment-to-moment nature of mind allows the self to be experienced without the distortions of idealization or wishful fantasy.”

Another angle from which to understand why a person embarked on an accelerated evolutionary path may seem to hit a plateau in their “forward” motion is based on the notion of reincarnation as a developmental process, like growing up, and that each soul, therefore, may be at a particular “age” in their cycle of lifetimes. According to Joya Pope (Upcoming Changes), human souls are all in different stages in their reincarnational cycles on earth. She calls these stages “soul ages.” Just as we develop within the course of one lifetime from infants to adults, so too do souls develop over the course of many lifetimes. This may be one reason why people of the same basic age and background, for example, even two people from the same family can have such different characteristics and very different levels of maturity. It may also be why several people with the same basic character structure elements due to early childhood experiences may have quite different levels of functioning and progress differently in their therapy process. (I have tended to think of this difference between people regarding their spiritual development as a function of how much soul energy they have brought into a particular lifetime. In other words, someone leading a rather undeveloped, simplistic and not very self-aware life, yet perhaps living in a relative state of comfort with set routines and rituals, etc., I have thought of as someone who has not brought a lot of soul energy into that particular lifetime. Joya Pope would say that this is a “baby soul”, not totally brand new to life on earth, but close.)

On this continuum, one could envision that souls may bring in increasing amounts of energy with each incarnation, passing through a sort of spiritual childhood, adolescence, adulthood and maturity . Regarding the will issue, then, one might imagine that an adolescent or even young adult soul may strongly value and intensely cling to its newly blossomed human ego and the experience of asserting its will at that level above all else, while the mature, older souls may value the relaxation and peace that comes from surrendering the ego.

What does all of this mean for the practitioners of full-spectrum healing processes in their work with their clients? (And by implication, what does it mean for everyone engaged in the “business” of relationship?)

Any therapist in general is going to primarily attract and stay interested in working with people basically of the same relative level of development, or soul age, as himself or herself, with the therapist perhaps slightly ahead initially within the respective soul-age range. So, if the therapist is very ego-based, oriented towards relationships of control and outer accomplishments, a “young soul” according to Pope, he or she will attract clients with that kind of attitude and approach towards life. Together, they may enhance each other’s development and growth processes substantially, especially in external ways, though their relationship may be fraught with power struggles. An old soul, on the other hand, will mainly be interested in working with other old souls, with the focus of therapy being the enrichment of spiritual life first, and then learning how to blend that spirituality harmoniously and pleasurably with material abundance and physical well-being. (According to Pope, and my experience corroborates this, many an old soul will go through a period of material and financial struggle or impoverishment due to a lack of ambition in this area, while they are pursuing spiritual matters.)

A therapist may also attract some patients who are at a significantly earlier level of development or soul age than the therapist, or the therapist may evolve himself to a more developed place than when the initial relationship began with a particular patient. This can put him in conflict with his patient, especially if said patient hasn’t evolved at the same pace. In such a case, the therapist could become impatient, bored or pushy, or think that the therapy is failing in some way. In fact, though, the pace of one’s growth is not something that is only a function of the therapy. Accepting and recognizing that there are forces at work in a human being’s life that are not subject to the interventions of another is a crucial task of the maturing guide (and the maturing person in relationships).

Does this mean that people have developmental “ceilings” in a lifetime, places beyond which they “can’t” go due to lack of soul age or energy? Perhaps, but not necessarily so. Each soul comes in with a particular task or set of tasks to undertake and experience, and as such sets the stage for their development by arranging certain parameters (choice of parents and environment, gender and genetic make-up, time period, character structures, etc.). Those parameters will appear to be limitations to some extent in a lifetime as to how far a person can go in terms of self-awareness, understanding, knowingness and the capacity to love and experience pleasure. However, as the Pathwork Guide describes in some of its lectures, it is possible for a soul, upon completion of a particular task set forth in a lifetime to reach a certain level, to reincarnate again within the same lifetime.

This reincarnation within an incarnation will often manifest as a dramatic change in direction, lifestyle and attitude toward the main areas of life (i.e. - relationships and work) and very often take the form of some kind of crisis .

The Guide: “A person who is truly on a path of accelerated development can and frequently does literally reincarnate in the same lifetime...if the personality is truly devoted to give all of itself to his own fulfillment and expansion and to his capacity to change its inherent seed plan. Now, I say that a path such as this indeed a very rare and intense one.”

A therapist can only be a supportive and reflective observer for patient going through such a dramatic shift. Such a change in life-tasks and parameters would also imply that the therapist’s place in that person’s life would also be dramatically altered. The nature of the relationship would surely change and could “end” altogether, at least in present time and in its present form. Likewise, if the therapist goes through such a reincarnation within a lifetime, his relationships with his clients will be pushed forcefully to a new place. Similarly, those shifts may bring about a new level of equality and mutuality between therapist and patient, or bring about an ending for the time being.

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