The Spiritual Self

Making MistakesIn recent decades there has been a tendency for spiritual paths to develop which deny and dissociate from emotions and the messy, earthly reality of who we are. These approaches emphasise enlightening and awakening yet often lead to radical dissociation. The training will outline the work of James Fowler and Scott Peck, Erik Erikson & Lawerence Kohlberg all of whom wrote about the psychological stages of faith. We will also study the writings of mystic and religious teachers including Osho, Rumi, Mahareshi, Buddha and Jesus. Based upon the framework of Fowler and Peck, as well as many other influences, Andrew Wallas has developed a new model of spirituality. The four stages are as follows:

Stage 1 – Anything Goes: This stage represents undeveloped spirituality; individuals in Stage I of spiritual growth are manipulative and self-serving. Though they may pretend or even think they are loving toward others, they are narcissistic and don’t really love themselves or others. There are no values (such as truth or love) important enough to these people to override their own desires, hence there is a lack of integrity and a chaos to their existence that they remain unaware of.

Stage 2 – Rigid: As an over-compensation to Stage 1, we often find ourselves entering into a strict, rigid framework which we feel provides safety and protection. All institutionalised religion provides this kind of rigid structure. This stage is characterised by a rigid set of external rules which need to be followed. The prescriptive nature of this stage provides comfort, as the individual does not have to think for him or herself. In religion, people in Stage 2 will mainly view their God as an external, transcendent Being. They generally need a legalistic God, who will punish misdeeds, to keep them from chaotic behaviour.

Stage 3 – Questioning: Those who move beyond Stage 2, suddenly find themselves questioning all the doctrines of the framework which they have previously adopted. This is a difficult, troubling stage as what we have taken to be sacrosanct is now being challenged. The biggest stumbling block in this stage is the fear that we are falling back to Stage I and hence we often retreat into the perceived safety of the second stage. Whereas, whilst many people in this stage describe themselves as atheist or agnostic, in reality they are active seekers of truth. People in Stage 3 are actually more spiritually developed than most of those content to remain in Stage 2 because they are seeking the truth and internalising their own values rather than simply accepting an external authority.

Stage 4 – Free Flowing: Through the struggle and insecurity of Stage III, either suddenly or slowly, we emerge into the final stage which is characterised by an acceptance and peace with who we are. We discover an alignment with the flow of life. We recognise, not as an intellectual concept but as a lived experience, the true unity and interconnectedness of all things.

Practical Exploration

The training will invite participants to truly confront the anarchic pockets within themselves and experience the mayhem of the absence of structure and order. We will also encourage participants to give up the rigid positions that they have adopted in all aspects of life and question the validity of their long held views. Through meditation, guided visualisation, eye-gazing and spiritual healing, trainees will fall deeper into the truth of their individual spirituality.

These two years promise to be an unparalleled experience which will be challenging, inspiring, daunting, uplifting, undermining, fulfilling, fun, provoking, reassuring and enriching. You will need honesty, courage, tenacity and a true willingness to move forward. A profound personal and professional transformation is guaranteed.