Radha talks a lot about spiritual transformation. Our lecturer tonight (theosophical professor Hans Gerding) had hands and feet for that concept. He thinks that one of the unique selling points of the TS is that it has the expertise to help people with kundalini awakening, and other spiritual experiences and crises. I don’t think he meant that our members should become therapists or anything like that – instead that what we have is a community well suited to helping people integrate their spiritual experiences into their lives. Where necessary this should of course be complimented with serious therapy or even medication – by real therapists and psychiatrists.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think we should develop our programs to suit mental patients. However, there is a fine line between those with spiritual experiences and mental patients – and not all mental patients need be such: many could have staid on the other side of the line if they’d had better people around them. Spiritual experiences can be positively life transforming, but they can also bring ruin.
Such people, who have had spiritual experiences or are dealing with such issues come to us automatically anyhow. What I’m saying is that when they come, we should have the patience and heart to listen to them and help them where we can. Not by telling them what to do, or pampering them, but by knowing the risks of their situation and gently hinting at the direction they should probably move in. Giving them the freedom to develop their own connection to the divine, yet offering a support system when things get rough. Very simply understanding where people are can be healing for people having to deal with a society that denies the validity of their experience – or glorifies it. The TS has the balance between the two, at least potentially.
I do envision this simply as part of the normal course of theosophical study.
The fact is – spiritual transformation is often a chaotic process. There are all kinds of spiritual and psychological risks involved, that somehow don’t get mentioned as much in recent theosophical literature. Everybody knows it though. We all know that psychic who just can’t sit still. Or the lady who is so busy connecting everything to everything else, that there is no order to be found. Some TS members seem totally without practical or social sense.
With our literature about kundalini and clairvoyance, our knowledge of reincarnation and the seven principles and how it all intermeshes with spiritual evolution – we really do have the map. Krishnamurti warned us not to take the map for the terrain. Sure – it’s not. However, the map is useful. Not perhaps to be learned by heart, but certainly to help people make sense of their lives and their experiences.
As Hans Gerding reminded us tonight reminded – why are we (in the West) putting people in mental hospital who in other cultures would have been hailed as shamans? We may not be able to turn them into shamans, but we can help them put what they’re experiencing into perspectives to avoid the two major pitfalls (though there are many): arrogance and over confidence on the one hand, and simple suppression of all transformation on the other.
Food for thought?
5 thoughts on “The Theosophical Society as a support system for those in spiritual transformation?”
People seek help from therapists for problems affectng their daily fiunctioning. These may include anxiety, depression, obsessional thoughts, difficulty connecting with others, and a host of other concerns relating to day-to-day adjustment.
The TS is meant for something completely different. One can be completely well adjusted by mental health standards and still be at a comparatively low level with respect to spiritual advancement. Let the mental health system take care of individuals who have mental health problems that interfere with their daily lives. Theosophy was never meant to address this. Once the individual has mastered the presenting mental health problem at least partially, then he or she may be ready to do Theosophical work.
I don’t think it’s quite that simple. I agree the TS should not try to replace the mental health profession, but mental health professionals are usually not equipped to deal with issues that have a spiritual dimension.
Kundalini awakening for instance can be mistaken for a mental health problem, and if dealt with the wrong way – it can BECOME a mental health problem. I do think the TS is, locally, a good place for people to get the kind of guidance that may make their potential mental health problems manageable. Simply because the process is better understood.
WE SHOULD HELP JOBLESS PEOPLE AND SICK PEOPLE AND HOMELESS PEOPLE AND CHILDREN
I agree those are valuable causes, but I don’t think it’s what the TS was made for.
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