Search This Blog

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Trust 3b: ... into Faith and Love


Rudolf Steiner's 4-fold classification helped me shape the 'two level' idea of acting at either an animal level or a spiritual level. There are some types of behaviour that Steiner classifies as part of the 'animal kingdom' (the third class), while other types of behaviour are typical for the highest class: the kingdom of man (the fourth class).
The third class, the astral body is the seat of the soul, and the repository of human desires, emotions, and feelings.  
Primitive feelings like anger, fear and lust belong to this class
The fourth class, the Spiritual Self is the true spiritual essence of each human being.  
For instance art, man's creativity, is said to reside at this level.

The ideas of Neale Donald Walsh (Conversations with God) and Barry Neil Kaufman (Option and Sonrise) fit well in this scheme. If you look closely at what they say, you read the message:
you may feel that your reactions to any situation, are limited, implied by a mechanism, but they are not. You choose your own reactions.

Bears Kaufman points out how easily we tell ourselves that our feelings are determined by others. “You make me so angry!” Nonsense, anger is a choice, because you may believe that anger puts you in the winning position. No one can make you angry, you do it to yourself. Alas, it can be such a habit that it happens subconsciously. Making it hard to quit, but not impossible.
It becomes a habit when anger has paid off in the past. Then we easily tend to go for this reaction to get our way. But we can examine ourselves and decide that somehow anger to get what we want is not necessary. Or not the best way. Staying friendly and going your own way often is more effective than anger or even blackmail by using tears. Alas we just didn't learn that in our early years, when we were just starting to experiment with groupdynamics at kindergarten or at home.

Is it just a coincidence that I feel for both Steiner's and Kaufman's models? Steiner's theory is based on the ideas of Aristotle, who was Plato's student, who was Socrates' student. Bruce M. Di Marsico 's 'Option Dialog' which is refined by Kaufman and integrated in his Sonrise playtherapy, is based on the Socratic Dialog !

Neale Walsh argues that we either act out of fear (= animalistic level: survival) or love (= spiritual level: altruism). Ask yourself 'What would Love do now?' when pressured to make a difficult choice. I did and I chose to act out of love. Putting myself in big trouble with some law enforcers and other authoritive figures -who were used to people blindly following their instructions- but in the end it worked out wonderfully for my son and me.

Let's hang on to Love, it comes closer to our Faith and Trust Journey than you think.


Some of our most used psychological therapies function at the animalistic level. I hate that. Any therapy that involves either punishments or rewards, makes the hairs in my neck stand up!! Like behaviorism and some popular forms of cognitive therapy.
It means the therapist is not just conditioning the clients behaviour, he is teaching the client that motivation lies outside of him or her. This creates a dependency of the client on his environment, or worse the therapist. That's not healing, that's disempowerment!
Apart from that, rewards and punishments reinforce our feelings at animal level: lust for rewards and fear for punishments. This is not the level at which you want to live.

I prefer the humanistic psychology of Carl Rogers:
Rogers rejected the deterministic nature of both psychoanalysis and behaviourism and maintained that we behave as we do because of the way we perceive our situation. [Grand opening for SPD and autism treatment!]
"As no one else can know how we perceive, we are the best experts on ourselves."
Carl Rogers believed that humans have one basic motive, that is the tendency to self-actualize - i.e. to fulfill one's potential and achieve the highest level of 'human-beingness' we can@.
From his theories, Virginia Axline developed a form of playtherapy based on unconditional acceptance of the child in therapy. Because the therapist has FAITH in the healing powers of the client, even if it is a child.
The child chooses the way a therapy session is filled in. Since the child alone knows what it needs. And it will generally choose a game that will help him develop himself. 'All' the therapist does is be present and be empathic with the child. Unconditionally.
The unconditional love helps the child to strengthen his self esteem and he becomes able to overcome his problems by himself. And this way the client, the child, becomes independent of its environment! What a beautiful effect of unconditional love. And faith#.

Bears Kaufman's Sonrise works with the same principles. Only the frequency, duration and intensity of the sessions is higher, He developed this playtherapy for his son. To help the boy find his way out of his autistic 'enclosure'. And it works.


There is something about love, being either conditional or unconditional, that is parallel to trust and faith, to animal versus spiritual … I quote an article on Carl Rogers, by Leighna Shmidt

"Carl Rogers was an American Psychologist who largely contributed during his life, theories and practices on how unconditional love can change us. Unconditional love can heal us from the inside out. Rogers most important work was with the "love" referred to by Greek philosophy as agape. Greek Philosophy distinguished between two kinds of love. Ero and agape. Ero is characterized by the desire for something that will fulfill the lover. It includes the wish to possess the beloved object or person. Agape , on the other hand, is characterized by the desire to fulfill the beloved"

Ero obviously corresponds to my animal level, whereas Agape fits in at the spiritual level. 

THe relation between Rogers' theory and my exploration in Trust, has more connections than Ero and Agape. Watch: there are 3 elements to Carl Rogers therapy of love:
  • genuineness,
  • empathy
  • unconditional positive regard
Please let me continue quoting the article. It's about genuineness. The bold script is put in by me:
It is important to be truthful, honest, to be aware of thought processes that occur while in the presence of another. The more fully self is understood, the more genuine (honest) someone can be with self and those who are loved. A genuine person shares his/her thoughts and feelings without pretense. In the presence of a genuine person there is trust. With trust comes the willingness to "expose ourselves" . A genuine person serves to invite one to let their self be known for who they really are.

It is not just about trust. It is about people who know themselves. It isn't hard to understand that a genuine person (Rogers') is a person with high self esteem. Clearly self esteem, trust and love go hand in hand.

Trust and love both can be practised at two levels. At a level where two people have to reward and reassure each other regularly. Where control and possession play a role.
Or you may rise to a level where faith and love are given unconditionally.

If you manage to lift your life to a higher, spiritual level, your trust will become pure. It will turn into faith. You will be free from the need to be reassured, free of the need for proof and satisfaction.
Your love will be unconditional, with all its healing powers.
And you can act freely, undisturbed by the judgements of those who still are at the other level.   Of course we, mere mortals, can hardly live at this level continuously. But that's no reason not to try, right?

Where does self esteem stand in the two level theory? That's a nice one to think about on sleepless nights or in crowded trains.  I think the conclusion will be that at a higher level there is no room for a negative self image. Could low self esteem keep you from moving from the animal level to the spiritual one? I don't think so. I think stepping up the ladder may help you get rid of low self esteem.

Anyone disagreeing? Please speak up!

# Was it faith? Yes the therapist firmly believed in the childs capability; even if it was a child in need of therapy. A child that not yet had proven what he is capable of...

No comments:

Post a Comment