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Resolving The Paradox Between Psychology And Spirituality

Aug 17, 2007
It seems that there is a contradiction between the psychology of transcendence and the spiritual idea of transcendence.

Psychologists believe that through the proper application of intelligence and self-cognition one can have a full and enjoyable life, with wealth, health, and a great relationship, as well as a sense of communal belonging and contribution.

Those in spiritual groups, in particular of an eastern orientation, believe that one has to get rid of the lustful ego that craves only fleeting things and to unify with divine consciousness.

The most popular compromise to resolve this seeming paradox is that you have to build up the self and let it go. In Vedic philosophy this is expressed as becoming a householder in the first stages of life then retiring to pursue transcendence.

Yet most believe, because of cognitive dissonance, that they should choose one view or the other.

Thus, there are those who believe that they should be worldly and experience the world as it appears to be.

Then there are those who believe that they should reject the world and dedicate themselves to getting out of the misery of the cycle of birth and death.

Here is another way of understanding this paradox.

The self is a transcendent consciousness. It is not limited to a particular body or a particular lifetime. Because it is not anything in particular, the "I" is not an "it." This is why Buddhists say there is "no-self."

Similarly, the world itself is entirely illusory. I don't mean this metaphorically or even psychologically. At the subatomic level, again there is no substance. There are just probability patterns that literally flit in and out of existence! For example, an electron can appear under an observing instrument then disappear, then reappear again. There literally is no stuff! This is why the Vedantists say that the world is Maya, or illusory.

Yet to all purposes, on the macroscopic level, both an intelligent being and an intelligible world appear to exist.

On this level, personal growth and advancement is necessary, not because it means anything on a cosmic scale, but because there is literally nothing else to do with this adventure of life. You can either resist evolution and suffer all kinds of lack or you can embrace evolution and the refining of mind and enjoy fulfillment of resources and experiences.

Thus, when you look at things from the view of levels of perception, all contradictions disappear, just as the contradiction of day and night disappears when you understand that the sun and earth are in a cosmic dance.

It is possible to be engaged in the world and to actually enjoy it and at the same time to enjoy meditation and contemplation to experience the inner sky of blissful freedom. It is by no means an easy path, but after a while, they will support each other. Material success and harmonious relationships will give you the opportunity to retreat to your inner work. Similarly your inner work will contribute to your increase of abundance and maintaining a loving relationship with others.
About the Author
Saleem Rana would love to share his inspiring ideas. His book Never Ever Give Up tells you how. It is offered at no cost as a way to help YOU succeed. http://www.theempoweredsoul.com
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