The Higher Aspects of Being Human
One of the guiding assumptions of The Center for Psychological and Spiritual Development is that being human is more mysterious than we often allow ourselves to comprehend. People often take one of two approaches to this, both of which we want to avoid. In the first group, people have their eyes so fixed on the ground that they miss the mystery and beauty of the world that surrounds them. In the second, people can search the heavens so expectantly and eagerly that they run the risk of tripping over the obstacles in their path. At The Center for Psychological and Spiritual Development we hope to see both the beauty and dignity of what is real behind appearances, but also live in the real world.
Another guiding assumption of The Center for Psychological and Spiritual Development is that each individual brings something of unrepeatable dignity and goodness into the world, no matter who they are or where they come from. Much human suffering occurs because we don't realize who we are, or recognize who that person is who bothers us so much.
Beyond that, we hope to provide a voice in medicine and psychiatry that seeks to understand and cultivate the higher aspects of being human.
Many of us benefit every day from the advances made in medicine and biological psychiatry. But these disciplines as they are currently conceived are only part of the story. They are rooted in an overly materialist understanding of the body and the brain. We will be limited in our capacity to help people until we can enlarge our vision and understanding of the true nature and needs of the human person.
Research and Beyond
At this point, there are two main goals at The Center for Psychology and Spiritual Development. The first has to do with research. We are interested in exploring the higher capacities of mind and heart. If there is something wonderful that happened to you that you would like to share, we would like to know. To start off, we are most interested in stories where some kind of medical or factual evidence exists that proves that the unlikely event did exist and did occur. We won't be able to respond to every story, and it will take time to get this venture off the ground since at the current time it is still unfunded.
The second goal is to provide practical assistance to those who want to further their own development. To that end, we are offering classes and workshops in Heart Centered Meditation. You can click on the links above if you are interested.
Is There Something More?
Medicine and psychiatry are skilled at halting the progress of disease, fixing body parts and preventing death. We can stop infections and heal broken bones like never before. In other words, we have a system of great ambulances at the bottom of the cliff. What we don't have are guard-rails at the top. We give little attention to what it takes to develop a full, flourishing life.
The next evolutionary step for both medicine and psychiatry is to explore and point the way towards what it will take to develop a rich, vital life of courage, faith and love. This means that we need to allow the capacities of mind and heart to stand on their own terms, and not be reduced solely to the language of biology and physics. And then seek to understand these hidden capacities, and how to cultivate them.
Significant implications exist for the view that we are taking here. Psychiatry, a speciality that I love, and from which patients find benefit every day, should not be only about the brain. It should also be the flagship for exploring and developing the capacities of the mind and heart. Jewels of insight already exist for those with ears to hear. Ancient writings, long lost beneath the machinery of western civilization and all of its whirring production and warring polarities, knew a world where mind and body, freedom and determinism, male and female, individual and community, co-inhered naturally, under the impact of a larger, more holistic vision. In addition, ancient practices of meditation, built upon centuries of oral tradition and disciplined exploration of the inner life, also provide practical ways to access the wisdom concealed within all of us.
The Person Is What Counts
We live in a culture that has advanced enough that we can send the person with a medical problem to the medical doctor; a person with an emotional problem to the psychologist, and a person with a spiritual problem to the priest, minister or rabbi. Yet The Center for Psychological and Spiritual Development is founded upon the belief that, beneath and behind all the masks and appearances that we present to the world, there is something more, and that whatever healing potential exists comes from this place.
It is a living human person who stands behind the masks and appearances and organizes all of the aspects into an organized whole. We all have these masks: one person walks into the building as a doctor or a businessperson; another as a patient or client. But every one of us goes home at night and assumes other masks - those of father, mother, lover, friend, daughter, etc. Beneath the masks, we are all human beings, who need and deserve the same things. It's easy to be deceived by the masks, and to believe that they mean more than they do. Yet, from a spiritual perspective, the person is what counts, and it's from some kind of deep development in the heart and mind of the person, that healing events seem to come from.
As this website develops, you will have even more opportunities to be involved in this community in the way that you wish. How this evolves over time depends in part on you, and what you believe would be most helpful. My experience is that people learn best from other people. So, in some form, the community that develops here needs to take part in and facilitate this. And this will then provide grist for the research...