Assisted Auto-analysis

This weekend we have just completed a workshop in Belgium at Zenshin-In on the theme "Anger, Blame, Guilt and Sorrow". This provided an excellent medium for personal growth work and to this end we thought in terms of assisted auto-analysis.

What do we mean by auto-analysis? Pessoa in the article on Initiation "Mysticism seeks to transcend the intellect with intuition, magic seeks to transcend the intellect by might; gnosis seeks to transcend the intellect with a higher intellect" and in these terms our approach to therapeusis falls largely into the mystical category. Further, we retain the original meaning of therapeut as an assistant. Therapy has commonly come to mean a treatment. A medical model has supervened. We now have, for instance, mindfulness used as a treatment for conditions such as stress and depression whereas mindfulness in Buddhism was a path to insight and wisdom. We, therefore, still see mindfulness in terms of attending to the intuitive thread that leads one down into the labyrinth and, after one's encounter with the Minotaur, gets one out again.

So spiritual therapy is really assisted auto-analysis and the role of the assistant is to facilitate and sometimes speed the process by drawing the attention of the subject to starting points where investigation may be worthwhile, points where access to the underworld may be achieved. These points of access may be what we might term "hot spots", points where one has had a particularly strong reaction to something, or where one has suddenly lost the thread or momentarily fallen into unconsciousness, or memories that seem never to go away, or physiological reactions to psychological stimuli, or moments of irrational seeming reluctance or fear, or many other things that may indicate that the ground below one's normality is thinner or weaker at that point. Commonly when we encounter such points in ordinary life or conversation we avoid them or, having judged them improper or dangerous, seek to erase them. In auto-analysis, however, it is precisely such points that are the starting points for investigation and what is needed is that we create some safe space around them so that intuitive meanings may present themselves. These intuitively arising meanings are the guides that may take us deeper. The assistant can often help this process by drawing attention, creating space and, by their presence, giving confidence.

This kind of auto-analysis can lead us to an exploration of deeper meaning. Along the way we shall have to confront our Minotaur. Those presentations of spirituality which simply assert that we are all intrinsically godlike and think that one can arrive at a knowledge of one's divine nature without difficulty are mistaken. Also mistaken are those moralistic approaches that think we can be trained into "doing the right thing" without the necessary deeper work having been done. Many spiritual systems fall into one or other of these two errors, the one overly optimistic about human nature and blind to the passions that really move us; the other thinking that all that is needed is judgement and control.

Deeper work enables one to arrive at a larger perspective and a kind of naturalness. Things can be put into a bigger context. This work can be emotive and difficult. Feelings that have been frozen for decades may melt. Vows that one made to oneself long ago may be discovered and their spell may be broken. One may find that values that one is consciously committed to run directly opposite to agendas cherished deeper in one's soul. None of this is easy, but the reward can be a wonderful release, a liberation and a cleansing. 

When we think of the work as assisted auto-analysis we can see that we can do it one-to-one or in a group and also that it can be one-way or reciprocal. Here we are moving away from those approaches which seek to overly professionalise therapy and turn it into an expert preserve. Of course, there are wiser souls who may be of particular help and we want to avail ourselves of them, but there is also great potential in all people and much valuable work can be done by the less experienced working together once they have got the basic idea. Then, over time, one gains in experience. The path is endless.


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  • I can only agree with this words as I could experience it, joining that weekend. It's amazing how in a short time a clear image can arise intuitively and by giving it space and attention it becomes more vivid and more varicoloured, opening new perspectives and bringing releaf towards old frozen halfconsciuous patterns. And also this is only a step in the endless path towards liberation....but it is a step!

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