CHRISTIAN PSYCHOLOGY - An Overview
THE SPIRITUAL CHRISTIAN
The Teachings of Christ as a Way of Life
THE SACRED PSYCHOLOGY
A medical physician can look at a patient who has drowsy, red-rimmed eyes, a runny nose, and a sore throat and recognize the symptoms of a cold. In the same way, a person educated in behavioral or analytical psychology can observe the behavior, attitudes, and personality traits of an individual and determine whether this person is functioning normally. Western psychological normalcy is a relative state of being depending on the health of the individual, the historical time period of the assessment, the country, the culture, and a variety of other considerations.
Christian psychology is self-directed psychology as it has a distinct standard of being that clearly defines the ideal state which Christians strive to emulate. Miracles and divinity aside, the psychological traits or standard to which Christians aspire is found in the: behavior, attitudes, values, compassion, strength, balance, wisdom, selflessness, courage, tolerance, and unconditional love Jesus Christ demonstrated in His life toward all humankind. On top of this, Jesus willingly sacrificed His life so His divine perfection and psychological nature could be indelibly imprinted upon the collective psyche of humanity to act as a directional beacon for all to follow. When Jesus Christ said, “Physician, heal thyself,” He meant for each one of us to put our “psychological house in order” and to follow Him by bringing forth in our lives those same revered attributes and qualities of being.
Complete self-acceptance is required in order to experience wholeness of being and this is the challenge every Christian faces. We all enter this world with our own unique destiny to deal with, we all have been victims of the imperfect circumstances of our childhood, we all have been imprinted with less than perfect life experiences, we all have been hurt, whether physically or emotionally, by someone in our lives, and we all, at one time or another, are overwhelmed by the darkness, intensity, and vastness of this world.
Early life experiences condition the body’s instinctual and impulsive biological systems creating reactive patterns, responses, and habitual behaviors to the events and people in the external world, which, in turn, determines how we interpret our present life experiences (See: Level 1 Meditation). Internal dialogue and interpretation of our personal life experiences establishes the health and stability (or lack thereof) of the self-image which is expressed as self-esteem (or lack thereof) in the ego-personality. For a healthy psychology, knowledge of the biological, emotional, and cognitive/experiential domains is the central focus for healing, awakening, and redeeming the ego-personality in an attempt to know who we truly are and to express those revered traits, attributes, and qualities of being found in Jesus Christ.
Who Are We? (Excerpt from Perception)
For each of us, the journey through life has been a journey through consciousness, primarily because everything we experience through the nervous system and senses of the physical body is consciousness. We don’t “measure” our life experiences based on consciousness development because, in most cases, people don’t really understand consciousness; we are measured as individuals based on education, maturity, and experience. However, in this journey of life, each of our experiences becomes stored memories, and these past memories are the content of our life experience. The totality of this content forms our concept of who we are; the content of our experience is consciousness. So the conscious awareness of who we are is actually an awareness of who we were, since we are basing our self-image on past experiences. Let that sink in – we are who we were!
This means that almost everyone in the world, in reality, does not know who they really are, but instead, they only know who they were based on a concept comprised of experiences both: good and bad, painful and pleasant, joyful and frightening, harmful and beneficial, hopeful and disappointing, etc. The self-image is the “platform” from which we engage the world and the stability of this platform is determined by what kind of experiences we have had; how well we process these experiences determines what kind of experiences we are currently having. This knowledge about the functioning of consciousness in the ego-personality makes it clear that our self-image is fluid and changeable; on a daily basis our self-image changes as new experiences are encountered (See: Level 2 Meditation).
The ego-personality is a very significant part of who we “think we are” and like all things in the universe, it is comprised of consciousness; it follows the same pattern described above of identifying itself from the contents of its past experiences, so the ego-personality does not know who it is either, but only what it has experienced. The many experiences the ego has been through by the time it reaches adulthood have established a significant framework of: likes/dislikes, want/don’t want/, happy/sad, acceptable/unacceptable, plus an array of fears, anxieties, and insecurities. It is through the filter of the self-image that the ego-personality experiences life and people, so all events and individuals are evaluated based on the content of one’s life events. Since every new experience is compared to and judged from a similar past experience, it is impossible for the ego-personality to be in the present moment.
This framework of content has “armored” or conditioned the individual so he or she is able to engage and function in the fearful and unknown aspects of the world, but this protective framework also makes it very difficult to know or to be who we really are, or to experience present-time reality. Not only does this “armoring” of the self-image filter out those parts of the world we are reluctant to experience, but it also separates us from our divine Self. The goal of healing our psychology is to awaken to who we truly are by recognizing the impediments we have established in our life and removing them. We do this by modeling those revered behavioral attributes, becoming whole, and putting on the armor of Christ Light which fills us with hope, confidence, and purpose.
A study of the history and evolution of consciousness reveals how our psychological awareness has dramatically changed since the time of Christ. When people learn about Jesus and the apostles, they automatically imagine the apostles and disciples as being like we are today, but in fact, the apostles and disciples were not self-conscious in the way we are today. It took about 1500 years after the time of Christ before individual self-awareness such as we know it emerged in humanity; what we know today as ego made its first appearance in the Renaissance period. This evolution of consciousness from the time of Christ is revealed in the evolution of paintings through this period of time as outlined in the paper Perception. Consciousness has evolved since 1500 A.D. and so has our collective psychology which is revealed in the ego-personality and the world around us.
Today, many feel that we are entering the “end times” because of the extreme division, chaos and confusion we see in the political, social, racial, national, and personal perspectives. The root cause of these nebulous, fluctuating, and volatile “worldly issues” is the unstable and tenuous psychological state of the “outward-looking” ego-personality. The ego-personality is being battered as it wavers lost and alone on the “sea of complexity” because, in this world, it is unable to find its anchor – its own true identity. This is why a healthy psychology is so vitally important at this time in history because the ego will never find its own identity; it doesn’t have one! Our real identity is from the higher Self within and the ego-personality borrows a “sense of identity” from our higher spiritual nature which is why it has been referred to in ancient writings as the “counterfeit spirit.”
Here’s the main issue we are confronting today – consciousness continues to evolve and in its present condition, the ego is unable to keep up. The “outward looking” ego-personality is not capable of dealing with or calmly processing all that is happening in the world; we are at an evolutionary turning point for the ego. Unfortunately, we see the casualties “piling up” all around us primarily from psychological instability in the world: suicides, drug overdoses, senseless murders, mental illness, sexual assaults, straight-faced lies, anarchy, deep irrational hatred, personality disorders, inescapable anxiety, terrorism, and wars. Jesus taught us that we are “in the world, but not of this world.” Regrettably, those individuals who are voluntarily attachment to the world are going to “go down with the world.” (See: Wheat & Tares in
The challenge for the Disciples of Christ is to become anchored in their true (Christ) identity, and the only way to do this is “to die to who you think you are” (ego) so you can awaken to the true Self within. In other words, like Jesus showed us, we must “nail our ego-personality to the cross” and become clear, humble and selfless. We must be like Paul when he said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) A healthy and stable Christian psychology can be achieved through the knowledge and practice of meditation and the Disciples of Christ can prepare for this personal crucifixion and holy resurrection so we can LIVE and BE in the Light of Christ in this time of psychological chaos and uncertainty.