Human Spiritual Structure: Psychological Clearing
Notes in progress © 1998-2002 Alan McAllister  

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Evolution of the Ego

The sense of I-ness is made up of the attachments and aversions of the person. These invest certain images with energy each time they come up, creating habitual pictures or actions which become samskaras. This process is manifested through the filtering of perceptions and the creation of the mental model on which the ego is based. The undoing of this process and the breaking of the samskaric habits is a main goal of many clearing methodologies. It is this level of "ego" that must be taken apart and left behind.

The failure to let go of attachments blocks the course of growth. One can become fixated on either an attachment or an aversion, which in the extreme not only inhibits growth, but becomes a neurosis, or compulsion. The early experiences of pain and pleasure are extremely intense due to the infants complete identification with the experience (the lack of an ego separate from each image in the manas, or citta). These form the model for later pains and pleasures, the prototype for later attachments and aversions. As the ego develops it tends to identify with pleasures and to suppress pains, [which will be judged by what resonates with the inbred samskaras]. Later they will be judged in part by what matches the current ego and what doesn't, even if the current state is far from ideal.

In this view it is the flow of the process, rather than the absolute level of progress that is most important. If one is not clearing attachments then they are being created, entangling the aspirant and binding them more rigidly into the ego-level that they are at. As the person grows, the ego sense of I-ness must be redefined over and over, each time releasing an attachment, and experiencing a sense of limitation and disappointment. The limitations and the attachments are all relative, so that new ones must be dealt with all along the way, becoming gradually more subtle.

In some cases this process of release and expansion fails, as the ego cannot accept the "pain" or uncertainty of giving up the attachment. This leads to anxieties (subjective stance) and fear (objective stance). However, the releasing of one ego to allow the next to be born is itself a fearful process as it inherently means stepping out into the unknown, with the future I-ness essentially unimaginable to the current I-ness. Much energy and effort has gone into the current one, and letting it go can feel dangerous. This is compounded when there are social samskaras along with the personal ones.

In this process the ego may be quite clever at mimicking growth and change, without truly giving up the old integration for a new one. There is a necessity for a real surrender of the old ego, which can be terrifying to it. In the light of discrimination each attachment must be examined and seen objectively. It can then be let go.

The constant redefining of the small self, "I am not that", eventually leads to the question "what am I?" and thence to the truth "I am That", and the Self. This is in the fullest sense the meaning of the expression that to have the material world you must give it up. At the same time that the external attachments are released, and the external sense of I is shrinking, there is an expansion of the internal I, to include more and more of the true Self. Aversions must also be released, as these also reflect a lack of true non-attachment.

The evolution of the ego is a part of the evolution of the soul. The greatest attachment is often to the life of the current body, which at times must be let go of so that a new one may be taken on. Psychologically we must all die, to be reborn, the more frequently the better.


This approach aims at bringing parts of the unconscious material in the mind into the light of consciousness and integrate it into an expanded ego. It is done through using mental associations to explore chains of thought. The patient is relaxed in order to allow the conscious mind to still and the unconscious to begin to peak through. As the thoughts arise the patient describes this flow of thoughts as they occur, and listening to her/himself strives for objectivity, neutrality, or non-judgement. This state is referred to as the "observing ego". From these free associations often starting from dream imagery, the patient and therapist attempt to piece together the underlying currents of the unconscious mind.

This methodology is time consuming, limited by the need to verbalize feelings and images which flow much faster than words. It is also limited in part by the view of the subject as a patient to be cured, rather than a soul that is evolving and growing. The process usually ends when the subject is able to function comfortably in society, when much of the mind is still unexplored. It also tends to focus on conflict between the ego and the unconscious mind and on pathology rather than wellness. Finally it has no conception of anything beyond the personal experience of the individual mind/body. Although this leads to the concept of an "observing ego" which is able to observe the workings of the normal conscious mind (ego), implying a possible hierarchy of "minds", this was never pursued, in part due to the limitations of a verbal technique for working with the non-verbal higher levels of mind.

In Jungian analysis dreams are also used, but they are seen more as carrying messages for the conscious mind, than as a starting point for free association. The focus is more on the symbolism of the dream itself, rather than what that symbolism can lead to. Instead of trying to map the personal unconscious, one seeks guiding messages from the deeper level of the collective unconscious. When these are brought to the surface and integrated into the ego the presenting problems are expected to recede.

There is an energy involved in suppressing material in the unconscious. The longer the material is suppressed or the greater the conflict with the ego's view of self, the greater the energy. When something is successfully integrated, not only is the ego larger and more balanced, but the energy involved in the suppression is released for other uses. In Yoga and Psychotherapy it is suggested that the rising kundalini is this energy released as the unconscious is cleared.

In tantra the release of samskaras is what allows the kundalini to rise, clearing the nadis which had been blocked. However, once the samskaras have been incurred, or burnt, the force behind them is dissipated, and the mind is in a relaxed state. Therefore the energy does not become the kundalini. It is more as if the energy of repression was holding the samskaras in place, holding back a natural flow of vital energy. As the blocks come out, this natural flow of prana or chi becomes stronger, which gives the impression of a conversion of one energy to the other, but is in fact the replacement of one by the other. This assumes that kundalini is not made up of the normal prana?? Gopi Krishna's account suggests that perhaps it actually is?

Standard psychoanalysis is also contrasted with the more recent development of "psychosynthesis" (e.g. R. Assagioli) who focuses more on integration and addressing the higher states of the mind.


It is in part focused on bringing the practitioner more fully into the present, with techniques to bring more awareness of the moment. It is based on the idea of constantly letting go, so that we may reintegrate in the next moment. While it helps to come into the present and to stop intellectualizing it cannot take one beyond the physical and emotional bodies, and may simply trade one form of attachment for another.

The Uses of Art

There are many uses of art in the therapeutic processes, from the verbal creation of the classical analyst to the use of pictures and dream symbols, and the more recent use of drama and dance. Here the creative process is fused with the exploration and recreation of the self. This is essentially vishudha chakra psychology.

These are all processes in which art is used to express parts of the unconscious mind, from the drawings of the autistic to the devotional creations of a Michealangelo, many levels can be accessed. In this way the conscious mind can expand, and access to the higher levels of mind can be increased.


A key component of many clearing methods, is forgiveness, of others, of ourselves, and of the universe. This is a process of releasing attachment and moving out of judgement, often best accomplished by moving to a larger, more expansive view of the issue at hand. It also is closely related to owning our own experience, acknowledging that we are co-creators of our experiences, and that these experiences are there solely for our learning and growth as manifested spirits.


A process for exploring our mental programming, what pictures are holding us back from some goal? what decisions have we made about ourselves and life that are no longer useful? This is a process for working with the subconscious mind, which tends to work in images and takes words very literally. Some basic rules for effective affirmations:

By making present time affirmative statements, and listening for the negative echos that arise in the mind we can bring up the old programing that we might want to release. Continued work with the affirmation, or work with more specific affirmations tailored to the various negative tapes, will eventually help to clear the muck and allow the release of the old program.

Is this simply replacing one `bad' program with a new `good' program, and in that sense only a stepping stone to the final goal? On the other hand, good habits may lead one to God. They are perhaps only a stepping stone, but one in the desired direction.

This is the verbal equivalent of `blowing pictures'. Too what extent do these processes cover the same ground?


Under hypnosis many mental functions can be altered, including the alertness of the subject, sensitivity to temperature or pain, and the efficiency of memory. Many memories not usually available to the conscious mind can be brought up under hypnosis. The subject can also control body functions, such as blood flow and temperature.

It has been found that the reduction in pain is due to suppressing its awareness, rather than a reduction in the physiological responses. It has been used to cure warts (though not all patients respond), as has more conscious forms of suggestion. Also to induce breasts to enlarge, and can affect the appearance or suppression of reactions to rash inducing plants etc. [HB]

This power of words, thoughts, and beliefs to affect the body and its functions lies behind the use of affirmations, and is probably the root of much chronic disease.

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Created March, 1998.
Last updated April 19, 1998.
© Alan McAllister

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