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Again in my experience, the four stages of spiritual development also represent a paradigm for healthy psychological development. We tend to be born Stage I creatures. If the home into which we are born is stable and secure, by mid childhood we have become law-abiding, rule-following people. If the home at all supports and encourages our uniqueness and independence, in adolescence we routinely question the laws, the rules, and the myths as budding skeptics. And if the natural forces of growth that lead us to question are not excessively resisted by threats of damnation from church or parents, after a while, in adulthood we slowly begin to understand the meaning and spirit that underlie the letter of the myth and the letter of the law. They may, however, be destructive forces in the home environment which causes people to become "fixated" in one stage or another. Conversely there are rare, difficult to explain cases of people who develop further and faster than would be expected. The wonderful and probably accurate book Mister God, This Is Anna, for instance, described a seven year-old girl already well into Stage IV, despite a presumably chaotic early childhood.
It is also important to remember that no matter how far we develop spiritual, we retain in ourselves vestiges of the previous stages through which we have come, just as we retain our vestigial appendix. I don't suppose I could be writing this were I not basically a kind of Stage IV person. But I can assure you that there exists a Stage I Scott Peck, who at the first sign of any significant stress is quite tempted to lie and cheat and steal. I keep him well encased, I hope, in a rather comfortable cell, so that he won't be let loose upon the world. And I am able to do this only because I acknowledge his existence, which is what Jungian psychologists mean by the "integration of the Shadow." Indeed, I do not attempt to kill him, if for no other reason than that I need to go down into the dungeon from time to time and consult him, safely ensconced behind the bars, when I am in need of a particular kind of "street smarts." Similarly, there is a Stage II Scott Peck, who in moments of stress and fatigue would very much like to have a Big Brother or Big Daddy around who would give him some clear-cut, black-and-white answers to life's difficult, ambiguous dilemmas and some formulas to tell him how to behave, relieving him of the responsibility of figuring it all out for himself And there is a Stage III Scott Peck, who if invited to address a prestigious scientific assembly, under the stress of such an occasion would want to regress to thinking. Well, I better just talk to them about carefully controlled, measurable studies and not mention any of this God business.
Aldous Huxley labeled mysticism "the perennial philosophy" because the mystical way of thinking and being has existed in all cultures and all times since the dawn of recorded history. Although a small minority, mystics of all religions the world over have demonstrated an amazing commonality, unity. Unique though they might be in their individual personhood, they have largely escaped free from -- transcended -- those human differences that are cultural.
i thought these passages were particularly good. also like the way peck says "in my experiece" over and over.
i remember in one of his other books he says something bout recognizing authentic truth and that there is usually some element of contradiction or irony about it. something like that. nice thread.
How to force yourself to believe something without any genuine justification.
-------------------- "I have no valid complaint against hustlers. No rational bitch. But the act of selling is repulsive to me. I harbor a secret urge to whack a salesman in the face, crack his teeth and put red bumps around his eyes." -Hunter S Thompson
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