You might be inspired to help people feel better. This desire might even have become what you do for a living. And, indeed, there is a role for psychology in stabilising an unstable sense of self. There are non-dual therapists and counsellors that I’d have no qualms about recommending to anyone who was swaying from joy to despair and back again.
If you are working in the field of psychology, I’d hope you give yourself the best possible grounding in it. Build your professional expertise. Understand how psychology came to be about feelings and behaviour, rather than the source of the psyche. Know, 100 percent, that you are working with a psychology. Helping people feel better is a psychological endeavour.
Sometimes, religion (belief) gets mixed into the psychology. That’s confusing, because it’s asking you to trust something that is outside experience. And, sometimes, spirituality is claimed for this activity. That can never be the case, because spirit is not personal, while psyche is. It’s brilliant if you have a sound spiritual understanding, but in the sphere of stabilising wobbly egos, it’s rarely appropriate to teach it to others.
What are the differences between psychology, religion and spirituality? Psychology is the study of the human mind and behaviour. Religion is a belief system. Spirituality is about turning from the physical to the essence of our being.
In the field of helping people to feel better, there are a gazillion-and-one approaches, techniques, strategies and practices. Not one is superior to any other. Meditating to feel better might trump using drugs, at a relative level, but at an absolute level, they are the same. Behind every technique to make a person feel better is an assumption, a belief. The belief that there is a person who is a separate being in a material world.
Beyond the stabilising of an unstable ego, as mentioned above, here’s where it gets really simple: We’ve no direct experience that we are separate beings in a material world. That belief, once examined, looks as valid as believing in Santa Claus.
If we can’t find a separate being, working to make that being feel better is a fool’s errand. Seeing this, it’s natural that the search is called off. And, as a result, who we really are takes centre stage. We still engage in the world. But we’ve nothing to prove, nothing to gain, and nowhere to get to. So, with nothing to lose, we engage more fully.
In aiming to help people feel better, if you’ve reinforced the notion that they are separate beings in a material world, you’ve pointed them away from their true self, away from liberation.
The only true help is to point someone to see who they’ve always been, who we all are. And let the rest follow. My role, therefore, isn’t helping people feel better. It is to continue pointing to the one shared being that we are.
That’s why I do what I do, write what I write, and teach what I teach. Liberation. Plain and simple.