The metaphor of Indra’s Web works for both cosmos and psyche. Our inner, imaginal worlds, and the external world are, when healthy, unimaginably rich in complexity and diversity. This post focuses on the inner world of mind.
I have recently written about an initiation. Initiation: On Being Introduced to the Spirits. The initiation took place on a hill in Hinesburg, Vermont. Up on that hill, I began to wonder whether maybe the world was more complex than I had thought. Apparently, the storm wanted some relationship with me. On the hill were us people, the spirits, and the storm, and we were all interacting with each other. Over the years I have learned that the inner world is similar to the outer one. Both are composed of innumerable interacting agents, each with a point of view and an agenda. These “beings” form rich ecosystems of the mind and planet.
Psychoanalysts call these agents “parts”, “personalities”, or “alters,” and imagine them to be objects, constructed by the mind in response to life experiences. They also understood some to have been introduced into the mind from outside, and labeled those, “Introjects.” (I briefly discussed Introjects in an earlier post about Intrusions.) Intrusions, Trauma, and Healing. Psychoanalysts named theories created to explain the relationships between inner agents, “Object Relations Theories.” Additionally, some therapists recognized that these agents acted in ways reminiscent of patients’ families of origin, and called their work “Internal Family Systems Therapy.”
Psychologies seek to bring relative peace and harmony to the landscapes of mind. Shamanism suggests that we humans are called to seek harmony, to create inner balance, and to maintain a mutually respectful relationships to both the inner and outer worlds. As human beings, we are invited to experience and respect all manner of weathers, agents, and events, within and without. In doing so, we learn that our lives will hold joy and sorrow, pain and ecstasy. We hope to accept whatever comes as a gift from the Creator, even as we may work to change the world as it is presently is.
Ideally, our lives are a dialog between inner and outer, self and other. In living, we often find ourselves preferring one experience over another. When this preference becomes too great, we lose our place in the world, our balance.
The process of restoring damaged ecosystems is usually a patient, complex, multi-staged task. In ecological restoration, we must first address the most urgent issues, then aid Mother Earth in rebuilding the web of relationships that comprise a working ecosystem. Reflecting the outside world, which is our evolutionary home, the mind and spirit may need multiple levels of healing in order to once again come into balance. Again, we address the most urgent needs, then seek to create the conditions which will bring long-term happiness and balance. Psychological approaches to restoring inner balance can be remarkably effective. So, too, can ritual, ceremony, and energy work. Often, the combination brings deep healing, and restores harmony.