Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice - Place of Religion
2. THE PROCESS OF PSYCHOTHERAPY
II. The Place of Religion in Psychotherapy
Paragraph 1. “To be a teacher of God, it is not necessary to be religious or even to believe in God to any recognizable extent. It is necessary, however, to teach forgiveness rather than condemnation.” (P-2.II.1:1-2) And even in this, it is not necessary to be completely consistent in forgiving only, because if the teacher of God had reached this point of perfection, he could then teach salvation completely in an instant without a gesture and without a word.
The Course tells us “as you teach, so shall you learn.” The teachers of God teach in order to help others, and in order to help themselves. Anyone who has prepared a class lesson, or taken an assignment to help someone, knows the value of teaching and helping. The teacher/helper learns as much or more than those whom he teaches/helps. So being “truly helpful” is not a selfless task, nor is it a selfish task, but it is both. Patient and therapist are healed together. This is the formula for salvation. Relationships are the “temple of the Holy Spirit.” “They will be made perfect in time and restored to eternity.” (P-2.II.1:5) Time and this world are the schools of learning. Both will be gone when learning is complete.
He who has learned all things does not need a teacher. Yet who among us has reached that lofty state of “knowing”? And the healed have no need of a therapist. Yet who among us is already completely healed? So we undertake to teach and to be taught, to heal and to be healed. “I will be healed, as I let Him teach me to heal.” (“Helper’s Prayer” T-2.V.A.18.6)
Paragraph 2. “Formal religion has no place in psychotherapy, but it also has no real place in religion.” (P-2.II.2:1) In this world, there is an astonishing tendency to join contradictory words into one term without perceiving the contradiction at all. As to the definition of “formal religion,” it is religion (an inner experience of awakening to the remembrance of God) that places great emphasis on adherence to strictly prescribed outer forms. Yet “form” is of the ego; spirit is of God. Therefore “formal religion” is an oxymoron, or an attempt by the ego to reconcile the irreconcilable.
Religion is experience; psychotherapy is experience. At the highest levels they become one. Neither religion nor psychotherapy is the truth, but both can lead to the truth. What is necessary to finding the truth is but one thing: to remove the obstacles to true awareness. Both religion and psychotherapy are aids in this endeavor. A psychotherapist who knows the Course is an excellent choice for aid!
Paragraph 3. “No one who learns to forgive can fail to remember God.” (P-2.II.3:1) What a promise is contained in this line from the Psychotherapy booklet! It implies that if you believe in God without forgiving, you will never find him. Yet if you truly forgive, you will automatically find Him whether you believe in Him or not. So belief in God is not necessary; but forgiveness is necessary.
“All blocks to the remembrance of God are forms of unforgiveness, and nothing else.” (P-2.II.3:3) This is never apparent to the patient, and is only rarely apparent to the therapist. The world has marshalled all its forces (ego) against this one awareness, for in it lies the end of the world (ego) and all it stand for. What does the world stand for? The separation of God and His Son, Who is His creation. Yet an idea never leaves its source. You are an idea of God. Therefore you and God cannot be separate. Yet unforgiveness acts as a blockage to this truth. Psychotherapy assists in the removal of the blockage. A Course psychotherapy class may be the next best thing to actually receiving psychotherapy from a Course therapist.
Paragraph 4. “Where there is forgiveness, truth must come.” (P-2.II.4:2) Awareness of God will come when all blocks to truth have been removed, when the process of psychotherapy is complete. Once this has occurred, the memory of God will return of its own accord. It would be unfair indeed if belief in God were necessary for psychotherapeutic success. This would imply that anyone who has never heard of God is doomed to be separate from His Creator forever. This would hardly be fair, and God is certainly fair! Actually, God can only be known or remembered, and when psychotherapy is complete, He will be both. Until then, it is not even necessary to mention the name of God. It is necessary only to forgive and thereby remove the blockages to the truth to reveal Him. Revelation is not of the teacher. Revelation is of God.
Paragraph 5. The form of learning forgiveness is not important. Individual needs differ. Some find it easier to learn forgiveness through psychotherapy; some find it easier to learn it through religion. The form is not important, it is the joining of purpose between therapist and patient, teacher and student, or even pastor and parishioner that is relevant. If they share the same goal – truth – God will enter into their relationship, because the joining is the invitation for Him to enter. This restores God to the place of ascendance, first through Christ’s vision and then through the return of the memory of God Himself.
“The process of psychotherapy is the return to sanity.” (P-2.II.5:5) Teacher and pupil, therapist and patient, are all insane or they would not be here. The world is prone to think of finding God as an individual matter. Yet in the booklet, Jesus says: “Together they (therapist and patient, teacher and student, pastor and parishioner) can find a pathway out, for no one will find sanity alone.” (T-2.II.5:7) Yet is this really a surprise, when “relationships are “the temple of the Holy Spirit” and the Holy Spirit is the “idea of healing”? Put those two ideas together and heal through relationships.
Paragraph 6. “If healing is an invitation to God to enter into His Kingdom, what difference does it make how the invitation is issued?” (P-2.II.6:1) Does it matter if the invitation is hand written, delivered by thought, or in prayer? Or is it the intent of the one issuing the invitation that matters? God comes to those who would restore His Kingdom on earth. These are the ones who have found the way to call to Him. If any two are joined in this, He hears them and He is there. Sharing the same goal, the same holy purpose, uniting truly in a joint endeavor – this is a goal that is blessed by Christ. “If any two are joined, He must be there.” So to succeed, join with a brother. Fragmentation will never succeed; only oneness, only wholeness.
Paragraph 7. “No good teacher uses one approach to every pupil.” (P-2.II.7:2) It is important to listen patiently to each pupil, as each one will state what he needs, even without being aware that is what he is doing. Through purposeful listening you learn what avenues are acceptable to him, what methods are within his reach. This way the therapy is adapted very specifically to the need of each one, in a way that will be both appealing and attainable. Thus they can succeed where many others have failed.
Paragraph 8. To insure learning, to bring about healing, each one must share one goal with someone else, and in so doing, lose all sense of separate interests. To truly relate to another without thinking of personal gain, is the only way to heal. Otherwise, the ego is in the midst, and the goal becomes of self, rather than Self. Begin by accepting the Atonement (the undoing of error through miracles of forgiveness), and learn to give it as it was received.
Paragraph 9. “Communion is impossible alone. No one who stands apart can receive Christ’s vision.” (P-2.II.9:1-2) If he stands still, and sees his brother’s need as his own, that they are one, he can then receive Christ’s vision, and share it with his brother. The only way to get home is to meet a brother’s need, and see our own need being met in the process. Only in this way will we discover that we are not separate entities. Oneness must be understood at a basic level, and then we will rise to the idea of Oneness. The eons of separateness must fall away from the resistant* mind. Join in purpose, in goal and in holiness with your brothers, and see that what must be one in purpose, must also be one in means. The purpose is Oneness and the means is forgiveness. Let go of all anger and attack, and recognize that you are truly saved. AMEN
*Resistance – ego’s way of looking at things, its faulty interpretation of progress and growth.