The Inner and Outer Human Being

216
Views

“[T]he vyakti, the outer self, is but a shadow of the vyakta, the inner self.” 1[1]Śrī Nisargadatta Maharaj, “In the Supreme the Witness Appears,” in I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, trans. Maurice Frydman, ed. Sudhakar S.Dikshit (Durham, NC: Acorn Press, … Continue reading

– Nisargadatta Maharaj

“[T]he Heavenly is on the inside, the human is on the outside.” 2[2]Zhūangzi, “Autumn Floods,” in Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings, trans. Burton Watson
(New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1996), p. 104.

– Zhūangzi

“[T]hough our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”3[3]Ibn ‘Arabī, “The Wisdom of Exaltation in the Word of Noah,” in The Bezels of Wisdom, trans. R.W.J. Austin (New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1980), p. 73.

– 2 Corinthians 4:1

In earlier eras when human collectivities were more anchored in their spiritual traditions, the social ambiance of the outer world reflected the sacred, and permeated the culture which nurtured and sustained the integrity of a person. In such an environment, both the horizontal and vertical dimensions of reality supported the fullness of human beings. With the loss of a sense of the sacred on a global scale, our outer dimension has gradually become eclipsed and no longer reflects the Divine. This has inevitably led to the obscuration of our inner dimension, causing the fragmentation we now see mirrored in the current global mental health pandemic, and topsy-turvy state of the world. In our day, it is the outward which dominates the inward, which is an inversion of the traditional norm. Our true purpose, then, is to
live in accordance with the sacred and to better integrate our outward and inward dimensions. In fact, a flourishing society depends on the human psyche remaining stable: “The state of the outer world does not merely correspond to the general state of men’s souls; it also in a sense depends on that state.”4[4]Abū Bakr Sirāj ad-Dīn, “The Lore of Certainty,” in The Book of Certainty: The Sufi Doctrines of Faith, Vision and Gnosis (Cambridge, UK: Islamic Texts Society, 1996), p. 21.
Among the spiritual traditions of the world, we find unanimous agreement that the tripartite constitution of the person and that of the cosmos  of which we are but a mirror  comprises Spirit, soul, and body; or the spiritual, psychic, and corporeal states. The dominance of the unseen world proclaimed by the spiritual traditions (and their corresponding psychologies) was gradually overthrown and replaced by the more tangible demands of the sensorial world and its empirical modes of knowing, represented by the modern West’s culture of materialism.
Persian poet and scholar Jāmī (1414–1492) underscores this fact as follows: “Therefore the universe is the outward visible expression of the Real, and the Real is the inner unseen reality of the universe.”5[5]Jāmī, quoted in Reynold A. Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam (London, UK: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975), p. 82 . In relying on a purely empirical approach, mainstream psychology along with its mental health treatments fails to recognise that it is through the visible world of forms that we can glimpse the unseen realities of the Divine. This reduction of reality to evidenced-informed ways of knowing, radically limits the scope of psychology to provide true healing.

 The Perils of Reductionism                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

If, according to many of our contemporaries, we cannot identify the human soul or the transcendent Spirit by empirical means, then this must mean that they do not exist. A prime example of this flawed outlook is evidenced in this observation: “If your belief conflicts with empirically confirmed knowledge, then you are not seeking
meaning; you are delusional.”6[6]Sabine Hossenfelder, “A Warning,” in Existential Physics: A Scientist’s Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions (New York, NY: Viking, 2022), p. xvii. What this myopic position fails to recognise is that there are distinct levels of knowledge and modes of being.
What may be self-evident at one level is not so on a higher one, for lower levels cannot encompass what lies beyond them; only the higher can know the lower. While the reductionist position ostensibly shuns metaphysics, embedded in its argument is a hidden metaphysic of its own; one that implicitly attacks any suggestion of a reality that transcends the psycho-physical order. In doing so, it has transgressed its own conceptual assumptions.
With the emergence of the European Enlightenment, psychology lost its ability to fully discern the transpersonal aspect of reality, which alone can unify all dimensions of a human being in harmony with the environment. This has been the root cause of many presentday calamities. Theodore Roszak (1933–2011) remarked that a
fundamental insight emerged “at the birth of modern science. Our knowledge of nature Out There begins with knowledge of ourselves In Here. Until we [are] freed … of the hidden presuppositions that stand between us and the world, we can never be certain we are in touch with reality.”7(Theodore Roszak, “Afterword: The Idols of the Bedchamber,” in The Gendered Atom: Reflections on the Sexual Psychology of Science (Berkeley, CA: Conari Press, 1999), p. 154.))

The Divide Between Psyche and Cosmos

This debilitating secularism has fundamentally marginalised the inner dimension of the person. This is evident in the following description provided by American psychologist James Hillman (1926–2011): “There is only one core issue for all [modern] psychology. Where is the ‘me’? Where does the ‘me’ begin? Where does the ‘me’ stop? Where does the ‘other’ begin?” 8[7]James Hillman, “A Psyche the Size of the Earth: A Psychological Foreword,” in Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind, eds. Theodore Roszak, Mary E. Gomes, and Allen D. Kanner (San … Continue reading The split between “in-here” and “out-there” is ultimately a play of appearances due to the superimposition of the ego on a limited  comprehension of what is reality. However, according to a traditional understanding, this bifurcation is not problematic when discerned through the transpersonal faculty of the Intellect or “eye of the heart,” which confirms the distinction between the inner and outer human being  a fact acknowledged unanimously, in all times and places, by the spiritual patrimony of humanity.                                                  The mind-body dualism attributed to René Descartes (1596–1650), is embedded in the ontological and epistemological presuppositions of mainstream psychology. This has led to inevitable consequences for how we envisage the human condition and, indeed, reality itself. Cartesian dualism  the exclusive division of the world into res extensa (extended entities) and res cogitans (thinking entities)  reduces all experience to the private and subjective realm, thus denying the demands of objective reality.
As the Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing (1927–1989) points out, this dichotomy becomes evident in the therapeutic process itself, seeing as many individuals “have come to experience themselves as primarily split into a mind and a body. Usually they feel most closely identified with the ‘mind.’”9[8]R.D. Laing, “The Embodied and Unembodied Self,” in The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1976), p. 65. French metaphysician René Guénon (1886–1951) speaks to how extensively this fundamental scission has permeated today’s intellectual climate: “The Cartesian duality … has imposed itself on all modern Western thought.”10[9]René Guénon, “Spiritus, Anima, Corpus,” in The Great Triad, trans. Henry D. Fohr, ed. Samuel D. Fohr (Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perennis, 2004), p. 68. “Cartesian bifurcation created a dualism … Continue reading
The distinction between the inner and outer facets of our nature is evident in the very foundations of modern psychology. Swiss psychiatrist Ludwig Binswanger (1881–1966) offered an acute criticism of the fragmented mentality that underlies the modern form of this discipline: “The cancer of all [modern] psychology up to now
[is] … the cancer of the doctrine of subject-object cleavage of the world.”11[10]Ludwig Binswanger, quoted in Existence: A New Dimension in Psychiatry and Psychology, eds. Rollo May, Ernest Angel, and Henri F. Ellenberger (New York, NY: Basic Books, 1958), p. 11. This is exemplified in its two pillars of behaviourism and psychoanalysis. Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) observed: “Ego appears to us as something autonomous and unitary, marked off distinctly from everything else”12[11]Sigmund Freud, “Chapter One,” in Civilization and Its Discontents, trans. and ed. James Strachey (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1989), p. 12. and, elsewhere, he remarks on the “boundary lines between the ego and the external world.” 13[12] Sigmund Freud, “Chapter One,” in Civilization and Its Discontents, trans. and ed. James Strachey (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1989), p. 13.
John B. Watson (1878–1958) took a more extreme position: “No one has ever touched a soul, or seen one in a test tube, or has in any way come into relationship with it as he has with the other objects of his daily experience.”14[13]John B. Watson, “What is Behaviorism? The Old and New Psychology Contrasted,” in Behaviorism (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1970), p. 3. B.F. Skinner (1904–1990) calls for the eradication of our internal dimension altogether: “It is … inner man who is abolished, and that is a step forward.”15[14]B.F. Skinner, “What Is Man?,” in Beyond Freedom and Dignity (New York, NY: Bantam, 1972), p. 205. He continues by reducing the human being exclusively to its corporeal or physical order:
The picture which emerges from a scientific analysis is not of a body with a person inside, but of a body which is a person in the sense that it displays a complex repertoire of behavior…. What is being abolished is autonomous man the inner man, the homunculus, the possessing demon, the man defended by
the literatures of freedom and dignity. His abolition has long been overdue…. Science does not dehumanize man, it dehomunculizes him. 16[15]B.F. Skinner, “What Is Man?,” in Beyond Freedom and Dignity (New York, NY: Bantam, 1972), pp. 190–191.
It cannot be stressed enough that unless this disjunction is overcome, there cannot be a true “science of the soul.” We need to examine the causes that have led to this dire predicament, as Victor Danner (1926–1990) notes: “One thing is certain: the modern world has generated a permanent separation between man’s inner and outer
nature. ”17[16]Victor Danner, “The Inner and Outer man,” in Traditional Modes of Contemplation and Action: A Colloquium held at Rothko Chapel Houston Texas, eds. Yusuf Ibish and Peter Lamborn Wilson (Tehran: … Continue reading                                                                                                                  Furthermore, modern philosophy goes as far as denying the interior life altogether, as the well-known words of Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908–1961) reinforce: “There is no inner man.”18[17]Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “Preface,” to Phenomenology of Perception (London, UK: Routledge, 1962), p. xi. As a response to this reductionist perspective, we turn to a paragon of Islamic spirituality, Rūmī (1207–1273), who writes: “For the common people are not able to see the inward they only see the outward”;19[18]Rūmī, quoted in William C. Chittick, The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1983), p. 161. and further adds: “The body is outward, the spirit hidden.”20[19]Rūmī, quoted in William C. Chittick, The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings
of Rumi (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1983), p. 41.
This vision reflects the metaphysical levels of existence, and the corresponding ways of
knowing reality.

The Two Natures of a Person

In stark contrast, Duo sunt in homine (“There are two [natures] in man”)21[20]St. Thomas Aquinas, Question 26, Fourth Article, Summa Theologica, Part II (Second Part), First Number, QQ. I—XLVI, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (London, UK: R. & T. … Continue readingwas an axiom in the West  prior to the emergence of the Renaissance  which recognised an inner and outer aspect to our being. Plato (429–347) also acknowledges this doctrine of the two natures within us: “[When] there are two opposite impulses in a man at the same time about the same thing, we say that there must … be two [natures] … in him.”22 [21]Plato, Republic 10.604b, The Collected Dialogues of Plato, eds. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980), p. 829.All religions take for granted that we are one essence that comprises two natures; an outward form connected to the psycho-physical, and an inward dimension, being our spiritual constitution. Kurt Almqvist (1912–2001) writes:

One of the most important themes in religion the most importantis the confrontation between the two “selves” in man: the inner, which partakes of God’s unconditional, infinite nature and is identical with his “kingdom”, and the outer self, or human personality with a certain name. It is the intersection of these two dimensions that comprises the religious life. One sees man horizontally from the earthly side; the other vertically as a vehicle of divinity. The crossing point may be multiplicated both horizontally and vertically, making a cosmic web formed in one direction of layered worlds or conditions and, in the other, of the beings embodied in them horizontal and vertical, woof and warp.23[22] Kurt Almqvist, “Every Branch in Me,” Studies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 15, Nos. 3 & 4 (Summer/Autumn 1983), p. 194.

Throughout the traditional cultures of the world, it is recognised that “your outward is the analogy of your inward”24[23]Rūmī, quoted in William C. Chittick, The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1983), p. 276.  these two natures unified in the transpersonal Self.
The diverse religions all express the immanence of this transpersonal dimension found in human beings: “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21), “I am the Self … seated in the heart of all beings”25[24]Bhagavad Gītā 10:20, The Bhagavad-Gītā with the Commentary of Śrī Śankarachāryā, trans. Alladi Mahadeva Sastri (Madras: V. Ramaswamy Sastrulu & Sons, 1961), p. 241. (Bhagavad Gītā 10:20), or “The heavens and the earth cannot contain Me, but the heart of my believing servant does contain Me” (ḥadīth qudsī). It is through the primacy of the ‘vertical’dimension that immanence  or the horizontal dimension  is possible.
Isaac the Syrian (c. 613–c. 700) gives a compelling description of our inner treasure-house and its connection to the celestial treasure-house that transcends each person:
Be zealous to enter the treasury within thee; then thou wilt see that which is in heaven. For the former and the latter are one, and entering thou wilt see both. The ladder unto the Kingdom is hidden within thee and within thy soul. Dive into thyself [freed] from sin; there thou wilt find steps along which thou canst ascend.26[25]Isaac the Syrian, “The Six Treatises on the Behaviour of Excellence,” in Mystic Treatises by Isaac of Nineveh, trans. A.J. Wensinck (Amsterdam: Koninklijke Akademie van Wettenschappen, 1923), p. … Continue reading

Spiritual Health as Wholeness
Our theomorphic essence is unconditioned and unaffected by the activities of the world: “Everything a man does in the lower part of active life is necessarily exterior to him, so to speak, beneath him.”27[26]The Cloud of Unknowing and Other Works, trans. Clifton Wolters (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1978), p. 72. This was expressed slightly differently by the great art historian Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1877–1947): “Our Inner Man is in the world but not of it, in us but not of us, our Outer Man both in the world and of it.”28[27]Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, “On the Indian and Traditional Psychology, or Rather Pneumatology,” in Coomaraswamy, Vol. 2, Selected Papers: Metaphysics, ed. Roger Lipsey (Princeton, NJ: Princeton … Continue reading Mainstream psychology exclusively focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of the outer human being, unaware that its materialistic science excludes, perforce, the “inward man” (Romans 7:22), and thus has no framework by which to bridge the traditional doctrine of our two natures.
According to Frithjof Schuon (1907–1998), “It is necessary to make a distinction in the human being between the outer and inner man: the former is turned toward the outward and lives in the ‘accidental’; the latter looks inward and lives on Substance.”29[28]Frithjof Schuon, “The Argument Founded on Substance,” in Logic and
Transcendence, trans. Peter N. Townsend (London, UK: Perennial Books, 1984),p. 82.
Similarly, Buddhist writer Marco Pallis (1895–1989) observes: “As between the outer and inner man, only the latter is the Man (the image of God), the outer man being the ‘shadow’ or ‘vehicle’ or ‘house’ or ‘garment’ of the inner, just as the world is the Lord’s ‘garment.’”30[29]Marco Pallis, “Do Clothes Make the Man?,” in The Way and the Mountain: Tibet, Buddhism, and Tradition, ed. Joseph A. Fitzgerald (Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2008), p. 153. Martin Lings (1909–2005) remarked that “The perfect balance of the primordial soul depends on the harmonious union of the domains of inner and outer man.”31[30]Martin Lings, “The Heart,” in What is Sufism? (Berkeley, CA: University of
California Press, 1975), p. 54.
This distinction was understood by the traditional world, yet it has been forgotten, if not altogether subverted, by our contemporaries: “The Inner Man, who in traditional terms is considered as a spiritual being, endowed with mind and body, is thus reduced to the Outer Man.”32[31]M. Ali Lakhani, “The Black Mole on the Cheek of the Beloved: The Problem of Metaphysical Ambiguity,” Sacred Web: A Journal of Tradition and Modernity, Vol. 26 (Winter 2010), p. 12.
In the Hindu tradition, also known as sanātana dharma (eternal religion), there are several texts that speak of the “two birds who dwell on the same tree” (Muṇḍaka Upanishad 3:1:1; Shvetāshvatara Upanishad 4:6). One oft-quoted passage is the following: “Two birds, inseparably united companions, dwell in the same tree; the one eats the fruit while the other looks on without eating” (Muṇḍaka Upanishad 3:1:1). These birds illustrate the nature of the human being: one of them eats the fruit of the tree, meaning that it engages in the world of phenomena, while the other looks on without eating witnessing the transitory nature of all things with equanimity. This describes the distinction between the corporeal and spiritual nature that exists in all of us, and presents a fully integrated understanding of the person.
The great Dominican mystic Meister Eckhart (1260–1328) exhorts us to “harmonise [the] inner and … outer man.”33[32]Meister Eckhart, “Tractates 18: Commentary on the Gospel of St. John,” in Meister Eckhart, trans. C. De B. Evans, ed. Franz Pfeiffer (London, UK: John M. Watkins, 1924), p. 403. He observes: In every man there are two kinds of man: One is called the outer man, which is our sensuality, with the five senses serving him, and yet the outer man works through the power of the soul. The second man is called the inner man, which is the man’s inwardness. Now you should know that a spiritual man who loves God makes no use in his outer man of the soul’s powers except when the five senses require it; and his inwardness pays no heed to the five senses, except as this leads and guides them, and protects them, so that they are not employed for beastly purposes, as they are by some people who live for their carnal delight, as beasts lacking reason do. Such people deserve to be
called beasts rather than men.34[33]Meister Eckhart, “On Detachment,” in The Essential Sermons, Commentaries, Treatises, and Defense, trans. Edmund Colledge and Bernard McGinn (New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1981), p. 290.

The renowned Sufi al-Ḥallāj (858–922) tells us that “We are two spirits dwelling in one body”35[34]Manṣūr al-Ḥallāj, quoted in Reynold A. Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam (London, UK: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975), p. 151.and Ḥāfiẓ (c. 1315–1390) writes: “Look not at the outward poverty of Ḥāfiẓ, for his inner self is a treasurehouse of the Divine love.”36[35]Ḥāfiẓ, quoted in Margaret Smith, Readings from the Mystics of Islam (London,UK: Luzac and Company, 1950), p. 115.
Plotinus (c. 205–270) asserts that, because we lack discernment, our lives are driven by the outward: “[U]ndisciplined in discernment of the inward, knowing nothing of it, run after the outer, neverunderstanding that it is the inner which stirs us; we are in the case of one who sees his own reflection but not realising whence it comes,
goes in pursuit of it.”37[36]Plotinus, Enneads 5.8.2, The Enneads, trans. Stephen MacKenna (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1991), p. 412. The spiritual traditions teach that there is a part of us that is always firmly rooted in divine reality. The dimension of ourselves that is caught in dysfunctional patterns, or addictive tendencies, can never compromise our primordial nature. Whatever transpires outwardly, it can never destroy the inward, as Johannes Tauler (c. 1300–1361) explains: “Even though thy outward man grieve, or weep … thy inner man remain[s] at peace.”38[37]Johannes Tauler, “From the Second Sermon for the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity,” in Selections from the Life and Sermons of the Reverend Doctor John Tauler, trans.Susanna Winkworth (Boston, MA: … Continue reading
According to Zhūangzi (Chuang Tzu, c. 369–c. 286), “by [the] cultivation of the inner man there is no failure in Tao.”39[38]Zhūangzi, “On Declining Power,” in Chuang Tzu: Mystic, Moralist, and Social Reformer, trans. Herbert A. Giles (London, UK: Bernard Quaritch, 1889), p. 381. Likwise, Jakob Böhme (1575–1624) notes: “As the power of the inner man over the outer man increases, the former changes the qualities of the latter.”40[39]Jakob Böhme, quoted in Franz Hartmann, The Life and Doctrines of Jacob Boehme: The God-Taught Philosopher (Boston, MA: Occult Publishing Company, 1891), p. 280. An integral psychology informed by metaphysics and a sacred science recognises two distinct dimensions of human identity: one relative or horizontal, and the other Absolute or vertical (while never blurring or confusing the two). In order to understand the fullness of what it means to be human, Paracelsus (1493–1541) points out that “If we would know the inner nature of man by his outer nature,”41[40]Paracelsus, “Arts, a Gift of God,” in Paracelsus: Selected Writings, trans. Norbert Guterman, ed. Jolande Jacobi (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988), p. 133. a properly ordered metaphysical framework is required.
Every ‘science of the soul’ provides spiritual teachings and methods to integrate our inner and outer selves. Again, in our true identity as the primordial nature (fiṭrah), the “image of God” (imago Dei), Buddhanature (Buddha-dhātu), or the Self (Ātmā), we are the eternal witness that does not partake in the activities of the temporal world. No matter how many transgressions we may incur in this life, it must never be forgotten that our primordial nature can never be lost or destroyed, as it contains within itself the transpersonal human archetype. It is our essential identity in the Divine that prevents our fallen or saṃsāric state from becoming absolute or terminal.
The obscuration of the Intellect or “eye of the heart” has distorted our vision of reality, which inevitably leads to innumerable problems and immense suffering: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). Because of this, our noetic faculty is reduced to a one-dimensional or tunnel-like vision, which makes us forget who we truly are, and what our relationship should be with all that is. It is only the perspective of the outward that denies the inward, and not the other way around: “Who is it then who is calling it ‘nothing’? Our outer self, to be sure, not our inner. Our inner self calls it ‘All.’”42[41]Chapter 68, The Cloud of Unknowing and Other Works, trans. Clifton Wolters (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1978), p. 143. The limited scope of our vision has been described in the following manner: “They know only an outward appearance of this lower life” (Qur’ān 30:7). This ubiquitous darkening of the “eye of the heart,” coupled with an exclusive reliance on reason alone, has caused us to see only the outward at the expense of the inward.
A central tenet of any “science of the soul” is affirmed by the Sufi Abū Naṣr as-Sarrāj (d. 378/988): “The outward cannot get by independent of the inward.”43[42]Sarrāj, quoted in Knowledge of God in Classical Sufism: Foundations of Islamic Mystical Theology, trans. John Renard (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2004), p. 83. Without the inner self to ground the outer, we become diffused into our environment without orientation. Zhūangzi admonishes that “you let outside considerations weigh on
your mind. He who looks too hard on the outside gets clumsy on the inside.” 44[43]Zhūangzi, “Mastering Life,” in Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings, trans. Burton Watson
(New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1996), p. 122.

Philip Sherrard (1922–1995) explains: “The higher or spiritual consciousness perceives and experiences things as they are in themselves, inner and outer, spiritual and material, metaphysical and physical interpenetrating and forming a single unsundered and unsunderable reality.”45[44]Philip Sherrard, “Introduction,” to Human Image: World Image: The Death and Resurrection of Sacred Cosmology (Limni, Evia, Greece: Denise Harvey, 2004) p. 8. Through the transpersonal order, human beings can obtain a lasting equilibrium, because the body and soul are contingent on what surpasses them. For this reason, only what transcends the psycho-physical order can bring balance to the physical body and its human soul.

The True Self
We cannot overlook the complexity involved in understanding and healing the human psyche. As the soul is inseparable from the spiritual dimension of existence, treating it requires knowledge of humanity’s spiritual traditions. This is something that modern Western psychology does not appear to comprehend. Each person consists of Spirit, soul, and body, and has an inner and outer facet; the inward is linked to the spiritual dimension, and the outward to the psycho-physical order.
Neither of these dimensions can be ignored without causing grave harm to our equilibrium.
References to the three-fold constitution of human beings can be found in St. Paul’s first epistle to the Thessalonians: “May the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). This tripartite structure of Spirit/Intellect, soul and body is known in Latin as Spiritus/Intellectus, anima, and corpus; in Greek as Pneuma/Nous, psyche, and soma; and in Arabic as Rūḥ/‘Aql, nafs, and jism.
The soul is a mystery; it is immersed in time while also being rooted in the timeless. The human body participates in time and space, whereas the Spirit transcends both. The human psyche belongs to the intermediary realm between body and Spirit, but partakes of both dimensions. The spiritual traditions all attest that the intermediary realm of the person is of Divine origin. We see this, for example, in the Islamic tradition  the “Lord who created you from a single soul” (Qur’ān 4:1). Muslim philosopher, Mullā Ṣadrā (1572–1640) points out that “The soul is the junction of the two seas ([Qur’ān] 18:59) of corporeal and spiritual things.”46[45]Mulla Sadra, “Principle (concerning the soul as ‘spiritual body’),” in The Wisdom of the Throne: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mulla Sadra, trans. James Winston Morris (Princeton, NJ: … Continue reading That the heart-intellect is the centre of the human psyche is taught by Eckhart: “There is something in the soul that is uncreated and uncreatable … [and] this is the intellect.” 47[46]Meister Eckhart, quoted in The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart, trans.
and ed. Maurice O’C Walshe (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing Company, 2009), p. 28.

Additionally, he informs us that “At the highest point of his … soul, man is more God than creature.” 48[47]Meister Eckhart, “Tractates 3: The Rank and Nature of the Soul,” in Meister Eckhart, trans. C. De B. Evans, ed. Franz Pfeiffer (London, UK: John M. Watkins, 1924), p. 290.
The purification of the soul (tazkiyat al-nafs) is of utmost importance, as we are reminded: “Surely the soul commands to evil, save whom my Lord may show mercy” (Qurʼān 12:53). Within the mystical dimension of Islam or Sufism, there are four degrees of the human psyche: ascending from the animal soul (an-nafsal-ḥaywāniyah), the passional soul (an-nafs al-ammārah or “soul that incites” to evil), the discerning or intelligent soul (an-nafs allawwāmah or “soul that blames”), and the intellective soul (an-nafs al-muṭma’innah or “the soul at peace,” the human psyche reintegrated in Spirit or Rūḥ).
In the Hindu tradition, the Spirit (Purusha) or Self (Ātmā) manifests as the individual soul (jīvātmā), which is enveloped by five sheaths (koshas). The Spirit transcends each of these yet includes them at the same time. They are listed here in descending order, from the highest to the denser, or from the innermost to the outermost. The
first envelope (ānandamaya-kosha) is the Spirit, the next three (vijñānamaya-kosha, manomaya-kosha, and prānamaya-kosha) pertain to the intermediary realm, and the final one (annamaya-kosha) corresponds to the corporeal. The Sage of Arunachala, Śrī Ramana Maharshi (1879–1950), offers the following pithy insight from a nondual perspective: “In fact there is no inside or outside for the Self.”49[48]Śrī Ramana Maharshi, “Talk 13b—January 7th, 1935,” in Talks with Sri Ramana
Maharshi (Tiruvannamalai, India: Sri Ramanasramam, 1996), p. 5.
In Buddhism, each of us is said to consist of five psycho-physical aggregates or “heaps” known as khandhas (Pāli; Sanskrit: skandhas):
(1) form (Pāli/Sanskrit: rūpa); (2) sensation or feeling (Pāli/Sanskrit: vedanā); (3) perception (Pāli: saññā; Sanskrit: saṃjñā); (4) mental formations (Pāli: saṅkhāras; Sanskrit: saṃskāras); and (5) consciousness (Pāli: viññāṇa; Sanskrit: vijñāna). However, the existence of these aggregates does not preclude the existence of an abiding Self (Pāli: Attā; Sanskrit: Ātman) that is not bound to birth, old age, sickness, and death. The Buddha does not take issue with the Hindu understanding of the Self as neti, neti (“not this, not that”) which, by means of negation, conveys an apophatic understanding that eliminates all determinate conceptions, leaving only the consciousness of that which is  the Self alone; all that is not this, can be considered ‘non-Self’ (anattā).

Mending the Fissures
If we are going to authentically address the harm caused by the Cartesian mind-body dualism that continues to handicap modern Western psychology, the discipline needs to return to its rightful foundations in metaphysics, sacred science, and spiritual principles. The demarcations of inside and outside correspond to the centre and
the circumference, as well as to the vertical and horizontal among all levels of reality and modes of knowing. We recall the Qur’ānic verse:
“He is the First and the Last, the Outward and the Inward” (57:3). Ultimately all distinctions are unified in the Ultimate Reality or the Absolute. Paracelsus explains that “form … is also the essence, and thus the form reveals the essence.”50[49]Paracelsus, “Inner and Outer Worlds,” in Paracelsus: Selected Writings, trans.
Norbert Guterman, ed. Jolande Jacobi (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988), p. 121.
Within the Buddhist tradition, this idea is expounded in the Heart Sūtra (Prajnāpāramitā-hridayasūtra): “Form is emptiness … emptiness is form.”51[50]Heart Sūtra, quoted in Buddhist Scriptures, trans. Edward Conze (New York, NY:
Penguin Books, 1959), p. 162.
Joseph Epes Brown (1920–2000), discusses the power of traditional spiritual practices for transforming “these ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ worlds into one.”52[51]Joseph Epes Brown, “Contemplation Through Action,” in The Spiritual Legacy of the American Indian: Commemorative Edition with Letters While Living with Black Elk, eds. Marina Brown Weatherly, … Continue reading
Fundamentally, as Paracelsus again notes: “The outer and the inner are one.”53[52]Paracelsus, “Man and His Body,” in Paracelsus: Selected Writings, trans. Norbert
Guterman, ed. Jolande Jacobi (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988), p. 21.
It is worth recalling the pertinent words in The Gospel According to Thomas: “When you make the two one, and when you make the inner as the outer and the outer as the inner and the aboveas the below … then shall you enter the Kingdom.”54[53]Logion 22, The Gospel According to Thomas: Coptic Text Established and Translated, trans. Antoine Guillaumont, Henri-Charles Puech, Gilles Quispel, Walter C. Till, and Yassah ‘Abd al-Masīḥ … Continue reading  Śrī Rāmakrishna (1836–1886), the Paramahamsa of Dakshineshwar, recognises this
non-dual dimension: “There is inner and outer harmony between Purusha [Spirit] and Prakriti [universal substance].”55[54]Śrī Rāmakrishna, “Bankim Chandra,” in The Gospel of Ramakrishna: Originally recorded in Bengali by M., a disciple of the Master, trans. Swami Nikhilananda(New York, NY: … Continue reading In Ultimate Reality or the Absolute, there are no distinctions between the inner and outer for they are all one in the Divine.

Without returning to its metaphysical and ontological foundations, the discipline of psychology is unable to acknowledge either the tripartite division of the Spirit, soul, and body, or the inner and outer dimensions of the human being and its integrative healing modalities. True wholeness flows from the transpersonal order, yet only the outer self requires therapy, as the inner self is already intrinsically whole. The“science of the soul,” as informed by the spiritual traditions, supports the human psyche in becoming fully integrated in all its modes of knowing and corresponding ways of healing: “The soul’s apprehension of the nature of things changes in accordance with its own inner state.”56[55]Nikitas Stithatos, “On the Practice of the Virtues: One Hundred Texts,” in The Philokalia, Vol. 4: The Complete Text; Compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth, … Continue reading In the same way that sages have emphasised the existence of the inner teacher “the Guru is always within you”57[56]  there is also an inner therapist, along with the medicine to heal us witŚrī Ramana Maharshi, “Talk 398—April 14th, 1937,” in Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi (Tiruvannamalai, India: Sri … Continue readinghin. But this first requires the spiritual guidance of a valid tradition to help prevent us from going astray and becoming lost in our turbid subjectivity.
A true “science of the soul” ensures that the assessment, treatment, and healing of a person is informed by the transpersonal dimension this is confirmed when we discern the intrinsic wisdom reflected in the human body.58[57]See Seyyed Hossein Nasr, “The Wisdom of the Body,” in Religion and the Order of Nature (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 235–269. Therefore, being a wayfarer on a spiritual path is indispensable. Paracelsus speaks about the “inner physician” hidden
within each person and that “Each … disease bears its own remedy within itself.”59[58]Paracelsus, “Nature of Disease,” in Paracelsus: Selected Writings, trans. Norbert
Guterman, ed. Jolande Jacobi (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988), p. 76.
Rūmī states something similar, “The physician comes to the sick man and questions the inward physician; for within you there is a physician.”60[59]Rūmī, Discourse 11, Discourses of Rumi, trans. A.J. Arberry (London, UK: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004), p. 61. St. John Cassian (c. 360–c. 435) writes: “The Doctor of our souls has also placed the remedy in the hidden regions of the soul.” 61[60]St. John Cassian, “On the Eight Vices,” in The Philokalia, Vol. 1: The Complete Text; Compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth, trans. and ed. G.E.H. Palmer, … Continue reading According to ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib (d. 661): “Your cure is within you, but you do not know.” 62[61]‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib, quoted in William C. Chittick, Sufism: A Beginner’s Guide (Oxford, UK: Oneworld Publications, 2008), p. 104.

The overthrow of metaphysics in the modern West, by scientific
materialism, has led to human beings being rendered one-dimensional.
To deny that “Man is both inner and outer”63[62]Philip Sherrard, “The Roman Background,” in The Greek East and the Latin West: A Study in The Christian Tradition (Limni, Eva, Greece: Denise Harvey, 1995), p. 20. or that “there is within every man both an outer and an inner man”64[63]Seyyed Hossein Nasr, “Self-Awareness and Ultimate Selfhood: The Role of the Sacred Science of the Soul,” in The Need for a Sacred Science (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1993), … Continue reading is to perpetuate the fissure in consciousness, that has severed the human soul from its transpersonal centre. This bifurcation has created a void in the human psyche that has proven to be profoundly traumatic. A metaphysical framework integrating the Spirit, soul, and body  and its diverse modes of knowing  is urgently needed to reconcile all facets of a person with a view to offering fully efficacious mental health treatment.
While there is a boundary that divides our inner and outer selves, they are not impervious to one another as one might think; in fact, through the Intellect or the “eye of the heart,” the outward can illuminate the inward. Modern science is restricted to the phenomenal world, but the sacred science of the world’s spiritual traditions
provides the keys to unlock knowledge of both the human microcosm and the universal macrocosm, as it applies to the spiritual, psychic, and corporeal orders. Only in returning psychology to a true “science of the soul,” can humanity become fully integrated, and thus faithful to its true vocation: “May the inward and outward man be at one.” 65[64]Socrates, quoted in Phaedrus 279b, The Dialogues of Plato, Vol. I, trans. Benjamin Jowett (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1892), p. 420.

Taken from: SAMUEL BENDECK SOTILLOS ,  is a practising psychotherapist who has worked for years in the mental health and social services, focusing on the intersection between spirituality and psychology. His works include Paths That Lead to the Same Summit: An Annotated Guide to World Spirituality, and The Psychoanalytic Worldview and Behaviorism: The Quandary of a Psychology without a Soul.

 

 

References

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41Chapter 68, The Cloud of Unknowing and Other Works, trans. Clifton Wolters (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1978), p. 143.
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(New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1996), p. 122.
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47Meister Eckhart, “Tractates 3: The Rank and Nature of the Soul,” in Meister Eckhart, trans. C. De B. Evans, ed. Franz Pfeiffer (London, UK: John M. Watkins, 1924), p. 290.
48Śrī Ramana Maharshi, “Talk 13b—January 7th, 1935,” in Talks with Sri Ramana
Maharshi (Tiruvannamalai, India: Sri Ramanasramam, 1996), p. 5.
49Paracelsus, “Inner and Outer Worlds,” in Paracelsus: Selected Writings, trans.
Norbert Guterman, ed. Jolande Jacobi (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988), p. 121.
50Heart Sūtra, quoted in Buddhist Scriptures, trans. Edward Conze (New York, NY:
Penguin Books, 1959), p. 162.
51Joseph Epes Brown, “Contemplation Through Action,” in The Spiritual Legacy of the American Indian: Commemorative Edition with Letters While Living with Black Elk, eds. Marina Brown Weatherly, Elenita Brown and Michael Oren Fitzgerald (Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2007), p. 62.
52Paracelsus, “Man and His Body,” in Paracelsus: Selected Writings, trans. Norbert
Guterman, ed. Jolande Jacobi (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988), p. 21.
53Logion 22, The Gospel According to Thomas: Coptic Text Established and Translated, trans. Antoine Guillaumont, Henri-Charles Puech, Gilles Quispel,
Walter C. Till, and Yassah ‘Abd al-Masīḥ (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1976), pp. 17, 19.
54Śrī Rāmakrishna, “Bankim Chandra,” in The Gospel of Ramakrishna: Originally recorded in Bengali by M., a disciple of the Master, trans. Swami Nikhilananda(New York, NY: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center,  1977), p. 667.
55Nikitas Stithatos, “On the Practice of the Virtues: One Hundred Texts,” in The Philokalia, Vol. 4: The Complete Text; Compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth, trans. and ed. G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (London, UK: Faber and Faber, 1998),  p. 92.
56  there is also an inner therapist, along with the medicine to heal us witŚrī Ramana Maharshi, “Talk 398—April 14th, 1937,” in Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi (Tiruvannamalai, India: Sri Ramanasramam, 1996), p. 370.
57See Seyyed Hossein Nasr, “The Wisdom of the Body,” in Religion and the Order of Nature (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 235–269.
58Paracelsus, “Nature of Disease,” in Paracelsus: Selected Writings, trans. Norbert
Guterman, ed. Jolande Jacobi (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988), p. 76.
59Rūmī, Discourse 11, Discourses of Rumi, trans. A.J. Arberry (London, UK: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004), p. 61.
60St. John Cassian, “On the Eight Vices,” in The Philokalia, Vol. 1: The Complete Text; Compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth, trans. and ed. G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (London, UK: Faber and Faber, 1983), p. 76.
61‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib, quoted in William C. Chittick, Sufism: A Beginner’s Guide (Oxford, UK: Oneworld Publications, 2008), p. 104.
62Philip Sherrard, “The Roman Background,” in The Greek East and the Latin West: A Study in The Christian Tradition (Limni, Eva, Greece: Denise Harvey, 1995), p. 20.
63Seyyed Hossein Nasr, “Self-Awareness and Ultimate Selfhood: The Role of the Sacred Science of the Soul,” in The Need for a Sacred Science (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1993), pp. 15–16.
64Socrates, quoted in Phaedrus 279b, The Dialogues of Plato, Vol. I, trans. Benjamin Jowett (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1892), p. 420.
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