1.From David Brooks “Fighting the Spiritual Void“:
Our society has tried to medicalize trauma. We call it PTSD and regard it as an individual illness that can be treated with medications. But it’s increasingly clear that trauma is a moral and spiritual issue as much as a psychological or chemical one. Wherever there is trauma, there has been betrayal, an abuse of authority, a moral injury.
Medication can rebalance chemicals in the brain, but it can’t heal the inner self. People who have suffered a trauma — whether it’s a sexual assault at work or repeated beatings at home — find that their identity formation has been interrupted and fragmented. Time doesn’t flow from one day to the next but circles backward to the bad event.
People who endure trauma sometimes say that they feel morally tainted. They have the same plaintive mind-set as the old man at the cemetery in “Saving Private Ryan,” who says to his wife, “Tell me I’m a good man.”
As a culture we’re pretty bad at dealing with moral injury. Sometimes I look at the rising suicide and depression rates, the rising fragility and distrust, and I think it all flows from the fact that we’ve made our culture a spiritual void. When you privatize morality and denude the public square of spiritual content, you’ve robbed people of the community resources they need to process moral pain together.
2.From “Is Trauma the Portal to Awakening?”:
It has been said that psychology and spirituality have opposite goals.
Psychology is about reclaiming the disowned parts of self in order to feel whole, while spirituality is about living from beyond a personal self altogether – as part of universal connectedness.
This presents a problem. If spirituality is the embrace of all that is, how can it include a rejection of any part of you?
That is called spiritual bypassing.
It’s the innocent yet inevitable outcome of seeking bliss through consciousness where one has not yet healed the disowned self.
I am not here to judge anyone for wanting happiness. My intention is to explain why every spiritual seeker needs to embrace the healing of their humanity first. Only from the foundation of a whole, self-loving being can you can authentically attain enlightenment.
For many of us, that means repairing a missing or ungrounded sense of self. Is your identity lovingly defined from deep within, or does it change based on how others react to you?
If you’ve had a hard experience in your past where something negative happened, or where you failed miserably, you might never step far outside your comfort zone again.
In that case, you’ve become incredibly limited because of your past.
Your emotions own you, rather than you owning your emotions.
When this happens, your personality stops developing, and you become incredibly predictable as a person.
Your life becomes quite repetitive.
You may continue to develop mentally and cognitively, such as learning from books and school. You could have a head full of facts and knowledge, which are easily acquired in an information world. But emotionally, you are stone. You are frozen at the same level you were when you got hurt.
If we never resolve the emotional pain, then we are forever damaged and crippled in our lives. As a result, we begin avoiding situations that would make us vulnerable to experiencing similar pain again.
We become “frozen” in our development as a human being, unable to embrace and fully take-in new experiences.
An easy way to examine your level of emotional maturity is how often you step outside of your comfort zone. If it’s rare to put yourself into the vulnerable position of not knowing the answers or how things will turn out, then you likely have trauma from your past that is holding you hostage — emotionally — and stopping you from fully developing your potential as a person.