Questhaven Banner

Begin Your Training... Sign In

The Psychology of Individuation

Learning to Stand Consciously Before God

Taking in sunlight

A great mystery to anyone first awakening to the reality of God and the inner worlds is why this insight alone is not sufficient to propel them swiftly up the Mountain of God or, at least, to bring unbroken happiness and good fortune along the route. No puzzlement is more perplexing for the newcomer to discipleship than the persistence of difficulties, resistance and the lack of expected progress. In fact, there often is an acceleration of testings, as if finding out how much God means to us has precipitated one trial after another, exposing unsuspected shortcomings that threaten to rob us of the treasure we have momentarily glimpsed. Paul's description of this phenomenon is classic:

The good that I would I do not; but the evil that I would not, that I do. . . For I delight in the law of God after the inward man; But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. A wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Romans 7:19, 22-24

Paul, who set out as Saul on the road to Damascus to destroy the followers of the Christ, and was himself destroyed and reborn to serve as one of the most faithful of the Lord's apostles, perhaps better than anyone else, understood the war within and what it was about. When one's life is promised to the Christ, the moment that decision is made two things happen. First, one is aligned to the greatest power on earth for the good. And, second, a battle ensues between the forces of good and those of evil within each individual—the higher nature captained by the soul and the lower nature ruled by the shadow.

The Conversion of St. Paul, Nicolas Bernard Lepicie

To the extent the disciple commands the disciplines at hand, it is an unequal match whose outcome is certain victory. Conversely, to the extent that one is caught off guard and loses hold of these disciplines, it will cost many battles and delay indefinitely the eventual victory.

As in any war—and all wars are archetypal confrontations between good and evil—intelligence about the enemy's forces and plans can be decisive. The psychology of individuation, or the transformation of the personality self, provides this intelligence. It teaches us to approach the shadow with respect but without fear. Fear is its second most deadly weapon; and denied that advantage, half the victory is won. The other half, and by far the most important half, is fought against its keenest weapon, pride. It endures until the last and greatest battle.

What is the psychology of individuation?

Sign In to Continuechevron_right