Understanding our psychology is very connected to expanding our awareness and awakening to the spiritual possibilities of our existence, but it is only a stepping stone. Psychological integration is a separate task from spiritual development in that it is only necessary insofar as to remove psychological blocks from the picture in order to develop and experience spiritual sensitivity. While psychology attempts to document and answer false questions, spiritual practice aims to obliterate them. Our psyche is held in place by the structure of our energy and our bodies and it is a fool’s errand to try to somehow ‘process’ our psyche without ‘processing’ our bodies and our energy. It is in the structure of our energy and our bodies where psychology and spirituality meet.
Things like integrating the shadow and seeing the source of our projections are important parts of mindfulness and meditation in order to remove vexation to the extent that we can. As awareness grows, there is more awareness of the ongoings of the psyche which need to be understood and resolved in order to integrate this expanded awareness and go past it in order to find Nirvana or peace. Remember, Nirvana means to extinguish this constant craving and ‘becoming’ in our psyche. However, Nirvana is not the be-all-end-all of anything, it is just silence and the ability to live in our essence. This essence, who we really are, is only the very beginnings or threshold of our spiritual being.
Understanding Jungian psychology, owning our shadow and the like is important for the personality and the development of the personality in the world. But the personality really has little to do with spiritual understanding because it is conditioned, relative and temporary. No matter where you were born, when you were born, who you live with or what language you speak, you have access to spiritual awakening and Buddha nature. Therefore, the personality, the psyche, the civilization and the whole story have nothing to do with your Buddha nature. Shinzen Young calls the archetypal constructions of our personality the “power realms” and advises against getting stuck here.
The reason depth psychology and other modalities are discussed and practiced in relation to the spiritual path is because integrating our personality is necessary to some extent for awakening our true nature and evolving into it. We just need to quiet our lives and minds down to the point where we can silence ourselves in meditation – the rest takes care of itself. Our focus shouldn’t be on endlessly intellectualizing the psychological webs that characterize our relative existence. In fact, it is often voiced that the precepts in Buddhism are no more than a means to quiet one’s life and mind down enough to meditate.
There is no such thing as full-time Nirvana, just the ability to enter silence in meditation. If we were in full time Nirvana we would sit down and die. This is not the goal, though plenty have tried! The goal is also not to have “the most awesome, integrated frigging personality in the world!” This is the definition of delusion. The point is to stop being trapped by the mind and personality, not to endlessly try to improve and polish it. The goal is to practice silence, not-knowing and attain Nirvana so that we may begin to intuit how and why to grow into our spiritual essence, which really cannot be understood by reason or the brain.