Full-spectrum spirituality

During the dark days of winter many of us suffer from the lack of sunlight. We feel the damaging impact of artificial light that lacks the full spectrum of natural light. This limited range impacts our health, emotions and mental outlook negatively.

Similarly the lack of full-spectrum spirituality has a limiting and distorting influence on the well being of our souls. What is full-spectrum spirituality? A simple beginning definition: spirituality that accounts for our best and our worst potentialities.

Read the daily news (or history) and you can easily focus on the "lower" part of the spectrum — our incredible capacity for greed, fear, revenge, self indulgence, blindness, lies and delusions. Perhaps to compensate for this depressing view of human nature, we find an opposite viewpoint that wants to focus only on our unlimited possibilities as beings of light and love. Yet how easily this "positive" orientation invites the temptation of a spiritual bypass, wanting to pretend our shadows can be left behind rather than integrated.

Years ago I found a perspective on human nature that has continued to both clarify and account for the complexities of human behavior. In this view humans are the intersection between the animal and the angelic. So our souls have a threefold nature: animal, human and angelic. We are born into a human body, but to become a fully mature, ripened, juicy, soul-full human being requires freeing up and integrating our animal soul along with the angelic soul.

A true spiritual path helps us to become lighter and brighter. We literally "lighten our load" by shedding layers of conditioning, and begin to radiate more. Yet from the soul perspective something else is also happening. We become more real, more substantial, more layered, more colorful, accessing a fuller range of the human heart. The truly mature human is sometimes pictured as having a rainbow body, or wearing a coat of many colors.

When we haven't yet directly experienced our angelic nature, the breakthrough to that realm is important and liberating. We feel that we have indeed "seen the light!" We know we are so much more than our usual sense of a small self. But like a tree, as the branches grow toward the light, the roots need to sink further into the ground. The real work of becoming a true human being requires integrating all the deep layers of the psyche — what Freud called the Id. These instinctual drives are ignored at our peril and embraced to our benefit if we can truly integrate them into our humanity.

Animal lovers often object to calling our lower potentialities animal and rightly point out that we humans do much worse than our animal relations. However understanding the nature of the soul helps shed light on this. In his brilliant book, "The Inner Journey Home," Almaas describes five qualities of the soul. The most important for our purposes is that the soul is extremely impressionable. This is why what happens to us in childhood has such a lasting impact, as our very souls become imprinted or conditioned by these experiences. And so our wonderful, passionately alive and free instinctual selves become distorted, split off and repressed. Once split off and repressed, these instincts can devolve into what are traditionally pictured as demons. Both Buddha and Jesus had to confront demons, suggesting that this is an important part of the path. Otherwise, despite our best intentions, the unredeemed animal soul with its instinctual fuels our addictions, especially in the areas of money, food and sex. We need compassion and honesty in exploring these areas.

We are capable of such truth, beauty and goodness. But in order to fully embody this we need to be real about every step of the way. May the rainbow indeed be a sign of hope to us — inspiring us to do the real work to ripen into mature humans who can shine with the full spectrum of light.

Catherine J. Larkin facilitates the Hellinger Constellation work, individual soul attunement sessions that help access and integrate all levels of the soul, and workshops on various topics. Contact her at 541-512-4605 or catherinejanelarkin@yahoo.com, or www.healingthefamilytree.com

Send 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of Inner Peace to Sally McKirgan, innerpeaceforyou@live.com.

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