I read this quote recently by a woman named, Evelyn Underhill, who is a great female scholar of mysticism, and it got me thinking about a few things. It goes as follows:
“The spiritual life of individuals has to be extended both vertically to God and horizontally to other souls; and the more it grows in both directions, the less merely individual and therefore the more truly personal it will be.”
When speaking of merely individual, she is referring to what affects us as an individual. When speaking of truly personal she is referring to what not only affects us as an individual, but those around us.
Much of the time in counseling we are focusing on self. The wrongs done toward us, the wrongs done against us, and hopefully moving toward the wrongs we have done towards others. When we reach the point in counseling when we are able to take responsibility for our actions that have affected those around us, potentially because of the actions done to us, we are moving forward. That is personal. When we are able to move out of our own personal pain and see the pain of others, growth is happening in the human soul. To always be in a space where we are concerned only with self is not only selfish, it is not spiritual. Emotional growth can’t go beyond spiritual growth and vice versa. They work in conjunction with one another. And when both are occurring, we are able to relate to others, have an impact on others, and love others well. That is spiritual. And that is personal.