It is time to depart from the metaphor of five "inner lands," and emphasize that the psyche is really more like a set of inner forces. The reality of the psyche can but be hinted at by a "map" or list of characteristics. There are many such maps, and many such lists. They can help us catch a glimpse of the inner forces which the Nei Ching describes as "mysterious powers" and "spiritual resources," and which Western psychology describes as core tendencies and innate potentialities of the person(ality).
Shen, I', P'o, +Chih* and Hun are five aspects of the psyche or five inner resources which allow us to develop towards realization of our full potential. The general direction of movement is towards becoming our real Selves. The same potent inner force is described by humanistic psychology as the actualizing tendency. In the Taoist view, the overall tendency is to move cyclically through extreme emotions, and towards synergic states - joy and confidence, empathy, openness, resolution, and assertion or the "will to become". A particularly meaningful parallel in Western psychology is with the directions that Carl Rogers describes people as moving towards in the process of therapy: Under conditions of safety, warmth and empathetic understanding, he says that people tend to move towards self-direction and trust of self, acceptance of others, openness to experience, "being complexity" and "being process." Summarizing the general pattern of movement, Rogers says:
"It seems to mean that the individual moves toward being, knowingly and acceptingly, the process which he inwardly and actually is. He moves away from being what he is not, from being a facade. He is not trying to be more than he is, with the attendant feelings of insecurity or bombastic defensiveness. He is not trying to be less than he is, with the attendant feelings of guilt or self-deprecation. He is increasingly listening to the deepest recesses of his physiological and emotional being, and finds himself increasingly willing to be, with greater accuracy and depth, that self which he most truly is."
Discovering Shen is similar to what Rogers describes as moving "Towards Self-Direction" and "Towards Trust of Self". As a person enters a more complete relationship with his inner nature, "increasingly he trusts and values the process which is himself." This leads to becoming "significant and creative" within his own sphere of life. We may or may not choose to create things or theories. We must choose to create ourselves, if we are to be truly alive. Shen is the desire to extend ourselves creatively and live joyfully.
The aspect of
the psyche which the Taoists called "I'" involves
the self-actualizing characteristic Rogers describes as moving
"Towards Acceptance of Others". In the process of growing
into his whole Self, a person increasingly "values and appreciates
both his own experience and that of others for what it is." The
ultimate result is the natural development of "an acceptant
attitude towards that which exists."
Rogers quotes Maslow's description of this state:
"One does not complain about water because it is wet, nor about rocks because they are hard …. As the child looks out upon the world with wide, uncritical and innocent eyes, simply noting and observing what is the case, without either arguing the matter or demanding that it be otherwise, so does the self-actualizing person look upon human nature both in himself and in others."
The synergic state of P'o is openness, so the obvious parallel is with Rogers's "Openness to Experience". Growth requires the individual's "opening himself to internal feelings which are clearly not new to him, but which up to this time, he has never been able to experience." This is a movement towards a spontaneous way of living. "Living in an open, friendly, close relationship to his own experience" not only becomes non-threatening, but even begins to be a necessity. The person begins to choose familiarity with feelings. "This greater awareness of what goes on within
is associated with a similar openness to experiences of external reality." The harvest is an energized bodymind system, full of creative energy and able to discharge destructive feelings.
The synergic state of Chih is resolution, and the parallel is with the self-actualizing movement Rogers describes as "Towards Being Complexity". This is "the desire to be all of oneself in each moment - all the richness and complexity, with nothing hidden from oneself and nothing feared in oneself." It is the force which keeps us moving towards the "difficult, and in its absolute sense, impossible goal" of "becoming all of the complexity of one's changing self in each significant moment."
"Hun" is the aspect of the psyche which gets us moving. The feeling is like what Rogers describes as "Towards Being Process". There is a sense of adventure, of being "more openly a process, a fluidity, a changing" - "a process of potentialities being born". The feeling is of being in flux, and of being "content to continue in this flowing current". This feeling of freedom and freshness comes with appreciating oneself as a becoming.