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Innate Potentialities

Back to the lesson "Interconnections of the Five Inner Lands"

The following is an excerpt (chapter 3, pp. 75f) of the book
The Joy of Feeling: Bodymind Acupressure by Iona Marsaa Teeguarden

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.

"_(from the book "Iona Marsaa Teeguarden : The Joy Of Feeling - Bodymind Acupressure Quotes from Carl Rogers: On becoming a person


  1. nelliemuller saidWed, 16 Apr 2008 19:09:11 -0000 ( Link )

    I like the statement that “The general direction of movement is towards becoming our real Selves”. Becoming ourselves may begin with learning about our needs and accepting ourselves before learning to see others’ needs. Thank you for creating a lesson with quotes from one of my favorite educators, Carl Rogers.

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  2. mawstools saidThu, 17 Apr 2008 14:47:41 -0000 ( Link )

    What a delight for me, to find this lesson this morning, Peter. I notice my own need for connection met and also a real stirring up of curiosity about how we can use this space of LearnHub to explore the truly deep lessons in social networks across the globe, not just the uppermost layers of learning.

    I’m not clear whose content this is you’re posting. Are these your musings about Teeguarden’s book or quotes from the text itself? Is Teeguarden doing this comparison of Eastern and Western maps of the psyche (using Rogers’ work to establish Western waypoints) or are you?

    This is important to me because I’m trying to make sense out of the “lesson creation” architecture here in LearnHub and finding it challenging. The simplicity of the interface in terms of making postings is exhilarating to me, as a teacher. The same simplicity is confusing to me as a learner trying to make accurate connections to texts and co-learners. Do you understand my quandry?

    Here’s another way of saying it…

    Making sense of the kinds of issues you’re exploring here is central to my personal inquiry and has been for, oh, about the last 35 years (grin). I’m delighted to find such a “lesson” inside a social network. Stimulates “hun” in me. At the same time, the blogging-type of interface here frustrates the “chih.”

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  3. Peter Blomert saidThu, 17 Apr 2008 15:41:53 -0000 ( Link )

    Hi Meri,

    as I mention at the bottom of each lesson, these are excerpts of the book of Marsaa Teeguarden. They are actually deeply connected to my own biography as I studied “shiatsu” for quite a long time and studied psychology and especially authors like Kopp, Yalom, Rogers, Bettelheim, Jung and others as well as Alan Watts, George Leonhard etc. So the connection between eastern medicine and philosophy and western psychology and psychotherapy is something I feel familiar with since decades.

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  4. mawstools saidThu, 17 Apr 2008 17:16:17 -0000 ( Link )

    Got it. Connected to my biography, too. I grew up in the conversation that created clinical psychology as a profession here in the US, Peter. Literally. My dad was Chief of clinical psychology for the VA after WWII, so the dinner table was often full of people discussing “mental health” and “mental illness” and then going off to create academic programs to certify some people to treat mental illness…or going off to create the language for the DSM… and then coming back to talk about their work. This made for a unique childhood experience for me since I was expected to be present and listening like an adult at the table…

    I’ve spent the rest of my life trying to make sense of what seemed to me like obvious errors in logic … and a conscpicuous absense of self-reflection… amongst the men (sic) who were put in charge of doing this by the US government as a way of addressing the lack of sufficient resources to help the thousands of GIs coming back from WWII with their minds and hearts shattered (not just their limbs). I have, quite purposefully, not entered psychology as a profession. But my inquiry has certainly included that terrain. And more.

    It’s delightful to meet a new friend here.

    On the mundane side of things, I like the way you linked this series of lessons, branch to branch, with hyperlinks to the next and previous pieces. Simple and obvious. But not really. The system architecture doesn’t make it easy to follow a teacher’s logical path … which is okay. But it also doesn’t make it easy for learners to distinguish between the text and the teaching about the text – unless we create a PDF of the text to separate it from the lesson, which I’m seeing as our personal contribution.

    I see this as a serious obstacle to the development of courses… and am hoping the team will address it with a solution that’s easy to use. I love the spontaneity and lack of restriction. And there is too little structure in what I’m seeing as a unique individual authoring platform standing in the middle of a social network.

    Do you know what I mean?

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