Alchemy of the Soul: Integral Healing, the Work of Psychology and Spirituality

By Kaminker, Jacob | Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, January 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

Alchemy of the Soul: Integral Healing, the Work of Psychology and Spirituality


Kaminker, Jacob, Journal of Transpersonal Psychology


MALONEY, ARYA. (2007). Alchemy of the soul: Integral healing, the work of psychology and spirituality. Nevada City, CA: Blue Dolphin Publishing. xi + 200 pp. ISBN 9781577331728. Paper, $17.95. Reviewed by Jacob Kaminker.

Sometimes gut-wrenching, but always inspiring and insightful, Maloney's Alchemy of the Soul applies esoteric wisdom to vivid clinical case examples of severe trauma in the interest of merging depth psychology with the yoga psychology of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Appearing to address a more general clinical audience, Maloney assumes a well above average level of comfort with transpersonal phenomena and language, giving case examples, but not providing the kind of evidence a newcomer to the material might require. He asks the reader to take the leap that, through spiritually-themed imagery, there is direct contact to external spiritual consciousnesses. To those readers who arrive taking collective consciousness, extrasensory perception, and after death communication as givens, this book yields many fruits in its grounding of abstract mystical teachings in clinical practice and experience.

Aside from the Aurobindo school, Maloney draws heavily from Mindell's process-oriented psychology, Grof's Holotropic breathwork, and Aminah Raheem's acupressure modality. Maloney initially introduces his relationship to mind-body-spirit healing with an honest and personal account of his own journey, through childhood trauma, pilgrimages to Sri Aurobindo's ashram in India, and mystical experiences including a kundalini opening.

Maloney provides evidence forMindell's revelation on the coincidence between childhood dreams and chronic bodily symptoms through the description of student and client experiences, showing how these experiences can open trauma to the spiritual dimension of experience.

In his blending of paths of ascension and descent, Maloney understands the soul as able to be expressed through the personality, rather than the personality being an impediment to spiritual growth. Consciousness is understood as infinite, but self-limiting and self-categorizing, from the cosmic level all the way down to within the individual.

In describing his integrative modalities, Maloney utilizes Aurobindo's three fields of consciousness, which can be accessed though altered states:

a) The subconscious, from which repressed memories can be recovered.

b) The subliminal, which allows a more direct and universal way of knowing through occult powers, clairvoyance, clairaudience, transference of thought, telepathy.

c) The Superconscious where all mental or sensory experience ceases- the experience of ''God,'' Spirit,'' ''Oversoul'' (p.55).

In this system, expanded consciousness can be accessed through the subliminal, which speaks in terms of visual or auditory mental imagery.

On the level of personal development, there is a need for the development of the ego, but only as a ''formative'' step towards higher states of consciousness (p. 64). Eventually, witnessing consciousness should lead to disidentification with the ego and progressive identification with the psychic self. This disidentification in part incorporates the depth psychological tactic of exploring relationships patterns incorporated in early childhood. The psychotherapeutic process that integrates spirituality, as Maloney describes it, utilizes death and rebirth to open to the inner healer. …

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