Robert Augustus Masters is author of numerous books on the integration of body, sex, emotions, and spirituality, including The Anatomy and Evolution of Anger, Freedom Doesn’t Mind Its Chains, and Divine Dynamite. With a Ph.D. in psychology, Robert has practiced psychotherapy for over three decades, and is also skilled at bodywork, meditation, and group facilitation.
In response to Stuart’s curiosity, Robert begins by sharing the event that fundamentally changed his life nearly a dozen years ago. As he explains, everything shifted dramatically after an extremely intense experience with a variant of the psychedelic, DMT. Even though this variation of DMT was (and is) legal, Robert stopped breathing, nearly died, and proceeded to endure nine months of unrelenting anxiety, terror, and psycho-spiritual hell.
Because of this experience, Robert learned the art of bearing the unbearable, and now part of the work he does is guiding others into those inner places that scare them witless. But this is no masochistic endeavor. Robert understands that hidden in the shadows of our psyche are pockets of energy, awareness, and self that can be liberated if approached skillfully. For those who want to undertake such a journey, Robert can help one digest difficult experiences directly, with no running away, no escape, no wallflowers allowed, only a naked willingness to dance with all of existence.
Robert and Stuart go on explore how a more integral psychology uses a deep toolbox of methodologies to initiate authentic healing, because the essential foundation for spiritual awakening is a whole person, not a fractured one. Ideally, there should first emerge a strong ego, with all the boundaries and distinctions of a healthy human psyche, before it’s recommended that one start attempting to transcend that individual self-sense. Robert contends that bodywork and psychotherapy are important tools to help avoid spiritual bypassing or the error of using meditation and ego transcendence to escape lingering issues and disowned shadow elements.
Likewise, an integral, AQAL approach to spirituality would posit that yes, if you try, you can realize the very Ground and Suchness of reality with a fractured self-sense, but your vehicle of enlightenment, your unique manifestation of infinity, will remain exactly as shattered. Just because psychological fractures aren’t as grossly obvious as a broken leg doesn’t mean the fractures don’t exist; they simply go undetected more easily. But whether you’re enlightened or not, a broken leg is a broken leg, and in both cases you can’t walk. The same is true for a fractured psyche: enlightened or not, it’s still just as broken, and it will hobble one’s expression of liberation.*
This general concept is something Robert understands deeply, and one of the ways that he expresses this understanding is through his emphasis on radical intimacy. As he explains, he used to pursue “freedom from” life. Now, freedom can be found through radical intimacy with life—all of it. “For me healing is to make whole,” and as Robert so skillfully shows us, sometimes a deeper freedom is found in going towards the darkness, not the light.
We hope you enjoy this inspiring dialogue exploring the exhilaration and satisfaction of a truly integral wholeness; the wholeness of unified parts, and the wholeness of a Unity that could never be otherwise....
(For those who are interested, there is an extremely active thread in the IN forum exploring Robert’s work, including responses from Robert, which you can participate in here)
*To learn more about an integral approach to spirituality, check out “What Is Integral Spirituality?”