Some contemporary “spiritual” teachers offer strategies to collaborate with the unconscious, lured by its immense power and the profound effect it has on human life. I can’t argue with that—the power of repressed desires, fear, etc., is enormous and quite clearly affects people’s behavior and their emotional and mental state. Specifically, these teachers recommend using self-affirmations, which the subconscious is supposed to take as guidance and the person is expected to begin to grow spiritually effortlessly and at a rapid pace. Other teachers credit the subconscious with a magic power that can affect human life directly and encourage their followers to tune it properly by means of visualization and other techniques that alter the entire personal “reality” thereby. These are all varieties of self-hypnosis that serve to make human sleep more comfortable and create an illusion of control over things that are beyond our reach. A desire to collaborate with the unconscious comes from being helpless to do anything about it, and this powerlessness is a consequence of the fact that a person lacks the skill of witnessing. In true spiritual work, the light of consciousness is shone on the dark of unconsciousness, and as one’s capacity for awareness improves gradually, the unconscious becomes smaller and the conscious grows larger, until only the conscious remains.
I cannot help but comment here briefly on the masters who recommend that their followers adopt visualization practices for meditation purposes. For example: “Imagine pure white energy filling and saturating your body; your body is starting to grow”, and so on. Active exercises of this kind can be beneficial to enhance certain functions of the mental body, yet these are essentially guided dreams. Of course, such exercises leave you feeling refreshed, as if you have had a good sleep; you may even feel a certain enthusiasm or inspiration. However, it has nothing to do with spirituality or awareness, because a dream is a dream, and whether the dream is inspiring or frightening is inconsequential from the perspective of consciousness.