Friday, January 20, 2012

Dreams, inner work, spirituality

Another fantastic post by Jean Raffa.  It's called Ruling the Inner Chamber, and she deals with dreams, inner work, and the spiritual journey.  I especially love this:

Contrary to popular belief, authentic spirituality is not just a function of how many souls we save or how well we know scriptures or how hard we pray or how many rules we keep or what we believe or how often we attend our place of worship or how much money we donate to the poor. Likewise, spiritual maturity is not limited to a particular religion or set of beliefs. Rather, it is a function of our willingness to further the unfolding of our capacity for full living, endless loving, and authentic being.

We’re supposed to discover our true selves and connect with the sacred Mystery within. We’re supposed to learn how to accept and love ourselves because that’s how we learn to accept and love others. Every religion has spawned mature spirit persons whose mystical experiences and intuitions taught them that God indwells the soul. This means that our spiritual growth is not just a function of searching for God outside ourselves but also of honoring the “kingdom” within.

Thanks Jean for continuing to be a friend on the journey!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Psychotherapy as Spiritual Practice, Purgation, Self, etc.

Okay, so I've been a little slack with postings on Answer to Job, I apologize.  So many other interesting readings have been also getting my attention lately, so this post is about one of them.

I have been reading over the past few months a book, by psychoanalyst and professor of religion and spirituality at Pacifica Graduate Institute Lionel Corbett, called "The Sacred Cauldron: Psychotherapy as a Spiritual Practice".  This morning, I came across the section below, where Corbett is talking about the psychological aspects of spiritual growth.  When he mentions the Self, he is referring to what Jungians refer to as the center of the total personality, which includes consciousness, the unconscious, and the ego. The Self is both the whole and the center.  It is through the Self, I believe, that we interpenetrate with, and find, God.  Some Jungians believe that Self=God (or the God archetype), or in other words, Self is all there is.  Others, like me, believe that Self is where we make contact with that which is totally Other, or God.  So, when he speaks below of the call of Self, I would offer that this call is the call of God through the organizing totally of our psyche, which is the Self.

This passage below really resonates with me, as I have been trying to find words for the journey I've been experiencing over that past 5 years or so.  I would say that I'm still in the period of purgation that he describes below.  Here is the passage, from pages 118-119:

Spiritual development may begin as a person gradually develops a spiritual longing; we realize there is something more within us, something more that we need besides our usual lives, a deeper source of meaning even when life seems to be proceeding well on the surface...We cannot produce this longing; it comes upon us autonomously.  Sometimes such an awakening seems to happen for no apparent reason, or it may be triggered by a numinous experience that makes us aware of spiritual reality...These experiences may be seen as a call from the transpersonal Self...[to answer the call] We have to give up our existing image of ourselves and face some hard truths. A sacrifice of time, money, and energy may be necessary.  It may be difficult to accept that the hegemony of the ego is over.  It may be difficult to let go if one suffers from fragmentation anxiety or if status and success have been used to buttress a fragile sense of self.  It is difficult to be responsive to the promptings of the Self if one is preoccupied with survival.

If one accepts the call, one has to develop a relationship with it.  There follows what was traditionally referred to (
in mystic writers) as "purgation", meaning the necessity to face the shadow or problematic personality traits such as self-importance, possessiveness, greed, fear, and envy...Painful feelings are not obstacles to spiritual development but signposts that indicate...the doorways into the soul's deeper places.  After the awakening, the period of purgation is often experienced as a period of darkness; at times one does not have the strength to go on. This stage may last for years, during which the person may be in therapy.  At these periods, one reevaluates one's values and beliefs and may either recommit to a religious tradition or leave it entirely.

I would also offer, one can recommit to a religious tradition, but with a different lens and perspective on the richness and symbolic nature of their religious tradition, which is where my leanings are right now.