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Traditional concepts of God are no longer tenable for many people who nevertheless experience a strong sense of the sacred in their lives. The Religious Function of the Psyche offers a psychological model for the understanding of such experience, using the language and interpretive methods of depth psychology, particularly those of C.G. Jung and psychoanalytic self psychology. The problems of evil and suffering, and the notion of human development as an incarnation of spirit are dealt with by means of a religious approach to the psyche that can be brought easily into psychotherapeutic practice and applied by the individual in everyday life.
The book offers an alternative approach to spirituality as well as providing an introduction to Jung and religion.
|List of figures|
|Introduction: The new psychological dispensation||1|
|1||The Religious Attitude in Psychotherapy||5|
|2||Personal Spirituality Based on Contact with the Numinosum||11|
|3||The Transpersonal Self: A psychological approach to the divine||39|
|4||The Archetype as Synthetic Principle: Making psychology and spirituality synonymous||57|
|5||Mythical, Symbolic and Imaginal Aspects of the Psyche's Religious Function||84|
|6||A Psychological View of Some Traditional Religious Ideas||105|
|7||A Depth Psychological Approach to the Problem of Suffering||126|
|8||Suffering: The search for meaning||152|
|9||Sin and Evil: A psychological approach||185|
|10||Psychotherapy and Spiritual Practice||204|
|11||The Rationale for a Contemplative Psychology||220|
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Lionel Corbett, M.D., a teacher of depth psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, California, states that psychology is, in fact, the basis of our spirituality and sets out to provide incontrovertible proof. He points to our spiritual future:
“The next stage in our spiritual evolution is emerging…and requires
the development of a personal connection with the sacred,
unencumbered by doctrine, dogma, or preconceived ideas about the divine.
It also involves approaching problems such as the existence of evil and suffering
with all the new insights that developments in depth psychology can bring
to bear on this and other human predicaments.” (p.6)
In Part 1 “Meeting the Mystery: Developing a Personal Spirituality, Corbett calls for a return to a personal approach to spirituality involving embodied experience and powerful emotions rather than doctrinal formulas. He points out that when religious ideas are divorced from natural psychology there are serious ruptures. If someone believed in Christianity, for example,
“such a person would not be found committing atrocities or war crimes, and the
Sermon on the Mount would not be ignored when it was politically convenient to do so.
The teachings of Jesus would fit naturally and instinctively into his or her behavior
they would not need to be reinforced by threats of eternal damnation and
they require no hierarchy.” (p.33)
In Part 11, Through Psyche’s Lens: A Depth Psychological Approach to Spiritual Questions, Corbett counsels we integrate our shadow material into conscious awareness instead of leaning on religions “that offer repentance, confession and the grace of God as antidotes to the shadow.” (p.173)
In a riveting chapter, A Depth Psychology of Evil, Corbett describes Jung’s understanding of the message of Jesus: Instead of subordinating oneself to Christ, we should, instead, seek to be similarly free-spirited, questioning of authority, confrontational and willing to suffer the consequences. Corbett rails against the laundering of religious personalities:
“In Jung’s mythology, the divine penetrates the human psyche with darkness
as well as light and our task is to struggle with the tension produced by
aspects of the Self pulling in opposite directions. Rather than take on such
a painful and difficult task, many people choose one of the traditional
solutions to evil: let God take care of it in his own time. (p.173)