Psychology And The Sacred : Spirituality Beyond Religion Essay

Psychology And The Sacred : Spirituality Beyond Religion Essay

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As I have studied Lionel Corbett’s Psychology and the Sacred: Spirituality beyond Religion (2007) throughout the quarter, I have been intrigued by his messages, as well as the language he uses to convey them. It has been quite clear that Corbett’s intentions are good ones, and his words are very inspiring, whether or not I agree with him on all matters. However, as I have examined linguistics throughout the last few months, specifically the ways in which we talk about spirituality and emotion, my focus in reading Corbett has shifted from just his message, to the way he talks about that message as well. As grand as his ideas may be, they are still confined to language we all understand; he is subjected to borrow the tools and context from ideas he hopes to change. My struggle therefore has been understanding Corbett’s larger, complicated picture while relying on simple, dichotomous language and references. I believe Corbett experienced the same struggle in writing his book. My hope throughout the quarter, as well as within this synthesis, has been to create an amalgam of Corbett’s broader ideas and my own experience.
In his introduction, Corbett shares the two aims of his book. The first is “to suggest ways in which we may live a spiritually meaningful life without the need to embrace any particular theology or religious tradition,” and the second is to examine “the existence of suffering and evil… through a psychological lens” (p.1). Corbett goes on to say that the reason this book came about stemmed both from his unacceptance of Christianity, and his belief in the sacred. For the former, Corbett and I have had similar upbringings, but or for latter, where we have taken our departure of Christian doctrine is quite different. It ...


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...ith some happiness, and what’s more, that people living within Christianity are just as susceptible to life’s miseries. The reason for Christianity’s naïvety is clear, and actually quite innocent: Christians find a kind of joy in their religion, a kind of joy that they may have never have encountered outside of their religion, so they believe that their religion must be the only place to find it. Similarly, it seems that Corbett has found the numinous within spirituality in ways that he has not found in components of life. And based on his own experience, he assumes a universal truth. When personal experience is used to solidify ideas that have no real evidence or ideas that are mostly abstract, the contradictory experience of others must be tossed aside. This is the fatal flaw of using one’s own experience as evidence, and what is called personal or subjective truth.

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