Psychology and Spirituality

By Steven Prasinos, Ph.D.


I. INTRODUCTION


Psychotherapy is a type of spiritual practice. It utilizes theory, technique and love to promote harmony and peace. These are spiritual goals.

II. THE NATURE OF EXPERIENCE


We Experience We are Experiencing creatures. We dwell within a subjective field of meaning, desire, emotion and sensation. Psychology is the study of experience. Psychotherapy is the quest for more satisfying experience.


Experience is real We know expereince is real because it moves us. The same way we know gravity is real. Real feelings move us and influence us. Real meanings determine how we act and what we choose. We are experience. We are our choices and desires and perceptions. Our lives emerge out of subjectivity: Love, war, work, comedy, music… these are all names for kinds of experience.


Experience is invisible Meaning is Invisible. To see a thing as a chair requires the invisible concept of “chair.” To believe in democracy or gravity or yoga requires those invisible concepts. We dwell within unseen concepts.  Our dreams, stories, roles…, the stuff of life, is real and invisible.


Experience is alive Experience flows. It shifts, chooses, seeks and is thus alive. Experience is a living stream of consciousness. Death is the end of experience (unless we imagine life (experience) after death).  


Experience has energy Experience flows. It varies in intensity, pace, rhythm. These are the qualities of vibration. We are like music. Like fire. We are constantly feeling and naming our vibration shifts: Up/Down, Happy/Sad, Excited/Tired, Relaxed/Tense, Interested/Bored, Loving/Lonely, etc.   

III. THE SOUL

 
We are Real, Invisible, Flowing, Living, Experiential Fields Consciousness is a Living Energy Field. This field has been called the Soul (Western, Christian), Atman (Hindu, Buddhist), Nafs (Islam), Anima (Roman), Psyche (ancient Greek), and Nephesh (Judaism), to name a few. When we name “soul” we see soul, like “chair.” Psychology is the study of the soul. Psychotherapy is ministering to the soul.  


To be aware that we are a soul amongst souls is to be awake To be awake is to be aware of being aware. To be awake is knowing one is a living, conscious energy field. A soul amongst souls. When we see beyond the material, into the essential, we are at the center, home. This is to “Know Thyself” (Socrates). Once we know who we are we know what we need.  


IV. PURPOSE 


The soul seeks harmony  The soul oscillates along a harmony/disharmony dimension (just like music!). Disharmony (noise) motivates action. Every frustration is a harmony deficiency. From infancy on there is a relentless quest for satisfaction (love, peace). This is a spiritual quest that gives life purpose.  


Disharmony; The Shadow Within us all are obstacles to harmony: Anxiety, hate, distrust, greed, grief, envy, pride. Our imperfect pasts and imperfect culture generate wounds and obstacles. Our wounds can lead to pain and choices that create more “noise.” How do I violate harmony (i.e., sin)? To answer that question requires humility. Each of us has darkness, shadow. Psychology studies these obstacles and how to heal. Psychotherapy is one tool in the universal spiritual quest.  


Love harmonizes the soul “Darkness cannot drive out  darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love  can do that.” (Martin Luther King). We grow as we love more of the self.  We heal by loving our inner obstacles. Narcissism separates. Humility unites. Hate separates. Compassion unites.   To heal is to love the unloved. To move through love to love.

V. GOD

  
A Transpersonal Field  Experience comes to us. It is unchosen. Experience  has independence from the ego. Dreams, moods, ideas, memories, roles,  external events and culture appear to us, unbidden. We exist within a  larger, invisible field that provides us with experience, challenge and  meaning.    


Assistance from the Larger Field  This larger field guides the smaller field towards harmony. Big Soul helps little soul. Dreams, inspirations, teachers, moments of kindness and good fortune are gifts from the larger field. They help the smaller field in its spiritual quest. We are not alone.  We have a “harmony meter,” an inner compass.


Spirituality is Unitive Experience  Health is having a receptive relationship to the larger field. We are satisfied and feel “at home” when we experience our souls as part of the infinite field of harmony and love (God).  Practicing  kindness to self, kindness to others, meditating, praying, studying  wisdom, artistic expression, psychotherapy and worshiping nature are  some ways to commune with the larger field. The little soul harmonizes with the Big Soul.

VI.  CONCLUSION

 
Simply looking carefully, psychologically, at experience, at what it means to be alive, leads us to spiritual consciousness.  Psychology and Spirituality become one. 


Steven Prasinos, Ph.D.

(203) 266-4003

39 Sherman Hill Rd. Suite C202B, Woodbury, CT 06798