Category: <span>Religion & Spirituality</span>

with Thomas Patrick Lavin, PhD

This diagram accompanies the lecture series

This episode is the first session of the series Madness, Religious Experience, and the Wisdom to Know the Difference. It was recorded in July 1993. From the series description:

In the history of humankind, there have always been seeming psychotic features accompanying authentic religious experience, and there have often been apparent religious images and/or identifications associated with psychotic disorders. In our transitioning and liminal culture, what Jung has called the “transcendent function” acts like a balancing pole for those of us who feel “called” to walk the tightrope between madness and religious ecstasy.

This course examines the work of C.G. Jung and others to help develop imaginal strainers to sift the sounds of the many voices which call to us. It explores our perceptions of the presence of the divine in madness and the madness in the divine.

Topics in this program include:

•   Varieties of Religious Experience
•   Varieties of Psychotic Experience
•   Higher Powers and Deeper Powers: The Transcendent/Immanent Axis
•   Feeding the Ego-Self Loop

Note: I am away from home through May 2021 so my microphone quality will be less optimal during this time. Thanks for your understanding!

Thomas Patrick Lavin, PhD is a Zürich-trained Jungian analyst who holds a PhD in clinical psychology and a PhD in theology. He was formerly chief clinical psychologist for the U.S. Army in Europe and is a founding member of the CG Jung Institute of Chicago. He is in private practice in Wilmette, Illinois, and consults internationally on typology, spirituality and addictions.

Links
The complete series
All of Dr. Lavin’s lectures in our online store
Tomas Patrick Lavin on Jungianthology
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© 1993 Thomas Patrick Lavin. This podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. You may share it, but please do not change it, sell it, or transcribe it.
Executive Producer: Ben Law
Producer: Patricia Martin
Music: Michael Chapman


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In a letter to P.W. Martin (20 August 1945), the founder of the International Study Center of Applied Psychology in Oxted, England, C.G. Jung confirmed the centrality of numinous experience in his life and work: “It always seemed to me as if the real milestones were certain symbolic events characterized by a strong emotional tone. You are quite right, the main interest of my work is not concerned with the treatment of neuroses but rather with the approach to the numinous. But the fact is that the approach to the numinous is the real therapy and inasmuch as you attain to the numinous experiences you are released from the curse of pathology. Even the very disease takes on a numinous character” (Jung 1973, 1: 377). If one holds the classical Jungian view that the only genuine cure for neurosis is to grow out of it through pursuing individuation, then treatment based on this model would seem necessarily to include “the approach to the numinous,” as Jung states so firmly in this letter. The individuation process, as proposed by Jung and his followers, typically includes experiences of a numinous nature.

The question is: How are such momentous experiences related to and used within the context of analysis and the individuation journey, and how do they contribute to the overall process of individuation? On the answer to this complex question rests the difference between psychological individuation and the development of spirituality. While the psychological hero(ine) of the individuation journey is by no means identical to the spiritual hero(ine) of the journey to God (however this term may be defined), it is not always easy to tell where their paths diverge, precisely because Jung placed such central importance on numinous experience for individuation. And yet they do diverge, and decisively.

On Healing and Numinous Experience

We can begin by investigating how attaining to numinous experiences releases a person from the curse of pathology, as Jung claims in his letter to P.W. Martin. Generally speaking, an “approach to the numinous” is considered a religious undertaking, a pilgrimage. The “attainment to the numinous experiences” that Jung speaks of refers to religious experiences of a quasi-mystical nature. By itself, this attainment might well persuade a person that life is meaningful. Numinous experience creates a convincing link to the transcendent, and this may well lead to the feeling that character flaws like addictions or behavioral disorders are trivial by comparison with the grand visions imparted in the mystical state. The pathological symptom can be interpreted as an incitement to go on the spiritual quest, or even as a paradoxical doorway into transcendence, and this can donate meaning to the malady itself. Perhaps some degree of pathology is needed, in fact, in order for a person to feel strongly enough motivated to set out on a spiritual quest to begin with. In this case, attainment to numinous experiences would bring about a change in the feeling that pathology is a curse, even if it did not result in curing the pathology itself, although it might lead to this as well.

Blog Posts Essays Individuation Jung's Life Religion & Spirituality Stein, Murray

I would like to take some time to write about the psychological wisdom of a prayer -“The Lord’s Prayer”- that has guided the lives of millions of Catholic people around the world. My objective is to offer (like Edward Edinger did; see his book, “Transformation of the God-Image”) a brief psychological distillation (intra-psychic perspective) of that prayer.

First, here is the prayer:

“Our Father who art in Heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”

From a psychological point of view, the relationship between our ego and the unconscious is important for our psychological well-being, especially the relationship between our consciousness and the center of the unconscious, which Analytical Psychology (Jung) calls the Self or the God Image in us. According to Jung, God is in each of us and that He/She is the center of the unconscious, which contains not only all the undiscovered and unknown potentials, talents, and abilities in each human life but, also, the dark aspects of human nature.

“Our Father who are in Heaven”

Then, what does the first sentence – “Our Father who are in Heaven” – mean psychologically?

It may mean that, inside of each of us, there is a place (Heaven) where all the undiscovered and unknown potentials, skills, talents, abilities as well as the dark aspects are located, and that the Creator of Life -God (Father)- as well as the fundamental impulse to create is there, too.

“Hallowed be Thy name”

What does this sentence mean psychologically?

The Self -God in us- is sacred. The prayer is asking people to declare the Self sacred and to view the inner center of our lives -the Self- as holy and whole. Given that the Self or God in us is dynamic center from where all psychological life begins -wishes, desires, thoughts, unknown potentials, undiscovered talents, and untapped skills- the second sentence of prayer is asking us to view and hold our psychological lives as sacred and divine. In a world where, unfortunately, outer reality seems to be the most important aspect of a human life, redeeming the “inner life and its center” as sacred seeks to restore the great psychological value of inner life.

Blog Posts Essays Religion & Spirituality Taborda, Freddie

In celebration of our Holiday Giving Drive, we are unlocking a full seminar by Polly Young-Eisendrath, “Gather Up Your Brokenness: Love, Imperfection, & Human Ideals”. You can be a part of this campaign by visiting our website and making a donation. Donors at the Supporter level and above will be acknowledged in the credits of this podcast. There are other benefits to donating so please consider visiting our website and making a contribution.

This episode is the second half of “Gather Up Your Brokenness: Love, Imperfection, & Human Ideals”. The first half was published on November 22nd.

In the poetic tradition of Zen monk and bard, Leonard Cohen, this presentation celebrates our brokenness. Often, we hear about grieving our mistakes, failures, losses and imperfections, but rarely do we learn how to mine them for their richness. Because human beings are naturally broken – with personalities that are largely unconscious, reactive and hard to manage – we have countless opportunities in our relationships and work to see our selves in the cracks of the mirror. This presentation will draw on Carl Jung’s psychology of individuation and on the Buddha’s teachings on awakening to offer a new vision of imperfection with its inherent openings to compassion and love. 

PowerPoint slides used in the talk are available HERE

Polly Young-Eisendrath, PhD is Clinical Associate Professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont Medical College. She is a psychologist and Jungian analyst practicing in the mountains of central Vermont, where she lives and writes. She has published thirteen books, many chapters and articles that have been translated into fourteen languages. Her books include The Self-Esteem Trap: Raising Confident and Compassionate Kids in an Age of Self-ImportanceThe Resilient Spirit: Transforming Suffering Into Insight And RenewalThe Gifts Of Suffering: A Guide To Resilience And RenewalWomen and Desire: Beyond Wanting to Be Wantedand You’re Not What I Expected: Learning to Love the Opposite Sex.

More Seminars by Polly Young-Eisendrath

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© 2016 Polly Young-Eisendrath. This podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. You may share it, but please do not change it, sell it, or transcribe it.
Music by Michael Chapman
Edited and produced by Benjamin Law

Eastern Philosophy Family and Intimate Relationships Individuation Jungianthology Podcast Religion & Spirituality Seminars Young-Eisendrath, Polly

In celebration of our Holiday Giving Drive, we are unlocking a full seminar by Polly Young-Eisendrath, “Gather Up Your Brokenness: Love, Imperfection, & Human Ideals”. You can be a part of this campaign by visiting our website and making a donation. Donors at the Supporter level and above will be acknowledged in the credits of this podcast. There are other benefits to donating so please consider visiting our website and making a contribution.

This episode is the first half of “Gather Up Your Brokenness: Love, Imperfection, & Human Ideals”. The second half will be published later this month.

In the poetic tradition of Zen monk and bard, Leonard Cohen, this presentation celebrates our brokenness. Often, we hear about grieving our mistakes, failures, losses and imperfections, but rarely do we learn how to mine them for their richness. Because human beings are naturally broken – with personalities that are largely unconscious, reactive and hard to manage – we have countless opportunities in our relationships and work to see our selves in the cracks of the mirror. This presentation will draw on Carl Jung’s psychology of individuation and on the Buddha’s teachings on awakening to offer a new vision of imperfection with its inherent openings to compassion and love. 

PowerPoint slides used in the talk are available HERE

A note about sound: There were microphone issues that were resolved after a few minutes.

Polly Young-Eisendrath, PhD is Clinical Associate Professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont Medical College. She is a psychologist and Jungian analyst practicing in the mountains of central Vermont, where she lives and writes. She has published thirteen books, many chapters and articles that have been translated into fourteen languages. Her books include The Self-Esteem Trap: Raising Confident and Compassionate Kids in an Age of Self-ImportanceThe Resilient Spirit: Transforming Suffering Into Insight And RenewalThe Gifts Of Suffering: A Guide To Resilience And RenewalWomen and Desire: Beyond Wanting to Be Wantedand You’re Not What I Expected: Learning to Love the Opposite Sex.

More Seminars by Polly Young-Eisendrath

Support Us: Visit Our StoreMake a Donation


© 2016 Polly Young-Eisendrath. This podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. You may share it, but please do not change it, sell it, or transcribe it.
Music by Michael Chapman
Edited and produced by Benjamin Law

Eastern Philosophy Family and Intimate Relationships Individuation Jungianthology Podcast Religion & Spirituality Seminars Young-Eisendrath, Polly