Lives in Spirit

Precursors and Dilemmas of a Secular Western Mysticism

By Harry T. Hunt

Subjects: Mysticism
Series: SUNY series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology
Paperback : 9780791458044, 369 pages, August 2003
Hardcover : 9780791458037, 369 pages, August 2003

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Table of contents



Part I: Psychological and Cultural Bases of Inner-Worldly Mysticism in Modern Western Society

1. Phenomenology and Psychodynamics of Transpersonal Experience


Descriptive Phenomenologies
Personal Development, Psychodynamics, and Metapathology


2. A.H. Almaas and the Synthesis of Spiritual Development and Psychoanalytic Object-Relations Theory


Almaas, Transpersonal Psychology, and Psychodynamic Perspectives
Multiple Forms of Essence: A Cartography of the Numinous
Issues and Controversies


3. The Sociology of Inner-Worldly Mysticism in Max Weber and Ernst Troeltsch


Max Weber on Radical Salvation Movements
Inner-Worldly Mysticism as the "Secret Religion of the Educated Classes"
Dilemmas and Societal Implications of Contemporary Inner-Worldly Mysticism


Part II: The Historical Roots of Inner-Worldly Mysticism: Prototypes of Crisis and Resolution in Plotinus, Epictetus, and Gnosticism

4. Plotinus and Hellenistic Inner-Worldly Mysticism


Epictetus and Personal Presence
Plotinus and the Formless Dimensions
Cognition and Contemplation: The Plotinian Psychology of Silberer and Jung, and the Origins of Transpersonal Psychology
Object-Relational Patterns in Plotinian Contemplation: Mirroring and Splitting
Plotinus on the Metapathologies of the Gnostics


5. Gnosticism: Mystical Dualism and the Metaphysics of Hate


The Elements and Social Background of Gnosticism
Some Specific Gnosticisms: Metapathologies and Implied Dynamics


Egyptian Hermeticism
Barbelites, Cainites, Ophites, and Sethians: Mystical Satirists of the Old Testament
Valentinus and Ptolemy: Heterodox Christian Gnostics and the Redemption of Sophia
Manichaeanism: A Radical Prophetical Dualism


"Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself ": The Problem of Splitting in Mystical Gnosticism
Freud's Gnostic Metapsychology of the Newborn


Part III: Transpersonal Anticipations and Conflicts in Nineteenth-Century Precursors to a Naturalistic Inner-Worldly Mysticism

6. Nietzsche


Aspects of Essence in Nietzsche's Thought and Experience
Nietzsche's Life: Dynamics and Tragedy
Relations between Pathology, Creativity, and Essential States in Nietzsche
The Nietzschean Psychologists and Abraham Maslow


7. Emerson, Thoreau, and Hiram Marble: New England Transcendentalism and a Brief Look at Spiritualism


Emerson's Eternal Moment of Being
Dynamics and Openings to Essence in Emerson's Life
Thoreau: The Woods of Concord as Mirror of the Soul
Thoreau's Life and Dynamics
Hiram Marble and Spiritualism: Kierkegaard's Knight of Faith at Dungeon Rock


Part IV: Some Political Ambiguities in the Development of Presence: Inner-Worldly Mysticism, Metapathology, and National Socialism

8. Jung, Visionary Racial Occultism, and Hitler


Self, Archetypes, and Collective Unconscious
Carl Jung's Dance with the Devil
Narcissistic Vulnerability in Jung's Development
From "Collective Unconscious" to "Objective Psyche": Jung's Shift from Pseudo-Biology to a Cognition of Metaphor
Aryan Racial Occultism: Why Jung Is not a Nazi
Hitler as Charismatic Prophet
Max Weber on Spirituality and Politics


9. "Triumph of the Will": Heidegger's Nazism as Spiritual Pathology


Heidegger as Spiritual Thinker
The Rectorship
Heidegger's Spiritual Crisis and Its Partial Resolution


1924–1927: Spiritual Awakening
1928–1932: Purgation
1933–1934: False Illumination
1935–1944: True Illumination: Direct Manifestations of Essence


Vulnerabilities of Character
Dilemmas of Inner-Worldly Mysticism


Jung and Heidegger
Socrates and Heidegger


Heidegger and Weber


Part V: Roots of a Contemporary This-Worldly Spirituality

10. George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff: A Near Eastern Inner-Worldly Mysticism in the Modern West


Gurdjieff's Life and Teachings
Gurdjieff's Anticipations of Object-Relations Theory
Object-Relational Dilemmas in Gurdjieff's Life and System


The Schizoid Position
The Paranoid Position
The Depressive Position: Making Reparation and the Capacity for Concern


Gurdjieff and Almaas
A Final Note on Gurdjieff in Nazi-Occupied Paris


11. Aleister Crowley, Sexual Magick, and Drugs: Some Ambiguities of Sex, Will, and Power in Inner-Worldly Mysticism


Crowley's System of Mystical Will
The Practices: Astral Travel and the Invention of the Speedball
Crowley and Spiritual Realization


False Will
False Love
False Power and the Role of Hatred


The Horrific Childhood of Aleister Crowley
Contrawise: The Avoidance of Essential Power and Will in Jerry Garcia
Crowley and the Dilemmas of Contemporary Spirituality


12. Feminist Spirituality: The Return of Sophia


Psychology, Gender, and Transpersonal Experience
Socio-Cultural Bases of a Feminist Shamanism
The Feminist Roots of Nineteenth-Century Spiritualism and Theosophy
Contemporary Feminist Spiritualities
The Autobiography of Jean Houston
Limitations of a Feminist Inner-Worldly Mysticism


Part VI: Transpersonal Psychology, New Age Spirituality, and the Human Sciences

13. Concluding Reflections


Reconciling Transpersonal Approaches and the Human Sciences
Contemporary Societal Implications


Inner-Worldly Mysticism and Deep Ecology: The Weberian Dilemma Revisited
Consciousness Evolution vs Cultural Globalization


A Closing Word from Kierkegaard





Explores the roots of modern transpersonal psychology and spirituality through psychobiography.


Lives in Spirit explores the dynamic conflicts that both energized and distorted the spiritual development of key precursor figures of a contemporary secular or "this-worldly" mysticism. With its historical roots in the early Gnostics and Plotinus, this characteristically Western spirituality re-emerges with the secularization and loss of traditional religious belief of modernity. The lives, works, and direct experiences of Nietzsche, Emerson, Thoreau, Jung, Heidegger, Gurdjieff, Crowley, and contemporary feminist mysticism are considered in terms of transpersonal psychology (Almaas), the sociology of mysticism (Weber and Troeltsch), and contemporary psychoanalysis (Winnicott, Bion, Kohut). Spiritual or essential experience is seen as an inherent form of human intelligence, which while potentially and even increasingly impacted by personal dynamics and social crisis, is not reducible to them.

Harry T. Hunt is Professor in the Department of Psychology at Brock University. He is the author of On the Nature of Consciousness: Cognitive, Phenomenological, and Transpersonal Perspectives and The Multiplicity of Dreams: Memory, Imagination, and Consciousness.