Through a Jungian Lens

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Abandoning Religion in Favour of a Spiritual Life

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Emptiness - The loss of the spiritual in a modern world leaves many as empty shells.

Loss of the spiritual centre leaves many as empty shells.

It used to be that religion and spirituality were synonymous. Somewhere along the way, and I think it had something to do with our human analytic tendency to explain as much of the unknown through science, a belief that there is a rational answer for everything. Religion saw the danger and for some reason, abandoned mysticism for doctrine. Churches told us to believe and not question and to follow the rules of the church. Rhetoric and anger replaced the numinous. Churches exhorted their followers to view all others as the enemy, an enemy that needed conversion. by becoming missionaries and converting others, they would save themselves from hell fires and eternal damnation. And so churches began to empty.

Today people all over the world are abandoning the religions in disgust and anger. Still, everyone has an instinct for transcendence. People know intuitively that some kind of spiritual life is necessary, and so many are searching on their own or joining new churches and communities. They distinguish sharply between the personal spirituality they have found and the religious institution they have abandoned.” [Moore, The Soul’s Religion, p. xv]

Thomas Moore says it right, there is a spiritual centre in each of us that churches no longer connect with for many in our modern world. What is not said is the fact that many people aren’t even aware of their spiritual centre. With spiritual hunger working below the level of consciousness, people find themselves desperately striving to fill in the empty and gnawing feelings with all manner of addictions – food, sex, pills, work, exercise, drugs, fundamentalism, politics, money, or all manner of consumer goods. It shows up in homes where the furniture is replaced long before needed, or in the constant shuffling of the furniture into new locations as if there is a perfect spot which will then magically ease the feeling that something is missing, something is out of place.

I am no different from anyone else. I am one of those that Moore talks about, one who has abandoned my religion. I filled the empty space with family and career to start with, then it was involvement in coaching all manner of sports, studying for another degree, then another degree hoping that somehow community connection and intellectual attainments would fill in the hole. Still sensing loss I poured much of whatever energy was left into photography, writing and exploring an new universe called cyberspace. I was in search of meaning and didn’t really have a clue that meaning was to be found within.


8 Responses

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  1. Very nice post and fitting picture. Thanks.


    August 3, 2013 at 3:50 pm

  2. Beautifully written. I’m much in the same place in my thoughts, my spirituality, hopefully still developing, I do listen carefully to what may come out of the pulpit and filter what may be a political turning of phrase that turns away from the Spirit of Christ and suggests…’us against them.’

    Russo Lewis

    August 3, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    • Hi Russo, good to have you join in the conversation here. I enjoy meeting and discussing with fellow minded folk. Like you, I flourish with an inclusive rather than an us-against-them attitude. Thanks.


      August 4, 2013 at 12:28 pm

  3. I don’t know enough history (alas) to know if religion and spirituality were every connected.
    I see a need however for people to practice spirituality with other people, and not be themselves. How can we do this well, without resorting to religion?


    August 4, 2013 at 10:39 am

    • Good questions. Perhaps I will find some “potential” answers along the way.


      August 4, 2013 at 12:30 pm

  4. My spiritual mentor was active in religion, but his absolute knowing of “the mystical” was always bubbling just below the surface.

    Thanks for the reminder, as an older guy myself, that whatever meaning I find in the rest of my life will initially and ultimately be found within.

    Robert Caldwell

    August 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    • Hi again, Robert. We are each filled with a wisdom we are reluctant to discover. As we touch this wisdom we lose any claim to being victims, we become fully responsible for who and how we are. Your words remind me as my words remind you, both reminders touch on what is already known within at some level. I look forward to your next comment. 🙂


      August 7, 2013 at 4:18 pm

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