Healthy and Unhealthy Spirituality


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

At this subdomain of Enlightened-Spirituality.org, we'll help you to distinguish between Healthy and Unhealthy Spirituality, that is to say, between empowering, highly functional spiritual life on the one hand, and dis-empowering, dysfunctional "cultism" on the other hand.

For starters, what do we feel and mean by the word "God" (or whatever we call the Source of all that is)? Most people have some kind of theology about God, explicit or implicit, examined or unexamined. So: are we operating with a healthy theological model of our Divine Source or rather do we labor with an unhealthy, abusive theology (often hidden within our subconscious mind)? Is our intuitive impression of God or the Source really positive—God as magnificent Love, Light, Truth and Goodness—or do we feel, deep down, that our sense of God is laced with negative, fearful elements? Click here to explore a meditation on healing abusive subconscious models of God. Along these lines of examining our theological assumptions, it's very helpful to shed light upon our theologies by distinguishing mere pantheism and mere theism from the really beautiful theology of panentheism, or what might also be called "Absolute, Inclusive Theism," which so fully honors God or the Supreme Reality by not theologically limiting God or Reality in any way. Though the word "panentheism" only goes back a little over a century ago, it best describes the theology, philosophy or metaphysics of so many of our greatest scriptures and spiritual teachers. Thus, most of the world's pre-eminent mystics can be best regarded as panentheists, not mere theists or pantheists. Consider the teachings (provided at our Religion and Spirituality subdomain) of Jesus, John Scottus Eriugena, Meister Eckhart and others within Christianity, most of the leading Sufi mystics of Islam (Bistami, al-Hallaj, Rumi, Ibn Arabi, et al.), Kabbalist-Hasidic mystics of Judaism (Moses Cordovero, Ba`al Shem Tov, et al.), and the sages of the Upanishads (Yajnavalkya, et al.), Bhagavad Gita (Krishna), and Shankara, Jnaneshvar and so many other sages of Hindu India, along with the ancient and later contemplative Taoist sages of China (Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, et al.) and Ch'an/Zen, Vajrayana and Shingon masters of Buddhism. All these great luminaries were, essentially, panentheists, not mere theists or pantheists—in that they regard the Divine Absolute or Reality Principle (God, Brahman, Tao, Buddhata) as both transcendent and immanent, beyond all yet right here within all.

You can use the following link to discover and explore 12 different religious/spiritual temperaments, not just to better get a sense of what kind of spiritual path(s) might best serve to bring out your own spiritual potential, but to also help you understand just how diverse our various religions really are. The divergence is not just between the different religions, but right within the religions themselves. On this point, notice, for instance, that there are actually "different Christianities," with major variations depending on whether the Christian in question is Mother Teresa of Calcutta or Dorothy Day or Pat Robertson or Padre Pio or Paul Tillich or Aimee Semple McPherson. The same kind of differences within other religions all point to the fact that religious/spiritual temperaments are even more important than the particular "brand" of religion to which people consciously subscribe.

In this area of our website, you can also discover a set of inspiring and highly useful Criteria for Authentic Spiritual Realization --based on the author's doctoral dissertation research-- to get a clearer sense of what, precisely, is the all-important goal or aim of religious/spiritual life.

I have also created a long webpage that includes Chapters 1, 2, and 5 of my PhD dissertation --which will provide you with much further discussion of optimal well-being and the interface between psychology and Spiritual Realization. In this PhD dissertation, I survey (in Chapter 2, reproduced in full) the views on health and well-being from over three dozen prominent psychologists in the fields of depth psychology, behavioral psychology, and, especially, humanistic psychology and transpersonal psychology.

Further, against the pooh-poohing or actual revulsion and disgust displayed toward religion/spirituality by so many influential persons over the last 120 years—from Nietzsche and Freud to comedians George Carlin and Bill Maher of our day—you can learn here at this link from a number of good Doctors how "spirituality is so very good for you" on so many levels.

In this website, as mentioned, we'll not only be looking at the good, healthy forms of spirituality, but also examine the "bad and ugly" elements of cultism; so I share with you a long list of warning signs of dysfunctional cults, a guide to how so many groups can go so terribly wrong. This is offered to help you save yourself and anyone else you know from the clutches of any disempowering cult groups that might have sucked you or your loved ones into the quicksand of religious dysfunction.

In all of this, let us again recall Jalaluddin Rumi's words, "Counterfeiters exist because there is such a thing as real Gold." We can find the real Gold of truly authentic spirituality and God-Realization, we don't need the hucksters, charlatans and pretenders. (And let us pray: may God bless, heal and awaken these dear souls and all souls at their earliest possible convenience!)