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Lives in Spirit: Precursors and Dilemmas of a Secular Western Mysticism (New)

by Hunt, Harry T.

Publisher: SUNY Press

Binding: Paperback

Book ID: 9780791458044, 0791458040


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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.

“Hunt is one of the most articulate of the psychologists exploring ‘transpersonal experiences,’ … this is a bold, original, and provocative attempt to portray accounts of ‘unitive’ experiences and their relevance to such 21st century issues as globalization, ecological activism, and cultural change.” -- CHOICE

“This … book … readily transverses disciplinary boundaries.” -- Sociology of Religion

“Scholars in the history of psychology should sit up and take notice of this book. It is a wake-up call to the narrowness of focus that has plagued the history of psychology since 1929 … the work is well written, of significant scholarly caliber, and provocative for the issues it raises about the psychology and sociology of mystical consciousness in a Western context. It should be a red flag for historians of the old order.” -- Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences “Hunt’s book is useful for those interested in an introduction to and application of Almaas. Surely any mystical soteriology, past or present, could stand to integrate the insights of psychoanalysis into its ‘therapeutic’ regimen. Hunt’s presentation should help enrich this dialogue.” — The Journal of Religion "Harry T. Hunt's informative and insightful study of 'inner worldly mysticism' gives a cogent discussion of the kind of mystical inclination that arises in our secular culture and the pitfalls inherent in such spiritual forms. His first-hand familiarity with the Diamond Approach gives him the depth and breadth to use some of its concepts in contextualizing both the achievements and limitations of influential figures such as Plotinus, Nietzsche, Jung, and Maslow in a way that clarifies modern forms of Western spirituality." — A. H. Almaas, author of Essence With the Elixir of Enlightenment: The Diamond Approach to Inner Realization 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.

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