Introduction to Spiritual Psychology

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“Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.
And if anyone thinks that he knows anything,
he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.
But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him”
(1 Cor 8:1-3)


According to the American Psychological Association, psychology is “the study of the mind and behavior.”[1] Spiritual psychology is an innovative branch of psychology that examines man in his integrity – as a complex system consisting of his spirit, soul and body. The history of science and religion, sacred texts, and the experience and discoveries of advanced scholars and ascetics indicate that such an integrated approach to the study of man is the only way to identify the true factors that determine his mind and behavior.

For many centuries, psychology developed as a part of philosophy. The word psychology derives from the Greek words ψυχή – “soul” and λόγος – “study”. The origin of this term indicates that psychology, from its inception, was the study of soul. In the Middle Ages religion, especially the Christian philosophers and theologians, had a very significant influence on the development of psychological ideas. However, to the 19th century, when psychology was established as a separate discipline, its bias towards empirical research, towards experimental psychology became quite evident. This trend was common to philosophy and social sciences. The scientific revolution in natural science noticeably weakened influence of theology and theological debates on the development of philosophy.

The American philosopher and psychologist William James, who is labelled by many the “Father of modern psychology”, opposed the arrogant attitude to religion as to an “anachronism, an atavistic relapse into a mode of thought.”[2] His book The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature is believed by some authors to lay the foundations for the psychology of religion.[3] Having examined religious and mystical states, the author identified three essential “characteristics of the religious life”:

  1. “That the visible world is part of a more spiritual universe from which it draws its chief significance”;
  2. “That union or harmonious relation with that higher universe is our true end”;
  3. “That prayer or inner communion with the spirit thereof - be that spirit “God” or “law” - is a process wherein work is really done, and spiritual energy flows in and produces effects, psychological or material, within the phenomenal world.”[4]

James emphasized that religion adds “a new zest” to life, causes “a temper of peace, and, in relation to others, a preponderance of loving affections”; it “freshens our vital powers.”[5] On account of its “extraordinary influence upon actions and endurance”, mystical or religious consciousness should be classed “amongst the most important functions of mankind.”[6] The scientist imposed a heavy sentence upon science that rejects this important part of human experience - he was not afraid to call this science a humbug:

I can, of course, put myself into the sectarian scientist’s attitude, and imagine vividly that the world of sensations and of scientific laws and objects may be all. But… Humbug is humbug, even though it bear the scientific name, and the total expression of human experience … invincibly urges me beyond the narrow scientific bounds. Assuredly, the real world is of a different temperament,- more intricately built than physical science allows.[7]

On the other hand, James noted that one of the duties of the science of religion is “to keep religion in connection with the rest of science.” It’s necessary to “sift out a common body of doctrine” from the midst of their discrepancies, which doesn’t object to physical science and can be recommended “for general belief”.[8] Although appreciable progress in the convergence of science and religion, as James conceived it, hasn’t occurred, we can find its signs in the post-modern paradigm. For example, one of the leading American psychologists Stanley Krippner have suggested that Western psychology should change its perspectives from neglecting the individual’s ecstatic experience as pathological or illusory to its adoption as opening the sphere of latent human capacities; from the derision of experience of uniting with Earth or God to understanding that it can be essential to the survival of our planet and its inhabitants.[9]

The work of William James was a great success, but the researcher himself wasn’t satisfied. He thought that he paid too much attention to facts and not enough - to their philosophical analysis. To his credit it should be noted that to make an objective analysis of mystical or religious states is a challenging task. Assuredly, the most reliable way of establishing the truth of a scientific hypothesis or judgment is to test it in practice through experiments, observations, etc. However, only people with special – extraordinary abilities are able to observe processes in the spiritual world, invisible to an average person. The history of religions and sacred texts show that such abilities are given by God to His prophets - so that they can see the spiritual world and perceive His information. And the Creator reveals His secrets – the secrets of the universe - to His prophets too: “Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). It follows that it’s the prophets who are able to develop the true knowledge about God and spirituality.

As in former times, the Creator has considered it possible and necessary to reveal His secrets to the modern researcher and innovator Evgeny Molchanov.[10][11][12] Based on these secrets, Molchanov has been able to make an innovative breakthrough in the unification of science and religion. With God’s help, he found that the Creator’s secrets are nothing but His spiritual laws. Understanding of these laws is critical to obtaining the true knowledge of the subject of psychology – the mind and behavior and to achieving the true goal of our life, which William James outlined as the union or harmonious relation with that higher – spiritual – universe.

Because of their exceptional importance, the laws of spirituality will be the main subject of study in the proposed course. The course will consist of lectures, designed on the basis of the book The New Revelation: A Scientific Alternative to the “End of the Age”.[13][14] This book was conceived as the first textbook on spirituality by its authors. In the future, the course may be supplemented by practical recommendations so that students can independently test the laws of spirituality. The course also includes the reading of additional literature listed below. Many references to the holy ascetics’ prophecies and experience as well as to scientific forecasts and conclusions made by the prominent thinkers and scientists of all ages are intended to adduce evidence in support of the validity of the new spiritual discoveries.

Course Introduction to Spiritual Psychology[edit]

Required texts[edit]

  1. The Bible. Containing the Old and New Testaments. BibleGateway.
  2. James, William. The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature. London and Bombay: Longman, Green and Co, 1902.
  3. Cayce, Edgar. Readings.
  4. Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov). Saint Silouan the Athonite. St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1999. ISBN 978-0-88141-195-9.
  5. Ukhtomsky, Alexei. The Dominant. St. Petersburg: Piter, 2003.
  6. Archbishop Luka (Valentin Voyno-Yasenetsky). Spirit, Soul and Body. Rostov-on-Don: Tovarischestvo, 1991.

Notes[edit]

  1. "How does the APA define “psychology”?", American Psychological Association, accessed August 29, 2016.
  2. William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature (London and Bombay: Longman, Green, and Co, 1902), 490.
  3. James O. Pawelski, "James, William" in The Encyclopedia of Positive Psychology, ed. Shane. J. Lopez (Wiley-Blackwell: A John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Publication, 2009), Vol. I. ISBN 978-1-4051-6125-1.
  4. William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature (London and Bombay: Longman, Green, and Co, 1902), 485.
  5. Ibid., 485-486, 505.
  6. Ibid., 506.
  7. Ibid., 519.
  8. Ibid., 510-511.
  9. Dmitry Spivak, "The Varieties of Religious Experience (marking the centenary of the publication of W. James’ book)", Tochki = Puncta 2, no 3-4 (2002): 129-147.
  10. Mikhail Pasechnik, "Systematic Innovative Activity", Industry and Ecology of the North 12, no 4 (2011): 46-50.
  11. "Unified Science", Unified Science, accessed August 29, 2016.
  12. Mikhail Pasechnic, and Evgeny Molchanov, "Objective Laws and Innovative Activity", Scientific and Technical Bulletin “Karotazhnik” 201, no 3 (2011): 53-57.
  13. Zemfira Minaeva, "Each man should create a system of checks and balances within himself", Club Neformat, July 21, 2015.
  14. "About the author of the book The New Revelation", Unified Science, accessed August 29, 2016.