The phenomenology of mystical experiences has been described throughout all the ages and in all religions. All mystical traditions identify some sense of union with the absolute as the ultimate spiritual goal. I assume that the pathway to both theistic and secular spirituality and our readiness to seek a solution in a psychological merger with something beyond the self evolves out of our human experience. Spirituality is one of man's strategies for dealing with the limitations of the life cycle, separation and loss, biological fragility, transience, and non-existence. Spirituality may serve as the affective component to a belief system or myth that is not rooted in scientific evidence but is lived as if it is true. Spirituality may take many forms, but I will suggest that in some instances it may serve as a reparative process in which one creates in the external world, through symbolic form, a nuance or facet of an internalized mental representation which has become lost or is no longer available to the self; or it may represent the continuity of the self-representation after death through a self-object merger. Lastly I will illustrate from the writings of two of our greatest poets, Dante Alighieri and William Wordsworth, how their poetry became interwoven with a profound spirituality. In Dante we will see the elaboration of a religious spirituality, while in the writings of Wordsworth a secular spirituality emerges interwoven with nature and belatedly his identification with "tragic man" as his mythos.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health