The Stormy Search for the Self: A guide to personal growth through transformational crisis
Christina and Stanislav Grof

A book loaned to me by Rev. Fred Wright.

Personal thought: Spiritual development is the psychological creation of a personal metaphor for reality.

For some individuals, however, the transformational journey of spiritual development becomes a “spiritual emergency,” a crisis in which the changes within are so rapid and the inner states so demanding that, temporarily, these people may find it difficult to operate fully in everyday reality. In our time, these individuals are rarely treated as if they are on the edge of inner growth. Rather, they are almost always viewed through the lens of disease and treated with technologies that obscure the potential benefits the experiences can offer. (p. 1)

As a result of this bias, many people who are involved in the natural healing process of spiritual emergence are automatically put in the same category as those with true mental illness – especially if their experiences are causing a crisis in their lives or are creating difficulties for their families. (Is the difference, then, between functional/non-functional or adaptive/non-adaptive psychosis? JH) (p. 3)

The shadow of death and torments of hell are most acutely felt, and this comes from the sense of being abandoned by God (by an absence of conscious/unconscious connection? JH) … a terrible apprehension has come upon [the soul] that thus it will be forever… It sees itself in the midst of the opposite evils, miserable imperfections, dryness and emptiness of the understanding and abandonment of the spirit in darkness. St. John of the Cross, The Dark Night. (p. 46)

The pain was so sharp that I moaned but the delight of this tremendous pain is so overwhelming that one cannot wish it to leave one, nor is the soul any longer satisfied with anything less than God. It is a spiritual, not bodily pain, although the body has some part, even a considerable part, in it. It is an exchange of courtesies between the soul and God. St. Teresa of Avila. (p. 69)

Hesychasm? (p. 80) Hesychasm is a term applied to three distinct but related stages of development of Eastern Christian spirituality. The term comes from the Greek word meaning “tranquility.”

First, hesychasm refers to the spirituality which was characteristic of the early Church Fathers in the 4th and 5th centuries.These monks were hermits dwelling in the deserts seeking inner peace and spiritual insight while practicing contemplation and self-discipline as they studied the New Testament and the Psalter.

Secondly, hesychasm refers to the type of contemplation which developed with the Byzantine spirituality from the 10th to the 14th centuries. Such spirituality employed the method of praying the Jesus Prayer “(Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.)” The saying of the pray was synchronized with one’s breathing. This spiritual practice is characteristic of the spirituality described in the five volume collection called Philokalia.

Thirdly, hesychasm refers to the theological exposition of the contemplation of God as proposed by Gregory Palamas in the 14th century and became the official doctrine of the Orthodox Church. Plamas’ aimed for this proposal was to defend the hesychastic spirituality and the way of prayer of the monks of Mt. Athos and the Byzantine Orient against the attacks of the Barlaam Calabria. Palamas distinguished between the unchanging essence of God and His uncreative energies.

“The Taboric Light (the light that surrounded Christ in the Transfiguration), the goal sought in contemplation by the hesychasts, was a theophany, or manifestation of God, through His uncreated energies.” A.G.H. Source: (Hesychasm, George A. Maloney, S.J., John, XXIII Center, Fordham University)

In many cases the intense and sometimes overpowering craving for drugs, alcohol, food, sex or other objects of addiction is really a misplaced yearning for wholeness, a larger sense of self, or God – one that cannot be satisfied in the external world. (p. 106)

[Joseph] Campbell found that the archetype of the hero”s journey typically has three stages, which are similar to those we described earlier as characteristic sequences in traditional rites of passage: separation, initiation and return. The hero leaves the familiar ground or is forcefully separated from it by an external force, is transformed through a series of extraordinary ordeals and adventures, and finally is again incorporated into his or her original society in a new role.

In Campbell”s own words, the basic formula for the hero”s journey can be summarized as follows: A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder; fabulous forces are encountered and a decisive victory is won; the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man…

[Campbell”s] monomyth of the hero”s journey is a metaphor for the inner experiences during a transforming crisis, describing its experiential territories. As the transformative crisis is universally relevant, so it the myth. (p. 127)

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