The psychology of God?

What needs do mythology and religion serve in today's world and in ancient times? Here we discuss the relationship between mythology, religion and science from mythological, religious and philosophical viewpoints.

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boringguy
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The psychology of God?

Post by boringguy » Sun Aug 29, 2010 1:38 am

Hi all,

Ran across this again the other day and it started me thinking. It is to the effect that human fulfillment comes from, 'something to do, something to love, and something to hope for'. So one of my thoughts ran this way from there. From the sense that the 'realest' thing I can know are my own experiences, and that taking one to rather inner places where one finds only oneself, yet the common thread of love is 'the other'. In the deepest recesses of finding only oneself then, do we have the need to find God, in whatever understanding, as 'an other' of our self, so as to be able to experience love even of ourselves?



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Post by Andreas » Sun Aug 29, 2010 11:38 am

Hi,

I am so tempted to say that God is dead. :P
“To live is enough.” ― Shunryu Suzuki
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Post by jonsjourney » Sun Aug 29, 2010 12:18 pm

My understanding of the origin the concept of "The Other" is that it is attributed to the Judaic traditions, at least in the form of organized religious belief. But that is not necessarily what we are looking at here, at least I do not think that is what BG is going for.

In terms of finding God within ourselves and then extending that outward...I think this is a perfectly reasonable idea. A common concept we see, and one that was often addressed by Campbell, is atonement. AT-ONE-MENT. We must be a peace with ourselves if we are to be at peace with others. So when we are at one with ourselves, we are at one with the God of our understanding.

Or, The Hero's Journey, which is primarily an inward journey that has been told in a metaphoric story. While some of the stories of the Hero's Journey may be a physically real journey, the majority are in a metaphorical story form that speaks to all of us in a universal way. It is a human experience to try to understand ourselves. It is a struggle to break away from the rules of childhood to the uncertainty and conformity of adolescence. We then move through young adulthood with all of its rituals and customs, many of which we do not understand as they approach and then pass by. One thing we commonly see is the mid-life crisis, which is the real inward journey. It is the total casting off of all those imposed ideas and rules for our own understanding of what our life is about and how it is informed by the universal human experience. The "elder" years, or post mid-life phase is frequently spent trying to teach others about how to navigate the swamps of early life, often only to realize that the best we can do is point to something and allow the individual to find their own way through the forest. All of these phases, though, are individual experiences. Nobody else can walk our path.

If we, at whatever age, find ourselves on that inward journey, we are in the position to love and be loved completely. Not a selfish love, but a love of giving without thought of reward. It is an honest love. An honest love of who you are, and an honest love of who you share that with. A love in which to share all is to be all. This is the love of true compassion. Not the compassion of rescuing a lost dog or cat, but the compassion one feels when looking into the face of the people we find the most difficult to feel compassion for. As the saying goes, we cannot truly love another until we truly love ourselves.
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Post by Cindy B. » Sun Aug 29, 2010 2:11 pm

Andreas wrote:Hi,

I am so tempted to say that God is dead. :P
You just did. :P

Yet context matters, Andreas, so in light of the specific context of your recent Jungian studies, consider the archetypal Self and that it's essentially, i.e., in its essence, indistinguishable from the God archetype and derivative archetypal images. :)

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Post by Andreas » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:42 pm

Cindy B. wrote:
Andreas wrote:Hi,

I am so tempted to say that God is dead. :P
You just did. :P

Yet context matters, Andreas, so in light of the specific context of your recent Jungian studies, consider the archetypal Self and that it's essentially, i.e., in its essence, indistinguishable from the God archetype and derivative archetypal images. :)

Cindy
Well... the God Nietzsche was talking about must die before the true God can be discovered so in that context I think it fits. Also God comes in pairs too. There is the Demon of despair, hate and emptiness and I think only when we realize that our God is not just compassion and hope we can find the true God. But I think you know this better than me. :P

There is a wonderful movie that talks about what JJ said. Here it is.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0760188/
“To live is enough.” ― Shunryu Suzuki
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Post by Cindy B. » Sun Aug 29, 2010 5:28 pm

Andreas wrote:Well... the God Nietzsche was talking about must die before the true God can be discovered so in that context I think it fits. Also God comes in pairs too. There is the Demon of despair, hate and emptiness and I think only when we realize that our God is not just compassion and hope we can find the true God.
Yep, Andreas, from my own psychological perspective, I can agree. :)

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If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s. --Jung
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Post by romansh » Sun Aug 29, 2010 6:05 pm

Just finished reading The Evolution of God by Robert Wright of The Moral Animal fame. He uses evolutionary psychology for how we might interpret society's perception of god

Overall enjoyed the book, despite there being a fair amount of supposition and hypothesis. To be fair, Wright is fairly open about this. His basic premise is that our concept of god is a reflection the society's development.

For most of his book his two main arguments are:
1) we either are in a zero sum game or a non zero sum game and that our gods reflect this observation.
2) with increasing cosmopolitization of society, this leads to more of a non zero sum game and consequently to a more inclusive/loving god.

He goes off the deep end at the end of the book, but some may like the conclusion but I suspect many will be left scratching there heads. Nevertheless I would give the book the benefit of the doubt and give it two thumbs up.
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Post by jonsjourney » Sun Aug 29, 2010 6:32 pm

Also God comes in pairs too. There is the Demon of despair, hate and emptiness and I think only when we realize that our God is not just compassion and hope we can find the true God. -Andreas
I definitely agree, and while I did focus in my post on love and compassion, I fully recognize not only the existence of, but the value of, my shadow side. When I recognize my shadow aspects, I am a fuller, more integrated person.
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Post by boringguy » Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:23 am

Andreas,
I am so tempted to say that God is dead.
I hear your cautious optimism. I sometimes have to stop and remind myself as well, that if I have arrived anyplace, it’s a starting place. :)

jj,

I may be treading both sides of a fine line between science and religion here, or at least between philosophy and psychology, but I think you are on the right track with me (I know that’s not always easy) as I am focusing on love as a basic requirement of the human psyche, and God in its first sense as an entirely personal perception. This love, as a product of dualistic sense (as are the other things in the saying about human fulfillment as well), requires an object of that love, ‘the other’, it is not a product of one. And while I’m not wanting to turn this into a debate of Plato and Democritus, I am admittedly coming from the point that physical duality isn’t ultimate Reality, in that all our science or our bodies do, is give us meter readings of symbolic form. And yet here we are, in singularly experienced consciousness. So my thought then is that God is essentially a first requirement into duality, that point where the one thing turns into two, of the human psyche, and as such is basically our division of our one Self so as to create objects of love, or the ability to love and be loved, again that love is not a product of one. Certainly, Campbell’s work seems to bear out the requirement of God to the human psyche. And this because it leads ultimately, to the ability to first love oneself in this dualistic sense?


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Post by Neoplato » Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:07 pm

I am focusing on love as a basic requirement of the human psyche, and God in its first sense as an entirely personal perception. This love, as a product of dualistic sense (as are the other things in the saying about human fulfillment as well), requires an object of that love, ‘the other’, it is not a product of one. -BG
If no one minds, I’ll think I’ll throw my 2 cents in the ring. :wink:

My take on “love” is that it is the attracting force (or gravity) that binds all consciousness and life to each other. The moving force behind the emanation into the field of time.
Love is the attracting, harmonizing, unifying faculty of the mind; it is a constructive, building force. True love is the total, unconditional acceptance of everyone and everything. Love is patient, kind, humble, courteous, unselfish, good-tempered, guileless, and sincere.
Not my words, but this sums up my thoughts. 8)
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Post by jonsjourney » Tue Aug 31, 2010 12:12 pm

So my thought then is that God is essentially a first requirement into duality, that point where the one thing turns into two, of the human psyche, and as such is basically our division of our one Self so as to create objects of love, or the ability to love and be loved, again that love is not a product of one. Certainly, Campbell’s work seems to bear out the requirement of God to the human psyche. And this because it leads ultimately, to the ability to first love oneself in this dualistic sense? -BG
I wonder when consciousness begins for a human life?

Not that we can necessarily hash out answers to such a large question, it does have some bearing on how this idea of duality develops, at least when we think about it psychologically. Is there a consciousness in the egg or the sperm pre-union? Or does it maybe develop after conception has occurred. Is there a consciousness in the womb? Or does consciousness develop as we develop, so that it may exist on a very primal level (such as a plant "knowing" which way to face to absorb the sun's light) at conception and then develop in complexity as our minds develop?

Interesting stuff, me thinks!

Also, maybe the Freudian take has some merit. The early child thinks that it and the mother are one because all of its wishes and needs are fulfilled "automatically". The infant is hungry and food comes. The infant is cold and warmth is provided, etc. Then the infant experiences a separation in different stages of development. The world becomes one of subject and object, where there was once just unity. We then spend many years of our lives attempting in healthy, and unhealthy, ways to "reunite" with that experience of oneness. "God" then becomes that return to an infantile state of not having to do anything but just be. Of course, Freud did not think much of "God" or religion!

So the purpose, psychologically, of "God" could be as BG is pointing to, an experience of love that leads us both inward and outward on our journey. But, there is also the theory that "God" developed in our psyche to deal with all that is unknown. The transcendent. What happens when we die, etc. There is a good argument for the human need to believe in "something more" than the mundane experience of existence as strictly a business of survival. Many, it seems, need to think that this business of survival is a means to an end that is greater than the experience of life and living in and of itself.
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“Contemporary man in search of a soul” – Jung

Post by Bhagavan Das » Fri Dec 09, 2011 10:34 am

“Contemporary man in search of a soul” – Jung
Excerpts:
“Indeed, he is completely contemporary only when he has come to the very edge of the world, leaving behind him all that has been discarded and outgrown, and acknowledging that he stands before a void out of which all things may grow.”
“As a meter of fact, a great horde of worthless people give themselves the air of being contemporary by overleaping the various stages of development and the tasks of life they represent. They appear suddenly by the side of the truly contemporary man as uprooted human beings, bloodsucking ghosts, whose emptiness is taken for unenviable loneliness of the contemporary man and casts discredit upon him.”
“Higher level of consciousness is like a burden of guilt. But, as I have said, only the man who has outgrown the stages of consciousness belonging to the past, can achieve a full consciousness of the present.”
“I know that the idea of proficiency is especially repugnant to the pseudo-contemporary, for it reminds them unpleasantly of their deceits.”
“Today” stands between “yesterday” and “tomorrow”, and forms a link between past and future. The present represents a process of transition, and that man may account himself contemporary who is conscious of it in this sense.”
“…we are culmination of the history of mankind, the fulfillment and the end-product of countless centuries. If we grant this, we should understand that it is no more than the proud acknowledgement of our destination: we are also the disappointment of the hopes and expectations of the ages. Think of nearly two thousand years of Christian ideals followed, instead of by the return of the Messiah and the heavenly millennium, by the World War among Christian nations and its barbed- wire and poison gas. What a catastrophe in heaven and on earth.”
Cultural correlative is Becket’s, intertwined with Camus, Theatre of Absurd - “Waiting for Godot”, absurd is in literal non symbolic, metaphorical, civilizational objective, waiting.
“In the face of such a picture we may well grow humble again. It is true that contemporary man is a culmination, but tomorrow he will be surpassed; he is indeed the age-old development, but he is at the same time the worst conceivable disappointment of the hopes of humankind. The contemporary man is aware of this. He has seen how beneficent are science, technology and organization, but also how catastrophic they can be.”
“…Agreements to outlaw war leaves us skeptical, even while we wish them all possible success. At bottom, behind every such palliative measure, there is a gnawing doubt. On the whole, I believe I am not exaggerating when I say that contemporary man has suffered an almost fatal shock, psychologically speaking, and as a result has fallen into profound uncertainty.”
What is cultural contemporary of this shock with everlasting resonance is Camus and his Philosophy of Absurd, and Theatre of Absurd.

“…Freud’s psychoanalytic labors show this process in the clearest way. The very first thing he discovered was the existence of sexually perverse and criminal fantasies which at their face value are wholly incompatible with the conscious outlook of a civilized man. A person who was activated by them would be nothing less than a mutineer, a criminal or a madman”
By destroying a filter between subconscious and conscious and eliminating superego - Zeus, authority, father figure, religious teachings, God one way or the other ones consciousness is internally so diminished that when superego and subconscious touch each other one is forces to scream. Madness or possession is elimination or absence of consciousness and balance of those three layers of psyche. Mental patients scream frequently because their subconsciousness is out of their control, it is set of volcanic eruptions that uncontrollably penetrate consciousness and decapitate and paradise it to a point where one is mere victim of his subconscious, there are mentally stuck at some traumatic experience that is resurfacing from sub-conscious on its own and they repeat that over and over endlessly. With serial killers those traumatic suppressed events, that are often and most likely sexually abused as children are repetitive uncontrollable outbursts of suppressed memories that are reenactment of trauma out of inability to deal or control mental damage and humiliation that it originally caused.
In a war circumstances it is possible to hear confections of addiction to killing, but that’s most likely driven by same psycho-motoric outbursts of specific trauma since it is not that common even in those circumstances. If overall behavior is reflection of sexual behavior, and it is, it would be sadistic homosexuality that would be matching psychological profile of a murderer, among those that is known that were homosexuals is Alexander the Great and some sources claim that Hitler had homosexual partner in WWI , OSS report states all kinds of deviant sexual behavior.

Pro/against homosexuality argument amounts to, if sexual behavior wouldn’t reflect itself in a character it would be possible to acknowledge that frequently said “that’s their own business”, it used to be considered sexual perversion and still is to some extent, psychology at its beginnings was considering it mental illness, it is still today consider unnatural and abnormality. There is pattern that most of homosexuals grow up fatherless, and absence of father figure has its multiple consequences in child’s development, or there is malfunctioning relationship with existing father, growing up around female parent only would make child emulate femininity, child develops low self-esteem because it blames itself for abandonment. It is great inner and outer turmoil of which some recover and some don’t. For example there is a pattern between fatherless and Existentialists, almost all of them grew up without father. Psychology from the start of analysis suspects and focuses on few things and among them are father issues and child abuse, as it surfaced as a common and frequent pattern. Psychological patterns analyzed by statistical psychology- Gestalt overwhelmingly overlaps with Psychoanalysis and Analytical Psychology. On the other hand Michelangelo and Da Vinci were homosexuals themselves, Mona Lisa being self-portrait and having that first response credible to it that is – that woman is not that beautiful at all. According to Jung Art itself is somewhat related to, coming from- getting in touch with mental, not necessarily physical, archetype Anima – feminine self, that is component of everyone’s psyche. Then value of Mona Lisa is beside mastery of technic appealing primarily to aesthetic of certain artistic community internally, not necessarily as much to general public.
“It is, however, true that much of the evil in the world is due to the fact that man in general is hopelessly unconscious, as it is also true that with increasing insight we can combat this evil at its source in ourselves”
“The various forms of religion no longer appear to the contemporary man to come from within – to be expressions of his own psychic life”
“I do not believe that I am going too far when I say that contemporary man, in contrast to his 19th century brother, turns his attention to the psyche with very great expectations; and that he does so without reference to any traditional creed. But rather in the Gnostic sense of religious experience.”
“For every piece of conscious life that loses its importance and value- so runs the law – there arises compensation in the unconscious.”
“Whether from the intellectual, the moral or the aesthetic viewpoint, the undercurrents of the psychic life of the West present an uninviting picture”
“I wish rather to emphasize the fact that the unconscious has a strong attraction not only for the sick, but for healthy, constructive minds as well…The psychic depths are nature, and nature is creative life”
“At first we cannot see beyond the path that leads downward to dark and hateful things – but no light or beauty will ever come from the man who cannot bear this sight”
“We have not yet clearly grasped the fact that Western Theosophy is an amateurish imitation of the East”
“It should be mentioned that the parallels between psychoanalysis and yoga have already been traced by Oscar A. H. Schmitz”
“There are the forces, still invisible to many persons today, which are at a bottom of the present “psychological” interest.”
“There are persons who have bad dreams which even spoil their days for them. And the day’s life is for many people such a bad dream that they long for the night when the spirit awakes…If we are still caught by the old idea of an antithesis between mind and matter, the present state of affairs means an unbearable contradiction…Yet it may also signify a rejuvenation, for as Holderlin says: Danger itself fosters the rescuing power.
What we actually see is that Western world strikes up a still more rapid tempo – the American tempo – the very opposite of quietism and resigned aloofness. An enormous tension arises between the opposite poles of outer and inner life, between objective and subjective reality.”
“Man cannot stand meaningless life”- Jung
“Do you believe in God”- journalist
“I don’t believe… I know” – Jung
Jung recognizes correlation between mental health and ones relation to God, and Maslow studies correlation between mental health and physical health – psychosomatic.
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