Religious But Not Religious: Living a Symbolic Life

$19.95$29.95

In Religious but Not Religious, Jungian analyst Jason E. Smith explores the idea, expressed by C. G. Jung, that the religious sense is a natural and vital function of the human psyche. We suffer from its lack.

The symbolic forms of religion mediate unconscious and ineffable experiences to the field of consciousness that infuse our lives with meaning and purpose. That is why we cannot be indifferent toward the decline of traditional religious observance so widely discussed today. The great religions house the accumulated spiritual wisdom of humankind, and their loss would be catastrophic to the human soul.

Visit Jason Smith’s Website

 

Clear

Description

In Religious but Not Religious, Jungian analyst Jason E. Smith explores the idea, expressed by C. G. Jung, that the religious sense is a natural and vital function of the human psyche. We suffer from its lack.

The symbolic forms of religion mediate unconscious and ineffable experiences to the field of consciousness that infuse our lives with meaning and purpose. That is why we cannot be indifferent toward the decline of traditional religious observance so widely discussed today. The great religions house the accumulated spiritual wisdom of humankind, and their loss would be catastrophic to the human soul.

As human beings, we hunger for spiritual experience. To be “spiritual but not religious” is one possible response, but it often doesn’t go far enough. All too easily it can become a kind of do-it-yourself spirituality, which lacks the capacity to effect the kind of growth and transformation that is the true goal of all the religious traditions.

Smith argues that we need to be “religious but not religious.” We need an approach to religion that recognizes the essential importance of the individual spiritual adventure while also affirming the value of collective religious tradition. He articulates an understanding of religion as a participation in the symbolic life as opposed to a mere content of belief. By recovering our personal sensitivity for symbolic experience together with a symbolic understanding of religion, we facilitate a profound encounter with life and with the human condition through which one may be tested, tried, and transformed.

“Jason Smith brilliantly raises the reader’s sophistication in navigating the varied, often contentious, landscape of contemporary religious understandings.  He demonstrates that we are inherently religious creatures, and only a participation in ‘the symbolic life’ can lift a modern out of the slough of materialism to a felt experience of meaning. Smith’s insights, nuanced explanations, and engagement of the heart are a gift for the reader.”

-James Hollis, Ph.D., Jungian Analyst in Washington, D.C. and author, most recently, Living Between Worlds: Finding Personal Resilience in Changing Times.

 

Religious but Not Religious is beautifully written and carries the reader into a reconsideration of the place of religion in modern life.  An antidote to the reductionism and narcissism that plague modern culture, this book reminds us of the necessity of our connection to something larger and shows us why symbol and ritual, and the proper attitude towards both, are eternally necessary for human health. 

–Gary S. Bobroff, MA, author of Carl Jung: Knowledge in a Nutshell  

 

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Decisive Question 

Psychology and Religion 

The Religious Approach to Psyche 

A Relationship to the Religious Dimension 

Religious but Not Religious 

PART 1: What Is the Symbolic Life? 

Chapter 1 Symbols and the Symbolic 

The Nature of the Psyche 

Directed Thinking and Symbolic Thinking 

The Perception of Experience 

The Objective and the Subjective Responses 

Symbols versus Signs 

Mastery versus Meaning 

Individual Symbols 

Collective Symbols 

A Function of Relationship 

Chapter 2 Ritual: The Embodied Symbolic 

Deepest Values 

The Consolidation of Consciousness 

Healing and the Holy 

Tending the Ancestral Spirits 

Participation in the Divine Drama 

Structure and Communitas 

Chapter 3 Religion: The Lived Symbolic 

The Irrational Facts of Experience 

The Numinosum 

Religion versus Creed 

Religiosity, Religiology, and Religionism 

The Awakening of Faith 

PART 2: Why Do We Need a Symbolic Life? 

Chapter 4 The State of Religion 

The Rise of the “Nones” 

The Four Functions of Religion 

The Psychological Function of Religion 

The Sociological Function of Religion 

The Cosmological Function of Religion 

The Mystical Function of Religion 

Chapter 5 Loss of Symbols 

Creative Autonomy of the Unconscious 

Containers for the Numinosum 

A Personal Illustration 

The Reality of the Symbol 

People without Stories 

Treatment for the Human Soul 

Chapter 6 Religion and Psyche 

The Human Machine 

Reasons for Living 

The Protective Effect of Religion 

Therapy for the Disorders of the Soul 

The Question of Meaning 

The Chosen God 

Chapter 7 The Role of Religion 

Endurance of Suffering 

A Widening of Vision 

The Subversion of Values 

A Source of Life 

PART 3: How to Cultivate a Symbolic Life 

Chapter 8 What Jung Teaches 

Qualities of Experience 

vi Religious but Not Religious

Religion 

Dreams 

Active Imagination 

Chapter 9 What Religion Teaches 

Institution as Symbol 

The Relationship of the Individual to the Institution 

The Elements of Institutional Religions 

A Symbolic Field 

Chapter 10 Experiential Consciousness 

Ways of Knowing 

Experiential Consciousness 

Active versus Passive Consciousness 

Postcritical Consciousness and the Ironic Imagination 

Chapter 11 Psychology as Religio 

Religio: Careful Observation of the Numinous 

Religious Attitude versus Religious Belief 

The God-Experience 

A Consecration of Oneself 

What We Serve 

Conclusion: Opening a Space for Wonder 

The Activity of Religious Consciousness 

The Empty Center 

Emptiness and Kenosis 

Notes 

References 

Acknowledgments 

About the Author 

Additional information

Please Choose

Paperback, Hardcover