Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Do you need profound spiritual experience?

In the book Spiritual Gems from Mother Teresa, author Gwen Costello wrote:

"Mother Teresa was widely considered a "living saint." Why? Not because she founded a religious community (Missionaries of Charity), and not because she received numerous humanitarian awards, and not because she was the confidant of popes and bishops, and not even because she did extraordinary things for the poor, the sick, and the dying on the streets of Calcutta and the world.

Why then? Because she saw the value of doing little things with great love. She helped one person at a time, act-by-act, day-by-day. For much of her life, she did not (by her own admission) have profound spiritual experiences; quite the contrary. Yet, her way was a simple way and her words offer a simple spirituality."

In the early days of the Church, profound spiritual experience was needed, and so is some places (diminishing in number for good) in our contemporary world where religious persecution still exists.  Why?  Because as humans, we cannot survive for long for the totally devoted pious person, at least survive without hateful dreams that such person will feel ashamed of, and would probably pray to his god for forgiveness.  The good and bad, yin and yang must be balanced.  And I'm not talking about Lao Zi (老子) and his Tao Te Jing (道德经), I'm talking about human psychology, and in particular, I'm talking about Carl Jung.

John's Revelation is the last chapter of the Bible.   In Jung's seminal book Answer to Job, in addition to analyzing the significance of the the Revelation, he also mentioned the text as a bad dream of a highly pious person.  According to Jung, from his clinical experience, it was quite common for a highly pious person to compensate his piety through dream consisting of hate and revenge.  And the pious person would feel guilty for his own "bad character in dream" (it is interesting to note that Jung faced the same "embarrassing fact" as evidenced in his Red Book, recording in details his own revelatory dreams).

Did Mother Teresa has bad dreams like those mentioned above?  I think probably not.  The good deeds of Mother Teresa have been widely praised and recognized by the Church and the world at large.  Besides she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.  Not that she seek such recognitions, but I believe it did give her a healthy psyche free from bad and embarrassing dreams.

Thanks to the development and widely acceptance of humanistic ideals in the modern world, most pious persons nowadays do not need to seek profound spiritual experience to support their ideals.

PS: Indeed there are some common folks of average (or perhaps below average for a few) piety nowadays seeking profound spiritual experience in earnest.  I shall analyze the psychology of such persons in some future posts, stay tuned.

The most honorable Mother Teresa

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