25th October 2013 Special Lecture
8.00pm Habitat Canterbury
The God Complex
Notions of divinity are psychoactive. Whether one is a believer, an atheist, an agnostic or a spiritual seeker, it’s difficult to contemplate religious questions without significant investment in the answers. Today the term “God” sits awkwardly in our collective discourse, itself an indicator of a complex response. For many, the outer rejection of traditional religion in favor of “spirituality” seems to provide a path beyond the problem. However, as we will discuss, this may not be enough to transform the deeper, inner dynamics that surround this theme.
This lecture will discuss our personal and cultural responses to the God topic. Beyond outlining Jung’s approach to religion, I will turn this approach back on the current day conundrums and controversies, showing how a Jungian perspective can help us negotiate the problem. In particular we will focus on the ways in which Jung’s notion of the “religious instinct” can help us discern the difference between genuine spiritual pursuits and pseudo-religious phenomena. We will also explore Jung’s insights into the unconscious displacement of the religious impulse onto secular movements and totalitarian organizations, demonstrating how pertinent his psychology is in understanding the present geo-political situation.
From contemplating the “death of God” to the psychodynamics of fundamentalism and the search for meaning in between, our goal will be a deeper appreciation of the psychological stakes involved in these matters.
26th October 2013 Workshop
10.00am-4.00pm Friends House 631 Orrong Rd, Toorak
God: Finding a Perspective for our Times
“Religion appears to me to be a peculiar attitude of the human mind, which could be formulated in accordance with the original use of the term “religio,” that is, a careful consideration and observation of certain dynamic factors, understood to be “powers,” spirits, demons, gods, laws, ideas ideals or whatever name man has given to such factors as he has found in his world powerful, dangerous or helpful enough to be taken into careful consideration, or grand, beautiful and meaningful enough to be devoutly adored and loved. . . . I want to make clear that by the term “religion” I do not mean a creed.” (C. G. Jung, “Psychology and Religion,” CW 11, pars. 8-9)
The role religion continues to play in today’s secular world is distressing to some and comforting to others. Yet, contrary to the recent writings of several prominent atheist writers, reason and science will never replace the quest for ultimate meaning or the pursuit of a soulful perspective on the world. Jung’s notion of a “religious instinct” and his understanding of the “God-image” in the psyche provide points of entry into these conflicting views and offer a fitting perspective for our times. At the heart of his views lies a means to contain a spiritual life within the fullness of our human condition.
In religious terms, Jung’s psychology reflects a shift from a transcendent to an immanent image of the divine, sometimes referred to as “the God within.” But our times are also in desperate need for a recovery of the sacred in the realm of nature and the physical world. These shifting ways we imagine divinity must also account for the kinds of holistic and systems-based understandings of reality that now inform our worldviews. We thus live in a time in which the God-image is changing and a participatory or “co-creative” paradigm has begun to take hold.
Through viewing film clips, personal reflection exercises and discussion of the changing God-image, this workshop aims to equip participants with timely, intelligent ways to approach and engage prevailing religious questions. It will move toward contemplating a sense of the sacred and an understanding of our personal quests that are conversant with the spirit of the times.
Dr Glen Slater
Glen Slater, Ph.D., has a background in both religious studies and clinical psychology. He moved from Australia to the United States in 1992 and for the past 16 years he has taught Jungian and archetypal psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, California. He edited and introduced the third volume of James Hillman’s Uniform Edition, Senex and Puer, as well as a volume of essays by Pacifica faculty, Varieties of Mythic Experience, and has contributed a number of articles to Spring journal and other Jungian publications.