Jungian Psychotherapy for Spiritual Crisis 1: Yearning
In describing Jungian case studies for spiritual crisis, it would be easy to succumb to “foot-in-mouth disease”!
The word “spiritual” can be hard to pin down. As I use it here, I’m not necessarily meaning something heavenly or other worldly, nor something confined to organized religion. I’m referring, broadly to all those desires in a human being to connect with something bigger and more lasting than one’s own ego.
To understand spirituality, we have to start from our yearning.
“Yearning” evokes a sense of deep longing…the deepest longing. And often the baseline sense of the word “spiritual”, at least today, in the western world, relates to a kind of very deep, possibly only partially conscious longing.
For many of us today, spirituality actually entails a yearning for something hard to tightly define. But it entails a sense of connectedness, of belonging, and of finding meaning and value in life.
Is it OK to yearn? Or, should life solely be concerned with going to work, and paying the bills? For the vast majority of the human race over its entire existence, yearning to be connected to something greater than the ego has been an essential part of life.
Yearning for Something Lasting
We humans yearn to find something lasting and permanent in our lives, the value of which is not going to disappear with the chances and changes of life. We need to feel that we are somehow at home in our place in the universe, and that our living has meaning.
Change & the Death of Symbols
But we also live in an era of massive continuous change. Things seemingly stable and permanent even 50 years ago now seems far more temporary and subject to change. This pertains even to some of the key symbols in our lives. Forms of religious and cultural symbol and story that spoke to earlier generations often seem to have lost the power to ground the lives of modern people. This realization leads many on a spiritual search — and, at times, to spiritual crisis.
An Individual Way: Your Personal Myth
In our era, case studies for spiritual crisis entails helping individuals to move forward on their own spiritual paths. This means helping the individual to find symbols that connect him or her in a meaningful way to her or his own personal life.
Bruce Cockburn, “Understanding Nothing”
In C.G. Jung’s terms, this means that I must discover my own personal myth — the story and the symbols that give meaning to my individual life. This is the primary focus of Jungian case studies for spiritual crisis.