We often hear people claim “I am not religious, I am ‘spiritual’”, so what exactly does it mean to be a “spiritual person?” A few nights ago during my drive home to Squamish along the beautiful Sea to Sky Highway, I turned off the radio to give this question some thought and came up with a couple of realizations. First, I really don’t like the term “spiritual” and could write at length as to the reasons why as there are more than a few. Suffice it to say that I believe the word “spiritual” turns many people away (particularly the materialists) from pursuing something they may actually agree with and find great value in. The second realization I had was that being a “spiritual person” is really nothing more than being a “responsible person”, and here is why.
by Elliot Benjamin, Ph.D. March, 2013
Introduction to Article 
Where does one draw the line between the creative artist and mental disturbance? Perhaps “eccentricity” and “resilience” are terms that we may use to bridge this gap in certain ways, where I am using the definitions of eccentricity as “deviating from usual or recognized form” and resilience as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to change or misfortune.” In a 2006 Integral World article and a 2008 Journal of Humanistic Psychology article (Benjamin, 2006, 2008), I discussed what I referred to as an “artistic view of mental disturbance.” I used the term “creative artist” in a very inclusive sense to incorporate multiple kinds of creativity—visual arts, music, writing, theatre, dance, mathematical creativity, social creativity, etc., and I defined a “successful creative artist” as a person who has been able to express his/her creativity constructively in his/her society and has received a favorable response, and who also has been able to make a “satisfactory adjustment” to living day-to-day life in her/his society. I utilized various perspectives and theories from psychology to put this idea of “satisfactory adjustment” into what seemed to me to be a reasonable working perspective, and I then developed what I referred to as the “Artistic Theory of Psychology,” which I summarized as follows, using Abraham Maslow’s (1962) hierarchy of human needs and potential. Continue reading
By and large, Talat’s story shares with the reader two distinct possibilities for our contemporary culture: transformation and healing. The two coincide: one wave piles over the other as it recedes, unveiling the shadows, traumas, and shifting world views necessary to cross the gulf of Dark Night – or Robert Anton Wilson’s “Chapel Perilous” – that fine line between madness and mysticism. His story begins with initiation and ends with a calling, extending to the reader the same possibilities in his or her own life.
This journey – of transformation, trauma, and healing – is one shared by hundreds, perhaps thousands the world over. In the prologue, Talat tells us how he asks a group: “How many of you feel that you are personally experiencing some initiatory or healing process?” To which many raised their hands in solidarity. If I understood Talat correctly, this is the point of the whole book. We are, in this time of uncertainty, whether by economic, political, ecological, or personal crisis, finding a new way to live. Part of that discovery is healing the wounds inflicted upon us; either by ourselves or the world at large. Continue reading
I mentioned this text, American Philosophy and Rudolf Steiner, edited by my advisor Robert McDermott, a few months back. It has since been published.