Earlier this week I was giving a seminar called "Beyond Carl Rogers". Rogers was a humanistic psychotherapist who had been inspired in some way by exposure to Eastern ideas. Western psychotherapy all the way back to William James, has benefitted by such exposure and cross-fertilisation, whether it has seemed to be moving toward a more spiritual position (as with, perhaps, Rogers and, quite differently, Jung) or moving away from it (as, Freud). Moreno, the inventor of psychodrama, is a particularly interesting example. His psychodrama methods were to do with creating the conditions for spontaneity and creativity and he reasoned that, since God is the creator, whenever anything creative happens, THAT is God appearing in the room. The appearance of "an angel" paves the way for new life, new possibility. Clearly, the way that the spiritual dimension is envisaged or conceptualised varies. Spirit is not matter, but it does matter, since it is what moves us.
It is clear to me in reflecting on Rogers that one can interpret his theory as meaning that the best therapist is one endowed with certain qualities, but that, since these qualities are all inter-personal ones, one can also take it that Rogers' theory is really about how one person is inspired by another. Spirit is something that is transmitted, or that is contagious. One picks it up from another. Therapist and client affect each other. Interestingly, the more "non-directive" the therapist tries to be the more potent the influence may become. This has something to do with the fact that spirit operates when we get our "selves" or "egos" out of the way. The more genuine respect and gratitude there is the more open the space in which spirit can mysteriously operate.
The original therapeutae had the idea that in order to worship the god most purely one had to withdraw somehow from the senses. Spirit operates at a deeper level. If we take in these interpersonal dimensions of transmission, then the senses remain important, but what they convey is not merely surface data. A spiritual psychology has to be concerned with surface and with what is deep or hidden as well.