The lost transcendence of ancient religions and philosophies provides a more substantial basis for modern psychotherapies and needs restoring.
They say "There's nothing new under the sun" and yet we look immediately for the new, the latest thing, the up-to-date-technique. Throughout my priestly/ therapist career my philosophy has been to combine the best of psychology and spirituality (not 'religiosity') to meet the needs of a searching humanity. In this frantic search for moderness we have lost the ancient quest for 'looking up', in other words for loosing the transcendent quest of Plato and Aristotle. Anything that doesn't fit into the secular mindset gets dropped, in much the same way that inconvenient lessons of history get dropped. Try getting a discussion based on the concepts of 'love' going at any NHS seminar about relationships and you will find out what I mean! These ancient philosophies saw the truth that our human minds are capable of sharing in a reality that exceeds our understanding. As they say, there are no athiests in a sinking lifeboat, or outside an intensive care children's ward! The word 'therapy' comes from the Greek word 'therapiea', the healing of the mind or soul. What many of our modern therapies miss is the existence in the human psyche of this aspect of humanity. Evidence and proof may be very well in the sterile confines of the laboratory but in the world of everyday life there is the existence of wonder and awe as well. Our problem is a tendency to jump inot unthinking judgement. To God, religion, heaven we are too quick to say 'No', unproveable, unscientific so not real. The ancients had a slightly more mature attitude. They had no problesm with the concept of 'soul', another concept undermined by secular thinking. And when they felt flat, empty, unsure in a manner not limited to modern day suffering, they also suffered through anxiety, addictions and depression in much the same way we do today. However, they did have schemes to cope, and noit with modern medications. They would use techniques of meditation and visualisations, approaches which are increasingly common today, although ofetn divorced from their original religious setting. Mindfulness may well not be the magic bullet it is promoted as! The ancient philosophers used their therapy not as a way of getting through the day but in order to become free from lifes limitations and to discover "the deeper pulse on which life rests". Sooner or later we all ask the questions "Why are we here, what does it all mean?" The core advice to their approach was to learn how to respond to lifes situations. A concept behind todays popular CBT approach (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) [See an earlier blog on this]. Many 'new' therapies available on the NHS are being shown by research to be less than effective and often fail to deliver what is promised. Here comes the nub of the issue according to the ancients. Loose that sense of the 'divine', a view encouraged by the secular mind, and you loose the benefits of the therapy. Socrates warned that civilisation is in great peril in times of materialism. My experience of working with many wealthy clients focused on material posessions shows that is not the way to happiness. Perhaps it is time to learn an ancient lesson about our priorities and perspectives in life. You don't get a second chance at getting it right. "The purpose of life, is to be happy." (Dalai Lama). "I come to bring you life in all it's fullness." (Jesus) Isn't that what neuroscience is saying? You only get now, enjoy it.