This book is written for those who ask different questions. What is the nature of human reality? What is the
purpose of human life? What is low? What is reality? Do we have a free will? What is the secret of happiness? Is
transcendence real? Could it be that our quest for goodness is merely an attempt on our part to conceal our evil
nature? And could it be that our attraction to Godhood is simply rooted in our childlike fear and our need for an
authority have always been asked, and answers to them still are sought by inquiring minds and searching hearts
The principles of spiritual psychology, as presented in this book, provide us with an integrated and
comprehensive framework for understanding ourselves and our behaviour, both individually and collectively.
Towards this end, the biological, psychosocial, and spiritual dimensions of human reality are all taken into
consideration, and their essential relationships, emanating from the single and indivisible human reality, are
Through case histories, in depth analyses, and practical examples, The Psychology of Spirituality unfolds new
ways of looking at ourselves, our relationships, our problems, and our world. It shows that life can truly be good,
happy, and fruitful, and that we human beings are indeed noble beings, if only we knew.
Having freed itself from the chains and locked gates of the asylums, having replaced witchcraft with analytic
insight, and having refined the primitive alchemy of the past into a substantive understanding of the chemistry of
the brain, modern psychology is now ready to focus on the spiritual dimension of human reality.
This book is written for those who ask difficult questions such as:
What is the nature of human reality?
What is the purpose of life?
What is love?
What is reality?
What is the secret of happiness?
Do we have a free will?
Is transcendence real?
Could it be that our quest for goodness is not merely an attempt on our part to conceal our evil nature?
Could it be that our attraction to Godhood is not simply rooted in our childlike fears and our need for an authority
Through case histories, in-depth analyses, and practical examples, The Psychology of spirituality offers new
ways of addressing these and other important questions, and helps us to look at ourselves, our relationships, our
problems and our world in a totally new way. The psychology of Spirituality demonstrates that life can, in fact, be
good, happy, and fruitful, and that we human beings are indeed noble creatures.
Dr. Danesh is Rector of Landegg Academy, an international private University in Switzerland. He is a writer and
an international consultant with over thirty years of experience in the fields of psychiatry and family medicine,
community development, ethics, and world order studies. His areas of research and expertise include the
psychology of spirituality, anger and violence, marriage and family, cross-cultural issues, death and dying, and
consultation and conflict resolution.
In 1985, after being elected to the post of Secretary General of the Baha Community of Canada, Dr. Danesh left
his academic position as an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa in order to dedicate
himself to work in the areas of peace, human rights, the plight of refugees, conflict resolution, and community
development. In 1994 Dr Danesh resumed his academic career at Landegg Academy.
The Psychology of Spirituality, now being reprinted both in English and Chinese, is one of four books by Dr.
Danesh. His other books are: The Violence-Free Society: A Gift for Our Children; The Violence-Free Family:
Building Block of a Peaceful Civilization; and Unity: The Creative Foundation of Peace. He presently has five
other books in preparation on the themes of violene, marriage and family, consultation and conflict resolution, as
well as a book for children on death and dying entitled. The Mysterious Case of the I.W.'s.
As an international speaker and consultant, Dr. Danesh has addressed many audiences at numerous
universities and public forums throughout North, Central, and South America, Europe, Russia, India, Malaysia,
the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and China. In addition, he has produced several television
programs along the themes of marriage, family, and violence.
Forty year ago on the first day of my training to become a physician, I was assigned to the emergency room.
Our medical school had a six-year program that combined pre-medical and medical training. The Students had
just finished high school, and many of us were quite young. I was sixteen.
Moments after I arrived in the emergency room, an ambulance brought in five members of one family, ranging in
age from fourteen to eighty-one, all suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. In the urgent atmosphere of the
emergency room, everyone was given a responsibility, and mine was to administer oxygen, give mouth-to-
mouth resuscitation, and do whatever else might be necessary by following the example of the physician next to
me who was working on another victim. Three hours later, after an intense experience that seemed to last a
lifetime, we stopped. All five patients were dead. I was totally numb, unable and unwilling to think about this, my
first medical experience. However, my inactivity was not destined to last for long. Several more patients were
brought in, and I was given the task of cleaning, under a nurse's supervision, the severely lacerated,
bloodstained face of a young bicycle accident victim to prepare him for examination by the doctor. As I gently
and cautiously worked the blood and debris away from young man's face I realized with horror that he was one
of my best friends. Fear and pain engulfed me, but I had to continue to fulfill my responsibility. I was deeply
relieved when he uttered his first words and it became clear he would recover.
Later that afternoon a number of us gathered to share our first day's experience as medical students. Many of
our experiences were dramatic, or at least so they seemed. One of my classmates had had a particularly
unusual experience. He had been given the task of taking the vital signs [pulse, respiration, temperature) of a
number of patients. One of his patients was from a nomadic tribe and had never been in a hospital. My friend
had placed a thermometer in the patient's mouth and left him briefly to speak with the patient in the next bed.
When he returned, the thermometer was gone. The tribesman had simply eaten it. The nurses and doctors
immediately began to treat him for mercury poisoning and gave the bewildered student the task of separating
the whites of many eggs to be fed to the patient as part of the treatment.
When I reflected on these events, I realized they were more than purely medical happenings. Those who had
died of carbon monoxide poisoning were also victims of poverty and ignorance. Their deaths brought the
realities of life and death very close to me. I realized how easy it was to die and how preventable their deaths
might have bee. The injustice of it all and the knowledge that these deaths need not have happened made me
angry. The bicycle accident victim aroused in me yet another feeling, the fear of losing loved ones. I began to
think of all those whom I loved and who could easily get injured, fall ill, or die. Finally, the case of the tribesman
caused feelings of embarrassment. The incident clearly showed the immense gulf that can exist between
people. This gap, resulting primarily from differences in education and life experience, made my novice friend so
unaware of the need to communicate with another human being that he simply assumed everyone knew what
was obvious to him. I would probably have done the same thing under similar circumstances. Though I had
always believed that in reality we are all one, I saw that I practice we can still be quite far apart.
In the years since, many such events have occurred in my practice as a physician and as a psychiatrist, dealing
with some of the crucial issues of concern to us all. Cardinal among the these are the issues of life and death;
followed closely by the quest for happiness, love, and acceptance; the fear of pain, illness, loss, and rejection;
and such concerns as the purpose of life, the nature of relationships and the mystery of suffering. The list goes
on, and I have come to the conclusion that human concerns are exceedingly diverse and virtually limitless.
All these concerns, however, can be classified into two groups those that involve physical survival, and those
concerned with the purpose of existence. The former group motivates us to feed, protect, and shelter ourselves.
The latter group challenges us to find purpose and meaning in all that we do. One connects us to the animal
world and reminds us of our biological heritage; the other points to our spiritual nature and its significant role in
our lives, In fact, without meaning and purpose, life becomes extremely painful, an unwanted and at times
intolerable burden. Healing professional have long known that many suicides and even homicides take place in
the context of meaningless, aimless lives.
One morning several years ago, I was called to the neurosurgery ward for a psychiatric consultation. There I
encountered a middle-aged man sitting in bed, bewildered yet somehow bemused. He told me that all his life he
had lived as a loner. He had never married because he could not find anyone willing to marry him. He had not
done well in school, and had not continued his studies after high school. He secured a simple job and lived (as
he described it) an uneventful, boring, purposeless life. In the fifty-fifth year of his life, he decided that there was
no reason for him to continue living. As far as he was concerned, his life had been a miserable, meanings-less
burden, and he decided to kill himself.
The decision had created a certain degree of excitement and sense of anticipation in him. He had always
viewed himself as a complete failure, but this time he planned to be successful. He devised his suicide in a way
that appeared foolproof. After doing some thinking and research he decided that the surest method would be to
put a gun in his mouth and pull the trigger. He brought a gun and did just that. To his utter amazement, however,
not only did he not die, but he did not even severely damage his brain. The bullet had lodged between the two
hemispheres of his brain without causing any apparent lasting or significant damage. As he recalled this bizarre
tale he smiled and said, "Once a loser, always a loser,"
In my Subsequent work with this man it became evident that he was very kind. In fact, he considered kindness to
be his greatest quality, and having faced death he lost his shyness in admitting that he was in fact a considerate,
kind, and loving person. However, he had always considered these qualities to be of secondary value to those of
aggressiveness, drive, forcefulness, and success, which he felt he did not process. He was, it many ways,
reflecting the value system of our society and what that society considers to be important signs of worth,
prestige, and success. After fifty-five years of mere survival and an unsuccessful suicide attempt, he decided to
do volunteer work at the hospital and thereby gave a purpose to his life. He discovered his own spiritual
We all possess a spiritual dimension. Human nature is district from that of the animal by virtue of its special
spiritual qualities. Although human are physically similar to animals, we becomes truly human when our
biological and instinctual capacities become the means through which we live lives of knowledge, love,
reflection, search, and purpose, and we discover our humanity when we begin to search for answers to many
challenging questions: Why are we here? How did we get here? Where are we going from here? What is the
nature of our minds, feelings, and thoughts? What is the nature of human love and how is it related to our
relationship? Is there a Creator life after death, a purpose in all that happens in our lives?
One of my patients, Carol, single-handedly focused my attention on all such question.
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