Greetings of Peace. This blog contains selections from my correspondence and other sources on a variety of subjects related to religion, philosophy, and spirituality. I hope that they may be of benefit to the interested reader. Concerning the title of the blog, read this entry.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Reconsidering My Limitations

In my previous reflections I had reached a satisfactory resolution concerning a suitable career path in psychotherapy. Since then I have put forth a a significant amount of time and energy researching the field of psychology, the efforts needed to secure this career, the various methods of research and primary schools of psychotherapy. I would need to complete undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate study and additional training. The field of psychology including its application in psychotherapy is considered an empirical science and its studies are principally research oriented, involving the collection of quantifiable biological and behavioral data, their statistical assessment, and publication or presentation. Even at the level of applied psychotherapy, the methods used and perspective held in each school are firmly grounded in statistical research guided by a central principle or "philosophy of life" essentially determined by the philosophical outlook of the founder of the school. Among the schools of Psychoanalysis, Individual Psychology, Analytical Psychology, Gestalt Therapy, Logotherapy, Existential Psychotherapy, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Therapy, Transactional Analysis, Psychosynthesis and Client-Centered Therapy, it was only the last founded by Carl Rogers and based upon a positive view of the inherent goodness and dignity of the individual that carried even a modicum of appeal.

While reading through a recently obtained book called Psychology as a Major: Is it right for me and what can I do with it? I obtained a significant breakthrough which I hope to be my final word on the subejct. In the third chapter were several assessment methods used by vocational counselors to determine our natural inclinations and apptitudes. Most of these did not provide me with information superior to what I obtained in my own reflections. However, there were two questions of great significance. The first was to reflect upon my previous educational and vocational experiences to determine those aspects which I most enjoyed or that I excelled at. The second was to recall at what point in my life I felt that I was at my best. Within my college career nearly ten years ago, it was in the field of comparative religion that I excelled and which I enjoyed the most. The period of my life during which I was at my best was when I was working at the Dharma Center Bookstore, and with the abundance of leisure available to me, pursuing self-directed studies of the world's religions.

After encountering these two questions and pondering my answer, I then began to think about my present situation. I have adequately overcome my resistance to returning to academia and already begun taking the steps necessary for my re-entry, albeit into a field of monotonous quantitative statistical research and necessary boredom. I immediately began to reconsider my self-imposed limitations to see if there was some way in which this situation can be avoided.

One of my primary limitations was that of the desire for freedom in my religious studies. If I was to accept the path leading to a career in psychotherapy, most of my time would be devoted to the study of psychology with only a minimum of time and energy left for my private study of religion. I accepted this as a matter of course and mentally prepared myself for it. If I was to study religion academically, however, I would be applying myself to the field of my greatest interest and although the sources would not necessarily be those chosen by myself, the subject itself is one which I enjoy the most and if given the opportunity would most likely excel at. There is also the possibility of directing research toward sources and topics that are more suitable to my personal preferences. I was also concerned with recieving financial remuneration for what I hold to be sacred knowledge. My thoughts concerning this are presently that the teaching profession is not necessarily that of the spiritual guide. In academia particularly, the teacher is the guide through the world of thoughts and ideas and the director of research. As a teacher, my principle role would be a to transmit my enthusiasm for the subject and the bestow upon others a perspective that is suitable to the apprehension of religion in the fullest possible manner within the domain of theory. As long as I do not cross over into the domain of practical spiritual direction, there is no necessary conflict between my self-imposed limitations and a career in the reasearch and teaching of comparative religion.

Perhaps it is possible for our work to be both financially supportive and personally fulfilling. I have decided to try and find out for myself. I am changing my career goal from psychotherapy to the academic research and teaching of religious studies.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Desmond,

    Al-Salaamu 'Alaikum. Ramadan Mubarak!

    I think we spend a lot of time agonizing over the same problems and same concerns from more or less the same perspective. I am more than a little burned out from living in New York City, and my unsuccessful efforts to run the rat race here. I am burned out from academia but see it as the most civilized place I could for -- for all its faults and as hard as getting a job there is. I am devoted to the study of religions at a scholarly level but with a strongly personal commitment (a Perennialist, like yourself). I also worry about how to earn a living that need not be one of ostentatious wealth but should not be one of grinding, soul-crushing poverty as my life in recent years has been.

    I hope that your introspection, which I am glad you share via the blog medium, bears fruit. I hope mine does, too -- desperately.

    I'll be following your blog.

    Nathan Abookire