The title of this blog might seem contradictory, but in fact this is exactly what I discovered when working with my clients. My findings have recently been published in Pastoral Psychology. In this scientific peer-reviewed article, I describe how psychosynthesis counseling helped to awaken spirituality in three out of eleven clients who identified themselves as atheists. This article in its entirety is published on Open Access and is available for free. I urge you to share it with pastoral care workers that you may know.
Fundamental to psychosynthesis psychology is the idea that we all have spiritual drives as much as we have combative and sexual ones. To determine how well my clients are in touch with the spiritual part of themselves, I always ask during the initial interview “Do you have any religious or spiritual practice?” Most often, my clients say that they have no religious affiliation or belief in God and describe themselves as atheist. The following testimony is a typical response:
“I would call myself an atheist. As a scientist, I know that there is no proof showing that God exists. But I also know that there is no proof showing that He does not exist.”
During our initial interviews, I ask my clients if they have any religious or spiritual practice. Most of the people coming to see me for counseling are scientists or engineers, highly trained to think rationally, and without a religious affiliation or belief. In fact, nearly all my clients have identified themselves as atheists. One said this to me:
“As a scientist I know that there is no proof showing that God exists. But I also know that there is no proof showing that He does not exist.”
My reasons for asking such a question are to understand how aware they are of the Self, how connected they are to superconscious material, and how they relate to transpersonal experiences. Interestingly, their responses become very different when I alter the question and ask if they have ever had a feeling of connecting to something greater than themselves. Without exception, all have had a transpersonal experience at some point in their lives. The client quoted above said:
“When I was twenty, I was on a boat at night and all around in the water was bioluminescent plankton. It was so beautiful, I became very emotional and cried. I wish my girlfriend had been there so I could have shared such a deeply moving experience with someone.”