This post is formatted to reflect an original journal entry.


Got thinking about the importance of ritual, but through a different lens now. Returned briefly to Maslow’s Religion, Values, and Peak Experiences, always a gloriously eye-opening read for me. Some brief insights worth sharing. 

I feel as if a haze has been removed from my line of vision. All of it—the habit change, honoring thyself (which isn’t nearly as arduous an undertaking as I’ve made it out to be now that I’ve changed some habits)—has got me feeling a bit like a new woman. More open to people and experiences, less worried about making circumstances as I want them to be, not bothered by little anxieties—anxieties I didn’t even realize I had! So much for self-awareness…And my little ceremonies—they’ve changed, too. Or, perhaps my attitude toward the role of ritual in my everyday life is beginning to change. I am in the process of cultivating a religious attitude towards life. An insight I, in all likelihood, would not have had (or, rather, a moniker I myself would never have claimed, being a conventionally unreligious sort) if Maslow had not divorced the institution from the transcendent functions of ceremony in his discussion of peak experiences:

All the paraphernalia of organized religion–buildings and specialized personnel, rituals, dogmas, ceremonials, and the like are to the ‘peaker’ secondary, peripheral, and of doubtful value in relation to the intrinsic and essential transcendent experience. Perhaps they may even be very harmful in various ways. From the point of view of the peak-experiencer, each person has his own private religion, which he develops out of his own private revelations in which are revealed to him his own private myths and symbols, rituals and ceremonials, which may be of the profoundest meaning to him personally and yet completely idiosyncratic, i.e., of no meaning to anyone else. But to say it more simply, each ‘peaker’ discovers, develops, and retains his own religion.

– A.H. Maslow

Experiencing the sacred in the human, in the here-and-now. But, it all feels rather effortless. More everyday activities begin to feel like rituals—like homages to life, or affirmations of life—once one’s attitude, or perception, changes (what I’ve observed in myself and what prompted this research). Insight-producing. Gratifying. Signaling depth. Savoring the fullness of the moment in its totality. But, isn’t this what Maslow means by “unitive perception,” anyway? And Jung. I have a great deal more reading to do to enhance my understanding of Jungian psychology. Of the depth dimension. 

Some activities that are beginning to take on greater importance: running, cycling, yoga. All forms of moving meditation. And, to me, feel almost prayerful. Blissful, the birthplace of much creativity and insight. Swimming does this, too. As does sitting and listening to music without distraction.

When we are well and healthy and adequately filling the concept “human being,” then experiences of transcendence should in principle be commonplace.

– A.H. Maslow

What I didn’t grasp, in all its implications, on first read: the notion of a religious attitude as one that simply sanctifies life. And that begins with an honoring (or “sacralizing,” as Maslow calls it) of self but certainly does not end there. In the daring to not only accept, but to elevate and abide uncompromisingly by, our own values and inner urgings. To respect our own nature. To come home to ourselves. Rogers says this very thing. That one can constantly, or near-constantly, live a ritualized existence. And that this is natural. And is certainly not reserved for only a select “special” few. I am in the process of cultivating a religious attitude towards life–one that begins with the reverence I have for myself.

A Word…

I am delighted to announce that two of my poems, Seven Road, Part I and Patchwork–both, truly, a joint creative effort between TheUsedLife and artist, T. Blake–are on exhibit at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts in Colorado Springs, CO for the month of February. And I am only just realizing I do not have a properly formatted image of the original artwork that accompanies Patchwork to display on this site…yet. Apologies. I will publish photos from the Word Art exhibition in a forthcoming post.

17 responses to “Iris”

  1. Congratulations on your two poems being on exhibit! I know you work very hard on all of your work, and I am sure it is gratifying when others recognize your work!


  2. Congratulations on the exhibit! I love how you write these journal entries. The authors that you are passionate about become, in my opinion of the moment, your own creative versions of them, as if you translate their writings into your own personal language, which I think would be quite an accomplishment for every reader and writer. Cultivating a religious attitude toward life brings to mind one of my favorite volumes of Jung, Voliume 11 of his Collected Works, Psychology and Religion: West and East. It was the first of his books that I bought in hardcover. Good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much! I feel that writing in journal entry format helps me learn. It is, as you say, the natural creative interpretation, the wrestling with new concepts, the openness to stream of consciousness and it’s natural rhythms that makes this style so attractive to me. I may check out the Jung book…I am very much enjoying Memories, Dreams, Reflections, by the way, and will be nearing the end shortly. A fascinating read. His body of work is so large, I find it bit overwhelming to choose, although I recently snagged a copy of “Man and His Symbols” and “The Science of Mythology.” Thank you, as always, for helping me navigate Jung with the invaluable book recommendations!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am so happy that you are enjoying Memories, Dreams, Reflections! I think that was the first psychological book I read, it took me a very long time to read, and it changed my life. I would not recommend buying Jung’s book on psychology and religion without being acquainted with it first. All of the volumes of his Collected Works (there are 20, including the Index and Bibliography volumes) are expensive. I mentioned Volume 11 because in the first part of that book, in a lecture delivered in 1937 I believe, he spoke about a religion function in each of us. I have not yet read The Science of Mythology. Thank you for mentioning it.

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      • In my previous post I meant to say that Jung spoke about a religious function in each of us. I shouldn’t write before drinking my morning coffee!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha we’ve surely all been guilty of that! Thank you for the tip. I will do a little research and decide. I am actually surprised at how much I’m enjoying Memories, Dreams, Reflections. I enjoy all the clinical examples, watching his thinking evolve as a result of his experience. And I think what makes it so fascinating is that there was no real precedent at the time. The reader simply observes him being guided by his intuition and innovating as he goes. Such a creative and adventurous spirit.

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      • I have just found on Amazon Jung’s Terry Lectures, 1938, to which I referred in a comment above, in which he speaks of a religious function, sold in paperback. There are other versions of this book to choose from on Amazon. In any case, I thought I would mention it. This is not Volume 11 of his Collected Works, just the first part of that book.

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      • One other thought about reading Jung comes to mind. Here is a link for what is called the Encountering Jung series. Each book is on a particular theme that Jung wrote about. For instance, one of these books is entitled Jung on Active Imagination, and consists of papers and essays from different volumes of his Collected Works.

        I hope you enjoy his lectures on psychology and religion. I always read Jung very slowly. In those lectures, I seem to remember him going into so much details times, for instance in a note at the bottom of a page about the history of the Catholic Church’s position on dreams, that I was ready to put the book down for a while. Then, in an intuitive moment, he said something that connected everything for me. I think that is why I have continued returning to him during so many years. He’s the best drug my intuition could ask for. But he can be too much sometimes!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, thank you so much! That looks like a very worthwhile collection…I will browse a little more carefully and perhaps make a few selections.

        I smiled when I read the sentence, “I always read Jung very slowly.” I do, too, which is why I seem to be crawling through The Red Book and Memories, Dreams, Reflections. You hit the nail on the head when you describe the experience of gleaning insight from his work. It’s a bit arduous, but worth the effort. I look forward to reading more! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is very interesting, and I share your views about meaning divorced from formal religion. Maslow is more interesting than I thought. I have only encountered him through the famous “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.” And every time someone invokes it, I feel like shouting back, “It’s not a hierarchy! Everyone tries to make meaning out of their lives, even if they’re starving.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, and I think the hierarchy taken alone (and unfortunately often out of context) is not the most accurate representation of Maslow’s thinking. He is a provocative and original thinker.

      Liked by 1 person

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