My Barely Emerging Spirituality and/or Philosophy Towards Life: a completely undeveloped journey

I suppose I must begin by saying that I am mostly agnostic towards much of everything spiritual and philosophical. For me that means I remain potentially open to much thought about the spirit and the mind. (well, that may be overstating things, but I think you probably get what I mean–I will hopefully clarify–I certainly have the capacity to make judgements, I just try to make them carefully and not prematurely) If there is a reasonable argument that can be followed, I’ll entertain it to be at least in part the truth. I suppose you could say that I am truly ecumenical using the word to go beyond the usual understanding of it being applied mostly to Christianity and instead using the definition, “of world-wide scope or applicability; universal.” (definition from

As I said in my previous post, I majored in religious studies at university. What prompted me to major in it, after going through several majors (I was interested in way too many things: rhetoric, Italian and anthropology all got tested as majors) was that I had a history rich in spiritual experience and I wanted to explore more deeply the roots and history of religious thinking throughout the world.

My most influential professor was Houston Smith, the famous comparative religions scholar. He believed in every religion he taught. From tribal paganism, to the great monotheistic religions. I would venture to say he even believed in atheism. He is a student of the human soul and the human soul is somehow spiritual even when it denies the spiritual. (this of course may offend some people, particularly atheists, but I speak out of experience with my husband who claims to be an atheist and at the same time he helps me work out my spirituality with an open heart and mind. I’m sure it helps that he practiced Buddhism as a monk in his young adulthood, nonetheless he does say he is an atheist at this point and I experience him as very spiritual–full of love and appreciation for my spirit as it unfolds) Also, I use the words soul and spirit loosely as I am agnostic about them! I don’t really know if they exists, it’s just convenient to consider them for my purposes here now.

Anyway, my spirituality is completely tied up in my “bipolar disorder.” My psychosis could be explained as “spiritual emergencies.” I believe it was Stanislav Grof who first coined the term Spiritual Emergence for unordinary states of mind, that if integrated could be healing. This included many people who would in other contexts be considered mentally ill.

All of my psychosis were spiritual in nature. If pathologized they would be termed as being characterized by hyperreligiousity. My use of hallucinogenics was inspired by the notion that I could indeed learn something about the nature of being and the nature of the universe and so my experiences on these drugs took on that shape. Much of what I experienced was simply insane–I won’t pretend otherwise. But I do believe that I had lucid moments of seeing things simply as they are and love played a large part in that. My story as shared here, about the gun toting man that I disarmed with love is an example. I simply don’t discount that experience as meaningless simply because it took place in the context of my becoming unglued.

I had many many experiences of a spiritual nature but most were internal and in the realm of the ineffable. Houston Smith liked to use that term for religious experience, especially those experiences of a mystical nature. I had an immediate resonance with the word. So much of what the spirit experiences is indeed impossible to describe.

In any case, I seem to be in touch with some of the “ineffable” stuff again. It’s vague but it’s there in the background. This time it’s grounded. I’m not spinning off into the unknown. I’m not manic with the thought that I alone am in touch with the truth in a special way that will help humanity. Yes I was grandiose…but now the same stuff is coming up, but I know I’m no different from anyone else. I know I have no special powers to communicate my wisdom to the world. I know my “wisdom” is tenuous at most and that it will be a struggle to have any sense of wholeness and oneness with the universe. But the sense of possibility is here. I feel like my energy is moving in a direction that might ultimately become something. That maybe I won’t have to be on disability and maybe I won’t have to work at something that is meaningless to me. Their is a creativity moving inside me….leading me somewhere…

In the mean time, I’m still struggling–it just feels like the struggle is taking me somewhere now.

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters