Chapter

Mysticism, Spirituality and the Undergraduate: Reflections on the Use of Psychosocial Theory

William B. Parsons

in Teaching Mysticism

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199751198
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918782 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199751198.003.0013

Series: AAR Teaching Religious Studies Series

Mysticism, Spirituality and the Undergraduate: Reflections on the Use of Psychosocial Theory

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This chapter reflects on pedagogical hurdles faced when teaching an undergraduate course on mysticism and spirituality. The essay addresses the what and the how of communicating it in the most effective manner. The what consists of the inclusion of mystical testimonies from a variety of religious and “unchurched” traditions and the critical examination of mystical claims from psychology and related social scientific methods in dialogue with central debates in the study of mysticism. The how starts with the empirical fact that the classroom is dominated by a religiously pluralistic body of students in the late adolescent stage of development. Pedagogical strategies are offered for dealing with the invariable projections and transferences that accrue, the need to negotiate the demands for existential experience and meaning, and the difficulty in conveying mystical testimonies that may lie beyond the boundaries of normal experience and empathy.

Keywords: mysticism; spirituality; undergraduate course; social-scientific; psychology

Chapter.  7102 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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