The Spirituality of Awe

A cross-cultural social action proposal for our digital age.

Posted Jan 18, 2019

The following is my abstract for an invited address to the forthcoming Second World Congress of Existential Therapy in Buenos Aires, Argentina May 8-11, 2019.  This is the second world-wide and unprecedented gathering of existential therapists featuring their latest contributions to the field. For those interested, here is more information about the conference.

Here is the abstract from my invited address:

The capacity for profound, intimate experience is in jeopardy.  We have an emerging youth culture that is “glued” to their smartphones; devices like Alexa and Siri are providing instant, computerized assistance; and apps are replacing teachers and psychotherapists. Facebook is replacing face-to-face friendships and corporations are manipulating what we see, think and feel—as well as how we vote and get our news. In short, we, in much of the industrialized world, are losing our capacity for presence, discernment, and psychospiritual depth.  We experience an ever contracting range of personal engagement and we seek after the instant and neatly packaged.  In this talk, I will address this “quick fix,” “machine-mediated” model for living.  But I will go on to point out how the existentially and spiritually based sensibility of “awe” or humility and wonder, sense of adventure toward living may be a key counterbalance to the latter.  This counterbalance could mean the difference between a kind of “living death” and a personal and collective aliveness that sustains us through all our technocratic changes. I will give concrete examples of the latter both from my own life and that which I’ve gathered from my inquiries. 

I hope that some Psychology Today readers decide to attend the congress, as the relevance of existential therapy for our age becomes strikingly clear.