Robert Sardello co-founded (with Cheryl Sanders-Sardello, PhD, in 1992) the School of Spiritual Psychology. At the University of Dallas, he served as chair of the Department of Psychology, head of the Institute of Philosophic Studies, and graduate dean. He was also cofounder and a faculty member of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, as well as author of more than 200 articles in scholarly journals and cultural publications, and is a former faculty member of the Chalice of Repose Project in Missoula, Montana. Having developed spiritual psychology based in archetypal psychology, phenomenology, and the spiritual science of Rudolf Steiner from more than thirty-five years of research in this discipline, as well as holding positions in two universities, Dr. Sardello is now an independent teacher and scholar, teaching throughout the US, Canada, and the UK, as well as the Czech Republic, Philippines, and Australia. He is a consultant to many educational and cultural institutions and a dissertation adviser at numerous academic institutions. He is author of many books, including Silence: The Mystery of Wholeness (2008) and Heartfulness (2015).
.Mary Jane Hooper, MS, a licensed marriage and family therapist, has dedicated her life to helping people access true transformation. Using an integrative approach, Mary Jane employs several modalities in her work. Certified in Rubenfeld Synergy, a body-centered psychology, using gentle touch, she invites her clients to listen to the wisdom of their bodies to access true freedom by releasing the imprisoned places in the heart and mind.
She is also a certified practitioner of the Integrative Process, an energy-based method of body-oriented therapy developed by Dr. Werner Kundig.She completed advanced training in Ericksonian Clinical Hypnosis with Dr. Michael Yapko.
In her work with couples, she completed advanced training in IFIO, Intimacy from the Inside Out, with Toni Herbine. The model draws primarily from Internal Family Systems, to help couples better understand themselves, and the impact of their life experiences on the relationship, She has found that decreasing shame and developing self-worth are often the keystones to creating loving and attuned relationships.
She has led retreats in the Rockies for several years to help people bring curiosity and compassion into their inner world as they explore the beauty and intimacy of nature. See her site Seeds of Change Therapy
People are helped through Integral Spiritual Psychology but in a different fashion than the present, more narrow ‘practical’ imagination of help. People are helped by gradually entering noticing the world very differently. The world, and earth too, are not at all the way they seem to be. We live decidedly unnaturally and what we call the ‘world’ and ‘earth’ is a vast construction, an overlay, centuries and centuries in the making that is guided by, I would say, not so helpful forces, who perpetuate the illusion of humanocentricity, meaning the humans are ‘above’ everything else of Earth, and Earth is here, not really as our spiritual home, but a kind of ‘prison’ to make the best of this constructed world existing apart from nature until released by death. I invite you into a very different view. Welcome.
The endeavor of Spiritual Psychology, later re-titled Integral Spiritual Psychology, began in 1992. For years, the effort centered on developing the means for awakening capacities of inwardly tracking heart experience, directly and phenomenologically, that is, by describing the immediate experience of consciousness centered in the heart. Heart was, from the beginning not understood only as the physical heart nor only as a metaphor (e.g. “I give my heart to you). We understand “heart” as simultaneously a physical organ, an organ of perception, a spiritual organ and a soul organ as well as the center of Love, the universal medium within which we live.
The ability to be present with, not to, our experience, must be developed; this is the first essential aspect of entering the effort of heart and heartfulness. We may say that we can, for example, describe something that happened, and we call that our experience, but we are then talking about an experience rather than describing what is happening bodily, feelingly, sensorily, and perceptually in such a manner that the experience itself speaks flowingly rather than filtered through our intellect. When experience is spoken about rather than from within, it is always already something from the past that has already happened rather than life now happening with immediacy, and even more radically, arriving from the time stream of the future – which is the primary attempt and purpose of developing Spiritual Psychology. The seemingly incredible possibility of being present to the arriving future is founded in the Spiritual Science of Rudolf Steiner, termed Anthroposophy. Spiritual Psychology is not an anthroposophical endeavor, but it does rely heavily on study of the work of Steiner.
Here is one way of looking at the relation between Steiner’s Anthroposophy and Spiritual Psychology. Rudolf Steiner, in his early research and writing said very explicitly that Anthroposophy (The word ‘Anthroposophy’ means ‘the wisdom of the human being.) could be done in two ways: the way of thinking and the way of feeling.
He chose the way of thinking (living thinking, not “thinking about”), and rejected the way of feeling. He rejected the latter because he thought such an approach would not be communicable, not as a spiritual science. Integral Spiritual Psychology is indeed something like anthroposophy done through the way of feeling, which does not mean ‘having feelings’ but feeling as akin to the word itself, “touching”. Integral Spiritual Psychology is more like an art than like a science. Integral Spiritual Psychology does not intend or pretend to be a science. You will see at the end of this document what we now consider the best way (not necessarily the final way) to say what is meant and intended by Integral Spiritual Psychology.
The “method” of Spiritual Psychology, from the beginning, centered in what can be ‘known’ directly through the immediacy of experience rather than applying pre-given concepts or theories, or habitual consciousness.
At the same time, a mythic imagination backs Spiritual Psychology, giving the effort a sensibility wide and deep in scope. The major mythic story that backs all Spiritual Psychology is the Grail Legend (as told in the story, Parzival by Wilhelm von Eschenbach). Why this story? At first it came intuitively because this is the major story of the search and finding of the Grail. We learn that the Grail is not an actual object somewhere, a mysterious cup, but describes the spiritually searching human being who evolves through innocence and its errors, to encountering disruptive emotions, which are not to be eliminated as in other forms of spiritual initiation, but to be met and calmed, to going through the encounter with deadening power emphasized in the world, and now, especially ,the technological power of “artificial intelligence”, resulting in the quest for transhumanism. The story also shows the trapping of the realm of the feminine and freedom from this trapping. And the story also reveals how those we struggle against are our actually our brothers and sisters. And finally, the mystery of the holy Grail is the mystery of the spiritual human being and of the Spiritual Earth—as united.
This effort of Spiritual Psychology unfolded on its own, as if being guided to somewhere that remained unknown. Following this first heart awakening, this ‘mythic’ background of immediate heart experience gradually became clear. I adhered to a basic dictum of the Archetypal Psychology of James Hillman that I learned and incorporated at all levels – of mind, spirit-soul-and body – to ask “WHO” backs the deep inquires we make, Who is asking us to attend to them? We think we oversee our thinking but thinking too is receiving when considered spiritually and soulfully rather than simply a given human capacity. “Who” then backs the heartfulness endeavor? As indicated above, the ‘myth’ backing Spiritual Psychology is the Grail myth; thus, this endeavor lives within the Grail questions. “What is the matter”? “How can I help?” “Whom does the Grail serve?”
Heart presence requires becoming “actively receptive”. The will of the heart clearly presents itself as receptive, and while will and receptivity seem opposite, that is only when will is consciously or more likely unconsciously backed by a more “masculine” spiritual-mythic background.
Heart awareness and world heart awareness open inwardly to persona/individual experience and to three significant creating presences
-- Sophia, Mary, and Mary Magdalene, all central to Spiritual Psychology: Sophia, the Soul of the World, as the Icon of Earth; Mary as the creator of all of the forms of Nature – the shape of each leaf, the form of the trees, birds, animals and Earth forms too; and Mary Magdalene as the creator of pureness of Love, expressed as pure Stillness and thus pure embodying.
This realization, and being able to demonstrate it through exercises that bring direct experience of this assertion, reveal that Spiritual Psychology is concerned with making an inner connection with the forces of the continual process of the descending of the creative Divine Spirit forming the human being and all of creation simultaneously with the ascending of the Divine engendering Soul – that is the discovery of the ultimate “two as one”, ongoing creating always happening through the force of Love, a quite different stance than the universally accepted notion of God being ‘as if’ masculine. The ongoing descending of the Divine Spirit and the ongoing ascending of the Divine Engendering Soul are felt as intersecting at the place of the heart, opening heartfulness to world-heartfulness, sensorily and perceptually. Integral Spiritual Psychology can thus be described as a Way of Love.
As Integral Spiritual Psychology emerged, it became more and more oriented to life as Devotional Existence rather than an acquired conceptual discipline with practical implications.From this juncture on, Integral Spiritual Psychology sought and still seeks ever-more intimacy with Earth – helped a great deal by an understanding of the inspiration and practices of indigenous people – particularly Native Americans and the Kogi of Columbia. We do not do what the indigenous people do; it is not usurping a living culture, but rather doing as they do, that is, being inspired by their still full present sense of the sacredness of Earth, bringing us to ask where a “new indigenous’ imagination can occur that is open and available to anyone and what would be its equivalent to ‘rituals’, without having a circumscribed imagination of what constitutes a ritual. That is, we do not try to make up rituals but take the whole of the work as an extended ritual-ling.
One further unfolding of the School of Integral Spiritual Psychology. Not only is this endeavor now quite removed from what is typically recognized as “psychology”, and quite removed from being a set of propositions and practices concerned with being helpful to individuals in a now false world and a false sense of earth, but being of even greater help in the Grail manner – in particular, related to the third Grail question, “Who does the Grail serve?”. The Grail simultaneously serves the Divine presences, Earth, Nature, and people whose individual needs and questions are answered within the larger, wider, deeper, and higher perspective.
The efforts of the School are now clearly oriented to describing and inviting people into a way of life that can be best described as “Devotional Existence.” That is, the aim of the study and exercises of Integral Spiritual Psychology is more akin to a “religious” concern without in any way ever becoming a religion. Religious as relating forward to the world and earth’s receiving of spirit and soul presences who intertwine with the matter and matters of this world.
Once this uniting of spirit and matter as intertwined (experienced through soul, heart, and physical body) is noticed, the universally accepted notion that we live, die, and after death enter another world altogether, the habitual understanding of the ‘spiritual world’ is also brought into question. Life and so-called death are not separated in this manner. There is, rather, only ‘visible life’ and ‘invisible life’, a great ongoing rhythm, the rhythm – not of living and dying ….and perhaps a notion like ‘reincarnation’ which still assumes death as natural, but the rhythm of “borning” into visibility and “borning” into invisibility. The term ‘borning’ is exactly as it sounds; we are in a continuous process of being born. Almost immediately, this process can be bodily felt – the body is released from the false ‘tag’ of what has been and still, erroneously, called ‘death’ and ‘dying’. The ‘borning’ process we are within is immediately felt as Great Freedom, lived every moment and happening within the universal medium of Love.
If we humans continue living within the highly erroneous assumption of the division between spirit and matter, we, unknowingly participate in an unconscious death wish. We all act and live as if life comes to an end that we call death. If this is not at all so, but we believe it, we expect this will happen, for it has always happened, it must continue to happen – that is a death wish! This ‘wish’, cleverly inserted into the world, results in all life as fundamentally pathological, and thus quickly filled with ‘power brokers’, eager to be in control of ways to try and make us forget, for a while, that we are here and then we die.
Relax a bit and enter the imagination, the imaginal truth, of the ongoing rhythmic movement of visible life into invisible life and invisible life into visible life. Experience the new Freedom.