May 19, 2020

Psychology from the Spiritual Standpoint – by Ella Goodall Cooper

Ella Goodall Cooper
We, as Baha'is, approach the study of psychology as we do every other science which is helpful to humanity, since one of our cardinal principles is that in this day science and religion must work hand in hand in order to bring to pass that spiritual civilization which is the goal of all true education. "Study the sciences," says' ‘Abdu’l-Baha, "acquire more and more knowledge. Assuredly one may learn to the end of one's life. Use your knowledge always for the benefit of others."

"Know thyself," enjoined Socrates, without, however, revealing any method of going about it. Nevertheless, the precept still holds good, and extends to knowing one's neighbor, since "the proper study of mankind is man." To the Baha'is this popular interest, far from being improper, is encouraging, for it is a token of people's interest in one another, which interest we believe will grow and grow till all come to recognize the truth of Baha'u'llah's saying, "This handful of dust, the earth, is one home."

In sharp contrast to the popular superficial and often selfish applications of psychology, are the earnest endeavors, profound and beneficent, of the conscientious psychiatrists and physicians, patiently working to unravel the intricate threads of maladjusted lives, using the valuable technique contributed by the psycho-analysts, to bring education to the normal, and relief to the abnormal, members of society.

To these men, Janet, Freud Jung, Adler and others, society owes a debt, which is ever growing, as the efforts, particularly those of Dr. Adler and his colleagues in Vienna, are being extended to cooperate not only with medical men but also with the educator and social welfare worker, and we ardently hope the circle may soon widen to include the enlightened and scientifically-minded religionist, as well. The efforts of this group are directed toward prevention of abnormal conditions through education, rather than merely the relief of the tragic situation after it has been allowed to arise. Is not this the object of spiritual education also?