Welcome to Deep Journeys, dedicated to the ongoing conversations among Buddhism, Christianity and Depth Psychology.

Old Dog Documentaries released a beautifully poignant film focusing on Bob Gunn’s profound confrontation with his mortality:

“It can come at any time – a life threatening diagnosis that suddenly makes death real. As he confronts cancer of the pancreas, Bob Gunn draws upon his experience and practice as a psychotherapist, a Christian minister and a Zen priest to illuminate a way through that perilous terrain where fear and uncertainty would prevent us from living fully and joyfully in each moment.”

Old Dog Documentaries

“To witness the spiritual journey of a man is to receive a profound teaching in life itself. In this deeply human story, sometimes funny and wise, sometimes sad, sometimes simply the way of life itself, we the readers can find powerful spiritual resonance, whether it be Christian or Buddhist, ‘Zen,’ or simply human.  I recommend this book as a perceptive immersion in a contemporary life, filled with questions and answers about what it is to live.”

— Roshi Enkyo O’Hara, Village Zendo, NYC

“I saw in the illness, in the weakness, in the frustration and the anger also this profound spirituality…’Ah, this is life’ — you can, even in those moments, have that presence to be part of the wholeness of life.”

— Roshi Pat O’ Hara in One Body, One Heart

Deep Journeys as a connecting metaphor for inner and outer processes of transformation arose at a time in my life when I embarked on two new adventures simultaneously: scuba diving and Zen practice. Just as scuba diving takes one into the depths of the ocean, so the practice of Zen meditation takes one into the depths of the self. My first Zen teacher, John Daido Loori, would constantly urge me to “go deeper, go deeper.” In addition, I had often considered my work with patients in psychotherapy to be akin to diving into the water together and seeing just how deep into themselves and their own psyche a person was willing to go. That is why the schools of the unconscious, developed by Freud, Jung and their followers, are called Depth Psychology.

In its first incarnation, therefore, Deep Journeys was a retreat in which I would take people to the Florida Keys or the Caribbean and lead them in scuba diving, Zen meditation and group psychotherapy. The underwater experience became a way of learning about ocean and coral reef ecology, and thus became its own immediate experience of what Arne Naess termed Deep Ecology.  Although I myself was motivated to scuba dive as a way of escaping life on the surface, I discovered an empty Budweiser beer can on one of my first dives, and realized that there is no escape, that “wherever you are, you can’t leave yourself behind,” and in the most literal sense, all things are connected. What we do with our garbage– internal as well as external—affects life above and below the surface everywhere.

It is in the same vein of awareness of how profoundly every aspect of our lives is interconnected that this website invites you to explore the parallels and resonances between and among different religious traditions and between religious or spiritual practice and the depths of our own psyches, personal and collective. What many of us discover over and over is that, while they may not be one, the spiritual and psychological journeys are “not two.”  Indeed, whether we are talking about a religious practice, a rose, a mountain or a human being, the depth perspective takes us beyond the surface to the elemental constituents of particular phenomena where all things are connected and, as Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh says, “inter-are.”

In religions, this dimension is the realm of the transcendent, whether named God, Christ, Buddha, Allah or Vishnu. In psychology, the dimension of depth refers to the sub-conscious and unconscious as explored by Freud, Jung and their followers. By using the metaphor of depth, we find the underlying unity of all things, in contrast to the metaphor of height, which tends to lead to dualism. As applied to religions, to speak of their depth dimension is not only to point to the realm of the unconscious, but to the fact that for all religions–however they may construe the realm of the transcendent– their basis, origin and meaning comes from human experience. This does not by any means reduce religion to an individual person’s private experience, nor to a phenomenon of collective consciousness or unconsciousness. It simply points to the fact that the many dimensions of reality are only known and experienced through us as living human beings.

Meanwhile, we are all on our own life journeys, reaching, walking, running, sometimes away from ourselves, sometimes to ourselves, stumbling, falling, and rising again.

Please feel free to respond to what you find here, either to me via email, or on Facebook under Deep Journeys.

May your life go well.

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