This book presents a retrospective research of a phenomenon of psychopractices: their purposes, methods, evolution, interaction with other forms of spiritual life. Special attention is given to the psychopractices presented nowadays. Philosophical and religious roots of psychotherapy are revealed.
The book can be interesting as for theorists -- experts-culturologists, theologians, psychologists, and for the experts in corresponding sphere, and also for all who is interested in esoteric and non-conventional psychology.
The term “esotericism” is also as much semantically impure as the earlier considered term “mysticism” is, being sometimes used as a synonym to it. Still, basing upon authentic Greek origin of this word — “internal”, “concealed” — it would be more appropriate to treat for esoteric those systems that are hidden from majority of common people due to some particular reasons. Such systems that are used by restricted number of adherents have actually existed in almost every culture. As an example one can draw Indian yoga, the Dao doctrine of inner elixir, Hesychasm, Ignatius of Loyola’s spiritual exercises, Suﬁs’ order etc.
While investigating the issue of esoteric systems one naturally faces the questions like whether these systems are religious and if it is correct to consider them to be some kind of “sects” (as it is often done with Suﬁsm) inside the world-known religions.
In fact, practically all known esoteric systems became available to us through some religious tradition. Moreover, many adherents and founders of such systems were even canonized, for example, Gregory Palamas and Ignatius of Loyola, Kabir. Thus, corresponding systems should be unconditionally treated for an integral element of the society religious life. Still, esoteric systems shall not be related to separate “sects”, for their representatives were performing respective func-tions within the well-known religious systems. Along with this, esoteric systems in most cases existed within — or, to be more exact, under the cover of their exoteric antipodes — traditional religions.
One starts to understand the essence of esoteric systems while reading corresponding texts, for example, the already mentioned “Spiritual Exercises” by Ignatius of Loyola . Unlike the majority of religious texts, they are almost completely free from theologic and philosophic issues. In fact, these are methodic guidelines to performance of speciﬁc psychopractices that are apprehended exactly in this way. Esoteric systems are extremely psyche-related and practical at the same time, and this can be considered as one of their main typical features. It was yet M. Weber who drew his attention to this feature of such systems: “Mystic knowledge… is a practical (Weber’s emphasis) knowledge. Mysticism intends a state of “possession”, not action,that can provide basis for a new practical way of getting oneself oriented in common world, and in some cases even for new communicative cognition”