Dante, Psychotherapy and Spiritual Intelligence

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Organised by:

Society of Analytical Psychology

04 March 2023

Time: 10:00 - 13:00

Price: £15- £30

Location: online


The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri is many things: a personal crisis, a diatribe against corruption, an unsurpassed poem, a celebration of love. But at heart, as Dante described it, it is the realisation that “I am more than I am”, discovered by journeying through three domains of reality. So, what is the nature of this perceptual expanse and how does it come about?

This seminar will examine the transformation Dante underwent, which human beings can still undergo. It will focus on what might be called the emergence of Dante’s spiritual intelligence and examine those alongside psychotherapeutic insights. Spiritual intelligence knows many things: that descent and ascent are intimately linked; that time can be experienced in dramatically different ways; that virtues are crucial not so much for moral reasons but because they connect with reality; that the whole of life is one life, unified not through uniformity but, as Dante describes it, like a book of many leaves bound by love, each with its part.
The seminar will assume no knowledge of the Divine Comedy and serve as an introduction, as well as exploration and application.

Part 1 – Infernal Confines
In the first part of The Divine Comedy, Dante enters the region of reality in which souls are tortured and stuck and realises their experience of life is severely restricted. They have become preoccupied with limiting desires. Dante must witness and experience these states of being if he is to know of them within himself and convey what his insights might mean for us too.

Part 2 – Purgatorial Transformation
In the second part of the journey, Dante enters the mode of being in which souls are changing and growing. They have realised that their experience of reality is self-limiting and that makes all the difference. With such awareness comes the possibility of change. Purgatorial transformation is not about shedding sin but become more resonate with wider reality.


Part 3 – Paradisal Perception
In the third part, Dante become capable of perceiving and dwelling in the fullness of reality. He still makes mistakes, but he has come to trust that such experiences are thresholds to further perceptions. The journey into the conscious realisation that all is always in God becomes possible, as we will explore, not least in relation to how to understand this vision today.

Part 4 – Questions and discussion

Mark Vernon is a psychotherapist and writer. He has a PhD in ancient Greek philosophy, and degrees in theology and physics. His books include A Secret History of Christianity: Jesus, the Last Inkling, and the Evolution of Consciousness (2019), and Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Guide for the Spiritual Journey (2021). His new book is Spiritual Intelligence In Seven Steps (2022). He lives in London.
For more see www.markvernon.com

This event is presented as hybrid. If you wish to attend remotely and receive the Zoom link please email or attend in person at the SAP, 1 Daleham Gardens, London NW3 5BY

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