Psychedelics are powerful tools for transformation that come with integration challenges

  1. Introduction

The post below is a brief summary of the research conducted by our colleague Victor as part of his MSc dissertation on the transformative effects and integration challenges of psychedelic experiences looking at the Romanian population.

Psychedelic experiences involve users ingesting a psychedelic substance and undergoing an experience where altered states of consciousness, intense emotions, and even mystical experiences are common.

Image above, LSD in blotter form

Scientists have recently begun to understand how psychedelics affect us, especially our brain, and how such a seemingly short experience (between 6-12 hours usually) can have lasting implications as reported by healthline.com (https://www.healthline.com/health-news/psychedelic-drugs-mood-benefits).

One could write an entire article and still not correctly explain the above. However, sometimes a picture speaks more than 1000 words; hence this image of brain interconnectivity on psilocybin (active ingredient in magic mushrooms) compared to placebo can help illuminate these effects further:

Image credit to the Beckley Foundation

In this short blog post, I will be reporting the principal elements and findings of the research I did on the transformative effects and integration challenges of psychedelic experiences for the Romanian population. 

The research topic is close to my heart as I underwent powerful transformative experiences with psychedelics; however also had difficulties in integrating the insights and the experience into daily life, especially in Romania. My own experiences, coupled with the lack of empirical research on psychedelic experiences in Romania, determined me to undergo a mixed-method research project as part of my MSc dissertation.

The objective of my research was to determine what fosters transformation during and after a psychedelic experience, what these transformations are, and what potential integration challenges arise. 

  • Method

Due to limited mixed-method (research combining qualitative and quantitative methods) research in psychedelic this research was done with six in-depth interviews with participants to which a nationwide survey was added that received 39 responses, thus combining qualitative and quantitative approaches. Inspiration for the quantitative element came from one of the landmark studies on transformative effects of psychedelic experiences performed by Ronald Griffiths at John Hopkins, particularly in the form of the Persistent Effects Questionnaire (PEQ).  

For those interested in finding out more about that study, here is a link to a recent podcast with Griffiths on the psychology of psychedelics together with Jordan Peterson (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGIP-3Q-p_s&ab_channel=JordanBPeterson). The qualitative data analysis of the interview scripts was done in accordance to Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).

  • The main results in a nutshell  

Below you can glance at the main findings of this study together with some quotes from the participants that illustrate these results:

  1. Changes in self-perception and understanding of self and world as a result of the psychedelic experience seem to be the triggers for the actual transformations in the participants’ lives.
  1. Transformations can be seen as lasting positive changes in attitude and behavior that span a wide range from embodied, emotional, and spiritual to interpersonal transformations.
  1. There were both personal as well as interpersonal and cultural challenges to the integration process.
  • Implications of results

It is essential to understand what these findings mean and what implications they have. Firstly, when someone experiences what they believe to be their actual death or some very intense hardship, or when they have a profound realization on the nature of being, this tends to leave a powerful imprint on them. This imprint sticks beyond the experience and triggers a process of actual transformation in their lives. 

Getting a glimpse of the psychedelic “innerverse” can have profound transformative implications – image represents person looking at Alex Grey art piece

Secondly, it is interesting to notice a multitude of transformations. However, the most profound changes reported by all participants were related to spiritual transformation, especially opening up to spirituality. Another fundamental shift relates to the interpersonal realm and especially how participants sought deeper and more meaningful relationships with others after the experience. This opens up the possibility for psychedelics to be doorways for people to discover meaning in their lives, something much needed in our society today as highlighted by Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-meaningful-life/201707/the-crisis-meaning

Thirdly, the psychedelic experience may well be a viable seed of transformation. However, the integration of the experience into daily life is the nourishing soil needed for enduring development. The integration process, sustained by different integration practices such as yoga and meditation comes with its challenges. Some of the challenges are personal, such as having difficulties in balancing inner and outer work, as some of the participants struggled with more mundane activities and placed more emphasis on inner work. Other challenges are interpersonal and cultural and relate to stigma, communication challenges and struggle for acceptance.

The integration process and practices act as a nourishing soil for lasting transformation

  • Conclusion and future research opportunities

Ultimately, the findings of this study need to be taken with due consideration to the relatively small sample and scope of the dissertation project. However, the results, especially in relation to the transformative effects, seem to be in line with other studies in the scientific literature as portrayed by Stanislas Grof.

More so, empirical research on this topic has not been attempted in Romania, my study covering a significant gap in the national literature. I had powerful and largely positive experiences with psychedelics, hence I must admit my bias on the topic. Some of the limitations of this study, besides my bias, would include the fact that participants with poor mental health were excluded from the study, something that could bring a positivity bias together with the observation that it is sometimes challenging to separate transformations that came directly out of the psychedelic experience and those that arose from a multitude of other factors. 

To address some of the limitations and explore possible cultural differences in greater depth, a future piece of research could be a mixed-method cross-cultural study looking at whether or not there are significant cross-cultural differences in integration challenges. 

As seen in the image below, psychedelic research is becoming ever more popular and I would say that the results of my research warrant even more research into psychedelics, especially using mixed-method research.

Image credit to the Beckley Foundation

Further recommended reading and resources:

Grof, Stanislav (2019). The Way of the Psychonaut Volume One: Encyclopedia for Inner Journeys. Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

Griffiths, R. R., Richards, W. A., McCann, U., & Jesse, R. (2006). Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance. Psychopharmacology, 187(3), 268-283.

Sessa, B. (2012). The psychedelic renaissance: Reassessing the role of psychedelic drugs in 21st century psychiatry and society. Muswell Hill Press.

Link to Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS): https://maps.org/

Link to psychedelic experience integration workshops: https://mind-foundation.org/academy/beyond-experience/ Link to an excellent documentary about psychedelics and their potential: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fi66wFfOC-4&ab_channel=WorldScienceFestival

For more details on the results and methodology of this research project please get in touch with victor@quantumcivilization.com 🙂

Integrative Practice Project – Romania 2020/21 – A brief review

Originally posted in the Alef Field Blog: https://thefield.aleftrust.org/integrative-practice-project-romania-2020-21-a-brief-review/

In November of last year, 20 participants and four facilitators embarked on a journey to discover what is integrative practice, why it is beneficial and how to actually do it. We covered more details regarding the structure of the project in a previous post so please check it out here if interested: https://thefield.aleftrust.org/integrative-practice-research-project-in-romania/.

There was a broad mix of activities to accommodate the holistic nature of this project. We had both theoretical elements in the form of PowerPoint backed mini-lectures on everything from integral theory to lucid dreaming, structures and states of consciousness and different sorts of approaches to yoga and breathwork.

Besides engaging the mind, we also had ample time and sessions of group sharing in the form of circle discussions (based on the ancestral practice of circle initiation and discussion) that engaged the emotional and interpersonal modalities. The vital energies and the body were stimulated by sessions of yoga, breathwork and mobility exercises, whilst the spiritual dimension was served by group guided meditation practices as well as thematic specific discussions.

We also engaged the whole group by playing games together (we played Integration Game), and used exercises of stream of consciousness writing to tap into our inner intuition. In the last session, participants were given the chance to present an optional commitment to integrative practice for another nine months and outline their integrative practice structure and proposed schedule in front of the group.

I deeply appreciated the diversity, enthusiasm and dedication of the whole group which facilitated both deep insights as well as enjoying some humor and laughter. An anecdote comes to mind, when one participant was engaging in what to most of us seemed like a manifestation of spiritual bypassing. Another participant very discretely tried to point this out by recommending some literature on the topic, whilst another, more direct participant interrupted the discussion and basically said something like: “If anyone was wondering what spiritual bypassing is, this is it,” which prompted immediate laughter from the whole group and eased the atmosphere.

During the project, we also developed more insight into the nature of holistic change facilitation. This is not a linear process, it requires patience and trust and relies on a balance of polarities as well as insights from mind, body and emotions alike. We also realized that holistic change facilitation is a process in which the facilitators are also co-participants, and develop and grow throughout the process together with the other participants.

As the overarching theme of the Conscious Community Project indicates, our main aim was to create such a conscious community. Based on both my personal reflection and participants feedback, I think we achieved this aim.

Screenshot from a live Zoom session (with participants’ permission)

We came together as 20 separate participants and four facilitators and we emerged from the project as a conscious community of beings. Below is a selection of relevant feedback from our participants:

“…I don’t know exactly how this happened, however as the project progressed, I felt more and more connected with every other participant, giving me the sense of belonging to a mature network of conscious beings that supported my own growth…this was amazing…” (Andrei)

 “…I felt discouraged at first to start all these practices as I felt I was the only one who was a beginner and had difficulties, however as the project unfolded, a sense of community and mutual support started to emerge and I saw that others were in a similar position to me, which encouraged me to open up and take the courage and commitment to practice more…” (Anon.)

 “I liked the openness and vulnerability of each of us, the sharing of experiences and opinions, the creation of a non-judgmental space that slowly allowed us to be a little more authentic. Also, the fact that you guided us in various techniques, you were with us to teach us the right source, to share your experience and to give us a welcomed advice whenever we needed it” (Valeria)

 “What I liked most was the way the project facilitators conveyed the information. An approach full of understanding, positivity and with a lot of passion for the personal development process. A real inspiration for all participants” (Miruna)

 “It represented and represents my support group in the difficult period we are going through” (Alexandra)

In the future I would like to take the idea of integrative practice and conscious communties to the next level and hopefully create new projects and widen the reach to more participants and broader audiences, in the form of both online projects as well as in-person weekly meetings and even week-long integral practice retreats.

Integrative practice research project in Romania

Our co-founder Victor recently secured a grant as part of the Conscious Community Project initiated by the Alef Trust. With the grant money, the plan is to organize an integrative practice research project with participants from the local community starting around October this year. More information regarding the project can be found in this article: https://thefield.aleftrust.org/integrative-practice-research-project-in-romania/

As Quantum Civilization is one of the key partners for this project, we will communicate more details soon :


Awakening experiences outside of religious or spiritual traditions

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As we progress into the 21st century, we can observe that more and more individuals are starting to have spiritual experiences of awakening or transformation outside the ‘walls’ of spiritual traditions (Taylor, 2016). This should come as no surprise to us as over the last decades more and more people abandoned so to speak their traditional beliefs and mainstream religions and went on with their lives, for some, as if spirituality or religion where not necessary or important to deal with. However, as we all face questions of ultimate concern (for example our own mortality) theologians like Paul Tillich argued that we inherently need religion (as found in Bruce 2006). More so Wilber (2017) correctly points out that amongst the many lines of development of intelligence there is spiritual intelligence as well as development in states of consciousness, and the deeper and more profound the state, the more inseparable it is from questions of ultimate concern and spirituality.

This of course is a widely contested notion in our post post-modern society and academic world, I can only speak from personal experience as to why I believe that there is a clear and undeniable need for the spiritual in our lives and even though secularization has had an impact on the way we perceive this spirituality and shifted the locus of our attention, it widely remains pertinent.

In the case of my own spiritual awakening and transformation, I mention I had no background whatsoever in any religion, except for the inherited Christian Orthodox religion from my family. Ever since I was six years old, I did not find comfort in the magic and mythic belief system my religion had to offer. More so, I made the cynic mistake to think that spirituality is something not necessary for me, something only for people with lesser rational abilities.

Transformation for me happened initially outside any spiritual tradition, at a time I was suffering from depression, even though my outside circumstances seemed great. The longer standing depression coupled with a powerful entheogenic trigger (on my own, so outside the shamanic tradition) opened the gates of awakening for me.  As Taylor (2017) also highlights, this sort of transformation outside any spiritual tradition due to hardship and powerful experiences is indeed not only possible but also one of the most used routes to awakening in the 21st century.

In order to be fair, my initial awakening experience happened outside any tradition as already mentioned, however this triggered a massive interest for spiritual traditions like Vajrayana Buddhism which eventually (after a signal I received in a dream) led me to the Drikung Kagyu lineage in the Himalayas.  Ever since I also started intentional spiritual practice, my transformation became more whole and complete. Nowadays, I follow and learn from several spiritual traditions and at the same time maintain my own practices and try to integrally and wisely interweave them both in my personal life as well as my professional life where I try to help create the basis of a 21st century integral lineage of practitioners that had their awakening outside (or largely) outside traditions and are proficient in post-modern thinking as well as being vetted for their realizations by realized masters from traditional lineages.

References:

Bruce, S. (2006). Secularization and the Impotence of Individualized Religion. The Hedgehog Review, 8(1–2), 35–46. Retrieved from http://iasc-culture.org/THR/archives/AfterSecularization/8.12EBruce.pdf

Taylor, S. (2016). From philosophy to phenomenology: The argument for a “soft” perennialism. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 35(2), 17–41. https://doi.org/10.24972/ijts.2016.35.2.17

Taylor, S. (2017). The Leap: The psychology of spiritual awakening. London. Hay House

Wilber, K. (2007). The integral vision. Boston, MA: Shambhala.

Wilber, K. (2017). The religion of tomorrow. Boston: Shambhala.

 

Structures of consciousness

Briefly expanding on Ken Wilber’s structures of consciousness

From the perspective of the evolution of science and technology, for more than three centuries we have been absorbed by a steady climb towards more efficiency and more profit, and we forgot to wonder about the consequences of these rapid changes and how they affect our way of being, our lifestyle and our health. We think it would be wise not to take today’s orthodox thinking for granted, and remember that the prospects by which we interpret the world were and are constantly changing. To better highlight this, we will present is a classification of these perspectives in order to remind us that we are still in a process of development and to create a map by which we can study the progress towards our highest potential:

1. Archaic

Our transition from primates to humans – the legacy of instincts in animals: basic needs such as food, shelter and physiological needs

2. Magic

The first step toward today’s complexity, which begins 50,000 years ago – the magical structure, namely the emergence of the first major human societies – hunters and collectors, driven by impulsivity and held together by the ability to express more complex emotions, sensations and feelings, such as art, fantasy, and symbolic expression. People at this level understand the world through their 1st person perspective.

3. Magic / Mythic

The emergence of horticulture and, according to certain theories, matrifocal societies define a 3rd stage that begins 10,000 years ago, a structure with self-imputation, power expression and self-promotion capabilities, search for opportunity, awareness of boundaries, intentionality and basic conceptual thinking. People are able to understand a 2nd person perspective, that of their family or clan.

4. Mythic
(Traditional)

This structure is behind all the great empires that have crossed the world since 5,000 years ago and is still a very common level today, comprising 60% of the population. It is defined by the ability to take the role of another (the perspective of a 2nd person), can understand and follow rules, fall into a group/clan and feel affiliation. It is characterized by nationalism and literary interpretation of scriptures and legends (hence “mythic”). People at this level are still at a 2nd person perspective, yet expand it to their nation, to their ‘kind’.

5. Rational
(Modern)

An important step is towards the rational structure that begins 300 years ago with the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment in the West. This structure can take the perspective of a third person, move from ethnocentric to world-centric and adopt objective thinking. The ability of introspection and hypothetical deductive reasoning appears. The problems of this structure are hyper-objectification, removal of emotion and irresponsible use of technology. (approximately 20-30% of the world population). People at this level are able to take a 3rd person perspective, and thus the fields of objective sciences and international relations emerged.

6. Pluralist
(Post-Modern)

In response to this abuse of technology, indifference to human suffering and interest just for gain, the pluralist structure expressed through postmodernism and relativistic thinking (feminism, environmental protection and civil rights) starts to emerge in the 60s and 70s. It may reflect on the third person’s thinking, creating the perspective of a 4th person who can observe the different ways of being, understanding the relativity of each opinion, and can relate context to context, respecting cultural relativity. The problem is the rejection of hierarchies and hypersensitivity, which leads to a stagnation of progress. (approximately 10% of the world population).

7. Integral

The next step is called a “monumental leap” because the whole paradigm by which we define ourselves changes from an ego-based approach to a universal one. Having managed to discover the evolution of society in one’s own person, the integral structure understands that it was necessary to go through all the other stages to reach the complexity it is. For the first time the self is defined by accepting all other ways of being, and sees the value and purpose of all levels. The integral structure wants to transcend lower levels, and to include them – not to repress them or to exclude them. (about 1% of the world population)

– it is important to note that each structure transcends, but also includes previous structures, but usually the aspects of the other structures are fully and consciously included starting with the integral level. Until the  Integral level, evolving to a higher structure is usually done by repressing the so-called ‘shadow material’ (unsolved issues typical to lower structures), and tapping into the perspective of the integral structure, one can start a conscious process of reintegrating that shadow.

Characteristics of the most important structures (in terms of influence in society) and potential pathologies characteristic to each structure:

Traditional
Structure (Mythic)

– identifies with the clan/nation/religion in which one is born and adopts the orthodox perspective in one’s community

– patriotic pride, which in a globalizing world can lead to xenophobia, racism, discrimination and stagnation if it is to underpin cognitive prejudices

– conservative attitude, reluctance to change

– literary interpretation of scriptures, legends, etc. without questioning a deeper meaning

– submission to a “superior” force, such as a God, a king, a political system

– keeping the tradition out of obligation, often forgetting the purpose or symbolism behind it (“we do this because that’s how it’s done”)

Modern Structure (Rational)

– the consequence of the separation of science from religion during the scientific and industrial revolution ~300 years ago, as a response to hyper-dogmatic religion based on fearing God which was imposed upon reason

– because of the trauma caused by this imposition, people have come to define as absurd or irrational everything that is not materially or objectively verifiable by the scientific method established at the time, hence the suppression of emotions in favor of progress and efficiency (war, colonization, atomic bombs) -> birth of the materialist-reductionist fallacy

– in spite of these events, the quality of material life and the amount of information accessible to the population grew noticeable – but due to the speed at which we progressed externally (objectively) we did not have time to analyze and adapt our inner (subjective) worlds, and people have come to idealize automation, industrialization and efficiency at the cost of exploiting the people, animals and the environment

Postmodern Structure (Pluralist)

– in response to hyper-objectivism and insensitivity expressed by modernity, postmodernism (pluralism) emerges through movements defined by the responsible use of the values of the modern era, such as feminism as a response to gender inequality, human rights and environmental protection in response to the abuses of industrialization and exploitation of lesser developed countries/regions or less privileged people.

– realizes the importance of the subjective experience and the relativity of each perspective, hence the sensitivity to cultural diversity and strive for inclusiveness and acceptance of every perspective

– trying to protect relativism given by contextuality, develops an allergy against authority and hierarchy, claiming that everyone is right in its own context, and no view is better than another -> risk for stagnation and chaos in societies which until now have functioned under hierarchical structures

The Integral Structure

– realizing that the hypersensitive and anti-hierarchical approach of postmodernism creates an endless field filled with isolated views in glass globes, the integral structure no longer wants to create a museum of reality, but to promote a desire for progress in each structure

– if the modernism judged traditionalism for the prohibition of a free individual arbitrary will independent of the imposed dogma, and postmodernism judged modernism for insensibility, the integral structure realizes that each step was and is necessary for evolution, and that this structure itself is a step towards a
more complex structure

– understands that evolution and change have always been happening, and defines its values accordingly, hence being prone for change and progress in an intended, controlled manner (as opposed to letting odds decide when a need for change appears in one’s life), thus fighting back against the tendency to preserve cultures just how they are in an ever-changing, globalizing world

– realizes that the structures coexist, and that in order to facilitate a conscious evolution the hierarchies must be reintroduced but also redefined: from the hierarchies defined by the imposed dominance to the holon-like hierarchies, which based on the principle “an atom is in a molecule, but a molecule is not in an atom ” – the hierarchs formed by experience and the desire to lead towards progress (basically we do not forget where we left from, promoting equality of opportunity and not equality of outcome, tending to each structures needs for progress)

Every man starts from the most basic structure, and not age determines the structure, but the degree of openness to change, the active working on oneself, the eagerness to take new opportunities, the wisdom gathered. Progress is not made suddenly from one structure to the other, and not one person is situated entirely in one structure. Rather, gradually, each person has different parts in different structures. We should rejoice that we have the opportunity to transcend our shortcomings and engage ourselves to actively develop ourselves towards our highest potential. If we are born in this world where we learn how to live and everything changes, why not embrace the nature of our world, instead of fighting against it?

References: Article based on the extensive work of Ken Wilber, which basically intends to unify into an integral theory of development all the work done in fields such as psychology, contemplative traditions, philosophy and exact sciences, trying to unite the sciences and the humanities. So credit should be given to all researchers, both Western and Eastern, which contributed to the still ongoing development of this view, and also to all those willing to contribute by becoming part of this movement based on understanding ourselves.

This article presented one of the several dimensions used to map this world that we live in – the structures of consciousness. Following articles will present the other dimensions, namely the states of consciousness, the vantage points, the multiple lines of intelligence, the 4-Quandrant model.

In the image above, the essence of the work of many researchers and pioneers in the study of consciousness is summarized, work used by Wilber in the development of more inclusive integral meta-theories. As he himself states, his work should not be viewed as an end product, but should be used for further research and ongoing development.

Read our article on the development of integral theory and transpersonal psychology here: https://atomic-temporary-151455404.wpcomstaging.com/2019/03/31/expanding-on-ken-wilber-and-jorge-ferrer/

 

Sources:

Wilber, K. (2017). The religion of tomorrow. Boston: Shambhala.

Expanding on Ken Wilber and Jorge Ferrer

This article aims to introduce our perspective on neo-wilberian, participatory, 21st century practices in leading an integrative, harmonious and responsible life, grounded in a view upon spirituality which is influenced by the great traditions, yet also by today’s globalized opportunities. We are researching an integral (integrative) practice that goes beyond considering one spiritual tradition or framework superior to any other. Rather, such a practice is undertaken by exploring the diverse experiences of what it feels like to be human through all our multiple dimensions and cultural/spiritual expressions. What does it mean to be human in the era/geo-political location/family/social class/gender identity/sexual orientation/religious views/spiritual orientations that you live in or identify with? How do you interact or feel towards other people with different combinations of these criteria?

This article assumes a certain degree of familiarity with integral theory and practice (specifically, Ken Wilber’s and Jorge Ferrer’s work), due to the complexity of the issue, the diversity of developmental stages in today’s world and the limitations of a short article such as this one. This issue will be a research subject for the following years, since it touches the leading edge of integral development and practice and prepares the ground for a next step in this field.

Having said this, I start by presenting a perspective which aims to unify the apparently incompatible sides in transpersonal theory – namely, perennialism and the participatory perspective. In short, perennialism is the view that there are many different paths, but all of them are on the same mountain, leading to the same peak (view explored by Wilber). The participatory perspective holds that in fact, there are multiple mountains, with multiple paths, leading to multiple peaks (view explored by Ferrer).

Although many academic scholars have transformed the practice of avoiding to start an argument from a certain premise (since all premises can fall into the uncertain metaphysical ground of axioms), I propose that there is a common core on what it means to be human, a premise that is based on the observable commonality which unites us all as living and breathing beings having evolved from fetuses and having been born as mortal beings, at least physically. The cultural background that we possess influences our perception of reality. People embark on a journey where they fluctuate from being at peace with one’s root culture to seeking knowledge and belongingness elsewhere, in another culture or tradition. However, if observed from an archetypal perspective, one would be able to spot similarities amongst the different cultures and traditions, and amongst our human struggles and joys. Arguably, these similarities could be extrapolated to the essence of being human – a living and breathing being. However, in order to grasp this idea, one must go beyond the intellect, as such an understanding is experiential, embodied, and immanent. Perhaps that by walking the participatory path and exploring one’s unique dimensions and heritage (Ferrer), we actually experience the One Taste (Wilber)?

To expand this idea, let us think about what it means to be human before thinking about class, gender, nationality, and other such categories. As presented in integral theory, there are several dimensions of being human described as the multiple lines of intelligence (also called lines of development): verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, naturalist, visual/spatial, existentialist/spiritual, interpersonal, intrapersonal, bodily/kinesthetic, musical/rhythmic, sexual, cognitive, and moral. From the participatory perspective, they are formulated more concisely – body, vital, heart, mind, and consciousness – and this is the first bridge I draw between Wilber and Ferrer. Wilber’s lines can be understood and experienced through Ferrer’s elements, and vice-versa.

The participatory perspective aims to be a next step in transpersonalism, and, chronologically, I agree that it is. However, I wouldn’t view it as a next holon in the development of this field (i.e., transcending and including the previous models while fixing their problems), but rather as a much needed complementary perspective to Wilber’s integral model.

I hold that a reconciliation of these two sides is possible, since I believe that, in fact, they do not contradict each other, but, on the contrary, I argue that they complement each other while being grounded in this common core of human experience.

I believe that the most important apparent difference lies in their different approach to hierarchy and universality. Wilber follows a hierarchical model of development, and Ferrer pursues sensible approach to the importance of each step in development without imposing a hierarchy between the different steps. However, I propose that this difference lies on an illusory ground.

An important key lies in how we understand perennialism and its approach to the common ‘source’. It is easy to fall into the trap of our own limited language: if we try to *name* that which goes beyond language, there will certainly be misconceptions and contradictions. I believe that this misunderstanding comes from the nature of our linguistic way of thinking and interacting with one another based on logical mental structures and categories. The development of our prefrontal cortex, the development of our language, culture, and science has created a strong yet difficult to spot bias towards mental tools of knowing. This is known as cognicentrism. This has lead us to primarily grasp concepts as chronological structures and  hierarchical categories, rather than deeper, emotional and embodied experiences. Thus, although Ferrer rightfully argues against the Western bias towards cognicentrism, he might actually perpetuating  the same problem he is trying mend.

Through this, I do not wish to criticise Ferrer’s work. On the contrary, I believe it is an important addition to and clarification of several aspects from integral theory. Nevertheless, where there is language and where there are different sides, there are blind sports and conflicts in the process of understand the ever unfolding reality.

Perennialists agree that in the below schematic, the common ground (intersection of all lines) is referred to as Brahma, Sunyata, Dao, God, Allah or Non-Duality by the different traditions. While they may appear as different from an exoteric point of view, they point, in fact, to the same common ground reality. However, I believe that most critics of this theory have been mislead by the limitations of language and linear, chronological thinking mentioned above, and remained blind to the important fact that the common point in the diagram points towards something which is impossible to point at.

The participatory perspective, being a next step (Epoch Three) in Transpersonal Theory, has defined itself, amongst others, by trying to build upon the problems that occurred during Epoch Two of transpersonalism – namely the neo-perennialism predominated by Wilber’s work. As eloquently presented by Ferrer (2017) in his work “Participation and the Mystery”, it stresses the importance of the collaborative participation of all human attributes – body, vital energy, heart, mind, and consciousness.

Trying to avoid the hierarchization of the different spiritual traditions and cultures, the participatory turn stresses the inherent value of all cultures and traditions and their role in the cocreation and unfolding of the “generative power” or “mystery”.

As far as I have observed from my reading and practice, and as the chronological unfolding of the turns in transpersonal theory point out, the participatory turn has been formed, amongst others, as a reply to the possible problems of neo-perennialist epoch before – for example cognicentrism, which can lead to the biased selection of spiritual practices and traditions done by the limited ego. The ego is in the modern West famously correlated to the mind and intellect, usually neglecting the other dimensions of the human being.

Building on this, I propose a next step in the transpersonal narrative, namely the reconciliation of two epochs.

Before criticizing Wilber’s work as as cognicentric and hierarchical, let us first contemplate on the time in history when he developed this work, and acknowledge the still very young age of transpersonalism (which, according to Lahood (2008) started with the pre-transpersonal movement during the psychedelic revolution of the 60s and 70s). The pioneers of this field may have been, at least with a part of their being, at the highest developmental level that they have been describing in their model. However, if we look at the mean in our society, most people are at a mythic structure, while education is undertaken at a rational level, with the highest forms of education embracing pluralistic values. It takes time to understand and reach one’s highest potential as an individual, and it takes even longer as a society. Thus, I firmly believe that the critics of Ken Wilber have forgotten to take into account the curse following most pioneer researchers – namely being very much ahead of their time. Perhaps it is because we engaged our mental spheres and cognition that our society developed the technology and resources able sustain our embodied experience and healing.

Wilber proposed an integral development model – the AQAL model and the structure-state model.

He describes the structural development model as being ‘holon-like’, meaning that each structure transcends and includes the previous one. This implies a hierarchical relationship amongst the different structures, since just as an atom is contained in a molecule, a molecule is not contained in an atom.

While evolving from structure to structure, since our society is still segmented and we do not agree upon a holistic educational system yet, we remain with what is the so-called ‘shadow’ – the parts left behind during our development process, which remained not integrated and which act on the unconscious level until they are embraced and integrated. Most of the time, at least until the shadow is actively approached and re-owned through different techniques, it is not visible to us. For example, someone who hasn’t undergone thorough self-discovery practices and practices for re-owning the shadow and identifies with the values described at the pluralistic structure of development most likely has shadow at the lower structures, with which one disidentifies with. This created inner and collective conflict, which perpetuated separation and suffering.

A good representation of this could be the immigration issue (for example, in Europe) – from a pluralistic perspective, the decision to let immigrants in was the only one viable, and in terms of morality, it has the better argument, even if idealistic. The Mythic structure in this case might have enforced some stricter conditions, which could arguably be regarded as abusive from the pluralistic level, for example, enforcing a commitment to local religion and traditions (which has been done in the past a lot). However, even if the pluralistic approach is the better one, since many people are still at a mythic level of development, there are consequences when two different cultures with different ideals start living together. 

Since our society can’t yet agree even upon pluralistic ideals and is a lot of work to be done regarding the shadow from other levels, and Wilber putting so much emphasis on the Integral structure, and on the development of all lines of intelligence, his work is indeed ahead of its time, since the people aren’t yet at that level of development with enough shadow cleared as to understand without feeling patronized due to their shadow’s defense mechanisms kicking in.

A person who has not put in work to actively progress on all lines of intelligence (intellectual, emotional, somatic, spiritual, intrapersonal, interpersonal, and so on) won’t be able to understand the entire depth of a person who has.

And although I agree that we can find issues in Wilber’s personal attitude towards certain aspects, and that he could have been more sensible, amongst others (look for articles on critiques on Ken Wilber), I propose that his work should be read as a meta-theory, and his personality personal issues shouldn’t be mixed with integral theory, although they sometimes reflect in his work.

Thus, I do not fully agree with Lahood’s categorization of transpersonalist epochs, since I would say that the participatory turn is not necessarily a next ‘turn’, but the very elaboration of pluralism towards integral. Wilber’s work fulfilled the purpose of creating maps, and combining existing maps, preparing the ground for the integral age. Since our society is far from being an integral society (most people are at a mythic structure), his work had no choice but to be theoretical and cognicentric, because in order for us to organize ourselves at a systemic level, we need cognition, theory, and models.

As explained in this article, each structure develops as a reaction to the previous one, displaying a critical attitude to the structures before. Thus, being part of the first pioneers in the integral age, Wilber has developed his structure by ‘fighting’ against the shortcomings of the previous stage – namely, the pluralists. Wilber critiques their lack of hierarchical thinking and hyper-sensibility which affects responsible decision-making, and the pluralists critique Wilber for his hierarchical thinking which some accuse of being patronizing, insensitive, objectifying, masculinist, and commercializing spirituality (Thompson, 1998; Gelfer, 2010 & 2011). 

Thus, through the participatory insights, we can start doing the work of integrating the insights and shadows from all structures, consciously engaging the mind, heart, body, emotions and intuition, while being aware of the theoretical frameworks provided by the integral model.

Although this is an argument worth of much vaster expanding, as stated at the beginning, this article is meant as an introduction. I believe that there is just one more argument to be urgently highlighted regarding this topic, and that is the participatory argument against perennialism. I believe that this argument makes sense if we resume the terms ‘non-duality’, or ‘God’, or ‘Brahma’, or ‘the One’ as being something which can be pointed at. As stated somewhere else is this article, we shouldn’t let the pitfalls of dualistic language contain incomprehensive, infinite aspects. Universality can not be pointed at, or counted. I think a great danger of our times is forgetting the dimension of simplicity, and focusing just on the complexity. The ‘One’ is not here, or there, it is a principle which can be understood by simply recalling that we are on this ‘one’ planet, which is in this ‘one’ solar system, in this ‘one’ galaxy, in this ‘one’ universe and so on.

References:

 

DiPerna, D. (2014). Streams of wisdom. Integral Publishing House

Ferrer, J.N. (2002). Revisioning Transpersonal Theory – A Participatory vision of Human Spirituality.  Albany: State University of New York Press.

Ferrer, J.N. (2017). Participation and the Mystery: Transpersonal Essays in Psychology, Education, and Religion Hardcover – May 1, 2017

Gelfer, J. Chapter 5 (Integral or muscular spirituality?) in Numen, Old Men: Contemporary Masculine Spiritualities and the Problem of Patriarchy, 2009: ISBN 978-1-84553-419-6

Gelfer, J. LOHAS and the Indigo Dollar: Growing the Spiritual Economy Archived 2011-01-04 at the Wayback Machine, New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry (4.1, 2010: 46–60)

Hartelius, G. (2013). Lecture 6: critiques of Ken Wilber. Retrieved 1st February, 2019 from the World Wide Web: https://player.vimeo.com/video/112436845

Lahood, G. (2008), Paradise Bound: A Perennial Tradition or an Unseen Process of Cosmological Hybridization?  Anthropology of Consciousness, 19: 155–189. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-3537.2008.00008.x

Thompson, Coming into Being: Artifacts and Texts in the Evolution of Consciousness pp. 12–13

Wilber, K. (2017). The religion of tomorrow. Boston: Shambhala.

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Workshop on Intimacy


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Intimacy is a topic of increasing significance in the modern world, but in spite of the growing interest around this term, it is still difficult to pinpoint it to an exact definition due to its very subjective nature.

With the occasion of being invited as speakers at an event organized by MindsHub under the HealthEdu initiative, which aims to discuss such issues and put the unspoken out for debate, we have come up with a model designed to help us better frame experiences of such sensible and personal nature into a more objectively relatable manner.

To do this, we recommend that the reader first gets acquainted with Ken Wilber’s 4 Quadrant model, which helps one to better understand the different perspectives from which one can view any aspect of the human experience.

Wilber (2017) explains that each quadrant represents a perspective (or a dimension), and that all phenomena possess these dimensions. One can look at any object, event or being both from the interior and from the exterior, and in both individual and collective forms. Each has very different, but equally real truths, different validity claims, and different approaches or methods through which they can be accessed.

One of the underlying issues in humanity’s approach to reality is the fact that these dimensions are rarely realized together, in spite of the fact that they constitute the bases of all human disciplines, beliefs and experiences – issue which virtually guarantees a partial, fragmented, limited, prejudiced and biased view upon oneself and reality.

To better understand this, let’s think about how the field of medicine could be viewed from a 4-quadrant perspective. Below, this concept is briefly illustrated, and can, of course, be expanded:

Putting different concepts, topics, experiences, relationships and so on through the 4-quadrant perspective allows us to better understand the approached topic from a less biased perspective, since it makes it easier to acknowledge the influences our culture, background and individual experience has printed upon us and helps us to spot our blind spots.

Let us now ask what intimacy refers to. Although we acknowledge that it is a complex topic and shouldn’t be limited to a mere definition, we propose the following for the sake of clarity:

Intimacy refers to the capacity of being honest with both oneself and with others while discussing topics of a ‘difficult’ nature. (i.e., personal matters, sexual experiences, traumas, etc.)

Thus, we agreed upon intimacy being at a healthy level when the difference between who you think you are and who you present yourself as being is small.

With this in mind, I will further present a model which can be used to structure multi-faceted issues easier while keeping track of which perspective, cause or background we are referring to.

The 2-dimensional Cartesian model for relating perspectives to topics:

We agreed upon three main topics to discuss – society, death, and sex. Each topic can be approached from three different perspectives – 1) how our parents/family/teachers view the topic and the way they have or haven’t taught us to view it, 2) how our friends and social circles view and react to the topic, and 3) how our partner/s view and react to the topic and the ways their approach affects us (keep in mind that the model can be expanded – and topics can be viewed also from other perspectives, such as different cultures, communities, recently even online communities, social groups etc.) The way the people around us relate to different issues leaves a deep footprint on the way we shape our opinions and feelings regarding the world, and although it might be difficult to accept this at first, we have all been influenced and shaped by our environment. Most of the things we do and the ways we act can be traced back to something we learned from somewhere else, or to when we saw someone do something (to us or to another being or thing). There are relatively very few people who actually have created or invented something ‘by themselves’ – and even they acquired those skills and inspiration from teachers, books, loved ones, and society.

It is time to give more credit to our influencers – both in the positive and negative sense – and assume the consequences it has had on us. It is time to sit down and think about who we are and why we are the way we are, and take responsibility for it.  A starting point would be asking why ‘taboo’ topics are rarely discussed in families and schools and analyze the consequences of such an approach. It is time to face our problems and backtrack them, find the possible underlying causes (which can be a person’s behavior, a situation, an experience, etc.) and look at the impact it has had on ourselves. This way, we will be able to start a healing process and move on, and be able to help others who experience similar problems fix them and so repair the society that we live in and avoid passing on the same problems to the future generations.

Now that the reason for doing this has been presented, I will return to the topics chosen. As one might have noticed, they are rather broad topics and difficult to pinpoint in a conversation. Let us do an exercise and expand them – I propose the following:

  • Society -> politics, religion, social status, identity, discrimination, self-esteem
  • Death -> illness, end-of-life care, fear, anguish, pain, finitude
  • Sex -> love, abuse, shame, pain, consent, pleasure, openness, objectification, self-esteem

Now we can take each of these subtopics and analyze them from different perspectives. Due to the limitations of such an article, I will only approach some aspects and for the sake of exemplification, some might seem harsh or stereotypical, but they are presented in this way to encourage debate and questioning.

Let’s start with society.

  1. What have our parents or teachers told us about society? About politics? About religion? The answer might be rather scarce or at least ethnocentrically biased, since to think about society in an integral manner requires a certain level of self-inquiry skills and multi-disciplinary knowledge, and the generation of our parents and the political system they grew up in has not been very rich in such approaches. The same thing might have happened to our parents to a certain extent, since their parents did not talk about society and its problems, and so on. They might have told us that it is not good to discriminate, and they might believe it, but what if they are unaware that they do discriminate? Maybe they might say they aren’t sexist, for example, and that it’s not good to be sexist, but in fact the father respectfully shakes hands with all other men and barely greets the women when they meet with other people, or maybe when talking to a man and a woman, he barely looks her in the eye and continues the conversation with the other man. In a society in which these topics are avoided (maybe you are familiar with the “let’s not discuss politics or religion, it leads to fights” approach to social gatherings), it’s rather impossible not to suffer from biases and prejudices. How can parents raise their children not to discriminate, when they themselves have been discriminated against and continue to discriminate through their behavior?
  2. What do our friends/colleagues/social circles say about society? Most likely, especially while growing up, very little. Since parents and teachers don’t actively approach these subjects, and since the only effortless contact with these issues is through the news and direct observation, it’s rather rare to develop a socially active personality and become interested in society. Usually social circles are developed by circumstance and not by interest (such as high-school colleagues remaining friends for the fun they have together), and so rarely engage into personal development activities or become civically responsible people.
  3. What does our partner think about society? Hopefully, the couple has discussed these issues, although it is often that they haven’t and are engaged into a relationship driven just by desire and emotion, and haven’t actively defined its structure. Such an attitude will most likely lead to misunderstandings, unfulfillment, and fights.

To go even deeper and deconstruct our egos, let us think about death – the so dreaded concept no one likes to talk about, yet virtually the only thing we can be certain about that it’s going to happen to us. People are devastated when it hits, and regret not having said or done something sooner, and usually regret their dead. Yet when they were still alive, they prefer not to think about them dying and act as if they’re going to be here forever.

  1. What do our parents/teachers tell us about death? Most likely, since we live in a Christian country, we have been introduced to the customs of burying a dead person, and maybe we have been told that after we die we go to heaven or hell depending on our actions. Since science hasn’t yet figured out what’s going on after death, religion is the aspect of society which offers an explanation. Sadly, not many people who are born in a Christian family or nation (or any religion for that matter)  are actually practicing and understanding their spiritual practice, and so religion has gotten to be just exoteric rituals intended to keep tradition alive. And if the esoteric aspect of a ritual is forgotten, it does not bring much happiness or fulfillment in one’s life – especially regarding death. Why else would people avoid talking about death?
  2. With friends and social circles, death is a less taboo concept than with family. Young people don’t usually take death seriously until it happens to someone close, since we are told that it’s something that should happen when we’re old and we tend to avoid the fact that people can die at any age.
  3. In a relationship, partners usually don’t talk about death or don’t discuss its implications seriously. But in case of death, the one who remains alive is usually the most devastated of the affected people, together with the parents of the deceased if that’s the case, since they most likely have defined their lives surrounding their partner (or child, in case of parents). This is something which people rarely talk about, but we all should always be aware of our finitude, and find sources of sense and fulfillment in our life also independent of our relationship and children.

Now the issues regarding sex are rather paradoxical – we are all born due to this act, yet it’s common that we are ashamed to talk about it.

  1. Many parents are awkward to discuss it with us, in spite of the fact that sex the underlying causal act which led to our own existence. And even if parents do discuss sex with their children, they usually stick to the ‘technical’ part of it, which explains childbirth, and often avoid the dimensions of attraction, sensuality, pleasure, consent and abuse. Children don’t receive complete sexual education in school either, and most get their understanding from the internet, which, if not researched properly, can leave one with misconceptions, prejudices and biases. Due to anatomical and psychological differences, it is usually women who have to suffer most as a consequence of this approach, since the mainstream porn industry has been focused on male pleasure and fantasy, and does not attend to feminine needs for pleasure and closeness. This way, many women develop frigidness or difficulty to orgasm or to enjoy sexual experiences and relationships.
  2. Certain aspects of sex are usually discussed between friends, but are rather taboo or ‘indecent’ in wider social circles. Many people giggle or react in a relatively unusual manner when this topic is approached, fact which proves the improper education they received regarding sex. Biases embed this layer of society – for example, many perceive as normal or even desirable for a man to have multiple different sexual partners, while a woman risks of being frowned upon or labeled if she acts in the same way. Problems with experiencing pleasure during intercourse are misunderstood and difficult to tackle, and many women are ashamed to talk about their experiences and express their desires, but men also face similar issues.
  3. Relationships usually include sex, but there are many cases in which the sexual experience is based upon prejudices and unrealistic expectations. There are cases, mostly women, which feel that they need much more time to orgasm and would need longer foreplay, but feel awkward to tell their partners. Some end up faking orgasms because they don’t know how to handle the issue or communicate their desires. Many men feel anxious due to premature ejaculation, and don’t engage into other sexual practices such as oral sex, finger play and sex toy play. There are also many different types of orgasm that can be achieved, and many different ways to achieve it, but that is such a broad topic and will be left for another article. Until then, here are several articles which tackles some of these issues: https://tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/neepb8/the-science-of-female-pleasure-still-needs-more-attention

http://theconversation.com/five-problematic-sex-messages-perpetuated-by-advice-manuals-93674?fbclid=IwAR1TeBsKfIDchoio_X2Pm4vslxIcPd0gupWT16arvQ2Vke3KSvW-1-5iqmk

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/196912/intimacy-the-art-relationships

References:

Ken Wilber (2017) – The Religion of Tomorrow: A vision for the Future of the Great Traditions, Shambala Publications, Boulder, Colorado

Transpersonal Theory – An Overview


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As the globalization phenomenon strengthens its roots in the minds of increasingly more researchers, we arrive at a unique time in our history where there is access to scientific, academic, philosophical, and mystical writings on endless topics, which have been adapted to and interpreted from modern, postmodern and integral perspectives in a transdisciplinary, developmental fashion. Never before did the majority of the population have access to such vast amounts of information and wisdom presented in so many relative ways – the major problem remaining is how to get the population interested in self-discovery and self-development and how to engage ourselves on a path of personal, civic and spiritual responsibility. We believe that the first step towards a solution is that we – those preoccupied by such matters – continue developing ourselves in order to be able to guide and help the others, hoping in the mean time to inspire and lead by example.

It is one of our aims to present and share the maps developed by the pioneers of these fields through which we can learn to navigate the vastness of the human consciousness and create a common language through which we can talk about theories, inner experiences and structures of development in an accurate and intelligible manner. These maps deal with the study and development of the human nature itself, forming in a new, inclusive and holistic model of spirituality that aims to speak to the spirit of our age.

It is only in the past half of a century that a paradigmatic change in the philosophy of science as knowledge has started to take place – shifting from studying the objects of our knowledge to studying the beings who are capable of knowledge – the self (ourselves) – in a subjective, noetic, participatory, cocreative and verifiable manner. 

It is true that in the West sciences of the mind and soul have existed longer than that – the term psychiatry has been coined in 1808 by Johann Christian Reil, psychology as a self-conscious field of experimental study began in 1879, when Wilhelm Wundt opened the first experimental psychology laboratory at the University of Leipzig in Germany, and that philosophy has been dealing with the concept of the self significantly since the Age of Enlightenment through Descartes, Locke, Spinoza, Hume and many others. Even on a global scale, as far as we know, records of thought disorders and depression have been found dating back to 1550 BCE in the Ebers Papyrus (Okasha, Ahmed, 2005), and the ancient Greeks have dealt with concepts of the human psyche since antiquity.

And although Eastern wisdom traditions, too, have been dealing with studying and knowing the self for more than three millennia, and schools of thought and contemplative psychosomatic practices have been developed to transmit the teachings and apply them to generation after generation, it is only since the 20th century that the East and the West have started to merge and co-create a truly global sense of self. It is the first time in known history that we possess a technology which enables us to travel and know other cultures from a purely co-habitual and knowledge-driven interest, as opposed to the previous attitude of conquering and colonization.

It is now that the first generations are forming and appearing, which have the resources and the conditions needed to develop themselves in a truly holistic manner – rationally, artistically, somatically, vitally, aesthetically, emotionally, interpersonally, intrapersonally, etc. The works of the researchers presented in this article, besides many others which we will cite throughout time, are essential models for mapping the holistic development of a human being.

As presented by Jorge Ferrer (2017) in his book Participation and the Mystery, “this movement has become more prominent with the birth of transpersonal psychology in the late 1960s”, and, according to transpersonal anthropologist Lahood (2007), we can differentiate two turns in transpersonal scholarship:

“The first turn (aforementioned) can be defined as an attempt to integrate psychologies East and West; an attempt to map the farthest shores of consciousness and the merging of pragmatic science and spiritual concerns.” Lahood characterized this turn with a “commitment to religious universalism (perennialism), including the work of Maslow, Grof and Wilber as representative.”

The second turn has been called a participatory one, representing “a departure from transpersonal psychology’s allegiance to perennialism” and emphasizing “the embodied, relational and pluralistic dimensions of transpersonal events”. In this respective, the participatory perspective has been placed within a “wider second-wave transpersonalism that stresses the embodied, embedded, diverse and transformative aspects of transpersonal psychology”, rather than the structural-hierarchical ones characteristic to the first-wave transpersonalism.

In a subsequent essay, Lahood (2008) extended this account into three paradigmatic epochs of transpersonalism:

  1. Epoch One –  the pre-transpersonal movement or “psychedelic revolution” of the 1960s and 1970s, which lead to the hybridization of Eastern spirituality with entheogenic states and culminating with Maslow’s and Grof’s formalization of the movement.
  2. Epoch Two – the neo-perennial era,  which went from 1977 to the mid 1990s and is dominated by Wilber’s work, who seeks to “integrate Western and Eastern philosophy, psychology and religion into an evolutionary framework structured according to a supposedly universal teleological process (relating to or involving the explanation of phenomena in terms of the purpose they serve rather than of the cause by which they arise) whose ultimate aim is an integral non-dual realization”.
  3. Epoch Three the participatory turn, which begins in the early 1990s with R. Tarnas’ (1991) analysis of Grof’s consciousness research and is formalized in the writings of Heron (1992, 1998, 2006) and Ferrer (2002), both of whom Lahood named as “articulating cogent alternatives to transpersonal neo-perennialism”.

In following articles, we will go through the major theories in consciousness studies and transpersonal psychology and present them in rapport to their arising conditions, purpose, limitations and applicability into our lives. Since these are high-end topics and concepts, I will draw upon Maslow’s theory on the hierarchy of needs and stress upon the fact that, similar to how people who are hungry and cold don’t worry too much about self-esteem or psychology – in order to feel curiosity towards higher concepts, one must have reached and started the process of self-actualization and lay upon a well-defined basis. The higher needs become relevant only when the lower needs are satisfied.

Maslow’s updated version of the Pyramid of Needs

It is less known that Maslow amended his model near the end of his life. He argued that there is a higher level of development, what he called self-transcendence, a level achieved by practicing things that go beyond the self, such as altruism, spiritual awakening, liberation from egocentricity, and the unity of being. In The Farthest reaches of Human Nature, he explains:

“Transcendence refers to the very highest and most inclusive or holistic levels of human consciousness, behaving and relating, as ends rather than means, to oneself, to significant others, to human beings in general, to other species, to nature, and to the cosmos. “

Mark Kiltko Rivera (2006) summarized the differeneces between these states in Rediscovering the Later Version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Self-Transcendence and Opportunities for Theory, Research, and Unification:

“At the level of self-actualization, the individual works to actualize the individual’s own potential, whereas at the level of transcendence, the individual’s own needs are put aside, to a great extent, in favor of service to others …”

In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl (2006) wrote:

“… the real aim of human existence cannot be found in what is called self-actualization. Human existence is essentially self-transcendence rather than self-actualization. Self-actualization is not a possible aim at all; for the simple reason that the more a [person] would strive for it, the more [they] would miss it. For only to the extent to which people commit themselves to the fulfillment of their life’s meaning, to this extent they also actualize themselves. In other words, self-actualization cannot be attained if it is made an end in itself, but only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.”

Through these series of posts we hope to create maps and references which will help those interested in navigating this complex fields easier, and to create an approachable introduction and materials in transpersonal psychology and holistic, integral practices for self-development.

 

 

References 

Jorge N. Ferrer – Participation and the Mystery: Transpersonal Essays in Psychology, Education, and Religion., Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. 2017.

Koltko-Rivera, Mark. (2006). Rediscovering the later version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: Self-transcendence and opportunities for theory, research, and unification. Review of General Psychology. 10. 302-317. 10.1037/1089-2680.10.4.302.

Lahood, Gregg. (2007). The Participatory Turn and the Transpersonal Movement: A Brief Introduction. Revision: A Journal of Consciousness and Transformation. 29. 2-6. 10.3200/REVN.29.3.2-6.

LAHOOD, GREGG. (2008). Paradise Bound: A Perennial Tradition or an Unseen Process of Cosmological Hybridization?. Anthropology of Consciousness. 19. 155 – 189. 10.1111/j.1556-3537.2008.00008.x.

Maslow, A. H. (1971). The farther reaches of human nature. New York, NY, US: Arkana/Penguin Books.

Okasha, Ahmed (2005). “Mental Health in Egypt”. The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences.