Motivation and emotion/Book/2020/Transpersonal psychology

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Transpersonal psychology:
What is transpersonal psychology?

Overview[edit | edit source]

Take a moment and consider your daily activities. Have you ever had any experiences completely different from your regular routines? Maybe the experience was non-ordinary, inexplicable, meaningful, sublime or even mysterious? Transcendent experiences have been described as feeling a sense of oneness, completeness and 'bliss'.

Various states, such as getting into 'the zone' or 'flow' during physical or creative activity may be described as 'non-ordinary'. However, a more precise definition can be made between peak experiences and transcendent experiences. The key distinction is that 'the transcendent' seems to have an element of profundity, meaning and spirituality which may not necessarily be prominent in 'flow states'.

The common theme which unites transcendent experiences are states and feelings which go beyond (transcend) one's usual self-identity, into something larger and more expansive with an element of spirituality and wholeness. Some common threads have emerged when describing transcendent experiences, such as 'connectedness', 'ecstasy' or 'an epiphany'.

Similar reports have been taken from astronauts who have experienced a phenomenon known as the overview effect when the Earth is viewed from outer space.[1] Transpersonal experiences are generally described in a much similar ways, evoking a sense of awe, wonder and inspiration when a person experiences something larger than their limited individual self-identity.[2]

An image of Earth taken from the moon by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut, William Anders. Astronauts who witness Earth from this perspective first-hand have reported an intense state of self-transcendent awe and wonder called the “overview effect.”

Transpersonal psychology is the field of study, research and therapeutic methods which deal with non-ordinary states of consciousness which are personal, significant and meaningful. Its areas of interest include topics related to the existential, spiritual and transcendent. Transpersonal psychology can also be seen as an extension or branch of humanistic psychology. Transpersonal psychology focuses on experiences that are predominantly, non-pathological in nature.[3]

The purpose of this chapter is to provide information regarding the history, development and research concerning non-ordinary states of consciousness, spirituality and self-transcendent experiences, along with its various distinctions, therapeutic applications and avenues for potential research.

What is transpersonal psychology?[edit | edit source]

Transpersonal psychology is a field and scientific study of experiences which involve non-ordinary states of consciousness. Transpersonal experiences are described as that which goes beyond (trans) the individual personal identity to include wider aspects of existence.[4] Transpersonal psychology can also be viewed as the study of transcendence, including spirituality, profound peak experiences and mysticism. Transpersonal psychology explores the highest realms of human experience and potentially, the very nature of existence itself which links the field with other scientific, philosophic and religious domains. Transpersonal psychology seeks a holistic approach which integrates knowledge from many diverse perspectives to create a therapeutic synthesis of mind, body and spirit.[5]

History of transpersonal psychology[edit | edit source]

Transpersonal Psychology emerged as a field of psychology evolving from the humanistic perspective, which emerged in the 1960’s when a group of researchers in the San Francisco bay area attempted to expand the scope of Western psychology, stemming from a dissatisfaction of the prevailing paradigms at the time, which centered around Behaviourism and Psychoanalysis.[6] The group of early humanists saw that the behavioural and psychoanalytic perspectives did not fully account for the wide range of human experiences and potentials. The founder of Humanistic psychology, Abraham Maslow offered critiques on the limitations of the behaviourist perspective such as the irrelevance of studying rats and pigeons in comparison to human beings. Maslow (1969) saw that because humans have qualities such as the ability for self-conceptualisation and creation, as manifested in art, science, religion and philosophy, that the mechanical stimulus-response explanation was far from being sufficient. The 'Third Force' of Humanistic Psychology focused on human subjects and acknowledged that self-introspection as a valid method to complement the objective research approaches. Humanistic psychology emphasizes the human capacity for internal direction and motivation to fulfill their full potential in contrast to the stimulus-response and punishment-reward focus in behaviourism, they also saw the incompleteness of the Freudian approach, which focused on primarily on human maladies and psychopathology. Humanistic psychology also placed an emphasis on the interconnection of mind and body by incorporating techniques such as bodywork (prelude to biofeedback) in regards to therapy. The Humanistic perspective also acknowledged the validity of cross-cultural research and included observations taken from different cultures seeing validity in phenomena such as mystical experiences, cosmic consciousness, psychedelics, trance states, creativity, art and scientific inspiration. Humanistic psychology has a multidimensional approach in welcoming a wide variety of therapies to deal with emotional, psychosomatic, interpersonal and psychosocial problems and issues in a holistic manner as well as providing support for a client to actualise and live up to their full potential. The humanistic founders, Maslow, Sutich and Grof realised, however, that the conceptual framework they created in the Humanistic perspective, overlooked the spiritual dimension of the human psyche which led to the birth of Transpersonal psychology as the 'Fourth Force'[7][8]

This new 'Fourth Force' perspective was originally conceived of as 'Transhumanistic psychology' and was later replaced with the term Transpersonal Psychology.[9] Following the birth of Transpersonal Psychology, was the creation of the Association of Transpersonal Psychology (ATP), and Journal of Transpersonal Psychology which were launched by its founders: Abraham Maslow, Anthony Sutich and Stanislav Grof MD, the founder of the embodied method known as 'Holotropic Breathwork'.[10]

Much like the ‘Third Force Humanistic', the ‘Fourth Force Transpersonal’ treated the ritual and spiritual traditions of other cultures with acknowledgement and respect. Transpersonal psychology emerged alongside the founding of the Esalen Institute, which addressed the major misconceptions regarding spirituality and religious experiences.[11] Much of the criticism emerging from Transpersonal fields was towards the 'Western materialistic scientific establishment' which considers their own perspective superior to all the other worldviews. The metaphysical and epistemic foundation of Western materialistic culture and science views matter as primary and life, consciousness and intelligence are purely accidental by-products of the brain as an 'epiphenomenon' of reality. Any form of spirituality or non-materialistic worldview were rejected by the prevailing scientific establishment and seen as primitive and magical thinking, attributing mystical experiences of the founders of the world’s popular religions to mental disorders, in spite of lacking scientific evidence. The philosopher Ken Wilber (1996) describes the 'pre/trans fallacy' trap that Western psychology commits by misinterpreting mystical experiences from the perspective of the 'personal stage' (egoic states) of development and does not take into account the transpersonal stages within its worldview.[12][13][14]

The historical backdrop with the rise of industrial civilization must be taken into consideration regarding critiques contrary to the materialist worldview and its tendencies towards cognition, commercialism, consumerism and technology (epitomized by the analogy of the 'mind like a computer’: a product of industry).

According to Stanislav Grof (2008), the large amount of data and research within the transpersonal domain have either been systematically ignored, misjudged, misrepresented and dismissed because of its incompatibility with the materialist paradigm. Transpersonal psychology is also interested in the potential for healing, transformation and the evolution of consciousness which are ignored by mainstream science, but seem to be experiencing a resurgence with due to a shifts in cultural paradigms (refer to 'Spiral Dynamics Stage Green below).[15]

Theoretical contributions[edit | edit source]

Philosophy of religion[edit | edit source]

William James 'The Founder of American Psychology' investigated and discussed mystic states and experiences in his work The Varieties of Religious Experience written in the early 1900s. James was the first person known to have used the term "trans-personal" in the English language, referring to the perception of two or more people in relation to an object.[16] In The Varieties of Religious Experience, James (1905) wrote that the source of religion, first and foremost originates from mystical states by exposing the person to their 'inward experience' which opens up a wide range of consciousness to increase the moral and aesthetic quality of daily life and improved social interaction. James (1905) wrote that "the divine presence" can be known through experience and that the limitations of thought can be transcended. James described transcendence as a distinct action and power, a turning towards a higher plane of consciousness that is a perfectly calm, sane and rational and not as a result of hypnotization. It (transcendence) is a phenomenon of "seership" in which one's sense of self is experienced "in a higher realm"[17][18]According to James (1890), the "spiritual dimension of personality could be known only to the individual by himself" which are the feelings, acts and experiences in solitude, a state in which they are able to apprehend what they personally consider to be divine.[19]

Carl Jung introduced the concept of individuation in which the person overcomes neurosis and integrates the psyche.

Jungian analysis[edit | edit source]

Countless volumes of literature have been written regarding the works, influence and life of Carl Gustav Jung including feature films, documentaries and books permeating into mainstream culture. A large part of Jung's influence led to the development of Transpersonal Psychology in the 1960's. Many associate Jung with his long standing apprenticeship with his mentor and teacher, Sigmund Freud. His history and relationship with Sigmund Freud has been well documented and they eventually parted ways due to a fundamental disagreement into the nature of psychology. Throughout his writings, Carl Jung introduced and elaborated on the concept of "Individuation" the process in which human beings begin life from complete dependence and move towards the process of growth, independence and eventually, towards full integration, unity and consistency within consciousness. Reaching individuation is said to help free the individual from neurosis, and eventually, life meaning and wholeness is attained.[20] Jung saw the process of life as a spiritual journey in which we all participate via different forms and archetypes and what he called the Collective Unconscious.[21] Jung viewed changes within the collective unconscious as evolving and may take centuries to renew and complete itself. Jung also thoroughly explored the differences between Eastern and Western modes of thinking and equated the collective unconscious with the 'Buddhist Enlightened Mind'. Jung (1968) has stated that in the last two centuries, Western philosophy has succeeded in isolating and severing the mind from its primordial connection with the universe and conflicts between science and religion arise due to a profound misunderstanding of both.[22] From a transpersonal perspective, the works of Jung can be interpreted as looking at the Western cultural viewpoint as limited by its own fundamental metaphysical assumptions.[23]

Psychosynthesis[edit | edit source]

Roberto Assaglioli developed psychosynthesis as a transpersonal system

During the 1960's, Roberto Assaglioli (1965) attempted to re-unify philosophy and psychology with an approach he developed called Psychosynthesis, as an invitation to hold all of human experience as part of psychological study. Psychosynthesis posits that for humans to have optimal health and well-being, consideration of the spiritual and psychodynamic realms must be included. Assaglioli, as a student of Freud recognised that humans 'split' or repress aspects of their personality which lead to dysfunction. The goal of psychosynthesis, according to Assaglioli (1965) is to re-integrate the 'self', which frees the person to have a life of wholeness and not live according to the mercy of unconscious drives, nor become a passive observer of fate.[24] Assaglioli (1965) states that when the center of 'self' (The conscious self or "I") has been found or created, then a new coherent, organized and unified personality (External Unifying Center) emerges and can be built upon to function from where the 'Higher Self' resides. Assaglioli's Psychosynthesis is a dynamic model consisting of 'Personal psychosynthesis' and 'Spiritual psychosynthesis. Personal psychosynthesis starts with the formation and reconstruction of the personality towards a new and healthier center. This process is designed to be realistic and in line with the natural development of the individual by concentrating energies and utilizing the creative and suggestive power of imagery. Spiritual psychosynthesis revolves around 'existential religious or spiritual experiences' with techniques involving the use of symbolism, dialogue and visualisation exercises to help integrate new spiritual insights into daily life and social relationships.[25]

Participatory Theory[edit | edit source]

In his book, Revisioning transpersonal theory: A participatory vision of human spirituality, Jorge N. Ferrer (2002) deconstructs and reconstructs Transpersonal Psychology by describing and identifying its practical and conceptual limitations, and attempting reconceive transpersonal ideas without these limitations. Ferrer states that the two greatest challenges faced by spiritual seekers in the modern age is the danger of 'spiritual narcissism' and also the failure to integrate spiritual experiences in daily life. In analysing modern spirituality, Ferrer states that the metaphysical worldview of modernity, is that of breaking the world down into three rations or distinctions, which consist of the 'objective' (natural sciences, instrumental-technical rationality), 'intersubjective' (moral, political, ethical and pragmatic rationality) and 'subjective' ('inner-world' of arts, aesthetic-expressive rationality, psychotherapy). Within this context and in the modern Western world, all spiritual phenomena is automatically assigned to the 'subjective' domain and not meeting the standards of valid 'objective knowledge' characterised by the natural sciences, and therefore not providing any valid form of knowledge. Ferrer (2002) argues for a revision of the current epistemic foundations of transpersonal theory which lends itself to various limitations such a subtle Cartesianism, intrasubjective empiricism and reductionistic universalism (perennialism). Ferer proposes a reconception of transpersonal ideas while eliminating these limitations by engaging in a participatory vision, thereby proposing the Participatory Theory. The participatory framework seeks to no longer be limited by the assumptions of the 'objectivist' and 'individualist' premise which dominate modern transpersonal theories. Participatory Theory views transpersonal phenomena as 'participatory' which are multilocal events rather than 'individual experiences' with an epistemic foundation of 'presence' and brings together both subject and object which is enactive while participating in the relative domain of distinctions, and does not consider mental representations as separate 'spiritual objects'. Participatory theory proposes that its emancipating aspects stem from the recognition of various reductionistic metaphysical assumptions and having the power to see them as what they are. Ferrer (2002) refers to non-western wisdom traditions such as Vedic practices, Christian mysticism and Zen Buddhism as a 'counterbalance' to various metaphysical and epistemic assumptions found in the west in order to facilitate a liberated sense of being.[26] The eight distinct features of the participatory approach are: spiritual co-creation (a creative capacity which operates through three interrelated dimensions of intrapersonal, interpersonal and transpersonal), creative spirituality (a revision and co-creation of new religious forms grounded on moral intuitions and cognitive competence), spiritual individuation (the process of unique and gradual spiritual wholeness and identity), participatory pluralism (a pluralistic vision of spirituality by accepting the formative role of language and contextual factors while also recognising non-linguistic variables e.g. archetypes, somatic, energetic etc.), relaxed spiritual universalism (acknowledgement of the underlying mystery and creative spiritual power as a generative source), participatory epistemology (the assessment of spiritual paths according to the degree they foster genuine development, overcoming self-centeredness and promoting a holistic integration with others), the integral bodhisattva vow (a proposal by Ferrer, 2006, 2008a, 2011b in which a person makes a commitment towards the liberation of all sentient beings, as aligned with Buddhist wisdom traditions), and participatory spiritual practice (a cultivation of embodied, relational and enactive spiritual co-creation). Participatory theory has had a profound impact on transpersonal psychology and has evolved into a participatory movement, where there has been a growth of spiritual orientation amongst explorers and practitioners coming from different traditions.[27]

Humanistic psychology[edit | edit source]

Abraham Maslow (1969) was one of the pioneers of Humanistic Psychology and is commonly known for the 'Hierarchy of Needs' model. Before his passing, Maslow proposed the final 'capstone' on top of the pyramid of his model. Maslow posited that (self) transcendence has various observable indicators which include the transcendence of culture, one's past, ego, self, selfishness, death, pain sickness, suffering, base needs and ingroup-outgroup mode of societal functioning (polarized perceptive judgements). Maslow also discussed mystical states as similar to experiences described by various religious mystics throughout history. Maslow describes transpersonal psychology as the field which embraces more inclusive and holistic aspects of human consciousness which focuses on intrinsic rather than the extrinsic solutions and explanations.[28][29]

Dynamic ground theory[edit | edit source]

Michael Washburn (1995) states that transpersonal theory is dominated by two basic paradigms, the dynamic-dialectical and the structural-hierarchical. Within the dynamic-dialectical paradigm, Washburn created the 'Dynamic ground' theory. The Dynamic ground theory attempts to expand on Jung's theory of transpersonal development and while doing so, challenges and distinguishes itself from the structural-hierarchical paradigms formulated by Ken Wilber, which combines structurally oriented psychology (Piagetian-Cognitive development) with a hierarchy oriented metaphysics (Vedantic-Buddhist traditions). Washburn proposes that transpersonal (spiritual) development requires 'going back to the origin' or 'yielding to the dynamic ground' as a path which allows the polarities of egoic development to become effectively integrated and harmonious. Washburn proposes that 'the spiral movement' that takes place within the 'dynamic ground' helps to explain the why human development seems to be on a journey of searching, and if and when circumstances align, one eventually return to itself as 'home'[30] Ken Wilber (1996) is said to have disagreed with the Washburn-Jung models by citing spiritual practitioners who are reported to have reached their levels of transpersonal development through a series of stages and sees the return to 'the source' as a possible regression.[31]

Panspiritism[edit | edit source]

The metaphysical framework coined by Steve Taylor, PhD (2018) as 'Panspiritism' proposes that the standard model of science based on a materialist paradigm is limited in terms of explaining a wide range of complex phenomena, including consciousness. In Spiritual science: Why science needs spirituality to make sense of the world, Taylor offers a criticism of the materialistic worldview which has become the 'normal' in modern culture. Taylor posits that the materialist paradigm is limited and offers the philosophical alternative of 'Spiritual science' or 'Panspiritism'. Taylor states that the materialist paradigm holds assumptions of reality which are not based in fact but are perpetuated by prevailing belief systems. Materialist assumptions include: life emerged by accident, human beings are creatures similar to machines, life consists of 'selfish genes', living beings are isolated individuals, 'the world exists' independent of human perception, 'the normal' human state of awareness is fairly accurate and reliable, 'altered states' of consciousness are hallucinations caused by the brain, paranormal phenomena contravene 'the laws of nature' and are 'impossible', 'mental phenomena' can be explained by neural activity, no 'life after death' and the main materialist assumption of consciousness as a byproduct or 'epiphenomenon' produced by the brain.[32] Taylor (2018) asserts that the materialist view of reality permeates all throughout modern educational systems, mass media, and public intellectuals. The "panspiritist" view of reality promoted by Taylor seeks to explain reality from a perspective that can accommodate non-ordinary phenomena such as mind-body connection, near death experiences (NDE), psi phenomena and spiritual experiences. Panspiritism operates from the metaphysical and epistemic foundation holding that every aspect of existence consists not of matter, but of 'fundamental consciousness'.[33] Panspiritism holds that fundamental consciousness (spirit) is the 'primary substance' of experience and not an 'emergent property' or 'epiphenomenon of matter'. The term panspiritism literally originates from "pan" (all or every) connected to "spirit" (animating force or life force). Panspiritism differs from "panpsychism" (all-mind) which suggests that all reality is 'mind' or have some form of inner being. In panspiritism, the 'spiritual force' arises and develops throughout reality moving towards an increasing (fundamental) consciousness (or spirit) from inanimate objects, to organisms which slowly evolve and eventually develop to become 'self-aware' and form higher levels of fundamental consciousness (e.g. the ability to form re-presentations or a creative symbolic capacity). From a panspiritist perspective, transpersonal related experiences which were previously deemed as purely subjective, inexplicable and incomprehensible can be re-contextualised into a more general spiritual worldview. Panspiritism shares similar worldviews that can be found throughout history, such as in the ancient Greco-Roman world, where terms such as 'apeiron' (spiritual force) or 'anima mundi' (world-soul) were used by ancient philosophers such as Anaximander, Anaxagoras and Plato. The Hellenic philosopher, Plotinus referred to same aspect of 'being' as the transcendent 'One'. Panspiritism also shares similar concepts of the 'spirit-force' found and experienced in indigenous cultures such as in native American tribes ('wakan-tanka'), Japanese Ainu ('ramut'), African tribes ('kwoth', 'pepo'), Amazon tribes ('fufaka'), and Polynesian ('mana') amongst others. The meaning of these terms show striking similarities to the ancient Greek word 'pneuma' which refers to 'breath', 'spirit-soul' or 'wind'. Ancient vedic texts also referred to 'spirit' as all-pervasive and originating from the fundamental principle of 'Brahman'.[34] Steve Taylor (2018) is a central contributor in the contemporary transpersonal movement promoting a gradual cultural and collective paradigm shift by collecting various cultural and ancient wisdom traditions throughout the world and organising them into a coherent system of 'Spiritual science' or Panspiritism, a perspective sharing many similarities to Perennial philosophy by having a framework which can organise and hold multiple ancient wisdom perspectives, drawing similarities between each tradition while referring to various truths unbounded by cultural, ideological and dogmatic belief systems, and operating from the framework of post-materialistic science.[35][36]

Transpersonal psychology and paradigm shifts[edit | edit source]

A paradigm is the metaphysical and epistemic framework which enables a field of study to be shared and communicated within a particular community. Stanislav Grof (1985) defines paradigm shifts as a 'constellation of beliefs, values, and techniques shared by members of a given scientific community' [37] In his book, Science Set Free, Rupert Sheldrake (2012) reviews the history of science and comments on how science in the modern era has slowly evolved into a belief system and has been moving away from its original purpose, as a method of open-minded inquiry. Sheldrake outlines how science can harden into limiting and dangerous dogmas. He challenges the underlying assumptions of the materialist worldview that all of reality consists of matter that can be dissected, reduced, and measured. Various assumptions which stem from the underlying cultural paradigm of materialism and reductionism are critically examined and questioned in an attempt to lead towards new scientific discoveries.[38]

In his influential book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), scientific historian Thomas Kuhn argued that science is an activity which occurs within a social context and is ultimately a collective agreement within a community which forms a particular framework or paradigm to work from[39]. The ruling paradigm serves as a structure that defines and allows what questions can be asked and how answers are provided. The practice of a 'normal' science usually takes place within the ruling paradigm. Within the established bounds of a practice, the constraints of conformity, peer group pressure and prejudice play a major part in a field of study to remain within the norms of a particular scientific community. However, from within a seemingly entrenched paradigm, new studies, information and evidence for facts which challenge the norm can occur which can shake its foundations. The introduction of new evidence into the prevailing worldview may serve as a catalyst or crisis point resulting in a gradual 'scientific revolution'. The main criticism of contemporary science from a sociological perspective posits that the scientific field consists of largely of 'ingroup' members building networks of support within an institution engaging in power, influence and a competition for funding, status and recognition. Critics against modern science such as Sheldrake (2012)[40] suggest that the original intent and method of science in the quest for truth can easily be corrupted within a culture which values interests contrary to its original intent.

Taking into account the emergence and evolution of transpersonal psychology over the last few decades, a formidable challenge to the materialist paradigm appears to be taking place, albeit occurring in a relatively slow manner. Transpersonal studies however, seem to be gaining more prominence and support as observable cultural changes are taking place.

Jorge N. Ferrer (2002) wrote the study of transpersonal domains may benefit by not following the demands of empiricist science (such as replicability, falsifiability, verifiability etc.) but for spirituality to establish its own foundations of logic and standards of validity, which includes its power to liberate the individual, communities and society from individualistic and egocentric paradigms.[41]

In terms of human and cultural development within the transpersonal domains, what would be normally perceived as the 'non-ordinary' or 'spiritual' can be further examined by looking at specific systemic and developmental models such as Spiral Dynamics and Integral Theory. These models provide a frameworks to work from within areas not generally explored in depth by prevailing mainstream academic sciences.

Systemic and developmental frameworks[edit | edit source]

Spiral Dynamics Model of Development. The transpersonal stage of development reflects the values represented in Tier 2. 'Stage Turquoise' (holistic, wholeview) which incorporates and is inclusive of all the prior stages (Image courtesy of

Spiral Dynamics[42] and Integral Theory[43] are contemporary developmental models which acknowledge and accommodate the transpersonal domain within their frameworks.

Spiral Dynamics[edit | edit source]

Spiral Dynamics explores the science of 'Memetics' and presents a new framework for understanding human dynamics operating in within cultural value systems. Spiral Dynamics was designed and created in the 1960's by Professor of Psychology, Clare W. Graves and developed by his students, Don Beck and Chris Cowan. Spiral Dynamics results from over 50 year of research and development and can be applied in a wide variety of settings such as business, education, geopolitics and personal development. The Spiral Dynamics model is a tool for synthesis to understand, predict and explain individual and cultural developmental trajectories in terms of worldviews and dynamic interrelationships between various groups and respective paradigms[44]

Categories of Spiral Dynamics vMEMEs characteristics - > 1st Tier: Beige, Purple, Red, Blue, Orange, Green. 2nd Tier: Yellow, Turquoise and Coral (?) [45]

Transpersonal domains within the spiral seems to emerge in a profound way through ebbs and flows from early conception to holistic and all-inclusive 'Spiritual Development'. Emerging in profound manner with Spiral Dynamics 'Stage Purple - Mystical' (traditional and tribal, strong identity 'belief-based' spirituality) to seemingly to disappear and emerge in 'Stage Blue - Order based' (still dogmatic 'belief-based spirituality and still based on traditional and hierarchy, in-groups with a strong emphasis on 'law and order', strong morality and 'black or white' thinking styles).

The person or culture adapts to its changes within its own environment to potentially re-emerge as late '1st Tier - Stage Green' (collective and 'humanity-based spirituality 'for the common good', hippies etc.) 'Stage Green' sets the stage for a potential 'big leap' into 2nd Tier - 'Systemic - Stage Yellow' thinking. Full actualisation of the holistic and spiritual collective domain seems to manifest with a full whole and universal view represented by the 'Transpersonal / Holistic - Stage Turquoise' stage which, along with 'Stage Yellow', incorporates and includes of all the prior stages as parts of its manifestation, and adjusting accordingly according to life conditions[46]

Integral Theory[edit | edit source]

With the creation of 'Integral Theory', the American philosopher, Ken Wilber (2001) attempts to synthesize the enormous amount of philosophic, psychological and therapeutic models together into a single 'Integral Theory' or 'Theory of Everything'.[47] Wilbur was also one of the main catalysts during the 'Fourth Force' of transpersonal psychology during the late 1970's, when he released his the book 'Spectrum of Consciousness' (1977) in which he developed a model which integrates the psychological Western systems with the noble Eastern traditions and mysticism.[48] Wilber has his share of critics and is largely ignored by mainstream academics which is likely due to his association with the Transpersonal Movement, and therefore dismissed as 'New Age'.[49] From a 'New Age' perspective, the modes of analysis and intellectualization of the academic frame of inquiry cannot do justice on the 'wisdom of the experiential'.[50]

Wilbur (2000) proposes that human psychological growth takes place in a stage-like manner, unfolding from simple beginnings and proceeds level by level with each stage incorporating and including other stages within consciousness, in a similar way, nature can be observed and experienced as evolving in a holistic patterns the human psyche which seem to follow in the same patterns.[51]A human infant can be observed as growing and incorporating more aspects of its environment and increasing in complexity as an organism as it progresses through childhood and adolescence towards adulthood. Further development appears to lead towards the integration of the various separations that were created from aspects of phenomenon that have been attached to identified by the organism's body-mind as its self-concept. Following similar themes from the Jungian idea of 'individuation', if self-transcendence is reached, the spirit is experienced as part of ‘the whole’ and not as a disembodied entity (separate self or ego). A balanced approach towards the theoretical and practical seem to provide ground towards embodied knowledge. In Spectrum of Consciousness, Wilber (1977) states that modes of knowing correspond with levels of consciousness. [52]

Criticism of perennial philosophy and 'Theories of Everything'[edit | edit source]

In order to balance the perennial approach, one can argue that the limitations of all theories and models must be taken into consideration, and seen for what it they are: symbolic representations. It can be said that the inherent manifestation of symbolic creativity and capability of language has inbuilt limitations as a symbolic construct, in which a postulate could be made that an experiential domain may be experienced beyond dualistic thinking and constructs of the ‘mind’. The transpersonal domain seem to emerge when 'the mind' stops and realisation of 'the transcendent' takes place prior to symbolic representation.[53] The main critique towards 'perennial philosophy' is the tendency to misinterpret models and theories as the experience it is referring to. The various analogies and metaphors stemming from ancient wisdom traditions, appear to communicate the very flaws in logical human reasoning and intellect upon which theorising and symbolic creation rests upon. Upon examining limitations, a potential may be found in participation in experience as itself. In his book Reviewing Transpersonal Theory, Jorge Ferrer (2002)[54]states that transpersonal psychology as a science (i.e. using a scientific method) must firmly establish itself with its own standards of validity and focus on what it can do to improve spiritual knowledge to enhance societies, within a system that is participatory or embodied. Ferrer (2002) proposes that transpersonal theory does not need the underlying metaphysical framework of perennial philosophy to make progress, but to have a more pluralistic understanding of spirituality for its liberating potential.[55]

Transpersonal research methods[edit | edit source]

Embodied research involves a focused and systematic investigation of a subject which involves more than a literary data search. To conduct embodied research is to potentially follow a narrow path which leads to an encounter with the unknown. Embodied research implies an actual experience manifested from and within the body-mind. An ‘embodiment’ so to speak, which not limited within the realm of 'conceptual ‘knowledge'. Embodied research seeks to describe the full human experience which includes the human body, social interaction and various activities. Embodied techniques have been practiced throughout recorded history, and have been studied across the world from all different cultures. Embodied research and practice may involve distinct and observable behaviours such as movement, music, rhythm, yoga, dance, touch, song, speech, narration, martial arts, combat activities, sexuality, gestures, facial expressions, language and body language etc. Embodied research generally refers to various kinaesthetic and artistic expressions which from part of the overall human experience. Embodied practice involves a practical element and goes further than reviewing literature. Embodied research largely depends on the epistemological approach taken which involves different types of ‘knowing’ or evaluative criteria (e.g. comprehensive, constructivist, positivist and utilitarian) (Lamont, 2009). An evaluative criterion addresses the quality of the research as a source of new knowledge. The field of embodied research is extremely vast and evaluative criterion are generally developed from within a specified field. Embodied research involves a 'first-hand' experimental approach within real life experience. Transpersonal psychology seeks to include embodied research as part of its holistic approach and method of study.[56] The link below provides some examples of embodied research approaches that have been used in Transpersonal Psychology[57]

Micro-phenomenology is a 'first-person research method which consists of a interview dialogue which assists the interviewee to bring into awareness and rel-live various aspects of experience with a focus on describing the "how" of the experience, rather than the "what" of the experience. Embodied Writing was primarily created as a means of data collection and is a research procedure that seeks to bring human lived experience through writing aligned with phenomenology and descriptive in nature.
Embodied Spiritual Inquiry (ESI) is an emerging research method developed by Jorge Ferrer (2017) involving interactive embodied meditations (IEMs) Intuitive Inquiry is a series of dialogues, data collection and summary data reports obtained from imaginal dialogue within a Hermeneutic structure.
Alchemical Hermeneutics is another hermeneutically structured method influenced by Jungian and depth psychology, it seeks to invite researchers develop further understanding of a topic by engaging in unconscious processes and dialogue. Imaginal Resonance is a form of art-based research inspired by research techniques used by Maslow (1966) Assaglioli (1969) and James Hillman's archetypal psychology (1979). Imaginal Inquiry is a research procedure for data collection and interpretation involving structured participant interaction and dialogue. Indigenous Approaches to Transpersonal Research are highly influenced by Richard Katz (2017) and the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 32 Task Force which was created to a focus on Indigenous Psychology in order to balance the colonization of Western psychological perspective and address the need for non-Western cultures to solve their local problems through indigenous practices and applications. It also addresses the need to use indigenous philosophies and concepts to generate theories which are valid and acceptable globally.[58]

Quiz 1[edit | edit source]

Transpersonal psychology primarily deals with?

Space exploration
Unicorns and rainbows
Spiritual related experiences
Positive psychology
Going with the flow

Transpersonal related therapies[edit | edit source]

Transpersonal psychotherapy[edit | edit source]

Spiritual and religious related issues are some of the most important aspects of people's lives and inherited belief systems form a large aspect one's culture. Modern psychiatry has tended to ignore, dismiss and pathologize spiritual issues and failed to recognise post-modern transpersonal domains of experience ('pre-trans fallacy') within the secular framework of educational and professional institutions. Lukoff and colleagues (1996) have said that 68 percent of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and family counselors seek a greater spiritual understanding, with 51 percent of psychologists involved in alternative spiritual paths other than organised religion. From a purely psychiatric perspective, religious and spiritual concerns have been associated with psychopathologies in spite of numerous studies which show that spirituality is linked to well-being, meaning and life purpose.[59] In terms of clinical diagnosis and treatment, a greater sensitivity to multiple dimensions of existence requires developing a wider perspective and openness to other areas of knowledge, while at the same time, taking biological and psychosocial factors into consideration. According to Ken Wilber (2000) therapies which may be effective at one level of development may not be applicable or relevant at higher stages of consciousness. Therapy from a transpersonal perspective acknowledges therapies at 'lower levels' of consciousness (biological stimulus - response conditioning) but it is extremely rare for other perspectives which operate at the 'lower levels' of consciousness to give credibility in areas to which they are 'blind' and would often pathologize non-ordinary human experiences, as in the case with traditional psychiatry.[60] A mental health professional or clinician may be ignorant of transpersonal matters or limited in his or her own personal development to be aware of levels of development beyond the personal, which may increase the risk of misdiagnosis and mistreatment of patients and clients who may be experiencing spiritual crises or existential issues.[61] Given the appropriate circumstances and combined with increased awareness, a referral to a transpersonal trained therapist may be the most appropriate course of action to assist those who require an transpersonal-related intervention to integrate non-pathological mystical experiences into daily life.[62] Transpersonal distinctions amongst clinicians include a diagnosis which falls into the category of "religious or spiritual problem" first introduced in the DSM-4 and continued in DSM-5.[63] Clinical and therapeutic issues which may arise related to religion could include: a loss or questioning of faith, change or conversion to a new religion, intensification of beliefs or practices, involvement in cults or new religious movements. Spiritual related issues may deal with mystical experiences, near-death experience, spiritual emergency, meditation and medical or terminal illness. Religious or spiritual issues may also be concurrent with mental disorder such as alcohol and drug dependence and abuse, psychotic and obsessive-compulsive disorder. In these cases, various pathologies would also have to be considered and collaborative efforts between practitioners may be required (see below case study). Within clinical contexts, each case must be seen as unique and handled on case-by case basis due to the wide range of complex factors involved in human experiences. Transpersonal related therapies can also be seen as an expansion from humanistic methods by providing assistance, support and interventions to assist and help clients attain fulfilment and explore areas of the psyche and expand related to 'being needs' rather than 'feeling stuck' at the levels of knowledge solely at the level of acquiring 'deficiency needs' in reference to Maslow's 'hierarchy of needs' model.[64] Transpersonal therapy may also serve as a bridge between 'the humanistic' to 'the transpersonal' which may include assisting the client achieve full self-acceptance and help the client overcome self-limiting barriers in personal development towards an improved understanding of themselves, their relationships and environment. Transpersonal therapy generally involves various psychotherapeutic processes to identify barriers in the development of one's psyche and integrating non-ordinary experiences into daily living and functionality.[65] In Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death and Transcendence in Psychotherapy, Stanislav Grof (1985) aligns with commentary taken from Frances Vaughan (1980) stating that the transpersonal therapist works primarily within a context determined by the client. The therapist must deal with all the issues which emerge from therapeutic sessions, including the client's mundane affairs, biological data, life narratives and existential issues. The therapist must also be aware of their level of communication towards the client which is commensurate and follows new experiential realms of consciousness explored during therapy. [66]

The below case study illustrates how transpersonal therapy may involve a complex range of factors:

Case study: The client is an adult female from a non-practicing Catholic background who reported hallucinations during her meditations and tremendous physiological shock in which she suffered a 'breakdown' and committed herself for hospitalization. The client also reported ongoing disturbing dreams and fearful visions after her release from hospital and was unable to return to work. The client believed that the occurrences may be attributed to a 'Kundalini experience' after she heard about this phenomenon from friend. The client therefore sought the assistance of transpersonal therapists due to the unusual nature of her situation. Sessions were first conducted by arranging an initial interview discussing her history and spiritual perspectives and was followed up by subsequent sessions which consisted of letting the client express from her point of view how she feels towards various life events including fears and relationships. The therapy also consisted of the client keeping a diary. The whole purpose of the series of sessions was to help the client integrate and incorporate her profoundly unusual experience, make sense of the phenomenon and resolve the crisis of recurrent fears, nightmares and family troubles. In this particular case, a therapeutic alliance was formed between five transpersonal therapists to provide feedback from multiple perspectives in order to assist the client resolve her crisis by using deep probing into her life history, in combination with skill, compassion, sensitivity and trust. It was determined in the final outcome that her 'spiritual experience' was not in fact a 'Kundalini experience' but a 'pseudo-kundalini' experience. Her case involved religious conversion matters with an eventual 'return' back to her original faith. She eventually became a nun. Therapy consisted of 15 sessions, including a follow-up interview after 6 months to verify that the matter has been resolved. This case shows the importance of differentiating between transpersonal content and transpersonal contexts, which in this case involved religious connotations but did not necessarily make the client's experience a purely transpersonal awakening.[67]

Psychosynthesis[edit | edit source]

Psychosynthesis is a series of therapeutic methods and techniques developed by Robert Assaglioli (1965). Psychosynthesis employs a holistic approach for self-realisation and treatment of psychological disturbances aimed at the personal and spiritual levels. Psychosynthesis draws heavily from psychodynamic theory, humanistic psychology combined with meditative techniques.[68]

Bodywork and Bioenergetics[edit | edit source]

Dr. Alexander Lowen, the creator of Bioenergetics drew heavily from the work of William Reich (1940-1945) which combines bodywork (progressive relaxation and yoga) with psychoanalytic processes and included elements related to transpersonal psychology such as the examination of one's psyche and a commitment to positive growth and change. Patients seeking to grow to a more secure self may have peak experiences and have moments of transcendence along the way. Patients seeking transcendence from the limited 'self-mind' concept may experience an increased presence during their everyday experiences (i.e. more aware and conscious of the present moment)

According to Lowen (1976), neurotic individuals maintain body homeostasis by binding up energy manifesting as muscular tensions throughout the body which limits sexual excitement. Healthy individuals do not have these limitations of constricted muscular energy (armouring) so that energy is free to function at a high level which could be made readily available for creative expression, growth and enhanced sexuality. The tendency for depression endemic to our modern Western culture is for a large part due to low energy economy due to bound up tensions in the body.

Lowen (1976) proposed therapeutic methods such as deep breathing techniques (many people have the tendency to hold their breath as a means of controlling their feelings) and the relaxation of the facial muscles allow tensions to relax and dissipate. Lowen (1976) also promoted progressive muscle relaxation, which is the practice of systematically relaxing constricted areas of the body, an example would be for patients with sexual difficulties, the practice of purposefully relaxing the pelvic muscles allows for increased blood flow in the area thereby alleviating the sexual dysfunction.

Lowen and Reich (1976) have said that when breathing is completely free, the person surrenders to his or her natural bodily functions, a discharge of energy from chronic muscular tensions release any excess energy reducing any neurotic symptoms.[69]

Holotropic breathwork[edit | edit source]

Holotropic breathwork is an embodied practice and technique created and promoted by Stanislav Grof MD.[70] Holotropic breathwork integrates elements from depth psychology - Freudian, Reichian, Rankian and Jungian schools, combined with modern consciousness research, anthropology, Eastern spiritual practices and mystical traditions. The practice of Holotropic breathwork consists of guided sessions combining structured breathing techniques, music, bodywork (deep muscle relaxation), supportive physical contact and expressive art drawing.[71]

Mindfulness based therapies[edit | edit source]

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MSBR) is based on rigorous and systematic training based on a form of Buddhist meditation which originated from Asia and brought into prominence by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn. Mindfulness is based on purposely paying attention during awareness of the moment. Many people practice MSBR in order to change from being in a state of stress towards the direction of healing and inner peace. MSBR involves practicing sitting and breath meditations, 'body-scans', yoga postures, walking meditations, daily mindfulness, healing of mind-body, responding to stress, working with emotions such as fear, panic and anxiety, dealing with change, pain management and maintaining a formal practice. MBSR may not be directly associated with transpersonal psychology, however, the method and practice may point towards expanding mind-body awareness, while helping the person to develop better focus and deep relaxation skills.[72]

Disciplines and practices related to transcendent experiences[edit | edit source]

Image of a typical meditative posture as represented by a statue of 'The Buddha'. The back is usually straight to ensure the meditator stays alert and focused. Folded legs serve as a solid base to ground the meditator to the task.

Buddhist practices[edit | edit source]

Buddhist practices have long history of embodied practice which has started to gain more recognition in the West. The study of consciousness in Buddhism has a history of over 2500 years, whereas the study of consciousness in Western psychiatry dates back at approximately 150 years.[73] The teachings which stem from Buddhism was originally conceived, not as a religious system of worship, but as various disciplines, techniques and teachings derived from its founder, Siddhartha Gautama as an attempt to free himself from existential human suffering. Unlike in the Western tradition, Buddhism as a practice does not attempt to separate spiritual concerns from psychology, and is therefore compatible with Transpersonal therapeutic practice and applicable in the modern age.[74] The teachings of Gautama included a series of systematic and methodical practices to train the 'body-mind' in order to discover one's true nature. Buddhist practices are usually practiced within particular cultural and religious contexts such as in Vipassana[75] and Zen.[76] Techniques such as focused contemplations can be done alongside various koan and structured dyad communication (practiced in rinzai zen or in 'secular' forms.[77]

Hindu practices and yoga[edit | edit source]

Advaita related techniques[78] and Vedic ceremonial practices[79] have been associated with and are highly recognised within the Transpersonal domains. Hindu and Vedic practices differ from the Western rational theoretical approach, in that its main focus is on experience which leads to a different experience of life. Inherent from the Vedic perspective is the evolutionary view of consciousness in which development can be completed in a lifetime with the unity of the highest aspect of one's self (Atman) with the 'ground of Being' (Brahman) resulting in the awakening of 'one's true nature'. The Vedas (Hindu sacred writings) call this realization tat tvam asi or "thou art that". The various practices begin with self-exploration and a gradual disidentification with one's physical existence towards a expansive state of consciousness which results in great joy and inner peace.[80]

Yoga originates from ancient Indian cultural traditions, philosophy and way life. The term 'Yoga' is derived from Sanskrit and means to 'unify, bind, tie, to yoke, join, attach, attend, concentrate on'. The word yoga may also be defined as a 'communion' or 'union with God'. [81]

The practice of yoga consists of a series of breathing techniques (pranayama) and postures (asanas) with an aim of directing concentration on one's body in order to calm, control and eventually free the mind and intellect in order to reach a oneness or union with spirit. The yoga practitioner seeks fulfillment and freedom from pain, sorrows and desires through discipline and embodied attention with an aim of achieving 'disentanglement' from self-identification tendencies. In the "Yoga Sutras of Patanjali" the writer(s) outline eight steps towards a completely focused attention which consist of the breathing and postural exercises until identification with the mind is fully transcended. Other ways of defining the word "Yoga" within the Vedic literature, the Bhagavad Gita, is yoga is 'the way of knowledge' [82] [83]

The practice of Kriya yoga is a traditional psychophysiological method consisting of various techniques which involving focused attention, visualisation and controlling the breath and experiencing sound-body vibrations by chanting Aum.[84]Kriya yoga was largely introduced to the United States and the West by Indian spiritual teacher, Paramahansa Yogananda (1920) [85]

Judeo-Christian-Islamic related practices[edit | edit source]

Various spiritual-related practices which originate from Judeo-Christian-Islam geo-cultural perspectives include contemplative prayer [86], initiation rituals, vision quests, prayer, fasting, baptism and various embodied techniques in order to attain a feeling of oneness with existence (e.g. 'whirling dervishes') [87]

The perspective of Christian mysticism sees Jesus Christ as the role model and inner guide for personal transformation, and embodiment from ego-bound consciousness to 'a cosmic oneness with God'. In the opening gospels of the New Testament, Jesus is sent to the desert for self-examination and to 'experience God'. The earliest Christians practiced meditative prayer and were known as the 'Desert Fathers and Mothers'. Meditative prayer is a method for self-knowledge and growth. In the Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology, Dwight H. Judy (1996) states that Christian mysticism constitutes the root of psychology itself, evolving towards modern Transpersonal psychology.[88]

Indigenous and shamanic practices[edit | edit source]

Shamanic practices may involve retreats, vision quests, darkroom retreats, sweat lodges, drumming workshops and cultural initiations and rituals. Shamanic practices have long been practiced by indigenous people throughout the world long before recorded and available history. Shamanism has been associated with growth, oneness with nature and existence and transcendent states of being. Shamanic practices may also include plant medicine ceremonies and the use of entheogens.[89] Traditional tribal societies throughout the world have men and women skilled in the use of a wide range of natural remedies, physical therapy and body manipulation (massage). Indigenous healing consists of treating the person in a holistic manner, which is to treat the body, mind and spirit at the same time. It seeks to restore natural health and seeks to remedy any disharmonies within the person, with the Shaman serving as a guide. Indigenous practices of spiritual devotion and submission to a power higher than one's 'egoic self' has provided effective healing for centuries. According to the Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology (1996), Carl Jung recognised the value of indigenous practices and developed a technique similar to a 'vision quest' as part of his Analytical method (Jungian Analysis) which involved stilling the mind and allowing his patients to enter the inner-field of awareness through guidance, drawing, art and embodied practice.[90]

Quiz 2[edit | edit source]

Choose the correct answers and click "Submit":[edit | edit source]

1 The Transpersonal Paradigm emerged from?

Humanistic Psychology
Psychodynamic Theory
Cognitive Neuroscience
Transgender studies

2 Which of the following is NOT a key issue in Transpersonal Psychology?

Spiritual experiences
Peak experiences
Human potential
Maze Experiments

Therapeutic use of psychedelics[edit | edit source]

The use of psychedelic substances or 'entheogens' have been associated with healing and attaining self-transcendent states within various cultural practices throughout the world for thousands of years.[91][92]

The research and support for psychedelic assisted therapies have increased with the growing scientific evidence. The responsible use of psychedelics within appropriate and clinical contexts have been demonstrated to assist in treating various ailments such as depression, PTSD, anxiety and addictions.[93] [94]

Along with treating maladaptive symptoms, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is known to help facilitate increased well-being, thriving and discovering meaning in experience.[95]

The psychedelic, LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide) was first synthesised by Albert Hoffman in 1938 from fungus alkaloids and helped launch modern research into modern brain science during 1950's. The use of psychedelics was prevalent during the 'hippie era' of the 1960's with effects that are strongly influenced by the person's expectations, context and setting. [96][97][98]

Literature suggests[99] that DMT released by the pineal gland is responsible for non-ordinary experiences similar to dream states such as out of body experiences, transmigration of the soul and highest realms of consciousness. Strassman postulates that if DMT is used wisely within the right context, progress may be facilitated within scientific exploration and therapies related to the human mind, soul and spirituality. [100]

Along with trials conducted with LSD and DMT in clinical and research settings, formal and non-formal therapeutic use of psychedelics for healing and spiritual insights include the use of: Psilocybin[101]Ayahuasca[102], Mescaline[103][104][105], 5-Meo-DMT, [106][107] Ibogaine (Iboga)[108] and MDMA[109][110] In her book, Listening to ayahuasca: New hope for depression, addiction, PTSD, and anxiety, Rachel Harris (2017) provides numerous anecdotal reports and case studies outline the benefits of psychedelics in overcoming personal issues and treating symptoms of addiction, severe anxiety, PTSD and depression.[111]

Issues and challenges in transpersonal psychology[edit | edit source]

One major issue is the challenge of integrating all the areas of interest in the transpersonal domain and its diverse approaches towards a wide range of spiritual traditions and disciplines throughout the world. The major challenge of integrative approaches is to consider how all the various spiritual approaches connect with the everyday experiences of communities, relationships, work, educational institutions and social issues. Rothberg (1990) believes that future development in the transpersonal field will have to deal with the challenges and questions brought about by integration, such as how insights from wisdom traditions like Buddhism can inform human relationships in the contemporary world.[112] Another main issue is approaches to education. Education serves as a foundation on which the epistemology of a culture rests upon. Transpersonal contemporary education would seeks to be all-inclusive and draw from a broad foundation while tackling modern issues and adapting to shifting cultural paradigms, this is especially pertinent from positions of strategic decision making and implementation of various policies (refer to 'Spiral Dynamics: Stage 'Yellow'). The prevailing attitude in Western culture places a strong emphasis on science, order and control of the natural world ('Spiral Dynamics: Stage 'Blue - Orange' perspectives) and not necessarily self-transcendence, spirituality and enhancing holistic social relationships throughout the whole planet. This issue is evident in educational systems where students must adapt to institutional efficiency, taught to conform to norms and rigid frameworks (e.g. religious or scientific doctrine) and operate in a rational objective manner to pass various assessments, but may not have had adequate training in self-awareness and lack the necessary social skills to effectively apply what was 'learned' and function effectively within community as a complete human being. As paradigms slowly shift, various changes can be observed as institutional curriculums become more open to providing students with greater autonomy and guidance towards the cultivation of their genuine interests, while also promoting courses and programmes which include emotional intelligence and prosocial initiatives.[113] Further questions may also arise on whether transpersonal action in the world can be supported to help prevent and deal with existential threats such as ill-health, disease and climate change. In an attempt to understand, predict and manage changes within societal values and individuals, the Spiral Dynamics (SD) developmental model (1996) appear to provide a useful 'map' to navigate through the complexities of the human condition and explain where a society or individual is situated in relationship with its environment.

Case study: Beck and Cowan (1996) participated in discussions which led to the end of apartheid in South Africa by using the principles of SD [114] Using the SD model, one may see that the current predominant era of first tier 'Stage Orange - Scientific Achievement' in dynamic interaction with 'Stage Blue - Conformist Rule' and 'Stage Green - Communitarian' value systems and societies. SD sees human development proceeding through eight general 'value MEMES' (vMEMES) or deep structures which overlap and interweave in 'fluid and flowing waves' which change in a dynamic spiral of unfolding (see above). From the perspective of second tier 'SD Yellow - Integrative' and 'SD Turquoise - Holistic' stages, it can be postulated that major changes can take place operating from a wider and more inclusive 'lens' of second tier thinking which appears to align with the growth of transpersonal domain. According to Wilber (1996) only 1 percent of the population is at 'second-tier thinking' and only 0.1 percent of people are at 'Stage Turquoise'. As Graves, Beck and Cowan (1996) indicate, humanity could remain victims of a global "autoimmune disease" where the first tier vMEMES turn on each other and fight to establish supremacy. The major issue and challenge for individuals, practitioners, major institutions and societal leaders is to develop, incorporate and include the whole 'spiral' to determine the most effective strategies to help each stage grow and develop in cooperation and understanding. According to the SD model, the strategic and holistic task of integrating and working with all the vMEMES can only be done at the level of development of 'SD Stage Yellow - Turquoise'.[115]

Future research[edit | edit source]

Further cross-cultural research and collaboration may be of benefit regarding the use of entheogens and psychedelics in various contexts. This may include further investigations into clinical designs for the treatment of terminal cancer, drug and alcohol addiction, severe depression and anxiety, and sociopathic personalities. Personal experimentation with entheogens may also be beneficial for religious and mental health professionals who have never personally had direct mystical experiences. The responsible and guided use of psychedelics by certain qualified healthcare professionals and therapists may provide them with an experiential understanding of their clients transcendent and spiritual experiences. Future research regarding the use of psychedelics may be seen in terms of developing further learning and creative abilities within the sciences and humanities, such as seeing various artworks and discoveries in a different light giving them a deeper understanding. It may also open doors towards innovations and new scientific discoveries. An example is the discovery of DNA molecule by Francis Crick which was reported to have been influenced, in part, by the use of psychedelics.[116] Other examples include inspired literary works, music and visionary artworks.[117]

Additional collaborations with reputable and well-established spiritual teachers (e.g. Dalai Lama, Thích Nhất Hạnh) with a view towards experimentation involving traditional embodied wisdom practices combined with Western conceptual frameworks.[118]

It has been proposed that the earth undergoes cyclical changes very similar to the human psyche.[119] Events occuring on earth such as ecological crises, mass extinctions and epidemics seem to occur in patterns consisting of challenge and overcoming adversity to emerge in a newly formed state. Research and integration into patterns in history from multiple perspectives on a global scale may be examined and understood at symbiotic collective levels which appear to parallel the birth-death-rebirth patterns in life.

Quiz 3[edit | edit source]

Which of the following are key issues in Transpersonal Psychology?

Paradigm shifts and respect for different cultures
The family routine of going to church on Sundays
Stimulus responses while drinking spirits

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

The field of transpersonal psychology can seem extremely vast and complex because of its holistic and inclusive nature which gathers and organises a wide and extremely diverse range of knowledge intertwined from various fields and disciplines within philosophy, cultural and religious studies, language, history and anthropology. Transpersonal psychology by its very nature also seeks to incorporate existing bodies of knowledge from within entire domain of psychology and sees itself as an important part of its whole evolution.

The overall essence of the transpersonal domain is a divergent holism and expansion. This could interpreted as a direct opposite to the reductionist convergent scientific approach. Transpersonal psychology's main strengths, may also be its main weaknesses. It may be suggested that more specific, rigorous and flexible pluralistic frameworks be established to give transpersonal studies a stronger validity, especially in practical applications.

The transpersonal discipline can be seen as a vital resource to assist clients in humanistic therapy and to aid patients involved in spiritual or existential crises. The spiritual component of transpersonal therapy may serve to enhance overall treatment to help patient's need to manage certain diseases,[120] and/or to assist in palliative care situations in combination with counselling.[121][122] Transpersonal related therapies alongside humanistic-centered approaches can help serve as a guide to help an individual discover life satisfaction and meaning.

The accumulated knowledge and phenomenon examined and investigated by transpersonal psychology provides clarity in areas of the human experience which may be classified as inexplicable or unable to be verified by contemporary scientific methods.

An increased awareness of transpersonal domains may provide a person with a hope, improved well-being and insight into the meaning of their existence, along with feelings related to joy, wonder and connection with humanity and nature.

In conclusion, as human organisms develop and mature, the transpersonal domain serves to open doors and help enrich, and deepen one's experience of life by providing guidance, understanding and support regarding existential and spiritual related concerns.

See also[edit | edit source]


References[edit | edit source]

  1. Yaden, D. B., Iwry, J., Slack, K. J., Eichstaedt, J. C., Zhao, Y., Vaillant, G. E., & Newberg, A. B. (2016). The overview effect: awe and self-transcendent experience in space flight. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, 3(1), 1.
  2. Yaden, D. B., Iwry, J., Slack, K. J., Eichstaedt, J. C., Zhao, Y., Vaillant, G. E., & Newberg, A. B. (2016). The overview effect: awe and self-transcendent experience in space flight. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, 3(1), 1.
  3. Calijornia, I. (1993). On transpersonal definitions. The Journal, 25 (2), 199.
  4. Calijornia, I. (1993). On transpersonal definitions. The Journal, 25 (2), 199.
  5. Lajoie, D. H., & Shapiro, S. I. (1992). Definitions of transpersonal psychology: The first twenty-three years. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 24(1), 79.
  6. Walsh, R. (1993). The transpersonal movement: A history and state of the art. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 25, 123-123.
  7. Grof, S. (2008). Brief history of transpersonal psychology. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 27(1), 46-54.
  8. Sutich, A. (1976). The emergence of the transpersonal orientation: A personal account. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 8(1), 5-19.
  9. Sutich, A. (1976). The emergence of the transpersonal orientation: A personal account. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 8(1), 5-19.
  10. Grof, S. (1985). Beyond the brain: Birth, death, and transcendence in psychotherapy. Suny Press. (insert page and chapter)
  11. Grof, S. (2008). Brief history of transpersonal psychology. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 27(1), 46-54
  12. Wilber, K. (1996). The Atman project: A transpersonal view of human development. Quest Books.
  13. Scotton, B. W., Chinen, A. B., & Battista, J. R. (1996). Chapter 7: The worldview of Ken Wilber. Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology. Perseus. page 63
  15. Grof, S. (2008). Brief history of transpersonal psychology. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 27(1), 46-54.
  16. Scotton, B. W., Chinen, A. B., & Battista, J. R. (1996). Chapter 3 : William James and Transpersonal Psychiatry. Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology. Perseus. p.26
  17. James, W. (1985). The varieties of religious experience (Vol. 15). Harvard University Press. pp.516
  18. Scotton, B. W., Chinen, A. B., & Battista, J. R. (1996). Chapter 3 : William James and Transpersonal Psychiatry. Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology. Perseus. p.25
  19. Taylor, E. I. (1978). Psychology of religion and Asian studies: The William James legacy. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 10(1), 67-79.
  20. Jung, C. (1983). Selected Writings, ed. A. Storr, London: Fontana. pp.19-26
  21. Jung, C. (1983). Selected Writings, ed. A. Storr, London: Fontana. pp.19-26
  22. Evans-Wentz, W. Y. (1968). The Tibetan book of the great liberation (p. viii). New York: Oxford University Press. pp. xxx-xxx1v.
  23. Jung, C. (1983). Selected Writings, ed. A. Storr, London: Fontana. pp.19-26
  24. Assagioli, R. (2000). Psychosynthesis: A collection of basic writings. Synthesis Center. pp iii-iv
  25. Assagioli, R. (2000). Psychosynthesis: A collection of basic writings. Synthesis Center. pp 23, 170-178
  26. Ferrer, J. N. (2002). Revisioning transpersonal theory: A participatory vision of human spirituality. Suny Press.
  27. Ferrer, J. N. (2011). Participatory spirituality and transpersonal theory: A ten-year retrospective. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 43(1).
  28. Maslow, A. H. (1969). Various meanings of transcendence. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1(1), 56-66.
  29. Maslow, A. H. (2013). Toward a psychology of being. Simon and Schuster.
  30. Washburn, M. (1995). The ego and the dynamic ground. Albany State University of New York.
  31. Scotton, B. W., Chinen, A. B., & Battista, J. R. (1996). Chapter 7: Challenges to Wilber's Developmental Scheme.Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology. Perseus. p. 64
  32. Taylor, S. (2018). Spiritual science: Why science needs spirituality to make sense of the world. Watkins Media Limited. p. 5-30
  33. Taylor, S. (2020). An introduction to panspiritism: An alternative to materialism and panpsychism. Zygon®. [1]
  34. Taylor, S. (2018). Spiritual science: Why science needs spirituality to make sense of the world. Watkins Media Limited. p. 31-53
  35. Taylor, S. (2020). An introduction to panspiritism: An alternative to materialism and panpsychism. Zygon®. [2]
  36. Taylor, S. (2017). Moving beyond materialism: Can transpersonal psychology contribute to cultural transformation. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 36(2), 147-159.
  37. Grof, S. (1985). Beyond the brain: Birth, death, and transcendence in psychotherapy. Suny Press. page 3.
  38. Sheldrake, R. (2012). Science set free: 10 paths to new discovery. Deepak Chopra.
  39. Kuhn, T. S. (2012). Chapter 3. The structure of scientific revolutions. University of Chicago press. p. 23
  40. Sheldrake, R. (2012). Chapter 1. The science delusion. Coronet. (pp. 25-27)
  41. Ferrer, J. N. (2002). Revisioning transpersonal theory: A participatory vision of human spirituality. Suny Press. p.3
  42. Beck, D. E., & Cowan, C. (1996). Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values. Leadership and Change. Wiley-Blackwell. (insert chapter and pages)
  43. Wilber, K. (2001). A theory of everything: An integral vision for business, politics, science and spirituality. Shambhala publications. (insert chapter and pages)
  44. Beck, D. E., & Cowan, C. (1996). Chapter 1. Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values. Leadership and Change (pp. 3-33). Wiley-Blackwell.
  45. Beck, D. E., & Cowan, C. (1996). Chapter 3 - Mind of the Spiral. Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values. Leadership and Change (p 67). Wiley-Blackwell.
  46. Beck, D. E., & Cowan, C. (1996). Chapter 14. Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values. Leadership and Change (pp 260 - 292). Wiley-Blackwell.
  47. Wilber, K. (2001). A theory of everything: An integral vision for business, politics, science and spirituality. Shambhala publications. (insert chapter and pages)
  48. Wilber, K. (1993). The spectrum of consciousness. Quest Books. (insert chapter and pages)
  49. Wilber, K. (1979). A developmental view of consciousness. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 11(1), 1-21.
  50. Heelas, P. (1999). The New Age movement: The celebration of the self and the sacralization of modernity. Blackwell. page 9.
  51. Wilber, K. (2001). A theory of everything: An integral vision for business, politics, science and spirituality. Shambhala publications. pp. 33-82 (insert chapter etc.)
  52. Wilber, K. (1977, 1993). Chapter 3: Reality as Consciousness. The spectrum of consciousness. Quest Books. page 41
  53. Ralston, P. (2010). Chapter 24. The book of not knowing: Exploring the true nature of self, mind, and consciousness (pp. 523-532). North Atlantic Books.
  54. Ferrer, J. N. (2002). Chapter 1: Transpersonal Theory. Revisioning transpersonal theory: A participatory vision of human spirituality. (p. 3 - 4) Suny Press.
  55. Ferrer, J. N. (2002). Chapter 1: Transpersonal Theory. Revisioning transpersonal theory: A participatory vision of human spirituality. (p. 3 - 4) Suny Press.
  56. Giardina, M. D., & Newman, J. I. (2011). Physical cultural studies and embodied research acts. Cultural Studies. Critical Methodologies, 11(6), 523-534.
  57. Anderson, R. (2018). Frontiers in Transpersonal Research Methods: Historical overview and renewed visions. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 50(2).
  58. "Indigenous Psychology Task Force". Retrieved 2020-09-25.
  59. Scotton, B. W., Chinen, A. B., & Battista, J. R. (1996). Chapter 23: Diagnosis: A Transpersonal Clinical Approach to Religious and Spiritual Problems.Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology. Perseus. pp. 231-235
  60. Wilber, K. (2000). Chapter 8: The Archaeology of Spirit. Integral psychology: Consciousness, spirit, psychology, therapy. Shambhala Publications. pp 97-98
  61. Scotton, B. W., Chinen, A. B., & Battista, J. R. (1996). Chapter 23: Diagnosis: A Transpersonal Clinical Approach to Religious and Spiritual Problems.Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology. Perseus. pp. 231-235
  62. Weide, T. N. (1973). Varieties of transpersonal therapy. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 5(1), 7-14.
  63. Prusak, J. (2016). Differential diagnosis of “Religious or Spiritual Problem”—Possibilities and limitations implied by the V-code 62.89 in DSM-5. Psychiatria Polska.
  64. Maslow, A. H. (2013). Toward a psychology of being. Simon and Schuster.
  65. Sutich, A. J. (1973). Transpersonal therapy. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 5(1), 1.
  66. Grof, S. (1985). Chapter 3: The World of Psychotherapy. Beyond the brain: Birth, death, and transcendence in psychotherapy. p. 197. Suny Press.
  67. Waldman, M., Lannert, J., Boorstein, S., Scotton, B., Saltzman, L., & Jue, R. W. (1992). The therapeutic alliance, kundalini and spiritual/religious issues in counseling: The case of Julia. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 24(2), 115-149.
  68. Assagioli, R. (2000). Psychosynthesis: A collection of basic writings. Synthesis Center.
  69. Lowen, A. (1994). Bioenergetics: The revolutionary therapy that uses the language of the body to heal the problems of the mind (Compass). (pp. 13-22, 33-34)
  70. Holmes, S. W., Morris, R., Clance, P. R., & Putney, R. T. (1996). Holotropic breathwork: An experiential approach to psychotherapy. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 33(1), 114.
  71. Grof, S., & Grof, C. (2010). Holotropic breathwork. Albany, NY: State University of New York.
  72. Kabat-Zinn, J., & Hanh, T. N. (2009). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. Delta. (insert chapter and pages)
  73. Scotton, B. W., Chinen, A. B., & Battista, J. R. (1996). Chapter 12: The Contribution of Buddhism to Transpersonal Psychiatry. Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology. Perseus. p.114
  74. Scotton, B. W., Chinen, A. B., & Battista, J. R. (1996). Chapter 12: The Contribution of Buddhism to Transpersonal Psychiatry. Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology. Perseus. p. 114-115
  75. Young, S. (2016). The science of enlightenment: how meditation works. Sounds True.
  76. Kapleau, R. P. (2013). The three pillars of Zen. Anchor.
  77. Noyes, L. (1998). Enlightenment intensive: dyad communication as a tool for self-realization. Frog Books.
  78. Godman, D. (2017). Be as you are: The teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi. Penguin Books.
  79. Barry B. F. Stages of Inner Experiences in Vedic Ceremony.
  80. Scotton, B. W., Chinen, A. B., & Battista, J. R. (1996). Chapter 11. The Contribution of Hinduism and Yoga to Transpersonal Psychiatry.Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology. Perseus. pages 104 -113
  81. Iyengar, B. K. S. (1993). Light on the yoga sutras of Patanjali. Aquarian/Thorsons. p 19-20
  82. Burns, K. (2019). Eastern Philosophy: The Greatest Thinkers and Sages from Ancient to Modern Times. Arcturus Publishing.
  83. Yogananda (Paramahansa). (2006). The Essence of Kriya Yoga. Alight Publications.
  84. Yogananda (Paramahansa). (2006). The Essence of Kriya Yoga. Alight Publications. pp. 265
  85. Yogananda, P. (2019). Autobiography of a Yogi. 1946. Los Angeles: Selfrealization Fellowship. (26) 263-272
  86. Rohr, R. (2011). Falling upward: A spirituality for the two halves of life. John Wiley & Sons.
  87. Was Baptism A Near Death Experience Ritual?, retrieved 2020-09-23
  88. Scotton, B. W., Chinen, A. B., & Battista, J. R. (1996). Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology. Perseus.
  89. Harner, M. J., Mishlove, J., & Bloch, A. (1990). The way of the shaman (p. xiv). San Francisco: Harper & Row.
  90. Scotton, B. W., Chinen, A. B., & Battista, J. R. (1996). Chapter 15: Native North American Healers. Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology. Perseus.
  91. Grof, S. (1985). Beyond the brain: Birth, death, and transcendence in psychotherapy. Suny Press.
  92. Hancock, G. (2006). Supernatural: meetings with the ancient teachers of mankind. Red Wheel Weiser.
  93. Pollan, M. (2019). How to change your mind: What the new science of psychedelics teaches us about consciousness, dying, addiction, depression, and transcendence. Penguin Books.
  94. Harris, R. (2017). Listening to ayahuasca: New hope for depression, addiction, PTSD, and anxiety. New World Library.
  95. Pollan, M. (2019). How to change your mind: What the new science of psychedelics teaches us about consciousness, dying, addiction, depression, and transcendence. Penguin Books.
  96. Pollan, M. (2019). How to change your mind: What the new science of psychedelics teaches us about consciousness, dying, addiction, depression, and transcendence. Penguin Books. pp 1-2
  97. Pahnke, W. N., & Richards, W. A. (1969). Implications of LSD and experimental mysticism. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1(2), 69.
  98. Richards, W., Grof, S., Goodman, L., & Kurland, A. (1972). LSD-assisted psychotherapy and the human encounter with death. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 4(2), 121.
  99. Strassman, R. (2001). DMT: The spirit molecule: A doctor's revolutionary research into the biology of near-death and mystical experiences. Park Street Press.
  100. Strassman, R. (2001). DMT: The spirit molecule: A doctor's revolutionary research into the biology of near-death and mystical experiences. Park Street Press.
  101. Pollan, M. (2019). How to change your mind: What the new science of psychedelics teaches us about consciousness, dying, addiction, depression, and transcendence. Penguin Books.
  102. Harris, R. (2017). Listening to ayahuasca: New hope for depression, addiction, PTSD, and anxiety. New World Library.
  103. Heaven, R. (2010). Hummingbirds Journey To God: Perspective. John Hunt Publishing.
  104. Pollan, M. (2019). How to change your mind: What the new science of psychedelics teaches us about consciousness, dying, addiction, depression, and transcendence. Penguin Books.
  105. Castaneda, C. (1998). The teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui way of knowledge. Univ of California Press.
  106. Oroc, J. (2009). Tryptamine Palace: 5-MeO-DMT and the Sonoran desert toad. Simon and Schuster.
  107. Ball, M. W. (2017). Entheogenic Liberation: Unraveling the Enigma of Non-Duality with 5-Meo-DMT Energetic Therapy. Kyandara Publishing.
  108. Palmer, J. (2015). Articulations: On the Utilisation and Meanings of Psychedelics. Anastomosis Books.
  109. Pollan, M. (2019). How to change your mind: What the new science of psychedelics teaches us about consciousness, dying, addiction, depression, and transcendence. Penguin Books.
  110. Palmer, J. (2015). Articulations: On the Utilisation and Meanings of Psychedelics. Anastomosis Books.
  111. Harris, R. (2017). Listening to ayahuasca: New hope for depression, addiction, PTSD, and anxiety. New World Library.
  112. Rothberg, D. (1999). Transpersonal issues at the millennium. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 31, 41-67.
  113. Murphy, M.(1969) Education for Transcendence, The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1(1), 21.
  114. Wilber, K. (2000). Integral psychology: Consciousness, spirit, psychology, therapy. Shambhala Publications. pp. 41-56
  115. Wilber, K. (2000). Integral psychology: Consciousness, spirit, psychology, therapy. Shambhala Publications. pp. 52-53
  116. Luke, D. (2006). A tribute to Albert Hofmann on his 100th birthday: The mysterious discovery of LSD and the impact of psychedelics on parapsychology. Paranormal Review, 37, 3-8.
  117. Richards, W. A. (2009). The rebirth of research with entheogens: Lessons from the past and hypothesis for the future. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 41(2).
  118. Komito, D. R. (1984). Tibetan Buddhism and psychotherapy: Further conversations with the Dalai Lama. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 16(1), 1.
  119. Bache, C. M. (2000). The eco-crisis and species ego-death: Speculations on the future. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 32(1), 89-94.
  120. Acciari, A. S., Leão, F. C., Coy, C. S. R., Leal, R. F., Dias, C. C., Saldanha, V., & Ayrizono, M. D. L. S. (2015). Effects of Transpersonal Brief Psychotherapy on general state of health and quality of life in patients with Crohn's disease. Journal of Coloproctology (Rio de Janeiro), 35(3), 162-167.
  121. Redondo-Elvira, T., Ibañez-del-Prado, C., & Barbas-Abad, S. (2017). Espiritualmente resilientes. Relación entre espiritualidad y resiliencia en cuidados paliativos. Clínica y Salud, 28(3), 117-121.
  122. Rudilla, D., Oliver, A., Galiana, L., & Barreto, P. (2015). Espiritualidad en atención paliativa: Evidencias sobre la intervención con counselling. Psychosocial intervention, 24(2), 79-82.

External links[edit | edit source]

Documentaries and videos online