Embracing Transpersonal

At our school for transpersonal consultants, TCT® Academy, we offer a seminar (my favorite) that aims at exploring the Subtle transpersonal level of human overall consciousness. I am about to offer this seminar in the upcoming weekend and here are my thoughts.

OK, so what am I going to write about in this blog? I will try to convey my awe, wonder and appreciation for the so called transpersonal. Transpersonal in this context does not include any existing religion, philosophy or New age movement, please. It translates to intimate and subjective empirical knowledge about what has throughout the human history been labeled as Spiritual, Divine.

I am almost holding my breath here, for respect, freedom, integrity (of us all) is soooooo important to me. I always state this while sharing in written word, and it just doesn’t get old, so here we go again: the thoughts below are only my subjective reality and no criticism, labeling, diagnosis or anything of the sort is intended. Each of us lives in subjective universe it seems and yet we can contribute to each other or not. It is my sincere hope that the text below does contribute at least somewhat.

Stages of human identity development

There is a guy, tall, brilliant and, as far as I can see, awake. Awake from social, political, educational,  religious etc. systems. His name is Ken Wilber, they say he is the most read author in the history of humankind. All of his, 15 books I think, are still in print, some in re-re-reprint.

And this guy has come up with, to me, genius idea of producing the map of all existing states and stages of human consciousness. And as far as I am concerned (and most of the professional psychological, philosophical and even anthropological world is concerned, it seems), well, he did it.

I have written extensively on the subject of the Wilber map on this Blog (please see the links above under Wilber map or employ the search engine up there on the right hand side), so there is no need for repeating it all.

What I want to again share, though, is that there is indeed an identity development going on in our human lives. Particularly I would like to point out two stages: Authenticity and the Subtle.

The first is personal and the later is transpersonal or spiritual.

I have sampled all of the levels of the Wilber map and empirically speaking, Authenticity is not as great as it seems on the paper.
All of the words, mere words, below are only generalization and might as well not apply to any of you, dear visitors. 🙂

Yes, it is or it seems to be:
– really wonderful to be able to stand up and say NO, or YES,
– precious to be able to be really personal and authentic in bed, for example, really enjoying oneself,
– great to create our own world, meaning that we apriori bow not to any structure from the outside,
– lovely to be able to express feelings and needs in a way others understand and maybe even appreciate,
– important to be able to share the skills and knowledge of empathy and self-empathy with others,
– it is so dear to be able to have a job just the way we want, to connect only to people we choose, to eat, drink exactly what we want, to have a house exactly as we want etc.,
– glorious to be able to operate outside the expectations of others, and, above all,
– most important to follow individualized will of I and Mine.

Of course, there are not many people who have attained all of the above. In fact, I only know a few.
And hey, who knows, maybe I ought to get out more LOL

That been said, lets take a look at the, what seem to be, not-so-great characteristics of the Authentic level of awareness (as per my own personal experiences and also according to my observations and sharing of others and also according to accepted professional literature penned by Wilber, Rowan, Forman etc., all of which doesn’t really matter; what matters is what is alive in YOU, yes? 🙂 ):
– it is only personal, meaning it is conditioned by personal tendencies (limited empathy, energy, the reach of personal outlook etc.),
– it takes enormous effort to be Authentic, simply because at this level, personal effort is a must,
– everyone gets burned out at least once at this level, for Ego or the Authentic self keeps pushing the envelope by trying to change and improve things,
– Authentic self or the Ego needs control, structure to really feel secure and content,
– at this level, everything that is not in accordance with inner (personal) reality is canceled out, ignored or at least avoided,
– it takes so much energy to emphatically reflect what others feel and need, simply because Ego or the Authentic self still believes and operates on, separation and duality (I am me and you are you),
– vulnerability at this level hurts, even one single thought (coming from the outside or inside) might shake the foundations of the attained personal happiness and peace,
– Authentic self or Ego is mostly timid, meaning that impersonal experiences might leave it distraught and confused,
– even the most flexible and tolerant Ego or Authentic self still needs reassurance, for it is a huge challenge for it to operate outside of its own inner self-created reality,
– when offering empathy, when reflecting feelings and needs of others, the best Ego or Authentic self can produce is best guesses (in accepted professional literature this is called “imagining the real”),
– and again, it takes massive effort to maintain the attained inner psychological climate,
– etc.

And yet, in comparison to Mental or Instrumental level (a level prior the Authentic level as per Wilber map), all of the above is indeed so much rewarding and positive, that some people I have met seem to take this Authenticity as synonymous to Enlightenment or Pure Spiritual Reality.

Interestingly enough even Marshall Rosenberg, the creator of the NVC system which is widely employed all over the world, pointed out that at the core of his system is this Beloved Divine Energy, not Ego or Authentic Self. Please, see the whole text, you can read it here >>new web page opens up).

There is so, so, soooooooooooooooo much more one can experience beyond the Authenticity, in my experiences.

Lets take a look at some of the traits of the spiritual and transpersonal level of awareness, the Subtle level or the Soul level:
– it is like coming home, it is safe, fluid, free and eternal – no need for any effort,
– there is no need to fix things, to create something anew, for the transpersonal Reality has been the same for ever,
– no effort is needed to connect with others at this level,
– empathy for others is not conditioned by effort or amount of self-empathy, it is free flowing, eternal, absolute,
– they say that there is a book called “Structures to live by” and at this level, well, there are no books, the least of which is called “structure”,
– at this level the true self, the Soul shines forth powerfully and gently at the same time, no need to fix it or create it from scratch,
– at this level one is never ever alone, for the presence of the Soul naturally evokes the presence of other Souls from the Subtle transpersonal realm,
– there is no need to trying to become what we really are at this level, for we really already are, way beyond any and all personal projections from the Authentic self or Ego,
– the Soul is the true Self, and the Authentic self or Ego is merely her shadow (that’s why the Ego needs all the fuss and circus to be really content),
– the Soul is witnessing all the drama on the personal level, and denies nothing, for everything is already in herself.

Dr. Rosenberg was once asked:

What does God mean to you?

I need a way to think of God that would work for me, other words or ways to look at this beauty, this powerful energy, and so my name for God is “Beloved Divine Energy.” For a while it was just Divine Energy but then I was reading some of the Eastern religions, and Eastern poets, and I loved how they had this personal, loving connection with this Energy. And I found that it added to me to call it “Beloved” Divine Energy. To me this Beloved Divine Energy is life, connection to life.

Is this lack of connection to Divine Energy responsible for violence in the world?

To me, the violence in the world comes about when we get alienated or disconnected from this Energy. How do we get connected when we are educated to be disconnected? I believe it’s our cultural conditioning and education that disconnects us from God, especially our education about God.
(please, see the whole interview, if you will, here >> – new web page opens up)

Well, at the Subtle transpersonal level, the “God” for a lack of a more flexible word is experienced as real as you and me, and is way beyond the personal Authentic level. It is the Divine in us, in you and me, that acts when the healing of guilt, shame, anger etc. takes place.

How much more healing could take place if we embraced the transpersonal even more, transforming the timid Ego or Authentic self into this Beloved Divine Energy (as Rosenberg himself calls the transpersonal Self)!

🙂

 

 

 

Dr John Rowan on Authenticity

Dr John RowanAuthenticity is the natural expression of having made the move from first-tier consciousness – what Ken Wilber calls Mental Ego consciousness, and what is often called conventional consciousness – to second-tier consciousness, or what Wilber calls Centaur consciousness, and which is often called post-conventional consciousness.

This is quite a normal and natural progression, but it often results from a crisis of some kind, which shakes us out of the comforts of conventional consciousness.

First tier consciousness is dominated by formal logic, based on the premise that A is A. This is the logic often taught in schools, and it has been named variously as Aristotelian, Newtonian, Cartesian, Boolean and mathematical logic. It is used very successfully in computers, and is highly suitable for working with inanimate things.

Second tier consciousness is dominated by dialectical logic, the logic of paradox and contradiction, whose basic premise is that A is not simply A. This is the logic we require for dealing adequately with human beings. And it is only if we embrace this form of logic that we can understand authenticity.

Authenticity is fully embodied in most of the forms of humanistic psychotherapy, including Person-centred, Gestalt, Psychodrama, experiential therapies, Primal Integration, radical therapy, feminist therapy, several body therapies, dream work and so forth. They are very much at home there, contributing essentially to the humanistic emphasis on the whole person and the authentic relationship. The humanistic view of authenticity is broader and more inclusive than that to be found in existential analysis.

James Bugental has written two books about authenticity. He says that authenticity is a combination of self respect (we are not just part of an undifferentiated world) and self enactment – we express our care or involvement in the world in a visible way.

Here is a key quotation:
“By authenticity I mean a central genuineness and awareness of being. Authenticity is that presence of an individual in his living in which he is fully aware in the present moment, in the present situation. Authenticity is difficult to convey in words, but experientially it is readily perceived in ourselves or in others.” (Bugental 1981, p.102)
In other words, what we in humanistic psychology are saying is that authenticity is an experience.

As Rollo May has said so well: “Freedom is a quality of action of the centered self.” (May 1979, p.176) Ž
The humanistic view is that action is the acid test of experience.

What it seems so hard to convey to many people is that the real self, the self which is to be actualized in self-actualization, is not a concept but an experience. It is not something to be argued at a philosophical level, it is something to be encountered at an experiential level. Otherwise it becomes an abstract and useless concept.

Some existentialists embrace this, as for example here:
Authenticity consists in having a true and lucid consciousness of the situation, in assuming the responsibilities and risks that it involves, in accepting it in pride or humiliation, sometimes in horror and hate. There is no doubt that authenticity demands much courage and more than courage. Thus it is not surprising that one finds it so rarely.
(Sartre 1948, p.90)

It demands so much because it involves moving beyond the confines of the familiar mental ego. To get away from the abstract argument, let us take a concrete example.

It comes from a book by Allen Wheelis, and it goes like this:

Look at the wretched people huddled in line for the gas chambers at Auschwitz. If they do anything other than move on quietly, they will be clubbed down. Where is freedom?… But wait. Go back in time, enter the actual event, the very moment: they are thin and weak, and they smell; hear the weary shuffling steps, the anguished catch of breath, the clutch of hand. Enter now the head of one hunched and limping man.

The line moves slowly; a few yards ahead begin the steps down. He sees the sign, someone whispers “showers”, but he knows what happens here. He is struggling with a choice: to shout “Comrades! They will kill you! Run!” – or to say nothing. This option, in the few moments remaining, is his whole life. If he shouts he dies now, painfully; if he moves on silently he dies but minutes later. Looking back on him in time and memory, we find the moment poignant but the freedom negligible. It makes no difference in that situation, his election of daring or of inhibition.

Both are futile, without consequence. History sees no freedom for him, notes only constraint, labels him victim. But in the consciousness of that one man it makes great difference whether or not he experiences the choice. For if he knows the constraint and nothing else, if he thinks “Nothing is possible”, then he is living his necessity; but if, perceiving the constraint, he turns from it to a choice between two possible courses of action, then – however he chooses – he is living his freedom.
This commitment to freedom can extend to the last breath. ”
(Wheelis 1973, ‘How People Change’, pp.31-32)

For humanistic psychotherapy, authenticity is a direct experience of the real self. It is unmistakable, it is self-authenticating. And if we want to know how to use it on a daily basis, we can go to the excellent book by Will Schutz entitled ‘Profound Simplicity’ (3rd edition 1988).

There is an important link between authenticity and genuineness as described by Carl Rogers.

“It is my feeling that congruence is a part of existential authenticity, that the person who is genuinely authentic in his being-in-the-world is congruent within himself; and to the extent that one attains authentic being in his life, to that extent is he congruent.”
(Bugental 1981, p.108)

Again it takes Bugental to draw our attention to the heartland of the humanistic approach, which is also the heartland of the existential approach. Both Bugental and Rogers are clear that congruence is difficult and demanding, and recent writers like Dave Mearns have made it clear that it cannot be taught as a skill.

As authentic beings, we recognize our individuality.
Further, we recognize that this individuality is not a static quality but is, rather, a set of (possibly infinite) potentialities. As such, while in the authentic mode, we maintain an independence of thought and action, and subsequently feel ‘in charge’ of the way our life is experienced. Rather than reacting as victims to the vicissitudes of being, we, as authentic beings, acknowledge our role in determining our actions, thought and beliefs, and thereby experience a stronger and fuller sense of integration, acceptance, ‘openness’ and ‘aliveness’ to the potentialities of being-in-the-world.
(Spinelli 1989, p.109)

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

– Dr John Rowan
Text re-posted from:
www.johnrowan.co.uk

A violation of the first law of thermodynamics

In this blog I would like to share an excerpt from one of my unpublished texts from my studies, titled “Beyond material conception of human consciousness: empirical and phenomenological evidence”.

Here we go:

Abstract

For over three centuries we have had the cannon balls and apple trajectories of Newtonian classical physics and decades of mechanical conception of the human psyche as portrayed by, from a modern cognitive perspective, rather superficial behaviorism.

Today, even the solid science of quantum physics is not only volunteering but indeed vigorously proving the essential role of the consciousness in strictly physical experiments (i.e. delayed-choice experiment). According to the reproducible results of those experiments, the consciousness is powerfully entering the domain of ‘objective’ physical reality (as per the Copenhagen interpretation) and thus forcing us to reassess our most cherished beliefs about basic premises of ‘reality’. While the Newtonian mechanical and deterministic standpoint is obviously in accordance with our day-to-day life experience of solid material objects, we cannot but dignify the possibility that there must be more to ourselves and to the universe we live in.

This ongoing paradigm shift is also being reflected in psychology. The mechanical, bodily and deterministic viewpoints on the human psyche of psychiatry in general, and behaviorism in particular, have been giving way to new, positive, more permissive and light, forces in the area of human conscious experience, namely humanistic and transpersonal psychology. While hard material evidence that would unequivocally authenticate the origins of consciousness still eludes scientific researchers in laboratories worldwide, empirical and phenomenological research evidence that clearly speaks in favor of its existence beyond the material brain matter is truly voluminous.

In the present paper I examine various scientific research results and other resources that provide ample evidence for existence of consciousness beyond orthodox line of thought and even beyond material brain matter.

A violation of the first law of thermodynamics

At Sri Ranga Patna orphanage in Mysore, in the south of India, there are two quite intriguing objects, an ongoing miracle from the point of view of classical physics: two thumb-nail sized slivers of porcelain, both bearing the likeness of a certain Indian saints. For the last twenty-five years or so, they have been producing a honey-like liquid that tastes and smells like jasmine, out of nothing.

I was at that orphanage back in 1993, on my first trip to India. I was standing right there, holding one of the two pieces of porcelain in my right palm, witnessing the liquid coming out of the small object, continuously materializing from the small object. When my palm was full of liquid, the manager of the orphanage took the object and placed it on my left palm, right in front of my eyes. And the little object filled up my left palm with liquid in a few seconds.

I remember a young visitor from our group, he just stood there, with the two objects in his both palms, completely dumbfounded, in shock. His whole body and non-verbal communication was screaming a disbelief, doubt and amazement. He was keep repeating: “I don’t believe it! This is impossible!”

Yes, it indeed is impossible, at least from the Newtonian point of view. The phenomenon at that orphanage would no doubt have left Newton, the great scientist, in anguish. Clear violation of the firmly established first law of thermodynamics (see details here >>) would probably be an enormous challenge for his belief system: objects in question do not heat up or cool down, they do not change temperature at all (at least they didn’t in my palms), no external material apparatus or energy source is connected to the objects, no external energy input of any kind is present and yet, liquid keeps pouring out.

If we embrace the Latin proverb, nullum gratuitum prandium, who or what is empowering the objects to keep producing large amounts of sweet liquid out of nothing, for free and for over twenty-five years?”

🙂

My heart will go on?

incarnation is a factBack in the 2010 I think, I was writing a paper on the integration of cognitive neuroscience and transpersonal psychology and I wanted to include available empirical evidence that supports the notion of reincarnation and the non-locality of human consciousness.

Well, my professor at Rushmore turned my text right down, arguing that academical establishment frowns upon such notions. I yielded back then, but now I don’t really care much about the academia and so here we go:

There is a wide range of books written on the subject and while I do not necessarily subscribe to the New Age notions on the matter, I fully embrace the life work of Ian Stevenson, MD, who dedicated over forty years of his life to systematical research of re-incarnation.

Dr. Ian Stevenson, in his book Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect, p. 2 states (you can buy the book here >>):

“…The birthmarks and birth defects provide an objective type of evidence well above that which depends on the fallible memories of informants. We have photographs (and occasionally sketches) which show the birthmarks and birth defects. And for many of the cases, we have a medical document, usually a postmortem report, that gives us a written confirmation of the correspondence between the birthmark (or birth defect) and the wound on the deceased person whose life the child, if it can speak, will usually claim to remember.”
(Stevenson 1997)

Is awareness or our consciousness really a product of warm, wet brain tissue? Is it really firmly localized in between our ears and does it cease to exist when the body is dead? If the answers to these important questions were no, what a monumental and decisive fact this would be for modern medicine in general and orthodox psychiatry in particular!

Dr. Stevenson, goes on to explain:

“…the birthmarks and birth defects derive importance from the evidence they provide that a deceased personality – having survived death – may influence the form of a later-born baby. I am well aware of the seriousness – as well as the importance – of such a claim and can only say that I have been led to it by the evidence of the cases.”
(Stevenson 1997, p. 2)

The consciousness or awareness indeed exists, and is obviously not a by-product of our brain matter. The non-locality of consciousness is one of the most accurate explanations for the etiology of birthmarks, if a rather radical one.

So, there was a person A who was killed and died and there we have a person B who was born at a different place and years after and who remembers clearly the circumstances of the person’s A death. And birthmarks are a rather strong evidence, arent they? Even more, we have a written documents that support the memories of that person B.

I don’t know about you, but the evidence is quite overwhelming. Soul or consciousness is obviously NOT limited by human body and brain and it certainly isn’t a by-product of chemicals is the brain.

What is love?
What is respect?
What is commitment?
Do these things survive the physical death?

In my experience, indeed they do.

I love this song:

“Love was when I loved you
One true time I hold to
In my life we’ll always go on

Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on
Once more you open the door
And you’re here in my heart
And my heart will go on and on

You’re here, there’s nothing I fear,
And I know that my heart will go on
We’ll stay forever this way
You are safe in my heart
And my heart will go on and on.”
– My heart will go on, by Celine Dion

 

 

 

 

From beyond: the nirodha-samāpatti

“…niroda-samapatti or ‘attainment of extinction’ , also called saññā-vedayita-nirodha, ‘extinction of feeling and perception’, is the temporary suspension of all consciousness and mental activity, following immediately upon the semi-conscious state called ‘sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception’ (s. jhāna, 8).
The absolutely necessary pre-conditions to its attainment are said to be perfect mastery of all the 8 absorptions (jhāna), as well as the previous attainment of Anāgāmī or Arahantship…”

(Nyanatiloka 1998)

After entering the Nondual more or less at will for almost one year or so, profound anatta insight has manifested as I have shared above (Blog on anatta >>). A month and a half after that insight, a thought about experiencing nirodha-samāpatti arose.

And it happened soon after that:

while lying in my bed, with closed eyes (no visual input) “entering” into Nondual and on to anatta using the entry of thoughts and feelings (just thoughts/feelings cognized, no observer or witness), it happened; slowly body awareness turned off, feelings of so called tiredness just dissipated and thoughts vanished one by one. And consciousness manifested as thoughts/feelings just gently and slowly faded itself down to a complete stop. Total silence or stillness and swoon-like absence of everything and anything. Beyond perception and non-perception. No saying; can’t really adequately describe it, I admit (please, also see the Appendix 6.3.).

I don’t know how long this state lasted, but afterwards everything instigated itself it seems or whatever, everything became active again, thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. Eyes were closed still, so visual cortex was inactive throughout the event.

It was like a natural thing, an element of arising and ceasing of events. Only this time, there was no event, no perception and no not-perception. It was total absence of anything and everything. I cannot remember what was going on while in this state, as there was no I to remember anything and nothing at all was happening in that state.

Now silent joy is arising here as I share this; nothing overly special or extraordinarily mystical about it; just naturally unfolding events or non-events. Now, however, I realize that there is literally nothing which I could possibly base my existence or awareness on. Everything is impermanent, arising and fading away, by itself, independently liberated and interdependent at the same time and empty of inherent qualities.

So why am I sharing this?

In his detailed book on Buddhist sadhana Daniel Ingram shares on the topic:

“I mention this attainment because it is one more of those things that is found today but has often been relegated to the realm of myth and legend or has been forgotten entirely. It is not that Nirodha is necessary but it definitely is a good and useful thing to be able to attain. In fact, I have not yet spoken with anyone who had attained it who didn’t consider it among the absolute King Daddy of meditation attainments other than arahatship, as the depth of its afterglow never fails to impress and amaze. Hopefully, mentioning it will raise the standard to which people feel they can reasonably aspire, which is basically the whole goal of this book.”
(Ingram, p. 356, 2007)

Daniel’s words resonate with my reality very much.

From my upcoming book, After anatta

Next, sunyata >>