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)!

🙂

 

 

 

The New cAge prison

The text below caught my attention on FB. I often relish the simple and yet deep thoughts of Jeff Brown, and the New Age or New Cage text fits right into the overall context of my Integral vision and Integral.life Blog.

Lets first see Jeff’s words (my thoughts below):

New Cage Movement – A term to describe the more ungrounded, dangerous and simplistic elements of the New Age movement, including but not limited to:

  • wishful thinking mantras,
  • spiritual bypass and premature forgiveness practices,
  • superficial healing techniques, and
  • the perpetual denial of common sense realities with fantastical perspectives (‘Everything is an illusion,’ ‘There are no victims,’ ‘All judgments are bad,’ ‘You chose your every experience and circumstance,’ ‘Your personal identifications are inherently false,’ ‘Just ask the universe for what you want…,’ ‘Everything you see and feel is a reflection of you,’ ‘There is no one to blame,’ ‘The ego is the enemy,’ etc.

These perspectives have their place, but taken too far, become a prison of their own making, locking people in with their unresolved pain, obstructed from doing the real work by their addictive flights of fancy. The key to escaping New Cage prison is developing a willingness to do the real work to ground, embody and heal in authentic terms.

On a relational level, New Cage connections are often wound-mates, priding themselves in their seeming spirituality, but actually falling apart at the seams- boundary-less, ungrounded and controlled by all the unresolved emotional material that the crystals didn’t quite heal. In their determined efforts to float above the fray, they actually just perpetuate their own pain-bodies and miss the opportunity to do the real work to become conscious together.
(~an excerpt from ‘An Uncommon Bond’)

Well, that has been rather well said. 🙂
Thank you, Jeff.

What I would like to add, though, is that while my mind is always rejecting the New Age mentality, labeling it as pure bull s**t, my heart whispers that maybe New Age people yearn for recognition, peace, freedom, love, respect and empathy – just like me (and maybe you).

The difference, however, between maybe me and your average New Age person, as far as I can see, is that I am not avoiding or at least I am trying to not avoid darkness, anger, sadness and the negativity within or without.

I am willing to face my own shadow side of inner psychological climate straight on, without overly complicated means (read: tarot cards and elves) .

Wilber comes to my mind here, he likes to say:
“There is no jumping. States are free, stages are earned.”

I understand his assertion to mean that it is impossible to just avoid and jump over a certain level of human identity development. And in the case of New cAge people, it seems they might want to jump (probably unaware) over the Centuar level. And to attain the Centuar or the Authentic level one has to face and clear out the shadow. Basically that means facing all the stuff New cAge wants to avoid.

I have been there, done that and it did now work; I was young and naive. Now I know that transforming the shadow by embracing it amounts to sending my roots really really deep into the ground. And that seems to be the only safe means for spiritual progress (for me).

You?

Wilber map: typical statements :)

Well, I am being playful so lets take a look at the Wilber map and typical statements from each level:

Mental Ego:
My daughter, well, no doctor of science will ever be good enough for her.
(this actually crossed my mind a few times, LOL)

Authentic level:
Patience is just procrastination without anxiety.
🙂

Subtle level:
We will all die, yes?
Well, I suggest we make peace with our various Gods and just go.
LOL

Causal level / Vedanta Nondual:
I used to be lonely, but now I am alone.
<deep sigh>
LOL

Buddhist Nondual:
What’s been felt,
What’s been known,
Never shined through in what’s been shown.
Always free.
Never me.
So I dub thee nonexistent.
<empty silence>

LOL

 

Beyond Authenticity

I would like to touch upon an interesting topic in this blog. I do enjoy writing about Authenticity, self-actualization, individualization and yet, Authenticity itself, as sublime and as rare an attainment as it is, it is only a stage of human psychological-transpersonal identity development, as far as I can see. And to me, Authenticity is really only an introduction to really peaceful and enlightened inner life.

For sure, long and strenuous years can be dedicated to attaining and stabilizing at the stage of awareness called Authenticity or Authentic Level or Centuar (as per Wilber). And all the while the struggle and effort to become Authentic, to lead an Authentic life and to employ the inner potentials by self-actualizing them is a must  – all of that may inevitably become an obstacle when and if one wants to move on from Authentic level to more spiritual ones, i.e. Subtile, Causal and Nondual.

Authenticity in this context and for me means self-actualization, individualization and clearing up all the personal dramas or
the Shadow, to use a Jung term. For me, Shadow in this context translates to everything one believes that is wrong with others, the world and oneself. And it can take long years of dedicated work on those personal issues.

Also, being truly Authentic does not translate to dogmatically following certain set of rules, not even the ones from other Authentic individuals (Maslow, Rogers, Marshall etc…). Authenticity comes from the heart and there are as many authentic individuals as there are human beings, way beyond any kind of convention, injunction or rule. That’s how I perceive the Authentic level at the moment.

I have written extensively on the subject of this level of human awareness (browse my previous blogs, here >> , ) and also a short intro to the overall (Wilber) map of human stages of consciousnesses (see also blog in Identity development >> )

In this blog, however, I would like to express myself about the levels or stages of human identity development which lay well beyond Authenticity.

For me, those levels of awareness are what power up my life, rejuvenate my wonder, as it were, and make sense to all in and around me. Yes, the Authenticity itself is an important stage of human identity development and it simply can not be skipped over. But, after attaining it and really living it, one may begin to wonder if that is all that it is attainable. Well, the answer is, thanks God, no.

Authentic level is only a stage, one of many and, to me, not really all that satisfying.
Let me share my subjective thoughts 🙂

At the Authentic level, one may be called to individualize his own cognitive processes, to self-actualize his own inner talents and potentials and to start living according to his / her sweet freedom of choice in ALL areas of life: intimate, private, public, business, spare time, inter-personal – everything may be included.

And to attain all that, well, it takes effort, facing the inner dis-harmonies, clearing out the suppressed emotions, overcoming mental negativity etc… Also assuming full responsibility for ones thoughts, emotions, words and actions may also play an important part in the process.

The Authentic Self, which seems to be at the core of the Authentic level is always active, unique, and wants to be in control. So structure, self created rules and battles won through hard work – that is what a person on the Authentic level may define himself / herself through.

I create my own life – that is the motto an Authentic person might live by. And again, it may take years, maybe even decades to really attain that precious level where one can with all sincerity proclaim that s/he is happy because s/he does only what s/he wants to. And it makes him/her very happy.

Maybe that’s why tiredness and fatigue is so common at this level?

But, when inspiration surfaces to move on to more spiritual levels of awareness, a problem may present itself:
an Authentic person is used to work hard, to secure victories by making the necessary effort, to be active, to change things, to excel in bringing changes into his life according to his sweet will. There always seems to be an action and reaction, a structure, principles and rules at this level.

In my experience and to me it is very very useful and important to separate the Authentic level from the Transpersonal ones. The understanding of the inns and outs of the Authentic level and what differentiates it from the Subtle one (and beyond), is what added to clarity and understanding in my case. Thank you Wilber! 🙂

The strategies that may really work at that level are BEING ACTIVE, MAKING EFFORT, CHANGING THINGS, ASSUMING RESPONSIBILITY ETC…

On the Subtle level in my experience, however, none of those strategies work. None.
The Subtle level in this context means the first of three truly spiritual, transpersonal and non-material levels of human awareness (as per established Wilber map).

A person at the Subtle level (or beyond) is not limited by material strategies anymore. No more “I create my own world”, making effort is not needed anymore and to change things, well, at transpersonal levels, it is futile. That’s my experience.

While the Authentic self is directed onwards, to the outside world, the Subtle self or Soul, on the other hand, is directed inwards.

The main difference between Authentic and Subtle levels (or beyond) is that the later are already perfect. Transpersonal selves (the Subtle, Causal and Nondual) already are perfect, are eternal, and need no effort. There is no need to win or change anything, simply because all is already attained. There is no need to clear up anything, no Shadow, no dramas etc…

I have seen more or less Authentic persons trying to apply the same strategies that are effective at the Authentic level to their spiritual quests.

To my eye, it is like trying to raise the stormy waves in an already perfectly calm lake of clear and serene water.

An Authentic person may still want to change things, to make an effort to change to attain the spiritual levels of consciousness, all the while there is NO NEED for such action, struggle and change.

There is one more glaring difference between Authentic and Transpersonal levels of existence: on the Authentic level the underlying concept is change, effort and creating my own life. On the spiritual, the Subtle level, on the other hand, the underlying leading quality is surrender.

Surrender to what already is perfect, whole, immortal and eternal. There is no need to change things, to alter oneself, to create some new reality. No.

At these spiritual levels, everything already is perfect, peaceful, utterly fulfilling and beyond any change. All it takes is surrender to what already exists, eternally.

The above photo:
Anandamayi Ma in deep samadhi (a state of spiritual awareness, well beyond Authenticity).

🙂

More on the transpersonal levels of awareness here >>

 

 

 

 

 

Identity development

I often write about various levels of psychological-transpersonal identity development here on the Blog, trying to point out that there really is an identity development happening in my (our?) existence and that Authenticity itself is but a stage and a level of human consciousness. One can indeed go ahead and more progress could be realized, as I hope becomes clear in the text below.

So, here I offer an excerpt from my upcoming book on Vedanta and Buddhist teachings in the light of transpersonal awakening, titled After anatta:

The Wilber map at a glance

…Wilber map will play an important role in this book so let us take a closer look at the subject.

We can’t avoid mentioning AQAL when we speak about Wilber map. The acronym AQAL stands for ‘All quadrants, all levels’. See Appendix for full chart and for the list of suggested reading, please.

Let us just glimpse at the levels on the Wilber map that directly concern our topic, namely transpersonal ones plus the Mental Ego and Authentic level. We will not be dealing with levels prior to the Mental Ego.

As far as I am concerned, these levels or stages are as real as you and me; they are not some half-cooked concepts but living facts of life, which can be observed by anyone interested in deeper understanding of human conscious psychological-transpersonal (spiritual) identity development. It is good to know what each of these levels covers, offers and, in a way, demands. In my case, the map has helped me a lot, both in my personal  as well as in my professional life. Knowing these stages adds to clarity and understanding of my own life and that of others. Thank you dear Ken!

Let us then take a quick glance at the identity development of, say, young and lovely Jane. She is tall, lovely, attractive, has blue eyes and blond hear, of course.

Mental Ego / Instrumental level
On this level, just barely coming out of the dysfunctional family environment, Jane has thrown her heart far out into the social arena, so to speak. She has identified with social structures almost completely; Jane uses her own talents only as tools for succeeding in the outer world. She is following social/political/religious/educational guidelines without questioning their face value. There is almost no authenticity – only devotion to rules and structures that were written by others.

This level is the level of trying to blend in and playing the game of others without even bothering to question one’s own inner motives. Playing the roles, she uses her own feelings as an instrument for gaining recognition, love and respect from others (which she is never ever really satisfied with, of course). She has got virtually no inner freedom, no freedom of choice; ‘I must’ and ‘I must not’ dictates her life.
Keywords: ignorance, alienation from inner needs, blaming others, devotion to outside rules and structures, playing roles.

Transition to the Centaur level: Jane still has to deal with her Shadow (to use a Jungian term), and she had better deal with it using a structured down-to-earth approach. To clear up the Shadow, she has to, well, clear up the Shadow; the transpersonal insights are not really needed at this point. One of the easiest ways to complete this challenge is humanistic and transpersonal psychotherapy (psychoanalysis and psychiatric pills won’t cut it, not even by far, in my opinion).

Centaur / Authentic level
This is the level of responsibility. At this level, our golden haired Jane has awakened from following some structures alien to her own heart and is starting to use her own talents, well, for herself. Slowly but surely she is becoming a person (as Rogers put it), individualized and self-actualized. She has fought hard to free herself from social, religious and political dogmas; she is joyful and happy about her own victories in life. She is creating her own life (according to her, of course), responsibly and independently of others. She is well aware of her inner needs and can employ various strategies to meet those needs, easily. Eventually, she will be self-actualized.
In these years she distances herself from certain friends, especially from Mary and John, who are both highly educated (both are PhDs, in sociology and economics, respectively). Mary and John simply don’t get it what on earth has happened to Jane and why she avoids intellectual discussions, fancy dinners and company of other immensities from academia. Jane of course, has seen through the Mental Ego structures and is bored in the company of individuals who don’t even express their own feelings, not to speak of really connecting with feelings and needs of others. She is becoming free, truly free from any kind of dogmatic conditioning.
Keywords: responsibility, authenticity, I create my world, independence, I and mine.

Transition to Subtle level: Jane will have to dig deeper, much deeper. Group support and reliable guidance is crucial here, it seems. Rituals, spiritual symbolism, initiations are welcome. First transpersonal insights are most needed at this point.

Subtle level
At this level Jane has realized that her own Authentic Ego or Self has been forcing her to mostly work hard, to fight and to win. She is older now, in her forties but still very pretty and attractive, happy and satisfied in daily life. She is not really at peace, however, for she wants more; she feels that there is more to her existence than authentic feelings and hard won battles in material life. And she is right. First truly transpersonal experiences dawn on her, she realizes that she is spiritual being, a Soul. She loves rituals that are directed to non-material spheres of existence. She joins in the local Tantric group where she learns all about lower and higher Subtle level, demons, angels, archangels, goddesses and how to evoke and invoke them. She enjoys individual rituals and also group work.
Keywords:
surrender, love, inner peace, rituals, heartfelt compassion.

Transition to the Causal: Jane will need to open up even more and leave all the colorful manifestations of the Divine behind. Meditation, on the formless One, is of one the ways here.

Causal level
Jane has had more than one cup of celestial love, drinking it with angels, archangels, gods and goddesses and she is ready to move on to formless Divinity. She experiences her own Soul as the Source of everything. She identifies herself with the “I am presence”, with God/Goddess Him/Herself. There is no one at this level, only the One; and Jane is at one with Him/Her.
Keywords: freedom, detachment, clarity of perception.

Transition to the Nondual level: Our very experienced fair-haired Jane will need to experience what has been called “the identity collapse”. Of course, the identity I am referring to here is not the material one (her personality or Ego, the “I and Mine” concept), but the Causal Self. She will need to experience anatta insight first.

Nondual
Jane is ready to move on. She realizes that all along her path, she has been climbing up a ladder never noticing that everything that has been and is still happening to her, well, has been and still is……nothing at all. Everything is as it should be, and she realizes that it has always been like that, with no center whatsoever.
Keywords: no center, no here and now, no agency, no God, emptiness.

Transition to everyday life: Jane will have to be very clear about the most abstract Buddhist concepts, i.e. anatta, dependent origination, total exertion, two fold sunyata, to name a few…”

 

The book is due in 2016.
🙂