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Posts Tagged ‘Transpersonal’

The Higher Truth

What are the limits of scholarly study in the search for spiritual truth?

"We are not looking for a reality without as much as one within."

— Augustine

About thirty five years ago I began paying wary attention to my mystical intuitions. Unlike some, this subtle shift in awareness wasn’t the product of any life shattering experience or profound revelation. It was more an abstract acknowledgement that maybe there was something out of the ordinary to those deep intuitions and odd events occasionally punctuating my thoughts and experience; something suggesting the possibility of hidden forces or some kind of spiritual dimension to my existence. By nature a rigid empiricist I was convinced there was a sensible explanation for these rogue impressions. I subsequently began a casual pursuit of trying to link spiritual and mystical phenomena to science and reason. However, during the process something unexpected happened.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 27 May 2018 12:33
A Profound Synchronicity?

The Problem Of Higher Meaning Within Personal And Subjective Experience

As originally published in the Journal of Exceptional Experience and Psychology Vol. 1 No 2.

ABSTRACT

The study of transcendent phenomena frequently relies on the use of the personal and subjective experiences of individual informants. A recent personal synchronistic episode serves as the impetus to reevaluate the viability of such experience as a source of evidence within our study of paranormal and mystical/spiritual phenomena. Questions of personal credibility are traditionally the greatest concern when assessing the veracity of individual experience. However, it’s the meanings we assign such events that likely breed the greater apprehension and frequently taint otherwise credible reports. Mystical/spiritual interpretations are particularly problematic. By examining the terms and reasoning often employed to determine the meaning of transcendent experience we may be better placed to accurately assess the authenticity of these episodes. Through the process we may better determine if individual experience is capable of any epistemic or ontological value.

Introduction

I recently experienced a powerful synchronicity that forced me to confront two of the major problems associated with the study of transcendent phenomena: veracity and meaning. For some time I’ve found myself intellectually amenable to the notion of an ultimate consciousness underlying existence.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 12 March 2017 08:52
Perils Of The Examined Life

The Neoplatonist Dilemma

Any inclined to study the nature of being best heed the following advice: don’t go shopping for Ultimate truth unless you’re damn well ready for the consequences.  Such words may seem harsh but experience suggests they’re true.  Contrary to what many may think, gaining a better sense of one’s place in the grand scheme frequently depresses rather than ennobles.  Nowhere is this bitter quandary more evident than within the study of Neoplatonism.  Though long considered one of the cornerstones of mystical theory, Neoplatonism often stimulates an all too familiar pathology; desperate souls searching for existential meaning find themselves cast into the nihilistic void of personal absurdity.  Their new found ontological insights offer very little in the way of individual purpose or ethical direction.  Sometimes it gets worse. 

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Last Updated on Sunday, 5 January 2014 09:35
Star Crossed

Evaluating “Cosmos And Psyche” And Archetypal Cosmology

Richard Tarnas and I share a common pursuit.  We’re both seeking order and meaning within what we believe to be a purposefully intelligent and profound universe.  We’re looking for confirmation of what we sense to be true, what in the core of our souls we know to be true; that the cosmos is a living whole informed by a creative intelligence to which humans are intimately connected and actively interrelate.  Unfortunately, to those whose sensibilities fail to similarly resonate, the idea of an intelligent, meaningful and interconnected cosmos is a tough sell.  This is understandable.  The mindset of the modern age remains firmly rooted in the power and persuasion of science and its empirical and mechanistic approach to knowledge.  Any concept of intrinsic cosmic meaning (save that which we humans impose on reality) seems absurd.  Science’s assertion that we live in a universe of random, chaotic and ultimately impersonal forces has rarely been challenged in a deliberate and systematic manner. 

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Last Updated on Sunday, 12 March 2017 08:58

It’s often assumed those living in more traditional cultures have a greater degree of metaphysical awareness and lead more spiritually oriented lives than their modern counterparts.   To varying degrees virtually all who study Transpersonal Anthropology harbor this essential bias.  Many claim traditional living provides surroundings and conditions more conducive to recognizing the greater, more essential spiritual truths of human existence.   They expect the inhabitants of these favored cultures to be more receptive to metaphysical and psychic phenomena and live in greater communion with the fundamental forces of being than those of contemporary societies.  It’s an easy assumption to make.   Modern peoples are frequently perceived as spiritually compromised owing to their isolation from nature, materialistic priorities and their slavish devotion to the soul stifling positivist paradigm which devalues the power and influence of the mystical and transcendent.  These assumptions may create a perplexing situation for those interested in transpersonal or psychic studies as they frequently fail to square with observable reality. 

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Last Updated on Sunday, 26 February 2017 10:11
The Intuitive Truth

Observations On The Work Of Sri Aurobindo

In the world of Transpersonal studies mystics and theorists rarely mix.  In truth the relation between the two is often filled with mutual disdain and a mistrust bordering on antagonism.  Mystics frequently view theorists as rigid, empirically compulsive, soulless thought brokers whose need for evidence, order and explanation drains the metaphysical of its wonder and divinity.  Anxious to return the favor, theorists often deride the mystics as starry eyed idealists totally devoid of the detachment and critical abilities necessary to discriminate fact from fantasy.  The hard reality is both remain dependant on the other.  Without mystical experience theorists would have nothing to underlie their studies and without theorists mystics would have little to validate their experiences and impressions.  Of course, the line between the two is never so neatly drawn.  Few have heard of the transpersonal theorist whose interest doesn’t stem from some personal spiritual episode or intuition.  Nor have I met the mystic lacking a theory as to how their impressions derive from and square with the physical world. 

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Last Updated on Thursday, 26 September 2013 01:03

There comes a time in life when many begin reorienting their priorities to a more spiritual trajectory.  In numerous cultures this transition is an expected and time honored tradition for those of a certain experiential stage.  Secure in their identities, their position in society and the well being of their families many begin abandoning their worldly concerns to work on understanding and pursuing the higher elements of existence.  However, this is not always a joyous process spawned by personal satisfaction.  In his book Embodied Spirituality in a Sacred World, (2003, SUNY, Albany,) Michael Washburn claims this transition often occurs because social and personal routine creates a sense of deep alienation which in turn stimulates a long dormant psychological realm within the human mind.  For Washburn this “crossroads” stage serves as the fulcrum for a detailed examination of the process of human psychological and spiritual development from the neonatal stage all the way to full spiritual awakening. 

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Last Updated on Thursday, 6 October 2011 04:22
Return To The Garden?

Modern science, our beloved paradigm of truth has failed to show us the spiritual light.  Compounding its shortcomings, like a petulant loser unable to admit its inadequacies, science often reverts to trivializing and deconstructing the mystical and transcendent to the point of irrelevance.  Though imperious empiricists may be quick to dismiss the realm of the unseen, for the rest of us the questions of our spiritual being still persist.  As such, like a new breed of existential explorer many contemporary people feel we must look to the culturally remote, pre-modern peoples of the planet in search of the ultimate answers.  Like modern Transcendentalists we’re convinced something as basic and pure as the nature of being must lurk in places of similar character.  Places of yore where the innocents remain uncontaminated by the taint of modernity; where idyllic life styles coexist with the forces and principles of creation.  In desperation our imaginations run wild.  We’re convinced the pre-moderns hold the answers to our mystical awakening.  

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Last Updated on Friday, 23 July 2010 12:57

Scientists of every stripe are always looking for “unitive theories.”  One grand idea neatly integrating all the diverse elements of their study into a nice tidy bundle.  In a world of caveats and exceptions such packages are hard to find.  Fortunately, there is no shortage of ambitious souls willing to try.  In two complementary books, Science and the Akashic Field and The Akashic Experience, (Rochester, Vermont-Inner Traditions,) the Hungarian Systems Theorist, Ervin Laszlo tries to integrate consciousness with the cosmos and through the process offer a startling perspective on the essence of human existence.

The Akashic Field, (or record or chronicle,) was a concept much in vogue in Theosophical circles in the early 20th century.  Akasha is a Sanskrit word meaning “ether.”  The gist of the theory asserts

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Last Updated on Sunday, 12 March 2017 09:01

Each of us is a thread within the grand tapestry of existence. Deeply interwoven within the immense fabric of Being, it’s difficult to comprehend the picture of which we are a part or understand our role within its construction.  The only certainty is our interconnected nature to the greater whole.  As human beings this is a fate not easily accepted.

People of every time have questioned life’s nature and ultimate purpose.   We do so not by choice but necessity.  To know the pattern of which we are a part is essential to determining who and what we are.  Despite the enormity of the task, we continue forward convinced such answers are eventually knowable.

Through determined observation of ourselves and surroundings we try to come to terms with these ultimate questions. 

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Last Updated on Sunday, 12 March 2017 11:35