Sunday, June 24, 2012

The emergence of the transpersonal soul

Transpersonal psychology is the living heartbeat of modern Western spirituality. It is the pulse which is energising New Age Christianity to leave church behind, to move forwards and become free.

It all started for Dr Stanislav Grof, a young Czechoslovak psychiatrist, when he volunteered for an academic LSD experiment in Prague.

Sandoz, a Swiss pharmaceutical company, sent a supply of LSD-25 to the psychiatric department in which he was working. Under carefully controlled scientific conditions, Grof took some of the drug. Something life-changing happened. In his own words, he "had a very profound confrontation with his own unconscious psyche."

The result of the experience was that with Abraham Maslow, he co-founded a new field of scientific research called transpersonal psychology or transpersonal science.

It is important to understand the difference between transpersonal psychology and mainstream fundamentalist psychiatry. Transpersonal psychology understands spirituality to be a healthy and evolutionary manifestation. Mainstream psychiatry argues that spirituality is an indication of psychopathology, religiosity or a lack of education.

The problem of spirituality and mystical experience has always been a challenge for the western psychiatric establishment. Grof comments: "This is an issue, which represents the core difference between traditional psychiatry and transpersonal psychology. Mainstream psychiatry is based upon the Cartesian-Newtonian materialistic world view. This maintains that the history of the universe is basically the history of developing matter. The only thing that really exists is matter and life. Consciousness and intelligence are its accidental and insignificant side-products."

"In this kind of a world view, there is no place for spirituality. To be spiritual means to be uneducated and unacquainted with modern scientific discoveries about the nature of the Universe. It means to be involved in superstition, in primitive or magical thinking. Traditional psychoanalysis explains spirituality as a regression, as a fixation on the infantile stage - a step backwards in development rather than a step forwards."

"In this context, the concept of God is interpreted as a projection of your infantile image of your father to the sky. Interest in religious ritual is seen as analogous to the obsessive-compulsive behavior of a neurotic. It is explained as a regression to the anal stage of libidinal development."

"Here lies the fundamental difference between traditional psychiatry and transpersonal psychology. The latter considers spirituality to be an intrinsic dimension of the human psyche and a critical factor in the universal scheme of things. This conclusion is not some kind of irrational belief or a speculative metaphysical assumption. It is based on systematic study of non-ordinary states of consciousness in which we can have direct experiences of the spiritual dimensions."

"These experiences fall into two distinct categories. In the first one are experiences of the Immanent Divine; they involve direct perception of the unity underlying the world of separation, and a realization that what we experience as material reality is actually a manifestation of creative cosmic energy."

"The second category includes experiences of the Transcendental Divine; here we perceive dimensions of reality that are normally hidden to our senses, such as visions of deities, or archetypal figures (as C.G.Jung would call them), and of various mythological domains."

These views of Dr Stanislav Grof appeared in print in 1996 in the book "
Towards A New World View: Conversations at the Leading Edge" by Russell DiCarlo.

The full text of the conversation between Grof and DiCarlo can be found online under the title "
The Multidimensional Psyche" here.

A useful introduction to Transpersonal Psychology can be found here.

And The Association for Transpersonal Psychology's website can be accessed here.


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I am the Moon

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Index of blog contents

Spirituality websites worth watching

Monday, June 04, 2012

Astral projection, the soul and the spirit
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In astral projection (sometimes called astral travel) the conscious mind leaves the physical body and moves into the astral body.

The individual ceases to consciously experience things in the physical body and experiences them, instead, in the astral body - that is out of the physical body and in the fourth dimension. These experiences, therefore, are sometimes referred to as out-of-body experiences, or heightened states of consciousness.

During astral travel the individual is aware of things encountered on the astral plane and retains a coherent recall of those encounters in various degrees of detail and vividness/vagueness depending, to some extent, upon his personal state of spiritual evolution and training.

In astral projection the individual's astral body remains attached to his physical body by a long, thin, silver cord. Sometimes this cord, or astral umbilicus, can be seen during the out-of-body experience. It is reported that if this cord is severed permanently, the physical body dies.

Sometimes the astral body is described as one of our resurrection bodies. The mental body might be described as another.

Astral projection, out-of-body-experiences and lucid dreams complexly overlap each other in their essential characteristics. They may well represent different paradigms for conceptualising very similar, or even identical, experiences. In each case, the person is asleep, the person is conscious, and the person has the ability to compare his present heightened state of awareness with his "normal" waking state of awareness.

Understanding the nature of conscious experiences which occur during sleep, and learning how to manage and respond to them, is important for spiritual growth. Such understanding and learning is also necessary for engaging in active spiritual work during sleep.

Conscious sleep phenomena have discrete sensory, emotional and mental content which exist in direct subjective awareness while the physical body is "fast asleep" on the bed or in the chair.

It is worth repeating that the vehicle which leaves the physical body during astral projection is the astral body. The astral body is neither the soul nor the spirit.

From our point of view in physical plane waking consciousness, the human being can be thought of as having a tripartite constitution: it has three bits to its makeup. The three bits are the "incarnation module", the soul and the spirit. The incarnation module is itself made up of three components: the physical body, the astral body and the mental body.

Establishment western religiosities are in error in positing a bipartite constitution for the human being.

The physical body has seven levels of organisation within it, of which solid, liquid and gas are the three densest. The other four levels, not yet formally investigated, recognised or taught by western orthodox science, are sometimes referred to as the etheric levels.

The physical body is our vehicle of transport on the physical plane (sometimes called the third dimension); the astral body is our vehicle of transport on the astral plane (sometimes called the fourth dimension), and the mental body is our vehicle of transport on the mental plane (sometimes called the fifth dimension).

Within the incarnation module, the astral body and the mental body (together) are sometimes referred to as the personality. From our point of view in physical plane waking consciousness, it is the incarnation module which comes into being at conception or birth, and which later leaves the physical plane at "death".

The soul is quite different from the human physical, astral and mental bodies. The soul is an individuated expression of the spirit which provides animation for the incarnation module. The incarnation module is a temporary vehicle used by the soul to express itself in the world of matter.

Our spirit is our divine spark, our core star. It is the highest level of our being; it is that part of us which partakes of the divine nature; that part of us which is perfect and infinite; that part of us which has always been, is now, and will always be, one with the being of God.

Spiritual practice, among other things, seeks to align the energies of the incarnation module with those of the soul and the spirit so that the energies of light, love and abundance can be anchored on Earth.

Meditation is a spiritual exercise which seeks to align the physical brain with the soul.


Gottfried de Purucker's Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary can be found here.

Share International has an introductory glossary of esoteric terms here.

And a useful introductory book on all things astral is "The Astral Body and other astral phenomena" by Arthur Powell (1927). The full text of this work can be found online here.


Astral Body Asleep
A picture by Mati Klarwein

Astral Body Awake
A picture by Mati Klarwein