Academic journal article Adult Learning

Toward Transpersonal Adult Development

Academic journal article Adult Learning

Toward Transpersonal Adult Development

Article excerpt

Personal development deals with maturation of a healthy ego and identity (in its broadest sense), including intellectual, emotional, neurological, social, and so on. Transpersonal development takes us beyond that to a deeper broader sense of Self in all its levels, states, and structures of consciousness, including the non-local. Appreciating both leads to a greater understanding of the human species. This article focuses on the transpersonal but emphasizes the needed balance with one's personal development and integration into one's everyday life. A healthy ego is still recognized as important. I first provide a brief background of my developing understanding, aware that much might be challenging to our intellect alone.

As an undergraduate psychology (and sociology) major, consciousness was a bit of a taboo term and topic. Yet, deep within me, I knew we should be studying the whole person in all its layers, levels, and states of consciousness. Informed by many diverse ways of knowing, I continued to pursue my own experiential path and any emerging multidisciplinary sources of literature on consciousness.

During my doctoral studies, I discovered transpersonal psychology, immersed myself in an exploration of the movement, which became the focus of my dissertation (Boucouvalas, 1980) and led to articles on my conceptualization of the movement, thus initiating a lifelong journey of study. A later article (Boucouvalas, 1999) investigated and reported upon expansion of the transpersonal movement to many other disciplines, including those dealing with the macro context: transpersonal anthropology, sociology, education, ecology, medicine, art, management, and others. By that time the inter- and multi-disciplinary Journal of Consciousness Studies, now in its 22nd year, had already launched in 1994, demonstrating the emerging "legitimacy" of consciousness as a topic worthy of inquiry.

Introducing the transpersonal terrain to an adult learning audience (Boucouvalas, 1983) afforded an opportunity to reconfigure Maslow's Hierarchy of (motivational) Needs and provide a basic understanding about the manner in which humanistic, then transpersonal, psychology emerged as a reaction to the overemphasis in theory and practice on pathology and under emphasis on growth and potential. A phenomenon that continues to intrigue me, however, is that transpersonal consciousness can occur at any level of health or pathology but when integrated with one's life has the potential to lead to healthy transpersonal development.

Since then, I have been immersed in the transpersonal community of scholars, while periodically offering a voice to adult learning whether on consciousness and learning, contributions of consciousness studies to transformation theory, human development that includes the transpersonal, and so forth (Boucouvalas, 1993,1997, 2008, respectively). I am pleased to return to an adult learning audience to offer this abridged (due to space constraints) retrospective and prospective view of transpersonal adult development.

Transpersonal Consciousness

Adult development in a transpersonal sense includes, but goes beyond, one's ego and social identity development and state of mental or social functioning. It is of ontological essence (not just mental, emotional, cognitive)--in addition to doing and knowing, Being itself. Acknowledged is a greater field of consciousness and one's presence in it beyond the limits of time and space, not necessarily constricted by matter or material.

The work of transpersonal pioneer Charles Tart (1972)--on a systems approach to discrete states of consciousness and non-ordinary consciousness--heralded the importance of a state specific science and further promulgated an understanding that specific states were good for learning some things and not so good for others. For example, the state between waking and sleeping, known as Theta, is better for creative problem solving. …

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