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RE: After-Death Bliss

Jan 28, 1999 08:03 AM
by Peter Merriott

Dear Dallas,

In a recent post you worte:

> I do not think that modern psychology considers
> the immortality of the Spirit/Soul, and therefore
> the states that Theosophy describes are unknown,
> though possibly suspected by some psychologists.

Dallas, I just wanted to point to a small gleam of light with regards modern
psychology.  In the main I agree that your observations are correct.
However there has been an emerging and now growing force in psychology, over
the last 40 years or more, that is dedicated to the study of spirituality
and the highest potential in the individual.  It largely goes under the
heading of Transpersonal Psychology.  The term "trans" being used
differently by different psychologist there is still a general agreement
that the aims of transpersonal psychology are:

"... concerned with the study of humanitys's highest potential, and with the
recognition, understanding, and realisation of unitive, spiritual and
transcendent states of conciousness."
(Lajoie & Shapiro)

and that..

"Transpersonal experiences may be defined as experiences in which the sense
of identity or self extends beyond (trans) the individual or personal to
encompass wider aspects of humankind, life, psyche or cosmos."   (Walsh &

While many of the writers, researchers, psychologists and psychohterapists
tend to based in the USA, I understand that the American Psychologocal
Association(?) still does not acknowledge the validity of transpersonal
psychology enough to offer it formal recognition.  However, here in Britain,
the British Psychology Society agreed the creation of a new organisational
Section for Transpersonal Psychology about three years ago.  While this may
seem a small move to us as Theosophists, this is a major leap forward in the
psychological profession.

> As I understand it, modern psychology does not
> deal with these feelings, emotions or thoughts
> in the same way as Theosophy does, and therefore
> it has a rather non-moralistic approach.

Many psychologists and therapists in the field of 'trans' argue that we can
only begin to make sense of consciousness, peoples experiences and
difficulties in life through an understanding of the 'ancient spiritual
traditions' especially those concerned with the 'mystical and spiritual
path' that is common to all the major religions.

In the field of transpersonal psychotherapy (a cumbersome name!) there are
approaches to helping people based on the understanding that the individual
is essentially a spiritual being that *has* a personality.  Also of
fundamental importance in this work is the use of the understanding that
there is a 'Self' and the need for the 'Soul' / ego to come into alignment
with that 'Self' and the impersonal spiritual laws that are the basis of our
lives.  So, we can see an attempt to acknowledge three streams of
consciousess and being in the person - Self, Soul, and Personality.  This is
quite extraordinary in the field of psychology.

So, Dallas, I probably haven't communicated the above very well as I only
want to say a little bit about it and not divert the list onto 'psychology'
and 'therapy' topics.  Transpersonal psychology still has a long way to go
but it is a growing influence and a vital one in its field.  The fact that
it exists at all I find very hopeful for the future.

Best wishes,


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