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Re: RE: Trans-Personal Psychology

Jan 28, 1999 03:24 PM
by Martin Leiderman

Peter from the UK, brought up an important point. As the transpersonal
psychology incorporates the notions of the Human Spirit and of the Absolute
in their theories, we should pay attention to them. There is plenty of
theosophy in it, and we should not repeat too loud the complains of HPB
about modern psychology in the 1880's.

Two weeks ago I attended a lecture at Krotona by Dr. John Nelson, a
transpersonal psychiatrist. There is no doubt in my mind that HPB would have
loved to see this movement in her times.
I bought, Dr. Nelson's book: "Healing the Split, Integrating Spirit into our
Understanding of the mentally Ill." published by State University of New
York, 1994. I recommend it to all including getting the lecture (on
cassette) from Krotona.

I would like to share few paragraphs from the foreword of that book, written
by Ken Wilbur to show the point that Peter was making.

JOHN NELSON HAS written an enormously impressive, profound, and important
book, which takes as its simple starting point the fact that Spirit exists.
This might seem an utterly obvious place to begin, except for the fact that
Dr. Nelson is a member in good standing of the mainstream psychiatric
community. And modern psychiatry, for all the relative good it has managed
to accomplish, is still by and large totally ignorant of the spiritual and
transpersonal dimensions of human experience. This is all the more curious
in that psychiatry, whatever else its mission, has been understood from its
inception to be the science of the soul. And yet on the subject of' the
human soul and spirit modern psychiatry has been strangely silent.

Even worse, most of the genuine human experiences of transcendental spirit
have been not merely ignored but rather violently pathologized by modern
psychiatry. The easiest way to be labeled schizophrenic in our society is to
let it be known that you feel that in the deepest part of your being you
(and all sentient beings) are one with infinite Spirit, one with the
universe, one with the All—an insight that every wisdom culture the world
over has held to be not the depths of mental illness but the pinnacle of
human understanding. This intuition of the Supreme Identity, shared by all
beings, is for such cultures not the ultimate pathology but the ultimate

The Supreme Identity of' the human soul and the transcendental Divine is the
cornerstone of the perennial philosophy and the defining insight of the
world's greatest mystics and philosophers.

Erwin Schrodinger, the founder of modern quantum mechanics and himself a
profound mystic, explained that if you carefully look through the world's
great spiritual and mystical literature, you will find "many beautiful
utterances of a similar kind. You are struck by the miraculous agreement
between humans of' different race, different religion, knowing nothing about
each other's existence, separated by centuries and millennia, and by the
greatest distances that there are on our globe"

The only major culture to ignore or devalue the perennial philosophy has
been, alas, our own modern culture of secular materialism and brutish
scientism, which has by and large, from the eighteenth century onward, been
dominated by that which can be perceived by the senses and manipulated by
measurement. The concept of the Great Chain of Being—according to which men
and women have at least five major levels of being: matter, body, mind,
soul, and spirit— was reduced to mere matter and body. First spirit, then
soul, and then mind were rejected by modern psychology and psychiatry, with
the disastrous result that men and women were held to be nothing more than
sophisticated bundles of material atoms in vaguely animate bodies. Thus our
modern "science of the soul," almost from the start, has been a science
merely of the physical and bodily components of the entire human being—a
reductionistic cultural catastrophe of the first magnitude.

The aim of transpersonal psychology, then, is to give a psychological
presentation of the perennial philosophy and the Great Chain of Being, fully
updated and grounded in modern research and scientific developments. It
fully acknowledges and incorporates the findings of modern psychiatry,
behaviorism, and developmental psychology, and then adds, where necessary,
the further insights and experiences of the existential and spiritual
dimensions of the human being. We might say it starts with psychiatry and
ends with mysticism.

And that is exactly the value of Healing the Split. It presents one version
of a full-spectrum model of human growth and development that incorporates
the vast richness of modern psychiatry and neuroscience and then supplements
it with transcendental and spiritual dimensions.

Not all of his theoretical conclusions, of course, will be accepted by all
transpersonal theorists. The field is young, and there is plenty of room for
healthy disagreements. …

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