Transpersonal Psychology

Buddhist Perspectives
Esoteric Healing
Transpersonal Psychology
Booklist Page
Price List / Vouchers
Ruth Jacob


Transpersonal PsychologyTranspersonal psychology brings into the purview of empirical enquiry that realm of experience deemed transcendent or numinous. At the beginning of the twentieth century William James forged links between the new discipline and the worlds of religion and philosophy with his seminal text, “The Varieties of Religious Experience.” James emphasised the crucial role of subjective experience in the endeavour to explore the human psyche. Laboratory science was in the ascendant, however, and attention soon focused on that which could be observed and measured.

The new experimentalists were intent on breaking experience down into measurable sensory units. James, with his concept of the transitive, relational “stream of consciousness”, decried the reductionist tendency to atomise experience, and delivered a cogent critique of the application of positivist methodologies to psychology that still has resonance today. His call went unheeded. The preoccupation with stimulus and response would win the day, eclipsing James’ ideas in the decades to come.

A mission statement, composed by John Watson in 1913, urged that psychology abandon all allusions to consciousness. Behaviourism was born in that year and would dominate the field of psychological enquiry for half a century, the mantle passing to B. F. Skinner in the nineteen thirties. In accordance with its focus solely on observable behaviour, references to the soul, inner life and conscious experience were abjured by the majority of academics and theorists.

As transpersonal theorists engage with scientific psychology, the discipline is changing. This is evident in the creative encounter between Eastern mystical traditions and Western psychology , in the transcendence of traditional boundaries between science, the arts and humanities and in the development of methods of research that attempt to understand, rather than simply explain, human experience .

Consciousness includes transpersonal experience. The transpersonal self, called in Sanskrit sat-chit-ananda, being-consciousness-bliss, has been copiously described in both Eastern and Western spiritual traditions. Many maps exist for this dimension of being, and many disciplines offer techniques to still the mind and transcend the limitations of the ego.