Contrary to long-held assumptions, psychological development can continue throughout the lifespan. Motives, emotions, morality, cognition, life tasks, and the sense of identity are all capable of growth in adulthood. It is increasingly clear that conventional adulthood does not represent full psychological maturity. The first ‘full-spectrum’ theory of development suggests that the advanced stages of conventional, personal, and psychological development merge into transconventional, transpersonal, and spiritual stages. One crucial implication is that what we have considered ‘normality’ is actually a form of arrested development. This idea is a more precise formulation of Abraham Maslow’s comment, ‘What we call normality in psychology is really a psychopathology of the average, so undramatic and so widely spread that we don’t even notice it.’ Growth involves movement into the unknown and often requires surrendering familiar ways of being. Consequently, we tend to fear growth. The tragic result, as both psychologists and philosophers have recognized, is that we actually deny and defend against our greatness and potential. The existential philosopher Kierkegaard described how we seek ‘tranquilization by the trivial,’ while others speak of the ‘repression of the sublime.’ Defenses against transpersonal development also operate in society. Cultures seem to function not only to educate, but also as collective conspiracies to constrict consciousness. As such they mirror and magnify our individual ambivalence toward transcendence. What capacities lie unrecognized within us? How can we overcome these blocks and foster individual and collective maturation? This may be one of the most crucial questions of our time, and the fate of our civilization and planet may depend on it……Roger Walsh
where are those undertones of self-worth we cannot quite place? do we not realize how we are held back? do we understand how small this world really is? do we know where our values come from? how trivial is our lonesomeness? can we rise above our fears (collectively) and live with grace?
Known as the ‘perennial philosophy’- ‘perennial’ precisely because it shows up across cultures and across the ages with essentially similar features- this worldview has, indeed, formed the core not only of the world’s great wisdom traditions, from Christianity to Buddhism to Taoism but also of the greatest philosophers, scientists, and psychologists. So overwhelmingly widespread is the perennial philosophy that is is either the single greatest intellectual error ever to appear in humankind’s history or it is the single most accurate reflection of reality yet to appear. Central to the perennial philosophy is the notion of ‘the great chain of being.’ The idea itself is fairly simple. Reality, according to the perennial philosophy, is not one-dimensional; it is not a flatland of uniform substance. Rather, reality is composed of several different but continuous dimensions. At one end of this continuum of being or spectrum of consciousness is what we in the West would call ‘matter’ or the insentient and the non-conscious, and at the other end is ‘spirit’ or ‘godhead’ or the ‘super-conscious.’ Arrayed in between are the other dimensions of being arranged according to their individual degrees of reality (Plato), actuality (Aristotle), inclusiveness (Hegel), consciousness (Aurobindo), clarity (Leibniz), value (Whitehead), or knowingness (Garab Dorje). The central claim of the perennial philosophy is that men and women can develop all the way up the hierarchy to Spirit itself, therein to realize a ‘supreme identity’ with Godhead. Which brings us to the most notorious paradox in the philosophy. Wisdom traditions subscribe to the notion that reality manifests in levels or dimensions, with each higher dimension being more inclusive and therefore ‘closer’ to the absolute totality of Spirit. In this sense, Spirit is the summit of being, the highest rung in evolution. But it is also true that Spirit is the wood out of which the entire ladder and all its rungs are made; spirit is the suchness, the isness, the essence of each and everything that exists. Thus, Spirit is both the highest goal of all development and the ground of the entire sequence, as present fully at the beginning as at the end……Ken Wilber
Go ahead, light your candles and burn your incense
and ring your bells and call out to God,
but watch out,
because God will come
and He will put you on His anvil
and fire up His forge
and beat you and beat you
until He turns brass into pure gold.