International Journal of Transpersonal Studies
Feminist and ranspersonal Tought
and subjectivity. For the present purposes, individualismconsiders the individual as a discrete whole, an entity awareo and intentionally participating in its own growth anddevelopment, a process that is decontextualized and notdependent upon others. Subjectivity is rather the state o awareness o inner and outer events
as one’s own experience
,the experience o a contextualized, bodily-located sel.Such a distinction is important to consider with regardto the evolution o both the eminist and transpersonalelds over the course o the past our decades.As noted above, the eld o transpersonalpsychology (much like the social movement o eminismand the eld o eminist psychology) has multiple aces.Over the more than 40-year course o the developmento the eld, denitions o transpersonal psychology haveevolved rom Maslow’s early ocus on peak experiences.In 1992, Lajoie and Shapiro published a synthesizeddenition rom more than 40 denitions o transpersonalpsychology: “ranspersonal psychology is concerned withthe study o humanity’s highest potential and with therecognition, understanding, and realization o unitive,spiritual, and transcendent states o consciousness” (p. 91). As I examine this denition almost two decades ater itspublication through my own eminist lens, two elementsstand out: 1) a privileging o transcendence and higherstates o human potential and consciousness rather thanan acknowledgement o the complexity and depths o alllived experience (c. Daniels 2005); and 2) a seemingly exclusive ocus on the decontextualized individual.So much has changed in the intervening yearssince this denition was developed: the internet alone hasexpanded the capacity to network, connect, and interact with one another at levels never dreamed possible, whilealso highlighting the increasing isolation elt by many in a world too ast and demanding to encourage actual person-to-person interaction. Increasing globalization o themarketplace has created opportunities or extreme levelso wealth or a very ew while simultaneously threatening ecological and economic disaster as human and materialresources continue to be consumed at unsustainablelevels. Te renzy o capitalism and consumption has ledto the explosion o the sustainability movement that seeksto restore a healthy relationship to the planet and replaceentitlement with respect or the relationships needed toulll the most basic levels in Maslow’s (1943) hierarchy o needs: ood, water, shelter, and love.In this climate, transpersonal psychology hasneeded to evolve in order to stay relevant. Mainstreampsychology is beginning to embrace its own roots inspirituality, re-engaging with both psyche and spirit inboth practice and research.
In the United States positivepsychology (e.g., Snyder & Lopez, 2007) and healthpsychology (e.g., Sheridan & Radmacher, 1991) are now established elds o research and clinical intervention,and spiritual practices such as mindulness meditationare studied and taught as mainstream psychologicaltreatment to minimize stress and promote healing (e.g., Kabat-Zinn, Lipworth, & Burney, 1985; Stahl &Goldstein, 2010).
A contemporary denition o the transpersonaleld addresses these cultural changes and the evolutiono the eld. Following the example o Lajoie andShapiro (1992), Hartelius et al. (2007) conducted a thematic analysis o 160 denitions and concludedthat transpersonal psychology is comprised o threeinteracting themes:
Integrative/ Holistic Psychology
.Hartelius et al. wove the themes into a new denitiono the transpersonal eld: “An approach to psychology that 1) studies phenomena beyond the ego as contextor 2) an integrative/holistic psychology; this provides a ramework or 3) understanding and cultivating humantransormation” (p. 11). While this denition may beviewed as individualistic in scope, the authors stressedthat the transormation o the individual is but oneimportant aspect o creating change in the world:Te three aspects o the eld complete ratherthan compete. As beyond-ego aspects o humanexperience become understood, a view emergesin which human individuals are integrally interconnected with much larger contexts. Tis largervision, in turn, allows glimpses o how to become a greater, deeper humanity. As humanity transorms,individually and collectively, it cultivates morebeyond-ego development worthy o study. ogether,the three themes o transpersonal psychology orman interdependent, mutually supportive cycle o inquiry. (p. 11)Tis statement seems to mirror the oten-paraphrased quote by Gandhi: “Be the change you wantto see in the world.” Such a comparison is not meantto diminish either the nuanced complexity o the abovedenition, nor to rame Gandhi’s quote in a reductivistmanner. Rather, it is to point out that both concepts ocuson the vital importance o individual agency and action