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Laughlin Charles - Psychic Energy Trans Personal Experience - Dumo Yoga Practice

Laughlin Charles - Psychic Energy Trans Personal Experience - Dumo Yoga Practice

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02/13/2013

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Being Changed
by
Cross-Culturol Encounters: The Anthropology
of
Extroordinary Experience
ed. David
E.
Young and Jean-Guy Goulet (Orchard Park,
NY:
Broadview
Press
Ltd., 1994).
CHARLES
D.
LAUGHLIN,
JR.
Psychic Energy
&
Transpersonal Experience:A biogenetic
structural
account
of
the Tibetan
Dumo
Yoga Practice
INTRODUCTION
Mystical
traditions from
many
cultures
describe
extraordinaryexperiences
involving
the
unusual movement
of
energy within
the
body.l These
experiences
may
beprofound,
may
be
the
con-
sequence
of
entering
an
alternative
phase
of
consciousness,
and
may
be
culturally
interpreted
as
both
numinous
and
sacred.
In
this
paper,
I wish
to
operationalize
theconcept
of
psychic
energy
in
such
a way
that
a biopsychological
account
of
suchexperiences
is possible. I will
begin
with a
phenomenological definition
of
"psychic energy"
and
then
will
offer
a
personal
account
of
my
exploration
of
Tibetan
tantric
Buddhism
and
the
experiences
that
arose
as a
consequence
of
performing
tantric
"psychic
heat"
PSYCHIC
ENERGY
&
TRANS PERSONAL
EXPERIENCE
~9
 
rituals.
r
will
then
describe
what
I believe to
be
the
basic
struc
ture
of
psychic
energy
experiences
cross-culturally,
and
suggest
a tentative
neurocognitive
and
neuroendocrinal model to
ac
countfor
the
structural
invariants
within
those
experiences.
But
first, I
must
lay
the
groundwork
for this
somewhat
unorthodox
approach
to
the
ethnography
of
religious
practice.
THE
PERSPECTIVE:
BIOGENETIC STRUCTURALISM
PLUS
TRANSPERSONALISM
The
perspective
taken
here
is
that
of
biogenetic
structuralism
(Laughlin
and
d'Aquili 1974; d'Aquili,
et
al. 1979;
Rubinstein,
et
al. 1985;
Laughlin,
McManus
and
d'Aquili 1990),
which
is
an
anthropologicalframework
grounded
in the
neurosciences
and
which
has
developed
a
number
of
formulations
to
account
for
cross-cultural universals
in
thestructures
of
experience,
especially
the
relations
of
cosmology, symbolism
and
experience
at
tained in
alternative
phases
of
consciousness
(d'
Aquili
1983;
d'Aquili
and
Laughlin
1975; MacDonald,
et
al. 1988;
Laughlin
1988;
Laughlin,
McManus
and
Shearer
1984; Laughlin,
McManus
and
Webber
1984; Laughlin,
et
al. 1986). I
am
particularly
inter
ested in
the
neurophysiological
processes
thatproducethe
cross
cultural
invariance
among
extraordinary
experiences
in
general,
and
psychic
energy experiences
in particular
(e.g.,
Laughlin,
et
al. 1986).
Transpersonolism
Tdmspersonalism
labels a
movement
in
science
toward
the
ac
knowledgment
and
significance
as
data
of
extraordinary
experi-
ences
that
go
beyond
the boundaries
of
ordinary
ego-consciousness (Laughlin, McManus
and
Shearer
1983).
Roger
Walsh
and
Frances Vaughan
in
their
book,
Beyond
Ego,
use
the
term
trans-personal
to
"reflect
the
reports
of
people
practising
various consciousness disciplines who spoke
of
experiences
of an
extension
of
identity beyond
both
individuality
and
personality"
(1980:16).A
range
of
such experiences
have
been reported
in
the
clinical
literature,
as well as
in
textual
material
from
various religious
traditions
and
cultures.
The Journal
of
Transpersonal Psychology
lists a
number
of
these experiences
in
the
preface
to
each
issue
(see also
Lee
1980
and
Wilber
1980).
Kenneth Ring
(1976), work
ing
from
the
research
of
Stanislav
Grof
(1976),
has developed
atypology
that
groupssuch
experiences into
ever
expanding
con-
100
CHARLES
D.
LAUGHLIN,
JR.
 
centric rings
from
normal
waking consciousness
in
the
middle
(the
most
narrow
field),
through
what
he
terms preconscious,psychodynamic, orthogenetic, trans-individual, phylogenetic, ex
tra-terrestri~l,
and
superconsciousness, to void consciousness
atthe
periphery
(the
most
expansive field) (Ring 1976:127).As
formal
disciplines,
transpersonal
psychology dates to the
latter
1960s (Sutich 1968; Boucouvalis 1980)
and
transpersonalanthropology
to
the
mid-1970s
(S.
Lee 1980:2; Laughlin,McManus
and
Shearer
1983:141).
Transpersonal
anthropology issimply
the
study
of
transpersonal
experiences cross-culturally(Laughlin 1988; Laughlin, McManus
and
Shearer
1983). "Tran
spersonal
anthropological research is
the
investigation
of
the
relationship
between
consciousness
and
culture,
altered
states
of
mind
research,
and
the
inquiry
into
the integration
of
mind,
culture
and
personality" (Campbell
and
Staniford 1978:28).Anthropologists have all
along
recorded data
on
extraordi
nary
experiences
reported
by informants, as well as religious institutions
and
ritual practices associated with
such
experiences(see
J.
MacDonald 1981
and
Laughlin, McManus
and
Shearer
1983
for
surveys). A few researchers have even
undergone
spon
taneous transpersonal
experiences themselves while
in
the
field(see
Gorer
1949 [1935]:131,
Harner
1973a;
Grindal
1983; Coultn.d.;
Chagnon
1977).
Others
like Katz (1982:6ff)
and
Stoller(1989) have
reported
participating
in
ritual
practices
intended
to incubate such
experiences, without actually attaining
the
in
tended
state
(or
failing to
report
it
if
attained).
But
looking back over
the
history
of
the
discipline, few eth
nographers
have actually
made
the
effort
to
incubate
alternativestates themselves. This is curious
in the
face
of
evidence
that
many,
if
not
most,
human
cultures
operate
upon
a cosmology
of
multiple realities (Schutz 1945; Eliade 1964; MacDonald
et
al.1988; Poirier 1990),
the
reality
of
which is commonly verified
through
direct
transpersonal
experiences
attained
in
alternativestates
of
consciousness (Bourguignon 1973; Ehrenwald 1978;Laughlin,
et
al. 1986; Stoller 1989; Obeyesekere 1981).However, as
other
authors
in
this volume
and
elsewhere giveevidence,
reports
of
spontaneous
transpersonal
experienceswhile
in
the
field
do
seem
to
be on
the
rise. For example, Carol
Lederman
reports
such
an
experience
during her
investigation
of
a Malay
shamanic
ritual.
She
found
Malays
reluctant
to talk
about
their
experiences
of
the
Inner
Winds
during
trance
states.
"They told
me that the
only way I
could
know would
be
to ex
perienceit
myself"
(Lederman
1988:805). Eventually,
her
sha
man/teacher
sat
her
down
and
began
a
ritual
that
led
to
her
PSYCHIC
ENERGY
&
TRANS
PERSONAl
EXPERIENCE
101

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