Volume 28 Number 2,1996

Reflection and presence: The dialectic of self-knowledge John Welwood Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and spiritual unfolding Laurel Parnell The Buddhist six-worlds model of consciousness and reality Ralph Metzner Nine psycho-spiritual characteristics of spontaneous and involuntary weeping 167 Rosemarie Anderson Characteristics of the Taoist Sage in the Chuang-tzu and the creative photographer Philippe L. Gross & S.I. Shapiro






Charles T. Tart

REVIEWS Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology, Bruce W. Scotton, Allan B. Chinen & John R. Battista John J. Miller A new approach to healing body-mind-spirti, Frank Lawlis Charles S. Grob


The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology is published semi-annually beginning with Volume 1, No. 1, 1969. Current year subscriptions—Volume 29, 1997. To individuals: $24.00 per year; $12.00 either issue. To libraries and all institutions: $32 per year or $16 either issue. Overseas airmail, add $13 per volume, $6.50 per issue. Back volumes: Volumes 24-28 (2 issues per volume) $24 each, $12 per issue. Volumes 15-23 (2 issues per volume) $20 each, $10 per issue. Volumes 1-14 (2 issues per volume) $14 each, $7 per issue. All Journal issues are available. See back pages of this issue for previous contents. Order from and make remittances payable to: The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, P.O. Box 4437, Stanford, California 94309. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology is indexed in Psychological Abstracts and listed in Chicorel Health Science Indexes, International Bibliography of Periodical Literature, International Bibliography of Book Reviews, Mental Health Abstracts, Psychological Reader’s Guide, and beginning in 1982 Current Contents/Social & Behavioral Sciences Social Sciences Citation Index Contenta Religionum


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The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology and the Association for Transpersonal Psychology are divisions of the Transpersonal Institute, a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. The views and opinions presented by authors and reviewers in the Journal do not necessarily represent those of the editors or the Transpersonal Institute.

Copyright © 1997 Transpersonal Institute 345 California Avenue. Suite No. 1. Palo Alto, California 94306 Scan & OCR by Shiva2012


Miles A. Vich, editor James Fadiman, Sonja Margulies, John Welwood, associate editors Ken Wilber, consulting editor Paul M. Clemens, technical editor Michael S. Hutton, assistant editor Francis G. Lu, David Lukoff, research review co-editors


Marcie Boucouvalas, Virginia Polytechnic Institute Jack Engler, Schiff Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts Jacques Maquet, University of California, Los Angeles J. F. Bugental, Santa Rosa, California James Fadiman, Menlo Park, California Viktor Frankl, University of Vienna, Austria Daniel Goleman, New York, New York Elmer E. Green, Menninger Foundation, Topeka, Kansas Stanislav Grof, Mill Valley, California Herbert V. Guenther, University of Saskatchewan, Canada Stanley Krippner, San Francisco, California Lawrence LeShan, New York, New York John Levy, San Francisco, California Sonja Margulies, Sunnyvale, California Michael Murphy, San Rafael, California Huston Smith, Syracuse University, New York Charles T. Tart, Berkeley, California Frances E. Vaughan, Tiburon, California Miles A. Vich, Palo Alto, California Thomas N. Weide, Albuquerque, New Mexico


Roberto Assagioli (1888-1974) Hubert Bonner (1901-1970) Medard Boss (1903-1990) Alister Brass (1937-1987) Charlotte Buhler (1893-1974) Alyce M. Green (1907-1994) Robert Hartman (1910-1973)

Sidney M. Jourard (1926-1974) Arthur Koestler (1905-1983) Gabriel Margulies (1931-1981) Abraham H. Maslow (1908-1970) Walter N. Pahnke (1931-1971) Chogyam Trungpa (1939-1987) Alan Watts (1915-1973)

Anthony J. Sutich (1907-1976), founding editor, 1969-1976


Editor’s note Reflections and presence: The dialectic of self-knowledge J ohn W elwood Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and spiritual unfolding L aurel P arnell The Buddhist six-worlds model of consciousness and reality R alph M etzner Nine psycho-spiritual characteristics of spontaneous and involuntary weeping R osemarie A nderson Characteristics of the Taoist Sage in the Chuang-tzu and the creative photographer P hilippe L. G ross & S.I. S hapiro Letter Book reviews Books our editors are reading Books noted About the authors Abstracts Contents: Volume 28 1996 Back issues

iv 107







175 193 194 198 200 201 202 203 204

editor’s note As transpersonal questions arise in various disciplines and the arts, it is a pleasure to see that both first-time and prior contributors to this Journal are actively shaping the evolution of the inquiry. John Welwood, in his fourteenth article in the Journal, offers us a three-decade overview of his in-depth experience with therapy and meditation. His personal narrative and commentary untangles the knotty relationship between reflection and presence. New JTP author Laurel Parnell draws on extensive case experience to familiar­ ize readers with the innovative EMDR approach to trauma and its connection to spiritual practices. Ralph Metzner’s prior Journal papers have examined meta­ phors of consciousness, bonds in relationships, and addictions and transcen­ dence. In this issue he presents a four-level, contemporary interpretation of the classic Buddhist model of consciousness. Another contributor, Rosemarie Anderson, in her first JTP article, offers a rare study of an uncommon phenom­ enon, psychospiritual characteristics of involuntary weeping. Her research ap­ proach is phenomenological and her subjects speak from different centuries. In the concluding article, new JTP author Philippe Gross and his time prior contributor S.I. Shapiro, have given us the Journal's the creative art of photography. Based on the Taoist teachings of Gross and Shapiro's discussion can be stimulating and useful for creative pursuit. coauthor, three­ first article on the Chuang-tzu, anyone in any

The editor is grateful to readers for their patience during the temporary delay in production of this issue. We also lake this opportunity to invite readers and authors to attend the Annual Conference of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology. August 1-3, in Monterey, California. It is a time and place to meet and talk about the same interests and concerns that we explore in print each year in the Journal.


John Welwood Mill Valley, California

When studying clinical psychology at the University of Chicago in the 1960s, I found myself drawn to the question: “What is the change that makes a real difference for people in psychotherapy, and how does that change come about?” At that time, I was involved with my teacher Eugene Gendlin in his early attempts to develop the Focusing method. A term that Gendlin (1981, 1996) used to describe therapeutic change was felt shift—that moment when an experiential alteration could be con­ cretely felt in the body, bringing with it a sense of new significance and direction. In this critical moment of the experiential process unfolding—empirically correlated with various physiological and cognitive changes—an old fixation gives way, like a flower opening, allowing clients a new experience of themselves and their situation. When I First learned about this, and experienced it, it seemed quite mysterious and profound, almost like a mini-mystical experience. At the same time I was delving into Zen, and had become interested in the relationship between the felt shift and satori. I wondered how these two experiences might be related, or whether they at least belonged to the same family. I was particularly intrigued by the Zen stories where just by listening to the song of a bird, sweeping the floor, or being slapped by one’s teacher, the disciple suddenly woke up and saw reality in an entirely new way. Satori seemed like an immense, cosmic felt shift, where one’s whole life suddenly changed, and one walked away a new being. Were the felt shift and the satori experience two versions of the same thing, or were they something altogether different? As a budding student of both Buddhism and psychotherapy, this was not just an academic question, but one that had important personal and professional implications. If the felt shift was like a mini-satori, or even a move in that direction, then perhaps Western psychological self-inquiry could provide a new way to approach the kind of realizations that had previously been the sole province of mystics and monastics.

Copyright © 1997 Transpersonal Institute

The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1996, Vol. 28, No. 2



Later, when I began my practice as a psychotherapist, this question took a somewhat different turn. By then I had done both psychological and meditative inner work, and had experienced powerful impacts from both. Yet I remained uncertain about the relative efficacy of, as well as the relation between, these two different ways of relating to one’s experience. On the one hand, the therapeutic process involved reflecting on one’s experience, often through locating feelings in the body and then stepping back to inquire into them in a dialogical manner. In the course of dialogical inquiry, the experience in question would open up, hidden felt meanings would unfold, and feelings would shift, leading to important cognitive, affective, and behavioral changes (Gendlin, 1964; Welwood, 1982). At the same time, I was also studying a very different approach—the Mahamudra/ Dzogchen meditative tradition of Tibetan Buddhism—which involved directly open­ ing to whatever experience was at hand, rather than stepping back from it, engaging in a dialogical inquiry, or unfolding felt meanings from it. Working with experience in this way could lead to more sudden, on-the-spot kinds of revelation, described variously in terms of transmutation, self-liberation, or instant presence (Trungpa, 1973; Welwood, 1979; Norbu, 1982). In this approach, one directly recognizes and meets one’s experience as it is, without concern for what it means, where it comes from, or where it leads. There is no reinforcement of an observing self trying to grasp, understand, or come to terms with some observed content of consciousness. The early stages of Dzogchen/Mahamudra meditation emphasize letting go of fixation on whatever arises in the mind, and this eventually develops the capacity to relax and abide wakefully within whatever experience is arising. When there is no identifica­ tion either with the observer or what is observed, awareness remains undisturbed by any divisions, and a new freedom, freshness, clarity, and compassion become available. While psychotherapy and meditation both led to a freeing of fixated mind and feelingstates, the meditative approach struck me as the more compelling of the two, because it was more direct, more radical, more faithful to the essential nature of awareness as an open presence intrinsically free of grasping, strategizing, and the subject-object split altogether. At the same time, the reflective dialogical process of psychotherapy provided a more effective and accessible way to work on the issues, concerns, and problems of personal and worldly life—which many meditators tended to avoid dealing with. Yet I had doubts about the ultimate merits of an approach that did not address, and was not designed to overcome, the subject-object struggle that lay at the root of most human alienation and suffering. Two of the therapeutic devices I found most useful in my early years as a therapist were a particular focus of these doubts. Long before “inner child” work became popularized by John Bradshaw, I discovered that many people who could not relate to their feelings of hurt, fear, helplessness, anger, or sorrow in a helpful, compassionate way could do so when they saw these feelings as belonging to the child still alive


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within them. Since I had stumbled on this device on my own, rather than adopting it from a pre-established theoretical model that framed experience in this way, it seemed all the more impressive to me. Yet I also remained aware of its shortcoming: it left a person inwardly split between an observing “adult” and an observed “child,” with most of the feeling-energy seeming to belong to the child. “Finding the right distance from a feeling” was another useful device, and a central feature of the Focusing method I had taught for many years. Many clients who get too close to threatening feelings become lost in them or else shut themselves down, sealing off the feelings in order to defend themselves from their intensity. If there is not enough reflective distance from a feeling, it is often difficult to relate to, just as one would have a hard time relating to someone who was screaming in one’s ear. Finding the right distance involves situating one’s attention “next to” the feeling, on the edge of it, close enough to be in contact with it, yet far enough away to feel comfortable. This stepped-back position is a useful therapeutic device that makes an interactive dialogue with feelings possible that might not otherwise be possible. However, it can also maintain and reinforce an inner division—between the observing ego and the observed flow of experience—that can eventually become a limitation in its own right. The further I went with meditation, the less satisfied I was only drawing on reflective methods that maintained this inner division. From the perspective of contemplative practice, the root source of human suffering is this very split between “me” and “my experience.” Suffering is nothing more than the observer judging, resisting, strug­ gling with, and attempting to control experiences that are painful, scary, or threaten­ ing to it. Without that struggle, difficult experiences would be perceived more precisely as just what they are, instead of dire threats to the survival and integrity of "me.” Conventional psychotherapy teaches clients to understand, manage, and reduce the suffering that arises out of identification with a separate ego-self, but rarely questions the fundamental inner setup that gives rise to it.


Although reflective methods are certainly essential for therapeutic work, my experi­ ence with Dzogchen/Mahamudra meditation let me see how they were still an expression, in Eastern terms, of divided consciousness. The Sanskrit term for the ordinary, mundane state of consciousness is vijnana. Vi means divided and jnana means knowing. Divided here refers to the subject/object split, in which the divide between observer and observed, perceiver and perceived is a primary determinant of how and what we perceive. All conventional knowledge, including what we discover in psychotherapy, happens within the framework of divided consciousness, as phenomenologist Peter Koestenbaum asserts:
All knowledge is of this dual sort, and psychotherapeutic intervention is no exception. . . . Psychotherapy, like all other forms of knowledge, is reflection on self; it is self-knowledge and self-consciousness (1978, pp. 35, 70).

Reflection and Presence


When we reflect on self, self becomes divided—into an object of reflection and an observing subject. This is vijnana at work. Dividing the field of experience into two poles is a useful device for most purposes, and yields relative self-knowledge. We learn about our conditioning, our character structure, our particular ways of thinking, feeling, acting, and perceiving. While these discoveries can be relatively liberating, who we are can never be identical with the mind/body patterns we discern through reflexive discernment. Nor are we identical with the perceiver that stands back from those patterns and reflects on them. Both these poles are creations of conceptual mind, which operates by dividing the experiential field in two, and then utilizing concepts based on this division to interpret reality. Precise attention to the nature of experiencing reveals that most of our perception and cognition is conditioned by this conceptual divide. For example, we generally do not see a tree in its unique and vivid immediacy—in its suchness. Instead our experience of the tree is shaped by ideas and beliefs about a category of objects called “tree.” Krishnamurti, by contrast, describes what it could be like to see a tree in a more direct, unalienated way:
You look at this magnificent tree and you wonder who is watching whom and presently there is no watcher at all. Everything is so intensely alive and there is only life, and the watcher is as dead as that leaf. . . . Utterly still,. . . listening without a moment of reaction, without recording, without experiencing, only seeing and listening.. .. Really the outside is the inside and the inside is the outside, and it is difficult, almost impossible to separate them (1976, p. 214).

Just as “the news” pretends to be an accurate and neutral presentation of world events, while concealing its hidden biases, so we imagine that conventional divided con­ sciousness gives us an accurate portrayal of what is actually there before us, while failing to see how our conceptual assumptions usually produce an alienated sense of reality. In this way, we do not experience “things as they are”—in their rich and vivid experiential immediacy. As the great Dzogchen yogi Mipham put it: “Whatever one imagines, it is never exactly like that” (Kunsang, 1993, p. 114). This habitually distorted perception—where we unconsciously mistake our cognitive schema for reality—is, in Buddhist terms, samsara, “delusive appearance.” The basis of samsara is the ongoing habit of dividing the field of experience in two and imagining that the observing self is something set apart from the rest of the field. Meditative experience reveals a different kind of knowing, a direct recognition of “thatness” or “suchness”—the vivid, ineffable nowness of reality, as disclosed in the clarity of pure awareness, free from the constraints of conceptual or dualistic fixation. When this kind of knowing is directed toward oneself, it becomes what is called in Zen “directly seeing into one’s own nature.” In this case, “one’s own nature” is not an object of thought, observation, or reflection. Mind in its objectifying mode cannot grasp the immediate beingness of anything, least of all its own nature. We can only perceive the suchness of things through an awareness that opens to them nonconceptually and unconditionally, allowing them to reveal themselves in their asit-is-ness, as the poet Basho suggests in these lines:


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From the pine tree learn of the pine tree. And from the bamboo of the bamboo.

Commenting on these lines, the Japanese philosopher Nishitani explains that Basho does not mean
that we should “observe the pine tree carefully.” Still less does he mean for us to “study the pine tree scientifically.” He means for us to enter the mode of being where the pine tree is the pine tree itself, and the bamboo is the bamboo itself, and from there to look at the pine tree and the bamboo. He calls on us to betake ourselves to the dimension where things become manifest in their suchness (1982, p. 128).

Extending Basho’s lines into the arena of self-knowledge, we might say, “If you want to find out who you are, open directly to yourself right now, enter into the mode of being where you are what you are, and settle into your own nature. Just as a snapshot of the bamboo is not the bamboo itself, how can the mental snapshots you have of yourself—the ideas and conclusions about yourself you have come to through reflex­ ive observation—be an accurate rendering of who you really are?” Divided con­ sciousness—vi-jnana—can never yield jnana—direct, unmediated knowing, undi­ vided consciousness, self-illuminating awareness, self-existing wisdom. Jnana is a different type of self-knowing, primarily discovered through contemplative disci­ pline, where freedom from the subject-object setup allows direct “seeing into one’s own nature.” Stretched between the disciplines of psychotherapy and meditation, I found myself continually revisiting these questions: How might psychological reflection serve as a stepping-stone on the path of awakening? Or since psychological reflection by its very nature was a form of divided consciousness, did it subtly perpetuate a permanent state of inner division in the name of healing? I knew certain spiritual teachers and practitioners who advanced a critique of therapy to this effect. They argued that psychotherapy was just a palliative, a way of making the prison of ego more comfortable, because it did not address, but instead reinforced, the error at the root of all suffering: identification with a separate self that was always trying to control or alter its experience. At the other extreme, many therapists I knew regarded spiritual practice as an avoidance of dealing with the personal and interpersonal knots that interfered with living a full, rich, engaged life. While psychological and spiritual work could certainly have these pitfalls, I could not side with either of these extreme views. I respected psychotherapy as a domain in its own right, using methods and perspectives that were valid in their own right, and that did not necessarily have to conform to the highest standards of nondual realization. And I also felt that it was possible to build a bridge between psychological reflection, which yields valid relative self-knowledge, even though mediated by divided con­ sciousness, and the deeper, undivided awareness and wordless knowing discovered in meditation. I wanted to see how these two kinds of self-knowledge might work together as part of a larger dialectic of awakening that could include and bring

Reflection and Presence


together the two poles of human experience—conditioned and unconditioned, rela­ tive and absolute, psychological and spiritual, personal and universal. It was through pursuing these questions that my therapeutic approach evolved in the direction of what I now call “psychological work in a spiritual context” or “presencecentered psychotherapy.” By providing an intermediate step between conventional psychological reflection and the deeper process of meditation, this way of working has proved to be more congruent with my meditative experience than the way I first practiced therapy. In the remainder of this paper, I will situate this intermediate step within a larger dialectic of self-knowledge as it unfolds through psychological reflection and spiritual presence.

the basic problem : prereflective identification

What makes our ordinary state of consciousness problematic, according to both psychological and spiritual traditions, is unconscious identification. As children, our awareness is essentially open and receptive, yet the capacity to reflect on our own experience does not fully develop until the early teenage years, during the stage that Piaget termed “formal operations.” Until then, our self-structure is under the sway of a more primitive capacity—identification. Because we lack self-reflective awareness in childhood, we are totally dependent on others to help us see and know ourselves—to do our reflecting for us. And we inevitably start to internalize their reflections—how they see and respond to us— coming to regard ourselves in terms of how we appear to others. In this way we develop an ego identity, a stable self-image composed of self-representations, which are part of larger object relations—self/other schemas formed in our early transac­ tions with our parents. To form an identity means taking ourselves to be something, based on how the world responds to us. Identification is like a glue by which consciousness attaches itself to contents of consciousness—thoughts, feelings, images, beliefs, memories—and assumes with each of them, “That’s me,” or “That represents me.” Identity is a way in which consciousness objectifies itself, in which we see ourselves as something. It is like looking in a mirror and taking ourselves to be the visual image reflected back to us, instead of our more immediate, lived experience of embodied being. Identification is a primitive form of self-knowledge—the best we could do as a child, given our limited cognitive capacities. By the time our capacities for reflective self-knowledge develop, all our identities— both conscious and unconscious—have already fully formed. Thus the self-knowl­ edge we start life with is always indirect, always mediated by images, memories of interactions with others, and beliefs about ourselves formed out of these images and memories. Knowing ourselves through self-images, we become an object in our own eyes, never seeing the way in which we are the total field of awareness and presence in which these thought-forms are arising. We have become prisoners of our own mind and the ways it has construed reality.


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reflection: stepping back from identification

The first step in freeing ourselves from the prison of unconscious identification is to make it conscious, that is, to reflect on it. We cannot move from prereflective identification directly into nondualistic awareness. But we can use divided conscious­ ness to reflect on divided consciousness. The Buddha likened this to using a thorn to remove a thorn from one’s flesh. All reflection involves stepping back from one’s experience in order to examine and explore its patterns, its feeling textures, its meanings, its logos, as well as the basic assumptions, beliefs, and ways of conceiving reality that shape our experience. Compared to identification, this kind of self­ reflection represents a giant step forward in the direction of greater self-understanding and freedom. In Gabriel Marcel’s words, “reflection . . . is one of life’s ways of rising from one level to another” (1950, p. 101). There are different ways of reflecting on one’s experience. Some are cruder, others subtler, depending on the rigidity of the dualism and the size of gap they maintain between observer and observed. We could distinguish three levels of reflective method:

I) Conceptual Reflection: Cognitive and Behavioral Analysis The first way most of us start to reflect on our experience is by thinking about it, using theories and concepts to explain or analyze what is happening. Concepts allow us to step out of prereflective immersion in experience, so that we can see it in a new light or from a new angle. Most psychological and spiritual traditions draw on conceptual reflection at first, introducing basic ideas that help people understand what they are experiencing. Buddha’s four noble truths, for example, are a way of helping people step back from their unconscious suffering in order to consider its nature and cause, as well as antidotes for it. In Western psychology, developmental theories, maps of consciousness, and character typologies serve a similar purpose, providing frame­ works that help people analyze, organize, and understand their experience in more coherent ways. Therapies that are based primarily on conceptual reflection try to explain or change the problematic contents of a client’s experience, rather than working with the client’s overall process of experiencing. This is a relatively crude approach, in that there is no direct encounter with lived experiencing as it immediately presents itself. Instead, the relation to experience is always mediated by theoretical constructs. The therapist draws on some theory of human development or behavior to interpret the client’s experience, while the client's main modality is thinking and talking about his or her experience, at one remove from the experience itself. The therapist might also draw on preformulated techniques to operate on the client’s behavior, applying certain cognitive (e.g., reframing; positive affirmations) or behavioral (e.g., desensi­ tization; emotional catharsis) strategies to alter the undesirable contents of experi­ ence. This type of approach is often most useful with clients who lack the ego strength or the motivation to encounter their experience in a more direct, immediate way.

Reflection and Presence


Spiritual traditions often formulate the contemplative realizations of great adepts of the past into a “view” that is transmitted to new students in order to help them discover the essence of spiritual realization for themselves. In the Mahamudra tradition, for example, the view of our essential nature as intrinsically open and boundless helps point students in that direction, so that they can discover and orient their life toward this vastness. In the words of Lodro Thaye, a great Mahamudra master of the eighteenth century:
When one meditates with this view It is like a garuda soaring through space Untroubled by fear or doubt. One who meditates without this view Is like a blind man wandering the plains.

Yet such a view has little transformative effect if it remains only conceptual. There­ fore Lodro Thaye adds:
One who holds this view but does not meditate Is like a rich man tethered by stinginess Who cannot bring fruition to himself or others. Joining the view and meditation is the holy tradition (Nalanda, 1980, p. 84).

The danger of any view is that we could start to substitute the theory for the reality that it merely points to. Therefore, in Mahamudra/Dzogchen the presentation of the view also includes what are called “pointing-out instructions”—where the master also transmits or experientially reveals to the student the actual state that the view describes. Then the view becomes the ground of a contemplative path whose goal is to realize the view in a more complete experiential way.

2) Phenomenological Reflection: Meeting Experience Directly Conceptual reflection that provides a map of where we are or a strategy for how to proceed gives a general orientation, but has limited value in helping us relate to where we are right now, in a more immediate sense. Conceptual mapping and analysis— thinking and talking about experience—must eventually give way to an approach that helps us work more directly with experience. Phenomenological reflection is a more refined approach because it does not impose preconceived concepts or strategies on experience; instead, it puts aside or at least questions habitual conceptual assumptions in order to explore experience in a fresher, looser way. The concepts it uses are “experience-near,” in that they grow out of, describe, and point back to what is directly felt and perceived. In this way phenom­ enology narrows the gap between observer and observed. In psychotherapy practiced phenomenologically, experiencing is related to as a living process, which does not come packaged in units that can be neatly analyzed and operated upon. The observing consciousness pays close attention to felt experience, inquiring into it gently, and waiting patiently for responses and insights to come


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directly from there, rather than from some cognitive schema. Experiencing itself becomes the guide, revealing directions for change that unfold in the course of exploring it. For example, a tension in the chest might first reveal itself as anxiety, then upon further reflection, as a sense of helplessness, then as an uncertainty that you are worthy of love. Perhaps you began by being judgmental toward the anxiety, or threatened by it, but as it further reveals itself as a not-knowing whether you are lovable, a sweet sadness about what you are feeling might arise. And this new way of experiencing what you are going through may allow it to unfold further: perhaps the anxiety relaxes and you become more compassionate toward yourself. In this kind of reflection, observer and observed become two poles of a mutual dance. This steppingback from habitual reactions and assumptions in order to come into fresh relationship with lived experience is the essence of what is called, in philosophical terms, "the phenomenological reduction.”

3) Reflective Witnessing: Bare, Mindful Attention An even subtler kind of reflection happens in the early stages of mindfulness meditation, where one is simply attentive to the ongoing flux of experiencing or “the mindstream," as it is called in Buddhism, without concern about particular contents of experience that arise. In this approach the gap between observer and observed narrows further, in that there is no interest in operating on the mindstream in any way—through understanding, unfolding, articulation, or moving toward any release or resolution. In the context of meditation, any of these aims would indicate the operation of some mental set or attitude, and thus an interference with the process of freeing oneself from identification with all mind-states. While phenomenological reflection is an attempt to find new meaning, new understanding, new directions, meditation is a more radical path of undoing—relaxing any tendency to become caught up in feelings, thoughts, and identifications. Yet mindfulness practice is not yet the totally relaxed nondoing of Dzogchen, for it still requires some effort of stepping back from identification and witnessing. Mindfulness practice provides a transitional step between reflection and presence, incorporating elements of both. As thinking itself becomes an object of mindful attention, we can begin to notice the experiential difference between thought and awareness—the contents of consciousness, which are like clouds passing through the sky, and pure consciousness, which is like the wide open sky itself. Letting go of habitual identifications allows us to discover this pure awareness, intrinsically free of the compulsions of thought and emotion. This is an important step in starting to free ourselves from the prison of dualistic mind. In the Dzogchen tradition, this is spoken of as distinguishing the mind caught in dualism (Tibetan: sems) from pure nondual awareness (rigpa). As the Tibetan teacher Chokyi Nyima describes this distinction:
Basically there are two states of mind. Sems refers to the state of conceptual thinking, involving fixation on some “thing.” . . . Rigpa means free from fixation. It refers to a state of natural wakefulness that is without dualistic clinging. It is extremely important to be clear about the difference between these two states of mind (1991, p. 129).

Reflection and Presence


pure presence: awakening within experience

Before becoming self-reflective, we are identified with the thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and memories arising in consciousness, and this keeps us imprisoned in conditioned mind. With reflection, we can start to free ourselves from these unconscious identifi­ cations by stepping back and observing them. Yet as long as we are stepping back, we remain in a state of divided consciousness. A further step would be to go beyond reflection and, without falling back into prereflective identification, become at-one with our experiencing—through overcoming all struggle with it, through discovering and abiding in the deep, silent source from which all experience arises. This third level of the dialectic, which takes us beyond most Western psychological models and philosophical frameworks, is postreflective—in that it usually follows from a ground­ work of reflective work—and trans-reflective—in that it discloses a way of being that lies beyond divided consciousness. Even phenomenology, which, in emphasizing subject-object interrelatedness, is one of the most refined, least dualistic Western ways of exploring human experience, usually fails to go this further step. Peter Koestenbaum, for example, whose work The New Image of the Person is a fine attempt to develop a phenomenological clinical philosophy, and who is generally sympathetic to meditation and transpersonal experi­ ence, describes meditation only in terms of stepping back. He considers meditative presence—what he calls the Eternal Now—to be the ultimate phenomenological reduction:
There is no end to the regressive process of reflection because the field of consciousness is experienced to be infinite. Specifically, there is infinity in stepping back. . . . The Eternal Now is an experience in which we are no longer inside space and inside time but have become an observer of space and time. . . . In meditation, the individual takes a spectatorial attitude towards all experiences. . . . The meditator follows the flow of the body, of a feeling, or of the environment. . . . In this way individuals can train themselves to become observers rather than participants in life (1978, p. 73, 82, 100, 101, my italics).

Koestenbaum’s words are accurate up through the early stages of reflective witness­ ing in mindfulness practice. However, meditation that only goes this far does not lead beyond divided consciousness. The ultimate purpose of meditation goes far beyond training us to be “observers, rather than participants,” as Koestenbaum claims. Its aim is full participation in life, but conscious participation, rather than the unconscious participation of prereflective identification. What finally replaces divided conscious­ ness is pure presence. Of all the phenomenologists, Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty have perhaps gone the farthest in recognizing a mode of awareness beyond subject and object, as well as its sacred import. Borrowing a term from Meister Eckhart, Heidegger speaks of Gelassenheit, letting-be, using language reminiscent of Buddhist references to suchness:
To let be—that is, to let beings be as the beings which they are—means to engage oneself with the open region and its openness into which every being comes to stand, bringing that openness, as it were, along with itself (1977, p. 127).


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Merleau-Ponty suggests the need to develop what he calls sur-reflection—which might be translated as "higher reflection"—
that would take itself and the changes it introduces into the spectacle into account. . . . It must plunge into the world instead of surveying it, it must descend toward it such as it i s . . . so that the seer and the visible reciprocate one another and we no longer know which sees and which is seen (1968, pp. 38-39, 139).

These attempts by two great philosophers to point the way beyond traditional Western dualistic thought are admirable. Yet even at its best, phenomenology can point to, but does not provide a true upaya, or path, for fully realizing nondual presence. In the practice of Mahamudra/Dzogchen, meditators discover nondual awareness, at first in glimpses, as the focus on objects of consciousness gradually drops away and they learn to rest in open presence, in what Franklin Merrill-Wolff (1994) called “consciousness-without-an-object.” This nondual presence could be described in terms of qualities such as depth, luminosity, or spaciousness, yet in its immediacy there is no self-conscious reflection on any such attributes. Instead, one simply rests in the clarity of wide open, wakeful awareness, without any attempt to alter or fabricate one’s experience. Here there is direct self-knowing, direct recognition of one’s own nature as pure being, without self-reflection. When attention is turned outward, perception is clear and sharp, since it is not clothed in concepts. The world is not seen as something separate from awareness, nor is it any less vivid and immediate than awareness itself. Nor is awareness seen as something subjective, “in here,” separate from appearances. Awareness and what appears in awareness mutually coemerge as one unified field of presence. In this unified field of presence, neither perceptions nor awareness can be objectified as anything the mind could grasp. This ungraspable quality of experience is the basic meaning of the Buddhist term emptiness. The Mahamudra tradition speaks of the inseparability of emptiness and awareness, emptiness and clarity, emptiness and appearance, emptiness and energy. We could also speak of the inseparability of emptiness and being. Pure presence is the realization of being-as-emptiness: being without being something. Being is empty, not because it lacks anything, but because it cannot be comprehended in terms of any reference point outside itself. Being is precisely that which can never be grasped or contained in any physical boundary or conceptual designation. In Nishitani’s words, “being is only being if it is one with emptiness. . . . In that sense, emptiness might be called the field of ‘be-ification’” (1982, p. 124). Emptiness in this sense is not some "attribute” belonging to awareness, appearance, or being, but their utter transparency when apprehended in pure presence, outside of the subject-object framework. This realization is called by many different names, such as self-illuminating awareness, jnana, buddha-nature, wisdom mind, great bliss, great perfection. As self-illuminating awareness that simultaneously illumines the whole field of experience, pure presence is intimate engagement, rather than a stepped-back detachment. In contrast to reflection, it does not involve any “doing” at all, as the great Dzogchen master Longchenpa indicates when he says: “Instead of seeking mind by mind, let be” (Guenther, 1977, p. 244).

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Once awareness extricates itself from the fetters of conceptual mind, through reflec­ tion and mindfulness, it can self-realize its intrinsic nature as pure freedom, relax­ ation, openness, luminosity, and presence. This happens, in Mahamudra terms, through “settling itself in its own nature.” Since this resting in presence goes beyond effort, one-pointedness, and witnessing, it is called nonmeditation. Although analo­ gies can suggest what this is like, no word or image can describe its radiant imme­ diacy, as Lodro Thaye points out:
It is space, ungraspable as a thing. It is a flawless precious clear crystal. It is the lamp-like radiance of your own self-luminous mind. It is inexpressible, like the experience of a mute. It is unobscured, transparent wisdom. The luminous Dharmakaya, Buddha-nature, Primordially pure and spontaneous. It cannot be demonstrated through analogy. And cannot be expressed in words. It is the space of Dharma, Forever overwhelming mind’s inspection (Nalanda, 1980, p. 84).

In the state of nonmeditation it is no longer necessary to make a distinction between conceptual mind and pure awareness, in that all mind-states are recognized as forms of awareness and presence. It is more a question of being fully awake within thought, feeling, perception when they arise, no longer maintaining a hair’s breadth of separation from whatever arises. This quality of pure presence often opens up spontaneous clearings in the experiential stream, without any strategy or intention to create change. There are two closely related ways in which these changes may occur: A) Spontaneous Transmutation The Tantric tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism is known as the path of transformation, in which “impure” experience—marked by ignorance, dualism, aggression, grasping—is transmuted into “pure” experience— illumined by awareness, openness, nongrasping, and direct appreciation. The basic Vajrayana methods of visualization, mantra, mudra, and symbolic ritual eventually lead to the more advanced, utterly direct approach of Mahamudra/Dzogchen, where the practitioner finally cuts through the separation between pure and impure by completely meeting and opening to the raw immediacy of experience on the spot. In this direct encounter, the thick, heavy, fixated quality of experience falls away, revealing a deeper, living intelligence contained within it. As Chögyam Trungpa describes this kind of realization:
At this point whatever is experienced in everyday life through sense perception is a naked experience, because it is direct. There is no veil between [you] and “that.” . . . Tantra teaches not to suppress or destroy energy but to transmute it; in other words, go with the pattern of energy. . . . When [you] go with the pattern of energy, then experience becomes very creative. You realize that you no longer have to abandon anything. You begin to see the underlying qualities of wisdom in your life-situation. . . . If you are highly involved in one emotion such as anger, then by having a sudden glimpse of


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openness .. . you begin to see that you do not have to suppress your energy . .. but you can transform your aggression into dynamic energy. . . . If one actually feels the living quality, the texture of the emotions as they are in their naked state, then this experience also contains ultimate truth. . . . We would discover that emotion actually does not exist as it appears, but it contains much wisdom and open space. . . . Then the process of . .. transmuting the emotions into wisdom takes place automatically (1973, pp. 218-19, 221, 222, 234, 235-36).

Here there is no deliberate effort to transmute the emotions; rather, transmutation happens spontaneously through fully opening to them:
You experience emotional upheaval as it is but. . . become one with it. . . . Let yourself be in the emotion, go through it, give in to it, experience it. You begin to go toward the emotion rather than just experiencing the emotion coming toward you. . . . There is a fear that emotion might become too much. . . . Transmutation involves going through such fear. . . . Then the most powerful energies become absolutely workable. . . . Whatever occurs in the samsaric mind is regarded as the path; everything is workable. It is a fearless proclama­ tion—the lion’s roar (Trungpa, 1976, pp. 70-71).

As a student in this tradition, with a few budding glimpses of what the above words might actually refer to, I began to feel that even Focusing—which was the simplest, most penetrating, experience-near therapeutic method I knew—still did not go far enough. The essence of Focusing involves attending to an unclear bodily-felt sense, while remaining extremely respectful, gentle, and attentive toward every nuance of experi­ ence that arises from it. Seeing how concrete steps of experiential change can emerge from attending to a felt sense is an important discovery—something that people who use meditation to avoid their feelings and personal experience would do well to learn. Yet as Focusing is commonly practiced, there is often a bias toward unfolding, toward resolution, toward looking for a felt shift. In this way, it can become a form of “doing” that maintains a subtle I-It stance toward one’s experience. The bias here can be very subtle. Wanting our experience to change usually contains a subtle resistance to what is, to nowness, to what I call unconditional presence—the capacity to meet experience fully and directly, without filtering it through any conceptual or strategic agenda (Wei wood, 1992). The subtle spiritual pitfall of psychological work is that it can reinforce the inherent tendency of the conditioned personality to react and contract against what is, and to continually look for “something better." Although psychological reflection certainly can help people move forward in important ways, at some point even the slightest desire for change or improvement can interfere with the deeper letting go and relaxation that are necessary for moving from the realm of personality into the realm of being, which is only discoverable in and through nowness—in moments when all pushing and striving cease. When we allow experience to be as it is, instead of seeking to alter it in any way, the focus of inner work shifts in an important and powerful way. No longer is our experience something apart from us that we need to change or resolve; instead, the focus shifts to the larger field: how-we-are-with-our-experience. And when we relate

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to our experience in a more spacious, allowing way, it automatically becomes less problematic, because we no longer exist in an I-It, subject-object tension with it. Of course, the primary aim of all therapeutic approaches is to reduce psychological distress and increase self-understanding, not to overcome divided consciousness. Yet I began to feel a need to practice therapy in a way that was more congruent with the nondoing quality of meditative presence. I was also inspired in this vision by moments in my own personal work when opening to my experience just as it was had brought me into a deeper sense of presence—a kind of “being-without-agenda,” which opened up access to a powerful sense of stillness, acceptance, and aliveness. Such moments afforded a glimpse of what lay on the other side of divided conscious­ ness: being at-one with myself in a new and deeper way. Obviously, there is a time for actively trying to penetrate experiential obstacles, and a time for allowing one's experience to be as it is. If we are unable or unwilling to actively engage with our personal life issues, then letting-be could become a stance of avoidance, and a dead-end. Yet if we are unable to let our experience be, or to open to it just as it is, then our psychological work may reinforce the habitual contraction of the conditioned personality. While Focusing showed me a way out of the first pitfall, meditation—which taught me about the wisdom of nondoing—showed me a way beyond the second pitfall. In training professionals, I also found that the investment in change can introduce a subtle bias into therapists’ responses, thereby communicating to their clients: “You’re not all right the way you are.” And this can reinforce the alienated attitude most people already suffer from: "I should be having a different experience from the one I am having—what’s wrong with me?” When clients pick up this bias from their therapists, it can create a fundamental obstacle in the flow of the therapeutic process and relationship. Clients either try to go along with the therapist’s agenda, which can disconnect them from their own being, or else they resist the therapist’s agenda, which keeps them stuck. The more I trained therapists, the clearer it became that the most important quality in a therapist was the capacity for unconditional presence—which, oddly enough, is rarely mentioned or taught in graduate school. When therapists are present with a client s experience in this way, something inside the client can begin to relax and open up in a much deeper way. What I have found, again and again, is that unconditional presence is the most powerful transmuting force there is—precisely because it is a willingness to be there with ourselves in our experience, without dividing ourselves in two by trying to "manage” what we are feeling. This kind of unbiased presence does not mean passively submitting to, or indulging in, feelings. Nor am I suggesting that therapists should go along with their clients in a totally laissez-faire manner. There are, of course, many times when it is appropriate for a therapist to interrupt a train of thought, an emotional reaction, or a habitual behavior, and to set limits, confront clients, focus on what is problematic, and initiate reflective dialogue. Unconditional presence operates most powerfully at the micro­ level of therapy—in those key moments when clients come into direct, intimate


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contact with their felt experience. Its quality of nondoing is not an inactivity; rather, it is a nonreactive, noncontrolling, yet active engagement with what is happening at each moment. In teaching unconditional presence, I have found it useful to delineate different stages of this coming-into-contact. First of all, there needs to be a willingness to inquire, to face directly into our felt experience and see what is there. Then we can begin to acknowledge what is happening inside us: “Yes, this is what I’m experiencing right now. I’m feeling threatened . . . hurt . . . angry . . . defensive.” Acknowledging involves recognizing and naming what is going on, seeing how it feels in the body, and inviting it more fully into awareness. The power of bare acknowledgment should never be underestimated. To help clients linger here and not rush on toward some hoped-for resolution, I often say something like, “Notice what it's like right now just to acknowledge what you’re feeling.” Attending to the felt quality of this recognition cuts through the impulse to react to the content, allowing the client to stay more present with it. Once we acknowledge what is there, it becomes possible to meet it more fully by allowing it to be there as it is. Allowing does not mean wallowing in feelings or acting them out. Instead, it means giving our experience space and actively letting it be there, putting aside any urge to manage or judge it. Often what interferes with this is either identifying with the feeling (“this anger is me”) or resisting it (“this anger is not me”). It often requires some time and concentration before we can let our experience be there in this more allowing way. Having allowed our experience to be there, we can then let ourselves open to it more fully, no longer maintaining any distance between it and ourselves as observer, judge, or manager. This is the main point where unconditional presence diverges from Focusing and other reflective methods. There is a complete opening to, and becoming one with the felt experience, without any attempt to do anything with it, to it, or about it. What is most important here is not so much what we are feeling, but the act of opening to it. For example, a client is feeling a fear that he is nothing—that if he really looks inside, he won’t find anything there. Although I first ask him to pay attention to this “fear of being nothing” in his body and we discuss how it relates to situations from his past (this is still reflective inquiry), eventually I invite him to open himself directly to the feeling of being nothing—to go fully into it and let himself be nothing. (Here reflection gives way to presence.) After a while he says, “It feels empty, but there’s also a peacefulness and fullness.” He feels full because he is now present, rather than separate from his experience. It is his being that feels peaceful and full. Of course, feelings don’t always transmute this easily. It depends entirely on the client and our relationship. Yet for clients who have experienced this a number of times, it can happen more and more readily. Feelings in themselves don’t necessarily lead to wisdom, but the process of opening fully to them can. When we no longer maintain any distance from a feeling, it cannot persist in its old form, which crystallized through the subject-object split. In the above

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example, the client’s fear of being nothing only persisted as long as he tried to get away from that experience. But when he opened unconditionally to being nothing, this inner division ceased, at least for a while, as he stepped out of the fixed stance/ attitudes/associations he held toward “being nothing,” with their long history dating back to childhood. He became present, and therefore experienced his being, rather than his nothingness. And so “being nothing” transmuted into the emptiness/fullness of being—where the fear of being nothing no longer had a hold on him. When the focus of awareness shifts from a feeling—as an object of pleasure or pain, like or dislike, acceptance or rejection—to our state of presence with it, we start to discover inner resources and wisdom hidden within it as we move from the realm of personality into the larger space of being. Out of presence with anger, strength often emerges; out of presence with sorrow, compassion; out of presence with fear, courage and groundedness; out of presence with emptiness, expansive spaciousness and peace. Strength, compassion, courage, spaciousness, peace are differentiated qualities of being—different ways in which presence manifests. In this way, being fully present with ourselves overcomes the inner war, at least for a moment, between self and Other, between “me” and “my experience.” And from there, everything looks and feels different. A felt shift happens, but this is more than the “content mutation” that Gendlin (1964) describes as a result of reflective unfolding . An example of “content mutation” would be anger unfolding to fear, which in turn might unfold further, revealing itself as a desire to be loved, and then a strong sense of relief at realizing that one’s anger was pushing away the love one wanted. I call these “horizontal” felt shifts, because even though deeper feelings and realizations may unfold, the process remains on the level of personality. But the transmutation that often occurs through unconditional presence is a “vertical” shift, where one moves from personality into a deeper quality of being, as a fixed constellation of observer/observed dissolves, along with all reactivity, contraction, or striving. I don’t wish to imply that this kind of deepening always happens quickly or easily, or that by itself it can effect lasting transformations. Often a long sequence of horizontal unfolding must occur before a vertical shift happens, and a long period of integration is necessary before it can lead to concrete differences in the way one lives. Nor am I suggesting that Focusing and other reflective methods do not also lead to vertical shifts. But vertical shifts can often be very subtle and their larger import can easily be missed by therapists without a contemplative background. A contemplative approach to therapy differs from conventional psychological work in that it is more concerned with presence of being—revealed through opening directly to experience—than with problem-resolution. The problem-solving mentality maintains the inner split and keeps attention confined within the boundaries of conventional conceptual mind. But the vertical shift that often follows from unconditional presence is a change of context that alters the way a problem is held. And this often gives rise to creative new ways of relating to the problematic situation at hand. I make a point of helping clients recognize the nature and significance of this shift when it spontaneously occurs. I encourage them to rest there, appreciate the new quality of being that has become available, and let it move freely in their body,


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without having to go on to another problem or anything else. The quality might deepen and new aspects or implications might be revealed. Or perhaps the client starts to block, resist, or dissociate from this state of presence. In that case, we might move back into reflective inquiry, to see what is going on—what old beliefs, object relations, or identities may be interfering. We might then explore these obstacles reflectively until at some point, I again invite the client to be present with some aspect of their experience in the way described above. In this way, the capacity for presence expands, while obstacles standing in its way are also worked with. Unconditional presence is more radical than psychological reflection in that it in­ volves giving in to our experience (as in Trungpa’s statement, “Let yourself be in the emotion, go through it, give in to it. . . .”), while learning to ride the energy mindfully, without becoming overwhelmed by it. “The usual problem,” as Trungpa (1976) put it, “is that, when emotions arise, we feel that we are being challenged by them, that they will overwhelm [us]. . . . We are afraid that aggression or depression will become so overwhelming that we will lose our ability to function normally” (p. 70). This approach is clearly not for clients who lack ego strength, who are unable to step back and reflect on their feelings, or whose primary task is to establish a stable, cohesive self-structure. Focusing, by contrast, helps strengthen the observing ego by helping clients find the right distance from their emotional upheaval. But here one simply dives in, radically erasing any separation from one’s experience. Transmutation through unconditional presence happens somewhat differently in psychological and in meditative practice. In therapy, it is always part of a dialogical process, and therefore always develops out of and returns to a reflective interchange. Reflecting on the vertical shifts is also helpful in integrating them more fully into daily functioning. In meditative practice, by contrast, mind-states can transmute in a more immediate, spontaneous way, without reference to a prior or subsequent reflec­ tive process. By not engaging in reflective articulation, the meditator can often move beyond divided consciousness in a deeper, more sustained way. The challenge here, however, lies in integrating this deeper awareness into daily life and functioning. B) Ongoing Self-Liberation Transmutation, as described above, still involves a slight sense of duality, at least initially, in that one makes some effort to go toward experience, go into it, open oneself to it. Beyond transmutation lie still subtler possibilities of nondual presence, usually only realized through advanced meditative practice. In Mahamudra/Dzogchen, this is the way of self-liberation. Here one learns to remain continually present within the movement of experience—whether thought, perception, feeling, or sensation. In the words of a great Dzogchen master, Paltrul Rinpoche, "It is sufficient to simply let your mind rest in the state of whatever takes place, in whatever happens” (Kunsang, 1993, p. 120). This kind of naked aware­ ness—where there is no mental or emotional reaction to whatever arises—allows each experience to be just what it is, free of dualistic grasping and fixation, and totally transparent. Pure presence makes possible the self-liberation of the mindstream. This is Mahamudra—the supreme mudra, the ultimate seeing that “lets beings be as the beings which they are.” What is this supreme mudra? In the words of Tilopa, one of the grandfathers of Mahamudra, “When mind is free of reference points, that is Mahamudra.” Not to rely

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on reference points—attitudes, beliefs, intentions, aversions, self-concepts, object relations—to interpret our experience or evaluate who we are in relation to it is to rest in the "core” of being, “at the still point of the turning world, neither from nor towards." This sense of “resting in the middle of one’s experience” is not a “position” in any determinate “place.” This use of the term middle is taken from Nishitani, who describes it as the
mode of being of things as they are in themselves—namely, the mode of being wherein things rest in the complete uniqueness of what they themselves are. . . . It is immediately present—and immediately realized as such—at the point that we ourselves actually are. It is “at hand” and “underfoot.” . . . All actions imply an absolute immediacy. And it is there that what we are calling the “middle" appears (1982, pp. 165-6).

Resting in the middle of being means standing in pure presence. Normal divided consciousness places us on the perimeter of the field of experience, stepped back from whatever we are observing. When resting in the middle, by contrast, "the standpoint of the subject that knows things objectively, and likewise knows itself objectively as athing called the self, is broken down” (Nishitani, 1982, p. 154). The self-knowledge that arises here is immediate and nonobjectifying.
It is not a “knowing" that consists in the self s turning to itself and refracting into itself. It is not a “reflective” knowing. . . . This self-awareness . . . is a knowing that comes about not as a refraction of the self bent into the self but only on a position that is, as it were, absolutely straightforward. . . . This is because it is a knowing that originates in the “middle.” It is an absolutely nonobjective knowing of the absolutely nonobjective self in itself; it is a completely nonreflective knowing. . . . On all other fields the self is at all times reflective, and caught in its own grasp in the act of grasping itself, and caught in the grasp of things in its attempt to grasp them. . . . It can never be the “straight heart” of which the ancients speak (pp. 154-55).

The ultimate practice here is learning to remain fully present and awake in the middle of whatever thoughts, feelings, perceptions, or sensations are occurring and to recognize them, in Mahamudra/Dzogchen terms, as Dharmakaya—as an ornamental display of the empty, luminous essence of awareness. Like waves on the ocean, thoughts are not separate from awareness. They are the radiant clarity of awareness in motion. In remaining awake in the middle of thoughts—and recognizing them as the luminous energy of awareness—the practitioner maintains presence and can rest within their movement. As Namkhai Norbu suggests:
The essential principle is to . . . maintain presence in the state of the moving wave of thought itself. . . . If one considers the calm state as something positive to be attained, and the wave of thought as something negative to be abandoned, and one remains caught up in the duality of grasping and rejecting, there is no way of overcoming the ordinary state of the mind (1986, p. 144).

It is the dualistic fixation—the tension between self and Other, “me” and “my thoughts”—that makes them problematic, tormenting, “sticky,” like the tarbaby to which Brer Rabbit becomes affixed by trying to push it away. Thoughts become thick, solid, and heavy only when we react to them. Each reaction triggers further thought,


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so that the thoughts become chained together in what appears to be a continuous mind-state. These thought chains are like a relay race, where each new thought picks up the baton from the previous thought and runs with it for a moment, passing it on again to a subsequent thought. But if the meditator can maintain presence in the middle of a thought, free of grasping or rejecting, then the thought has nothing to pass the baton on to, and naturally subsides. Although this sounds simple, it is advanced practice, usually requiring much preliminary training and commitment. When one can rest in presence even in the midst of thoughts, perceptions, or intense emotions, these become an ongoing part of one’s contemplative practice, as opportu­ nities to discover a pervasive quality of open awareness in all one’s activities. As Tarthang Tulku describes this:
It's possible to make thought itself meditation. . . . How do we go into that state? The moment you try to separate yourself from thought, you are dealing with a duality, a subjectobject relationship. You lose the state of awareness because you reject your experience and become separate from it. . . . But if our awareness is in the center of thought, the thought itself dissolves. . . . At the very beginning . . . stay in the thoughts. Just be there. . . . You become the center of the thought. But there is not really any center—the center becomes balance. There’s no “being,” no “subject-object relationships”: none of these categories exist. Yet at the same time, there is . . . complete openness. So we kind of crack each thought, like cracking nuts. If we can do this, any thought becomes meditation. . . . Any moment, wherever you are, driving a car, sitting around, working, talking, any activities you have—even if you are very disturbed emotionally, very passionate, or even if your mind has become very strong, raging, overcome with the worst possible things and you cannot control yourself, or you feel depressed . . . if you really go into it, there's nothing there. Whatever comes up becomes your meditation. Even if you become ex­ tremely tense, if you go into your thought and your awareness comes alive, that moment can be more powerful than working a long time in meditation practice (1974, pp. 9-10,18).

Here no antidote need be applied: no conceptual understanding, no reflection, no stepping back, no detachment, no witnessing. When one is totally present in the thought, in the emotion, in the disturbance, it relaxes by itself, becoming open and transparent to the larger ground of awareness. The wave subsides back into the ocean. The cloud dissolves into the sky. The snake naturally uncoils. These are all metaphors that say: It self-liberates. Although self-liberation is not a dialogical process, but a “straight heart” realization of being-emptiness, it does allow for an intimate knowing of reality, as Nishitani suggests when he writes that “things reveal themselves to us only when we leap from the circumference to the center, into their very [suchness]” (1982, p. 130). This “knowing of not-knowing” is a complete openness and attunement to the selfrevealing qualities of self, world, and other beings. For one who can remain fully present even in the middle of deluded thoughts and emotions, the distinction between samsara and nirvana, conventional and awakened consciousness, duality and nonduality is no longer of great concern. Nor is the relative duality of self and other in daily life a problem when one is not trapped in divided consciousness. One can adopt

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the conventional perspective of duality when appropriate, and drop it when it is not necessary. Then the interplay of self and other becomes a humorous dance, an energetic exchange, an ornament rather than a hindrance.


Most of us live caught up in prereflective identification most of the time, imagining that our thoughts, feelings, attitudes and viewpoints accurately portray reality. But when awareness is clouded by prereflective identification, we do not yet fully have our experience. Rather, it has us: we are swept along by cross-currents of thought and feeling in which we are unconsciously immersed. Driven along by these unconscious identifications—self-images, conflicting emotions, superego commands, object rela­ tions, recurring thought-patterns—we remain asleep to the deeper import of our experience. We are often angry without even knowing we are angry, anxious without understanding why we are anxious, or hungry without realizing what we are truly hungry for. This is the condition that Gurdjieff called “the machine.” Reflective attention helps us take a major step forward from there. Conceptual reflection allows cognitive analysis and understanding of what is going on and why. Beyond that, subtler, more direct kinds of phenomenological reflection can help us finally start to have our experience. In psychotherapy, it is a major advance when clients can, for example, move from just being angry to having their anger. When they have their anger, this means that their awareness is holding the anger and reflecting on it, instead of being clouded or overwhelmed by it. Beyond that, mindful witnessing allows us to step back from our experience and let it be, without reaction or identification. A further step on the path of self-knowledge involves learning to be with our experience in an even more direct and penetrating way, which I call unconditional presence. Here the focus is not so much on what we are experiencing as on how we are with t. Being fully present with our experience facilitates a vertical shift from personality to being. Being-with anger, for instance, involves opening to its energy directly, which often effects a spontaneous transmutation. The anger reveals deeper qualities of being hidden within it, such as strength, confidence, or radiant clarity, and this brings us into deeper connection with being itself. From this sense of inner connectedness, the original situation that gave rise to the anger often looks quite different. Beyond transmutation there lies the still subtler potential to self-liberate experience through naked awareness. Instead of going into the anger, this would mean simply resting in presence as the anger arises and moves, while recognizing it as a transpar­ ent, energetic display of being-awareness-emptiness. This possibility is discovered not through a dialogical process like psychotherapy, but through contemplative practice. To summarize the progression described here: It is a movement from unconscious, prereflective immersion in our experience (identification), to thinking and talking about experience (conceptual reflection), to having our experience directly (phenom­


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enological reflection), to non-identified witnessing (mindfulness), to being-presentwith experience (unconditional presence, leading to transmutation), to a trans-reflective resting in open presence within whatever experience arises, which is no other than pure being/emptiness (self-liberation). If we use the analogy of awareness as a mirror, prereflective identification is like being captivated by and lost in the reflec­ tions appearing in the mirror. Reflection involves stepping back from these appear­ ances, studying them, and developing a new relationship with them. And transreflective presence is like being the mirror itself—that vast, illuminating openness and clarity that allows reality to be seen as what it is. In pure presence, awareness is self-illuminating, or aware of itself without objectification. The mirror simply abides in its own nature, without either separating from its reflections or confusing itself with them. Negative reflections do not stain the mirror, positive reflections do not improve on it. They are all the mirror’s self-illuminating display. Psychotherapy as a dialogical process is essentially reflective, although when prac­ ticed by a therapist with a contemplative background, it can also include moments of nonreflective presence that facilitate a shift into a deeper dimension of being. In the spiritual traditions, disciplined reflection also serves as a stepping-stone on the way toward greater presence. In Gurdjieff s teaching, for instance, focused self-observation is what allows people to step out of “the machine” and become available to the more pointed presence that he terms “self-remembering.” While psychotherapy and spiritual practice may both incorporate reflection and presence, the home base of therapy is reflection and the home base of spirituality is presence. I would like to close with a few final considerations for Western students and researchers of the further reaches of contemplative awareness. From anecdotal evi­ dence, the stabilization of the pure presence of rigpa in an ongoing realization of self­ liberation appears to be quite rare, even among dedicated students of Dzogchen/ Mahamudra. This tradition flowered in Tibet, a far simpler and more grounded culture than ours, which also provided a social mandala, or cohesive cultural context, that supported thousands of monasteries and hermitages where meditation practice and realization could flourish. Yet even there, years of preliminary practice and solitary retreat were usually recommended as the groundwork for full nondual realization, which was often described as the golden roof that crowns the entire spiritual enter­ prise. The question for modem Westerners, who lack the cultural supports found in tradi­ tional Asia and who often find it hard to spend years in retreat or even to complete the traditional Tibetan preliminary practices, is how to establish a strong enough base on which this golden roof can rest. What kind of preliminary practices or inner work are most relevant and useful for modem people as a groundwork for nondual realization? What special conditions may be necessary to nurture and sustain nondual presence outside of retreat situations? And how can this spacious, relaxed quality of presence be integrated into everyday functioning in a speedy, complex technological society like ours, which requires such high levels of mental activity and mental abstraction? On the individual level, unresolved psychological issues and developmental deficien­ cies often seem to be the main obstacles to integrating deeper contemplative aware­ ness into daily life (Welwood, 1984, 1996; Almaas, 1988). If this is so, then it would

Reflection and Presence


seem that spiritual aspirants in the West would also need to engage in some degree of psychological work, as a useful adjunct to their spiritual work, and perhaps as a preliminary practice in its own right. Perhaps for Westerners genuine nondoing and letting-be can only be fully embodied in a healthy, integrated way once one has learned to attend to bodily feelings and grapple with one’s personal experience in a Focusing-style reflective manner. That is why it is important to understand the uses and limitations of psychological reflection, and to study its role as a stepping-stone both toward and "back” from nondual presence—as a bridge, in other words, that can begin to unlock deeper qualities of being and help to integrate them more fully into everyday life.


Almaas, A. H. (1988). The pearl beyond price. Berkeley: Diamond Books. Gendlin, E. T. (1964). A theory of personality change. In P. Worchel & D. Byrne (Eds.), Personality change. New York: Wiley. Gendlin, E. T. (1981). Focusing. New York: Bantam. Gendlin, E. T. (1996). Focusing-oriented psychotherapy. New York: Guilford Press. Guenther, H. (1977). Tibetan Buddhism in western perspective. Berkeley, CA: Dharma Publishing. Heidegger, M. (1977). On the essence of truth. In D. F. Kreel (Ed.), Martin Heidegger: Basic writings. New York: Harper. Koestenbaum, P. (1978). The new image of the person. Westwood, CT: Greenwood Press. Krishnamurti, J. (1976). Krishnamurti’s notebook. New York: Harper Collins. Kunsang, E. P. (Transl.) (1993). The flight of the garuda: Five texts from the practice lineage. Kathmandu: Rangjung Yeshe. Marcel, G. (1950). The mystery of being. Vol. 1: Reflection and mystery. G. S. Fraser Transl. Chicago: Henry Regnery. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1968). The visible and the invisible. Alphonso Lingis Transl. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Merrill-Wolff, F. (1994). Experience and philosophy. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Nalanda Translation Committee (Transl.) (1980). The rain of wisdom. Boston: Shambhala. Nishitani, K. (1982). Religion and nothingness. Los Angeles: U. of California Press. Norbu, N. (1982). The song of the vajra. Conway, MA: Dzogchen Community. Norbu, N. (1986). The crystal and the way of light. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Nyima, C. (1991). The bardo guidebook. Kathmandu: Rangjung Yeshe. Tarthang Tulku (1974). On thoughts. Crystal mirror, 3, 7-20. Trungpa, C. (1973). Cutting through spiritual materialism. Boston: Shambhala. Trungpa, C. (1976). The myth of freedom. Boston: Shambhala. Welwood, J. (1979). Befriending emotion: Self-knowledge and transformation, Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 11(1), 141-60. Welwood, J. (1982). The unfolding of experience: Psychotherapy and beyond. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 22(1), 91-104. Welwood, J. (1984). Principles of inner work: Psychological and spiritual. Journal of Trans­ personal Psychology, 1 6 ( 1 ) , 63-73. Welwood, J. (1992). The healing power of unconditional presence. In J. Welwood (Ed.) Ordinary magic: Everyday life as spiritual path. Boston: Shambhala. Welwood, J. (1996). Love and awakening. New York: Harper Collins.
Requests for reprints to: Send SASE to John Welwood, PO Box 2173, Mill Valley, CA 94942.


The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1996, Vol. 28, No. 2


Laurel Parnell San Rafael, California

Millions of people each year suffer from the effects of traumas, some overwhelmingly devastating, others less severe. Traumas can be defined as experiences that cause people to develop erroneous beliefs about themselves or the world which keep them from living to their full potential and causing them suffering. Major traumas such as physical and sexual abuse, loss, violence, accidents, and war have raised the chronic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to near epidemic levels in our society. Various therapies have implied that recovery is a lifelong process, primarily one of learning to cope with symptoms. With the development of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), a method is now available to help people “clear,” i.e., clear away the psychological effects of many kinds of traumatic events. The purpose of this article is to describe how EMDR functions therapeutically and explore some of the psychospiritual potentials that may be associated with its use. Ethically, only licensed mental health professionals and interns who are supervised by EMDR-trained clinicians may practice EMDR. Once such professionals have com­ pleted EMDR training, they will also need to apply all of their clinical skills to help their clients safely experience the deep and complex transformations that come about in the intensive sessions. For these reasons, non-therapists and therapists not formally trained in EMDR should not attempt to use the eye movements of this procedure on themselves or others. EMDR is a complex, multiphasic type of therapy that incorporates saccadic eye movements (left-to-right eye movements) or other repeated bilateral stimulation into a comprehensive treatment. The EMDR approach views certain kinds of dysfunc­ tional behavior as originating from traumatic past incidents which, when skillfully identified, can be targeted, processed, and integrated, resulting in adaptive and functional behaviors.

Copyright © 1997 Transpersonal Institute

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Since its inception in the late 1980s, more than 18,000 therapists around the world have been trained as EMDR practitioners, treating an estimated one million clients (Shapiro, 1995). Positive therapeutic results with EMDR have been reported with a wide number of populations including: previously resistant combat veterans (Lipke & Botkin, 1992; Daniels, Lipke, Richardson, & Silver, 1992); phobics (Kleinknecht, 1992,1993); victims of panic disorder (Goldstein, 1992; Goldstein & Feske, in press); crime victims (Baker & McBride, 1991; Kleinknecht, 1992; Page & Crino, 1993; Shapiro & Solomon, in press); victims of loss and grief (Puk, 1991; Solomon & Shapiro, in press); traumatized children (Shapiro, 1991; Pellicer, 1993); sexual assault victims (Cohn, 1993; Parnell, 1994; Puk, 1991; Shapiro, 1991; Wolpe & Abrams, 1991; Spector & Huthwaite, 1993); bum victims (McCann, 1992); victims of sexual dysfunction (Levin, 1993; Wemick, 1993) and dissociative disorders (Paulsen, Vogelmann-Sine, Lazrove, & Young, 1993), as well as a wide variety of diagnoses (Marquis, 1991). At this point there are more controlled studies on EMDR showing significant treat­ ment effects than on any other method used in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (Boudewyns, Stwertka, Hyer, Albrecht & Sperr, 1993; Levin, Grainger, Allen-Byrd & Fulcher, 1994; Lipke, 1992; Pittman, Orr. Altman, Longrepre, Poire & Sasko, 1993; Shapiro, 1989a, b; Silver, Brooks & Obenchain, in press; Solomon & Kaufman, 1992; Wilson, Covi, Foster & Silver, 1993: Wilson, Tinker & Becker, 1995). EMDR differs from conventional therapy in that it seems more likely to produce swift results—especially with single event traumas. As a traditionally trained clinical psychologist with a transpersonal perspective, I have used EMDR in private psychotherapy practice for six years with positive results (Parnell, 1997). In conjunction with traditional talk therapy, inner child work, and hypnosis, EMDR has greatly helped most of my clients who have suffered trauma by enabling them to reprocess the memories and release somatic concomitants. Addition­ ally, I have noticed a benefit which I had not anticipated—that of stimulating spiritual unfolding, i.e., the development of a non-dualistic perspective.


The use of eye movements to affect psychological disturbances was discovered by accident. On a spring day in 1987, Francine Shapiro, a thirty-nine-year-old psychol­ ogy graduate student, was walking through a park in Los Gatos, California, grappling with disturbing thoughts that were plaguing her mind. Suddenly, she noticed that the thoughts were disappearing. She brought them back, but they were no longer as valid or distressing. Intrigued, she closely observed her thought processes and noticed that when a disturbing thought came into her mind, her eyes spontaneously began to move very rapidly. The eye movement seemed to cause the thought to shift out of her consciousness. When she retrieved the thought, it had lost much of its negative charge. Then, she began doing this experiment deliberately. She thought about things that bothered her and moved her eyes in the same way. Again, the thoughts went away.


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Experimenting further, she tested this process with some older memories and some current problems. All reacted similarly. Curious to know if this discovery would work on other people, she tried it on her friends. She found that most of them could not sustain the eye movement for long and so she directed them to follow her fingers with their eyes. After testing this process on about seventy people, Shapiro theorized that the eye movements were causing a desensitization of the disturbing material. She developed and refined her method and called it eye movement desensitization (EMD). (Further experience with the method convinced her that the eye movements reprocessed traumatic memories into something more adaptive and functional, and in 1990 she expanded the name to EMDR to include the concept of reprocessing.) In 1988 Shapiro tested her new method in a research study conducted in Mendocino, California. The twenty-two volunteers consisted of Vietnam veterans, victims of rape, and victims of sexual abuse. All were suffering from symptoms of PTSD including nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, low self-esteem, and relationship prob­ lems. All experienced persistent traumatic memories. At the initial session, the volunteers were divided into two groups and their symptoms were measured as well as their anxiety and beliefs about the traumatic event. Volunteers in the treatment group received one EMDR session ranging in duration from 15 to 90 minutes. Those in the control group did not receive EMDR but were asked instead to describe their traumatic experiences in detail. After a single EMDR procedure the treatment group showed a marked decrease in anxiety, a more objective assessment of the trauma, and a reduction in symptoms. The control group showed no or minimal changes. For ethical reasons, the control group was later given an EMDR session, and they, too, experienced a significant decrease in their symptoms. One and three months later the treatment group was measured again. Shapiro reported that EMDR led to significant and enduring positive behavioral changes as rated by the participants and their significant others (Shapiro, 1989a). EMDR has become a routine treatment at more than a dozen Veterans Administration centers across the country. Dr. Howard Lipke, former director of a treatment program for combat-related PTSD at the VA Hospital in North Chicago, believes that EMDR is the most effective way of conducting therapy with such clients. Of the nearly two hundred Vietnam vets he has treated with EMDR, Dr. Lipke estimates that 80% have experienced improvement. These results are an important breakthrough in the treat­ ment of PTSD, which was considered difficult to treat effectively, especially among Vietnam vets. Behavioral techniques like implosion, flooding, and systematic desen­ sitization, all of which required the vets to repeatedly imagine old, painful scenes, provided only limited relief from symptoms. Preliminary results from a study with Vietnam vets conducted by Patrick Boudewyns of the Augusta, Georgia, VA Medical Center and the Medical College of Georgia, show that EMDR was more effective than standard group therapy. In fact, the group therapy vets seemed to get a little worse (Boudewyns et al., 1993). Similarly, in a survey of EMDR-trained clinicians who together had treated more than 10,000 clients, about 74% of the respondents reported

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Spiritual Unfolding


EMDR to be more effective than other treatments they had used, and only 3% found it less effective (Lipke, 1994). One of the most significant research studies to date was done by EMDR-trained researchers Sandra Wilson, Robert Tinker, and Lee Becker (Wilson, Tinker & Becker, 1995). Wilson and her associates sought to replicate the findings of Shapiro’s original study while improving the research method addressing issues raised in critical reviews (Aciemo, Hersen, Van Hasselt, Tremont & Meuser, 1994; Herbert & Meuser, 1992; Lohr, Kleinknecht, Conley, Dal Cerro, Schmidt & Sonntag, 1992). The Wilson et al. study (1995) consisted of a large and diverse sample ( N =80); 40 adult male and 40 adult female participants with traumatic memories were randomly assigned to treatment or control conditions, and to one of five EMDR-trained thera­ pists. Few of the participants had heard about EMDR prior to the beginning of the study. Their traumas had occurred from three months to more than fifty years before the onset of the study, and the volunteers had been suffering from various symptoms which included anxieties, phobias, sleep disturbances, intimacy problems, and de­ pression since the traumas had occurred. An independent assessor using objective and standardized measures conducted evalu­ ations and objectively made PTSD diagnoses. Subjects did not participate in any other therapy while in EMDR treatment, and the principal investigator monitored all subjects’ treatment. Participants were randomly assigned to either a treatment or control (the delayed treatment) group. All of the treatment subjects were given a pretest, three EMDR sessions, a post-test, and a follow-up test ninety days later. The control group was given only the pre- and post-tests and follow-up test. The EMDR group results showed significant improvement in all areas and maintained relief from their symptoms during the ninety-day period. No improvement was observed in the control group. Because of ethical considerations, the control group— or delayed-treatment group—received EMDR after the initial data were obtained. Then, they too improved on all measures. Fifteen months after the EMDR therapy another follow-up study was conducted; it demonstrated that the participants had continued to benefit from the treatment. Many said their self-confidence had been boosted and they felt more able to deal with whatever should happen in their lives (Wilson, 1995).


Theories about how EMDR works are based primarily on observed clinical effects. It may be that the stimulation of the brain’s hemispheres causes the reprocessing effect of EMDR. There is also a theory that the eye movements are linked with the hippocampus, which is associated with the consolidation of memory. Another theory is that the dual attention the client maintains with EMDR, focusing simultaneously on


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the inner feelings and the eye movements, allows the alerted brain to “metabolize” whatever it is witnessing. EMDR practitioners use patterned eye movements integrated with psychotherapy techniques to “clear” emotional, cognitive, and physical blockages. In theory, traumas leave unprocessed memories, feelings, and thoughts that can be reprocessed or “metabolized” with these eye movements. Similar to the way in which rapid eye movement (REM) or dream sleep works, the eye movements help to process this blocked information and allow the body-mind to release it. It seems that some particularly strong dreams related to past events are the bodymind’s attempt to heal trauma. The problem is, however, that often one awakens during disturbing dreams and disrupts the eye movements. Consequently, the REM sleep cannot complete its task. However, with EMDR—unlike dreams—the therapist assists the client in maintaining the eye movements and guides the client into focusing on the traumatic event. This allows the event to be reprocessed and integrated. EMDR clinicians have also found (Shapiro, 1995) that alternately tapping the client’s left and right hands or knees or sending sound alternately to the client’s left and right ears effectively stimulates the reprocessing of material. Eye movements have been used for hundreds of years by yoga practitioners to calm the mind. It may be that Shapiro not only rediscovered a basic biological mechanism for clearing the body-mind of present-time disturbances but also made the leap to linking the eye movements with stored psychological material. But, these are all unproven theories, and it may take years to confirm/disconfirm them with research.


In its broadest definition, a trauma is an experience that causes one to develop erroneous beliefs about oneself or the world. For example, a child who is molested may come to believe she is "bad” and that the world is not safe. These experiences may also become fixed in the body-mind in the form of irrational emotions, blocked energy, and physical symptoms. Shapiro describes two types of traumas: minor traumas which she calls “small t” traumas, and major traumas or “big T” traumas. The “t” traumas are those experiences that lessen one’s self-confidence and assault one’s sense of self-efficacy. Like a perceptual filter, they narrow and limit one’s views of self and the world; they impede one from living to one’s full potential, and cause suffering. For example, a woman came to see me because she was having difficulties with her career and social life. She traced her low self-esteem to her childhood when, as an overweight child, her older brother and sister had teased her relentlessly about her weight. A deep irrational belief that she was not good enough embedded in her psyche. Even though she claimed, “I know I am smarter than most people,” she always felt inferior to others. She could not rid herself of this feeling that dictated her self-concept and influenced her approach to life.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Spiritual Unfolding


The “T” traumas affect a person dramatically. Rape, childhood physical and sexual abuse, disasters, accidents, and losses count among the major traumas. They jolt an individual’s usual perspective on life, causing one to question oneself and the order of one’s world. These traumas often lead to debilitating symptoms of PTSD such as nightmares, flashbacks, anxieties, phobias, fears, and difficulties at home and work. Like the “t” traumas, they also affect one’s sense of self-confidence and self-efficacy. It seems that when a person experiences a trauma, it “locks” into a memory network exactly as experienced—the images, physical sensations, tastes, smells, sounds, and beliefs are as if frozen in time in the body and the mind. A man who survives a train crash continues to have a fear of trains. He panics at the sight or even sound of them because all of the memories related to the accident are lodged in his nervous system; he has been unable to process them. Internal or external reminders of the crash flash the experience into his consciousness in its original form. Ordinary everyday events seem to pass through us without leaving such negative memories. Traumatic events, however, seem to get trapped and form a perpetual blockage. Like a recording, they repeat themselves in our body-mind. Nightmares may actually be the mind’s attempts to metabolize this trapped information, but the trauma memory always lasts beyond the dream. Perhaps this mechanism that freezes traumatic events was an adaptive device in early humans, helping to protect them from repeating mistakes. But, today this mechanism seems maladaptive; rather than protect us, it obscures our perceptions and emotions. For example, a young girl who is sexually abused by a man may fear all men even as an adult. This fear can hamper her ability to form a close relationship with a mate in adulthood, prevent her from having male friendships, and cause problems for her with male supervisors in the workplace. She may be extremely anxious around men and have no idea why this is so. In EMDR, clients are asked to focus on a “target” related to the trauma, such as a memory or dream image; a person; an actual, fantasized, or projected event; or, a part of the experience, a body sensation or thought. Using this target, the therapist is attempting to stimulate the memory network where the trauma is stored. Simulta­ neously, the eye movements or other stimuli appear to trigger a mechanism that restores the system’s information processing abilities, enabling it to draw on informa­ tion from a different memory network where the client will find insight and under­ standing. Accelerated information processing occurs in a type of rapid free associa­ tion of information between the networks. Each set of eye movements further unlocks the disturbing information and accelerates it along an adaptive path until the negative thoughts, feelings, pictures, and emotions have dissipated and arc spontaneously replaced by an overall positive attitude.


As previously indicated, EMDR therapists have successfully treated conditions stem­ ming from a wide range of traumas. EMDR has also benefited adult clients in general psychotherapy who are living dysfunctionally due to events from the past (Marquis, 1991). Positive results have been reported with children (Chemtob, 1996; Coco & Sharpe, 1993; Greenwald, 1994; Pellicer, 1993; Puffer et al„ 1996).


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Although EMDR has positive results with the above conditions, it works most rapidly with people dealing with symptoms from a single-incident trauma. This is not to say that EMDR therapy is simply a “quick fix,” for what appears to be a single-incident trauma might relate to a past event or several incidents which must also be cleared for symptom relief. EMDR works optimally with clients who are motivated to change. They must be ready to detach themselves from the past and experience life without their problems. Secondary gains can be impediments to successful EMDR processing. Examples are the vet who has been disabled for years and counts on his monthly disability check, and has developed an identity as being a chronic victim of the war, or the widow who thrives on pity and resists becoming free of her symptoms. Frequently, an individual wonders, “Who will I be without these problems?” EMDR also works best for clients who are willing to experience uncomfortable feelings and disturbing thoughts. As the EMDR processing begins, clients’ troubling memories are often intensified by the eye movements. The therapist instructs the client to stay with the feelings and refrain from doing anything to change them or make them go away. Occasionally, the physical or emotional intensity becomes too much to tolerate, and people “blank out” and are unable to continue processing. The EMDR therapist can ease the client through such obstacles and gradually enable the client to move to an adaptive resolution.


Although EMDR has been successful for a broad spectrum of individuals with a wide variety of conditions, it does have limitations. People with cardiac or respiratory conditions may not be suitable candidates for EMDR because of limitations on the amount of stress they can tolerate. Also, in my clinical experience, deep-rooted personality disturbances and obsessive-compulsive disorder have not responded as well to EMDR therapy although EMDR therapists are developing protocols for such work. These conditions take much longer to clear because they may have biological origins which may be combined with deep layers of multiple traumas. However, although the results are not necessarily as dramatic as with single-incident trauma, EMDR therapists are noting some positive outcomes (Shapiro, 1996). Occasionally, due to an apparent neurological problem, a person cannot process a memory. Sometimes, a psychological block prevents a person from processing a memory despite the person’s stated willingness to do so. In other cases the client simply is not willing to connect with his or her emotions. Client readiness is a limitation—the person must be willing to venture deeply into unknown psychological territory. At times, a person’s malaise cannot be traced to a specific target. Symptoms of diffuse or chronic traumatic experiences are difficult to treat. Clients whose prob­ lems stem from the deep conditioning of punitive parents or abusive fundamentalist religious orders may have difficulty lowering their psychological defenses enough for EMDR.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Spiritual Unfolding


The therapist’s skill and experience with EMDR can also be a limitation. These include how much experience the therapist has had with a certain type of problem, the extent of practice using EMDR, and experience using it with the specific problem a client is bringing. Also, EMDR therapy may not be the treatment of choice in some cases.


As with any treatment that can change people’s lives, EMDR in the hands of a therapist who is poorly trained or lacking in skills can cause damage. EMDR can be likened to a power tool which, when wielded by an inadequately trained person, can do harm. EMDR often emotionally opens a client in an unexpected way which then requires a therapist’s advanced skills for guidance. If necessary, a therapist may need to immediately end the session. It is imperative that the therapist be skilled and capable of assessing such a moment and caring for the client. How to determine client readiness, how to conduct EMDR interviews correctly, timing, and the use of advanced techniques are important aspects of EMDR training. Because the use of EMDR may exceed the ability of a new therapist with few skills and little experience, the minimal qualification for applying this therapy is the completion of an entire EMDR training course. Because EMDR can break through defensive barriers, resulting in clients being overwhelmed with traumatic images and emotions—it is critical that therapists know how to work with highly charged material. I have seen clients, who are trapped and terrorized in hellish psychological spaces, lose touch with reality. One client became so upset and involved in reliving her traumatic memories that she mistook me for her perpetrator, jumped out of her chair, and cowered in the comer of my office. I needed all of my clinical and intuitive abilities to get her to reconnect with me and to process the memory to the end. Shapiro reports (1995) that if EMDR is not used appropriately, clients can be retraumatized. I have also heard accounts of people harmed by therapists who, without being trained in EMDR, used eye-movements on clients. This involves opening clients to deeply disturbing material and then leaving them suspended in heavy emotion at the end of the session. Some clients have been so traumatized that they have then distrusted all therapists and closed the door to EMDR treatment. Such clients can become suicidal. Therapists who allow this to happen are perhaps behav­ ing irresponsibly and unethically. It is crucial that the therapist be well-trained in the EMDR method and have good basic clinical skills. The clinician must be comfortable not knowing specifically where the client’s process is going and what may happen next. If the therapist is not comfortable with intense abreactive experiences and forbidden thoughts, then this discomfort can be communicated to the client who may not feel free to welcome difficult material. Therapists should also be aware of their own personal beliefs. Unawareness can limit the client’s possibilities for healing or clearing a particular trauma. Some therapists I


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have encountered in my training work as an EMDR facilitator believe that anger, grief, or hopelessness are acceptable endpoints for therapy. On many occasions I have instructed a therapist to keep the client focused on continuing to process feelings. The actual endpoint is reached when the client feels peace and equanimity and the body is free from tension. The EMDR method challenges many therapists’ beliefs about how much healing is possible and how quickly it can take place. For many clients trauma that was once believed to be irreparable or might require many years of psychotherapy apparently can be cleared with EMDR in a much briefer time. In addition to complete training in EMDR and adequate post-training consultation, it is essential that therapists who use EMDR in their practice also have experience processing their own material with an EMDR-trained therapist. This is necessary if they wish to develop a deeper understanding of the process and the power and depth of change that is possible—and experience in their bodies what it means to have cleared a memory.


EMDR therapy typically begins with a client’s desire to heal from a trauma, overcome a performance problem, or deal with a troubling aspect of life. The therapist’s first step is to take a thorough history and establish an alliance with the client. This step usually takes a few sessions but can be longer. It is essential for the client to have a feeling of connection, caring, and safety with his or her therapist. Only then can the EMDR processing begin. Usually, an EMDR session lasts ninety minutes. Depending on the client’s problem, EMDR processing may occur in nearly every session, or only occasionally. For instance, a client working on traumatic child abuse might best be advised to follow a ninety-minute EMDR session by fifty minutes of psychotherapy later that same week so that the client could integrate the material raised in the first session. Another client might benefit most from intensive EMDR sessions in close succession. Several EMDR sessions in one week have proved useful for some clients who can come to the therapist infrequently. During EMDR the therapist acts as a facilitator or guide in the client’s process. Initially in an EMDR processing session, the therapist helps the client to identify and focus on a target related to the trauma. For example, a woman who has been in an automobile accident might target the image of being in her car at night and being hit from behind. Next, the client verbalizes a life-limiting belief associated with the incident that has carried over to the present. She might believe, “I am not safe.” Because this negative cognition is emotionally charged, it affects her everyday life. The therapist then asks what the client would like to believe about herself when she evokes the image. A positive cognition in this case would be “I am safe now.” Next, the therapist questions the client as to what physical sensations she feels when she recalls the image. She might feel stomach tension and a “knot” in her throat. Lastly, the therapist asks if anything else surfaces when the client thinks of the

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Spiritual Unfolding


accident—perhaps she hears the sound of the impact or smells gasoline. The goal is to stimulate the memory network in which the memory is locked so that its various components can be reprocessed. Using the Subjective Units of Disturbance Scale (SUDs), the client reports how disturbing the target is on a scale from 0 to 10. Originally used in research, EMDR therapy has incorporated the SUDs because it helps the therapist assess how much of the client’s traumatic material has been reprocessed. A SUDs reading may be taken at different times during the processing to measure progress. The client recalls the disturbing image with all of its related sounds, sensations, and the negative cognition. She follows the therapist’s fingers with her eyes, allowing whatever comes up to surface without censoring it. Clients may experience images, body sensations, a range of emotions, insights, ordinary thoughts, or nothing much at all. Because everyone processes their experiences differently, feelings are not identi­ fied as “right” or “wrong.” Therapists must pay close attention to the client’s experience and keep the client’s eyes moving until there is an indication that the client has finished processing a piece of information. If the client is highly emotional, the therapist keeps the client’s eyes moving until she calms and has fully cleared a part of the traumatic event. However, a client can signal the therapist to stop at any time. Each client prefers a different speed and number of eye movements. Some clients do best with only ten or fifteen saccades at a time whereas other clients continue for hundreds. After each round of eye movements, however, the therapist asks, “What is happening now?” or “What do you get now?” Clients answer and then continue with more eye movements. During the eye movements clients go through a multidimensional free association of thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. Some people undergo an enormous range of experiences including intense sensations, horrific images, and strong emotions such as homicidal rage, overwhelming terror, grief, love, and forgiveness. At times, memories and descriptions suggesting prenatal and infancy experiences arise. Rich, detailed dream-like imagery and symbolism arise. Throughout all of these experi­ ences I tell clients to “stay with that,” “let it all just pass through,” and reassure them that “this is old stuff.” The EMDR evokes an immediate and thorough reexperiencing of the past—just as it was locked into the body-mind. A “witness awareness” occurs that enables clients to allow the experience to unfold with minimal interference. This process of eye movements and check-in continues until the end of the session. At that time, the initial image is reassessed with the SUDs. For instance, I would ask the car accident victim, “When you bring up the picture of the accident, how disturbing is it to you now on a scale of 0 to 10?” When she felt free of the emotional charge and reported a SUDs of 0,I would ask what she believes to be true now. Eliciting a positive cognition at the end of the process is an important step in the EMDR method. When the level of disturbance has been reduced entirely and the clients are free from distress, I ask them to verbally express their new way of understanding and viewing themselves. These positive cognitions must come only


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from them and fit their subjective experience. Often, clients remark, "I am safe now,” “I did the best I could with what I knew at the time,” and “It is in the past.” I “install” the positive cognition by asking the client to hold that statement together with the previously distressing image (which often has changed by becoming smaller or dimmer, black-and-white rather than color, or less threatening in some manner) and do a few sets of eye movements. Thus, the client experiences a totally new orientation to the image. At this point I always check to see if any new material has emerged that needs to be reprocessed. If there is, I either try to clear it in the same session or note it for our next meeting. Often, the problem is not cleared during the first EMDR processing session and a variety of methods facilitate closing the session. Creating a sense of closure is crucial for the clients’ well-being because EMDR brings up highly charged material that can leave them open and vulnerable. If clients are not properly “closed down,” they can become overwhelmed with emotion, suicidally depressed, unable to function at home or work, and afraid to continue the EMDR or any other kind of therapy. Some people should walk around the block before driving and perhaps not return to work for the day. The processing of material often continues on its own between EMDR sessions. I advise all of my clients to facilitate this natural processing by recording their dreams and insights in a journal, as well as drawing, painting, or engaging in other kinds of artwork. To help them cope better with their stress between sessions, I often teach meditation and stress reduction techniques.


As a long-time Vipassana meditator and as an EMDR therapist, I have been struck by the similarity in the methods and instructions. Both Vipassana meditation and EMDR use dual attention or awareness: Vipassana meditators focus their attention on the breath or other predominant objects of awareness; the EMDR client focuses on the therapist’s fingers or other stimuli and an inner object such as an image or body sensation. A detached impartial witness awareness is cultivated and developed in both cases. Vipassana meditators attempt to simply observe the breath, thoughts, feelings, and body sensations without clinging, condemning, or identifying with them (Goldstein, 1976). Phenomena that arise are observed with a detached witness awareness. Even­ tually, Vipassana meditators develop a sense of peace and equanimity—in part because they know that the mental and physical phenomena that arise are not fundamentally who they are. An important part of the instructions given to EMDR clients is to “just let whatever happens happen and . . . don’t discard anything as unimportant” (Shapiro, 1995, p. 142). Clients report any changes in thoughts, feelings, and body sensations to the therapist as they occur. After each set of eye movements therapists ask clients, “What do you get now?” or “What came up for you?” (Shapiro, 1995, p. 143). This simple

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Spiritual Unfolding


objective reporting without interpretation or discussion seems to aid clients in disidentifying with the psychological material and, as in Vipassana meditation, develop a witness awareness. Clients experiencing strong abreactions are told in a calm, compassionate reassuring manner that what they are experiencing is in the past—it is like the scenery one passes when traveling safely on a train (Shapiro, 1995). Both Vipassana meditation and EMDR appear to enhance the development of “bare attention.” According to Goldstein (1976), “bare attention means observing things as they are, without choosing, without comparing, without evaluating, without laying our projections and expectations onto what is happening; cultivating instead a choiceless and non-interfering awareness” (p. 20). The quality of bare attention allows one to be more fully grounded in the present. One can be open to the “here-andnow” without adding anything else to it.


Many of my colleagues and I have shared stories of transformations we have witnessed in our offices. I have spoken with therapists from around the world about what I have seen and found them eager to share their stories of spiritual and psychological transformation. Even my skeptical psychology doctoral students in an EMDR course I taught in San Francisco were surprised when several of their EMDR clients had transpersonal experiences. Prior to EMDR when I was using psychodynamically-oriented psychotherapy, I did not observe such experiences. I believe that what we are witnessing as part of the EMDR experience fits with the theory that explains how EMDR functions. As described earlier, theoretically, EMDR may return a client to a natural balance, or wholeness. When we remove dirt from a wound, the body’s natural forces mobilize to heal the injury; likewise, when EMDR clears blockages to the body-mind’s natural healing, wholeness and balance may be restored and are experienced as peace, equanimity, joy, understanding, wisdom, love, or compassion. In successful cases EMDR clears impediments to wholeness, yet apparently does not remove what is adaptive and functional. Anger, fear, grief, and aversion dissipate, and the outcome of a completed EMDR session may include a feeling of calm, peace, or love. Interestingly, these latter feelings increase with further eye movements whereas anger, fear, and negative states continue to dissolve. EMDR has expanded my view of what is possible. I now believe that our essential nature includes clarity, wisdom, and compassion, and that social conditioning ob­ scures knowing this essential nature. Consequently, we may not express it. As we age, we tend to define ourselves by beliefs and concepts and take these to be our truth. If our essential nature is like the sun, it as if the sky becomes cloudy, causing the sun to disappear. In truth, the sun is never gone—it is simply hidden. EMDR processing can help to clear the clouds and reveal the sun. In EMDR processing, many clients actually experience the clarity, compassion, and understanding that is within their true nature. Often, a client is surprised by the words


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of wisdom tumbling from her mouth. An upwelling of love for self and others is commonplace during EMDR processing sessions.


The EMDR method seems to enable clients to disidentify from their history and open to difficult thoughts and feelings. They can allow feelings to pass through themselves without resisting or suppressing them. Clients quickly recognize patterns of behavior as objects of awareness and can process them outside of therapy or in session. Many of my EMDR clients realize what Alan Watts (1951) called “the wisdom of insecurity.” They learn that they can be with most experiences that arise without having to control or to defend against them. Just as they learned to trust the unfolding process in the EMDR therapy, go through the most intense difficult feelings and think the unthinkable thoughts, so are they able to increasingly trust what arises in their lives. I have seen clients with terrible abuse histories approach their lives in new ways without a prior need to control their experiences. They learn that they can tolerate and experience whatever feeling arises. The case of a young woman who had worked through the intense feelings of fear and helplessness she had experienced between the ages of two and three while being molested by her teenage brother illustrates this deepening trust in the ability to deal with painful emotions after doing EMDR sessions. This woman had avoided working on her incest memories in past conventional therapy and had always feared and avoided her feelings. She agreed to using EMDR, now motivated because her husband was threatening to leave her—in part due to her inability to relate intimately to him. With EMDR she worked with her worst fear and memories and emerged feeling better, able to feel her body for the first time since the abuse. Additionally, she realized she would be all right if her husband left her. “I know I’d be OK. I’m no longer as afraid of being alone. I can go through the feelings.” Because she had handled such intense emotions during our EMDR sessions, she gained confidence and a body-based knowing that she could allow other emotions to pass through her bodymind too. She felt she could get thorough the incest trauma and feel “OK” afterwards, and could survive and manage grief and loss. A client’s willingness to venture blindly into unknown territory in therapy requires that the therapist be comfortable with the prospect of not knowing exactly what will happen next in a session. Often this is the case in my practice. I believe, however, that if I can facilitate the continuation of the processing and guide the client through the blockages, relying on an inherent wisdom in the process, what needs to happen next therapeutically will occur. To illustrate, a client was experiencing serious postpartum depression and had intrusive fantasies and thoughts about harming her baby. Suddenly, in an EMDR session she imagined and feared that she would stab her baby with a knife. Alarmed

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Spiritual Unfolding


and disturbed, she wanted to block out the thought and imagery. Calmly, I instructed her to go with the image of stabbing her baby. Though I had no specific anticipation of what would emerge, I knew from experience that in this situation I could trust that what arose could be released. As the client imagined stabbing her baby, she sobbed deeply—and then, began to laugh. After the set of eye movements she told me that as she stabbed her baby, the baby kept laughing and smiling at her as if nothing had happened. In that moment the client realized, “I can’t hurt my baby,” and felt enormously relieved.


I have also found that EMDR helps clients feel the resolution of their deeper concerns as a change in an inner sense of their bodies. Often, they describe this moment of knowing as the feeling one has when a piece of a puzzle falls perfectly into place. For example, a client who was sexually abused by a female relative as a child was having nightmares about her family thinking she “was crazy” and taking her away to a mental hospital. The dream was extremely upsetting and caused her anxiety and distress during the day. After processing the dream in EMDR therapy, she revealed that she was frightened by the likelihood of seeing the abuse perpetrator at a future family gathering. Simply imagining that event as a scenario made her feel out of control and “crazy.” I ascertained that much of her distress occurred because no one in the family knew about the abuse and regarded this family member as loving and kind. I suggested that she think of one person in the family whom she could tell about the abuse and then imagine telling that person. As she moved her eyes, her anxiety, which had been high, was reduced to a feeling of calm. She felt as if a puzzle-piece had fit and that by telling someone else, she would know that she was not crazy. Another example of such a feeling of “rightness” was a client who had survived a devastating fire which killed several women students in her college dorm. After EMDR processing of this event for about fifteen minutes, she reported much relief— but, still felt a great deal of sadness. So I requested that she stay with the sadness and continue the eye movements even though she thought she had processed it as far as it would go. After a few minutes she reported experiencing an image in which all of the women in the school had formed a circle and held hands. The women who had died slowly floated up into the sky as they danced happily. The client felt great peace and happiness with this imagery and remained with a feeling of closure with this issue. Many of my clients have integrated this felt sense of rightness into their daily lives. They have developed an inner sense of whom they can trust and a sensitivity to the body’s sense of right or wrong. Clients attune to their inner wisdom, previously censored or discounted, instead of relying on thoughts or conditioning. The EMDR process supports and nurtures the development of this body-centered knowing be­ cause nothing can go into the system which does not fit (Shapiro, 1995). For example, a client’s system will reject positive affirmations which do not feel true, and her level of distress will not decrease until what is introduced fits.


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An important step in the EMDR method is the “installation” of a positive cognition at the end of the process when the level of disturbance has been reduced and the client is free from distress. The positive cognition is a new way of understanding or viewing oneself, and it must come from the client and fit his/her subjective experience. When the positive cognition is paired with the original distressing picture, a totally new orientation to that event is experienced. The EMDR method is based on following the client’s reported experience. This, in turn, enables the client to observe and report on their experience with less judgment and aversion, listening to themselves and acting based on that information, rather than from conditioning of the past. As clients learn to listen to and trust their body-sensed wisdom and their intuition, they are increasingly able to allow life choices to come from life itself. According to Jean Klein, a contemporary master of Advaita Vedanta,
Right action does not come from the personality. It springs from the situation itself and as such leaves no residue. Just as the answer is in the question, so the solution to a situation lies in the situation. When the personality does not dictate action, or, strictly speaking, reaction, you will find yourself completely adequate to the situation. Correct action is simply function. Very often the intuition of right action is not pleasant for the self-image which, feeling threatened, doubts or quarrels with the spontaneous intuition. It takes courage for the abdication of the person to happen.. .. Action that springs from global awareness of a situation is automatically right action. It is free from intention and motive. Right or correct action does not refer to a psychological state, a morality, but to function inspired directly by the situation. Such action is always spontaneous, is not related to memory and leaves no residue (Klein, 1988, p. 31).


After EMDR work many of my clients rely less on their personal history when making decisions and approach life openly and freshly, looking at the facts of a situation, including what they experience in their bodies and minds. As this happens, clients develop greater trust in life and are less anxious about the future. A client of mine who had been seriously sexually abused as a child and had made a great deal of progress in releasing the past felt depressed and hopeless. Because she recognized her feelings and could objectively assess her situation, she sought and received help using medication. Her prior pattern had been to deny the depression and to drink. At different times, I had suggested to her that participating in a group of women with similar histories might be beneficial, but she had always refused, insisting that she was not yet ready. Eventually, however, she felt an inner readi­ ness—although she still was anxious—and did participate. Waiting for such rightness of action to emerge requires patience and trust.
Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Spiritual Unfolding


The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment. Not seeking, not expecting, she is present, and can welcome all things. (Tao Te Ching, Stephen Mitchell translation, 1988, p. 15) EMDR seems to work by clearing what Jean Klein (1992) refers to as “psychological memory.” According to Klein, psychological memory comprises 90% of our memory, and functions to maintain the “I-concept,” Psychological memory “main­ tains the security, the survival of the ‘me,’ of the ‘I.’ . . . Enormous energy and tension are employed in thinking about, and maintaining, a psychological past. . . . Free from the ‘I-image’ and psychological memory, we are open to intelligence, to a purely functional memory, a cosmic memory, a universal memory” (Klein, 1992, p. 11). As my clients free themselves from their psychological memories, they report feelings of lightness and spaciousness in their bodies and minds. One client likened the feeling to that of having cement blocks leave her body. Former ways of reacting to stimuli are gone, replaced with responses that are new and appropriate to the given situation. The old memories, including memories of terrible abuse, lose their feeling of belonging to the person. These feelings seem as if they are no longer “alive” in the present; rather they are experienced as belonging to the past. Common reports are that “it is over,” “it is in the past,” and “it is like reading about it in the newspaper.” One client, who had experienced extremely traumatic incest, reported after three months of EMDR therapy that she had to remember that it (the trauma) had been a problem. She experienced it as being in the past and not part of her present life. The feeling of it being “my life” or “my memory” becomes simply “it happened.” Typically, clients do not forget what happened; rather, the event no longer feels as important. This clearing of the psychological memory of a traumatic life event totally reorients a person to that event. One no longer sees oneself as the center of the event; one sees the whole picture, as from above, and is just a part of the whole, in which everything seems to have its place. One woman reported that while driving her car in the country she felt lost but suddenly realized that she was present wherever she was. There was no place to go because she was always here. This insight brought her joy and relief. Several years later, this insight continues to inform her life. “Whenever I get caught up in striving for something and feel frustrated, I remember I’m here wherever I am.” The personal point of view becomes a more global view; and, this global view creates a re-orchestration of energy in the body-mind, a release and shift of previously held patterns of behavior and beliefs about oneself and the world. Such a shift occurred for a client who was processing the trauma arising from the murder of her younger sister and the suicide of her mother when the client was fourteen years old. She began the EMDR session with the belief that part of her had died forever with the family members. She also felt guilty and responsible for what had happened and for her feelings of not being seen or loved by her mother. During the session she reprocessed painful images and strong emotions. She had many insights. At the end of the processing, she felt blissful as energy was coursing through her and told me that she felt “more than alive!” She realized that she had been loved and seen by her mother, and seemed to have come to a deeper understanding of the traumatic events that had occurred in her family.


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As a result of EMDR processing, clients may have spontaneous transpersonal or “beyond the ego” experiences. These experiences of something beyond the personal self take different forms and may include other states of consciousness such as transcendence and ecstasy, psychic experiences that transcend space and time, spiri­ tual experiences of enlightenment, deep self-awareness, mysticism, epiphanies, mov­ ing spiritual insights, profound experiences of love and compassion for self and others, forgiveness, dramatic energy releases, experiences of bliss and sensory en­ hancement, experiences of peace and equanimity, and a deep sense of well-being. When I am with a client who has a transpersonal experience, there is always, it seems, a shared sense of awe in the room. Often we are both moved to tears by the beauty of the experience. Even clients without any prior religious or spiritual interest or inclination have had these experiences. I have come to believe that as EMDR clears away the psychological memories from the body-mind, and clients open, they become ripe for direct apperception of their “true nature.” Who we are, according to the sages, is not the ego, but the unbounded consciousness which contains everything, yet is itself “no thing.” As clients clear away that which they are not, i.e., their identification with memory, they can actualize themselves more and come to understand who they truly are. Clients typically report experiences of deep calm and a sense of “spaciousness” following the complete processing of a disturbing life event. They may report flashes of insight into reality, profound experiences of peace, love and joy, or experience a felt connection with life as a “miracle.”


During EMDR processing sessions clients often experience a spontaneous feeling of forgiveness towards themselves or someone who had harmed them in the past. Wilson (1995) found in her follow-up study of EMDR’s effectiveness with traumatized clients that at fifteen months many of the study’s participants had forgiven the persons who had harmed them. This is not a sentimental forgiveness that is based on an idea of what one should feel, nor is it forced or prescribed by the therapist. Rather, this forgiveness emerges organically when clients trust themselves to feel and process their feelings of anger, sadness, and betrayal. As a result, clients objectively perceive past traumatic events without the old emotional charge. From this global perspective (as described previ­ ously) one “sees” all parts of a situation, including one’s own role, as if watching from above. One feels a part of a greater whole that is not personal; a “greater order” is perceived. This forgiveness often arises when clients understand that forgiving is not forgetting. Then, they are able to let go of the past as it has been held in their bodies and minds. When clients recognize that holding onto angry feelings is hurtful, they can release their feelings and be peaceful. However, forgiveness may or may not arise for

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Spiritual Unfolding


someone who has been harmed. When the feeling of forgiveness does arise spontane­ ously, it seems to come as grace, blessing the one who experiences it.


In my work with clients, I have learned that many of them have difficulty loving themselves. Many people have a severe “inner critic,” an inner voice that constantly tells them that they are not good enough. This feeling of not being good enough often is experienced in the area of the heart and manifests as a constriction or chronic heaviness. For many people this difficulty in loving themselves also extends to others. They may feel unable to openly express love, and this blockage is terribly painful. I have been moved many times during EMDR processing sessions when clients who have never had an inkling of self-love have felt their hearts opening. Access to a reservoir of ever-present love may have been blocked by early conditioning. As the conditioning is cleared by the EMDR processing, clients tap into this natural abiding resource. Often, this occurs during sessions when clients witness their “child-self” from an adult perspective. The adult witnesses the child being hurt, humiliated, criticized, or misunderstood and sees the incident for what it was, and that it has nothing to do with who the child is. The insight that “I am not bad because I made a mistake,” emerges as an obvious truth. Often, clients gain a transpersonal perspective and understanding beyond a narrow egoic perspective. Compassion, occurring naturally and spontaneously, frequently arises for the client’s child-self. While doing eye movements as the adult-self holds and comforts the child-self, feelings of self-love and compassion flood the whole person—body, mind, and emotions. One can feel profoundly cleansed by this love. Often this experience is a holy moment for the client. Self-love is a natural by-product of the clearing of self-hate developed from childhood experiences. For my clients, these experiences of self-love become a wellspring from which they can draw throughout their lives. One client, after clearing feelings connected to the suicide of her husband, reported that she felt tremendous joy and love for herself and all of humanity. “This is who I really am, this love.”


For many clients EMDR processing can clear impediments to their creative expres­ sion and sense of well-being, clearing conditioning so that natural creativity can be expressed. Artistically-inclined clients following EMDR processing sessions sponta­ neously have begun to paint and draw, photograph, compose music, or write poetry. One client’s creativity burst forth quite dramatically after EMDR sessions that stimulated “transcendent visionary experiences.” A fifty-five-year-old engineer, An­ drew had sought treatment because of depression, anxiety he could not control, and a feeling that his life “wasn’t in order.” He had been in psychotherapy sporadically for


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a long time but had never found relief from his symptoms. His father had been a tyrannical and physically-abusive man who had made Andrew’s childhood miserable. After about six EMDR processing sessions which focused on the childhood abuse and his current difficulties, Andrew experienced tremendous relief. His gloom and feeling of being a failure vanished. His anxiety lessened markedly, and he became excited about his business. More remarkable, however, was his spiritual transformation— Andrew had no previous interest in spirituality and had rejected organized religion long ago. After his EMDR processing sessions, he experienced something beyond anything he had previously known. About an hour or two following EMDR processing sessions his sensory system would intensify—particularly his color and shape perception. This was in marked contrast to the two years prior to his sessions, a time during which Andrew had lost some of his visual sensitivity and was frustrated in his painting and photographic work. One day after an EMDR processing session he had a transcendental experience of enhanced sense perception that filled him with awe. “After leaving a bookstore I looked up at a stone tower at the church on the comer. It was a square tower, and the stonework had a lot of relief. There were lights illuminat­ ing this tower. I could not believe how beautiful the tower was! I could see every highlight and shadow so clearly! It seemed to shine in the night! It was very, very beautiful! No one could portray that tower more beautifully than my vision!” He described this remarkable vision as a miracle, unlike anything he had ever experi­ enced before, one that filled him with wonder. As a result of these sessions and his enhanced sensory perception, Andrew’s creativity bloomed. He had always been extremely visually-oriented and creative, but early childhood abuse blocked his creative expression. With the blockage cleared, visual images constantly attracted his attention, and he began to do more photography and drawing. “It was like my vision was widened and sped up. I found myself looking out more at the world and being taken by the beauty around me.” He designed his business advertising rather than hire someone else to do it because he could now capture what he wanted to express artistically. He was excited and enthusiastic about his creative freedom. Along with his freed expression, Andrew experienced a profound opening of his heart and felt love and connection to all of humanity. “After an EMDR session I felt like I wanted to go out and hug everyone I saw.” He wrote in his diary that “I have seen the light! That is the way I feel. I feel better all the time. And now I understand how we are all connected as humans, throughout the world.” His sense of separateness and alienation had disappeared. A year later, Andrew continues to enjoy a sense of beauty and well-being which has become the subtle background of his everyday life. “I just feel better! I have a heightened sense of well-being that I never had before. I am experiencing this over a

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Spiritual Unfolding


long period of time, not just in short bursts.” He feels a reservoir of well-being is always present, and he draws on it when necessary. “I have a new confidence that I have this resource inside myself. It is my own source and doesn’t come from outside of myself.” Andrew is among many EMDR clients who have experienced the freeing of creative expression accompanied by a profound opening of the heart. Daniel’s deep love of music had been curtailed by severe inner-critic traumas. EMDR processing opened his heart and his creative expression, and he spontaneously began to compose music. His songs were beautiful expressions of his wholeness, and his musical expression brought him tremendous joy. Somatic energy releases accompanied the clearing of old conditioning. Once, he felt “ecstatic energy” moving up his spine. On many other occasions he experienced joyful releases in the area of his heart which felt like “a sacred sphere of radiance” which spread “blissful energy” throughout his body. As this radiance emanated from his heart, he felt love for all of humanity and a desire to help others.


Some of my clients during our EMDR sessions have had spontaneous openings to what can be called psychic or paranormal experiences. Suddenly, clients have experi­ enced “seeing” dead loved ones surrounded by light and communicating with them. Such experiences have assuaged grief and left the clients feeling deep peace of mind. Several of my clients have spontaneously experienced—and described with great reverence and awe—the presence of “beings of light” or “spirit guides.” One client would connect in our sessions with what she called a divine being who transmitted inner guidance to her. Another woman saw a “man” outside our sessions who did not have a material body but who looked “very real” and familiar. Apparently, several years before our EMDR work, she had “seen him” and at that time had discussed “him” with her psychoanalytically-oriented therapist. “He” then disappeared. My client believed EMDR had reopened the door to his return and found him to be a valuable spiritual guide. Many clients have recalled that such spirit guides had been present when the clients were children. Clients had blocked these memories and experiences from memory for various reasons. In one case a client's mother had panicked and told the child she was crazy. In doing so, the mother had traumatized the youngster. Another client severed his connection to his spirit guide because he could not believe his guide would allow such trouble to befall him as had entered the client’s life. These experiences emerge spontaneously without any direction from me, and I do not interpret them. Rather, I allow the clients to find their own meaning. When asked by a surprised and shocked client what her experience means, I respond, “What does it mean to you?” “How is this experience acting on you?” “Live with it and then tell me what you have noticed.” I do not pretend to know what the meaning is for a given client and prefer to allow the person to discover what these experiences mean to her.


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The fanciful idea of a self is a contraction, a limitation of wholeness, real being. When this notion dies, we find our natural expansion, stillness, globality without periphery or center, outside or inside. Without the notion of an individual there is no sensation of separateness and we feel a oneness with all things. —Jean Klein, Who Am I? Many EMDR clients seem to glimpse enlightenment or liberation from self-concepts. These glimpses free the body and mind, with a sense of expansion and dissolving boundaries. Clients describe feeling blissful, and the experience feels sacred. For some clients, releasing their “need to control” engenders trust in life, an opening to the unknown, and an increase in joy, delight, and spontaneity. Peter had such an experience. He came to me because he was plagued by self-doubt and self-criticism that kept him from pursuing the career he most desired. Although he had a law degree from a prestigious law school, he was working in a job that he did not like, and which was below his experience and educational level. His belief that “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not qualified,” “I don’t deserve a job I love," and “I’d screw it up if I got it” prevented him from pursuing a more suitable career. Much of our EMDR processing work focused on these limiting beliefs which he had internalized as a result of living with a physically-abusive alcoholic father who took out his frustrations on his family. Although Peter’s father had wanted his son to be successful in the world, reflecting positively on him, he also wanted Peter to fail so Peter would not surpass him. Apparently, his double messages kept Peter in a perpetual bind. In set after set during one particularly powerful EMDR processing session, Peter realized how he had always sought to fulfill his parents’ expectations of him and that he had based his life decisions on what he thought others wanted him to do. “I look for external validation to prove I’m OK. . . . I look for things outside myself to bolster my self-esteem. I need external validation of my self-worth,” he said. Finally, Peter had what he called an “a-ha!” experience. He saw that his mother and father had been bound by their parent’s concepts and expectations and had passed this legacy to him. Generation after generation unconsciously imposed conceptual straitjackets on family members, defining who they were and what they could expect from their lives. Peter realized this dispassionately, and from a global perspective. He saw how he attempted to fit himself into a conceptual mold, which was like a prison with invisible bars. In seeing that his prison was constructed of concepts and beliefs, Peter had a sense of being freed. Tears streamed down his face.
Who I am has nothing to do with other people’s definition of me. When passion comes from deep inside, it has integrity. The only genuine way to live is to let the passion come up in me and guide me. This is freedom. This is what God’s will i s . . . .

He realized that “God’s will” was to express his creativity without the constraints of limiting concepts. He saw them for what they were, just concepts. In seeing this

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Spiritual Unfolding


objectively, he was free of them, and this freedom liberated the contracted energy in his body. He experienced the flow of this energy as originating in his heart center and streaming throughout his body. Awed and inspired, Peter left my office with an affirmation that had come to him: “I can accept and embrace my passion—the will of God in every way—and have the courage to act and trust in that.”


After clearing away most of their disturbing material, clients may begin to ask wider questions about life and take a strong interest in spirituality. They have discovered who they are not, and that memories make up the “I” concept. “I know what I am not,” reported one client, “but I don’t know who I am.” As a young child, she had completely abandoned her traditional religious faith because it became empty and meaningless to her when her younger sister died suddenly. Since clearing away nearly all of her traumatizing memories, she has connected to a deep sense of spirituality that is independent of her past religion. She continues to ask, “Who am I?” She has had many glimpses and insights into “truth” and now experiences an inner peace and joy in living. A young workaholic with a new baby was also deeply affected by EMDR therapy. She had no particular previous spiritual interest when she sought therapy because, although she feared death, she had frightening thoughts of killing herself. While she did the eye movements, I instructed her to imagine killing herself. In doing so, she saw herself dead but felt profoundly peaceful and calm, and immediately desired to pursue spiritual interests. She realized that she had worked compulsively during her adulthood so that her mind would be occupied and she would not have to face her mortality—of which she was terrified. She realized in our therapy session that her work was taking her away from her deepest self. Now, no longer fearing death, she wishes to slow her pace, work fewer hours, enjoy her baby, and develop a spiritual life. As indicated earlier, EMDR can help clients see that they are more than their histories or personal stories. In some therapeutic approaches, clients may identify themselves as survivors. If maintained exclusively, such an identity can be unnecessarily limiting. Letting go of such an identification, however, can be freeing. A woman with whom I worked intensively over a three-month period was struggling with an early history of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and the effects of her mother’s addiction to prescription painkillers. After processing most of these memories with EMDR my client was still upset by what seemed to be in her words “a very sad life story.” I instructed her to “think about it as a story,” in her words, while doing a set of eye movements. The scene shifted internally, and she saw a mother reading a story to a little girl (the client’s life story). The story was sad, but the two of them went on to do something else. Thereupon, the client experienced a shift in her sense of her body and mind, which she described as “deep understanding and release.” She realized that her life story was her creation and that it was just a story, not life itself. Having


The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1996, Vol. 28, No. 2

changed her orientation to life and her view of herself, she felt a new peace, equanimity, and joy.


EMDR can be a powerful and effective tool for facilitating the healing of psychologi­ cal wounds and enabling clients to connect with a transpersonal dimension in their lives. However, this method is not appropriate for every client. Clinicians should view it as one of many tools that they have available to use when they, in their clinical judgment, determine it could serve the client’s needs. Equally important, psychotherapy utilizing EMDR should not be considered a substi­ tute for a spiritual practice. Nevertheless, I believe EMDR can work well with a meditation practice, and they can potentiate each other. Meditation, particularly a practice which emphasizes the disidentification with objects of awareness, as in Vipassana meditation or the method of inquiry found in Advaita Vedanta, can be useful in creating greater openness to the EMDR clearing. EMDR in turn, facilitates a deeper understanding of the impersonality of psychological material and allows clients to experience the absence of that material, which can lead to an experience of the absence of phenomenal presence, which, according to the teachings of non­ dualism, is who we are.


Acierno, R. Hersen, M., Van Hasselt. V.B., Trf.mont, G. & Mf.user, K.T. (1994). Review of validation and dissemination of eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing: A scien­ tific and ethical dilemma. Clinical Psychology Review, 14, 287-99. Baker, N. & McBride, B. (1991, August). Clinical applications of EMDR in a law enforce­ ment environment: Observations of the psychological service unit of the LA county sheriffs department. Paper presented at the Police Psychology (Division 18, Police & Public Safety Sub-section) Mini-convention at the American Psychological Association annual convention. San Francisco, CA. Boudewyns, P. A., Stwerka, S. A., Hyer, L. A., Albrecht, J. W. & Sperr, E. V. (1993). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: A pilot study. Behavior Therapy, 16, 30-33. Chemtob, C.M. (1996, Nov.). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) treatment for children with treatment resistant disaster related distress. Paper presented at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. San Francisco, CA. Coco, N. & Sharpe, L. (1993). An auditory variant of eye movement desensitization in a case of childhood post-traumatic stress disorder. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimen­ tal Psychiatry, 24, 373-77. Cohn, L. (1993). Art psychotherapy and the new eye movement desensitization and reprocess­ ing (EMD/R) method, an integrated approach. In Evelyne Dishup (Ed.) California Art Therapy Trends. Chicago, IL: Magnolia Street Publisher. Daniels, N., Lipke, H., Richardson, R. & Silver, S. (1992, October). Vietnam veterans’ treatment programs using eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. Symposium presented at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies annual convention. Los Angeles, CA.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Spiritual Unfolding


Goldstein, A. (1992, August). Treatment of panic and agoraphobia with EMDR: Preliminary data of the agoraphobia and anxiety treatment center. Temple University. Paper presented at the Fourth World Congress on Behavior Therapy. Queensland, Australia. Goldstein, A. & Feske, U. (in press). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing for panic disorder: A case series. Journal of Anxiety Disorders. Goldstein, J. (1976). The experience of insight. Boulder, CO: Shambhala. Greenwald, R. (1994) Applying eye movement desensitization and reprocessing to the treatment of traumatized children: Five case studies. Anxiety Disorders Practice Journal, 1, 83-97. Klein, J. (1988). Who am I? Longmead: Element Books, Ltd. Klein, J. (1992). Open to the unknown. Guernsey: Third Millennium Publications. Kleinknecht, R. (1992). Treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychia­ try, 23, 43-50. Kleinknecht, R. (1993). Rapid treatment of blood and injection phobias with eye movement desensitization. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 24, 211-17. Levin, C. (1993, July/August). The enigma of EMDR. Family Therapy Networker, 75-83. Levin, C., Grainger, R. K., Allen-Byrd, L. & Fulcher, G. (1994, August). Efficacy of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) for survivors of hurricane Andrew: A comparative study. Paper accepted for presentation at the annual conference of the American Psychological Association. Los Angeles, CA. Lipke, H. (1992, October). A survey of EMDR-trained practitioners. Paper presented at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies annual conference. Los Angeles, CA. Lipke, H. (1994, August). Survey of practitioners trained in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. Paper presented at the American Psychological Association annual conven­ tion. Los Angeles, CA. Lohr, J.M., Kleinknecht, R.A., Conley, A.T., dal Cerro, S., Schmidt, J. & Sonntag, M.E. (1992). A methodological critique of the current status of eye movement desensitization (EMD). Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 23, 159-67. Marquis, J. (1991). A report on seventy-eight cases treated by eye movement desensitization. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 22, 187-92. McCann, D. L. (1992). Post-traumatic stress disorder due to devastating bums overcome by a single session of eye movement desensitization. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experi­ mental Psychiatry, 23, 319-23. Mitchell, S. (Trans.). (1988). The Tao Te Ching. New York: HarperPerennial. Page, A. C. & Crino, R. D. (1993). Eye-movement desensitization: A simple treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder? Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 27, 288-93. Parnell, L. (1994, August). Treatment of sexual abuse survivors with EMDR: Two case reports. Paper presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Associa­ tion. Los Angeles, CA. Parnell, L. (1997). Transforming trauma: EMDR. New York: W.W. Norton. Paulsen, S., Vogelmann-Sine, S., Lazrove, S. & Young, W. (1993, October). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: Its role in the treatment of dissociative disorders. 10th Annual Conference of ISSMPD, Chicago. Pellicer, X. (1993). Eye movement desensitization treatment of child’s nightmares: A case report. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 24, 73-75. Puffer, M.D., Greenwald, R. & Elrod, D.E. (1996). A controlled study of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) with traumatized children and adolescents. Presented at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. San Francisco, CA. Puk, G. (1991). Treating traumatic memories: A case report on the eye movement desensitiza­ tion procedure. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 22, 149-51.


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Shapiro, F. (1989a). Efficacy of the eye movement desensitization procedure in the treatment of traumatic memories. Journal of Traumatic Stress Studies, 2, 199-223. Shapiro, F. (1989b). Eye movement desensitization: A new treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 20, 211-17. Shapiro, F. (1991). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing procedure: From EMD to EMDR—a new treatment model for anxiety and related traumata. Behavior Therapist, 14, 133-35. Shapiro, F. (1995). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. New York: The Guilford Press. Shapiro, F. (1996). Personal communication. Silver, S. M., Brooks, A. & Obenchain, J. (in press). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing treatment of Vietnam war veterans with PTSD; Comparative effects with biofeedback and relaxation training. Journal of Traumatic Stress. Solomon, R. & Kaufman, T. (1992, October). Eye movement desensitization and reprocess­ ing: An effective addition to critical incident treatment protocols. Preliminary results presented at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies annual conference. Los Angeles, CA. Solomon R. & Shapiro, F. (in press). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: An effective therapeutic tool for trauma and grief. In C. Figley (Ed.) Death and trauma. New York: Brunner Mazel. Spector, J. & Huthwaite, M. (1993). Eye-movement desensitization to overcome posttraumatic stress disorder. British Journal of Psychiatry, 106-08. Watts, A. (1951). The wisdom of insecurity: A message for an age of anxiety. New York: Random House, Pantheon Books. Wernik, U. (1993). The role of the traumatic component in the etiology of sexual dysfunctions and its treatment with eye movement desensitization procedure. Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, 19, 212-22. Wilson, D., Covi, W., Foster, S. & Silver, S. M. (1993, April). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing and ANS correlates in the treatment of PTSD. Paper presented at the California Psychological Association Annual Convention. San Francisco, CA. Wilson, S.A. (1995). Personal communication. Wilson, S. A.. Tinker. R. H. & Becker, L. A. (1996, June). PTSD and EMDR—one year later. Research results presented at the 1996 EMDR International Association Conference, Denver, Colorado. Wilson, S. A., Tinker, R. H. & Becker, L. A. (1995, December). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) method in treatment of traumatic memories. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Wolpe, J. & Abrams, J. (1991). Post-traumatic stress disorder overcome by eye movement de sensitization: A case report. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 22(1), 39-43.
Requests for reprints to: Laurel Parnell, 900 5th Avenue, Suite 203, San Rafael, CA 94901.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Spiritual Unfolding



Ralph Metzner Sonoma, California

Historically there have been two main metaphors for consciousness, one spatial or topographical, the other temporal or biographical (Metzner, 1989). The spatial meta­ phor is expressed in conceptions of consciousness as like a territory, a terrain, or a field, a state one can enter into or leave, or like empty space, as in the Buddhist notion of sunyata. We could speculate that people who unconsciously adhere to a spatial conception of consciousness would tend to a certain kind of fixity of perception and worldview. The “static” aspects of experience might be in the foreground of aware­ ness, and there could be a craving for stability and persistence. From this point of view, ordinary waking consciousness is the preferred state, and “altered states” are viewed with some anxiety and suspicion—as if an “altered” state is automatically abnormal or pathological in some way. This is close to the attitude of mainstream Western thought toward alterations of consciousness: even the rich diversity of dreamlife and the changed awareness possible with introspection, psychotherapy, or meditation is regarded with suspicion by the dominant extraverted worldview. The temporal metaphor for consciousness on the other hand, is seen in conceptions such as William James’ “stream of thought,” or the stream of awareness, or the "flow experience”; as well as in developmental theories of consciousness going through various stages. Historically and cross-culturally, we see the temporal metaphor emphasized in the thought of the pre-Socratic philosophers Thales and Heraclitus, in the Buddhist teachings of impermanence (anicca), and in the Taoist emphasis on the flows and eddies of water as the basic underlying pattern of all being. From this point of view, wave-like fluctuations of consciousness are regarded as natural and inevi­ table, and health, well-being, and creativity are linked to one’s ability to tune into and utilize the naturally occurring, and the "artificially" induced, modulations of con­ sciousness. According to Immanuel Kant, “space” and “time” arc the a priori categories of all thinking. It seems appropriate that these are the two most common metaphors we have come up with in our reflections on consciousness. Perhaps the most balanced way to

Copyright © 1997 Transpersonal Institute

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think about consciousness would be to keep both the spatial and the temporal metaphors in mind. We can recognize and identify the structural, persistent features of the perceived world we are “in” at any given moment, and we can be aware of the ever-changing, flowing stream of phenomena in which we are immersed. Heraclitus is believed to have said that you can’t step twice into the same river—a statement on the inevitability of change. What he actually said, much more interestingly, was “when we step into the same river, the water is always flowing and always different.” This is really an affirmation of both structural constancy and the dynamic flow of everchangingness. Mahayana Buddhism developed a world model or image variously called the “Wheel of Samsara (Existence),” or the “Wheel of Birth and Death,” or the “Six Realms of Existence,” or the “twelve-fold Cycle of Dependent Co-Origination.” The Sanskrit word samsara is derived from sam- “together” and the verb-root sri- “to flow”; thus it means “flowing together,” and the model is called “Wheel of Flowing Together.” It is a mandala, a map of consciousness, portrayed in countless paintings found all over Tibet, in temples and shrines, usually facing the visitor as one enters the temple, like a mirror being held up for self-recognition, asking which world are you in now, traveler? The mandala has six segments which show the six worlds of existence, according to the Buddha’s teachings, inhabited by the different classes of beings, such as gods, demons, spirits, animals and humans. This model is both topographical and bio­ graphical. It is a spatial map, since we always exist in one of these realms, together with the other beings who inhabit that realm. But it is also a temporal model, since we are continually being bom into (entering) and dying out of (leaving) the different realms, according to our accumulated karmic predispositions. It is possible to interpret the meaning of the six worlds (see Figure 1) at four levels, or as four different kinds of metaphors. The first level of meaning we might call the metaphysical/ecological: humans exist in the human world, animals in the animal world, and the inhabitants of the other four realms are four different kinds of non­ human metaphysical entities, or what are traditionally called “spirits” (gods, demons, ghosts). This first is the only non-anthropocentric interpretation of this model; the three others are human-centered. The second level is the reincarnational interpretation: we human beings dwell in these realms in various lifetimes, according to accumulated karmic propensities. A third level of meaning is to regard it as kind of personality typology: different types or classes of human beings exist in the different realms when they have the personality and experience of the beings symbolically portrayed in those realms. At the fourth, intrapsychic level, the six worlds represent a typology of states of consciousness. We humans all pass through the realms within our lifetime, as a function of karmic patterns (samskaras). In my courses I have sometimes asked students to estimate what percentage of time, say out of the last week or the last three days, they spent in each of the six worlds of consciousness; and this has proved to be an instructive exercise in reflection and self-awareness.


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FIGURE 1 The Six Worlds of Existence (Samsara) and the Twelve-fold Cycle of Interdependent Co-arising1

Interestingly, the mandala is called the "wheel of birth and death,” not “life and death.” In the Western dualistic worldview life and death are opposites, in constant struggle with each other, as in Freud’s theory of eros vs. thanatos, the drive to live and the drive to die. In the Buddhist conception, the opposite of death is not life, but birth. Life includes both birth and death, many births, many deaths, and many rebirths. Birth and death are the beginning and ending of a particular journey through one of the worlds, the entrance into and the exit from that state of being, from that state of consciousness. Thinking about birth and death this way has the effect of repolarizing one’s attitude, into an equal acceptance of both death and birth. Buddhism and other Asian traditions have long taught what we in the West have only recently come to understand again: that we have life before birth and we have life after death. Western psychological research on hypnotic recovery of prenatal memories, and on the other-

The Buddhist Six-Worlds Model of Consciousness and Reality


world visions of near-death experiencers (NDE), have expanded our empirical knowl­ edge of prenatal and post-mortem life and consciousness. So life is the overarching process, the higher-order concept. Birthing is a natural process of life, as dying is a natural process of life. According to Buddhism, as well as other philosophies in the perennial tradition of East and West, when we depart or die from one world, we enter or are bom into another realm. Every dying is followed by a new birth. Every birth and every rebirth is preceded by a dying. Every transition in a human life-cycle can be thought of metaphorically as a dying and being reborn: one could say that the fetal self “dies” when the infant is bom. In archaic and indigenous tribal societies, puberty rites of passage mark the initiation-birthing into adulthood as the ending-dying of the child-self. Sometimes such rites seem severe and brutal, almost like a symbolic “killing” of the child-self. In such a worldview, you have to die to one world, the world of childhood, in order to be bom into the new world of adulthood. In the hub of the Wheel of Flowing Together are shown three animals, biting each other’s tails, symbolizing what the Buddhists call the “three poisons,” the root causes or primary driving forces that keep the Wheel of Existence turning. The three animals in the hub are a rooster, symbolizing craving, lust, or greed; a snake, symbolizing aversion, aggression, or hatred; and a pig, symbolizing ignorance, delusion, or unconsciousness. The rooster of craving is eating the pig of delusion, which is feeding on the serpent of hatred. So, greed, hatred, and delusion are identified as the driving forces that keep us cycling through the various worlds of reality. It is interesting to note that this parallels quite closely the Freudian analysis of the primary motivational dynamics of the human psyche. Freud identified sexual libido, which in the Buddhist view is one aspect of craving, and aggression, which is equivalent to hatred or aversion, as the two primary forces in the unconscious Id. The Freudian personal unconscious is characterized by what he called “primary process” thinking, which is irrational and delusional. Thus what both the Freudians and the Buddhists are saying is that all of our thinking, all of our feelings, all of our experience in all states of consciousness is ultimately driven by these three interrelated motiva­ tional factors—lust-craving, aggression-hatred, and deluded unconsciousness. All that is, except the experiences and insights that are connected with the path and practices of liberation, for which the metaphor is “getting off the Wheel.” Around the outside rim of the Wheel are twelve images symbolically showing the twelve links in the chain of “dependent co-origination”—basically, how everything hangs together. The Sanskrit name for the doctrine of the twelve-fold chain, encir­ cling the Wheel on its rim, is pratitya samulpada. This has been variously translated as “dependent origination” or “dependent co-arising” or “co-dependent origination” or “interdependent co-arising.” Here the term “co-dependent” has a normal, not a pathological connotation, as it does in the addiction field, where it refers to the addiction-supporting behavior of the spouse of an addict. This teaching of the twelve­ fold chain is considered the foundational teaching of causality in the Buddhist worldview. It is quite different from the accepted Western linear, dynamical model of causality. The latter is exemplified by the billiard ball situation, in which ball A hits


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ball B and causes it to move; or by the germ theory of disease, according to which the singular cause of a disease is the invading bacteria or virus. Joanna Macy has coined the term “mutual causality” to describe the interdependence principle that is at the heart of this Buddhist model; and she has shown that this principle can also be found in the Western philosophy of science known as general living systems theory (Macy, 1991). In the Buddhist view, all phenomena, everything that happens in the world, both internal and external realities, are linked together in twelve identifiable parts, that always arise together and pass away together. In the temple mandala paintings of the Wheel of Samsara, the whole wheel, with its six worlds, the “three poisons” in the hub, and the twelve-fold cycle of “co-dependent origination” around the rim, is held in the jaws and claws of a gigantic, demonic figure, identified as Mahakala, the great spirit that personifies the entropic destructive forces of time. So the mandala is being held up like a mirror to the viewer, as if to say “these are your possible lives, your worlds of existence, driven as you are through births and deaths by the three primary forces, and conditioned as you are by the twelve mutual interdependencies.” It is clearly a cyclical view of time and causality, in which we return again and again into the same recurring realms of existence, until we are finally able to free ourselves, through the practices of meditation, from our attach­ ments and attain liberation. There are some parallels between this Buddhist Wheel of Existence, and the medieval European symbol of the “Wheel of Fortune,” as found for instance in the Tarot. Both wheels portray the ups and downs of our changing fortunes; however, the Western Christian symbol has nothing comparable to the sophisticated analysis of the cycle of mutual causality.


The six worlds are the realms of consciousness in which we live, to which we are attached, into which we are bom and out of which we die, depending on our karma and the unfolding of the links of “dependent co-arising.” Some people may live all their life in one world—they are typical inhabitants of that realm, akin to the spirits of that realm. Most of us move through the different worlds, the different states, spending months, weeks, days, hours, or minutes in any given realm. One could say each world typifies a certain kind of attitude, a certain set of attachments or motiva­ tions, a certain kind of addiction or compulsion. We can visualize the Wheel of Samsara as a clock face divided into six two-hour segments. At the top of the Wheel, between 11 am and 1 pm, is the heaven realm, the realm inhabited by devas, divine beings who are living in a blessed state of joy and ecstasy. Unlike the Christian conception of heaven as a state we can only attain to in the after-life, depending on our behavior and God’s grace, this devic realm is regarded by the Buddhists as merely one of the six realms of conditioned existence—albeit a very enjoyable one. According to Buddhism, the beings in this realm are living off their accumulated good karma, like a kind of savings account, and when this is exhausted they will devolve into a less agreeable realm of existence. The goal of meditation is not heaven, but nirvana, which means transcendence of all attachments

The Buddhist Six-Worlds Model of Consciousness and Reality


in all worlds. People living in this heavenly realm are the people who seem to be blessed with happiness and good fortune, who can spend their lives enjoying the delights of the senses and cultivating aesthetic experiences. We could say they are devoted to the pursuit of sensual pleasure, including the ecstatic states to be found through spiritual practices, to sensation seeking and to aesthetic enjoyment of all kinds. We are in these heavenly states of consciousness, when we’re having “high" experiences, such as the ecstasies of erotic union, creative inspiration, and the blissful contemplation of natural or aesthetic beauty. Opposite the heaven realm, at the nadir of the Wheel, between 5 pm and 7 pm, is the hell world, filled with beings who are undergoing unspeakable agonies, torment, and suffering. This is a realm marked by pain and suffering, by hopelessness and helplessness, where one typically feels that one is being punished or damned, and will never be able to escape. In real world terms this is the state of consciousness of people who are being tortured, maimed or injured, people in war or catastrophe, or those racked with intractable pain due to illness, or the psychic torments of psychosis and nightmare. The hell realm, like the kingdom of heaven, is within. One can be outwardly in benign circumstances and inwardly agonizing. Someone passing us in the street may be walking through a private, interior hell, or more rarely, enjoying an inner heaven experience. We are in hellish states of consciousness when we are victimized, when we feel stuck, hopelessly and helplessly depressed, or inescapably trapped in abusive or oppressive situations. As Gurdjieff often pointed out, attach­ ments to suffering and victimization can be among the most tenacious of the addictions-compulsions. Next to the heaven realm, between 1 pm and 3 pm on the Wheel, is the realm of the asuras. Usually translated as “jealous gods” or “titans,” I interpret them as “spirits of rage and violence.” This is a realm marked by constant violence, fighting, aggression, rage, competition, and conflict. The asuras are pictured as heavily armed (thus, psychically armored) warriors on horseback, roaring into battle with the sounds and gestures of threat and attack. Between their realm and the heaven realm is a large tree: while the blessed spirits are enjoying the delicious fruits of this tree, the angry spirits are attempting to steal the fruits, and some of them are cutting down the tree. Driven by greed, envy, and jealousy, people in this realm are constantly engaged in competi­ tion, aggression, and struggle, whether this be in the business world, the military, the criminal subculture, sports, international relations, or social, interpersonal, and even sexual and familial interactions. In the United States, which has been called a “culture of violence,” this realm dominates the media and entertainment—almost as if the entire population is caught in a kind of collective trance of hatred and violence. Any of us are in this realm as a state of consciousness when we are in the mode of angry conflict and predatory competitive struggle. Between 3 pm and 5 pm on the Wheel is the realm of animals. The existence of this realm does not mean that humans reincarnate as animals, as popular misconceptions of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs would have it. Rather, since animal consciousness is focussed on instinctual survival for self, offspring and herd, human beings exist in the animal realm when their consciousness is limited to survival programs for self and kin. It is not an inferior type of consciousness than the human, nor is it “less evolved.”


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In the Buddhist worldview, homo sapiens has no privileged ontological status in the animal kingdom. This is the state of consciousness we are in when we are focussed on survival activities, for example when carrying out the routines of work for the purpose of providing food and shelter for ourselves and family. There is a paucity of play, of creativity, of curiosity, and of spiritual transcendence. (This is not to say that real animals lack these qualities—it is a matter of relative preponderance.) When we humans are focussed on the “bare necessities” of “making a living” and “raising a family,” we are functioning like animals, since animals too carry out these activities. We are decidedly not acting “like an animal” when engaged in brutal and insensitive behavior—this is more characteristic of the asura realm. Then there is a realm (between 7 and 9 pm), inhabited by beings called pretas. This is often translated as “hungry ghosts”; but I like to think of them as the “spirits of frustrated craving.” The image here is of beings who have huge bellies, symbolically showing their hunger and craving, yet narrow slit-like throats, which prevent them from ever satisfying their thirst or hunger. They are always needy, but forever unsatisfied. This is a pretty apt symbolic definition of what used to be called “neurosis”—a kind of obsessive absorption with one’s own needs and wants, along with an inability to find satisfaction or enjoyment. This is also the realm of drug addictions, of alcoholism, compulsive eating, eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia)— in all of which it seems clear that physical thirst and starvation are metaphorically and psychically equated with emotional hunger and deprivation, and sometimes even with spiritual craving, the “thirst for wholeness” (Grof, 1993). The sixth realm, between 9 and 11 pm, is the human world. Buddhism teaches that the human realm is the most favorable realm to be bom in, because in the human realm we have all the possibilities of the other realms as well, and the best opportunities for realization and liberation. So in the iconographic imagery of the human realm, you have people meditating and experiencing blissful states, and you have people work­ ing, and suffering, and playing, and fighting. So there is a great range of possibilities in this realm; and the possibilities of transcendence and liberation are also very good. The Buddhists teach that you can transcend, you can get liberated from any of the realms, which is why a Buddha figure is shown in each world, teaching enlightenment to the spirits and humans in that realm. But from the human realm it is considered to be the easiest because there the possibilities for transcendence are greatest. William James was perhaps thinking of this when he wrote that “the (human) mind is at every stage a theater of simultaneous possibilities.”


Turning now to a discussion of the twelve-fold chain, the pratyata samutpada, which is laid out along the outer rim of the Wheel of Birth and Death, I will briefly summarize the meaning of each phase. Each of the twelve phases or links has a name and in the paintings is illustrated by a symbolic image. This symbolic imagery is very interesting and often gives us a better sense of what the Buddhists meant than an English translation of psychological concepts and processes. Again, the sequence should not be thought of in a linear way as in “x leads to y.” Rather, they arise

The Buddhist Six-Worlds Model of Consciousness and Reality


together, in "co-origination.” The underlying operating principle is: "when this arises, that arises, when this falls away, that falls away.” Since the chain is a circular process, with no designated beginning or end, one can start at any link in the twelve-fold cycle. The one that seems to relate most directly and vividly to attachment behaviors is the one called vedana, usually translated as “feeling” or “judgment” or “reaction.” The symbolic image is of man with an arrow stuck in his eye. This is an extraordinary image: he’s looking with open eyes, and he’s got an arrow in one eye. It represents what I would like to call "judgment fixation,” a painfully fixed focus of attention on some desired sense object. According to Bud­ dhist psychology every experience we have, and every sense-object we perceive, is always and immediately judged as “good,” “bad," or “indifferent.” This emotionally reactive judgment fixates our attention on this object, even when we experience it as painful. In addictions and compulsions, the normal capacity to focus attention on what we want, becomes the obsessive, exclusive fixation of attention on what we crave. Interestingly, this fixation phase of the twelve-fold cycle is situated right at the nadir of the Wheel of Samsara, in the center position of the hell world. This is suggestively symbolic of the role of attachment as well as judgment in bringing us into hellish states of consciousness. Immediately prior to vedana-fixation in the twelve-fold chain is sparsa—"sense contact,” the unmediated contact between sense organ and sense object. "When this arises, that arises.” Sparsa is symbolized on the Wheel by a painting of two lovers embracing—a man and a woman kissing, and because of this pleasure element, I am calling it “attraction contact.” This is a beautiful image, reminiscent of Zen Buddhist art, for the bare immediate contact of the senses with the perceived world. The sense organ involved in sensory and sensuous contact may be visual, auditory, touch, taste, smell, or intuition—the "sixth sense.” In this cyclical, “co-dependently originating” cycle of phenomena, every event of sensory contact is always immediately accompa­ nied or followed by, a judgment-fixation, which decides whether the experience is pleasant, painful, or neutral. The step in the chain after the judgment-fixation is thirst (trishna) symbolized by a man being served a drink. The word trishna for this phase is usually translated as “craving” or “thirst” or “desire”; but it seems significant to me that the man is being given a drink. In other words, it’s not just thirst or wanting or desire, but satisfied thirst or desire. As the Wheel of Births and Deaths keeps turning, there occur real satisfactions of real needs. This phase corresponds to what psychologists of the Behaviorist school call “reinforcement”: associative learning takes place when a given response is immediately followed by, “reinforced by,” food or drink, or another valued sense-object. The man is not just wanting a drink—he’s actually being offered a drink and taking it. So when there is fixation-attachment, and then this is reinforced by the satisfaction of hunger or thirst, then the processes of co-dependent origination keep moving along. The next phase after that, which is correlated spatially on the Wheel with the world of hungry spirits, is called upadana, “clinging” or “grasping.” The symbolic image is of


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a man picking fruit from a tree. He’s gathering nourishment. He’s actively gathering and collecting the sense-objects that he wants to incorporate. Whereas trishna is the receiving phase of need satisfaction, upadana is the active phase of appetitive behavior and sensation seeking. This probably corresponds to the process referred to by Freud as cathexis, the “investment” of emotional energy in the pursuit of a desired object. The process described by William James as "appropriation,” where the self appropri­ ates to itself the sense objects it desires, also parallels this gathering-grasping phase. So far, we have seen the following interconnected sequence of events: bare sense contact is followed by judgment-fixation, which is followed by satisfied thirst, which leads to further gathering and grasping. "When this arises, that arises.” After grasping, the next step in the non-sequence is becoming, symbolized by the image of two lovers having sexual intercourse. Something new happens now: there is connection, repolar­ ization, conception, and fertilization, a coming into being. After this phase, both literally and symbolically, there is the phase of birth: the image is of a woman giving birth. This phase is juxtaposed to the human realm, the realm of favorable births and opportunities. Although birth follows naturally enough on sexual intercourse, the birth referred to is not only the birth of a new body. Rather, it is the birthing of any new, alive process—an idea, a creative project, an organization, a relationship, a journey—which follows upon the conception of that process. And after birth, just as inevitably and naturally, there is always death, symbolically portrayed in the image of a corpse being carried to the funeral pyre. And, as Lama Govinda has written, "according to the teachings of the Abhidharma, ‘birth and death’ is a process which takes place in every moment of our life” (Govinda, 1960, p. 246). From the perspective of a Western worldview, this circular nexus of interdependent events represents an astonishing by-pass of the mind-body dualism which has so perplexed Western philosophers. The four phases—“sense contact,” "feeling-fixation,” “satisfied craving,” “gathering-seeking”—are psychic or subjective events. The three that follow thereafter—sexual intercourse, birth, and dying—are biologi­ cal, though also psychic in a metaphorical sense. There is no implication in this model that consciousness events cause material events, or vice-versa; neither level is a primary determinant; one does not "cause” the other. They arc mutually interdepen­ dent phenomena, co-arising and falling away together. The fact that the cycles are repeated again and again also means that these interdependent links are not limited to one lifetime, but carry across numerous reincarnations. Then, at the zenith of the Wheel of Samsara, at the start of the chain of interactive, interdependent processes, next to the realm of the divine, blessed spirits, we have avidya, “ignorance,” “blindness,” or "unconsciousness,” symbolized by the image of a blind woman walking with a staff. Unconsciousness, or ignorance of our true nature, is, according to the Buddhists, the foundational condition of our existence in any of the six worlds of conditioned existence. Lama Govinda (1960, p. 245) writes, “avidya, the not-knowing or nonrecognition of reality,. . . is not a metaphysical cause of existence or a cosmogonic principle,. .. but a condition that is responsible for our present state of consciousness.” We live in ignorance of our own nature, our attention captured by illusory phenomena, craving the satisfaction of desires which

The Buddhist Six-Worlds Model of Consciousness and Reality


lead inevitably to repeated births and deaths. Only through meditation can we hope to attain true knowledge of reality, and liberation from the continuous round of rebirths. The very next image in the sequence is that of a potter making a clay-pot. This is called samskara—“karmic patterns,” which are created by our blind, unconscious actions. Karmic thought-patterns and reaction-patterns are formed and thereby given reality, the way a potter shapes his pot through the actions of his hands. From a condition of blindness and unconsciousness, we create our karmic destiny through the patterned activities of mind (thought) and body (action). A Tibetan Buddhist saying goes, “If you want to know your past, look to your present conditions; if you want to know your future, look to your present actions” (Sogyal Rinpoche, 1994). Our unconscious actions in the past (avidya, samskara), both biographical and reincarnational, are determining our present state of consciousness. The step after samskara is called vijnana, which can be translated “thinking,” or “conceptualizing,” or “comprehension.” (The usual translation is “consciousness,” but this seems far too general—we are dealing here with twelve different phases of consciousness). The symbolic image—a monkey reaching out for branches to hang on to—gives a clear indication that this is what Buddhist teachers call the “monkeymind”: the conceptual mind constantly reaching and grasping for concepts and connections. One of the meanings of “grasp” is in fact “to understand”; and “compre­ hend” has the same associative analogy to manual seizing or clutching. When we make or “get” a certain interpretation of reality, we might say “I’ve got it,” or “I can grasp it,” or “I have the hang of it.” We humans are primates with overactive minds. We create karmic patterns through our actions and our thoughts, and we’re constantly looking to make or grasp new interpretations of reality. It is interesting too that comprehension or cognition (vijnana) comes immediately after the making of karmic patterns through action; this shows the close connection between thinking and making. We construct our world of reality through the interpretations, the models, we construct in our minds. The next step after monkey-mind thinking is nama-rupa, literally “names and forms,” their indissoluble connection symbolized by the image of two men in a boat, moving up and down together. Some commentators interpret nama-rupa as referring to the mind-body dualism and connection. However, in my opinion, it makes more sense to see this as referring to the two types of thinking. Our thinking is always dual: there are always images that go with the words, and labels that go with the pictures. Recent Western neuropsychology has emphasized the twofold nature of brain function, with the left brain hemisphere involved with language and sequence, and the right hemi­ sphere with perception of images, patterns, and shapes. The monkey-mind is con­ stantly generating both verbal interpretations and pictorial representations, closely associated with each other. The following phase, usually called “perception,” is symbolized by a house with six windows. These are the six sensory-perceptual systems, through which we obtain information about the external world, as a person residing in a house obtains informa­ tion from outside through the windows. Twofold thinking is followed by sixfold


The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1996, Vol. 28, No. 2

perception. The eyes have often been called the “windows of the soul.” While the West recognizes the usual five, Buddhism (and the Hindu Vedanta psychology) recognizes six sensory systems, the “sixth sense” being what some call “inner vision,” or “second sight,” or “imagination,” or "sentience,” or “intuition.” The psychophysi­ ological structure of six sense-organs means that there are six channels for the perception of information coming through, six channels in which sense contact can take place. Sense contact, sparsa, the lovers kissing, is in fact the next phase of the cycle, which leads in turn to fixation, craving, seeking, and becoming. The model is telling us that the normal, natural relationships of psychophysical interdependence are such that the inherent structure of the perceptual systems leads directly to the processes of attach­ ment, which in turn leads to new becoming, new births and deaths. Our sense organs themselves function the way they do because the mind functions the way it does, constantly co-generating interpretations and representations. Our blind, unconscious actions create karmic patterns, our minds make interpretations of reality and our senses give us input about reality, which leads to craving, attachment and continued conditioned existence. That is the Buddhist view of how our worlds of reality are constantly re-created and maintained. Elsewhere, I have shown how this Buddhist model of interdependent factors of consciousness can be used to help understand the phenomena of addiction and compulsion, and compared it with a Western psychological model which sees these as manifestations of contracted, fixated states of consciousness (Metzner, 1994, 1996). We can see how, in an addictive process, the individual does not cycle through the whole process, moving through desire and craving to birth and becoming. Rather, the addict gets fixated and keeps repeating the behavior that satisfies the craving, looping back around the cycle again and again, instead of going on to the next event, which might bring new and different sources of satisfaction. I conclude with a comment on this Buddhist model by Joanna Macy (1991, p. 18):
In this doctrine, reality appears as a dynamically interdependent process. All factors, mental and physical, subsist in a web of mutual causal interaction, with no element or essence held to be immutable or autonomous. Understanding this is important because, it is held, our suffering is caused by the interplay of these factors and particularly by the delusion, craving and aversion that arise from our misapprehension of them. We fabricate our bondage by hypostatizing and clinging to what is by nature contingent and transient. The reifications we construct falsify experience, imprison us in egos of our own making, doom our lives to endless rounds of acquisition and anxiety. Being so caused, our suffering is not endemic; it is not inevitable. It can cease, the causal play reversed. . . . Our hope hinges on no external agency, but derives rather from the causal order itself, where self and act, project and perception are mutually determining. Hence liberation entails a vision of the dependently co-arising nature of all phenomena.


'The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Michael Antares in creating the graphics diagram on the Mac, using MacDraw II.

The Buddhist Six-Worlds Model of Consciousness and Reality


Grof, C. (1993). The thirst for wholeness. HarperSanFrancisco. Govinda, Lama A. (1960). Foundations of Tibetan mysticism. London: Rider & Co. American edition: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1969. p. 246. Macy, J. (1991). Mutual causality in Buddhism and general systems theory. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Metzner, R. (1989). States of consciousness and transpersonal psychology. In Vallee, R. & Hailing, S. (Eds.), Existential-phenomenological perspectives in psychology. New York: Plenum Press. Metzner, R. (1994). Addiction and transcendence as altered states of consciousness. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 26(1), 1-17. Metzner, R. (1996). Addiction and transcendence in Buddhist and Western psychology. In Montuori, A. (Ed.), Unusual associates: A festschrift for Frank Barron. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press. Sogyal Rinpoche. (1994). From a public lecture.

Request for reprints to: Ralph Metzner, 18210 Robin Avenue, Sonoma, CA 95476.


The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1996, Vol. 28, No. 2


Rosemarie Anderson Palo Alto, California

Transformative and sacred weeping is defined by this author as the “spilling over of tears” which is intense, spontaneous and seemingly involuntary, that is not caused by obvious immediate stimuli or set of conditions known to the weeper. In contrast to tears caused by the common human passions and their accompanying stimuli, trans­ formative weeping evidences little reddening of the eyes or contortions of the facial muscles and is accompanied by feelings of physical and psychological well-being. To the weeper, it seems a gift. According to a twentieth-century writer, “. . . ‘the gift of tears’—the very expression shows that the tears in question are supernatural, associ­ ated not with human passions but with the experiences of God. Even their physiologi­ cal aspects manifest this fact. They flow without strain or effort, without violent sobbing or contraction of the face” (Gillet, 1937, p. 7). Laughing so hard that one begins to cry is a form of weeping familiar to most people and quite similar to transformative weeping. Like episodes of transformative weep­ ing, “Tears of laughter cannot be forced. The tears simply appear. You are laughing and suddenly you are aware that the tears are flowing down your cheeks. Addition­ ally, you cannot artificially create a situation in which the elements will guarantee that people will laugh until they weep” (Ross, 1987a, p. 163). Episodes of transformative weeping vary widely in duration, lasting a few seconds or continuing off and on for a period of years. While transformative weeping has its own unique properties, as indicated above, it may be accompanied by a wide variety of emotions—ranging from profound grief and lament to rapture and joy—yet always the experience is intense, usually vividly remembered, and difficult to capture easily in words. Other examples include weeping in profound grief which reaches into the very core of Self, weeping at the sight of astonishing beauty, at the apprehension of one’s essential nature and that of others, and as a gift, i.e., receiving spontaneous acts of grace.

Copyright © 1997 Transpersonal Institute An earlier version of this article was presented at the Western Psychological Association's annual meeting, April 1996, San Jose. California.

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METHODS This report presents a phenomenological content analysis of historical and contempo­ rary writings on “mystical tears” in English, often in translation, and a phenomeno­ logical analysis of three contemporary in-depth interviews. The historical literature searched was limited to Christianity and included original sources whenever possible. Since "tears” and “weeping” are not conventional theological categories, locating writings on mystical tears in the major religious indexes was time-consuming and difficult, even within the Christian literature. Most of the literature search, therefore, involved following the trail of references backwards in time. This "networking” procedure is unlikely to include every article written on mystical tears.1 The historical writings include pertinent writing samples from fourteen authors, including major religious figures of the Eastern church such as Ephrem the Syrian (4th c), Evagrius Ponticus (4th c), John Climacus of Mt. Sinai (6—7th c), Isaac the Syrian (7th c), Symeon the New Theologian of Constantinople (10-11th c), as well as Catherine of Siena (14th c.), and contemporary authors (mostly women). The three female volun­ teer participants were recruited through newsletters in spiritual organizations to participate in a study of the “phenomenology of intense and spontaneous weeping." The project-in-process has spanned four years. Interviews are on-going, presently including both phenomenological content analysis of interviews and heuristic meth­ odological procedures. Using phenomenological content analysis of writing samples from the historical and contemporary writings and interview transcripts, an original list of forty-two charac­ teristics describing transformative tears was reduced to nine commonly shared and non-overlapping characteristics. Phenomenological analysis followed the modifica­ tions of procedures outlined by Valle & Hailing (1989) and Moustakas (1994) and heuristic methods in Moustakas (1990). The characteristics selected were either explicitly stated or implied in both the historical and contemporary writings and interviews.


Due to the pervasive nature of negative emotional experiences often associated with religions in our society, it may be difficult for the reader to identify and/or appreciate the discrete behaviors depicted in religious writing, especially in the historical writings infused with ancient religious terminology. In the case of the following examples, a “psychological reading” is recommended, looking for the concrete behaviors and the contingencies and attributions which frame meaning. Accompanied by illustrative examples, the nine commonly shared and non-overlap­ ping characteristics describing spontaneous and involuntary weeping are: 1. Relinquishing of superficial concerns and aspects of self, of “breaking through the facade.”
Pray first for the gift of tears so that by means of sorrow you may soften your native rudeness (Evagrius Ponticus, 1978, p. 56).


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Tears signify losing one’s life—or what one thinks is one’s life; one’s pseudo-life—in order to gain true life. . . the light of God that illuminates and burns away all that is not pure . . . the painful shock that shows us the illusory nature of our perceptions about our selves, the sham image we desire to project. . . (Ross, 1987b, pp. 14, 16). . . . that which flows sensibly from the eyes washes the soul spiritually from the mud of its faults: that which falls to the ground bums and crushes the demons and renders the soul free from the invisible stains of sin (Symeon the New Theologian, quoted in Sylvia Mary, 1976, p. 111).

2. A sense of the “re-integration of lost aspects of self.”
Tears falling on a corpse cannot restore it, but if they fall on a soul they will bring it back to life. It is not for the body that tears, sorrow, and affliction were made. It is for the soul that God made them, so that you may raise it up again. Give God weeping, and increase the tears in your eyes: through your tears and his goodness the soul which had been dead will be restored. Behold, Mercy waits for your eyes to shed tears, to purify and renew the image of the disfigured soul (Hausherr, 1982, p. 29). . . . the trust towards God continues and becomes more powerful, the process of being organically transformed, the process of divinisation, also continues. More and more illusion is lost (Ross, 1987b, p. 18). . . . he who does not weep each day . .. puts to death hunger and loses his soul (Symeon the New Theologian, quoted in Ross, 1987a, p. 40).

3. Being in relationship with the impulse of life throughout the universe or of “touching reality” beyond one’s ordinary awareness.
This longing has grown out of the most profound human experience, earthly experiences, and is an ineffable glimpse, conscious or not, of what the created order might be when fully reflecting the image of the Creator. . . . Tears are a mark of having touched reality, or having been touched by the reality of integration and regeneration (Ross, 1987a, pp. 1645, 227). . . . unaccustomed experience of inner sweetness and for a moment he is, in some way, a new man, set afire by the breath of the spirit. And the more he tastes the object of his love, the stronger grows his desire for it (Gregory the Great, quoted in Casey, 1981, p. 309). And when the time of birth is come, then the mind will perceive something of what belongs to that world. Like a faint perfume which an infant receives inside the body in which it has grown (Isaac the Syrian, quoted in Ross 1987a, p. 227). When she feels the presence of my eternal Godhead, she begins to shed sweet tears that are truly a milk that nourishes the soul in true patience. These tears are a fragrant ointment that sends forth a most delicious perfume (Catherine of Siena, 1980, p. 163).

4. Holding together the seeming (sometimes bittersweet) polarities of human exist­ ence, e.g., life and death, joy and despair.
. . . here is sweet and flaming compunction; mixed sorrow and joy like honey in the comb to use an image of John Climacus (Isaac the Syrian, quoted in Ross, 1987b, p. 21).

Nine Psycho-Spiritual Characteristics of Spontaneous and Involuntary- Weeping


But soon there is a decided shift. . . . As the emptying process imperceptibly takes place, compassion grows. This compassion grows because of the revelation of one's own wounds. These in turn are recognized to be the wounds of all humanity, and of all creation (Ross. 1987b. p. 19). The strangest paradox proved itself in experience as these early monks wept before God and God comforted them. Their interior joy, as their interior sorrow, had to manifest itself in the exterior countenance. . . . Filled with great tenderness and longing for greater union with God, the Christian finds his strength in his weakness (Maloney, 1969. pp. 156, 158).

5. An apprehension of the “tragic dimension of human existence” seen as universal rather than uniquely personal.
Later I realised that my so-called great sadness was but the tears. . . for the tragic dimension of nature, for the unfilled possibilities, the broken egg, the lost innocence, for the child dying with the diseased brain, for the victim of Huntington’s Chorea . . . (Clark. 1986. p. 400). Again, we should distinguish between depression and state of sorrow. Sorrow is a state of union with God in the pain of men. It is a state of deep and profound understanding. It is as if God put his hand out and the panorama of the whole world and its pain is opened before you (Doherty. 1975. p. 118). The burning of the heart on behalf of the entire creation, human beings, birds, animals— even all that exists, so that by the recollection and at the sign of them the eyes well up with tears as a result of the vehemence of the compassion which constrains the heart in abundant pity (Isaac the Syrian, quoted in Ross, 1987b, p. 19).

6. Changes in body awareness to include a felt sense of the integration of body. mind, and spirit.
Tears are to the mind the border, as it were, between the bodily and the spiritual state, between the state of being subject to passions |emotions] and that of purity . . . (Isaac the Syrian, quoted in Ross, 1987a, p. 4.). The goal of ascetic practice is the integration of the whole man and his 'deification', that is, his introduction, by grace, into the life of God. The gift of tears has long been taken as an indication that this process is underway. . . . The matter of tears has a profound bearing on the unity of these levels [spiritual, cardial (all-embracing, emotive, and sensory), and somatic] as it affects man’s nature, and also on the interaction of the various levels within the human person. Indeed tears—empirical no more than reflexively secreted response to a variety of stimuli—are seen as a divine gift, revealing the intrinsic link and kinship between the intellect and the body (Chryssavgis, 1985, p. 37-8).

7. Changes in visual perception, e.g. a sense of seeing things in their essence or seeing with more than the physical eyes themselves.
The luminous eye is the eye of the heart, the eye of those who see with more than their eyes . . . (Ross, 1987a. p. 235). Here is sign that you are approaching the borders of that mysterious country, when grace begins to open your eyes so that they see things in their essence; it is then that your eyes


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begin to flow with tears, which run in streams down your cheeks, and the conflict of the sense is subdued within (Sylvia Mary, 1976, p. 110).

8. A sense of being startled, awakened, and triggered into an expanded awareness of reality.
Sadness [sorrow], like the tears which express it, may be accumulated and stored within, in the deep recesses of the self. It requires a “trigger” to release it (Clark, 1986, p. 398). . . . the light of God that illuminates and bums away all that is not pure, and it is the piercing light that is katanyxis, the painful shock that shows us the illusory nature of our perceptions about our selves. . . . It is the shock that begins to turn us toward repentance, the penthos which is the matrix of holy tears (Ross, 1987b, p. 16). When we are thus pierced (compuncti) we seek to distance ourselves from what we have made of ourselves so that we may be awakened according to what we were originally (Casey. 1981, p. 309).

9. Inward sense of freedom, vastness, or pure consciousness from which all activities begin.
Virtually all . . . agree that what is most required to find the realm of tears are solitude and poverty. Though much has been made of external solitude and poverty, these writers are referring primarily to inward solitude and poverty. . . . (Ross, 1987a, p. 190). Our soul, washed by tears, can see clearly that we really are free, that we can say yes or no to God . . . this struggle between yes and no, this struggle with God, is intensified a hundredfold. At some point, your yes to God will make you nonexistent. It’s only a second. Something will happen in your purified soul through these tears and struggles. You will seem to be like one dead. But it won’t last long. You will return, and on that day you will know a miracle. You made your choice for God. The true liberation that God reserves for those who love him will be yours (Doherty, 1975, p. 120). Once you have reached the place of tears . . . it begins to shed tears. For now the birth pangs of the spiritual infant grow strong, since grace, the common mother of all, makes haste to give birth mystically to the soul, the image of God, into the light of the world to come (Isaac the Syrian, quoted in Ross, 1987b, p. 20).


The procedures employed identified nine characteristics of transformative weeping which were explicitly stated or implied by all of the fourteen writers and the three contemporary interviewees. Each commonly shared characteristic is discrete from the others, that is, uniquely described and easily identifiable. Yet, on the other hand, there was an unexpected congruence—an easy behavioral and phenomenological con­ fluence or movement from one characteristic to another. For example, the holding together of the bittersweet polarities of human existence (# 4), e.g. birth and death or joy and despair, seem easily to extend to a perhaps more philosophic apprehension and compassion for the tragic dimension of human existence shared by all humanity (#5). This universality of compassion for the human experience seems naturally aligned with an expanded sense of freedom and vastness (#9).
Nine Psycho-Spiritual Characteristics of Spontaneous and Involuntary Weeping


One of the most unique aspects of the characteristics of transformative weeping is the explicit descriptions of physical/mental/spiritual integration taking place in the con­ text of sacred tears. Integration, re-integration, unification, reclaiming and healing of the Self, are phrases commonly used by both historical writers and interviewees. This commonality suggests questions for further research, such as, 1) How do tears configure in the integration process as described? 2) Are tears an external manifesta­ tion of an integration already taking place? 3) Do tears facilitate integration? 4) Or deepen the process? 5) In the far-ranging integration processes of the human psyche, does the somatic expression of tears compel a deeper or more thorough integration of the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of the Self ? 6) Are any of these described changes in perception—ranging from changes in visual perception (# 7) to an experienced sense of inner freedom, silence, and vastness (# 9)—permanent? At a fundamental level, the nine characteristics of transformative weeping challenge some of our basic assumptions about the body-mind-spirit connection. While there are notable exceptions among spiritual practices such as yoga, Tai Chi, and Aikido, a popular assumption of many transpersonal psychologists and mystical writers is that spiritual processes initiate mental, emotional, and physical changes—but not the other way around. The descriptions reported here, especially among the Syrian historical writers and contemporary female interviewees, suggest the possibility that the somatic expression of sacred tears is “. . . to the mind the border, as it were, between the bodily and the spiritual state, between the state of being subject to passions [emotions] and that of p u r i t y . . . . ” I f sacred tears initiate or facilitate integration of body-mind-spirit, physical practices and somatic changes may be starting points rather than end points in the integrating processes per se. In closing, it is important to point out that there is no reason to suspect that the historical writers were usually pathological from a modem clinical point of view. From what we know about them, they functioned within their communities (at least as well as any one else) and often were responsible for large communities of monks or other on-going administrative or leadership responsibilities. The three women inter­ viewed were functioning extremely well. All of them are full or part-time doctoral students and have demanding personal and professional lives. The purposes of this investigation was not to look at depressive, indulgent, or pathological tears. The transformative weeping described here show signs—not of disintegration—but of integration of the psyche and expanded awareness of the deeper and universal realities of human existence.


'The author would appreciate receiving articles on mystical tears, especially articles from sources outside of Christianity.


Casey, M. (1981). Spiritual desire in the gospel homilies of Saint Gregory the Great. Cistercian Studies, XVI, 297-414.


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Catherine of Siena. (1980). The dialogue. (Susanne Noffke, Trans.) New York: Paulist Press. Chryssavgis, J. (1985). The theology of tears in Saint John Climacus. Sourozh, 22, Nov., 3744. Clark, D. H. (1986). De lacrimae rerum: The necessity of tears. One in Christ: A Catholic Ecumenical Review. 22(4), 397-401. Doherty, C. (1975). Poustinia: Christian spirituality of the East for Western man. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press. Evagrius Ponticus. (1978). The Praktikos, Chapters on prayer. (J. E. Bamburger, Trans.). Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications. Gillet, L. (1937). The gift of tears in the ancient tradition of the Christian east. Sobomost, ms. 2, 5-10. Hausherr, I. (1982). Penthos: The doctrine of compunction in the Christian east. (A. Hufstader, Trans.) Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications. Maloney, G. (1969). Penthos—a forgotten necessity. Monastic Studies, 7, 149-159. Moustakas, C. (1990). Heuristic research: Design, methodology, and applications. Newbury' Park, CA: Sage Publications. Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological research methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications. Ross, M. (1987a). The fountain and the furnace: The way of tears and fire. New York: Paulist Press. Ross, M. (1987b). Tears and fire: Recovering a neglected tradition. Sobomost, 9(1), 14-23. Sylvia, M. (1976). Symeon the New Theologian and the way of tears. In One yet two: Monastic tradition east and west. (M. B. Pennington, Ed.). Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications. Valle, R.S. & Halling, S. (1989). Existential-phenomenological perspectives in psychology. New York: Plenum.

Requests for reprints to: Rd., Palo Alto, CA 94303.










Nine Psycho-Spiritual Characteristics of Spontaneous and Involuntary Weeping



Philippe L. Gross & S. I. Shapiro Honolulu, Hawai'i

Leap into the boundless and make it your home! —The Chuang-tzu (Watson, 1968, p. 49)

The Chuang-tzu1 is an ancient Taoist collection of writings most likely compiled in the fourth, third, and second centuries b.c.e. (Graham, 1990, p. 283). The complete work, known today as the Chuang-tzu, consists of thirty-three sections. The first seven, the nei-p’ien (inner chapters), most likely written earlier than the other sections, set forth the major ideas of the work (Watson, 1968). The next fifteen sections are referred to by scholars as the wai-p 'ten (outer chapters), and the remain­ ing eleven sections, as the tsa-p’ien (miscellaneous chapters). Although uncertainties remain about the precise authorship of this distinctive work,2 it has long been recognized for its vivid and imaginative style in characterizing Taoist principles as they are manifest in the everyday life of the Taoist Sage. Approached with a receptive attitude, the Chuang-tzu can also function as an evocative’ work capable of transforming and liberating the reader’s mind (Allinson, 1989; Gross & Shapiro, 1993; Watson, 1968; Wu, 1990). Stylistically, the Chuang-tzu is an engaging, earthy, literary work—by turns didactic, comical, and anecdotal. In content, it is a psychoepistemic guide to Taoist wisdom, the obstacles to self-understanding, and the characteristics of the Sage—one who has “leaped into the boundless” and made it “home.” It is said of Chuang Chou himself, a reputed author of the Chuang-tzu:
Above he outside of grasp of it responding wandered with the Creator, below he made friends with those who have gotten life and death, who know nothing of beginning or end. As for the Source, his was broad, expansive, and penetrating; profound, liberal, and unimpeded. . . . in to change and expounding on the world of things, he set forth principles that

Copyright © 1997 Transpersonal Institute We thank Jana M. Svara and David M. Sherrill for their assistance in copyediting.

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will never cease to be valid, an approach that can never be shuffled off (Watson, 1968. pp. 373-374).

We have used the Chuang-tzu as a classroom text for some years, and, personally, as a guide to the art of living. In addition to our interest in the Chuang-tzu, we also share an interest in the practice of photography, and in its use in the classroom as a means of facilitating transpersonal vision. As photographers, we could not help but notice that the characteristics of the Sage found in the Chuang-tzu are sometimes echoed by statements we find in the photography literature about the art of creative photography. Although few creative photographers are likely to have had direct acquaintance with the Chuang-tzu, the principles they sometimes describe, or propose as a way to liberate one’s vision and increase photographic artistry, bear a remarkable resem­ blance to the principles of sagehood expressed in the Chuang-tzu. The Chuang-tzu does not directly enumerate a list of the main characteristics of the Sage, but we found it useful to compile such a list from the many descriptions of the Sage scattered throughout the work (Gross & Shapiro, 1993). The characteristics of the Taoist Sage can be subsumed under the following concepts:4 (a) freedom from the sense of self; (b) receptivity; (c) wu-wei;5 (d) spontaneity; (e) acceptance; (f) nonattachment: (g) resourcefulness; (h) free and easy wandering; and, (i) te:5 Our purpose in this study, therefore, is to call the reader’s attention to some parallels between the ancient principles of sagehood in the Chuang-tzu and creativity in the modern art of photography. We then offer some comments on the degree, prevalence, source, and evocation of the similitude.

FREEDOM FROM THE SENSE OF SELF The photographer projects himself into everything he sees, identifying himself with every­ thing in order to know it and to feel it better. —Minor White (Sontag, 1989, p. 116)

In a variety of passages, the Chuang-tzu invites the reader to challenge the ordinary unquestioned assumption about an abiding, personal self. For example: "The Barrier Keeper Yin said, ‘When a man does not dwell in self, then things will of themselves reveal their forms to him’” (Watson, 1968, p. 372). And, elsewhere the Chuang-tzu counsels: “Forget things, forget Heaven, and be called a forgetter of self. The man who has forgotten self may be said to have entered Heaven” (Watson. 1968. p. 133). The Sage recognizes the indivisibility of human beings and the environment. Hence, it makes little sense to proclaim: “This is me! And there is the environment.” By not limiting his or her awareness to a unique sense of self, the Sage is able to embrace fully—indeed, be an integral part of—the whole process of nature "happening." The sense of self is forgotten, “lost” in a greater universal perspective—the Tao. Similarly, some photographers, in their writings, hint at this experience of being free from the sense of self. For example, Jeff Berner6 (1975) describes the experience of conscious camerawork7 as an unobstructed communion between self and environ­ ment: “After probing appearances and deepening vision through the 'second sight’ of


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photography, the photographer emerges as one in whom experience is a perpetual communion, with or without lens” (p. 124). Chang (1970), describing the experience of wholeness in the practice of Taoist painting, uses the Buddhist expression, “yuang yung wu ai, or ‘complete unobstructed interpenetration’ of things” (p. 94). For Chang, this experience is synonymous with an understanding of the Tao which he describes as “an intuitive, immediate awareness rather than a mediated, inferential, or intellec­ tual process” (p. 19). Thus, Chang adds, the “Tao does not blossom into vital consciousness until all distinctions between self and nonself have disappeared” (p. 19). This merging of self and environment or nature in the practice of photography may lead to the recognition that it is no longer the individuated self who takes the picture but that the picture is being taken by itself. In Sebastiao Salgado’s words (Marx, 1994): “There comes a moment when it is no longer you who takes the photograph, but receives the way to do it quite naturally and fully” (p. 114). For some photographers, the merging of self with the subject matter is a prerequisite to convey effectively one's vision through the language of photography. As Adam Jahiel (1995) says, “If we do our job right, we in a sense become what we photograph” (p. 27). Henri Cartier-Bresson, emphasizing the need to forget oneself, also suggests that a photographer must merge with the environment: “I find that you have to blend in like a fish in water, you have to forget yourself” (Bishop, 1992, p. 77). And, in the following passage, Cartier-Bresson (1988) elaborates on the necessity of being free from the sense of self:
I’m not responsible for my photographs. Photography is not documentary, but intuition, a poetic experience. It’s drowning yourself, dissolving yourself and then sniff, sniff, sniff— being sensitive to coincidence. You can’t go looking for it; you can’t want it, or you won’t get it. First you must lose your self. Then it happens (p. 94).

RECEPTIVITY The sage's mind in stillness is the mirror of Heaven and earth, the glass of the ten thousand things. —The Chuang-tzu (Watson, 1968, p. 142)

Freedom from the sense of self and receptivity are closely related. The capacity to be fully receptive is obstructed if the sense of self stands in the way of a wholistic perception of the world. The Chuang-tzu notes that the constant influx of socially reinforced values, such as the desire for fame, wealth, and knowledge, helps keep alive the illusion of an abiding self: “With likes and dislikes, sounds and colors you cripple what is on the inside; with leather caps and snipefeathered bonnets, batons stuck in belts and sashes trailing, you cramp what is on the outside” (Watson, 1968, p. 141). According to the Chuang-tzu, when one is free from a frame of mind called Little Understanding (i.e., being subservient to various discriminations such as recognition and authority, rejecting and accepting, liking and disliking), a frame of mind called Great Understanding becomes unbound and free to manifest itself. Great Understanding is a state of mind empty of received ideas and beliefs. It is not a blank, nihilistic state in which nothing exists, but rather reflects a state of openness and

Characteristics of the Taoist Sage in the Chuang-tzu and the Creative Photographer


receptivity in which past knowledge neither taints nor constricts the perception of the present moment in all its fullness.8 Such a state of receptivity is alluded to by some creative photographers:
It’s easy to fall into imitating yourself. I try to take a fresh approach to all the shots, to be really open to what I’m seeing rather than having a premeditated idea about what I’m going to shoot, or forcing a statement out of something that’s not there. My good pictures really come from my being responsive (MacLean, 1995, p. 51). Out in the field I try not to hold expectations. I try to achieve an openness. The senses heighten so that I’m totally immersed in what’s happening at the moment. I want to be receptive to an image coming together (Lazelle, 1993, p. 25).

A receptive approach is also regarded by some photographers as the most effective way to avoid cliches in photographs. In an interview about his approach to photogra­ phy, Edouart Boubat says:
All my photographs are about meetings and about coups de foudre—love at first sight. To do that type of photography, one must wipe their canvas clean to prepare for chance encounters, be open and aware to such moments, otherwise it becomes a cliche—already seen and expected (1995, p. 26).

By being open to both the environment and the photographer’s emotions (allowing himself to experience coups de foudre), it appears that Boubat’s sense of self does not interfere with his chance encounters but rather merges with them, allowing him to respond instantaneously to photographic opportunities. Such an ability to be open to both the environment and one’s emotions, according to Kathryn Marx (1994), allows for greater receptivity: “The greater the range of emotions that you permit yourself to feel and show, the greater is your receptivity to what you see before your viewfinder” (p. 52). In practice, however, receptivity is not always a conspicuous theme in photography; indeed the need for total control over the creative process sometimes predominates. Nonetheless, most photographers, even the most controlling ones, recognize that receptivity plays a vital role in their work simply because they must frequently act instantly. Overall, both control and receptivity can contribute to the practice of photography:
A split-second decision determines whether you capture a situation, as well as how well you capture it. You’ve already thought about your subject and know the reason why you’ve placed yourself in a particular situation. But once you are there, you must try to empty your mind of all thought in order for you to be completely in the moment and receptive to your intuition and your surroundings. Simply react to them with uncluttered clarity (Marx, 1994, p. 114).

In sum, receptivity in the Chuang-tzu corresponds to an open state of mind in which the present moment is experienced in its full richness, free from the entanglement of the discriminatory mind. In photography, receptivity is described as freedom from premeditated ideas, openness to seeing the world freshly, releasing expectations.


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being immersed in the photographic moment, and sensitivity to one’s emotions.9 In both the Chuang-tzu and in photography, receptivity encompasses a form of freedom from past knowledge, which can provide a gateway to openness and full immersion in the present moment. Beyond its usefulness for creating good photographs, however, receptivity is also a state of mind worthy of enjoyment in and of itself. Such is the view put forth by Michael Smith (1992) when he was asked what he looks for when he photographs: “I am not looking for anything. I’m just looking—trying to have as full an experience as possible. The point is to have a full experience—the photograph is just a bonus” (p. 36). Smith’s comment relates to another Taoist concept which suggests that when attuned to the Tao, an individual can effortlessly be creative and productive. The Chinese expression which captures this concept is wu-wei, another of the characteristics of the Sage in the Chuang-tzu.

WU-WEI Superiors must adopt inaction and make the world work for them; inferiors must adopt action and work for the world. —The Chuang-tzu (Watson, 1968, p. 144)

Wu-wei has been variously translated into English as “inaction” (Watson, 1968, p. 6), "not forcing” (Watts, 1975, p. 76), and "doing nothing” (Graham, 1989, p. 288). Ames (1989) describes the concept of wu-wei as: “ . . . responding with an awareness that enables one to maximize the creative possibilities of himself in his environment” (p. 140). Watson (1968) interprets the concept of wu-wei to mean that the Sage does not ratiocinate before acting but adopts “a course of action that is not founded upon any purposeful motives of gain or striving” (p. 6). This seems to correspond to Brett Weston’s (1989) observation: “When I photograph, I don’t have anything in mind except the photograph. I don’t think in terms of magazines, books, or promotions. I photograph for the love and the excitement” (p. 76). Another passage by Brett’s father, Edward Weston (1979), also seems to illustrate the dynamics of wu-wei in photography:
One does not think during creative work, any more than one thinks when driving a car. But one has a background of years—learning, unlearning; success, failure, dreaming, thinking, experience, all this—then the moment of creation, the focusing of all into the moment. So I can make “without thought,” fifteen carefully considered negatives, one every fifteen minutes, given material with as many possibilities. But there is all the eyes have seen in this life to influence me (p. 280).

The sense of effortless effort can be found elsewhere in the photography literature as well. Ruth Bernhard says about her approach to photography: “I never look for a photograph. The photograph finds me and says, ‘I’m here!’ and I say, ‘Yes I see you. I hear you’” (Conrad, 1994, p. 28). Manuel Alvarez Bravo emphasizes that his effortless attitude is not limited to photography but applies to his approach to life as well: “Throughout my life I’ve never pursued anything. I just let things pursue m e . . .

Characteristics of the Taoist Sage in the Chuang-tzu and the Creative Photographer


they just show u p . . . . This is the way I’ve led my life, not just in photography, but in life” (Harris, 1994, p. 31). Wu-wei, however, should not be viewed as an indolent approach to life but rather as an effective way to get things done. To act in accord with the principle of wu-wei, one must remain in a state of receptivity—not in a passive, torpid state of mind, but rather in a state of relaxed alertness, continuously attuned to the ceaseless transformations of life. This state of inward and outward harmonization with the flow of life allows both the Sage and the creative photographer to act naturally and spontaneously in harmony with the ceaseless transformations that constitute the course of living.

SPONTANEITY [The Sage] constantly goes by the spontaneous, and does not add anything to the process of life. —The Chuang-tzu (Graham, 1989, p. 82)

For most photographers, spontaneity is an essential component of their art. A posed photograph rarely has as much of an impact upon an audience as a spontaneous one. Ellen Denuto (Schaub, 1995) says: "Even when working on assignment, my best images are those that are spontaneous. I find my best work is unplanned—it comes from the heart. I photograph what moves me” (p. 16). Spontaneity10 is also one of the basic tenets of Taoist philosophy:
While all other things move spontaneously on the course proper to them, man has stunted and maimed his spontaneous aptitude by the habit of distinguishing alternatives, the right and the wrong, benefit and harm, self and others, and reasoning in order to judge between them. To recover and educate his knack he must learn to reflect his situation with the unclouded clarity of a mirror, and respond to it with the immediacy of an echo to a sound or shadow to a shape (Graham, 1989, p. 6).

This description of spontaneity is echoed in the writings of one of the masters of spontaneous photography, Cartier-Bresson (1992): “For me, the camera is a sketch­ book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously” (p. 333). Both Graham and Cartier-Bresson concur in suggesting that spontaneous actions involve a synchronicity between subject and object. In Graham’s words, subject and object respond to each other “with the immediacy of an echo to a sound or shadow to a shape”; Cartier-Bresson explains it in terms of the simultaneity of questioning and deciding. Furthermore, both writers imply that spontaneity requires an involvement between subject and object. For Cartier-Bresson (1992), the photographer needs to “feel involved in what one singles out through the viewfinder” (p. 333). Graham (1989), in his exposition of the Chuang-tzu, uses stronger terms, stating that the subject is totally absorbed in the object:
People who really know what they are doing, such as a cook carving an ox, or a carpenter or an angler, do not precede each move by weighing the arguments for different alterna­ tives. They spread attention over the whole situation, let its focus roam freely, forget


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themselves in their total absorption in the object, and then the trained hand reacts spontane­ ously with a confidence and precision impossible to anyone who is applying rules and thinking out moves (p. 6).

Spontaneity in the Chuang-tzu, as described by Graham (1989), naturally occurs when an individual forgets himself or herself and gives up being fixated upon control over the environment. Only when an individual is fully in tune with his or her everchanging environment can he or she harmoniously respond to it like the “echo to a sound or shadow to a shape” (p. 6).

ACCEPTANCE Mysteriously, wonderfully, I bid farewell to what goes, I greet what comes; for what comes cannot be denied, and what goes cannot be detained. —The Chuang-tzu (Watson. 1968, p. 213)

Acceptance is not a form of resignation but a natural response of being in tune with the manifestations of nature. By embracing all of life, the Sage can remain free of inner conflicts. Attuned to the ceaseless flow of life, the Sage apprehends that resisting this flow would generate conflict: acceptance and harmony thus naturally emerge as the most appropriate and natural approach to the art of living. Acceptance is also a characteristic of the unconstricted, taoistic11 photographer, that is, a photographer not unduly governed by pre-established thought, perception, interpretation, and action. Acceptance, especially with regard to subject matter and atmospheric conditions, allows the photographer to explore photographic visions beyond conventional, premolded visions that have already been seen and photo­ graphed. Both the Sage and the taoistic photographer have the capacity for seeing with unconstricted awareness and are therefore capable of seeing the miraculous in the ordinary. Such seeing, however, requires a nondiscriminatory, accepting attitude toward all aspects of life. In contrast, when photographers insist upon capturing only smiling faces or sunny landscapes, they not only reject the miraculousness of other moments, but they also narrow the scope of their capacity to appreciate the complex­ ity of life and diminish their ability to see beyond already established photographic conventions. Diane Arbus, through her unusual photographs which exhibit an “acceptance of the appalling” (Sontag, 1989, p. 34), offers “an occasion to demonstrate that life’s horror can be faced without squeamishness. The photographer once had to say to herself. Okay, I can accept that; the viewer is invited to make the same declaration” (Sontag, 1989, p. 40). Arbus’ acceptance of “freaks”12 as photographic subjects, however, may not have emerged from being free of the entanglement of the discriminatory mind, but as a reaction against a sheltered upbringing in which she felt deprived of the opportunity to experience “adversity” (Sontag, 1989, p. 43). But regardless of what her motivation might have been, Arbus’ ability to accept what was deemed unaccept­ able in her time expanded the definition of what is now considered as appropriate to

Characteristics of the Taoist Sage in the Chuang-tzu and the Creative Photographer


photograph, as well as enriched her own life with excitement: “Freaks was a thing I photographed a lot. It was one of the first things I photographed and it had a terrific kind of excitement for me”13 (Arbus, 1989, p. 94). Another type of acceptance found in the practice of photography is an all-embracing attitude based on the recognition that all subjects are worthy of attention. CartierBresson (1973) equates such acceptance with an affirmation of all of life. As he so enthusiastically proclaims: “Photography is like that. It’s ‘yes, yes, yes.’ . . . It’s a tremendous enjoyment to say, ‘yes!’ Even if it’s something you hate—‘yes!’ It’s an affirmation. Yes!” (p. 82). Such openness and affirmation of life seem more in accord with the spirit of the Chuang-tzu than Arbus’ approach, which is more restricted in terms of its subject matter. The accepting attitudes of both Arbus and Cartier-Bresson, however, allowed these photographers to break free of some of the conventions of constricted awareness—Little Understanding—and to recognize new dimensions of photography and life. Besides becoming more accepting of a wider range of subject matter, a photographer may gain access to new visions of life if he or she is willing to work in diverse conditions. Alfred Stieglitz, for example, recalled that when he took his famous photograph of the Flat Iron Building in New York during the snowstorm of 19021903, he saw and experienced that building in a new way. He recalls: "I stood spellbound as I saw the building in that s t o r m . . . . I suddenly saw the building as I had never seen it before” (Norman, 1976, p. 6). On the other hand, a photographer who only works on sunny, windless days, may exclude many other dimensions of life, thus narrowing the possibilities of photo­ graphic vision. Rain, wind, lightning, snowstorms, hail, fog, night, and other less conventional photographic environmental situations can inspire photographers to see things freshly. A prerequisite to engaging life fully, to seeing beyond smiling faces and sunny days, is, like the Sage in the Chuang-tzu, to have the capacity for being attuned to life’s ceaseless transformations.

NON ATTACHMENT The perfect Man uses his mind like a mirror—going after nothing, welcoming nothing, responding hut not storing. —The Chuang-tzu (Watson, 1968. p. 54)

In harmony with the parade of life’s ceaseless transformations, the Sage is not attached to particular events or to a particular way of life. Desiring to possess nothing, to fixate upon nothing, the Sage is free to adapt to the flow of existence. And by remaining nonattached, the Sage does not engender conflicts with his or her surround­ ings, choosing instead to embrace everything as one seamless field of nature. Such a state of nonattachment, as the Zen practitioner Herrigel (1953) explains, is also the ideal condition for the practicing artist: “Out of the fullness of this presence of mind, disturbed by no ulterior motive, the artist who is released from all attachment must practice his art” (p. 120).


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In photography, being nonattached—especially to conventional perception—plays an important role in the photographer’s ability to be aware of the constant flux of life and therefore responsive to new or changing scenes. Derek Doeffinger (1992) advises photographers to release their expectations so that they can be free to tune into the environment they photograph:
Don't try to subdue a subject to your way of thinking—you can’t push a piano through a porthole. Go with the flow. Be flexible. Adapt. The scene will not adapt to you, as you’ll discover when viewing your pictures. . . . Don't let your expectations project mirages that leave you thirsting. Release expectations. Defy assumptions. Unite with the scene to see not what you want to see, but what’s there. Then strengthen the strong points to build the photograph you want. Sometimes a situation will prove to be unphotogenic. Recognize when that happens and be on your merry way looking for something else (p. 76).

As Doeffinger suggests, not only can the attachment to preset images produce frustration, it can also interfere with creativity by preventing the photographer from freely adapting to the environment at hand. Attachment to habitual ways of seeing can impede clear seeing by interposing filters of expectations (e.g., visual expectations) between the environment and the viewer. By not being attached to predefined images, the liberated photographer, like the Taoist Sage, can respond creatively and freshly to life’s changing circumstances. Impermanence, transition, transformation—each can be seen as a blessing by the percipient photographer. If things never changed, photography would quickly be­ come a boring occupation—the photographer who has seen it all would quickly become jaded and starved for surprises. Impermanence, from this perspective, insures that nature will continuously provide a supply of new images to the aware photo­ grapher. In a world that is inherently impermanent, wave after wave of photographic opportu­ nities keeps rolling in. When a photographer is aware of this boundless stream of photographic opportunities, he or she may also come to realize that attachment to a lost image (e.g., lamenting a missed shot) is not only unproductive, but that it also constricts awareness and interferes with the perception of new photographic possibili­ ties. By apprehending the law of ceaseless transformation (impermanence), the uncon­ stricted photographer can reside in a state of relaxed alertness, open to oncoming waves of opportunity. The French surrealist Andre Breton described CartierBresson’s attitude in these terms:
Actually it’s quite true that he's [Cartier-Bresson] not waiting for anyone since he’s not made any appointment, but the very fact that he’s adopting this ultra-receptive posture means that by this he wants to help chance along, how should I say, to put himself in a state of grace with chance, so that something might happen, so that someone might drop in (Cartier-Bresson, 1976, unpaginated).

Characteristics of the Taoist Sage in the Chuang-tzu and the Creative Photographer


When the monkey trainer was handing out acorns, he said, “You get three in the morning and four at night. ” This made all the monkeys furious. "Well, then, ” he said, ‘‘You get four in the morning and three at night. ” The monkeys were delighted. —The Chuang-tzu (Watson, 1968, p. 41)

Resourcefulness—which includes the ability to see realms beyond our conditioned, habitual ways of seeing—is another characteristic of the Sage as found in the Chuangtzu. The Sage sees beyond convention; this freedom enables the Sage to undertake new and creative ways of thinking and living—to be a constant reservoir of resource­ fulness. In photography, resourcefulness can be described as the capacity to discover new ways of apprehending the world. Thus, resourcefulness, although closely related to nonattachment and acceptance, goes beyond them to actively seeking out novel situations. An example is the following comment by Jerry Jacka: “Many people will go to Monument Valley [Utah-Arizona], and if it’s raining or snowing they pack it up and go home. A really serious photographer will make the storm work to his or her advantage” (Goodpasture, 1994, p. 52). By being caught in the preconceived belief that only clear atmospheric conditions can yield good pictures, inflexible photogra­ phers may fail to exploit the unexpected opportunity afforded by “adversity." A taoistic photographer, like the monkey trainer in the Chuang-tzu, does not rebel against this flow of life, but moves with it, finding novel ways to make use of the current. Ed Feingersh points out that good pictures are seldom the result of following formulas but are, on the contrary, the result of a “hit”—the spontaneous response which comes from being attuned to the photographic environment. Feingersh (1979) states:
Mediocre pictures may follow a formula, good ones seldom do: When the visual tools are used just right, the design, lighting, mood, and emotion come together to just the right point, and that point hits you and you know what the photographer meant—that's a good picture (p. 273).

In some books and workshops on photography, exercises are taught to free up a photographer’s vision and promote resourcefulness by encouraging new perspec­ tives, breaking traditional rules of photography, and questioning assumptions. As Andreas Feininger has said, “Seeing in terms of photography means realizing poten­ tialities: visualizing things not as they are, but as they could be made to appear in picture form” (1978, p. 223).

FREE AND EASY WANDERING So the sage has his wanderings. —The Chuang-tzu (Watson, 1968, p. 75)

The Sage is often described in the Chuang-tzu as a purposeless, free and easy wanderer: “Embody to the fullest what has no end and wander where there is no trail”


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(Watson, 1968, p. 97). A parallel to free and easy wandering in the Chuang-tzu can also be gleaned from the photography literature, especially the concept of the flâneur photographer. A literal translation of the definition of the French word flâneur (the verb for flâneur) is: “To wander without a goal, at random; to move forward without hurrying” (Le Petit Larousse Illustrté). The expression flaneur photographer is used in the photography literature to describe an individual who wanders with a camera, taking pictures of chance encounters. Cecil Beaton and Gail Buckland (1989), for example, describe Charles Negre (1820-1880) as “a flâneur photographer. . . I who] roamed the streets . . . taking pictures of bizarre types and odd encounters” (p. 48). Other well-known French flâneur photographers include Robert Doisneau, famous for his many perspicacious photographs of Paris, and Cartier-Bresson known for the incisive photographs he took while roving the world or at home in the streets of Paris. Although it would be too simplistic to equate a flaneur photographer with a Taoist Sage, studies of several photographers suggest that their wanderings could be viewed as taoistic. When engaged in camerawork, Cartier-Bresson, especially, seems to embody the characteristics of the Taoist Sage.14 Galassi (1987) points out that CartierBresson’s free and easy wandering was influenced early on by the surrealist move­ ment15 which, among other things, favored a type of alert wandering and openness to new realities: “Alone, the Surrealist wanders the streets without destination but with a premeditated alertness for the unexpected detail that will release a marvelous and compelling reality just beneath the banal surface of ordinary experience” (p. 15). This description adds a taoistic flavor to the character of the surrealist flâneur by emphasiz­ ing both a lack of destination and a state of relaxed awareness. The relaxed awareness and purposeless wandering exhibited by Cartier-Bresson and other flâneur photographers (e.g., Boubat, Doisneau, Negre, and Winogrand) suggest that, overall, both the unconstricted photographer and the Taoist Sage may engage in purposeless wandering. Attuned to the ever-changing environment, they can respond to it naturally, creatively, and spontaneously.

Looking is a gift, but seeing is a power. —Jeff Berner (1975, p. 17)

The final characteristic of the Sage found in the Chuang-tzu that corresponds to the creative photographer is te. This is a concept found frequently in the Taoist literature16 and generally translated as virtue (Ames, 1989; Fung, 1964; Watson, 1968; Watts, 1975; Wu, 1990), or power (Ames, 1989; Graham, 1989). When the meaning of te is associated with power, it conveys a form of ability, skill, strength, or energy. It is, however, power in the sense of effectiveness or potency without the connotation of domination, rigidity, or self-aggrandizement. Graham (1989) expresses it this way: “The spontaneous aptitude is the te, the ‘Power,’ the inherent capacity of a thing to perform its specific functions successfully” (p. 7).

Characteristics of the Taoist Sage in the Chuang-tzu and the Creative Photographer


Te is certainly evident in the behavior of the Sage as a capacity for spontaneous wisdom, but one can also see the concept of te in the work of artists and artisans. Indeed, the Chuang-tzu often provides descriptions of various craftspeople in action. Probably the most well-known of these is Cook Ting cutting up an ox:
Cook Ting was cutting up an ox for Lord Wen-hui. At every touch of his hand, every heave of his shoulder, every move of his feet, every thrust of his knee—zip! zoop! He slithered the knife along with a zing, and all was in perfect rhythm, as though he were performing the dance of the Mulberry Grove or keeping time to the Ching-shou music. . . “I've had this knife of mine for nineteen years and I’ve cut thousands of oxen with it, and yet the blade is as good as though it had just come from the grindstone. There are spaces between the joints, and the blade of the knife has really no thickness. If you insert what has no thickness into such spaces, then there’s plenty of room—more than enough for the blade to play about i t . . . . “However, whenever I come to a complicated place, I size up the difficulties, tell myself to watch out and be careful, keep my eyes on what I am doing, work very slowly, and move the knife with the greatest subtlety, until—flop! the whole thing comes apart like a clod of earth crumbling to the ground” (Watson, 1968, pp. 50-51).

As Cook Ting skillfully and gracefully cuts the ox apart, he surely distinguishes between spaces and joints, but his mind does not fixate on this difference. In being fully attuned to the task of cutting the ox. Cook Ting is propelled by te: His knife finds its way skillfully between the animal’s joints and the ox falls apart effortlessly. Te, as illustrated by the story of Cook Ting, imbues an individual’s action with an innate power or effectiveness. The individual endowed with te can therefore, accord­ ing to the Chuang-tzu, achieve great results naturally and spontaneously with minimal effort. In a sense, all the characteristics of the Sage we have delineated are reflections of te: they empower the Sage with sagacity. When these characteristics are present in the practice of conscious camerawork, they can empower the photographer with photo­ graphic sagacity—creative mastery. In its precise Taoist meaning, te (virtue/power) is a concept or experience rarely described by photographers. Nevertheless, glimpses of it can be found scattered about in the photography literature. In the following passage, for example, Doisneau (1992) describes an experience reminiscent of Cook Ting cutting up an ox:
There is that moment when we are truly visionary. There, everything works tremendously well [italics added]. But all this is only a part of that great game that puts us into a trance, into a state of receptivity. This trance doesn’t last long, however, because life always calls you back to its commands. There are always contingencies. But somehow, despite it all, the effect does last. I think that it could be classed as a feeling. For me it is a kind of “religion of looking” (p. 80).

Another passage that can be viewed as an experience of te is found in the words of George DeWolfe (1995) when he defines the emotion stirred by capturing a “mean­


The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1996, Vol. 28, No. 2

ingful experience” in a photograph: “The emotion is one of great humility—and great interior power, of being one with the world” (p. 3). Recall, too, the words of CartierBresson (1988), mentioned earlier in the section about the self: “First you must lose your self. Then it happens” (p. 94). The “it” alluded to by Cartier-Bresson could be taken to be a reflection of te (power). That is, when the sense of self does not clutter perception, the practice of the liberated photographer is transformed and, in this case, charged with spontaneous creative power.


We have illustrated how the characteristics of sagehood as described in the Chuangtzu can sometimes be found in creative photographers’ descriptions of their art. Having made the case for this similitude, however, we must now temper it with some qualifications about the degree and prevalence of the resemblance. To begin with, the descriptions and passages we have quoted from the photography literature are selective. If they give the impression that most professional or successful photographers are taoistic, alas, this is hardly so. Renowned photographers can be controlling, self-absorbed, goal-oriented, entangled by technique, attached to a par­ ticular photographic style, or unreceptive to alternative photographic visions. Con­ stricted photographers may be quite successful in their profession, inasmuch as success is so often measured by sales and public exposure (e.g., fashion photography). Thus we feel compelled to qualify our assertions by stating that it is only some photographers who sometimes express their artistic creativity in words that appear to parallel the principles of sagehood expressed in the Chuang-tzu. Nor do we claim that any given photographer expressing taoistic themes is necessarily consciously aware of them or of their implementation; nor do we suppose that such a photographer demonstrates them consistently in every photograph or in daily living. Notwithstanding these qualifications, we remain impressed by the degree of resem­ blance sometimes found between the Sage in the Chuang-tzu and some creative photographers. Given that few, if any, of the photographers were likely to be conversant with a Taoist text like the Chuang-tzu, or even its more widely known “companion” text, the Lao-tz,u, what could be responsible for the similitude? Is there something about creative photography that is perforce aligned with the principles of sagehood depicted in the Chuang-tzu ? There is at least one feature, characteristic of most forms of photography, that constitutes a conspicuous link between the art of photography and the Chuang-tzu. Marc Riboud (1994) states: “Taking pictures is savoring life every hundredth of a second” (p. 71). Ken Ruth (1993) elaborates: “For the camera, the creative moment is brief—a compelling, ephemeral collision of event and artist. Extreme awareness combined with unobtrusiveness becomes the context the photographer must work within” (p. 46). Cartier-Bresson (1952) speaks of the “decisive moment” in photogra­ phy.17 Many other photographers also call attention to the brevity of the crucial artistic moment when a photograph is snapped.

Characteristics of the Taoist Sage in the Chuang-tzu and the Creative Photographer


In other art forms, unlike photography, the artist usually has more control over the period of time in which a work of art is created. Much of creative photography, however, necessitates cultivating ongoing conscious camerawork in order to instanta­ neously and creatively capture a photographic moment. The creative photographer must therefore not only master the art of photography but the art of mindfulness as well—a moment by moment receptive awareness of one’s surroundings (Gross & Shapiro, in press). In Taoist terms, the photographer must remain attuned to the ceaseless transformations of nature, of all existence. To mine this boundless march of potential photographic moments, the creative photographer must align himself or herself with the Tao. How can this be accom­ plished? The most direct approach to apprehend the Tao is simply to plunge into it— in the words of the Chuang-tzu, "Leap into the boundless and make it your home” (Watson, 1968, p. 49). Perhaps a more gradual and more easily accessible approach is also possible. In order to photograph in the moment, as well as artistically, a creative photographer is likely to have assimilated at least some of the principles of sagehood described in the Chuang-tzu. Thus, a natural affinity between the art of sagehood and the art of photography can be considered to already exist, and can be developed further. This leads us to conclude that the Chuang-tzu could be useful as an instruc­ tional manual for teaching creative photography.18 The Chuang-tzu, composed some 2,000 years ago, was certainly not addressed to photography, but because creative photography is intimately linked to a moment by moment awareness of ongoing change and transformation, the Chuang-tzu may well serve as a guide to cultivating a recognition of the ever-changing process of existence. To achieve an “immersive fluency” with the process of ceaseless change, the creative photographer’s life must to some degree become taoistically aligned, attuned to the ongoing changes of the universe as a whole. What better means to achieve this alignment than by directly becoming acquainted with the principles of sagehood in the Chuang-tzu and consciously attempting to incorporate them in one’s camera work? Although a forced pursuit of either a direct or gradual path, especially when egoistically motivated, is not likely to succeed, such an explicit practice may better serve to cultivate photographic artistry.19 Thus, whether or not taoistic camerawork is the most expedient or dependable way to assure quick, conventional success, we believe that taoistic camerawork can certainly contribute to elevating photographic artistry. Moreover, taoistic camerawork is also likely to enhance spiritual understanding which, like artistry, depends largely upon an individual’s ability to engage life with a receptive mind and unconstricted awareness. Although we feel there is a special connection between the principles of sagehood and creative photography due to the necessarily fleeting quality inherent in the execution of a photograph, we would not set the art of photography apart from all the other arts in its capacity to evoke the transpersonal dimension. Garrett White (1992), voicing Yasu Suzuka’s approach to photography, states, ‘Time must be stopped in order to show eternity in one moment” (p. 38).20 But the potential to evoke eternity has long been recognized in the arts. As Wilber (1996)21 has recently written: “Great art suspends . . . we enter with it into the timeless present” (p. 90). In his posthumously


The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1996, Vol. 28, No. 2

published journals, Maslow (1979) speculated that the experience of feeling moved by beauty, whatever its source, might ultimately be responsible for both the peak and the plateau experience because both experiences can elicit the quality of eternalness (p. 1278). Thus, photography shares with other arts the capacity for evoking the transpersonal dimension of a larger universe, by such means as grasping the constructive nature of reality (Gross, 1996), generating a breathless moment of eternity, inducing a deep state of mindfulness, or sweeping away the self through a sense of awe. Although the Chuang-tzu can well serve as a manual for the art of creative photogra­ phy, this ancient Taoist wisdom text remains foremost an invaluable guide to the art of living for photographers and nonphotographers alike.

1Modem English translations of the complete Chuang-tzu have been provided by Graham (1989, about 80% of the text), Mair (1994), Palmer (1996), and Watson (1968). Shorter modem compilations in English include Buber (1991), Chan (1963), Cleary (1991), de Bary, Chan, and Watson (1964), Feng and English (1974), Fung (1964), Merton (1965), Ware (1963). and Watson (1964). Recent book-length expositions of the Chuang-tzu include Allinson (1989), Lukashevich (1987), Mair (1983), and Wu (1982, 1990). 2Scholars

often refer to this collection of writings as the Chuang-tzu because uncertainties remain not only about the dates of the work, but as to the actual authors, as well.

this end, it uses various forms of incongruity such as monsters, unexpected figures, self-contradiction, paradoxes, puns and jokes, and myths and metaphors (see Gross & Shapiro, 1994).

list of characteristics has been slightly modified from an earlier study (Gross & Shapiro, 1993): We recognize that it is possible to construct other schemata as well.

and te are often presented in English commentaries simply by their Chinese names, a practice followed in the present study.

distinguish photographers from other sources, when a photographer's name first appears in the text, we include the first name.

characterization of the concept of conscious camerawork is Cartier-Bresson’s (1992) definition of photography as placing "head, heart, and eye along the same line of sight" (p. 333). This definition calls for fresh perception and total presence on the part of the photographer while engaged in camerawork.

the Chuang-tzu distinguishes between Little Understanding and Great Understanding, the mind of the Sage is perhaps best described as a harmonious companionship between the two.


is difficult to distinguish sometimes what precise meaning the term “emotion” has when used by various photographers. When emotional behavior overly influences action or “feeds one’s ego,” it would appear to conflict with the sage-like behavior in the Chuang-tzu.

translation of the Chinese term tzu-jan which, more literally, means “being so of itself” (Graham, 1989, p. 190).

11We prefer the term "taoistic” photographer or photography to “Taoist” so as not to imply that making use of some sage-like principles is necessarily equivalent to being a Taoist Sage. 12“Freaks” in Arbus’ work encompasses outcasts, pariahs, or misfits, and includes “the citizens of the sexual underworld as well as the genetic freaks” (Sontag, 1989, p. 36). 13But

deliberately seeking after excitement would not be in accord with Taoist sagehood.

Characteristics of the Taoist Sage in the Chuang-tzu and the Creative Photographer


14Westerbeck and Meyerowitz (1994) report that Cartier-Bresson’s favorite book has been Herrigel's Zen in the Art of Archery (1953), which served to "illuminate behavior he had already adopted” (p. 165). Considering some of the similarities between Taoism and Zen Buddhism, it is likely that Cartier-Bresson would have found himself attracted to the Chuang-tzu as well. 15Although the principles of the surrealist movement are dissimilar to Taoism in many ways, they share some similar concepts such as the constructive naUire of reality, free and easy wandering, and openness to life. 16Ames (1989) points out that the Confucians and Mohists generally equated te with virtue, whereas Taoist expositions usually contained some connotations of “power” (p. 124). 17By

which he means:

We work in unison with movement as though it were a presentiment of the way in which life itself unfolds. But inside movement there is one moment at which the elements in motion are in balance. Photography must seize upon this moment and hold immobile the equilibrium of it (Cartier-Bresson, 1952, unpaginated). The concept of the decisive moment, however, has been under debate (see Westerbeck & Meyerowitz, 1994). Among some of the criticisms of the concept is that it has become an overused concept for photojournalists aiming to emulate Cartier-Bresson's work. Some photographers believe there is no such thing as a decisive moment—each and every moment is a decisive moment. Others, like Salgado. rather than seeing an image building to a visual climax, see a series of moments on a parabola with many tangents; each tangent important and telling a story (S. Salgado, personal communication, August 29, 1996).

are presently preparing a course to teach based on this assumption.

19The Chuang-tzu reveals very little explicitly about actual methods which might be used to grasp the Tao, probably because a determined, willful attempt by a direct "leap into the boundless" or by mimicking the principles of sagehood, is likely to prove elusive, if not self-defeating. 20We

note, also, how an instant of time can give birth to the Timeless.


(1996) also states, "All superior art has in common: the capacity to simply take your breath away” (p. 89). We note that in speaking about the precise moment of mastering an image, Cartier-Bresson (1992) writes, 'To photograph is to hold one's breath" (p. 333). The Chuang-tzu itself states: "So it is said, you have only to comprehend the one breath that is the world. The sage never ceases to value oneness" (Watson, 1968, p. 236).


Allinson, R. E. (1989). Chuang Tzu for spiritual transformation. Albany, NY: State Univer­ sity of New York Press. Ames, R. T. (1989). Putting the Te back into Taoism. In J. B. Callicott & R. T. Ames (Eds.), Nature in Asian traditions of thought: Essays in environmental philosophy (pp. 113-44). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Arbus, D. (1989). In B. Johnson (Ed.), Photography speaks (pp. 94-95). New York: Aperture. Beaton, C. & Buckland, G. (1989). The magic image: The genius of photography. London: Pavilion. Berner, J. (1975). The photographic experience. New York: Doubleday. Bishop, R. (1992, September). Zen and the art of good seeing. Petersen’s Photographic, 75-77, 80. Boubat, E. (1995, September). Interview by M. E. Harris. Edouart Boubat and Pierre Gassmann. Camera & Darkroom, 22-31. Buber, M. (1991). Chinese tales: Zhuangzi: Sayings and parables and Chinese ghost and love stories (A. Page, Trans.). Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International. Cartier-Bresson, H. (1952). The decisive moment. New York: Simon & Schuster.


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Cartier-Bresson, H. (1973). The decisive moment. In Images of man, 2 (pp. 72-95). New York: Scholastic Magazines. Cartier-Bresson, H. (1976). Henri Cartier-Bresson. New York: Aperture. Cartier-Bresson, H. (1988, October). [Quote.] Modern Photography, 94. Cartier-Bresson, H. (1992). Henri Cartier-Bresson, photographer (Rev. ed.). Boston: Little, Brown. Chan, W. T. (Trans.). (1963). The Chuang Tzu. In A source book in Chinese philosophy (pp. 179-210). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Chang, C. Y. (1970). Creativity and Taoism: A study of Chinese philosophy, art, and poetry. New York: Harper & Row. Cleary, T. F. (Trans.). (1991). The essential Tao: An initiation into the heart of Taoism through the authentic Tao Te Ching and the inner teachings of Chuang-tzu. New York: HarperCollins. Conrad. D. D. (1994, May). Ruth Bernhard. Camera & Darkroom, 22-31. de Bary, W. T., Chan. W. T. & Watson, B. (Comp.). (1964). Selections from the Chuang-tzu. in Sources of Chinese tradition (Vol. 1, pp. 63-85). New York: Columbia University Press. Df.Wolfe, G. (1995, March/April). Photography and reality: Intuitive solutions in imagemaking. View Camera, 3. Doeffinger, D. (1992). The Kodak workshop series: The art of seeing. New York: Kodak Publication KW-20. Doisneau, R. (1992). In P. Hill & T. Cooper, Dialogue with photography (pp. 70-92). New York: Comerhouse. Feingersh, E. (1979). What makes a good picture? In H. V. Fondiller (Ed.), The best of popular photography (p. 273). New York: Ziff-Davis. Feininger, A. (1978). The complete photographer: The definitive guide to modem black-andwhite and color photography (Rev. ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Feng, G. F. & English, J. (Trans.). (1974). Chuang Tzu: Inner chapters. New York: Random House. Fung, Y. L. (1964). Chuang-tzu: A new selected translation with an exposition of the philosophy of Kuo Hsiang (2nd cd.). New York: Paragon Books. Galassi, P. (1987). Henri Cartier-Bresson: The early work. New York: New York Graphic Society Books; Boston: Little, Brown. Goodpasture, V. (1994, February). Jerry Jacka: Capturing the Southwest's spirit. Photo­ grapher's Forum, 16(2), 46-52. Graham, A. C. (Trans.). (1989). Chuang-Tzu: The inner chapters. London: Unwin. Graham, A. C. (1990). Studies in Chinese philosophy and philosophical literature. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Gross, P. L. (1996). Perfect yin, perfect yang: The Tao of photography. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 15(2), 1-11. Gross, P. L. & Shapiro, S. 1. (1993). Leap into the boundless: Knowledge, wisdom, and liberation in the Chuang-tzu. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, I2( 1), 1-21. (Reprinted in: E. M. Neill, 1994, The spirit of learning, pp. 175-196. Brisbane, Australia: Bolda-Lok Publishing.) Gross, P. L. & Shapiro, S. I. (1994). Incongruity and the evocation of great knowledge in the Chuang-tzu. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 13(2), 56-65. Gross, P. L. & Shapiro, S. I. (in press). The Tao of photography: The Chuang-tzu, conscious camerawork, and unconstricted awareness. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. Harris, E. (1994, February). Manuel Alvarez Bravo: The C & D interview. Camera & Darkroom, 22-31. Herrigel, E. (1953). Zen in the art of archery. New York: Random House. Jahiel, A. (1995, January). The cowboy way: Photographs of the American West. Camera & Darkroom, 22-31.

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Lazelle, K. (1993, April). Interview by M. Rodriguez. Keith Lazelle: Capturing nature at its most quiet. Camera & Darkroom, 22-29. Lukashevich, S. (1987). Thus spoke Master Chuang: A structural exegesis of Taoist philoso­ phy. New York: Peter Lang. MacLean, A. (1995, May). Alex MacLean. Interview by J. Bell. Photographer's Forum, 77(3), 48-53. Mair, V. H. (Ed.). (1983). Experimental essays on Chuang-tzu. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai‘i Press. Mak, V. H. (Trans.). (1994). Wandering on the way: Early Taoist tales and parables of Chuang Tzu. New York: Bantam. Marx, K. (1994). Right brain/left brain photography: The art and technique of 70 modem masters. New York: Amphoto. Maslow, A. H. (1979). The journals of A. H. Maslow (2 vols., R. J. Lowry, Ed.). Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole. Merton, T. (Trans.). (1965). The way of Chuang Tzu. New York: New Directions. Norman, D. (1976). Alfred Stieglitz. New York: Aperture. Palmer, M. (Trans.). (1996). The book of Chuang Tzu. New York: Arkana. Riboud, M. (1994, August). Marc Riboud. Camera & Darkroom, 71. Ruth, K. (1993, January). Ken Ruth by Ken Ruth. Camera & Darkroom, 46-51. Schaub, G. (1995, May). Ellen Denuto. Photographer’s Forum, 10-16. Smith, M. A. (1992, July). Interview by W. McEwen. Extended vision: The photography of Michael A. Smith. Camera & Darkroom, 30-37. Sontag, S. (1989). On photography. New York: Doubleday. Ware, J. (Trans.). (1963). The sayings of Chuang Chou. New York: Mentor. Watson, B. (Trans.). (1964). Chuang Tzu: Basic writings. New York: Columbia University Press. Watson, B. (Trans.). (1968). The complete works of Chuang Tzu. New York: Columbia University Press. Watts, A. W. (1975). Tao: The watercourse way. New York: Pantheon. Westerbeck, C. & Meyerowitz, J. (1994). Bystander: A history of street photography. Boston: Little, Brown. Weston, E. (1979). Thoughts on photography. In H. V. Fondiller (Ed.), The best of popular photography (p. 280). New York: Ziff-Davis. Weston, B. (1989). In B. Johnson (Ed.), Photography speaks (pp. 76-77). New York: Aperture. White, G. (1992, June). Yasu Suzuka: The horizon of time. Camera & Darkroom, 34-39. Wilber, K. (1996). Transpersonal art and literary theory. Journal of Transpersonal Psychol­ ogy, 28( 1), 63-91. Wu, K. M. (1982). Chuang Tzu: World philosopher at play. New York: Crossroad Publishing. Wu, K. M. (1990). The butterfly as companion: Meditations on the first three chapters of the Chuang Tzu. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Requests for reprints to: Philippe L. Gross, Department of Psychology, 2430 Campus Road, University of Hawai'i, Honolulu, HI 96822.


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I should like to add one additional transpersonal perspective on art, drawn from my and my students’ experience, as a result of being stimulated by Wilber’s excellent “Transpersonal Art and Literary Theory” in the last issue of the Journal (28, 1). For some years I have been attempting to practice and teach Gurdjieff’s method of self-remembering as I understand it (Tart, 1986, 1994), where attention, rather than allowed to run along the automated channels of habit evoked by stimuli and one’s “false personality,” is deliberately split. While most of it is used to pay clear attention to the exact, moment-by-moment quality of sensory input, some is used to keep track of ongoing body sensation. This anchors the mind more in the here-and-now of being embodied and receiving sensory input. Other effects, such as psychological insight, are varied over time, but occasionally one feels that one is decidedly more present to the moment in an open, spacious, and perceptually accurate way, rather than caught up in internally generated dramas and preoccupations. The sensory /phenomenal world takes on a quiet but real immediacy and vividness, a state which is quite “ordinary” in one way, but quite extraordinary when one realizes how rare this immediate sense of presence is in our lives. On many occasions when I have looked at some works of art, particularly paintings, I am reminded to carry out this effort of self-remembering, because the subtle beauty of the painting is much like the quality of presence induced by self-remembering. As I sometimes put it to my students, when you are present, the whole world becomes an art gallery. So an important transpersonal function of some art can be to remind us to be present to the moment. My formal knowledge of art is quite limited, so I won’t over-generalize here, but I’m sure art of all types could be rated on its ability to invoke the transcendent in us. Ideally in doing such ratings we would learn to separate out the purely personal, idiosyncratic elements which remind just certain people of some­ thing transpersonal from the elements which more universally invoke a transpersonal response. Charles T. Tart Palo Alto, California

Tart, C. (1986). Waking up: Overcoming the obstacles to human potential. Boston: New Science Library. Tart, C. (1994). Living the mindful life. Boston: Shambhala.

The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1996, Vol. 28, No. 2


Scotton, Bruce W., M.D., Chinen, Allan B., M.D. & Battista, John R„ M.D. (Eds.). Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology. New York: Harper Collins, 1996. $55.00, xx + 443 pp.

As The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology enters its twenty-ninth year, the steady evolution of transpersonal psychology, with its diverse manifestations, has now presented us with a comprehensive textbook of the field. The need for such a textbook for the practicing clinician became apparent with the addition in the American Psychiatric Association’s 1994 Fourth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) ol the V code diagnosis “Religious or Spiritual Problem” (V62.89). In the Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology, editors Battista, Chinen, and Scotton draw upon the experience of twenty-nine seasoned trans­ personal clinicians, many of whom have made major contributions to the field of transpersonal studies. In forty chapters covered in over 400 pages, the reader is guided through a diverse maze of transpersonal topics. The book begins by defining transpersonal psychiatry and psychology, and how it has developed as a respected field of study. This section is followed by a historical review of the work of early clinicians who set the stage for transpersonal studies, namely: William James, Sigmund Freud, C.G. Jung, Abraham Maslow, and Roberto Assagioli. Ken Wilber’s work is referred to throughout the book, consistent with his role as one of the pioneers and major theoreticians in the transpersonal field (he also wrote the book’s foreword). One of Wilber’s major contributions is his description of the “Spectrum of Conscious­ ness,” which also is the title of one of his numerous books. The concept of conscious­ ness as a spectrum of various divergent states, all valid when rightly viewed from their place on the larger spectrum, is a theme that is woven throughout the forty chapters. Wilber describes this spectrum as consisting of three main developmental arenas: the pre-personal or pre-egoic, the personal or egoic, and the trans-personal or trans-egoic. Western psychology, as it has developed over the past 150 years, has mainly focussed on the pre-personal and personal states, for the most part ignoring the spiritual dimension of the human psyche. Eastern philosophies and spiritual traditions, as they have developed over the past 4,000 years, mainly focus on transpersonal states. Wilber’s spectrum integrates these divergent approaches to understanding the human psyche into an understandable model which reframes how Western and Eastern clinicians approach their clients. The editors introduce the term “biopsychosocialspiritual continuum” which expands upon the traditional Western term, biopsycho­ social continuum, as the model for understanding the complexities and totality of the clients that clinicians treat. A section on “Cross-Cultural Roots” explores the transpersonal practices of diverse spiritual traditions, including: Christian Mysticism, Native American, Hinduism and Yoga, Kabbalah, Shamanism, and Buddhism. A common theme is that as the spiritual aspirant opens to the deeper levels of the unconscious within, the qualities of compassion and altruism also ripen and replace the previous states of self-centeredness and closed-mindedness. As Dwight Judy states in his chapter: “The client’s


The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1996, Vol. 28, No. 2

worldview, whether religious or not, must be treated with the utmost respect.” As the familiar Zen metaphor reminds us, all spiritual traditions are different fingers pointing towards the same moon. Different individuals, for complex reasons, choose a spiritual path that is most comfortable for them, including atheism and science. The ideal clinician’s task is to accept each client’s belief system as a truth for that person, and to then skillfully guide that individual along the path to healing and psychological freedom using whatever map of the territory of consciousness that particular indi­ vidual is following—no small feat! This challenge highlights the importance of including transpersonal studies in all training programs for clinicians. Francis Lu presents such a training model in his chapter about training psychiatric residents. Other chapters explore topics that seem unrelated at first glance, but when the goal of mapping out the field of transpersonal psychology is kept in mind, each chapter, e.g., aging and adult spiritual development, can be understood as one window into a huge edifice awaiting further exploration and discovery. Additional sections include: meditation research, the use of psychedelics in consciousness research, parapsychol­ ogy, contemporary physics, anthropology, and transpersonal epistemology. The “Clinical Practice” section includes chapters on diagnosis, transpersonal psycho­ therapy, psychopharmacology, and chapters on several transpersonal techniques. Potential pitfalls are also brought to light. The clinician should be mindful of the “defensive misuse of spirituality and inflation of the ego.” For example, the suppres­ sion of strong feelings of anger, rage, depression, sadness, or hatred by a pseudo­ spiritual presentation of forgiveness and love for all people ideally should be gently confronted so that these strong suppressed emotions can be appropriately expressed. In this case the client is using spirituality as a defense against emotions that feel too dangerous to allow into conscious awareness, whereby the facilitation of the expres­ sion of these emotions at the ego level would be the most skillful therapeutic maneuver. The narcissist may use a spiritual practice to further delude a fragile ego into fantasies of increasing grandiosity, which are ultimately self-serving rather than opening to compassion and acceptance of others. Equally important, the clinician must be mindful of the impact of whatever diagnostic assessment is made on the client, for the client presents for treatment looking for symptom relief, guidance, and self-understanding. The client presents with a degree of trust that the clinician understands the human psyche and w i l l provide the appropriate treatment interven­ tion. The clinician needs to be aware of any personal beliefs or judgments that may contaminate the diagnostic process. The ideal clinician would have a comprehensive understanding of the entire spectrum of consciousness and be able to skillfully intervene with each client in a manner that would maximize the client’s healing and psychological growth. Experience of transpersonal states, and a trans-egoic relation­ s h i p to those states, would be important qualities for the clinician to embody. The last clinical section is on ethics and professional development. It is followed by a concluding chapter in which the three editors integrate the book’s main points. A final chapter provides a very useful annotated guide to transpersonal literature. In summary, the field of transpersonal psychology has grown at a rapid pace. A large body of clinical, experiential, and experimental data has accumulated, but until recently had existed in a fragmented state. Now, the Textbook of Transpersonal

Book Reviews


Psychiatry and Psychology provides us with the first comprehensive, integrative, and at the same time provocative text for this important field. It will likely serve as the first authoritative textbook focused on transpersonal psychiatry and psychology, and is certain to become a classic. John J. Miller

Lawlis, G. Frank, Ph.D. Transpersonal Medicine: A New Approach Body-Mind-Spirit. Boston: Shambhala, 1996. $23.00, xxi + 245 pp.



As we enter the final years of this century, it is clear that orthodox medicine stands pre-eminent within mainstream culture as the prevailing health treatment paradigm. Our daily newspapers routinely report from medical journals on the latest break­ throughs of high-tech medical science, promising us a future world where illness, and perhaps even death itself, has been vanquished. And yet, in spite of such ebullient self-appraisal, growing discontent with mainstream allopathic medicine increasingly pervades public perception. While economic forecasters prognosticate that our much vaunted health delivery system has priced itself beyond affordable health care for most people, the actual substance of that medical treatment has been recognized as leading to the progressive dehumanization of the ill and infirm. And although enormous expenditures of research and clinical dollars have been poured into an increasingly self-serving medical-industrial complex, awareness has begun to crystallize that something fundamental is missing. Within this context of growing dissatisfaction with mainstream models of health care and the increasing search for viable alternatives, Frank Lawlis has written a book that w i l l likely serve as a blueprint for one particular modality of change. Lawlis, a medical psychologist with long experience in the areas of psychosomatic illness, pain management, psycho-oncology, and death and dying, presents a compelling argument for the need to integrate both the emotional and spiritual dimensions of healing with our physiological and mechanistic paradigms. Recognizing the role of consciousness toward concepts of rejuvenation and the imperative to restore meaning to health and illness, Lawlis calls for the application of the fourth force of psychology, the trans­ personal, to the medical treatment setting. Calling upon the model of the shaman as the exemplar of cross-cultural and deep spiritual healing, altered states of conscious­ ness are displayed as compelling avenues to dynamics of healing unexplored by mainstream, allopathic medicine. The transpersonal model, through extension beyond the conventional “self” to a recognition or even becoming “something of vast intelligence and compassion that encompass the entire universe,” opens up our narrow and rigidified medical structures to include those rich potential sources of healing which transcend consensual reality. The material in this book is presented in notable authorities in the field, including Fadiman, and Jeanne Achterberg, appended written, interspersed with interesting case an unusual manner, with interviews of Larry Dossey, Stanley Krippner, James to each chapter. The narrative is wellmaterial and effectively portrays Frank


The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1996, Vol. 28, No. 2

Lawlis’ many years of experience exploring alternative modes of healing within conventional medical systems. The book closes on a very personal note with the author describing his own severe medical illness shortly after completing the final draft of the text, and his highly successful utilization of many of the alternative healing strategies he had written about. The positive outcome of his own healing process serves as a moving validation of the methods described. This is an important book and is highly recommended to those concerned with the limitations of conventional healing paradigms. In the past few years, interest in “alternative healing” has undergone enormous growth and has consequently attracted fiscal interest from within the medical-industrial complex. Unfortunately, such appli­ cations are often superficial and devoid of the true substance of what alternative healing models may genuinely offer. Frank Lawlis has provided a great service with this book, by providing a clear and compelling description of the transpersonal medicine model. By seriously examining the rich substance and potential of the transpersonal paradigm, mainstream medicine may transform its own understanding of health and illness, and in the process better serve the physical, psychological, and spiritual needs of those individuals entrusted to its care. Charles S. Grob

Book Reviews


BOOKS OUR EDITORS ARE READING Soidla, T.R. & Shapiro, S. Everything is according to the way: Voices of Russian transpersonalism. Stafford Heights, Australia: Bolda-Lok Publishing (Bolda Lok Series in Transpersonal Studies), 1997. . . . Marcie Boucouvalas Hillman, J. Healing fiction: In search of character and calling. Dallas, TX: Spring Publications, 1994. Hillman, J. The soul’s code. New York: Random House, 1996. Le Shan, L. An ethic for the age of space: A touch tone for conduct among the stars. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1996. . . . James F.T. Bugental Crawford, J. Through the eyes of spirit. Nevada City, CA: Blue Dolphin, 1996. Nydahl, O. The way things are: A living approach to Buddhism for today’s world. Nevada City, CA: Blue Dolphin, 1996. Tsosie, D. & T. Spirit visions: The old ones speak. Nevada City, CA: Blue Dolphin, 1996. . . . Paul M. Clemens Ferris, T. Coming of age in the milky way. New York: Doubleday, 1988. Johnson, P.E.. Darwin on trial. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1993. Thorne, K. Black holes and time warps: Einstein’s outragious legacy. New York: W . W . Norton, 1994. . . . Stanislav Grof Kaza, S. The attentive heart: Conversations with trees. New York: Fawcett Colum­ bine, 1993. Smith, H. & Snake, R. One nation under God: The triumph of the Native American church. Santa Fe, NM: Clear Light Publishers, 1996. . . . Michael S. Hutton Bell, D. The cultural contradictions of capitalism. New York: Basic Books, 1996. Kinsley, D. Health, healing and religion: A cross cultural perspective. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1996. Hickman, I. Remote depossession. Kirkville, MO: Hickman Systems, 1997. . . . Stanley Krippner Epstein, M. Thoughts without a thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist perspective. New York: Basic Books, 1995. Quinn, D. Ishmael. New York: Bantam Books, 1996. . . . John Levy Clinebell, H. Ecotherapy: Healing ourselves, healing the earth. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1996. Kelly, E.W. Spirituality and religion in counseling and psychotherapy. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association, 1995.


The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1996, Vol. 28, No. 2

Shafranske, E.P. (Ed.). Religion and the clinical practice of psychotherapy. Wash­ ington, DC: American Psychological Association, 1996. . . . David Lukoff Batchelor, S. Buddhism without beliefs: A contemporary guide to awakening. New York: Putnam, 1997. Campbell, J. Traveler in space: In search of female identity in Tibetan Buddhism. London: Braziller, 1996. Trungpa, Chogyam. Dharma art. Boston: Shambhala, 1996 . . . Sonja Margulies Wilber, K. Sex, ecology, and spirituality: The spirit of evolution. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1995. . . . Michael Murphy Marsden, G. The soul of the American university: Form Protestant establishment to established nonbelief. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Smith, W. The quantum enigma: Finding the hidden key. Peru, IL: Sherwood Sugden & Co., 1997. .. . Huston Smith Corbett, L. The religious function of the psyche. New York: Routledge, 1996. Wilber, K. The integration of science and religion. New York: Random House, In-Press. . . . Frances Vaughan Mellick, J. The natural artistry of dreams: Creative ways to bring the wisdom of dreams to waking life. Berkeley, CA: Conari Press, 1996. Boorstein, S. Clinical studies in transpersonal psychotherapy. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1997. Wilber, K. The eye of spirit: An integral vision for a world gone slightly mad. Boston: Shambhala, 1997. . . . Miles A. Vich Welwood, J. Love and awakening: Discovering the sacred path of intimate relation­ ship. New York: HarperCollins, 1996. Crafton, B.C. Meditations of the Book of Psalms: A guide to the care and feeding of the spirit. New York: Ballantine, 1996. Anderson, J.W. Where wonders prevail: True accounts that bear witness to the existence of heaven. New York: Ballantine, 1996 . .. Thomas N. Weide Almaas, A.H. The point of existence: Transformation of narcissism in self-realiza­ tion, Berkeley: Almaas Publications, 1997. Gendlin, E.T. Focusing-oriented psychotherapy: A manual of the experiential method. New York: Guilford, 1996. Needleman, J. & Baker, G. Gurdjieff: Essays and reflections on the man and his teaching. New York: Continuum, 1996. . . . John Welwood

Books Our Editors Are Reading



Becvar, D.S. Soul healing: A spiritual orientation in counseling and therapy. New York: Basic Books, 1997. Beebe, J. Integrity in depth. New York: Fromm International, 1995. Corbett, L. The religious function of the psyche. London: Routledge, 1996. Feinstein, D. & Krippner, S. The mythic path. New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1997. Hora, T. Beyond the dream: Awakening to reality. 2nd Edition. New York: Cross­ road, 1996. Jamison, S. Final acts of love: Families, friends and assisted dying. New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1995. Jaskolski, H. The labyrinth: Symbol of fear, rebirth and liberation. Boston: Shambhala, 1997. Judith, A. Eastern body, Western mind: Psychology and the chakra system as a path to the self. Berkeley: Celestial Arts, 1996. Lehman, H. Pigeonholing women's misery: A history and critical analysis of the psychodiagnosis of women in the twentieth century. New York: Basic Books, 1996. Napier, N.J. Sacred practices for conscious living. New York: Norton, 1997. Noel, D.C. The soul of shamanism: Western fantasies, imaginal realities. New York: Continuum, 1997. Shorter, B. Susceptible to the sacred: The psychological experience of ritual. London & New York: Routledge, 1996. Wolman, B.B. The encyclopedia of psychiatry, psychology, and psychoanalysis. New York: Henry Holt, 1996.


The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1996, Vol. 28, No. 2

Rosemarie Anderson, Ph.D., is a research psychologist, author, and teacher of transpersonal psychology. For nearly three decades she has been active in feminist approaches to psychologi­ cal research. She is also an Episcopal priest serving in Santa Cruz, California, and author of a forthcoming book. Carved from the Night: Celtic Oracles for Transformation and Personal Growth. She is Associate Professor at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Palo Alto. Philippe L. Gross, Ph.D., is a free-lance photographer and lecturer at the University of Hawai’i where he received his doctorate in psychology. His main interests include artistic practices as spiritual paths, the psychology of knowledge and wisdom, classical Asian psychologies of the mind, transpersonal psychology, and the psychology of humor. He authored several publica­ tions on the Taoist perspectives of the Chuang-tzu and is currently a guest editor for the International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist and Professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. His books include Maps of Consciousness, Opening to Inner Light, The Well of Remembrance, and the forthcoming Spirit, Self and Nature. His previous Journal articles were published in 1980, 1985, and 1994. Laurel Parnell, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in private practice in San Rafael, California, a senior facilitator for the EMDR Institute, and Adjunct Professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. She is author of Transforming Trauma: EMDR, the Revolution­ ary New Therapy for Freeing the Mind, Clearing the Body, and Opening the Heart, a contributor to the forthcoming, Complex Applications of EMDR: A Casebook, and a long-time Buddhist practitioner and student of non-dualism. S.I. Shapiro, Ph.D.,is Professor of Psychology at the University of Hawai’i and a member of the Buddhist Studies Program. His teaching and research interests include: the psychology of knowledge and wisdom, classical Asian psychologies of the mind, transpersonal psychology, and the art of teaching. His most recent book (with R.T. Soidla) is Everything Is According to the Way: Voices of Russian Transpersonalism. He is also co-editor to the International Journal of Transpersonal Studies series, Voices of Russian Transpersonalism, and has taken 7,000 photos relating to the topic. He published previous JTP articles in 1991, 1992. and 1995. John Welwood, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist in San Francisco, Associate Editor of the Journal, and a well-known contributor to the field of transpersonal and East/West psychology. His many books include Awakening the Heart: East/West Approaches to Psychotherapy and the Healing Relationship; Journey of the Heart: The Path of Conscious Love; Ordinary Magic: Everyday Life as Spiritual Path, and most recently, Love and Awaken­ ing. His previous Journal articles appeared in 1976,1977(1 & 2), 1978, 1979(1 & 2), 1980(1 & 2), 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, and 1990.

reviewers/letter contributor

Charles S. Grob, M.D., is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, California, and serves on the board of the Transpersonal Institute. John J. Miller, M.D., is a psychiatrist at Harris Street Associates, Newburyport, and a consulting psychiatrist to the Insight Meditation Society, Barre, Massachusetts. Charles T. Tart, Ph.D., is Professor at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Palo Alto, California, author of many books in this field, and serves on the JTP Board of Editors.

About the Authors


Anderson, R. Nine psycho-spiritual characteristics of spontaneous and involuntary weeping.— “The spilling over of tears,” not caused by obvious immediate stimuli or conditions known to the weeper, is examined in a phenomenological content analysis of historical and contemporary writings and in-depth interviews. Nine characteristics of such weeping included: relinquishing superficial concerns, re-integration of self, “touching reality,” holding disparate polarities of existence, seeing the tragic as universal, changes in body awareness, changes in visual perception, an expansion of awareness, and an inward sense of freedom or vastness. The findings suggest that involuntary weeping is integrative rather than disintegrative, that tears may be starting points as well as end points of integration, and that such weeping may be transformative in well-functioning adults. Gross, P.L & Shapiro, S.I. Characteristics of the Taoist Sage in the Chuang-tzu and the creative photographer.—This study draws attention to some parallels we have found between the characteristics of sagehood as depicted in the ancient Taoist wisdom text known as the Chuangtzu and certain passages from the literature describing creative photography. The characteristics of the Taoist Sage discussed herein are freedom from the sense of self, receptivity, wu-wei, spontaneity, acceptance, nonattachment, resourcefulness, free and easy wandering, and te. The similitude between a Taoist Sage and a creative photographer requires some qualification, but an appreciation of the resemblance can be useful for the development of the creative photog­ rapher. More importantly, although the Chuang-tzu was composed over two thousand years ago, with its imaginative style and profound vision, this work remains an invaluable guide to the art of living for photographers and nonphotographers alike. Metzner, R. The Buddhist six-worlds model of consciousness and reality.—Presents a model of existence, interpreted from Mahayana Buddhism’s Wheel of Birth and Death, that is both topological (spatial) and biographical (temporal). The model is interpreted in four levels: metaphysical/ecological, reincarnational, personality typology, and states of consciousness typology. The discussion relates the six segments of the model’s progressing life-cycle to Eastern and Western psychological functioning, attitudes toward living, and world views. Parnell, L. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and spiritual unfold­ ing.—Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a powerful and effective psychotherapeutic method for healing trauma-based problems. In addition to its therapeutic effectiveness, it also leads in many cases to clients opening to transpersonal experiences. In this paper, information on EMDR’s history and development, theories about how it works, and the EMDR procedure are presented. Description and discussion of the spiritual unfolding in EMDR clients is given, including the development of wisdom, compassion, trust in life, forgiveness, insights, epiphanies, experiences of spiritual freedom, visions, and openings into the psychic realm. The spiritual unfolding observed is explained from a non-dual perspective. EMDR is an integrative psychotherapy that seems to work by clearing cognitive, emotional, and physical blockages in the body-mind allowing one's true essence to shine through. Welwood, J. Reflection and presence: The dialectic of self-knowledge.—A leading contributor to transpersonal and East/West psychology traces the evolution of his view of the relationship between psychotherapy and meditation. The narrative describes the function of divided and undivided consciousness, the problem of prereflective identification, reflection as a stepping back from identification, awakening within experience (“unconditional presence”), and the postreflective level beyond divided consciousness. Psychotherapy is dialogical and its “homebase” is reflection; spirituality is contemplative and its base is presence. The author also comments on Focusing therapy, self-liberation, Dzogchen/Mahamudra meditation, and con­ cludes with suggestions for therapists, Western students, and researchers.


The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1996, Vol. 28, No. 2

CONTENTS: Volume 28, 1996 THE JOURNAL OF TRANSPERSONAL PSYCHOLOGY Anderson, Rosemarie. Nine psycho-spiritual characteristics of spontaneous and involuntary weeping. Drogalina, Jeanna A. & Naumov, V.V. The transpersonal movement: A Russian perspective on its emergence and prospects for further development. Gross, Philippe L. & Shapiro, S.I. Characteristics of the Taoist Sage in the Chuang-tzu and the creative photographer. Liester, Mitchell B. Inner voices: Distinguishing transcendent and pathological characteristics. Metzner, Ralph. The Buddhist six-worlds model of consciousness and reality. Miller, John J. & Urbanowski, Ferris B. Trauma, psychotherapy, and meditation. Nalimov, V.V. & Drogalina, Jeanna A. The transpersonal movement: A Russian perspective on its emergence and prospects for further development. Parnell, Laurel. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and spiritual unfolding. Shapiro, S.I. & Gross, Philippe L. Characteristics of the Taoist Sage in the Chuang-tzu and the creative photographer. Tart, Charles T. Letter, Urbanowski, Ferris B. & Miller, John J. Trauma, psychotherapy, and meditation. Welwood, John. Reflections and presence: The dialectic of self-knowledge. Wilber, Ken. Transpersonal art and literary theory.
book review book reviews books our editors are reading books our editors are reading books noted books noted about the authors about the authors abstracts abstracts

2, 167-173

1, 49-62 2, 175-192 1, 1-30

2, 155-166 1, 31-48

1, 49-62 2, 129-153 2, 175-192 2, 193 1, 31-48 2, 107-128 1, 63-92 1, 93-94 2, 194-197 1, 95 2, 198 1, 96 2, 200 1. 98 2, 201 1, 99 2, 202

Contents: Volume 28, 1996



1969 Vol. 1 No. 1

Armor, T. A note on the peak experience and a transpersonal psychology. • Assagioli, R. Symbols of transpersonal experiences. • Maslow, A. The farther reaches of human nature. • Maslow, A.H. Various meanings of transcendence. • Maven, A. The mystic union: A suggested biological interpretation. • Murphy, M.H. Education for transcendence. • Sutich, A.J. Some considerations regarding Transpersonal Psychology. Harman, W. The new Copemican revolution. • LeShan, L. Physicists and mystics: Similarities in world view. • Maslow, A.H. Theory Z. • Pahnke, N. & Richards, W.A. Implications of LSD and experimental mysticism. • Sutich, A.J. The American Transper­ sonal Association. • Wapnick, K. Mysticism and schizophrenia. Blair, M.A. Meditation in the San Francisco Bay Area: An introductory survey. • Criswell, E. Experimental yoga psychology course for college students: A progress report. • Green, E., Green, A.M. & Walters, E.D. Voluntary control of internal states: Psychological and physiological. • Tart, C.T. Transpersonal potentialities of deep hypno­ sis. • Timmons, B. & Kamiya, J. The psychology and physiology of meditation and related phenomena: A bibliography. Fadiman, J. The second Council Grove conference on altered states of consciousness. • Hart, J.T. The Zen of Hubert Benoit. • Maslow, A.H. New introduction: Religions, values, and peak experiences. • Ram Dass. Lecture at the Menninger Foundation: Part I. Goleman D. Meditation as meta-therapy: Hypotheses toward a proposed fifth state of consciousness. • Green, E.E. & Green, A.M. On the meaning of transpersonal: Some metaphysical perspectives. • Ram Dass. Lecture at the Menninger Foundation: Part II. • Sutich, A.J. Transpersonal notes. Hendrick, N. A program in the psychology of human consciousness. • Tart, C.T. A psychologist’s experience with Transcendental Meditation. • Tart, C.T. Scientific founda­ tions for the study of altered states of consciousness. • Van Nuys, D. A novel technique for studying attention during meditation. • Weide, T.N. Council Grove III: The third annual interdisciplinary conference on the voluntary control of internal states. Goleman, D. The Buddha on meditation and states of consciousness, Part I: The teachings. • Grof, S. Varieties of transpersonal experiences: Observations from LSD psychotherapy. • Sherman, S.E. Brief report: Continuing research on “very deep hypnosis.” • Sutich, A J. Association for Transpersonal Psychology. • Weide, T.N. Council Grove IV: Toward a science of ultimates. Goleman, D. The Buddha on meditation and states of consciousness. Part II: A typology of meditation techniques. • Krippner, S. (ed.). The plateau experience: A.H. Maslow and others. • Richards, W., Grof, S., Goodman, L. & Kurland, A. LSD-assisted psycho­ therapy and the human encounter with death. Grof, S. Theoretical and empirical basis of transpersonal psychology and psychotherapy: Observations from LSD research. • Ram Dass. Lecture at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center: Part I. • Sutich, A J. Transpersonal therapy. • Trungpa, C. An approach to meditation. • Velhjalmsson, G.V. & Weide, T.N. The first international transpersonal conference. • Weide, T.N. Varieties of transpersonal therapy.

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1970 Vol. 2 No. 1

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1972 Vol. 4 No. 1

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1973 Vol. 5 No. 1


The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1996, Vol 28, No. 2

No. 2

Clark, F.V. Exploring intuition: Prospects and possibilities. • Katz, R. Education for transcendence: Lessons from the !Kung Zhu/twasi. • Nitya, Swami. Excerpts from a discussion. • Osis, K., Bokert, E. & Carlson, M.L. Dimensions of the meditative experience. • Ram Dass. Lecture at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center: Part II. • Weide, T.N. Vallombrosa: A major transpersonal event. Campbell, P.A. & McMahon, E.M. Religious-type experience in the context of humanis­ tic and transpersonal psychology. • Casper, M. Space therapy and the Maitri project. • Clark, F.V. Rediscovering transpersonal education. • Crampton, M. Psychological en­ ergy transformations: Developing positive polarization. • Goleman, D. Perspectives on psychology, reality, and the study of consciousness. • Kennett, J. Translating the precepts. • Redmond, H. A pioneer program in transpersonal education. • Timmons, B. & Kanellakos, D.P. The psychology and physiology of meditation and related phenomena: Bibliography II. • Watts, A. Psychotherapy and Eastern religion: Metaphysical bases of psychiatry. Bernbalm, E. The way of symbols: The use of symbols in Tibetan mysticism. • Frager, R. A proposed model for a graduate program in Transpersonal Psychology. • Jain, M. & Jain, K.M. The samadhist: A description. • Kennett, J. On meditation. • Ring, K. A transper­ sonal view of consciousness: A mapping of farther regions of inner space. • Stat, D. Double chambered whistling bottles: A unique Peruvian pottery form. • Tarthang Tulku. The self-image. Augustine, MJ. & Kalish, R.A. Religion, transcendence, and appropriate death. • Frager, R. & Fadiman, J. Personal growth in Yoga and Sufism. • Kennett, J., Radha, Swami & Fr\ger, R. How to be a transpersonal teacher without becoming a guru. • Ram Dass. Advice to a psychotherapist. • Shultz, J.V. Stages on the spiritual path: A Buddhist perspective. • Simonton, O.C. & Simonton, S.S. Belief systems and management of the emotional aspects of malignancy. • Trungpa, C. Transpersonal cooperation at Naropa. Deatherage, G. The clinical use of “mindfulness” meditation techniques in short-term psychotherapy. • Garfield, C.A. Consciousness alteration and fear of death. • Goleman, D. Mental health in classical Buddhist psychology. • Hendricks, C.G. Meditation as discrimination training: A theoretical note. • Maqlet, J. Meditation in contemporary Sri Lanka: Idea and practice. • Wilber, K. Psychologia perennis: The spectrum of conscious­ ness. Capra, F. Modem physics and Eastern mysticism. • Sutich, A.J. The emergence of the transpersonal orientation: A personal account. • Tart, C.T. The basic nature of altered states of consciousness: A systems approach. • Tarthang Tulku. A view of mind. • Vich, M.A. Anthony J. Sutich: An appreciation. Leslie, Jr., R.C. Yoga and the fear of death. • Ram Dass. Freeing the mind. • Ring, K. Mapping the regions of consciousness: A conceptual reformulation. • Singer, J.A. Jungian view of biofeedback training. • Walsh, R.N. Reflections on psychotherapy. • Welwood, J. Exploring mind: Form, emptiness, and beyond. • Williams, R.R. Biofeedback: A technology for self-transaction. Erhard, W. & Fadiman, J. Some aspects of esi training and transpersonal psychology: A conversation. • Keller, M. Henry David Thoreau: A transpersonal view, illuminations, dark night, Thoreau’s spiritual development. • Welwood, J. Meditation and the uncon­ scious: A new perspective.

1974 Vol. 6 No. 1

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1975 Vol. 7 No. 1

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1976 Vol. 8 No. 1

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1977 Vol. 9 No. 1

Back Issues


No. 2

Anderson, Jr., R.M. A holographic model of transpersonal consciousness. • Kohr, R.L. Dimensionality in meditative experience: A replication. • Ram Dass & Steindl-Rast, B.D. On lay monasticism. • Walsh, R.N. Initial meditative experiences: Part I. • Welwood, J. On psychological space. Murdock, M.H. Meditation with young children. • Taylor, E.I. Psychology of religion and Asian studies: The William James legacy. • Walsh, R.N. Initial meditative experi­ ences: Part II. • Washburn, M.C. Observations relevant to a unified theory of meditation. Boai.s, G.F. Toward a cognitive reconceptualization of meditation. • Green, A.M. & Green, E.E. Some problems in biofeedback research. • Walsh, R.N., Goleman, D., Kornfield, J., Pensa, C. & Shapiro, D. Meditation: Aspects of research and practice. • Wei.wood, J., Capra, F., Ferguson, M., Needleman, J., Pribram, K., Smith, H., Vaughan, F. & Walsh, R.N. Psychology, science, and spiritual paths: Contemporary issues. Kornfield, J. Intensive insight meditation: A phenomenological study. • Meadow, MJ., Ajaya, Swami, Brf.gman, L., Clark, W.H., Green, G., Krippner, S., Rambo, L.R., Ring, K., Tart, C.T. & Wn.BER, K. Spiritual and transpersonal aspects of altered states of consciousness: A symposium report. • Stensrud, R. & Stensrud, K. The Tao of human relations. • Welwood, J. Self-knowledge as the basis for an integrative psychology. • Wn.BER, K. A developmental view of consciousness. Boorstein, S. Troubled relationships: Transpersonal and psychoanalytic approaches. • Trungpa, C. Intrinsic health: A conversation with health professionals. • Vaughan, F. Transpersonal psychotherapy: Context, content, and process. • Walsh, R.N. Emerging cross-disciplinary parallels: Suggestions from the neurosciences. • Walsh, R.N. Medita­ tion research: An introduction and review. • Welwood, J. Befriending emotion: Selfknowledge and transformation. • White, L.W. Recovery from alcoholism: Transpersonal dimensions. Bohm, D. & Welwood, J. Issues in physics, psychology, and metaphysics: A conversation. • Boucouvalas, M. Transpersonal psychology: A working outline of the field. • Burns, D. & Ohayv, R. Psychological changes in meditating Western monks in Thailand. • Drengson, A.R. Social and psychological implications of human attitudes toward animals. • Jamnien, Ajahn & Ohayv, R. Field interview with a Theravada teaching master. • Metzner, R. Ten classical metaphors of self-transformation. • Thomas, L.E. & Cooper, P.E. Incidence and psychological correlates of intense spiritual experiences. Boorstein, S. Lightheartedness in psychotherapy. • Brown, D.P. & Engler, J. Stages of mindfulness meditation: A validation study. • Langford, A. Working with Cambodian refugees: Observations on the Family Practice Ward at Khao I Dang. • Murphy, M. The Esalen Institute Transformation Project: A preliminary' report. • Welwood, J. Reflections on psychotherapy, focusing, and meditation. Hidas, A. Psychotherapy and surrender: A psychospiritual perspective. • Peters, L.G. An experiential study of Nepalese shamanism. • Smith, K. Observations on Morita therapy and culture-specific interpretations. • Wilber, K. Ontogenetic development: Two funda­ mental patterns.

1978 Vol. 10 No. 1 No. 2

1979 Vol. 11 No. 1

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1980 Vol. 12 No. 1

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1981 Vol. 13 No. 1


The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1996, Vol 28, No. 2

No. 2

Amodeo, J. Focusing applied to a case of disorientation in meditation. • Amundson, J. Will in the psychology of Otto Rank. • Earle, J.B.B. Cerebral laterality and meditation: A review. • Epstein, M.D. & Lieff, J.D. Psychiatric complications of meditation practice. • Goleman, D. Buddhist and Western psychology: Some commonalities and differences. • O’Hanlon, D.J., S.J. Integration of spiritual practices: A Western Christian looks East. Anthony, D. The outer master as inner transformation. • Lieff, J. Eight reasons death. • Vaughan, E The transpersonal model for view ing meditation research. psychotherapy. guide: Autonomy and authority in the process of why doctors fear the elderly, chronic illness, and perspective: A personal overview. • Walsh, R. A • Wortz, E. Application of awareness methods in

1982 Vol. 14 No. 1

No. 2

Aitkf.n, R. Zen practice and psychotherapy. • Alpf.rt, RJRam Dass. A ten-year perspec­ tive. • Reidlinger, T.J. Sartre’s rite of passage. • Speeth, K. R. On psychotherapeutic attention. • Welwood, J. Vulnerability and power in the therapeutic process: Existential and Buddhist perspectives. Friedman, H.L. The Self-Expansive Level Form: A conceptualization and measurement of a transpersonal construct. • Grof, S. East and West: Ancient wisdom and modem science. • Komito, D.R. Tibetan Buddhism and psychotherapy: A conversation with the Dalai Lama. • Lane, D.C. The hierarchical structure of religious visions. • Shapiro, Jr., D.H. Meditation as an altered state of consciousness: Contributions of Western behavioral science. Boorstein, S. The use of bibliotherapy and mindfulness meditation in a psychiatric setting. • Gallegos, E.S. Animal imagery, the chakra system, and psychotherapy. • Hastings, A. A counseling approach to parapsychological experience. • Henderson, B. Self-help books emphasizing transpersonal psychology: Are they ethical? • Henkin, W. Two non-ordinary experiences of reality and their integration. • Kai.ff, M. The negation of ego in Tibetan Buddhism and Jungian psychology. • Murphy, M. & Donovan, S. A bibliography of meditation theory and research: 1931-1983. • Vich, M.A. Announcement regarding the Journal's statement of purpose. Engler, J. Therapeutic aims in psychotherapy and meditation: Developmental stages in the representation of self. • Komito, D.R. Tibetan Buddhism and psychotherapy: Further conversations with the Dalai Lama. • Welwood, J. Principles of inner work: Psychological and spiritual. • Wilber, K. The developmental spectrum and psychopathology: Part I, States and types of pathology. Armstrong, T. Transpersonal experience in childhood. • Asantf., M.K. The African American mode of transcendence. • Epstein, M.D. On the neglect of evenly suspended attention. • Gross, R.M. The feminine principle in Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism: Reflec­ tions of a Buddhist feminist. • Shafranske, E.P. & Gorsuch, R.L. Factors associated with the perception of spirituality in psychotherapy. • Wilber, K. The developmental spectrum and psychopathology: Part II, Treatment modalities. Boorstein, S. Notes on right speech as a psychotherapeutic technique. • Metzner, R. Knots, ties, nets, and bonds in relationships. • Scotton, B.W. Observations on the teaching and supervision of transpersonal psychotherapy. • Sovatsky, S. Eros as mystery: Toward a transpersonal sexology and procreativity. • Thapa, K. & Murthy, V.N. Experiential characteristics of certain altered states of consciousness. • Welwood, J. On love: Condi­ tional and unconditional.

1983 Vol. 15 No. 1

No. 2

1984 Vol. 16 No. 1

No. 2

1985 Vol. 17 No. 1

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No. 2

Chinen, A.B. Fairy tales and transpersonal development in later life. • Goleman, D., Smith, H. & Ram Dass. Truth and transformation in psychological and spiritual paths. • Lukoff, D. The diagnosis of mystical experiences with psychotic features. • Lukoff, D. & Everest, H.C. The myths in mental illness. Butcher, P. The phenomenological psychology of J. Krishnamurti. • Knoblauch, D.L. & Falconer, J.A. The relationship of a measured Taoist orientation to Western personality dimensions. • Rothberg, D. Philosophical foundations of transpersonal psychology: An introduction to some basic issues. • Russell, E.W. Consciousness and the unconscious: Eastern meditative and Western psychotherapeutic approaches. Boorstein, S. Transpersonal context, interpretation, and psychotherapeutic technique. • Chinen, A.B. Elder tales revisited: Forms of transcendence in later life. • Epstein, M. Meditative transformations of narcissism. • Fleischman, P.R. Release: A religious and psychotherapeutic issue. • Tart, C.T. Consciousness, altered states, and worlds of experi­ ence. • Welwood, J. Personality structure: Path or pathology? Dubs, G. Psycho-spiritual development in Zen Buddhism: A study of resistance in medita­ tion. • Tekeira, B. Comments on Ahimsa (nonviolence). Chinen, A.B. Middle tales: Fairy tales and transpersonal development at mid-life. • Davis, J. & Wright, C. Content of undergraduate transpersonal psychology courses. • Echenhofer, F.G. & Coombs, M.M. A brief review of research and controversies in EEG biofeedback and meditation. • Lu, F.G. & Hf.ming, G. The effect of the film Ikiru on death anxiety and attitudes toward death. • Meadow, M J. & Culligan, K. Congruent spiritual paths: Christian Carmelite and Theravadan Buddhist Vipassana. • Weimer, S.R. & Lu, F.G. Personal transformation through an encounter with death: Cinematic and psycho­ therapy case studies. Chinen, A.B., Foote, W., Jue, R.W., Lukoff, D. & Spielvogel, A. Clinical symposium: Challenging cases in transpersonal psychotherapy. • Epstein, M. The deconstruction of the self: Ego and “egolessness” in Buddhist insight meditation. • Hiltunen, S.S. Initial therapeutic applications of Noh Theatre in drama therapy. • Pf.ndzik, S. Drama therapy as a form of modern shamanism. • Wilber, T.K. Attitudes and cancer: What kind of help really helps? Cumulative Index: The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Volumes 1-20,19691988. Contents listed by volume year. Alphabetical list of authors. • Lukoff, D. Transper­ sonal perspectives on manic psychosis: Creative, visionary, and mystical states. • Lukoff, D. & Lu, F. Transpersonal psychology research review: Topic: Mystical experience. • Vich, M.A. Some historical sources of the term “transpersonal." • Wilber, K. On being a support person. Epstein, M. Forms of emptiness: Psychodynamic, meditative, and clinical perspectives. • Heery, M.W. Inner voice experiences: An exploratory study of thirty cases. • Roberts, T.B. Multistate education: Metacognitive implications of the mindbody psychotech­ nologies. • Shapiro, D. Judaism as a journey of transformation: Consciousness, behavior, and society. • Walsh, R. What is a shaman? Definition, origin, and distribution.

1986 Vol. 18 No. 1

No. 2

1987 Vol. 19 No. 1 No. 2

1988 Vol. 20 No. 1

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1989 Vol. 21 No. 1


The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1996, Vol 28, No. 2

No. 2

Carlat, D.J. Psychological motivation and the choice of spiritual symbols: A case study. • Lukoff, D. & Lu, F.G. Transpersonal psychology research review: Topic: Computerized databases, specialized collections, and archives. • Nelson, P.L. Personality factors in the frequency of reported spontaneous praeternatural experiences. • Peters, L.G. Shamanism: Phenomenology of a spiritual discipline. • Schavrien, J.E. The rage, healing, and daemonic death of Oedipus: A self-in-relation theory. • Serlin, I. A psycho-spiritual-body therapy approach to residential treatment of Catholic religious. Epstein, M. Psychodynamics of meditation: Pitfalls on the spiritual path. • Fox, W. Transpersonal ecology: “Psychologizing” ecophilosophy. • Holden, J.M. & Guest, C. Life review in a non-near-death episode: A comparison with near-death experiences. • Nelson, P. The technology of the praeternatural: An empirically based model of transpersonal experience. • Welwood, J. Intimate relationship as path. Hughes, DJ. & Melville, N.T. Changes in brainw'ave activity during trance channeling: A pilot study. • Lukoff, D., Zanger, R. & Lu, F. Transpersonal psychology research review: Psychoactive substances and transpersonal states. • Tart, C. Adapting Eastern spiritual teachings to Western culture: A discussion with Shinzen Young. • Waldman, M. Reflections on death and reconciliation. Doblin, R. Pahnke’s “Good Friday experiment”: A long-term follow-up and methodologi­ cal critique. • Dubin, W. The use of meditative techniques in psychotherapy supervision. • Mansfield, V. Looking into mind: An undergraduate course. • Tart, C.T. & Deikman, A J. Mindfulness, spiritual seeking, and psychotherapy. Lajoie, D. H., Shapiro, S.I. & Roberts, T.B. A historical analysis of the statement of purpose in The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. • Montgomery, C.L. The care­ giving relationship: Paradoxical and transcendent aspects. • Tart, C.T. Influences of previous psychedelic drug experiences on students of Tibetan Buddhism: A preliminary exploration. • Vaughan, F. Spiritual issues in psychotherapy. • Vigne, J. Guru and psychotherapist: Comparisons from the Hindu tradition. Bogart, G.C. Separating from a spiritual teacher. • Lajoie, D.H. & Shapiro, S.I. Definitions of transpersonal psychology: The first twenty-three years. • Lukoff, D., Turner, R. & Lu, F. Transpersonal psychology research review: Psychoreligious dimen­ sions of healing. • McNamara, P. A transpersonal approach to memory. • Shapiro, D.H., Jr. A preliminary study of long-term meditators: Goals, effects, religious orientation, cognitions. • Vich, M.A. Changing definitions of transpersonal psychology. Hughes, D J. Differences between trance channeling and multiple personality disorder on structured interview. • Loy, D. Avoiding the void: The lack of self in psychotherapy and Buddhism. • Stavely, H. & McNamara, P. Warwick Fox’s “transpersonal ecology”: A critique and alternative approach. • Waldman, M., Lannf.rt, J., Boorstein, S., Scotton, B., Saltzman, L. & Jue, R.W. The therapeutic alliance, kundalini, and spiritual/religious issues in counseling: The case of Julia. • Walsh, R.N. & Vaughan, F. Lucid dreaming: Some transpersonal implications. Carr, C. Death and near-death: A comparison of Tibetan and Euro-American experiences. • Greyson, B. The physio-kundalini syndrome and mental illness. • Lukoff, D., Turner, R. & Lu, F. G. Transpersonal psychology research review: Psychospiritual dimensions of healing. • Ossoff, J. Reflections of shaktipat: Psychosis or the rise of kundalini? A ease study. • Walsh, R. & Vaughan, F. The art of transcendence: An introduction to common elements of transpersonal practices.

1990 Vol. 22 No. 1

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1991 Vol. 23 No. 1

No. 2

1992 Vol. 24 No. 1

No. 2

1993 Vol. 25 No. 1

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No. 2

Cumulative Index: The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Volumes 21-25,19891993. Contents listed by volume year. Alphabetical list of authors. • Hanna, F. J. Rigorous intuition: Consciousness, being, and the phenomenological method. • Miller, J. J. The unveiling of traumatic memories and emotions through mindfulness and concentration meditation: Clinical implications and three case reports. • Tart, C. T. The structure and dynamics of waking sleep. • Walsh, R. The transpersonal movement: A history and state of the art. • Walsh, R. & Vaughan, F. On transpersonal definitions. Dubin, W. The use of meditative techniques for teaching dynamic psychology. • Metzner, R. Addiction and transcendence as altered states of consciousness. • Patrik, L.E. Phenom­ enological method and meditation. • Steele, S. The multistate paradigm and the spiritual path of John of the Cross. Boorstein, S. Insight: Some considerations regarding its potential and limitations. • Gifford-May, D. & Thompson, N.L. "Deep states" of meditation: Phenomenological reports of experience. • Hutton, M.S. How transpersonal psychotherapists differ from other practitioners: An empirical study. • MacDonald, D.A., Tsacarakis, C.I. & Hol­ land, C.J. Validation of a measure of transpersonal self-concept and its relationship to Jungian and five-factor model conceptions of personality. • Wren-Lewis, J. Aftereffects of near-death experiences: A survival mechanism hypothesis. Cleary, T.S. & Shapiro, S.I. The plateau experience and the post-mortem life: Abraham H. Maslow’s unfinished theory. • Diaz, S. & Sawatzky D.D. Rediscovering native rituals: ‘“Coming home’ to my self.” • Leone, G. Zen meditation: A psychoanalytic conceptuali­ zation. • Tart, C.T. Toward the objective exploration of non-ordinary reality. • Walsh, R. Phenomenological mapping: A method for describing and comparing states of conscious­ ness. Flier, L. Demystifying mysticism: Finding a developmental relationship between different ways of knowing. • Lukoff, D., Lu, F., Turner, R. & Gackenbach, J. Transpersonal psychology research review: Researching religious and spiritual problems on the Internet. • MacDonald, D.A., LeClair, L., Holland, C J., Alter, A. & Friedman, H.L. A survey of measures of transpersonal constructs. • Wilbf.r, K. An informal overview of trans­ personal studies. Liester, M.B. Inner voices: Distinguishing transcendent and pathological characteristics. • Nalimov, V.V. & Drogai.ina, J.A. The transpersonal movement: A Russian perspective on its emergence and prospects for further development • Urbanowski, F.B. & Miller, JJ. Trauma, psychotherapy, and meditation • Wilber, K. Transpersonal art and literary theory. Anderson, R. Nine psycho-spiritual characteristics of spontaneous and involuntary weep­ ing • Gross, P.L. & Shapiro, S.I. Characteristics of the Taoist Sage in the Chuang-tzu and the creative photographer • Metzner, R. The Buddhist six-worlds model of consciousness and reality • Parnell, L. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and spiritual unfolding • Tart, C.T. Letter • Welwood, J. Reflections and presence: The dialectic of self-knowledge.

1994 Vol. 26 No. 1

No. 2

1995 Vol. 27 No. 1

No. 2

1996 Vol. 28 No. 1

No. 2


The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1996, Vol 28, No. 2

Association for Transpersonal Psychology
Membership Includes: One-year subscription to The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology (two issues) Subscription to the ATP Newsletter Reduced rate for the ATP conference Professional Members Listing Listing of Schools and Programs Membership Dues: General—$75 per year Professional—$95 per year Student—$45 per year Joint—$50 per year Supporting—$175 per year Descriptive brochure and membership forms available upon request.

Further Information:

Association for Transpersonal Psychology P.O. Box 3049 Stanford, California 94309
The Association is a Division of the Transpersonal Institute, A Non-Profit Tax-Exempt Organization.

Annual Conference
Asilomar Conference Center Monterey, California


August 1-3, 1 9 9 7
ISSN: 0022-524X

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