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Existential Analysis

The Journal o f the Society for Existential Analysis 2007

Published by:
The Society for Existential Analysis, BM Existential, London, WClN 3XX
Tel: 07000 394 783 .

Journal Editors
Dr Simon du Plock
Dr Greg Madison
B o o k Revierr~s:Martin Adams
D i s r r i b u r i o n & M o r k e r i r i g : Martin

( .


J o r ~ r n aProdrtcriorl:

Ian G. Jones-Healey

Editorial Board
Dr Btla Buda

Dr Alfried Langle

Semmchvcis Urri~er-silj,

Socir!,.,/or. L o ~ o r h n ~(r~rri
l'ic~rrrrr (/Irr.irr~irr)

Dr James Bugental


Srryhrook Irrs~itrtfe(USA)

Dr Dmitry Leontiev

Dr Daniel Burston


Duqrresrre U~riversitj(USA)

Dr Simon du Plock

Prof Betty Cannon Urrr~vrsi/>..
Lorrrlort (UK)

Bortldcr. Colorado (USA)

Dr Victor Rodrigues

Prof Emmy van Deurzen

Srrperror lrsrirrtre ?/Aly)lieri P.s~r.hok~g~..


Tlre New Sclrool oJPsychoflrer-0p.sorrd Corrrrsellirrg.

Lorrdorr (UK)

Dr Alphons Grieder

Mr Andrea Sabbadini
Ar-borws Avsociofrorr. Lorabrr (UK)

C i y Urrivrr.rif.v, London (UK)

Prof Ernesto Spinelli

Dr John M. Heaton

School oJPsycho~her.ap~
orrrl Cortrrrcllitrg. R[,grvrrc:
College. Lorrdorr (UK)

Lorr[brr (UKJ
Univer.sirv oJCoperrbage??(Der~~~tor-k)

Prof (Emeritus) Alec Jenner

SlrefleM Ulriversify (UK)

Prof Rimantas Koeiiinas

Ur?iver.sifyOJ ViI~?i~t.r,

Sfarc Urrtlvrsiry oJNe~v tbvk (USA)

Dr M. Guy Thompson
Pryclroannly~icIrrzrirrrfe[!/Nor-rheur Crrl!/i)rrri<r

Prof Les Todres

Bosrrmrronfh Urli~,er:ril!~

Officers of the Society


Paul McGinley
Glairp Organizer.:

Teresa Corso
Forurn Orgariiser:


Prof Thomas Szasz

Dr Bo Jacobsen



Christine Martin
Flora Croft

Membership Secrerary:

Lucia Moja-Strasser
and Catriona May
Secr,e!ary: Anne de Montalot
Tr.easzrrer.: Apsara Narat
UKCP Regis!r.o!iorl: Mike Harding
Newsle!!er. Edi!or.s:

The Journal provides a forum for the analysis of existence from pl~ilosopllical and
psychological perspectives. It is published biannually. Contributions are invited in areas of
philosophical and psychological theory, case studies, discussion papers. books reviews and
letters. The opinions expressed by authors of the papers and reviews published are those
of the authors themselves, and not necessarily those of the editors, the editorial board, or
members of the Society for Existential Analysis.

Edited by:
Simon du Plock
Greg Madison
July 2007


This, [lie second part of tlie eighteenth edition of k~~'.risfrrl/iolAlrtr(i:~i~.
features papcrs which engage with a wide range o f subjects of releva~iceto
the analysis of existence froin philosopliical and psycliological
perspectives. Among the inany interesting and inlormative papers, we lllily
note Greg Madison's response to Helen Hayes' '(Be)coniing Honie, An
Existential Perspective on Migration, Settle~nent and tlie Meaning of
I-lome' wliich appeared in the previous number of tliis Jour~ial. Olga
Loucliakova concludes tlie paper on the Prayer of tile Heart begun in IS. I .
Martin Milton and Frances Gillies, by contrast, embark on the itnportatil
but often iiriregarded tlieine with h e i r paper on evolutionary tliinkitlg.

The Idea For Which I Can Live Or Die

Anotller Look at Kierkegnard's t.eap ol'Failh


Unscllling Tl~o~~gllt
Altern;~livelo Sedentary ~ o n c e ~and
l s a Ocknce or Frodo ~1li1iIi,s1111

The Onlology of Change

Dilemma and l'ragedy as Galeways lo Dccper Meilt~illg
Mlrrrrice .lcrrkiri.von uiril hkwtin Adfrrris

From Biology to Ueing

Evolutionary Theory and Exislcntial Practice
hkrr.rin iLliltorr ornl ficrrtcev Gillie~

'The Prayer of the Hea1.1.Ego-Transcendence and Atlult

26 1


We also include Anthony Stadlen's obituary of Professor Gion Condrau.

forrner President of tlie International Federation of Daseinsa~ialysisand
member of our own Editorial Board, who died in December 2006.

Authenticity and Our Uasic Existential Dilelnnlas

Foond;~tional('oncepls ol'Exislenti:~l Psychology and 1hcr;lpy
8u Jixrrhsi~~r

An Existcnlicil-Pheno~~\enoIogic~I
Critique ol'the I'syellological Lilcralurc on Hullian Aggression
Roll. Flm~lrr~r
~irirlhlorrirt Millon


Experiencing Vulnerability in Psychotliernpy

Sl~i'vlirrgcvoiril Michuel Cfi~rrell

Astute readers will note that Dr Greg Madison joins Dr Simon dii Plock as
co-editor of tlie Journal. Simon would like to take tliis opportunity to thank
Dr John M. Heaton for his assistance in this role from July 2000 to January
2007, and is glad that he is able to maintain his connection with E.risferrfi~11
Ana11:~is as an Editorial Board member. The editors wo~lldalso like to
welcotiie P~.ofessorLes Todres as a new lnernber of tlie Editorial Board.

"We-hood" as a I h n of Coexislence and Group I'sycholherapy

./i?i 1~1~:i~kcl

Sinloll (111 Plock

'Laing' in ;I Lexicon

G r e g Madison

Was R. D. Laing 'deternlinis~ic'?

A~rthori!S r m l l ~ ~

Tlie Relevallce of the Freudian Colicept of'Tt~ansference'to Existential Psychothcl-apy


7ierr Dirl*i.~






I\lartin Milton and Frances Gillies

Existential :\nal!sis

Troisi, A., & McGuire, M.T. (2000). Psychotherapy in the contest o f

Darwin psychiatry. In Gilbert, P. & Bailey, K.G. (eds) Gener. 0 1 1
couch: E ~ p / o l . ~ l / i oin~Ei sv o l ~ ~ f i o nPsj~choflie~-apj~.
London: Ro~ltledge.
Trivers, R.L. (1 97 1). The evolution of reciprocal altruism. Qllul'lel'!,'
Review qf Biolowl, 46, 35 - 57.
Trivers, R.L. (1974). Parent-offspring conflict. A1ne1.icc111
Zoologist, 14,

qfj.ic(,.Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Wilkinson, G.S. (1988). Reciprocal altruism in bats and other ~nalnlnals.
E t h o l o ~and Sociology, 9(2 - 4), 85 - 100.

18.2: .luly 2007

The Prayer of the Heart, Ego-Transcendence

and Adult Development
Olga Louchakova
This article continues the depth-psychological analysis of the Prayer of tlic
Heart (For the first part, see Loitchakova. Existential Analysis. 2007. 18:1 .
81 -102). Investigations of tnore than 300 practitioners demo~istratethat this
core Christian spiritual practice consists of the plieno~ne~iological
explications of tlie self, which lead to ego-transcc~idencc and tllc
experience of Union. The ego-transcendence in spiritual experience is
contrasted to the other types o f ego-transcendence. The meclia~iismsand
the dynamics of ego-transcendence, and tlie phenomenology of Union are
described in detail, emphasizing tlie dis-identification with tlic form.
paradoxes of the topological shifts of identity and tlie emergence of gestalt
of individual uniqueness in the abse~iceof separateness, dialectics of tlie
devotional I-Though and oneness, and the changes in tlie intentional
consciousness. Analysis of several clinical case sti~diesshows t l ~ co\:erall
psychological effects of Union, such as actualization of o~itopoiesis
(intetisification of the adult ego-development), and characterological

Prayer o f the tieart, meditation, consciousness, phenomenology. egotransccndence, adult developtnent.

This article continues the depth-psychological analysis of the Prayer of the
Heart (Pti), started in (Louchakova, 2007a). Tlic esoteric practicc of tlic
PI-1 is a part of the colitetnporary oral Christian tradition, where it serves
the specilic purpose of rendering experience of the living God. Described
in the texts of Desert Christianity and traditionally associated wit11
Hesycliastn, the esoteric tradition within tlie Eastern Ortliodox Cliurcli
(Pelikan, 1974), PH was tlie main contemplative practice used by elders
such as the famous Dostoevsky (1880) character, Zosima. or the
anonymous pilgrim (The Way of Pilgrim, 1952). Nowadays. the PH can
also be found on a grass-roots level outside of Eastcrn Orthodox Clii~rcli
(Kungurtsev & Louchakova, 1997; Louchakova, 2005a, c, 2007a).
Individual contemplatives use Prayer of the Heart in England, United
States, Europe and Russia. It flourished in tlie Soviet spiritual
underground, where tlie present author initiated tlie study of this practice.

26 1

Olga Louchakova

T h c Prayer o f Ihc I l c a r l , Ego-Transccnclcncc and Adult Dcvclopnicnt

Tlie full practice corisists of behavioral observances such as nodes sty,

humility etc.. and a complex of internal exercises, including: "sobriety", or
watchfulness (mindfulness); the devotional repetition of the Na~ncsof God,
accompanied by tlie introspective focus of attention in the somatic sense of
self in tlie chest (PH per se); and tlie ci~ltivationof a state of internal
silence, hesychia
reek)' (Dubrovin. 1990). Through several
developmental stages, tliis inner activity leads to tlie gestalt of [Jlti~nate
Reality, and tlie state of ~lieosis,i.e. Union with God (Loucliakova, 2006).
According to tlie tradition, tliis happens when the focused attention and
internal prayer are absorbed into the Spiritual Heart center of the human
body (Spidlik, 1986).'
The Prayer of tlie Heart is revered in Hesycliasm as a path "to a sure
knowledge of the otherwise incompreliensible God" (St. Hesycliios the
Priest, 1979, p.162), as it leads the practitioner from "seeing tlirougli a
glass, darkly" to seeing the UR "face to face" (Paul, I Corinthians, 13: 12).
I t climaxes in the mystical state of ego-transcendencc where tlic Ground o f
Being reveals itself in the "innermost and secret sanctuary of our heart"
(Ware, 1974, p.2), followed by the state of Union (Tlieosis). PH reaches
Tlieosis through a gradually developing scale of states o f consciousness,
experienced as deeper and deeper levels of proximity to the ontological
sourcc of all cxistencc, i.e. the ulti~natcreality as God. Tliis gradual asccnt
is called in tlie tradition the "Ladder of Divine Graces" (Tlieoplianis the
Monk, 1984; in Louchakova, 2006). Tliis and similar methods of spiritual
practice (Loi~cliakovaand Warner, 2003; Loucliakova, 2005a; Cutsinger,
2002) constitute a core of practices in all traditions centercd around thc
notion of ultimate reality as tlie transcendental Self beyond the ego. By
tlie contrast, this type of internal exercise is not typical in those traditions,
such as Buddhism, which entertain tlie notion of ultimate reality as no-self.
However, ego-transcendence is a central part of the spiritiial psycliology in
both "self' and "no-self' traditions. PH, as a clearly defined and
reproducible set of psycliological states, presents an opportilnity to study
the case of ego-transcendence leading to tlie insight of the higher Self.
Below, I will make a brief detour to define tlie ego and describe the
problems associated with understanding ego-transcendence. Thcn, I will
return to the PH as a particular case of ego-transcendence, i~seful for
understanding adult ego-development.

Backgrounds: Ego and Its Transcendence

Ego-transcendence is among the most controversial, yet undefined,
qi~estionsin psychology. Ego, tlie Latin word for the "I", connotes the self
as distinct from the world and other selves (American Heritage Dictionary,
2003). The term "ego" shifts emphases in various contexts. In psychology
ego connotes one's unique structural relations in the psyche and the

individual psychological make-up (Samuels, 1986). Tlie ego organizes

onc's psycliological functioning (Sami~cls,Sliortcr, & Plaut, 1986) ant1
builds identity (Hinslielwood, 1993). I t is the central locus of psycliological
development (Kazdin, 2000; Washbum, 1995).
In spirituality, "ego" refers to one's personal agency or doer-ship
(Balsekar, 1993). Similarily, in social ethics (Slirner.1995) ego signifies
individual self-government and autonomy. Unitarian moral psychology
(Hartley, as stated in Allen, 2005) differentiates tlie ego's individual
psychological, social, or metaphysical domain, from the Divine domaill of
the liiglier ego, or Self, implying a relationsliip between tlie two. Hartley's
philosophy, extremely popular among British, American, and continental
intellectuals, didn't pass itnnoticed by Jung, who developed tlie idea that
the individuating ego's task is to come into conscious~iessof the self
(Whitfield. 1992). Indeed, the separateness and individual autonorily of tlie
ego, by default, exists in relationship to something greatcr than itself
(Edingcr, 1972). Tlicse conclusions of a descriptive empirical psycliology
are based on an analysis of the ego's manifestations in the psycliological
As distinct from tlie above, phenomenology takes a direct look at tlie
very construct of the ego. Levinas describes the ego as an "intcndilig" ego
(Bergo, 2007). i.e. the "root" of intentional consciousness and tlie principal
phenomenal origin of the psyche. Ego is seen as tlie birth place of
meaning-structures, as distinct from the pure spatiality of tlie body, and i t
is both tlie structi~ralvehicle of separateness, and a ~neaningfulniediuni of
relatedness-in-transcendence. Plienomenological investigations in the
spiritual pliilosopliy of Advaita Vedanta show tlie same role of the ego,
where it is identified as a mental niode at the origin of tlie mind
(Sadananda, 1974, S.S.Siddhara~neshwara Maliaraj, 2006). Indccd. tlic
direct exatnination of tlie phenomenological essence of the li\.ed
experience of individual separateness is tlie first necessary step in
understanding the nature of ego and ego-transcendence.
There is an intuited connection between ego-trariscendence and tlie
developmental shifts wliicli I observetl in adults practicing PI1
(Loi~cliakova,2005b). I11 tliis process, the instances of a spontaneously
rising consciousness beyond the ego were accompanied, over years. by
positive changes in tlie subiects' character, identity and wol.ldvie\\r.
However, the understanding of emerging spiritual consciousness found in
psycliological literature is either bound by tlie flaws of reductionisni. or
limited to assimilation-integration model. The latter, borrowed from either
Piaget's approach to learning (1952). or integration approacli to trauma
(Wall & Louchakova, 2002), states that an cpisodc of c~nerging"larger "
consciousness exposes either archaic psychotic material, or the material of
subconscious, which need to be assimilated (Brown, 2005: Wasliburn.
2004). While this undoubtedly takes place, the gradually ~~rifolding

Olga Louchakova

The Prayer of the lleart, Ego-Transcendence and Adult Dc\.elopn~ent

in the practice of PI I presents a different picture, where spontaneous

lnanifestations of beyond-the-ego consciousness are acco~npaniedby slow
changes in the entire psychological make-up. Beside the integration of tlie
rising subconscious, the psyche is as if driven by sorne hidden, primodial
developmental force. I t is the ego-transcendence per se, not the rising of
the subconscious or its integration, which stands out as a key component of
the change.
Perspectives on ego-transce~idencerange from it being understood as the
cause o f the highest human sanity (Tolle, 1999), to it being the cause of
regressive psychosis (Wasliburn, 1995). In Sartre (1991), egotranscendence is a flight from freedom, while Advaita Vcdanta says that
self-knowledge beyond the ego is the only(!) freedom possible
(Sliankaracliarya, 8"' century1 1989). What is meant by ego-transcendence
in both cases? Various instances of ego-transcendence can happen
spontaneously in spiritual emergence (Louchakova, 2007b), can be induced
througli disciplined philosophical mental examinations, or can emerge as a
result of spiritual practice as in the case of PH. If ego's existence is indeed
defined by relationship to something greater and other tlian itself, then egotranscendence is natural to tlie psyche. Ego -transcendence happens in the
context of tlie psyche as a system, and it is not an isolated process.
Aooarentlv. the see~ninalvisolated event of ego-transcendence triggcrs the

to examine the psychological consequences of ego-transcendence, his

philosophical analysis gives a clear example of the hidden dilllensions of
larger lneanillg associated with ego-transcendence. The richness of various
manifestations and effects of ego-transcendence (Louchakova, 2007b) can
be studied Inore effectively through the spiritual experiences of non-dualit~
and Union, than through the highly structured medium of plliloso~hical
investigations. Yet, inforlnation on changes in the mind associated wit11
ego-transcendence as a spiritual condition is even more limited. Wilber
(1986) indicates that in adult spiritual development, transient hclelnents of
ego-transcendcnt states of mind coalesce into a penliancnce of ego-

Below, I will attempt to answer some of these qirestioris frorn the

standpoint of depth-phenomenology, examining the ego in its dynamic.
temporal dimension as tlie process of transcendencc Iiappens. PH. as i n ~ ~ e r
activity assisting in a particular type o f ego-transcendence, allows us co
isolate, observe and describe this process, in ways that any psychological
experiment does with the mental fi~nction in question. This
phenomenological "modeling" of ego-transcendence in situ captures the
temporary, developmental dinlension, following the ~iietliod of
phenomenology of life (Tymieniecka, 1998; also as described in
Loi~cliakova,2007b) as contrasted to tlie rather static descriptions of
transcendental plienomenology. I will show three interrelated horizons. i.e.
three intra-psychic processes, pertaining to this dynaniic activ~ty:egotranscendence per se, Union, and ontopoiesis.
The practice of sobriety, prayer itself, tlle following condition of Union
"beyond the ego", as well as posterior developmental changes
(ontopoiesis), are described below as sequential. In tlic real time. Iio\ve\,er,
they are interconnected and synchronized as processes constituting the
living system of the person.

Deconstruction of Separateness in Christian "Sobriety"

Out of the plentitude of possibilities informing the "ego" in common sense,
psycl~ology,spirituality and pliilosopliy, 1 am singling out its quintessential
function as a delimiter o f individual separateness. In order to exa~nirletile
conslitl~tion and deconstruction of separateness I use the practice of
Christian "~obriety"~in focus groups. Stripping away se~nantics, 1
maintain a focus on the pheno~nenologyof pre-linguistic. pre-reflective.
immediately cognized separateness, as it is constituted in tl~e" p r i ~ i ~ a ~ ~ "
ilnpression of separateness in the "first-personal givenness" (Zallavi. 2002;
Gallaher and Zahavi, 2006; Tymieniecka, 1975). 1 ask practitioners to find
what in' their experience underlies their knowledge of thcnlselves as
separate self in order to describe ~vliatit consists of.
More tlian 300 people in various focus groups all report that their
experience of being a separate person is connected with tlie sense of self i n
the body, specifically in the chest. Mindful examination of this sense
demonstrates that it consists of a core cognition, the mental mode "I am,"

separateness, (i.e., the ego, the processes by which it is transcended, and its
developmental effect in the whole psyche), acquire more importance for
clinical work.


O l g a Louchakova

bracketed, the latter now is the only One that Is, and its uniqueness as an
continuity of
Absolute is wliat ~iiakesit the Self versus an i~nperso~ial
Being(ness). In this sliift, awareness drops the tendency to appropriate tlie
qualifier o r tlie individual I, i.e., to identify with forms of the experience of
objects, and is recognized instead as belonging to this previously unknown
Other, as the Self. "1 am" either drops the qualifier of being an individual
and becomes a Self-subsistence, or disappears completely. The major
paradoxical topological shift of nlcani~ig" I am not, lie is. hut in tliat
sonlehow I am" constitutes the essential core of Union experience,
accompanied by the other paradox, - a subsistence of uniqueness of
sclfliood in thc absence of the individual cgo. In thc overall psyclie as a
syste~ii,this "flip-flop" of identity, together with the posterior ontopoiesis
(see below), is what inititiates the future cliaracterological change. How
exactly this topological shin o r meaning reorganizes the rest of the
cognitive apparatus, is yet to be examined.
Thus ends the egological (Louchakova, 2007a) expcricncc, as in "I am
not, but He is, and in that so~nehowI am" (Sri Ranjit Maharaj, personal
communication, Encinitas, Califoniia, 1997). Even though the semantics of
the word, Union, suggest the u~iificationof the two, such a qualituln sliift
o f identity from the individual ego to the larger Self does not 1iapl)en by
unification. It is the rcduction of the egological self within the dcvotional IThou polarity that facilitates such a shift. Further, this shin does not occur
within tlie domain of the individual will. I t happens, as was stated before,
in response to greetings, that is, "by invitation only." Witlio~~ttliis
"invitation," the experience remains locked within the individual I, which
acquires a feeling of inertness, and is prompted to bounce back down the
steps of hyletic reduction (see Louchakova 2007b), to tlie otherness of
name, form, and corporeality.
The accounts of informants in this research displayed at least two
variants of Union which differ with regard to the transfonnation of the
mode of' identificatio~i.One mode opens up a direct intuition of tlie
fecundity of the Self, i.e. an ontopoietic expression of the presumably
unknown Other disclosing itself, "sprouting" with phenomena. The other
mode opens in a rather indescribable (as of yet) sense of thc static
transcendentality of tlie Self as it encolnpasses all present, past and future
pbenome~ia.The frequent insight that emerges as a result of the latter mode
consists in recognizing that one's existence and awareness do not depend
on the existence of the body, which explains its effectiveness in redlrcing
the rear o r death. The Prayer of tlie Heart, as described by Theoplianis tlie
Monk (in Louchakova, 2007a). points more to this static variant of Union.
The former mode seems to be more effective in sponsoring further changes
of the character and overall individuation. In our research with
contcmporary practitioners of the PH, the first ontopoietic mode prevails.

T h c Praycr o f thc Ilcart, Ego-Transccndcncc anrl ltdult Dc\~rlnoriicnt


The explication of the self in PH ulicovers tlie experience of Union. 111

tliat scnsc, Union is at tlic corc of tlic cgological sclf, it is its csscncc. .I llc
state of U~iion is wliat creates the directly perceived expericncc of
li~nitlessness,infinity and fullness of wliat was before lirnily known (and
pe~.ceivetl)as one's life, finite in time and space. Thus. the very cogr~itive
f o ~ ~ ~ i d a t iof
o ~tlie
i s overall psyclie tliat has expcricticed U ~ i i o ~arc
i diffcrcnt
from (lie psyche tliat is circumscribed by an egological experience. PI4 is.
in Iact. a 1)rocess of explication of tlie self, resolving iiito Union as tlie
essence of tlie self. It cancels tlie existential self-unfolding onto tleatli. As
SLICII,it carries a foundational, positive cli~iical value, one tliat shifts
motivations, values, and self-perceptions in tlic direction of grcatcr
freedom via the awareness and acceptance of patterns, \vliicli, prior to the
, locked the persoli into all endless cycle of
experience of U n i o ~ ~had
struggle. Interestingly, tliis insight is custo~ii tailored for tlie
individual psyclie. For example, one female co-rescarclier, a student of
psychology in licr mid-30s, exclaimcd witli dcligltt. I am rclicved that 1
am not my emotions!" A~iotlierco-researcher, a corporate lawyer in his
~iiid-60s,kept repeating: "My emotions liave value!" Both state~iients
reflect processes in the psyclie tliat were experienced as liberating.
Repetitive experiences of Union lead to tlie cessatio~i of "existcntial
angst," and to a restructuring of the affective sphere towards the prevalence
of positive emotional states. However, as with any strong remedy. Union.
as a clinical intervention, requires a prcli~ninary evaluation of the
psycliological "metabolism" of the person witli regard to their capacity for
integrating tlie experience. In the first place, this integt-ation must address
tlie conflicts of contradictory cognitions tliat persist between tlie egological
state and the state of Union. Secondly, tlie developlnent of direct intuition
leads to a proliferation of the latencies of tlie unconscious, and with tliat. a
period marked by intense individuation rollowi~igthe experie~ice.While
tlie laaer is accommodated naturally in tlie t1ieral)eulic process, tlie former
may be overlooked as something that is not withi11 the purview of
psychology but rather belongs to spiritual direction."
As a new positive self-experience, Unio~irequires adequate ~iiirroring
and interpretation. Cognitive and perceptual experie~icesof tliis ~nag~iitude
can deeply change one's life. The Unknown Other is a rrij:~/or~irrrri
e/,/ascirinrice (Otto, 1924), and to experience Union is to fill1
licadlong into that rr?il.~ter.itrrii.
Regarding tliis situation, the Hindu sagc. Sri
Ramana Maliarshi, joked that when the elephant enters a very s~iialltent.
the tent will never be tlie same. The psyche after the experience of tliis
kind of ego-transcendence not only has to reconcile the notions of
finality and tlie infinity of one's existelice, as wcll as witli tlic
limited nature of perception and the li~nitlessnature of awareness, it ~iiust
also examine what is real, and what is unreal, etc. (Loucllnkova, 2007b).
Insofar as meaning and perception are coortliriated a ~ i d correlated

Olga Louchakova

(Merleau-Ponty, 1995), Union gives rise to a different system of tileaning

associated with direct perception, or direct intuition of tlie lilnitlessliess
within one's self. The shifts following ego-transcendence arc of
psychological nature and deeply arrect the individual I. However, at the
same time, they emerge out o r the realms or the psyche where habitual
cognitive scheinas fail, and interpretive frarneworks are absent. Thus, the
correct mirroring and interpretation of the Union experience is a psychospiritual task, and as such, it inay happen completely within the therapeutic
setting witliout the clinician taking on the role of spiritual guide.
phenomenological perspective, is radically different from the nianic
condition of the bipolar disorder, or the depersonalizatio~i (ciissociative)
experience. The distinctions that 1 outline below are crucial for the salutary
clinical attitude. For the perception o r Ultioli to emerge, the egological
experience has to be singled out of the flow of consciousness in tlie natural
attitude. Then, the egological self is upwardly reduced, in the process
more co~nplexthan a simple upward reduction. The repetition o r the Name
of tlie Deity adds complexity and is essential, because it allows tlie
continuous bracketing of non-egological cognitions, tlie subsequent
streamlining of a reversed self-awareness pointed back towards its own
origins, along with the simultaneous, affective positing of an internal
Other. In so doing, ego is transcended, but the pheno~nenologicalcenter o r
the self, i.e., the Union, and the resulting understanding of tlie Unity-of-allthere-is-alive remains. Consciousness itself is not the psychic reality of the
individual (De Monticelli, 2002), it is discovered in tlie experience of
Union. The entrance into this condition lies within the egological self.
On the contrary, the pheno~nenologicalstructure of the disssociative or
psychotic experience is completely different. First, dissociative and
psychotic experiences are non-egological. There is no conscious center of
the self. Second, even though in these experiences there is no ego-theseparator, they remain in the natural attitude, as they are not the result of
the special co~nplex reduction as in PH. Third, these experiences are
unified by a narrative form of "horizontal" meaning making, (even t110~1gll
they may appear absurd from the standpoint of the "normal" niind), as
difrerent from tlie PH, when the individual I ceases to exist, but
consciozrs~iess itself is the psychic reality of the individual. Most
importantly, tlie whole of the fullness of life that was previously veiled and
constricted by the individual ego is augmented, expanded, and absorbed
into the prior Other who is the essence orthe self. As John tlie Baptist said,
"lie must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). Thus, egotranscendence is both healing and developmental, as transcendence serves
to open the portal to the ontopoietic realms, while remaining in the natural
attitudc promises no such a salubrious result.

The Prayer of the Ilcart, Ego-Transcendence and Adelt Dcvclnp~ncnt

Awareness liberated from the constraint of the individual ego reveals tlie
li~nitlcssness witliiri the larger transcendental identity. Tlic cgo is
discovered to be "ernply," a Inere sliadow of tlic prior egological idcntity
that is annihilated in tlie transcendental Selr Tlie indivitlrral self is retluced
to being nothing more tlian a locator, i.e. the locus of Self-Encounter. i i i
which the Transcendental Self dircctly intuits its own n i c a ~ ~ i ~arid
i g tlic
meanings within. This is the experience of so-called "oneness." Contrary to
the expected serniotics of "olleness," tlie field of tllis ericoLtnter is neither
blank, nor is it cliaracterized by any sort of prevailing lionioge~ieity.Such
Iiolnogeiieity only emerges insofar as the I-Thou is seized by the
transcendental Other as a Self. In that the phetio~nena arc present.
perception continues to function, and direct intuition, now applied to tlie
source of phenomenal conscio~isness,continues its fertilizing effect on the
o~ilopoleticexpression. As such, the intentional positing of phenomena
continues, and tlie practitioner beconies awarc of the inncrniost mystcry of
the ontopoietic process. This is the dawning of ontopoietic intuition. the
birtli of conscious awareness of the interior developiiiental unrolding o r tlie

Oetopoietic Intuition
Ontopoietic intuition penetrates into the domain of tlie individual sclf. as
well as into the trans-spatial and trans-temporal doniain of pure tileaning
emerging from tlie "field" of an unqualified and indescribable potentiality
of pure ~ o g o s . 'These primary, pre-reflective, deployed - from - witliin
meanings become woven into an inner tapestry of cognitive schemas and
logical sequences of discursive thinking. They also get "ciphered"
(Tymieniecka, 1975), i.e., interpreted, symbolized, and transformed in
Inany ways in self-organizing activities in tlie various domains of the
~)sychc.Thus, two processes, identified by Tylnieniccka (2002) as tlic
"lioriz'ontal" and "vertical" lines of unfolding of tlie intentio~ial
constructive system in its positing of objectivity, co~nplenienteach otller in
llie co~islruclio~i
of Ihe self.
In tlie experience of Union, the prayed-to, inferred. previously unkno\vn
possibility is actualized as the ontopoietic fi~llncssof tlie Traliscelidcntal
E ~ o . ' The interior meanings of things and esselitial relations become
available and dynamically unfold. Tliings are seen "as they are" wliile tlie
practitioner witnesses the "lights" or presences of tliings. both before
intel-pretation and before the emergence of secotidary ineanings
(ciphering). as they emerge afresh fro111 the "darkness" of tllc sacrcdly
indescribable field o r One Presence.
The specifics of ontopoietic intuition, then, consist in positioning tlie
awareness so that it may simultaneously cognize a) the ~rridiffereri~iatcd
"wonib" of consciousness, b) the great divide between the nlaliifest and

Olga Louchakova

Thc Prayer of the Ilcart, Ego-Transcendcncc and ildult Dc\.clopr~icnt

unmanifest, and c) the completely manifested cascades of ~neaning.

Refining tliis perception further, orie discerns tlie functioning of tlie
Creative Force itself, as it conceives phenomena and endows tl~etiiwith
existence. Therein lies the origin of intentionality, will, desire, knowledge,
and the like. Within these deployed ontopoielic structures, wl~icliare
available to direct intuition in the process of the Prayer of the I leart, one
[nay also differentiate between several domains. For example, there are the
domains of esscntial relations and the dornin of accidental tliouglits. Tlic
actualization of any particular ontopoietic domain possibly yields diSferent
effects in tlie life of the psyche. The great promise of this gestalt lies witliin
the intuitcd possibility of specific awarencss rendering infonnation about
tlie very emergence and transforrnatiolis of the psyclie, including tlie selfdirection of these changes. Meanwhile, tlie current data suggest tliat tlie
overall opening of ontopoietic intuition leads to cliaracterological
transfortnation, a phenomenon tliat showed up in several long-term case
studies in this project.

lntrapsychic Ontopoiesis
Union weds tlie self to its own trans-temporal origin, wliere tlie Unity-ofall-there-is-alive (Tylnieniecka, 1998) is grasped in a direct, naked
boldness. Prayer of the Heart breaks tlie prison of time. In the ontopoietic
ficld of Logos, the sequcncing fuliction of the psyclie is suspctidcd and
causality is attributed directly to Logos itself. The time-bound networks of
(lie ego are pushed to the outer layers of the psyche, creating, renovating,
and reorganizing themselves out of the dee el intentionalities, which are
deployed in the ego-transcendent experience .
The changes in the affective sphere are a minor part of tlie overall
transformation. Major changes involve a restructuring of intra-subjectivity,
such as Me-Other, Me-World, Me-God. Tlie restructuring of intrasubjectivity, where one's identity starts incorporating that of others, the
Other, and the world, and is associated with the experience of spiritual egotranscendence, may be the common psycl~ological nieclianism"'. These
changes in intra-subjectivity are accompanied by changes in the notiolis of
the real and the unreal, as well as the related attribution of causality, tlie
categorization of truth, and the allied categories of knowlcdgc, belicf, and
faith. Major cognitive shifls take place in coming to the understanding of
living and dying.
Tlie arising ofdirect intuition as it leads to ontopoietic intuition, wliicli is
a specific outcotne of the practice of tlie PH, was identified as a leading
factor underlying all of these developlnental shifts. Tlie direct intuition of
the inner structures of the psyche provides an internal analogue of Ilie
phenomena of external mirroring. This internal self-mirroring, first witliin
the egological self, then withiti a more and more distinctly positecl self'

Other, creates tlie conditions for a powerfr~l differentiation of the

psycliological plienolnena. When awareness rcaclies its own
plicnomenological origin in pure subjectivity, reflecting upon its own
transcendental root, the dark unknown fertile ground o r tlie ~iiindspro(1ts
with potentialities, as if awakened by tlie sunlight of direct inluition. The
founder of plieno~nenology,Edmu~ldHusserl himself, liavc possibly bccn a
subject to this transforniative process, whence the difference i n his insight
in Ilie beginning and in the late stages in his work. Logos is never static.
and when tl~eheart reflects the face of God, one sees the fluidity of histller
This initial insight into the ontopoietic intuition nceds tilore
clarifications. For exa~iiple, if the ontopoietic intuition rises 11~1ien
awareness apprehends the self-development of the
can it be that
tliis developmental self-explication of the transcendent Logos liappeii
bccausc it's lalencies are "teased out" by the contact, or does tlie structure
of cxpcriencc itself construct perception i n such a nianner that it acquircs
the internal and si~nilarlydeveloplnental dimension? Is it the resiilt of tlie
awareness exercise, like an aberration of the reflection in the mirror? \\'hat
in tlie individual psyche is deployed, and what is the result of ciphering?
Tlie ego-transcendent experience, tlie reconstitution of tlie psyclie in atid
after the experience. and tlie rise of ontopoietic intuition could be iri tlie
endless Uroborus-like cycle, defeating attempts to identify core
developniental causal links. The delieacy and the tlcp~hof thesc plnccsscs
rcquirc more analysis wit11 hurnan subjects who arc both expcrietlced in
self-observation, and capable of generously sliariug their innel.most sacred
experiences of tlienlselves.
Tlie subtle pl~enor~ienologicaldetails of this inward developlnental
journcy fitid thcir reflcctions in tlie mythologies of spiritual traditions. For
example, in Indian Tantra, the reverse flow of awareness to its own source
is persoliified as Goddess Kundalini (Louchakova & Warner, 2003).
Kundalini, tlie power of awareness to grasp its own origins, is also viewed
as an evolutionary power of consciousness. It brings into existence a
tnultiplicity of phenomena deployed out of the itnmovable, pure, subjective
awareness, persoliified as Lord Shiva (Loucliakova. 2004). The keen
observations of tlie double agency of awareness, as made by the ancient
seers, resonate with our phe~io~nenological
observation, namely, tliat the
collapse of awareness onto itself, i.e., pure subjectivity, as it llappclls in
deep absorption illto the felt self, is preceded by an increase in tlie internal
flow of phenoineiia. There are both the perceived sameness and
simultaneity in tliis inward return of awareness to its source, ant1 tlle
outward dcploynlent of the latcnt content of consciousncss, wliicli arc. in
phenometiological facticity, the two sides of one process. .fhis increase in
the interlial flow of phenomena, wliicli llappens upon awareliess grasping

Olga Louchakova

awareness, translates illto an increase of ontopoiesis under the presetlce of

direct intt~itio~l
ill the Prayer of the Heart.
In the Hindu Tantras, the other constituent of the process of awarclless
being absorbed in the Spirilual Heart, namely, the ''pull'' inward eme%illg
on a certaill stage of absorption into the sense of self, is personified as
Goddess Uma. Sllfism accommodates this fact by stating that the rise of
tile intuitioll of ~ o llappen~
"by invitation [from witilirl, fi.0111 Deity1
only" (John Mercer, personal corn~nunicatioll,1999).
Acknowledging the contents of mythology related LO the ilnmediate data
of consciousness helps us to complete the representative picture of these
processes ill tllc human psyclle. Mythology becomes a level of ciphering of
direct phellomenological data, which are intuited before, and brought to
conscious awareness in the process of introspection on the self as i t is
wit11 the hunian chest. The process of the olltol~oietic
deploylnent of pllenolnena froin the Logos includes at least one additional.
intermediate level of ciphering. It appcars as a qllality of spatiality Or
locality give11 lo tile internal unfolding of consciousness. The "S~irilual
Heart" itself is a cipher. Specifically, it ties together the absorptive and
projective flows of intentionality, as well as the creativity of the
trallscendental ego as it posits myriad open-ended possibilities for personal

Ego-Transcendence and the Whole Psyche


A detailed p~leno~lle~ologicaI
analysis of ego-trallscelldence shows that
ego-transcendence is quite different from its ~niscotlceptionsill tllerapy,
such as Freud's original take on religious experience as a version of
bliss, a fantasy of merger soothing separation anxiety in
Winnicott, or a delusional avoidance tactic of the fragile self dreading its
illevitable demise. On the contrary, ego-transcendence is a highly
differentiated psychological activity where tile self-collstituling
mechanisms bccolnc available to cognition and articulation. The emotional
of the
dynalnics of tile ego-transcendence experience differ from
aforelnentioned conditions, which carries great rdevance for clinical work.
Since the cgological experience is always affective, reductions ill tllc bodycentered self towards a transcendental Ego involve illtelltionalities
Analysis of the intentional constnlct of elnotion


praxer o r the Ilcart, Ego-Trans~cnd~ncc

and ,\dult ~ c v c l o p , , , e n ~

setting elllpotiorlal tnechanisrns are reduced to tlleir essence. l r l oliler

words, ill the lift-world of the pcrson who practices I'tl tllc cllloting ill tllc
boundary setting is different from that of the ordinary persoll (for an
allal~sisofthe life-world of the person undergoing spiritual elllergence. see
Louchakova 2007b). The internal polarities of tliese affects lnanirest as
soteriological sentiments, such as bliss or co~npassio~.
111 reclllctioll by
elllo[ioll, desperation resolves into fear, which then resolves into bliss.
Sadlless resolves into anger, into lonelirless and into compassion. This
process leads to the transrn~~tation
of the emotional sphere. where arlger?
sadllcss, loneliness, fear and desperation are transforlncd inlo their
wholesolne counterparts, namely, compassion, tranquility, fulllless, joy.
and Ilope. The overall quality of affect changes fro111f leg alive, to neutral,
to positive, and, over time, tliese instances recondition the patterlls of tile
eniotional sphere.
Sovatsky (1998) suggests that these so-callcd soteriological sentilnents
have a healing effect on the traces of prior psycli~lo~ical
traumas. The
experience of ego-transcendence and Union, rich in soteriological
selltilnellts, functions as a natural, endogellous anti-depressant by
interrupting "stuckness" and depressive suffering. For nollices lo
transcendental Self-experience, the elnotional uplift lnay be followed by
sadness and a sense of loss, which are temporary but need to be addressed
in therapeutic process. Sometime, 1 use the guided induction of egotranscendence experience in cIiriical practice as an antidote to existelltial
depression. In such cases, the guiding clinician should take care to provide
a colltailler for any arising ontopoietic potentialities, so tJlat the client
becomes gradually accustomed to managing herlhis ow11t r a n s f o r ~ ~ a t i ~ ~ i .

ollly if the experience is properly initiated. beginning with tlle particular

concentration of awareness in a certain area of the body. This seemingly
insignificant detail defines, however, the success of the practice. 111 PI1
tradition, the "know how" of bodily concentration is considered sacred and
is passed from teacher to disciple only, withill all uninternlpted current of
live oral tradition. When the oral Lrans~nissionis interrupted. the secret of
the particular practice is lost. This leaves space open for misinterpretations
of the nearl lings of the sacred texts, due to the loss of knowledge in the
experiential, bodily dimension. Recoristruction of the tradition, however, is

For example, anger or fear in their fully "manifested" life-world rorlns

are boundary-setting, individuality sustaining emotions. In tile onlol,oietic
core, the bou~ldaryfield of ~ o g o s ,at the essential


Olga Louchakova

As the study suggests, this kind of reconstruction is possible because the

bodily centers of awareness are defined by the ontology of the
phenotnenological body, and by the repetitiveness, if not tlie invariability,
of tlie core meaning-perception structures associatetl with these "s~~btle"
body centers. In PH, the point of entry into the interiority of tlie self and
into egological reductions is located in the right side of tlie chest, near tlie
third rib. In tliis area, tlie sense of self can be invariably available to all
practitioners. Thcre are two other zones in the chest which may also lead to
ego-transcendence, such as the center and the zone on the left side slightly
below the third rib. However, tliese "entrances" do not render the sanie
gradual stratification of experience, whicli makes the posterior integration
of ego-transcendence effects challenging. The access tluough tlie middle of
the sternum leads to a vety rapid dissolution of the body-sense, and a
possible posterior rollercoaster characterized by an ~tnconlrolledreleasing
of subconscious material. The center on the left side opens into broad
archetypal vistas, poignant witli polarities of "good" and "bad," "moral"
and "i~ntnoral," according to how one's persona chooses to label the
experience. The phenomenology of consciousness focused in these centers
is strictly repetitive, and as such, so are tlie changes in personality which
follow this kintl of depth bodily focusing.
If psychological tncaning, as Merlau-Ponty says, is reciprocally
connected with perception, then so too must spiritual, transcendent
meaning be connected with perception, but perception of a different kind.
In the systems of spiritual and esoteric wisdom tliat are rooted in tlie
plienomenological knowledge of the body (Louchakova & Warner, 2003) traditions such as Indian Tantra or Sufi knowledge of L u t a f - the states of
expanded and spiritual consciousness are associated witli defined locales
within tlie multidi~nensional body schema known as centers of subtle
consciousness. These centers are simultaneously corporeal, psycliological
and spiritual, uniting all the levels of the phenomenological self into a
gestalt of essential relations between tlie various domains of being. While
the "entrance" into the abode of lofty Divine Ideas is coordinated with the
body schema, the abode itself is trans-spatial, hiding withill tlte high degree
of hylctic rcduction (author's tenii: ~ o u c h a k o i a , 2007b), i n d Thus
transcending the body sclie~naand corporeality (materiality) itself.
As mentioned above, hyletic reduction of intentionality, or the
constructing of the perception of the material body in the right side
"spiritual heart" center, is reduced to its origins in pure subjectivity, a's a
part of the overall egological reduction by perception demonstrated herein.
llalf way through the reduction to the egological core, or the ontopoietic
field of Logos, the practitioner encounters the subtle world of images that
are perceived within the reduction of all five senses. Semi-reduced
perceptions t ~ ~into
m sound-lights, meaning-fonns, emotions-colors and


The Prayer o f the Ileart, Ego-Transcendc~~ce

and Adult D e v e l o p ~ ~ ~ c n t

other interior structures of the ego, expressed as synergetic emergencies of

thc mind halfway to ego-transcendence.
If cgo-transccridence llas a bodily locale as a part of its dynamic,
te~nporal unfolding structure, then so too do psychosomatic conflicts.
Focusing in tlie chest, for exalnple, leads to uncovering latent conflicts tliat
have bccn sonlatized and carefully coriipartn~entalizedby the adapting
psyche. For example, one niiddle-aged co-researcher llad a repetitive dull
pain on tlie left accornpanying his practice o r tlie PH. His
electrocardiogram was flawless, and these were in Lnct classic quasicardiac "wall-pains." In PH, they resolved into fear, and the latter resolvcd
into tlie memory of a kindergarten teacher threatening her with death in
hell if she were to continue being such an "egotistic" 5 year-old. In this
insight, she infused the fragile derenses of 5 -year old with her adult
strength and wisdom, and with ego-transcendent connections to Divine.
subsequently tlle pains disappeared.
Thus, via the Iiuman body, ego-transcendence is linked to somatized
psychological meanings that can block the rise of ego-transcendent
awareness. In tliis body of meaning, the liti~itlesshierarchies of meaning
are condensed within a multidi~nensional space corresl7onding to a very
small distancc bctween tlie skin and tlie subtle core of the Spiritual Ilcart.
Tlirougliout this continuurn, the psychological contents is ititerrelated wit11
the thought(s) of tile Divine principle within, as well as witli the inner
structures of perception of corporeality and spatial organization of tlie self.
Thus, the ego-transcendent experience connects witli tlie aspects of the
psyclie relevant for psychological analysis (i.e., defenses, atlaptational
"fasle" self-constructs, shadow material and tlie like). Does tliis take us
from psychosomatic medicine to a "pneu1no-psycl1o-so11~i~tic~'
focusing mi the unrecognized pote~itialfor ego-transcendence within every
psychoso~naticconflict? Is Union a nonnative emergence in the developing
adult psyche? In tlie context of adult development, tlie gestalt of Union
positions itself as a non-ordinary developmental event. 1 will exanline this
in tlie closing section of the article.

Stratificn fiorr of !lie Egological Self

PH demonstrates that the stratified ontopoietic organization is the essential
structure of the egological self. While one can argue tlint tliis may be a
phenomenon constructed due to the specific type of inlrospection, a
stronger argu~iientsupports the ontological invariability of this construct i n
the lii~~nan
condition at large (Louchakova, 2007b). In clinical practice.
therapists' awareness of tliis spatial stratification in tile inner field of
egological self allows for targeted access to ~iienloriestliat niay casually
underlie tlie particular clinical condition. For exa~nple,in a recent work
witli a 30 year old depressed male client. tlie sorilatic awareness in tlie
center on the right side of the chest was applied with tlie liyletic vector

Olga Louchakova

towards tlie "origins" of the depressed feeling in tlie depth of

plienomenologicaI field inside of tlie chest. After 20 minutes of dialogical
introspection on the feeling, depression shifted to fear and then to a
memory of the time of difficult life transition al tlie age of eight. Tlie
meliiory involved the death of his older sister, liis mother's new pregnancy.
his fanlily moving to a new location, and him joining a new school. The
client went through several ~nontlisof cognitive behavioral therapy and a
treat~ncntwith anti-depressants, but re~nainedchronically dcprcssed and
was reporting si~icidal ideations. Tlie memory, appearing within the
phenomenological "layered" structure of tlie self projected into the right
side of the chest, came as a total surprise, both to the client (He said: where
is that coming from?) and to myself (this was our first session). He had
never associated liis current condition with that long past period in his life.
The si~icidal ideations and depression-related fatigue ceased after this
reduction of tlie experience of depression into the underlying esse~~tial
phenomenological structures. Tlie healing resources of tlie psyclie kicked
in, the client found a job, entered relationship, and tenninated therapy so011
thereafter. While the cognitive behavioral therapy and anti-depressant
have possibly prepared the path for tliis change, the pivotal event \\,as
exactly the "digging out" of the somatic Inetnory by the targeted
introspection on thc strata of experience in the specific bodily ccnter
associated witti individual history.
This exaniple is quite typical. The reduction of "surface" pheno~nena
towards tlieir underlying structures in tlie stratified egological self, using
tlie hyletic axis, serves as an effective intervention, rapidly exposi~lgto
which contribute to tlie release of cur~.ent
awareness hidden ~iie~llories,

Developn~entalCharacterological Transformation
Here, I will demonstrate the evidence of how this particular kind of egotranscendence is involved in tlie actual n~eclianismof the develop~netital
shifts. To connect with the beginning point in this study, tlie necessary
prerequisite for this kind of ego-transcendence is tlie loss of identification
witli tlie separate forni, which leads to the posterior experience of Union
and thc acti~alizationof ontopoiesis. However, tliis "formlcssncss" is a
crucial, but not an exclusive prerequisite.
For example, Miller (2006, 2007) showed the transcendence of locality
(i.e. identification with tlie form in this study) in both patients witli
dissociative identity disorder, and in meditators claiming spiritual egotranscendence. Indeed, if tlie loss of locality were to happen in isolatio~i
from the meaning-contents of the psyche, the spiritual experience and llie
experience of dissociation would have been the same. The core differences
between these conditions lies in tlie topological transforn~ations of

The Praqcr o f the Ileart. Ego-Transccndcncc and Adnlt Dcvrloplncnf

~neaning. and the emotional differences of the "spiritual" vs. "rlo~lspiritual" conditions. While the loss of locality niay accompaliy both
spiritual experience and pathological experience, it is tlie only spiritually
~neaningftllego-trariscentlence that flows illto the experience of U~iio~i
tlie consequent develop~nentalclianges.
Tlic otl~cr co~nponc~itof ego-tra~iscentlence, providing for tlic
shifts described below, is affective: without devotional
internal i~iterrelated~iess,tlie practitioner re~ilai~istrapped witliin tlie
do~nainof tlie ego (Loucliakova, 2006, 2007b).
In tliis study, 10 co-researchers, practicing PI{ and si~iiilar111et11odsof
devotioual self-introspection, gave me a chance to witncss tlieir
for a period of Inore tlia~i10 years. The depth and
developmental cl~a~iges
stability of cl~a~igesin perception, behavior, identity-co~istruction,
sphere, and so on, qualify tliese co-researcliers as sul?jects of
cliaraclerological transformation akin to the "liard 14.ork" niiraclc dcscribcd
in Psyclioanalytic literature (Johnson, 1987). Wliile psycliology disputcs
the possibility of characterological transformation, spiritual psycliologies
acknowledge it as a nor~iialpart of liu~nanpsychospiritual develop~ne~it
(Bader, 1992; Belir-Sigel, 1992; Murata, 1992). Tlie rise of direct
awareness, tlie repetitive experiences of Union, thc reverse flow of
awareness as described in tliis researcli, and the subsequent tleploynient of
material from tlie unconscious, stand out as key factors in these clia~iges.
For exaniple, some co-researchers described pivotal dreams, 01. meditation
experiences that presented the observable deploy~nentof tlie arclietype. An
other process was tlie surfacing atid restrucluring of the major "cliilnks" of
the self-construct. These include tlie larger, te~iiporarilyspread processes
that are still tlifficult to describe. All suc11 internal ~lienonienaprecipitated
. .
not o11lya change in the self-perceived self, but also "external" clianges in
relationship, major clianges in career orientation, someti~nesgeograpliic
moves. openings of creativity and the like. As such, the internal
transforniation freque~itly correspo~ids will1 ta~igible clla~lges in life
circunlstances, thereby forrning a full circle wliicli integrates tlie
on~opoieticand tlie life world networks, as if in support of tlie ancient
alclieniical dicturn, "as above, so below."
I<ougl~ly,tlie process of characterological transforniation in clients
practicing tlie Prayer of tlie Heart or other forms of devotio~ialself-enquily
liappcned in three consecutive stages: a) the brackcting/dcconstruction
period, b) the acquisition of a healthy character structure, and c) the
niovelnent of this new, healthy character structure toward an increase in
positive trails. At tlie final stage, tlie fluctuatio~is in tlie states of
separateness, intimacy, proximity and Union acti~alizetlie dcploy~nentof
positive charaeterological traits, which rnay be seen as analogous to
traditional virtues. In fact. the practitioners of tlie Prayer of tlie I Ieart found
tlie~nselves on tlie fast develop~nental track, rapidly confronting tlie

Olga Louchakova

The Prayer orthc Ifcart, Ego-Transccnclcncc and Adult Dcvclnpment

contents of the subconscious and releasing the potentialities of the

unconscious, Repetition of the Divine Names bracketed the old c o ~ ~ ~ l r i ~ c t s ,
an inward flow of awareness explicated who~esolnealkrnatives to
negative, destructive contents of the psyche.
the Divine Nalnes may be seen as the roundational ~ 0 I l ~ t i l t l eof
n l the
illdividllai psyche (lbn-Arabi, 1975; Al-lskandari, l996), characterological
transforlnation is influeliced by the spectruln of the Divine Names used ill
PH(Dionisius the Areopagite, 1965). The choice of the name for practice,
such as Goodness, Love, or Beauty, personal nalnes such as Jesus, or
nouns such as Guide or Protector, is usually reflective of the archetypal
constituency of the psyche. PH brings to the fore an ~warenessof these
arclletypal colltellts of the psyche, and makes possible the transforlnatioll
archetype towards its positive polarity. In the practice, the
arclletypal level is actively engaged, and the deeper meanings of the
archetype becolne act~~alized.
For example, tlie arc1ietyl)e of Betrayal lllaY
be translnuted into an understanding of the illusory nature of 1)11enomena,
thereby serving as a lnetaphor for Ihe veils that conceal the true nature of
things. The arc)letype of Saturn turns out to be the signifier of illtegrit~or
tile congruence of all levels of the psyche. When the archetypal contents of
o& field a1.e fully actualized or exhausted, the ontopoietic process 1naY
provide for the "descent" of a different, new archetype, accompal1ied by
the emergence of new qualities in the psyche.
AS colllpared 10 the direct intilition of ontopoiesis in the fill1 practice of
in pure subjectivity (self-investigations
devotional Prayer,
without a devotional attitude) also changes the qualities of the mind in the
direction of the explication of the latencies of the sub- and iii~conscious.
Contrary to tile fill1 practice of the PIT, however, the consequellces of liondevotional self-investigation may be very dramatic and difficult to
integrate, due to the actualization of archaic elnotions such as rage or
telror, which lnay be associated with the early developlnental stages of tile
self. ~n the full practice of the pH, inclusive of its open-ended devotional
component, the integration of the subconscio~~s
and transformation of the
psyche are inore harmonious and faster acting. Indeed, when tile constrllcl
of the self is rooted in the awareness of a living and creative Logos at its
core, instead of in a sense of the iinpersonal nothingness. one's
development is supported by a dialogical relatedliess within. Such an
orientation invigorates the psyche as a dyadic locus of the love-a$fair,
rather t)lan lilniting its purpose to being a inere depository of the lnlnd

Dclimitations of the Study

phenolnena characteristic of the PI-I, namely inner visions and inner
light, did not receive a fill1 reflection in this analysis. This sttldy is lilnited

as \veil ill regard to a depth analysis of the clynaniics of tile psyclle that
happen in relatiol~shipto the Divine Names, or the use of this
\~ithindifferelit cultural contexts, ctc. Instead, the scope of [[]is article \vas
defined solely by an e~npliasisupon ego-lranscendence and its clinical

Olga L~uchako\~a,
M.D.. Ph.D., is an associate pl.ofessor of transpersonal
core facility and a Director of Transpersonal Ed1lcation and
Research Specialization at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Palo
Alto, California. She holds a private practice in Sari F~.ancisco,Bay Area,
Prior to co~ning to United Sates, Dr. Louchakova worked as a
neuroscientist in tlie Pavlov lnslitute of Physiology in Leningrad. Russia.
~-esearcllillgthe autoilnmune diseases of the nenrous sysleln. Slle becalne
connected with the Russian spiritual underground, \vllich caused llcr to
shift career to psychotherapy and spiritual teacliing. The, shc was illvitctl
as a visiting professor to the California Institute of Integral Studies in San
Francisco, and spent 10 years teacliing spirih~ality internationally to
various groups and centers sucli as Esale~i.Slie contlucted researcll in
Russia, India, Europe, Middle East, and Americas, authored numerous
Papers in n e i l r ~ ~ ~ i e l psychology
and spirituality, and co-founded
several successful non-profit organizations promoting advancement of

In the prior work (Louchakova, 2006, 2007a,), only a part of this i~lner
activity - the PH per se - was described.
Developsd much later Centering Prayer. the closest analog of tile PI I alld
developed much later, doesn't have the component of the rcpetition oftlie
Divine names and doesn't illvolve focusing in the Spir.ihlaJHeart.
Practiccs of silent dliikr (Sufisni), atma-vicliara (Shakta-Vcrlallta). solllc
types of Salnadhi practices in Kash~niri Shaivism ernploy a
internal process (Cutsinger, 2002; Louc1iakova, 2005a,b, c; 2007a;
Vijnanabhairava, 1979).
Sobriety serves as a prerequisite to PH. Similar to Buddhist rnindfulrless,
it is based on the witnessing the contents of the mind, but. in co~itrastto
the former, it actively focuses atterltiorl on t l ~ edepll~of the r ~ i i ~ ~the
origins of things. Later, tlie same quality of inward intention can be fourld
in the Centering Prayer, the 15'" century Christian contelnplative practice.
This deliberation on the source is a "staple" of Christian ~ o n t e r n p l a t i ~ ~ ~ .
" Ityletic intentionality, i.e. the sense of corporeality, is described i n
This is a ~0nt~oversial
issue with cultural overtones. In Rlexico, the
mixed llcritagc of Catholicism and indigenous spirituality nlakes religious


28 1

Olga Louchakova

matters easily available for depth-therapy clients. In France, by tlie

account of colleagues, one can incur legal charges for 11lixi1igreligiocity
and therapy. In both contexts, however, the experiences of Union car1 be
very curative, but only if therapist effectively assist the client in frameworking and assi~nilation of the experience. In cases where tlie
interpretation of this experience is split between a therapist and a fornial
religious authority, tlie latter can contribute to depression, selfdeprecation, and the like, by nli~interpretin~
the experience.
Logos is used here in the sense of being a principle of ordering and
consciousness, ant1 the principal origin of things, as in phenomenology of
life of A.-T. Tyniieniecka, as different from Logos vs. Eros as an
archetypal psychological principle.
The bottom line of this particular path of ego-transcendcnce is that i t
leads to tra~lscende~~tality
at the core of tlie introspecti~igsubject. In this
context, the identity experienced after ego-transcendence is called Self,
dcscribcd best as "I am That, but with no ~nc." Tlie expericncc of
ontopoietic intuition is slightly different from this direct ownership of the
subjectivity of transcendence. In the latter, the field of ego-transcendence
is "one step removed" froin the direct immediate grasping of one's
identity, as "me and tlie source of me within me." Because of this
difference, 1 begin using the tern1 "transcendental ego" in regard to tliis
source, as different from tlie term Self, in order to reflect the appearing
speck of objectification of the self.
For intrapsychic ontopoiesis see Louchakova, 2007b.
I" See the similar restructuring found by Burge (2006), in tlie psyche of
spirituality-oriented peace activists in Isracl. Also, this kintl of
restructuring my be i~ivolved in interpersonal therapy (as in Spinelly,
I ' The same was observed in the aftcr~ilatliof trauma on Septe~nbcrI I ,
2001, following the attacks on New York City's Twin Towers.
Afierwards, some people reported an inner sense of their personal
evolution (Wall & Louchakova, 2002).
I' I met tlie spiritual teachers wlio embody this quality in Russia (Vladiriiir
Antonov), Turkey (Metin Bobaroglu). Example among Budtlliist
practitioners will be Tenzin Wangual Rinpoche. Swami Shivana~idaof
Bihar school of yoga was known for the same capacity.

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