Track: Transpersonal Psychology, Psychotherapy and Clinical Studies
Hermeneutics as partner to neuroscience in modelling the transpersonal levels of mind
An academic discipline is primarily defined by three parameters: its subject matter, the explanatory frameworks within its canon, and its approach to methodology. Over the fifty years since the inauguration of Transpersonal Psychology, its focus on the subject of psychological
aspects of spirituality and mystical states has become less of a delineating feature in view of the growing interest in these topics from other branches of psychology. As a consequence, the importance of the explanatory frameworks and approaches to methodology for the future of
Transpersonal Psychology has increased. In this Panel, the presenters will explore the extent to which scientific methods and explanatory models are consistent with the envisioned future of transpersonal psychology. Creative tensions may be discerned around issues such as the
researcher’s detachment from the issues being researched; the extent to which the method is seen as instrumental in the transformation of the researcher and participants; and whether or not constructs that challenge a materialistic ontology should be incorporated in explanatory
Track: Mystical Spirituality as a Link between World Religions
On the psychology of transformation: Insights from the Kabbalah and cognitive science
The principle focus of transpersonal psychology is the nature of human transformation. All spiritual and mystical systems, as well as therapeutic approaches, have transformation as their central goal. Recent research has emphasised detachment from thought as a central feature in states of “awakening” or “enlightenment”, which are paradigmatic of spiritual transformation. This attenuation of thought is frequently seen as being in accordance with teachings from wisdom traditions. In this paper I argue for refining our understanding of cognitive thought processes and their role in spiritual transformation. The objective of wisdom traditions can be viewed more as a shift in the orientation of thought, rather than its attenuation. I draw on the Kabbalistic and Sufi traditions in particular to emphasise the role played by the hermeneutic of disclosure and concealment in bringing about spiritual transformation. These forms of intellectual mysticism encourage us to revisit our understanding of the role played by ‘higher’ forms of thought (including those that penetrate the concealed, or nonconscious, realms of the psyche) in formulating a transpersonal psychology of transformation.
Brian Les Lancaster is Professor Emeritus of Transpersonal Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University, UK, Associated Distinguished Professor of Integral and Transpersonal Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, US, and an Honorary Research Fellow in the Centre for Jewish Studies at Manchester University, UK.He is a past Chair of the Transpersonal Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society, and currently President of the International Transpersonal Association and a Board member of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology. Les’ research interests focus on the cognitive neuroscience of consciousness and connections with mysticism, specifically focusing on Kabbalistic Psychology. His initial research training was in neuroscience and psychology, and subsequently he explored the hermeneutic methods employed in the rabbinic and mystical traditions in Judaism, seeking ways to integrate these approaches. Les is Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Sacred Science Circle, Dean of Transpersonal Studies at PDF, and Director of online postgraduate programmes in consciousness, spirituality and transpersonal psychology for the Alef Trust. In addition to many journal articles, Les’ published works include Mind Brain and Human Potential, winner of a Science and Medical Network Best Book Award, Approaches to Consciousness: the Marriage of Science and Mysticism, and The Essence of Kabbalah.