Potentially Transformational Messages from JCER Authors: Self-Transcending Experience (Narrative & Analysis) from Huping Hu's blog

Tomorrow JCER will publish its Focus Issue on Self-Transcending Experience (Narrative & Analysis) edited by Gregory M. Nixon, Ph.D. Below is a preview of the potentially transformational messages from JCER authors contributing to the Focus Issue (links to the articles will be provided once the issue is published).

In his editor’s introduction entitled "Transcending Self-Consciousness", Nixon delivers his introduction with the following opening: "What is this thing we each call “I” and consider the eye of consciousness, that which beholds objects in the world and objects in our minds? This inner perceiver seems to be the same I who calls forth memories or images at will, the I who feels and determines whether to act on those feelings or suppress them, as well as the I who worries and makes plans and attempts to avoid those worries and act on those plans. Am I the subject, thus the source, of my awareness, just as you are the subject and source of your awareness? If this is the case, it is likely impossible to be conscious without the self (yours or mine), the eye of consciousness, and it must certainly not be desirable, for such a consciousness would have no focal point, no self-that-is-conscious to guide it, so it would be cast adrift on wide and wild sea like a boat that has broken from its anchor. Without self-enclosure, “We shall go mad no doubt and die that way,” as Robert Graves (1927/1966) expressed it."

In his first article entitled "Transformations of Self and World I: Modeling a World", Christopher Holvenstot states in his Abstract the following: "Severe seasonal depression entails the yearly collapse and reconstruction of a functional, useable, meaningful world. This radical annual transformation provides a unique perspective onto fundamental conscious processes by illuminating the cognitive elements and dynamics behind the construction and deconstruction of self-models and world-models."

In his second article entitled "Transformations of Self and World II: Making Meaning", Christopher Holvenstot states in his Abstract the following: "A theater workshop, ostensibly about acting, turns out instead to be about not acting, yet answers a lot of questions about how to act in the real world – ironically, by exploring the world of dreams. This transformational experience provides a view into the realm of the psyche, and this view is used to highlight the inappropriateness of empirical precepts in the formation of a field of consciousness studies."

In his article entitled "The Shock of the Old: A Narrative of Transpersonal Experience", Milenko Budimir states in his Abstract the following: "Here I present a description of some transpersonal experiences that occurred as a result of meditation practices as well as reflections on those experiences. I connect these experiences with some historical precedents, particularly to sources in the Eastern Orthodox Christian spiritual tradition, but also to contemporary sources as well as some 20th century philosophical ideas. Lastly, I describe how these experiences ended up shaping a new worldview, the most significant and lasting being a deep sense of interconnectedness with the world. This sense of interconnectedness further lends support to an inclusive rather than an exclusive understanding of religious belief, and correspondingly a mystical sense of the world and humans’ place in it."

In his article entitled "Background Motivations for My Views on Consciousness", Chris Nunn states in his Abstract the following: "I wish to show here that my theories, and my life in general, have been greatly constrained (though I would say enlarged) by a few, brief and unusual experiences. Equally clearly, the content of the experiences reflected to some extent my cultural and personal history. Can they be regarded as no more than a culturally determined curiosity, perhaps a bit like the dancing manias of the Middle Ages or the recent epidemic of ‘alien abduction’ experiences? My personal answer to that question is: ‘No. The experiences truly reflected aspects of Reality that we don’t often perceive and the culturally determined part of their content was just the icing on the cake – how Reality was able to express itself within my particular, very limited mind.’ That’s why I feel it has not been a waste of my time to try to build ideas that promise to integrate experiences of this sort with more mainstream Western understandings, for theories foster observations and, thus, sooner or later, fuller appreciation of truths about ourselves and our world."

In her article entitled "How Often or How Rarely Does a Self-Transcending Experience Occur?", Syamala Hari states in her Abstract the following: "Almost always, the self is involved in our perception of the world, thinking, and actions, but it does momentarily step aside now and then. I describe below a few of my experiences of self-transcendence that seem quite ordinary with nothing mysterious about them and they are all of short duration. To explain how the self is present or not in an experience, I describe some properties characteristic of the self such as its sense of personal identity and ownership of action. Manifestation of these properties in an experience indicates the presence of the self and absence of these properties indicates its absence. In an act of observation, full attention paid to what is being observed seems to push every thought, including the self, out of the conscious mind and keep it fully occupied with the act of observation. A characteristic property of the self-transcendent state seems to be that one can only recognize such a state as being free from self, but one cannot prove that it is so because the outward effect of the state may be the same as that of an alternative state where the self is present."

In his article entitled "Self-Transcendence as a Developmental Process in Consciousness", Roland Cichowski states in his Abstract the following: "After an introduction describing certain difficulties in relating the nature of self-transcending experiences, I give a narrative description of three successive episodes in which a certain relationship and development over time can be discerned. This is followed by a discussion of the impact they have had over the course of my lifetime together with observations on how they have affected my outlook. These experiences have led me to the view that it is more likely that it is consciousness generating the illusion of a material reality than a material reality generating consciousness. I consider self-transcendence to be understood as a stage in the development of the consciousness of each human being, and ultimately in the development of humanity as a whole."

In his article entitled "A Longitudinal History of Self-Transformation: Psychedelics, Spirituality, Activism and Transformation", Phil Wolfson states in his Abstract the following: "A longitudinal historical approach for portraying and examining personal transformation is presented along with a proposed instrument—the Transformational Codex—for cataloging that history and the elements that compose it. One element, psychedelic transformation, is then discussed in depth along with a schema for viewing transformations that may occur related to psychedelic use and practice."

In her article entitled "Transcending the Self Through Art: Altered States of Consciousness and Anomalous Events During the Creative Process", Tobi Zausner states in her Abstract the following: "The capacity for transcending the self through art arises from the creative process, an altered state of consciousness facilitating the occurrence of anomalous events such as precognition and interior visions that appear to be outside the spacetime of waking life. Frustration can trigger the far-from-equilibrium conditions necessary for creativity, while inspiration may seem as if its source is exterior to the artist, and the experience of flow, like a trance state, can produce an altered sense of time. Archetypes in the creative process link a single mind to the collective unconscious and works of art become self-opening worlds that create an expanded reality."

Finally, in his article entitled "Breaking Out of One's Head (& Awakening to the World)", Gregory M. Nixon states in his Abstract the following: "Herein, I review the moment in my life when I awoke from the dream of self to find being as part of the living world. It was a sudden, momentous event that is difficult to explain since transcending the self ultimately requires transcending the language structures of which the self consists. Since awakening to the world took place beyond the enclosure of self-speech, it also took place outside our symbolic construction of time. It is strange to place this event and its aftermath as happening long ago in my lifetime, for it is forever present; it surrounds me all the time just as the world seems to do. This fact puts into question the reality of my daily journey from dawn to dusk with all the mundane tasks I must complete (like writing of that which cannot be captured in writing). My linear march to aging and death inexorably continues, yet it seems somehow unreal, the biggest joke of all. Still, I here review the events leading up to my time out of mind and then review the serious repercussions when I was drawn back into the ego-self only to find I did not have the conceptual tools or the maturity to understand what had happened."

Huping Hu & Maoxin Wu

October 9, 2011

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