Prominent among these John Weir Perry who developed a variety of drug-free, non-repressive approaches to ' schizophrenia ' which have helped to bring about a fundamental paradigm-shift in our scientific understanding of the human psyche and therfore of 'human nature '. The transpersonal approach has been explored by some of the most influential scientists and thinkers of the twentieth century.
The concept of spiritual emergency has been around for thousands of years in many, if not most cultures. Shamans, mystics, and spiritual explorers have regularly experienced the same states of awareness as people today undergoing spiritual emergency. Non-ordinary states of consciousness have been understood to serve a healing or transformative function in every tribal society studied by anthropologists. They are particularly evident in the last remaining hunter-gatherer and nomadic indigenous peoples who still survive in the remoter parts of North and South America , the Arctic , Asia , Africa , Oceania and Australia.
In such cultures, visionary states are always associated with the healing function of the shaman. In this context, the vision of the shaman forms the quintessential religious experience. Shamans are not only spiritual leaders but also judges and politicians, the repositories of the knowledge of the culture's history, both sacred and popular Above all however, shamans are technicians of the sacred and masters of ecstasy The initiatory crisis of the shaman must From this perspective, the initiation of the shaman is an historical event, transcending the confines of culture and bringing into focus ontological concerns that have existed within the human mind for aeons The healing image that the shaman projects is of disease as a manifestation of the transformative impulse in the human organism.
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The crisis of a powerful illness can also be the central experience of the shaman's initiation. It involves an encounter with forces that decay and destroy. The shaman not only survives the ordeal of a debilitating sickness or an accident, but is healed in the process. Illness then becomes the vehicle to a higher plane of consciousness. The evolution from the state of psychic and physical disintegration to shamanising is effected through the experience of self-cure. The shaman — and only the shaman — is a healer who has healed himself. The historical events which led to the taboo against visionary states in Europe In the hundreds of thousands of pre-urban societies existing since Palaeolithic times, the existence and validity of psycho-spiritual non-ordinary states of consciousness is or was socially recognised and endorsed by cultural ritual.
Until only recently with the industrial civilisation has the unconscious been taboo. Psychoanalysis and psychedelic research have partially eroded the taboo against the unconscious. A considerable body of scientific data about the inner aspects of the visionary episode have been accumulated by pioneering researchers in the fields of clinical psychology, biophysics, neurophysiology, epistemology, cybernetics, comparative mythology, anthropology and the humanistic and transpersonal approaches to psychology.
What is spiritual emergence? S piritual emergence is the irreversible process of moving into higher levels of evolutionary development This is true whether someone is actually moving into a higher developmental level or integrating a spiritual experience into a developmental level which has not yet att a ined mature ego functioning. The disorientation and instability that results from intense spiritual experiences in either case can turn a spiritual experience into a spiritual emergency. And it is as common and natural as birth, physical growth, and death - an integral part of our existence.
For centuries, entire cultures have treated inner transformation as a necessary and desirable aspect of life. Many societies have developed sophisticated rituals and meditative practices as ways to invite and encourage spiritual growth. Humanity has stored the treasure of emotions, visions and insights involved in the process of awakening in paintings, poetry, novels and music, and in descriptions provided by mystics and prophets.
Some of the most beautiful and valued contributions to the world of art and architecture celebrate the mystical realms. In our time, these individuals are rarely treated as if they are on the edge of inner growth.
Rather they are almost always viewed through the lens of disease and treated with technologies that obscure the potential benefits these experiences can offer. In a supportive environment, and with proper understanding, these difficult states of mind can be extremely beneficial, often leading to physical and emotional healing, profound insights, creative activity and permanent personality changes for the better.
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When we coined the term spiritual emergency we sought to emphasize both the danger and opportunity inherent in such states. This name thus indicates a precarious situation, but also the potential for rising to a higher state of being. The Chinese pictogram for crisis perfectly represents this idea.
It is composed of two elementary signs, one of which means 'danger' and the other 'opportunity'. The potential for spiritual emergence is an innate characteristic of all human beings.
The capacity for spiritual growth is as natural as the disposition of our bodies toward physical development, and spiritual rebirth is as normal a part of human life as biological birth. Like birth, spiritual emergence has been seen for centuries by many cultures as an intrinsic part of life, and, like birth, it has become pathologized in modern society.
The experiences that occur during this process cover a wide spectrum of depth and intensity, from the very gentle to the overwhelming and disturbing. Non -lasting spiritual experiences induced by drugs are potentially dangerous. D rug induced spiritual experiences may give a glimpse It is simultaneously a blessing and a curse.
Spiritual experiences can occur at any time and place, although there are specific times and particular circumstances in which they are more likely to emerge. Some categories of circumstances of occurrence : experiences which occur any time , ranging from deja-vu to mystical experience. This category also includes the ' d ark n ight ' , which refers to the typical mid-life crisis, especially among individuals who have achieved some real level of stability and prosperity in the world.
They have met their material goals and still haven't found inner satisfaction. The pursuit of ego gratification is no longer enough and then one encounters an existential meaninglessness, which is very often a yearning for s pirit, a greater sense of wholeness, and interconnection with the eternal, universal principle. This dissatisfaction and yearning can also occur at adolescence or anytime. The practice of spiritual disciplines, intense prayer, yoga, breathing exercises, chanting, meditation and other purificatory practices from a wide range of religious and spiritual traditions around the world significantly influence a growing number of people today in reaching transpersonal levels of consciousness ; physical distress..
All these experiences tend to lead the person to question their sense of reality and meaning of life. If the process of 'spiritual emergence' is very rapid and dramatic Each of the many names given to such crises illuminates a different facet of the process. Spiritual emergency is not a pathological phenomenon but a complex phenomenon characterised by an extremely introverted, psychospiritual mode of relating to the world. The normative ego-enforced boundaries between self and world break down As a result they find themselves identifying with everything within their scope of perception.
With fragile personal boundaries the person sees, hears, senses, perceives and understands things which other people do not.
In reality the person is in a state of consciousness involving 'extreme empathy' which typically causes the person to feel responsible for the fate of others. S piritual emergency is a turbulent period of spiritual opening and transformation The crisis is due to intense activation of the psyche The person finds they are living in a psychic modality quite different from their surroundings Psychological upheaval can happen as a result of the radical clearing of various old traumatic memories and imprints There should be no stigma attached to the experience, since it is a sign that the psyche is functioning properly.
The purpose is to activate spiritual energies but often leaves the individual in a highly vulnerable state. Episodes of unusual experiences involve changes in consciousness which manifest in perceptual, emotional, cognitive and psychosomatic functioning Attainment of the transpersonal perspective depends on mental liberation in four dimensions: consciousness, conditioning, personality, and identity.
Consciousness is awareness of awareness and the central dimension that provides the context for all experience. Conditioning is the dimension of attachment to any objects, persons, particular self-images or behaviour patterns. Conditioned attachments are the source of pain and suffering and keep the mind in bondage. Identity is identification with sets of thoughts and beliefs.
According to Buddha "We are what we think and with our thoughts we make the world. Extreme sensations of joy and fear are usual. It can happen to anyone at anytime.
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Normal life can be interrupted suddenly and unexpectedly by the spontaneous and powerful onset of dramatic visionary experiences of non-ordinary state of consciousness T he visions can be both beautiful and terrifying This is obviously not the case for Western capitalistic societies. T he new way is all that matters. Along w ith the rapture of remembering our divine connection, there can be intense feelings of depression, madness, detachment, hopelessness and an extraordinary loneliness that is not only relentless but may last for months or years on end.
Then comes the waiting, and the wondering if and when the dark night will ever end. Ultimately, it feels as though we have lost control over our lives but we must not give up. D and Christina. Grof The Stormy Search for Self. Spiritual emergency is a state of being in which the conscious mind is overwhelmed by inner psychic events and involves a shift of energy.
To understand t he inner life of the person The deepest levels of the psyche are activated drawing vast amounts of energy away from the higher levels of psychic functioning. In this 'high arousal state' the deepest levels of the psyche are working at such a high pitch that all the other functions are deprived of energy. The person becomes withdrawn in their preoccupations The whole field of awareness is flooded with archaic forms The mythic worl d is totally out of keeping with consensual reality.
The sense of reality shifts from outer to inner The innate process which ultimately leads to self-determination and self-fulfillment occurs on two levels A 'psychotic episode' represents an evolutionary crisis Episodes of spiritual emergency are unusual experiences that involve changes in consciousness In nonordinary states of consciousness the psyche transcends the dynamics of the conscious and connects with transpersonal domains. Spiritual emergency is non ordinary states of consciousness accompanied by various emotional, perceptual and psychosomatic manifestations Threatening voices are overblown reflections of fear So-called 'symptoms' such as the ability to 'see' things that others do not see or 'clairvoyance' , and the ability to hear voices that others do not hear or 'clairaudience' are considered by many as desirable attributes.
Every symptom extends outwards allowing the sufferer to detach emotionally. The person may appear to be lacking in emotion The new delusional world becomes incredibly frightening because it matches the negative emotions that have been buried for years.
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If they are not dealt with they turn into negative traits. Spiritual emergence The person who passes through this process successfully returns bearing incredible gifts and blessings of wisdom and healing for everyone A spiritual awakening is almost always precipitated by a severe emotional crisis In a fully-flowered spiritual emergence, one discovers how to transmute the symptoms and wounds into blessings.
One might look out the window and see the city more ragged than usual But in fact one has only experienced a hallucination of the visionary experience and it is only one's false personality which has died. Spiritual emergency is a crisis of moral consciousness or 'conscience' Spiritual crisis is activated by healthy motivation. It is the healing crisis of the whole Being. Depression can be vehicle of growth and transformative process.
The depression often has an ethical content of remorse over past moral failings Due to the ecstasy and exhilaration of the experience , there is a real temptation, like the mythic Icarus, to fly too high, which is only to set one self up for a corresponding fall. During these experiences it is of the utmost importance to be as grounded as possible. He used to keep pictures of his family around, so he could remember that he was, in his words, "an actually existing, ordinary person.
One can become truly insane, thinking, for example, that one is the Christ or Buddha, instead of recognizing that everyone is Christ or Buddha. Jung understood that the thing which swings the balance one way or the other is the capacity of the human ego to confront and relate in a conscious way to these transpersonal forces.
One discovers one's unique calling One becomes a master creative multi-dimensional artist whose canvas is life itself. There is a difference between the expression and the intention of any problematic behavior The person confuses realities if they act in the external world while still in the non-ordinary state of consciousness. The person's strange, incomprehensible behaviour looks totally bizarre and very threatening to people absorbed in the collective mainstream trance of consensus reality. Neither the person nor the onlooker understands the perspective of the other. Family issues , spiritual and social interest s, desires for healing the world are misunderstood as delusions and obsession s and considered as symptom s of illness Psychiatrists with self-assured, expert manner can be very convincing I f the person accepts th is ' medical model ' of their experience they might be consumed by despa ir Within a shamanistic framework , a schizophrenic break is understood as evidence of a trauma that has fragmented the core self — the seat of the soul.
P sychiatrist s who understand the concept of spiritual emergency can accept the legitimacy of the nonordinary states of consciousness and compare them to crises that many people pass through successfully. The person feels completely sane until onlooker s who don't understand what is happening Creative Visualization and the Power of Thought P ower of creative visualization If we add concentration and feelings, it becomes a great creative power that makes things happen.