By Harry T. Hunt
Explores the roots of recent transpersonal psychology and spirituallity via psychobiography.
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Extra resources for Lives in Spirit: Precursors and Dilemmas of a Secular Western Mysticism
Winnicott provides this evocative picture of the first manifestations of what would be our life-long capacity for mirroring and “taking the role of the other”: What does the baby see when he or she looks at the mother’s face? I am suggesting that, ordinarily, what the baby sees is Phenomenology and Psychodynamics 31 himself or herself. In other words the mother is looking at the baby and what she looks like is related to what she sees there. . I am asking that this which is naturally done well by mothers who are caring for their babies shall not be taken for granted.
Directly afterwards came upon him a sense of exultation, of immense joyousness, accompanied immediately by an intellectual illumination impossible to describe. He saw and knew the foundation principle of the world as what we call love and that the happiness of everyone is in the long run absolutely certain. (Bucke, Cosmic Consciousness, 8) The second example is from one of my own subjects, a young woman describing a meditation session in an experimental study: I was unaware of which parts of my body were where.
Laski’s second dimension, the more positive side of these experiences, involves that sense of deficiency or loss now replaced or “filled” with ecstatic feelings of gain, as the specific sense of answer and resolution to such existential dilemmas. These “gains” refer to the classic claims about mystical experience, with its felt sense of unity or oneness in all things, eternity, freedom and release, certain knowledge, love, and a sense of new life and/or of a new or reborn self. Finally, and most originally, she adds a dimension describing the cognitive forms taken by these feelings of gain in terms of the “quasi physical sensations” of ecstatic experience.