Transpersonal Pioneers: Carl Rogers – Biography & mini-gallery |


March 7 by The Running Son

Carl Rogers

Biography and Gallery


Carl Rogers was a founder of humanistic psychology whose contributions to psychology and psychotherapy continue to resonate throughout the field. His theory and practice shifted the authoritarian paradigm of therapist-led psychotherapy toward a client-centered practice, which gave primacy to the client’s self-knowledge and impulses toward healing one’s own problems. In addition to radically changing therapeutic practices, Rogers applied his person-centered psychological theory to other fields including education, couples counseling, and group work within industry and governments.

The Life of Carl Rogers

Rogers_1908.jpgIt is impossible to grasp the profundity of Rogers’s contributions to the field without an overview of his formative years and his academic and professional pursuits, as his journey through life greatly influenced the scope and direction of both his theory and practice.

Born January 8, 1902 into a strict Protestant family living in Oak Park, Illinois, Rogers was an isolated loner who sought solace in academia. His family was prosperous and moved to a farm away from the “‘temptations’ of suburban life” when Rogers was twelve (Rogers, 1989, p. 8). There he developed a keen interest in science through the observation of the natural world around him and the cultivation of his family’s farmland. These experiences led him to the University of Wisconsin to study agriculture.

During his junior year of college, Rogers traveled to China as part of a youth ministry conference. While abroad, some of the rigid fundamentalism impressed upon him during his formative years diminished. Reminiscing about what he learned on his journey, in hindsight Rogers viewed this period as a time of personal growth.

It was 1922, four years after the close of World War I. I saw how bitterly the French and Germans still hated each other, even though as individuals they seemed very likable. I was forced to stretch my thinking, to realize that sincere and honest people could believe in very divergent religious doctrines. In major ways I for the first time emancipated myself from the religious thinking of my parents, and realized that I could no longer go along with them” (Rogers, 1989, p. 9).

Upon his return and the completion of his undergraduate degree, Rogers married and moved to New York City to study for the ministry at Union Theological Seminary. Ultimately, however, Rogers decided against the life of a preacher and completed a degree in clinical psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. It was during this phase of his education that he was exposed to “the dynamic Freudian views” of the clinicians supervising his internship which starkly contrasted the “rigorous, scientific, coldly objective, statistical point of view” presented at school (Rogers, 1989, p. 10). Rogers’s evolution toward a humanistic approach to psychotherapy was clearly influenced by this clinical training and inspired him to pursue an independent, unorthodox professional career.

He moved to Rochester, New York directly after graduation from Teachers College to work in a children’s counseling center. While there, he discovered that the directive therapeutic approach in vogue at this time was not effective in the counseling room. His first book, The Clinical Treatment of the Problem Child (1939) was developed out of this early clinical work and led to an appointment to full professorship at Ohio State University. There he wrote Counseling and Psychotherapy (1942). Subsequently, in 1945, he moved to the University of Chicago, where he opened a clinic based upon his primary theoretical paradigms, which evolved into a psychotherapeutic approach called client-centered therapy, and later renamed person-centered therapy. The 1951 book, Client-Centered Therapy outlined Rogers’s distinctive therapeutic philosophy and style: the client should be free to determine her/his own therapeutic path rather than being led by a clinician toward self-awareness. This paradigm was expanded further, based upon Rogers’s many years of clinical experience in his 1961 book On Becoming a Person, published during his tenure at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Simultaneous with his work in psychotherapy, Rogers was also an educator and applied the person-centered approach to theories about education. Rogers believed strongly that graduate students learn best when engaged in learning what they are truly interested in and that institutions that are too proscriptive are doing disservice to the creative aspects of the fields of education and science—views he expressed and expanded upon in the book Freedom to Learn (1969) and later updated in Freedom to Learn for the 80s (1983).

However, Rogers chose to leave the elite world of academia in 1963, moving to California and working at the Western Behavioral Science Institute. In 1968 he helped found the Center for Studies of the Person, an organization of person-centered professionals conducting workshops, research, and activist initiatives. The mandate of the center is to:

. . . explore the richness of the Person: to help individuals discover and experience more fully in their own lives and relationships even in their organizations – the wealth of what it means to be personal. Of what it means, for example, to be private as well as to be open, of what it means to yield to others and what it means to be self-controlling.

. . . . This Center intends to experience anew and in its own life the meaning of democracy and of community. In its scientific aims, it intends to go beyond the narrow limits of existing social science methodologies. It intends to invent and submit to the public methods of study suited to the dignity and depth of its subject, being human. It will use means of knowing designed to expand a person’s hope for him- or herself. This is a center for persons. (Center for Studies of the Person, 2005).

Rogers remained active with the Center for the rest of his life, traveling internationally and facilitating groups on person-centered approaches. Through the Center, Rogers was instrumental in the development of the use of encounter groups and applied his person-centered approach to improving group dynamics in corporate, government, and international diplomatic arenas. The political implications of the person-centered approach are outlined in Rogers’s 1978 book, Carl Rogers on Personal Power. While working with the center, Rogers continued to write, both personal reflections and professional observations, until his death at age 85 in 1987.

Major Concepts of Carl Rogers

The main crux of Rogerian theory is that the human experience is unique to each individual and, if given appropriate conditions for self-exploration and inquiry, people will shed defenses (“masks” or “false selves” as Rogers called them) and gravitate toward psychological health. This core belief developed into a theory—coined Becoming a Person—which grew out of experience gained through thousands of hours in clinical practice. Thus, Rogers was an applied psychologist, following in the footsteps of Freud and Jung in his own work, using what he learned while practicing psychotherapy to develop theories about the human condition and human relationships, including the relationship of client and therapist.

Rogers wrote extensively on Becoming a Person. Primary to this theoretical construct is the belief that human beings are not static constructions or unchanging personalities, but are dynamic, ever-changing entities: the person (or self) is a process. In addition, Rogers believed in the inherent positive potentialities of all living things. Such capacity is “evident in all organic and human life—to expand, extend, become autonomous, develop, mature—the tendency to express and activate all the capacities of the organism, to the extent that such activation enhances the organism or the self” (1961, p. 35).

These central ideas were supported by several suppositions about the nature of the human being. First, human beings are motivated toward self-actualization, as stated above. Human beings also have personal power, or “vast resources for self-understanding, for altering self-concept, his attitudes, and his self-directed behavior” (Rogers, 1978, p. 7). Problems arise for people for whom this personal power is diminished or restricted due to domination from others, either overt (such as martial law) or covert (such as finding one’s self in a manipulative relationship). The implication for placing so much power squarely upon the individual is great; including the potential for personal, social, and political change if all persons are granted the innate ability to move toward self-actualization. As noted above, Rogers applied this theory both within the psychotherapeutic container, and in the fields of education, business, and government. Nonetheless, the primacy of the power of the individual and how that power can be realized and enhanced through the psychotherapeutic relationship is fundamental to all of the ways in which person-centered approaches have been applied.

In addition to the problems that arise when personal power is diminished, discrepancies between a perceived Ideal Self and a Real Self may lead to psychological distress. The Ideal Self is a self-concept held by an individual that may or may not accurately reflect reality. If one’s Ideal Self and Real Self are in alignment, psychological congruence is present. If the Ideal Self is out of alignment with the Real Self, incongruence occurs and is generally expressed through psychological distress.

If the individual dimly perceives such an incongruence in himself, then a tension state occurs which is known as anxiety. The incongruence need not be sharply perceived. It is enough that it is subceived—that is, discriminated as threatening to the self without any awareness of the content of the threat. Such anxiety is often seen in therapy as the individual approaches awareness of some element of his experience which is in sharp contradiction to his self-concept. (Rogers, 1989, p. 223)

Applications of Theory
Since Rogers believed that the human experience is a process rather than a product, the evolution of the self is ever-evolving and thus the unlimited human potential present in all people is ever-present. Rogers also believed that the unmasking of the incongruence between the selves was most effectively achieved in relationship. If this inherent strength can be nurtured through a relationship such as in psychotherapy, it would lead toward healing for those involved. Rogers elucidated six necessary conditions that must occur over a sustained period of time to achieve personality change.

  1. Two persons are in psychological contact.
  2. The first, whom we shall term the client, is in a state of incongruence, being vulnerable and anxious.
  3. The second person, whom we shall term the therapist, is congruent or integrated in the relationship.
  4. The therapist experiences unconditional positive regard for the client.
  5. The therapist experiences an empathic understanding of the client’s internal frame of reference and endeavors to communicate this experience to the client.
  6. The communication to the client of the therapist’s empathic understanding and unconditional positive regard is to a minimal degree achieved. (Rogers, 1989, p. 221)

Through this therapeutic relationship, Rogers posited that the client becomes more “integrated, more effective . . . . He changes his perception of himself, becoming more realistic in his views of self. He becomes more like the person he wishes to be. He values himself more highly. He is more self-confident and self-directing” Rogers, 1961, p. 36). This is what is meant by Becoming a Person (1961).

Rogers developed four criteria through which one could discern when one Becomes a Person:

1. Openness to Experience: his own and that around him. “It is the opposite of defensiveness” (Rogers, 1961, p. 115). This openness includes the ability to see variation of truths rather than monolithic patterns which may have caused discordance and misunderstanding (incongruence) in the past. As Rogers noted, it enables a client to “tolerate ambiguity” (Rogers, 1961, p. 115).
2. Trust in One’s Organism: “There is a gradual growth of trust in and even affection for the complex, rich, varied assortment of feelings and tendencies which exist in him at the organic level” (Rogers, 1961, p. 119). This trust leads to greater self-acceptance and reliance on one’s inner wisdom. “Consciousness, instead of being the watchman over a dangerous and unpredictable lot of impulses, of which few can be permitted to see the light of day, becomes the comfortable inhabitant of a society of impulses and feelings and thoughts, which are discovered to be very satisfactorily self-governing when not fearfully guarded” (Rogers, 1961, p. 119).
3. An Internal Locus of Evaluation: Authority lies within the self rather than in society or another person. The central question shifts from trying to live up to or please others to: “Am I living in a way which is deeply satisfying to me, and which truly expresses me?” (Rogers, 1961, p119).
4. Willingness to be a Process: As stated earlier, Rogers believed the human experience is process rather than product. Thus, there needs to be recognition by the client that therapy does not end in the result of a fixed state in which problems are solved. Rather, it is the enabling of the person-as-process to be able to handle situations as they arise in each present moment and remain congruent and true to one’s self. This is the essence of “a process of becoming” (Rogers, 1961, p.122).The Role and Quality of the Therapist

As the six criteria that facilitate psychological change listed above suggest, the relationship between therapist and client is of profound importance. Rogers was very clear in his writing to stress that within the relationship techniques and methods are less critical to successful psychotherapy than the attitudes and qualities developed by and consciously held by the therapist (Rogers, 1951). Rogers stressed that “unconditional positive regard” for the individual is tantamount among the qualities necessary for successful therapy to occur (1961, p. 239). Through this he meant that it is necessary for therapists to develop “an orientation which stresses the significance and worth of each person” as an individual capable of operating from a place of inner wisdom (Rogers, 1951, p. 21). Thus, the process of therapy should be non-directive. The core of the role of the therapist in client-centered therapy is related to the quality of the psychotherapeutic relationship:

How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his own personal growth? . . . . If I can provide a certain type of relationship, the other person will discover within himself the capacity to use that relationship for growth, and change and personal development will occur. (Rogers, 1961, pp. 32-33)

Rogers often pointed out the folly of using techniques or methods without the therapist maintaining proper attention to unconditional positive regard for the client and personal self-awareness.

The client is apt to be quick to discern when the counselor is using a “method,” an intellectually chosen tool which he has selected for a purpose. On the other hand, the counselor is always implementing, both in conscious and nonconscious ways, the attitudes which he holds toward the client . . . Thus a counselor who basically does not hold the hypothesis that the person has significant capacity for integrating himself may think that he has used nondirective “methods” and “techniques,” and proved to his own satisfaction that these techniques are unsuccessful. (Rogers, 1951, pp. 25-26)

He suggested that an effective tool a therapist may use to develop and hone her/his therapeutic process is voice recording and transcription of actual sessions. Through detailed observation, the therapist may uncover times when the therapeutic process may be derailed by unconscious personal agenda or bias, or breaks in the empathic relationship. The role of the therapist in client-centered therapy is to affirm and acknowledge the experience and feelings of the client without being directive. Rogers asserted often that if this attitudinal stance can be maintained by the therapist, change would occur for the client.

Applications Beyond Therapy
“I realize that whatever I have learned is applicable to all of my human relationships, not just working with clients with problems” (Rogers, 1961, p. 32).

Client-centered therapy and the evolution of humanistic psychology have radically altered the field of psychotherapy. But Rogers believed that much of the use of unconditional positive regard was not limited to the psychotherapeutic container. As noted above, person-centered approaches continue to be applied in a variety of settings. Most notably in the last decade of Rogers’s life, he devoted much of his time to traveling throughout the world, including Brazil, Japan, the former Soviet Union, and South Africa facilitating the training of helping professionals and organizational leaderships in person-centered approaches. The same principles applied in client-centered therapy that Rogers had found so affective proved to have direct and profound applications for regional and international conflicts.

Carl RogersOne example of Rogers’s work on an international level was the 1985 Rust Workshop, a four-day gathering of international leaders and notable people from various fields including authors, professors, and peace activists, brought together to discuss the tensions at the time in Central America. Attended by fifty influential people from seventeen nations, the workshop utilized the processes Rogers and his staff from the Center for Studies of the Person had developed over two decades for use in encounter groups, professional training sessions, and conflict resolution settings: no set agenda for the workshop and the staff facilitated each session holding an attitude of unconditional positive regard (Rogers, 1989). This work, as well as his other international peace projects, including work in Northern Ireland and South Africa led to Rogers being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize days before he passed away in February, 1987.

The legacy left by Carl Rogers continues on in multiple arenas. In honor of the remembrance of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Rogers, Kirschenbaum (2004) made note of the continuing influence Rogers’s theory and practice has on the counseling and helping professions:

Moreover, Rogers’s work continues to serve as a foundation for the counseling profession (Capuzzi & Gross, 2001; Gibson & Mitchell, 1999; Gladding, 2000; Nugent, 2000). It also plays a major part in the practice of the vast number of counselors, clinical psychologists, and psychotherapists who describe their practice as “eclectic” or “integrative,” including the client-centered approach as a major component in their repertoire (Aspy, Aspy, Russel, & Wedel, 2000; Bergin & Garfield, 1994; Sharf, 2000). And it continues to exert a significant influence on numerous helping professions from social work to pastoral counseling to the health professions. (p. 123)

But Rogers’s influence extends beyond the field of psychology, just as the career of the man did during his lifetime. While some of Rogers’s critics felt that his theory was superficial (DeMott 1979), overly optimistic, and underestimated the capacity for human evil (May, 1982), the simplicity of his message and his unyielding belief in the strength and power of human potential is carried on in humanistic and transpersonal fields today (Sharf, 2000; Cowley, 1993). Rogers did not simply practice psychotherapy differently than other psychologists of his day. He instead developed an entire way of being—a lived expression of positivity and reverence for others—that changed the face of the helping professions in many ways. From this perspective, Rogers envisioned a new world, a place of peace and harmony that he did not see come to complete fruition in his lifetime, but one in which he was able to capture glimpses in the successes in counseling rooms, encounter groups, and peace initiatives. His vision began, and continued to be founded on the central principle of the strength of the individual.

This new world will be more human and humane. It will explore and develop the richness and capacities of the human mind and spirit. It will produce individuals who are more integrated and whole. It will be a world that prizes the individual person—the greatest of our resources. (Rogers, 1980, p. 356)

Center for Studies of the Person, (2005). Purpose of the center. Retrieved from on August 19, 2005.

Cowley, A. S. (1993). Transpersonal social work: A theory for the 1990s. Social Work: 38(5), pp. 527-534.

DeMott, B. (1979, January). Mr. Rogers neighborhood. Psychology Today, 90, 94, 95.

Kirschenbaum, H. (2004). Carl Rogers’s life and work: An assessment on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Journal of Counseling and Development: 82(1), 116-124.

May, R. (1982, Summer). The problem of evil: An open letter to Carl Rogers. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 22(3), 10-21.

Rogers, C. R. (1939). The clinical treatment of the problem child. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Rogers, C. R. (1942). Counseling and psychotherapy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Rogers, C. R. (1951). Client-centered therapy: Its current practice, implications and theory. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Rogers, C.R. (1961). On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Rogers, C. R. (1969). Freedom to learn. Columbus, OH: Merrill.

Rogers, C. R. (1978). Carl Rogers on personal power. New York: Dell.

Rogers, C. R. (1980). A way of being. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Rogers, C. R. (1983). Freedom to learn for the 80’s. Columbus, OH: Merrill.

Rogers, C. R. (1989). This is me. In H. Kirschenbaum & V. L. Henderson (Eds.), The Carl Rogers reader (pp. 6-28). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Rogers, C. R. (1989). The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change. In H. Kirschenbaum & V. L. Henderson (Eds.), The Carl Rogers reader (pp. 219-235). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Rogers, C. R. (1989). The Rust workshop. In H. Kirschenbaum & V. L. Henderson (Eds.), The Carl Rogers reader (pp. 457-477). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Sharf, R. S. (2000). Comparison, critique, and integration. In R.S. Sharf, Theories of psychotherapy and counseling: Concepts and cases (2nd ed., pp. 599-645). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.


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13 thoughts on “Transpersonal Pioneers: Carl Rogers – Biography & mini-gallery |

  1. You wrote about my “Whatever serves you and doesn’t deliberately harm others is good.”
    ” I don’t know exactly what to do with this, and I’ll tell you why. I’m arguing with a friend over the implications of A Crowley’s ethic, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law, Love under Will” and he interprets this statement in words similar to your words… for now I will just chew, not swallow.”

    You are right, I should be careful about writing about ethics without stating my ethical position first, which I can’t do in this post for reasons that will soon be obvious.
    An attitude, a happy heuristics attitude in my case, obviously entails an ethics of sorts. Otherwise, I would only be ‘a poseuse’ (a phony) with my happy heuristics. I have only brushed a little the ethics in a post (, I am trying not to overload my writing and consequently my readers: ‘being for me and caring about you’, but that’s just one aspect of the ethical attitude, the dance of will and destiny mentioned above, is another one and there are others still that I want to share, bit by bit, in my blog. Nothing I’ve invented that I am aware of : I don’t pretend to have the ‘capableness’ of a creative genius to create a “d”. If you’d like, I will send you some samples of my work, I’m revising at present and you may comment on the documents.

    “Nous vivons de bouche bouche” ( We live from mouth to mouth) Henri Meschonnic,

  2. As a christian studying theology, hermeneutics were necessary (and the word was thrown about), but as there was no particular interest in the study of hermeneutics among my friends (or adversaries) that I can recall, I have little experience with the science’s component parts.

    Your writing is dense and, like mine, full of metaphor to decrypt. Not complaining… I like that. My first favorite poet was Silvia Plath for Christsakes… talk about encrypted.

    You may see yourself as a dilettante, but from my perspective you’re cresting the curve of deep sea divers of the spiritual realm. I see, and have made a point to speak out against, the too many yoga-jocks and self-promoters that populate contemporary spirituality. Just visiting the coastline of academia… just a stop-off at a turn-out to take a snap-shot…that’s enough to join the ranks of spiritual penetraters… maybe you’re more a spiritual “local” and not the explorer after all ;). Having said that, I see your generalism. What I dont buy is this: that “general categories a, b and c” aren’t processed to eventually produce “idea D”. Idea D… well that’s no longer generalism.

    “Whatever serves you and doesn’t deliberately harm others is good.” I don’t know exactly what to do with this, and I’ll tell you why. I’m arguing with a friend over the implications of A Crowley’s ethic, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law, Love under Will” and he interprets this statement in words similar to yours… for now I will just chew, not swallow.

    Icarus… I’ll have to savor that parable for a second time in my life. Wonder how differ3nt it will seem.

    I had to think about my lake metaphor as messianic. In the sense of a future deliverance from struggle, I see it. Here’s a thought though. The “protective” properties of the ego are born of necessity, and generate a perception of reality comparable to a false horizon… a reason to move ahead, a motivational structure operating on behalf of the human organism, outside of direct contact with reality. Now, consider the “mirage” of definition, category and concept. Happiness was our example. A false mechanics of Happiness can be pursued as surely as an inspired set; so why not promote happiness as a byproduct of living in accordance with natural processes, rather than the more common, and less dimensional, view as “product owed for monies exchanged”?

    Perhaps language as a whole is a good example of that mirage, one octave more fundamental. And as language, at least in our age, is necessary, so perhaps correct conceptualizing of the particular is necessary, for the time. both illusory, both directional, both necessary.

  3. ooh! There’s a lot there. Maybe too much for a humble comment. Nonetheless…
    I think you would be really interested in the field of hermeneutics, especially Ricoeur, if you are not acquainted with it already.

    You know I am only an explorer, a dilettante really: I drift purposefully on the ocean of the information field. Engulfment is not always far. So prudence.
    My heuristic inquiries have led me to reflect on doorways, pathways, gateways, models/paradigms, keys, etc channels (heuristics) to becoming the best I can be and to help others do the same. ‘As spiritual beings having human experiences’, true learning, you’ll ‘observe’, happens through experience ,and ,heuristics as I define them, come in all shapes and forms to inform us of “where?” and ‘with whom ?’, fundamental questions. I am not in love with any of these heuristics and I borrow profusely, so no risk for me of ‘worshiping strange Gods’ or of guruism. I expand my range as I go. I am a work in progress. It’s a ‘lot try- it- for- size’, pick and choose, but one still has to be picky and choosy. A lot of experimentation is necessary.
    Whatever serves you and doesn’t deliberately harm others is good. One has to learn when to stop/ retreat even or move forward and with whom to go. There are so many heuristics, the thing is to find the one(s) that suit(s) me each time ( cf the simple but profound Icarus metaphor, not too high/not too much, not too little/ low, just right) to affect and effect my next personal evolutionary step, leap, change/ transformation. With experience and experimentation,you learn to develop a radar, and you improve on it as you go. It is true that “the picture of the good life” gets adapted to the time in which the subject belongs. But as a subject, autonomous that is, she questions the mass picture. if one doesn’t want to experience the fate of Icarus, there is an element of capableness (capacity (both possibilities and limits and limitations)of the subject , of the society she belongs to at all levels (economic, ideological etc) + her personal level of development, competencies included but not only, as you see) that surely enters in consideration. A ‘messianic’ concept (your lake metaphor?) has of course its place, it’s all heuristics for me. Surely, you have to have a vision with its teleological function, to attain higher pastures, the lake, but the’ vision’ also points to the theological/numinous. There is a constant dialogue between the two.To be able to decipher the messages we get from the information field and assess their usefulness/relevance we must learn to be attuned to the dance of will and destiny. Only participation in life can teach it through whatever heuristics. By this, I concur with your suspicion of synchronicity, some very anxious souls need confirmations: they can’t bear uncertainty or/and they lack a confirmation bias. (I am not talking about those who have gone over the border and reached the point of no return.) The happy heuristics attitude embraces uncertainty and participation in life for both life-enhancement and becoming the best you can be. Like you say, if “the RiGHT Work that ‘registers’ in the individual consciousness to produce these spiritual ‘fruit’. So, to a boy who came by sentience in the 80′s… Happiness, peace, and etc. are byproducts of feeding the bright side of the Force instead of the dark side”, then be it, by all means. That’s, to the least, life-enhancing. That’s choosing life. Again, each according to her own developmental journey.

  4. For me ‘happiness’ is only a by-product, an experience not an ideal so I am largely unconcerned on a personal level, critical, though, on a societal level, but not allergic. Each according to one’s own evolutionary journey.

    I like ” confirmation bias” . Nice. It’s almost an oxymoron. Makes me think of a text I’ve come across, by chance or providence, a few months back about synchronicity (trick or treat?). Tell me, if you wish of course, what you make of it. There is so much I want to explore with happy heuristics, My background is hermeneutics, so when I wrote ‘a confirmation is a confirmation is a confirmation’, I was tongue in cheek. I’m glad we’re on the same page, or are we? 🙂
    Anyway, nice conversation going for me. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • I think we are in the same chapter, at least. But I suspect you’re a few pages ahead of me in experience and education. Concerning Happiness as a byproduct and not an ideal… sure. If it is viewed as a destination-state, something that can be generated over an afternoon by a trip to the library or arcade, why not take any shortcut available to obtain it? In truth, as with other byproducts like sexual fulfillment or Peace (considered a ‘fruit of the spirit’ fruit=byproduct), It’s not simply work (Work in Gurdjieffs meaning), but the RiGHT Work that ‘registers’ in the individual consciousness to produce these spiritual ‘fruit’. So, to a boy who came by sentience in the 80’s… Happiness, peace, and etc. are byproducts of feeding the bright side of the Force instead of the dark side.

      The ‘Picture of the Good Life’, to me, is like the proverb ‘without a vision the people perish’ from the Bible. It could act as a guide for thinkers stuck in a reductive thinking style… a mirage to follow until a real lake materializes. A proper understanding of happiness in popular usage may point the way to happiness like a man pointing at the moon. But is there any reason to believe that the pointing man would not become the object of worship himself? That seems to be the way of it. I know that sounds cynical.

      This is funny. I have jokingly warned against excessive synchronistic thinking. Having said that, I think I am more oriented to these kinds of associations than many. I worked a helpline once, and received a call from a man clearly suffering some schizotypal disorder, and all he could do was drop synchronicities, one after the other after the other. His mind contracted around just those perceptions that synchronized to something else. Me? Privately I have enjoyed every little connection I make. Maybe the difference between me and my helpline friend is that I am suspicious of these ‘truth couplets’ becoming natural bias confirmations, so connections, when they occur, are considered and enjoyed, but remain merely “happy” little synchronicities. The article at gave me pause though. I will be considering the topic in a way I haven’t before, I can assure you.

      “Anyway, nice conversation going for me.” O this is good. You mean there are others as hungry for good conversation as I?

  5. I’m also sick with the ‘happy to death’, happy ‘Brave New World’ ambient culture vehicled by some coaches, especially in some misunderstood areas of my field, which is far more evolved than just a ‘happy’ culture. I hesitated a lot before using ‘happy’, until it clicked in my mind that maybe ‘happy’ in English was the counterpart of the French ‘heureux’. Indeed in French, ‘heureux’ has both today’s syrupy and ‘fortune’,luck’ meanings of ‘happy’ readily noticeable: ‘heureux’ and heuristics share the same etymological root to ‘heureka’. The French with their ‘joie de vivre’ have adopted the mix. It would be nice if the ‘nuance’ be more readily felt in English as well. In the middle ages the ‘fortune’ as destiny/fate and chance meaning of ‘happen’ was primary, obvious and neutral.
    There seemed to have been an attempt to use ‘happen’ with its original etymology in the artistic underground of the 60s as spontaneous display/events (originally) called “happenings”. We know what has been made of that!
    In Hebrew to be happy is to have permission to Ishur: permission/permit mehushar: given permission: happy. A totally different view of happiness, very relationship oriented, both tribal and individual ! Languages/words mirror our worldviews so maybe by using words in a different way we change worldviews (wordviews). Poets know this well. I did my studies on Chaucer and he did a hell of a lot for the English language and culture. As a translator of Boethius, he was way in advance of his time in transpersonal psychology, at least existentialism. Fascinating.

    Happy heuristics

    • Joking aside, I use the word Happy infrequently, for the simple reason that I’d like to hold genuine happiness to a higher standard, in the same way I want to reserve the title “friend” for true friends. And when I consider the ancient Greek and its many words for the differing expressions of Love, I wonder that a picture of ‘the good life’ wouldn’t be more easily constructed (or wouldn’t more easily emerge) if the Happiness we crave and claim as a right carried the responsibility of being earned in this life, in the same way we earn the right to feel pride in a car we’ve worked hard to pay for. Together with higher, well-defined states of peace, love and goodness, maybe happiness will rise above it’s white-washed plebeian usage and become a journey/goal state, part of a larger unified vision for today’s confused and struggling souls in every language.

  6. Besides being a ( n almost) comprehensive overview of Carl Roger’s legacy, this “repost” article has a particularly interesting biographical detail/turning point about Rogers personal evolution:
    “It was 1922, four years after the close of World War I. I saw how bitterly the French and Germans still hated each other, even though as individuals they seemed very likable. I was forced to stretch my thinking, to realize that sincere and honest people could believe in very divergent religious doctrines. In major ways I for the first time emancipated myself from the religious thinking of my parents, and realized that I could no longer go along with them” (Rogers, 1989, p. 9).”
    It’s almost as if everything, from historical background to the family that is landed on us, conspires to make us who we are meant to become and, if we choose, to become the best we can be. What seems adversity, a limitation, becomes our greatest asset for personal evolution : I love biographies especially autobiographies. It’s all heuristics!

    Happy Heuristics!

    • Jim Aldrich says:

      It’s all Heuristics… I love it. I Identify with C Rogers in that I grew up Missouri synod Lutheran and much later realized that I couldn’t embrace the dogmas of a single religion while my friends with very different beliefs exemplified the way I wanted to live. It made me look closer and realize the Christian mystics were closer to my belief, and my belief was close to Taoism, Buddhism, Existentialism, Jung, Huxley, the spiritualists… MY ‘beliefs’ were reflected everywhere, until I couldn’t conceive of remaining skeptical and closed to ‘universal’ wisdom, that included Christianity but was no longer limited to it. Truth is where you find it. And if the law of God is written on my heart as the Bible taught me, then truth from external sources is merely a happy confirmation of what I already know inside. Amen to that. 🙂

      • “…truth from external sources is merely a happy confirmation of what I already know inside”. A confirmation is a confirmation is a confirmation. I am awed by your ‘interfaith 🙂 pluralism’! Glad I made your acquaintance through your blog, filled with an inexhaustible well of happy heuristics for me. Thank you.

      • Jim Aldrich says:

        I hjave found myself using the word “happy” more liberally than ever since I visited your blog, happy heuristics. 🙂

      • Oh, and confirmation bias is always on my radar…

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RFB editor Jim Aldrich, Joshua Tree CA 2013

RunningSon aka Jim Aldrich, Joshua Tree CA 2013 | This site is dedicated with the deepest gratitude to Dr. Cláudio Naranjo, whose writings gave me life.

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