April 7 by The Running Son
By Jim ALdrich
Why do I post on psychology, neurotheology and chakras on the same blog?
A comment exchange with SymbolReader this morning got me thinking about the broad community of transpersonal, pantheistic belief. I mean, what is the common denominator of say, Sufism, Christian mysticism and Abraham Maslow? It’s dangerous to put into words. I suppose I already tried above, but it gets to the root of the problem, language. Each start from or dip into the conceptual ocean of the philosophia perennis (promised myself I’d write that at least once in Latin. I rule!)…the Perennial Philosophy of Aldus Huxley for us non-initiātus (oh shut-up). But the most compelling angle for this experiencer is how different they all are, collectively, from the common core understanding of human nature of the contemporary American Evangelical Christian.
I should know, and I do. I went to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, the famous mother-church of Chuck Smith and ocean baptisms. But at Calvary, I wasn’t really smart to how corralled my thinking was yet. Later I went to a Reformed Baptist Church (it’s…small: follow your curiosity) and got hip to many of the limitations I was up against. It was a bleak and mono-chromatic picture of man I found there and I didn’t like it one bit. I eventually ended up in a California based Antiochian Orthodox church, confused. The presence of monks in the Mass seemed promising, but they were remote figures and frankly, I was afraid to approach them. As a California suburbanite, the cultural divide was too hard to cross. Orthodoxy was the pinnacle, the “last house on the block”. It was there or nowhere for explaining, practically or theoretically, the deeper spiritual “sensings” I had. That’s all they were then, just senses.
I’m learning as we speak about the influences of eastern thought on Eastern Orthodox Christianity, but the point is, the simple explanations I needed were all out there, right behind a corner it was taboo for me as a Christian to peak around.
So what of the quietly unhappy Pentecostal, Presbyterian, or “non-denominational” Christian looking for a simple explanation that conforms to direct experience? The taboo aside, it’s damn scary to stare into the unknown. And I’m here to tell you; whatever resources your average Christians appealed to to learn about Yoga or the Enneagran or even mysticism, like the Christian Research Institute, they couldn’t possibly be liberating. It would require a meditative attitude that’s nearly impossible to accomplish under such heavy reductionist influence.
One answer for the western mind is the heading of “Transpersonality”. In it, we find everything from Philosophy to Psychology to Buddhism to esoteric schools and Aesthetics theory. This may be overwhelming for anyone conditioned by years spent in the “right church” finding his or her “true belief”, but at least it organizes the options. For me, the sifting-through-wisdom style of Claudio Naranjo and the mega-lists of traits of Abraham Maslow were hits… the perfect fit. Through that portal, I was able to approach with ease topics that would have made me feel guilty and paranoid before.
So thanks to Western blanket-terms like transpersonal, I surf the seas with confidence. Almost every new sea I travel to I find the same comforting greeting; Follow your path. Me? I’m just glad to know I always had the map.