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HUMAN NATURE: A DEVELOPMENTAL PERSPECTIVE

Transpersonalism views the development of higher consciousness as being necessary for transforming people's lives, a belief universally reflected in all transpersonal theories of human development. Healthy development is marked by one's advancement from personal (pertaining to the self) to transpersonal (outside of the self) concerns. Wilber's (1997) transpersonal developmental model is one of the most accepted among transpersonal theorists for its explanation of the necessary transcendence to the transpersonal. Wilber,

Engler, and Brown's (1986) model essentially incorporates the accepted developmental stages of Freud, Jung, and Piaget with the humanistic tenet of self-actualization and Eastern religious and philosophical thought. His model is hierarchical in nature, with reality and psyche being organized into distinct levels with "higher" levels being superior to "lower" levels in a logical and developmental sense (Richards & Bergin, 2004). When an individual progresses to the next level of development, the problems of the previous stage are resolved, but new developmental challenges may appear. Thus, as each new level is attained, new psychological structures and abilities emerge, but so do the possibilities for new pathologies should development fail to continue (Kasprow & Scotton, 1999).

Wilber (2000) viewed an individual's life as being marked by the pseudoindependent progress of several developmental lines (stages) through all levels of life and consciousness. The self attempts to manage each of the lines, which are interdependent but advance at their own paces. These developmental lines are broadly arranged into three groups: the prepersonal, the personal, and the transpersonal. According to Kasprow and Scotton (1999),

Prepersonal functioning occurs in the absence of full rational competence and a healthy, intact ego. It is instinctual and centers mainly on satisfying biological needs.

Personal functioning is higher than the prepersonal and is controlled by and caters to the concerns of the ego. A sense of identity is created through thoughts and feelings about one's attachments, and behavior is regulated by this identity.

Transpersonal functioning is the most ideal and is associated with the diminishment of personal identification and the emergence of states of being and modes of knowing associated with levels of reality beyond personal identity.

Within the broad prepersonal, personal, and transpersonal states of functioning, a number of developmental lines, or stages, exist. These are composed of (a) cognitive stages, through which the individual develops greater intuitive, emotional, and interpersonal abilities; (b) the vision logic stage, characterized by the integration of mind and body, or thought and feeling; and (c) psychic stages, the heart of transpersonal development, through which the individual's consciousness extends beyond the ego and is able to merge with what is observed, attains the ability to access archetypes, and eventually learns to travel at will along all the developmental lines (Bidwell, 1999; Kasprow & Scotton, 1999).

Wilber (1997) used the term translation to refer to this process of integrating, stabilizing, and equilibrating the different developmental lines on a horizontal level. In contrast, transformation is the process of transcending one consciousness (line or stage) and advancing vertically to the next. Development, then, occurs in the tension between these horizontal (translation) and vertical (transformation) dimensions or lines of human existence (Bidwell, 1999). Wilber (2000) held that defining this spiritual line is central to the development of the individual. Spiritual growth is thus measured by the individual's ability to transcend a subjective point of view and move on to higher earthly, spiritual, and even cosmic perspectives (Bidwell, 1999). This transcendence is the hallmark of the integrated self and stands at the center of Wilber's transpersonal model (Bidwell, 1999). Wilber (1995) stated that this is the cosmic evolutionary process, which is "self development through self transcendence," the same process at work in atoms and molecules and cells, a process that, in human domains, continues naturally into the superconscious, with precisely nothing occult or mysterious about it. (p. 258)

 
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