What is Transpersonal Development?


We all want to get enlightened, but how? Development is like a spiral staircase, with multiple “floors” or landings where you can stop, relax, or stay for the rest of your life. But having a map of the entire process can help you see where you are and what the next step is in your movement to clarity and enlightenment and to lucidity, whether awake or dreaming.

Here is an overview of the major stages, basic associated characteristics and associations. A fuller explanation of each of them follows.


Developmental Stage  Sense of Self  Perspective
Early Prepersonal Physical Self Healthy Animal
Mid-Late Prepersonal Emotional/Autocentric Selves Preferences/Power
Early Mid-Personal Social/Rational Selves Validation/Personal Achievement
Late Personal/EarlyTranspersonal Compassion/Path of the Yogis Energic/Nature Mysticism
Mid-Transpersonal Path of the Saints Subtle/Deity Mysticism
Late Transpersonal Path of the Sages Causal/Formless Mysticism
Non-Dual Sunyata Integrative

Another way of talking about the developmental stages is in terms of the objectification of each, a normal growth process that happens generally non-verbally but stops generally by early personal:

Transcending, or objectifying early prepersonal: “I am not my body; I am my feelings, emotions that have a body.” (occurs pre-verbally, about 6-18 months.)

Transcending, or objectifying mid prepersonal:  “I am not my emotions; I am my scripted identity (Ron) that has emotions and a body.” (occurs around 3-4)

Transcending, or objectifying late prepersonal: “I am not my scripted persona or “ego;” I draw my sense of self from my identification with my family, religion, nationality, workplace, political party, etc, but I have a clear sense of self, emotions and a body.” (Most people do not get past this stage because society not only does not reward it; it punishes higher level development because it is a threat to group cohesiveness. This resistance comes from both culture and society, including family and work.)

Transcending, or objectifying early personal: “I am not defined by my social and professional affiliations, but I have them, my sense of self, my emotions and body. I draw my sense of self from universal principles such as law, dharma, natural law, karma, human rights, the golden rule, etc.” This is an identity that is governed by skepticism, doubt, reason, rationality, empiricism and the scientific method. (There are many examples of people who reach this level cognitively, or how they think about the world – Jefferson, Russell, most politicians and scientists – but cognitive access is not the same as living a life baed on this level of development.)

Transcending, or objectifying mid-personal: “I am not defined by reason, logic, universal principles or values, including science and empiricism, although I recognize, respect and support them. I draw my sense of self from a sense of collective existence with all humans and many other life forms. I use my previous identities that I have now objectified to support my embrace of all sentient beings.” (Everybody that embraces pluralism and egalitarianism thinks they have reached this level; they haven’t. They simply grasp the principle and thereby assume that is their level of development. Barak Obama is one example.)

Transcending, or objectifying late personal: “I am aware of all of the previous self-definitions and not identified with any of them. As such, my identity is poly-perspectival or multi-perspectival, in that I honor and take multiple perspectives based on their applicability for healing, balancing and transformation.” (This is the level of development that IDL attempts to get people to grow into because it is the gateway to the transpersonal and it represents the consolidation of all previous levels.)

Transcending, or objectifying multi-perspectivalism: “While I honor and take multiple perspectives based on their applicability for healing, balancing and transformation, I experience the underlying unity of all perspectives as life energy, such as abundance, freedom, power and control.” (Yogis, psychics and mystics who are one with nature think they have accessed this level because they have had temporary state openings or glimpses of this perspective. However, if their opening and development is based on faith, not reason, their overall level of development is most likely still pre-personal.)

Transcending, or objectifying the early transpersonal: “While I experience the underlying unity of all perspectives as life energy, I prefer to experience this underlying unity as an all-encompassing nurturing acceptance, love, compassion and bliss.” (Anyone who makes a God out of love, compassion and bliss is telling you they have not yet grasped multi-perspectivalism and therefore have confused a temporary state opening and an intellectual understanding of the mid-transpersonal with an ongoing experiential access of it.)

Transcending, or objectifying the mid transpersonal: “While I experience the underlying unity of all perspectives as an all-encompassing nurturing acceptance, love, compassion and bliss, I prefer to experience this underlying unity as formless clarity, spaciousness, objectivity, lucidity, devoid of any sense of self whatsoever.” (Most people who claim this are into some sort of lifestyle of denial and detachment, which does not embrace and include the mid-transpersonal dimensions of love and bliss.)

Transcending, or objectifying the late transpersonal: “While I experience the underlying unity as formless clarity, spaciousness, objectivity, lucidity, devoid of any sense of self whatsoever, I prefer not to experience life without any  real distinctions whatsoever between reality and non-reality, self and others, sacred and profane, wise and ignorant, loving and unloving, good and evil, heaven, earth and hell, healthy and unhealthy, spiritual and profane.”

Any and all of these perspectives are available to all of us all the time once we recognize them. However, the cognitive recognition of them or the temporary flash of enlightenment of “getting” one of these perspectives is not at all the same as accessing a perspective on a continuing basis. To do that with any of them you first have to have learned to experience the previous perspective on an ongoing, daily, hourly basis. There’s no skipping levels, because each includes the previous. And that is how you can tell if growth is genuine. If someone has had a mystical or near death experience and therefore “knows” that they are one with the divine and have access to the secrets of the universe, eternal life, and enlightenment, look at what perspective(s) they embody habitually, daily, particularly when no one is watching.

Integral Deep Listening (IDL) is a powerful, effective self-directed path to awakening, clarity, lucidity and enlightenment. The IDL Coaching Program is a great way to move ahead more quickly within the framework of the life you are already living.

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