By Heidi Fraser Hageman March 21, 2016

East-West Psychology Core Faculty Dr. Jorge Ferrer presents "Transpersonal psychology and the Spiritual but not Religious Movement: Beyond spiritual narcissism in a post-secular age" at Rice University's Rockwell Symposium Being Spiritual but Not Religious: Past, Present, Future(s) March 18-20, 2016. In his own words:

"In this presentation I first frame the SBNRM as a predictable outcome of the confluence of two different socio-cultural processes in the (post-)modern West: secularization of traditional religious authority on the one hand, and re-sacralization of self, nature, and the cosmos, on the other. In this post-secular context, a SBNR “affiliation” becomes an essential—conscious, semiconscious, or unconscious—self-identification strategy to minimize the cognitive dissonance stemming from (a) re-enchanting subjective life and world, while simultaneously (b) feeling that one may be regressing to problematically perceived, past religious attitudes (e.g., dogmatic faith, religious exclusivism, patriarchal authoritarianism). After problematizing the distinction between spiritual and religious, I focus on a central element of the SBRN ethos: the avoidance of spiritual narcissism or the deep-seated belief in the superiority of one’s spiritual tradition, path, or choice. Then I turn to the discipline of transpersonal psychology, arguing that it could be seen as a prominent academic wing of the SBNRM. After a brief overview of transpersonal psychology’s origins, I suggest that second-wave transpersonalism (participatory) emerged as a corrective to the arguable religious ideology and spiritual narcissism of the first transpersonal wave (neo-perennialist). I conclude with some reflections about the conceptual and experiential challenges involved in overcoming spiritual narcissism, as well as the lessons SBNRs might learn from the evolution of its academic wing: transpersonal psychology."

Jorge N. Ferrer, PhD, is core faculty of the department of East-West Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), San Francisco. He is the author of Revisioning Transpersonal Theory: A Participatory Vision of Human Spirituality (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2002) and Participation and the Mystery: Transpersonal Essays in Psychology, Education, and Religion (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, forthcoming), as well as the coeditor of The Participatory Turn: Spirituality, Mysticism, Religious Studies (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2008). In 2000, Ferrer received the Fetzer Institute’s Presidential Award for his seminal work on consciousness studies and in 2009 he served as advisor to the organization Religions for Peace at the United Nations on a research project aimed at solving global interreligious conflict. He was born in Barcelona, Spain.

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