Inquiry into Self-Transcendence

From Ecological, Non-Ecological, and Embodied Self-Transcendence in Introspection by Olga Louchakova-Schwartz
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The principle of transcendence, implicit in any consciousness, sets the stage for a variety of psychological experiences indispensable to being human. Can we fully claim the knowledge of all forms of psychological self-transcendence?
I will present the findings concerning the robust introspective self-experience in Christian prayer, whereby transcendence is internal, and is realized as an embodied stratified self-constitution engaging the internal I-Thou. Two different forms of experience, egological and non-egological, contribute to shaping the important religious concepts of the Ladder and of the Ascent of the Soul.
This experience leads to self-knowledge, and to positive characterological transformation, which in turn heals the traces of prior traumas and integrate the “shadow”. Using the
example of this experience, I will show how the psychology of transcendence pushes the boundaries of neuroscience by challenging the latter to expand its old theories and generate new ones, such as non-linear dynamics or neuroquantology.
 
Introspection in Religious Life
Towards such typology of religious introspection, my present study aimed to explore whether religious introspection has stable structures which can be possibly involved in the formation of religious experience which lead to the emergence of a religious metaphysical concept.
As distinct from the highly formalized, prescriptive phenomenological structures in various kinds of meditation which are intended to specifically modify the mind, I was interested in the modes of introspection which have more flexibility, be less regimented and more natural, and aim at self-knowledge in context of religious ideation. In other words, I was interested how the famous injunction of the Oracle of Delphi, “know thyself”, would translate into a theological or metaphysical idea. As briefly mentioned above, there exists a significant difference  between introspective self-transcendence in religious or spiritual practice, and regular psychological or philosophical (non-religious) introspection.
Obviously, in non-religious, non-metaphysical introspection, the only agent is the ordinary psychological self, without much depth; in religious or metaphysical introspection, the subjects posits and is intent upon the Ultimate Reality, or the presence of God within, with all the modifications of identity which take place while introspection is pursued, and further, in the final self-transcendence when Deity or Ultimate Reality are actualized in introspective experience.  
Notably, these states are not only conceived theologically, but also lived empirically: God is first experienced within as the Other, and then this internal I-Thou is transformed into an experience of Union, which has been described as : “I am not, but He is, and in that, somehow, I am” – an ultimate formula of self-transcendence. From personal experience and the experience of spiritual counseling and teaching, I suspected that the journey between the natural state of self-awareness and this final self-transcendence offers many possibilities to confirm or generate religious ideas, and I needed to establish a specific bond between the two.
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