By Rosemarie Anderson from Transpersonal Inquiry and the Next Generation of Transpersonal Researchers and Scholars
The field of transpersonal psychology has changed radically since 1992, when the late William Braud and I joined the Core Faculty at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (ITP), now Sofia University. Not only has transpersonal psychology expanded and diversified as a field but we are no longer the only academic field interested in spiritual and related phenomena. Investigation of topics, such as compassion, forgiveness, altruism, and mindfulness, are now commonplace in mainstream psychology and the health sciences worldwide.
The subject matter of human spiritual experience is no longer radical and no longer defines transpersonal psychology as a unique field of study. Therefore, especially in hindsight, what William Braud and I learned about the essential nature of transpersonal research and scholarship in response to our doctoral students’ needs in the 1990s and 2000s becomes more relevant now than we could have ever foreseen at the time. When we founded the field of transpersonal research methods with the publication of our first book,
Transpersonal Research Methods for the Social Sciences: Honoring Human Experience
(Braud & Anderson, 1998), we could not have imagined that the epistemological perspectives and transpersonal research methods we generated together in those early years would be a crucial element distinguishing transpersonal psychologists from mainstream scholars now investigating spiritual phenomena.
My British transpersonal colleague, Les Lancaster, has already expressed similar views in his recent address at the Alubrat Transpersonal Research Colloquium in Brazil in September 2015 (Lancaser, 2015). In this short essay, I first tell the history of how William Braud and I came to conclusion that the essential dynamic for transpersonal research and scholarship is the inquirers’ willingness to engage the Sacred in a journey of transformation— a journey that implicates both their understanding of the topic and themselves as human beings.
Second, I reflect on some of unique characteristics of transpersonal researchers and scholars. Third, I discuss some of the risks involved in transpersonal research and scholarship especially projection and narcissism. In conclusion, I discuss the role of independent scholarship among the next generation of transpersonal researchers and scholars, their needs for training and networking, and progress made to meet some of these needs worldwide.
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