The progress of science in the last hundred years has been remarkable. The start of the 20th century saw one of the most important scientific breakthroughs, the advance of the theory of relativity (Einstein 2010; Lorentz, 2012) and the introduction of quantum mechanics that superseded deterministic laws of mechanical Newtonian physics (Planck 2015; Gamow, 1985; De Gosson, 2016).
It took almost half a century to see a similar development in descriptive science, i.e., psychology. The mid-20th century saw the fall of behaviorism (Braat et al., 2020); its narrow and deterministic views were challenged by the discovery of neuroplasticity (Ansermet, 2007; Costandi, 2016; Denes, 2015) and superseded by an open, positive, and responsible humanistic worldview (Kirk, 2002; Rowan, 2015).
Humanistic psychology has, in turn, been upgraded into a completely new field of human consciousness exploration, transpersonal psychology (Grof, 2009; Kaklauskas, 2016).
The implications are significant and might offer much more than meets the eye (Cigale, 2011). We are, however, encouraged to investigate these premises and to research and explore even further into the fabric of reality:
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day.”
– Albert Einstein, quoted in Life magazine, May 2, 1955; Expanded, p. 281
My name is Edmond Cigale, and I am the director of the Transpersonal Psychology Institute. I currently mentor Integral Consciousness graduate students at Rushmore University.
In this short article, I intend to share how integral studies have contributed to the transformation and brought “magic” into my life. Like everyone else’s, my intellectual growth and inner transformation were idiosyncratic.
In general, there are two approaches to studies: the so-called horizontal and vertical studies. The horizontal study focuses on gathering information and data from scientific research and relies mostly on analysis, linear logic, and understanding. In contrast, the vertical approach to studies calls for an additional and decisive effort: inner transformation, emotional intelligence development, and enhancement of self-awareness.
Under the wing of respected Prof. Dr. John Rowan (1925-2018), my approach to doctoral studies was the latter, as I hope to share in the present text…
Scientific vision examined
The sharpness of the scientific mind offers clarity seldom perceived without the assistance of precise scientific research methodologies. This translates in the present context to systematic, unbiased, and independent research conducted in a controlled environment, often beyond mainstream beliefs – research that yields reproducible results open to further investigation.
And it is very comfortable to trust in such scientific reality, a priori, and without ever examining all possible angles. When everything seems to make sense and falls right into place, it seems challenging to do that. It can be difficult to leave the intellectual comfort zone and let go. In fact, why would anyone be so bold as to step out of the proven scientific worldview?!
I experienced two such challenges during my formal studies of the integral paradigm. The accompanying inner growth moved me permanently beyond the mental ego level of awareness (Wilber 2000) and dared me to relinquish reliance predominantly on the intellect.
I faced the first challenge when it became apparent that my belief system about psychiatry as science was utterly misplaced and rather naive. According to independent research (a quick online search on the “chemical imbalance myths and facts” will reveal what I refer to), psychiatry is unable to determine the origin of so-called “mental disorders”. There are no real scientific, biological, or laboratory blood tests (as is the case with physical maladies) that support any of its claims. Quite the opposite, actually:
“We don’t know the etiology of really any of the mental disorders at the present time.”
– Dr. Darrel Regier, former director of research at the American Psychiatry Association (interviewed by CCHR, a new page opens up)
The year I studied modern psychiatry’s history, “science,” and methodologies was the gloomiest period of my life. I could hardly believe what I was discovering; although it was still challenging for me to admit, I was not able to deny how mistaken my understanding was.
The short-sighted belief that the mind-body connection is quite clear and trust in my perception of psychiatric “science” were both affected beyond repair.
Reality vs. my intellect 1 : 0.
The second, less stressful (but quite disturbing) challenge manifested when I studied the basics of quantum physics along with the professional and private lives of Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schroedinger, Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Wolfgang Pauli, Sir Arthur Eddington, Niels Bohr, and Louis de Broglie.
All of these giants of the scientific community and brilliant minds had many things in common. I want to highlight the two most relevant to the subject under discussion.
First, they were unanimously asserting that they were only interpreting reality (basically volunteering that they did not know or could not pinpoint exactly how the universe, at the subatomic level, worked). The famous and universally accepted Bohr’s Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics (Camilleri 2009), for instance, as brilliant as it is, is only an interpretation – one of many, at that – and nothing more.
“The physicist of the latest generation is operationalist all right, but usually he does not know, and refuses to believe, that the original Copenhagen interpretation – which he thinks he supports – was squarely subjectivist, i.e., nonphysical.”
(Bunge, 1967, p.4)
These notions rendered a direct shot to the very heart of my intellect! If the geniuses listed above admitted that science could not provide adequate answers to the most basic questions about reality, who or what could?!
The castle of my scientifically-oriented mind began to crumble, and the unyielding (and illusory, I might add) grip on reality in the comfort of well-established cognitive maps started to appear more like a prison and less like the aforementioned clarity.
The second thing the scientists listed above (most of whom were Nobel laureates) had in common was that they were all mystics in their private lives (Wilber 2001). Professionally, they all subscribed to the supremacy of the intellect; in private, however, they all saw through the intellectual might and ventured beyond it.
“…Here is the place where the freedom of the will comes in and establishes itself, without usurping the right of any rival. Being emancipated thus, we are at liberty to construct any miraculous background that we like in mysterious real of our own inner being, even though we may be at the same time the strictest scientists in the world, and the strictest upholders of the principles of determinism. It is from this autarchy of the ego that the belief in miracles arises, and it is to this source that we are to attribute the widespread belief in irrational explanations of life…
… I might put the matter in another way and say that the freedom of the ego here and now, and its independence of the causal chain, is a truth that comes from the immediate dictate of the human consciousness”.
These words still get to me, especially considering that they have been spoken by one of our time’s greatest intellectuals and scientists.
A good friend of Albert Einstien’s, Sir Arthur S. Eddington, expressed similar notions in slightly different words:
“…We have learned that the exploration of the external world by the methods of physical science leads not to a concrete reality but to a shadow world of symbols, beneath which those symbols are unadapted for penetrating. Feeling that there must be more behind, we return to our starting point in human consciousness – one centre where more might be known. There, in immediate inward consciousness, we find other stirrings, other revelations than those conditioned by the world of symbols. Physics most strongly insists that its methods do not penetrate behind the symbolism.
Surely then, that mental and spiritual nature of ourselves, known in our minds by an intimate contact transcending the methods of physics, supplies just that…which science is admittedly unable to give.”
These thoughts had a huge impact when I first read them, and even now, after more than ten years, their power still reverberates strongly in my mind.
Notions similar to those quoted above instigated the beginning of the end of my worship of intellectual strength and its overestimated reach. The gate out of the mental ego identity and its linear logic was in sight.
Reality vs. my intellect: 2 : 0.
Looking back, I can see that I needed those insights as challenging as they were. The expression clavus clavo eicitur really is idiomatic in this case. It would be futile to use something against itself, mind against mind. It was the other way around: I employed the scientifically-oriented mental continuum to examine itself and look directly at its fundamental aspects. And when faced with its own inability to fathom reality directly, without interpretations or symbols, intellect just collapsed and withdrew. And I could move on to deeper states of awareness and identity development (Wilber 2000a) unhindered.
Opening doors to integration
It was a real struggle on my part, a real challenge to dive deeper and to let go, I have to admit. And it took long years to become fluid enough to switch between rationality and deeper self-awareness. Honoring the hard sciences and their axioms and being able to let go and immerse into deeper awareness concurrently – I was incapable of making it on my own. I needed help, and I understand that now.
The support came from my dear mentor at Rushmore University, Prof. Dr. John Rowan (1925 – 2018). He possessed a rare quality of balance between scientific erudition and deep empirical wisdom.
I had the honor of learning directly from him for six years in live presentations, seminars, and workshops on the integral paradigm and various stages of human identity development (Rowan, 2005). I also spent a lot of time with him privately. Result: my perception changed considerably.
While academic erudition and empirical wisdom separately are both quite admirable, when combined or integrated, that is where they shine!
Integration itself can be a delicate subject, to say the least. On one side, we have solid scientific and rational facts (which would be unwise to deny), and on the other side, we have subjective inner events (which we better not ignore) that easily avoid scientific scrutiny. When we journey from hardcore disciplines like cognitive neuroscience or quantum mechanics into descriptive sciences like transpersonal or humanistic psychology, we leave a safe comfort zone defined by the intellect and venture onto the thin ice of subjectivity.
The said integration is the middle line between all opposite extremes (i.e., objectivity and subjectivity) and at the same time (conceptually) incorporates and (empirically) transcends both.
Professional success and “magic”
It is rewarding to see that certain aspects of the integration under discussion have brought success to my professional life.
Based on my graduate studies at Rushmore under Dr. Rowan’s wing and after a great deal of inner transformation (psychotherapy, meditation, etc.), I developed a new psychotherapy modality, Transpersonal Cognitive Therapy (TCT®). I established a three-year private school for transpersonal and humanistic consultants, TCT® Academy.
The Program was a huge success, and the therapy itself is quite effective, considering that therapists from other psychotherapy schools seek help from TCT® consultants.
All the science and methodologies supporting the integral vision discussed herein have been empirically and directly validated many times over since 2011, at the TCT® Academy and in private sessions of numerous TCT® consultants. And the same science and most of the methodologies have been integrated into our new graduate Integral Consciousness Studies Program.
The fact that our integral approach is being shared and taught internationally through the Rushmore University ICS Program is quite a message in itself, I feel.
The integral magic, as it were, manifests in my private life as well. I can slide or switch between all existing stages of human identity development (as per the universally accepted Wilber map, summarized in Barret, 2006) easily and effortlessly. In practical terms, that translates to the ability to perceive reality only through the linear mental capacities (Mental Ego level), authentic heart (Authentic level), as a soul (Subtle Transpersonal level), spirit (Causal transpersonal level), or as completely naked awareness (Nondual Transpersonal level).
These skills alone have brought immense joy and inner freedom into my life! The integral vision revitalized my most important relationships and deepened my self-awareness. It continues to offer a positive, effective, and truly fresh way of living in a fast-changing world.
There is another aspect to my story, to be honest. The integral vision always considers multiple angles simultaneously, and possessing integrated knowledge from various aspects of reality has left me somewhat alone. I rarely encounter a person that shares similar integral views on reality…
To make a rather long success story short, it has been a rough ride over the years, and yet, given a choice, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
The torch of the integral vision has been passed on to me, and through the Integral Consciousness Studies (ICS) Program, I am more than willing to share everything I have learned thus far.
I want to take this opportunity to extend a warm welcome to anyone willing to embark on the road less traveled, as it were – willing to sharpen the intellect and, simultaneously, daring to experience deeper levels of human consciousness!
Ansermet (2007), Biology of Freedom: Neural Plasticity, Experience, and the Unconscious, Routledge; 1st edition
Barret (2006), An Overview of Developmental Stages of Consciousness, Integral Without Borders – International Development Centre, download PDF >>
Braat, Michiel and Engelen, Jan and van Gemert, Ties and Verhaegh, Sander (2020), The Rise and Fall of Behaviorism: The Narrative and the Numbers, link >> (new page opens up)
Bunge (1967), The turning of the tide, Quantum Theory and Reality, Springer, Heidelberg, Berlin, New York
Camilleri (2009), Heisenberg and the Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (The Physicist as Philosopher), Cambridge University Press
Cigale (2011), On the pragmatic value of the transpersonal state of awareness:
changing beliefs and emotions, Rushmore University research paper, view/download PDF >>
Costandi (2016), Neuroplasticity (MIT Press Essential Knowledge series), The MIT Press; Illustrated edition
De Gosson (2016), The Principles of Newtonian and Quantum Mechanics, WSPC; Second edition
Denes (2015), Neural Plasticity Across the Lifespan: How the brain can change, Routledge; 1st edition
Eddington, A. (2004), Science and the Unseen World, Kessinger Publishing
Einstein (2010), Relativity: The Special and the General Theory, Ancient Wisdom Publications
Gamow (1985), Thirty Years that Shook Physics: The Story of Quantum Theory, Dover Publications, Revised ed.
Grof (2009), Brief History of Transpersonal Psychology by Stanislav Grof, published in the International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, view/download the PDF here >>
Kaklauskas (2016), Shadows & Light – Volume 2 (Talks & Reflections): Theory, Research, and Practice in Transpersonal Psychology, University Professors Press
Kirk (2002), The Handbook of Humanistic Psychology: Leading Edges in Theory, Research, and Practice, SAGE Publications
Lorentz (2012), The Einstein Theory of Relativity; a Concise Statement, a Kindle edition
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Planck (1932), Where is the science going, New York, Norton
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Rowan (2005), The Future of Training in Psychotherapy and Counselling: Instrumental, Relational and Transpersonal Perspectives, Routledge
Rowan (2015), Ordinary Ecstasy: The Dialectics of Humanistic Psychology, Routledge, 3rd edition
Wilber (2000), A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality, Shambhala Publications
Wilber (2000a), Integral Psychology: Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy, Shambhala, Illustrated edition
Wilber (2001), Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World’s Great Physicists, Shambhala Publications