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Consciousness in Oscillation

Worldviews and their Transcendence as Spiritual Practice


Sonja Lenk

The thesis addresses the question of human consciousness in its oscillation between conditioning and transcendence: the impact of cultural worldviews on the individual’s lifeworld and their gradual transcendence as a form of spiritual practice. At the centre of attention is a group of individuals and their unfolding life-stories as they move through a journey of transformation, seeking to explore and understand the complexity of their own consciousness. The emphasis is on the embodiment of belief systems and the individuals’ inherent existential power to transcend cultural precepts. Methodologically, the study is based in phenomenological anthropology. It thus employs the first-person perspective and includes subjective personal experience as primary data.


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1 Fieldwork setting: the school, teachers, and students


1.1 The school The Barbara Brennan School of Healing is an American institution offering a four-year training to become a healer. It was established in the early 1980’s by Barbara Ann Brennan, and since then has had about 2000 graduates over the years, and many more people attending the School for at least one year or more. Although the end product of the training is the qualification as a so-called Bren- nan Practitioner, the four years are thematically divided and can be done inde- pendently of graduation and working as a healer. The training itself is a mixture of learning more and more complex healing skills for working with the so-called Human Energy-Consciousness System or Aura, and skills for developing a bet- ter understanding of the self. The latter, learning to understand oneself and one’s issues, are considered as essential by the School when working as a healer in order not to project the latter onto the patient and thereby cause unnecessary pain or confusion. A fair number of students attending the institution only do a couple of years. Others graduate but don’t work as healers. In fact, in our year the majority of students did not intend to work as healers in the strict sense of the term but did the training for personal reasons like self-transformation and/or integrating the acquired skills into the work area. The curriculum distinguished two major areas of study called Healing Science and Psych-Spiritual Develop- ment, as well as several minor ones called Integrative...

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