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Consciousness in Oscillation

Worldviews and their Transcendence as Spiritual Practice

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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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3 Existence, cosmology and understanding: on the complexity of a relationship with life

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There is but one truly philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Deciding if life is worth living or not means to answer Philosophy’s most fundamental question. Whether or not the world has three dimensions or the mind nine or twelve categories comes afterwards. Albert Camus Camus’ beginning lines in The Myth of Sisyphus sum up his attitude concerning a complex relationship: the relationship between a human being and its sur- rounding world, or to speak with Heidegger, the world he/she is thrown in.86 What does it mean to be alive on this planet and to have the capacity to reflect about it? Does our experience of life change when framed by a different cos- mology? The question here is not whether it changes our perspective, which it obviously must, but the question is rather whether it changes the lived experi- ence of life at the core of our being. Would the change be a matter of kind, or of degree? Or would it simply mean to cover the self with yet another layer? Worldviews describes a holistic understanding of the world - how the world is to be understood as a meaningful framework of human existence. Worldviews represent the totality of assumptions and values, the structural as well as conten- tual interpretation of the world: concepts like space and time, life and death, the self and its relationship to the social and natural environment, causality, the ori- gin of the universe and evolution of life, the place of the world...

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