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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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4 Transformation and the process of embodied learning

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In Body/Healing/Meaning Csordas describes healing as “an existential process”, concerned with “the fundamental question of what it means to be a human be- ing, whole and healthy, or distressed and diseased.”118 My own research regard- ing the transformation process in the context of spiritual practice comes to the same conclusion. Although there are many different levels of engagement with the spiritual path – from reading the occasional book or partaking in workshops to a sincere commitment on an everyday level - if taken seriously it is indeed a deeply challenging and at times disturbing task. Overall I would say that the stu- dents at the Brennan School had a sincere commitment to the transformation process: considering the amount of money and time one had to dedicate to each year of training it could not have been otherwise. Along with deep commitment came the existential dimension or threshold of the process. Writes Csordas: Healing at its most human is not an escape into irreality and mystification, but an in- tensification of the encounter between suffering and hope at the moment in which it finds a voice, where the anguished clash of bare life and raw existence emerges from muteness into articulation.119 This understanding of healing was valid for the transformation process taking place at the Brennan School where the life-world of the individual student was touched and challenged on a deep level. Although the degree of anguish varied from student to student for many it was a matter of existential dimension....

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