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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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5 Belief system territories or the wiping of horizons

Extract

This chapter looks at the metaphysic of goodness: the question of an innate dis- position for the good, or goodness, in the human being. The focus is not on the question of a generic goodness but on the existential consequences that might arise from the belief in such. In other words, how a metaphysical priority of goodness is concretised or actualised in the life-world of an individual. Again the focus is on shifting worldviews: the shifting from a belief in innate sinful- ness or inadequacy, as transmitted by the socio-cultural environment and life circumstances of my informants, to one of innate goodness, as transmitted by the School. The issue is illustrated by two main informants, namely Fabrizio and Theresa, who during their four years at School slowly shifted their self-image from a conceived innate inadequacy or even sinfulness due to their up-bringing to, let us say, a metaphysical priority of love as it was conceptualised and taught at the Brennan School. This chapter describes how these specific conceptualisa- tions were employed as tools for transformation: In Fabrizio’s case the focus is on the power of images and their existential consequences, while in Theresa’s case the focus is on the creation of the so-called mask-self and the quest for au- thenticity as a genuine and achievable mode of existence. Both cases exemplify the potential for conscious self-creation that might transpire when seemingly fixed horizons are challenged or wiped away. Although both Theresa and Fabri- zio are coming from what appear to...

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