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The Transpersonal World

By Richard Gunther


   When I first came across this expression (“transpersonal world”) and read the definitions set forth by its proponents I was immediately struck by the ambiguities and internal contradictions. Free use is made of such words as “Tao”, “the definition of your existence”, “the personal ego-I”, “the path”, “the nature of Zen” and the “personal shadow”, without any reasonable attempt to use such terms accurately.


   One obvious problem with the subject of “the transpersonal vision” is its assumption that “the psyche’s innate movement is towards wholeness and integration” – something also taught by the more liberal Society of Friends (Quakers) and many cults. This assumption can be expressed this way: “Mankind is basically good, and tends to move towards goodness when given enough incentive.” The logical corollary is: “Evil is illusory.”


       As a Christian I am part of a growing number of Bible students who have discovered that the Bible is the best counselor. Its wisdom has never been surpassed, and its revelations of truth have never been improved on. This should not surprise us, as the same Creator who made and understands Mankind, also wrote the Handbook, or Manual of Instruction.


   I will therefore compare some “Transpersonal” statements with what the Bible says, (plus the odd comment where useful). The Reader may then decide which carries the most authority.


1.    “The transpersonal world (message) is a lateral world, one that covers all in one encompassing movement.”

·        The only global message, which God has given for all people, is the gospel. (Mark 16:15) The only all in one encompassing movement, which God has ordained, is the Kingdom of God. (Dan.7:27). The only lateral world, which God wants each individual to live in, is the one where the ‘Golden Rule’ is practiced. The ‘transpersonal’ world is self and people-centered, whereas the Christian world view is God-centered. (= centered on the one true God)


2.    The transpersonal world is “the way . the Tao”.

·        Tao is defined as “the universal force that produces harmony in nature”. When one looks at Nature, one sees very little harmony. Spiders eat flies, birds eat spiders, and big birds eat small birds, flies lay eggs on dead or dying animals. Diseases, sickness and cancers are common in all living things. Cats kill and eat birds and mice. Wild animals are everywhere. There are also many thousands of creatures which sting, bite, whip, poison, attack, spray and burn with acid. The world of nature is not in harmony. It is full of death and decay. Even as new life springs up the agents of disintegration, move in. Humans, if they are in the peak of health, still carry enormous amounts of bacteria in their gut, on their skin. They are also infested with thousands of microscopic creatures which live in their skin.

·        Tao is an ideal, which can only be seen when one shuts one’s eyes to the ugly and brutal aspects of all of Nature.

·        The Bible describes the world as being in the bondage of sin. Creation, which once expressed a sort of ‘Tao’ when it was first created, is now fallen, and will remain so until the Lord Jesus returns. At that time the whole Creation will be transformed into a state of harmony and perfection. Perhaps the great longing which many people have for a world without sickness and decay is an instinct which God, who made people, has placed there to help lead them to the Savior?

·        Rom.8:20 - 23 “For the creature (creation) was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope, because the creature (all creation) shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now”.

·        Hurricanes, tornados, floods, droughts and earthquakes kill tens of thousands of people each year. Multitudes endure crippling diseases, endless suffering, and unspeakable pain. Tao must fly in the face of all this evidence of God’s punishment of a sinful world.


3.    “The individual lack of awareness or understanding as to the nature of Transpersonal is a reflection of the lack of awareness, understanding or acceptance of Self”.

·        There are two views of Man which, when taken to an extreme, are wrong. The first view is that Man is an utterly vile sinner, black with evil and unapproachable, the other view, that Man is divine and sinless, pure and godlike. The center ground is nearest to the truth. According to the Bible, God created Mankind, and built into Man many aspects of Himself. For example, humans are self-aware, they are able to appreciate beauty, they pray, they can create music and art, they manage a system of justice, they are inquisitive, and inventive, and they value principles. They also have a desire to communicate in a spiritual way with ‘God’.

·        The best understanding of ‘Self” begins with the Bible point of view. Man has some aspects of his Maker, yet he also has a built in (inherited) tendency to rebel and disobey God. As sinners, humans are out of fellowship with God, with Creation and with themselves.

1.    The separation between humans and God is spiritual, and is caused not by God, but by the human’s own failure to obey God.

2.    The separation between humans and Nature is part of the punishment on all creation. This is why humans have to train animals, tame them, and keep their confidence, otherwise the animals remain wild and useless to Man’s needs.

3.    The separation between humans and themselves is also because of God’s punishment. Originally, Adam and Eve had perfect fellowship with God, Nature and Self, but now that all humans are fallen, they are unable to enjoy the same intimate personal knowledge and self-understanding their first parents once had.

·        The pursuit of a better understanding of Self is a noble one, but God does not hold out much hope for people who turn inwards and look for meaning inside themselves. Even if one was aware of, understating of, and accepting of one’s Self, the sinful nature would not be dealt with. The only power available for changing that is the Holy Spirit, which one receives on repentance.


4.    “There is a link between definition and understanding which is only separated by language and terminology”.

·        This statement seems to be suggesting that people will understand things better when the language is more accurate, or perhaps when terminology is clearer, but. whatever it means, it sounds like tautology. Of course people understand things better when they know what words mean – that is why we use words which have definite meanings. However, when one reads such statements as “the path beyond ego” and “so, we introduce the world of paradox”, or “Wholeness can only be whole when limitation is removed from be-ing”.

·        If Transpersonal teaching is concerned with finding truth, then we need look no further than the Lord Jesus, who claimed to be “the truth” He used the definite article “the” to emphasis his exclusive position.

·        The claims of great numbers of people confessing Christ are amazingly similar regardless of place, time, environment or background. They confirm that Christ satisfies the deepest mental and spiritual needs of all intellects, ages, races, cultures and nationalities. When Christians ‘compare notes’ they find that they have all had essentially the same experience. We are here referring to hundreds of thousands of people, who, after genuine repentance and conversion have gone on to live new, joyful, meaningful lives. It is doubtful whether Transpersonal teaching has much to say in the face of this 2000 year record of consistent success – why not concentrate on the work of Jesus therefore, and leave Transpersonal theories on the back shelf?


5.    Transpersonal is . . . “the way, the path, the Tao, the nature of Zen, the essence of Christianity, the truth of Buddha. It is the Tantra and Yoga”.

·        Obviously the true nature of Transpersonal philosophy is here revealed. It is largely religious in character with a strong emphasis on spirituality. The authors also show an amazing ignorance of their subject when they place “the essence of Christianity” alongside such unlikely bedfellows as ‘Tao, Zen, Buddha, Tantra and Yoga’.

·        The essence of Christianity, as founded by the Lord Jesus, is Grace. God calls sinners to repentance, God gives sinners the power to repent, the power to receive new life, and the power to live the new life. Grace is there from start to finish, while the only acceptable response from Man is praise and obedience – neither of which earn any credit with God. Compare this with the subtle but twisted teachings of the ‘bedfellows’, the essence of which is NOT Grace, but works, self-improvement, and human effort. One example follows:

·        Buddhism: Buddhists must work to convince themselves that they have no personal significance, even though they live daily as though they do. Jesus taught that each person does have real significance, regardless of their self-opinion. The Bible says that each person is made in “God’s image” with an immortal soul and an eternal destiny. Jesus demonstrated the value of people by loving us so much that he sacrificed His life in order to secure an eternal future  of happiness and peace to anyone who trusts in Him.


6.    “The word ‘human’ is derived from two words, ‘Hu’ (a term for God) and ‘Man’. A human is therefore a ‘God-Man’.”

·        This is incorrect. The Latin derivation ‘humanus’ is similar to ‘homin’, from which we get ‘homo’. When the Latin ‘humanus’ is taken to French we get ‘humain’. The Middle English is ‘humain’, or ‘humaine’, or ‘humayne’. Modern English gives us ‘human’.

               The word ‘human’ means ‘belonging to Man’. (As in humanity, humanitarian, humanly speaking, and the Humanities)

·        The fact that humans manifest both God-ness and creature-ness is attributable to the original creation.


7.    The Trans-Personal world  . . . allows you to see the Greater Wholeness, not only of you, but of humanity and beyond”.

·        It is undeniable, if one follows the Bible, that there is a Wholeness about the universe. The integrated patterns of space, the biosphere, and the millions of interdependencies in Nature, all point to a common Designer. Just as a car is an assemblage of many different parts, yet every part is designed to complete a small portion of the whole car, so the entire universe is one Whole entity, with all the different parts working together.

·        But throughout the entire ‘Wholeness’ of the universe there is a physical law operating – the second law of thermodynamics. This law has been seen to operate without exception in all parts of the universe and the world. It always works in one direction only. It has never been compromised or reversed by Man or Nature. It is seen in such things as decay, disintegration, increase of randomness, winding down, dissipation of heat and so on. According to Transpersonal teaching one should be able to see the “Greater Wholeness” of all things, so it ought to be clear to anyone who follows Transpersonal teaching that all things are subject to decay and death. This contradicts the statement in the introduction: “the psyche’s innate movement is towards wholeness and integration”. The Christian would say: only by the power of some external power can one move from incompleteness to wholeness, and this power does not reside in “the psyche”. Power to move from ill health to good health, from depression to peace, from disintegration to soundness, must come from outside the system, since we know from Scripture that Man does not have that power residing within himself. The Christian has found the source if that external power – the Personal, and infinite God, and a far better way to health and healing than the Transpersonal teachings.


   The best alternative to Transpersonal teaching is the Word of God. The following is a suggested outline for a prayer of repentance, based on the Bible, showing how different the Christian answer is from the Transpersonal menagerie of ideas and philosophy.


   “Dear God, I have sinned against you by breaking every one of your commandments. Despite the conscience you gave me, I have looked with lust and therefore committed adultery in my heart. I have lied, stolen, hated, failed to love you, and failed to love my neighbour as myself. I have also failed to keep the Sabbath day holy, I have been covetous, greedy, and selfish, and I have harboured hatred in my heart and therefore been guilty of murder in Your sight.

   I have used Your holy Name in vain, I have been an idolater and made a ‘god’ to suit myself, and I have dishonoured my parents. If I stood before You in Your burning holiness on Judgment Day, if every idle word and every secret sin I have committed came out as evidence of my crimes against You, I would be utterly and totally guilty.

   As a guilty sinner I deserve hell, and I am without an excuse or word of defense. All my sins are before you, and I am not able to claim ignorance or innocence.

   I therefore receive Jesus as my only Saviour, and my only hope of escaping Your great anger against my sins. Jesus was bruised for my iniquities, and He gave his life and died in my place. He paid in full the penalty for my sins. I cannot pay any of it myself, and I cannot earn any of it by good works or donations or self-inflicted misery.

   I hereby declare my allegiance to Jesus Christ and intend to live for him from now on. I will read the Bible regularly, pray, obey what I read, and fellowship with other Christians”.

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