Paper presented to
CCPE, London - October, 2002.
Narrative and Heuristic Approaches to Transpersonal Research and Practice
(Email: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Both heuristic and narrative inquiry are now receiving the attention that
Both heuristic and narrative inquiry are now receiving the attention that they deserve.
I have stressed before (Hiles, 2001), the very nature
of the transpersonal paradigm requires an approach to inquiry that is
necessarily somewhat in contrast to other areas of scientific inquiry.
Transpersonal inquiry is no less scientific, or empirical, than any other area
of inquiry, but the empirical data may be different, as they take the form of
subjective experience, discernment and direct knowing, etc. It is worth noting in this
respect something that Ken Wilber stresses. In his discussion of direct
transpersonal experience, he asserts that such experience is
"repeatable, reproducible and confirmable,” and these are of course the
basic requirements of the scientific approach (Wilber, 1999, p. 43).
the very considerable progress that has been made in the development of research
methods more appropriate to the paradigm of transpersonal inquiry, by for
example Braud & Anderson (1998), Heron (1996; 1998), Bentz & Shapiro
(1998) and Valle (1998) etc., I still have a fascination with what I see as two
fundamental methods of inquiry, that possibly underpin much of what has been
achieved recently in our field. I am of course referring to heuristic inquiry
and narrative inquiry, which I see as particularly relevant to researching
authentic accounts of human experience.
some time now I have been exploring the idea that the essence of transpersonal
or spiritual experience involves the notion of knowing through participation.
I am pretty sure that this idea can be traced back right through the history of
spiritual practices to ancient times. This idea of knowing through participation
is part of what Ferrer (2000) has called the participatory turn in
transpersonal research, and is directly related to the ideas of participatory
consciousness (Berman, 1981), sacred inquiry (Reason, 1993), integral
and intuitive inquiry (Braud & Anderson, 1989), and John Heron’s co-operative
inquiry, participatory theology and participatory worldview
When I refer to knowing through participation, I really have two things in mind that are relevant here. First, I am claiming that the essence of spirituality is participation in life, indeed we know life by taking part in it. That may seem obvious when you think of it, but it needs to be said. I think it needs to be said more often, and I think that practice and research in counselling need to reflect this. Secondly, any method of research into spiritual or transpersonal experience must be participatory in its approach. Furthermore, I need to add that what seems to distinguish the spiritual from others forms of participatory knowledge is its authenticity. Because I would define counselling and psychotherapy practice as an authentic participatory practice, it follows that I therefore see all therapeutic activity as grounded in spirituality. I know that there are therapists who do not work in a transpersonal model, but to the extent that their work is participatory, to the extent that their work is authentic, their work is spiritual. I am drawing upon a very wide concept of spirituality here, but it really does help to think in this way.
point that I am making here about research should not be confused with the basic
idea of participatory observation, participatory inquiry, and action research,
etc. These are all very useful approaches in their own right. What I am concerned with is
the importance of knowing through participation. It is because I see both
heuristic and narrative inquiry as inherently participatory that I want to
examine them together here as two key approaches to transpersonal counselling
and psychotherapy research.
will begin by highlighting a few of the issues that I raised in Hiles
(2001), and then I will examine more closely the idea of tacit knowing,
with the intension of identifying one specific research approach, that I will
call heuristic indwelling. I then want to examine narrative from a
similar perspective, especially the notion of authenticity that emerges
from a study of narrative. Finally, I will try to relate these issues to both
research and therapeutic practice.
HEURISTIC INQUIRY AS PARTICIPATORY KNOWING
inquiry was developed by Clark Moustakas (1967; 1981; 1990; and Douglass &
Moustakas, 1985) drawing heavily upon the ideas of Michael Polanyi (1958;
1966/1983; 1969). It is defined as follows:
research is a search for the discovery of meaning and essence in significant
human experience. It requires a subjective process of reflecting, exploring,
sifting, and elucidating the nature of the phenomenon under investigation”
(Douglass & Moustakas, 1985, p.40).
is concerned with meanings, not measurements; with essence, not appearance; with
quality, not quantity; with experience, not behaviour”
(Douglass & Moustakas, 1985, p.42).
heuristic approach is an adaptation of phenomenological inquiry, but explicitly
acknowledges the involvement of the researcher, to the extent that the lived experience of the
researcher becomes the main focus of the research. Indeed, what is explicitly
the focus of the approach is the transformative effect of the inquiry on the
researcher's own experience.
the beginning and throughout an investigation, heuristic research involves
self-search, self-dialogue, and self-discovery. The research question and
methodology flow out of inner awareness, meaning, and inspiration. [ . . ] My
primary task is to recognize whatever exists in my consciousness as a
fundamental awareness – to receive it, accept it, support it and dwell inside
(Moustakas, 2001, p.263).
1 presents a summary of the heuristic approach. Douglass & Moustakas outline a three-phase model, and they suggest that, “
. . a natural
process is at play when one attempts to do a thing heuristically”
(Douglass & Moustakas, 1985, p. 47).
Moustakas (1990) has elaborated this model further, and has identified a
number of core processes, together with seven basic phases of inquiry.
does not explicitly refer to the participatory quality of heuristic inquiry,
but it is clearly implied by his stress on heuristics as a way of knowing
that involves a personal encounter:
. . The heuristic process is a way of being informed, a way of knowing”
(Moustakas, 1990, p. 10).
. . In heuristic research the investigator must have had a direct, personal
encounter with the phenomenon being investigated. There must have been
actual autobiographical connections”
(Moustakas, 1990, p. 14).
It is worth re-emphasizing some points that I have made before (Hiles, 1999; 2001):
effect, it is not you who chooses the research question, but the research
question chooses you - invariably the research question is deeply personal
in origin – for example, in my own experience, the research question seems
to have been a preoccupation of mine for some thirty years.
the importance of working with the heuristic process of others - the outcome
of the heuristic process is a creative synthesis, which is validated by a
participatory sharing with others – who in turn may be inspired to engage
in their own heuristic inquiry. And so the great chain of heuristic inquiry
is moved along – originally as part of the ancient oral tradition, then
down through the centuries as recorded and written tradition, and most
recently as part of the empirical scientific tradition. The works of
writers, poets, artists, spiritual leaders and scientists, all invite
participation, and all of these can be usefully treated as the creative
products of heuristic inquiry.
emphasizes that heuristic inquiry is basically a process of discovery of an inner
knowing. It is discovery that involves participation by engagement and
. . a passionate, disciplined commitment to remain with a question intensely
and continuously until it is illuminated or answered”
emerges is a form of knowing that the scientist/philosopher, Michael Polanyi,
calls tacit knowing, which he stresses stems from the fact that “
. . we
can know more than we can tell” (Polanyi, 1966/1983, p.4).
term ‘heuristic’ seems to bring together and to emphasize the
distinctive contribution of Polanyi’s point of view. ‘Heuristic’
derives from the Greek, heuriskein, to find or discover. [ . . ] the
heuristic thread runs throughout Polanyi’s thought and is the element that
leads to a new understanding of knowledge and ourselves”
(Gelwick, 1977, p. 84).
point is that Polanyi regarded the past three centuries of belief in
‘scientific detachment’ as having produced a crisis in scientific
argued that at root of all claims to objective scientific knowledge there is
always a reliance upon personal knowledge. However, Polanyi’s ideas may
have been a little before their time, he was not a part of mainstream
philosophy, and his ideas have been largely marginalized by other
philosophers. It is to Moustakas’ credit that he has taken Polanyi’s
ideas and used them so effectively in psychology.
central role that tacit knowing plays in heuristic inquiry is stressed by
Moustakas as follows:
all other concepts in heuristic research, at the base of all heuristic
discovery, is the power of revelation in tacit knowing”
(Moustakas, 1990, p. 20).
actually obtaining data, the tacit dimension is the forerunner of inference
and intuition, guiding the person to untapped aspects of awareness in
nonlinear ways that elude analysis and explanation. In this sense, the tacit
is visionary. [ . . ] Tacit knowing operates behind the scenes, giving birth
to the hunches and vague, formless insights that characterize heuristic
(Douglass & Moustakas, 1985, p. 49).
is further indebted to Polanyi in the recognition that indwelling plays a
key role in tacit knowing. For example, Polanyi argues:
knowing now appears as an act of indwelling by which we gain access to a new
meaning. [ . . ] since all
understanding is tacit knowing, all understanding is achieved by
(Polanyi, 1962/1969, p. 160).
is particularly important with respect to what I am discussing here in at
least three ways: (i) indwelling especially stresses the participatory
nature of tacit knowing, (ii) indwelling offers an important bridge with
transpersonal inquiry, and (iii) indwelling seems to offer the possibility
of a specific methodology within heuristic inquiry.
does not explicitly acknowledge the participatory here, but this is implicit
in the process being described. We know tacitly by taking part in the
process of discovery, by indwelling:
refers to the heuristic process of turning inward to seek a deeper, more
extended comprehension of the nature or meaning of a quality or theme of
human experience [ . . ] The indwelling process is conscious and deliberate,
yet it is not lineal or logical. It follows clues wherever they appear; one
dwells inside them and expands their meanings and associations until a
fundamental insight is achieved”
(Moustakas, 1990, p. 24).
does extend the tacit dimension to include among other things, the arts,
myths and religion (Polanyi & Prosch, 1975), but neither he nor
Moustakas make explicit reference to transpersonal knowing. Nevertheless, it
does not seem to be unreasonable to claim that tacit knowing should include
the transpersonal and spiritual. Indeed, my simple claim is that the
heuristic process can be used to discover, or more accurately recover
transpersonal, archetypal or collective knowing. This is only a slight
expansion of the point made by Douglass & Moustakas:
the pale of ordinary conscious awareness, every person is in touch with
numberless sources of knowledge. Subliminal, archetypal, and preconscious
perceptions undergird all that is in our immediate awareness, giving energy,
distinctiveness, form, and direction to that which we know” (Douglass
& Moustakas, 1985, p. 49).
only proviso is that we each must do this for ourselves, it cannot be done
for us (although we can be guided). One very basic idea of how this can be
addressed is in thinking how we respond to a work of art, or a piece of
literature. This is especially well expressed in a work by Helen Luke. In
the introduction to her commentary on Dante’s Divine Comedy, Luke points out that:
would emphasize the truth that the work of all great artists awakens
insights and meanings of which the artist or writer is himself
(Luke, 1975/2001, p. xv).
What Luke seems to be referring to
here is the tacit knowledge that can be awakened in the reader, and not
necessarily intended by the artist or writer, by engaging with a text, or
work of art, presumably because of the way it is accessing the archetypes of
the collective unconscious. The artist or writer cannot do this for us, but
we can participate in the creative synthesis of their work.
reiterates precisely what I said earlier, concerning the great chain of
heuristic inquiry. The works of
writers, poets, artists, spiritual leaders and scientists, all invite
participation, and in turn promote tacit knowing. This is clearly
acknowledged by Douglass & Moustakas:
the heart of heuristic lies an emphasis on disclosing the self as a way of
facilitating disclosure from others – a response to the tacit dimension
within oneself sparks a similar call from others”
(Douglass & Moustakas, 1985, p. 50).
This seems to suggest a specific
application of the process of indwelling for
exploring the human response to a particular text, practice or event.
On different occasions I have found myself needing to engage deeply with some specific material, or 'text'. I have to come to call this deep study of a single text, heuristic engagement, or perhaps it is better named heuristic indwelling (and I am very aware that this is almost precisely how I view working with a client in therapeutic practice). On other occasions I might deliberately choose two or more 'texts' for this work, and I have called this methodology heuristic comparison (Hiles, 2001). Both of these methods are simple adaptations of the method of heuristic inquiry, designed as formalized analytical tools for the study of the phenomenological experience resulting from a participative engagement with almost any cultural or clinical practice. Table 2 sets out the seven phases of what is involved in the methodology that I have called heuristic indwelling.
should be fairly clear that this methodology is the outcome of trying to do
justice to the required depth of the engagement and participation with the
material, while also being able to set appropriate boundaries to the work
that is involved. Indwelling is a critical way in which we can participate
in such a way that knowledge is then revealed to us. It is my view that
heuristic indwelling is almost always simply a part of a wider heuristic
inquiry. Also, it is possibly a very ancient spiritual practice, but is particularly of relevance
to recent developments in transpersonal
past two decades or so has seen the remarkable development of the field of
narrative psychology (Sarbin, 1986; Bruner, 1986, 1990; Polkinghorne, 1988;
Crossley, 2000). This field of study proposes that narratives are an easy,
unconscious, and involving way of constructing our world. The view that is
emerging is that narrative constitutes the primary process by which human
experience is made meaningful.
example, Donald Polkinghorne argues that:
lives are ceaselessly intertwined with narrative, with stories that we tell
and hear told, with stories that we dream or imagine or would like to tell.
[ . . ] We live immersed in narrative. Recounting and reassessing the
meanings of our past actions, anticipating the outcomes of our future
projects, situating ourselves at the intersection of several stories not yet
(Polkinghorne, 1988, p.160).
of the strongest claims that is repeatedly being made for the psychological
functions of narrative is that it has a primary role in the construction and
maintenance of self-identity (Shotter & Gergen, 1989; Kerby, 1991;
Schafer, 1992). We are then, simply, the assembled stories that we tell
about ourselves, and the stories that are told about us by others. But we
also have the power to renegotiate our identity by altering these stories.
order to grasp the full significance of the basic function that narrative
serves, it is useful to examine an idea that is so eloquently explained by
Watzlawick, Beavin & Jackson (1967) in their book Pragmatics
of Human Communication. They argue that there are three basic types of
human knowledge about objects and events in the world. They propose a first-order
knowledge that involves a knowledge of things, a direct sensuous
awareness of objects which our senses convey. But they point out that in the
mature adult, “first-order knowledge
alone is probably a very rare thing”. They therefore propose a second-order knowledge that involves knowledge about things. This is
knowledge about first-order knowledge, a meta-knowledge, a knowledge about
the objects of experience, their meaning, and ways to react to them
accordingly. Finally, there is third-order
knowledge that can be understood as follows:
of the sum total of the meanings that are deduced from the contacts with
numerous single objects of the environment there grows a unified view of the
world into which we find ourselves 'thrown' (to use an existentialist
term), and this view is of the third order. There is a strong reason to
believe that it is really quite irrelevant what this third-order view of the
world consists of, as long as it offers a meaningful premise for one’s
existence. [ . . ] What is important, however, is that we operate with a set
of premises about the phenomena perceived and that the interaction with
reality in the widest sense will be determined by these premises. [ Indeed,
. . ] reality is very largely what we make it to be. Existential
philosophers propose a very similar relationship between us and reality;
they conceive of each of us thrown into an opaque, formless, meaningless
world out of which we create for ourselves our situation. The specific way
of “being-in-the-world”, therefore, is the outcome of our individual
choice, is the meaning we give to what is presumably beyond objective
(Watzlawick, Beavin & Jackson, 1967, p. 261-2).
want to emphasize two important points that Watzlawick et al are making.
Firstly, that human knowledge goes beyond what is given by our senses to
include experiences, meanings and points-of-view or perspectives, that arise
from our unified world-view. Secondly, that, at least in principle, it does
not really matter at all which particular point-of-view or perspective we
adopt towards the reality of the world.
we accept this notion, and I think there are very strong reasons why we
should, then we can suppose that these points-of-view, or perspectives, will
to meet some minimal requirements. This would be in terms of some relevance to
the givens of human existence, some concern for internal consistency, and
the need to be able to share this knowledge with others. This third-order
knowledge will need to be encoded in some form that is capable of being
circulated in human communities. It would seem that it is precisely the
function of narrative to encode this third-order knowledge, which is
essential for human existence, and crucial in the human construction of a
sense of reality.
psychologist, Rollo May, in A Cry for
Myth, expresses the same basic idea, when he suggests that the modern
view of myth is a matter of serious concern. He argues that myths can supply
models for human behaviour, they can establish and justify human conduct,
and actively give meaning and value to life. He passionately expresses his
concern for a general loss of myth in modern society. He observes that:
myth is a way of making sense in a senseless world. [ . . ] Mythmaking is
essential in gaining mental health. [ . . ] Language abandons myth only at
the price of the loss of human warmth, color, intimate meaning, and values -
these things that give personal meaning to life. [ . . ] Without myth we are
like a race of brain-injured people unable to go beyond the word to hear the
person who is speaking”
(May, 1991, p.15).
May suggests that myths give us a sense of personal identity, they make
possible a sense of community, they support and validate moral values, and
they offer a way of dealing with the inscrutable mystery of creation.
Psychologically, myths have important healing powers (cf. Hillman, 1983).
Myths can bring into awareness repressed, unconscious motives, longings, and
fears, or can reveal new goals, new ethical insights and possibilities.
Myths can draw out inner reality enabling a person to experience a greater
reality in the outside world, or they can discover for us new realities,
reconnecting with the universals beyond concrete experience.
Narrative inquiry therefore highlights a
number of important areas on which a focus needs to be made. The importance
of narrative for making sense of our experience of the world around us, our
place in it, and offering ways to share that with others. The methods of
narrative inquiry are inherently participatory. For example, Mishler (1986;
1999) points out that narrative methods involve the joint construction of
meaning, and Josselson & Lieblich propose that narrative involves a
particular type of encounter.
research refers to any study based on discourse or on people’s verbal
accounts of their experiences. Such a story need not compose a complete
autobiography; it may be short descriptive statements or narratives. [ . . ]
The common aspect of all these narratives is that the material is offered in
the natural language of the teller and is created through his or her
individual experience and judgement” (Josselson
& Lieblich, 2001, p.280).
a narrative research interview is an ‘encounter’, in which the listener
accepts the story with complete respect and refrains from judging or
evaluating it. [ . . ] We aim to reach the internal array of another’s
experience, always bounded by our shared participation in a matrix of
signification” (Josselson & Lieblich, 2001,
before we explore this participatory quality of narrative, we need to
briefly explore the therapeutic uses of narrative.
■THE THERAPEUTIC USES OF NARRATIVE
John McLeod has written a comprehensive review of the application of
narrative theory to psychotherapy and counselling practice:-
basic thesis is that stories and storytelling represent the primary point of
connection between what goes on in ‘therapy’ - whether contemporary
psychotherapy or traditional religious healing - and what goes on in the
culture as a whole. From a cultural perspective, a therapy session is a site
for telling certain stories in a certain way. The telling of personal
stories, tales of ‘who I am’, ‘what I want to be’, or ‘what
troubles me’, to listener or audience mandated by the culture to hear such
stories, is an essential mechanism through which individual lives become and
can remain aligned with collective realities”
(McLeod, 1997, p.
is perhaps in the work of the clinical psychologist and psychotherapist,
Miller Mair, that the richest picture emerges:
. . speaking from my experience as a clinical psychologist ] . . when I look
at what I actually do, I have to conclude that I am a professional
conversationalist of sorts. [ .
.] What is called 'psychotherapy'
could also be called 'psychological conversation'.
[ . .] In these conversations, stories of many kinds are told and
listened for. These stories may
be broken in fragments seeking some greater flow and coherence, or
overworked coherence needing to be infiltrated with risk-filled questioning
rather than tidied up with imprisoning answers. I do a lot of listening to
the stories others tell. I
listen for the different voices within the voice, to hear who is speaking
under the guise of 'I'. I listen
for who has the right to speak and who is deprived of rights to say and
know. I listen for the breaks in
the offered 'text' of a person's account of who and how they are, so that
hints of other stories, other selves, other ways of feeling and being can be
offered a, sometimes never before granted, chance of articulation. I chip
in, suggesting another scrap of story line that might, equally well or
better, be woven through the events of a person's life.
[ . .] I suggest other
stories, sometimes mini-stories; sometimes
stories which offer a wider and different view, that the person with me
could begin to tell themselves. So
often I and others entrap ourselves in endlessly disparaging and
debilitating accounts of who and how we are, spat out at ourselves with
silently persistent venom. And it is not just what is told and how it is
told, it is the very act of telling, the speaking itself, which seems to
matter. In the act of speaking I
become a different being. In
becoming a little more articulate about some aspects of my experiencing, I
articulate myself. In speaking
myself to and with another, I may gain some sense of 'authority' that was
not there before”
1989, p. 1-12).
■NARRATIVE AS PARTICIPATORY KNOWING
The act of creating and telling a story, or engaging with the story of someone else, or even reading a fictional story, are all, in effect, particular examples of heuristic inquiry. Moustakas claims:
. . . essentially in the heuristic process, I am creating a story that portrays the qualities, meanings, and essences
of universally unique experiences”
(Moustakas, 1990, p. 13).
it should be noted that there are clearly parallels here with the notion of organic research
thinking, whether in the form of fiction, or everyday conversation, offers us
the opportunity to practice our imaginative faculties. It 'exercises' our
ability to consider and explore different points-of-view, and as human beings
this is exercise that we frankly are desperately in need of. We need this
exercise because we need to be open to different points-of-view, whether in
the everyday construction of our utterances, or in listening to the utterances
of others; whether in dealing with and negotiating conflicts, in adapting to
changes in the real world, or in trying to make sense of cultural differences.
To have a sense of the possible, we also need the sense of the impossible. By
reflecting on the relationship between what is possible and what is
impossible, we just might expand what we are able to think is possible.
It is in the following remark made by Donald Polkinghorne that the astonishing power of narrative thinking is revealed:
only partly determine the particular scheme to be used in their organization,
and more than one scheme can fit the same facts: several narratives can organize the same facts into stories and
thereby give the facts different significance and meaning”
(Polkinghorne, 1988, p. 181).
is well worth taking out a few moments to explore the full implications of
this observation, i.e. several
narratives (perhaps an infinite number of narratives) can organize the same
facts into stories!!
It seems clear that a story must
incorporate a point-of-view or perspective, and the same facts, or events, can
be accounted for by many different stories, told from many different
points-of-view. The human imagination can generate an infinite number of
stories to fit any single 'reality'. The particular point-of-view is not
crucial, but some stories and some points-of-view may be more authentic to
human reality than will others. And, there is never the need to insist that
just one story, or point-of-view, is true and all others false.
■NARRATIVE AND AUTHENTICITY
would argue that the notion of truth should not be left to the rationalists.
What we seem to be dealing with is two basic types of truth. The first type
concerns what is generally called truth
by correspondence, and the second type concerns what might be called truth
by authenticity. This distinction is crucial. Art and literature should
not be judged by how well they imitate the real world, but they can be judged
by their authenticity to how human beings experience that world. This notion
of truth by authenticity, raises such questions as: Is this story true to
human reality? Is it true to human nature? Does the story accurately represent
human values and concerns? Is it authentic to human experience? What profound
truths does this story, poem, or painting explore?
idea of truth by authenticity is almost identical to the notion of narrative
truth proposed by Donald Spence. Writing in the context of psychoanalytic
practice, he proposes that,
seems to be no doubt that a well-constructed story possesses a kind of
narrative truth that is real and immediate and carries an important
significance for the process of therapeutic change”
(Spence, 1982, p. 21).
Spence proposes certain criteria for this narrative truth:
truth can be defined as the criterion we use to decide when a certain
experience has been captured to our satisfaction; it depends on continuity and
closure and the extent to which the fit of the pieces takes on an aesthetic
finality. [ . . ] Once a given construction has acquired narrative truth it
becomes just as real as any other kind of truth; this new reality becomes a
significant part of the psychoanalytic cure”
(Spence, 1982, p. 31).
what such claims to authenticity really mean will be difficult to say without
a clearer notion of human reality than has been outlined here. We do need a
more complete view of the way in which the human imagination plays out its
role, and we need to amplify Spence's criteria for narrative truth in order to
decide more clearly what is to be counted as authentic.
I am sure of is that we can learn more about the nature of human reality
through the authentic expression of others, and through the direct first-hand
accounts of others' lived experience. This can be from texts ancient and
modern, from friends, partners, and clients, and, in the creative synthesis of
music, song, dance, drama, poems, writing, paintings, sculpture, scratches in
the sand, and the joys and sorrows of everyday living. Moreover, I see no real
problem in knowing where to begin. It would seem that there are enough
examples of authenticity, which can generally be agreed upon, to begin this
we return briefly to Watzlawick et al's claim that it does not really matter
which particular point-of-view or perspective is adopted as third-order
knowledge, then two qualifications do need to be made. Firstly, this knowledge
must be capable of being communicated to others, or at least encoded into
cultural practices that can promote its circulation as part of our cultural
reality. Secondly, this third-order knowledge will need at least to offer
"a meaningful premise for one's existence," and will need to be
authentic to human experience if it is to have any real value or purpose.
Without much thought, it is not too difficult to see that narrative precisely
fits such requirements. Narrative provides an ideal code for third-order
knowledge, and, provides an ideal mode for its transmission and circulation.
Narrative too gives us a handle on what is authentic. We know when a story
works. This perhaps offers us a way of investigating what we mean by the
■PUTTING ALL THIS INTO PRACTICE
. . the
participatory turn situates transpersonal studies in greater alignment with
the spiritual enterprise because the aim of most contemplative traditions is
not ‘to have experiences’, but rather to realize and participate in
special states of discernment. These states of discernment are special in that
they have a soteriological nature: Spiritual knowledge is knowledge that
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