Maslow describes the importance of transcendence thusly:
“Transcendence refers to the very highest and most inclusive or holistic levels of human consciousness, behaving and relating, as ends rather than means, to oneself, to significant others, to human beings in general, to other species, to nature, and to the cosmos”
(Maslow, 1971, p. 269).
According to new research published in Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice. suggest that novice meditators who develop the ability to non-reactively observe their thoughts, feelings and physical sensations are more likely to experience self-transcendence. See the link below. But what is Transcendance?
Transcendence is as a conscious ability to choose how you respond to any situation. Many of you may already think that you are doing this, but I challenge you to really look at yourself and your feelings. Look at any ways where you react to something and then later you have to clean up a mess caused by that instant reaction. When I’m talking about reactions, they primarily are driven by fear, aggression, or some other response that is at heart self-protective. The space of transcendence doesn’t think in this way. It doesn’t exactly think. It’s very intertwined with intuitive knowing that allows you to see a bigger picture, and from this greater awareness, you can choose your actions. Therefore, you become more aware of what happens if you choose a different way of being or a different path. You choose something that will get you the best result or would get you away from uncomfortable feelings. From the place of transcendence, you have a sense of what is the right course of action, and this one may bring more discomfort or less. It just depends on the situation.. Although discomfort sometimes is because we are trying a new response, a new path and a way of being. Becoming more mindful means we can choose better and feel into a situation and see what we are feeling and why and how we can shift our way of being to gain that better result.
Another way of thinking about it, transcendence is like going to a new floor in the building. Awakening is the elevator. But you still live in a building (the Earth), and you have certain rules to this world that you will have to abide by (living in a body, interacting with other people, and so forth). All these things make an ego a useful tool. But right now, it’s set to autoplay, and it’s being fed a lot of nonsensical rules (you should make lots of money; you need to be beautiful/handsome by cultural standards, etc.). So it’s erratic and out of control. The space of transcendence allows you to see where you are out of alignment with love and kindness. From there, you can re-construct your ego just as you created it, but now you can do so consciously.
Transcendence doesn’t stop life won’t stop giving you hard times. If you don’t have food, you will not feel good. The space of transcendence means you won’t turn this into a story about how the world is tormenting you specifically. You won’t blame the government, or anyone else. You will simply (get better at) accept the reality of your situation and take steps to address it, i.e. get more food. You are very present-minded in this space, and transcendence is a space of love. In this space, a lot of the big spiritual words like Love, Truth, Beauty, God, and so forth all combine. It is a melting of boundaries, and it leads to feelings of interconnection. But being interconnected won’t always feel good. Sometimes, you’ll feel connected to some pretty crappy stuff.
Coming Into Stillness: The Path of Transcendence
Transcendence is just a different term for the awakening path. Although at times when we meditate, when we create stillness we can rise above all of the things that capture our attention and impact our mood and behaviour ,whether that’s other people or the internal thoughts we have. It’s just not a term that I use precisely because of the confusion around it. People think they can avoid or ignore stuff through spirituality, and that’s what they think transcendence is. In the past people would join monasteries or lives out in the wilds somewhere to be “transcendent,” but many were running from society and relationships. Decades ago being it was harder to be openly spiritual and pursue a particular path therefore people often needed to remove themselves from society for a while to love a life that felt more fitting or one that helped them find a way of being . These days there is much more information available, workshops books and courses to be able to explore this process and figure out how you still operate from the same place, until it feels compelling to do something else or live somewhere else instead..
Some people however are really just trying to run away from themselves, while relationships can be your greatest teachers . Your relationship with your spouse can be an amazing teaching tool no matter how difficult because your partner undoubtedly will show you all the hot buttons/issues you still have. Ultimately transcendence is about walking through the fire, not away from it. Where there is nothing left that can ignite within you, then the fire won’t be a problem anyway more, will it? That, in a nutshell, is transcendence.
for me , I never sought transcendence, a spiritual path nor any other spiritual experience. I have met many people who do .My whole aim for the last 30 years was to feel better, feel healthier, happier and more content. That was my goal. later my interest in the spiritual was reactivated and I felt drawn to explore many different aspects of spirituality. It was meditation, mindfulness and yoga however that really helped me notice things at a deeper level. It enabled me to peek away the layers ,switch off for a while, enjoy stillness and peace. When i was more and more able to move from stress, agitation, distraction, to feeling calm centred and happy , I was more activly pursuing these states and consciously choosing the steps I took and stopped striving so hard.
The thing with spiruality , its a different path for everyone. there is no one right path, no one right way . Its about becoming aware of who you are, what you want, what gets in the way and finding people, information, teachers, or ways of being that can help you generate the energy to help shift things and create a life you love.
see other articles here for learning how to practice transcendence and the other ways it is interpreted.