Faculty Publications

Title

The self beyond itself: Hermeneutics and transpersonal experience

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Volume

47

Issue

2

First Page

245

Last Page

267

Abstract

This essay examines, from the point of view of an existential hermeneutics, five accounts of transpersonal experience Robert Monroe's Journeys Out of the Body, Paul's experience in the third heaven in II Corinthians 12, a description of rapture by Teresa of Avila, a disembodied vision of guardian spirits by John Lilly from The Center of the Cyclone, and the vision of the assault of the Lords of the Dead from the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Through a consideration of world, embodiment, death, care and other existential categories, the discussion in each case focuses on a central ambiguity about the personal identity of the narrator. The question of authenticity, in a Heideggenan sense, is posed to these materials, and the central ambiguity is shown to strike so deeply as to undercut the assumption of autonomy as the criterion of authenticity Being-toward-death is relativized in such experiences, but relativized by an even more radical threat to individual existence. In conclusion, some generalized principles are offered as heuristic criteria for interpreting transpersonal experience in general. © 1979 American Academy of Religion.

Original Publication Date

6-1-1979

DOI of published version

10.1093/jaarel/XLVII.2.245

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