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Consciousness ,Earth EEs/EHEs; Planetary Consciousness ,Human Development/Consciousness Evolution
Record Type: Review   ID: 24

The Holotropic Mind: The Three Levels of Human Consciousness and How They Shape Our Lives.

Grof, Stanislav, with Bennett, Hal Zina

Stanislav Grof, premier transpersonal therapist and theorist, in this seminal work presents the full range of exceptional human experience within a meaningful theoretical framework "based on experience, observations, and insights from thirty-five years of systematic exploration of the value of non-ordinary states of consciousness" (p. ix). He, possibly more than any other, has personally explored transpersonal and nonordinary consciousness more extensively and in more depth in multidimensional ways than anyone else. The leaders in the field of transpersonal psychology have all had exceptional experiences and experienced transpersonal states of consciousness, but in their work they tend to concentrate on one or, at the most, two aspects. Grof is equally a researcher, a therapist, a teacher, a theorist, and a writer. He has been a pioneer in all areas, breaking significant ground and also consolidating it. Moreover, he has not concentrated on only one aspect of transpersonal consciousness but has explored the entire range. He founded the International Transpersonal Association, and he is a core member of the transpersonal psychology community in this country. He is a M.D., a psychiatrist, and a research psychologist.

In this work he enlisted the aid of Hal Zina Bennett to produce a book that is as accessible to the general reader as to fellow psychiatrists and transpersonal psychologists. Among other things they present an overview of what I have called the Experiential Paradigm. Grof provides a taxonomy of exceptional human experiences, with the emphasis on their triggers and aftereffects. These topics are framed by the view he has developed of the holotropic mind. Above all, he emphasizes the dynamics of all states of human consciousness and, as the subtitle suggests, "how they share our lives." It is not a surprise that what got him "into all this" was an EHE, "an extraordinary encounter with my unconscious," as he puts it, induced by taking LSD when he was a psychoanalyst in Prague. In the experience his "consciousness seemed to explode into cosmic dimensions" beginning with the Big Bang (p. 15). This led to his ground-breaking research into the therapeutic properties of LSD in which "symptoms vanished that had resisted months or even years of other treatment, often vanished after patients had experiences such as psychological death and rebirth, feelings of cosmic consciousness, archetypal visions, and sequences of what clients described as past-life memories" (p. 17). This led eventually to his holotropic breath work. Thus, the material presented here "is drawn from many thousands of nonordinary experiences of various kinds" (p. 19). His own was a life-changing experience that introduced him to his life's work, which has taken several trajectories since then, each one telescoping out to a wider, deeper view of human consciousness.

In the cartography of human consciousness presented here, he adds two major dimensions to human biography: the perinatal and the transpersonal. As his work progressed, he realized he was not so much "creating a new map of the psyche ... but rediscovering ancient knowledge" (p. 21), which Aldous Huxley called "The Perennial Philosophy" and which I have called the Experiential Paradigm, because only exceptional experiences can reveal this inner topography. He describes the foregoing and other breakthroughs in Part I: Challenging the Newtonian Universe, and, as he points out in the text, the body-encapsulated ego. Part II consists of 4 chapters on "The Perinatal Matrices-Influences That Shape Human Consciousness From Prenatal Life Through Birth." Next, five chapters present "The Transpersonal Paradigm," from an initial overview to "journeys" beyond physical barriers, temporal barriers, shared realities, and an especially valuable chapter on psychoid experiences (synchronicity, psychic side of sports, poltergeists, UFOs, intentional psychokinesis, the phenomena of indigenous cultures, such as rainmaking, ceremonial magic, shamanic healing, fire walking, and hexing), yogic feats, laboratory psychokinesis (Ted Serios, Uri Geller). The book closes with Part IV: Implications for a New Psychology of Being, which discusses four domains: human consciousness and its relationship to matter, the nature of emotional and psychosomatic disorders, psychotherapy and healing practices, and the roots of human violence and the current global crisis. This book cannot be summarized. You must read it.

Publisher Information:New York: HarperCollins, 1993. Pp. xi + 240. Chap. bibl: 223-226; 2 figs; Ind: 231-240; Sugg. rdg: 227-229
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