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Higher Orders of Consciousness

Questions I have spent a lifetime trying to answer

Journal Of consciousness studiesI am in the throws of choosing a topic to research for my doctorate in Psychology. i personally am interested in a number of areas. One interest regards the Oriental and Western mystical notions of elevated states of consciousness or mystical states. Such states are clearly referred to in Patanjali's Sutras and in the Cloud of Unknowing. Some Psychologists in the humanistic tradition, from William James to Maslow and more recently Robert Kegan claim that adults are capable of higher orders of consciousness. I would especially like to research the following two questions: Is there any empirical evidence for higher order consciousness besides anecdotal evidence?; is there any evidence that higher order consciousness can be taught? 

Your thoughts and suggestions

First I would like to ask what your opinions are regarding my two principal questions. Have you or anyone you know exprienced higher order states or something similar. If so how did you or they do it? How doe you know that it wasn't just siggestion and wish fulfillment fantasy? I would also appreciate your comments and suggestions regarding any books, essays, journal atricles etc that you feel could help answer my 2 questions.

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5 comments for this post

Thursday December 09, '10 at 10:02 PM

Swami Atma

Om Shanmugaji,

I'm very interested by this. Can't wait to see what comes out of it.

I heard some scientists did experiments with Buddhist monks meditating. Not sure what came out of that.

Also Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor hints at similar work in her excellent book "My Stroke of Insight".

As for your requests in the last paragraph I don't want to bite since you essentially ask: what are your subjective experiences and what are their objective evidences? No-win situation. :-)

Wednesday December 15, '10 at 10:24 PM


Well it is not like that. Loevinger developed an Ego development test about 40 years ago that reflects person's cognitive and moral complexity. The test has been re-worked, tested and re-tested for reliability. Variations have denn developed to reflect different dimensions of development. I am trying to get my hands on the test and evaluation method. It may be costly and require training. Let's see what develops.

Tuesday December 21, '10 at 06:19 PM


I can't directly add much to the questions you ask above, but I just read a very interesting article that might be related to this in a way - it talks about how we accept or reject facts to fit our belief systems, rather than changing our minds to assimilate new facts. The article is here
and while they talk mainly about politics it applies to any belief system.

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