By John Rowan
To write a full introduction to this essay, explaining the whole evolutionary approach of Ken Wilber, would be too lengthy and perhaps not necessary. Wilber's basic idea is quite well known by now. It can be found in all of his books. In its simplest form it says that in the process of our psychospiritual development, there are three main stages which we go through, which he labels the prepersonal, the personal and the transpersonal.
The prepersonal is all that part of our development prior to the emergence of a separate self, which normally happens in or around adolescence. It is well described in all the standard literature.
The personal is the main part of our development, taking place in adulthood, and culminating in the mature ego. Most of psychology, and most of other literature too, deals with this stage of development, and again there is a mass of data about it.
The transpersonal is the realm beyond that, which we only reach by an intentional process, because society does not help us with it – at this point there is no escalator taking us onwards, so to speak. It is more controversial, although Maslow started writing about it fifty years ago, but Wilber's great achievement has been to describe it in full detail, and to map it with the help of writers from many countries and many centuries.
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JOHN ROWAN is a founder member of the Association of Humanistic Psychology Practitioners and The Integral Institute. John is a counselor and psychotherapist, working with both individuals and couples, in private practice in north-east London.