Epistemological and Ontological Elements of Transpersonal Human Development in the Qur'an


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Virginia Tech


This study opens with an introduction to the transpersonal orientation, which Boucouvalas presents as a meta-framework of the transpersonal field that includes individual, group/societal, and planetary/cosmic domains. Three major theoretical perspectives of the field framed the study: the hierarchical stages of development, spiral path, and participatory. I offer a philosophical hermeneutic reading of the Qur'an to trace the development of human collective consciousness as a construct of the interaction between the autonomous and homonomous self at the individual, group, and cosmic levels on one plane of reality with the Divine on the other. This analysis, which utilizes Gadamer's conceptualization of philosophical hermeneutics as a research philosophy, concludes that this process of collective human development is comprised of three clearly distinct representations: familial, national, and cosmic/planetary. I articulate development and growth as a process of the expansion of collective consciousness. The cosmic/planetary human consciousness represents the ultimate reach of this expansion, for it assimilates the national and familial types while simultaneously transforming and transcending them within its reach.

Based on the historical development of human consciousness in the Qur'an depicted in this study, I propose that human collective consciousness has reached the domains of cosmic consciousness, which began at the time of the Qur'an being read by Muhammad. However, individuals and groups may still operate within the limiting boundaries of national consciousness in the form of religious, ethnic, racial, and nation states. The Qur'an, and possibly other religious texts, should be understood within this expanded cosmic/planetary consciousness reach because they represent humanity's collective heritage. Moreover, those individuals operating within a strictly national consciousness should not be entrusted with explaining these texts to humanity at large or imposing their own limiting understanding on the world. I conclude by outlining some implications for adult education as a process, a program and a movement. I presented the possible contribution of a transpersonal adult learning theory based on this study's meta-framework as a comprehensive worldview to adult education and learning combining multiple dimensions of being, including the rational, affective, spiritual, imaginative, somatic, and sociocultural domains through relevant experiences of body-mind-spirit.



adult development, adult education, transpersonal psychology, philosophical hermeneutics, Qur'anic hermeneutics