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1.5 Transpersonal Edu. 


Transpersonal education is intrinsic education concerned with lifelong learning and the discovery of identity and vocation through integration of cognitive and affective learning. Clark (1974) describes five assumptions of transpersonal education which include:

  1. Impulses toward self-realization and transcendence can be uncovered,
  2. We can, and must, trust our biological nature in order to allow the evolution of our highest potential,
  3. There is within us a source of wisdom which transcends the conscious ego,
  4. This inner source may be tapped through intuition or Being-cognition,
  5. The higher Self may be evoked or uncovered.

In transpersonal education, the learner moves from dependence to independence to interdependence. Both the learner and the teacher are on a path to self-transcendence.

Transpersonal Education is based upon the work of Abraham Maslow.

You may remember Abraham Maslow, who in the in the late 1960’s developed a hierarchical theory of human needs. Maslow was a humanistic psychologist, later a transpersonal psychologist, who believed that people are not controlled by mechanical forces alone. He focused on human potential, believing that humans strive to reach the highest levels of their capabilities. As a humanistic psychologist, Maslow is most recognized for his pyramid of needs. He investigated what motivates people. At the basic level, humans are motivated by Biological and Physiological Needs – the need for oxygen, food, water- basic survival. Once these needs have been satisfied, the next motivation comes from Security and Safety Needs – the need for shelter, clothing, a consistent daily life style. Next are Social Needs – the need for love, affection and belonging. Ego and Self Esteem Needs follow – the need for respect from others, to feel satisfied, self confident and valuable. The top of Maslow’s original pyramid was Self-Actualization and Fulfillment Needs – the need for work or vocation, the need to be involved in some cause beyond themselves.

Prior to his death in 1970, Maslow was working on a final "need", that of Self-transcendence. In studying self-actualized people, he found a unique group that had gone beyond the others in their development. This group was characterized by higher spiritual values and behaviors. In addition, this group reported more moments of "peak experiences" happening in their daily lives. Peak experiences have certain basic characteristics that include: a giving up of the past and future; an innocence of perceiving and behaving, a connection to the Real Self through the loss of ego and self-forgetfulness; strength and courage; acceptance and a positive attitude, spontaneity and expressiveness; integration of Being-values; and trust.

Only by going beyond one’s self, can one discover the ultimate Self that is Source.
Maslow went on to list the behaviors he discovered that lead toward peak experiences and a spiritual way of Being in the world.
Behaviors leading towards self-transcendence include:
1. Experiencing fully, vividly, selflessly with full concentration and total absorption.
2. Making growth-choices instead of fear choices.
3. Understanding that there is a self to be actualized and listening to the impulse voices within to let the self emerge.
4. When in doubt, being honest.
5. Choosing wisely by listening to own self at each moment in life.
6. Using one’s intelligence – working to do well the thing one wants to do.
7. Inviting peak experiences to occur in one’s life.
8. Opening oneself up to oneself and making oneself "sacred under the aspect of eternity".

Maslow concluded that there are 14 ultimate values – Being Values – that enable the problems of the individual and the world to be resolved. These values include: Truth (honesty); Goodness (benevolence); Beauty (rightness); Wholeness (interconnectedness); Aliveness (spontaneity); Uniqueness (individuality); Perfection (nothing lacking); Completion (fulfillment); Justice (fairness); Simplicity (essentiality); Richness (nothing is unimportant); Effortlessness (ease and lack of strain); Playfulness (humor and fun); and Self-sufficiency (not needing anything other than itself in order to be itself).

Being Values are the characteristics of being fully human, the preferences of full human people, the characteristics of selfhood or identity in peak experiences. They are characteristic of ideal art, ideal children, ideal theories, ideal science and knowledge. They are the far goals of all psychotherapies, the far goals of all education, the far goals of religions. They are the characteristics of the ideally good environment and of the ideally good society.

From: Energy SourceBook – The Fundamentals of Personal Energy,  by Jill N. Henry, Llewellyn, 2004.


Transpersonal education provides means for learners to gain more control of their capacities to learn so they may appreciate and expand upon the content of the curriculum. Transpersonal education encourages the learner to become familiar with his or her own inner resources and learn how to use these resources for lifelong learning and growth.

Frager (1976) describes a curriculum for transpersonal graduate education which would facilitate integration of the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of the personality for balanced development of the individual. The five components of Frager’s curriculum include:

  1. body work (yoga, Feldenkrais method, movement or dance…
  2. group work (T.A., problem-oriented group work…),
  3. individual work (clarification of individual goals and individual development),
  4. intellectual work (general skills and theory building),
  5. spiritual work (study of Eastern and Western religions and movements).

In transpersonal education the learner is encouraged to be autonomous, to question, to explore all corners of conscious experience, to seek meaning, to test outer limits and to seek out frontiers and depths of self (Ferguson, 1980, p. 287). Transpersonal education is more humane than traditional education and more intellectually rigorous than humanistic education (Hendricks and Fadiman, 1976). It is imbedded in sound scientific research of systems theory, left brain/right brain explorations and altered states of consciousness.

The aim of transpersonal education is to expand existing forms of education to include appropriate balances between intellectual and intuitive learning, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual knowledge and wisdom (Clark, 1974).

The function of transpersonal education is to help develop an integrated individual capable of dealing with life as a whole (Krishnamurti, 1976).

The transpersonal educator helps the learner to:

  1. observe and understand his or her own self-projected values and impositions,
  2. become aware of the conditioning influences in the environment,
  3. understand his or her self in relation to all things
    (Krishnamurti (1976).

The goal for the learner is to take charge of the learning, to urge his or herself beyond past fears and confusions, and to find through the experience a new freedom. The new freedom is recognized by other names as lifelong, self-directed learning.


Clark, F. V. (1974). Rediscovering transpersonal education. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. 6, 1-6.

Ferguson, M. (1980). The aquarian conspiracy: Personal and social transformation in the 1980’s. Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher, Inc.

Frager, R. (1976). Transpersonal graduate education. In G. Hendricks, & J. Fadiman (Eds.). Transpersonal Education. (pp 95-97). Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, Inc.

Hendricks, G. & Fadiman, J. (1976). Transpersonal education: A curriculum of feeling and being. Englewood cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

Henry, J.N. (1988) Development and Learning for Transformation. University of Georgia, Athens, GA.

Henry, J.N. (2004) Energy SourceBook – The Fundamentals of Personal Energy, Llewelly, 2004.

Krishnamurti, J. (1976). From education and the significance of life. In G. Hendricks, & J. FAdiman (Eds.). Transpersonal Education: A curriculum for feeling and being. (pp 38-42). Englewood Cliffs N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

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