Searching for Afrocentric Spirituality within the Transpersonal. Dwight Turner, The aim of this paper is to show via the lens of a culturally specific dream how the. transpersonal could benefit from broadening its approach to spirituality to the extent that. other ontologies are allowed their space alongside those already established Discussing. Perennial theory whilst considering briefly some of the spiritual means essential to an. African spirituality this paper suggest that a more Cosmopolitan approach to the. Transpersonal is needed to avoid the creation of a spiritual Other. Introduction, As a transpersonal psychotherapist who has undertaken years of transpersonal psychotherapy. it seemed strange looking back at the lack of a cultural understanding of this dream in my. previous work It is a dream that could be explored from within the more traditional. therapeutic angles of metaphor and the use of symbols so common to Jungian analysis Jung. 1964 Stevens 1990 where the metaphors are explored for meaning by the client and the. analyst and rooted in a Greek mythological paradigm. A deeper consideration of the problem here left me with a real sense that such an Afrocentric. cultural paradigm has had little to no real acknowledgement within the wider world of the. traditional transpersonal This revelation was especially surprising given the often clear yet. unacknowledged influences that African ontologies have had on the transpersonal over the. years For example Jung Stevens 1990 on his travels visited Africa and was clearly. influenced by the numerous and diverse spiritual practices he encountered on his visits whilst. in the more modern era the works of the mystic Daskalos Joseph 2012 and the. understanding the roles of spirits in our daily lives have clear connections to those often. experienced on the African continent Yet besides the interesting work of the likes of. Mazama 2003 within the transpersonal movement I am often left asking where is the black. African or Caribbean voice when it comes to offering a perspective of our collective spiritual. experience And does an afrocentric perspective on spirituality have a space within a global. spiritual tapestry, Another criticism with this western centric outlook on the spiritual is that it can appear as. another type of dualism that echoes many of those that have plagued western philosophical. thought since the time of Plato The cost of this is the silencing of the many alternative. voices that have something different to say about relationship to the spiritual for example the. rich heritage of Maori spiritual thought including the linking of mind body and spirit to the. land Van De Port 2005 or the incredible relationship of God spirits and humanity that is. prevalent in many African religions Mbiti 1989 It is this continued ignorance of other. forms of spirituality threatens to coat the transpersonal in the type of neo colonial cloak that. in places it has worked hard to avoid, To emphasise this point Asante 1984 suggests the flaw within the traditional transpersonal. its overreliance on the wisdom of the major religions and thereby the exclusion of many. other forms of spirituality His idea brings into focus the idea of transpersonal narcissism. echoing the idea of Ferrer s Hart Nelson Puhakka 2000 where the transpersonal and. spiritual experiences are defined by an increasingly narrow set of criteria This thereby. creates what I would term a spiritual Other where one is humanity increasingly makes. judgements on what is spiritual and what is not for the rest of us The numerous spiritual. experiences revered by the many alternative world cultures should also be encouraged. forward as then they could inform such a spiritual whole The inclusion of an African. ontology is essential to this, But how did this come to pass One theory for this is the spread of the western religions. during colonial times often led to the suppression exclusion or the dilution of religions and. religious practices judged by Western religions as unchristian For example Candomble a. religion born in West African and transported to South American by slaves only survived as. a religion in Brazil by incorporating a number of Christian practices into its means of. worship and the influence of the merging of these practices is still seen within its ceremonies. today Van De Port 2005, Another problem for the transpersonal is the sheer number of spiritual practices and religions. on the continent of Africa As a continent where there are 53 nations including the islands. off the African coastlines but considered to be African there will be numerous more tribes. and tribal groups spread across the continent This therefore means there is no one religion. that covers all of Africa unlike say Catholicism across parts Europe where even here there. are differences meaning that at best in any understanding of African spirituality what one. must aim for is an understanding of the main ways of spiritual worship across Africa. This though is more than reaching for a Perennialist understanding of the spiritual Ferrer. 2000 Oldmeadow 2010 where the similarities between religious paths are recognised in the. quest for an understanding of the universal expression of spirituality What I am questing for. here is a recognition and acceptance of forms of spiritual expression that currently perhaps. reside outside of the perennial norm And this is where cosmopolitanism comes into view. The main ideas within cosmopolitanism for this paper revolve around the interesting concept. of the understanding and acknowledgement of cultural others where we don t have to agree. with them be it their ideas or societal habits but we do have to accept their right to their own. point of view Appiah 2006 Pollock Bhabha Breckenridge Chakrabarty 2000 Snee. 2013 This is more than just a Perennialist search for commonality but an. acknowledgement that we are all the Other in some way or form a necessary step on the path. towards this search for this mythical universality Pollock et al 2000 The taking of a more. cosmopolitan consideration of spirituality therefore allows for a positioning of other forms of. spirituality Afrocentric Maori Aboriginal and many others alongside the more established. and understood spiritual beliefs of the East and the West. To open the door to understanding religion and spirituality sit as cornerstones within many. African cultures For example within most traditions there is a strong belief in our. connection not just to family and community but also to our ancestors the spirits that guide. us and then unto God itself In selecting just a small cross section Mbiti 1989 in his. detailed text where he stresses that for Africans this is a religious universe also outlines how. for many peoples like the Bachwa Bemba Lugbara Nuer and others they refer to human. beings or special groups of them as the children of God or sons of God or people of. God Mbiti 1989 p 49 He also stresses how God appears through nature and in animals. within many African traditions Following on from this there is a distinct link between the. ideas of using myth and symbols within the world of psychotherapy Jung 1964 and the. position of the same within African spirituality For example Imbo states there is an. ethnophilosophy in the proverbs myths folk tales sculptures and traditional cultures 1998. p xi Okpewho 1983 also talks about the importance of myth to an African ontological. sense of being for example within the Ndembu of Zambia where there are a forest of. symbols in their ritual life He then goes on to expand on his idea whilst stating the. symbolic activities of a non literate culture bear such a kinship with the kind of rational. exercise found in literature culture have we any right to judge the one any less scientific than. the other 1983 p 30, Next spirits are often considered to be divinities that have been created by God and through. whom God acts For example as Mbiti states the Ashanti have a pantheon of divinities. through whom God manifests Himself They are known as Abosom are said to come from. Him and to act as His servants and intermediaries between Him and other creatures Mbiti. It is also important to acknowledge the importance in African cultures of the role of the. ancestors and their continued influence over us For example Sangomas of South Africa or. traditional healers are often charged with offering access to individuals to their ancestors. But as Thornton states healers are not possessed by spirits but rather claim to possess. ancestors or to have ancestors This is not simply a claim to special spiritual access but is. also a claim to an identity and a specific cultural and intellectual heritage 2011 p 26 This. importance is also relevant across most of Africa Another example comes from Kwame. 2014 who during a TED Talks discussion on religion explores his own roots and the. Ghanaian ritual of pouring a portion of his drink on the ground and offering respect to the. ancestors before a meal or event Taken together our identity is therefore formed by the. recognition of who we are in the eyes and via our relationships with all these different. conscious and metaphysical levels of being, At this basic level an afrocentric ontology is therefore one that is hugely communal and. although similar in ways to the ideas of social constructionism here in the West Andrews. 2012 where identity is formed through the influence of culturally pre determined social. constructs upon the individual there is a distinct variation in the ideas of just what. metaphysically helps us to form this identity There is also a major difference here regarding. ideas rooted within the psychotherapeutic paradigm and the construction of identity with. much of the transpersonal discourse centring round the idea of the internal layers of. becoming that an individual has to endure when forming an egoic sense of self As Harris. though states in returning us to our afrocentric perspective consciousness determines being. Consciousness in this sense means the way an individual or a people thinks about. relationship with self others with nature and or with some superior idea or being Asante. 2008 p 113 In my view these more collective experience of spiritual illumination. experiences that sit alongside those of American Indian and Aboriginal traditions have much. in common with say the experience of a Christian Mass the collective chanting of Buddhist. priest or the whirling of Sufi Dervishes, Finally though the very brief examples of African spirituality are not meant to reduce or. simplify the African spiritual experience in any fashion as as previously stated it is almost. impossible to truly understand the range and diversity of African spiritual traditions The. hope here is to open the transpersonal to an exploration into the uniqueness of an African. heritage often overlooked by the major religions An awareness of this heritage for. example when considered in connection with this author s dream then allows clients from a. more afro centric background access to a deeper sense of themselves via their own aspect of. the unconscious via the myths and stories located within their own collective unconscious. A modified version of the dream below appeared in an article I published several years ago. which I would like to reprint here The dream reads. I m standing at the top of Victoria Falls in the middle of the Zambezi River I m on a rock in. the middle of this massive waterfall To my left all I can see is water tumbling over the edge. and into the depths far below and to my right the same I look down All I can see is billions. of gallons of water racing away from me further and further away from me so I jump Feet. first I jump down my back to this thunderous wall of water and I fall I keep falling feeling. nervous at first but then gradually more relaxed with what I ve done. Then suddenly I land on a wooden platform imbedded into the waterfall. As I look around I notice a waterwheel to my left turning slowly as the water tumbles past I. realise this is a house built into the wall of the waterfall so I walk inside Two naked people. one male one female both white spot me and run away in different diagonal directions as I. walk towards them I don t call out to them I just let them go before making my way back. outside Again I m back on the platform at its edge the waterwheel to my side and ready to. And again I fall feet first downwards with my back to the waterfall its raging noise. tremendous its torrent of water spraying me delicately And even though I m falling even. though I feel nervous I know somehow that everything is going to be alright. Turner 2007, This is a dream that has followed me for a number of years and been explored on a various. occasions both by myself in solitude and within my own psychotherapeutic journey to. varying affect During this time the meanings given to this dream have ranged from this. author needing to connect with his deeper unconscious to the attainment of one s natural. power For myself though the most powerful aspect of this dream was its metaphorical. premonition of my undertaking my own spiritual journey with this author travelling from. Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania into Zambia on the TAZARA train line before undertaking. numerous bus rides down through Zambia It s a dream that led to myself sitting at the edge. of Victoria Falls itself dangling my feet in its waters as I watched children swim and play in. the waters nearby the author was far too cowardly to jump. For this author accessing this dream via a more afrocentric ontology was especially. important as it presented within its use of metaphor a journey full of self discovery where. some of his own unconscious colonial shackles fell away and led to the undertaking of his. own life changing spiritual journey to Mosi ao Tunya otherwise known in the West as. Victoria Falls,Bibliography, Andrews T 2012 What is Social Constructionism The Grounded Theory Review 11 1 39 46. Appiah K A 2006 Cosmopolitanism ethics in a world of strangers London Penguin Limited. Appiah K A 2014 Is religion good or bad this is a trick question New York TEDSalon. Asante M K 1984 THE AFRICAN AMERICAN MODE The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. 16 2 167 177, Asante M K 2008 An Afrocentric Manifesto Second Malden USA Polity Press. Ferrer J N 2000 The perennial philosophy revisited 32 1. Hart T Nelson P Puhakka K Eds 2000 Transpersonal Knowing exploring the horizon of. consciousness New york Suny Press Ltd, Imbo S Ouoch 1998 An introduction to African philosophy USA UK Rowman Littlefield. Publications Limited, Joseph D 2012 Swimming with the Whale Teaching and Practices of Daskalos and the. researchers of truth X Corporation Ed,Jung C G 1964 Man and his Symbols UK Picador. Mazama A 2003 The Afrocentric Paradigm Eritrea Africa World Press Inc. Mbiti J S 1989 African Religions and Philosophy Ed 2nd ed Nigeria Heinemann. Educational Books Ltd, Okpewho I 1983 Myth in Africa UK Cambridge University Press. Oldmeadow H 2010 Frithjon Schuon and the Perennial Philosophy US World Wisdom Books. Pollock S Bhabha H K Breckenridge C A Chakrabarty D 2000 Cosmopolitanisms Public. Culture 12 3 577 589, Snee H 2013 Framing the Other cosmopolitanism and the representation of difference in. overseas gap year narratives The British Journal of Sociology 64 1 142 62 doi 10 1111 1468. 4446 12010,Stevens A 1990 On Jung UK Penguin Limited. Thornton R 2011 The Transmission of Knowledge in South African Traditional Healing Africa. 79 01 17 34 doi 10 3366 E0001972008000582, Turner D D Turner D 2007 The Smoke that Thunders A personal perspective on how the. absent father hinders the growth of black men in the new millenium 85 91. Van De Port M 2005 Candombl in pink green and black Re scripting the Afro Brazilian religious. heritage in the public sphere of Salvador Bahia Social Anthropology 13 1 3 26.
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