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Jorge Ferrer transpersonal psychology texts

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Jorge Ferrer is a US-based Spanish psychologist and author of "Revisioning Transpersonal Theory: A Participatory Vision of Human Spirituality", "Participation and the Mystery: Transpersonal Essays in Psychology, Education, and Religion" as well as the co-editor of "The Participatory Turn: Spirituality, Mysticism, Religious Studies".

Ferrer is considered one of the main architects of second-wave transpersonalism and his participatory approach to spiritual knowing and religious pluralism is widely discussed in academic journals and conferences.

The so-called second-wave transpersonalism stresses the embodied, embedded, diverse, and transformative aspects of human spirituality. Richard Tarnas has framed Ferrer’s participatory approach as the second conceptual stage of the paradigm shift initiated by Abraham Maslow’s and Stanislav Grof’s launching of the discipline of transpersonal psychology. Ferrer's views on mysticism contrast nicely with the cosmic views of Stanislav Grof or the state-specific views of Charles Tart and flesh out a useful overview of transpersonal psychology from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Frustrated by the limiting assumptions and religious sectarianism in transpersonal psychology, Ferrer introduced a participatory alternative to the neo‑perennialism dominating the field. Ferrer’s participatory approach holds that human spirituality emerges from people’s co-creative participation in an undetermined mystery or generative power of life, the cosmos, or reality. He argued that spiritual participatory events can engage the entire range of human epistemic faculties (e.g., rational, imaginal, somatic, vital, aesthetic) with the creative unfolding of the mystery in the enactment—or “bringing forth”—of a plurality of ontologically rich religious worlds. Through this proposal, Ferrer seeks to avoid both the secular post/modernist reduction of religion to cultural artifact and the religionist privileging of a single tradition as superior or paradigmatic.

The Buddhist scholar Douglas Duckworth describes Ferrer's "...most significant contribution may be in illustrating what a “nonsectarian” stance might look like in a contemporary, religiously diverse world. While doing so, he shows us what is lost, and what is gained, if we adopt such a truly “nonsectarian” or pluralist stance: what we stand to lose is our particular version of a determinate ultimate truth and a fixed referent of what the end religious goal looks like; what we stand to gain is the real possibility of a transformative dialogue with different traditions, and a new, open relation to the world, ourselves, and each other."

The cultural philosopher Jay Ogilvy suggested that Ferrer’s “new polytheism” represented not only a “spirituality that does justice to the multi‑cultural condition of a globalized world,” but also the best response to the criticisms of religion crafted by the so‑called new atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, or Sam Harris. More practically, it has been argued not only that Ferrer’s participatory theory can explain the phenomenon of multiple religious identity, but also that “framing spiritual identity as a participatory event…can generate possibilities for a Buddhist‑Christian dialogue less constrained by…doctrinal, ontological, and anthropological tensions.

Ferrer teaches courses on transpersonal and integral studies, comparative mysticism, participatory theory, scholarly writing and theoretical research, embodied spiritual inquiry, and spiritual perspectives on sexuality and relationships, as well as offers workshops, seminars, and presentations on integral spirituality and education both nationally and internationally.

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