Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Click ☪ to subscribe to this Feed

Hi Alice.

Sex and Revolution :)
Hi Sir Real!

Awesome seeing you around more lately!

Thanks for stopping's an interesting Zap article about what's going on now...

Gonna go blog's like 11:15 on Friday...

Love Love Love,
That was a cool Naomi Klein article, Alice. It was very bold of her to go visit the Chiapas area in person.

I've read quite a bit of her stuff.
Her articles & explanations are a little hard on one's heart to take, sometimes. I'm not sure how she does it.

I sure hope things work out for the positive down in Mexico, somehow.

I must now shift focus briefly for self-preservation's sake.

You are a wonderful person, Alice.
And, I am so glad to be your friend. I sure hope you are thriving & that every day in your life is getting better.


Sir Real
Which Way Venezuela?

July, 24 2008

By Michael Albert

The diverse factual reports and other data included are are culled from 
documents made available by the Venezuelan Embassy in the U.S.

Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution is exciting and exemplary, yet few people know much about where Venezuela is headed.

Misrepresentations abound. Data is limited and people interpret it in quite contrary ways. Information deficit plus skewed interpretations cause many people who ought to support the Bolivarian Revolution to instead doubt or even reject it. Useful lessons from Venezuela go largely unreported and thus have less than their widest possible effect.


Hugo Chavez became President in 1999 and in that year, largely due to the ravages of neoliberal reforms in the 80s and 90s, the Venezuelan poverty rate had reached 50%. The aim and promise of Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution was to not only eliminate rampant, raging, poverty, but to attain a new economic and social system consistent with the highest standards of human fulfillment and development.

In the 1999 constitution, Article 299, for example, emphasizes "human development" as the cornerstone of social judgements and Article 70 states that the "involvement of people in the exercise of their social and economic affairs should be manifest through citizen service organs, self-management, co-management, cooperatives in all forms, community enterprises, as well as other kinds of associations guided by the values of mutual cooperation and solidarity."

But, as many skeptics would point out, words are not deeds, and you can find nice words everywhere - including, say, in the constitutions of countries suffering dictatorship and economic and social injustice, as but one example, in the constitution and other literary organs of the the Soviet Union under Stalin.

Words matter some, but they become infinitely more important and reliable as evidence if there are deeds in their support and particularly if institutional relations breathe life into the words every day.

So what about deeds?

Bolivarian Policies and Their Meaning

According to Venezuelan statistics, "unemployment has decreased from 14.7% in 1999 to 7.9% in 2008. Employment in the informal sector has decreased by 6.4% during that same time. The number of people living in poverty has decreased from 50.4% in 1998 to 33.6% in 2007 and the number of those living in extreme poverty has decreased from 20.3% to 9.6% in that same period. The Human Development Index (HDI) increased from 0.72 in 1998 to 0.8 in 2007, and during that time, the GINI coefficient (a measure of economic inequality) decreased from 0.49 to 0.42.5."

These changes, and many more statistical indices that could be offered - tell us there have been monumentally important improvements in the lives of many Venezuelans. But are those improvements a sign of a revolution going down a path that will lead to worthy ends including classlessness, social justice, etc.? Or are the improvements a sign of a corrupt and rotten version of familiar social structures having some of their most egregious excesses reigned back, but with no likelihood for fundamental change? Or are the improvements a marker of revolutionary change that will wind up in rotten results?

By analogy, are the gains worthy and hopeful for a hugely transformed future? Or are they like, say, gains we find in the U.S. under FDR or in Sweden transformed by social democrats? Good, but not fundamental. Or are the gains a sign of a process, temporarily serving diverse popular interests to win allies, but headed toward untoward final relations, like the Bolshevik process?

Why is it that some people see an unfolding revolution that they feel will wind up creating a new society in Venezuela and a beacon for humanity more widely? Yet other people see an unfolding struggle within existing relations, already causing some very wonderful and worthy gains, but going nowhere much beyond that? And other people see a process that is doing nice things at the moment, but which they believe is going to inexorably devolve into familiar authoritarian outcomes that will, in retrospect, compromise it all?

Is it that some people have more information to go on? Is it that there is enough information for all, but some read it one way - and others read it another way due to priori expectations or greater insight? Or is it that the information is vague, and we all tend to read into it based on whether hope or fear is momentarily most active in our consciousnesses?

I think all these reactions happen - and regardless of which is dominant, I am certain more information of a probing sort, getting at the heart of aims and methods, would help.

According to the Superintendence of Cooperatives (SUNACOOP), in Venezuela, there were 910 cooperatives nationwide in 1999, while by the end of 2007, that number had risen to 228,004. According to SUNACOOP, the cooperative sector in Venezuela now represents about 14% of Venezuela's GDP, and accounts for about 18% of employment in Venezuela. Most of the cooperatives fall under the service sector (61.29%) and the production sector (27%).

But what do these facts tell us? No one could deny that they reveal an incredible dynamism. But about ultimate aims... people will have different reactions.

In one reading, the facts noted indicate that the reform effort to make life better for the poor against the mega rich has utilized coops - a good thing. But in this reading, these facts are not the stuff of revolutionary transformation.

In another reading, the facts noted indicate that Venezuela is on the road to fundamentally transformed economic structures - a true revolution. More, folks with this reading see a revolution not just concerning property relations, but also concerning the division of labor and methods of decision making and remuneration. They see that in a world situation complicated by both a lack of revolutionary aspirations in much of the Venezuelan population and a hostile international context, the Bolivarian process is taking critical steps on the road to profound and worthy revolutionary changes which still are, however, a ways off.

In a third read, these facts show only that in Venezuela there is an appeal to poor constituencies - and while the associated reforms are good in their proximate implications for those constituencies, they are part of fundamental changes which lead in ultimately bad directions along paths we have seen revolutions travel before. Chavez says the Bolivarian goal isn't twentieth century socialism all over again - but doubters say, sure, what did you expect Chavez to say? Where's the evidence?

How does one know which read makes most sense, or even have a truly informed estimate? We must know Venezuela's long term goals and methods as evidenced by structural lasting deeds. We must know how the changes taking place so far are viewed at different levels of society. We must know what steps the changes have involved and, even more so, what steps are in the pipeline to come? But we don't know these things. Do people who confidently say they know where Venezuela is going use tea leaves to read the future? More understandably, to they read into the future based on what they have seen elsewhere in times past - whether that is, for them, hopeful or fearful?

Looking Deeper

A report available from Venezuela points out that: "The rise of cooperatives began in 2001, with the Special Law of Cooperative Associations." It emphasizes the importance of the State in "promoting cooperatives through various mechanisms including education, improved access to financial services, direct tax exemption and the prioritization of cooperatives in public contracting" (Article 89). In fact, Venezuelan sources report, "economic growth accelerated in the year 2003 as a result of the implementation of these mechanisms through various state agencies."

For example, one of the most important programs in this regard was the creation of the Vuelvan Caras Mission in early 2004. In its own self description, "this state-run program offers both technical education, such as classes in agriculture, tourism or construction, and orientation as to what the Bolivarian economic projects are about." Rather incredibly, "between March 2004 and August 2007, over 670,000 people completed the program, resulting in the creation of more than 10,000 cooperatives by its alumni, more than 3,000 of which pertain to the agricultural sector."

Is this worthy reform but no more?

Is this the first moves in an inspiring journey toward a truly classless economic and social structure?

Or is this a sop to the poor while establishing a new class rule and even authoritarianism, using but then failing to fulfill poor peoples' support?

Different people see the events in Venezuela differently - but what is missing to decide with real confidence what we think, is more information about what the goals are, about the extent to which the goals are widely shared and owned by leaders or by everyone, and what the methods are and how they connect up to the goals.

"Vuelvan Caras" is one of 25 "social missions," or state-sponsored social development programs, currently operating in Venezuela "in diverse fields of human development such as education,health, culture and nutrition. They are a fundamental part of Venezuela's policy of redistributing wealth and making basic social services accessible to all citizens. Studies have found that the social missions contributed to a 9.9% decrease in the poverty rate since 2003."

But what the missions mean - writ larger?

When you compare the Venezuelan government's agendas and accomplishments to what, say, the U.S. government does for its less privileged and downright poor citizens, the contrast is incredibly stark. But still, having better government policies than the U.S. is not the same as having wonderful policies. So where is it going?

I am no expert, but my guess is if we were to look back at the New Deal in the U.S. we would be able to find, over a period of years, a great many comparable statistical achievements. Similarly, I am sure that if we were to look at the Bolshevik transition in the Soviet Union from one harsh and horrible system, to what turned out to be another, we would again see a huge pile of innovative and positive, albeit it in some cases temporary, gains. And I think we can also easily comprehend how a sincere effort to really transform a capitalist, patriarchal, culturally divided, bureaucratic society into something fundamentally oriented to human well being and development could involve diverse steps like those we see in Venezuela, giving am extensive list of short term gains, but most important also leading forward in worthy new directions. So, again, for Venezuela - which is it?

In September 2007, "Vuelvan Caras" continued under its new name, "Che Guevara," to emphasize the incorporation of new elements into its educational plan. "This new plan aims to educate students about the distinctive socio-economic models that have been evolving over time, including, for example, the Social Production Enterprise (EPS) which is model that has developed in Venezuela within the last few years." These EPSs are defined by the government as "economic entities dedicated to the production of goods or services in which work has its proper and authentic value, with no discrimination associated with any type of work, no privileges related to certain positions or hierarchies and with equality between its members, based on participative planning."

That certainly sounds very good - as words. But what about associated deeds? Are there really units being constructed that involve all actors in planning and decision making and that have real equality of material and social circumstance among members, including equitable remuneration? If there are, what is the make up of these units? What features do they have? What is the plan for those features to become core to the whole economy? Should we be optimistic about these innovations carrying forward? Should we be emulating lessons?

Venezuelans report - though almost no one outside hears the words much less critically engages with them - that "in practical terms, Social Production Enterprises represent an advanced cooperative model, where part of profits are invested into community projects."

Profits? How advanced is it as a real model for a better future, if there are still profits, albeit some enlightenment in their use? "Today, there are at least 3,060 Social Production Enterprises in Venezuela, representing about 30% of the supplier contract value with state enterprises." If these are all internally on a path to classlessness, this is major news, to say the least. If these units are modestly improving internal and broader social relations with nice social policies, it is very good very good news, but unstable and short of revolutionary. If they are on the path to authoritarianism, then there are nice aspects, but no hope for a truly enlightened future. So which is it? Limited reform, careful but innovative and hopeful revolution, or careful but familiar and not too hopeful revolution?

Oil and Venezuela?

PDVSA, Venezuela's state-owned oil company, we are told, "has taken a lead role in bringing about the move towards a new socio-economic model. 10% of the investment volume of every project carried out by PDVSA goes into a social fund that is used for projects in education, health, infrastructure or the social missions."

This is a good policy, of course, but if Mobil in the U.S. did the same, under pressure or due to a very innovative administration, what would that mean? It would be good, but how good? The answer would depend on whether it was just a temporary policy or a step on a revolutionary path - and on where that path was going.

PDVSA, we are told, "is supporting endogenous (or inward-focused) development in Venezuela. By working hand in hand with the private sector, they plan to invest $56 million in 6 large development projects until the year 2013."

Private sector? And will that persist? And if so, will it eventually bring back all the old crap?

In Venezuela, gas for autos and other vehicles is subsidized so that the price of a tank of gas for your car in Caracas, for example, is a tiny fraction of what people pay in Boston, New York, London, or Rome. What is the logic of this policy - which is ecologically and socially backward in so many respects, but persists due to popular desire? What does not tackling the retrograde approach tell us, if anything?

In 2004, we are told, "PDVSA's national contracts were valued at $6 billion. Of this amount, 80% was concentrated in the hands of 148 firms. In accordance with the concept of participatory democracy in Venezuela, PDVSA made it a priority to democratize its supplier base, meaning that it opened up to the many small cooperatives prevalent throughout the country. This way, the state oil company fostered an endogenous model of development that is in line with Venezuela's social principals. By December 2007, PDVSA's supplier network included more than 3,000 Social Production Enterprises."

But, really, is this about fundamentally transforming the basic underlying structures of the economy - its property relations, division of labor, its modes of decision making, norms of remuneration, methods of allocation - or is it only about ameliorating the most egregious injustices while retaining old structures?

The fact that in their words, PDVSA "developed an extensive program around the inclusion of EPS, having hundreds of people work on the identification of supplier opportunities, a standardized EPS registration system, and an educational program aiming at strengthening social production enterprises and preparing them to do business with PDVSA and other government entities" is undeniably a massive social experiment that is at least, unto itself, extremely progressive. But is it more?

In its "EPS School," the potential suppliers "pass through three phases of socio-economic and technical education, receiving up to 760 hours of preparation, depending on the sophistication of the service to be provided."

But is this education about the techniques of oil provision mostly, or does it have a social and structural component building consciousness headed toward new social relations? And if the latter is true, what are the features and what success and problems are encountered?

We are told that "once an EPS has a contract with PDVSA, it commits itself to contributing about 3% of profits to PDVSA's Social Fund, which currently holds millions of dollars being invested in community projects."

Okay, is that a small step, but a step nonetheless, on the road to eliminating profit as a social category - or is it just a minor tax on firms, with profits still overwhelmingly in command?

Venezuelans quote from graduates of the EPS programs to demonstrate their impact:

"Today a dream is coming true for us. In the past, doing business with PDVSA was the privilege of a view large enterprises. Small companies found closed doors at PDVSA. This changed with President Chá it's the first time that small businesses are given the chance to participate as suppliers and partners of PDVSA, contributing in this way to the socio-economic development of our country....and we are feeling proud of this."

Is it just a program redressing gross imbalances? Or is it, beyond what the above person perceived - a program on the road to fundamentally transforming how production, consumption, and allocation are accomplished?

Programs Beyond Our View

Here is another bit of news from Venezuela I was sent. "Beyond the Social Production Enterprises, many other new socio-economic concepts have evolved in recent years, such as the "Nuclei of Endogenous Development" (NUDES)." How many people outside Venezuela had heard of that? I hadn't.

"In Venezuela NUDES are formed when communities discover potential projects, linked to a physical space in their surroundings (installations, factories, land) and organize in and around this space to carry these projects out. For example, various cooperatives might join to reactivate the area of an abandoned factory, reviving in this way a whole neighborhood and linking the inhabitants of this area to the activities of the NUDE, such as in the case of the Nucleus Fabricio Ojeda."

Again, you can imagine these efforts existing as a broad social democratic effort to improve the distribution of income, engender participation, etc., while maintaining the basic structure of society. Or you can imagine them to be part of a movement and process that will wind up in the old style socialist swamp. Or you can imagine them as a part of a rich and diverse process seeking something entirely new, true classlessness, real participation, even self management.

To judge which picture is real depends on knowing what is said, day to day, back and forth, by the people involved. Are the changes seen as tributaries of a growing tide - or are they seen as the whole point, themselves? Is the process coming ever more under the control of the populace, or is it centralizing outside the purview and influence of the populace?

We hear that, "a huge inventory plant in the neighborhood Catia in Caracas had been inactive for 12 years until the community decided to turn it into a NUDE. In February 2004, 330 persons formed 24 cooperatives for carrying out diverse construction projects in the nucleus and bringing the area back to life. Today, the Nucleus is a flourishing and active community center hosting more than 60 cooperatives in various areas and counting on important facilities and services such as health care clinics, Misión Che Guevara, sports camps and pharmacies, just to name a few. Today one can find more than 100 NUDES in Venezuela including more than 950 cooperatives active in various fields and especially in agriculture."

Again, it is very clearly a vast and exciting social and economic project with extremely progressive implications. That much is certain. But beyond that, we still don't know.

"Social Production Networks are formed when a Nucleus connects with other Nuclei, or with cooperatives, EPS's, Socialist Production Units or any form of alternative organization to carry out activities for the benefit of the community."

One person sees in this New Deal innovation and dynamism. Another person sees in it positive programs which, however, will sooner or later be compromised by elite rule. A third person - okay, I am this person - sees an incredibly rich pattern of innovation which seems to auger truly revolutionary aims. What I see seems to be building up, slowly, on a base that was not highly politicized, and in a hostile international context, the infrastructure of new relationships in a kind of parallel economy and polity, that will be ready, in time, to challenge for the future of Venezuela.

Another innovative feature of the Bolivarian project - or revolution - depending on your opinion - are the Socialist Production Units. These "are companies run by the government and marked by extensive community involvement. UPS's are found predominantly in the agricultural sector, and they promote national agricultural sovereignty. Part of the profits of these companies is invested into community projects, which are identified jointly with local community leaders. In the long term, UPS's will ideally be handed over directly to the community and run as community enterprises."

Profit? Maybe it is just a word, referring to something other than surpluses accruing to private owners. And what of the internal organization of the "socialist" structures. Are they internally like the 20th century firms of Russia, say, or do they offer something new, or headed toward something new, at least? And if there is originality, what shape does it take? Does it address the division of labor? The norms of remuneration? The modes of decision making? The allocation relations to other firms and consumers?

For example, we are told that the UPS Agrimiro Gabaldon which was "formerly a privately-run coffee plantation" was "forced to close down due to a drop in coffee prices," but "was recently inaugurated as a Socialist Production Unit." The report says that "under the new model, it extended its coffee cultivation area from 35 hectares to 96 hectares in the year 2005, and began selling its output mainly to public entities."

Okay, but did the plantation also alter its internal division of labor? Is it becoming democratic or even self managing? Is it becoming equitable in its approach to wages? Does it compete with other firms - or cooperate?

We hear that "thanks to the creation of these NUDES, Socialist Production Units, and Social Production Networks, an important number of neglected sites and companies have been revived, providing new jobs and linking local economies to local communities to carry out infrastructure and social projects."

In other words, the changes are occurring in firms and neighborhoods where things are virtually falling apart. Is this a wise strategic/tactical way to begin innovations, to make them seen, to develop support for them, and then to spread them? Or is it a kind of emergency method for dealing with horrendous problems, to be transcended later, by settling for more familiar and less innovative and participatory options when the worst problems are left behind?

We hear that "in order to strengthen regional economies and make them less vulnerable to financial crisis, the government of Venezuela has actively supported the rise of barter system and the creation of communal currencies throughout Venezuela. Currently, about 4,000 people practice bartering in 6 different regions in Venezuela (Yaracuy, Falcón, Sucre, Nueva Esparta, Margarita, Barinas, Trujillo). Each has its own local currency. Agricultural products are mainly available for barter trade, and the practice fosters local agriculture."

This reveals that indeed some changes are stopgap and instituted only to deal with problems that wouldn't be present in a transformed future. Other changes, however, may be part of that future. Which are which?

We hear that "Communal Banks were developed hand in hand with Communal Councils, or elected neighborhood-based councils. Communal Councils oversee local politics and execute development projects geared toward improving the socio-economic status of their communities. The concept of Communal Councils is grounded in the Law of Communal Councils, which was passed in April 2006."

Is this a method for getting out of poverty with support from the population - or even beyond that is it the beginning of structures of local grass roots self management that will eventually override the apparatus of mayors, governors, president, etc.?

Communal Banks "are the financial arm of the Communal Councils. They are constituted as cooperatives and administered democratically by five persons elected to the Citizens' Assembly, which is the highest decision-making body of the Communal Councils. Communal Banks facilitate the flow of resources toward community development projects."

Is this an example of doing some good things with old structures? Or is it a step away from old structures and toward overcoming market logic and behavior, having investments and production and consumption determined by cooperative negotiations among producers and consumers? We need more information to have a solid opinion.

A New Type of Economy and Polity?

We are told that "according to the Ministry of Popular Power for Participation and Social Development, there were 19,500 Communal Councils in Venezuela by March 2007, and the majority of them received funding from various ministries and state institutions."

Some would say local councils - venues for neighborhood folks to be politically involved - are little more than means for the government to poll a passive populace.

Others would say it is even worse, they are the infrastructure of state intervention and oversight of daily life, via snitches and the like.

Others would suggest, and I am in this last more optimistic camp, that these local structures are the beginning of an effort to build a completely new type of political system - for legislation, adjudication, and also, as per above, for implementation of shared programs.

In Venezuela you have the new, the incredibly new, the old, and the incredibly old - and you could replace the word new with progressive and the word old with reactionary and the sentiment would remain valid. It is not easy to navigate such complex phenomena, with limited consciousness present in the population, with media and finances arrayed against your endeavor, and trying to avoid open warfare and win change peacefully, and to simultaneously be forthright and clear at every stage about where things are headed. It is easy to empathize with the complexity and constraints and to understand why information is limited. Still, if possible, clarity would help win informed allies, supporters, advocates, and perhaps most important, would spur emulation elsewhere as well.

We are told that "by March 2008, the Ministry of Popular Power for the Communal Economy alone has approved more than $400 million to be handed over to 2,540 Communal Banks for productive projects. 1,533 of these banks have already received the whole amount assigned to them, and another 833 received part of the amount. With this money, 21.277 micro-credits were allotted to cooperatives and individual entrepreneurs. Most is used for projects in the service industry, or in commerce or agriculture."

Okay, this is obviously very good by many standards, but is it revolutionary?

"By the end of this year, FONDEMI (the Microfinance Development Fund) plans to finance 3,000 more Communal Banks, distributing yet another $420 million for productive projects."

This is clearly also very pogressive, but will it lead to a temporarily enlightened and certainly better developed Venezuela which is still, however, fundamentally capitalist, patriarchal, etc.? Or will it yield a Venezuela that is socialist in the old manner - the 20th century style? Or will it yield, as Chavez urges, something new, a classless and socially just society?

We are told that "thanks to the thousands of community projects carried out by Communal Councils, many important initiatives such as street pavings, sports fields, medical centers, and sewage and water systems have been financed and implemented."

Is this the New Deal Venezuelan style - and like the New Deal likely only to revert to familiar shapes once crises are averted and development proceeding? Or is it a process using reforms as means of arousing support, but headed toward old socialism? Or is it a process using diverse reforms as means to enlist participation, comprehension, and creativity, not passive support but active participation, toward a truly new type society?

21st Century Socialism?

Hugo Chavez tells us he wants to build twenty first century socialism. He often decries market relations. He regularly excoriates capitalism. His innovative approaches to popular political and economic decision making via councils and his prioritization of radicalized health, education, and other human services via innovative public missions, inspire great hope. But beyond Bolivarian claims and short term policies, where is the Bolivarian Revolution structurally going? What are its main institutional goals and timetables? What are the methods it is employing and will employ to attain its ends? These are questions I think a lot of people need answers to if they are to have solid attitudes about Venezuela.

By self description Hugo Chavez is aggressively anti-capitalist, but what does that mean?

Regarding economics, for example, does the Bolivarian revolution reject private ownership of the means of production? Verbally it says it does, and likewise in many innovative structures - but what about the bulk of the economy?

Does the Bolivarian revolution reject markets? Again, verbally, yes, I think it does. More, internationally, it seems to already often conduct trade and international aid by cooperative negotiation that ignores competitive market dictates. This is wildly hopeful, not just for solidarity in Latin America, but as a challenge to the entire system of market exchange. But is there a path for transcending market relations writ large?

Does the Bolivarian revolution, as an aim, to be attained when able in light of growing consciousness and means, reject capitalistic remuneration such as people getting profit on property, or getting wages for bargaining power or even for output?

Similarly, does the Bolivarian revolution reject capitalism's typical division of labor in which about 20 percent of the workforce monopolizes all the empowering tasks while the other 80 percent does only rote, repetitive, and obedient labor?

Is the gigantic spurt of Bolivarian attention to innovative education - including not just literacy campaigns but also the Bolivarian University, etc. - meant to catch up to typical educational achievements of developed countries? Or is it meant to create a population able to control its own destiny rather than being ruled from above?

Given that Chavez is against particular capitalist institutions, does he have a feeling for what would replace them in a better economy? Do the other ministers of the government have visionary aims? Do the grassroots activists in the missions and coops? What about the broad public? How are aims to be generated? How are they to become widely advocated? How are they do won? Is there a path of innovation that can bring these features into play?

Put differently, if the Bolivarian Revolution is for twenty first century socialism, I wonder what that means? What is it about the old twentieth century socialism, for example, that Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution rejects? Is it central planning such as we saw in the Soviet Union? Is it markets such as we saw in Yugoslavia? Is it the typical 20th century socialist division of labor as we have seen it in Russia, Yugoslavia, and China, which is essentially the same as the division of labor we see in capitalism? Is it the norms of remuneration these socialisms have employed, which while they have jettisoned profit for property have retained payment for power and output? I hope and suspect it is all those things that are being dumped, but I don't know. And if it is, saying so would not only help people get excited about supporting the project, but would also inspire people to engage in similar movements elsewhere.

Similarly, in whatever ways Chavez disagrees with "twentieth century socialism," what does he propose to construct in Venezuela instead? And more, beyond the President, to what extent do other Venezuelans have similar aspirations? To what extent will other Venezuelans, especially at the grassroots, help define outcomes and attain them?

A New Participatory Society?

Regarding the economy, does the Bolivarian revolution believe workers and consumers should have a say in economic decisions in proportion as they are affected by them - which would be self management? Does it believe self managing workers and consumers councils, not boards of directors or managers, should be the seat of economic decision making power in each workplace? Does it believe there should be decentralized and participatory planning by these workers and consumers councils, including a cooperative negotiation of allocation rather than top down command allocation or competitive market allocation?
Does it believe workers should be remunerated for how long and for how hard they work, and for enduring onerous conditions, but not for property, power, or even the value of output? If these features aren't part of the Bolivarian economic agenda, then what is preferred for Venezuela's future economy and why? When can such features appear in the state sector, in the coop sector, in the private sector? What are the hopes and plans?

And beyond the economy, Chavez has been very vocal not only about democracy in the polity, but about Venezuelans literally being able to have a say over their own social and political lives. Does the Bolivarian revolution reject, not only capitalist economics, but also the typical top down alienated approaches to government we see in the world today? Is the Bolivarian Revolution seeking something fundamentally different for politics with its grass roots assemblies, and if so, what are the values and features it prefers? Will these local assemblies be transmission lines for the will of rulers at the top? Or will these assemblies in time usurp mayors, governors, and the president himself, being the ultimate seat of political participation and influence?

Many international observers are worried there is a personality cult around Chavez. They site the lack of leaders who enjoy anywhere near as much popularity as he does and also slogans such as "Chavez is the people," "With Chavez anything, without Chavez nothing," or "Who is against Chavez is against the people." If these sentiments and the key role of Chavez is a necessary part of the early stages of transforming toward greater participation and self management, shouldn't their centrality and logic be better explained, and shouldn't it be very explicitly labelled an interim method, not a permanent goal?

Likewise, is there any exploration, as yet, of new approaches to law enforcement and adjudication? I would bet there are, but I have no idea. And wouldn't it be good for people to know, if we are to relate as more than voyeurs - and if we are to be able to dig in and try our own hand at related work? On the other side of the coin, human rights groups have criticized Venezuela's penal code saying that the 2004 reform of the penal code makes certain bad aspects of the penal code worse, such as its provision outlawing disrespect of government officials. Is such a clause really necessary? Why is it there? Why not get rid of it?

And does the Bolivarian revolution have a revolutionary agenda around gender issues and around race issues? Is it ultimately seeking only vastly better gender and race policies but within old structures, a major and profound gain, to be sure - but not the ultimate revolution in culture and gender we all desire. Or are there fundamental changes it seeks in underlying familial and cultural institutions? Policies protecting minorities and advancing the rights women women are exemplary. But does the Bolivarian revolution have ideas about what additional needed structural changes might be, and if not, does it have a method for arriving at potential ideas and then evaluating them? Is there to be that kind of participation?

I would also like to know about Bolivarian media, not least because there is so much confusion, so much ruckus about it. Venezuelan mainstream media are currently narrowly owned and controlled and in no way reflect the desires of the Venezuelan population. Indeed, to whatever extent they are able to do so, Venezuelan mainstream media are hell bent on hindering positive change. I wonder about the Bolivarian view of how media ought to be organized in a better future? And I wonder what the plans are for media in Venezuela.

It has seemed, from far away, that the Bolivarian approach to education, health, coops , and the media as well, and other areas too, has been to construct a parallel set of structures to what now exists - for example, the Bolivarian University, health clinics, thousands of coops, and a Bolivarian state run TV station and I bet a newspaper soon, too - with the idea that these new approaches will in time replace the old ones. Is that the plan? And is there concern that the arena in which this competition between old and new occurs is the arena of the market, which of course does not favor solidarity, sociality, etc.? And does this plan, this approach to discovering, refining, and then spreading new models, given all the difficult constraints it tries to navigate, do a sufficient job of enlisting the leadership of the Venezuelan people in the definition of their new society? Regarding media, for example, rather than a face off between private and state run, what place is there for grassroots community based and otherwise self managed media beholden to the public and its workers, but not owners or the state?

International Relations and Where is Venezuela Going?

As we all know, the United States routinely uses its wealth to bludgeon foreign countries in ways overwhelmingly aimed at preserving and enlarging the power and wealth of U.S. elites not caring a whit about the suffering this imposes on others. Venezuela also seems to be utilizing its assets in the international arena via initiating diverse trading patterns, grants, etc. I wonder what guides these acts? Why isn't it explicit - thereby providing a norm against which we can all judge international exchanges?

When Venezuela exchanges oil and other products with other countries, is the Bolivarian revolution intent upon exchanging at market rates, or does it have a different attitude about what ought to determine exchange rates, and if so, as certainly seems to be the case, what is it?

And finally, by way of understanding the timing of the Bolivarian Revolution, I wonder what Chavez and other Venezuelan activists expect to be the most important and exemplary accomplishments in Venezuela in the next five or ten years? And I wonder the extent to which Chavez's views and the views of other Bolivarian government officials, labor leaders, and grass roots activists compare with the views of the broad population? Is the broad public in synch with activist agendas or is it just watching - more or less as by-standing save in moments of crisis? Is the population ready to take initiative in advances or is it being pulled along without taking its own initiatives? And if the public is largely passive, what steps are in place to enliven public involvement and will they be pursued and pursued and pursued, rather than falling back on old models?

The above are just part of the kinds of concerns I have repeatedly heard from sensible and serious leftists about Venezuela. Clarifying may well involve strategic difficulties for the Bolivarian Revolution internally and on the world stage as well. But clarifying also promises a gigantic leap in interest from outside Venezuela and of active support at home, I suspect, as well.

The Brazilian path has been to moderate and accommodate and restrain not just communications, but also policies, in order to prevent massive external opposition. The price of that choice has been to dramatically reduce the worth of the whole undertaking. Hopefully Venezuelans will find a different way to ward off external assault. How about strength domestically and internationally, predicated on people knowing what is occurring and even being part of exploring option, choosing paths, and creating related and supportive commitments.
Hi Anonymous,

Thank you.

Their Land (their system):
Thanks for stopping by, Anonymous.

All Good Things,
Hey it's Barbara Ehrenreich! I like her. Thanks again, Anonymous.

Cupid to Cloe Weeping, by Philip Ayers - (1638-1712)

See, whilst thou weep'st, fair Chloe, see
The world in sympathy with thee.
The cheerful birds no longer sing;
Each drops his head and hangs his wing:
The clouds have bent their bosom lower,
And shed their sorrows in a shower;
The brooks beyond their limits flow,
And louder murmurs speak their woe:
The nymphs and swains adopt thy cares:
They heave thy sighs and weep thy tears,
Fantastic nymph! that Grief should move
Thy heart obdurate against Love.
Strange tears whose power can soften all
But that dear breast on which they fall.
Spiritual Emergencies: Understanding and Treatment of Psychospiritual Crises
Stanislav Grof

One of the most important implications of the research of holotropic states is the realization that many of the conditions, which are currently diagnosed as psychotic and indiscriminately treated by suppressive medication, are actually difficult stages of a radical personality transformation and of spiritual opening. If they are correctly understood and supported, these psychospiritual crises can result in emotional and psychosomatic healing, remarkable psychological transformation, and consciousness evolution (Grof and Grof 1989, 1990).

Episodes of this nature can be found in the life stories of shamans, founders of the great religions of the world, famous spiritual teachers, mystics, and saints. Mystical literature of the world describes these crises as important signposts of the spiritual path and confirms their healing and transformative potential. Mainstream psychiatrists do not differentiate psychospiritual crises, or even episodes of uncomplicated mystical experiences, from serious mental diseases, because of their narrow conceptual framework.

Academic psychiatry, being a subdiscipline of medicine, has a
strong preference for biological interpretations, and uses a model of the psyche limited to postnatal biography and the Freudian individual unconscious. These are serious obstacles in understanding the nature and content of mystical states and the ability to distinguish them from manifestations of mental disease.

The term "spiritual emergency" (psychospiritual crisis), which my wife Christina and I coined for these states alludes to their positive potential. In English, this term is a play on words reflecting the similarity between the word "emergency" (a suddenly appearing acute crisis) and "emergence" (surfacing or rising). It thus suggests both a problem and opportunity to rise to a higher level of psychological functioning and spiritual awareness. We often refer in this context to the Chinese pictogram for crisis that illustrates the basic idea of spiritual emergency. This ideogram is composed of two images, one of which means danger and the other opportunity.

Among the benefits that can result from psychospiritual crises that receive expert support and are allowed to run their natural course are improved psychosomatic health, increased zest for life, a more rewarding life strategy, and an expanded worldview that includes the spiritual dimension. Successful completion and integration of such episodes also involves a substantial reduction of aggression, increase of racial, political, and religious tolerance, ecological awareness, and deep changes in the hierarchy of values and existential priorities. It is not an exaggeration to say that successful completion and integration of psychospiritual crisis can move the individual to a higher level of consciousness evolution.

In recent decades, we have seen rapidly growing interest in spiritual matters that leads to extensive experimentation with ancient, aboriginal, and modern "technologies of the sacred," consciousness-expanding techniques that can mediate spiritual opening. Among them are various shamanic methods, Eastern meditative practices, use of psychedelic substances, effective experiential psychotherapies, and laboratory methods developed by experimental psychiatry. According to public polls, the number of Americans who have had spiritual experiences significantly increased in the second half of the twentieth century and continues to grow. It seems that this has been accompanied by a parallel increase of psychospiritual crises.

More and more people seem to realize that genuine spirituality based on profound personal experience is a vitally important dimension of life. In view of the escalating global crisis brought about by the materialistic orientation of Western technological civilization, it has become obvious that we are paying a great price for having rejected spirituality. We have banned from our life a force that nourishes, empowers, and gives meaning to human existence.

On the individual level, the toll for the loss of spirituality is an impoverished, alienated, and unfulfilling way of life and an increase of emotional and psychosomatic disorders. On the collective level, the absence of spiritual values leads to strategies of existence that threaten the survival of life on our planet, such as plundering of nonrenewable resources, polluting the natural environment, disturbing ecological balance, and using violence as a principal means of international problem-solving.

It is, therefore, in the interest of all of us to find ways of bringing spirituality back into our individual and collective life. This would have to include not only theoretical recognition of spirituality as a vital aspect of existence, but also encouragement and social sanctioning of activities that mediate experiential access to spiritual dimensions of reality. And an important part of this effort would have to be development of an appropriate support system for people undergoing crises of spiritual opening, which would make it possible to utilize the positive potential of these states.

In 1980, Christina founded the Spiritual Emergency Network (SEN), an organization that connects individuals undergoing psychospiritual crises with professionals, who are able and willing to provide assistance based on the new understanding of these states. Filial branches of SEN now exist in many countries of the world.

Triggers of Spiritual Emergency

In many instances, it is possible to identify the situation that precipitated the psychospiritual crisis. It can be a primarily physical factor, such as a disease, accident, or operation. At other times, extreme physical exertion or prolonged lack of sleep may appear to be the most immediate trigger. In women, it can be childbirth, miscarriage, or abortion. We have also seen situations where the onset of the process coincided with an exceptionally powerful sexual experience.

In other cases, the psychospiritual crisis begins shortly after a traumatic emotional experience. This can be loss of an important relationship, such as death of a child or another close relative, divorce, or the end of a love affair. Similarly, a series of failures or loss of a job or property can immediatel precede the onset of spiritual emergency. In predisposed individuals, the "last straw" can be an experience with psychedelic substances or a session of experiential psychotherapy.

One of the most important catalysts of psychospiritual crisis seems to be deep involvement in various forms of meditation and spiritual practice. This should not come as a surprise, since these methods have been specifically designed to facilitate spiritual experiences. We have been repeatedly contacted by persons in whom extended periods of holotropic states were triggered by the practice of Zen, Vipassana, or Vajrayana Buddhist meditation, yogic practices, Sufi ceremonies, monastic contemplation, or Christian prayer.

The wide range of triggers of spiritual crises clearly suggests that the individual's readiness for inner transformation plays far more important role than the external stimuli. When we look for a common denominator or final common pathway o the situations described above, we find that they all involve radical shift in the balance between the unconscious and conscious processes. Weakening of psychological defenses or, conversely, increase of the energetic charge of the unconscious dynamics, makes it possible for the unconsciou (and superconscious) material to emerge into consciousness.

It is well known that psychological defenses can be weakened by a variety of biological insults, such as physical trauma, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, or intoxication. Psychological traumas can mobilize the unconscious, particularly when they involve elements that are reminiscent of earlier traumas and are part of a significant COEX system The strong potential of childbirth as a trigger of psychospiritual crisis seems to reflect the fact that delivering a child combines biological weakening with specific reactivation of the mother's own perinatal memories.

Failures and disappointments in professional and personal life can undermine and thwart the outward-oriented motivations and ambitions of the individual. This makes it more difficult to use external activities as anescape from emotional problems and leads to psychological withdrawal and turning of attention to the inner world. As a result, unconscious contents can emerge into consciousness and interfere with the individual's everyday experience or even completely override it.

Diagnosis of Spiritual Emergency

When we emphasize the need to recognize the existence of psychospiritual crises, this does not mean indiscriminate rejection of the theories and practices of traditional psychiatry. Not all states that are currently diagnosed as psychotic are crises of psychospiritual transformation or hav a healing potential. Episodes of nonordinary states of consciousness cover a very broad spectrum from purely spiritual experiences to conditions that are clearly biological in nature and require medical treatment. While modern psychiatrists generally tend to pathologize mystical states, there also exists the opposite error of romanticizing and glorifying psychotic states or, even worse, overlooking a serious medical problem.

Many mental health professionals who encounter the concept of psychospiritual crisis want to know the exact criteria by which one can make the "differential diagnosis" between a crisis of this kind ("spiritual emergency") and psychosis. Unfortunately, it is in principle impossible to make such differentiation according to the standards used in somatic medicine. Unlike diseases treated by somatic medicine, psychotic states that are not obviously organic in nature - "functional psychoses" or "endogenous" psychoses are not medically defined. The commonly used laboratory examinations of blood, urine, stool, and cerebrospinal fluid, as well as EEG, X-rays, and other similar methods do not yield any useful clues in this regard. It is actually highly questionable whether these conditions should be called diseases at all.

Functional psychoses certainly are not diseases in the same sense as diabetes, typhoid fever, or pernicious anemia. They do not yield any specific clinical or laboratory findings that would support the diagnosis and justify the assumption that they are of biological origin. The diagnosis of these states is based entirely on the observation of unusual experiences and behaviors for which contemporary psychiatry lacks adequate explanation.

The meaningless attribute "endogenous" (literally "generated from within") used for these conditions is tantamount to admission of this ignorance. At present, there is no reason to refer to these conditions as "mental diseases" and assume that the experiences involved are products of a pathological process in the brain yet to be discovered by future research. If we give it some thought, we realize it is highly unlikely that a pathological process afflicting the brain could, in and of itself, generate the incredibly rich experiential spectrum of the states currently diagnosed as psychotic. How could possibly abnormal processes in the brain generate such experiences as culturally specific sequences of psychospiritual death and rebirth, convincing identification with Christ on the cross or with the dancing Shiva, an episode involving death on the barricades in Paris during the French revolution, or complex scenes of alien abduction?

When similar experiences manifest under circumstances in which the biological changes are accurately defined, such as dministration of specific dosages of chemically pure LSD-25 the nature and origin of their content remain a deep mystery. The spectrum of possible reactions to LSD is very broad an includes reliving of various biographical events, experiences of psychospiritual death and rebirth, episodes of mystical rapture, feelings of cosmic unity, sense of oneness with God, and past-life memories, as well as paranoid states, manic episodes, apocalyptic visions, exclusively psychosomatic responses, and many others. The same dosage given to different individuals or repeatedly to the same person can induce very different experiences.

Chemical changes in the organism obviously catalyze the
experience, but are not, in and of themselves, capable of creating the intricate imagery and the rich philosophical and spiritual insights, let alone mediating access to accurate new information about various aspects of the universe. The administration of LSD and other similar substances can account for the emergence of deep unconscious material into consciousness, but cannot explain its nature and content.

Understanding the phenomenology of psychedelic states necessitates a much more sophisticated approach than a simple reference to abnormal biochemical or biological processes in the body. It requires a comprehensive procedure that has to include transpersonal psychology, mythology, philosophy, and comparative religion. The same is true in regard to psychospiritual crises.

The experiences that constitute psychospiritual crises clearly are not artificial products of aberrant pathophysiological processes in the brain, but manifestations of the deeper levels of the psyche. Naturally, to be able to see it this way, we have to transcend the narrow understanding of the psyche offered by mainstream psychiatry and use a vastly expanded conceptual framework. Examples of such enlarged models of the psyche are the cartography described in my own books and papers (Grof 1975, 2000, 2007a), Ken Wilber's spectrum psychology (Wilber 1977), Roberto Assagioli's psychosynthesis (Assagioli 1976), and C. G. Jung's concept of the psyche as identical with the world soul (anima mundi) that includes the historical and archetypal collective unconscious (Jung 1959). Such large and comprehensive understanding of the psyche is also characteristic of the great Eastern philosophies and the mystical traditions of the world.

Since functional psychoses are not defined medically but psychologically, it is impossible to provide a rigorous differential diagnosis between psychospiritual crisis ("spiritual emergency") and psychosis in the way it is done in medical practice in relation to different forms of encephalitis, brain tumors, or dementias. Considering this fact, is it possible to make any diagnostic conclusions at all? How can we approach this problem and what can we offer in lieu of a clear and unambiguous differential diagnosis between psychospiritual crisis and mental disease?

A viable alternative is to define the criteria that would make it possible to determine which individual, experiencing an intense spontaneous holotropic state of consciousness, is likely to be a good candidate for a therapeutic strategy that validates and supports the process. And, conversely, we can attempt to determine under what circumstances using an alternative approach would not be appropriate and when the current practice of routine psychopharmacological suppression of symptoms would be preferable.

A necessary prerequisite for such an evaluation is a good medical examination that eliminates conditions, which are organic in nature and require biological treatment. Once this is accomplished, the next important guideline is the phenomenology of holotropic state of consciousness in

Psychospiritual crises involve a combination of biographical, perinatal, and transpersonal experiences that were described in another context, in the discussion of the extended cartography of the psyche (Grof 1975, 2000, 2007 a). Experiences of this kind can be induced in a group of randomly selected "normal" people not only by psychedelic substances, but also by such simple means as meditation, shamanic drumming, faster breathing, evocative music, bodywork, and variety of other nondrug techniques.

Those of us who work with holotropic breathwork see such
experiences daily in our workshops and seminars and have the opportunity to appreciate their healing and transformative potential. In view of this fact, it is difficult to attribute similar experiences to some exotic and yet unknown pathology when they occur spontaneously in the middle of everyday life. It makes eminent sense to approach these experiences in the same way they are approached in holotropic and psychedelic sessions – to encourage people to surrender to the process and to support the emergence and full expression of the unconscious material that becomes available.

Another important indicator is the person's attitude to the process and his or her experiential style. It is generally very encouraging when people who have holotropic experiences recognize that what is happening to them is an inner process, are open to experiential work, and interested to try it.

Transpersonal strategies are not appropriate for individuals who lack this elementary recognition, use predominantly the mechanism of projection, or suffer from persecutory delusions. The capacity to form a good working relationship with an adequate amount of trust is an absolutely essential prerequisite for psychotherapeutic work with people in spiritual crisis.

It is also very important to pay attention to the way clients talk about their experiences. The communication style, in and of itself, often distinguishes promising candidates from inappropriate or questionable ones. It is a very good prognostic indicator if the person describes the experiences in a coherent and articulate way, however extraordinary and strange their content might be. In a sense, this would be similar to hearing an account of a person who has just had a psychedelic session and intelligently describes what to an uninformed person might appear to be strange and extravagant experiences.

Varieties of Spiritual Crises

A question that is closely related to the problem of differential diagnosis of psychospiritual crises is their classification. Is it possible to distinguish and define among them certain specific types or categories in the way it is attempted in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV-revised) and its predecessors used by traditional psychiatrists? Before we address this question, it is necessary to emphasize that the attempts to classify psychiatric disorders, with the exception of those that are clearly organic in nature, have been generally unsuccessful.

There is general disagreement about diagnostic categories among individual psychiatrists and also among psychiatric societies of different countries. Although DSM has been revised and changed a number of times, clinicians complain that they have difficulties matching the symptoms of their clients with the official diagnostic categories. Spiritual crises are no exception; if anything, assigning people suffering fro these conditions to well-defined diagnostic categories is particularly problematic because of the fact that their phenomenology is unusually rich and can have its source on all various levels of the psyche.

The symptoms of psychospiritual crises represent a manifestation and exteriorization of the deep dynamics of th human psyche. The individual human psyche is a multidimensional and multilevel system with no internal divisions and boundaries. The elements from postnatal biography and from the Freudian individual unconscious form a continuum with the dynamics of the perinatal level and the transpersonal domain. We cannot, therefore, expect to find clearly defined and demarcated types of spiritual emergency. And yet, our work with individuals in psychospiritual crises, exchanges with colleagues doing similar work, and study of pertinent literature have convinced us that it is possible and useful to outline certain major forms of psychospiritual crises, which have sufficiently characteristic features to be differentiated from others.

Naturally, their boundaries are not clear and, in practice, there are some significant overlaps among them. I will first present a list of the most important varieties of psychospiritual crises as Christina and I have identified them and then briefly discuss each of them.

1. Shamanic crisis
2. Awakening of Kundalini
3. Episodes of unitive consciousness (Maslow's "peak experiences")
4. Psychological renewal through return to the center (John Perry)
5. Crisis of psychic opening
6. Past-life experiences
7. Communication with spirit guides and "channeling"
8. Near-death experiences (NDEs)
9. Close encounters with UFOs and alien abduction experiences
10. Possession states
11. Alcoholism and drug addiction

Shamanic Crisis

The career of many shamans -- witch doctors or medicine men and women -- in different cultures, begins with a dramatic involuntary visionary state that the anthropologists call "shamanic illness." During such episodes, future shamans usually withdraw psychologically or even physicall from their everyday environment and have powerful holotropic experiences. They typically undergo a journey into the underworld, the realm of the dead, where they experience attacks by vicious demons and are exposed to horrendous tortures and ordeals.

This painful initiation culminates in experiences of death and dismemberment followed by rebirth and ascent or magic flight to celestial regions. This might involve transformation into a bird, such as an eagle, falcon, thunderbird, or condor, and flight to the realm of the cosmic sun. The novice shama can also have an experience of being carried by such a bird into the solar region. In some cultures the motif of magic flight is replaced by that of reaching the celestial realms by climbing the world tree, a rainbow, a pole with many notches, or a ladder made of arrows.

In the course of these arduous visionary journeys, novice shamans develop deep contact with the forces of nature and with animals, both in their natural form and their archetypal versions -- "animal spirits" or "power animals." When these visionary journeys are successfully completed, they can be profoundly healing. In this process, novice shamans often heal themselves from emotional, psychosomatic, and even physical diseases. For this reason, shamans are frequently referred to as "wounded healers."

In many instances, the involuntary initiates attain in this experience deep insights into the energetic and metaphysical causes of diseases and learn how to heal not only themselves, but also others. Following the successful completion of the initiatory crisis, the individual becomes a shaman and returns to his or her people as a fully functioning and honored member of the community. He or she assumes the combined role of an honored priest, visionary, and healer.

In our workshops and professional training, modern Americans, Europeans, Australians, and Asians have often experienced in their holotropic breathwork sessions episode that bore close resemblance to shamanic crises. Besides the elements of physical and emotional torture, death, and rebirth, such states involved experiences of connection with animals, plants, and elemental forces of nature. The individuals experiencing such crises also often showed spontaneous tendencies to create rituals that were similar to those practiced by shamans of various cultures. On occasion mental health professionals with this history have been able to use the lessons from their journeys in their work and develop and practice modern versions of shamanic procedures.

The attitude of native cultures toward shamanic crises has often been explained by the lack of elementary psychiatric knowledge of the shaman's tribesmen and the resulting tendency to attribute every experience and behavior that these people do not understand to supernatural forces. However, nothing could be farther from truth. Shamanic cultures, which recognize shamans and show them great respect, have no difficulty differentiating them from individuals who are crazy or sick.

To be considered a shaman, the individual has to successfully complete the transformation journey and integrate well the episodes of challenging holotropic states of consciousness. He or she has to be able to function at least as well as other members of the tribe. The way shamanic crises are approached and treated in these societies is an extremely useful and illustrative model of dealing with psychospiritual crises in general.

The Awakening of Kundalini

The manifestations of this form of psychospiritual crisis resemble the descriptions of the awakening of Kundalini, or the Serpent Power, found in ancient Indian literature (Woodroff 1974, Mookerjee and Khanna 1977, Mookerjee 1982). According to the yogis, Kundalini is the generative cosmic energy, feminine in nature, which is responsible for the creation of the cosmos. In its latent form it resides at the base of the human spine in the subtle or energetic body, which is a field that pervades and permeates, as well as surrounds, the physical body. This latent energy can become activated by meditation, specific exercises, the intervention of an accomplished spiritual teacher (guru), or for unknown reasons.

The activated Kundalini, called shakti, rises through the nadis, channels or conduits in the subtle body; the pricipal three nadis rising along the body's vertical axis are called Ida, Shushumna, and Pingala. As Kundalini ascends, it clears old traumatic imprints and opens the centers of psychic energy, called chakras situated at the points where Ida and Pingala are crossing. This process, although highly valued and considered beneficial in the yogic tradition, is not without dangers and requires expert guidance by a guru whose Kundalini is fully awakened and stabilized. The most dramatic signs of Kundalini awakening are physical and psychological manifestations called kriyas.

The kriyas involve intense sensations of energy and heat streaming up the spine, usually associated with violent shaking, spasms, and twistingmovements. Intense waves of seemingly unmotivated emotions, such as anxiety, anger, sadness, or joy and ecstatic rapture, can surface and temporarily dominate the psyche. This can be accompanied by visions of brilliant light or various archetypal beings and variety of internally perceived sounds.

Many people involved in this process also have emotionally charged and convincing experiences of what seem to be memories from their past lives. Involuntary and often uncontrollable behaviors complete the picture: speaking in tongues, chanting unknown songs or sacred invocations (mantras), assuming yogic postures (asanas) and gestures (mudras), and making a variety of animal sounds and movements.

C. G. Jung and his co-workers dedicated to this phenomeno a series of special seminars (Jung 1996). Jung's perspective on Kundalini proved to be probably the most remarkable error of his entire career. He concluded that the awakening of Kundalini was an exclusively Eastern phenomenon and predicted that it would take at least a thousand years before this energy would be set into motion in the West as a result of depth psychology. In the last several decades, unmistakable signs of Kundalini awakening have been observed in thousands of Westerners. The credit for drawing attention to this condition belongs to Californian psychiatrist and ophtalmologist Lee Sannella, who studied single-handedly nearly one thousand of such cases and summarized his findings in his book The Kundalini Experience: Psychosis or Transcendence (Sannella 1987).

Episodes of Unitive Consciousness ("Peak Experiences")

The American psychologist Abraham Maslow studied many hundreds of people who had unitive mystical experiences and coined for them the term peak experiences (Maslow 1964). He expressed sharp criticism of Western psychiatry's tendency to confuse such mystical states with mental disease. According to him, they should be considered supernormal rather than abnormal phenomena. If they are not interfered with and are allowed to run their natural course, these states typically lead to better functioning in the world and to "self-actualization" or "selfrealization" -- the capacity to express more fully one's creative potential and to live a more rewarding and satisfying life.

Psychiatrist and consciousness researcher Walter Pahnke developed a list of basic characteristics of a typical peak experience, based on the work of Abraham Maslow and W. T. Stace. He used the following criteria to describe this state of mind (Pahnke and Richards 1966):

Unity (inner and outer)
Strong positive emotion
Transcendence of time and space
Sense of sacredness (numinosity)
Paradoxical nature
Objectivity and reality of the insights
Positive aftereffects

As this list indicates, when we have a peak experience, we have a sense of overcoming the usual fragmentation of the mind and body and feel that we have reached a state of unit and wholeness. We also transcend the ordinary distinction between subject and object and experience an ecstatic union with humanity, nature, the cosmos, and God. This is associated with intense feelings of joy, bliss, serenity, and inner peace. In a mystical experience of this type, we have a sense of leaving ordinary reality, where space has three dimensions and time is linear. We enter a metaphysical, transcendent realm, where these categories no longer apply. In this state, infinity and eternity become experiential realities. The numinous quality of this state has nothing to d with previous religious beliefs; it reflects a direct apprehension of the divine nature of reality.

Descriptions of peak experiences are usually full of paradoxes. The experience can be described as "contentless, yet all-containing." It has no specific content, but seems to contain everything in a potential form. We can have a sense of being simultaneously everything and nothing. While our personal identity and the limited ego have disappeared, we feel that we have expanded to such an extent that our being encompasses the entire universe. Similarly, it is possible to perceive all forms as empty, or emptiness as being pregnant with forms. We can even reach a state in which we see that the world exists and does not exist at the same time.

The peak experience can convey what seems to be ultimate wisdom and knowledge in matters of cosmic relevance, which the Upanishads describe as "knowing That, the knowledge of which gives the knowledge of everything." What we have learned during this experience is ineffable; it cannot be described by words. The very nature and structur of our language seem to be inadequate for this purpose. Yet, the experience can profoundly influence our system of values and strategy of existence.

Because of the generally benign nature and positive potentia of the peak experience, this is a category of spiritual crisis that should be least problematic. These experiences are by their nature transient and selflimited. There is absolutely no reason why they should have adverse consequences. And yet, due to the misconceptions of the psychiatric profession concerning spiritual matters, many people who experience such states end up hospitalized, receive pathological labels, and their condition is suppressed by psychopharmacological medication.

Psychological Renewal through Return to the Center

Another important type of transpersonal crisis was described by Californian psychiatrist and Jungian analyst John Weir Perry, who called it the "renewal process" (Perry 1974, 1976, 1998). Because of its depth and intensity, this is the type of psychospiritual crisis that is most likely diagnosed as serious mental disease. The experiences of people involved in the renewal process are so strange, extravagant, and far from everyday reality that it seems obvious that some serious pathological process must be affecting the functioning of their brains.

Individuals involved in this kind of crisis experience their psyche as a colossal battlefield where a cosmic combat is being played out between the forces of Good and Evil, or Light and Darkness. They are preoccupied with the theme of death -- ritual killing, sacrifice, martyrdom, and afterlife. The problem of opposites fascinates them, particularly issues related to the differences between sexes. They experience themselves as the center of fantastic events that have cosmi relevance and are important for the future of the world. Their visionary states tend to take them farther and farther back -- through their own history and the history of humanity, all the way to the creation of the world and the original ideal state of paradise. In this process, they seem to strive for perfection, trying to correct things that went wrong in the past.

After a period of turmoil and confusion, the experiences become more and more pleasant and start moving toward a resolution. The process often culminates in the experience of hieros gamos, or "sacred marriage," in which the individual is elevated to an illustrious or even divine status and experiences union with an equally distinguished partner. Thi indicates that the masculine and the feminine aspects of the personality are reaching a new balance. The sacred union can be experienced either with an imaginal archetypal figure, or i projected onto an idealized person from one's life, who then appears to be a karmic partner or a soul mate.

At this time, one can also have experiences involving what Jungian psychology interprets as symbols representing the Self, the transpersonal center that reflects our deepest and true nature and is related to, but not totally identical with, the Hindu concept of Atman-Brahman. In visionary states, it can appear in the form of a source of light of supernatural beauty, radiant spheres, precious stones and jewels, pearls, and other similar symbolic representations. Examples of this development from painful and challenging experiences to th discovery of one's divinity can be found in John Perry's books (Perry 1953, 1974, 1976) and in The Stormy Search for the Self, our own book on spiritual emergencies (Grof and Grof 1990).

At this stage of the process, these glorious experiences are interpreted as a personal apotheosis, a ritual celebration that raises one's experience of oneself to a highly exalted human status or to a state above the human condition altogether -- a great leader, a world savior, or even the Lord of the Universe. This is often associated with a profound sense of spiritual rebirth that replaces the earlier preoccupation with death. At the time of completion and integration, one usually envisions an ideal future -- a new world governed by love and justice, where all ills and evils have been overcome. As the intensity of the process subsides, the person realizes that the entire drama was a psychological transformation that was limited to his or her inner world and did not involve externa reality.

According to John Perry, the renewal process moves the individual in the direction of what Jung called "individuation" -- a full realization and expression of one's deep potential. One aspect of Perry's research deserves special notice, sinc it produced what is probably the most convincing evidence against simplistic biological understanding of psychoses. He was able to show that the experiences involved in the renewal process exactly match the main themes of royal dramas that were enacted in many ancient cultures on New Year's Day.

These ritual dramas celebrating the advent of the new year were performed during what Perry calls "the archaic era of incarnated myth." This was the period in the history of these cultures when the rulers were considered to be incarnated gods and not ordinary human beings. Examples of such God/kings were the Egyptian pharaohs, the Peruvian Incas, the Hebrew and Hittite kings, or the Chinese and Japanese emperors (Perry 1991).

The positive potential of the renewal process and its deep
connection with archetypal symbolism and with specific periods of human history represents a very compelling argument against the theory that these experiences are chaotic pathological products of diseased brains. They are clearly closely connected with the evolution of consciousness on the individual and collective level.

The Crisis of Psychic Opening

An increase in intuitive abilities and the occurrence of psychic or paranormal phenomena are very common during psychospiritual crises of all kinds. However, in some instances, the influx of information from nonordinary sources, such as astral projection, precognition, telepathy, or clairvoyance, becomes so overwhelming and confusing that it dominates the picture and constitutes a major problem, in and of itself.

Among the most dramatic manifestations of psychic opening are out-of-body experiences. In the middle of everyday life, and often without any noticeable trigger, one's consciousness can detach from the body and witness what is happening in the surroundings or in various remote locations. The information attained during these episodes by extrasensory perception often proves to correspond to consensus reality. Out-of-body experiences occur with extraordinary frequency in near-death situations, where the accuracy of this "remote viewing" has been established by systematic studies (Ring 1982, 1985, Ring and Valarino 1998, Ring and Cooper 1999).

People experiencing intense psychic opening might be so much in touch with the inner processes of others that they exhibit remarkable telepathic abilities. They might indiscriminately verbalize accurate incisive insights into other people's minds concerning various issues that these individuals are trying to hide. This can frighten, irritate, and alienate others so severely that it often becomes a significant factor contributing to unnecessary hospitalization or punitive measures within the psychiatric facility. Similarly, accurate precognitions of future situations and clairvoyant perceptions, particularly if they occur repeatedly in impressive clusters, can seriously upset the persons in crisis, as well as alarm those around them, since they undermine their notion of the nature of reality.

In experiences that can be called "mediumistic," one has a sense of losing one's own identity and taking on the identity of another person. This can involve assuming the other person's body image, posture, gestures, facial expression, feelings, and even thought processes. Accomplished shamans, psychics, and spiritual healers can use such experiences in a controlled and productive way. Unlike the persons in psychospiritual crisis, they are capable of taking on the identity of others at will and also resuming their own separate identity after they accomplish the task of the session. During the crises of psychic opening, the sudden, unpredictable, and uncontrollable loss of one's ordinary identity can be very frightening.

People in spiritual crisis often experience uncanny coincidences that link the world of inner realities, such as dreams and visionary states, to happenings in everyday life. This phenomenon was first recognized and described by C. G. Jung, who gave it the name synchronicity and explored it in a special essay (Jung 1960). The study of synchronistic events helped Jung realize that archetypes were not principles limited to the intrapsychic domain. It became clear to him that they have what he called "psychoid" quality, which means that they govern not only the individual psyche, but also happenings in the world of consensus reality. I have explored this fascinating topic in my other writings (Grof 1988, 2006).

Any researcher, who seriously studies Jungian synchronicities, discovers that they are without any doubt authentic phenomena and cannot be ignored and discounted as accidental coincidences. They also can not be indiscriminately dismissed as pathological distortions of reality -- erroneous perception of meaningful relations where, in actuality, there are none. This is a common practice in contemporary psychiatry where any allusion to meaningful coincidences is automatically diagnosed as "delusion of reference."

In case of true synchronicities, any open-minded witnesses, who have access to all the relevant information, recognize that the coincidences involved are beyond any reasonable statistical probability. Extraordinary synchronicities accompany many forms of transpersonal crises, and in crises of psychic opening they are particularly common.

Past-Life Experiences

Among the most dramatic and colorful transpersonal phenomena occurring in holotropic states of consciousness are experiences that appear to be memories from previous incarnations. These are sequences that take place in other historical periods and often in other countries and are usually
associated with powerful emotions and physical sensations. They often portray in great detail the persons, circumstances, and historical settings involved. Their most remarkable aspect is a convincing sense of remembering and reliving something that one has already seen (déjà vu) or experienced (déjà vecu) at some time in the past. This is clearly the same type of experience that in Asia and many other places of the world inspired the belief in reincarnation and the law of karma.

The rich and accurate information that these "past-life memories" provide, as well as their healing potential, impels us to take them seriously. When the content of a karmic experience fully emerges into consciousness, it can suddenly provide an explanation for many otherwise incomprehensible aspects of one's daily life. Strange difficulties in relationships with certain people, unsubstantiated fears, and peculiar idiosyncrasies and attractions, as well as otherwise incomprehensible emotional and psychosomatic symptoms suddenly seem to make sense as karmic carry-overs from a previous lifetime. These problems typically disappear when the karmic pattern in question is consciously experienced and integrated.

Past-life experiences can complicate life in several different ways. Before their content emerges fully into consciousness and reveals itself, one can be haunted in everyday life by strange emotions, physical feelings, and visions without knowing where these are coming from or what they mean. Experienced out of context, these experiences naturally appear incomprehensible and irrational. Another kind of complication occurs when a particularly strong karmic experience starts emerging into consciousness in the middle of everyday life and interferes with normal functioning.

One might also feel compelled to act out some of the elements of the karmic pattern before it is fully experienced and understood or completed. For instance, it might suddenly seem that a certain person in one's present life played an important role in a previous incarnation, the memory of which is emerging into consciousness. When this happens, one may seek emotional contact with a person who now appears to be a "soul mate" from one's karmic past or, conversely, confrontation and showdown with an adversary from another lifetime. This kind of activity can lead to unpleasant complications, since the alleged karmic partners usually have no basis in their own experiences for understanding this behavior.

Even if one manages to avoid the danger of embarrassing acting-out, the problems are not necessarily over. After a past-life memory has fully emerged into consciousness and its content and implications have been revealed to the experiencer, there remains one more challenge. One has to reconcile this experience with the traditional beliefs and values of the industrial civilization. Denial of the possibility of reincarnation represents a rare instance of complete agreement between the Christian Church and materialistic science. Therefore, in Western culture, acceptance and intellectual integration of a past-life memory is a difficult task for an atheist as well as a traditionally religious person.

Assimilation of past-life experiences into one's belief system can be a relatively easy task for someone who does not have a strong commitment to Christianity or the materialistic scientific worldview. The experiences are usually so convincing that one simply accepts their message and might even feel excited about this new discovery. However, fundamentalist Christians and those who have a strong investment in rationality and the traditional scientific perspective can be catapulted into a period of confusion when they are confronted with convincing personal past life experiences that seriously challenge their belief system.

Communication with Spirit Guides and "Channeling"

Occasionally, one can encounter in a holotropic state of
consciousness a being, who seems to show interest in a personal relationship and assumes the position of a teacher, guide, protector, or simply a convenient source of information. Such beings are usually perceived as discarnate humans, suprahuman entities, or deities existing on higher planes of consciousness and endowed with extraordinary wisdom. Sometimes they take on the form of a person; at other times they appear as radiant sources of light, or simply let their presence be sensed. Their messages are usually received in the form of direct thought transfer or through other extrasensory means. In some instances, communication can take the form of verbal messages.

A particularly interesting phenomenon in this category is
channeling, which in several past decades received much attention from the public and mass media. A person who is "channeling" transmits to others messages received from a source that appears to be external to his or her consciousness. It occurs through speaking in a trance, using automatic writing, or recording of telepathically received thoughts. Channeling has played an important role in the history of humanity. Among the channeled spiritual teachings are many scriptures of enormous cultural influence, such as the ancient Indian Vedas, the Qur'an, and the Book of Mormon. A remarkable modern example of a channeled text is A Course in Miracles, recorded by psychologist Helen Schucman (Anonymous 1975, Grof 2006).

Experiences of channeling can precipitate a serious psychological and spiritual crisis. The individual involved can interpret the experience as an indication of beginning insanity. This is particularly likely if the channeling involves hearing voices, a well-known symptom of paranoid schizophrenia. The quality of the channeled material varies from trivial and questionable chatter to extraordinary information. On occasion, channeling can provide consistently accurate data about subjects to which the recipient was never exposed. This fact can then appear to be a particularly convincing proof of the involvement of supernatural realities and can lead to serious philosophical confusion for an atheistic layperson or a scientist with a materialistic worldview. Readers interested in this phenomenon will find much valuable information in special studies by Arthur Hastings and Ion Klimo (Hastings 1991, Klimo 1998).

Spirit guides are usually perceived as advanced spiritual beings on a high level of consciousness evolution, who are endowed with superior intelligence and extraordinary moral integrity. This can lead to highly problematic ego inflation in the channeler, who might feel chosen for a special mission and see it as a proof of his or her own superiority.

Near-Death Experiences (NDEs)

World mythology, folklore, and spiritual literature abound in vivid accounts of the experiences associated with death and dying. Special sacred texts have been dedicated exclusively to descriptions and discussions of the posthumous journey of the soul, such as the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thödol), the Egyptian Book of the Dead (Pert Em Hru), the Aztec Codex Borgia, the Mayan Book of the Dead, and their European counterpart, Ars Moriendi (The Art of Dying) (Grof 1994, 2006b).

In the past, this eschatological mythology was discounted by
Western scholars as a product of fantasy and wishful thinking of primitive people who were unable to face the fact of impermanence and their own mortality. This situation changed dramatically after the publication of Raymond Moody's international best-seller Life After Life, which brought scientific confirmation of these accounts and showed that an encounter with death can be a fantastic adventure in consciousness. Moody's book was based on reports of 150 people who had experienced a close confrontation with death, or were actually pronounced clinically dead, but regained consciousness and lived to tell their stories (Moody 1975).

Moody reported that people who had near-death experiences
(NDEs) frequently witnessed a review of their entire lives in the form of a colorful, incredibly condensed replay occurring within only seconds of clock time. Consciousness often detached from the body and floated freely above the scene, observing it with curiosity and detached amusement, or traveled to distant locations. Many people described passing through a dark tunnel or funnel toward a divine light of supernatural brilliance and beauty.

This light was not physical in nature, but had distinctly personal characteristics. It was a Being of Light, radiating infinite, all-embracing love, forgiveness, and acceptance. In a personal exchange, often perceived as an audience with God, these individuals received lessons regarding existence and universal laws and had the opportunity to evaluate their past
by these new standards. Then they chose to return to ordinary reality and live their lives in a new way congruent with the principles they had learned.

Since their publication, Moody's findings have been repeatedly confirmed by other researchers (Ring 1982, Ring 1985, Sabom 1982, Greyson and Flynn1984).

Most survivors emerge from their near-death experiences
profoundly changed. They have a universal and all-encompassing spiritual vision of reality, a new system of values, and a radically different general strategy of life. They have deep appreciation for being alive and feel kinship with all living beings and concern for the future of humanity and the planet.

However, the fact that the encounter with death has a great positive potential does not mean that this transformation is always easy. Near-death experiences very frequently lead to psychospiritual crises. A powerful NDE can radically undermine the worldview of the people involved, because it catapults them abruptly and without warning into a reality that is radically different. A car accident in the middle of rush-hour traffic or a heart attack during morning jogging can launch someone within a matter of seconds into a fantastic visionary adventure that tears his or her ordinary reality asunder. Following an NDE, people might need special counseling and support to be able to integrate these extraordinary experiences into their everyday life.

Unfortunately, the approach of the personnel in most medical facilities to NDE survivors leaves much to be desired, in spite of the fact that in the last few decades this phenomenon has received much attention in the professional literature, as well as in the mass media. Few survivors
of NDEs receive professional counseling that most of them sorely need. It is also not yet mandatory to include the reports of the patients' NDEs in the medical folders, although it is well known that these experiences can
have profound impact on their emotional and psychosomatic condition. A comprehensive discussion of the problems related to NDEs can be found in my book The Ultimate Journey: Consciousness and the Mystery of Death (Grof 2006 b).

Close Encounters with UFOs and Alien Abduction Experiences

The experiences of encounters with extraterrestrial spacecrafts and of abduction by alien beings can often precipitate serious emotional and intellectual crises that have much in common with psychospiritual crises. This fact requires an explanation, since most people consider UFOs simply in terms of four alternatives: actual visitation of the earth by alien spacecraft, hoax, misperception of natural events and devices of terrestrial origin, and psychotic hallucinations. Alvin Lawson has also made an attempt to interpret UFO abduction experiences as misinterpretations of the memory of the trauma of birth, using my own clinical material (Lawson 1984).

Descriptions of UFO sightings typically refer to lights that have an uncanny, supernatural quality. These lights resemble those mentioned in many reports of visionary states. C. G. Jung, who dedicated a special study to the problem of "flying saucers," suggested that these phenomena might be archetypal visions originating in the collective unconscious of humanity, rather than psychotic hallucinations or visits by extraterrestrials from distant civilizations (Jung 1964). He supported his thesis by careful analysis of legends about flying discs that have been told throughout history and reports about various similar apparitions that have occasionally caused crises and mass panic.

It has also been pointed out that the extraterrestrial beings involved in these encounters have important parallels in world mythology and religion, systems that have their roots in the collective unconscious. The alien spacecrafts and cosmic flights depicted by those who were allegedly abducted or invited for a ride resemble certain phenomena described in spiritual literature, such as the chariot of the Vedic god Indra or Ezekiel's flaming machine described in the Bible. The fabulous landscapes and cities visited during these journeys resemble the visionary experiences of paradise, celestial realms, and cities of light.

The abductees often report that the aliens took them into a special laboratory and subjected them to painful examinations and frightening experiments using various exotic instruments. This involved probing the cavities of the body, examination of the sexual organs, and taking samples of sperm and ova. There are frequent references to genetic experiments with the goal of producing hybrid offspring. These interventions are typically very unpleasant and occasionally border on torture. This brings the experiences of the abductees close to the initiatory crises of the shamans and to the ordeals of the neophytes in aboriginal rites of passage, such as circumcision and subincision of the penis.

There is an additional reason why a UFO experience can precipitate a spiritual crisis. It is similar to the problem we have discussed earlier in relation to spirit guides and channeling. The alien visitors are usually seen as representatives of civilizations that are incomparably more advanced than ours, not only technologically but also intellectually, morally, and spiritually. Such contact often has very powerful mystical undertones and is associated with insights of cosmic relevance. It is thus easy for the
recipients of such special attention to interpret it as an indication of their own uniqueness.

Abductees might feel that they have attracted the interest of superior beings from an advanced civilization because they themselves are in some way exceptional and particularly suited for a special purpose. In Jungian psychology, a situation in which the individual claims the luster of the archetypal world for his or her own person is referred to as "ego inflation."

For all these reasons, experiences of "close encounters" can lead to serious transpersonal crises. People who have experienced the strange world of UFO experiences and alien abduction, need professional help from someone who has general knowledge of archetypal psychology and who is also familiar with the specific characteristics of the UFO phenomenon. Experienced researchers, such as Harvard psychiatrist John Mack, have brought ample evidence that the alien abduction experiences are phenomena sui generis, that represent a serious conceptual challenge for Western psychiatry and materialistic science in general.

An aspect of the UFO phenomena that is particularly baffling is that they occasionally have definite psychoid features. This means that they are synchronistically linked with events in the material world. It has become clear that it is naive and indefensible to see them as manifestations of mental disease or dismiss all of them as misperceptions and misinterpretations of ordinary phenomena (Mack 1994,

Over the years, I have worked with many individuals who had experiences of alien abduction in their psychedelic or holotropic breathwork sessions and during spiritual emergencies. Almost without exception, these episodes were extremely intense and experientially convincing. In view of my observations, I share the opinion of many serious UFO researchers that these experiences represent fascinating and authentic phenomena that deserve to be seriously studied.

The position of traditional psychiatrists who see them as products of an unknown pathological process in the brain is clearly oversimplistic and highly implausible. It is equally improbable that we are dealing with actual visits of extraterrestrial beings. A civilization capable of sending spaceships to our planet would have to have technical means that we cannot even imagine. We have enough information about the planets of the solar system to know that they are unlikely sources of such an alien expedition. The distance of the earth from the nearest celestial bodies outside of the solar system amounts to many light years. Negotiating such distances would require velocities equaling or surpassing the speed of light or interdimensional travel through hyperspace.
A civilization capable of such formidable achievements would very likely have technology that would make it impossible for us to differentiate between hallucinations and reality. Until more reliable information is available, it seems therefore most plausible to see the UFO experiences as manifestations of archetypal elements from the collective unconscious.

Possession States

People experiencing this type of transpersonal crisis have a distinct feeling that their psyche and body have been invaded and that they are being controlled by an evil entity or energy with personal characteristics. They perceive it as coming from the outside of their own personality and as being hostile and disturbing. It can appear to be a confused discarnate
entity, a demonic being, or the consciousness of a wicked person invading them by means of black magic and hexing procedures. There are many different types and degrees of such conditions. In some instances, the true nature of this disorder remains hidden. The problem manifests as serious psychopathology, such as antisocial or even criminal behavior, suicidal depression, murderous aggression or selfdestructive behavior, promiscuous and deviant sexual impulses and actingout, or excessive use of alcohol and drugs. It is often not until such a person starts experiential psychotherapy that "possession" is identified as a condition underlying these problems.

In the middle of an experiential session, the face of a possessed person can become cramped and take the form of a "mask of evil," and the eyes can assume a wild expression. The hands and body might develop strange contortions, and the voice may become altered and take on an otherworldly quality. When this situation is allowed to develop, the session can bear a striking resemblance to exorcisms in the Catholic Church, or exorcist rituals in various aboriginal cultures.

The resolution often comes after dramatic episodes of choking, projectile vomiting, screaming, and frantic physical activity, or even temporary loss of control. Sequences of this kind can be unusually healing and transformative and often result in a deep spiritual conversion of the person involved. A detailed description of the most dramatic episode of this kind I have observed during my entire professional career can be found in my account of the case of Flora (Grof 2006 a).

Other times, the possessed person is aware of the presence of the "evil entity" in his or her body and spends much effort trying to fight it and control its influence. In the extreme version of the possession state, the problematic energy can spontaneously manifest and take over in the middle of everyday life. This situation resembles the one described earlier for experiential sessions, but the individual here lacks the support and protection provided by the therapeutic context. Under such circumstances, he or she can feel extremely frightened and desperately alone. Relatives, friends, and often even therapists tend to withdraw from the "possessed" individual and respond with a strange mixture of metaphysical fear and moral rejection. They often label the person as evil and refuse further contact.

This condition clearly belongs in the category of psychospiritual crises, in spite of the fact that it involves negative energies and is associated with many objectionable forms of behavior. The demonic archetype is by its very nature transpersonal, since it represents the negative mirror image of the divine. It also often appears to be a "gateway phenomenon," comparable to the terrifying guardians flanking the doors of Buddhist temples leading to radiant images of the Buddha. Encounter with an entity of this kind often immediately precedes a profound spiritual experience. With the help of somebody who is not afraid of its uncanny nature and is able to encourage its full conscious manifestation, this energy can be dissipated, and remarkable healing occurs.

Alcoholism and Drug Addiction as Psychospiritual Crisis

It makes good sense to describe addiction as a form of
transpersonal crisis ("spiritual emergency"), in spite of the fact that it differs in its external manifestations from more obvious types of psychospiritual crises. In addiction, like in the possession states, the spiritual dimension is obscured by the destructive and self-destructive nature of the disorder. While in other forms of spiritual crises people encounter problems because of their difficulty to cope with mystical experiences, in addiction the source of the problem is strong spiritual longing and the fact that the contact with the mystical dimension has not been made.

There exists ample evidence that behind the craving for drugs or alcohol is unrecognized craving for transcendence or wholeness (Grof 1987). Many recovering people talk about their restless search for some unknown missing element or dimension in their lives and describe their unfulfilling and frustrating pursuit of substances, foods, relationships, possessions, or power that reflects an unrelenting but vain effort to satiate this craving (Grof 1993).

The key to the understanding of addiction seems to be the fact that there exists a certain superficial similarity between mystical states and intoxication by alcohol or hard drugs. Both of these conditions share the feeling of dissolution of individual boundaries, dissipation of disturbing emotions, and transcendence of mundane problems. Although the intoxication with alcohol or drugs lacks many important characteristics of the mystical state, such as serenity, numinosity, and richness of philosophical insights, the experiential overlap is sufficient to seduce alcoholics and addicts into abuse.

William James was aware of this connection and wrote about it in Varieties of Religious Experience: "The sway of alcohol over mankind is unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature, usually crushed to earth by the cold facts and criticisms of the sober hour. Sobriety diminishes, discriminates, and says no; drunkenness expands, unites and says yes" (James 1961). James also saw the implications of this fact for therapy, which he expressed very succinctly in his famous statement: "The best treatment for dipsomania (an archaic term for alcoholism) is religiomania."

C. G. Jung's independent insight in this regard was instrumental in the development of the worldwide network of Twelve Step Programs. It is not generally known that Jung played a very important role in the history of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The information about this little-known aspect of Jung's work can be found in a letter that Bill Wilson, the cofounder of AA, wrote to Jung in 1961 (Wilson and Jung 1963). Jung had a patient, Roland H., who came to him after having exhausted other means of recovery from alcoholism. Following a temporary improvement after a year's treatment with Jung, he suffered a relapse. Jung told him that his case was hopeless and suggested that his only chance was to join a religious community and hope for a profound spiritual experience. Roland H. joined the Oxford Group, an evangelical movement emphasizing self-survey, confession, and service. There he experienced a religious conversion that freed him from alcoholism. He then returned to New York City and became very active in the Oxford Group there. He was able to help Bill Wilson's friend, Edwin T., who in turn helped Bill Wilson in his personal crisis. In his powerful
spiritual experience, Bill Wilson had a vision of a worldwide chain-style fellowship of alcoholics helping each other.
Years later, Wilson wrote Jung a letter, in which he brought to his attention the important role that Jung played in the history of AA. In his answer, Jung wrote in reference to his patient: "His craving for alcohol was the equivalent, on a low level, of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness, expressed in medieval language: the union with God." Jung pointed out that in Latin, the term spiritus covers both meanings -- alcohol and spirit. He then expressed very succinctly his belief that only a deep spiritual experience can save people from the ravages of alcohol. He suggested that the formula for treatment of alcoholism is "Spiritus contra spiritum," James's and Jung's insights have since been confirmed by the experiences of the Twelve Step Program and by clinical research with psychedelics (Grof 1980).

Treatment of Psychospiritual Crises

Psychotherapeutic strategy for individuals undergoing spiritual crises is based on the realization that these states are not manifestations of an unknown pathological process, but results of a spontaneous movement in the psyche that engages deep dynamics of the unconscious and has healing and transformative potential. Understanding and appropriate treatment of spiritual crises requires a vastly extended cartography of the psyche that includes the perinatal and transpersonal region. This new model has been described at some length elsewhere (Grof 1975, 2001, 2007 a). The nature and degree of the therapeutic assistance that is necessary depends on the intensity of the psychospiritual process involved. In mild forms of spiritual crisis, the individual is usually able to function in everyday life and cope with the holotropic experiences as they emerge into consciousness. All that he or she needs is an opportunity to discuss the process with a transpersonally oriented therapist, who provides constructive supportive feedback, helps the client to integrate the experiences into everyday life, and suggests literature that contains useful information.

If the process is more active, it might require regular sessions of experiential therapy during which we use faster breathing, music, and bodywork to facilitate emergence of the unconscious material and full expression of emotions and blocked physical energies. The general strategy of this approach is identical with that used in holotropic breathwork sessions (Grof 2001, 2007 b). Allowing full expression of the emerging unconscious material in the sessions specifically designated and scheduled for this purpose reduces the possibility that it will surface and interfere with the client's life in the interim periods. When the experiences are very intense, all we have to do during the work with the clients is to encourage them to close their eyes, surrender to the process, observe what is happening, and find expression for the emerging emotions and physical feelings.

If we encounter psychological resistance, we might occasionally use releasing bodywork like in the termination periods of breathwork sessions. Holotropic breathwork as such is indicated only if the natural unfolding of the process reaches an impasse. Therapeutic work with this category of clients has to be conducted in a residential facility where supervision is available twenty-four hours a day. These intense experiential sessions can be complemented with Fritz Perls' Gestalt practice (Perls 1973), Dora Kalff's Jungian sandplay (Kalff 180 2004), Francine Shapiro's Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) (Shapiro 2001), or bodywork with a psychologically experienced practitioner. A variety of auxiliary techniques can also prove extremely useful under these circumstances. Among them are writing of a log, painting of mandalas, expressive dancing, and jogging, swimming, or other sport activities. If the client is able to concentrate on reading, transpersonally oriented books, particularly those focusing on the problem of psychospiritual crises or on some specific aspect of the client's inner experiences, can be extremely helpful.

People whose experiences are so intense and dramatic that they cannot be handled on an out-patient basis represent a serious problem. There exist practically no facilities offering supervision twenty-four hours a day without the use of routine suppressive psychopharmacological intervention. Several experimental facilities of this kind that existed in the past in California, such as John Perry's Diabasis in San Francisco and Chrysalis in San Diego, or Barbara Findeisen's Pocket Ranch in Geyserville, were short-lived. The main reason for it was the fact that the insurance companies refused to pay for alternative therapy that was not officially approved. Solving the problem of such alternative centers is a necessary prerequisite for effective therapy of intense spiritual crises in the future.

In some places, helpers have tried to overcome this shortcoming by creating teams of trained assistants who took shifts in the client's home for the time of the duration of the episode. Management of intense acute forms of spiritual crises requires some extraordinary measures, whether it is conducted in a special facility or in a private home. Extended episodes of this kind can last days or weeks and can be associated with a lot of physical activity, intense emotions, loss of appetite, and insomnia. There is a danger of dehydration, vitamin and mineral deficiency, and physical exhaustion. Insufficient supply of food can lead to hypoglycemia that is known to weaken psychological defenses and bring additional material from the unconscious. This can lead to a vicious circle that perpetuates the acute condition. Tea with honey, bananas, or another form of food containing glucose can be of great help in grounding the process.

A person in intense psychospiritual crisis is usually so deeply
involved in his or her experience that they forget about food, drink, and elementary hygiene. It is thus up to the helpers to take care of the client's basic needs. Since the care for people undergoing the most acute forms of spiritual crises is unusually demanding, the helpers have to take shifts of reasonable duration to protect their own mental and physical health. To guarantee comprehensive and integrated care under these circumstances, it is necessary to keep a log and carefully record the client's intake of food, liquids, and vitamins. Sleep deprivation has similar effects as fasting; it tends to weaken the defenses and facilitate the influx of unconscious material into consciousness. This can also lead to a vicious circle that needs to be interrupted. It might, therefore, be necessary to occasionally administer a minor tranquilizer or a hypnotic. In this context, tranquilizing medication is not considered therapy, as it is the case in traditional psychiatric facilities. It is given solely for the purpose of securing the client's sleep. The administration of minor tranquilizers or hypnotics interrupts the vicious circle and gives the client the necessary rest and the energy to continue the following day with the uncovering process.

In later stages of spiritual crises, when the intensity of the process subsides, the person no longer requires constant supervision. He or she gradually returns to everyday activities and resumes the responsibility concerning basic care. The overall duration of the stay in a protected environment depends on the rate of stabilization and integration of the process. If necessary, we might schedule occasional experiential sessions and recommend the use of selected complementary and auxiliary techniques described earlier. Regular discussions about the experiences and
insights from the time of the episode can be of great help in integrating the episode.

The treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction presents some specific problems and has to be discussed separately from therapy of other psychospiritual crises. It is particularly the element of physiological addiction and the progressive nature of the disorder that requires special measures. Before dealing with the psychological problems underlying addiction, it is imperative to break the chemical cycle that perpetuates the use of substances. The individual has to go through a period of withdrawal and detoxification in a special residential facility.

Once this is accomplished, the focus can turn to the psychospiritual roots of the problem. As we have seen, alcoholism and drug addiction represent a misguided search for transcendence. For this reason, to be successful, the therapeutic program has to include as an integral part strong emphasis on the spiritual dimension of the problem. Historically, most successful in combating addiction have been the programs of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), fellowships offering a comprehensive approach based on the Twelve Step philosophy outlined by Bill Wilson.

Following the program step by step, the alcoholic or addict
recognizes and admits that they have lost control over their lives and have become powerless. They are encouraged to surrender and let a higher power of their own definition take over. A painful review of their personal history produces an inventory of their wrongdoings. This provides the basis for making amends to all the people whom they have hurt by their addiction. Those who have reached sobriety and are in recovery are then asked to carry the message to other addicts and to help them to overcome their habit.

The Twelve Step Programs are invaluable in providing support and guidance for alcoholics and addicts from the beginning of treatment throughout the years of sobriety and recovery. Since the focus of this collection of essays is the healing potential of holotropic states, we will now explore whether and in what way these states can be useful in the treatment of addiction. This question is closely related to the Eleventh Step that emphasizes the need "to improve through prayer and meditation our conscious contact with God as we understand God." Since holotropic states can facilitate mystical experiences, they clearly fit into this category.

Over the years, I have had extensive experience with the use of holotropic states in the treatment of alcoholics and addicts and also in the work with recovering people who used them to improve the quality of their sobriety. I participated in a team at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center in Baltimore that conducted large, controlled studies of psychedelic therapy in alcoholics and hard drug addicts (Grof 1980). I have also had the opportunity to witness the effect of serial holotropic breathwork sessions on many recovering people in the context of our training. I will first share my own observations and experiences from this work and then discuss the problems involved in the larger context of the Twelve Step movement.

In my experience, it is highly unlikely that either holotropic
breathwork or psychedelic therapy can help alcoholics and addicts at the time when they are actively using. Even deep and meaningful experiences do not seem to have the power to break the chemical cycle involved. Therapeutic work with holotropic states should be introduced only after alcoholics and addicts have undergone detoxification, overcome the withdrawal symptoms, and reached sobriety. Only then can they benefit from holotropic experiences and do some deep work on the psychological problems underlying their addiction. At this point, holotropic states can be extremely useful in helping them to confront traumatic memories, process difficult emotions associated with them, and obtain valuable insights into the psychological roots of their abuse.

Holotropic experiences can also mediate the process of psychospiritual death and rebirth that is known as "hitting bottom" and represents a critical turning point in the life of many alcoholics and addicts. The experience of ego death happens here in a protected situation where it does not involve the physical, psychological, interpersonal, and social risks it would have if it happened spontaneously in the client's natural surroundings. And finally, holotropic states can mediate experiential access to profound spiritual experiences, the true object of the alcoholic's or addict's craving, and make it thus less likely that they will seek unfortunate surrogates in alcohol or narcotics.

The programs of psychedelic therapy for alcoholics and addicts conducted at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center were very successful, in spite of the fact that the protocol limited the number of psychedelic sessions to a maximum of three. At a six-month follow-up, over one half of chronic alcoholics and one-third of hard-core narcotic drug addicts participating in these programs were still sober and were considered "essentially rehabilitated" by an independent evaluation team (Pahnke et al. 1970, Savage and McCabe 1971, Grof 1980). Recovering people in our training and workshops, almost without exception, see holotropic breathwork as a way of improving the quality of their sobriety and facilitating their psychospiritual growth.

In spite of the evidence of its beneficial effects, the use of
holotropic states in recovering people meets strong opposition among some conservative members of the Twelve Step movement. These people assert that alcoholics and addicts seeking any form of a "high" are experiencing a "relapse." They pass this judgment not only when the holotropic state involves the use of psychedelic substances, but extend it also to experiential forms of psychotherapy and even to meditation, an approach explicitly mentioned in the description of the Eleventh Step. It is likely that this extremist attitude has its roots in the history of Alcoholics Anonymous. Shortly before the second international AA convention Bill Wilson, the co-founder of AA, discovered after twenty years of sobriety the psychedelic LSD. He took it for the first time in 1956 and continued experimenting with it with a coterie of friends and acquaintances, including clergymen and psychiatrists. He was quite enthusiastic about it and believed that this substance had the ability to remove barriers, which keep us from directly experiencing God.

The AA board was shocked by his suggestion that LSD sessions should be introduced into AA program. This caused a major turmoil in the movement and was eventually rejected.
We are confronted here with two conflicting perspectives on the relationship between holotropic states and addiction. One of them sees any effort to depart from the ordinary state of consciousness as unacceptable for an addicted person and considers it a relapse. The contrary view is based on the idea that seeking a spiritual experience is a legitimate and natural tendency of every human being and that striving for transcendence is the most powerful motivating force in the psyche (Weil 1972). Addiction then is a misguided and distorted form of this effort and the most effective remedy for it is facilitating access to a genuine spiritual experience.

The future will decide which of these two approaches will be adopted by professionals and by the recovering community.

In my opinion, the most promising development in the treatment of alcoholism and drug abuse would be a marriage of the Twelve Step Program, the most effective strategy for treating alcoholism and addiction, with transpersonal psychology that can provide a solid theoretical background for spiritually grounded therapy. Responsible use of holotropic therapy would be a very logical integral part of such a comprehensive treatment.

My wife and I organized in the 1980s two meetings of the
International Transpersonal Association (ITA) in Eugene, Oregon, and Atlanta, Georgia, that demonstrated the feasibility and usefulness of bringing together the Twelve Step Programs and transpersonal psychology. The empirical and theoretical justification for such merging was discussed in several publications (Grof 1987, Grof 1993, Sparks 1993).

The concept of "spiritual emergency" is new and will undoubtedly be complemented and refined in the future. However, we have repeatedly seen that even in its present form, as defined by Christina and myself, it has been of great help to many individuals in crises of transformation. We have observed that when these conditions are treated with respect and receive appropriate support, they can result in remarkable healing, deep positive transformation, and a higher level of functioning in everyday life. This has often happened in spite of the fact that, in the present situation, the conditions for treating people in psychospiritual crises are far from ideal.

In the future, the success of this endeavor could increase
considerably, if people capable of assisting individuals in spiritual emergencies could have at their disposal a network of twenty-four-hour centers for those whose experiences are so intense that they cannot be treated on an out-patient basis. At present, the absence of such facilities and lack of support from the insurance companies for unconventional approaches to treatment represent the most serious obstacles in effective
application of the new therapeutic strategies.

* * *

Anonymous. 1975. A Course in Miracles. New York: Foundation for Inner Peace.

Assagioli, R. 1976. Psychosynthesis. New York: Penguin Books.

Assagioli, R. 1977. "Self-Realization and Psychological Disturbances." Synthesis 3-4. Also in: Grof, S. and Grof, C. (eds). Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis. Los Angeles, CA: J. P. Tarcher.

Greyson, B. and Flynn, C. P. (Eds.) 1984. The Near-Death Experience: Problems, Prospects, Perspectives. Springfield, IL.: Charles C. Thomas.

Grof, C. and Grof, S.1990. The Stormy Search for the Self: A Guide to Personal Growth through Transformational Crisis. Los Angeles, CA: J. P. Tarcher.

Grof, C. 1993. The Thirst For Wholeness: Attachment, Addiction, and the Spiritual Path. San Francisco, CA: Harper.

Grof, S. 1975. Realms of the Human Unconscious: Observations from LSD Research. New York: Viking Press.

Grof, S. 1980. LSD Psychotherapy. Pomona, CA: Hunter House. (New edition: 1994, Sarasota, Fl.: MAPS Publications).

Grof, S. 1987. "Spirituality, Addiction, and Western Science." Re - Vision Journal 10:5-18.

Grof, S. 1988. The Adventure of Self-Discovery. Albany, NY: State University of New York (SUNY) Press.

Grof, S. and Grof, C. (eds.) 1989. Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis. Los Angeles, CA: J. P. Tarcher.

Grof, S. 1994. Books of the Dead. London: Thames and Hudson.

Grof, S. 2000. Psychology of the Future: Lessons from Modern Consciousness Research. Albany, NY.: State University of New York (SUNY) Press.

Grof, S. 2006 a. When the Impossible Happens: Adventures in Non- Ordinary Realities. Louisville, CO: Sounds True.

Grof, S, 2006 b. The Ultimate Journey: Consciousness and the Mystery of Death. Sarasota, FL: MAPS Publications.

Grof, S, 2007 a. "Psychology of the Future: Lessons from Modern Consciousness Research." In: Nove perspektivy v psychiatrii, psychologii, a psychoterapii. Breclav: Moravia Press.

Grof, S. 2007 b. "Holotropic Breathwork: New Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Self-Exploration." In: Nove perspektivy v psychiatrii, psychologii, a psychoterapii. Breclav: Moravia Press.

Hastings, A. 1991. With the Tongues of Men and Angels: A Study of Channeling. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

James, W. 1961. The Varieties of Religious Experience. New York: Collier.

Jung, C. G. 1959. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. Collected Works, vol. 9,1. Bollingen Series XX, Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press.

Jung, C. G. 1960. "Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle." Collected Works, vol. 8, Bollingen Series XX. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Jung, C.G. 1964. Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies. In: Collected Works, vol. 10. Bollingen Series XX. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Jung, C. G. 1996. The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga: Notes on the seminars given in 1932 by C. G. Jung (Soma Shamdasani, ed.). Bollingen Series XCIX. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Kalff, D. and Kalff, M. 2004. Sandplay: A Psychotherapeutic Approach to the Psyche. Cloverdale, CA: Temenos Press.

Klimo, J. 1998. Channeling: Investigations on Receiving Information from Paranormal Sources, Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Lawson, A. 1984. "Perinatal Imagery In UFO Abduction Reports." Journal of Psychohistory 12:211.

Mack, J. 1994. Abductions: Human Encounters with Aliens. New York: Charles Scribner Sons.

Mack, J. 1999. Passport to the Cosmos: Human Transformation and Alien Encounters. New York: Crown Publishers.

Maslow, A. 1964. Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences. Cleveland, OH: Ohio State University.

Moody, R.A. 1975. Life After Life. New York; Bantam.
Mookerjee, A. and Khanna, M. 1977. The Tantric Way. London: Thames and Hudson.

Mookerjee, A. 1982. Kundalini: Arosual of Inner Energy. London: Thames and Hudson.

Pahnke, W. N. 1963. "Drugs and Mysticism: An Analysis of the Relationship Between Psychedelic Drugs and the Mystical Consciousness." Ph. D. Dissertation.

Pahnke, W. N. and Richards, W. E. 1966. "Implications of LSD and Experimental Mysticism." Journal of Religion and Health. 5:175.

Pahnke, W. N.. Kurland, A. A., Unger, S., Grof, S, 1970. "The Experimental Use of Psychedelic (LSD) Psychotherapy." Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) 212:856.

Perls, F. S, 1973. Gestalt Approach and Eyewitness to Therapy. Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books.

Perry, J. W. 1953. The Self in the Psychotic Process. Dallas, TX: Spring Publications.

Perry, J. 1991. Lord of the Four Quarters: The Mythology of Kingship. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Perry, J. W. 1974. The Far Side of Madness. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Perry, J. W. 1976. Roots of Renewal in Myth and Madness. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publications.

Perry, J. 1998. Trials of the Visionary Mind: Spiritual Emegency and the Renewal Process. Albany, NY: State University of New York (SUNY) Press.

Ring, K. 1982. Life at Death: A Scientific Investigation of the Near-Death Experience. New York: Quill.

Ring, K. 1985. Heading Toward Omega: In Search of the Meaning of the Near-Death Experience. New York: Quill.

Ring, K. and Valarino, E. E. 1998. Lessons from the Light: What We Can Learn from the Near-Death Experience. New York: Plenum Press.

Ring, K. and Cooper, S. 1999. Mindsight: Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences in the Blind. Palo Alto, CA: William James Center for Consciousness Studies.

Sabom, M. 1982 Recollections of Death: A Medical Investigation. New York: Harper and Row Publishers.

Sannella, L. 1987. The Kundalini Experience: Psychosis or
Transcendence? Lower Lake, CA: Integral Publishing.

Savage, C. and McCabe, L. 1971. "Psychedelic (LSD) Therapy of Drug Addiction." In: C. C. Brown and C. Savage, eds. The Drug Abuse Contrroversy. Baltimore, MD: Friends Medical Science Research Center.

Shapiro, F. 2001. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures. New York: Guilford Press.

Sparks, T. 1993. The Wide Open Door: The Twelve Steps, Spiritual Tradition, and the New Psychology. Center City, MN : Hazelden Educational Materials.

Weil, A. 1972. The Natural Mind: An Investigation of Drugs and the Higher Consciousness. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Wilber, K. 1977. The Spectrum of Consciousness. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House.

Wilson, W. and Jung, C. G. 1963. Letters republished in: Grof, S. (ed.): Mystical Quest, Attachment, and Addiction. Special edition of the Re -Vision Journal 10 (2):1987.

Woodruff, Sir John (Arthur Avalon). 1974. Serpent Power: The Secrets of Tantric and Shaktic Yoga. New York: Dover Publications.

Photo by Eva the Weaver, courtesy of Creative commons license.
Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]