Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

When eros is a god: Cultivating the ecstatic potentials of sexuality as transpersonal development
by Elfers, John, Ph.D., Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, 2009, 173; 3344935
Abstract (Summary)

What happens when sex becomes sacred? In the modern West we have inherited a cultural antagonism between the experience and expression of sexuality on the one hand and religious and moral dictates that marginalize sexuality on the other. The purpose of this study is to assist the reader in comprehending the experience of consciously cultivating the ecstatic potentials inherent in sexuality as a means of spiritual or transpersonal development. Using an interpretive phenomenological method, this study identified 8 coresearchers (4 women and 4 men) who have had transcendent sexual experiences and have chosen to nurture the spiritual, emotional, and transformational capacities of sexuality as a transpersonal discipline or spiritual practice. Three semistructured interviews were conducted with each coresearcher. A thematic content analysis revealed the motivations, attitudes, and practices involved in the process of nurturing sexuality as a transpersonal discipline or as part of a spiritual tradition. The experience of coresearchers can be summed up as follows: cultivating the ecstatic potentials of sexuality as transpersonal development is a developmental process initiated by a sexual awakening. Experience of sexual transcendence creates a transpersonal connection with a force or presence beyond the self and a dissolving of boundaries of the self. Such sexual experiences also have a shadow side that can be a source of pain. The sense of connection creates a shift and reorientation in sexual and spiritual values and understanding. This new relationship to sexual potentials was transformative for coresearchers, precipitating a deliberate, self-initiated journey of growth focused on wholeness and healing. Coresearchers developed personal, and sometimes unique, ways of integrating transcendent sexuality into their spiritual practice. The integration with spiritual practice appears to be essential to continued personal growth. Finally, the implications of this research for the understanding of sexual and spiritual development and transpersonal development are discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McCaslin, Mark L.
Commitee: Judy, Dwight, Slater, Jana Kay
School: Institute of Transpersonal Psychology
Department: Global Psychology with a concentration in Transpersonal Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 70/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Developmental psychology
Keywords: Sacred sex, Sexuality, Spirituality, Transcendence, Transpersonal development
Publication Number: 3344935
ISBN: 978-1-109-05065-3
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