Service as a Way of Knowing
Transpersonal Knowing
Explorring the Hroizon of concisousness
Edited By,
Tobin Hart,
Peter L. Nelson
and Kaisa Puhakka

State University of New York Press

Service as a Way of Knowing

Service is usually seen as a moral issue,a matter of doing, of being "spiritual" in an instrumental way. I suggest, however, that service is bset understood as a matter of epistemology; it is itself a way of knowing and is one that goes beyond conventional empirical epistemologies. Service is a way of knowing in our connection--at a deeper level-- with a reality much larger than our object selves.
What we call "the spiritual" pertains to the connected aspects of reality; service enables us to experience that kind of connectedness. The function of this connectedness or knowing is seldom appreciated; nevertheless, service is one of the most direct routes to the spiritual--a route often obstructed and confused by moral preaching, religious mythology, and everyday assumptions about the motivations and possibilities of human beings. To understand how this is so we need to consider instumental and receptive functional modes of consciousness and also the way in which our intentionality determines the forms our consciousness takes. In this chapter, I discuss these two basic modes of consciousness, the role of intentionality, the survival self, the spiritual self, and the special function of service in allowing a shift from the exclusive experience of a separate self to a more balanced and connected self.

Instrumental Consciousness

Most of our lives are spent with a form of consciousness that enables us to act on the environment so that we will survive as biological organisms. This form or mode of consciousness develops to obtain food and defend against atteack. In order to do so successfully, we need to learn to deal with the world in its object aspects, evoking a specific type of consciousness I call the instrumental mode.
The instrumental mode is the result of a developmental process. As the work of Gesell (1940), Erikson (1951), Piaget (1952) and Spitz (1965) demonstrated, the infant objectifies his or her world and uses the body as a template for learning. In one of Piaget's examples, a child is unable to solve the problem of opening a box with a lid, until he suddenly opens his own mouth, and then, immediately afterward, opens the box. In such ways the body becomes the means to organize and understand the world. Similarly, our early experiences with objects establish the structure of our thoughts. The most abstract and fundamental concepts ultimately are derived from the equation: object = body = self. The space, time, and causality with which we are familiar are the space, time, and causality that pertain to objects. That there are logics of reality beyond the instrumental or objective modes is indicated by the discoveries of modern physics, particularty the particle/wave duality of light, the evidence for nonlocality, and other paradoxes that have been proved true but that we cannot understand. The late physicist, Richard Feynman, commented:

I think it is safe that no one understands quantum mechanics. Do not keep saying to yourself, if
you can possibly avoid it, "But how can it be like that?" because you will "go down the drain"
into a blind alley fromn which nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that.
(cited in Pagels, 1982, p.113)

The limitations of instrumental, object-based consciousness can be experienced without the benefit of a degree in physics. Just try to imagine the universe coming to an end, spatially. I think you will find you cannot do so. Every object has a border and there is always space beyond any border you can visualize. Now try to imagine the universe not coming to an end. You can't do that either. Objects are never infinite. We cannot encompass the universe because it is not an object, and our thought processes, our very perceptual systems, have evolved to deal effectively with objects. Thus, we automatically perceive boundaries, discriminate between ourselves and others, and are wedded ot linear time.
Other aspects of experience are affected also. Shapiro demonstrated that as children age, their responses to the Rorschach test change: The youngest groups responded primarily to the color and texture of the pictures, but those in the older groups paid progressively more attention to the shape and meaning of the figures (Shapiro,1960).
Above all, we perceive the self as an object, separate, competing with others, dependent on others. That self--the survival self--is the one with which we are most familiar. Depending on what literature you are reading, it is called the ego, the Commanding Self, the drunken monkey, Small Mind, and so on. It is the organization of all the psychological structures that employ instrumental consciousness for its own benefit. This is the self that is busy acquiring, defending, controlling. All these functions are necessary, but they have their price: They set the agenda for the form of consciousness with which we experience the world and limit the information open to us.
We spend most of our lives in instrumental consciousness, serving the survival self. A summary of that mode's characteristic follows:

Example: Driving in heavy traffic
Intent: To act on the environment
Object-like, localized, separate from others
Sharp boundaries
Self-centered awareness
Emphasis on objects, distinctions, and linear causality
Focal attention
Sharp perceptual boundaries
Logical thought, reasoning
Formal dominates sensual

This is the mode of consciousness we typically employ when driving a car in heavy traffic, or planning a business strategy, or maneuvering strategically at a social event. It's the one you are probably involved in as you read this chapter, checking for errors in logic, endeavoring to grasp my meaning, perhaps (if you are an author) waiting to see if I will reference something you've written. It's good mode for that purpose.
Useful and necessary as this self may be, when it dominates consciousness it creates problems. It underlies the exploitation of others, it supports violence and war, all of which depend on separateness, on disconnection. Disregard for the natural environment is another consequence. From the point of view of instrumental consciousness, "When you see one redwood, you've seen them all." Furthermore, because it forms a barrier to experiencing the connectedness of reality, instrumental dominance leads to meaninglessness, " the mid-life crisis," alienation, fear of aging and death.
Thus, as infants and children we acquire concepts that later, as adults, we assume constitute the structure of reality. In the absence of alternative experience, these concepts are utterly convincing. But they are limited. The instrumental mode can raise the Big Questions: "Who am I? What am I? Why am I?", but it cannot hear the answers. A different mode of consciousness is needed, one responsive to reality in its connected aspects.

Receptive consciousness

Suppose you've driven your car to the airport, have flown to another city and checked in to your hotel. You want to relax, to unwind, to be comforted. So, you fill the bathtub with steaming hot water, ease your body into it, and relax your muscles. . . Ahhhhh! How good that feels! Chances are you were able to shift out of the instrumental mode and into the receptive, that mode whose function is to receive the environment. In that mode, awareness of separateness diminishes, there is a sense of merging with heat, the water, the surrounding envrironment. Boundaries relax; past and future drop away; the sensual takes over from verbal meanings and formal properties. Thinking becomes tangential, scattered, and slows down; boundaries blur. As boundaries soften, the sense of self becomes less distinct and less dominant, the object self subsides, relinquishing control. NOW, merging, and allowing are the dominant aspects of receptive experience. A summary of receptive mode characteristics follow:

Example: Soaking in a hot tub

Intent: To recieve the environment

Undifferentiated, nonlocalized, not distinct from environment
Blurring or merging of boundaries
World-centered awareness

Emphasis on process, merging, and simultaneity

Diffuse attention
Blurred boundaries
Alogical thought, intuition, fantasy
Sensual dominates formal



The critical dynamic that determines the form of consciousness is intention. The intention to act on the environment neccessarily features control. In contrast, to take in the environment, to be nourished, requires allowing and a kind of merging. Just as the instrumental mode is associated with the understanding of objects, separation, and borders, the receptive mode gains access to knowledge of a different sort. In order to appreciate this, try an experiment. ( A human partner is best, but a flower or a tree will do.) Look into your partner's face with the specific intent of making a model of it, a sculpture. Analyze the planes of the head, the spacing of the eyes, the balance of the shpaes. Spend a few moments doing that. Then shift your intention to one of receiving, allowing. Relax your gaze, surrender to the experience, allow your partner's face to be whatever it may be. Stay open and receptive to what comes to you. The shift in intention is from controlling to allowing.
Most people notice a distinct difference in their perception of the other when they shift their intention in this manner. The instrumental experience is easier to describe, it lends itself to measurement, comparisons, analysis. The receptive experience is more difficult to talk about. Receptive perception evokes words like "mysterious," "deeper," "richer," "soul." Whether face or flower, the Other emerges as a presence, filling consciousness, saying, "Here I am!" Each mode reveals different aspects of your partner's reality.


There is an additional dynamic shaping consciousness that is as important as intention: the degree of activation of the survial self. To get a taste of this, try the same experiment again. First look at you partner (Or flower or tree) while maintaining a strong sense of your self. Then allow that sense of self to diminish, subside, and disappear. Notice the change in your experience of your partner. Again, I think you will find that as the sense of self diminishes and drops out, the experience becomes deeper, richer--your partner acquires the dimension of presence.
I had a vivid demonstration of this phenomenon while attending a seven-day Zen retreat. Part of the day was spent chanting. We held up stiff white sheets of paper covered with Japanese words printed starkly black. As the retreat progressed the words seemed to become more intense, more vivid. About the fourth day, I began to think that the letters didn't need me to be there, the chanting would continue and the words would go on marching across the page by themselves. The thought grew that the world did not need me to be here. In an internal dialog I urged myself, "Go on, disappear! Let yourself vanish from the world without "me". In some psychological sense that I cannot specify further, I gave up my existence in the world and let it exist without me. At that precise instant in which I allowed myself to disappear, the room and the others sitting there were suddenly transformed, becoming transfigured, archetypal, super real. Each student was a Buddha, awesome. At one point, a bell was rung and the sound rolled toward me like shimmering silver. I don't know how long the state lasted; I returned to my usual consciousness as we walked from the meditation hall. But afterward, I tried to understand what had happened, why my state changed so dramatically when my self "vanished." I now believe it was because the unusually profound deactivation of the survival self--its abdication of dominance--permitted a deeper experience of reality in its fundamental, holistic aspects.
The survival self of instrumental consciousness has distinct characteristics related to that mode. The emphasis is on boundaries, differences, form and distinctions. Consequently, the self is experienced as a discrete object, more isolated than not. And we suffer the consequences. After all, the goals of the survival self--acquisition, pleasure, and permanence--are doomed. Acquisition is defeated by death; sensual pleasure is defeated both by aging and by the invidious design of our central nervous system that adapts to most sensory stimuli--except that of pain.
This adaptation is an everyday experience. The initial ice cream cone my be thrilling, but if you want a repeat of the experience you will have to double the scoops and add sprinkles. The next serving had better be a banana split. And so on, until boredom or indigestion sets in. In contrast, a toothache never gets boring. Our response to money also demonstrates the problem. Lewis Lapham (1988) did an informal survey of his friends and acquaintances, asking them if they made enough money. All said no. When asked how much would be enough, they all named a figure double what they were currently earning, whatever that might be.
What is required for a healthy life is flexibility of consciousness. Most activities involve both modes to some degree and this ability to make use of the appropriate balance is essential to a healthy life. Flexibility is key. When flexibility is absent we see pathological manifestations of the modes: obsessive-compulsive character disorder in the case of a rigid adherence to instrumental consciousness and hysterical charaacter disorder in the case of overcommitment to the receptive, a fixation on impressionistic, diffuse consciousness (Shapiro,1960).
Both modes are needed. Problems arise when one mode excludes or crowds out the other. In most or our spiritual experiences we are still conscious of the world's object qualities, but our perceptions take on additional qualities wuch that the experience is "deeper," "transcendent," "profound" by virtue of an increase in connectedness to and in the world. We feel gratitude for that widening, that larger sense of ourselves as part of a beautiful and awesome reality.
Especially in creative work, a balance of modes is critical. I think Yeats (1951) conveys the flavor of this when he writes of Michelangelo, "Like a spider upon the water, his mind moves upon silence" (p.327). Most of us are limited by excessive instrumental dominance, but we do not realize this since our culture is strongly materialistic and our science is based totally on instrumental consciousness.
To the extent that instrumental consciousness rules experience, life can easily seem meaningless. Meaning arises from connection but instrumental consciouseness features separation. This effects our experience of self. The self of instrumental consciousness is now described:

The Survival Self

Aim of self-preservation
Self as object distinct from environment
Positive Effects:
Able to defend, acquire
Able to achieve material goals
Negative Effects:
Basis for traditional vices
Access to conceptual meaning only
Fear of death
Needed for individual survival

In contrast, experience of self when receptivity is high and the survival self subdues can be quite different. This other-centered consciousness produces a qualitative change in the experience of self. I will call that other-centered self the spiritual self since it exists in connection. Its characteristics and effects are now summarized:

The Spiritual Self

Aim of service, attunement
Self identified with larger life process, resonant with environment
Positive Effects:
Basis for traditional virtues
Experienced meaning
Negative Effects:
Tendency toward passivity
Ineffective in defending, acquiring
May be needed for survival of the human species

Our scientific, materialistc society continuously reinforces the survival self, the object-like self of the instrumental mode. Once formed, the survival self activates the instrumental mode in tis own behalf. Because of this, if we wish to experience the connectedness of reality it is neccessary not only to shift our intention in the direction of allowing and taking in, we need also to lower the level of activation of the survival self. The overall situation can be expressed in an equation: C = f[I + S]. Consciousness is a function of intention and self.
It is particularly hard to lower one's invisible survival self aims, those that operate unconsciously and are reflected in our characteristic attitudes and assumptions. To do this generally requires help. For this we can turn initially to psychotherapy to decrease the intensity of intrapsychic threats (Deikman,1982) and then to the spiritual traditions to deal with survival self aims that are hidden from our sight. The spiritual traditions assist in developing an ongoing attitude, an outlook, that facilitates the emergence of the spiritual self.

The Spiritual Traditions

The bimodal model of consciousness provides a way of understanding the spiritual traditions because the spiritual path is often described as learning to "forget the self." The self to be forgotten is the survival self that evokes a mode of consciousness featuring separation. To shift to an experience of reality in its connected aspects, receptivity must be combined with a decrease in control by the survival self. This is a straight-forward, functional matter. It has to do with an internal attitude, the guiding intent. I think that is what Thomas Merton (1968) was referring to in his book, Zen and the Birds of Appetite when he described meat-eating birds (the survival self) lokking for carrion:

Zen enriches no one. There is no body to be found. The birds may come and
circle for a while in the place where it is thought to be. But they soon go
elsewhere. When they are gone, the "nothing," the "no-body" that was there,
suddenly appears. That is Zen. It was there all the time but the scavengers
missed it, because it was not their kind of prey. (p.ix)

Outer behavior may be misleading. For example, acquisitiveness need not be directed at money alone. Imagine a very successful businessman who decides he is no longer interested in amassing wealth, because from what he has read the only true satisfaction comes from Enlightenment. So he joins a spiritual group. His new intention is faxed down to the computer center in his brain. There, an underling picks up the fax and runs to the boss. "He says he no longer wants money. Now he wants enlightenment. Shall we change the program?" "No" says the boss, "it's the same program: Acquisition."
In his case, and most others, the survival self is still running the show. After all, to use Abraham Maslow's wonderful phrase, "If all you know how to use is a hammer, you tend to treat everything you meet as if it were a nail." Being spiritual is no exception. What is needed for the perception of connectedness is for the survival self to become the servant, not the maser. That is what "forget the self" means. The survival self is still needed to function in the world, but it must not be the boss if a different experience of reality is to be made possible. There is no cheating on this one. Sitting cross-legged, inhaling incense, wearing a saffron robe, and going vegetarian won't necessarily change the guiding intention. So what can be done to find freedom from self-centered motivations. How does the spiritual teacher help the student to "forget the self?" If we turn to the mystical literature we find that most traditions make use of meditation, teaching stories, and service.
Meditation can be viewed as enabling a person to identify with the observing self, the "I," and to separate that core self from the concerns and mental activity of the survival self (Deikman, 1982). This increases freedom from concepts and lessens the dominance of intrumental consciousness, especially as meditation is based on allowing rather than making something happen. Teaching stories can be viewed in the same way; they enable the student to recognize patterns of thought, and behavior that would otherwise remain hidden, influencing the form of consciousness.
The functional approach to consciousness also can enable us to understand the emphasis on renunciation that can be found in most spiritual traditions. Renunciation is often misunderstood as giving up sensual pleasure, wealth, and power. When I first began doing research in the mystical experience I noted that the literature stressed both meditation and renunciation. Meditation was a lot more appealing than renunciation; I wasn't about to be an ascetic. So I began investigating meditation. Much later, Shunryu Suzuki-roshi, a Zen master, clarified the issue by explaining that renunciation was not giving up the things of this world but accepting that they go away (Suzuki,1970). Such acceptance means an open hand, whereas the hand of the survival self is grasping, controlling.
We are now in a position to understand the vital funcion of service in providing access to the spiritual. You have undoubtedly heard the cynical argument that everything we do is selfish because even doing a good deed gives us pleasure. One expression of that idea view was provided by Forbes magazine in which the view of economists concerning charity was summarized: "People gain satisfaction from charitable giving. It makes them feel good, and they tend to consume mofe of this feeling as their incomes rise" (Seligman,1998,p.94).
There is some truth in that. Furthermore, a fantasy of a heavenly account book is often in operation, making good deeds a commercial operation--pay now, collect in Heaven. Perhaps that is why the Sufi saint, Rabia, prayted:

Oh Lord:
If I worship you from fear of Hell, cast me
into Hell,
If I worship you from desire for Paradise,
deny me Paradise

What she is countering in dramatic fashion is spiritual activity for gain, or from fear. Prayer, helping others, following a discipline, may all be performed on the basis of hidden vanity, greed, and fear, with the result that the survival self is enhanced, not diminished. Spiritual experience calls a marked decrease in self-concern. For this, service is ideal, permitting a "forgetting" of the self that markedly reduces survival self concerns.
However, the call to service usually arouses conflicted feelings, for helping others may feel like being good on command, showing that you are a good person because service is what good people do. People who spend their lives doing service are catergoized as saints and saints are the most good of the good. So service is widely believed to be something you should do to show your spiritual side, your concern for other human beings.
This idea of service gets mixed with basic teachings learned by the child in the family setting: Do good and you will be rewarded; do bad and you will be punished. These childhood beliefs persist and suggest an omnipresent parent who is watching, keeping score (Deikman,1990). Most of us do not admit to such notions, but I have found that almost everyone, including myself, has a background fantasy of some celestial entity that is watching, keeping track of what we do, keeping accounts for a final settling up after we die. The idea of service seen in that context can easily result in a sense of obligation and nagging guilt, it can lead to resentment at the burden and resistance to action. For those who do act on the basis of reward and punishment--no matter how hidden the fantasy may be--there is the danger of self-inflation and self-righteousness on the one hand, disappointment and "burn-out" on the other. Perhaps most important of all, such expectations and reactions interfere with appropriate, creative action and render service useless for spiritual development. Fortunately, there is a way of acting that allows us to "forget the self." I call it serving-the-task.


This type of service is not for any personal wish of our own, but to satisfy the needs of the task, to do what is called for. A carpenter may finish the underside of a chair because it feels right, is called for, even though the selling price will remain the same and the customer may not notice or care. I am aware that in writing this chapter, I have a mixture of personal motivations, concerns, and hopes, but I can also feel a sense of what is needed to accomplish the task. That guiding sense of what is needed is impersonal and may be resisted by my survival self, but it is there. It is not a compulsion but a recognition that tugs at me. When I surrender to it I get in touch with another dimension that is hard to describe and elusive to the grasp. This place, where I meet the task and merge with it, feels more important, more meaningful than personal desires. The surrender to the task can occur in any setting. Psychotherapists may recognize this as the "good hour" where everything flows and the therapist feels part of a subtle dance, one that carries as much as leads. Self-interest and self-concern subside and disappear as what-is-called-for takes over.
People who are truly serving the task experience something they cannot name, something that can answer the Big Questions. They do not ask, "What is the meaning of life?" because the question no longer arises. The answer is implicit in the experience of connection that service makes possible, the experience of a self-enlarged by connection and freed from its object goals. This "enlightenment" is not a guru's gift; it arises as a consequence of the forgetting of the self that service makes possible. That is why it is said that if a person is ready for enlightenment it cannot be withheld; if they are not, it cannot be given.
You may wonder if an evil task can be served--such as following the orders of an Adolph Hitler--and still further spiritual development. The answer is No. Not only do motives of hatred and fear reinforce identity with the survival self, the task of harming another human being cannot be done in a state of psychological connection. Barriers must be raised, the Other must be established as different from oneself, inferior, bad--connection must be abolished. If you doubt this, experiment once again with a partner. Be receptive to his or her face, allow your experience of self to subside so that the other's presence exteds to you. Now imagine you are going to stab your partner. Visualize it happening and notice the change in your experience as you carry it out. You will find that in order to do so, even in your imagination, you have to "step back" psychologically and separate yourself, breaking connection. Service must necessarily be generous, beneficial in intent, in order to open the gates of perception. The more the suvival self can subside, can cease to dominate consciousness, the wider the gates can open.

Knowing by Being What is Known

Imagine that our awareness is a pond connected by a narrow outlet to the ocean At the mouth of the outlet there is a standing wave--the survival self--that blocks the ocean currents from entering the pond. As the survival self subsides, more and more of the ocean currents can gain access to the pond that then begins to resonate with the ocean. The pond then "knows" the ocean by resonationg with it, in part becoming it. Probably, it is this experience that underlies the statements of mystics such as the tenth-century Sufi, Hallaj, who declared, "I am God" and was executed for apostasy. He did not mean "I, Hallaj, am the object God of your imagination," but "I am at one with the Reality that transcends understanding." The perception of the ocean's currents may lead to the experience of serving the Truth or "serving the Will of God," a phrase often misused by those still serving the survival self.
Service is a way of knowing our connection. The experience of the ocean's currents provides a sense of purpose and a guide to action that can use the survival self to fulfill a larger task. This alignment with the currents is referred to by mystics as "choiceless choice." In this way, we best can balance the instrumental and receptive modes so as to preserve connection and yet be effective in the world.
The knowing that takes place is not easily communicated. You may be acquainted with someone who is very active helping others. If you praise such a person for what they are contributing they will likely reply, "I've received more than I've given." If you ask what it is they have received, they have difficulty saying. What they are experiencing is a kind of knowledge different from that to which they ordinarily have access. Rather than it being something they perceive, like a movie, or concepts, like a book, it is knowledge be being that which is known. Through service they are able to connect with the larger field and, the varying degrees, become it (see also "knowledge by Identity" in Forman,1999,pp.109-127).
Here is the experience of a person who established an organization that cares for people suffering from AIDS. His life is focused on service. He was responding to my question "Why do you feel that you have received more thatn you have given?" He said he could only answer by referring to those times when he felt truly connected to the person he was serving:

In the caregiving work itself, in the service work, itself, when I
truly connected with the other person, what happened was something
about healing the separation I felt in my own life and the separation
I believe we are all born into. The connection with that person
felt like a tremendous gift, a kind of union that I wanted more of
in my life, not only in service encounters but in relationships
outside the normal connection of personalities, outside of social
norms, personal expectations. Something deeper was happening that
I craved considerably; only aware of it when the need started to
get filled, like a hungry person being weak but unaware of the source
of the hunger and then food shows up--"This is it!"
It all takes the form of my being the best person I could be, of
my deepest humanity being expressed this way. "This is why I am
here." Here is the answer to the question, "What am I here for?
What is the purpose of my life?" Nothing else I do elicits the
feeling of "Yeah, this it it!" more than service does--not
creative work, not any other action in the world, not the completion
of a project that I'm proud of. All that makes me feel good but
nothing meets as deep a need in as profound a way as service
work does. (C.Garfield, personal communication,1998)

There is nothing exotic here, nothing hidden, nothing arcane. But the knowledge does have its own requirements. It is as if you came to a steam and wanted to drink. If you persisted in trying to grab the water--your usual approach--you would obtain nothing. If you want to drink you would have to cup your hands. It has nothing to do with piety; it has to do with the nature of water.

Advantages of the Functional Model

From a clinical point of view we can begin to understand the phenomena of mid-life crisis, menainglessness, burn-out, and preoccupation with death as reflecting a weakness of connection to something larger than oneself. While these problems can reflect intrapersonal problems with intimacy and self-worth, we also need to evaluate the extent to which they may reflect self-absorption and isolation in that person's daily life, the extent to which he or she lacks activities that could connect and expand his or her identity. We may ask ourselves to what extent and how often does this person shift to other-centered consciousness?
This model featuring intention and slef offers a means of evaluation spiritual groups and their leaders. Seekers can be tricked by the assertion, "The Teacher is enlightened and perceives things on a different plane. What he/she does has a spiritual significance that is beyond y0ur comprehension. Therefore, you are not capable of judging the Teacher's actions." Whether or not the Teacher actually is fostering spiritual development can be assessed by listening carefully to what he or she says, noting whether or not the survival self is being stimulated or being subdued. If the Teacher emphasizes the promise of bliss or enlightenment, greed is being stimulated; if the seeker is defined as being special, vanity is encouraged; an emphasis on the harm seekers will suffer if they leave the group stimulates fear. Greed, vanity, and fear reinforce the operations of the survival self and the teacher who employs them is impeding--not helping--spiritual development. No matter what powers the Teacher might manifest, he or she is not a spiritual teacher, is not above criticism, and is not entitled to special prerogatives.
In addition to the considerations just described, it is important that we achieve an integration of the scientific worldview with our inuition of the spiritual. For myself, that has been a problem ever since I entered medical school. The reductionistic, materalistic ethos was totally incompatible with my own experience of the spiritual dimension. So, in the close of my mind, I kept the spiritual domain in a shoebox on the top shelf. I would take it down for periodic inspection but couldn't help feeling that what it contained was not really real, not real the way my cadaver's brain was real. And yet, the shoebox contained the experiences most important to my life. When I was quiet, open, and receptive and looked into my wife's eyes the experience was mysterious and profound, different from our ordinary contact. I perceived something that carried beyond our location in time and space and conveyed the sense of a much larger, more important reality. What my scientific and psychoanalytic teachers offered as explanation for this I never found convincing. According to them such perceptions should be regarded as a projection of unconscious wishes, memories, and primitive feeling states. In other words, it was something I imagined, something of internal origin that I misidentified. True, people do imagine and project, but these explanations seemed shallow, they did not fit the experience. I could not integrate this materialistic, positivistic world of science with transcendent world labeled "spiritual."
Looking back over my research I can see that it has been a persistent effort to find a framework that could unite these domains in a nonmysterious manner. With the concept of different ways of knowing depending on intention and self, I think the integration can be accomplished in a straightforward way that is consonant with discoveries in developmental and motivational psychology, and with the world sketched for us by quantum physics, and with the spiritual traditions. Finally, the functional model of consciousness can help us understand service without interference from the myths of childhood and from religious dogma.
With serving-the-task as our motivational guide, we can spot the emergence of hidden self-interest and reestablish the task-oriented attitude that we need. This monitoring protects us from the distorted perspective introduced by self-centered consciousness, enabling our service to be more creative and effective and expanding our view of the world and of ourselves.


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