Waking Up and Growing Up: Two Forms of Human Development


This paper contrasts two relatively independent forms of human development: waking up, the process and practices of psychospiritual awakening , and growing up, the process of moving from lesser narcissistic and ethnocentric self-identities towards mature postconventional self-identities with greater degrees of inclusion, perspective-taking, caring, and compassion. Each is a unique type of growth, contemplative and transformative, with different ways of engaging and differing goals and results. The former is about transcending or deconstructing the ego and the latter about building, strengthening, and diversifying the ego. Whereas the Buddhist tradition and contemplative practices aim at awakening and transcending samsara (worldly conditions) by cultivating compassion and taming the mind, the Western tradition cultivates greater degrees of care and compassion by developing a mature ego within samsara that is both social-justice and eco-justice informed. The project of transcending the ego should not be confused with growing and maturing the ego. Self-transcendence and self-development must inform each other, and both are necessary for realizing our full human potential.

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