Jorge Ferrer

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Jorge N. Ferrer, participatory spirituality pioneer photo

Wikipedia bio at


"Jorge N Ferrer, Ph.D., is chair of the department of East-West Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. Ferrer is the author of Revisioning Transpersonal Theory: A Participatory Vision of Human Spirituality (SUNY Press, 2002), and co-editor of The Participatory Turn: Spirituality, Mysticism, Religious Studies (SUNY Press, 2008).

He is also the author of many articles and book chapters on transpersonal studies, and edited a monographic issue of ReVision on “New Horizons in Contemporary Spirituality.” His writings have appeared in The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, The Journal of Transformative Education, World Futures: The Journal of General Evolution, ReVision: The Journal of Consciousness and Transformation, The Scientific and Medical Network Review, The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, The Salamander Review, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Kosmos: An Integral Approach to Global Awakening, and Tikkun: Politics, Spirituality, Culture, among other publications. He currently serves on the editorial board of The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, ReVision, Spirituality and Health International, The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, The Journal of Transpersonal Research, and Journal of Men: Masculinites and Spirituality.

A leading scholar on Transformative Practices and Integral Epistemology at the Esalen Center for Theory and Research California, he also served as member of the Planning Committee of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship's BASE (Buddhist Alliance for Social Engagement).

Ferrer teaches courses on transpersonal studies, embodied spiritual inquiry, comparative mysticism, integral development, theoretical research, and spiritual perspectives on sexuality and relationships, as well as offers workshops, seminars, and presentations on integral spirituality and education both nationally and internationally. Featured in The Journal of Transformative Education, Religion & Education, and Journal of Holistic Education, his participatory integral pedagogy is the focus is the focus of Yoshiharu Nakagawa and Yoshiko Matsuda’s Transformative Inquiry: An Integral Approach (Kyoto, Japan: Institute of Human Sciences, 2010), an anthology of writings based on Ferrer’s recent teaching at Ritsumekian University, Kyoto.

In 2000, Ferrer received the received the Fetzer Institute’s Presidential Award for his seminal work on consciousness studies. Since 2003 he is an advisor to the Salamander Fund for the Advanced Study of Consciousness, and in 2009 he became an advisor to the organization Religions for Peace at the United Nations on a research project aimed at solving global interreligious conflict"

See also:


Excerpt on The Participatory Nature of Spiritual Knowing

Spiritual knowing is a participatory process. What do I mean by "participatory"? First, "participatory" alludes to the fact that spiritual knowing is not objective, neutral, or merely cognitive. On the contrary, spiritual knowing engages us in a connected, often passionate, activity that can involve not only the opening of the mind, but also of the body, the heart, and the soul. Although particular spiritual events may involve only certain dimensions of our nature, all of them can potentially come into play in the act of spiritual knowing, from somatic transfiguration to the awakening of the heart, from erotic communion to visionary co-creation, and from contemplative knowing to moral insight, to mention only a few (see also Ferrer, 2000a, 2002).

Second, the participatory nature of spiritual knowing refers to the role that our individual consciousness plays during most spiritual and transpersonal events. This relation is not one of appropriation, possession, or passive representation of knowledge, but of communion and co-creative participation.

Finally, "participatory" also refers to the fundamental ontological predicament of human beings in relation to spiritual energies and realities. Human beings are - whether we know it or not - always participating in the self-disclosure of Spirit. This participatory predicament is not only the ontological foundation of the other forms of participation, but also the epistemic anchor of spiritual knowledge claims and the moral source of responsible action.

Spiritual phenomena involve participatory ways of knowing that are presential, enactive, and transformative:

1. Spiritual knowing is presential: Spiritual knowing is knowing by presence or by identity. In other words, in most spiritual events, knowing occurs by virtue of being. Spiritual knowing can be lived as the emergence of an embodied presence pregnant with meaning that transforms both self and world. Subject and object, knowing and being, epistemology and ontology are brought together in the very act of spiritual knowing.

2. Spiritual knowing is enactive: Following the groundbreaking work of Varela, Thompson, and Rosch (1991), my understanding of spiritual knowing embraces an enactive paradigm of cognition: Spiritual knowing is not a mental representation of pregiven, independent spiritual objects, but an enaction, the bringing forth of a world or domain of distinctions co-created by the different elements involved in the participatory event. Some central elements of spiritual participatory events include individual intentions and dispositions; cultural, religious, and historical horizons; archetypal and subtle energies; and, most importantly, a dynamic and indeterminate spiritual power of inexhaustible creativity.

3. Spiritual knowing is transformative: Participatory knowing is transformative at least in the following two senses. First, the participation in a spiritual event brings forth the transformation of self and world. Second, a transformation of self is usually necessary to be able to participate in spiritual knowing, and this knowing, in turn, draws forth the self through its transformative process in order to make possible this participation. (

External links

  • review of Revisioning Transpersonal Theory by Richard Tarnas
  • [1], An introduction to Participatory Spirituality
  • [2], Essay on "Integral Transformative Practice: A Participatory Perspective" (Journal of Transpersonal Psychology)
  • [3]

Essay on "Embodied Participation in the Mystery: Implications for the Individual, Interpersonal Relationships, and Society" (ReVision)