Belongingness, Transpersonal Psychology, and Transpersonal Experiences: Transcendence and Belongingness, Part 2

In yesterday’s post, we looked at the first section of this paper: Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. In today’s post, we’ll look at the three sections that followed: belongingness, transpersonal psychology, and transpersonal experiences.



According to Baumeister and Leary (1995), “A need to belong, that is, a need to form and maintain at least a minimum quantity of interpersonal relationships, is innately prepared (and hence nearly universal) among human beings” (p. 499). Meaning, humans have a desire to be in relationships with other humans similar to how we learned from Maslow. Baumeister and Leary (1995) separated belongingness into two features: interactions with people and a perception that the relationship will continue in the future. In the first feature, interactions with people, Baumeister and Leary (1995) specify that these interactions have a positive affect, but more importantly, the interactions need to be free of negative affect or conflict. Affect is in reference to the experience of the interaction. In the second feature, humans must have a perception that the relationship will continue in the future and that the relationship have affective concern and stability (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). It is very important there be a context by which the humans can have when interacting with others. This is important because a human’s interactions with a stranger are markedly different from the interaction with someone that they perceived to have a relationship with (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). According to Baumeister and Leary (1995), “To satisfy the need to belong, the person must believe that the other cares about his or her welfare and likes (or loves) him or her” (p. 500). Baumeister and Leary (1995) continued by saying that it would be ideal if this interaction would be reciprocating in that both parties care about one another. In sum, belongingness is a need that is classified by one’s need for social contact and intimate relationships (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). In this section, we have gained a greater understanding of belongingness. In the next section, we will explore transpersonal psychology.

Transpersonal Psychology

According to Hartelius, Caplan, and Rardin (2007), there are three main themes that make up a comprehensive definition of transpersonal psychology: “An approach to psychology that 1. studies phenomena beyond the ego as context for 2. an integrative/holistic psychology; this provides a framework for 3. understanding and cultivating human transformation” (p. 11). Beyond the ego refers to states where the person is experiencing from a state that is no longer absorbed in their ego. Meaning, the person is experiencing a state that is “outside of ‘ordinary’ state of mind” (Hartelius, Caplan, & Rardin, 2007, p. 9). Integrative/holistic psychology is a way of incorporating the whole person into psychology. Holistic psychology is made possible to be a specific field within psychology as standard psychology has focused mainly on the ego and its pathologies (Hartelius, Caplan, & Rardin, 2007). Human transformation is the process a human undergoes when it is changing, usually in a positive way. To define transpersonal psychology more succinctly, Hartelius, Caplan, & Rardin (2007) said “transpersonal psychology studies human transcendence, wholeness, and transformation” (p. 11). In this section, we have gained a greater understanding of transpersonal psychology. In the next section, we will look at transpersonal experiences and more specifically, transcendence.

Transpersonal Experiences

In the last section, we said that transpersonal psychology has three main themes: beyond-ego psychology, integrative/holistic psychology, and transformational psychology (Hartelius, Caplan, & Rardin, 2007). In this section, we will look at some of the experiences that go along with these themes. According to Hastings (1999), “Transpersonal psychologists have recognized that certain experiences of mystics, meditators, and religious devotees have transpersonal qualities – that is, they bring the self into a state that transcends individual ego boundaries” p. 198). In other words, one possible transpersonal experience could be transcendence. However, Hastings (1999) noted “There is no one typical experience, and there may be images, ESP, voices, forms, nonforms, visions, and physical effects as part of the encounter” (p. 198). While there are ranges of possibilities for transpersonal experiences, we are going to focus specifically on transcendence.

Maslow (1968) wrote of thirty-five varieties of transcendence. According to Maslow (1968), “transcendence refers to the very highest and most inclusive or holistic levels of human consciousness” (p. 66). It has been stated that transcendence is one of the elements of transpersonal psychology, so it is fair to say that transcendence is a transpersonal experience. As there are many varieties of transcendence, in the next section we will look at experiences of transcendence in the context of belongingness.


Check back tomorrow for the last section of the paper: belongingness and transcendence, followed by the conclusion.

Published by Jeremiah Stanghini

Jeremiah's primary aim is to provide readers with a new perspective. In the same vein as the "Blind Men and the Elephant," it can be difficult to know when one is looking at the big picture or if one is simply looking at a 'tusk' or a 'leg.' He writes on a variety of topics: psychology, business, science, entertainment, politics, history, etc.

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