“Transpersonal wakefulness” by Pier Luigi Lattuada
One of the greatest gifts that transpersonal psychology (TP) can offer humanity are models and methods for awakening.
Awakening is a psychological attitude, a state of consciousness that embraces a broad spectrum of conditions related to both the inner and outer quadrants of human experience.
Taylor masterfully defines the condition where TP may lead the client into wakefulness (Taylor, 2017), see below:
“The clearest way in which wakefulness manifests itself is in terms of the wakeful person’s different perception and experience of the world around them. Awakened individuals don’t perceive the same world as other people do. The world is as different a place to them as the world of a child is to the world of an adult — or, you might say, as the world of a pre-civilized indigenous person is to the world of a modern Westerner (Taylor, 2017, 198)”.
Characteristics of wakefulness
Change in a wakeful person may start with a difference in the perceptual characteristics.
Taylor states the following:
Change in perceptual characteristics:
- Intensified perception
- Increased presentness/timelessness
- Awareness of “presence” or an all-pervading spiritual energy”
- Aliveness, harmony, and connectedness”
Wakefulness changes the way one feel inside; she/he may feel as if have been reborn with a new psychological identity.
Listed below are the changes in affective characteristics described by Taylor:
Change in affective characteristics:
- Inner quietness
- Transcendence of separation/sense of connection
- Empathy and compassion
- Absence of (or decreased) fear of death
- Heightened/increased energy
- Inner security
Spiritually advanced people are used to change the way to see themselves in relation to the world and other human beings. See the following changes indicated by Taylor:
Conceptual and cognitive characteristics:
- Lack of group identity
- Wide perspective: a universal outlook
- “Heightened sense of morality”
- Appreciation and curiosity
Consequently, awakened people change their behavior and habits. Here are some of the changes listed by Taylor:
Change in Behavioral characteristics:
- Altruism and Engagement
- Enjoyment of Inactivity: The Ability to “Be”
- Beyond Accumulation and Attachment / Nonmaterialism
- Autonomy: Living More Authentically
- Enhanced, More Authentic Relationships
But achieving and maintaining an inner condition of awakening is directly related to context, that is, it is a participatory dialogue between the individual and the world.
And here comes the challenge of hyper-complexity.
On the one hand the psychological risk zones that constantly test our inner achievements and test their degree of depth, on the other hand hermeneutics: how do I interpret the condition achieved, who appropriates it within me, what do I do with it?
On this threshold, every method stops, leaving room for individual freedom and responsibility.
So I want to mention here a psychological function that more than any other could support the heroine/hero on the path, who inhabits us: the attention.
The second attention
However awakened we may be, ordinary interaction with the world brings into play patterns of behaviour, habits that are automatically activated within us. To notice and unmask them is an act of responsibility to be renewed in every moment, here and now at the surface of contact with the things of the world. To do this, ordinary attention is not enough, we need a second attention (Lattuada 2023) that, unlike the first, pays attention to paying attention, pays attention to the attention we put into things and improves it, takes a step beyond, beyond habit, behind the scenes, unveils the veil of appearances and grasps the essence, at least a more essential appearance.
Attention that pays attention to how I am paying attention while greeting you or talking to you or looking at you, how I am paying attention to the sensations I feel when I enter into a relationship with you or the environment.
On this journey, the little ordinary things of everyday life come as allies: paying attention to how careful I am when I fill up at petrol station, fill in an application form, pay a bill at a restaurant, sit on a chair, greet the shop assistant at the supermarket or the neighbor, smile at the sunshine that greets me when I go out on the street, or at the trees, and the flowers, but also at the rubbish rather than the traffic of cars.
Life is a ceremony, the shamans say, the second attention helps us to act as if we knew it.
Taylor, S. (2017). The leap: the psychology of spiritual awakening. Eckhart Tolle Edition. Novato, CA. New World Library,
Lattuada P.L. (2022), The Psychotherapy of the Future, 15th question about Transpersonal Psychotherapy, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Lattuada P.L. (2010). Second Attention Epistemology. Integral Transpersonal Journal, 0, 7-52
Lattuada P.L. (2012). Second attention epistemology: Integral process evaluation grid (III part). Integral Transpersonal Journal, 2, 13-27.