Meta-psychology: Four Levels of Self-transcendence

“You’re more like a body of work than a body, and there’s always work to do, new levels of effectiveness and aliveness to unpack and explore. And every day of your life, either you’re getting yourself on the hook for that task or you’re dead in the water.” ~ Gary John Bishop

Transcendence is the act of rising above something into a heightened state of awareness. Self-transcendence, then, is achieving a bird’s-eye view advantage over the self. It’s a sacred space where we can gain a healthy “Overview Effect” regarding our own condition.

Here are four self-leveling mechanism to achieve a state of transcendence. The accumulation of which create a kind of Meta psychology, a next-level, pan-psychology that keeps the Self a forward propelled, transformational wheel.

1) Self-interrogation:

“Let us consider that we are all partially insane. It will explain us to each other.” ~ Mark Twain

Before transcendence, question the self. After transcendence, question the self. 

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But especially before. 

The loam of the self must be fertile, soft, vulnerable, ready to receive. Self-interrogation is a plowshare for the soul, a tiller of the spirit, an upheaval of the heart. It’s not pretend-inquiry. It’s deep, penetrating questioning that gets down to the roots of things. It peels back layers. It sheds outdated skin. It stretches stale comfort zones. It digs pregnable wombs out of impregnable hearts.

Self-interrogation makes an art out of questioning. Simply questioning is too gentle. Torture is too violent. Interrogation is just right, the Middle Way toward a deeper understanding of the human condition. Just ruthless enough to cut to the chase. Just penetrating enough to plant seeds like curled up question marks into the rigid ground of our certitude. 

2) Self-empowerment:

“Like all explorers, we are drawn to discover what’s out there without knowing yet if we have the courage to face it.” ~ Pema Chodron

Once we’ve plowed the fields and unfolded the layers and planted the seeds, we discover something to which, in the time before, we were insensate: curiosity. This curiosity gives us a reason to continue, to forge along, to begin anew. It gives us incentive. It gives us hope. Most important of all: it gives us courage. 

Courage is the heart of self-empowerment. It’s the fuel that stokes the fire of our purpose. And now that we have a foothold on our hidden self, now that we have a handle on the mobility of our inner beast, we can use this courage to empower ourselves to greater and greater heights. We can use it to transform fear into fuel. 

Leaps of courage become second nature. We free ourselves to take strategic risks, thus compounding more and more freedom. We rise. We ascend. Self-compelled. Courage-propelled. The future is wide open and the dream of new ways of becoming human in the world manifest. 

3) Self-improvement:

“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.” ~ Stephen Pressfield

Where self-interrogation created the spark and self-empowerment created fire, self-improvement is about spreading that fire. It’s about being proactive, a force of nature. It’s about becoming healthier, stronger, more robust. It’s about standing on the shoulders of giants and not only seeing farther than they did but connecting the dots between various perspectives and curiosities. 

Most important of all, it is about transforming Resistance into Perseverance. Through perseverance the “unlived life within” becomes self-actualized, despite resistance. The obstacle becomes the path. The journey becomes the thing. ‘Now’ becomes a laboratory for enhancement, for progress, for strategic health.

Your future, healthier self is lassoed. Self-improvement is simply pulling yourself toward that future. Grip tight. Perseverance in full force. Brain a sponge. Heart a womb. Soul on fire. You soak in the journey, impregnated with awe and wonder, as you pull yourself along the rope of self-improvement.

4) Self-overcoming:

“The world breaks everyone. Afterward, many are strong at the broken places.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Self-overcoming is a proactive life-death-rebirth process. It’s a walking meditation of perpetual rebirth. The outdated self must die so that the updated self may live. From the ashes of the burnt-out ego arises the Phoenix of the antifragile soul. The ego-centric perspective must die so that the soul-centric perspective may live. 

In the throes of self-overcoming, the ego becomes a tool for the soul. The soul uses this tool to leverage meaning into an otherwise meaningless universe. But it doesn’t get stuck in the meaning. It uses the meaning as a medium for art. More specifically, for the art of living life well. For even meaning is a stopgap. Or, put into a more positive light, it’s merely a steppingstone into higher meaning (which is also a steppingstone).

Enter: The self-transcendence of meta-psychology.

Meta-psychology is about using (honoring) the “masks all the way down” to make sense (create higher meaning) out of the “delusions all the way up.” We do this so that we can get out of our own way. So that we can achieve self-transcendence. So that we can perpetually recycle our own mastery. So that we don’t get stuck (mentally, psychologically, or spiritually). 

We self-interrogate to wake up the self. We self-empower to encourage the self. We self-improve to become healthier and more robust. We self-overcome to update the outdated self. And we self-transcend to find God within.

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Gary Z McGee
Gary Z McGee
Gary 'Z' McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.
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