Date of Award
Dissertation - Restricted
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Francis J. Collingwood
Patrick J. Coffey
This dissertation has grown out of research in altered states of consciousness that has been in progress since 1966 when I first discovered the work of Abraham Maslow, and when I had already invested two years in exploring the work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Then, early in 1970, I began teaching a seminar which was titled "Altered States of Consciousness" at a small growth center in Eugene, Oregon, the Senoi Institute for Growth and Human Development. Since that time I have offered courses, seminars, and weekend workshops in altered states of consciousness at the University of Portland and at Marquette University.
These seminars and workshops have always been structured in such a way as to serve a dual purpose: in the first place they have been informational and conceptual, providing the students and seminarians with information on altered states of consciousness, and providing them also with some conceptual matter in terms of which these altered states can be understood. Much of that material is included in this dissertation.
The second purpose of the seminars and workshops has been to provide the participants with experiential knowledge of various altered states of consciousness, and to that end we have personally explored, the students and I together, various techniques for altering conscious states. This experiential side of the seminars and workshops, certainly the more important side from the viewpoint of the participants, unfortunately cannot be reproduced in words on a page. Those experiences of altered conscious states are clearly the heart and lifeblood of the field, and it should be clear that it is for the sake of the experience that the informational and conceptual side is developed, not vice-versa. The information and conceptual data included in this dissertation, in other words, is less than half of the field of altered states of consciousness. For it is only through an experiential contact with these altered states that one can arrive at a "connatural knowledge" of the date: only by experiencing it can one get a "feel" for the data.
One personal word: As an actual experiencer of altered states of consciousness I am not highly accomplished. Some very surprising and meaningful experiences of course have come my way, as they will come the way of anyone seriously exploring his conscious states, but by far the more accomplished explorers of consciousness have been my students. Their willingness to dare the limits of reality and to trust the wisdom of their deepmost inner self has been truly encouraging, and thus if I owe a debt of gratitude for help in this research (and I certainly do) then it must go to those students and seminarians who were so intensely excited about the adventure, and who were so frightfully willing to explore the unkown.
One final word: The work of this dissertation should more truly be understood as "work in progress", rather than as a series of definitive statements weighted with hardened certitude. The intent of this dissertation, in fact, is not so much to pass on knowledge (though it clearly does have that purpose too) as it is to suggest and encourage further exploration into the possibilities of consciousness alteration. If it serves that purpose it will have done its task fairly.