The Beyond Mind Papers

Transpersonal and Metatranspersonal Theory: A critique of the systems of Wilber, Washburn and Grof and an outline of the Dzogchen path to definitive true sanity

Elias Capriles

Volume 1: Introduction: Essential Concepts and Summary of Transpersonal and Metatranspersonal Theory

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ISBN: 978-1-57733-269-5, 224 pp., 6 x 9, paperback, $18.00

Volume I lays out the basic principles of Buddhism and, in greater detail, the Buddhist Dzogchen tradition—and compares them to the evolving understanding of the Transpersonal Psychology system. Throughout this four-volume Work, Dr. Capriles explains the correct view of Mind according to Dzogchen--in contrast to well-intentioned but misguided views among some transpersonal authors—toward what he calls the "meta-transpersonal view," whose ultimate goal is, as all agree, "true sanity."

Volume II: Steps to a Metatranspersonal Philosophy and Psychology: A Critique of the Systems of Wilber, Washburn and Grof, and an Outline of the Dzogchen Path to Definitive True Sanity

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ISBN: 978-1-57733-272-5, 214 pp., 6 x 9, paperback, $18.00

Volume II explains authentic Paths of Awakening and spiritual emergencies as mainly “descending” processes, not in the sense of involving regression, but in that of undoing pretenses and Seeing through all that is built, created, produced, contrived, conditioned or compounded, into the true condition that the Dzogchen teachings call the Base.

Volume III: Further Steps to a Metatranspersonal Philosophy and Psychology: An Evaluation of Ken Wilber’s System and of the Ascender/Descender Debate

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ISBN: 978-1-57733-273-2, 314 pp., 6 x 9, paperback, $22.00

Volume III discusses the ascender/descender debate from a standpoint different from those of both sides of the debate, showing how to avoid the “spiritual materialism” of those systems that posit the need to build successive structures rather than Seeing through all structures—which is what Buddhism in general and Dzogchen in particular do.

Volume IV: Further Steps to a Metatranspersonal Philosophy and Psychology: An Assessment of the Transpersonal Paradigms of Grof and Washburn

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ISBN: 978-1-57733-274-9, 258 pp., 6 x 9, paperback, $20.00

Volume IV further discusses the sense of “descending” in the term “descending systems,” showing that only systems that are so—in the metaphenomenological, metaexistential sense—agree with Buddhism. It features one Appendix on Greek dualistic philosophical systems, one on psychedelics, and one showing the “participative” perspective not to be inclusive.


"I can’t pretend to understand all of what Professor Elias Capriles has written in these magnificent 4-volumes. The parts that I can understand are absolutely brilliant and right on target. The parts that I can’t understand have a strange effect on me. I start reading them, and tend to go off in a trance-like state, after which I have little remembrance of what I’ve read, but I feel it to be some of the most profound writings I’ve ever encountered, something that I am not yet ready to grasp, but which beckons me… My own hope is that my boundaries will expand to increasingly be able to receive the wisdom I intuitively feel contained in the parts of these that I am yet able to grasp, while the parts that I am able to grasp are extremely helpful to my scholarship and life. I have the utmost appreciation for the rare combination of impeccable scholarship and lived wisdom that Capriles has shared." Harris L. Friedman, Ph.D., Professor (retired), Counseling Psychology Program, University of Florida, Professor Emeritus, Saybrook University, Senior Editor, International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, Co-editor, The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Transpersonal Psychology, Ex-President of the International Transpersonal Association

"The human brain evolved not to find truth but to attribute meaning. This, it itself, was a remarkable achievement. However, the contemplative traditions have endeavored to take humanity a step further than mental projections, leading to what is often called “the awakening” or “enlightenment.” In recent years, Dzogchen Buddhism has been adopted by many Western writers as the apotheosis of this endeavor. However, their background has not enabled them to appreciate the subtleties of the Dzogchen writings, and a number of errors have slipped into their articles and books. This remarkable manuscript corrects these mistakes and presents the Dzogchen insights in reader-friendly English that will instruct and inspire its readers. Its importance can not be underestimated. Indeed, it is destined to become a classic guide to spiritual development." Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., Alan Watts Professor of Psychology, Saybrook Universiity, co-author, A Psychiatrist in Paradise: Treating Mental Illness in Bali, One of the best-known and most honored transpersonalists

"Collectively, these works display a breadth of content and complexity of discourse that is rarely seen in modern scholarship. In these volumes, Capriles presents us with an immense erudition, one which reflects his achievements on the Dzogchen spiritual path and his emergent understanding of the implications of these achievements for the present and future of transpersonal psychology. A challenging but exhilarating adventure for any readers interested in existential, humanistic, and/or transpersonal psychologies and their intersection with Dzogchen philosophy and practice." Douglas A. MacDonald, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Detroit Mercy; Editor Emeritus, International Journal of Transpersonal Studies; Associate Editor (Research), Journal of Transpersonal Psychology; Research Editor, Journal of Humanistic Psychology

"Professor Capriles brings to his contribution to transpersonal psychology a formidable level of insight born of his intensive involvement with Buddhism. These volumes exemplify precisely the direction in which I for one would like to see transpersonal psychology grow: Capriles articulates profoundly innovative ideas about the nature of mind and transformational processes through a solid grasp of the insights from a specific religious tradition. It is rare indeed to find a writer who is able to comment on the works of key thinkers in transpersonal psychology from a position of such mastery." Les Lancaster, Professor Emeritus of Transpersonal Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, UK. Current President of the International Transpersonal Association.

Table of Contents







The neologisms metatranspersonal theory / metatranspersonal philosophy and psychology, rather than designating a wholly new theory produced by conceptual, deluded mind, refer to the views that spontaneously issue from the Realization or Fruit of authentic spiritual Paths, as expedient means for leading humans from the regretful, distressful and detrimental cyclic condition called samsara to the absolute freedom and plenitude of supreme, nonstatic nirvana—their expedient nature owing to the fact that the condition from which they issue is characterized by freedom from adherence to views, on the one hand, and the capacity to put forward whichever views may lead to freedom from delusion (and hence from adherence to views), on the other. The term thus applies to the teachings of the higher and most authentic forms of Buddhism, Daoism, Bön, Shaivism, Sufism and Kabbalah, among other systems, and the most genuine mystic teachings within Christianity—all of which, as all other forms of metatranspersonal theory, were conceived as a basis for genuine metatranspersonal practice and would make no sense and be useless in the absence of the latter.

The reason why I coined the term metatranspersonal for the systems in question is that, when the varieties of theory and practice subsumed under the label transpersonal are assessed from the perspective of such systems (and in particular from those of the higher forms of Buddhism, and foremost from that of Dzogchen), in most of them grave pitfalls and shortcomings are detected that may be validly related to the etymology of that label. Among these, at this point it should suffice to mention the prevalent failure to distinguish among transpersonal states that are instances of nirvana, transpersonal states within samsara, and transpersonal states which belong neither to active samsara nor to nirvana and which are instances of the neutral condition of the base-of-all or kunzhi lungmaten, and to rightly appraise these three radically different kinds of states—which has led most transpersonal theorists to wrongly view all of them as means to achieve genuine sanity, and thus to blur the difference between the authentic Paths of Awakening and their counterfeits. What I call metatranspersonal systems, on the other hand, rather than indistinctly treasuring all transpersonal states, on the basis of a sound discrimination of the sign and value of transpersonal states, prize and employ as a Path to genuine sanity only the conditions that pertain to nirvana—and though they may also induce samsaric and neither-samsaric-nor-nirvanic states, they do so only if and when it is expedient to use them as a platform for the manifestation of nirvana.

Among those who currently apply to their own systems the label “transpersonal,” the leading theorists are widely acknowledged to be Stan Grof—Founding President of the International Transpersonal Association—and Michael Washburn. Ken Wilber, for his part, was considered a leading transpersonal theorist until, in the 1980s, he stopped characterizing his thought as transpersonal and began labeling it as “integral.” However, since Wilber continued to be mainly concerned with transpersonal states and their role in achieving what he deems to constitute genuine sanity, and since, like most transpersonal theorists, he continued to fail to properly ascertain the signs and values of the different transpersonal states and to incur in what this book denounces as typical transpersonal errors, I continue to class him as a “leading transpersonal theorist.”

The metatranspersonal theory I expound in this and other works is based on my personal practice of the higher forms of Tibetan Buddhism—and most especially of Dzogchen Atiyoga, which I set out to apply in the 1970s, having done so from 1977 through 1983 mostly in strict retreat in cabins and caves in the higher Himalayas, and thereafter as far as possible in everyday life (occasionally refreshing the practice in short retreats). However, the theory in question is not a mere repetition of the teachings of the higher forms of Buddhism in general and of Dzogchen in particular, as it includes a sizeable quantity of concepts and explanations arisen from the standpoint of the latter in response to the disparate views of different Western philosophers, psychologists and theorists of other fields—and, in the case of the papers contained in this book, especially in response to the distortions I perceived in the above-mentioned leading transpersonal theorists. Moreover, it incorporates what my experience in running spiritual emergency refuges in Goa (India) and Swayambhu (Nepal) in the mid 1970s taught me about psychotic and so-called psychotomimetic states.

Blue Dolphin Publishing, 2013

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