Insight from Rockbottom

Barbara Schaefer, MA

                                                                                              April 2003

Paper presented at

Fallon Memorial Lonergan Symposium 2003, Los Angeles; peer review: Prof Mark Morelli, 2003


Self-appropriation through transcendent meaning – or: Insight at Rockbottom

I approach this and philosophical questions in general, as an educationalist with a long-standing interest in meta-reflection and many years of trying to apply this in the fields of philosophy of learning, applied epistemology and philosophical theology.

It has always been my core interest and intention to inform practice.

I am now in the early stages of preparing a publication in the context of phenomenological-hermeneutic research, using case studies as starting point.


From the investigation questions regarding Lonergan’s position arise:

  • some details of his emphasis on rational enquiry as gateway to transcendence; (the case studies seem to suggest a slightly more complex picture),
  • the pure desire to know as aiming for being as content and
  • the transforming self-appropriation, through attentiveness,
  • self-appropriation beyond ‘being pulled out of ourselves’ (Morelli 597)
  • a possible non-theistic outlook as component of universal viewpoint.


Starting Point………………………………………………………………………………………………. 2

The Case……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 2

Self-Appropriation put to use………………………………………………………………………… 6

Hypotheses………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 8

Case Study Reports……………………………………………………………………………………. 14

    Bibliography:……………………………………………………………………………………………… 22

Starting Point

Illustrated by a few short biographical narrative pieces, I would like to explore the existentially pressing question of transcendent meaning as it has been presenting itself to the subjects of the case studies.

I explore the process of and critical questions during the process of coming to terms with the disposition and its philosophical implications using Lonergan’s concepts of self-appropriation and transcendental precepts. This will be a first part.

Secondly, from there questions will be brought to Lonergan’s material and hypotheses will be developed. As a final part, I would like to invite you to attend to your response to the presented case study material, reflecting upon the transcendental precepts and other aspects of Lonergan’s cognition theory as they come alive for you.

The Case

So where does this orientation towards/from of transcendence happen:

I argue that “transcendent exigence”, understood as the pressing need to attend to and to understand self and others from and within a transcendent realm as well as to respond accordingly, occurs, as Pasquier (1978) points out, when we abandon all our securities – including familiar learned anxieties and self-restrictions (as they occur by definition in the traumatised or neurotic character).

– (1) With some justification therefor Hiltner (1978) refers to the most celebrated turnings-around as occurring in Alcoholics Anonymous. (AA offer an orientation towards God in the programme, but add ‘as we understood Him’, thus leaving the path to the individual’s experience.) The case of Alcoholics Anonymous shows the ongoing reorientation through their 12 Steps. Praxis tells us that here as elsewhere the problem occurs that some take the concept for the insight and gain a limited reorientation through holding on to a repetitive structure rather than a more comprehensive one through an inner appropriation of gradually developing self-reflection.



That problem aside, I argue that AA may help to make my case as the concept is explicitly non-religious and members are in no way under any obligation to adhere to any religion. Any reference to ‘God…’ (such as there may be) follows the experience

of an inner freedom of addiction and other compulsive behaviours through help of a ‘Higher Power’ as experienced in the process of critical self-reflection, sometimes aided by contact with more experienced members.

– (2) A comparably pressing life situation seems to be that of facing other life threatening or even terminal illness.

– (3) I have come across several examples in literature, fictional ones, and would like to include them in our reflection.

– (4) The passionate orientation in the pioneering scientist seems to have the potential to create a similarly existential urgency as frame of mind, as when in need to turn around in one’s mind a life- threatening situation. At least, the temperament of orientation towards the mystery of life seems to sit surprisingly well with the enquiring scientist’s mind.[1]

– (5) I suggest that the comprehensive philosophical and theological studies of a Jesuit, leading to a somewhat Faustian state of mind – especially in combination with pre-Vatican II rules of life – might bring about a similarly pressing need!


What is meant here, is in the first instance, described or rather circumscribed by Albert Einstein as a ‘cosmic feeling’[2], creating a type of religion of its own; or by Ed

Marshall, one of the astronauts to have landed on the moon, as a consciousness of being connected with everything. (See Wilber 2001).

This state of consciousness reported in narrative form needs further clarification and definition. Questions regarding its appropriation will have to be asked.

For this, I find no better instrument than Lonergan’s transcendental precepts, his concepts of self-appropriation and self-transcendence.



– (6) I suggest the possibility of appropriating ‘insight into Being’ – not necessarily as conceptualised. For our theme that means that there may be cases of anonymous transcendent orientation: It seems to me, that this state of mind finds its equivalent in theological reflection where Karl Rahner says: To speak of a Personal God makes sense only when set against (literally ‘released into’!) the background of Absolute Mystery. (Rahner 1984, 82)

– (7) This definition would sit well with another protagonist, Bernadette Roberts, who according to her own report, travelled from a deep and non-theistic sense for stillness of her mind during her childhood, via time as a Carmelite nun, to what she calls a ‘loss of self’. (Roberts 1993)

– (8)The subject of my main case study shows a process of reorientation through critical moments as insights. For her, these moments provide a life-sustaining sense of meaning  from an early age, while not rendering unnecessary the continuing process of  appropriation, a process not unlike the solving of Zen-koans. This also includes a long phase in her life where she turned her back on this aspect of herself, only to be haunted by it and then – not able to deny her experience and constitution for much longer.

Robert Kennedy could almost be referring to her experience directly, when he says: “It is easy to again fall into the old habits of imitating and quoting others and pursuing ideals outside the self”. (Kennedy 2001, 90)

– (9) He himself had lost any sense of faith after Vatican II, when familiar forms were questioned and the quote refers to a stage of mature appropriation of his Zen training, as a Christian, beyond any of the cultural and historically shaped forms of the religion.

– (10) Furthermore, I propose an understanding of a ‘grand (existential) insight‘ that may be elaborated in religious terms, if the individual sees the need for it;



this could be  a development going beyond  Lonergan’s 5th stage of self-transcendence. (Lonergan 1985)


Now I want to look briefly at the way existential conversions conveyed:

  • Kennedy, who is a Jesuit, theologian and Jungian therapist, uses Jungian mythology and terminology in combination with the Ignatian philosophy to convey his meaning beyond meaning.
  • Albert Schweitzer developed his whole philosophical concept of ‘Ehrfurcht

vor dem Leben’ (Schweitzer 1988) from a deep insight,

  • David Michael Levin (1985) in another theoretical study, describes

a felt-sense of being, using Heidegger’s primordial sense of being, Gendlin’s approach of Focusing and Buddhist sources,

4)   Robert Forman (1999) helps to conceptualise how the re-structuring of

conscious and intentional operations can be described without borrowing concepts of belief:[3] He explores that our intentional experiences will in return be shaped by our beliefs, but that attentiveness can lead to a level beyond: As our self, our intention is transcended.

5)   Bernadette Roberts explores similar experiences leading ‘beyond self’. (2001)

She describes them in a reflective way, going back and forth between felt-sense,

reflection and conceptual thinking.

6)   Rabbi Lionel Blue (1999, 63) brings us back to narrative methods when he

says: Our basic text is our life experience and all holy books are commentary on

that. In other words, even if concepts of religion are used to conceptualise what I

provisionally name non-religious conversion, people will necessarily relate

differently to the contents of faith. Lionel Blue feels left with a great sense of

freedom, and for the reader’s benefit adds a little paradox: ‘I wish I knew how to

use it’. (1999, 164)




Moving on, I hope to be able to show how this sense of freedom can be explained using Lonergan’s concept of understanding understanding and of understanding oneself.

Self-Appropriation put to Use


If due to our personalities or specific life circumstances we find ourselves relying on nothing-less-will-do, how do we understand our experience of transcendence, including what I call a sense of being? – Following Lonergan we use his transcendental precepts.

To honour Lonergan and for the joy in the story, let us begin with a fresh look at Archimedes: The joy about his insight makes him run naked from the bath, shouting ‘I’ve got it!’

Lonergan himself calls this joy a spark of the divine.

Can we explain the joy further? We cannot attend to Archimedes’ experience, but in general I would argue that the contents side of the finding – allowing him to prove himself to the king, do something with it and benefit materially as well – is not all there is to the joy in Insight.

I argue there is at least an element of the childlike joy of just-being, of being present, of playfulness, of creativity in it. (So for the purpose of my argument I would tentatively like to rename the ‘spark of the divine’ – spark of being.

I argue Lonergan does refer to its process-character when he explains that the core of insight is an ordering afresh of data, something ‘falling into place’.

And this breakthrough is further qualified by

  • it happening while the intentional attempt at solving the problem has been suspended, and
  • by its consequence, according to Lonergan, the insight remains embedded in the mind.




Following Levin (1985) and considering Archimedes’ example of the experience at least initially overflowing into a reaction of the body, one might even want to investigate how in certain cases it remains embedded in the body’s memory.

However, even without this being clarified as yet, we can say the joy coincides with attending to the processing of insight ‘coming through’.

If this attending is a spark of the divine, of simply-being, then – and here I differ from Lonergan – I would argue the pure desire rather lies in the process-aspect than in the contents.

That which pushes us forward in our desire to know, the pushing, the ‘forwarding’, the movement itself, and not just as running naked from the bath!, is what points beyond the mere desire.

Of course, even the childlike joy in finding out, in the very process of figuring things out comes with curiosity to find out about things, i.e. it has an object, a content, an objective.

But could it not be argued that the struggle between inauthenticity and authenticity which Lonergan describes for religious development, occurs – even if not brought to consciousness – in everybody balancing his or her interest in her work with the extrinsic aspects of motivation and – dare I say it – capitalist strings that come attached to it over time?

I would argue that the process-aspect of finding-out, being creative and curious and attentive is our share, our spark of Being.

Therefor, I propose to define the event or aspect of self-transcendence where we are pulled out of ourselves as Insight into Being.

In addition, I would argue that, the rare occasion of a grand insight, which I will explore in a moment, set aside, every step of self-transcendence when attended to, offers a spark of this ‘grand insight’, and in terms of personal development eventually may lead to the same stage or result of maturity (and acceptance), as Roberts (1993)




points out. Ogilvie (2001) seems to consider this when he speaks of our experience of self-transcendence when submitting moral decisions to a ‘higher

moral goal’, but at closer look he himself submits this experience to the rational critical consciousness. Even if this error can be avoided, there is a fine line between middle age complacency and mature self-transcending acceptance!


If you follow my suggestion that the pure desire with being as its objective is oriented towards the process, just as unrestricted desire is – desiring, this has consequences for our context:




  • Lonergan defines the contents of the pure desire for being as the complete act of understanding. Even if only partially achievable by humans, only regarding the beingness of things, it means the content is discovered to be process in the end. Following my argument, I would get to the same end from a different angle: Insofar as the pure desire for being woven in with the mere desire, at least seminally, is understood as content it is in for a grand inverse insight.[4] I see Lonergan’s approach of understanding as leading to Being – via various steps of self-transcendence and the final being-pulled-out-of-self as an especially appropriate description for the wrestling with an understanding of God and the rightly claimed legitimacy of questioning.[5] Furthermore, on the level of value judgments, I would think that the very case of Heidegger’s flirtation with the


NAZI ideology, shows that Lonergan’s self-appropriation through understanding one’s desiring and one’s attending, including evaluating and responding, is very important indeed.


  • However, I would provisionally argue Being to be found in the complete act of attending – namely, Be-ing.

A sense of it is seminally given in different stages of the human self-appropriation, and can be brought to consciousness.

The transcending act, leading to the subject’s being-in-Being may occur wherever the question of being is put correctly (one condition for insight to occur, according to Lonergan), i.e. with all-pervading urgency of attention.

In other words: Lonergan’s own notion of self-transcendence as transcending the rational consciousness points the way for a more philosophically reflective understanding of what is happening here.



  • This will, through a complex process of self-appropriation set the

individual free to love and be loved. I understand the appropriation

of the ‘insight into being’ as love to be the fullest possible response. This brings us

back to the suggestion of a  ‘physiological imprint’: If the regular insight stays

embedded in the mind, I think it is possible to say the ‘grand insight’  remains

specially present to the body’s memory. At any rate it leaves an inner imperative –

the person will not rest until he or she has responded as fully, as comprehensively,

engaging all their faculties to the greatest intent and extent possible (including

repeated errors and transcending  provisional concepts!)


  • However, Lonergan’s conceptualisation as being-in-love, although appealing and

poetically dense, does not appear to be precise enough: (Lonergan 1985, 208)

  1. There is no differentiation of falling-in-love and being-in-love, which even in


human terms are two different processes, and

  1. the latter involves a process of self-appropriation in self-transcendence: All

the faculties of self-appropriation  and their understanding need to be surrendered to the new regime, hopefully and ultimately leading to what I would call attending-in-love.[6]


  • I sense more than I understand[7] that the conceptualisation of God as to be found in unrestricted intelligibility leaves room for some clarification.
  1. The religious believer may approach the ground of being as theistically conceptualised.

He or she may even get an extra-sensory ‘answer’ in his or her existential quest, i.e. the dialogical character may confirm the personal quality of God as communicating. However, it was Augustine who said that the answering

‘voice’ could be described as a (higher) part of himself. (see Biser 1994).


  1. Cautiously, I would argue that that which is described as entering into

God’s Presence is not yet unrestricted, nor unconditioned, as it mostly

does not appear to fully appreciate its complementary understanding.


  • Research on the interface of modern physics, cognition theory and anthropology, I expect, will be able to understand communication between human minds – as transcendent, but not necessarily transcendental as involving a ground of being or a primary being, but involving interactive fields.

Even without being able to draw on that research, I would argue

that Lonergan’s insights do not help the cause of a ‘Personal God’.


Critical reasoning will see the involvement of the person’s self (immanent and

transcendent parts) in creating the communication that usually is seen to support

the case of a ‘Personal God’.

To put it differently, however, the non-theistically conceptualised experience of

‘being pulled out of self’, i.e. the experience of having one’s data about being and

meaning and the search and longing for ultimate answers rearranged in one’s

mind, may even lead to a theistically conceptualised response – attending and

responding to the understanding, that this is one valid way of transcribing the

reality of the experience.


  • I argue, even without the ‘grand insight’, the development with maturity, to accept the virtually unconditioned brought to consciousness and understood, may gradually lead to the inner freedom as it can be initiated by the ‘grand insight’.

Robert Forman (1999, 151) describes this process accelerated by transcendental


“An unchanging interior silence is maintained concurrently with intentional

experience in a long-term or permanent way.”


  • This view also allows necessary differentiation regarding the way self-appropriation can lead to a breakthrough of insight into Being. I do think Lonergan’s achievements in this area are
  • the description of the process of appropriation as complete only through understanding, critical reflection and response and
  • the vision of their role in mediating meaning where authoritative ways are no longer accepted, and the individual faces individual accountability and adaptation to changing circumstances increasingly as an individual (i.e. without being supported through stable communities).





Tentatively, again, I think, the requirement to put the question in the right way, however, overall seems to be one of attending to and pressing ahead with the existential urgency and the suspense of the understanding faculties, thus preparing for the process which involves and leads to attentiveness on a higher, more differentiated level.


9.) The re-ordering of data in the grand insight in terms of cognition could be

compared to the reality of play (see Gadamer 1990, 107ff): The rules are taken

seriously and the player (usually) will try to do his or her best to understand,

follow and use them, even to gain virtuosity in playing – it is taken seriously, but it

does not rule the way one views the world. One remains free to put it to one side

and turn the attention to something else. Figuratively speaking, playing is

attending, understanding, judging and responding under open sky. The givenness

of reality in play does not restrict the horizon, nor does it necessarily inhibit

the creative intention to change it!

While Robert Forman suggests a development without further consideration of a quality of insight, the subject of my main case study reports repeated insights, appropriated over time. With her, then, the process is not realised without content – but initiated through the process-character of data-changing character. So the is-ness of Being will be anchored in the mind through one or more essential insights into a specific, if existentially important set of questions, circumstances or aspects of the issue of Being, gradually to be appropriated by reshaping the faculties through the transcendental precepts. The emphasis will hereby lie on the individual’s contribution to completion of being, rather than fulfilling in appropriating one’s self.

I argue we open our mind to attentiveness and self-appropriation as moving beyond theistic conceptualisation (- not necessarily beyond awe! -) as transcendent meaning only will sustain if it remains just that – being fluid. And it


will only remain transcendent through the continuing self-appropriation in attending (accepting).

Robert Kennedy (2001): “However far we have gone, we can always go further.”

Thus, in hermeneutic fashion, we return to Lonergan’s self-appropriation as  “the ultimate basis of reference in terms of which one can proceed to deal satisfactorily with other questions.” (Morelli 359)

And we are equipped to develop a viewpoint enabling us to

grasp meanings; open our minds to ideas that do not lie on the surface and to

views that diverge enormously from our own, enable us to find clues where

otherwise one might look but would fail to see, even transport our thinking

into the level and texture of another culture in another epoch. (Lonergan 1992,

quoted in Morelli 1997, 271)













Case Study Reports

In the case of the study I am compiling myself and from which the first 4 short texts are taken, the existentially pressing need arises for the individual, as a child in post World War II Germany :- the parents – father deeply traumatised through experience as a young soldier and POW in Russia, the mother violently stuck in psychological patterns as acquired as Hitler Youth and deeply unhappy in the marriage. These factors not only make for an environment of emotional abuse and double bind messages, but my protagonist also has to cope with all this as a highly sensitive temperament. She has no religious education or what she has, passes her by, so that she recalls: “I was 9 and I knew, there was no Father in Heaven.” (Shepherd 2003) Her reports are submitted in the form of a poetic journal, adapting the tradition of Japanese haibun. (see Basho 1998).

For this, Max van Manen (1990) provides the hermeneutic framework of conceptualisation and interpretation:

  1. Turning to a phenomenon
  2. Investigating the experience
  3. Reflecting on themes
  4. Art of (re)writing
  5. Oriented relation
  6. Context

For the case presented, van Manen’s modes of silence may be relevant:

–     literal silence (leaving things unsaid),

  • epistemological silence (knows more than is said)
  • ontological silence (refers to being, truth)


The other extracts are taken from literature as referenced as I find the illustrate aspects of the point I am making. I leve the reader to his/her reflective evaluation. And I am very interested in feedback! (Contact details as provided!)


4.1  October 1978:    Teaching I Teach Orientation


I am teaching my first adult learner beginners’ class of English in a community college in the far south of West Germany.[8]


In front of me – 10, 15 mostly retired people, who want to give it a shot.

I have just asked them about their motivation to learn English now, and heard a variety of interests; all, however, breathing the excitement of six-year-olds[9], heading for school the first day – expecting a new world to open up.

So, I suppose, it is no sheer coincidence, that many of my pupils give as their first motivation – to be able to help their grandchildren, who are just beginning to learn the language at school.[10]


Some want to travel to Britain and be able to find their way around Big Ben without too much embarrassment.

Eager, with bright eyes they are looking at me.



“We look at things differently now. We enjoy and gain far more out of paintings, literature and architecture. Even TV programmes have an extra dimension.”[11]



I promise silently not to let them down.

They will never know they have given me an unexpected present.


round world

making sense of a new word –

All present




4.2   March 1979: Frontier

 I have returned form East Germany yesterday, after three months of study. It was not an easy time. I was born there, brought up in the West. My parents’ rejection of their roots took me back to see for myself. –

My critical questions while permitted, were not encouraged, rarely answered, mostly dismissed. Our teachers were my age when the GDR came into being. Their enthusiasm and quest have long been stifled. A scheduled visit to Sachsenhausen concentration camp memorial site last week brought a shift. Several of my fellow students declined to attend, “we have seen it all before”. Taking us back where they themselves started, we did not talk about it, but teachers suddenly seemed to understand: I need to go to the roots of the motivation, that this may never happen again (be it in my thinking or physically), and renew it from facing that which must never happen again – where else?

“The GDR has been an experiment – what else could we have done?” (Stephan Hermlin)

So in the end, I left East Berlin with a sense of freedom, clarity and reconciliation- out of confusion.

Barbed wire in between –
Light overflows train window sun,
Patrols both on guard.

Home, last night – I found myself free from a compulsive neurotic symptom, after a long time.



In the actual experience ‘caught’ in the haiku, I recognise what Lonergan calls “the universal viewpoint (as) concerned with the interpreter’s capacity to grasp meanings; it would open his mind to ideas that do not lie on the surface and to views that diverge enormously from his own; it would enable him to find clues where otherwise he might look but would fail to see…” (Lonergan 1992, quoted in Morelli 1997, 270)


“Communication and discussion take place through concepts, but all insight lies behind the conceptual scene. … there is always a danger that (a reader) will attend to the concepts rather than the underlying insight, (particularly) when the point to be grasped by insight is merely that there is no point.” (Lonergan 1992, quoted in Morelli 1997, 65)


It was only 10 years after the event, that she found in Ezekiel 37: 3  the dialogue between the prophet and God that seems relevant here:

“Tell me, can these bones live?” – “Only you know that.”




4.3 October 1995: The Light

I am looking after an elderly man for a few hours, giving him his evening
meal, getting him ready for the night – all while his mind is seemingly

His wife shared some of his and their life stories with me, the other week.

Sitting with him for a while, before I go, in the drawer of his bedside
table, I find one single book, a worn copy of extracts from the

There is a Light that shines beyond all things on earth,
Beyond us all,
Beyond the heavens,
Beyond the highest, the very highest heavens. (Chandogya Upanishad, 3.13.7-8)

Walking back to my rented bed-sit, over the cobbles of the old town, through
a dark but mild October night, a quiet, deep joy about the find is still
with me.

Shimmering cobbles,
Curtains drawn against
Orange lights.

Certain moments in a life, and they need not be particularly significant,
can compensate for so much in this life, give meaning to it. (James Baldwin)


The verse continues: This is the Light that shines in our heart. (Upanishads, ibid.) – Although read at the time, this only sank into her awareness several years later.






4.4 Love in April
I have not seen her for a few months. When I hear her calling from the gate — I know it is her, before I recognise her. I leave the car, engine running, and rush over.

She tells me she left Uni after the first semester and is now jobbing until she finds out what to do. Her face yet rounder, she looks younger again — and well. I tell her so. She smiles. Even our self-consciousness is tender — as we recognise each other.

Not the sun…in April –
your face…    shines

I pass her in the car again as she closes the gate after her bike, and we both wave.

Not mother, not daughter –
my love, so much younger
in you



Inspired as this was by April (name changed), following the encounter the author also remembered a poem read 20 years earlier:
“When I see you,
The sun rises –
Can’t be, you say?
You only think so, because
You don’t see yourself when another
Recognises you.”


4.5  Past Present (Schlink 1997, 215)


What a sad story, I thought for so long. Not that I now think it was happy. But I think it is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever.

At any rate, that’s what I think when I just happen to think about it. But if something hurts me, the hurts I suffered back then come back to me, and when I feel guilty, the feelings of guilt return; if I yearn for something today or fee homesick, I feel the yearnings and homesickness from back then.

The geological layers of our lives rest so tightly one on top of the other that we always come up against earlier events in later ones, not as matter that has



been fully formed and pushed aside, but absolutely present and alive. I understand this. Nevertheless, I sometimes find it hard to bear.


This piece provides a dense description of the difficulties and resistances of ‘older’ layers of consciousness in self-appropriation!


4.6       Being Earth (Gaarder 2001, 52ff.)

Her true ‘me’, her innermost self, was not sentenced to death. It was not going to die not any more than the forest dies when a tree has been chopped.

She was not 36 years of age. She had always been. She would always be.

She was the stars and she was the ground on which she stood. A few hours ago, she had been a chemist suffering from cancer, praying for an easy death. Now, she saw what she had been praying for high above in the night of light years above the airport. Billions of years before she had even put her hands together, the answer to her prayer had set out to reach her.

Once matter had been a single body, and then fibres had been dispersed to the ends of the universe. Tonight she had found home to herself.

What was waiting for her now was – merely pain.


We can perhaps see the quality of inverse insight to some extent shining through in Gaarder’s diagnosis. Although Jenny, the protagonist does not start of with a theistic understanding, her intention of coming to terms with dying is transcended beyond the conceptual. (And then, as I would see it, retranslated by her into it.)


4.7       Fabulous Luck (Baldwin 1968, 368)

I played that scene for all that was in it, for all that was in me… For the first time, the very first time, I realised the fabulous extent of my luck: I could, I could, if I kept the faith, transform my sorrow into life and joy. I might live in pain and sorrow forever, but, if I kept the faith, I could do for others what I felt had not been done for me, and if I could do that, if I could give, I could live.


Like his creator, Leo has suffered from, struggled with and distanced himself from fundamentalist faith.






D’Aquili, Eugene and Andrew B. Newberg 1999, The Mystical Mind, Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress


Baldwin, James 1968, Tell Me How Long The Train’s Been Gone, London: Michael Joseph


Basho, Matsuo 1998, Narrow Road to the Interior, Boston: Shambala


Biser, Eugen 1994, Der inwendige Lehrer, Műnchen: Piper


Blue, Lionel 1999, My Affair with Christianity, London: Hodder & Stoughton.


Conn, Walter E. 1978, Conversion, New York: Alba House

Incl. :

Jacques Pasquier, Experience and Conversion

Steward Hiltner, Toward a Theology of Conversion in the Light of



Forman, Robert K.C. 1999, Mysticism, Mind, Consciousness, New York: State of New York University Press


Gaarder, Jostein, 2001 Die Diagnose, Dűsseldorf: Patmos


Gadamer, Hans-Georg 1990, Wahrheit und Methode, Tűbingen: Mohr


Kennedy, Robert E. 2001 Zen Spirit – Christian Spirit, New York: Continuum


Levin, David Michael 1985, The Body’s Recollection of Being, London: Routledge


Lonergan, Bernard 1985, A Third Collection, New York: Paulist

Lonergan, Bernard 1988, Collection, 2nd edition, Toronto: University of Toronto Press

Lonergan, Bernard 1992, Insight, Toronto: University of Toronto Press

Lonergan, Bernard 1999, Method in Theology, paperback reprint, Toronto: University of Toronto Press

Lonergan, Bernard 2000, Understanding and Being, paperback reprint, Toronto: University of Toronto Press


van Manen, Max 1990, Researching Lived Experience, New York: SUNY Press


Morelli, Mark D. and Elizabeth A. Morelli (ed.s) 1997, The Lonergan Reader, Toronto: University of Toronto Press


Ogilvie, Matthew  2001, Faith Seeking Understanding, Milwaukee: Marquette University Press


Rahner, Karl 1984, Grundkurs des Glaubens, Freiburg: Herder


Roberts, Bernadette 1993,The Experience of No Self, Albany: SUNY Press


Schlink, Bernhard 1997, The Reader, London: Orion


Schweitzer, Albert 1988, Die Ehrfurcht vor dem Leben, München: Beck


Shepherd, Barbara 2003, The World At Heart, Birmingham: Unpublished


von Weizsãcker, Carlfriedrich  1971, Die Einheit der Natur, München: Hanser


Wilber, Ken 2001, Quantum Questions, Boston: Shambala


[1] see Carlfriedrich von Weizsäcker 1971

or Albert Schweitzer 1988

Albert Einstein, see Ken Wilber 2001

[4] There may also be a further investigation necessary between religious experience as d’Aquili and Newberg describe it as shaped by the brain’s use of myth or comparable material.

[5] In fact, privately I wonder, whether this may not have been part of his motive for getting into wrestling with understanding in the first place: to pierce some pre-Vatican II stuckness of theological thinking and its transmission.


[6] Incidentally I can see arguments for a risk of addiction at this stage (again) as the discrepancy between being-pulled-out-of-self and owning up to one’s own dark side and possibly the limited understanding of the nearest and dearest will be painful).

[7] The paradox conveyed here was presented to me in a story I heard about a Buddhist giving a retreat in England. When pushed by a participant with Christian background, he eventually, quite angrily replied ‘there is no God’, only to add immediately, and gently, ‘He is always with you.’

[8] On placement while a graduate student

[9] In Germany the age to begin school.

[10] In Germany obligatory at age 10.

[11] Bernard Prunty, in: Through The Joy of Learning, NIACE, Leicester, 1996, p.5 – as adult

returning to learning expresses an experience in the same vein.

~ by Barbara S on December 23, 2012.

One Response to “Insight from Rockbottom”

  1. This Academic Paper, or rather the dissertation for my MA in Contemporary Theology in 2004 it was the central part of, concluded many years of independent study: I had set out to clarify – first of all to myself – how to understand what hit me one November day in 1985 with the sentence “God called to rest”, on a grave stone, as I was walking past the cemetery. Yet, that which awoke, again, in me that day, was at the same time that which had always been with me, hed held me and urged me go on when I felt I could not, or when I could not see the point, or when I had yet again manoeuvred myself into a dead end… It was not something new.
    Yet, it had hit me, and turned my life around.
    No, it got me to turn my life around, and catch up with myself.
    As if I ever could.

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