The International Transpersonal Association (ITA) seeks to promote a transpersonal vision in research, scholarship, education, as well as therapeutic and practical applications. It aligns itself with no single approach, be it religious or scholarly. Rather it encourages a diversity of perspectives through which insights from spiritual traditions might be effectively integrated into modern culture.
- To emphasize the central importance of the quality of human awareness and experience, the value of self-actualization, and the evolving nature of consciousness at both individual and collective levels.
- To acknowledge lived experience as valid sources of scientific data, and develop new methodologies for their rigorous study.
- To recognize spiritual needs and impulses as integral aspects of human nature.
Integrity in the spiritual path
- To respect every individual’s right to pursue, if they are so inclined, the spiritual path of his or her choice and to encourage practices of self-discovery, provided that doing so in no way brings harm to others.
- To foster a recognition that systematic self-exploration conducted with integrity and honesty especially if informed by the knowledge accumulated by the spiritual traditions of the whole world—may lead to the recognition of the unity underlying creation and result in a better adjustment of the individual to family members, fellow humans, and nature, than might be achieved through externally imposed and enforced rules and restrictions.
- To foster a broader recognition in society at large of the value of those strategies of self-transformation towards enhanced personal well-being which also promote collective harmony and constructive dialogue toward reconciling and honouring differences.
- To encourage the further development of such strategies as are associated with the world’s spiritual and mystical traditions, and to develop and disseminate new, safe and effective techniques of in-depth self-exploration and transformation.
- To encourage the use of these strategies (both old and new) as valid resources to both challenge and complement strategies of problem-solving which rely entirely on manipulation and control of the external world.
- To encourage and emphasize complementarity, synergy, inclusiveness, and cooperation versus elitism, antagonism, and competition.
Forward through exploration
- To maintain an open-minded approach to the exploration of the world and the human mind unimpeded by rigid adherence to either existing or new paradigms. This principle is based on the recognition that reality is infinitely more complex than any one scientific theory can describe, and that, whilst theoretical models can usefully integrate the data known at a particular time, they are at best only temporary approximations of the structures and processes to which they relate; they can never provide an accurate, exhaustive, and final description of objective reality.
- To promote the above through appropriate educational initiatives, scholarship and research, and applied practices.
To promote the above guiding principles through appropriate strategies of:
- Research and scholarship
- Applied practice
More specifically the ITA seeks to:
- Create a global network of transpersonally-oriented organizations that co-operate in the promotion of conferences, lectures, seminars, workshops, and media with a transpersonal focus.
- Expand the network of such organizations through the inclusion of groups that are inherently aligned with the transpersonal vision, such as holistically oriented therapists, medical practitioners, scientists, educators, philosophers, artists, economists, politicians, sociologists, and so on.
- Facilitate international exchange of information where this relates to the sphere of the transpersonal. This is to include the establishing of a Global Learning Hub, and the sharing of ideas etc through web resources and guest lecturers, researchers, students, books, journals, articles, films, and tapes.
- Publish an international journal reflecting the basic philosophy of the ITA.
- Organize and coordinate international research projects focusing on cross-cultural comparison of various transpersonal phenomena, such as spiritual practices, healing ceremonies, culture-bound forms of transpersonal states, rites of passage, attitudes toward death, near-death-experiences, paranormal performances, etc.
- To encourage the establishment of trainings, Chairs, and Departments at universities and other teaching facilities, that will further promote transpersonally-oriented courses.
- To continue the tradition of organizing and promoting International Transpersonal Conferences
The ITA was first established in 1978 for the purposes of promoting education and research in transpersonal subjects, as well as sponsoring global conferences for the international transpersonal community. Founding members were Stan Grof, Michael Murphy and Richard Price, who were also the founders of Esalen Institute in California.This first incarnation of ITA was dissolved in 2004, and a revitalised ITA was launched in 2008.
ITA held numerous conference over the years: the first conference was in Bifrost, Iceland in 1972, followed by another conference held in Bifrost in 1973. The third international transpersonal conference was held in a school in Inari, Finland in 1976. The fourth international transpersonal conference was held in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in 1977. Then next one was in Danvers (Boston), USA, in 1979 and in Melbourne, Australia, in 1980. In 1982 ITA conference was held in Bombay, India. Presentations at Bombay’s conference included many prominent spiritual figures, like Swami Muktananda, Mother Teresa, and the Parsee high priest Dastoor Minocher Homji as well as scientists, Karl Pribram, Fritjof Capra, Rupert Sheldrake, Elmer and Alyce Green. Over seven hundred people participated in this conference.
In 1983 ITA held conference in Davos, Switzerland, then in Kyoto, Japan, in 1985. 1988 conference was in Santa Rosa, CA, USA, followed by conference in Eugene (Oregon), USA, in 1990, Atlanta, USA, in 1991 and Santa Clara (San Francisco), USA, in 1994. 1995 conference was held in Killarney, Ireland and then in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1992. An amazing conference was held in Manaus, Brazil, in 1996 and attended by Brazilian shamans, and representatives of the Santo Daime people, members of Union de Vegetal, and spiritists. The highlight of the conference was a concert in the famous Manaus opera house featuring Jai Uttal, Geoff Gordon, Chungliang Al Huang, and others. Over 900 people participated in this conference. Then in 2004, ITA conference was held in Palm Springs, CA, USA, inspired by the 100th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Campbell. Unfortunately, after the 2004 International Transpersonal Conference in Palm Springs, CA, the ITA was dissolved.
The rebirth of ITA started at the World Congress of Spirituality and Psychology held in Delhi, India in January 2008. David Lukoff sponsored a meeting to discuss forming a group, which was well attended, including by Friedman, Hartelius, Lancaster, Lukoff, and many others. it was decided to keep the name of the new organization after the original ITA—and to continue the ITA tradition, including its conferences. Stan Grof gave his blessing to the idea and Friedman offered to solicit funding from the Floraglades Foundation, a nonprofit organization that owns IJTS.
In 2008 the new ITA was launched with Harris Friedman serving as its President, David Lukoff as Vice President, and Glen Hartelius as Secretary and Treasurer. The new ITA board met for the first time at EUROTAS 2010 conference in Moscow. Les Lancaster has served as a president of ITA between 2009 and 2017. Zana Marovic is a current president of ITA.