Three Defining Characteristics of Self-Transcendence (ST)
(1) ST is a re-orientation away from egotistic concerns towards some external object that is valued more than the self. At the situational level, mindful observation of life as it is happening is a case of ST, but mindful mediation focusing on one’s thoughts and feelings would not be an example of ST. At the transpersonal life, the external object can be God, a higher power, nature, or the cosmos.
(2) ST involves intrinsic motivation because both the process and the objective are inherently rewarding and worthwhile. One engages in ST for its own sake, rather than as an instrument to serve some other extrinsic motive.
(3) ST is consistent with one’s innate conscience and some normative vision of moral values and virtues. This vision may be the classic ideal of truth, goodness, and beauty, the cardinal virtues according to Plato and Confucius, or the normative moral vision according to the folk psychology of indigenous cultures.
This criterion will differentiate the true ST that will benefit both individuals and humanity from the false ST that employs unethical/illegal means to purse some bigger than life projects that are inherently harmful to large segments of humanity.