Over a decade ago, I became intrigued with the process of self-actualization as a process. I wondered, am I a self-actualized person? If I am, how did I become self-actualized? These questions came on the heels of a spiritual awakening I had while writing my first book, Paradise Trees: On Earth as In Heaven. This was when I first encountered the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, and the city of Auroville, India she founded. I became a member of the Aurovilian community and met some of the first people of Auroville. The Mother passed away in 1973 at the age of 95. Hearing the stories and witnessing the human unity movement she created in Auroville created a strange emptiness in me: I longed for a direct experience with a living, breathing, spiritual guru.
Several years later, I used my doctoral study in education for leadership and change as an opportunity to develop the conscious evolutionary worldview featured in this trilogy, and focus on my self-actualization influenced by a living-breathing, spiritual guru. This evolved into a phenomenological inquiry into spiritual coaching as a sociocultural support for self-actualizing people. The study had two participants, a spiritual coach and student. I was the student. Sadly, the study ended prematurely when the relationship between my spiritual mentor descended into an abusive coaching relationship.
My dissertation and self-esteem in shambles, I sought forensic therapy to deconstruct what happened, and heal. Eventually, I was able to separate my lived experiences in transformation from the abuse I suffered by completing my research and writing my dissertation using transcendental phenomenology as a method. Transcendental phenomenology is a powerful research approach to set aside judgement and bracket essential structures of experiences.
The result was a 275-page dissertation about the phenomenon of perception and the impact it has upon the manifestation of physical reality; the impact the proximity of the witnessing self to the experiencing self brings to bear upon quality of life. I argued the thesis that self-actualizing people intentionally operate within actual, potential, and attainable realities. I proposed that the precarious reality worldview, represented by the intrapersonal perception and relationships with the worlds within reach and potential reach, and an Age of Consciousness worldview, represented by intrapersonal perception and relationship with the world within attainable reach, exist in parallel. I conceived that once the attainable world becomes the world within reach, a new potential lifeworld will emerge and give birth to the next attainable world. This progression became my theory for how sociocultural conscious evolution occurs, and how self-actualizing people grow.
My doctoral committee commended the work, but disagreed with my presentation of the research and data. The committee reminded me that my findings must focus on what occurred within the approved study period, which was abuse by a spiritual coach. I almost gave up, but was saved by the process of phenomenological writing. I earned my doctoral degree with the case study and began a new start-up, Forerunner Coaching Advisory Group based upon my findings.
On the day of my dissertation final oral review, I experienced an epiphany upon the realization that both dissertations combined represented two poles of a single polarity in lived experience. My soul perceived the self-actualization journey as transcendental, while my ego perceived the same experience as traumatic. This epiphany inspired the In a Perfect World trilogy of books and the conscious evolution transformational system called the Vitality Modality™.
When I sat down to write the first book in the series, I had no idea I would end up focused upon the masculine experience. I found that when I reflected on my life, and the body of my academic work from the beginning, I always seemed to be writing for a male ear. This is possibly because as a professional, vocational, and academic leader, my thinking, beliefs, and values have been largely formed through my associations with men.
With this series, I am not writing for the men who have fulfilled the traditional roles in my life. I am writing for men who because of the patriarchal hegemony have not had the opportunity to partake in the fulness of my knowledge and authentic self that comes from the integrity, knowledge, and love of the woman’s wisdom perspective.
Dr. Ellema Albert Neal holds a Doctor of Education in Leadership for Change degree from Fielding Graduate University with a concentration in Phenomenology, Somatics, and Communicative Leadership Practice. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Leadership from Union Institute & University, a Computer Programming & Systems Analyst Certification & Degree.