Postmodern Transpersonal Consciousness: Witnessing Awareness and the Movement of Life

Carolyn Davis, National-Louis University


This is a phenomenological study of higher consciousness potentials and it describes my experience transitioning through structures of consciousness. This qualitative research employed a method of observation and narrative inquiry which extended over seven years. The study relates to two phenomena: (1) the developmental progression of the aspect of consciousness referred to as self-identity, the self-identified thinking process, or egoic identity and (2) the arising of trans-egoic, transpersonal consciousness; witnessing awareness. Applying the theoretical framework of Robert Kegan’s Subject-Object theory, my research text provides an account of the meaning-making identity structures of third, fourth and fifth orders of consciousness and describes the developmental path toward greater complexity of mind. The research also describes my transition to fifth order transpersonal consciousness and includes narrative reflections of my transformed perspective. A major finding from my research process is the enduring recognition of embodied present moment witnessing awareness—non-personal, inclusive awareness. This study suggests a possible relationship between the development of identity consciousness and sustained recognition of witnessing awareness. I offer suggestions for personal investigation of witnessing awareness along with ideas for the application of Subject-Object theory in the development of adult education curricula.