VCFS Online Conference

The Differentiated Universal Self
Erik Thompson, MA

Friday, April 29, 2022
11am – 2pm EST

This meeting will explore questions such as:
  1. Can experiences of personal connectedness to something greater than oneself grow differentiation of self?
  2. How do such experiences impact how people relate to family life?
  3. How can we cultivate such experiences?

Would a universal self display the fundamental property of differentiation?

Bowen theory posits a group self as part of its concept of the multigenerational family as an emotional unit. Indeed, the word “unit” has the same root as the word “universal”.  This inspiring idea is integral to an understanding of differentiation, or healthy separateness, the proposed key variable in family health.  Thus Bowen theory combines an expanded vision of the self with a precisely distinctive one.  
In recent years, the idea of consciousness as an intrinsic property of nature has gained support in philosophy of science, consciousness theory, as well as theoretical physics.  Credible theories now allow for the possibility of conscious forms beyond the human level, and even the possibility of an infinite mind, or even minds.  Some theorists make links to ancient wisdom traditions, others do not.
Is it possible that the expansive and differentiating features of Bowen theory make a contribution here?  Could future developments in Bowen theory further expand the concept of self beyond the family toward something like a universal self?  Would a universal self display the fundamental property of differentiation?
By exploring evidence from these disciplines, plus neuroscience of higher stages of human development, ancient religious and philosophical traditions, and recent findings from the Bowen theory and meditation research community, this discussion will inspire potential new approaches to expanding family systems leadership.
Erik Thompson, MA is the ED of VCFS, with a BA in Ancient Philosophy from Maharishi International University, and an MA in Counseling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies.  A universalist, he has practiced Transcendental Meditation twice daily for 40 years.  He founded Thompson Leadership Development, Inc., a national consulting firm.