Transcendence and Inscendence are Opposite Poles of the Same Tree

· NVC,Nature,Wild Heart

In a previous post, I introduced Inscendence as a human need as an innate desire to discover our unique place in the world.

Inscendence is at the opposite pole of Transcendence on an imagined transpersonal axis, pointing to a cosmic/divine energy that is uniquely ours. [1]

Inscendence invites us to re-discover our own mythos, our unique place of belonging to the world – our niche inspired by the dream that brought us into being – giving rise to the potential of uncovering and contributing our unique capacities to the Earth community through what Bill Plotkin calls a journey of soul initiation, described in a book by that title. [2]

Eco-anthropologist Thomas Berry adds “Each individual is not only different from every other being in the universe but also has its own inner articulation, its unique spontaneities. Each being in its subjective depths carries that numinous mystery whence the universe emerges into being. This we might identify as the sacred depth of the individual.” [3]

Furthermore, Berry writes “the natural world demands a response that rises from the wild unconscious depths of the human soul. A response that artists seek to provide in color and music and movement.” [4]

The need for Transcendence can be seen as a guide to Spirit. Inscendence as a need can be seen as a guide to Soul. [5]

By expanding our breadth/depth in understanding of human needs, the practice of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) can be extended beyond interpersonal communication and intrapersonal self-connection to include the transpersonal, supporting a connection to Spirit and to Soul.

As you participate in practices that satisfy your need for Transcendence, you’ll experience a connection to Spirit – in the flow with the cosmic consciousness which dreamed us into existence, giving a sense of belonging to the larger emergence of the dream of the Earth.

As you engage in activities that satisfy your need for Inscendence, you’ll experience closeness – a longing for Soul, as you tune into the aspects of life that are uniquely yours. We feel an electrified joy when we act congruently with our sense of purpose on a path to self-actualization, communion, and soul-connection.

A nice property of this transpersonal model is that it doesn’t specify/require a particular set of beliefs, or practices in a path to Spirit or Soul.

Transcendence and Inscendence can be imagined to be growing in opposite directions in a tree. Transcendence is like the crown of a tree that reaches upward toward the sky. Whereas Inscendence is the root system reaching deeper and deeper into the Earth, seeking the nourishment and stability that matters most, at the unique place in which it finds itself living – just like the picture of the tree below captured by my friend Hala Fauzi on our walk at the Sunol-Ohlone Regional Wilderness. Note that the life of this particular tree is in jeopardy because of its location at the edge of a hill where the ground gave way because of the excessive rain in California in 2023 – the trees' nourishment and stability are at risk.

broken image


The dream of the Earth continues moment-to-moment, manifested in the conscious awareness and tending to the life energy seeking fulfillment of our needs.



[1] Forming a hypothetical transpersonal axis as in the Wild Mind Intrapersonal Map of the Self created by Bill Plotkin.

[2] See “Journey of Soul Initiation” by Bill Plotkin

[3] Thomas Berry, The Great Work: Our Way into the Future (New York: Bell Tower, 1999), p. 163.

[4] Ibid., p. 55.

[5] inspired by Bill Plotkin, Wild Mind – Field Guide to the Human Psyche


© 2023 Jaime L. Prieto, Jr.,, All Rights Reserved.