Jes Bertelsen (born March 27, 1946), Dr. phil. in History of Ideas, is a Danish spiritual teacher and author. Since 1982 he has been the leader of Vækstcenteret (i.e. "The Growth Center"), which he and his wife at the time, Hanne Kizach, founded in Norre-Snede Municipality, Denmark. His teachings are based on an experiential investigation of the nature of consciousness, using comparative analysis of Eastern and Western spiritual teachings and consciousness practices on a foundation of modern psychological, philosophical and scientific approaches. He teaches in Danish. A number of his books have been translated into German.
Jes Bertelsen has written 20 books beginning with the 1972 gold medal award winning MA thesis “Kategori og afgørelse, strukturer i Kirkegaards tænkning”. In the later part of his authorship he more or less departs from the academic tradition and focuses on psychology, self-development and philosophy of consciousness seen in relationship to meditative instructions. From around 2006 he has also been involved in scientific inquiry into the neurological results of meditative practice. In 2009 he was co-author of an article published in the scientific journal Neuroreport: "Long-term meditation is associated with increased gray matter density in the brain stem".
From 1978 to the early 1980s Jes Bertelsen was in an ongoing training with the Irish healer Bob Moore, whose understanding of the human energy system had roots in the theosophical tradition. In Jes Bertelsen’s early work this influence is seen in his focus on the connections between ordinary consciousness, the chakra system, non-physical energy systems, symbols from dream states, states of expanded consciousness and clairvoyance. Among Jes Bertelsen’s sources of inspiration are also the descriptions of the Christ in the Gospel of Thomas, and the Heart prayer of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The Eastern Tantric traditions have been a source of inspiration in his work on the relationship between vital energy, sexuality, love and spirituality.
In 1989 Jes Bertelsen met the Tibetan Lama Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, who authorized Jes Bertelsen to teach Dzogchen, the pointing out instruction, Tregchöd and thödgal; and to do so using his own judgment as to the most appropriate way to assimilate these teachings into Western culture. This influence is clearly seen in subsequent books as well as in Jes Bertelsen’s teachings, which over time increasingly has focused on meditative training.
Jes Bertelsen maintains that it is possible to train the mind, and he sees meditative practice as a gradual progression towards both quieting the mind and allowing greater empathic openness and heartfelt presence. Like many other voices in the international dialogue about consciousness, spirituality and religion he thinks it is possible to free the universal elements of spiritual practice from traditional religious contexts and make them available for general use. For this purpose he has created simple and generally applicable teaching tools that teachers can use with school children.
In several of his books, Jes Bertelsen describes the unique possibilities and challenges inherent in the secularized Scandinavian societies for developing an experientially based spirituality. He emphasizes a distinction between an inherent spirituality shared by everyone, and the individual option of actively training and developing what he refers to as spiritual intelligence. In his view such an effort is to be based on "democratic understanding, openness toward the Christian cultural values, equality between men and women and a scientific approach". The Danish religious sociologist Helle Hinge has characterized Jes Bertelsen as an example of the New Age movement.