Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
Given the recent posts on the art of living, I offer this preview of the book on ILP by Wilber, Patten, Leonard and Morelli, which is the first 2 chapters. The four core modules are body, mind, spirit and shadow, the idea being to pick at least one practice from each in designing your individual program. The spirit module includes meditation, prayer and integral inquiry (20), among others, with inquiry being a "gold star" practice. It is explained more fully starting on p. 243, not part of the preview. I'd be curious to hear more about this from those with the book, as I see what we're doing in this forum integral inquiry and therefore a suitable spiritual practice.
Ah, I found this Google book preview on the referenced section above. What they mean by inquiry is "an advanced 1st person practice designed to...rest in formless or pure awareness" (243). There are 2 aspects to it, absolute and relative. The former is the meditative practice and the latter advises understanding and dissolving obstructions to the absolute, which can include the shadow process and the AQAL model itself. There are four stages to the inquiry, the last being that when one has attained proficiency in the 3 prior stages of the meditative practice one can then bring that awareness into any activity.
Yes, I have the book (and will actually be teaching a class on it this fall). In the context of this book and ILP, Integral Inquiry is a kind of awareness practice -- basically, resting in awareness and noticing when one moves into contraction, gets distracted, etc -- rather than the kind of philosophical inquiries we often pursue here. This doesn't mean, in my view, that philosophical inquiry cannot itself be a form of spiritual practice which informs one's art of living -- which I think is a point Dial was wanting to stress, and with which I expect you'd agree (in a general way).
What we often do here, in terms of "parsing theory," is more in line with ILP's "mind module" -- part of an ILP regimen, but not a full ILP, at least in the terms laid out in the book.
So a few questions arise. The initial stages of the absolute practice is basically about sitting and unwinding. The mid-stages then include relative deconstructive and dissolving practice to get one back to absolute pure awareness. The last stage is that pure awareness then permeates every other practice, the union of absolute and relative. So in the last stage one can maintain pure awareness in the activity of philosophical or intellectual activity. How would one discern then when one is so doing instead of just engaging in mental obstruction or contraction? As Loy said:
"The point isn’t to have some pure mind, untainted by thought, like a blue, completely empty sky with no clouds. After a while that gets a little boring! Rather, one should be able to engage or play with the thought processes that arise in a creative, non-attached, nondualistic way. To put it in another way, the idea isn’t to get rid of all language, it’s to be free within language, so that one is non-attached to any particular kind of conceptual system, realizing that there are many possible ways of thinking and expressing oneself."
Regarding using deconstructive methods to get one back to a state not attached to any particular conceptual system, recall this post quoting Loy:
"Derrida is not interested in defending any philosophical position of his own but instead is concerned with showing the limits of language and the difficulties we fall into when we overstep them.... Derrida's term to describe the relativity and 'indeterminability' of meaning is différance, and the way différance functions in his philosophy can be compared to how Nagarjuna uses shunyata, or emptiness. Derrida emphasizes that différance does not refer to some specific thing. It is merely a conceptual tool useful for describing how conceptual meaning is never quite settled, but always 'deferred.'"
And hence its practice returns us to emptiness. This is in fact the goal of the practice. Derrida doesn't, as far as I know, start with trying to settle into a pure state of presence, largely due to his critique of the metaphysics of (absolute) presence. Hence there is no pure present awareness, given its inherent infection with the relative. Still, his practice of differance can lead one to an open, non-attached state of awareness.* I know it often does that for me, a state I recognize from years of meditative-martial training.** And a state that is informing this very post. Granted it isn't the same as what eastern meditators do but perhaps a homemorphic equivalence?*** And certainly one with less metaphysical baggage than ILP. At least according to my de/re.
* One of course that is immanent to the core, even its virtual emptiness.
** Another story for another day.
*** The other story in the 2nd footnote indeed finds such equivalence, given my experience in a Chinese martial art originated by Bodhidharma, who brought Buddhist meditation to China along with martial training.
From the "Treatise on T'ai Chi Ch'uan" attributed to Wang Tsung-yueh:
"T'ai Chi [Supreme Ultimate] comes from Wu Chi [Formless Void]
and is the mother of yin and yang.
In motion T'ai Chi separates;
in stillness yin and yang fuse and return to Wu Chi."
And further on:
"Within yin there is yang.
Within yang there is yin.
Yin and yang mutually aid and change each other."
According to this document, Bodhidharma "believed that physical, intellectual, and spiritual cultivation were an indivisible whole." Hence the Shaolin tradition encompassed an ILP. He also says that "Zhang San Feng graduated from the Shaolin Temple in the 13th Century." The latter is the reputed originator of t'ai chi ch'uan, "a Neo-Confucian syncretism of Chán Buddhist Shaolin martial arts with his mastery of Taoist Tao Yin (neigong) principles." The linked wiki article also shows the lineage. The Tung family style I studied comes through Yang Chengfu and Li I-yu (see family lineage). I started my study with David Block, a senior student of Tung Kai-Ying, and later studied with Master Tung in LA.
Recall I compared Wilber's consciousness per se (CPS) with Derrida's khora in this thread. On p. 1 quoting Caputo:
"Moreover, while it [khora] cannot be perceived by the senses but only by the mind, still it is not an intelligible object of the mind, like the forms. Hence, Plato says it is not a legitimate son of reason but is apprehended by a spurious or corrupted logos, a hybrid or bastard reasoning."
On p. 2 I discussed the gap in the experience of the present, similar to cessation but not quite. The same gap (ecart or chiasm) is seen in Merleau-Ponty, and how his hyper-dialectic is similar to Caputo's reading of Derrida's reading of Plato's bastard reasoning. I saw it as a homemorphic equivalence (HE) with the emptiness of emptiness doctrine, where the state produced from such de/reconstructive experience is not only empty (of specific content) but is itself empty of absolute essence. Much like Bryant's virtual, immanent to the core.
I definitely see the HE with ILP's terms above, and with the different methods for apprehending what it calls CPS, and how it integrates absolute and relative in the 4th stage. Just in different interpretative terms, terms more postmetaphysical IMO. Therefore, an integral inquiry-practice. One I recognize from another more metaphysical integral inquiry in tai chi chuan. Again, not the same experience, but certainly an HE experience.
And to tie this to a theurjianism, the practice of rhetaphor!
Yes, as we've discussed before, I agree that Integral spirituality, as most commonly framed (in ILP, by Wilber when discussing the I AM or the causal, in Cohen's evolutionary spirituality, etc), still seems to carry metaphysical baggage. I'm completely with you in your interest to find ways to understand and articulate these "formless"/emptiness practices in a more postmetaphysical manner. Loy, as you know, has some reservations about Derrida's approach in comparison with Nagarjuna's, but I expect would still agree -- as I do -- that there is nevertheless likely a homeomorphic equivalence or at least resonance between these approaches. (I didn't believe that at first but you've done a good job of demonstrating it -- at least as Derrida shows up in/through theurjian de/re-ism).
Concerning ILP itself, I appreciate it in spirit, but do not really relate very well to the way it is (re)presented in the ILP book -- which strikes me as a little cheesey. You've been gracious in your discussion of it so far. I am turned off by the "quick-n-eezy" approach, the somewhat juvenile and breezy language (good boy, good girl), the Gold Star labeling, etc. Here, I think I would much more appreciate something like Dial was mentioning (the book, Life as Literature, where I expect there is a higher aesthetic sensibility), or something like Levin's book, The Listening Self (which also describes a sort of integrative art of living that weds deep philosophy, subtle sensory development, hermeneutic phenomenology, social engagement, contemplative practice, etc).
As I've said before, I cannot speak for Derrida but only interpret (translate) him in my idiosyncratic terms. Hence through my filters his work becomes Derrurjia (adjective Derrurjian), and my own more general work is theurjia. As for Levin, despite my occasional criticisms I really like his work and have used it liberally in creating theurjia. More later on that topic.