Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
Uh... what's the site?
I mean, like, I heard something about a reboot -- but then I heard no more. What could be improved? I wonder how clear is the basic concept to the participants? It is too daunting? Or should it go deeper? Should the mission statement be retooled to "capture" what people tend to express and post?
One thing that stands out to me is that a lot of the site is filled with somewhat passive, reactive content. I mean the lion's share of what goes on here is people providing links to books, essays and talks which then get commented upon. Speaking from my own tendencies, of course, I would wish that the site could minimize that a little and place more emphasis on people generating their own content.
There seems to be some danger in getting lost in the world of comparative studies and responsive critiques. And perhaps everyone uses other forms of creative outlets to allow themselves to be less than artistic when it comes to their intellectual work...
Any other feelings about this site?
I mentioned the Clinton/Warren FB thread merely to show it's relation to this thread, the connection being the question of what is an IPS and what should be considered legitimate contents for discussion. And as this thread highlights, different ways or styles of discussing legitimate content. As to discussion of actual contents, I'll return to other threads.
We should be quite attentive to any forms and glimmers of forumic self-investigation -- in this case particularly these issues of how or if econo-political discussions have a place among spiritual post-metaphysics.
I'll post the FB discussion mentioned above, since some of you may not have FB. (And I don't blame you, as it's mostly useless.)
Mark Schmanko Thanks for posting, Edwyrd. Yet, as you probably have noticed 'spirituality' is in the substantive for this particular FB group. So, what does this post have to do with this group? Not a rhetorical question!
Edwyrd Burj Mark, what could be more spiritual than helping people earn a living wage to feed their families. Than addressing income inequality so that people have a fair shot at creating enough money to meet their basic needs and have some surplus time and energy to devote to needs higher on the hierarchy, like spiritual pursuits? And I don't mean just traditional religion but so-called integral postmetaphysical spirituality (IPS)? Seems most of us that are into such spiritual pursuits are already privileged with enough surplus in the lower levels like survival, membership, individual autonomy and transcendental awareness that we take for granted that most of the population is struggling to eat and pay the rent. If you are the latter you will not focus on much of anything else, let alone IPS.
So which political agenda lends itself more toward lifting up most people to even approach IPS? Just preaching IPS to the choir of already relatively wealthy elites is a circle jerk. Taking the prime directive seriously means taking action to lift everyone up to achieve their highest potential, not just in financial terms but all the higher needs. But we can't get there without addressing real socio-cultural problems. And it matters a lot which political agenda is in power.
I'm also reminded of Wilber's contention, and with which I agree, that the predominant factor in an individual's level of consciousness is the economic system. Levi Bryant would also agree, coming from an OOO perspective. And coming from a Christian perspective take the recent proclamations of the Pope about trickle down economics being a major factor in subverting one's religious obligations to the people. Or Jim Wallis, who sees economic budgets as moral issues, how we enact our moral and religious beliefs in treating each other.
Btw, as IPS ning forum we've long included political and economic issues as part of an integral view to achieving spirituality. LP's recent thread on integral religions notes this as a necessary ingredient. I can go on and on but that's a start of an answer.
Mark Schmanko I hear you, Edwyrd. You make some very good general points and I appreciate the spirit of your message. But, as I see it, all you've done here is justify that anything political/economic is relevant to spiritual matters and ought to be included when investigating the latter. I agree with this as an abstract principle and that we need to bring the political and religious/spiritual into more dynamic conversation, but this doesn't mean that it's necessary or, in this case, aligned with the intention of a post metaphysical spirituality forum like this one. It may or may not be. If I were adjudicating, I would recommend that you provide some framing in your initial post explicating how the link/piece ties into the subject matter of spirituality. And in this case, as you've shown, it's in a very general way that they are related or should be related. Anyway, I find that integrally informed folks (myself included) are inclined toward interdisciplinary orientations, and this is great, but there's also important reasons for maintaining disciplinary boundaries/specialization.
Edwyrd Burj So does spirituality include, including integral spirituality, how we practice it? How we help others? Does it mean we just engage in academic discussion limited to defining the upper reaches of what constitutes it within our own specialization? There is obviously a need for that too, hence my heavy engagement with it. But does it matter which political agenda has power to affect the general well being of most people? Isn't that a spiritual practice, to engage a better political agenda? I'd also suggest Terry Patten's ILR interview, where he sees such political engagement as addressing "the well-being of the whole world, with their relationship to the Ground of Being, or Spirit."
Bruce Alderman Articulate and compellingly argued, Edwyrd. Because we tend to divide these things in US culture, I'm glad Mark asked you this question to give you a chance to clearly make this connection. My own preference for the forum is not to talk politics so much that it overshadows other important aspects of spirituality*, given the somewhat particular focus here, but in general I think political discussion is very relevant for 'integral spirituality.'
On the Ning version of this forum, we have two boards dedicated to such discussions: Engagement and Integral Town Hall. The FB forum is much more limited and linear, and everything sort of goes into the same pot. This particular forum (the FB version) has a broad international membership, so US politics may be regarded as only a periferal concern by some here, but in general I agree with you that an integral spirituality will involve meaningful social engagement -- paradigm criticism and innovation, political participation, 'sacred activism,' etc.
Regarding your question, I could be better informed about the platforms of both candidates, but based on my knowledge at this point, I prefer Warren to Clinton.
* A trend that I've noted on some recent discussions over at Ning.
Mark Schmanko Edwyrd, engaging 'a better political agenda' is of course a moral process, and a moral process is of course very much related to the spiritual life, but I would not conflate the two (the spiritual and the moral), nor do they always need to be deliberately considered in the mirror of each other. Yes, I'm with you that we would do well to bring together the political, the social and the spiritual in practice, but are you suggesting that the social and political should always be front and center when investigating all things spiritual? I'd say that's a problem, that's imposing a collapsing of boundaries that are otherwise productive to engaging and navigating often times intense differences that need to be recognized as such. To take a simple example, if someone is learning an instrument, of course the application of that skill to a socially responsible life is a good and beautiful thing, but music can serve the greater good both by turning in on itself, or it can help in indirect ways by virtue of its beauty or healing effect (not to mention that initially learning the instrument requires a suspension of other activities and skill-set developments).
Weaving social and political activism into spiritual praxis from the ground up is an ideal worth considering—which seems to be what you’re after—but it's certainly not a given, nor does it seem to be commensurate with the thick often contrasting differences as to how we grow differentially and navigate complications while excelling as a species/planet writ large. To me, a postmetaphysical spirituality forum is just that, whereas a postmetaphysical political enaction group would be just that – while the two are complimentary and in need of each other, they are no less distinct in their roles, and the latter really matters.
And how we practice spirituality does not equate with 'helping others' in explicitly political and socially active conscientious ways, although this is vitally needed as a corrective to elitist or disembodied spiritual explorations (which seem to be the patterns you're challenging). Also, I'm frankly tired of 'Ground of Being' or universalist proclamations, which are over-determined and potentially very misleading; however, by all means whatever brings forth compassionate action that stewards better conditions for all beings and the planet is crucial and laudable. With that said, if I came across a forum that was primarily focused on spirituality (as it’s presented in the substantive for this forum), just like a newspaper with its different sections, I would expect there to be a central focus, or, if divergences are present, I'd expect an explicit link made between the two or three different subjects (something you didn't do in this particular post). I appreciate the discussion here.
Edwyrd Burj Mark, so what would constitute an appropriate social spiritual practice as a topic here? Engaged Buddhism? Insight dialogue? John Heron's relational spirituality? On the latter Heron says: "A more convincing account of spirituality is that it is about multi-line integral development explored by persons in relation. [...] spirituality is located in the interpersonal heart of the human condition where people co-operate to explore meaning, build relationship and manifest creativity through collaborative action inquiry into multi-line integration and consummation."
Eric Pierce KW claims (presumably following Marx) that cultural and spiritual/religious adaptation always follows techno-economic disruption (paradigm shift).
(KW uses the analogy of the computer industry: hardware innovations are always easier and faster than changing the "operating system" code.)
Is there any consensus? If so, then Ed's excitement about Rifkin is presumably quite justified?
Mark Schmanko And I like that definition of spirituality, though it's not exhaustive and it leans on the humanist, existential, and socially responsible side of the spectrum (which is, again, necessary but not sufficient for understanding and enacting spirituality), whereas the history of religions shows a great deal of conditions where the political is secondary (sometimes negated in strong other-wordly types), and the pursuit of unprecedented transformation, which could in turn have unforeseen reprecussions, for better or worse, is the primary focus. Also, spiritual worlds often engage agencies and beings who allegedly operate in ways unknown to our rational humanist sensibilities and scientific-materialist or Marxist presuppositions. These spiritual phenomena and possibilities, perhaps what Wilber would call the 'depth dimension of the kosmos', are fundamental to spirituality in many of its living expressions. I'm not taking a normative stance here, just bringing to attention that these phenomena and practices are often what things deemed spiritual orbit around, and they can be very powerful and revealing, their implications exceeding the limits of reason and implications of a more exclusively humanist iteration of spirituality.
Edwyrd Burj Mark, and appropriate topics for this forum? Per Heron an 'integral' spirituality is about multi-line integration. I'd also argue, as I have in many places before, that one of the definitions of the metaphysical is the clear distinction and separation of categories like absolute and relative. That also applies to quadrants, zones and specialized areas of study. Post-metaphysics sees the mutual entailment of categories. Granted, it doesn't eliminate the categories, as they still retain their relative autonomy. And as you say, it is helpful to limit some conversations to a particular paradigm and its specific validity criteria. But a current trend is as you note using cross-disciplinary methods to contextualize and expand on disciplinary limitations. i.e., how categories can still be autonomous but have areas of overlap. Or in dynamic systems terms, how an object is both open and closed.
Is spirituality on the other hand a particular paradigm with its own validity criteria? And/or more about multi-line integration as Heron said? And isn't an integral meta-theory exactly about the relationships between theories? Metatheoretical study itself is plural per Mark Edwards, not itself a singular category or theory of everything. So perhaps our integral meta-theory of spirituality should be a bit more...integrative? Just wondering.
Mark Schmanko Edwyrd, I agree meta-theories are important as orienting frames and they can both bring forth potent liminal spaces that reformulate the very nature of the particulars while potentially providing multivariate syntheses and overall normative direction (of course, the balance of theory over practice needs to be kept in check). At the same time, the very nature of the paradigm and criteria of certain particulars, in this case the spiritual domain, will be transfigured in the process in a way that implicates the whole, and metatheory can't anticipate, spearhead nor lead that; and that's the depth or the More side of the human process, which is central to the spiritual process (see my post above, which I didn't tag you in). I won't be available for the remainder of the evening to dialogue, but will visit over the weekend. Thanks for the discussion
Edwyrd Burj I wonder though, like Eric, which definition of spiritual we use to gauge its particular validity criteria. Rifkin, e.g., notes an emerging Commons ecological consciousness that might be more akin to the likes of Heron's multi-line integration than achieving different states of consciousness during individual meditation. We've explored how such states are indeed important, maybe even spiritual in a sense, but perhaps not in themselves.
Btw, our discussion is related to one Cameron Freeman started a few days ago on Zizek's recontextualization of Hegel's dialectic, and how it impacts the very nature of Wilber's spirituality. And I'd say spirituality in general.
Edwyrd Burj Here's Wilber's essay on integral spirituality that predated the book on the topic. Much of the text in the essay is repeated in the book almost verbatim. In talking of spirituality he mentions meditative states like satori and locates them in the inside of interior individual consciousness (9). He also locates spiritual traditions in this zone, noting how they were deficient in the other quadrants (13-14). He thinks this can be remedied by integral methodological pluralism (IMP), which per above locates different paradigms in their respective zones and validity criteria (16). Within the zones there are different lines with their distinct levels of hierarchical complexity, and they cannot be directly compared with one another given the different enactive methods (27). Of note at this point is that the spiritual line is focused on ultimate concern with Fowler as an example (27). So is spirituality just about inside interior individual experiences?
And yet, what if anything integrates the different levels and lines, thus making it an 'integral' IMP? Since each line has levels, but levels are not the same in different lines, Wilber introduces 2 candidates that can measure altitudinal levels generally, the cognitive line and consciousness per se (CPS) (29). I actually appreciate the rationale for the cognitive line be necessary but not sufficient for all other lines, including the so-called spiritual. Thing is, he conflates it with his notion of consciousness per se. The cognitive line is described as what one is aware of, i.e, conscious of. He readily admits that CPS is basically the Madhyamake-Yogacara view of consciousness as the empty vessel in which objects arise, thus itself is empty of content (30). And this is precisely the very same satori that can be directly experienced in zone 1 meditative states. Also see the Appendix starting at 106, confirming the metaphysical separation of CPS with the relative world and its absolute source. Heron notes this as well in the previously linked article. I explored this conflation at length in this thread as well as elsewhere, using almost identical quotes from the book.
If this is what we mean by spirituality then it is not postmetaphysical, and questionable whether it is integral either.
Edwyrd Burj Note the change in the initial post above to reflect the evolution of this topic. Dialogue has a way of doing that, of rearranging what is of ultimate concern.
Speaking of ultimate concern, remember in a recent post that it was one of Wilber's definitions of spirituality as a separate line of inquiry. Fowler's stages were used as one example. In Wilber's essay on integral spirituality above he notes that Fowler's spiritual stages in this regard are a zone 2 affair, i.e. a structural approach on the outside of the individual interior, still in the upper left quadrant (34). Later he compares to spiritual approaches to the UL quadrant, Underhill for the inside and Fowler for the outside (57+). Underhill studied the state-stages of meditative practice and Fowler as noted above the structural stages of ultimate concern not seen by meditative states.
Wilber coordinates the two by placing them on the Wilber-Combs lattice: Underhill's states on the horizontal scale, Fowler's on the vertical (59), where anyone can have a spiritual state experience but it will be interpreted by one's stage of faith. This can explain, e.g., how one can be at different levels in these two different lines, where one can interpret their very high spiritual state-stage experience of the causal in conventional terms. He does slip up here though in discussing how this is interpreted in the LL quadrant, so that spirituality does seem to be a 4-quad affair and not limited to just the UL zones. And of course this runs into the problem already mentioned, that a causal state-stage experience, aka consciousness per se, is used as the measurement of altitudinal level for any line.
On 63+ he describes the four meanings of the spiritual: the highest level in any line; its own line; a state experience; a generic attitude like love or compassion. He rants about the latter, which can descend into mush of the kind Mark noted above about a generic 'ground of being' when discussing Patten. So we're getting more specific here.
Edwyrd Burj To apply the above to my revised initial questions, which political agenda is likely to move us along toward what we might consider an integral postemtaphysical spirituality? Warren's agenda will provide enough surplus time and energy in gross economic systems to allow us to use that surplus to explore more subtle state-stage spiritual experiences. It's hard to meditate when you can't eat or pay the rent. It also allows us to move up the structure-stage ladder to more postconventional interpretations of spiritual state experiences, from the more conventional and traditional religious interpretations. And spirituality as seen as the highest stage of any line would include spiritual levels in the socio-economic line that are conducive to all of the foregoing, again favoring Warren over Clinton.
Also note that Warren doesn't just talk economics but also the correlative worldview values that coincide with outside conditions. Perhaps they aren't at 'integral' levels per descriptions above, but they are better than the more conventional levels of both lines that Clinton represents. And thus Warren's agenda moves most of us along on the spiral to at least so-called green levels or higher. And Rifkin's agenda of the Commons moves us along even further in the above lines, but Warren's agenda is needed to provide the conditions to get us there.
Edwyrd Burj I just heard about this on a radio show, their website here. Related to the last few posts, it's an example of spiritual practice that goes beyond the interior of an individual's state experiences into other domains of enaction, particularly a social justice lobby that engages with the political process. Alleluia sisters. And, by the way, their political agenda is akin to Warren's. This is God's work!
Edwyrd Burj So a couple of ways of looking at spirituality missing in kennilingus is Heron's multi-line integration and one not yet mentioned, Edwards' AQAL refinement that each holonic lens has four quadrants. Seeing holons as interpretative lenses instead of an object in a space-time holon of everything (aka assholon) removes the metaphysical reification. Granted Kennilingam does contend that holons are perspectives and not objects, but as Edwards notes he is conflating two different lenses by trying to pack everything into the reified assholon of everything. (See this post e.g. and a few up and down from it.
Seeing a spiritual holon with 4 quadrants as opposed to seeing a spiritual perspective as a holon in a quadrant and zone allows for something like spirituality to be a multiplicity of practices that can be viewed from all 6 of Edwards' basic perspectives. And each such practice can have a general level ascribed to it, allowing for that level to shift up and down depending on different contexts. Per several posts above, it seems all religions have a variety of interlocking practices and don't define what they are simply by the personal states of consciousness achieved in meditation or contemplation. They typically help the needy, have organization structures, etc. representing every zone imaginable. Of course we can specify one zone like the inside interior of an individual for meditative practice and measure/adjudicate its level based on prescribed and approved methods within that domain. But to say that IS spirituality is missing the boat.
Heron's multi-line integration is more like at integral meta-theory in that it finds ways to see connections between the levels, lines and quadrants. Both his work and meta-theory in general seem much more integrated postmetaphysical ways to adjudicate than a metaphysical consciousness per se reigning over dichotomous and reified categories.