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?
Mark Schmanko Hi Edwyrd. Here are some comments in response to our discussion a few days ago (not including your more recent posts). You write: “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’s true, but that can be applied to any concept or thing. So, while we need to be reflexive and processual in our use of such categories, we also need to be no less engaged in using and building what such categories signify in time and space in order to bring forth generative outcomes and continuities that have impact; applied to the spiritual domain this necessitates less meta-theory or integrative perspective-taking, and more messy ongoing transformative practice. I would say, thus, that engaging the unknown - as either a potential or as something emerging in real time under particular conditions - is central to spirituality, and that what emerges from this resists horizontal integrative efforts, or even commands the latter to reconfigure (transform) in order to understand the former. You write:
“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.”
Of course it’s helpful. But though we need to limit some conversations, we also need to immerse ourselves in practices, trial and error, with boundaries, enclosures, however we name the particulars, and thereafter report on both the conditions (process) and outcomes that can thereby be understood in a denaturalized or meta-philosophical manner.
“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?”
The problem with this is that the very form and content of your question here comes itself from a rational-critical worldspace. What the hell does ‘validity criteria’ really have to do with a group of people meditating together experimentally (but no less ardently) on a retreat seeking unprecedented transformation? Well, validity has a lot to do with this process in terms of “translation”, but not in terms of the "transformation" that unfolds therein, which calls for validity criteria that transcend our fundamental understanding of validity itself. As I see it, this is one of KW’s problems: he tries too hard to include and please scientists, rationalists (when, really, if he’d have tried harder to please humanists, multiculturalists, etc, Wilberian integral would probably be much better off). Anyway, the criteria and the validity would be endemic to the deep, in this case, spiritual context, whereas your questions are guided by the metatheoretical sensibility; but, wait, we need to go in there and dig deep, from the inside out, and then meet at some halfway point to discuss where overlap and translation on the one hand, and differentiation and respective transformation on the other hand unfold - and how.
“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”
Yes, I would say, for translation purposes the metatheories are indispensible. But in contexts aiming to fuse the socially responsible and political with spiritual praxis from the start, we can’t discuss the injunctions - which are the flesh and evolutionary life-force of the theory - without doing them first. So, I’m suggesting that with respect to the spiritual domain in particular, what we need is to get together in intense, concentrated worldspaces (that is, not merely on forums, etc.)- with resources, with shared intentions drawing deep from the wellspring of spiritual insight, and passionate compassionate agents, in short, skillful transformers and naturally, to some extent, translaters – and do the work. Until then, multiline spirituality is a great translation practice for already existing insights and spiritual practices, and even can yield a receptive stance toward the unexpected, but can not help give rise directly to what is as yet manifest.
“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.”
States of consciousness are important and certainly foundational to my own practice, but they are only one piece of the puzzle, and they too, like 'ground of being' talk, are sort of played out, grist for the contemporary human potential post counter-cutlural mill-ieu. Further, KW subordinates - in theory and practice - states of subtle or multi dimensional experience/access, as if causal and nondual are the end all, say all; and this is a bias that runs deep in the whole discourse about “the Great Traditions” and in integrally oriented folks/communities, which, as I see it, blinds many from engaging other aspects of the spiritual; that is, we are basically metaphysicalizing states through translation practices presuming them to be separate and distinct, to use your words. Even Layman Pascal's recent post on the Ning site shows this underlying bias in conveying unitary/monistic/nondual states as the apex signifiers representing an integral level of theological philosophical understanding/experience. Well, perhaps he’s right, but I’m interested in what’s next or other or marginalized, where the unity and ground of being realizations are tacit and in the background (enough about unity and oneness already!), while others/deep particulars are valorized in the foreground. A multiline integrative approach as spiritual praxis is necessary and a good corrective to KW's state approach, but it seems translation-based and, as I said above, presupposes a rational-critical humanist basis for evaluating and affirming what is and can be - nothing wrong with this of course!! it's just not a hallmark of some of the more powerful, ecstatic and exciting potentials of the embodied religious imaginarium in pursuit of transformations or recoveries, creations or discoveries, which our radars, maps and current modes of communication can't grasp or give breathing room to
Edwyrd Burj Mark, let me review your response to see if I understand you. It seems you are using the transformation and translation axes, calling them vertical and horizontal, which seems akin to Wilber's use of the terms and ideas. And that in one's spiritual practice, in this case apparently some kind of individual meditation, we go beyond our translative interpretations into the unknown and unprecedented. Only then can we come together and translate these experiences in a community of practitioners that have done the meditative injunction, thereby validating them as authentic. Am I getting any of that wrong?
Mark Schmanko Edwyrd, that's right, with a few exceptions. First, to a certain extent my use of translation aligns with KW's use, but I'm using it more intuitively and pragmatically here, as I'm not on board with his normative developmental trajectory. As I see it, translation is a kind of integrative practice, making sense of whatever occasions - be they breakthroughs or revelations or revolutions - occur, helping us understand and engage these things critically and constructively in intelligible social spaces.
Second, I feel KW falls short in treating the nature and implications of transformation, as he tries too hard to fit them into his model - limiting them to meditative state-stages in conjunction with structure-stages - particularly in Wilber V, whereas in SES (Wilber 4) at least he stacked states on top of stages, which, to me, was more suggestive (though not so accurate) of what's possible.
Third, in relation to transformation and the unknown, individual practices of meditation are certainly part of the equation, but not necessarily primary. I mean, in a basic sense, if we approach meditation as any way or method of inducing altered or enhanced states of awareness, then that will certainly be fundamental to transformation in a universal sense. But, more than individuals meditating as we tend to conceive such practices, there are other agencies and conditions to take into account and other modes of being, too. For instance, collective and ritual dynamics are significant. Recently, there's been a trend in cultivating higher or evolutionary "We spaces", while others are exploring socially innovative incubation spaces (e.g., Silicon Valley) that incorporate a dose of spiritual aspiration or idealism into the mix. There are also many different kinds of potent esoteric ritual spaces in the broad sense of that term, which can have reality-generating impact. In short, the very fabric of reality is experienced as transformed or reconfigured in such spaces, so that a lot of this is about investigating, in my mentor Jeff Kripal's words, altered states of history, and altered states of consciousness and culture....
Finally, there's the question of other Others, not socioculturally speaking (as in post-colonial or post-structural discourse), but metaphysically, or perhaps it's better to say, trans-incarnationally speaking. If beings, entites, agencies, realms exist that are not dependent on time-space, what do we do with with that? How do we give breathing room for that even to be considered seriously without dismissing it prematurely (as new age clap trap, or merely symbolic archetypes of the unconscious, or straight up fiction)? In such cases, if these things/beings actually exist, it would be about discovery, not so much about creation or transformation. And that would change everything.
Edwyrd Burj Mark: So translation is legitimate but specific to the practices of enaction, both individual and collective, of particular spiritual communities in their generatively (en)closed (Balder's phrase) sacred spaces? And creating such spaces are necessary to provide the focus to achieve particular spiritual results? If so, that's agreeable.
And I wouldn't argue with the necessity of transformative practice, that creating translative meta-theories is not enough in itself. But it seems your saying that since we in this forum don't share the same or similar particular transformative traditional practices that whatever transformative experiences we might have from our own traditions are not compatible enough to inform our translative meta-model endeavor? It seems as if you're criticizing an attempt at the latter because it's not based in transformative practice, but since some if not most of us here have such practices I can only surmise it might be more the former than the latter?
I'm also wondering about how your phrase this transformation/translation nexus in your next to last post. It also seems like transformative practice and experience by nature goes beyond anything heretofore delineated in our translations? Kela's blog post on this distinction might be instructive on the topic, as “the concept of 'transformation' is, like 'redemption,' largely an idealization, even if it refers to something real,” and can only “be associated with concrete forms of spirituality.” This can and often does lead to the kind of metaphysical distinction of a timeless, changeless, universal realm/experience that is completely beyond any translation. Another point kela makes is the degree to which a particular school's transformative practices, created within their translative matrix, actually shape and delimit the kind of transformative experience one will have within that school.
As to Wilber's states/stages and your criticism of his model, I too have problems with it. I sort of stack the states on 'top,' but not exactly. This thread explores that topic.
Another quick point. One can still have a transcendental 'real' realm beyond current translations that is not transcendent and/or metaphysical. We've discussed that in in the Ning forum using the likes of Bhaskar, Bryant, DeLanda, Deleuze, Varela, etc. Although later Bhaskar does get pretty traditionally metaphysical.
Mark Schmanko Yes, I agree with your points from the lat post. I was actually making a similar point in my response to your penultimate post. And I agree, from what I've read, Bhaskar goes in a kind of neoperenialist direction.
Response to your prior post: I'll check out your link and Kela’s work. The distinction between experience and practice is tricky and important; so is the distinction between reflection and action. While reflection (which, when expressed in speech, already makes it a "both-and," a kind of reflective action) tends to become translation, reflective speech can also bring forth and affirm transformation via interior or alien discernments that somehow become externalized in real time in a given worldspace; that is, the way language weaves into the body, perception and agency may be integral to both manifesting or revealing the unprecedented.
Yes, "the concept of transformation ... can only be associated with concrete forms of spirituality” sounds right on for the most part, but this makes sense within the limits of temporality, and may relate more to the accumulated present conditions of the way things are, that is, to the center of gravity of what constitutes legitimate secular and religious discourse, than to alternative worldspaces or experiences that could already exist in ways that may or may not bleed into immanence/time-space, but no less exist in either regard. As for the timeless, changeless realm, that's a good point - ineffability is a conclusion or often the best we can do. And I'm really looking to find ways of giving life and affirmation to what unfolds or is uncovered in the space between the ineffable (the ground, the ocean) and the particulars in time space (the waves). We tend to swing between universalist absolutist views and rational-translative views; more is needed of the More.
As for the meaning of metaphysics, I have a question. In a basic sense, I do sense and understand that there are things/agencies/beings beyond what we currently fathom that exist, beyond the universalist transcendental ground talk, the rational-translative talk, and the Aurobindian descent talk (though I believe Wilber reads him wrong and Aurobindu, I sense, would also affirm what I'm saying). Would that in itself make me a metaphysicalist?
Edwyrd Burj Not in itself. I guess it depends on how it's translated! As an aside, I used to be a member of a hermetic/qabalistic order and as part of our practice we'd wear costumes, insignia and symbols representative of various 'entities' (angels or whatnot), while performing specific initiation and other rituals. A key issue was whether we were just enacting psychological archetypes or if we were really communicating with 'them,' and letting them manifest through us via such invocation. I admit I tended toward the former interpretation, while many tended toward the latter.
So it seems that for Mark some type of socially engaged transformative practice of the unprecedented is needed for spirituality. This might include, besides meditative communities, things like
"collective and ritual dynamics [...] that incorporate a dose of spiritual aspiration or idealism into the mix. There are also many different kinds of potent esoteric ritual spaces in the broad sense of that term, which can have reality-generating impact. In short, the very fabric of reality is experienced as transformed or reconfigured in such spaces, so that a lot of this is about investigating, in my mentor Jeff Kripal's words, altered states of history, and altered states of consciousness and culture...."
Can we even have such shared enactions in a 'discussion forum?' Or would that require real-time meat-space local practice communities? If the latter, we'd still be engaging with said local practice groups, often and usually of different varieties (cultural, religious etc.), so would there be enough commonality to share and relate such spiritual 'experiences' here? Per Balder's work, they would not be enacting the 'same' spiritual experiences, though there might be some homeomorphic equivalencies.
Given that, how then do we engage in a forum like this to move an IPS agenda forward? It seems the translative is the only avenue open. Or are there some innovative ways we can indeed engage transformative 'practice' together? Also Mark affirmed that some kinds of translation can indeed support and engender transformation, so how so? Can that be achieved in this forum?
From the FB "mirror" of this discussion:
I was re-reading the IPS thread on Otto Scharmer and this post refers to one of his blog posts. I noted that in figure 1 he correlates the spiritual divide with our current governance systems not giving voice to the people (aka fascist oligarchy) and private property rights. That's right, these are his spiritual issues. Figure 3 shows to what we are moving in the spiritual areas noted above, toward awareness based collective action and commons based ownership. Which supports my thesis in the dialogue with Mark that these are spiritual issues. And that Warren moves in this direction while Clinton does not. Hence my focus in this forum on political-economic enaction as spiritual practice.
"As he notes, various developments in our time warrant the conclusion that 'we are approaching the close of the modern Western dichotomy between religion and politics, and we are coming nearer to a nondualistic relation between the two.' [...] Politics is concerned with the 'realization of a human order,' while religion aims at 'the realization of the ultimate order'—with the two concerns highlighting the tensional polarity (though not segregation) between politics and religion. [...] The task today is to move beyond these dualisms without lapsing into monistic coincidence: 'God and the world are not two realities, nor are they one and the same. Moreover, to return to our subject, politics and religion are not two independent activities, nor are they one indiscriminate thing. There is no politics separate from religion. There is no religious factor that is not at the same time a political factor…The divine tabernacle is to be found among men; the earthly city is a divine happening.' [...] For today, people speak of a 'politics of engagement' and a 'religion of incarnation;' in doing so, people are discovering 'the sacred character of secular engagement and the political aspect of religious life.'"
"It will no longer be a contested issue whether practitioners endorse a theistic, nondual, or naturalistic account of the mystery, or whether their chosen path of spiritual cultivation is meditation, social engagement, conscious parenting, entheogenic shamanism, or communion with nature. The new
spiritual bottom line, in contrast, will be the degree into which each spiritual path fosters both an overcoming of self-centeredness and a fully embodied integration that make us not only more sensitive to the needs of others, nature, and the world, but also more effective cultural and planetary transformative agents in whatever contexts and measure life or spirit calls us to be" (146).
Ferrer allows that one form of this might express as a postformal, postmetaphysical, naturalistic and nondual secular humanism whose 'spiritual' practice might be, for example, social engagement with no meditation or contemplative practice whatsoever. Ferrer allows for this kind of 'atheistic' expression as long as it overcomes self-centeredness and lends itself to being a 'more effective cultural or planetary transformative agent.' At least he doesn’t trash this as some form of materialist reductionism or lower-level meme. Good for him and good for the rest of us non-religious types.
Good for him and good for the rest of us non-religious types.
and following. A few excerpts of that discussion follow:
I enjoyed the sample chapter, raising many of the themes I explored in the above referenced thread, particularly the means of using language to establish relations with what was pre-language, i.e., nature. And how such attunement is achieved via a bastard reasoning or hyper-dialectic in MP's turn of phrase, which is not merely a return to what was but an an intertwing with the yet to come:
“The attunement...having originally preceded the ego-logical consciousness, is not realized, and does not actually take place, until the belated moment of its reflected recuperation. The 'always already' that memory strives to retrieve is inseparable from a 'not yet,' a future conjectured in hope” (61).
Here's an excerpt from my referenced thread that demonstrates “using a mytho-poetic language...to evoke in us...this reconnection with both the always already and not yet."
Levina's language is intended to evoke a “deep, bodily felt sense” that is a “return effected by phenomenology.” It is pre-conceptual in a sense, this return to body. As we've discussed before, only in one sense, since the return is also an integrative move that is more than what was before concepts.... Hence Levinas language uses such mythological motifs and tropes that move us deeper than conventional experience based only on concept, back down into those roots of morality in the body where we are more directly connected to the other. In a way his language is magical in that it takes us to a place both before and after language by the use of language. But language is part of the equation, right in the middle of it, hence Hermes is indeed a messenger that uses language to convey meaning.
Levin makes clear that meaning, like being, builds on the "always already" but is extended into novelty by the "not yet." And these two are in continual relation, at least after the "fall" or "rise," depending on your interpretation, of the ego. But since its advent there is no simple return to the always already of the pre-egoic, no pristine or original awareness. The belief in the latter is in fact one of the symptoms of metaphysics, since it is now the "not yet" that transforms the "always already," but without which the not yet would not exist.
In the last post the first part was from Levin's "Before the voice of reason." Re-reading it I'm struck by how he wants to reestablish a link with that pre-linguistic and embodied connection with the world which sets the stage for language. As is my wont I immediately see image schema as fulfilling this role, though Levin is not thinking in those terms. He does get close to this in the following passage, noting that our pre-liguistic connection to nature requires that “there can be no memory without entanglement in the fabulations and alembications of the imaginary” (61).
And it is not by chance that these image schema ground and develop into linguistic metaphor, metonymy, etc. Hence we get our mytho-poetic language as gateway into both the always already and the not yet, inspiring us to open to mystery and wonder and communicate it via such embodied language. Hence a good poem can actually lead us to the experience, as does a good work of any other form of art. I know dance, both as performer and spectator, does this for me with emotional and aesthetic intensity. And I'd add so does rhetoric, as it too is an art form that reconnects us to our body and nature, yet also takes flight into and elicits the not yet of the unprecedented.
Also of interest is this passage on Heidegger's deconstruction of metaphysics, indicative of my earlier ruminations about how our language presupposes ontological premises:
“In particular, of course, it is their scandalous reversal, their radical overturning of anthropocentrism, of Cartesian egoity, their radical displacement of the speaking subject, hence of the subject-object structure and its ontology, reflected in rules of grammar, and seeming to introduce an unjustifiable metaphysics” (54).
Such languages developed from the ego-logical perspective, which imposes its strict dualistic rules and categories not only on language but on nature. It's a metaphysics not only of presence but of such abstract disconnection to its roots in image schema and metaphor. It even creates such distinct categories of the latter type into 'art,' which is unrelated to everyday language. Lakoff and Johnson, among many others in the cognitive linguistics movement, show that even everyday language is dependent on these embodied schema that connect us to our world.
So it seems a matter of rearranging our grammars to fit that embodied paradigm, to change how we speak and write in a manner more conducive of ecological awareness. Instead of saying “I must protect the rainforest” we might acknowledge “I am part of the rainforest” (69), and we both need stewardship. Language is an outgrowth of the world, as is thought, and when put in ecological perspective is just an effective means of connecting to and transforming that world and its mystery as any other mode, from meditation to ritual performance.