Below is an excerpt from a paper I recently published in the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice.  Because of copyright issues, I cannot post the whole article here, but I can post the first few pages, and the rest of the essay can be accessed in this issue of JITP.

OPENING SPACE FOR TRANSLINEAGE PRACTICE:  Some Ontological Speculations

 

Bruce Alderman

 

ABSTRACT

This article makes speculative gestures toward the integral facilitation of a translineage religious orientation. I focus on translineage religious practice for two reasons: 1) it is becoming an increasingly common option in postmodern spiritual culture; and 2) for those who do pursue a trans-lineage path seriously and with rigor, it may be the field where the incommensurability between faith traditions, with their potentially conflicting truth claims, soteriological ends, and conceptions of ultimate reality, may be felt most acutely and personally by practitioners. In developing an integral approach capable of non-reductively accommodating and fostering multiple religious enactments, particularly in the context of a robust translineage spirituality, I argue that it is imperative that we explore both the implicit ontological commitments of Integral Theory, and the promise of emergent ontological models that are being forged in the crucible of interfaith and intercultural dialogue and engagement. To this end, I introduce concepts from recent works in comparative and constructive theology, as well as speculative realist and deconstructive philosophy, and consider the contributions these perspectives might make to an Integral framework for translineage spiritual practice. 

 

Integral spirituality invites multiple possible realizations:

 

1. The development of integrally informed schools of thought within existing religious  traditions, which may encourage greater balance and scope of vision and practice than have been previously realized, while also providing opportunities for traditions to reciprocally and uniquely inform, or even transform, integral thought itself (an AQAL Christianity, and a Christianity-inflected Integral)

 

2. On the philosophical level, and in its role as a meta-system, the facilitation of robust and transformative interfaith dialogue among traditions through the provision  of a shared meta-language (an encounter among autonomous paths that  may or may not involve actively “borrowing” from each other, or practicing across traditional boundaries)

 

3. The emergence of a new global, integral, or world spirituality as a complete path in itself

 

4. The cultivation of a sensibility that would allow practitioners to skillfully embrace  and navigate within multiple spiritual worldspaces simultaneously, as they  learn to surf their vertiginous crests rather than being dashed by the waves of  incommensurability (i.e., a translineage practice, or what Marc Gafni [2011a] calls “dual citizenship”)

 

In a previous article (Alderman, 2011), I discussed two of these possibilities (the emergence of a new integral religion and the development of an integral post-metaphysical model of interfaith relations). In this article, I would like to focus on the fourth possibility: making some speculative gestures toward the facilitation of a translineage religious orientation. Although I expect the thoughts I develop here would apply equally to several of the scenarios listed above, I have elected to focus on translineage religious practice for two reasons. First, it is becoming an increasingly common option in postmodern spiritual culture, frequently at  the expense of depth of vision or commitment as spiritual consumers drift rootlessly from one practice and teacher to another (Gafni, 2011a). And second, for those who do pursue a translineage path with rigor, it may be the field where the incommensurability between faith traditions, with their potentially conflicting truth claims, soteriological ends, and conceptions of ultimate reality, may be felt most acutely and personally by practitioners. While the first point suggests that such an inquiry is indeed timely and an emerging cultural need (as more individuals move into a worldcentric orientation), the second poses a challenge and invitation, particularly for integral practitioners who see shortcomings in a too-easy perennialist inclusivism and are seeking an approach that does justice to the plurality and precious particularity of the world’s many wisdom traditions.

 

Until relatively recently, Integral Theory did, indeed, espouse a version of the perennial philosophy, and thus arguably also endorsed a form of universalist religious inclusivism. In this view, each of the world’s many religious paths is seen as orienting more or less successfully or completely toward the same metaphysical ultimate and the same final realization (in potential if not in actual practice). As I have argued (Alderman, 2011), however, and as I will further develop here, the post-metaphysical, enactive turn in Integral Theory represents a subtle but profound shift in orientation, one which, I maintain, invites and supports a non-relativist, deep or integral pluralism, capable of non-reductively holding and honoring the rich multiplicity of humanity’s many religious truths and worldviews. Specifically, I believe that the post-metaphysical turn in Wilber’s (2002, 2006) work supports proceeding on post-metaphysical and metaphysical levels simultaneously.  Post-metaphysically, the Integral model embraces metaphysical pluralism, viewing metaphysical systems as enactive operators that play a role in the enactment of particular, ontologically rich worldspaces. And metaphysically, Integral Theory advocates the adoption of facilitative metaphysical models, such as the Three Faces of Spirit (Wilber, 2006), which invite deepened appreciation and integration of the major perspectives on divine reality available in the world’s major religious traditions.

 

As I will discuss in greater detail below, both Wilber’s (2006) post-metaphysical and Jorge Ferrer’s (2008) participatory models of enaction already go a long way toward establishing a framework for trans-lineage practice. Each enables us to understand our various traditions -— with their particular practices, visions, beliefs, and so on -— as unique means of spiritual enactment, or as I will describe later, as “generative enclosures.” There is work yet to do, however. Although Wilber (2000) first introduced a post-metaphysical orientation more than a decade ago, in the footnotes of Integral Psychology and in a few scattered essays (Wilber, 2001, 2002), I believe we have yet to unearth or trace out some of the deep implications of this turn for Integral Theory as a whole. In particular, the ontological implications of this turn are, I believe, still unrecognized or underappreciated. Sean Esbjörn-Hargens (2010) recently made some very important, and pioneering, steps toward articulating an ontological model consonant with Integral Theory’s pluralist epistemology, and I offer this article in the hope of further contributing to this effort. As discussed below, an implicit or explicit commitment to the metaphysics of the One -— a monistic ontology -— frequently has underlain, and supported, various problematic forms of religious inclusivism (whether traditional or perennial philosophical) and even, arguably, informs John Hick’s model of religious pluralism (Griffin, 2005). So, if we are interested in developing an integral approach capable of non-reductively accommodating and fostering multiple religious enactments, particularly in the context of a robust translineage spirituality, it is imperative that we explore both the implicit ontological commitments of Integral Theory to date, and the promise of the emergent participatory and multiplistic-relational ontologies that are being forged in the crucible of interfaith and intercultural dialogue and engagement.

 

To this end, and for the purposes of this article, I would like to bring Integral Theory into conversation with several post-postmodern philosophers and theologians whom I believe have much to contribute in this area. In particular, I intend a polyphonic performance -— one in which a collection of disparate voices, in parallel and contrapuntal movements, will help us to reflect on a suite of themes relevant to an integral, trans-lineage spiritual practice. The major themes to be explored here include the post-postmodern rehabilitation of ontology; the relevance of the metaphysical reflections on the Many and the One for conceptualizing the relation of religious worlds and worldviews; participatory and post-metaphysical models of the enactment of spiritual realities; and several recent multiplistic, relational, and nondual ontologies that may give us the subtle conceptual resources necessary to hold multiple religious orientations concurrently. After I lay these perspectives out alongside each other, I will attempt to bring them in closer relation through the related concepts of generative enclosure and disenclosure, in the interest of articulating an integral pluralist approach capable of honoring both the interdependence and precious particularity of each of our religious practice traditions.

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Very well said. It seems OOO has affected you as much as it has me. At least Esbjorn-Hargans has the sense to know this is where integral is going, or at least those branches open to the next wave.

This is a lengthy post; I am using it to archive a bit of discussion related to this paper that has taken place over on Integral Life.

 

David:  [H]as Ferrer changed his views somewhat over the years? I believe I recall Wilber characterizing him and "participatory" spirituality as on the postmodern side. I looked one up:

In other words, the denial of hierarchical stages in itself as invalid metanarrative. From Ferrer to Tarnas to Hickman to Delores to Beloit, you can see these invalid and inauthentic metanarratives parading as sensitive, caring, empathetic resonances, whereas they are hermeneutic violence by any other name. (Who Ate Captain Cook?)

 

But I haven't gotten the feeling that you are drawing on anything like that in your paper or from your quotations of Ferrer. I was just wondering if his views had evolved, or do you think Wilber mischaracterized his work?

 

And then he singled out "participatory" paradigms explicitly in Sidebar F. I haven't gotten the feeling that those critiques have anything to do with your work, which I have only appreciated more on re-reading (I think your polyphonic performance is very impressive). But you are using the same term, so I thought I would ask you about it and whether you had any particular disagreements with Ferrer or if he had changed his views.

 

~*~

 

Layman Pascal:  When the Wibs mentioned Tarnas, Ferrer, etc. in "Who ate Captain Cook?" it is only particular aspect of their work which he is criticizing... the fact that anti-hierarchical, anti-metanarrative critiques are themselves a species of metanarrative whose potential for intellectual and social liberation is thwarted by a their hidden structural opposition to the emergence patterns of social liberation.  So whether Ferrer's views have changed over the years or not (and how could they not? and what DOES Balder think of this?) we can say that, like Tarnas and the others, the Wilbs is not critquiing all of their work, etc.  It seems important for all of us to keep the Wilbs style in mind.  He is interested in estimating the relationship of every theorist to their own potential to be articulating a more integral model and so he tends to only point out the places where they diverge.  The Wilber/Grof conversations spring to mind.  So it would be nice to know not only about Ferrer's development but also where Wilbs has no problem Ferrer's work.

 

~*~

 

Me (Balder):  I also believe that Ken, in his critique of Ferrer, is critiquing certain aspects of his approach, rather than the whole project.  My sense, from talking with Ken about both of my papers (both of which feature discussions of Ferrer's participatory model), is that he does not have any integral objections to how I've been using it or representing it or relating it to Integral Theory -- meaning, I think he at least accepts those aspects of it that I've presented in my papers.  The participatory paradigm is not meant to be a "new" paradigm, but a new iteration of a sensibility that has run through multiple worldviews at different stages of development or periods of history (which is an argument made in one of the essays in Ferrer's, The Participatory Turn).  Arguably, from my perspective (and I don't think Wilber objects to this, based on his feedback), the Integral model itself is "participatory" in its tetra-enactive framing: tetra-enaction is one (integral) way of framing participation. 

 

In my paper, I commented that I thought tetra-enaction, in fact, was a more sophisticated presentation of participatory enaction than Ferrer has typically presented it.  Ferrer actually asked me about this, wondering why I was claiming it was more sophisticated, and when I outlined all of the dimensions of "participatory enaction" that are encompassed in Wilber's use of the term tetra-enaction (which would include the interplay not only of quadrants but of levels, lines, types, and states), Ferrer agreed that that was, indeed, more complex or detailed than he had been presenting it ("Your response helps me to see how Wilber has explicitly included more enactive variables than I have done in my work").  From his response to me, I don't believe he has any objections to any of those dimensions being included -- he said he admitted a lot more work needed to be done, on the participatory side, to articulate the important dimensions of participation in a fuller way than had been done to date -- but he does have some objections to some of the ways that Wilber represents and employs the concept of stages or "development." 

 

Regarding this issue of development, Ferrer commented to me that he accepts that individuals exhibit cognitive, emotional, aesthetic, spiritual, etc, development over the course of their lives.  He said this has never been his objection to Wilber's work.  Rather, his primary objection has been to a ranking of religious traditions (that impersonal theism is superior to personalistic theism, for example; or that certain interpretations of nonduality are inherently superior to all other religious models of the absolute) which he thinks is "unsupported by the evidence" and usually involves covert and problematic ideological-inclusivist biases.  So, it seems his objection isn't to development per se, but to particular interpretations of how / where development is exhibited and applies.

 

~*~

 

Layman Pascal:  Fascinating.  I notice your "etc" relative the exhibited developmental streams does not explicitly include a social, cultural, values line.  Either it is implied, in which case, he permits cultural development but doesn't like applying it to religious cultures, or else he does not in general like to apply developmental sequences to social phenomena?  It sounds like he is more comfortable with neuro-psychological findings generating complexity levels than with logical-inclusion structures generating those levels... i.e. echelons of religious philosophy provided by each one accounting structurally for more expansiveness until it reaches the maximal level of conceptualizable approaches to practice.

 

Now, I'm sure it's more involved than this, but certainly the Wilbs does not simply postulate that impersonal theism trumps personal theism but rather than impersonal and personal approaches to theism arise historically and personally in tandem usually later and in more developed regions than symbolic personal theism.  While I suspect his criticisms could be met fairly handily I don't assume I've heard them all.  However it is a very sharp edge where integral, or at least my integral, could grow to address these issues.  

 

Intriguing.

 

~*~

 

Me (Balder):  I will take up this question in more depth when I have time, but to give one "piece" of Ferrer's issues with the ranking of religious traditions (as I understand it):  he bases his argument, not on the a priori rejection of cultural development, but on modern religious scholarship, where the ranking criteria used historically by competing schools (each describing themselves as the "culmination" of spiritual realization, with other schools being "steps along the way") are analyzed and compared.  He gives examples of various hierarchies that have been constructed historically -- the various competitive and inclusivistic self-rankings of the Abrahamic traditions; the alternative rankings which put Advaita Vedanta or Vaishishtha Vedanta on top; the inclusivist models of the Nyaya and Samkhya schools, each of which put their own school as the summation of all the other tributaries; Jain and Buddhist self-rankings; various competing Tibetan hierarchies; Kukai's ranking of Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist schools, all culminating and finding their fulfillment in Shingon; Wilber's Shankara-influenced ranking of traditions vs.Michael Stoeber's Ramanuja-influenced mystical hierarchy; etc.  He argues that frequently these schools are all using very (logically, conceptually) similar ranking criteria, such as "holistic embrace," or "possession of extra capacities," and yet are arriving sometimes at diametrically opposed or at least incommensurate positions.  He attributes this to the relative vagueness of the ranking criteria, which can be differently unpacked in different ideological contexts.

 

As I understand his position, it is not that it is not possible in principle to rank religious traditions according to certain criteria or other, nor that we shouldn't ever rank traditions (he offers his own criteria for assessing comparative excellence), but that a great deal of the ranking that has been done historically and even recently is problematic and ideological and we need to find better ways to comparatively assess the "performance" and "scope" of traditions, while also rejecting (on enactive grounds) the thesis that there is and can be only ONE final authentic soteriological fulfillment.

 

I agree with you that these sorts of critiques are indeed important for Integral thinkers to take up and engage in more depth. 

 

 ~*~

 

Layman Pascal:  I look forward to more on this topic.  His position sounds reasonably sophisticated.  Wilber's somewhat Da-and-Aurobindo-and-Zen inspired hierarchy fits fairly nicely with the projected higher developmental stages lifted from a lot of the ancient traditions but in practice the acceptance of that particular hierarchy seems to depend upon both an unfolding set of personal experiences and a philosophical aesthetic which expects each "next level" to pare down the number of metaphysical variables until it reaches "the One" "the None" etc.  Cabala approaches it roughly this same way.  However it is not strongly backed by neuro-cultural culture studies and does run into the problem of the orgy of various historical comparative rankings.  

 

As you know I have a strong tendency to promote the religious over the merely spiritual and suspect that the conventional hierarchy imputed by Wilber applies to a particular line (say, "spiritual") and is then transcribed back onto historical movements and claims.  Personally I don't locate the source of religious validity in specifically spiritual validity but observe them both to be ways of generating "bio-cultural surplus harmony".  When religion is considered as the "adequate" or "higher" operation of any bio-cultural machinery then we broader our gaze.  However this is not strictly an alterative to the Wilber approach since it does tend to create more and more "pure" conceptual estimations of the excess energy it is working with... and these trace a kind of unfolding hierarchy of theological positions.  

 

So I can already see that my approach would be to unpack Wilber's hierarchy in a manner that could justify itself as the "thing" which other rankings are actually pointing to when the make superficially variant estimations.  

 

As for the rejection of the ONE final authentic soteriological fulfillment... this was formerly my own position and I bear it great respect.  However I am now convinced that it is not possible to decided between convergence and divergence... such that while one final soteriology is not necessarily the case we cannot rule out that it might be as result of the possible increasing generalization resulting from certain kinds of development complexification.  The path/s are simultaneously narrowing and widening... as we would expect from the necessity of these twin potentials within any attempt to think the Ground of Being.

 

~*~

 

LP:  Personally I don't locate the source of religious validity in specifically spiritual validity but observe them both to be ways of generating "bio-cultural surplus harmony".  When religion is considered as the "adequate" or "higher" operation of any bio-cultural machinery then we broader our gaze.  However this is not strictly an alterative to the Wilber approach since it does tend to create more and more "pure" conceptual estimations of the excess energy it is working with... and these trace a kind of unfolding hierarchy of theological positions.  So I can already see that my approach would be to unpack Wilber's hierarchy in a manner that could justify itself as the "thing" which other rankings are actually pointing to when the make superficially variant estimations. 

 

Balder:  This is an interesting approach -- worth discussing further, for sure.  The view posited here is a meta-paradigmatic fruit, which has grown outside of the self-conception of any of the traditions in question.  Does it assume that the spiritual "what" that traditions describe and towards which they orient is the surplus product of their cultural and biological activity -- i.e., that it is generated by sentient beings, rather than, say, generative of sentient beings?

 

Regarding Wilber's hierarchy, one "piece" that Ferrer brings in is Rawlinson's taxonomy of mystical traditions, which descibes traditions as either cool or hot and structured or unstructured, making its own quadrant map of possible religious types:  cool structured, cool unstructured, hot structured, hot unstructured.  The argument here is that the traditions upon which Wilber primarily relies in his map-making are cool structured traditions, with some lesser appeals in his map and his writings to cool unstructured and hot structured traditions -- the point being that, the types of religious forms that exist exceed those typically covered in Wilber's account of religious views.  If an account of interreligious development can be shown to be typologically bound, then additional steps must be taken to try to account for the other types as well.

 

LP:  As for the rejection of the ONE final authentic soteriological fulfillment... this was formerly my own position and I bear it great respect.  However I am now convinced that it is not possible to decide between convergence and divergence... such that while one final soteriology is not necessarily the case we cannot rule out that it might be as result of the possible increasing generalization resulting from certain kinds of development complexification.  The path/s are simultaneously narrowing and widening... as we would expect from the necessity of these twin potentials within any attempt to think the Ground of Being.

 

Balder:  If I follow your suggestion here, you are saying that the process of increasing generalization might lead, eventually, towards a convergence of soteriological ends?  That, while there may be an increase in divergence, on the one hand, in the many different ways our views complexify and find expression (the outer/expressive forms of our traditions), they might also be converging through the winnowing process of generalization?  If so, this points to a future-possible "sameness" or "maximal adjancency" of soteriological ends among traditions, but would also imply present-level differences in traditions' conceptions of such an end, such that what is enacted now by the different traditions would exhibit a diversity of realizations, which might yet converge via the formation of a global wisdom civilization.  Is this what you are saying?

 

~*~

 

Balder:  This is an interesting approach -- worth discussing further, for sure.  The view posited here is a meta-paradigmatic fruit, which has grown outside of the self-conception of any of the traditions in question.  Does it assume that the spiritual "what" that traditions describe and towards which they orient is the surplus product of their cultural and biological activity -- i.e., that it is generated by sentient beings, rather than, say, generative of sentient beings?

 

It is generative, enactive, at the beginning and all along.  But the farther along we get the more the enactment is being accomplished by structures which summarize a great history of enactment already -- us.  So although we implicate the sacred in generating sapient (and even sentient) beings... we can nonetheless say that religion is concerned with the sacred surplus that we can generate for ourselves. 

 

That anything "is" may be called a kind of excess over the void.  There is no void for comparison but we are tempted to it in order to fulfill our intuitive sense of the basic surplus which is being.  Every successful combination, in the degree to which it is successful, generates not only a more complex harmonized holon but increases local potential for more such increase.  Surplus has momentum.  Human being are examples of many successes strarting from generative excess and generating excess at each step.  Now it is "our turn" in the sense of operating from our structures to create more of this delicious honey.  So when we act in such a way as to produce this sacred quality we naturally feel we are "just discovering it".  But this confusion arises because what we are making already is everywhere in its most minimal form.  We are fulfilling the production of its amplification and naming this amplified quality in honor of the primordial.

 

Balder: Regarding Wilber's hierarchy, one "piece" that Ferrer brings in is Rawlinson's taxonomy of mystical traditions, which descibes traditions as either cool or hot and structured or unstructured, making its own quadrant map of possible religious types:  cool structured, cool unstructured, hot structured, hot unstructured.  The argument here is that the traditions upon which Wilber primarily relies in his map-making are cool structured traditions, with some lesser appeals in his map and his writings to cool unstructured and hot structured traditions -- the point being that, the types of religious forms that exist exceed those typically covered in Wilber's account of religious views.  If an account of interreligious development can be shown to be typologically bound, then additional steps must be taken to try to account for the other types as well.

 

In my own notes about religious taxonomy I have been using "wet" and "dry" (in addition to several other axes) in roughly the same sense as Rawlinson. Wilber's choice of cool I think reflects not only is own preference but also the political pragmatism which informs many of his comments.  It is the organized cool systems which can be "invited" to the table. 

 

Balder: If I follow your suggestion here, you are saying that the process of increasing generalization might lead, eventually, towards a convergence of soteriological ends?  That, while there may be an increase in divergence, on the one hand, in the many different ways our views complexify and find expression (the outer/expressive forms of our traditions), they might also be converging through the winnowing process of generalization?  If so, this points to a future-possible "sameness" or "maximal adjancency" of soteriological ends among traditions, but would also imply present-level differences in traditions' conceptions of such an end, such that what is enacted now by the different traditions would exhibit a diversity of realizations, which might yet converge via the formation of a global wisdom civilization.  Is this what you are saying?

 

Quite right. Every politician is more conventional after a term in office.  The constant exposure to contingencies is essentially the mechanism by which every "mainstream" is produced.  So we have to take seriously the possibility of a convergent sameness (maximal adjacency, yes) which is the unspoken horizon of many distinct soteriological "policies".  However at the same time we must not neglect the fact that even small variations, when reiterated, produce fabulously unique patterns.  Proceding with both these realities on the table is the only way to do conceptual justice to the simultaneously disclosure/enclosure tendencies which we find operating at borders (and therefore which we attribute to the ontological nature of the border-substance which is all-pervasive).

 

~*~

 

Layman Pascal:  So although we implicate the sacred in generating sapient (and even sentient) beings... we can nonetheless say that religion is concerned with the sacred surplus that we can generate for ourselves...  [W]hen we act in such a way as to produce this sacred quality we naturally feel we are "just discovering it".  But this confusion arises because what we are making already is everywhere in its most minimal form.  We are fulfilling the production of its amplification and naming this amplified quality in honor of the primordial...


Me (Balder):  I see in this view a similarity to -- perhaps a homeomorphic equivalent to -- a view we have explored at some length on the IPS forum:  the notion of a hermeneutic return to the primordial, which is at once a recovery and a redemption or amplification of the primordial.  A number of religious and contemplative-philosophical traditions provide technologies for this process of hermeneutic recovery, which redeems the "echo" of the primordial in us as the always already, although what is thus realized -- in this higher-order hermeneutic-phenomenological transformation -- never really was (for us) what it now is (for us).  It is, in this sense, a "surplus" or an "amplification" (and thus a redemption) of our primordial heritage.

Wow, a lot of good grist for the mill. For now a comment on this:

Wilber's Shankara-influenced ranking of traditions...

As to which forms of Buddhism Kennilingam favors as more ‘developed,’ I’ve assiduously explored this in numerous threads and argued as to which is truly more enlightened. This post in the Batchelor thread, which rehashes some of my previous sources and arguments, shows his bias toward the Murti interpretation, which is reiterated by Thakchoe in this post of the same thread.

Yes, good points to bring in here.  I am curious if Ferrer has ever discussed Wilber's reliance on Murti.  I will look for that in his texts when I get home.

Re-reading pp. 1-2 of the Batchelor thread, providing context for the above references as well as excerpts to and commentary on Kennilingam,  I came upon this post.

"In a discussion on this topic Jackson says:

'The great Madhyamaka outlook associated with certain Tibetan proponents of other-emptiness...[assert that] buddhahood is empty only of those conventionalities, while its natural purity, luminosity, and gnosis are eternally established and independently existent; thus... [it] involves negating the self-existence of conventional entities and concepts, but not of the ultimate buddha-mind' (232).

"Granted some, including Balder, have argued that Dzogchen for example does not adhere to this other-emptiness doctrine. But Thakchoe (cited above) says of Gorampa on this topic:

'Gorampa argues that ultimate truth is ontologically unconditioned, and hence it is not a dependently arisen phenomenon; it is distinct from empirical phenomenon in every sense of the word...it is an absolutely timeless and eternally unchanging phenomenon' (73).

"And Thakchoe reminds us that Mipham*, the eminent Nyingma-Dzogchen proponent, is in agreement with Gorampa on this (42). As are more contemporary modern monists like Murti, on whom Wilber draws heavily in interpreting Nagarjuna.

"* in footnote 170 Thakchoe says: 'Mipham not only attempts to show that ultimate truth is the only truth but also takes one step further to show that ultimate truth is an absolute, therefore truly existent'" (188).

And this post, where Batchelor specifically names the Lingam, though spells his name incorrectly. After linking Wallace to a reifying view he says:

"This kind of view is becoming normative of much 'Eastern spirituality' in the West, particularly under the influence of the neo-Vedantist Ken Wilbur."

One more post from the Integral Life discussion:

 

Balder:  If I follow your suggestion here, you are saying that the process of increasing generalization might lead, eventually, towards a convergence of soteriological ends?  That, while there may be an increase in divergence, on the one hand, in the many different ways our views complexify and find expression (the outer/expressive forms of our traditions), they might also be converging through the winnowing process of generalization?  If so, this points to a future-possible "sameness" or "maximal adjancency" of soteriological ends among traditions, but would also imply present-level differences in traditions' conceptions of such an end, such that what is enacted now by the different traditions would exhibit a diversity of realizations, which might yet converge via the formation of a global wisdom civilization.  Is this what you are saying?


Layman Pascal:  Quite right. Every politician is more conventional after a term in office.  The constant exposure to contingencies is essentially the mechanism by which every "mainstream" is produced.  So we have to take seriously the possibility of a convergent sameness (maximal adjacency, yes) which is the unspoken horizon of many distinct soteriological "policies".  However at the same time we must not neglect the fact that even small variations, when reiterated, produce fabulously unique patterns.  Proceding with both these realities on the table is the only way to do conceptual justice to the simultaneous disclosure/enclosure tendencies which we find operating at borders (and therefore which we attribute to the ontological nature of the border-substance which is all-pervasive).


Ambo:  Seemingly inexorable appetite for some novelty and distinction will probably also be part of feeling the need for divergence from mainstream, eh, Layman and Bruce. Depending on the extent to which I am understanding much of what you are discussing, I just want to add and to cement this possibility, in the conversation, of our deep constitutional inheritance, I'll remind of the recent talk about Integral Cities where the biological imperative for diversity, pointed to in bees as an example, seems to be tenaciously etched into our survival 'DNA'/patterns. So as has been suggested, yes, dynamics, broadly kosmic perhaps and particularly biological, seem to encourage convergence and divergence. I like that since we know so little about the interweavings of dynamic patterns that evolutionarily and involutionarily impact our unfolding, we include that they these two tendencies to converge and diverge are tentatively considered to be occurring simultaneously as well as in some forms of alternation, along differ scales or levels of consideration.


Yes -- I haven't listened to the recent Integral Cities posting, but I am familiar with Hamilton's writings and mentioned her work earlier in this conversation when I talked about the role of "diversity generators" within systems (including religious and spiritual systems).  The panarchy cycle, which Hamilton appeals to, provides a useful account of these twin movements of convergence and divergence.


From my side, while I do not rule out the possibility of a future convergence of our present forms of realization, especially as we move into greater translineage contexts, I do not see a need to look forward to that as a necessary end, nor do I expect -- in an evolutionary context -- even a temporary planetary convergence of soteriological ends to "stay put": I think people would eventually put forth new exploratory tendrils and this would likely result in new, wildly creative flowerings.  To expect or need there to be just one final religious fulfillment or culture of realization is as odd, to me, as expecting life to settle, finally, on just one species.


On the other hand, relating this to what I said above about hermeneutic recovery of the primordial, I do think that -- given our nature as embodied, Kosmic, evolutionary beings of the same species -- there is in us a universal "echo" of our primordial condition, a primordial state of fullness and wholeness, that calls to us, and that serves as a pregnant horizon of fulfillment(s), even though it never was (for the infant) what it finally becomes in spiritual, post-egoic realization (which, in its hermeneutic recovery, is both convergent and divergent).

Balder:  I see in this view a similarity to -- perhaps a homeomorphic equivalent to -- a view we have explored at some length on my forum:  the notion of a hermeneutic return to the primordial, which is at once a recovery and a redemption or amplification of the primordial.  A number of religious and contemplative-philosophical traditions provide technologies for this process of hermeneutic recovery, which redeems the "echo" of the primordial in us as the always already, although what is thus realized -- in this higher-order hermeneutic-phenomenological transformation -- never really was (for us) what it now is (for us).  It is, in this sense, a "surplus" or an "amplification" (and thus a redemption) of our primordial heritage.

 

Layman Pascal:  Just so.  The classical mentality which seeks to return to the Origin suffers from all-too-typical inability to affirm the present or to follow the instinct of Life in its deeply futuristic quality.  So it seeks an insensible return, an archaic revival or redemptive rebellious which imagines the primordial is a simple external fact present in past-time.  But in this foolishness is a profound suggestion that can be redeemed by an understand of the present time and future-generative enactment which occurs the the apparently phenomenological moment of discovering the original condition.  This discovery is already an amplification.  The redemption of the primordial heritage lies beyond the understanding that the "echo" was a creative act that does not require return but rather requires responsible production of that which makes the semblance of return possible in the first place.  And these strategies, carried on across domains, is my definition of religious activity. 

"...even though it never was (for the infant) what it finally becomes in spiritual, post-egoic realization."

Recall in our discussions of this that the ego was a necessary ingredient to not only to get us 'back' there but integrate it. And just as the past is integrated so is the future becoming, but a future that never arrives as an end state. It seems there is this need to arrive at the end of history with a final enlightenment or final stage of development. Even though the kennilinguists say that the relative continues to evolve they still maintain an absolute that has always been and forever will be in the present, direct experience of the ultimate. And therein lies the rub as to what constitutes a post-egoic realization, and what is postmetaphysical, since that kind of dichotomous (dual nondual) interpretation of such experience is part and parcel of the metaphysics of presence.

Also see kela's blog post on inclusivism, which after providing numerous examples ends thusly:

"In the end it is about the dominance of some particular tradition -- whether it be Advaita Vedanta, Tantra, or whatever -- and the subordination of all other traditions to that tradition."

Or a more broad orienting generalization might be, metaphysics is largely about hegemony.

I'm guessing, when you say, "see kela's blog post on inclusivism," you are making this statement to general readers, for educational purposes, rather than conversing directly with me?  Because I know you know I have already read that blog and was already writing about this very topic (and its relation to Integral positions) before kela posted it...

Regarding your earlier post, yes, good point; I think my use of the word "finally," which I was using to give an emphatic tone (like "at last"), is misleading, to the degree it might suggest the arrival at such a final end point or stage of development, or even that what the hermeneutically recovered "primordial" becomes (yes, with the help of certain ego functions) is what it then will forever and finally "be" (in full present transparency)... I do not mean that.

Yes, I'm delusional in that I think others read us and am more providing links and general references for them, as I know you are familiar with my points made ad nauseum in the forum. And I know you didn't mean a final end state, but I also know many kennlinguists mean exactly that so my criticism is directed at them. And again to inform other readers, unless of course they are just in my imagination, in which case they are Monster Xs without substance. And I'm not just delusional but worse off than I thought.

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

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