The Neurophenomenology of Spiritual Development

This morning an acquaintance shared with me a link to the website and work of Eric Thompson, director of the Metanoia Research Institute


Here's the link to his Powerpoint presentation on the neurophenomenology of spiritual deve..., which relies in part on Suzanne Cook-Greuter's model.

Views: 103

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Great resources!...Thanks Bruce for paying it forward :)

A couple of points:

1. I was quite taken by the little graphics on the right hand side of each slide...the things that looked like super-slick modern (thought hardly post-metaphysical) plumbing fixtures. The top unit seems to be dispensing crystalline shaped particles, perhaps it is salt and the upper fixture is a water softener. God, how symbolic can one get? The Culligan Man as Buddha.

2, Why did he stop where he stopped? We've all been there. We've all done that...jack around with our brains. And any one of us with a mature bone in our body has moved on. Why do these developmental people stop where they stop? Are they afraid of the abyss? Are they too loaded down with the dogma? Are they just not all that bright?

3. So.....?
Hey, Steven. Bored between feedings again?
Hi Steven

"Why do these developmental people stop where they stop?"

Please let us know how you might you carry on where these people stop? I'm intrigued.

Hi Bruce - thanks for the link.

You asked: Please let us know how you might carry on where these people stop? I'm intrigued.

It appears to me that developmental research has arbitrarily, or maybe following Maslow, put an upper limit on human progress as if people were reflected the aspects of the moon...folks wax to this point--ironist or whatever--and after that it is all the same (plateau) or they start to wane. Whatever the case there is no longer development. I find that a little short sighted because I have known people who were clearly at the ironist level when they were 55-years-old, but they did not match the ironist description when they were 75, and they had definitely not regressed nor were they clinging to the obsolete values they had 20 years before.

The description on the slide show for ironist reads in part: "Peak experiences have mostly subsided and are replaced by plateau experiences, a unitive form of experience, wherein all fully embraced and valued as precious."

The people I am speaking of no longer fully embraced all life because, as one of them once told me, after so many years of full and intense engagement with life, they had seen enough of it. It was as if they had literally seen through it, worn it out. Though this particular person was not worn out themselves, nor were they being cynical or bitter; they were moving on. The fact is I found them to be more at home in being and wiser than what is listed as the ironist. One could argue, of course, that these people were fully embracing a different kind of life, but that argument takes "life" into the ethers of metaphysical spirituality and the members of IPMS have all transcended that foolishness long ago.

A few more thoughts on the issue appear in a blog post found here. It is old and you may well have read it from one of the 37 other times I've tacked its link onto this forum.
Right, Thanks Steven. I just re-read the text more closely I think I get what you mean. I too had a kind of "Why are you stopping there then?" reaction when reading the numbered stages.

BTW, the link to your blog works fine. I remember reading it when you first posted it. I enjoyed it even more this time.

(BTW 2, I also think I had a spontaneous 0.5 second "integral moment" this evening while driving home from work. Very odd. Good thing it was probably no more than 0.5 seconds otherwise I might have crashed the van!)
Hi Balder

I don´t see clearly how the semantic and the neural newtworks are strongly correlated in this presentation.
The ULQ Cook-Greuter´s structural model and the URQ Varela like discourse.
this is a very difficult issue.

Thanks for your comments. As the author of the presentation, I certainly understand your question as to why I stopped there. To set the record straight, I am absolutely certain that the developmental spectrum goes far beyond what Cook-Greuter refers to as the Unitive stage. However, it might help to realize that this presentation is based on an academic paper, for which I had to be prepared to offer empirical evidence for my claims. And it just happens that Cook-Greuter and Jane Loevinger have empirically verified the relative existence of their stages in at least 8,000 individuals cross-culturally. As such, it seemed most academically sound to use their stage models in such a paper. It just happens that Cook-Greuter's model ends at the Unitive stage. With all due respect to her work, I don't necessarily consider this model to be entirely accurate; but in regards to verifying spiritual development in scientific terms that are more readily acceptable in the academic community, her work is among the best out there.
Thanks for this Eric. It clarifies quite a few points and makes a lot of sense.


Reply to Discussion


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?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

Notice to Visitors

At the moment, this site is at full membership capacity and we are not admitting new members.  We are still getting new membership applications, however, so I am considering upgrading to the next level, which will allow for more members to join.  In the meantime, all discussions are open for viewing and we hope you will read and enjoy the content here.

© 2023   Created by Balder.   Powered by

Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service