"Transcend and include... this is the self-transcending drive of the Kosmos—to go beyond what went before and yet include what went before... to open into the very heart of Spirit-in-action." Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if a group of people somewhere were for something and against nothing?" Ernest Holmes

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Integral Occupy Wall Street: Love and Shadow

Integral commentator Joe Perez notes that an Integral presence at Occupy Wall Street will not be based in resentment but in love and full acknowledgment of our own shadows.
Integral politics knows you can't just burn down the banks....Integral morality does not arise from resentment, feelings of jealousy, or animosity of any kind. It asks us to look at our individual shadows and acknowledge when our own antagonism towards the ultra-rich borders on its own sort of greed and will to power. Integral politics is based on love.
Beautiful Joe!

Because my Integral Life Practices Meetup group in DC was just working with the book's shadow module last week, I wondered how such a shadow-aware protest might look. Just for fun, I've revamped an old sign:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Integral & EnlightenNext: The Marriage of Map & Path?

A day of exploring "the Union of Theory and Practice" with leaders from Integral and EnlightenNext generated a surprising level of enthusiasm for cooperation between the two movements. This surprised me because I thought the day was to be about unifying theory and practice in our own lives. And thus, I expected a discussion of  transformational practice groups.  But the two levels of focus came together beautifully for me at the end when I was able to propose a practice group exchange as one of the ways the organizations could explore closer cooperation.

Second Generation Facilitators
Jeff Carreira left, Clint Fuhs, right
Our facilitators for the session July 15/16  were top students of the leaders of the two movements: Clint Fuhs from Ken Wilber's Integral and Jeff Carreira from Andrew Cohen's EnlightenNext (formerly What is Enlightenment). And thus, they referred to themselves--and us--as the "second generation" in these movements.  (They actually used the term "lineages" instead of movements, and I can say that with a straight face if it is understood as Integral being in the lineage of Neo-Platonism and EnlightenNext in the lineage of some aspects of Eastern philosophy--with, of course, Andrew Cohen's radical twist that evolution is unending, rather than cyclical as Wilber and many of the Eastern traditions maintain.)

Jeff is the Director of Education for EnlightenNext, and Clint is the Director of Core Integral which offers college level courses on Integral theory. Both men love ideas, and I could have sat all day for their rapid fire exchange. And yet, both men also exude that quality of presence that makes me feel they walk their talk.  Clint made us laugh playing gunslinger, whipping concepts out of both holsters. "Integral is not a path, it's a map," he said. I laughed especially loud when one fan of Rumi asked, "How do you relate to the heart?" and Clint said, "We map it."

Which Comes First?
Clint told us that practice precedes theory: while most people think Ken Wilber took up meditation, for example, because of his theory, it was actually his experiences of practice that led to Integral Theory, he said. My favorite point from Jeff may have expressed the opposite truth. He said he stopped being a seeker when he realized that enlightenment as a state experience might never happen to him; he couldn't wait for it. "Forget enlightenment. I want freedom now!" he had proclaimed.

The facilitators set us to work early. In small groups we completed the sentence stems:
  • What I bring to this discussion is....
  • The gifts of Integral/EnlightenNext are...
  • The shadows of Integral/EnlightenNext are..
  • How the two lineages could support each other is...
Authenticity: What's their Secret?
In my small group, I was impressed with the ease with which the ENext folks spoke from an authentic, intentional place, apparently setting ego aside. I have actually noticed this quality in many of the ENext people I have met, going back to the day I met Steve Haase when he and I were the only two to show up at the first meeting of the DC Wilber Meetup. How did these folks maintain that quality over time? What practices are they following? I determined to find out.

Gifts and Shadows
The results from our groups looked something like this--with my editorial additions and rearrangements:

This exercise covered a lot of ground quickly and diffused tensions in the room. A rich camaraderie began to develop between the two groups. Jeff pronounced that the results were "no surprise," and challenged us to consider, therefore, that the problems we listed were not really shadow because they were obvious to everyone. The shadow, he said, is the fear or grasping that prevents us from addressing the problems we all acknowledge. I was still pondering that when my Integral buddy Anita voiced my next thought, "This looks like a polarity map: not problems to be solved, but polarities to manage."   ENext folks started saying, "I'd like to learn more about Integral Theory--and lining up to buy Clint's course.

Our final practice of the day was a circled up conversation of "Whatever wants to be spoken into the room," facilitated by Jeff.  Several of the ENext people expressed an intense desire for closer cooperation between the two groups. Clint warned that that kind of enthusiasm can be difficult to maintain; was anyone willing to make specific commitments for followup?

The idea for the day was birthed by local coordinators for the two groups: Malcolm Pettus from the DC Ken Wilber Meetup and Ryan Diener from the DC EnlightenNext.  Malcolm committed to make Ryan an assistant coordinator on the Meetup site, which would give Ryan direct access to posting events. Several of the ENext folks offered to establish joint mailing lists. Clint and Jeff said they would be open to returning in six months for a follow up session.

Practice Group Exchange
I offered to coordinate a practice exchange. I explained that members of the Wilber Meetup have been experimenting with various formats for practice groups; it could be useful and enlightening to learn what ENext does before we shape our next round. I am thinking something like a few of us visit one of their sessions and then invite them to attend one of ours--something like that.

Most folks went to dinner together afterwards, and the ENext folks invited us to a picnic the next day. All in all, a fine start to a courtship.
Event organizers: Malcom Pettus first row, second from left (between Clint and me) and Ryan Diener third row far right.
Chief chauffeur and love muffin Anita maintains her usual low profile third row far left.

Comments heartily encouraged.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pantheism vs Panentheism as God's 3rd Face

I am God
You are God
It all is God
As I explore what it means to integrate all three faces of God, the distinction between pantheism and panentheism fit what I was experiencing. In pantheism, the material universe IS God. And hence I can worship nature or, in a more "sophisticated" version, tremble in awe at the laws of physics. And I have done both. They are both flavors of the third face of God as expressed by Ken Wilber and Terry Patten.

I had long since left behind the second face of God from my Catholic childhood; "You, a force outside me, are God."

Then in New Thought metaphysics I began to have experiences in which my intention appeared to shift the outcome of a situation. And hence I experienced a version of the first face of  God, "I am God," which evolved into, "I am a co-creator with God" or "I am God expressing."  

But as I continued inquiring into WHAT I was expressing or co-creating with, I cycled back around to the inescapable conclusion that it was indeed a force outside of me, and something more than the laws of physics. This is Panentheism. Material reality is IN God, but is not all of God. In my current understanding, Panentheism integrates all three faces of God. Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen, leading proponents of this integration, have declared themselves to be "Evolutionary Panentheists." A beautiful expression of panentheism is found in this song below, "God is More Than This," sung by the Agape choir in Los Angeles and interrupted by a brief sermonette by Rev. Michael Beckwith.

My understanding of this continues to evolve. But my experience of it deeply enriches my life.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Three Faces of God: Why Care

I am God
You are God
It all is God

There are many ways to understand what Ken Wilber calls "the Three Faces of God." Most of us learn them in the reverse of the order stated above:
  • Third person:: It: rivers, moon, and sky are God
  • Second person: You the Father from the stories of my ancestors are God 
  • First Person: I in my oneness with all that is am God 

And as we grow we usually reject our earlier understandings. But is there room for all three? Does there need to be?

I was lucky to make the break to First Person easily in my thirties, twenty+ years ago, when I discovered New Thought panentheism. But the adventures recounted in my book drew me around to reconsider what I'd left behind, bringing my new consciousness of radical freedom and responsibility to the old stories. For me there are three reasons to do so:
  • The sheer joy of a devotional relationship
  • The improved relationships with my teammates that are possible when we put something sacred in the center of our circle
  • An ability to embrace followers of traditional religion as brothers and sisters

In reintegrating this second face, you don't have to go as far as I have--twirling a white skirt to praise dance at a Black church. Simply chanting, or lighting a candle, or even writing a love poem to your hero may be enough for you to call forth the presence of beloved Other. Whatever it is, I recommend it. It can be a powerful source of meaning and joy.