Is what Andrew Cohen calls for in a blog entry posted 2/15, read here.
I think the ideas being pointed to in it are so profoundly important. I also think it sad that the initial responders (in the form of the comments) are absymally pathetic.
My latest passion—what I not-so-humbly like to call the third significant phase in the evolution of my teaching—is what I have been referring to as the integral manifestation of enlightenment. I’ve borrowed the term “integral,” used by my friend Ken Wilber and many others back to the great Sri Aurobindo, because there is simply no other word that is able to capture the four-dimensional, multileveled expression of enlightenment that I am striving to make manifest. I’ve just come out of an intensive weekend retreat with my core group of students from around the world, in which I began to share with them this emerging edge of my own thinking.
Phase 1: Traditional Nondual Advaita. Book titles like Enlightenment is a Secret, My Master is My Self, Who Am I, etc.
–In this phase (from awakening til mid 90s I think) traditional Nondual Advaita in the lineage of his teacher Poonja-ji. You are the SELF, You Are THAT. I AM THAT ONE. Traditional nondual state-stage awakening.
Phase 2: Evolutionary Enlightenment. Titles like Living Enlightenment, Embracing Heaven and Earth.
–In this phase the shift was to the Authentic Self (Soul as opposed to Spirit in Phase 1) combined with Evolutionary Creation Story. Overview here. Along with Enlightened Communication, intersubjective nonduality, beginning awareness of states versus stages and the move towards higher stage/structures of consciousness.
Now Phase 3: No Name yet. Some quotations concerning Phase 3 (my emphasis)….
It was a few weeks ago that this all started to come together in my mind’s eye. I even got very excited about the possibility of developing and publishing measurable, objective criteria for demonstrating the results of evolution beyond ego, both individual and collective, and how it directly relates to the way in which we are actually living…Of course, there have always been spiritual teachers talking about many of these things as a means to develop and attain higher potentials, but what I’m talking about is something different. I’m talking about using these concrete examples as windows through which to discern and dare I say judge the degree of an individual’s or a collective’s actual attainment, in such a way that has the potential for making the usually intangible, inner, subjective experience of enlightenment or consciousness beyond ego meaningful for our own times…But this is the first time I’ve tried to make it concrete in such a way that objective observers would be able to appreciate. I’m sure the rest of my life will be dedicated largely to this endeavor, together with others who are committed to making enlightenment really mean something in the twenty-first century!
What I feel Cohen has hit upon and annunciated in a far clearer manner than I ever could but had been intuiting (which is why I had not been writing specifically integral posts of late) is that it has to move into what he is calling measurables.
From my side in the more philosophically camp, questions like:
How do we actually ground truths in a post-postmodern world without returning to fundamentalisms, naive modernity, relativistic nihilistic postmodernism? Since consciousness and interiority has been so trashed for so long now and those who have returned to some form of phenomenology have usually done so in terms of states—all of the mysticism & phenomenology prior to Aurobindo it could be argued is states no stages and even with Aurobindo, they are stages already set that must be brought down and embodied not that are really evolved as we go along–what of stages?
Minus the kind of exploration I hear Cohen calling for, there will be the common focus on outer actions and policies: politics, social-cultural morals, movies, ideologies, etc. I think those modes of discourse are the only ones that allow us to begin to talk about qualia without ever really having to enter into its mystery or question the very ground we stand on.
I’m not saying those are bad conversations or that intelligent and thoughtful things aren’t said in them. What I am saying is that by themselves I find them incomplete. To me that is what the post-metaphysical turn to the perspectival is about…inquiring into the ground/position of our experience simultaneous to elucidating our points of view. Learning to not only speak from a position, clarify that position, defend it, find the flaws in it, but janus-like with two heads, have one head focused on that while the other is always focused on learning the contours of where one is standing and how one arrived there. Both are equally important. Not a form/content thing, but a form-content/perspective dyad if you like.
But this actually has to be grounded in some way that creates this subjectivity (sing. and collect.) in objective (sg. and pl.) networks. Otherwise it is literally all just in the head.
As to the argument that what we should be focused on now is practical problem solving my answer those answers, a 3rd way radical center approach is already out there on any number of issues.
–Natural Capitalism by Paul Hawkins and Amory Lovins. Be green and economically competitive.
–The 2% Solution. Matthew Miller
–The Radical Center. Lind and Halstead
–Pentagon’s New Map, Blueprint for Action. Thomas Barnett.
–Radicalmiddle.com Mark Satin
–America as Empire. Jim Garrison.
The Wilberian-only frame of integral has suffered, in my book, because it has locked itself into being teal (yellow in Spiral colors), which is totally unnecessary. Spiral already does a better job of that. The criticism is right that something more than a basic spiral-like one line value system is what is needed for many of the problems.
Cohen is talking in spiritual terms, not the academic-philosophic ones I referenced above. But they are related.
In spiritual communities, where intersubjectivity is coming to the fore in a way not previously seen (I would argue), the question of how we figure out who is right becomes acute.
In traditional spiritual communities there typically was no such discussion. The Guru, the Abbot, the Roshi’s word was law. When that model came via Eastern religion to North America (and Europe) in the 60s, the word is law did not line up with the traditions of democracy, liberty, individual thought/expression, social pluralism. A detente was established to varying degrees (except for very strictly controlled sometimes cultish groups) whereby the guru/roshi dealt with states and the individual was in charge of his/her own life.
This situation, whether it was the best that could be done or not, has massive structural flaws. The biggest being the question of authenticity (a buzzword of Cohen’s): how do we know who is legit and not in all this particularly as major money, consumerism, and the multitude of paths and approaches took off?
More traditional North American faiths like Judaism and Christianity mostly stayed out of the spirituality issue and were more concerned with church/synagogue membership numbers, social actions, congregationalism, politics, fundraising, etc. There was a healthy move in the Abrahamic faiths to return to their own mystical sources and some major fruits have come out of that (Renewal in Judaism, Centering Prayer/Christian Meditation in Christianity). But it too has become cheapened in many ways, fadish, and still mostly in the head or temporary experiences.
Particularly with these all being (as they must) voluntary organizations. We don’t know how to be together. The model of course can not be abbatial or worse totalitarian statist. But the current North American style of individual spiritual choice and authenticity meaning being whatever you are fully—even if that is an arrogant, ignorant ass–fails as well. Again there are individuals and individual groups who do amazing things, experienced amazing conversions. I’m not wanting to disregard that element, but on a large scale, thinking imagining on a wide wide crazy scale, I believe a major change has to take place.
It’s not happening overnight. Perhaps Cohen is beginning to see that–as a self-avowed revolutionary he has been in my mind too naive about how difficult transformation truly is–as in the line about the rest of his life will be devoted to this new phase. That could conceivably be quite a long time. Dude is only 52 or so.
I also think one difficulty faced is that technology is not yet (but perhaps will be in 20-30 years) strong enough to help the grounding process of these more (socalled) evolutionary edge meditations/pushes.
I would go so far as to say that given the history of spirituality as in large measure a state-only phenomena we do not yet have any idea how to do stage transformation. Not that stage transformation is everything. It is not, not even remotely so. But it is part and parcel. It becomes a minimum standard (which is putting the bar quite high I realize) now that we are aware of it. We can’t go back as it were. That is why the above is not some self-serving criticism of earlier spiritual systems to de-legitimize them. It is that we are judged given what is possible (i.e. what we know is possible and can reasonably be held accountable for), a canon I believe has held from day 1 and will continue for future generations.
As regards Schelling, Aurobindo, Plotinus in relation to their spiritual systemization only (their kosmology as it were) I agree with Wilber’s analysis that they with plenty of reason projected out into the future the same process that had experienced by ascending the chain to the point they did.
The metaphor is an art gallery. All of the paintings are already complete. You walk through the halls and they begin to get more and more glorious until you reach a pure light room, then darkeness, then walk back through all the floors noticing a common essence to all. Or if Aurobindo you have already glimpsed the high level paintings and your job is to bring their truth down into the paintings to the lowest floors.
But the paintings, the rooms, the situation of you walking and observing only, that is already all set and forever so in this model. If you stick to that model, then perhaps the guru model only is the answer. Because one person could then abstracted from the paintings (in theory) carefully and perfectly remember all of them and memorize the path through the gallery and led you to the exact same places him/herself.
But when the rooms are more like sand dunes, changing daily, when the paintings are being composed (in part) as we walk in the rooms, as the building itself grows like a plant, does this model make sense (alone) anymore?
If that is the case, as I’m saying. If following the analogy, the paintings are being drawn, more to come, if the building is shifting, growing, if rooms are appearing as if out of nothing.
In that image then how do we declare what is about anything? How do we express that truth in action? And how do we know when we are doing and when not? And who decides and how when there is (as there will) sincere genuine disagreement from roughly equally brilliant and equally flawed beings?
I’m interested to hear if anyone has been thinking about these things, come up with any ideas, etc.