I got a very kind mention in the Vancouver Sun today from Doug Todd, the religion reporter for that paper. Doug was a recent student in my Integral Christianity class (which is I guess how I got the label “educator” that he tags me with). The article is predominantly about bringing back some natural hierarchy (er holarchy) within the development of faith and spirituality.
Note these are human constructs like mile markers which require thinking in terms of miles as opposed to say kilometers or feet–they measure something but are still our constructs. They are helpful insofar as people become educated experientially to estimate miles or whatever the unit of distance is. There is according to this metaphor a kind of interior distance that can be measured. What is being measured is a person’s description of their own views on their core held meanings. What is NOT being measured is better or worse persons, i.e. who is of more and who is of less value qua human-ness.
The element of development, re-constructed through scholarship as a series of fluid levels/stages, is but one of the elements that we would call “spiritual”.
Other definitions of spiritual would include the mystical life (in Wilber’s language state-bodies of consciousness and the corresponding transformation of behavior/meaning that goes along with them…or at least can). Wilber uses a four state pattern (what he calls state-stages as opposed to structure-stages like in Fowler/Piaget) from Vedanta-Vajrayana Eastern spirituality: waking-gross, dreaming-subtle, deep sleep-causal, Nondual. In the native language of Christianity that is (exact correspondence): purgation, illumination, union (of spirits), indistinct union.
One of the classes in the course Doug took was to walk through each of the states in the native Christian experience-way via classic forms of Christian meditation calibrated to each state.
A third understanding of spiritual is (again using Wilber’s typology) the higher/highest levels-stages in any of the lines (e.g. transcendent art, music, sports, emotional sensitivity). The Fowler Stage of Faith is considered a separate line of development.
The Fowler stage is a sketch of human reconstructions of their answer to the question “What is Ultimate?” It’s one piece only of the puzzle. Moreover no one is ever 100% at any one stage. The use of structural-stages are what Wilber calls “probability waves”. They are simply probabilities of life experience of “locating” people’s expressions, outlooks, attitudes, ideals, etc. within certain parameters of human interaction. They do not exist separate from people making discriminatory fallible judgments in other words. Fowler’s stages do not exist outside humans in some pre-planted fashion. That said, it is a very helpful tool in seeing and dealing with people in regard to questions of spirituality.