1. With so many currents of religion available to us today, the need to understand these varying types of religious orientations becomes increasingly important if we are to successfully navigate our own spiritual development. Ken Wilber describes the differences between esoteric and exoteric religion and offers an experiment to show us the face of God, our own original face, and the need for an Integral Spirituality.

    Art by Steve Self

    # vimeo.com/12322742 Uploaded 14.7K Plays 2 Comments
  2. If you want to understand a term like “enlightenment” and make sense of what appear to be conflicting and confusing spiritual claims, this is your first stop. Because in thousands of spiritual books that fill book stores we learn of amazing and transcendent-sounding experiences from spiritual seekers. Are these people encountering God? Are they delusional? What’s going on here?

    In the video with Ken Wilber you’ll learn about different states and stages of consciousness. States are intrinsic to human consciousness but can be interpreted in profoundly different ways. You’ll learn that spiritual traditions are masters of the “state” experience. (Hmmm, but so are drug dealers...)

    The spiritual book The Power of Now is a sensational book that sometimes catalyzes people into a "non-dual" state of consciousness. Often interpreted as a mystical state of oneness with God, non-dual literally means “not-two,” where the separate sense of self dissolves and what remains is a blissful feeling of oneness with everything. No subject, no object, not two… This state of consciousness is how enlightenment is traditionally understood, and contemplative religious traditions the world over have made practices that induce this state in their adherents a central part of their spiritual training.

    A non-dual state is only one form of enlightenment – what we call horizontal enlightenment because states form a horizontal right angle progression at each and every vertical stage – though it is the one most focused on in the spiritual path. It is important to remember though that states of consciousness are always filtered through and interpreted by the stage of consciousness through which someone perceives reality. So although awesome mystical states can be profound and spiritually-provocative, human beings have often gotten into trouble as the states have been interpreted by different religious orthodoxies to imply different things.

    In this video we hear Ken also talking about stages of consciousness, which progress as our view of reality becomes broader, deeper and more inclusive. Stages are the 2nd form of enlightenment – vertical enlightenment because stages progress upwards through evolution – and by progressing in our stage of consciousness, by cultivating a broader perspective, we literally “see more” than we did before. (As an approximate metaphor think of how an adult “sees” more than the teenager, and the teenager sees more than the child, who sees more than the infant, and so on…) We are in-light-ened as if a light switch has been thrown and we can see more of the room we’ve been living in. This leads us to encounter more freedom and wholeness as we see ourselves as a broader tapestry of a universal story…

    States and stages of consciousness may be one of the most important contributions to the religious dialogue in centuries, and may well play a fundamental role in the future of spirituality. Mastery of the various states of consciousness (e.g., gross, subtle, causal, and nondual) determines the amount of freedom you can experience in life, while development through the many stages of consciousness (e.g., magic, mythic, rational, pluralistic, and integral) will determine the degree of fullness you can experience.

    By recognizing these two types of enlightenment you'll enhance the amount of warmth, light, and consciousness you have to share with the rest of the world.

    Art by Kelli Bickman

    # vimeo.com/12324028 Uploaded 2,264 Plays 1 Comment
  3. If there is only God, what the hell are we doing here? This question begins Ken's beautiful talk about the relationship between the absolute and relative--or, in the very simplest sense, the one and the many, or God and the rest of us--pondering the very essence of human existence.

    Art by Pamela Sukhum

    # vimeo.com/12324247 Uploaded 5,264 Plays 3 Comments
  4. Like three sides of a prism, the Good, the Beautiful, and the True refract the white light of consciousness into the entire spectrum of human experience: art, morals, and science; self, culture, and nature; I, We, and It. How odd, then, that many contemporary forms of spirituality seem to only extend Spirit to one or two of these dimensions. This has often been the case with Beauty throughout history, and is even true today. For example, many see it as "anti-spiritual" for a person to care about his or her physical appearance, as though an emphasis upon appearance is vain and superficial—and the real God does not concern Him/Herself with such trivial adornments as physical beauty. But really, what doesn't Spirit touch? And why is Beauty often associated with superficiality? If the mind and the environment around us are not-two, then isn't our very capacity to perceive Beauty a tribute to the perfection of existence?

    Art by Diana Calvario

    # vimeo.com/12189377 Uploaded 5,676 Plays 3 Comments
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Integral Spirituality

Integral Life Business

Philosophy (literally, “love of wisdom”) might well be the oldest human pursuit. For as long as human beings have existed, we have questioned our existence. And whereas our close evolutionary relatives have demonstrated the ability to create tools and…

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Philosophy (literally, “love of wisdom”) might well be the oldest human pursuit. For as long as human beings have existed, we have questioned our existence. And whereas our close evolutionary relatives have demonstrated the ability to create tools and perhaps even display a sense of humor—traditional criteria for what makes us unique as humans—we have not yet observed in them the capacity to make meaning. Perhaps it is meaning itself, and the search for it, that sets us apart.

Every human age has its priceless contributions, its startling insights. Premodernity discerned, beneath the myriad forms of manifestation, “the Great Chain of Being,” a majestic progression from matter to body to mind to spirit. Modernity informs this view considerably; it tells us that we live in a universe that has evolved over roughly 14 billion years. Matter evolved to the point at which life emerged; life evolved to the point at which consciousness emerged. And postmodernity points out that each of us is embedded in a context, largely invisible to ourselves, from which we interpret our experience. Rather than a pregiven world, we enact a worldspace, the product of the phenomena we observe and the viewpoint from which we make the observation. We are, quite literally, viewing manifestation through a set of lenses, lenses that we never knew we were wearing. And in the process of development, we swap those lenses for new ones, viewing phenomena in increasingly more precise, nuanced, and sophisticated ways.

At the leading edge, most developmental theories posit a stage that might be called “integral,” for its hallmark attempt to make sense of everything, to find the pattern that connects. One such theory is “AQAL,” short for “all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, all types.” The AQAL model, proposed by American philosopher Ken Wilber, is perhaps the most comprehensive view ever taken of how all manifestation, all matter, all life, all thought, and all experience can fit together in a coherent whole. AQAL itself is content-less, which makes it infinitely applicable to any particular area of inquiry. Any field (e.g. business, medicine, politics) can be viewed through an AQAL lens. And this view can vastly enrich our understanding of the contours, limits, and possibilities of that field. Touching in on the five aspects of the model ensures that we have covered all of our bases. We can be sure that we are viewing a given situation from every conceivable angle, and can proceed with the best information possible.

But what if AQAL was applied to spirituality itself? What if we were to view the ancient pursuit of spirit from the highest viewpoint we can possibly take at this time? What would we learn from the journeys of those who have gone before, and what implications would there be for the road ahead? Remembering that there is no pregiven world, but rather, worldspaces that arise when a new perspective is taken from a new altitude, what is the worldspace that arises when spirituality is viewed from integral?

Integral Spirituality is a description of precisely that. It is a depiction of the view, from 50,000 feet, of spirituality, described by one of the great thinkers of our time. The book yields extraordinary theoretical insights, such as the fact that states of consciousness (which religious traditions guide us through) are always interpreted from stages of consciousness. And it provides practices that help us to navigate these states and stages in a breathtakingly conscious manner, ensuring that we are living as freely and fully as we can. It makes the bold proposition that religion—far from being obsolete—is the conveyor belt that will enable humanity to progress safely through the stages in its evolutionary past, and with great hope into its evolutionary future.

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