Friday, March 9, 2007

For me practice is very simple; it involves simply reading books by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother and attuning

The practice of Integral Spirituality: Integral Esotericism - Part Eight Alan Kazlev
8-i Practice rather than Theory: I originally intended to write a lot more about the practical side of integral spirituality. But in the end I wrote much more about theory. The reason is that for me practice is very simple; it involves simply reading books by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, attuning to the presence behind the words, and offering up whatever is in my consciousness to the Supreme. So I cannot really write more about it than that. Whereas it is much easier to create mental maps and play with ideas and possibilities of that sort.
But because practice is important, and is too often neglected, and because the Integral movement at present - both Wilberian and post-Wilberian) seems very unbalanced towards the theoretical and intellectual, with only a few exceptions like Matthew Dallman (Art), Michel Bauwens (peer to peer social activism) and C4Chaos (blogging as a spiritual discipline), it seemed appropriate that something be said regarding integral spirituality, to round out this essay. So here we go...
Here we have the fact that first Wilber lumps together the totally supra-intellectual or supra-mental Sri Aurobindo in with several intellectual-intuitive visionaries (although not having studied the latter I cannot critique them), as if they are all on the same level (see TLDI 3 for more on Sri Aurobindo and also on The Mother, who Wilber totally ignores). Second he assumes that an transenlightened tecaher like Sri Aurobindo - and presumably also enlightened sages like Ramana Maharshi, Nityanada, and so on - had to scale their communication down to the mental level, because that is the only way they could get their message across. He again I have to beg to differ...
In the following pages Sri Aurobindo specifies three important realisations which confer Liberation - the Divine as the Self (realised in an as one's own consciousness first, and then in and as all beings), the Divine as the World (or all beings), and the Divine as the Transcendent[14]. However, the liberation that results is not an Integral Liberation, but rather the Liberation of the Jnani-yogi. Considering the dualistic nature of Reality - the Absolute and the relative, the transcendent and immanent, he refers to three experiences - of Atman (transcendent self) and Maya (world-process as ultimately illusory), Purusha (Pure Consciousness) and Prakriti (mechanical world process), and Ishwara (Lord) and Shakti (Creative Power of manifestation)[15]. Overlapping with the preceding two trinities there are the three enlightenments or realisations, Liberation in the Transcendent Absolute (this being the Liberation that is usually described in Eastern philosophy, Neo-sufi inspired Perennialism, Transpersonal psychology, and Wilberian Integral theory), the Liberation in or Realisation of the Cosmic/Universal Absolute, and the Liberation in or Realisation of the Individual/Theistic Absolute (which is, in contrast to the conventional monistic perspective, considered the highest of the three)[16]
All of which can help us elucidate the various lines of development, as can the teachings of many different esoteric and spiritual systems, and the mandalic archetypes of any one system, such as the five psychological virtues or the five wisdoms, and so on. The following obviously very incomplete and perhaps overly artificial and formalised list might be suggested as a possible starting point. This does not mean that these are all distinct categories. Some may indeed be distinct, but others overlap and are indeed in places synonymous, or just different ways of approaching the same aspect of the Divine. With other lines of development, the same line can take the sadhak to different aspects of the Supreme. Finally, every spiritual practitioner may include as many or as few of these aspects and lines as he or she wishes to or is guided to do so...
8-viii. Establishing an Integral Spiritual Community: So far, integral spirituality has been described on the individual level. But some New Age teachers have tried to establish communities based on a larger, collective application of spiritual or yogic principles. In terms of Wilber's quadrants (fig 2) and expanded holarchy (fig.8) this refers to the collective level, which should be the natural development beyond the individual. Some of these communities however failed, because the gurus and teachers who established them were imperfect and/or abusive; Rajneeshpurim is the classic example. But a few, such as Findhorn and Auroville, succeeded. They succeeded because the consciousness behind them, and the collective goodwill of their members, was and is pure.
If new age communities based on or around the personality cult of abusive gurus are to be avoided, then those communities lacking a real spiritual guidance are only somewhat better. Many alternative communities tend to be made up of people who are trapped in a mentality of marijuana addiction. I don't know if this is so in Europe or America but it is especially the case in Australia, where hippy communities have failed through lack of leadership and the large alternative community of Nimbin on the Northern New South Wales coast has been invaded by hard drugs and organised crime.
Thus it is necessary both to reject all drugs, soft as well as hard, and to have a proper spiritual practice and focus. In this respect, communities like Findhorn, Auroville, and Mirapuri represent proper "integral" communities based on a wholistic, ecological, and spiritual approach...
8-x. Summing up: Summing up, it is my thesis that a new meta-paradigm is absolutely essential, not just a new paradigm but a larger understanding of reality in general. And with it a larger morality, and a more mature spirituality and philosophy, an Esoteric Integral Ethics.
This integral approach has to include all the ways of understanding - science, philosophy, esotericism, occultism, mysticism, etc - without being limited to any one. It has to incorporate all the ways of doing - art, morality, technology, practical spirituality - and then add still a greater perspective to the understanding, and still a greater action to the doing. It has to be based on compassion and empathy. And it has to apply to all sentient beings without exception; it cannot be merely anthropocentric and based on the rights of the human animal alone, ignoring the sufferings of countless billions of non-human animals, as well as the ongoing human-caused mass-extinction event. In short, it has to be about making this world a better place, giving equal attention to the transformation of the self, the transformation of society, and the transformation of the Earth.

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