Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Three Kinds of Spirituality: my retreat presentation for SpiritMindBodyGroup.

You notice that in my title I didn’t say levels or stages of enlightenment because that would seem to imply one kind is higher or lower, or more or less advanced than the other – that one or other kind is better or worse than the other. I do not know that, nor am I claiming such.

Let me list the three types of spiritual enlightenment that are what I understand from their discussion. Then I would like to talk about examples and maybe even try to experience some of these examples in our meditative practice today. This type of spirituality is in the world of form. It is samsara. It is in paganism. It is in animism, and in the Native American belief system. In addition, it has been named pantheism. . It means that the spirit is in everything around us – that spirit exists here and is in every form.
River of Life by Richard Luce

I happen to be a collector of camouflage art, much of which has been applied to Native American Art. Some of you have seen my prints around my house that I collect. (Some may not have – but we can look at them after if you like.) However, I have brought out some other prints in my collection that you have not seen which I think demonstrate this idea of spirit in the world of form. Here I would show some prints: like Richard Luce River of Life. Judy Kramer Cole her poster with images in lightning, Homeward Journey. Trail of the Talisman, Keeper of the Secret, with the buffalo in the mountain behind the Indians, then the two with the Indian in animal robes and the reflection of the animal in the water. Bev Doolittle’s Wilderness poster. (When I gave this talk on June 9, 2011 to my Spirit Mind Body group, I also showed Daddy’s girl, which shows the Vietnam monument. I showed this just because I liked it and we just passed Memorial Day.

Daddy's Girl, by artist Danny Day

Be sure to Read More of my spirituality presentation. Also some great links on next page.
Examples of this spiritual idea would also exist in those who love flowers, who get absorbed in a view of the lake, of those who love a rainbow, or a beautiful thunder and lightning show like last night for example. My cousin gave a eulogy for his mother my aunt, who never went to church or synagogue or meditated in the true sense of the word, -- did not practice any organized religion. He said, “My mother’s cathedral was on a bench at the end of our pier on Lake Wisconsin, facing the sunset.”

These are examples of the first kind of spirituality or enlightenment. We have all experienced such moments of bliss, peace, selflessness in our world. There is nothing wrong with them, but organized religions have tended to move away from them. We tend to look at such moments of beauty as being made by God – by a force of nature that is beyond and separate from the world of form. These moments are generally transformational in a lateral/horizontal way – not transcendental in a vertical way.

Spirituality type II is Nirvana – the idea that we must achieve some sort of enlightenment that removes us from samsara. We must learn how to get out of the world of form and time and space. We need to let go of self/ego, ascend, and exist only in this immediate moment. We must let go of time, move beyond it, and then we become one with the timeless, with emptiness, with the mystery that is outside the world of form.

The traditional or axial religions – Christians’ love and prayer, Islamic prayer, Buddhist meditation– all strive to lead the individual to personal transcendence – to one could say nirvana. The goal is to leave this world, get off the wheel of samsara, and become only “Being”. The operative word is being. We try to just be in the moment only. Nothing else is important – not the past, not the future, not this world of form, and not what happens to it. Now there is usually an idea of compassion and selflessness that is taught along with the transcendence. However, even the Buddhist idea of there being a Bodhisattva who will decide not to escape the world of form, and reach nirvana, who will take the vows of a Bodhisattva – not even the Bodhisattva moves into the third kind of spirituality. Still the bodhisattva’s purpose is to remain in the world of form to help all sentient beings eventually escape the world of form.

This third kind of enlightenment is what Andrew Cohen and Ken Wilber talk about as non dual, or integral evolutionary enlightenment. This type is a combination of both Type I and Type 2, embracing the characteristics of both. It is an idea of not just being, but of becoming. -- evolving in our spirituality so that we not only transcend but we transform the world of form. We take advantage of all of our current scientific knowledge to do this evolution. In addition, as the spiritual evolution continues into humanity’s future, future knowledge will be included just as evolution of living beings in our world took advantage of their changes in form over time.

Accompanying this idea is a passion to change, to evolve, and to “surrender to the movement of an awakened compulsion to participate wholeheartedly in the evolutionary process for the sake of spiritual evolution itself.

The rule is: resting as emptiness, embrace the entire world of form.

Now here is where it always gets difficult for me to get my mind around these concepts. Here is where I need the brainpower of this group: Spirit Mind Body.

These two philosophers speak of our vehicle to achieve this "becoming" – this new integral evolutionary state. Our vehicle is of course our human body, intellect, psyche, and whatever spiritual practice we have developed, probably based strongly on the background that we were taught (perhaps/probably in the axial religions). We have to polish this vehicle and get it into tip-top shape in order to “become” to the greatest of our potential.

In addition, that potential will grow in unknown ways. Consciousness will grow; it may become collective. There are some examples of collective spiritual experience already. We do not know what human potential, what human consciousness will become. However, inherent in this new type of spirituality is the passion to seek that outcome.

Paul N said he was disappointed in this article because the two discussants did not recognize that Buddhism has been practicing Type III enlightenment for centuries, maybe for 2000 years already. He does say that originally Western Buddhism perhaps did not, and that there are still places in the world where the practice is just to escape samsara, and it does not include the world of form. But he feels that people like Thich Nhat Han do combine both the esoteric and the world of form in their practice. He feels that Buddhism was one of the first religions to recognize this need for the Type III enlightenment.

• What did you think of this article?

• Can you get your mind around these ideas?

• To how many of you is this the first exposure to the idea of non dual integral or evolving enlightenment?

• Now we will do walking meditation – Because it is walking meditation in a lovely setting here in my flower garden on Lake Michigan, I would like you to try to combine type I and type II in your meditation. Try not just to “be” but to “become.” Meditate on transcendence but combine it with the world of form here. When you come back, we will discuss how that went.

• Return from Walking

• Did you try meditation combining type I and Type II during your walk?

• Did you attempt “becoming?”

• How did joining the moment of “being” with the world of form as you walked through it?

• Present Spiral Dynamics Model, developed by Dr. Clare W. Graves:

He described a model for adult biopsychosocial development. Individuals and groups of people collectively move through this spiral of development. Also entire cultures move through this spiral. Dr. Graves assigned colors to these levels of development just for convenient identification so that when future theoreticians write about them, the definitions remain standard. Later the word meme was applied to some of the levels of this developmental process. A meme (pronounced meem) is an idea or information packet that transfers from mind to mind, community to community, almost in a virus-like way. Theoretical work on these memes and applying them to human history has produced 8 value systems or vee-memes that have emerged in human culture through history to this date and still exist spread out and even side by side on earth.

The above two models are taken from Ken Wilber's book, The Theory of Everything. Ken Wilber has been very prolific in his writing about evolutionary enlightenment and a new nondual spirituality. The Theory of Everything seems to be one of the easiest of his books to understand. Still it is a bit deep. I continue to try to understand this new philosophy and incorporate it into my seeking spirit.

I found a man from Scotland, an art professor on YouTube, Dr. Fred McVittie, who is a peripatetic who has utilized social media, specifically YouTube to present films of him walking and talking. He rigged a camera that is often attached to his shoulder. He is often walking in parks or out in the countryside and he is talking about all sorts of topics. Below is a link to an explanation of what he does.


Below is the link to the YouTube video I showed at my retreat. Dr. Fred is discussing Ken Wilber and other integral philosophies and our ability to understand them. It is sort of tongue and cheek and, I think, keeps a healthy perspective on this very esoteric stuff that we have talked about at the retreat.

The following video was recently posted by Dr. McVittie. In it, Dr. Fred explains his reasons for doing these walking and talking videos. He has done over 1600 of them and 1200 are walking and talking videos. I find them very interesting.

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