Friday, January 06, 2006

Towards a Transrational Spirituality

Wikipedia says Integral Theory can be seen as a reaction against rationalism and materialism. While that is true, it is only partially true. It's true that Integral (the Theory and the Level) is a more universal and holistic perspective, but it more than just the reaction described on Wikipedia. While rationalism is subordinating and denies spirituality, Integral Theory addresses all known aspects of consciousness, including survival, magic, mythical, and even post-modern pluralism, which is also more holistic than the rational-scientific approach. Further, each of these levels of consciousness addresses a specific values line, which is only one of the five aspects of integral Theory.

Now that I've taken exception with Wikipedia's opening about Integral Theory, I'm going to agree that, for many, myself included, Integral Theory, and a more universal and holistic view, do contribute to an ever-expanding re-awakening of spirit.

My break with spirit, then referred to by me as "religion," came at twelve. I could not "rationalize" what I was hearing. It was religion wrapped in conservatism. Not the religion of the New Testament, but of the Old. I rebelled because it was clearly prerational to me, even at twelve, so I called "bullshit."

My parents had faithfully taken me and my sister to church every Sunday, and we were involved in other church activities. My dad was even the advisor for the junior high group, so I was not excited about telling my parents I didn't want to go church anymore, because I couldn't stomach the tyranny of fundamentalism. Later, it was the conservative politics and hypocrisy that drove me further from the fold. When I finally told my mother, she said, "I wondered how long that would take." It wasn't until years later that I fully understood the gift she and my father had given me.

With nothing else to guide me, I eventually moved to a scientific-rational mindset. I discovered Ayn Rand, devoured eveything she wrote, and fully embraced the philosophy of Objectivism. I made the classic mistake of killing God and first replacing "him" with rational thought and accomplishments, and later with egoic humanism.....rightfully and understandably so.

It didn't take long to start disassociating with Objectivism. It is cold...Matter-of-fact, and without compassion....in other words, scientific-rational, achievement oriented, and materialistic. I moved deeper into liberalism. I could unite with scientific-rational mindsets against fundamentalist, mythic, prerational religion, and the politics that went along with it, but I also had my compassion.

Years later as I began a mediation practice, something--I had no idea what--began to open up for me. I could no longer deny the existence of "God," but still held a revulsion to the sense of a prerational God, the only God I had been exposed to. At the same time I began reading Pema Chodren and Thich Nhat Hanh, and began developing an expanded sense of "God." Here was a spiritual orientation that held individual rights, liberal humanistic values, the necessity of a "practice," and compassionate politics as a transrational, postconservative, postliberal, and evolutionary spirituality as a higher value.

This transliberal, evolutionary and progressive spirituality is but one part of living an Integral Life.

1 comment:

kari said...

Cool, Gary. I have been reading your blog and feel the need to say (at the risk of adding to the ego-ha!) way to go! I have been enjoying it. Pieces of your story sound similar to experiences I have had....not surprising. I keep having these mini realizations of the ONENESS of life, which I guess is what leads me to seek out people for dialogue and other community activities. Way to keep it real!