Integral Spiritality

Posted: July 5, 2011 in Integral Studies, Religion

So, in poking around the Internet to get resources for the previous post on morality, I stumbled on a great summary of Wilber’s Integral Spirituality book.  It goes through the book chapter by chapter, and is worth reading, -although many will still find it pretty opaque unless you have some previous exposure to Wilber.

The Chapter 9 summary is worth looking at, and I’ll quote the first part of it here:

– Because everyone must navigate every stage of development in turn from birth, the average stage of people alive on the planet today is high prepersonal egocentric-mythic to low personal ethnocentric. 70% of the people on the planet are controlled by the world’s great religions. That’s less than at any time before in the world’s history, but it’s still huge.

– There is a “vertical component crash” between individuals and cultures stuck at ethnocentric and below and the 30% that have evolved into rational and worldcentric perspectives.

– Terrorists are stuck at mythic and ethnocentric perspectives with a prepersonal narcissistic self-image, the kind you normally find in four year olds.

– The problem is that those stuck at these pre-rational belief systems cannot grow because the rational world view dismisses them as irrational and foolish. So they cannot grow without abandoning their prepersonal belief systems, which they will not and cannot do, because they are the belief systems of their entire culture.

– With the Enlightenment, Western intellectuals actively repressed any higher levels of their own spiritual intelligence. Reason was the answer. “Death of God” meant “Death of the Mythic God,” which is the one 70% of the world believes in today. Because religion and spirituality were equated, throwing out religion meant throwing out spirituality.

– Wilber describes this problem as a new type of fallacy, a “Level-line fallacy.”

– In disowning the Mythic stage of development rational intellectuals also disowned the entire spiritual line of development. They mistook mythic spirituality for ALL spirituality. This insight of Wilber’s is brilliant and right on. You are left wondering why no one has spotted it before. (Wilber says they missed it because  spirituality didn’t exist as a distinct, separate expression from religion when the cognitive, aesthetic, and moral lines were differentiated at the onset of the Enlightenment. It had already been dismissed and dropped by serious thinkers.)

Well, in all modesty, I did think of it.  It’s what I’ve been saying for years.  It’s why I’m always so uncomfortalbe with religion-bashing in the discussion forums.  Science threw out the baby with the bathwater.  Our snide oppression of mythic religious beliefs make it impossible for them to evolve because there’s nothing for them to evolve into on a spiritual level, meaning that they’d have to abandon their entire cultural life view.  That’s not going to happen outside of some dramatic personal event, like the Christian who is raised in an abusive situation and has to dismiss that whole life view in order to escape.  The vacuum of spiritual evolution led to the plethora of New Age spirituality, which is just people poking around in the dark.  (That’s not really a criticism of them.  They are to be commended for exploring the darkness.)

The proud atheists who ridicule theists are preventing the evolution of the very people they are criticizing.  That is not to say that religion should not be criticized.  I do my fair share of it in this Blog.  The actions of religions and religious people deserve criticism.  Westborogh Baptist Church deserves criticism (if not ridicule); the Catholic Church needs to be called into account for some of their actions.  The religious right needs to be held in check politically.  However, those are criticisms on the actions of certain religions, not the religions themselves.  One can disagree without attacking.


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