Multiplex Spiritual Centeren-USCommunityServer 2.0 (Build: 60217.2664)ISC 3 in the Books!, 05 Nov 2007 15:13:00 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:31308rollie0This week on Integral Spiritual Center....

Enlightenment, Gradually... - Patrick Sweeney
IS Call on "Integral Post-Metaphysics" - Ewan Townhead/Ken Wilber


Integral Spiritual Center was most honored to host its teachers this past week for the third annual gathering!  Special thanks to Nicole Fegley, Clint Fuhs, Kelly Bearer, and Robert MacNaughton for their extraordinary efforts in planning and holding the event.  We are looking very much forward to sharing the best moments with you, coming soon to this website.

Enlightenment, Gradually....

Enlightenment, Gradually…
The Mahamudra Approach to Meditation

If enlightenment can be thought of as the summit of a mountain, the Buddhist path to that summit is, at times, a steep and sudden approach, and at times, a gradual one.  In this week’s featured video, ISC Teacher Patrick Sweeney gives some background on meditation, the key practice in the gradual approach.

Buddhist meditation is essentially the cultivation of bare attention.  In his instructions on the practice, the Buddha taught mindfulness of the body, sensations and feelings, thoughts and emotions, and phenomena.  In meditation, one quite literally befriends these perceptions without judgment, developing the capacity to look directly what is present in the mind, with no effort to manipulate what is there.  In this way, the mind is allowed to grow and grow until it becomes transparent to the self.  The practitioner’s job is not to force growth, but rather to create the causes and conditions—the right circumstances of body, speech, and mind—whereby the mind’s natural potential can unfold.

As human beings, most of us take up an identity or selfing project—what Ken Wilber calls “The Atman Project”—which, unfortunately, obscures the gentle, subtle, delicate quality of knowing.  The first step into the Mandala of Awakening is to go to the root of the whole situation, and look deeply at how we are related to our minds.  Are we grasping onto the contents of our minds, and then turning them into the basis of self-identity?  Or are we able to be freely with what is arising?  Are we glued to samsara, wedded to the perception of being inside a human body and looking out at the world?  Are we reacting against what is happening in this moment, or opening to it?  Are we contracting along some story line internally, and externally, latching onto only one set of sense perceptions?

Mahamudra helps us to ask ourselves these questions, and helps us to answer them as well.  Eventually—through a sometimes sudden and sometimes gradual approach—we begin to know ourselves as we truly are….

States, Stages, and Kosmic Grooves

The Wilber-Combs Lattice helps us to see that progression through spiritual state-stages and structure-stages are relatively independent.  One can have a very high peak experience of a state from a relatively low stage (and interpret it accordingly).  Alternatively, one can be very highly developed in terms of stages, but have very little experience of spiritual states.

That being said, there does seem to be a relationship between the higher states and the higher stages.  Ken Wilber explains, in response to a question from the U.K.'s Ewan Townhead, from the Integral Post-Metaphysics call.

Two Kinds of Enlightenment, 27 Oct 2007 03:04:00 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:30697rollie0This Week on Integral Spiritual Center....

Two Kinds of Enlightenment - Terry Patten
IS Call on "Integral Post-Metaphysics" - Ilman Waldner/Ken Wilber

Two Kinds of Enlightenment
States, Stages, and Oneness with Everything

What is enlightenment?
  The answer to this question (not to mention the attainment of it!) has eluded just about everyone for millennia, and counting.  Most of the things that are said about it can’t help but be misleading.  In this week’s video, Terry Patten shares a new—and revolutionary—approach to the great question, in the thought of Ken Wilber….

Traditionally, he says, enlightenment has been defined as oneness with all states of consciousness (in other words, the realization and stabilization of the nondual state).  There exists both an injunction for the attainment of this state, and a community of the adequate for validating its attainment.

Unfortunately, given the insights of modernity and postmodernity, this definition leads to paradox, not far down the road.  What, for instance, can be made of the Zen at War phenomenon, by which numerous WWII-era Japanese Zen Masters were both radically “enlightened” and also radically ethnocentric?  Is there such thing as an enlightened racist?

The answer can be found in the notion of state-stages and structure-stages.  State-stages have traditionally been the domain of the religious traditions, which guide their practitioners through the realization and stabilization of deepening states of consciousness.  The progression leads from oneness with gross manifestation, to oneness with subtle manifestation, to oneness with causal manifestation, to a state of nonduality.  Wilber refers to this sort of enlightenment as “horizontal” enlightenment, as it is often depicted across the top of the Wilber-Combs lattice (a diagram depicting different types of spiritual experience).

While accounting for oneness with all states, Wilber points out that this definition fails to account for oneness with all stages.  One can easily have a realization, for instance, of the nondual, without ever progressing beyond the amber altitude.  This is precisely the dynamic that can account for Zen at War.  Clearly, enlightenment in this day and age should take into account not only the highest states that have been encountered, but also the highest stages that have unfolded (this is referred to as “vertical” enlightenment, as it is often depicted down the side of the Wilber-Combs lattice).  By this definition, one can be said to be enlightened if they have experienced both the highest state and the highest stage in existence at that point in history.  Only then can one be said to have been “one with everything.”

What is enlightenment?  “Wake up” (horizontal enlightenment through state-stages), but also, “grow up” (vertical enlightenment through structure stages).  Dwell both in absolute freedom (horizontal) and in relative fullness (vertical). Walk in the footsteps of Christ, fully human (vertical) and fully divine (horizontal).  Wake up from the nightmare (horizontal), but—like a bodhisattva—come back for all sentient beings (vertical), caught in the same nightmare….

IS Call on "Integral Post-Metaphysics":6 (audio)
The Construction of Reality (audio)

Our experience is constructed, both by us and by our culture.  But is it completely constructed?  What are the constraints on its construction?  Join Ken Wilber and Ilmar Waldner for this fascinating inquiry, from the call on "Integral Post-Metaphysics," Appendix II of Integral Spirituality.

ISC Teacher Discussion Series

Please note that, due to the Integral Spiritual Center Gathering that begins on Monday, there will be no ISC conference call this weekend.  Please keep us in mind and heart as we host our teachers for the third annual gathering!

The Complete Buddhism, 19 Oct 2007 23:14:00 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:30315rollie2This Week on Integral Spiritual Center....

The Complete Buddhism - Terry Patten
IS Call on "Integral Post-Metaphysics" - Allan Combs/Ken Wilber

The Complete Buddhism (video)

If the Zen school of Buddhism can be said to be “essential Buddhism,” then the Vajrayana school can be said to be “complete Buddhism.”  When viewed in the light of integral theory, which by its very nature strives for completeness, it is remarkable indeed how “integral” this ancient tradition is.  And supplemented with insights which could only have been seen from an Integral altitude, the practice of Vajrayana is, to this day, exquisite and unmatched in many ways….

The May, 2007 Mandala of Awakening ISC seminar sought to transmit the breadth of Vajrayana as faithfully as possible.  In this week’s video, co-facilitator Terry Patten discusses the inherent completeness of the tradition, even and especially in the Integral context.

First and foremost, the tradition, by means of its rich collection of practices, intuitively approaches the Divine in each of 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-person perspectives.  Through the practice of Vajrayana, one wakes up to Suchness itself (1st-person); one visualizes and enters into relationship with the Buddha in deep, devotional love (2nd-person); and one contemplates in nature the Great Perfection, or “The Body of the Buddha” (3rd-person). Ten centuries before the dawn of Integral consciousness, Vajrayana intuitively began to approach Spirit in each of its three Faces.

Vajrayana also emphasizes the major components of Integral Life Practice.  The body—gross, subtle, and causal—is considered incredibly important, the very vehicle of enlightenment.  Mind, too, is considered crucial: Tibetan monks spend hours every day in intellectual debate, sharpening their gifts in this area.  Spirit is exercised in an extraordinary array of meditative and contemplative techniques; Vajrayana may be unexcelled in this regard, the world over.

While Vajrayana does contain teachings on the “shadow,” the insights of the modern West are an important addition in this regard.  The repressed, evolutionary unconscious—the locus of a lifetime of undigested experience, or "shadow," as we now understand it—is a discovery of modern psychology, and was unknown in premodernity.  From the point of view of Integral Buddhism, traditional practices should be supplemented with the very best that modernity has to offer with respect to bringing the shadow into the light.

One key insight of Integral philosophy is ever to “transcend and include.”  This is especially important with respect to spiritual practice.  The very point of the forms in any tradition—and certainly in Vajrayana—is to enter into them in order to transcend them.  From an Integral altitude, at our best we are free of the forms and are thus free to inhabit them completely, and by means of them, to go beyond.  And so, from an Integral standpoint, this tradition is deeply admired and respected, a most blessed path toward the "religion of tomorrow"….

What is Integral Consciousness? (audio)

Tune in for an extraordinary discussion of Integral Consciousness with authors Ken Wilber and Allan Combs!  This superb exchange is from the call on "Integral Post-Metaphysics," Appendix II of Integral Spirituality.
Today: Vidyuddeva and Ken Wilber!, 12 Oct 2007 23:05:00 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:29886rollie4This Week on Integral Spiritual Center....

The Nature of Mind - Patrick Sweeney
IS Call on "Integral Post-Metaphysics":4 - Brendan Snow/Ken Wilber

ISC Teacher Discussion Series

The ISC Teacher Discussion Series continues on Saturday, October 13th at 1PM, with Ken Wilber and Vidyuddeva discussing Integral Buddhism!  As always, all ISC Members are invited to listen in to the live web stream.  For more information, click here.

The Nature of Mind (video)
Buddhist Teacher Patrick Sweeney invokes The Mandala of Awakening

“Contemplatives,” wrote Thomas Merton, “are so dazzled by the reflection of God in the souls of the people they live with that they no longer have any power to condemn anything they see in another.”  What is this reflection that arises when we see clearly through our projections, allowing us to perceive ourselves as we truly are?  Said another way, in the clarity we gain upon dropping our identity project—indeed, the "Atman Project"—what is the true nature of our Mind?

In May of 2007, Integral Spiritual Center hosted an exquisite seminar entitled “Mandala of Awakening,” led by ISC Teacher Patrick Sweeney.  In this week’s video, Patrick leads the participants into the Mandala of Awakening through a profound ceremony invoking the presence of Wisdom Mind, a ceremony that unfolds to answer the question of our true nature.

In the beginning of Buddhist practice, says Patrick, Wisdom Mind is perceived as simultaneously outside of and within ourselves.  Slowly, through years of practice, we are weaned from the perception of Wisdom Mind as something external, and can at last fully claim it as our own.

The Buddhist tradition has numerous skilful methods for trapping the dualistic mind.  This particular ceremony, says Patrick, helps to create an environment where the dualistic mind can relax, where we can step out of chronological time, out of the predictability of our own story line, and out of the next moment of “me.”  Dropping the identity project, we can open to something unconditioned.

Mahamudra, the Buddhist lineage which Patrick from, is composed of renunciation, devotion, and nondual awareness.  Renunciation helps us to understand what to accept and what to reject on our path.  The essence of devotion is to rouse ourselves to the possibility of awakening, usually by meeting a teacher who embodies the wisdom of transmission, who can give us a glimpse of our own true mind.  Ultimately, the teacher hands us our projections back on a silver platter, helping us to see through and beyond, into our own Mind.  And then the Inner Teacher is awakened.  Gradually, and sometimes suddenly, nondual awareness arises.

So goes the ceremony.  But profoundly, the ceremony represents in a formal way what we can do, moment to moment and day by day, to awaken to who we truly are….

AQAL and the Daemon (audio)

The "daemon" is an ancient concept which can be understood in an entirely new way, from an integral perspective.  Ken Wilber discusses the daemon in the light of AQAL with Boulder's Brendan Snow, from the call on "Integral Post-Metaphysics," Appendix II of Integral Spirituality.

Questions for Vidyuddeva?, 05 Oct 2007 16:48:00 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:29545rollie1This Week on Integral Spiritual Center....

The Universal Catechism - Fr. Thomas Keating / Br. David Steindl-Rast
IS Call on "Integral Post-Metaphysics":3 - Brendan Snow / Ken Wilber

ISC Teacher Discussion Series

The ISC Teacher Discussion Series continues on Saturday, October 13th at 1PM, with Ken Wilber and Vidyuddeva discussing Integral Buddhism.  Send your question in to for your opportunity to participate on the call!  As always, all ISC Members are invited to listen in to the live web stream.

The Universal Catechism (video)
Next Steps in Interreligious Dialogue

Brother David and Father Thomas are both pioneers in the field of interreligious dialogue; Father Thomas jokes that Brother David has been involved with the dialogue since “time immemorial.”  They have both contributed mightily to the endeavor.  But what about you?  What about me?

From an integral perspective, we can intuit the deep structures underlying the surface features of the various religious traditions, and can see the importance of the “conveyor belt” that the traditions serve as.  In this week’s video, Br. David underscores the importance of us all to interreligious dialogue.  The institutional religions, he says, have a vested interest in maintaining separateness.  In fact, if we wait for them to bring us toward a deeper unity, we might well be waiting for “the cows to come home.”

So what is it that we can do?  With the advent of the developmental approach, it’s clear that stage-specific versions of religious teachings are needed—some truths might be appropriate for children; others might well be beyond the grasp of the average adult.  But what is also needed is to expose ourselves—and our children—to the truths of other religions.  This is something that we all can do, and something that will not only increase our understanding of others, but may help to deepen our own practice as well.  

Accordingly, Fr. Thomas suggests that a sort of “universal catechism” might be in order.  As Ken Wilber writes, for the first time in history, we have access to all the world’s wisdom; we also have an understanding of how development unfolds.  For the first time, such a catechism can be written, across traditions and through stages of development. A catechism for religion, understood in a new way—indeed, as the conveyor belt that leads individuals from the childhood productions of Spirit, to the adolescent productions of Spirit, to the adult productions of Spirit, and beyond.

What Do You Need to Get a Universe Going? (audio)

Integral Post-Metaphysics implies going beyond metaphysical systems and the involutionary givens that those systems require.  So, at a bare minimum, what do you need to get a universe going?  Ken discusses this fascinating question with Boulder's Brendan Snow, from the call on "Integral Post-Metaphysics," Appendix II of Integral Spirituality.

John Kesler in Boulder!

For those of you who will be in the Boulder/Denver area at the end of this month, ISC Teacher John Kesler will be offering an afternoon experiential workshop on Saturday, October 27th.  The workshop takes place from 1:00PM-4:30PM at the Solstice Center, 302 Pearl Street in Boulder, and will explore the tantric connections between body and Spirit through the Big Mind Process and facilitated meditation.  There is a suggested $25 contribution, and attendance is limited to 45 participants.  You can RSVP to

Today: Roger Walsh and Ken Wilber!, 29 Sep 2007 13:56:00 GMTee28e699-b6ce-41f9-9b68-f4b3d2b14a5b:29256rollie0This Week on Integral Spiritual Center....

The Masters of the East - Fr. Thomas / Br. David
IS Call on "Integral Post-Metaphysics" - Glenn Klein / Ken Wilber

ISC Teacher Discussion Series

Please join us today, September 29th at 1PM Mountain time for a discussion with ISC Teachers Roger Walsh and Ken Wilber!  To listen in to the live web stream, click here.

The Masters of the East (video)
Brother David and Father Thomas on Interreligious Dialogue

If you succeed in emptying your mind of every thought and every desire, you may indeed withdraw into the center of yourself and concentrate everything within you upon the imaginary point where your life springs out of God: yet you will not really find God. – Thomas Merton

This excerpt from New Seeds of Contemplation is as notable for what it doesn’t say as for what it does. In the original version, Seeds of Contemplation, the line began, "If you succeed, like the Masters of the East…."  The new version omits that reference. Between 1949 and 1961, something remarkable happened in the life of Thomas Merton, prompting him to make the subtle yet monumental change.

In short, Merton journeyed to the East in body, mind, and spirit. Whereas he had originally experienced the depths and practices of Buddhism from the outside, he later came to experience them from the inside. He was able to authentically take on the perspective of a "Master of the East," and he could no longer say, from that place, that "you will not really find God."  Looking from the East, he discovered precisely what he had seen from the West, though nothing he could put into words.

In this week’s featured video, another pioneer of the interreligious dialogue, ISC Teacher Brother David Steindl-Rast, speaks about the early days of the dialogue. With characteristic humor, he notes that at an early meeting with Eido Roshi, he disagreed with virtually everything Roshi had to say, but he knew–by the way he sat and the way he walked and the way he ate–that "...this was a monk." Brother David subsequently spent years living in community with Buddhists, a monk among monks, differing in habit, but deeply and essentially similar. Being sensitive to his brethren’s beliefs, Brother David would avoid speaking of "God" and would instead refer to "Ultimate Reality" or "the Ground of Being." And before he knew it, Eido Roshi was freely talking about God!

Father Thomas then distinguishes between several phases in the movement. The earlier phase might be termed "interreligious," and focused on external aspects, or surface features. The later phase might be termed "interspiritual," and focused on the internal aspects, or deep structures. Interspiritual dialogue was especially sourced in the contemplative dimension of life, which Father Thomas refers to as "the crème de la crème."

Without a doubt, remarkable advances have been made in the past fifty years; disagreements that once seemed insurmountable have now been resolved. But much more remains to be done. As Ken Wilber is fond of saying, lineage transcends ego. But once ego is transcended, what is left to transcend? Lineage, perhaps. And that is what the "trans-path path" and Integral Spiritual Center is all about….

Why the Kosmos? (audio)

The miracle of emergence may be simply said to be Spirit's creative play in the fields of its own manifestation.  Integral post-metaphysics goes a long way toward describing the "what" and the "how" of manifestation.  But "why?," asks Glenn Klein, from the call on "Integral Post-Metaphysics," Appendix II of Integral Spirituality.