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Roger Walsh in Profile

This Week on Integral Spiritual Center....

A Turn to the Right - Roger Walsh
God's Thoughts and Our Thoughts - Fr. Thomas Keating

A Turn to the Right (audio)
Roger Walsh in Profile

The “dual center of gravity” model of development, which Ken Wilber writes about in his yet-to-be-published books, Overview and Superview, provides a remarkable view of the human journey, from birth to enlightenment. It outlines how individuals move through a clearly defined vertical spectrum of structure-stages of development, allowing them to take increasingly deeper and wider perspectives, and how they move through a horizontal spectrum of state-stages, progressively deepening their ability to witness the arising of all gross, subtle, and causal phenomena.  At any point along their path of vertical structure-stage unfolding, an individual can take a “right turn,” changing their trajectory so that their growth begins to explicitly include development through the spectrum of state-stages.  In some cases, this right turn comes early in life, perhaps as the result of a host of potential factors: upbringing, socio-cultural conditions, early mystical experiences, or experiences with entheogens (psychoactive substances used in a religious context).  And, in other cases, the turn is taken later, after the individual has already made significant progress through structure-stages.

For ISC Teacher Roger Walsh, the emergence of the “right turn” on his journey was, as he describes it, the “biggest shock of my life.”  When, in the course of his studies in psychiatry, he began to practice psychotherapy with clients, he figured he had a moral obligation to undergo the process himself.  He was initially skeptical and not expecting much to come of it.  Fortuitously, his therapist was Jim Bugental, one of the founders of existentialist-humanistic psychotherapy. Jim revealed to him an inner universe that was as vast and mysterious as the outer one.  Looking within for the first time, Roger described having lived his entire life “on the top six inches of a wave, atop an ocean that I hadn’t even known existed.”

In the wake of this discovery, Roger began investigating a wide variety of psychological techniques for exploring it.  He considered himself a hard-core scientist—or rather, scientismist—who was quite certain that physics could explain the whole of manifestation quite adequately.  But, to his great surprise, he began to take considerable interest in spiritual techniques that he had previously written off as obsolete artifacts from an archaic consciousness.  As his practice deepened, he came to an astounding conclusion:  the great religions, at their contemplative core, contained technologies that induced the states of consciousness that their founders had realized.  After many years of practice, across many traditions, he began to see the deep structure underlying the diverse surface features of the world’s religions. He describes the core of the traditions beautifully in his masterpiece, Essential Spirituality.

Roger tells of one of his first dates with Frances Vaughan, the love of his life, and how she brought over a book that was cryptically entitled The Spectrum of Consciousness.  In what turned out to be quite a deviation from their original plan, Roger and Frances spent the entire evening sitting on the couch, reading Spectrum to one another.  Roger soon made contact with Ken, the enigmatic author, and the two began a lifelong friendship.  To this day, with characteristic humor, Ken considers Roger to be his “oldest friend.”

Regardless of whether the “right turn” is taken early on, or after many years of dis-belief, it is an incredibly important step in the human journey.  The maps are enchanting, compelling, and endlessly fascinating.  But you must begin the journey!  Ken wrote in One Taste that five years—the average amount of time a student spends in Zen meditation before experiencing kensho, or “little enlightenment”—goes by in the blink of an eye.  Having read those words five years ago myself, I know the truth of which I speak….

God's Thoughts and Our Thoughts (video)

"My thoughts," says Yahweh in the Book of Isaiah, "are not your thoughts."  Which thoughts are God's, which are ours, and how do we tell the difference?  Father Thomas Keating responds to this question at the Autumn 2006 Integral Contemplative Christianity seminar.
Published Friday, March 14, 2008 4:45 PM by rollie

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