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The Dawn of Integral Christianity

This Week on Integral Spiritual Center....

The Mind of Christ - Jim Marion/Ken Wilber
The Fast that I Desire - Father Thomas Keating

The Mind of Christ (audio)
Jim Marion and Ken Wilber on Integral Christianity

In the decades following the death of Jesus, St. Paul wrote, in the Letter to the Ephesians, what is probably the central injunction of Christianity: “You must therefore put on the mind of Christ Jesus.”  This verse—frequently quoted and diversely interpreted—is incredibly enlightening when viewed from an integral altitude.

In this week’s featured audio, ISC Teachers Ken Wilber and Jim Marion discuss the arising of Christianity in the integral worldspace.  As Ken writes in Integral Spirituality, the meaning of a statement is the means of its enactment.  In other words, to truly understand the meaning of a statement, it is imperative to determine the Kosmic Address (altitude + perspective) of both the subject and the object, or the person who is speaking and the thing they are speaking about. This allows you to take up the appropriate injunction so that you can inhabit that address and see for yourself!  

To understand St. Paul’s statement, then, one can take up the injunction of the Church, which for fifteen centuries passed down a rich collection of contemplative practices that lead precisely to “putting on the mind of Christ.”  Unfortunately—and for reasons that become clear from an integral altitude—these practices were, for the most part, discarded in the wake of the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation, which threw out the mystical baby with the mythical bathwater.  It is only in our time, and through the heroic work of teachers such as Father Thomas Keating, Brother David Steindl-Rast, and Jim, that the mystical tradition is being rediscovered on a large scale.

Jim points to two recent books that, taken together, demonstrate where the Christian tradition finds itself.  Both books seek to answer the question: who is Jesus?  The first, Bishop John Shelby Spong’s Jesus for the Non-Religious, relentlessly demythologizes Jesus to the point that he ends up looking, quite simply, like a really great guy.  But this approach, which strips Jesus of any sense of divinity, likewise strips his followers of the means by which to “put on the Mind of Christ.”

In contrast, Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth makes use of considerable biblical scholarship to try to answer the same question.  But the divinity of his Jesus is emphasized to the point that it’s hard to find anything human in him, as though God assumed human nature like putting on a suit of clothes.  And thus the dichotomy: if Jesus is God and we are not, how can we possibly put on His Mind?

The ancient Christian tradition stresses that Jesus was fully human and fully divine.  He was not simply a really great guy; nor was he simply God walking around on earth for a time.  Father Thomas speaks of Jesus on the Cross, stretched out between Heaven and Earth, as a profound symbol of the wedding together, in one Person, of all of evolution—matter, body, mind, soul, and spirit—leading the way for us all to do the same.  This process of divinization, as Eastern Christian traditions put it, is beautifully worded in the liturgical prayer:  “By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.”  Integral spirituality likewise exhorts us to be fully human (developing our abilities to take the widest and highest possible perspectives) and fully divine (moving into states of an ever-deepening oneness with Spirit).  Perhaps we too will die to the egoic self-contraction we somehow believe ourselves to be.  And perhaps we too will awaken and leave behind “the empty tomb….”

The Fast that I Desire (video)

Father Thomas Keating discusses the ancient practice of fasting.  How does abstaining from food at certain times relate to silence—or the refraining from words—during centering prayer?  This question is taken from the autumn 2006 Integral Contemplative Christianity seminar.
Published Saturday, March 22, 2008 7:07 PM by rollie



laughingstumpf said:

This is a most needed conversation,and I find great joy in finding others willing to stretch beyond the early training in the teachings of Jesus The Christ.
March 27, 2008 3:54 PM

vbrogdon said:

I know from personal experience that Father Thomas Keating is most definitely not "singlehandedly" bringing Christian contemplative traditions to modern awareness.  The World Community of Christian Meditation, founded by John Main and headed by Laurence Freeman, has many Christian members worldwide.  Since Dom Main was trained in meditation by a Hindu teacher, the Christian Meditation is very similar to Eastern meditative methods but practiced through the use of a repetitive manta that is Aramaic and found in the Bible.  I feel that Ken Wilber is ignoring this important community of meditators.
March 29, 2008 1:17 PM

norwes said:

I concur with the comments of vbrogdon re. the teaching of Benedictine monk, John Main re. Christian Meditation.  I believe that Fr. John's writings and insight on this matter, as well as Fr. Laurence's, would be an important contribution to integral spirituality.  In fact, I first learned about the Integral Institute and Ken Wilber, through a talk given by Fr. Lawrence.
April 12, 2008 8:01 AM
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