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Unity of the World's Religions

This Week on Integral Spiritual Center....

Four Paths, Four Destinations - Ken Wilber
Twelve Step Spirituality - Fr. Thomas Keating

Four Paths, Four Destinations (video)
Ken Wilber on the Unity of the World’s Religions

From a green altitude, the notion of a transcendent unity of the world’s religious traditions is most compelling.  It’s a happy ending—a fitting conclusion to what has been at times a somewhat tragic story.  Given all the violence that has been done in the name of God, it’s somehow comforting to believe that, in the end, the scriptures are really saying the same thing.

Except that they aren’t.  When taken literally (as is often done from the amber altitude) the scriptures contradict one another to no end—and often contradict themselves!  Wars have been fought between Christian denominations over one word (!) in the Nicene Creed.  When we take a more nuanced position, we can tease apart the exterior, exoteric aspects from the interior, esoteric aspects.  And while we find some commonality in the esoteric aspects, even there, unity is elusive.

In fact, suggests Ken Wilber in this week’s featured audio, there is no transcendent unity of the world’s religious traditions.  There is no one fixed point at which they all meet.  But in a sense, there are four.  The world’s religious practices are architected after the great journey that each of us embarks upon every night:  from a gross state of consciousness to a subtle dream state, to a causal deep sleep state (with the addition of a fourth, nondual state which unites them all).  Evelyn Underhill pointed this out in her classic Mysticism, which describes four stages of mysticism:  purgation (gross), illumination (subtle), dark night (causal), and unification (nondual).  In The Paradox of Instruction, Adi Da speaks of the path of yogis (gross), saints (subtle), sages (causal), and siddhas (nondual).  And Daniel P. Brown, in Transformations of Consciousness, finds precisely the same deep structures beneath the myriad mystical traditions.  Thus, four broad mystical paths, and four distinct mystical destinations.  The first leads to a oneness with all gross phenomena, the second, a oneness with all subtle phenomena, the third, a oneness with all causal phenomena, and the fourth, a oneness with Emptiness and all that arises therein.

Of course, spiritual state experiences are always experienced and interpreted from the developmental stage we find ourselves at.  Our altitude is literally the context in which our state experiences arise; it is the theatrical stage upon which life’s play unfolds.  Our context is necessarily somewhat hidden to ourselves.  But to be aware that we are wearing, in a very real sense, a pair of colored glasses which colors everything we perceive—amber, orange, green, teal, turquoise—is a startling insight from integral.  To take up that great human journey, pushing wakefulness from gross to subtle to causal to nondual, viewing our experiences from the highest possible altitude, and being aware of all that can go wrong along the way, is the goal of integral spirituality.

Twelve Step Spirituality (video)

Fr. Thomas Keating discusses Twelve Step spirituality, a beautiful approach which helps us to understand the extend of our dependence on the Divine....

Published Monday, March 31, 2008 7:23 PM by rollie



Jared said:

It sure would be nice to hyperlink to that video form Keating, is it just me or is it not working?
March 31, 2008 11:14 PM

warnerfull said:

I would like to see the current priestly hierarchey of the Roman Catholic church take some lessons in humility that Father Thomas Keating speaks so well of in his discsussion of centering prayer. They still talk like they have God in their very own special box! This also appears to apply to the vast majority of the televangelists that fog the airwaves with what seems like nothing that Christ as Jesus actually attempted to teach.  
April 8, 2008 10:22 PM
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