ISC Editor's Weekly Blog Server2007-08-18T16:16:00ZHappy Thanksgiving! week on Integral Spiritual Center

Seals of the View - Patrick Sweeney
IS Call on Integral Post-Metaphysics - Cameron Freeman/Ken Wilber

To all of our American friends, a very happy Thanksgiving weekend!  We wish you every blessing....

Seals of the View (video)

The goal of Buddhadharma, says Patrick Sweeney, is to transform ourselves into what we really are.  Far from pumping ourselves up to obtain some egoic goal, the Buddhist path leads us in precisely the opposite direction–to dismantle the ways we defend against what we always already are.

This path by which this goal is accomplished is the unfolding of prajna.  But what is the starting point?  The basic Buddhist view is contained in the teaching of the “four seals of the view.”  As Traleg Rinpoche teaches, it is difficult to overstate the importance of right view.  With right view, one has a cognitive frame that tends toward realization, toward evolution of consciousness, and toward the deepening of state-stage experience.  Without right view, the process of overcoming ignorance becomes very difficult, and more or less hit and miss.

The four seals of existence are impermanence, selflessness, suffering, and nirvana.  Basically:

   1. all compounded things are impermanent
   2. all phenomena lack self-nature
   3. all dualistic emotions and experiences are intrinsically painful
   4. nirvana alone is peace, and is beyond concept.

These four seals of the view define all of Buddhist practice.  They describe the truth of the actual situation that we find ourselves in, what happens when we contract against it, and what happens when we relax into it.

In truth, Buddhism maintains, the outer world is impermanent.  The tradition provides extensive explanations of the manner in which different aspects of the world are changing.  There is gross impermanence: the physical cosmos, the solar system, and the earth are constantly changing.  There is subtle impermanence:  we come together as a result of our parents’ union; we experience an outer world—and inner selves—that are continuously changing. Most of us have gone through several complete revolutions within our own lives.  Within and without, we are constantly seeing this truth.

The Buddha taught that not only is the body changing; not only is the outer world changing; but, in truth, there is no permanent witness to these events.  When we look at experience closely, we don’t find a permanent ego; we don’t find something independent from experience.  There is nothing that stays the same through our experience, nothing unitary or of one nature, nothing special that is the center of the universe.

And yet, we behave precisely as if that were the case!  As if “me” existed independently from the world.  As if “me” was permanent.  As if “me” was one thing….

Our experience now is different than, for instance, when we were twelve.  Are we the same?  Or are we different?  The right answer, of course, is both.  Reality is constantly showing us that our emotional reaction to reality is based on an imputation that simply isn’t true.  Emotionally, we tend to behave as if we are the center of the universe, as if we are special, as if our needs, desires, goals, dreams and visions are more important than those of any other.  When in fact, they are pretty much identical to everyone else’s….

IS Call on Integral Post-Metaphysics (audio)

One stunning implication of Ken Wilber's thought as expressed in Integral Spirituality is that the meaning of a statement is the means of its enactment.  But Australia's Cameron Freeman asks whether the 3 strands of valid knowing, which are so crucial in establishing scientific knowledge, are equally applicable to spiritual knowledge.  Or is requiring people to perform certain actions in order to gain a level of realization just repeating the mistakes of mythic-membership religion and its reliance on external observances, albeit on a deeper level?
Look at Your Mind Week on Integral Spiritual Center....

Look at Your Mind - Patrick Sweeney
IS Call on Integral Post-Metaphysics - Cameron Freeman/Ken Wilber

Look at Your Mind (video)

    When I heard the sound of the bell ringing, there was no I, and no bell, just the ringing….

Meditation, says Patrick Sweeney, is the path to Right View, one of the key concepts of Buddhism.  In the integral context, meditation is thought to be invaluable in making subject object—precisely the dynamic by which development occurs—and thus aiding the progression through structure-stages and state-stages.  There are many forms in Buddhism that help to foster this core discipline, beginning with the ringing of the gong.

The sound of the gong is a cue to return to the space of aligning the body, speech, and mind—the gross, subtle, and causal bodies—with the Mandala of Awakening. The ringing is the initial focal object for the meditation.

Begin by connecting with the earth element and the space element.  Dropping into the cushion, extend the spine, allowing the posture to ascend while being relaxed, bringing a subtle awareness to the body—not a mental image of the body, but rather, a direct experience of the body.

Next, bring awareness to the sensational feel of the body.  Is the experience one of pleasurable sensations?  Painful sensations?  Or a vast field of ignorance or numbness?  The point is not to judge the sensation or create an opinion about it, but rather, to simply be aware of it.

Without abandoning the body or the world of sensation, next look at the thoughts or emotions that are present.  Look nakedly, making no effort to continue the thoughts.  See whether there’s an emotional tone dominating the sense of being.  Is the experience one of enthusiasm?  Depression?  Sadness?  Boredom?  Look directly at it.  Don’t form an opinion about it; don’t try to change it or manipulate it in any way….

Next, allow the eyes to open, with gaze slightly down, looking at a point on the floor.  Let the gaze relax between the face and this point.  Maintain an awareness of the body, of sensations and feelings, of thoughts and emotions.  Making no effort to control or manipulate the flow of experience, simply allow each mind moment to arise, dwell for a period of duration, and then subside.

Rousing the self, intensity the posture, and look at your mind.  What are you experiencing right now?  Don’t change it, alter it, manipulate it.  Look right at it.  What’s there?  Holding a sense of being and intensity toward what’s there—whatever sensation or emotion it is—look at it, freeze it, hold it.  Then let it go.

Let the awareness expand.  Hear the air blowing, hear the voice speaking, perhaps hear the breath itself.  Allow the sense perceptions to expand infinitely.  Then, contract around whatever you’re thinking.  Freeze it, hold it, and turn in into the entirety of reality.  Then, let it go.  Hold the posture.  And look into your mind….

IS Call on Integral Post-Metaphysics (audio)

Australia's Dr. Cameron Freeman poses a series of superb questions to Ken Wilber, from the IS call on Integral Post-Metaphysics.  Are there any pre-given realities in Integral Post-Metaphysics?  Does Being itself have a Kosmic Address?  And does Integral Post-Metaphysics reduce spiritual experience to a sort of scientific experiment?

The Beginning and the End Week on Integral Spiritual Center....

The Beginning and the End - Patrick Sweeney
IS Call on Integral Post Metaphysics - Ewan Townhead / Ken Wilber

The Beginning and the End (video)

“Right View” is said to be both the beginning and the end of the path of liberation in Buddhism.  From Right View, the first step of the Eightfold Path, we can realize the Four Noble Truths, which is the beginning of wisdom.  So how do we get there?  Trunga Rinpoche taught that, fundamentally, we arrive at Right View via meditation.  Meditation helps us to wear out the habit of the samsaric, dualistic mind, allowing us to perceive and understand reality in ever deepening ways.

The essence of the Buddhist tradition, says Patrick Sweeney in this week's video, is to wake up from ignorance, or avidya, in Sanskrit.  We suffer from what Herbert Gunther called “bewilderment errancy,” so caught up in our identity project that we fail to see the unborn, undying ground of awareness in which it is arising.  It is this “tragedy” that the tradition tries to remedy.

The remedy comes by awakening prajna, or direct, intuitive knowing.  Spiritual practitioners tend to progress through a series of state-stages; prajna can help to dismantle the current state-stage, allowing a progression to the next.  Buddhism is state practice par excellence, helping to progress from an identification with ego, to soul, to Self, to suchness.  By the awakening of an intelligence that is able to see through the solidity of these state-stages, one can move through them in a more conscious, direct way.  Each of us has this intrinsic, enlightened intelligence, but it is shrouded in the process of evolution, which causes us to identify with only one realm of state-stage experience.

Prajna is awakened by hearing, contemplating, and meditating on truth.  First, we hear, making a mental assertion about the truth.  Next, we contemplate what we’ve heard, making an emotional, personal relationship to it.  Finally, we meditate truth, actually becoming that which we have heard about and contemplated.  From this perspective, we can see who we thought we were, and are free to become more deeply who we truly are.

Every meditation session is a miniature version of the Mandala of Awakening.  Each helps us to hear about truth, contemplate it, and finally, to become it.  Each helps us to recalibrate or reorganize our way of perceiving reality, to see with Right View, and to finally come to the beginning--and the end--of the Path.

Knocking at a Kosmic Address (audio)

Integral math provides us with a revolutionary new way to understand and represent how sentient beings perceive their world.  But what happens to the equation when one specifically looks from an AQAL perspective?  The U.K.'s Ewan Townhead asks Ken Wilber this question, from the Integral Post-Metaphysics call....

ISC 3 in the Books! 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 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 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! 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? 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! 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.
Tomorrow: Roger Walsh and Ken Wilber!

This week on Integral Spiritual Center....

East Meets West - Fr. Thomas / Br. David

IS Call on "Integral Post-Metaphysics" - Stephen Earle / Ken Wilber

Questions for Roger Walsh? (ISC Teachers Series)

We're delighted to feature Dr. Roger Walsh on our ISC Teachers Series, this coming Saturday, September 29th at 1PM Mountain.  If you would like to ask a question of Dr. Walsh and Ken Wilber, please send it to for your chance to join us live on the call.  Members of ISC are all welcomed to listen in to the live web stream!

East Meets West (video)

“a thousand years hence historians will look back at the twentieth century and remember it not for the struggle between liberalism and communism but for the momentous human discovery of the encounter between Christianity and Buddhism.” – Arnold Toynbee

This statement from the noted British historian might scarcely be believable to anyone who was around for the Cold War.  But, beyond the fall of communism, we are indeed seeing the advent of this encounter.  In our time, a clearing has emerged, and “above the tree line,” contemplatives east and west are meeting in deep dialogue and deep practice.

Integral Spiritual Center is extremely honored to count among its teachers Father Thomas Keating and Brother David Steindl-Rast, two remarkable pioneers in the field of interreligious dialogue.  Both men are Catholic monks from the Benedictine/Cistercian tradition; both have been involved in the interfaith movement for decades.  And both have found, in the work of Ken Wilber, enormous potential for moving the dialogue forward. 

Father Thomas and Brother David came together for a simply exquisite dialogue during the October 2006 Integral Contemplative Christianity seminar. For the next several weeks, we're delighted to share some of those lovely moments with you.  In this week's video, I-I teacher Willow Pearson pays tribute to Brother David, “a singularity in poetry, poverty, and prayer.”

Then, Father Thomas speaks about the extraordinary Snowmass conference, which convened 15 leaders of world religions, every year for some 20 years between 1980 and 2000.  Crucially, he says, it was the moments of friendship, of simply eating together, living together, being together, that allowed each to share deeply their interior perspectives on the religious experience. 

This, too, has been the beginning–and the destination–of our journey at Integral Spiritual Center, where in gatherings, seminars, and most of all, simple moments of friendship, we too see glimpses of that extraordinary encounter which Toynbee pointed to….

Integral Post-Metaphysics (audio)

In this week's audio, Stephen Earle of Virginia poses a very good question indeed:  why is the notion of religious enlightenment important, in the first place?  From a certain perspective, the concept of enlightenment, as it is traditionally understood, is outmoded.  Evolutionary enlightenment, Ken proposes, is one of the most crucially important spiritual topics of our time.

John Kesler/Ken Wilber this aft!

This Week on Integral Spiritual Center....


Faith, Development, and the Unconscious - Fr. Thomas Keating


Ten years after her death, Mother Teresa has once again made the cover of TIME magazine.  Details emerged of a “crisis of faith” that spanned the last 40 years of her life, coinciding almost precisely with the time she spent in India, ministering to the sick and dying.  The so-called “Loud Atheists” —Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hutchins, and Sam Harris—have jumped on this as yet more evidence of the futility of religion.  From an integral perspective, what is going on here?


The answer, perhaps, lies in her very “faith” amidst the crisis, that allowed her to rise every morning and walk the streets of Calcutta, finding hope where there was none to be found.  Integral theory and its understanding of state-stages and dark nights, can provide much insight here.  In this week’s featured video, Fr. Thomas Keating defines faith as “consent or surrender to the Absolute.”  Faith, says Fr. Thomas, precedes systems of belief, perceiving Oneness before it breaks down into those systems.  Belief systems remain important, acting as stepping stones or as a conveyor belt toward higher levels.  Often, “dark nights” characterize the territory in between, where the old beliefs are no longer a comfort, but the new graces have not yet emerged.  But once one comes into the higher level, a freer and more direct way of relating to the divine becomes apparent.  Old practices are not discarded, but they are no longer absolutized, so that the only absolute becomes The Absolute itself.


Interestingly, Ken Wilber responds that the very “reality” of science that Dawkins, Hutchins and Harris purport to speak for is now revealing the potency of contemplative practice in human development, especially in adults.  Society acts as an attractor; it tends to pull individuals up to its average center of gravity, and should they venture beyond that point, it tends to pull them back down.  And so, beyond the societal average, individuals are on their own.  Contemplative practice, because of the micro dis-identifications that it tends to effect, helps individuals to make subject into object, which is precisely how development occurs.  And “the end of religion” might also endanger development itself, removing, for billions of people, the first few rungs of the ladder that every human being must climb.


As Ken is fond of saying, the three strands of valid knowledge apply equally to interior and exterior realities.  Take up an injunction, record your results, and compare them with the community of the adequate.  In this case, take up a contemplative practice for a number of years, watch your mind carefully and see what arises, then compare your experience with that of community of practitioners.  Or don’t—but then, remain silent on the issue….


ISC Teacher Discussion Series


Our ISC Teacher Discussion Series continues tomorrow, Saturday, September 15th at 1PM Mountain time, with John Kesler!  As always, all ISC Members are invited to listen in to the live web stream—for more information, click here.

Questions for John Kesler?

This week on Integral Spiritual Center....

Religious, but not Spiritual?
- Fr. Thomas Keating / Ken Wilber

Integral Art and "The World of the Terribly Obvious" - Seth Rowanwood / Ken Wilber

ISC Teacher Discussion Series

Our ISC Teacher Discussion Series continues on Saturday, September 15th at 1PM Mountain time.  Next up is John Kesler!  If you have a question for John and Ken, please send it to, for your chance to participate on the call.  As always, all ISC Members are invited to listen in to the live web stream.

Religious, but not Spiritual? (video)

It takes a moment to reconcile oneself to the fact that the religious tradition of St. Francis and Mother Teresa is also the tradition of the Crusades and the Inquisition.  Fr. Thomas Keating, considered one of the great contemplatives of our time, has spent a lifetime in the practice of Christianity, seeking and sharing its depths.  The goal of the tradition, suggests Fr. Thomas in this week's video, is transformation—but transformation into what? 

The answer depends on what stage of development you're at.  Beyond becoming a better person (though your family and friends may thank you profusely), beyond even becoming a saint, Fr. Thomas suggests that the goal of the mature Christian life is to become no thing.  As with any developmental sequence, the subject of one stage becomes the object of the subject of the next—in this case, until absolute Subjectivity itself.  The problem—and the challenge—lie in the fact that, among its 2 billion adherents, relatively few are aware of Christianity’s mystical tradition and contemplative path.  Statements like “I’m spiritual, but not religious” actually come from a fairly evolved place, from which one rejects external aspects of the tradition, while still longing for its esoteric wisdom.

Integral spirituality offers an entirely new perspective on this question.  From this perspective, we can see that although the stories of the world’s religious traditions vary wildly, the contemplative experience is essentially similar.  And from Integral, we can appreciate the stories for what they are, the first rung in a ladder of development—both our own development, and that of anyone on a similar path.  In the end, no matter how profound the state in which we experience the divine, it is always interpreted from our stage of development.

Integral also points to the reality of our shadow, and points out that we might need something other than our contemplative practice to bring it into the light.  Finally, Integral can help us both to transform into deeper stages of awareness and compassion, and to translate our current stage in the healthiest way possible.

Integral Art and "The World of the Terribly Obvious" (audio)

The theory of Integral art provides a beautiful synthesis of modernity, with its claim to objective reality, and postmodernity, which emphasizes cultural context.  Rather than a pre-given world, stage-specific worldspaces arise, from which all phenomena are experienced and interpreted.  Art, like any form of communication, is a product of the symbols used by the communicator (in this case, the artist) and that which is evoked in the observer.  In this week’s audio, Ken and Toronto’s Seth Rowanwood explore Integral Art and its relationship to modernity—The World of the Terribly Obvious—from the March discussion of Chapter 7 of Integral Spirituality.


Preparations are underway for the third gathering of the teachers of Integral Spiritual Center!  The extraordinary space that arose in the first two gatherings can only be described as “a miracle called We.” And we are delighted to offer you an opportunity to join us for the third day of the gathering, as the ISC Teachers guide participants in an exploration of "The Religion of Tomorrow."  For registration information, click here.

The Christian of Tomorrow

This Week on Integral Spiritual Center....

Fr. Thomas Keating / Ken Wilber Dialogue

IS Call on Ch. 8 "The World of the Terribly Obvious" - Bruce Alderman / Ken Wilber

Dear Friends,

The Catholic theologian Karl Rahner famously said "the Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic, or not a Christian at all."  Few people have impacted Christianity in this regard as has Fr. Thomas Keating.  A Cistercian monk from St. Benedict's Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, Fr. Thomas has spent a lifetime in deep Christian practice, and in sharing the fruits of this contemplation with countless others.  We were enormously blessed to host a dialogue with Fr. Thomas and Ken Wilber in April of 2006.  And we're delighted to share with you some of those beautiful moments, starting this week.  In today's featured video, Ken presents some of the foundational concepts of Integral spirituality.

This week's audio features longtime forum member Balder (a.k.a. Bruce Alderman) and Ken discussing "The World of the Terribly Obvious."  Bruce askes a great question about what he calls "person-perspective spaces." Most of the altitudes we encounter in our day-to-day experience, from Amber to Turquoise, are "mind-level."  What would a "soul-level" or "spirit-level" space look like?

There will be no ISC call this Saturday, due to Labor Day Weekend.  We'll resume the calls on September 15th!

Many blessings to you all,


The Fourth Turning?

This Week on Integral Spiritual Center....

The Essence of Buddhadharma - Terry Patten

IS Call on Ch. 8: "The World of the Terribly Obvious" - Angela Rizner/Ken Wilber

If enlightenment does indeed evolve, then today's Buddhism must, of necessity, take into account the insights of modernity, postmodernity, and Integral.  Does such an Integral Buddhism constitute "The Fourth Turning?"  In this week's featured video, Terry Patten discusses this auspicious confluence, from May's "Mandala of Awakening" seminar.

Our featured audio has Ken and JFKU's Angela Rizner discussing the evolution of consciousness, and how it relates to the Bodhisattva vow.  Considering the developmental approach, what skilful means must today's spiritual teachers be mindful of?

Thank you to everyone who joined Ken, Jim Marion and Paul Bowman for last Saturday's lovely discussion of Integral Christianity!  We'll take a break over Labour Day Weekend, then continue with our ISC Teacher discussions on September 15th.

Carpe diem!  Enjoy these last weeks of summer....


Today: Jim Marion and Ken Wilber! Week on Integral Spiritual Center....

Mandala Meditation
- Terry Patten
IS Call: "The World of the Terribly Obvious" - Angela Rizner/Ken Wilber

Dear Friends,

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."  With these words, St. Paul offers a compelling invitation to Christians, which is especially interesting when considered in an Integral context.  Please join us today, Saturday August 18th, at 1PM Mountain time, for a conversation with Ken and ISC Teacher Jim Marion, author of Putting on the Mind of Christ.  To listen in to the live web stream, click here.

This week we continue our presentation of the third ISC seminar, "Mandala of Awakening," with the lovely opening meditation led by Terry Patten.  We're also delighted to feature a wide-ranging conversation between Ken and John F. Kennedy University's Angela Rizner, from "The World of the Terribly Obvious" call.

Speaking of  JFKU, our dear friends Gail Hochachka and Vernice Solimar are organizing the university's inaugural Integral Field Course in El Salvador, this coming November 15-25.  This is a unique opportunity, open to students from other universities as well as non-degree students, to learn how Integral Action can serve the planet!  For more information, click here.  And, best wishes for a most blessed experience for all....

'Till this afternoon, with love,