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Grace to Gratitude: Terry Patten on Vajra Body Vajra Mind podcast

  • Length: 40:54 minutes (74.92 MB)
  • Format: MP3 Stereo 44kHz 256Kbps (CBR)

During this lively interview on Vajra Body Vajra Mind, a program that emphasizes nondual teachings and a pragmatic approach to meditation, Terry shares about second person spirituality and devotion.

Terry featured in the free series "On Devotion" hosted by Diane Musho Hamilton

July 11, 2015

On Devotion - An Integral Immersion in the Devoted Life

Hosted by Diane Musho Hamilton

Featuring: Rob Daishin McNamara, Terry Patten, David McCallum S.J., and Sofia Diaz

Saturdays 9:00 -10:30 am MT via Maestroconference

Week 1, July 11 — Terry Patten on devotion in Integral Soul Work.

Week 2, July 18 — Diane Musho Hamilton and Rob Daishin McNamara on Buddhist devotion.

Week 3, July 25 — David McCallum, S.J. on devotion in the Roman Catholic tradition and the Heart of Christianity.

Week 4, August 1 — Sofia Diaz on devotion and surrender of the Heart in the yogic life.

FREE - No Cost to Register. 

Regsiter here. 








Jun Po Denis Kelly Roshi joins Terry on Beyond Awakening

July 5, 2015 - 10:00am - 11:30am

About Jun Po Denis Kelly Roshi

Jun Po Denis Kelly Roshi is the 83rd Patriarch of Rinzai Zen. He began his Buddhist practice at Zen Center San Francisco in the early ’70s, later becoming a student of Eido Shimano Roshi in New York and subsequently a monk. He received inka from Eido Shimano Roshi in 1992. Interested in bringing his Zen lineage (Rinzai tradition) into American culture without the Japanese cultural bindings, Jun Po left the monastery and founded the lay Buddhist Hollow Bones order, of which he is abbot. He also created Mondo Zen which incorporates emotional maturity and insight with meditative awareness. Ken Wilber said, “ Mondo Zen is one of the most important, creative, and novel additions to the meditation pantheon I've seen in years.”

A yoga instructor as well, Jun Po traces his lineage to BKS Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois. He established the Hollow Bones seven-day Zen retreats for the Mankind Project.



Video—how we are served by both heartbreak & celebration

We spend so much of our lives avoiding pain and heartbreak. Understandably. But to the extent that we cut ourselves off from the darker tones of our human experience, by armoring the heart against pain, we surrender our access to the fullness of the light, to joy and to ecstasy. 

In this brief video, I suggest that we are served by both heartbreak and celebration. Learning how to celebrate in a way that is connected to the Mystery, that lets us then grieve everything, both the lows and the highs, letting ourselves be crucified by this incredible life — that is Enlightenment. Not the serene one on the mountaintop. But the open, ragged heart that is weeping endlessly for all the world AND is also rejoicing endlessly, alive to the totality of this mad adventure of being human.

Human beings are feeling beings, and our feelings are the source of our intelligence through which our soul recognizes itself.

First Annual Conscious Heart Conference, September 25th-27th 2015, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

September 25, 2015 - September 27, 2015



Terry will be a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator at The Annual Conscious Heart Conference in Montreal Quebec, Canada. The conference is a two day mind-shifting and heart-opening experience. Speakers and workshop facilitators will guide you on a journey to the center of your heart. The conference will feature renowned speakers and healing facilitators from Canada and beyond. This year’s theme is the Hero’s Journey Cycle.

Confirmed Saturday speakers are Terry Patten, Philip Shepherd, Nicolya Christi, Toko-pa, Cathyria Finet. The main speakers will lead a workshop on Sunday monring. Sunday afternoon workshops will be led by local healing facilitators (Anne Paré, Hannah Brockow, Jennie Anstey, Michael Margulis, Michael Abravanel, Geraldine Garcia Alonso, Denis Chagnon, Marina Love and Darya Akulshyna.) 

Learn more and register here.

David Loy joins Terry on Beyond Awakening

June 14, 2015 - 10:00am - 11:30am






David Robert Loy is a professor, writer, and Zen teacher in the Sanbo Kyoda tradition of Japanese Zen Buddhism. He is a prolific author, whose essays and books (including Money, Sex, War, Karma and The Great Awakening) have been translated into many languages. His articles appear regularly in the pages of major journals such as Tikkun and Buddhist magazines including Tricycle, Turning Wheel, Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma, as well as in a variety of scholarly journals. A professor of Buddhist and comparative philosophy, David lectures nationally and internationally on various topics, focusing primarily on the encounter between Buddhism and modernity: what each can learn from the other. He is especially concerned about social and ecological issues. 

Register to join in the conversation:

The Grace Potential of the Present Moment

You probably didn’t know that I started my 40-year journey into the higher potentials of Integral Spirituality as an atheist.

Atheistic rationality helped me outgrow my neurosis and delusion. Skepticism clarified my being and brought me to all there really is—this present moment. In the depth of what is simply present, I eventually discovered my own consciousness. And from that depth I was able to notice the Grace that miraculously emerges every moment in very real ways—for example, in the form of what’s best in us coming forward—our insight, courage, and creativity. Where do they come from? No one knows.

But as soon as we think of “right now”, it's already the past!

In this 3 minute video, I describe my path to an authentic spirituality based on, and yet transcending, skeptical rationality.




Dialogues in Consciousness - Terry speaks at JFK University

May 14, 2015 - 7:15pm - 8:30pm


Pleasant Hill - Main University Campus
100 Ellinwood Way
Pleasant Hill , CA
United States

The Consciousness & Transformative Studies program and the Visionaries at Work Student Group are pleased to host this special presentation with Terry Patten who will speak on the "Integral Journey of the Soul."

The spiritual impulses towards ascent and descent, towards the expansive transcendence of the human spirit and descent into the unique embodied soul present two distinct and often contrasting directions along the spiritual path towards wholeness. “The Integral Journey of the Soul” explores how these two paths are and must be co-joined for authentic self-realization. Within this "paradox" lies the discovery of the unfolding of the collective soul of humanity; and the manifestation of the extraordinary resources needed to address our current planetary crisis.

The event is free and open to the public.  The doors will open at 7 pm and light refreshments will be served.

About the Presenter

Terry Patten is a distinguished philosopher, activist, coach, teacher and co-author, with Ken Wilber, of Integral Life Practice: A 21st-Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening, He created the acclaimed eight-session online course, Integral Spiritual Practice, and is the host of Beyond Awakening: The Future of Spiritual Practice, an influential international online teleseminar series which asks one key question: how can higher human consciousness enable human beings to rise to the challenge of our current pressing crises? Terry is a member of Deepak Chopra's Evolutionary Leaders group, a member of the editorial board ofThe Journal of Integral Theory and Practice, and serves on the board of the Wellsprings Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom.

Finding the Voice of Your Soul with Terry Patten

Join Terry for his upcoming 8-month intensive The Integral Soul Journey: Unifying Your Archetypal, Transcendental & Rational Dimensions to become a True Evolutionary.

As Terry points out in this video, one of the biggest obstacles to our evolution, as individuals and as a society, is that we are so busy making a literal and metaphorical "ruckus" that we have all but drowned out the voices of our souls. During the 8 months of the Integral Soul Journey, he will guide you in learning to listen with the heart to come into that delicate presence of your soul nature. 

It is by attuning to the voice of our soul that we become wise, effective change-agents AND become able to answer our individual “big life questions” such as: Where should I move? Who should I marry? or What is my life purpose? Join me for this profound journey!

To find out more and register for The Integral Soul Journey, click here. 




Surrendering to Spirit and Incarnating Your Soul: An Integral Vision for Becoming a True Evolutionary

In this video, Terry speaks about the discovery of a unique spiritual journey — a path to spiritual awakening and its expansion of the heart and experience of interconnectedness explored in tandem with the evolution of your soul and your unique purpose, as an individual, in this lifetime. 

If you're called to be the change you want to see in the world, to incarnate your heart’s intelligence and become a real force for healthy conscious evolution, join Terry for this free online event, Saturday, April 25, 10AM Pacific / 1PM Eastern
Learn how to integrate the radical foundation of Integral Life Practice with tuning in to your highest relative intuition to discern the voice of your soul and express your unique gifts. This is what it takes to actually become an effective change-agent.

Sustainable, wise activism requires a symphony of full-spectrum, soulful, awakened activists. 

The Integral Heart: a retreat with Terry Patten in Cuernavaca, Morelos Mexico

September 4, 2015 - September 6, 2015


Casa de Espiritualidad Madeleine Chollet Cuernavaca, Morales

During this 3 day experiential workshop we'll dive deep into awakening and developing the intelligence of the whole being, centered in the heart, expressed as the radical strength of surrender to the Mystery. It's not just a matter of feeling but also of awakened intention and action. 

What is the greatest lesson we can learn over the course of our lives? Learning how to truly and fully live as Love. What makes that possible? A profound practice, an actual “yoga” of building consistent heart intelligence. 

The workshop will flow between movement, meditation, short lectures, "We-space" practices, embodied breath-based transformational exercises and more. Terry will invite us to notice and release the armoring around our hearts and to open into intimacy with ourselves and each other.  

We will gather on the grounds of Casa de Espiritualidad Madeleine Chollet, a beautiful, peace-filled convent, to go deep into loving awakened mutuality, enabling the highest intelligence of our being to find its way into our relations with one another, informing and transforming our experience of being human

Cost ranges between $5,000 pesos ($330 USD) and $7,000 pesos ($460 USD), depending on how early you register. This includes workshop, meals and two nights accommodation in single or double room.

For more information and to registration please write to or call 55 4055 5739 

You can also review the event page here (in Spanish):


Fourth Integral Theory Conference - Integral Impacts: Using Integrative Metatheories to Catalyze Effective Change

July 16, 2015 - July 19, 2015


San Francisco Bay Area, CA
United States

Terry Patten will be presenting a paper called "Integral Soul Work: The Integral Marriage of Spirit, Soul and Social Activism." During this presentation, he'll clarify exactly why and how the relationship between “Integral Soul Work” and “Integral Spirituality” more generally represents a significant refinement of the theory, the practice, the subjective experience and the objective fruits of Integral Practice. This should be a spirited session as the paper represents the dynamic crux of Terry's current work and teachings, centered around the healthy integration of spiritual and soul work and pointing to a life of simultaneous self-transcendence and mystically creative personal incarnation. 

 Register Here for ITC 2015!




Esalen Retreat — Embodying the Intelligence of Your Heart and Soul

August 16, 2015 - August 21, 2015


Big Sur, CA
United States

Embodying the Intelligence of Your Heart and Soul 

 August 16, 2015 - August 21, 2015
Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA

Register and find more info here. 

In this workshop, we will create a safe space to notice, relax, and release the armoring around our hearts, which can open us into intimacy with ourselves, our bodies, and Spirit itself. Our process will include three kinds of work: Relational practices to cultivate intimacy with ourselves, each other, and Spirit; Embodied transformative work anchored in breath and somatic psychology; and an intelligent framework that can help us integrate the work.

In the spirit of “all life is yoga,” we will do yogas of breath and body, heart and spirit — daring to open our bodies, embrace our wounds, and befriend our exiled parts. Simultaneously, we will make our way to the authentic joy at the heart of life.

This journey will support us as we:

  • Reconnect with our passion and source of embodied power
  • Free up our contact with the tender places inside that we tend to protect
  • Break through our inner taboos against ecstasy

Enter into the transformational intimacy of a “higher we” as we tenderly and often playfully embark together upon practices of breath, body, heart, soul, and spirit, anchored in clear awareness.

Although there's always an emergent quality to my workshops which means that they are never exactly the same, I will be offering these core, foundational components:
  • My latest teachings (and learnings!) on Integral Soul Work
  • A safe, supportive, and inspired We-Space
  • Playful, fun processes in twos, threes, and small groups
  • Deep, transformative interpersonal relating processes
  • Clear, short lectures
  • Silent and guided meditation
  • Dancing and conscious movement

The healing residential environment of Esalen and a relaxed workshop schedule will enable us to open into this deep embodied soul work amidst Esalen's glorious garden, lawns, forest, cliffs, and its spectacular views of the Pacific ocean and the Big Sur coast. Not to mention outstanding, healthy cuisine and remarkable bodywork.

You can register and find more info here





Integral Living Room Community Calls — free and open to all

October 1, 2015

Integral Living Room Community Calls (Free and Open to all):

Oct 1, 2015, 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM PACIFIC

If you have already registered for the community calls, you will receive a reminder with your special PIN, as usual. If you haven't registered yet you can sign up here.  

The next Integral Living Room event (Oct 29-Nov 2), hosted by Diane Musho Hamilton, Jeff Salzman, and Terry Patten, will be a “Trans-Rational Soul Initiation.

It will be an Integral exploration of subtle energy and the soul, second-tier ritual and ceremony, and truly living our life’s purpose. 

For more info on the Oct 29-Nov 2 Living Room event in Boulder:

Integral Living Room Community Calls — free and open to all

August 27, 2015

Integral Living Room Community Calls (Free and Open to all):

Aug 27, 2015, 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM PACIFIC

Oct 1, 2015, 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM PACIFIC

If you have already registered for the community calls, you will receive a reminder with your special PIN, as usual. If you haven't registered yet you can sign up here.  

The next Integral Living Room event (Oct 29-Nov 2), hosted by Diane Musho Hamilton, Jeff Salzman, and Terry Patten, will be a “Trans-Rational Soul Initiation.

It will be an Integral exploration of subtle energy and the soul, second-tier ritual and ceremony, and truly living our life’s purpose. 

For more info on the Oct 29-Nov 2 Living Room event in Boulder:

Integral Living Room Community Call — free and open to all

June 25, 2015

Integral Living Room Community Calls (Free and Open to all):

Jun 25, 2015, 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM PACIFIC

Aug 27, 2015, 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM PACIFIC

Oct 1, 2015, 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM PACIFIC

If you have already registered for the community calls, you will receive a reminder with your special PIN, as usual. If you haven't registered yet you can sign up here.  

The next Integral Living Room event (Oct 29-Nov 2), hosted by Diane Musho Hamilton, Jeff Salzman, and Terry Patten, will be a “Trans-Rational Soul Initiation.

It will be an Integral exploration of subtle energy and the soul, second-tier ritual and ceremony, and truly living our life’s purpose. 

For more info on the Oct 29-Nov 2 Living Room event in Boulder:

Integral Living Room Community Call — free and open to all

April 9, 2015

Integral Living Room Community Calls (Free and Open to all):

Apr 9, 2015, 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM PACIFIC

Jun 25, 2015, 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM PACIFIC

Aug 27, 2015, 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM PACIFIC

Oct 1, 2015, 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM PACIFIC

If you have already registered for the community calls, you will receive a reminder with your special PIN, as usual. If you haven't registered yet you can sign up here.  

The next Integral Living Room event (Oct 29-Nov 2), hosted by Diane Musho Hamilton, Jeff Salzman, and Terry Patten, will be a “Trans-Rational Soul Initiation.

It will be an Integral exploration of subtle energy and the soul, second-tier ritual and ceremony, and truly living our life’s purpose.

For more info on the Oct 29-Nov 2 Living Room event in Boulder:

Integral Living Room — A Trans-Rational Soul Initiation in Boulder, Co.

October 29, 2015 - November 2, 2015


Boulder , CO
United States

The next Integral Living Room event (Oct 29-Nov 2), hosted by Diane Musho Hamilton, Jeff Salzman, and Terry Patten, will be a “Trans-Rational Soul Initiation.

It will be an Integral exploration of subtle energy and the soul, second-tier ritual and ceremony, and truly living our life’s purpose. 

Integral Living Room Community Calls (Free and Open to all):

Apr 9, 2015, 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM PACIFIC

Jun 25, 2015, 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM PACIFIC

Aug 27, 2015, 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM PACIFIC

Oct 1, 2015, 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM PACIFIC

If you have already registered for the community calls, you will receive a reminder with your special PIN, as usual. If you haven't registered yet you can sign up here.  

For more info on the Oct 29-Nov 2 Living Room event in Boulder:

THE “secret” spiritual method—1+ minute video with Terry Patten

Terry Patten and Andrew Harvey — Reckless Love and Friendship at the Edge

  • Length: 79:33 minutes (13.66 MB)
  • Format: MP3 Mono 22kHz 24Kbps (CBR)

Mark Nepo joins Terry on Beyond Awakening

March 29, 2015 - 10:00am - 12:00pm

Mark Nepo moved and inspired readers and seekers all over the world with his number one New York Times bestseller The Book of Awakening.  Beloved as a poet, teacher, and storyteller, Mark has been called "one of the finest spiritual guides of our time," "a consummate storyteller," and "an eloquent spiritual teacher." His work is widely accessible and used by many and his books have been translated into more than twenty languages.  A bestselling author, he has published fifteen books and recorded nine audio projects.  Recent work includes The Endless Practice (forthcoming from Atria, 2014), Inside the Miracle (forthcoming from Sounds True, 2015), his latest book of poems, Reduced to Joy (Viva Editions, 2013), cited by Spirituality & Practice as one of the Best Spiritual Books of 2013, a CD collection of teaching conversations based on the poems in Reduced to Joy (Sounds True, 2014), and Seven Thousand Ways to Listen (Atria), which won the 2012 Books for a Better Life Award.  Mark has appeared several times with Oprah Winfrey on her Super Soul Sunday program on OWN TV.  He has also been interviewed by Robin Roberts on Good Morning America.  The Exquisite Risk was cited by Spirituality & Practice as one of the Best Spiritual Books of 2005, calling it "one of the best books we've ever read on what it takes to live an authentic life." Mark devotes his writing and teaching to the journey of inner transformation and the life of relationship.  He continues to offer readings, lectures, and retreats. 

Register to join in the conversation:



Andrew Harvey joins Terry on Beyond Awakening

January 25, 2015 - 10:00am - 11:30pm

Andrew Harvey is an author, speaker and founder/director of the Institute of Sacred Activism, an international organization focused on inviting concerned people to take up the challenge of our contemporary global crises by becoming inspired, effective and practical agents of institutional and systemic change, in order to create peace and sustainability.

No one brings together the world's wisdom traditions in such a potent and timely way as Andrew Harvey. Perhaps it’s because in many ways he has lived them. He was born in South India and lived there until he was nine, which he credits with shaping his sense of the inner unity of all religions and providing him with a permanent and inspiring vision of a world infused with the sacred.

As a young man, disillusioned with Oxford, he returned to his native India, where a series of mystical experiences initiated his spiritual journey. Over the next thirty years he plunged into different mystical traditions to learn their secrets and practices, including studying Hinduism, undertaking the Mahayana Buddhist Bodhisattva vows, and engaging an exploration and explication of Rumi and Sufi mysticism in Paris with a group of French Sufis. He also has a rich, scholarly knowledge and deep personal experience of the meanings behind the Gnostic Gospels and Christian Mysticism.

He has taught at Oxford University, Cornell University, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, The California Institute of Integral Studies, and the University of Creation Spirituality as well as at various spiritual centers throughout the U.S.

He was the subject of the 1993 BBC film documentary The Making of a Modern Mystic and appears also in Rumi Turning Ecstatic and The Consciousness of the Christ: Reclaiming Jesus for A New Humanity.

He has also worked with the great Iranian Sufi dancer, Banafsheh Sayyad, in producing a film, In the Fire of Grace, which marries Sufi inspired dances to the stages of Rumi’s understanding of the path of Divine love.

He has written and edited over 30 books and received many awards, including the Benjamin Franklin Award and the Mind Body Spirit Award.

Part 3 of The Marriage of Science & Spirit: Negotiating the Great Pre-Nup— Zooming Out on Talking Back to Sam Harris

Wishing you a blessed winter solstice time — this is the ancient time for hunkering down, reflecting, and celebrating everything that survives the tight squeeze of “the dying of the light.” But of course, we now celebrate it as members of a global community that includes dear friends in the Southern Hemisphere for whom this is the summer solstice, so it’s a different kind of time now, one in which all our cycles must be seen in a bigger context.
For me, that means knowing that every blossoming implies an eventual wilting, and that every withered flower bears seeds for a new life. It’s “all moments at once — all the time.”
There’s a profound richness to the vulnerable and openhearted feeling this is releasing in me now — bright with intensity, like the color magenta (the hybrid of the longest and shortest wavelength colors) or the joyous bittersweet intensity of soulful minor chords. And it is with that feeling that I send you this solstice holiday message of appreciation and blessing. Thank you for being a part of my life and journey.
I’m happy to be sending you Part 3 of my blog series, The Marriage of Science & Spirit: Negotiating the Great Pre-Nup. This one is titled Zooming Out on Talking Back to Sam Harris.
To the many people who wrote so passionately, sincerely and intelligently in response to Parts 1 and 2, please forgive my metaphorically “leaving the room” in mid-conversation. I was delayed by a teaching trip to Guatemala and Mexico, and urgent work upon my arrival home. I also discovered, as I got into the guts of this blog series, that it’s going deep, and will ultimately have at least 5 parts.
 In Part I, The Marriage of Science & Spirit: Negotiating the Great Pre-Nup, I pointed out that the coming together of rationality with spirituality, the "marriage of science and spirit", is the most significant intellectual and cultural event of our time, something that will reshape the future of human affairs, whose terms we’re now defining:  the “Pre-Nup” of this marriage contract. I observed that there’s a great debate unfolding between materialistic rationalists and trans-rationalists who point beyond reductive materialism to a conscious universal Reality.
In Part 2, Why Sam Harris’s "Waking Up" MattersI took the position that this book — a well-written, persuasive, internally-coherent argument for a rational, even atheistic, “spirituality without religion” — might turn out to be profoundly influential, potentially making history, and even changing it.  I praised the ways in which Harris’s manifesto could help mainstream cultural attitudes and assumptions evolve.
Now, in Part 3, I begin to articulate a critique of Harris and point to some differences in the very kind of thinking that different participants in this debate are engaging.
In the process, I’ll zag where I previously zigged in Part 2. In this, and subsequent installments of this series, I’ll point out some important shortcomings of Sam Harris’s view and cultural project. Later, in subsequent posts, I’ll zoom back to focus on the meta-conversation. 
You see, this is not only, or even primarily, a debate over the truth, a discussion of the real nature of reality; it is a political process, a struggle over intellectual and cultural power, and not just in abstract terms. In subsequent installments, the plot will thicken further, as we explore the implications of the fact that a true synthesis is a process achieved only as both (or really all) “sides” of the debate genuinely evolve.
Zooming Out on Talking Back to Sam 
The “atheistic” synthesis of science and religion proposed by Harris is materialistic in nature, taking observable measurable objective matter and energy as the bottom-line reality, and viewing consciousness as a secondary expression, an “epiphenomenon” of material processes (what Ken Wilber would call “frisky dirt”). His argument is clear, coherent, insightful, and persuasive.  As I noted in Part 2 of this series, it may well prove to have tremendous cultural influence and thus historical significance. 
Nonetheless, it’s a partial truth; it doesn’t acknowledge a whole series of important realities that severely diminish its status and undermine its authority:

  • Science is a method, not a philosophy, whereas “scientific materialism” is a distinct philosophical position, a theory or paradigm — and a popular belief. Such philosophies are extremely difficult to prove scientifically, and thus, quite naturally, materialism has never been proven (even though many “scientific materialists”, including Sam Harris, speak and act as though it has).
Based on actual hard evidence, however, materialism has no more claim to scientific authority than does “panpsychism”, the view that all matter and energy, down to the tiniest subatomic particles, is in a fundamental sense conscious, possessing at least a rudimentary proto-sentience, or “prehension”.

Harris disagrees with the many eminent physicists (60%, according to recent polls) who, following the “Copenhagen Interpretation” and going all the way back to Max Planck, agree that consciousness (perhaps expressed as the “quantum vacuum” variously named) is the irreducible substrate of “physical” matter and space-time. Planck wrote, “'I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”

Many others, like Harris, take the materialist perspective. There is no fair reading of the record except for all participants in the debate to admit that the science itself is entirely neutral and agnostic regarding the debate between materialism and a “conscious Kosmos”.

  • There’s a mountain of strong scientific evidence for mind-matter interactions. Thousands of controlled double-blind parapsychological experiments, conducted by diverse groups, many of them conducted according to standards of rigor more stringent than those commonly applied in other scientific fields, have produced a mountain of scientific data that demonstrates at least subtle interactions between consciousness and matter and the (imperfect and probabilistic and usually weak, but nonetheless actual and irresponsible to ignore) phenomenon of psi, or “non-ordinary” human knowing, and the influence of consciousness on living tissue and non-living matter. 

We’ll return to this later. For now, suffice it to say, scientific materialists have been very successful in the politics ignoring and marginalizing this evidence, but not very successful in the scientific project of bringing intelligence and curiosity to exploring and accounting for it. Which leads us to our next point:

  • Harris’s book is a political act in the domain of intellectual and cultural politics. He presents it as a neutral rational exploration of the factual nature of reality and human neurology and its implications. However, his manifesto emerges in a social and cultural context, and can only be fully understood, appreciated, and engaged as it interacts with that context. 

Materialism is the most popular, broadly recognized system of beliefs among scientists and engineers. It is the simplest and most easily understood and articulated, and thus most coherent and common philosophical basis for committing to and advancing scientific research, as well as the world-transforming technologies that science makes possible. It has enormous intellectual and institutional credibility and power.

Not only do trans-rational approaches to this synthesis lack this enormous structural advantage, they are not in agreement even with one another. The various trans-rational syntheses have only more recently emerged (which is natural, since they’re inherently more complex and nuanced) and have yet to converge in a single unified coherent thesis.

Thus, each speaks alone and tends to appear as isolated and extremely marginal “challengers” to the far more coherent, easily understood, and culturally powerful “scientific materialist” synthesis.

  • Trans-rational approaches to synthesizing science and spirituality have no less of a basis in evidence and reason than do rational approaches. The atheistic rational synthesis sets forth its own ground, and implicitly, the terms of the debate it is offering to engage. In effect, it is directed toward particular arguments (the weaker arguments, or “straw men”) it effectively vanquishes. But this functions as a rhetorical slight-of-hand that diverts attention from the more interesting and formidable baseis for this synthesis (the more interesting trans-rational terms for the marriage contract between science and spirit) that deserve to be more fully considered. 

In future installments of this blog, I will assert that at least some of the elements of the terms of these trans-rational approaches are not just as strong as the merely rational terms, they are significantly richer and better (more adequate) in important ways. And yet the debate itself is just one level of what’s going on here.

These trans-rational approaches have for the most part been arrived at by a different kind of thinking, and there’s work to do in translating that kind of thinking into therigorous, intellectually honest, rational terms of this public debate. Let’s begin by taking a closer look at some of the kinds of thinking involved in this conversation.

Different modes of thought

The distinction between what I’ve called “strict rationalist” and “trans-rationalist” versions of this marriage contract contrasts not just two views of reality, but also the ways different modes of thinking reach conclusions, and the challenges to engaging a fruitful mutual dialogue.

Developmental research distinguishes different structures of thought and meaning-making that unfold across childhood and on into adulthood, so that some adults continue to develop beyond the point where others stop maturing. Sometimes these structures are referred to as “orders of mind”, “stages of development”, or “levels of consciousness”.  Each can be associated with a distinct general worldview that most often emphasizes particular values over others. This is a foundational insight of adult developmental psychology and integral philosophy as expounded by Robert Kegan, Jane Loevinger, Susanne Cook-Greuter, Ken Wilber, Claire Graves, and many others.

Examining the different modes of thinking involved in this debate will give us an important additional lens through which we can see more deeply into it.

In general, the “atheistic” materialist view coincides with formal operational thinking andabstract operational thinking, which focus on facts and data and derives connections from logic and evidence.

The vision of a conscious Kosmos usually coincides either with mythic believer’s thinking, or with “vision-logic”. Vision-logic begins with that same formal operational thought process, but also intuitively apprehends the nature of the whole (using multiple modes of knowing or intelligence).

There are several distinct levels of thought participating in this debate, often arguing in entirely different “languages”. This topic can be explored in depth, but here I’ll offer a simplified summary of the most important modes of thinking at play:

Mythic-rational thinking (often associated with religious belief and “intelligent design”)

This thinking begins with a (usually shared) set of beliefs about the whole of reality and then views data (the “parts”) through that lens. It is unable to see what fails to fit that view, and distorts data as needed to fit its culturally agreed-upon preconceived beliefs and conclusions. This is the thinking associated with the sort of religious beliefs and attitudes that Sam Harris so effectively condemned in his earlier books, The End of Faith, and Letter to a Christian Nation.

Early rational thinking (often associated with aggressive “skeptics” asserting atheistic materialism) 

Some developmental researchers (such as Loevinger, Cook-Greuter and Torbert) have identified two distinct levels of rational thinking, the first of which is “abstract operational” thinking. Here there is the cognitive capacity to look at oneself, but with strong ultrarational defenses, gravitating toward oppositional battles with others who defend different positions. You can see this in web comment streams that have attracted atheists less sophisticated than Sam Harris. Individuals with this kind of thought pattern live in a world where things are sure and clear, and they feel entitled to impose their views on others. Thus they can seem argumentative and opinionated. Their logic begins with a conclusion — the intention to advance or defend or glorify themselves. This mental mode is unable to synthesize complex systemic or metasystemic perspectives or to question its own presumptions. It is common among teenagers, bureaucrats, junior managers, and engineers, and can be found in almost every profession. 

Advanced rational thinking (often associated with intelligent scientific thinkers, including many advocates for a “rational” synthesis of science and spirituality, is also known as “formal operational” thinking, the second level of rational thinking identified by developmental researchers)

This kind of thinking is able to operate in much more complex ways, systemically and meta-systemically, holding many simultaneous variables and unknowns. It is capable of relating to information with much more openness, curiosity, and creativity. This kind of thinking can synthesize complex views of whole systems, and it can focus creatively into the future, even amidst change. When healthy, this modality, in contrast to early rational thinking, is actually actively interested in learning, and is often open to feedback and differing perspectives. 

Ken Wilber offers a lucid description of advanced rational thinking in Sex, Ecology and Spirituality (p 173-174): “…'formal operational cognition'…. means the capacity not just to think, but to think about thinking (and thus 'operate upon' thinking: ‘formal operational’). Since you can operate upon or reflect upon your own thought processes, you are to 
some degree free of them; you can to some degree transcend them; you can 
take perspectives different from your own; you can entertain hypothetical
 possibilities; and you can become highly introspective…. And….because we can reflect on our own thought processes, and thus to some degree remove ourselves from them, we become capable of imagining 
all sorts of other possibilities….This is why rationality or reasonableness tends to be universal in character.”

It is hard to overstate the importance of formal operational thinking. It is the kind of thinking our educational system is built to foster. It spawned the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and the Tech Revolution of our time. It is the de facto lingua franca of advanced contemporary culture. It is the language spoken by Sam Harris. It’s the language I’m speaking right now. And this is the language into which trans-rationalist responses to Harris must be translated if they are to matter. It is only insofar as perspectives can be communicated and understood in formal operational terms that they have relevance to the great negotiation over the terms of the marriage contract between science and spirituality.

Formal operational thinking does, however, have certain biases and limitations. Cook-Greuter, in Ego Development (2005, pp 18-21) puts it this way, “For…persons [at this level of mind] rationality will triumph. Thus they are interested in analysis… Truth can be found. One can come closer to it by consistently applying the scientific method, by looking at things rationally, by continuously improving and refining one’s methods of inquiry and measuring tools…. The major limit of [this] mind set is its acceptance of facts and the external world as real and its blindness to the constructed nature of beliefs, especially the grand myth of conventional science. Although complex scientific analysis is applied, the underlying assumptions of any system are rarely questioned or made explicit. Especially at this stage, knowledge, measurement and prediction are taken for granted...”

One final note: Another limitation of formal operational thinking is that although it can see “whole systems”, it sees them abstractly and relates to them conceptually; thus it only thinks from the parts (the data points) to the whole (It cannot think from the wholeto the parts).

Early vision-logic (often associated with popular trans-rational integrations of science and spirit) 

Early vision logic is capable of advanced rational thinking, and it goes beyond formal operational thought to use many sources of information and multiple intelligences to intuit models of the integrated shapes of the “wholes” implied by the data, the “parts”. The opening up of vision-logic brings a rich, multileveled, and more kinesthetically integrated apprehension of patterns. As Wilber puts it, “Where rationality gives all possible perspectives, vision-logic adds them up into a totality…. vision-logic can hold in mind contradictions, it can unify opposites, it is dialectical and nonlinear, and it weaves together what otherwise appear to be incompatible notions….rationality can indeed take different perspectives.…But vision-logic…adds up all the perspectives tout ensemble, and therefore privileges no perspective as final…” This is an intelligence that thus begins to be able to think “from the whole to the parts”. It spontaneously takes opposing perspectives and questions itself.

When the capacity for this kind of thinking first appears, says Cook-Greuter, “People now realize that things are not necessarily what they seemed at earlier stages because the interpretation of reality always depends on the position of the observer… One can never be as totally detached and “objective” as the rational/scientific outlook of the [previous] stage would have it… [they] abandon purely rational analysis in favor of a more holistic, organismic approach in which feelings and context are taken into account and the process becomes as intriguing as the product or outcome. [People at this stage] also favor more relativistic or psychological approaches over merely logical ones. The need to explain everything is gone…”

The weakness of early, immature vision-logic is that it tends to so strongly prefer its new more holistic mode of apprehending reality that it tends to be uninterested in rigorous, rational, detail-oriented, evidence-based thinking — especially debates with those skeptically deconstructing the beautiful wholes it feelingly intuits. Thus it tends to become less capable of sustained, focused, rigorous, rational “formal operational” thinking, and the consequence is a tolerance for (and sometimes even a preference for) sloppy thinking, which is how it has given rise to what is sometimes decried as “new age woo woo.”

Advanced vision-logic (often associated with more sophisticated trans-rational syntheses of science and spirituality)
This thinking directly apprehends deeper dimensions of wholeness, eventually awakening what ancient Greeks called gnosis — direct intuitive knowledge of, or contact with, the essence of reality, so profoundly that it relieves suffering. Gnosis is direct experience of awakened consciousness, as distinct from merely intellectual or conceptual knowledge, belief or theory. However, advanced vision-logic is not attached to this direct intuitive mode; instead it is able to simultaneously appreciate the value of all modes of thought and knowledge (and the perspectives they disclose) and to go back and forth among them. Thus, it is able to think not only from the whole to the parts but alsofrom the parts to the whole — as well as from possible futures to the present.

Cook-Greuter traces several stages in the development of advanced vision-logic: “[The] relativism [of early vision-logic] changes into personal commitment and responsibility for creating one’s own meaning…. The shadow side of the self can be acknowledged to a greater degree and therefore a new integration and wholeness is possible….Although they experience role conflicts and dilemmas…[people begin to] recognize that these are inevitable and that ambivalent feelings are natural… Distressing emotions become more tolerable….[and] this allows them to be more tolerant [of others] and spontaneous
“When people see through the filter of the symbolic construction and mapping of reality, their disposition towards the language habit can change profoundly. In general, [they] try to remain aware of the pseudo-reality created by words. They realize that the pursuit of objective self-identification and rational, objective explanations of the universe are futile—artifacts of our need to make permanent and substantive that which is in flux and immaterial….At the same time, [they] appreciate the vital function language plays in human affairs, in social interaction and development.”

Then, as vision-logic opens gnosis, “the capacity to draw from and appreciate insights from non-rational sources of information increases….the more regular practice of turning inward and observing one’s own mental processes also often leads to the spontaneous experience of a direct mode of being in which knower and known momentarily merge, and the personal self-sense disappears…”

This experience of transcendence of the subject-object stance of formal operational thinking is transformative. Although it often first produces a temporary disdain for conventional knowledge and thought, as it matures, it eventually enhances intellectual capacity. Vision-logic becomes the basis for a more and more free, flexible, and appreciative relationship to, and a profoundly enriched capacity for, rigorous formal operational thinking. There is the recognition that “all perspectives are both true and partial including my own.” On that basis arises the humility necessary to bring “awakened consciousness" into compassionate and respectful re-engagement with linear thinking. At this point, mature vision-logic is spontaneously interested in engaging the implications of the insight Wilber succinctly summarizes, “that all perspectives interrelate, or that no perspective is final…does not mean that there are not relative merits among them.”

Looking Ahead

Advanced vision-logic only began to appear fairly recently in cultural evolution, so it is still statistically quite rare, and therefore only a marginal emergent voice in popular cultural discourse. However, it is appearing more and more, and it's rapidly growing in its capacity for engagement with popular discourse. There, it can be recognized not only by its awakened consciousness, but by its courage and willingness to go “off the reservation” of metaphorical, poetic, and mystical expression, developing a capacity forintellectually rigorous re-engagement with formal operational reasoning.

That’s exactly what I’m aiming to engage here — a rational, yet more than merely rational, examination of our cultural dynamics. I’m looking directly at the kinds of thinking at play, and the distinctions among their modes of thought, in order to set a context for a deeper level of this conversation.

A vigorous debate about the terms of the “marriage of science and spirituality” has been underway for many decades among philosophers of science and religion, but has not yet taken place within a single coherent conversation. A whole series of segmented sub-conversations have occurred, many of them using non-intersecting kinds of thought. And they’ve all mostly been conducted in the absence of serious meditative practice and realization.

What will happen if that conversation continues on a higher level, informed by practice, realization, and awareness of the different kinds of thinking we are engaging, making use of these Integral developmental insights?

And what will happen if we then zoom back and notice the subtext of conversation as it effects intellectual politics and cultural evolution?

* * *

As I’ve said before, I think Sam Harris’s "Waking Up" may well prove, in hindsight, to have functioned as a critical lever in breaking up the cultural logjam that has long kept our public conversation about science and spirituality stuck at the level of superficialities.

This blog post is the third of a series. 

In upcoming posts, I’ll look at:

  • Is Sam Harris’s Waking Up an example of “advanced rational” thinking — or could it be evidence-focused “advanced vision-logic” engaging in advanced rational discourse? And either way, on what terms can a trans-rational synthesis based on advanced vision-logic most meaningfully engage with Sam’s thinking and view? 
  • The spectrum of distinct “spiritual” visions of reality that different people see implicit in quantum physics, Einsteinian space-time, the Big Bang, black holes, string theory, and multiverses. 
  • How the radical mysticism of scientists who have made the most significant contributions to our current understanding of reality does or doesn’t converge with the radical view of mankind’s highest traditions of spiritual realization.
  • The invisible dispute over what constitutes a truly rigorous (or “parsimonious”) interpretation of experimental findings that challenge strict materialism.
  • The dynamics of the taboo against psi research despite the broad evidence for statistically-significant mind-matter interactions, and the way this affects the context of our discussion of scientific spirituality.
  • Why mindfulness meditation practice and quantitative neurological research into its effects are the one thing that’s broadly liked and accepted by all participants in this debate — and why that will likely prove to be far more significant than most people realize.
All this is important because the “marriage contract” between science and spirituality may provide the source code for the great event of our time — a transformation of mainstream worldviews.

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments below.

Amir Ahmad Nasr joins Terry on Beyond Awakening for "The Birth Pangs of an Integral Islam"

January 11, 2015 - 10:00am - 12:00pm

Described by The Economist as “puckish” (aka playfully mischievous), Amir A. Nasr is the formerly anonymous provocative voice and Arab Spring activist behind the internationally acclaimed sociopolitical blog The Sudanese Thinker, infamously credited with helping to inspire the rise of the Sudanese digital activism scene.

In 2013, at the age of 26, Amir made his authorial debut with his searing memoir and banned My Isl@m: How Fundamentalism Stole My Mind – And Doubt Freed My Soul, which forced him to seek, and thankfully attain, political asylum in Canada. The book was recommended by Foreign Policy among 25 books to read in 2013, alongside books by Pulitzer Prize winners and former diplomat and military personalities. From its explorations of the root causes of fundamentalism to its assessment of the New Atheists including Sam Harris, the book tackles a wide range of pertinent issues that continue to dominate the headlines. It was praised by Ken Wilber as "an important and significant book, especially at this time in our history," and "the right message, at the right time, from the right person." 

As a result of his decade-long work at the intersection of culture, digital media, and current affairs, Amir has shared the stage with Nobel Peace Laureates, former presidents, and fellow entrepreneurs, and was highlighted by WIRED as a “formidable speaker.” He’s been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Bloomberg, France24, Al Jazeera English, CBC, WNYC, and many more media outlets in over 12 languages across the globe. Amir is passionate about accelerating the prospects of reform in the Middle East, and the wider Muslim world, and believes that the application of integral tools and practices wields great potential in aiding this objective.

Register to join the teleseminar:

An Introductory Evening with Andrew Harvey and Terry Patten, Death and Rebirth: The Transformation of Our Time

March 4, 2015


Rudramandir Center
830 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA
United States

An Introductory Evening Info and Registration here

Andrew Harvey and Terry Patten will share their inter-linked visions of the radical evolutionary transformation that is possible and necessary in our remarkable historical moment, through talks, dialogue, and experiential processes.

They will open up one of the most profound narratives of transformation — that of death-and-rebirth, a fractal pattern so profound it is knit into the very fabric of all spiritual paths and narratives of awakening. Transformation can also be expressed as a hero’s journey, as an initiation into true human adulthood, and as a profound love affair with the Divine. But in death-and-rebirth we uniquely encounter the bardo, the gap, the unknown we most fear.

After Death and before Rebirth the soul must navigate the underworld between. Here there is radical purification, the only way to a hope that is stronger than despair — the “Dark Night” process described by Christian mystics. Radical purification, or death, is the prelude to the Phoenix of divine consciousness and radiant embodiment rising from the ashes of the collective and personal “false self”. This is the bitter pill we fear to taste, but it is the elixir, the medicine for what truly ails us in this time.

Andrew Harvey will present his inner journey to Sacred Activism and his vision of Sacred Activism as the birthing-force of a new embodied divine humanity. Terry Patten will present his inner journey into Integral Activism, and his vision of Evolutionary Mutuality. If the next Buddha will be a Sangha, what does this mean for our relationships with one another now?

7-9:30 PM
830 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA

Pre-Registration: $20 / Day of Event: $25