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

September 4, 2015 - September 6, 2015



More info to come soon! If you are interested email 

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

ITC 2015 will be held from July 16-19 on the beautiful campus of Sonoma State University in the heart of California Wine Country. Come experience the world's largest academic, professional, and artistic conference devoted to Integral Theory and its application.  

Terry Patten will be presenting a paper on Integral Soul Work and leading a pre-conference workshop:

Embodying the Intelligence of Your Heart and Soul

This workshop will catalyze meaningful connections among participants while teaching embodied Integral Life Practice, including my recent innovations on Integral Soul Work. It will be intensively experiential, flexibly flowing among second-person (fun, relational practices to cultivate intimacy) and first-person (meditative and introspective experiential) processes, also offering third-person perspectives and frameworks to anchor understanding. We will create a safe space to notice and release the armoring around our hearts and to open into intimacy with ourselves and each other, then flow into deepening “We-space” and embodied breath-based transformational exercises, in contact with the subtle and causal grace of the transcendental Mystery.  

 Register Here for ITC 2015!




Practicing Emergence, The Heart of Creativity—The Novel Ever-Evolving Art of Birthing the New; a retreat at Villa Unspunnen in Switzerland

May 28, 2015 - May 31, 2015



Practicing Emergence: The Heart of Creativity - the Novel Ever-Evolving Art of Birthing the New

Find more info or register here.

Where do genuinely new ideas come from? What's the source of real creativity and inspiration? Where can we look for the answers to our critical social problems?

People have coined names for it, but nobody really knows. The new, "that which has never existed before", somehow emerges through us - under the right conditions.

Like luck, or spiritual awakening, it is a "happy accident". But the more we do certain kinds of practice, the more "accident-prone" we become. And there are "We-Space" practices, enlivening practices of mutual awakening that can help us explore the edge of emergence together with others.

We will gather together as individual practitioners, invoke a strong group field of intention and openness, and open ourselves to the Mystery that is the source of creativity, inspiration and Grace. We will use the sciene of what we do know to take an Integral journey into the art of courting the elusive magic of what we cannot know.

We will draw on Terry's body of work with Integral Life Practice, Integral Soul Work, a "higher we" and mutual awakening and Integral social activism.

Our work will be organized around experimental processes that will include:

  • Playful, fun processes in twos, threes and small groups
  • Deep transformative interpersonal relating processes
  • Clear short lectures
  • Silent and guided meditation
  • Creating sacred space and ceremonial time
  • Dancing, conscious movement and spiritual celebration

Our 4-day journey will orient us, bring us together, and with tenderness and care, help us go together down through the levels of our gross and subtle experience into the depths of openness whre we can be a "lightning rod" for emergent evolutionary novelty. This will be an open-ended exploration, using proven processes to take us to a "holy jumping off place" at which point we will experiment together on the emerging edge.

We will harvest what emerges an bring integral evolutionary consciousness to reflect upon our learning and experience. The program will be structured to optimize the emergence of specific understandings, tangible shifts and particular clarifications that we can practically implement in our work and lives - as integral practitioners and as social change agents.



Esalen Retreat — Embodying the Intelligence of Your Heart and Soul with Terry Patten

August 16, 2015 - August 21, 2015


Big Sur, CA
United States

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.












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

Radiant Embodiment: An Initiatory Journey—a workshop with Andrew Harvey and Terry Patten

March 5, 2015 - 6:00pm - March 8, 2015 - 2:00pm


Rudramandir Center
830 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA
United States

4-Day Workshop, March 5-8 & an Introductory Evening, March 4

Register and more info here.

Profoundly liberating transformation is not merely subjective; it is enacted in relationship, and ceremonially “made real” in community.

Around us, our wider world is in crisis, environmental, humanitarian, political, financial, and cultural. We seem to be seeing the great death throes of the collective false self, the dysfunction and breakdown of human cultures based on separation and hubris. But these horrors are also a crucible for a great birth – the birth of a new level of humanness, humbled by tragedy, illumined by divine revelation, and capable at last of co-creating with the Divine. This is a new way of being and doing everything. It’s what we are calling the way of “radiant embodiment”.

This seminar, guided by Andrew Harvey and Terry Patten, will begin by ritually convening a sacred community of practice. Then we will embark together on an initiatory journey inspired by the ancient mystery schools of India, Egypt, and Greece. In this wonderful, terrible, and critical historical moment, a profound opportunity is opening up — to encounter, embody and enact divine wisdom and love at a new and unprecedented depth.

Terry teachingThis retreat will be dedicated to an initiation process into that “new way” and its astounding possibilities and sacred responsibilities. It has three essential movements. In the first movement, that of “Ascent”, the initiate is given an inspiring and exalting vision of what the Divine is now offering humanity – nothing less than a massive evolutionary leap. Such a vision is rooted in the work of the great evolutionary mystics, such as Sri Aurobindo, Ken Wilber, Jean Gebser, Bede Griffiths, Adi Da, as well as the deepest teachings of Hinduism, Vajrayana, Buddhism, Mystical Christianity, and the great indigenous traditions.

The second movement, that of “Descent” invites and challenges the initiate, now armed with both the highest inspiration and with practices that enable him or her to reconnect and re-experience it viscerally, to “descend” into the deepest recesses, the “Philippine Trench” of the collective and personal human shadow. “Radiant Embodiment” is impossible without a profound and conscious embrace of the darkness. It is only such an embrace that can make available what Jesus called “the Wisdom of the Serpent” — the wisdom that sees clearly without fear or illusion the depths of the human shadow — of human hypocrisy, perversity, addiction, heartbreak, and self-betrayal. It both humbles the true aspirant and provides him or her with the compassionate and skillful keys to working with others caught (as we all are) in an extreme and unstoppable process of world transformation.

Andrew teachingThe third and final movement is that of the “Sacred Marriage”. The initiate will then be invited into an alchemical energetic tantric crucible, a profound bringing together of the wisdom of the light (the first movement) with the wisdom of the dark (the second movement). This mysterious marriage of opposites unites masculine and feminine, body and soul, heart and mind, agency and communion, transcendence and immanence, deepest inner mystical realization with fearless commitment to the sacred work of outer action. Our surrender to the process will enable us to be present at the birth of our divinely human nature, a being whose “radiant embodiment” of the divine enables us to be a vibrant, joyful, and indomitable instrument of the Divine, a way for that transcendent will and passion to creatively respond to whatever circumstances arise.

This initiation takes place at a luminous and empowering depth. This requires both “guide” and “initiate” to enter together, vulnerably and honestly, into an actual living process, responsive to the demands of the Mystery. With this in mind, Andrew and Terry will be offering teachings and practices out of the depth of their own journeys and realizations, designed to invite participants into a living, authentic process that will invite the unfoldment of mutuality and the emergence of the unforeseeable. In this way, Andrew and Terry intend to model the truth of the “Sacred Marriage”, fusing “masculine” clarity, vigor, and direction with “feminine” tenderness, wonder, passion, receptivity, and collaborative embrace.

You are invited to join us on what will be, for all of us, an unprecedented and yet humble evolutionary adventure.

$495 early bird registration thru Feb. 1st / $595 full price

An Introductory Evening—Death and Rebirth: The Transformation of Our Time will be hosted by Bay Area Integral the evening before, on March 4th.

Register and more info here.








Dr. Keith Witt Joins Terry on Beyond Awakening—We Are the Catastrophe, We Are the Salvation

December 14, 2014

This Sunday, Dec. 14th at 10am Pacific, Terry will be joined by Dr. Keith Witt for a conversation entitled “We Are the Catastrophe, We Are the Salvation.” Keith is a clinical psychologist, teacher, author, and the founder of The School of Love, an online resource where he offers his “School of Love Lecture Series,” “Therapist in the Wild” web series and “Integral Conversations,” a collection of audios and videos on health, love, relationships, sexuality, and spirituality. His most recent contributions are his latest book, Integral Mindfulness, and a course he developed with Integral Life, Loving Completely: Five Ways Relationships Work...or Don't.

A Short Video with Terry Patten: Life is a School

One of the foundational principles of Integral Spiritual Practice is that life keeps giving you the same lessons until you learn them. Life is a school. In this two minute video Terry discusses this idea and suggests that practice doesn’t have to just do with “drugs, sex and rock and roll," or any single area of your life. It has to do with all of your life. The school is everywhere you look! In every breath you take. 

A Short Video with Terry Patten: Hang out with people who are growing

The Marriage of Science & Spirit: Negotiating the Great Pre-Nup, Part 2: Why Sam Harris’s "Waking Up" Matters

In Part I of this series of blog posts, “The Marriage of Science & Spirit: Negotiating the Great Pre-Nup”, I pointed out that there's a dawning awareness that the coming together of rationality with spirituality, the "marriage of science and spirit" is THE big shift happening now in terms of cultural evolution—an event on the scale of the Reformation or the Enlightenment. It is the most significant intellectual and cultural event of our time and it will reshape the future of human affairs.

I observed that a great public debate has commenced about the terms of this marriage, the “pre-nup” as it were. Although many participants attempt to straddle the safe middle ground, the debate roughly divides into two camps: the strict rationalists (often called agnostics or atheists) and the trans-rationalists (including both mystics and developmentalists).  


The rationalists are interested in integrating the valuable insights and practices of contemplative spirituality into a richer, less dogmatic, more intelligent rationality. The trans-rationalists see exciting potentials in going beyond conventional consciousness into gnosis, awakening as co-participants in a conscious universal Reality, sometimes called the “Living Universe” or the conscious “Kosmos.”

I tend to be in agreement with the trans-rationalist camp, but in this second blog post I’d like to tune in attentively to the wisdom of the other side of this debate. Even though I think it’s in some ways painfully partial, the rationalist perspective holds extremely important truths, and in many ways has the most significant role to play in actual cultural transformation.

Let’s look at one of the most brilliant and extreme contributors to the rationalist synthesis, Sam Harris, the well-known American author, philosopher, and neuroscientist, whose recent book, Waking Up, makes a powerful original argument for an “atheistic” spirituality.

Why Sam Harris’s Waking Up Matters

Occasionally, a book makes history, or rather changes history. Sam Harris’s new volume, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion might well turn out to be such a book.


  • This book makes a cogent and persuasive rational case for spirituality “without religion” — for meditation, mindfulness, higher states of consciousness, and ultimately awakening from the illusion of a separate self — and it does so in entirely credible evidence-based terms, without metaphysical baggage, with the advocacy coming from a well-known skeptic and scientist.
  • Waking Up appears when meditation has already gone mainstream. We’ve had decades of scientific research, and tens of thousands of studies have validated measurable benefits from meditation’s higher or altered states of consciousness. Time magazine recently featured “The Mindful Revolution” on its cover, medical insurance often subsidizes mindfulness-based stress reduction classes, and “Wisdom 2.0” and Mindful Leadership conferences bring together top tech executives with Buddhist (and agnostic) teachers. Meditation is now taught in many public and private schools, and presented as a scientifically validated method to enhance focus and learning.
  • This is a time of spiritual inspiration and mobilization, when people are not only doing “inner work” but also opening their minds to new ways of understanding it. Books, seminars, and courses on progressive spirituality and self-help are a fast-growing $12 billion a year industry. Participants in this marketplace are finding one another on the web, and engaging a wide-ranging public conversation that’s already increasingly informed not only by spiritual experiences and ideas, but also by scientific standards of logic and evidence.
  • Waking Up delivers a science-based, ready-for-prime-time critique of the unconscious presumption that each human being is, at root, a separate self; and it embodies a species of the honest and intelligent discourse that can be unleashed on the basis of that understanding. And it does so at a time when the problems human beings are now facing can only be overcome via large-scale self-transcendence. (There is no more fundamental basis for self-transcendence than the direct recognition that our very sense of self is an illusion!)

Some of Harris’s other books are much more obviously political. Even during his press appearances to publicize Waking Up, what went viral was his controversial challenge on Real Time with Bill Maher to the links between Islamic ideas and bad behavior. There, and in follow up writings and appearances in such venues as GPS with Fareed Zakaria, he made some valid points to be reckoned with. But I predict that the ideas embodied in Waking Up (linked to those in his earlier book, The Moral Landscape) may ultimately have much farther-reaching effects on the underlying structures and assumptions — indeed, on the very paradigm — that dictates the character and direction of our public discourse.


Only Nixon Could Go To China

It has been said that “only Nixon (someone with impeccable anti-communist credentials) could go to China.”  Similarly, it has been hardheaded scientists pointing to irrefutable data who have paved the way for meditation to go mainstream — not clear-eyed spiritual practitioners speaking from their hearts. 

And who might be optimally positioned to help the scientific community embrace spiritual practice as a legitimate universal value? What popular intellectual could set the stage for public discourse that starts with awareness of the illusory nature of the separate self-sense? It would take someone like Sam Harris, a neuroscientist and well-known atheist, a man publicly endorsed by Richard Dawkins, a personal friend of Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Stephen Pinker, and author of a book prominently endorsed by Jerry Coyne.

Admittedly, Harris is still more an insurgent than a cultural insider. His fame is not primarily as the author of Waking Up. Far more people know him as “one of those New Atheists” or the guy who got into a fight with Ben Affleck on Real Time with Bill Maher after calling Islam “the motherlode of bad ideas.” 

But Sam Harris is a more significant cultural figure than his latest viral media splash would suggest. I think he’s playing a “long game” — a bid to reshape public discourse, and in the process to propose the terms on which science will embrace certain inescapable and transformational truths and practices from the world of spirituality. Which, as we’ll see later, is a very, very big deal.

A Place Where Archimedes Can Take His Stand 

After calculating the seemingly unlimited multiplier of force that can be achieved by a simple, well-designed lever, Archimedes famously said, “Give me a place to stand and I can move the world.” Especially in the context of his other writings, Sam Harris has chosen a potent lever and a very solid place to stand in Waking Up.

Even though the teaching of evolution and the scientific consensus on global warming are both under siege in red-state America, this is still a predominantly modern world in which evidence, science, and reason provide our most authoritative and broadly accepted basis for discerning what is true. It’s structured into all modern legal systems. Even the extreme cultural conservatives attempt to marshal evidence and make rational arguments to justify their positions.

In the trajectory of all his writings, Harris uses reason and evidence to fiercely advocate that human intelligence free itself from delusions of all kinds and accept responsibility for reality as it is. This is a laser-like expression of the nearly universal values and intentions shared by all modern minds. That won’t go away.

Harris has already subjected religious metaphysics to a harsh examination and indictment, and offered a scientific basis for morality (based on minimizing the suffering and maximizing the happiness of conscious beings). Now he’s critiquing the presumption that our discourse takes place among ontologically real separate individuals (each with an implicit right to his or her own opinion, however preposterous).

The Invitation Reads: “Keep Out: No Trespassing” 

This sets the stage for a different kind civic conversation, one many would regard as much more “enlightened” than what we now find even from our best mainstream public intellectuals. Harris is establishing clearly defined standards of intelligent non-delusion, and as part of that, he legitimizes the discipline of attention, or mindfulness, as a value. Here, he is setting the terms for an intelligent discourse that bids to be of interest not only to skeptical scientific atheists, but also to a significant number of the 24-33% of the population that calls itself “spiritual but not religious”, including thousands of serious rational contemplatives. It seems he wants to help convene and participate in a more intelligent, serious, unencumbered public conversation about what really matters in today’s world.

Sam Harris has been described as a writer of polemics. He certainly enjoys driving home the implications of his criticisms and denouncing delusion. He clearly does not suffer fools gladly. His writings contain a litany of scathing indictments. On the surface they seem to say, to large numbers of people, “Your presumptions are so preposterous that you’re not worth talking with!” Ironically, his scorn also functions as an invitation to a new conversation, directed to the wide swathe of people who can see the validity of the points he makes, those whom he doesn’t directly denounce, and whom he wants to engage.

On the one hand… 

To scientific materialists, Harris presents one kind of challenge, saying something to the effect of:

“I share your worldview and your scorn for most so-called ‘spiritual’ beliefs and attitudes.

“However, your patterns of thinking are far more automatic and deluding than you probably realize, and they constrain your clarity and intelligence. You’re laboring under the ‘user illusion’ structured into human neurology, that has you lying to yourself and others, imagining you’re making conscious choices ‘you’ never actually make, and thinking you’re an ontologically real ‘self’ in ways you simply are not. All these make your thinking more predictable and dumb than is appropriate. You should wake up!

“There’s a new, higher standard of excellence in town. To the degree that you do wake up, you can participate in it. You may already qualify to participate according to some key criteria, but there are some additional criteria (ones you’ve probably mostly disregarded or neglected) that are also valid and necessary. If you accept them, that means changing your behavior and practicing mindfulness. In the process you will stop being so fooled by your internal dialogue, and in the silence you’ll begin to function at a much higher level.

“Then you’ll be able to participate in a much more intelligent and interesting level of thinking and conversation.” 

 On the other hand…

To meditators and spiritual practitioners, he seems to be presenting a different challenge, something that might sound like this:

“I too do the serious practice of attending to attention, and I have experienced transcendent states of peace and seen through the illusion of self or ego. But practice doesn’t begin and end there.

“I’m a neuroscientist; I’ve taken a strong public stand against religious metaphysics; I’ve earned mainstream credibility and notoriety; and I’m risking my standing by publicly advocating for awakened awareness as a basis for the more enlightened conduct of human affairs.

“And even as I’m doing this, I’m harshly criticizing many of the foundational ideas of your worldview. For example, I disparage Aldous Huxley’s idea of a perennial philosophy, or even any ‘happy synthesis among spiritual traditions’; I say ‘there is no reason to think that consciousness is integral to the process…of how an underlying quantum reality becomes the seemingly classical world of tables and chairs…’ and instead happily observe and participate in ‘a style of discourse, across all branches of science and philosophy that [has] made the mind seem ripe for reduction to the “physical” world.’ I regard my meditative consciousness as a neurological state, and I don’t assume that meditative samadhis necessarily deliver any valid insight into the nature of the world around me.

“You’re invited to bring your awakened awareness and practice of mindfulness into that public discourse. What won’t be welcomed are non-mainstream ideas about a ‘conscious Kosmos’ or a ‘living universe’ or ‘subtle energy’ or the worldview they express. Instead, I welcome you to a serious mainstream conversation in which intelligent transpersonal clarity is encouraged and valued, as long as it’s related to the terms of existing mainstream discourse, and rigorously grounded in observable reality and empirical evidence. I won’t promise to play nice, but I’ll promise to question my own mind and follow the evidence.

“After being excluded from the mainstream so totally for so many decades, here’s an opening. That’s exciting, isn’t it? And I’m taking risks to open it. I’m not inclined to negotiate with you over the fine print. Take this offer or leave it. My scientific materialist friends are far less open than I am, so I suggest you seriously question your New Age attitudes and assumptions. If you do, you’re welcome to pitch in and join the process of bringing intelligent clarity to bear on human affairs.”

Giving the Finger

Part of what makes the conversation exciting is that the invitation begins by posting “Keep Out” signs that exclude many familiar and tiresome kinds of conversation.

Sam is not extending his invitation to religious believers. Those with mythic beliefs and unnecessary metaphysics are explicitly not welcome. He’s written several previous books documenting that “idiocy”, and wastes little time with such folks in this context.

He unapologetically is not extending this invitation to fussily politically correct liberals. If you’re overly concerned about excluding or even not offending Islamic or Christian or Jewish believers, then you’re clearly not serious about following your discriminative intelligence wherever it takes you. Your thinking is hostage to political considerations and ideology, which are ultimately just as limiting as ridiculous religious beliefs.

Lighting a Fuse

This two-sided invitation, starting off with “Keep Out”, has great appeal to large numbers of intelligent, inquiring minds.  And a lot of them are already listening.

I cheer that success. To the degree that Harris’s version of “spirituality without religion” gains traction, post-conventional spirituality becomes a bit more credible, mainstream, and influential. To the degree that others respond to Harris’s implicit invitation, our public conversation will evolve. To whatever degree he’s able to light a fuse that ignites the passionate intelligent awareness of large numbers of people, the odds increase that the human species will mobilize to meet the nearly overwhelming crises we now face.

Harris has already had a lot of impact. I’m inspired that he has stimulated a public conversation not only about transcending unhealthy mythic religious ideas, but also focused on establishing a rational universal basis for morality that brings the power of intelligent discernment in service of care for the suffering of sentient beings. Now he’s signaling that his next direction will be to anchor that discernment in a non-egoic, transpersonal view of reality. That would certainly be a radical upgrade of our public discourse!

The timing is excellent. A new level of conversation seems ready to take off. This is already a time of seismic cultural and intellectual shifts, when popular intellectual discourse is rightly so alarmed it is willing to think outside the box defined by our intellectual habits and categories, and is groping for new terms on which to effectively grapple with the multiple crises we face — from global warming and mass extinctions to national and international culture wars, and the increasingly broken status of American and world political systems and institutions. 

The apparent futility of achieving meaningful change through democratic elections has created an “inversion layer” among a certain strata of the intelligentsia wherein much civic passion is now trapped, festering, unable to express itself effectively. Much of our public discourse is so constrained by its focus on what seems politically and culturally possible that it reflects a “learned helplessness” to energize bold solutions, much like lab rats that no longer bother trying to avoid the next electric shock. This, together with the balkanization of the public sphere, helps explain why so many have tuned out.

Sam Harris has already managed to break through this stuckness by daring to speak the unspeakable. He may be a polarizing figure, but he’s energized our cultural debate. He’s already a frequent guest on national television, and recent events have only raised his profile.

In Waking Up, he’s now indicating that his disposition is more awakened, and that his ultimate intentions are more radical and transpersonal than we had suspected. The time is ripe for an explosion of engagement among the best minds of our time. If Harris is able to help that latent potential cross a tipping point, its power could actually begin to become liberated. That would catalyze a much-needed transformation of public discourse and political engagement.  

For all these reasons, I applaud Waking Up, Sam Harris’ larger body of work, and his cultural project. Spiritual practitioners interested in the evolution of dharma will do well to pay attention, notice the patterns that connect, learn, beneficially evolve, and enter the fray.

 * * *

This blog post is the second of a series. In coming installments, I’ll point out why the other side of this debate is just as important as this one, circle back and look at the sobering realities of our cultural context and our prospects for synthesis, and then I’ll dig deeper into the hidden drama that’s unfolding as all of us (consciously or not) continue to participate in this wrestling match over the terms of the “pre-nuptial agreement” for this epochal marriage of science and spirituality — which 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.



A Virtual Caucus on the “Future Left” with hosts Steve McIntosh and Carter Phipps, panelists Elizabeth Debold and Terry Patten

Cover (front)
  • Length: 113:04 minutes (25.9 MB)
  • Format: MP3 Mono 22kHz 32Kbps (CBR)

Recorded on October 25, 2014 this virtual caucus explores a vision of the “Future Left.” The recording features panelists Elizabeth Debold and Terry Patten, together with hosts Steve McIntosh and Carter Phipps of the Institute for Cultural Evolution

Terry joins Patricia Albere on Evolutionary Collective

January 13, 2015 - 11:00am

Join Patricia Albere and Terry Patten, integral teacher and author as they explore how radical conversations can empower awakened action in this global time of crisis.

What is an Integral Revolution?   One element of the conversation will be sharing two powerful types of communication – ‘parrhesia’ and ‘sohbet’ and how they are essential for the practice of sacred intersubjectivity.

Listen LIVE on www.contacttalkradio.comTuesday, January 13 at 11am PST/2pm EST.
Call in with your questions and comments: 877.230.3062.

Don Beck joins Terry on Beyond Awakening

November 9, 2014 - 10:00am - 11:30am

To register for this free teleseminar:

About Don Beck

Don Edward Beck, Ph.D., is a teacher, geopolitical advisor, and theorist focusing on applications of large scale psychology, including social psychology, evolutionary psychology, organizational psychology and their effect on human sociocultural systems. He is Co-founder of The National Values Center in Denton, Texas, and President and CEO of The Spiral Dynamics Group, Inc., a global enterprise. He is a member of The American Psychological Association; The World Future Society; The International Paleopsychology Project; and the “Cadre-of-Experts on Ethnopolitical Violence,” named by the American and Canadian Psychological Associations.

Dr. Beck is also a Fellow of the George Gallup Institute at Princeton. Beck co-authored The Crucible: Forging South Africa’s Future (with Graham Linscott, l991) and Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership & Change (with Christopher Cowan, l996). Beck wrote a Sports Values column for theDallas Morning News for seven years and appears often in the media regarding issues related to values, sports and racial divides. He has adapted the “assimilation contrast effects” described by social psychologist Muzafer Sherif and applied it internationally, in dozens of countries.

He played a major role in the formation of the Integral Movement and many of his theoretical ideas, language, and real world applications have had a profound impact on Ken Wilber and other Integral leaders. His work with Professor Clare Graves, that created the Spiral Dynamics model, was the first effort to popularize the levels of consciousness emergence and was primarily responsible for bringing the Graves Paradigm to a global audience. He has taught at the Adzes Graduate School for fifteen years and his series of courses and initiatives remain at the cutting edge of this technology. He has been active on all five continents and has spoken in at least a dozen countries and cultures. His MeshWorks Solutions was the first process to address issues at the large scale, including whole countries and complex cultures, and major transformational projects. He remains active in South Africa and, along with Elza Maalouf, he has found fresh approaches to resolving the historic Israeli-Palestinians conflict.

A Short Video with Terry Patten: Bringing Awareness to Everyday Moments

This short video excerpt is from when Terry was interviewed by Alex Howard of Conscious2 TV last May in Budapest. This 2-minute video focuses on bringing awareness to everyday moments.