The Future of Spiritual Practice — A Free Teleseminar Series presented by Integral Spiritual Practice and Evolving Wisdom
Stephen Busby joins Terry on Beyond Awakening for "Cultivating Higher Consciousness: Deepening our Relationship to Life"
To register from Beyond Awakening: http://beyondawakeningseries.com
Stephen works internationally as a visionary leader and teacher to help people fulfill their life-potential and to facilitate new forms of cultural emergence. He has a coaching, consulting and healing practice, travels widely and is based at the Findhorn Community in Scotland, and in Switzerland. His work has developed over 30 years with people, communities and organizations in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America. He runs Healing Circles and trainings in 'cultivating higher consciousness' in various countries, and has pioneered work at an international level in the fields of intercultural awareness and conflict transformation, as well as in inner leadership development and in innovation capacity. He was born in England, has lived for much of his adult life in different cultures and will be touring the USA with workshops and other events through March and April this year. For more information on the tour visit www.integralalignment.org and for Stephen's own site see www.stephenbusby.com
We'll be posting registration info on this workshop soon!
Register here for Listening to the Soul of the New We
We are lucky to live in a time when several living streams of spiritual awakening are interconnecting and integrating. In this evening we’ll engage an experiential exploration of the intersection between:
- Soul work
- Integral evolutionary spirituality
- A “higher we”—and the Soul of the We
In Soul work we come into a deeper relationship with our Soul and the Soul of the earth, learning to trust our Soul, ourselves, and life itself. In this process, we learn to deeply listening, through which we discover our unique creative nature and purpose for being on the planet. From this soul-centric perspective, even transcendent awakening, to nondual consciousness is just part of the soul’s journey.
In integral evolutionary spirituality, we awaken into higher states and stages of consciousness, eventually awakening not just from limiting perspectives and identities and states of mind, but even from the illusion of our very existence as a separate individual. As we awaken, level by level, it feels like our consciousness and identity ascends and expands. Our intellect plays an important role in this process.
Meanwhile, many of us are discovering that it is possible to awaken together into a “higher we” — through the inherently attractive deepening of intersubjective immediacy, emergence and aliveness. This is not just intrinsically self-validating, growth-producing, creative, fun and healthy. It opens up shared states of higher consciousness that people sense have real cultural significance, perhaps as a part of engendering the “revolution of love” we all know is deeply needed.
Integral Soul Work integrates these three visions of spiritual growth. Terry will communicate a vision of each of these three things and how they integrate, and he will lead experiential exercises that will enable participants to make contact with them and how they can integrate.
8-11 May 2014, Budapest
During this weekend workshop, Terry Patten will guide participants in gaining a felt understanding of the next wave of Integral consciousness, which has already begun to shape and change the world.
Terry will also be exploring the "strange attractor" of a positive evolutionary future and how we can tap into a virtually unlimited source of energy and inspiration by allowing ourselves to be pulled toward that future. He’ll also look at what it means to practice integral evolutionary consciousness on a daily basis, allowing our highest consciousness to work through us, as us!
And he will re-contextualize the global crises we face at this time in our evolution as a spiritual and existential challenge.
Finally, Terry will invite participants to explore how intimacy with the Mystery of our existence can energize our hearts, enliven our practice and enable us to be a skillful force for the manifestation of the good, true and beautiful, wherever we are.
Both beginners and long time practitioners are welcome!
The workshop will be conducted in English.
Start: Friday, 26 September 2014 at 6:30pm
End: Sunday, 28 September 2014 at 12:30pm
Seminar fee: CHF 350, - (excluding room and board)
To register or for more details check here.
If you have questions you can email: email@example.com
The Fourth Turning conference will be held from April 4 – 6. This will be a gathering of the Integral community in Denver where we will explore the rich territory of Integral Buddhism. The event will be led by Ken Wilber, Diane Musho Hamilton, Doshin Michael Nelson, and Patrick Sweeney, and will feature a host of other authors and teachers. This will be your chance to connect with the global integral community, to interact in real time with some of the most exceptional teachers on the planet, and to deepen and intensify your own spiritual practice, regardless of your particular religious background or beliefs.
What is the Fourth Turning?
Tibetan Buddhism is unique among religious traditions for its “turnings,” the recognition of its own evolutionary unfolding. Whereas most of the world’s religious institutions are purposely designed to preserve tradition and withstand the pressures of an ever-changing world, Buddhism is often praised for its ability to evolve as new knowledge and wisdom comes to light.
In addition to the three historic turnings attributed to Buddha, Ken Wilber is pointing out three evolutionary turnings that Buddhism has undergone [four according to some accounts, if you include Tantra. If so, we would be talking of a Fifth Turning. But we'll keep it simple with the more common three so far.] The first evolutionary turning, Theravadan Buddhism, is based on the realizations of Gautama Buddha himself, who illuminated the path of nirvana (the end of misery). The second turning, Mayahana Buddhism, stressed that “nirvana and samsara are not two.” The third turning, Vajrayana Buddhism, added an exquisite set of practices for realizing our true nature. Buddhism, it would seem, is now ripe for yet another turning of the wheel.
Since the last major evolution of Buddhism over a thousand years ago, we have witnessed astonishing advancements in science, art, psychology, technology, governance, values, cultural attitudes, and almost every other facet of our lives. These developments have utterly transformed our humanity, redefining our very sense of self in radical ways, and have brought a dramatic increase of freedom and material abundance to the world at large.
We are now beginning to experience a historic integration of science, spirit, culture, and technology, an evolutionary confluence of all that is Good, Beautiful, and True. It is within this extraordinary confluence that our spiritual traditions now find themselves, faced with a momentous opportunity to transcend the mythic roots shared by all the world’s religions, to recognize and include the undeniable fruits of the modern and postmodern revolutions, and to re-emerge as an inexhaustible and irrefutable source of wisdom, compassion, and liberation for the world.
You'll find more information here.
Integral Soul Work in
Individual, Group, Cultural, and Planetary Transformation
4-day seminar with
Freiburg, Germany, May 1-4, 2014
Brochure in English here
Information in German here
Bitte vormerken: Terry Patten in Freiburg, 1. – 4. Mai
Terry Patten, zusammen mit Ken Wilber Autor des Buches Integral Life Practice und Co-Leiter des Kurses Birthing a New We mit Thomas Hübl, wird vom 1. – 4. Mai ein Seminar in Freiburg leiten. Es wird eine experimentelle Reise, eine Exploration des In-Kontakttretens mit deiner Seele – die Seele des Ichs und die Seele des WIRs. Übersetzungen ins Deutsche sind vorgesehen. Weitere Informationen folgen demnächst hier.
About this Workshop
It can seem like there are two very different, opposing versions of the process of spiritual growth.
In one, we grow into higher states and stages of consciousness, eventually awakening not just from limiting perspectives and identities and states of mind, but even from the illusion of our very existence as a separate individual. As we awaken, level by level, it feels like our consciousness and identity ascends and expands.
There is another version of the spiritual process, in which we come into a deeper and deeper relationship with our soul and the soul of the world, learning to more and more deeply trust our soul, ourselves, and life itself. In this process, we learn a deep listening, through which we discover our unique creative nature and purpose for being on the planet. From this soul-centric perspective, even transcendent awakening to nondual consciousness is just part of the soul's journey.
Integral Soul Work includes and transcends both these visions of spiritual growth. It also explores how they converge on the discovery of the unfolding of our collective soul and how that relates to our current global crises. This seminar will help you arrive at an embodied understanding of how these themes are working themselves out in your life right now, and it will give those in attendance an opportunity to explore them experientially together in the space of an emerging new We.
This 4-day experiential seminar will explore the place where 4 kinds of work come together:
1. Soul Work
2. Integral evolutionary practice
3. A “higher we” and the Soul of the We
4. Social activism in our time of global crisis
It will be organized around experiential processes that focus on:
- Encountering & learning to listen to the voice of your soul
- The process of soul-connected relating to others
- Discovering a “Higher We” and the “Soul of the We”
- What is asked of us (each and all together) to become “the ones we’ve been waiting for”
How it will be conducted:
- Playful, fun processes in twos, threes, and small groups
- Deep transformative interpersonal relating processes
- Clear short lectures in English (with German translation as needed)
- Silent and guided meditation
- Dancing and conscious movement
- When: May 1-4, 2014 (Start 5 PM May 1, End 1 PM May 4)
- Where: Seminarhaus Am Schönberg, Freiburg
- Cost: 275€ early bird (until ????), 315€ regular. Fee includes refreshments (tea, coffee, fruit, light snacks and cake in the afternoon)
- To Register: http://www.dia-seminare.org/dia-events/detail-ansicht/56-the-revelation-of-the-soul-eine-entdeckungsreise.html
- For more information contact Freiburg@terrypatten.com
As the year has drawn toward a close, I've been navigating a deep "inward arc", a journey of increasing intimacy with my soul — a process of ever-deepening trust of life, of myself, and of emergence.
Amidst that, two words stand out for me now: Courage and Generosity
But the heart is the very core of the being. And the most fundamental law of life is the law of sacrifice, which our heart intelligence naturally understands. When we give unselfishly we defy the narrow tit-for-tat "what's in it for me" logic of the karmic marketplace. And if we give just for the sake of giving (rather than giving in order to get someting tangible or intangible) we open a channel for paradoxical and mysterious grace.
Courage means taking a risk — a risk of losing our time, energy, money, influence, reputation, or advantage. And Courage takes that risk to serve a higher value—in service of something greater than our self-interest.
Generosity gives away some of our advantages to others, not in order to get something in return, but out of sincere care for them, for the sake of goodness itself and out of a sense of our connectedness.
In contemporary society we tend to focus first on a different range of virtues, not so much these particular key heart-virtues.
Even conscious people and practictioners, including many spiritual teachers, are much stronger in head-centered virtues. They may be clear, insightful, brilliant, or full of vision.
Some are especially strong in virtues associated with the hara, the vital center. They may be powerful, committed, fully present, and full of intention.
All of these are real and important virtues! But as the light fades in these increasingly short days (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least) what stands forth to notice is how badly "love's in need of love today." Our world, our communities, and our families are most needing our care and loving attention.
This is heart leadership. We are needing to see others show up with genuine Courage. We are so grateful when we encounter authentic, disarming Generosity.
When the law of sacrifice is fulfilled, there's a counter-force to the discouraging, seemingly-inevitable entropy of the machine of selfish commerce. So I am spending time this winter season tuning in to the deep logic of that sacrificial principle, as a student of it.
And I invite you to tune in for yourself. May we all become stronger in our hearts, more able to bring Courage and Generosity to those around us.
With sincere care,
More and more people around the globe are choosing to seek an awakened path in life and wanting to commit to a truly transformative spiritual practice.
I’m humbled and inspired to witness this emerging wave of new practitioners, because I know that’s exactly what we need to address our most intractable problems, from the personal to the global.
And why it feels so synchronous, and like such an rich opportunity, that I'm going to be teaching my Integral Spiritual Practice Online Course starting on December 3rd:
This program will give you all the tools you’ll need to develop and maintain a daily, easily do-able, and truly integral spiritual practice—in just 8 weeks.
I’ll take you step by step into the gentle but focused process I developed over many years, using cutting-edge transformational principles and utilizing some of the best online-learning technologies available today.
You'll discover how to awaken to and embody radical consciousness and the amazing freedom it brings, and not just through my integral approach to meditation, but also through a moment-to-moment process you’ll engage throughout your daily life.And you’ll learn practical ways to debunk each of the 5 Myths wherever they may be operating in your life.
If you long to make a permanent and profound shift in your relationship to life and finally see the full breadth of what’s possible in your spiritual practice . . . I encourage you to visit the course information page here.
I also want to let you know that Evolving Wisdom (they’re the folks who produce my course) will offer you a special gift when you register early for my course.
It’s a bonus meditation collection created by my good friend, spiritual teacher and Integral Enlightenment founder Craig Hamilton.
It’s called . . . Awakening to the Natural State: A Virtual Meditation Retreat Audio Package, and in it, Craig will lead you in a deep exploration of the practice of meditation and the presence, clarity and freedom it can bring to your life.
But please note that you’ll need to register by next Monday, November 25th in order to receive Craig’s bonus meditation collection.
I’ll offer a few final words on what you’ll discover when you join me for the Integral Spiritual Practice Online Course . . .
- A simple and quick form of integral daily practice (a morning practice ritual incorporating movement and stillness) that will immediately change the dynamics of your everyday life
- How to overcome guilt, doubt, and inertia on the path, so that you will always be able to resume practicing, no matter how many times, or for how long you may have lost the thread
- How to clearly grasp "the big picture" of what's really happening in your life and in our world on the largest evolutionary scale
- How to relax into the infinitely spacious reality that exists prior to every experience, no matter how "good" or "bad" you determine it is afterwards
- A way to optimize your nervous system so it stops tuning in to unhealthy frequencies that cause stress and anxiety
- And so much more . . .
From the moment you register for the course, you'll be setting something life-changing in motion.
You'll be taking the first step toward embracing a new, integral spiritual practice, and you'll become part of a powerfully supportive community of other seekers and practitioners, all working toward the same integral goal.
And I'll be there to personally answer your questions and support you every step of the way. I look forward to practicing together!
To your conscious evolution,
P.S. And remember, in order to get the powerful early-registration bonus collection,Awakening to the Natural State: A Virtual Meditation Retreat Audio Package withCraig Hamilton, you’ll need to register by Monday, November 25th
It’s not a seminar or a conference, with a set curriculum, but a warm gathering of friends, gently facilitated to bring out the best of each of us. Held at the Integral Center in beautiful Boulder, Colorado, the Integral Living Room is designed to be intimate, human scale, affordable, and ALIVE.
Hosted by integral veterans Diane Hamilton, Terry Patten, and Jeff Salzman, the gathering will embrace the spirit of integral living, which manifests as a kind of inquiry: How can we embody and express the insights into interconnectedness (aka “Integral Theory”) that have inspired us so deeply? We’ll explore topics such as:
- Our unique individual genius, and how to nurture and develop it
- Our collective genius, and what conditions enable it to emerge
- The moral dimensions: what does integral awareness require of us?
- Integral soul work, and how it has been misunderstood
- The Soul of the We, and the practice of allowing it to emerge
- The art of deep listening — to our souls, to the world, and to each other,
- Make better sense of politics, culture and current affairs — as a practice
- Shining a healing light on the shadow aspects of integral consciousness
- The state of the integral movement, and how to nurture its health and growth
In three high-energy days you’ll get to experience first-hand what it means to lead an integrally-informed life, with:
- New friends who will support your growth and lifelong development
- The awakened brilliance of integral pandit extraordinaire Ken Wilber in person, engaging his ongoing philosophical investigation in direct dialog with us
- Daily integral meditation and movement—aka “Integral Life Practice”
- Nightly fun, with games, music, and dancing
- Open mic — a chance (if you choose) to share your own wisdom, observations, creativity, and/or challenges with the group
The Integral Living Room will take place from May 23rd at 7pm to May 26th at 1pm, 2014 (Memorial Day weekend in the US). Learn more and register here.
OMTimes thinks it is beyond cool to have Terry Patten the cover.
Terry Patten is a pioneering innovator, advancing the evolutionary edge of spirituality. He is also a profound facilitator of intimate collective awakening, in part through his acclaimed online seminar, Beyond Awakening: The Future of Spiritual Practice. Terry is a member of Deepak Chopra’s Evolutionary Leaders group, a member of the editorial board of The Journal of Integral Theory and Practice, and serves on the board of the Wellsprings Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom.
OMTimes was fortunate to catch up with Terry for this fascinating interview.
OMTimes is a Holistic Green eZine with a Spiritual, Self-growth perspective for the Conscious Community. OM Times was created to share new ways of thinking to promote Healing on personal, community and global levels; and to bring attention to the individuals and organizations that are making a difference.
OMTimes: The Cutting Edge of the Conscious Community.
To read as a webpage:
To flip through the entire digital magazine:
Over the years in my work as a teacher and practitioner, I’ve noticed that, oddly enough, personal growth and spirituality often cut both ways. Sometimes as we become more open on the levels at which we’re conscious, we can become more defended, or “armored” at the very core.
There are several ways this can happen. One is this:
The armor of insight.
Spiritual understanding is a two-edged sword.
Clearly, it’s crucially important. Spirituality is intangible and paradoxical. It’s simultaneously the domain of the deepest human meaning, inspiration and wisdom, andfull of confused ideas, wishful and magical thinking, unhealthy covert power dynamics, even abuse, and many other forms of delusion.
Spirituality without clear discernment isn’t even healthy. There are many subtle, sometimes paradoxical distinctions that can save you years of self-defeating engagement. It is liberating to recognize, for example, that “life is a school” (that will keep delivering the same lessons until you actually learn them), that “an attitude of gratitude” is key to a happy life, that “the orientation of seeking inherently presumes the absence of whatever it seeks” and that “whatever you resist persists.” Many insights light the path, and these are just a few of the best-known.
Today we have remarkable, unprecedented access to humanity’s most penetrating and sophisticated spiritual principles and practices, the “secret teachings” of the ancient paths. Not only that, our spirituality can be informed by groundbreaking contemporary scientific, integral and evolutionary insights. On top of that, we’re connected to a worldwide community that’s sharing about how to bring these understandings alive, practically, in the midst of our busy, fast-moving 21st-century lives.
All of this is tremendously exciting, and a huge blessing. It’s changed my life, and I’ve devoted myself to advancing the leading edge of these new understandings, working hard to disseminate the blessings of these insights as widely as I can.
However, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” and the more we learn about “the elusively obvious” presence of the Divine, the more that knowledge can subtly function as a substitute for actually awakening—now—into intimate loving communion with the Living Divine Reality.
This is why feeling is at the heart of true practice, and why actual practice (not just philosophy) is so essential.
It’s also why we have to transcend black-and-white thinking, and awaken to the paradoxthat cognitive intelligence is necessary to awakening, but by no means sufficient.
In truth, the heart must crack open if the soul is to become free. And you simply cannotthink your way into that. But the mind will try! And when it does, its sophisticated spiritual knowledge easily becomes a clever but invisible barrier to the actual awakening that can only take place at the heart.
But that’s just the first level of things. Another important way you can become more armored is even subtler:
The armor of the heart.
The more you hear about “opening the heart” and the more you try to practice it, the more it will begin to feel like familiar territory. Thus, you can begin to think you already know what an open heart really is.
On one level, that’s a very good thing. You have connected with the feeling organ of your heart. You feel compassion and care. You’ve received feedback from others about what a loving person you are. What could be wrong with that?
Nothing. But here’s how it can work against you:
The presumption of familiarity leaves no room for surprise. Your ability to experience familiar good feelings and warmth can wear a “groove” in your neurology. Every time something signals you to relax and open at the heart, that familiar pattern will tend to unfold.
Ironically, this often works to prevent people from actually experiencing the truly miraculous transformational power of the living Divine in this moment.
When the heart falls in love with God a radical transformation becomes possible, one in which the pervasive anxiety you may have previously felt actually drops away, and you find yourself spontaneously feeling healthy, energetic, confident, generous, and creative.
The reality of your felt-connection with God can heal the heart radically—“at the root”. It’s more than a little glow of warmth. Life can seem so beautiful it is truly like heaven on Earth, but as a reality and not in a delusional or “rose-colored glasses” way.
So you can see how sometimes your “open heart” can keep that radical love and bliss out of your life. Could that be happening to you?
What makes all the difference?
An integral spirituality that is founded in radical consciousness and a direct, intimate love relationship with the living Divine, the luminous Mystery of existence, makes all the difference.
This goes beyond immature, irrational spirituality. It goes beyond the limitations of merely rational spirituality. It requires the awakening of a truly trans-rational spiritual life, with feeling at its core; and courageously engaging in a process is a disarming, gentle, yet powerful way of directly contacting the real “power source” of true spirituality, and going beyond the familiar spiritual patterns that keep our hearts hidden and our spiritual growth arrested.
Thanks and Love,
Terry's "Are you in a cult?" blog posting caught the attention of the producer of Gaiam TV's Open Minds program, so he was invited to be a guest on the show. During the interview, Terry discusses breaking the consensus trance, spiritual activism vs. anxiety-produced activism, and how awakening should be both ecstatic and uncomfortable! Here's a short preview. You can watch the whole hourlong interview for free. You'll need to subscribe to Gaiam's media channel, but you have a free 10 day trial, so you can view it and then cancel at no cost.
You don’t need to “believe” in God. It isn’t even appropriate, really. When you think about it, it’s a little like “believing in” beauty, isn’t it? Belief is beside the point!
If you can see that you do not exist by your own creature power, and if you can begin to consider the alignment of your life with the unspeakable Source and Condition that is truly responsible for and ultimately identical to your very existence, then you can open to the Mystery at the heart of reality as your universal “Beloved”.
On that basis, it follows naturally to engage the spiritual practice of communion with that graceful Mystery, or God.
To Practice Communion Without Belief
Simply open to the Mystery. Surrender yourself to the radiant transcendental Consciousness that pervades and animates everything, everyone, and every moment. Love and receive that Mystery. If the word has positive associations for you, go ahead and call it “God”. And if that word is more complicated for you, just call it “the Mystery”. However you relate to it, it’s not about “believing” in God.
The Divine is a Presence you will come to know. That Presence is only God. If you will open yourself from the heart and surrender yourself into that all-pervading Presence, God will transform your consciousness. You will, quite naturally, begin to trust. You will begin to trust Life itself; you’ll begin to trust the process of your own life.
You will come to know God’s universal goodness, and God’s personal love for you—not as an idea, but as a fundamental grateful gladness felt at the heart.
This can be your own authentic truth, just on the basis of an intuition of the goodness and beauty of existence—all without a shred of “belief”!
Then you will gradually begin to notice the Divine living you, breathing you, and doing its work in this world through you.
[I wrote the text above by starting with a letter by Adi Da Samraj, and “freely rendering” and expanding it.]
It’s called the Integral Living Room, and it is dedicated to the practice of coming together to cultivate depth, transformation, and more of the important conversations that touch our lives and our world.
Diane, Jeff and I often talk about how much we enjoy hanging out with each other and all our good integral friends. The camaraderie is always the richest part of all the integral events we’ve had.
So we thought we’d host a gathering that was about … hanging out. But not in a sloppy way. A great conversation is not a happy accident. It can be casual, to be sure, but it must also be clear and on point, dynamic and yet purposeful.
I’d love for you to join us in exploring the best practices of great conversations on the topics of our ultimate concern: life, love, work, and world. Together let’s get better at:
• Seeing deeply into each other and being deeply seen in return
• Softening ego boundaries for comfort and flow
• Influencing, yes, but also being influenced
• Sharing feelings and energies, not just ideas
• Riding the updrafts of emergence together
• Losing (and finding!) ourselves in the joy of community and communion
Doesn’t it sound wonderful? Please join us! We've just launched a website describing our vision of the event, and I'm really proud of it. Please check it out here.
To our conscious co-evolution,
PS. The Early Registration Discount Ends July 25th!
- Length: 71:51 minutes (98.68 MB)
- Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 192Kbps (CBR)
This call is one of a series of free community calls in advance of The Integral Living Room, a gathering of evolutionaries being held in Boulder Colorado, Oct 31 - Nov 3. For more on The Integral Living Room event http://www.integrallivingroom.com
Wiretapping journalists. Meta-data surveillance of phone calls and emails. Location tracking. Watch lists. All day long we communicate online...create web histories...post on the social media. Who’s watching? Are we more safe or less safe?
Indignant voices call out, each championing one or the other side of what Integral minds see as an enduring polarity. Transparency can’t be made absolute at the expense of privacy After all, if everything’s transparent nothing can be special, or even sacred. On the other hand, a free society needs a free press to investigate and expose much of what is hidden in shadow, because it otherwise subverts social, political and cultural integrity.
What are the deeper meanings of the virtues that are in tension—transparency vs. privacy and security vs. freedom? Have we entered the post-privacy world? Does our public persona compromise our basic authenticity? What is evolution up to?
About an hour into this juicy call (59:45) Diane, Terry and Jeff demonstrate, however unwittingly, what they are talking about. Diane gives the callers some instructions for having conversations in the breakout rooms before she, Terry and Jeff slip back into the "green room" for some private teacher chat -- or so they think. Due to a technical goof-up everything they say is heard by everyone on the call. At this point the conversation "goes meta" and gets even juicier.
It’s worth contemplating the paradox of our immense good fortune—to have been born, in the words of the Chinese curse, “in interesting times”.
On one hand, we are the luckiest and wealthiest people who have ever lived—enjoying unprecedented wealth and ease, with plentiful delicious food, amazing art and technology, and choices—including almost unlimited information and personal mobility. What’s more, we’re awakening together into the radiant joy of free awareness, in the midst of an unprecedented spiritual renaissance!
On the other hand, in the face of this bounty, most of us tend to feel the limitations on our personal options (comparing ourselves with even luckier people). Worse, we, and humanity, really do face unprecedented stresses and threats—we’re in a world crisis, with environmental degradation, global warming, mass species extinctions, extreme weather, and simultaneous real crises in all our institutions and infrastructure—financial, agricultural, educational, healthcare, political and more.
The bottom line: we face ample reasons to relax and rejoice in gratitude, and to get very serious about multiple “terrifying” challenges. I don’t think we do either fully enough; these times ask to go way further—in both directions, simultaneously. This is not merely a “deep paradox”, it’s a deep existential invitation to evolve our consciousness and culture.
In his bestselling book, You Must Change Your Life, German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk penned one of the most searing and prophetic paragraphs I’ve ever read. Please read it carefully:
“The….global crisis….as everyone has been noticing for some time, has begun to send out its apostles. Its authority is real because it is based on something unimaginable of which it is the harbinger: the global catastrophe. One need not be religiously musical to understand why the Great Catastrophe had to become the goddess of the century. As it possesses the aura of the monstrous, it bears the primary traits that were previously ascribed to the transcendent powers: it remains concealed, but makes itself known in signs; it is on the way, yet already authentically present in its portents; it reveals itself to individual intelligences in penetrating visions, yet also surpasses human understanding; it takes certain individuals into its service and makes prophets of them; its delegates turn to the people around them in its name, but are fended off as nuisances by most. On the whole, its fate is much like that of the God of monotheism when He entered the stage scarcely three thousand years ago: His mere message was already too great for the world, and only the few were prepared to begin a different life for His sake. In both cases, however, the refusal of the many increases the tension affecting the human collective. Since the global catastrophe began its partial unveiling, a new manifestation of the absolute imperative has come into the world, one that directs itself at everyone and nobody in the form of a sharp admonition: ‘Change your life! Otherwise its complete disclosure will demonstrate to you, sooner or later, what you failed to do during the time of portents!’
— (p. 444, You Must Change Your Life by Peter Sloterdijk, tr. Wieland Hoban, 2013, Polity Press, Cambridge, UK.)
On the surface, this might sound like a call for fear and grim austerity. And, appropriately, we don’t want to go there. Intuitively, we know terror isn’t healthy. Besides, apocalyptic hallucinations have been disproven again and again through history.
Worry is folly; lightheartedness and humor are the soul of true effectiveness. We need to regard this as is a developmental crisis, as humanity’s growth from adolescence to adulthood, or as a bloody “birthing” process, rather than a “dying” process. Biological and cultural evolution have always proceeded under life-and-death challenges, and again and again, amazing creative novelty has burst forth.
However, in the face of Sloterdijk’s searing prophetic words, we are called to examine our tendency toward “denial”. Is our optimism a way to push away anxiety? The human psyche has automatic mechanisms directed at restoring enough equanimity to allow us to function normally. To what degree is our hopeful attitude a reflexive defense?
Human beings’ propensity for apocalyptic delusion is exceeded only by our magnetic pull toward numbness and self-consolation. Jews in 1930s Germany kept telling each other the madness would soon pass. The case for rational optimism relies on many of us taking the crisis seriously enough to manifest remarkable resolve. Denial (that is, deciding to be optimistic without reckoning seriously with the challenges) is morally indefensible—in just the terms Sloterdijk so eloquently articulated above.
But because despair is a self-fulfilling prophesy, optimism is an even more essential moral imperative. To manifest the creativity, courage and cooperation the crisis asks of us we need fierce good humor and even a quality of ease and lightheartedness. More deeply, we need enlightenment—intuitive freedom from the implications of experience.
Notice: as the consideration deepens, the pendulum swings back and forth, taking us further and further into both ligththearted freedom and clear-eyed seriousness, finding a deep existential “yes” to life even while facing, with ever-clearer eyes, the danger signals that flash at us from every direction.
I’m an optimist, but it’s not based on a rational assessment and a prediction. I am pretty sure that no expert decisively knows our odds of finessing this crisis or being visited by various nightmare scenarios. This makes me very confident that those who think they know we’re doomed are wrong.
What to do? Many things, of course. But above all, we’re called to do them from a deeper and deeper existential ground. This means constantly awakening from “the consensus trance” into a more and more profoundly awake and joyful seriousness.
This is one of the bottom lines of the Integral Spiritual Practice I teach.
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please post your comments below.
- Length: 88:43 minutes (15.23 MB)
- Format: MP3 Mono 22kHz 24Kbps (CBR)
This call took place on Sunday, June 23, from 9:30-11 AM PDT. It was deeply enjoyable to share my radical understanding of Integral Spiritual Practice. I talked about many topics—the school of life, radical spiritual awakening, compassionately and opening to our tender humanness. We touched on the urgency of this evolutionary moment and the world crisis, and about how to bring gentleness and intensity to the profound business of breaking up our stuckness and limiting beliefs and patterns. We talked about how intimate work in small groups can make such a powerful difference in catalyzing real human transformation. And of course I talked specifically about the six-month community of practice that is taking place from July 2013 to January 2014.
You can stream this audio here, or to download it, just click the link below.
Are you in a cult?
Here’s the short answer: “You bet.” And, worse, it’s most likely an invisible cult!
Okay, you’re probably not a member of “a new religious movement or other group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre by the larger society”.
But you’re almost certainly a member in good standing of the Public Cult of the World, whose beliefs and practices are bizarre and abnormal by any objective healthy standard. After all, as the Dalai Lama has pointed out, in the Cult of the World you:
“…sacrifice your health in order to make money. Then you sacrifice money to recuperate your health. Then you are so anxious about the future that you don’t enjoy the present: the result being that you do not live in the present or the future; you live as if you are never going to die, and then you die having never really lived.”
It’s a totally crazy way to live, when you look directly at it! But among us members of the ubiquitous and invisible Cult, it seems the natural order of things, unremarkable and inevitable. The Cult reinforces and conceals a great many other unwritten rules, invisible beliefs and unexamined assumptions too. (One example: the Cult inculcates you day and night with the message that you’re a separate individual who must compete to “succeed” and build up a big, impressive ego-domain, or otherwise you’re a “failure”.)
Some of the Cult’s beliefs may be crazy (and make you miserable) but as soon as you start questioning them, you’re the one who’s risking madness. After all, you’d be departing from the Public Cult of the World’s “consensus reality” (which is what defines insanity).
One of the strictest rules of the Cult is the taboo against acknowledging that the Cult even exists. Thus, every day while you’re working hard and focusing intelligently on your priorities, you’re also being lulled back into being oblivious to the Cult and its bondage.
You’re being drawn into what consciousness researcher Charles Tart memorably dubbed “the Consensus Trance”. He described it as “a state of partly suspended animation, of stupor, of inability to function at [y]our maximum level… [dominated by] automatic and conditioned patterns of perception, thinking, feeling and behaving...”
Is there any escape from the Cult? Sure, but here’s the paradox: to leave the Cult you’ll have to risk being seen as…joining a cult! The official Public Cult of the World won’t provide any support if you want to wake up from the consensus trance. And if you find someone who has in some sense awakened and who offers to help you wake up, or if you band together with others for mutual support in waking up from the trance so you can leave the Cult….now that’s when your family might start to ask “Hey, have you joined a cult”?
Maddeningly, your family (and critics) will probably be right! Most small groups, however healthy and intelligent their premises might be, readily develop “groupthink” dynamics that can easily become unhealthy, and even dangerously “cultic”.
And yet without support and teaching, you’re just going to be sucked back into the consensus trance and the mediocrity of the Public Cult of the World.
What to do?
Well, you can recognize that the consensus trance and the “programming” of the Cult is everywhere and that going in and out of trance is a constant, on-going process. As you do, it will become obvious that waking up from the trance needs to happen again and again, in many little moments of choice. This is what I mean by “practice” — that choice to live deliberately, to embrace a way of life that’s fully alive, always evolving, spontaneously in-the-moment, self-aware, humorous and free. (This is the core of the “Integral Spiritual Practice” I teach.)
From this perspective, yes, you’re in the big Cult, the one that keeps re-hypnotizing you back into the consensus trance. The point is this: you can “leave the cult” now—in this very moment. May you do so, and may you keep leaving it, by waking up! Again and again and again—every day, for the rest of your life.
To your practice and awakening and freedom,
- Length: 67:25 minutes (30.87 MB)
- Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 64Kbps (CBR)
On April 18th Diane Hamilton, Jeff Salzman and I convened a virtual town square conference call to discuss the Boston Marathon bombing in a richer way than we saw people doing in the media. We wanted to engage in an integral discourse, addressing more of the many possible "true but partial" perspectives on this tragic, disruptive event.
It began as we planned, but then it evolved, especially when I inadvertently (I didn't even recognize her at first!) called on the noted developmental researcher and theorist, Suzanne Cook-Greuter. A healing, challenging, and clarifying experience emerged, for all of us. I think you’ll enjoy checking out the varied "I, We, and It" perspectives that surfaced.
To our evolution,
Note: This dialog occurred prior to the suspects being identified.
Did you know that, paradoxically, a secret key to sustainable optimism is the practice of imagining, and finding acceptance for, worst-case scenarios? This blog post is about how calmly considering terrible disasters can expand your sense of hope and empower more effective activism.
A couple of years ago, in a key blog post "Evolutionary Activism- A Bodhidharma Strategy", I pointed out that an important kind of effective activism is NOT about creating reform "before it's too late". Equally (or even more) important is positioning ourselves to take advantage of the opportunities that only appear "after it's too late"!
I was pointing to how critical windows of opportunity for more fundamental systems redesign are created by disasters and calamities.
On the surface, this may sound depressing, but looking more deeply, I think you’ll see that it actually creates huge openings for realistic hope — and grounded long-view activism.
It can often seem that we face challenges that are so urgent that there’s no way they’ll be met by the slow process of cultural, social and political reform. (Notice that this is the unstated subtext of many anxious “progressive” political communications!) Well, take heart. Some of the most powerful change will come after it’s “too late”!
Last month, on a teaching trip in Europe, I met a man who recently participated in a classic success story of just this kind — one that created a huge practical change — with both Switzerland and Germany formally choosing, amidst wide popular support, to completely phase out nuclear power in the wake of a horrific nuclear disaster.
As a refresh, here's what I wrote in A Bodhidharma Strategy in August of 2010:
Our Evolutionary Dilemma
The very idea of a strategy for evolutionary activism may appear naïve, grandiose—or even dangerous, considering how frequently such grand idealistic aspirations have fed totalitarianism. Nonetheless, the continued survival and evolution of human culture may now depend upon us making a critical transition to sustainability—one that’s not spontaneously emerging via the market’s invisible hand, nor the wise decision-making of our economic and political elites. The hardwired motivations of “the selfish gene” aren’t designed to meet threats like the depletion of fresh water aquifers, the resolution of culture wars, or global warming. And the transition before us requires evolved leadership and an organizing rationale.
Therefore, responsible citizens need a credible strategy for enlightened action. In most of the world, and egregiously in the United States, vested interests and political parties are locked in zero-sum power struggles between traditional, modern, and postmodern value structures. To resist the abuses of one inadequate, partial approach often seems impossible except by contributing to another.
During the George W. Bush presidency, for example, I repeatedly found myself stirred to political action only to the déjà vu experience of my voice being drowned out by the roar of disappointing “progressive” (postmodern leftist) rhetoric. Resistance often seemed futile.
Efforts to enact enlightened reforms are necessary and laudable—but often extremely frustrating. To enact an integral evolutionary commitment we need a vision of how we can get past (or around) the current political and cultural stuckness that seems to make adequate responses to escalating crises impossible.
A “Soft Landing” for our Overheated Global Culture.
What’s the evolutionary objective for our activism? I suggest that THE political issue of our time is doing what we can to create a path to sustainability with minimal catastrophic disruptions. We should focus on optimizing global human culture’s passage through an epochal adaptive transition. Since our current social patterns and habits are overheated and unsustainable, the goal is to transition as quickly as possible to more sustainable modes of living, while minimizing traumatic disruptions—it’s especially important not to trigger cultural regression (small or large “dark ages”).
Preparation is everything. Realistically, most well-informed observers believe that big disruptions are probably inevitable — huge shocks, disasters, and crises seem not only likely, but maybe even necessary to catalyze the political will for us to change human choices and behavior. The “silver lining” is that these crises will punctuate our current deadlock and stuckness. Each will present “windows of opportunity” for more fundamental systems redesign.
In October 2008, Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke, facing a liquidity crisis that threatened a meltdown of the world financial system, had an opportunity to consider heretofore unthinkable policy moves — even nationalizing the nation’s biggest banks.
But they had to act fast.
That’s the way it is when a crisis hits. All of a sudden, huge changes are possible, but urgency and fear are off-the-charts, and there’s little time or bandwidth for deliberation.
- What if, among Paulson’s and Bernanke’s circles of respected advisors, there had been a network of enlightened thinkers who had already thought long and hard about these issues? What if they had written white papers describing the kinds of solutions that could be considered, and what if they had thought deeply not just about how to successfully address the short-term crisis — but how to do it wisely, with a view toward long-term transformation?
- What if, using grounded, well-informed, complex, nuanced, higher vision-logic, they had looked for solutions based on the following key criteria?
- Seek policy solutions that would gradually move the US and world financial systems—at least incrementally—toward sustainability, increasing the likelihood of smoother transitions.
- Avoid approaches that would merely delay key moments-of-reckoning, increasing the likelihood or inevitability of more disruptive adjustments.
- Do so in a way that’s politically feasible given the current climate, but also pushes the body politic (and media) to grow in its capacity for more profoundly sustainable approaches to our most challenging problems.
The Bodhidharma Strategy In Action Today
What I recently learned is that a group of Swiss advocates for sustainability did something very much like what I advocated for in Evolutionary Activism- A Bodhidharma Strategy — with inspiring success — just two years ago.
They anticipated a predictable disaster — a major nuclear accident — and they prepared for it. When the Fukushima disaster occurred,
- They had already built relationships of respect and influence with people at the highest levels of Swiss politics.
- They had already quantified the cost of the premiums for a private insurance company to have insured Switzerland's nuclear industry against public liability. (Like the US and most nuclear nations, Swizerland had passed laws indemnifying the owners and operators of nuclear power plants from public liability. Their research had carefully quantified and documented the size of this large public subsidy.)
- They had already computed the (lower) costs of subsidizing other clean energy technologies in preference to nuclear power.
Thus, they were able to reach the decision-makers and supply the white papers that built a carefully-reasoned argument for dramatic policy decisions while the inertia of the status quo was interrupted and a window of opportunity for more fundamental reform was open.
Only two months later, Germany made the same decision, and for similar reasons. This is an inspiring example of an important kind of "political acupuncture" that deserves additional serious study.
This principle is showing itself in our own country too: Look at what has happened to the public debate over gun control following the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. It took this heart-breaking disaster to prompt the kind of powerful, creative outrage and concern necessary to implement change.
Visionary activists would do well to notice that we have many opportunities to do proactive research so that we are poised to take advantage of future "predictable disasters".
Despite the gruesome nature of some of the examples below, I suggest considering them in the spirit of having clear, open eyes. And whatever you do, don’t confuse this with “negative visualization”. But consider the opportunities for fundamental systems redesign that might be created by the following catastrophic events. And then consider what collaboration among experts, activists, researchers, and policy wonks could prepare the ground to take advantage of the opportunities that will be created if these types of disasters occur. Here is a very partial “first draft” list of scenarios worth preparing for:
Disasters brought on by global warming, including:
- Devastating droughts bankrupting key businesses and/or regions
- Wildfires of extreme destructive size and scope
- Additional "superstorm" hurricanes doing unprecedented levels of damage
- Social unrest (in particular countries/regions) following big spikes in food prices
Other Environmental disasters:
- Additional dramatic plagues or population collapses of important species (key trees, songbirds, dogs, cats, cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, salmon, etc.)
- Nuclear disasters
- Disastrous outbreaks of antibiotic resistant bacteria
- Other "new plagues" involving human-animal vectors (e.g. Mad Cow, SARS, or bird flu)
Failures of Infrastructure:
- A long blackout after a massive failure of portions of electrical power grids in a wealthy Western democracy
- Partial or total losses of cell phone transmission
- Partial or total losses of sections of the Internet
Financial disasters (very general; planing requires targeted scenarios):
- Liquidity crises
- Monetary crises (Euro collapse? Run on US dollar?)
- Bubbles bursting (not just real estate, tech, etc., but many others, e.g., China, India, and more.)
- Food shortages (centered in particular geographical areas)
- Stock market crashes (localized or generalized)
- Financial panics (of various kinds)
- Trade wars
- Acts of war that breach the firewall protecting educated Western civilians
- Uses of chemical weapons
- Uses of biological weapons
- Uses of nuclear weapons
Large-scale acts of terrorism:
- Breaches of the air travel safety system
- Explosions on public transportation systems (e.g., London & Madrid)
- Large-scale attacks in major cities (e.g.,Bombay)
- Explosion of a dirty bomb or nuclear device in a major city
- Populist mobilization in a "stable" Western democracy
- Exacerbation of culture war polarization into clashes and riots in America
- Repression and loss of civil liberties ("police state" responses)
This is NOT about a fearful and grim process of negative visualization. Nor is this whole consideration an “I told you so”. Rather this is a practical invitation to embrace a very big reality, and to creatively leverage projected crises and disruption. (After all, what is more predictable than unpredictable disasters?) Yes, these types of events are horrible, but they also crack open the possibility for creative interventions; let’s not forget that!
The key is liberating our thinking and our activism without triggering our paranoia. We can prepare well to take advantage of the windows of opportunity for more fundamental systems redesign that disasters will bring. And this can and absolutely should be done in tandem with pre-emptive kinds of activism. For sure! But let’s expand our thinking. This is an important kind of perspective-taking and creativity that I suggest we are all called to draw upon now.
Don’t forget the key ingredients: faith in the goodness of life itself, trust in the power of progress, the human spirit, and evolution, and confidence in your own capacity to creatively respond. Don’t question that the sun will keep rising, always bringing a new dawn.
I am tremendously inspired and heartened by the Swiss and German nuclear initiatives as they offer powerful proof that the Bodhidharma Strategy will not only work, but that already it is emerging as an skillful, creative evolutionary strategy.
Encountering the Beloved: Integral Practice to Liberate Your Soul
We will join together to experience a comprehensive integration of our embodied humanity and our Divine spiritual nature that will activate and nurture the evolution of your soul and lay the foundation for a profound new level of spiritual confidence.
As taught by Terry Patten, Integral Spiritual Practice is informed by the notion that "All Life is Yoga", and thus cultivates a heart-mind that is simultaneously profoundly self-transforming, fully embodied, and committed to being of benefit. Using experiential self-inquiry and transformational learning incorporating interpersonal processes, journaling, meditation, prayer, movement, nature communion and celebration, Terry will guide us in activating our hidden co-creative potentials, while also connecting in authentic relationship with one another, ourselves, and the Divine. You will also begin to:
- Activate your evolutionary potential
- Become spiritually trustable—to yourself and others
- Integrate yin self-compassion with yang inner toughness
You'll also enter into the intimacy of trans-rational “We-space” with fellow participants, as together we feel into the pressing spiritual questions of our time and draw upon collective evolutionary inspiration and intuition.
Terry Patten is the co-author, with Ken Wilber, of Integral Life Practice. He is a pioneering innovator, advancing the evolutionary edge of spirituality as well as a gifted facilitator of intimate collective awakening. He has a lifelong commitment to social activism. terrypatten.com
TO REGISTER: http://www.esalen.org/workshop/12114