Monday, August 27, 2007

God in the 21st Century, Part 2: Body Mind Spirit Skillful Means

God in the 21st Century, Part 2: Body Mind Spirit Skillful Means.

With Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Ken Wilber

Who: Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, founder of the Jewish Renewal and Spiritual Eldering movements, and Ken Wilber, founder of Integral Spiritual Center and author of Integral Spirituality.

Relevance: What use is the liberating wisdom of contemplative spirituality, such as Jewish Hassidism and Kabbalah, if those who know the secrets of these traditions don't have the skillful means—the upaya—necessary to communicate those truths to all sentient beings in a way that they can hear? How might a more Integral Spirituality, in any tradition, create a more effective upaya?

Summary: Continuing their conversation about "God in the 21st Century," these two long-time friends and founding members of Integral Spiritual Center bring their attention to the question of what is most essential to the spiritual and integral path, and how best to share those truths.
For an Integral Life Practice, what is most essential is the Body, Mind, Spirit, and Shadow dimensions of any person (with "auxiliary modules" such as sex, ethics, relationship, and more). And yet, as Reb Zalman so eloquently states, even if you know a deep spiritual or integral truth, if you don't have the upaya, the skillful means, necessary to communicate the importance of such a truth—we have a real problem.

Since most traditions agree that spiritual enlightenment reveals the universal Spirit-nature of all beings, those who have come to know their own Spirit-nature have an obligation to help share, reveal, and point out that truth to all those who may not yet have recognized their own True Nature. It is not enough to say that everyone, exactly as they are, is in perfectly union with ever-present Ayin, and Ultimate Reality. That is absolute truth. However, relative truth is that it is necessary for that reality to be a conscious understanding for each individual.

The means by which a spiritual teacher—by whatever name—helps make this understanding truly conscious in another human being: that is the realm of skillful means. As Reb Zalman and Ken agree, skillful means must be adapted to the four-quadrant dimensions (intentional, behavioral, cultural, and social) of any given situation. Such is the nature of a truly Integral Spirituality, a vision with which Reb Zalman clearly resonates. As this wise elder Rabbi has publicly stated, "The Kabbalah of the future will rest on Ken's work."

Why Integral?: An Integral Approach to spirituality is the first approach to explore in detail the difference between states of consciousness and structures of consciousness, and how development can unfold in each dimension of human experience. This is quite possibly the most significant contribution to our understanding of human nature in decades, because the explanatory power of the Integral View as a whole is simply unrivaled.

Integral doesn't change the content of human experience, it helps contextualize and explain the content that is already there. Particularly when it comes to the realm of spirituality, religion, and ultimate concern—even if that ultimate concern is scientific materialism—the possibilities for division and strife are nearly endless. An Integral Approach shows how there really is room in the Kosmos for everyone, and how the Good, the True, and the Beautiful actually evolve and develop into ever-more inclusive, complex, and radiant forms.

To learn more about how an Integral Approach can be applied to spirituality, see the essay "What Is Integral Spirituality," the book Integral Spirituality, and the learning community at Integral Spiritual Center (where Rabbi Zalman is a founding member and teacher).

To listen to this interview:

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