Some thoughts on the evolution of spirituality
What people don´t realize is that spirituality itself, and our understanding of it, is evolving. This is because our understanding of ourselves and our psychological complexity are rising. Spirituality – for all intents and purposes – was always and in a pragmatic sense about navigating that very complexity.
For that reason alone even contemporary approaches like ‘just follow your heart-intelligence’ (Tery Patten) or Ken Wilbers ‘ILP’ are incredible shortsightened and ineffective.
Nobody knows exactly what ‘heart-intelligence’ is or how it is employed. Even a more spiritual notion (together with it´s injunction) like ‘universal love’ might have appealed and worked two-thousand years ago, but is utter ineffective with the western-agency driven mind of today, where constructivism, be it in neurology, socialogy or psychology are very much social consensus.
Speaking of Wilber, his ILP is basically around for at least 100 years. It was practised in EXACT the same manner by the british occultists and kabballists of the early 20th century; that is to combine all knowledges and techniques from east and west and for the different levels and aspects of the human being. (They did´nt call it ‘stages of developement’ but ‘Sephira’, for example) Nobody want to admit that, but ILP is hopelessly Postmodern – and that is simply because there are no other valid approaches in our grasp. Moreover, while adressing stages of psychological development in his modells, it is somewhat ironical that Wilbers apporach to spirituality adresses basically pre-modern/traditional stage of development. Integral spirituality, with it notion of increasing embrace and love, is very much rooted in christian puritanism, especially with its insistence of daily and start-at-best-in-the-morning lutherean discipline.
So where does it leave us today, especially regarding the knowledge we have from (developmental) psychology and constructivism? We have to account for the fact the psychological complexity is rising. We must confront the question WHY some techniques like meditation or shadow-work work for some, but not for others. Why do people fail with meditation, sitting in asana for decades without any significant progress (it´s actually the majority of people) while there is a significant minority for whom it works spectacularly.
We can – and we should – invoke notions of ‘natural talent’ or ‘genius/daimon’, but we have to do that not in mythological terms but in respect of developmental psychology, and, for a lack of a better word, developmental philosophy (which is an approach I am pursuing in the book ‘The will to transcendence’)
There are certain psychological processes which enable meditation (for example) to work. If they are not to be respected, the practise will fail – short term in regard of the daily practise, or in the long run. There are countless people, living in spiritual communities for many years, for whom medition apparently has done nothing of substance.
These psychological processes, which I am talking about, lie at the very foundation of consciousness itself – in Wilbers term between the ‘subtle‘ and ‘causal’ realm, and constitute what Plato called a metaxy – an inbetween. This metaxy creates consciousness by dealing with the schemata of the future; it´s also called the ‘matrix of possibilities’ and creates our perception. Things (perceived objects) consists always of a matrix of possibilities; if you substract all the internal simulations of what you can do with a thing, that thing literally becomes unperceivable. That´s a fact from developmental psychology.
Now, in regard of spirituality, we also have to deal with this metaxy, which ‘deals’ with our schema of the future. Because spirituality arose with consciousness as an immunological method of protection and creation of the future. And as is it, there are two major and very foundational processes by which we effectively deal with the future, and we can call this processes the battle with chaos and it is the self-sacrifice.
Simply put: If you approach (in the domain of the psyche) chaos (in modern lingo: leave your comfort-zone), and if you are truly sacrificing yourself or the things you love in order to pursue the one desired future, meditation (or any other technique will work, independently which cultural transmitted method you choose.
Moreover, and more importantly: If you employ these two processes – if you sacrifice all other notings of spirituality – one can achieve ‘spiritual progress’ with whatever superficial technique employed; and it might be grocery shopping. Take a second, and let that sink in! It´s about the psychological processes which enables spiritual growth and attainment, and not the ‘external’ technique like meditation. It seems like a no-brainer. Of course meditation will work with the right mind-set. But employed correctly, meditation is not mandatory.
That is simply because these foundational psychological processes determine when and how we create a desired outcome (that is future). They do that by forcing us to make decisions and change with those decisions our way of operating. And everybody knows: If we make different decisions, the world we are encountering and the self we identify with will be different.