Frank Visser, CLIMBING THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN: Reflections on Ken Wilber's “The Religion of Tomorrow”
INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
Caleb Rosado, is president of Rosado Consulting, a certified Spiral Dynamics company, yearly keynotes conferences and conducts training workshops for a wide variety of audiences as diverse as: corporate executives, colleges, local, state and national government agencies, teacher in-service sessions, community organizations and church ministerial and lay groups. Rosado is also Chairman of the Department of Urban Studies, Leadership and Development Campolo School for Social Change Eastern University, Philadelphia.
What Is Spirituality?
Memetics, Quantum Mechanics,
|THE SPIRAL-LIKE STRATA OF HUMAN VALUE SYSTEM CULTURAL CODES|
|vMEMES||COLOR||THEME||FOCUS||THINKING||VALUE SYSTEMSBOTTOM LINESLIFESTYLE|
|Level 8||Turquoise||WholeView||We||Holistic||Harmony and HolismLives for Wisdom|
|Level 7||Yellow||FlexFlow||Me||Systemic||Natural Processes of Order & ChangeLives for Mutuality|
|Level 6||Green||HumanBond||We||Humanistic||Equality and Human Social BondLives for Harmony|
|Level 5||Orange||StriveDrive||Me||Materialistic||Success and Material GainLives for Gain|
|Level 4||Blue||TruthForce||We||Absolutistic||Authority, Stability, "One-Right-Way"Lives for Later|
|Level 3||Red||PowerGods||Me||Egocentric||Power, Glory, Exploitation, No BoundariesLives for Now|
|Level 2||Purple||KinSpirits||We||Animistic||Myths, Ancestors, Traditions, Our PeopleLives for Group|
|Level 1||Beige||SurvivalSense||Me||Automatic||Staying Alive, Reactive, Basic SurvivalLives for Survival|
A color scheme best identifies in a simple way the outward and inward transformations taking place as individuals and groups mature from birth to adulthood. The significance of the colors is only to identify the respective systems and has no symbolism beyond that. Notice how the Focus alternates between dominance of ME-oriented Express-the-self (warm colors) and WE-oriented Sacrifice-the-self (cool colors) life focus. Note also the differences in what is valued in each system as they flow from survival (Beige), to safety and security (Purple), to raw power and instant gratification (Red), to purpose in life (Blue), to strategies for success (Orange), to community awareness (Green), to alternative forms (Yellow), to global village (Turquoise). At each level there is a different Lifestyle, from living for survival to living for wisdom. The levels are open-ended, there is no final stage of development, as the ideal that God sets before us is "higher than the highest human thought can reach" (White 1952:18). The lower levels, however, have no understanding of what the higher levels consider to be of importance. The higher levels, on the other hand, tend to lose contact with the operating principles that make sense to the lower levels and will often regard these operational values to be of lesser value to the overall good of society.
Here's the essence of the idea. Not only different nations, societies, cultures, and subcultures, but also different groups and entities within an organization as well as individuals are at different levels of psycho-social-spiritual emergence as displayed within these evolving levels of complexity. What moves one from one level to the next is a change in one's Life Conditions (as these are impacted by Time, Place, Problems, Circumstances, and Capabilities), coupled with an awakening of our Mental Capacities (our neurological system in the brain) that respond to these changes. Life conditions outside interact with latent thinking capacities inside the mind to awaken the next v-Meme level. It is an ever increasing and widening spiral of development as people move through the various levels of bio-psycho-social-spiritual complexity. Every time people move from one level to the next, they undergo a major paradigm shift, a different window through which to look out on the world, a transformation of their basic value system. This is a key aspect of what makes each level different, for the complexity of the thinking must match or exceed the complexity of the problems of existence. Yet, and here is a critical concept, the previously awakened levels do not disappear. Rather, they stay active within the value system stacks, thus impacting the nature and content of the more complex systems. A person can be at more than one memetic level in different areas of their life, even though one value system dominates their outlook. Thus, for a given person his or her overarching v-Meme may be a conservative Blue, especially in terms of religion and the church, in relation to the family it may be Purple (tradition-driven), at work it may be Orange (success-driven), in sports it may be Red (power-driven), and in relation to others it may be Green (people-driven), but the basic paradigm and way of seeing the world is still Blue (order-driven).
These eight v-Meme codes or value systems serve as cultural magnets around which our "stuff" clusters and our life is aligned. When something is not right at the surface level the level where we express ourselves in relation to others including God or when our priorities are distorted or our lives are out of balance, we need to carefully examine what is happening below the surface in these deep psycho-social-spiritual currents. These determine how people think and respond to the world around them and not just what they say or do. Strain between these systems is the home of all human conflict, understanding, and mis-understanding. These v-Memes are the sum total of the invisible, cultural, and spiritual forces that drive our perceptions, influence all of life's choices, lifestyles, and sense of what is right, wrong, and appropriate.
What cause a memetic shift in one's life is when old explanations and experiences no longer adequately explain one's emerging reality as a result of changes in one's Life Conditions (determined by time, place, problems, circumstances, and capabilities), which now exceed the parameters of one's present worldview. These levels are "systems-in" people, not permanent "personality types." And like Russian Matroshka Dolls that also are "systems within systems," when one's cup overflows one then moves to the larger, more encompassing system. Previous value systems, however, do not go away; they just shift down the spiral. And, if changing Life Conditions warrant, we may return to these previous systems. When disaster strikes, for example, we may be reduced to Beige. But then as life normalizes, we gradually return our previous level of existence or shift to a new level depending on the traumatic experience and its impact on our psyche. It is this interaction between our "real life" experiences and our mind/brain capacities that cause these value systems to awaken, ebb, and flow. Without our latent mental capacities, the world outside has nothing to trigger (the situation of the mentally impaired such as those suffering from Alzheimer's disease). Without the stimuli from outside, systems within may not have cause to be awakened (the case of the Amish and persons living in "closed" communities). Thus, both nature and nurture are important.
How Do v-MEME Levels Relate?
Persons or groups who exist at a higher level are not "better people" than those at a lower level; they are merely different, operating with a different system of thinking. No value system is inherently better or worse than another, as each has its positive and negative attributes. All have a purpose, depending on the operative Life Conditions and problems of existence people, groups, or cultures are experiencing. Appropriateness to the milieu is the key. The question to ask is, "Does the thinking fit the realities." Thus, to address issues of environmental responsibility for a planet undergoing global warming (Green & Yellow v-Memes) to a culture or society experiencing tribal/ethnic group conflict (Purple and Red modes of thinking and living), is to impose a way of thinking and deep-level values for which there is no comprehension much less the mental capability of appreciating and valuing such issues. As Henri L. Bergson said: "The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend." It is not that people at the lower levels do not have the intelligence to deal with such issues. It is only that the circumstances impacting life have not awakened the next levels of thinking. All the Value Systems are within us; they only await the right Life Conditions to awaken them. The point here is, what is "appropriate" given the level of complexity of life experienced at that level of existence? The level of thinking must match the level of complexity.
Picture, if you will, an ascending colorful spiral that swirls up from Beige Bands and Purple Tribes, and with each level widens its arcs while including the previous level as it rises to Green Collective Communities, Yellow Integrated Systems, Turquoise Wisdom Societies and beyond. The ninth level, Coral, resides in the dim unknown. The higher one moves up the spiral, or the strata of our cultural dig, the more complex are the Life Conditions. Such is the flow of The Spiral of Human Development (see graphic).
THE SPIRAL OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
But does this mean that all levels are ultimately the same, that all Value Systems are equal to the overall good of humankind? Clare W. Graves, the pioneer of the Theory of Levels of Existence, answers this question best.
"I am not saying in this conception of adult behavior that one style of being, one form of human existence is inevitable and in all circumstances superior to or better than another form of human existence another style of being. What I am saying is that when one form of being is more congruent with the realities of existence, then it is the better form of living for those realities. And what I am saying is that when one form of existence ceases to be functional for the realities of existence, then some other form, either higher or lower in the hierarchy, is the better style of living. I do suggest, however, and this I deeply believe is so, that for the overall welfare of total man's existence in this world, over the long run of time, higher levels are better than lower levels and that the prime good of any society's governing figures should be to promote human movement up the levels of human existence" (Beck and Cowan 1996:294).
This concept of "stages" or "levels of development," however, does not always rest easy with people. This is because as Clare Graves explains, people do not see their striving in life "as merely a stage they are going through, but as the ultimate, the permanent goal of all life." Once people feel they have attained this "ultimate," this "permanent goal" or understanding "of life" and their Life Conditions are relatively stable they tend to believe they have "arrived" at the "truth" and become satisfied and complacent with the extent of their knowledge. Result? They become conservative and cease to grow. Conservatism in matters of religion, for example, is a sign of spiritual stagnation and decline, and develops when people stop investigating truth due to their contentment with what they already have received and achieved.
Graves explained what lies behind such thinking. "The real finding is that no one understands anything above their own level. Even if you like what you hear of a level higher than you own, you will reinterpret it on the basis of your own level. Thus, a human being apparently can experience only up-to those systems that have become operational in his/her life. What individuals tend to do is to listen to what others at a later system are saying and when they run the content of what they heard through their top-down processing, it simply comes out, if at all, at the system they are currently at. No matter what we hear from others we will run the information through our brains and that information will generally come out as our system of thinking understands it" (Lee 1998).
The two value systems that tend to have the most difficulty grasping this discussion of "levels" and "stages of human development" are persons operating with either a strong Blue (Authoritarian) or a Green (Egalitarian) system of thinking. While the first reflects rigidity from the right, the other is a rigidity from the left. Blue thinking believes there is no "truth" beyond their level of understanding. Green, on the other hand, often operates with naďve relativism and a flatlander perspective, where all cultures and value systems are regarded as equal, all truth is relative, and eschews all forms of hierarchical thinking. "The green meme," declares Ken Wilber (2000:230-232), "effectively challenging the absolutisms of blue and orange," mistakes "all universals and all holarchies as being of the same order," and gets "locked" in a closed system of thinking. Yet, while we must respect and value the various cultures and a people's respective system of values (Green thinking), not all values are the same nor are they of equal worth to what is good and functional for humankind (Yellow thinking). Thus, while Spiral Dynamics enables us to understand where Hitler's values came from and why the German people followed him, it does not mean that these values are acceptable to the overall good of human existence. The Third Reich's culture-specific "absolutes" must not be confused nor equated with "universals," normally regarded as "human rights," which transcend cultures (Rosado 1990). The essence of Wisdom thinking (Turquoise) is to balance the various interests and environments for the widest common good, through the best practices (Sternberg 1998).
Does this mean that everything is relative? Absolutely not. Cultural relativism does not imply that there is no system of moral values to guide human conduct. Rather, it suggests that every society has its own moral code to guide members of that society, but that these values are of worth to those who live by them, though they may differ from our own (Herskovits 1973:31; Rosado 1990). At each level people have "absolutes" and experience truth. But what may be an absolute at one level may not be the same at another level. This does not mean that there are multiple "truths," but that the truth held may be seen from various perspectives as it unfolds.
Having said all this, it is important to recognize that a strong, healthy Blue v-Meme is foundational to the entire spiral. It provides the anchors of law, order, good authority, responsibility, and righteousness without which individuals, organizations, or nations stand weak. If we lose this crucial system, we lose direction, our moral compass, the inner core, and the essential foundation of the more complex systems.
Five qualities characterize the Spiral Levels:
- They are hierarchicaleach builds on and integrates
- They are sequentialone comes after the other in logically necessary fashion.
- The sequence is invariantyou cant skip over a level. The lessons of the previous level are essential for success in the next level.
- The sequence is universalthough the rate of movement is different from culture to culture, the same series of levels characterizes the path of human development for all groups (Fowler 1981)
- The process is open-endedthere is no finish, no final state of development; it is on-going (Graves 1974).
Toward a Definition of Spirituality:
How does all this relate to spirituality? For years now I have been teaching young people in various academic settings. What I have discovered is an ever-increasing and profound interest in spirituality. But what is spirituality? In my classes, especially my sociology of religion course, I have had to define spirituality in such a way that it encompasses the needs of all groups and extremes, from born-again Christians, to members of Wicca, to Earth-First environmentalists enthralled by New Age forms of spiritual thinking, to atheists and agnostics all in the same university class. The challenge has been to define spirituality so that all feel included. I have managed to do this and the outcome has been that all the students, no matter their particular spiritual belief system, concurred with the definition as one that resonated with their needs. Let me put forth two working definitions of spirituality developed after years of seeking to communicate this elusive concept to different audiences with varied but often vague understandings of the term.
Spirituality is a state of interconnectedness, an intangible reality and animating, integrating life-force that cannot be comprehended by human reason alone but is nonetheless as important as reason, intellect, and emotion in accounting for human behavior. It is the center of our devotion, loyalty and concern, the worship of which constitutes our god whether that god be our self, sex, race or ethnic group, church, money, ideological beliefs, another person, nature, Allah, Buddha, the Great Spirit or Jesus Christ. It is the object of our ultimate love, human drive, commitment, source of power, and our interconnectedness with the Other the divine, the self, the human, the natural, or any combination thereof that nourishes the soul (the integration of mind, will and emotions), resulting in a state of security with a sense of worthful purpose in life.
In this definition of spirituality, God is spelled with a small letter "g" because the god at the center of most people's lives, even among many professed Christians, is not the biblical God, but a human construction an idol. An idol is any product of human construction, whether material or non-material, to which people give their ultimate devotion, loyalty and concern, and around which they organize their lives.
Within this understanding of spirituality there are no atheists, for we are all "spiritual beings." We all have a spiritual center at the core of which is our "god" (see graphic), whatever our understanding of that god may be or however we may have socially constructed it. Whatever a person gives their ultimate love, devotion, and commitment to, and to the extent that this thing or object or idea or person becomes the most important entity in a person's life, that entity becomes one's god. Thus, there is no such thing as an atheist or agnostic, for we all believe in something that transcends who we are and is greater than us, even if it is our own sense of reified self. Whatever is at the center of our life, at the core of our spiritual center, that thing IS our god. The crucial question then is: who or what is at the center of our life and is our object of worship (Gilkey 1966:233).
Yet, whatever we consider to be our god can only ultimately serve as god if it is not transitory or temporal or depends on our whims or social circumstances, here today and gone tomorrow. Only that which transcends human existence and is eternal, only that which is not subject to time or temperament, in other words, cannot be taken from us, can serve as God. Only that which goes beyond our own welfare and is a source of security and meaning in our lives, and transcends our human existence, can serve as God.
This does not mean that people cannot make gods out of all kinds of things, which they do. It simply means that since these things are so temporary and transitory, most of what passes for god on this earth, leaves people in a state of insecurity and meaninglessness. Here lies the thirst for spiritual fulfillment and a meaningful purpose to life, giving rise to a whole generation of "seekers."
Since the above definition is rather complex, let me give a simpler version of it.
Spirituality is a state of interconnectedness with the Other the divine, the self, the human, the natural, or any combination thereof that nourishes the soul (the integration of mind, will and emotions), resulting in a state of security with a sense of worthful purpose in life.
This is Holistic Spirituality, spirituality in four dimensions (see graphic), where the human center our social self is interconnected with: a vertical to God, the world of the sacred (pictured as an "eternal flame" within an equilateral triangle symbolic of the Trinity); an inward to self, the world of personal well-being; a horizontal to humankind, the world of people; and a outward to nature, the world of all non-human life-forms.
Most Christians tend to have only a one-dimensional form of spirituality, the vertical, manifested in a personal devotion to God divorced from concern for humankind, usually within a patriarchal paradigm. This was the type of spirituality that led to the rise of Monasticism early in Catholicism and later to Pietism in Protestantism, and eventually to the current rejection of Christianity by secular humanism. This one-dimensional kind of Christianity has resulted in a personal righteousness caught up with an overriding focus on the self in relation to God, at the expense of love to our brother, resulting in racism, and to our sister, resulting in sexism. It has given rise to a fundamentalist expression of Christianity in its proclamations, politics, and practices. It has also given rise to an attitude of indifference toward the environmental mess we have made in our planet, our ecological habitat that declares: "Why bother, God is going to clean it up anyway?" It is a closed-Blue v-Meme expression of spirituality.
Another variant of a one-dimensional spirituality is a lack of a healthy connectedness to our personal self. Most people have fragmented selves, which are often expressed in one of two directions, in a sense of self-hatred, personal abuse, and low self-esteem, or in a narcissistic sense of superiority. These feelings that emerge from a fragmented self are often times taken out on others through acts of violence, abuse, dehumanization, discrimination and indifference. Or we can take them out on ourselves in feelings of self-rejection, inferiority, and in acts of abuse toward our self, or in a narcissistic self-love, focused on the body-beautiful, and a preoccupation with ourselves at the expense of others. It was with these concerns in mind that Jesus declared: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Only when I have a healthy love toward myself will I have a healthy love toward my neighbor the Other in my sphere of influence. If I only have hate for myself, then this self-hate will be expressed in my relationship to others. Therein lies a source of racism, sexism, and homophobia, a one-dimensional Red v-Meme expression of spirituality. Thus, one aspect of genuine or holistic spirituality is a healthy inner connectedness with our inner self.
Other forms of one-dimensional spirituality have been humanistic approaches focused only on the horizontal realm. Pulling strongly from popular, self-help forms of psychology, there is a growing spiritual movement seeking to get human beings in touch with their feelings, their emotions and connections to each other, whether through eastern philosophy, meditation techniques, or personality development theories. This "new agey," quick fix, trendy, fast-food form of spirituality is invading corporate structures, university campuses, and suburban communities of America, as people seek to get more in tuned with their so-called "true inner selves." It is a Green v-Meme expression of spirituality.
Then there are the two-dimensional forms of spirituality, one of which focuses on the female/feminine forms of the sacred, connecting people with nature, their ecological selves, and the rhythms and cycles of the universe. This is the primary locus of New Age forms of spirituality, some of which pull from American Indian expressions of spirituality, much to the abhorence of American Indians (Deloria, Jr. 1992:43), in an inward and outward direction, seeking to get people in tune to themselves and to Gaia, the living Earth, personified as Earth Goddess or Mother Nature. Many of these spiritual forms eliminate the need for the vertical dimension to God, since god is believed to be within and not without, in the sense that we are all gods. All one has to do is to discover the god within and in nature. Neo-Pagan groups, Wicca, and Goddess spirituality are examples of this one-dimensional, Green/Purple v-Meme form of spirituality
The Social Gospel Movement in Christianity around the turn of the century and Liberation Theologies since the 1960s have also emphasized a two-dimensional form of spirituality the vertical to God and the horizontal to humankind. The result has been much political involvement focused on social change and socioeconomic justice. Yet a missing element in both approaches has been a concern for our ecological/environmental home. To counter this missing dimension other forms of two-dimensional spirituality have emerged such as Zen Buddhism and Deep Ecology, focused on the horizontal and the outward, by integrating and interconnecting the inner self with the life-forces of nature through enlightenment. A sense of balance in life is sought through a focus on the present, centered on personal experience and meditation in connection with nature, another expression of the Green v-Meme.
All of these forms of spirituality, however, from Christian, to the body-beautiful, to New Age enlightenment, are but one or at best two-dimensional constructs of spirituality. These are forms of spirituality that are individual-centered, in search of community. People today are seeking "community" and searching for attachments. Wade Clark Roof (1993:252), drawing from M. Scott Peck, defines community as a sense of well-being arising out of social/communal bonds where people "share their lives and communicate honestly with one another," within "relationships that go deeper than the masks of composure, and who have developed some significant commitment to Űrejoice together, mourn together, and to delight in each other,'" in an environment that fosters the qualities of "sharing, caring, acceptance, belonging" and compassion. "The qualities themselves often are more important than the places where they are found." This is why when people's spiritual needs are not met by a specific religious group, they will go elsewhere. Religious brand-name loyalty is out; individual spiritual needs are in. If people have options and religious choices, given a chance, they will exercise those options. Since religion is a voluntary association, people exercise those options every weekend. If they feel they don't have options, because of religious monopoly or political rigidity, and their needs are not being met, they will drop out for a lack of community. If they have options they will shop elsewhere for their spiritual needs.
A Spiritual Mall:
Rodney Stark's "religious economies" theory is most helpful in understanding the idea of religious options. In democratic societies that value religious freedom what one often encounters, to use an analogy, is a spiritual superstore or mall with several floors of available goods, where people can shop for their spiritual needs. Chicago's Water Tower Plaza comes to mind. (see graphic).
At each level (visualize memetic levels), people's needs differ. At the first level or Beige are survival needs (the realm of the homeless, the street people, the down and out). Salvation Army does good work here, so also do street ministries. When these needs are met people then take the spiritual escalator to the next level, Purple, where needs of family, spiritual security, the church as the "ark of safety" and "haven of rest" is found. So also one finds here indigenous religions, cults, and nature religions. The form of religious expression is not as important as the nature of the needs being met: needs of spiritual security and the celebrations of traditions and rituals.
At the third level, the Red forces are at play: gangs, warlords, self-centered, arrogant conduct and flashy, gaudy lifestyles all show off their wares here. Red expressions of religion and spirituality best meet these needs, storefront churches are found here. Pentecostalism, with its strong expressions of Red spirituality and Blue doctrinal rigidness and authoritarianism has had good success in reaching out to gangs, drug addicts, the poor, and those in prisons. Pentecostalism has also been most successful in impoverished regions of the world: Africa, Latin America, Asia, and in impoverished urban sectors. Their Blue authoritarian teachings provide among the best interventions to Red value systems.
When these Red needs are met or when people are seeking stability, sound doctrines and teachings, Blue religions, usually conservative in doctrine and lifestyle, and found on the fourth memetic floor, are the best ones to meet such needs. Mormons, Adventists, Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses are all found here. The differing doctrinal positions among these groups are not what is important here, but the operational values of "one-right-way," "people of the book(s)," law and order, "truth," and delayed gratification. These are the spiritual good s that can be "purchased" at this floor. Notice that the connecting line between Red and Blue is the broadest. These are the groups having the greatest success in numerical growth, for they operate at the levels where most people are found, and where the spiritual needs are the greatest.
When the group beliefs become too confining, or when people want to experience spirituality without all the dogma and rituals, and desire a greater freedom in their worship style, Orange is the floor to take the spiritual elevator to. Here religion is expressive, without the Blue guilt, the style worship is more individualistic; one can be rich without being made to feel guilty. Independent ministries, mall and mega churches are all found here. The worship and doctrinal style is casual, so is the clothing.
At the 6th level one finds a Green spirituality and religious expression that is inclusive, egalitarian, gender and racially sensitive, environmentally conscious, less focused on doctrines, more focused on social issues, justice concerns, and peace in the world, Liberal Christian churches (Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, United Church of Christ, Unitarians). The are the ones that are experiencing the least growth also, because so few of the population, at least in the United States, are found at this level of operational value systems. Here also are various form of New Age spirituality..
Most denominations and religious groups tend to function predominantly at one level, though more and more are beginning to realize that a one-size-fits-all approach (the flatlander mindset) is no longer possible in a multimemetic (a more correct term than "multicultural") society. More appropriate than "multicultural," which is focused on the dermal layer rather than the cranial, is the realization that society as well as churches are really "multimemetic" multiple value systems are interacting at the same time, within the same environmental space and organization. Yet these systems often have no method, or spiritual escalator, to reach the floors where people with different spiritual needs are to be found. At best such groups want these people to make their way "down" to their level. Styles of spirituality and methods of ministry that reach out to people at levels higher than where the main spiritual body is found, are condemned, rejected and denounced.
With the changes taking place in global thinking, human consciousness, and evolutionary psychology, the "momentous leap" Graves predicted and is now emerging, is pushing the spiritual envelope far beyond the levels at where traditional religions function and expressions of spirituality are to be found. They also have little to offer people who are experiencing a spiritual hunger at the Yellow and Turquoise levels and beyond. It is not that Christianity, for example, cannot reach people at these levels, for it can and it is in some circles. It is more the situation that present religious organizations are not able to perceive a spiritual reality beyond their level of operation. In Scandinavia, for example, New Age forms of spirituality are much more popular with the educated populous then traditional Christianity. The same can be found throughout the United Kingdom. For Christians to say that they have the "truth," while regarding others as having "error" does nothing to further their cause. The fact of the matter is that people are experiencing a spiritual hunger, and when they go to shop at the floors consistent with their memetic existence (the 6th, 7th, and 8thlevels), there is little to nothing of Christianity there, which is in an arrested mode of development at the lower levels. So they "buy" what is available. And there they find community and their comfort zone.
Thus spirituality, while being a private journey, finds its most comforting expression in the context of community. This is the main point of Emile Durkheim's famous study on religion, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, where religion is seen as the "social glue" that binds the individual to the group, the moral community (1965).
The Spiral of Spirituality:
Why do we see such interest in spiritual phenomenon in an ever-increasing scientific age? Let me suggest an answer from a Gravesian perspective, using SD theory. There are several reasons, let me offer three: One is "millennial mania." Millennial periods bring out millennial movements that focus on spirituality, the supernatural, and the end of the age. It happened at the turn of the year 1000 (Cohn 1990). Expect to see in the years ahead an increase in alternative religions and in spirituality. In fact, spirituality already is one of the hottest commodities and topics in the media.
A second reason is the bankruptcy of science to answer the big questions of life: Who we are? Why we are here? Where we are going? Science cannot answer the why questions of life in terms of ultimate meaning, only in terms of causality, and not always. In the face of these ultimate questions we all spiritually poor. People are searching for meaning to their fragile lives, since pure science alone no longer has the answers to a full understanding of human existence, no matter how much evolutionary scientists might think that their theories provide the answers to questions of ultimate meaning. Ultimately, such theories leave people cold, vacuous, with no sense of the hereafter. Then too, most people don't live their lives in "pure science" all the time, not even the most scientific ones among us. We are not always rational in our ideas, attitudes, and actions. The "faith factor," which transcends reason, is always present in much of what we do, whether we like to admit it or not, especially those of us who like to pass ourselves as always being objective, for even our most sophisticated ideas have to be taken by "faith" much of the time.
A third reason is a Spiral Dynamics one, which I call, the "Madonna Shift" from "material girl" (Orange) to "spiritual girl" (Green). The current shifts back to rural life, a simpler lifestyle, and e rethinking of life's priorities, are all examples of this shift. It is no longer "he who dies with all the toys wins," a very Orange meme. Rather, it is one reflected in Stephen Covey's soul-searching maxim, "No one in their deathbed ever wished they had spent more time at the office" (Covey 1994). Thus after all the toys, stocks, and image enhancement additions, what's left? "What's it all about, Alfie?" This was a hard question raised by Burt Bacharach in the early 70's. There has to be more to fill the emptiness inside. The result is a return to either Blue religion or Green spirituality, or on to Yellow and Turquoise consciousness transformation. In an unstable age of rapid social change, hurling down the information highway at the speed of nanoseconds, people are desperately searching for anchors to the soul. Others are seeking for "quiet zones" away from all the cacophony of technoise. Many are now seeking and finding it in spirituality (Rosado, 1996). While concern for spirituality has been the realm of religion, much of religion is losing its focus, and a whole generation, disappointed with the trivia of organized religion, is now looking for spirituality elsewhere. Thus, secularism, contrary to what was once believed, does not lead to the demise of religion, but to its transformation through revival and spiritual innovation (Stark and Finke 2000).
Religion versus Spirituality:
"If spirituality is the journey, then a religious tradition functions as a map of the territory." This statement by John Testerman (1997:288) provides a good analogy that clarifies well the difference between spirituality and religion. Testerman goes on to bring out useful insights from this analogy by suggesting that sometimes "mapmaking" can consume a person's time such that it can "take the place of going on the journey." What makes this true in many cases is that often good religious folk focus their whole attention on the rules of the road, but never actually travel the road of spirituality, the map of which they think they know well. The result is a religious form without a spiritual experience. For others, the problem is an opposite one. They launch out on their spiritual journey without a map to chart their journey and "risk getting lost." This is the route many are taking today in their quest for spirituality, as a result of their dismissal of organized religion. Since many such folk find the map questionable or prefer their own concocted map, they launch out on their faith journey without chart or compass, letting the winds of the "spirit" serve as a travel guide, blowing where they may. The results for many are short journeys and spiritual deadends. The dilemma of the spiritual dimension is that spirituality can exist without a religious institutional home, while for others religion can exist without spirituality. Either form can ultimately be unfulfilling since both religion and spirituality are not only personal journeys but also social experiences within a supportive community. Yet, as Dale Matthews suggests, "spirituality poses questions; religion composes answers" (Matthews 1998:182). In light of this discussion, and drawing from Matthews, I define religion, spirituality, and worship as follows.
|Religion:||The organized express of faith and the sacred.||"Is communal, particular, defined by boundaries."|
|Spirituality:||A state of interconnectedness with the Other that nourishes the soul the integration of the mind, will, and emotions.||"Is private, universal, no boundaries."|
|Worship:||The manner of behavior in the presence of the sacred||Is either communal or private depending on the memetic level at which it is expressed.|
Spiral Dynamics and Spirituality
Many consciousness transformation thinkers believe that spirituality is found only at the higher levels of thinking and consciousness, at the memetic levels of Green and beyond. Such a position in itself is an example of what Ken Wilber calls, the "Mean Green Meme" (2001) the idea that only Green thinking has a correct understanding of the world, its problems, and solutions, and thereby negates the value and contributions of other levels of thinking. This is not just a problem unique to Green thinking, however, since each memetic level has difficulty accepting anything other than its own worldview (Roemischer 2002).
Spiral Dynamics provides perhaps the best framework for understanding spirituality, as it shows how each level of thinking not only has its own unique worldview, operative value systems, method of decision-making and manner of living, but also expression of spirituality, form of organized religion, and style of worship. Spirituality exists at every level of human development; it is just expressed differently at each level. Failure to understand this results in a spiritual arrogance and self-righteous exclusion of other ways of approaching the divine and the sacred.
Here is how religion, spirituality and expressions of worship are manifested at each memetic level.
|The Spiral of Religion, Spirituality, and Worship|
Religion is the mainspring of life that holds the family-clan-tribe-society together, and gives meaning and purpose to life within the context of the group.
Spirituality is an awareness that both nature and everyday life are influenced by the world of spirits, both good and evil, and needs to be placated through spirit guides˝shamans, mediums, witch-doctors, gods & goddesses, holy men, elders, spiritual leaders; amulets, totems, signs, and relics of the magic.
Worship is traditional and commemorative, safeguarding rituals and ancient religious/spiritual practices.
Religion at this level views God as an all-powerful, vengeful, controlling ruler, with human passions and weaknesses, who can be bought off. ("God, if get me out of this mess, I'll
Spirituality is a whimsical "bolt from the blue," and often takes on the form of idolatry, as individuals seek god-like status and deny their mortality.
Worship is experiential and expressive, as each individual experiences his or her own unique manifestation of the spirit.
Religion is organized, institutional, hierarchical in structure, purposive, and rule-bound. Rigidity, guilt, and dogmatism are high.
Spirituality is self-sacrificing in nature, and is defined as specific beliefs and truths, a code of conduct, and as a contest between the forces of good and evil, which will be settled in the end time. The script is "written" and pre-determined; you simply follow it.
Worship is adorational and orderly, and objective in character toward the divine.
Religion is independent, entrepreneurial, strategic, and success-oriented.
Spirituality is "feels-good," "tell me more about me," gushy, emotional, experiential, and multiplistic˝many possible ways but one is best. God can be persuaded, and wants you to succeed in the here and now, and not wait for the there-and-then.
Worship is a celebrative event, subjective in character and expression.
Religion is self-help, egalitarian, communitarian, consensual, and relativistic, but intolerant. Rigidity is high, dogmatism is low. Don't know what they believe, but they are certain about it.
Spirituality is inner-oriented, focused on internal peace, harmony, and togetherness, and on connectedness to "natural forces." Seeks understanding and integration of the mind, soul, and consciousness. God is within. Is harmonic with Purple.
Worship is communal and inclusive, not only of participants but also of practices.
Religion is integrative, flexible, inclusive, tolerant, functional, and contextual, with a flattened organizational pyramid.
Spirituality is inner-directed, can be mystical, low on dogma, synergetic, but high on expressiveness, without being sacrificial.
Worship is functional and individualistic "what works best for me."
Religion is a living, wisdom-oriented, order-seeking system of interdependent relationships that transcends the usual human barriers, to create global community in harmony with all life forms in a single ecosystem.
Spirituality is holistic in nature, and mystical, encompassing four dimensions: the vertical to God, the inward to self, the horizontal to humankind, the outward to nature. It stands in awe of the cosmic order, with a macro view of how all life interconnects with the divine with a sense of order, purpose, and wisdom.
Worship is mystical and transcendental, a holistic union of body, mind, soul, spirit with the divine.
We as humans are "naturally" drawn to relationships, lifestyles, behavior patterns, places and forms of worship, political positions and parties, belief systems, modes of entertainment, expressions of art, musical tastes, other people, worldviews, leadership styles, designs and places of residence, etc., which resonate with our dominant (peak) value system, thereby enabling us to experience a comfort zone that gives us a sense of being "at home."
When we encounter any such entities that lie outside of the "comfort range" of our level of existence, we experience dissonance, discomfort, displeasure, disinterest and distance.
The level of comfort is measured by the distance from one's nodal system (see bar graphic). The greater the distance, the greater the level of discomfort. Thus, if my comfort zone is centered on the Orange v-Meme, then I will be most comfortable with Life Conditions at this level. The further I move from this level the greater the sense of discomfort.
Three Streams of Spirituality:
Three streams of thought with regard to spirituality are currently flowing.
- The first and most powerful stream flows from traditional Blue world-religions, primarily Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism, and emerges from and is focused on their "holy books."
- A second and far-side stream, often at odds with the first, is the Green New Age stream of spirituality that is increasing in size. "Green is not New Age," Don Beck is emphatic to emphasis, "but New Age finds a niche in Green." This stream is very inwardly focused and me-centered, and is oriented toward spiritualism and the immortality of the soul.
- A third stream is emerging, and though right now it is a mere trickle and most people have probably never heard of it, it will soon become a rushing force that will draw from the best elements of the other two streams to become an increasingly powerful stream of spiritual thought in this 21st century. This is the Turquoise stream emerging from Quantum Physics. Exploration of astronomy (not astrology which is in tune with New Age and is Purple), and the origins of the universe, is giving scientists a new understanding of the "physics" of God and of spirituality. This stream, as Tipler (1994) brings out, is compatible with the best of Christianity and the deeper-level spiritual teachings of Jesus and the other great world religion founders.
This third stream, of which the consciousness transformation movement and the integral thinking of Ken Wilber are a part, is riding the crest of the first waves of Graves' "momentous leap" of human development that is emerging on the horizon of human existence.
Spirituality and Compassion:
There is a profound relationship between spirituality and compassion, for wherever genuine spirituality is manifested the other is also present. Matthew Fox (1979) has addressed this connection in a most inspirational and challenging manner. Compassion is a heavenly plant transplanted to earth, and wherever it is manifested, God is there. "Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God" (3 John 11). Compassion is a rare commodity in the world today, especially the business and political world. To be successful in the interconnected world of interdependence and interhuman relations of the 21st century, compassion needs to be a necessary individual and institutional character quality.
Compassion is not the same as sympathy. There is a vast difference. Sympathy (meaning to sorrow with) is an emotional response of sorrow toward another being generated by pity. Whereas compassion (meaning to suffer with) is the ability to suffer with another being with loving, caring concern, in an endeavor to alleviate suffering through reciprocal action to remove the pain and meet the need.
Three couplets illustrate the difference between the two.
- Sympathy looks down with teary-eyed pity and says, "Oh, I am so sorry." Compassion comes down with loving concern and declares, "How can I be of help?"
- Sympathy remains in the realm of affection. Compassion always moves from affection to action.
- Sympathy is some times motivated out of self-interest in a pious cloak. Compassion is motivated out of a genuine concern for others with no strings attached. The essence of Compassion is taking the role of the Other and viewing life from the Others perspective, out of the Others situation of need, as a motivation for action.
How do compassion and sympathy differ from empathy? These three concepts tend to be confused in the minds of many as similar or even the same, but they are not. They are vastly different and elicit from the respondent three different types of behaviors. These three behaviors can best be illustrated in the following manner.
- In Sympathy there is sorrow for the Other in need. But with sorrow there is also a sense of distance, separation from the Other, an "Im-not-like-you" type of response. Even though there is an emotional response, the "bridge of identification" with the Other has not been crossed.
In Empathy there is not only sorrow, but also identification
with the Other in need. Here the person crosses the "bridge of identification"
and enters into the emotional sphere of the Other and identifies with
the pain. The Other senses and knows that identification has taken place.
In Compassion there is not only sorrow and identification with the Other
in need, but also an involvement in action to meet the need.
Here the response does not stop at identification, but goes one step further to take the necessary steps of action to alleviate suffering. The two-way arrow symbolizes that the action takes into consideration the wishes and, if possible, the involvement of the Other in a reciprocal process of bringing about change through empowerment. This is a response from the Turquoise v-Meme, where the connection is with the spirit of the Other, as part of being a world citizen, seeking harmony and oneness with the human family. Much of what passes for compassion, however, is often an imposition from the outside without regard for what might be best for the Other nor for their input. This is compassion from a Blue v-Meme rather than from Turquoise. It is also a manifestation of compassion without the understanding of the spiral of human needs. Much of Green's good intentions fall into this trap, imposing from the top, instead of understanding the Life Conditions and situation of where people find themselves and then implementing interventions at those levels. This is the problem that "do-gooders" from the developed world experience when seeking to give aid to people in less developed countries.
In addressing the needs of others from these three helping responses, one first needs to ascertain the level of existence and operational values of the person being helped in relation to the person helping. A person at Blue and needing sympathy may not want anything beyond that, such as "I experience your pain," since their sense of self may be at stake. Those in need of empathy may be frustrated with so-called do-gooders who limit their action to emoting without action. Others in need of compassion may become frustrated with people whose only effort is to talk about compassion with no action, a tendency among some Greens, who believe they are compassionate simply because they talk about compassion. It is so easy to be caught up with compassion-talk deprived of compassion-action.
These three expressions of human response are reflective of different value systems and levels of existence. Persons at the lower levels are not able to understand nor appreciate the response of people at the higher levels. Thus the Blue Sympathizers may not appreciate the comments and responses of the Green Empathizers, and especially the actions of the Turquoise Compassionate. The same thing can be said with Empathy in relation to Compassion. If they are operating with an Open mindset, however, they will be able to accept the response but not understand where it is coming from. A sense of being patronized can be the response from the lower levels to the higher levels ("stop patronizing me"), while the possibility of a condescending attitude is there from the higher levels to the lower levels, especially Green Empathy to Blue Sympathy. Genuine compassion, because it is a Second Tier response, is not condescending. For Green empathizers there is such a thing as "compassion fatigue" but not for Turquoise, who believe that compassion is a rare commodity in the world today, and because of its short supply, the world needs more and not less of it. So for Turquoise Compassion, there is no such thing as Compassion Fatigue. In reality compassion fatigue is nothing more than the attitude, "I am tired of serving so let me blame the victim, since I do not want to appear as the bad-guy here, since my good, caring image is at stake."
There is nothing wrong with sympathy, per se, however. There are many times when the only action a person can take is limited at a sympathetic response. There are other times when one can go further and express empathy. And there will be times when the opportunity will be there to express compassion. The problem comes when one has the ability to demonstrate compassion, but for reasons of ones own choosing, decides to limit the action only to sympathy or at best empathy. This is what the story of the Good Samaritan is all about (Luke 10)to see oneself in the experience of the Other and move into action to change the circumstances, and not just limit ones efforts to a mere sympathetic or empathetic response. Compassion, thus, is an attitude, a way of life, which arises out of spiritualitythat sense of interconnectednessand manifests itself in action. But neither is compassion the same as altruism. Altruism is a helping behavior that may or may not arise out of compassion. Whereas compassion is always altruistic, altruism may or may not be compassionate, in the sense that it can on occasions just be a spontaneous reaction with no sense of interconnectedness to the Other, other than being someone in need. Altruism is both innate and learned; compassion is not innate, it is learned. At the heart of compassion lies "respect"the process whereby the Other is treated with deference, courtesy, and compassion in an endeavor to safeguard the integrity, dignity, value, and social worth of the individual. It means treating people the way they want to be treated. As Nicholas Berdyaev declares: "To eat bread is a material act, to break and share it a spiritual one." This is the mark of true spirituality compassion. Thus, what is needed is a four-dimensional, holistic spirituality that connects us to God, to our self, to humankind and to our ecological world, thereby creating community compassionate and caring. This is a spirituality that serves as an integrating life-force that dissolves all three forms of alienationreligious, human, and ecologicaland fuses all three worlds or dimensions with meaning, purpose, and unity in diversity in community. It is a spirituality centered on Godthe Great Spiritthat balances our relationship and responsibility to our fellow human beings, to our environmental home, and to our self with a meaningful, purposive existence in community. People today are searching for meaning to all the chaos in society and in their lives. This is the driving force behind the quest for spirituality, a need for a caring, compassionate community, a desire for a sense of meaning to lifethe why behind the whata sense of worthful purpose. Langdon Gilkey (1966) tells us that: "Meaning in life is the spiritual fuel that drives the human machine. Without it we are indifferent and bored; there is no ambition to work, we are inspired by no concern or sense of significance, and our powers are unstirred and so lie idle. Without meaning we are undirected and a vulnerable prey to all manner of despair and anxiety, unable to stand firm against any new winds of adversity." A recovery of holistic spirituality in its four dimensions changes all this. Genuine or holistic spirituality, security, and meaning to life is found when our lives are centered in that which cannot be taken away from us. Why? Because only that which cannot be taken away from us is able to give us a sense of genuine security, and is the only thing that can qualify as GOD in our center of spirituality. Everything else dissolves under pressure or changes with time.
The Source of Genuine Spirituality:
In an unstable age of rapid social change at the speed of nanoseconds, people are desperately searching for anchors to the soul. Many are now seeking and finding it in spirituality. But this area can be just as bankrupt as science, if people place at the center of their life that which is not eternal and divine, but temporary and transitory lacking community. Failure to center life on the sacred has resulted in the various forms of alienation throughout historyreligious, human, ecological, and now spiritual. Today, American society is becoming more and more awashed in spirituality. It seems like everything is taking on a sense of spirituality, from aerobics, to the environmental movement, to vegetarianism. But it is also a spirituality that flees from grace, the Christian belief that human salvation is all of God divorced of human effort. Grace, the source of genuine spirituality, makes all our efforts to make ourselves divine beings irrelevant because it proclaims us already accepted and "legitimated by the work of Someone Else, without a single effort on our part" (Capon 1996). Todays pop-brand of spirituality is any form of the sacred that maintains connection with the divine firmly in the grasp of human control. People today "will buy any recipe for [spirituality] as long as that formula leaves the responsibility for cooking up [spirituality] firmly in human hands" (Capon 1996). The result is a shaping of God in various images of humankind. This is because people tend to develop or gravitate toward those forms of religious expression that are compatible with their cultural lifestyle and social behavior or which give meaning to their existence. In other words, instead of being created in the image of God, people create God in their own image. Langdon Gilkey (1966:234) gives us the core reason why God must be center of our spirituality.
The only hope in the human situation is that the "religiousness" of [human beings] find its true center in God, and not in the many idols that appear in the course of our experience. If [people] are to forget themselves enough to share with each other, to be honest under pressure, and to be rational and moral enough to establish community, they must have some center of loyalty and devotion, some source of security and meaning, beyond their own welfare.
This center of loyalty beyond themselves cannot be a human creation, greater than the individual but still finite, such as the family, the nation, tradition, race, or the church. Only the God who created all [peoples] and so represents none of them exclusively; only the God who rules all history and so is the instrument of no particular historical movement; only the God who judges His faithful as well as their enemies, and loves and cares for all, can be the creative center of human existence.
The ultimate concern of each [person] must raise [him or her] above [their] struggles with their neighbor instead of making these conflicts more bitter and intense. Given an ultimate security in God's eternal love, and an ultimate meaning to [their] own small life in Gods eternal purposes, a [person] can forget [their] own welfare and for the first time look at [their] neighbor free from the gnawings of self-concern.
From this we can perhaps now see what the [person] of real faith is like. [He or she] is the [person] whose center of security and meaning lies not in [their] own life but in the power and love of God, a [person] who has surrendered an overriding concern for [themselves], so that the only really significant things in [their] life are the will of God and [their] neighbors welfare. Such faith is intimately related to love, for faith is an inward self-surrender, a loss of self-centeredness and concern which transforms a [person] and frees [them] to love.
Thus, a balanced approach suggests that genuine, holistic spirituality needs to be centered in God, the true object of our worship, who does not change but is the same yesterday, today and forever, thereby creating a sense of integrated balance between our self, the human, the natural and the spiritual worlds. This Spirit-uality then is none other than the Divine Spirit, who creates a longing and yearning for God in the human heart, along with a deep reverence and respect forbut not worship ofnature, our fellow human beings, and our self. Saint Augustine (Early Church Father, 354-430), recognizing humankinds need for spirituality, declared: "Thou hast made us for Thyself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee." Blaise Pascal (French mathematician, philosopher, physicist and father of statistics, 1623-1662), reminded us that, "There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each [person], which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God." This is the essence and source of genuine, holistic spirituality, interconnectedness with God. The challenge this poses for spiritual seekers is to develop a spiritual life built on holistic spirituality that creates community, rather than on traditional one-dimensional or at best two-dimensional models of spirituality arising out of individualism or self-centeredness. Only then will ones table of life be balanced, resulting in a life of meaningful purpose and dedicated compassionate service to others. Only then will we take the first spiral steps that move us from Flatland toward creating a caring society.
- Comments by John Edser, independent researcher, from a discussion between members of the International Paleopsychology Project headed by Howard Bloom.
- This discussion of Value Systems theory comes from the seminal research of Dr. Clare W. Graves (Union College, NY), "Human Nature Prepares for a Momentous Leap," The Futurist, April 1974, and from his students, Don E. Beck, Chris C. Cowan, Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership and Change (Blackwell, 1996), and an e-mail the author received from William Lee, another former student of Graves. Additional thoughts come from Beck's article, "Turbulence in the Balkans, a Paleo-Cultural View," e-mail to author April 20, 1999. The best single article on Spiral Dynamics, however, is the one by Jessica Roemischer, "The Never-Ending Upward Quest. A WIE Editor Encounters the Practical and Spiritual Wisdom of Spiral Dynamics: An Interview with Dr. Don Beck, " in the magazine, What Is Enlightenment? Fall/Winter Issue, 2002.
- An illustration of how the Purple value system functions in Filipino society is the paper by Reuel U. Almocera, "Scientific Mindset, Animistic Worldview, and the Gospel: Implications for Religious Education in the Asia-Pacific Region." A paper presented at the 26th Annual Faith and Learning Seminar on Science and Religion held at the Geoscience Research Institute, Loma Linda, CA, July 16-28, 2000.
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Written August 13, 2000; Last Revised December 30, 2002
Website: http://www.rosado.net, E-mail: email@example.com
ę 2000, 2002, Rosado Consulting for Change in Human Systems