Blog

ideologies (2)

Becoming a "Spiritual Teacher" Myself

I have always thought all kinds of diverse humans (and other-than-humans) could be "spiritual teachers" for the world, and for the evolution of consciousness and sustainable and sane living. That said, I have struggled greatly with all the various kinds of "spiritual" teachers I have met in the human world. I have even written of throwing out the term "spiritual" because it seems so poisoned to me, for a lot of reasons, as have many religions and forms of religiousity that come out of them. Yet, after re-reading Wilber's notion of "Integral spirituality" (his own term, with a very particular and complex developmental theory behind it) I think it best not to throw out anything until I (we) understand what we are dealing with as the "problems" (or, I prefer to call "pathologies") of spirituality, religiousity and religion (or, for that matter, if we were to include Buddhism in this, and Wilber does, we are more talking about a "psychology" of spiritual growth than a typical religion).

So, I'll not throw out the 'baby with the bathwater' and toss the term "spiritual" or "teacher" for that matter. Wilber has offered, along with many of the brightest researchers he cites, a more "reasonable" approach to go head and embrace this dimension of human experience that is so ancient and still so prevalent--for short, I'll call it the "spiritual domain" of experience. Now, just to be clear, I am going to share more on Wilber's summary view of his 'corrective' to spirituality on the planet and the major religions included--but that is not my particular focus (which, I'll outline in other future FM blogs; also see a few blogs I have written in the past few weeks since getting Wilber's (2017) new big book The Religion of Tomorrow --as well, you may want to read my book review of it on amazon.com, along with others writing there).

So, if you don't want to read a 777 pp book on Wilber's 'corrective' to the evolution of religion, religiousity and spirituality, I am going to suggest READ PP. 504-11 and that will do it. You will have got everything from the book (ROT) that Wilber cares about and is teaching about (of course, he has taught about a good deal of this in his other books on religion and spirituality over many decades too). The Religion of Tomorrow (ROT), to be clear, is also for today. He wrote, "... many of these summaries are of material that turns out to be particularly important for any religion of tomorrow (or of today for that matter). These areas and ideas [i.e.., in ROT by Wilber et al.] that are almost entirely neglected (or actively denied) [due to fear?] by virtually all of today's spiritual systems (and by virtually all human disciplines as well)" (p. 511). WHOW! If you hear what grand voice he is using here sort of shakes my bones, at least, it may rattle others... because he he talked about the BIG NEGLECT, the BIG DENIAL, the BIG FEAR... as it appears to me. And, what he presents in the Integral Theory (metatheory) is really for him that profound, and I tend to agree with him. His critique is saying "all human disciplines" as well are ignoring his theory and applications (again, he makes clear, he is not the only one saying this stuff, and there is a lot of application of Integral Theory going on by others)... so, I'll leave you with that opening of how important he sees this work. I'll also acknowledge that he is going to have a massive wave of people, if they read this kind of grand claim, totally diss Wilber and Integral Theory... for a lot of reasons, some of which I do think are because of BIG FEAR of its implications and yet, most of them will merely reject Wilber and his work and big claims because "he's an arrogant asshole" really, a white-male heterosexist... etc. And, then, really, the deeper ontological (philosophical) issue will come down to Wilber, a "structuralist" thinker vs. Others (especially in the academy) "poststructuralist" thinkers. This latter divide is grand, it's a WAR over the best way to understand reality. Keep in mind this is really kind of a false dichotomy too because Wilber is not only a "structuralist" thinker, and in fact is a foundation to his developmental theorizing but it is not the be all end all, and he works hard at times to be more poststructuralist and to enjoin the best of both camps and ways of knowing reality. I won't go into all that argumentation he puts out or his attempts to do this. I will say, rare if any of his opponents (poststructuralists) even make a moments effort to be so generous in integrative possibilities as Wilber has made for decades. That says something about those committed to poststructuralism if you ask me. It doesn't speak well for their own ideological biases, even when they claim they are against ideologies (e.g., they would cite Wilber as such).

QUOTATIONs OF SUMMARY (from ROT) (pp. 504-11)

Before I start a few quotes as good discussion points perhaps, I am claiming myself now to be a "spiritual teacher" (it's not the first time I have declared this, but I actually rarely ever mention it to anyone, including myself). As I come to claim this more, I merely am interested to apply all I have learned in life and my studies with the work of Wilber's (e.g., ROT) and come forward to offer a 'new' integral approach to being "spiritual" --that is, to encourage a healthy evolution of spiritual intelligence on the planet. I mean, of course I would want to do that with the conviction of every bone in my body. But, if you are looking for a certain image of a "spiritual teacher" (and/or spiritual educator) then, check those out, and see how you carry them around, and how you may "diss" anyone who could be a spiritual teacher to you just because they don't appear to fit some image (or tradition) you prefer. I am not saying you "should" agree or follow or access me and the spiritual work I do. I only offer you confront your own views and go from there. I ought to do the same.

Wilber's great summary (applying the principles of the book, and Integral Theory) to religion(s) come through as he uses the e.g. of Buddhism (very consciously) where he could use Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc. He kind of goes after Buddhism, to bring more clarity. He argues there is sufficient evidence that there are "Stages in Buddhism Itself" and by that he means obvious "structure-stages" (or levels) of development, that coincide with levels of consciousness on his spectrum of evolution model/theory. Again, his spectrum approach, and integral approach, are not Wilber's per se, he has summarized hordes of data from diverse sources to make this model/theory usable and strong (not in any way claiming it cannot be critiqued).

On p. 505, Wilber notes others have been working on books/models to understand what an Integral Spirituality would look like and then on p. 506 he goes after a clarity on the Stages in Buddhism Itself (that some in Buddhism recognize and most don't):

"Buddhism began as a Rational system, one of the few of the world's Great Religions to do so. And remember how we are using 'rational' [in Integral Theory]-- it doesn't mean dry, abstract, analytic, and alienated. It means capable of a least a 3rd-person worldcentric perspective; it can therefore introspect and reflect on its own awarness and experience, adopt a critical and self-critical stance.... Buddhism is closer to a psychology than a typical religion. Of course, most schools of Buddhism put a central emphasis on states [of consciousness/experience], but when it comes to their interpretation, it is typically rational, objective, and evidence based." [kind of like science] Of course, not everybody is born at Rational. Actually, nobody is. All individuals start their development of basic rungs and Views [i.e., worldviews] at sensorimotor and Archaic, and move from there to Magic, then Magic-Mythic, then Mythic, then Rational, Pluralistic, and Integral (if they continue growing). And this means that individuals at all of those stages can be attracted to Buddhism, and over the centuries, actual schools of Buddhism have arisen that are based primarily at each of those Views [i.e., structure-stages 0-9]" (p. 506).

So, that's enough for this one FM blog ... I'll do up more soon... to continue these wonderful few pages of summary that tell it all (in a way)... oh, and keep in mind, all the time I am reading this work of Wilber's I am doing a simple fearanalysis... I'm looking at all those structure-stages and plotting my Fear Management Systems theory on them and that's for another time too, but to say, Wilber and his colleagues do not adequately address my FMS theory at all and this is a huge problem if we really want religions, religiousity and spirituality to develop healthily ...

Read more…

As an educator, and as a critic of when certain ideas are promoted as propaganda, and distorted, I have to be concerned. Truly, I'd rather put my attention on more positive productions of my own work on fearlessness, for example. But when it comes to "fear" and our knowledge about it, I am on the path of the sacred warrior real fast. A defender of the dharma, as Ken Wilber has been called. I too am not about to leave knowledge about fear and its management alone--if, I see it is creating more problems than good. Now, the latter is not so easy to prove, and indeed, that's not my task. Other's with funding dollars and research support teams can go out there and prove the harmful effect levels of anything. I don't have that research team nor the resources to do it. I can be a good philosopher however, and that means offering a good critique--of everything. That said, I don't want to waste my time on everything-- I "waste" my time where I think I couldn't live with myself if I didn't say something. That topic of compelling interest is fear (by any other name). 

One major critical philosophical tradition has been to critique ideologies. I am talking about fear-based, fear-mongering distortions of knowledge. Now, there is not a premise in such critiques that persons, or organizations, etc. are consciously trying to reproduce toxic ideologies, nor do they want to do fear-mongering. But everything anyone publishes is potentially doing that if we are not consciously reflecting on what is being taught in discourses (e.g., how do we talk about fear). Well, there is an awful lot of talk about fear and an even greater volume these days of writing about it. I follow books on Amazon.com to watch how quickly a new book comes out on fear--like it seems every few months. All the authors have an agenda, and they want to help us be less afraid, and/or be only afraid of the right things, not the wrong things. That alone, on the surface is admirable and even ethical. But as critical philosophers, since at least Aristotle, have known, you can be right about something but be motivated by the wrong source and create unethical results. Carl Jung is somewhat famous, as a psychotherapist and theorist of the human psyche for his elaboration of the enantiodromia syndrome he found quite universal in most of modern human history and in people he observed. That syndrome boils down to a kind of 'law' of human behavior that goes like this (paraphrasing Jung): Those that try hard to do good end up (usually) doing bad. That is, the opposite results. 

So, if I as a researcher are looking for such syndromes, and I do, there is no greater source of cases of such as in the literature on fear management/education. I won't go into all the reason for why--but a good deal of my arguments can be found in my books and articles over the decades. One of the first steps to such critical analysis (i.e., fearanalysis) is to see how contradictions show up in common sense ("wisdom") of a society, a group, a writer/teacher, etc. So, here's one example that just popped-out at me today while researching new books on fear (the following are from the self-help genre): 

The example is Christian authors (but believe me, if you will, my research could find a similar case in secular writers). So, one author in a new book on fear (Jeanetta Dunlop, Unmasking Fear) writes: "As divine beings we are entitled to live a fear-fear life." 

The next Christian author (David Jeremiah, Slaying the Giants in Your Life), unknowingly, in distinct contradiction to the above author, writes, "The Bible, as a matter of fact, doesn't paint a picture of the fear-free life." 

Okay, I have to ask if I am selecting very specific quotes out of context and juxtaposing them to make my case of a contradiction in Christian teachings (at least by these two authors)? It is a slight possibility I am biasing this because I haven't read their books. I don't know them. I am speculating, but logically so, via a reading of one line of text, which is a "teaching"-- which has implications for readers. I ask, but what is a reader of such texts supposed to believe now? Which author is telling the best truth? I could go on an on as an educator and as part of a critical analysis... asking these questions. My reason for confidence in just how contradictory these authors are (as selected from many possibilities) is because I have read many such books by all kinds of people across as many diverse backgrounds as possible, over 27 years. If that makes me a bit of an expert on predicting where an author is likely going (in most cases, not all)--I can predict pretty well, and I have seen the pattern pretty well. In the self-help books, it seems people skew knowledge the most readily. Hey, we all skew somewhat anything we are passionate about to want to write a book about so we can help others by how we think we have been helped. I appreciate that desire. 

The ideological part of my criticism, however, is less forgiving, because these typical books on fear and its management/education, never critique themselves reflectively. The authors who write about fear don't seem to have that basic philosophical and ethical imperative in their work. I just do not see it (the rare exception is out there). 

I look at how there is so much contradiction about "fearless" these days-- is it good, is it bad? The volumes of teachings on fear and fearlessness is growing rapidly because of the era we are in--people are looking hard, and are quite 'desperate' for answers. Oh, yeah, and rarely do they read other authors and cite them in their own particular book or on their own particular promotional videos. Oh, no, they like to present their knowledge about fear as if it is their own great discovery, and if it worked for them then it will work for you. They are quick to flaunt their own philosophies. 

I think I've made my general point, of how this mess... of contradictions... and insufficiently good knowledge, often unethical knowledge... is splattering all over our children and parents, and so on... all over our societies... at least in the West. The East doesn't seem so obsessed with this. And my colleague in the philosophy of fearism (Desh Subba) tells me it is because the W. is much more fearful than the East. Now, there's an interesting thesis to test... as years go by. 

No, I'm not offering any advice on my critique here. You can ask if you want to know more. I'd rather, like you to think about it, and do your own research well, whenever someone says something about fear and its management as if they know what they are talking about. 

Read more…