Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The (Re-)Ascent of the Spiritual Scientist

Just discovered One Cosmos, the blog of one Robert Godwin. His writing on Spirit is extraordinary, and very much in line with Integral thinking. Here's a sliver from his recent post:
Here is what is at the ultimate root of the so-called “culture war”: are we going to live in an ascending culture or a descending one? In just my lifetime, I have seen how these positions have been reversed. When I was a boy growing up in the 1960’s, there were still many elements and reminders of ascent all around. There were plenty of virtuous and heroic men to look up to, both in real life and in the media. There wasn’t the secular hatred of the higher life, nor was there the obnoxious celebration of everything that is coarse, vulgar, and “authentic.” There was implicit awareness of a spiritual hierarchy, and some acknowledgment that it was worthwhile to try to aspire upward--not materially, but spiritually.

Today everyone is equal, but the only way you can achieve that is by assaulting and negating the vertical. I hope my son always knows that there are people lower than him to whom he is obligated, and people higher than him to whom he has the obligation to revere and emulate. Never emulate someone lower, and never presume to instruct or consider yourself equal to the truly Superior Man. Both stances are spiritually toxic. Schuon is just one of about a dozen such personages to whom I look up with reverence, awe, and gratitude.
What is it that has caused this postmodern flattening? I think the problem, sociologically (and mind you, I speak with only a thimbleful of the knowledge that guys like Godwin and Wilber possess), is that spirituality became religion, and mysticism became ritual. When religion was institutionalized, it cut off the individual seeker from direct communion with the Divine. We'll mediate between you and God, they said - don't worry your pretty little head about surmising the Divine Will.

If "religioning", as Godwin puts it, is going to have a significant revival, it will need to re-dawn as a creative mystical exercise. Somewhere between the models of Campbell and Wilber is a religious "sweet spot" where we can have creativity without chaos, mysticism without irrationalism, Deity without mediation, reverence without institutionalization.

Each of us must become a spiritual scientist. Each of us must take our faith and our destiny in our own hands, and do the hard work required to discover the truth of our own nature for ourselves.

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