Tag Archives: integral

First Thursday Services Beginning February 5

For two years, the small but growing Integral Church community has met outdoors, in the beautiful and spacious parks of St. Petersburg, FL and for two years, the weather on the third Sunday of the month has been gorgeous. We have had the honor and pleasure of gathering to discuss religion, philosophy, science and spirituality accompanied by music and meditation. We have deeply listened to one another and formed lasting and meaningful relationships.

Starting in February, we are starting up a new monthly service. On the first Thursday of the month, beginning February 5, we will be meeting in the chapel at Trinity Multicultural Center from 6:30-8 p.m. This indoor service will differ from the Third Sunday services (currently held at Crisp Park) in that there will be chairs, a roof and four walls. For now, the order of service will remain the same at both services but the guests (speaker, musician, meditation) will change at each, so we encourage you to attend both if possible. First Thursdays will allow for our community to include those who just can’t be present on a Sunday morning, and we know there are more than a few of you!

I also want to extend my deepest gratitude to all those who have made the time to gather with us (however briefly) this year and have shared in this experience. I realize that in a circle there is no “back pew” allowing someone to discreetly hang behind and observe while other people read things aloud and participate in group activities. To those of you who continue to show up, there are no words to convey my appreciation. As our services continue to evolve, I rely on you for input on what is working and what is not.

If you believe that ALL of the world’s religions have meaning and that no perspective is completely irrelevant, I encourage you to come and check out what we’re doing. If you are interested in meeting with other people in the spirit of interfaith (religious and non-religious) conversation and integral (radically inclusive) spirituality, I encourage you to come and check out what we’re doing. If you are seeking people committed to personal transformative practice, community service and religious literacy, I encourage you to come and check out what we’re doing.

We look forward to meeting you, learning from you and experiencing Spirit-in-Action together.

For a list of all our gatherings and groups, click here.

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An Integral Prayer

integral-Yoga-Yantra

May my consciousness and my behavior

be of benefit to all beings in all places,

liberating all into the reality

of this and every moment.

– modified from Integral Life Practice by Ken Wilber, Terry Patten, Adam Leonard and Marco Morelli


What is Spirituality?

Are you fed up with the argument that people can be more or less “spiritual” than their neighbor?

Are you tired of hearing that someone is becoming “more spiritual” by simply increasing the time they spend on academic study, prayer, yoga, meditation, community service, the contemplation of life’s big questions, or by taking a mindful approach to their daily routines and rituals?

Do you find yourself in the crossfire when people are discussing something they deem to be “spiritual” in nature, only to have one or more of them get frustrated or offended as the conversation veers wildly from ethics to science to morality to psychology to anthropology to philosophy and back?

It’s time we took a long, deep breath and got current with our definitions of spirituality. There are more than a handful, and none of them include words like “subjective,” “personal,” or “different for everybody.” These are real definitions, and it’s our responsibility as mature, literate adults to know them. It’s our duty as parents to teach our children the methods of spiritual intelligence and spiritual literacy. And, we need to start using these definitions explicitly in the real world, appropriately and under the right circumstances — or more people (not just their feelings) will be hurt.

Before we list the five definitions of “spirituality,” we must assume three things are true:

1) States

There are a minimum of four states of consciousness to keep in mind as we talk about spirituality: awake (awareness of gross, physical reality), dreaming (aware of subtle reality but not gross), deep sleep (causal or formless awareness) and non-dual awareness – the ever-present Witnessing consciousness. You can only be in one state of consciousness at a time. For example: you cannot be awake and dreaming simultaneously. The state of non-dual awareness is the state of “peak” spiritual experiences.*

2) Stages

Stages of development unfold in waves. And not every line develops at the same speed. The simplest description is to use three stages: pre-rational, rational and trans-rational. We do not want to confuse the pre-rational with the trans-rational stages. Pre-rational spirituality (young children) is not the same as the trans-rational spirituality of experienced spiritual practitioners. All stages of development are spiritual in that they are capable of spiritual states.

Stages are not equal in their ability to access, hold, and translate states into behaviors. A “peak experience” does not translate into character traits unless we have the overall stage development to hold that consciousness. Peak experiences can increase our appetite for growth and perhaps accelerate it. Yet people can be skillful at obtaining peak experiences (meditation, psychedelics) and NOT be able to consistently translate those moments into what we might call spiritually admirable behaviors. Non-dual moments cannot in and of themselves create loving, peaceful, ethical people.*

For more on stages, see Beck and Cowan’s Spiral Dynamics, The Great Chain of Being, Jean Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg, et. al

3) Lines

There are multiple lines of human development, including but not limited to: cognitive, moral, emotional, aesthetic, musical, linguistic, bodily-kinesthetic, sexual, spiritual … *

* Types and Quadrants may also be considered, but they’re unnecessary for the basic definitions of “Spirit.” It may also be said that “Spirit” is the ground of all being, in which all states, stages and lines arise.

Assuming that 1, 2 and 3 are true, here then are at least 5 possible definitions of the word “spiritual.” Keep in mind, here is where most people get into trouble, inadvertently confusing a line with a state or stage.

Continue reading


Integral Theism

When we talk about or make reference to God, how can we make sure the other people participating in the conversation are talking about the same God we are? The short answer is, you cannot. The idea of God is so personal that the way each individual relates to God (with fear, awe, devotion or worship) is as unique as themselves (not to mention framed by their current worldview and loaded with shadow material from the unconscious mind). God will look and feel completely different to a 7-year-old Hindu boy in India than to a 40-year-old Jewish woman in Brooklyn.  However, in the interest of increasing the quality and effectiveness of our collective spiritual dialogue, there are a few general points that we should outline up front.

There are three perspectives from which we can discuss God (or the idea of God) — 1st-person (the personal, meditative, internal and individual arising of Spirit, I-I, “thou art that”), 2nd-person (the relational, one-on-one, devotion, prayer, God the Father, Mother Earth) and 3rd-person (the physical universe, scientific/contemplative, God-as-the-Kosmos, Spirit-in-Action). These three value spheres (also identified as the beautiful, the good and the true) are useful when discussing or contemplating spirituality. All three are very real perspectives, as all three simultaneously arise together.

The following is an excerpt from the “Spirit Module” chapter of the book Integral Life Practice. It’s the section that addresses 2nd-person (Spirit in Relationship) perspectives of God.

“We are free to love and worship God in all stages of spiritual development. Our natural devotional impulse need not be suppressed, no matter where we are in our spiritual growth. Our human neurology is wired to enact relationship. Humans evolved while living together in hunter-gatherer clans and are neurologically structured to relate to others. We can engage our functions most fully when participating in relationships. Thus, the authentic and powerful processes of theistic spiritual life — which enable us to enact the living drama of a personal relationship with Spirit — are among the richest natural expressions of a truly Integral spirituality.

As spirituality evolves, it transcends “belief in” an objectified mythic creator deity. Integral spirituality is sometimes identified as transcending theism and arriving at panentheism, which is the view that divinity is both immanent (in the world) and transcendent (beyond the world). Ultimately, Integral spirituality transcends and includes all categories. This means that as it transcends old ways of relating to God, it re-includes transformed versions of all ways of relating to God that are even fuller, richer, more intimate and profound …

Religion is considered theistic when it presumes a relationship with God (or multiple gods). As we awaken beyond mythic conceptions of God, “belief in” an objectified God falls away. Often at this point, people lose touch with the feeling of devotion altogether.

But we don’t have to lose a sense of devotion as we grow beyond magical and mythical thinking. A higher level devotional practice is still possible. We can always relate to God as our Ultimate Beloved — and even as the nonobjectified Mystery beyond all perspectives. As we climb the ladder of development, this can naturally blossom.”

Try the following exercise:

Ask someone you love, “What does God mean to you?” and see which perspective they respond from.

Then shift the conversation to one of the other perspectives and see how the language that you use to describe God begins to change.

Sometimes we have a problem sharing “our” God language with others in a pluralistic setting for fear of being made wrong or different. God may feel “warm” and “connective” and “enveloping” to me, but “wise” and “all-reaching” and “powerful” to another. However, it’s in sharing that language that God becomes ALL of those things.

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Integral Life Practice is available online. We recommend it as the primary reference for cross-training of the body, mind and spirit.


Updated Friend-Sourcing Map

UPDATE: I’ve been carrying the Friend-Sourcing Project journal around with me everywhere I go. People have been very forthcoming with projects they’d like to see happen within their community, and I look forward to one of this church’s core missions being able to manifest these intentions in the real world.

Since the last update, we’ve found it necessary to add a fifth category (Children and Families) due to the growing cluster of projects around that theme. Above is the updated map with simplified descriptions. We swear that they fell into place (with the exception of “Children and Families”) around the integral quadrants (arts/interior, wellness/physiology, gardening/community, cities/systems) all on their own.

As always, if you have an idea for a project, please contribute in the comments below, and we will add it to the map.

Here, again, is the question:

“If you could harness the power of your friends, family and everyone you knew to make a positive change in the world around you, what would it be?”


Top 25 Reasons Why Integral Shouldn’t Be a Religion

Image courtesy of androidsinlove.com

Joe Perez, author of Rising Up: Reflections on Gay Culture, Politics, and Spirit has posted a list of 25 reasons why Integral Theory should not become (or inform) religious organizations. We find the post pretty interesting, as you can imagine.

Here’s are the top 10:

  1. I already have a religion and I would have to change my core beliefs.
  2. I already have a religion and it is inconceivable to me that anyone can be a member of two religions at once.
  3. I’ve been hurt too badly by religions in my past.
  4. I don’t want anyone telling me what to do or think, and that’s what religion is.
  5. I don’t need a religion, my spirituality is entirely personal and individual and I like it that way.
  6. If people knew I was in a religion outside of the mainstream, I might be discriminated against.
  7. I want to keep my spiritual life “in the closet” because my spouse, parents, relatives, or friends won’t approve.
  8. If “integral” became a religion, it would lose something that makes it distinctive.
  9. If “integral” became a religion, it would change and then I’d lose something I cherish.
  10. If “integral” became a religion, it would become cultish.

Read the complete list here.