Saturday, June 14, 2014

More on an integral postmetaphysical spirituality

Here's Wilber's essay on integral spirituality that predated the book on the topic. Much of the text in the essay is repeated in the book almost verbatim. In talking of spirituality he mentions meditative states like satori and locates them in the inside of interior individual consciousness (9). He also locates spiritual traditions in this zone, noting how they were deficient in the other quadrants (13-14). He thinks this can be remedied by integral methodological pluralism (IMP), which per above locates different paradigms in their respective zones and validity criteria (16). Within the zones there are different lines with their distinct levels of hierarchical complexity, and they cannot be directly compared with one another given the different enactive methods (27). Of note at this point is that the spiritual line is focused on ultimate concern with Fowler as an example (27). So is spirituality just about inside interior individual experiences?
And yet, what if anything integrates the different levels and lines, thus making it an 'integral' IMP? Since each line has levels, but levels are not the same in different lines, Wilber introduces 2 candidates that can measure altitudinal levels generally, the cognitive line and consciousness per se (CPS) (29). I actually appreciate the rationale for the cognitive line be necessary but not sufficient for all other lines, including the so-called spiritual. Thing is, he conflates it with his notion of consciousness per se. The cognitive line is described as what one is aware of, i.e, conscious of. He readily admits that CPS is basically the Madhyamaka-Yogacara view of consciousness as the empty vessel in which objects arise, thus itself is empty of content (30). And this is precisely the very same satori that can be directly experienced in zone 1 meditative states. Also see the Appendix starting at 106, confirming the metaphysical separation of CPS with the relative world and its absolute source. Heron notes this as well in the previously linked article. I explored this conflation at length in this thread as well as elsewhere, using almost identical quotes from the book. If this is what we mean by spirituality then it is not postmetaphysical, and questionable whether it is integral either.

Note the change in the initial post above to reflect the evolution of this topic. Dialogue has a way of doing that, of rearranging what is of ultimate concern. The questions have become, what is an integral postmetaphysical spirituality anyway? And which candidate, Warren and Clinton, would promote the kind of agenda more conducive to an integral postmetaphysical spirituality? And how so?

Speaking of ultimate concern, remember in a recent post that it was one of Wilber's definitions of spirituality as a separate line of inquiry. Fowler's stages were used as one example. In Wilber's essay on integral spirituality above he notes that Fowler's spiritual stages in this regard are a zone 2 affair, i.e. a structural approach on the outside of the individual interior, still in the upper left quadrant (34). Later he compares to spiritual approaches to the UL quadrant, Underhill for the inside and Fowler for the outside (57+). Underhill studied the state-stages of meditative practice and Fowler as noted above the structural stages of ultimate concern not seen by meditative states.

Wilber coordinates the two by placing them on the Wilber-Combs lattice: Underhill's states on the horizontal scale, Fowler's on the vertical (59), where anyone can have a spiritual state experience but it will be interpreted by one's stage of faith. This can explain, e.g., how one can be at different levels in these two different lines, where one can interpret their very high spiritual state-stage experience of the causal in conventional terms. He does slip up here though in discussing how this is interpreted in the LL quadrant, so that spirituality does seem to be a 4-quad affair and not limited to just the UL zones. And of course this runs into the problem already mentioned, that a causal state-stage experience, aka consciousness per se, is used as the measurement of altitudinal level for any line.

On 63+ he describes the four meanings of the spiritual: the highest level in any line; its own line; a state experience; a generic attitude like love or compassion. He rants about the latter, which can descend into mush of the kind Mark noted above about a generic 'ground of being' when discussing Patten. So we're getting more specific here.

To apply the above to my revised initial questions, which political agenda is likely to move us along toward what we might consider an integral postemtaphysical spirituality? Warren's agenda will provide enough surplus time and energy in gross economic systems to allow us to use that surplus to explore more subtle state-stage spiritual experiences. It's hard to meditate when you can't eat or pay the rent. It also allows us to move up the structure-stage ladder to more postconventional interpretations of spiritual state experiences, from the more conventional and traditional religious interpretations. And spirituality as seen as the highest stage of any line would include spiritual levels in the socio-economic line that are conducive to all of the foregoing, again favoring Warren over Clinton.

Also note that Warren doesn't just talk economics but also the correlative worldview values that coincide with outside conditions. Perhaps they aren't at 'integral' levels per descriptions above, but they are better than the more conventional levels of both lines that Clinton represents. And thus Warren's agenda moves most of us along on the spiral to at least so-called green levels or higher. And Rifkin's agenda of the Commons moves us along even further in the above lines, but Warren's agenda is needed to provide the conditions to get us there.


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