Now that I have launched the World Teacher blog with a taste of what I have to offer, a necessary step in a complex unfolding process, it is time to move to the next step in my journey. This is the founding of a “dojo” which is more involved than you probably imagine considering all the audiences that I must speak to and serve. This is also the elucidation of the principle philosophical and theological principles which will serve as a foundation my work in the coming years. This is also the first steps in the creation of a sustainable funding model to carry me forward from this point.
I will be posting less frequently on this blog so I can focus on all the other steps that must happen at this time.
Look for a new presence on the Web for my teaching work to come later this year.
People have certain expectations regarding World Teachers. There is a prevailing sentiment among some that only one World Teacher is to appear in our time, and that he would be a God-Man. These persons also say that he would be called the Christ, the Messiah, the Buddha Maitreya, the Imam Mahdi, and so forth. And it is widely held that there would be false teachers who would try to convince others that they are the true savior.
And around the world, there are dozens or even hundreds of prominent figures who have claimed titles such as these, individuals who call themselves Maitreya or Christ or World Teacher. And there are probably thousands that are not well-known, some in mental institutions or psychiatric hospitals or jails.
So I know this is a difficult title to put on myself, so fraught as it is with expectations that are not what I have in mind. I do not claim to be a savior. I do not claim any title specifically for any religious tradition that has not been put upon me by others.
What I claim, and can back up, is that I have a teaching — the Tai Hsuan Integral or Trinity Integral teaching — that is world transformational in significance. It is built on a foundation which examines the mysticism of ternary numbers and discovers therein a language for spiritual communication, a candidate for a new World Language at the core of an Integral World Philosophy. It includes new technologies to revitalize every station of life — magical, mythic, rational, vision-logic, psychic, subtle, causal, and nondual. From the New Tarot to the Wheel of Wholes, my teaching could change the landscape of spirituality and religion in our time.
It would be dishonest for me to not claim the mantle of a spiritual teacher to the world. It would do violence to the sacredness of the discoveries that I have made which unite the Sacred Word traditions in a new way, giving rise to the possibility of creating new levels of inter-religious harmony and peace. And so I have gone out from a relatively low public profile into new territory, one which might make it possible for me to command the attention of an audience which my teachings deserve.
Of course, I could have eschewed the actual title of World Teacher until a later point. But I made a decision that is best as I see it, and I will not second guess it. I need time to get my first books ready for publication while building a track record in social media appropriate for my new station. By the time my books are ready for consideration, I want to have enough social media artifacts so that people who want to know about my plans for future work in the world can see what I have already done.
What I have noticed as I peruse the literature regarding the expectations of the World Teacher to come is that there are people who think they have it all figured out. They claim to know how the shape of things to come will unfold. They have even picked the World Teacher’s philosophy for him, citing his future teachings in great detail (based on psychic communications).
I have to wonder as I examine these detailed visions of the World Teacher’s supposed future teachings, what do they need a World Teacher for? They already know what he is going to teach, even the order of his teachings, his travel itinerary, and his plans for political activism. They have themselves. They can go out right now and effectuate their vision, and that is exactly what I have to say to them. If you think you know what the World Teacher will do when he appears, go and do that yourself. That is what you are being called by God to do.
Indeed one wonders even what an actual World Teacher is needed for, if all his doings and teachings have already been figured out, and if he will be judged by adherence to the visions that have been set down for his compliance. I wonder if they want a charismatic figure, handsome and rugged in appearance, a man among men, and an Avatar God-Man among us. Of course that’s what they want!
If such a figure appears, I would like to meet him. We have much to talk about. I will not judge what will happen. Meanwhile, I will continue my work as best I can tell to get my books out and social media presence up-to-date in preparation for whatever is coming next.
Do not let what I am about to say next discourage you. I do not think it realistic to believe that a New Age religious figure could appear who would be able to command the respect and allegiance of political leaders in our world today enough to create a sought-after transformation to eliminate poverty and radically redistribute wealth on a global scale. It could happen, but it is not likely. And it almost certainly wouldn’t happen based merely on the figure’s charisma and his spouting a set of religious proclamations that were channeled for him in the decades before his appearance.
If there is any chance at all that a leader or leaders could arise with the moral stature to lead a dramatic overhaul of the world’s economic and political institutions, then such a leader must be able to attain legitimacy. And yet our world has trouble with legitimizing spiritual and religious figures. There is a great deal of cynicism and suspicion and very little agreement on how one measures spiritual attainment.
There is also a great skepticism towards any individual who would set themselves above others in a community. Thich Nhat Hanh predicts that the next living Buddha will be a sangha (or community). There is something undeniable to this reality, for we are individuals and collectives in quest of better relationships to each other as we are. But I no more know that the next Budha will be a collective than I know that the next Buddha will be an individual. Perhaps some of each is the most likely thing, exceptional individuals and exceptional communities. We will see what the Buddhists tell us.
I do not know how many World Teachers there are. I do not necessarily expect to take on the expectations and prophecies others have put on a World Teacher. Some expect one man to appear surrounded by a Council of Wise Masters. Some say the Maitreya can change his shape at will, appearing in different guises to different audiences based on what will best appeal to them. Some of these beliefs strike me as mythological, but perhaps there are some intuitions based on data that I don’t have.
I don’t fit what many people are looking for in a World Teacher, and that is the way it has to happen. They will bend their expectations to fit me or they won’t. They will find another World Teacher or they won’t. I don’t have much to say about that at this time, except my plea for anyone who does not see a World Teacher in me to find a Worldcentric Spiritual Consciousness in themselves and to share it with the world in the way that seems best to them. They ought to teach their Unique Teachings in their own circles of influence and we can encourage each other in our distinct visions and find out how they may be complementary.
My strategy is simple: write my books, make my social media posts, and deliver a Dharma worthy of a World Teacher. This will take me about two or three years. As people become aware of the unexpected nature and originality of the teachings, they will need to evaluate what I have to give them. And then … we’ll see soon enough.
It’s too early in my work as a World Teacher to have a big following. Not even a medium-sized following. Just the following that I have, and maybe a few dozen more. The numbers aren’t important right now, but I need people who are curious and receptive to become engaged with the vision that I am beginning to set out.
The more I write, the more the whole scope will gradually come into sight. Until then, it is opaque for you. You don’t want to ask foolish questions. You don’t know what to ask. But then the questions will come. Then the suggestions will come. I need those questions and suggestions.
My work is not a solo one-man show, a man dictating from a mountain-top. Together we are determining if the world is ready for a Language of Subtle Energy and the massive changes that would come with it. I have to ask for your help, so that is why I am writing today. Won’t you take a moment to like my Page on Facebook if you haven’t already? Won’t you follow me on Twitter?
And once we are connected, every supportive nudge or critical thought or pointed question is very welcome.
I know this page isn’t much to look at. It’s confusing. It’s complicated. There’s a lot of intellectual ideas here, and to learn about them you might have to read books. You pop in, take a look, and don’t get engaged.
And my message is foggy. I’m not using the word “love” liberally. I probably use the word “meta-“ or “post-“ too much. I’m using “God” not enough or too much for your tastes, almost surely. You pop in, take a look, and don’t get engaged.
I am at the earliest stages of a very long walk. I know it looks like a mess right now. I’ve been busy with other things. It’s not easy to follow. It’s an unfamiliar philosophy. There are empty pews. It takes faith to see that there is something really worthwhile emerging in your midst, something more magnificent than I have yet done justice to.
Spirit is waking up in the world, and we are at a delicate crossroads. A new language of subtle energy is emerging in our midst and it can heal a world of suffering and transform the nature of human existence. But it can’t do it without people like you, maybe you.
If you read my blog you will judge for yourself. And it’s not just a blog. You can engage with this vision right here on this page. It’s ugly right now. I know that. It’s getting better. Until then, have a little faith and know that you are warmly welcome to get engaged.
And here’s my comment today on Twitter:
I am seeking greater engagement with you on Facebook and Twitter. Your comments, questions, and criticism are very welcome. #worldteacher
Honestly it is probably not the right time for me to write about the topic of Enlightenment. But sometimes there are wrong times that call to us, wanting to be held by us and acted upon, though we are not ready. So I will speak.
People in my spiritual groups are quite comfortable hearing someone expound their opinions about Enlightenment. Often they think of it as the end of spiritual realization, the goal of their many hours of meditation and other forms of practice. They are invested in the topic and expect certain sorts of replies. I won’t speak to them as my primary audience.
I want to speak to people for whom Enlightenment is an exotic topic, one they don’t think about. They are probably religious and wonder how Enlightenment and God are related. Some of them might be secular agnostics wondering if there is any proof that Enlightenment is possible or scientific methods for reaching it. I’ll speak to them moreso.
I want to speak to everyone who will hear me out. What I want to say is that a big taste of Enlightenment is readily available to everyone at almost every age, almost every culture, and every language. It’s there for the taking, right here and now. It’s not complicated. It’s not incompatible with belief in God or belief in science. It is right there, if you just reach out and take it.
I said a big taste, not the whole enchilada. If you want the whole enchilada, if you want to dwell in the bliss and inner divinity and contemplative serenity of the more or less permanently enlightened, then you will have to work for it. It’s like anything else. If you want it badly enough and you work for it hard enough, you will find it in abundance. It will take over every area of your life, not just your sitting cushion or yoga mat, but your business life, your sex life, your friendships, your amusements, your politics, everything.
So if you want it, you can become more enlightened than you are. You can start with a taste.
You have heard Eckhart Tolle say that all you really need to do is be in the present moment, the eternal Now. That is a good way to get a taste, a terrific way. It is simple. It is uncomplicated by philosophy or theories or religion. It just is, and it’s a beautiful teaching.
But a lot of people don’t really understand why they’re not already in the Now, or what holds them back from being present. They have even heard it said that thinking is taking them out of the Now, putting them “stuck in their heads”, and they don’t want to give up thinking. They have also heard it said that language is an obstacle and they must leave behind all words — indeed, all symbols — and enter non-symbolic consciousness, in order to taste enlightenment, to shed subtle barriers to the causal floor of existence.
I was one of those people, and I still am. I’m a skeptic of some of the conventional beliefs about enlightenment, even though the expounders of these dogmas have admirable credentials and are widely acclaimed for their wisdom. I think they’re mistaken about the role of language when they speak against it. They think language and symbol and thought is a prelude at best, and often an obstacle to an empty, boundless, unfettered consciousness. I think instead that language is a door, an opening to emptiness, and it reveals subtle shades of emptiness that are missed without using it. I think that symbol interpenetrates all emptiness and is not an obstacle. It is all part of the majesty of enlightened mind.
Finally, there is a dimension of Enlightenment that is ONLY entered upon through symbolic and non-symbolic consciousness intertwined fully and inseparably. It is a place I call The Whirl. Note that I said Whirl, not Wheel — the term in the Abrahamic angelology for the Thrones, the living beings who represent God’s justice and authority. The Ophanim are wheels-within-wheels with rims covered with hundreds of eyes. Pretty peculiar for angels, huh? The Whirl includes The Wheels, at least our experience of them. The Whirl also includes The Spiral, the overarching spiritual symbol of the Evolutionary and Integral spiritual movements. These new traditions take the image of the DNA spiral or a spiraling galaxy as the central image for the spiritual journey, its emergence, ascent, and oscillating nature. The Whirl includes the direct experience of The Spiral itself.
The Whirl is part of the fullness of Enlightenment from the perspective of Tai Hsuan Integral. It must be transacted to complete the voyage from the gut wrenching, dramatic, and humanizing Station of The Violet Heart to the contemplative but potentially ruinous Station of realization called The Silver Stars. There’s only one way to enter these two Stations: by way of The Blue Castle. In our map of the Stations of Life, The Blue Castle is the entryway to the latest and most complex dimensions of the human spirit. At The Blue Castle, you may find yourself at The Now. It is the Yin Master in the Integrated Collective Quadrants at the Station of Negativity. Navigate the transition between the Yang Master of Nastiness/Natural Beauty with the Yin Master of Now in order to get to the Yung of Knowledge. The Now is the Key to Knowledge; The Whirl Unravels It To Show You The Vox of God.
Over the weekend I spent several hours engaged in online conversations with individuals who have looked at this website and didn’t appreciate its contents the way that one would hope they would. These were conversations in the style of a saloon-like atmosphere which was candid and rude and revealing. It was worth my time.
But it was not all that surprising. A streak of cynicism and irritation at anyone who seems arrogant or condescending or holier-than-thou runs strong in American culture. These were American and Canadian individuals with some familiarity with my earlier writings, which is somewhat relevant. They knew that in the Integral scene I have fashioned a persona and social role for myself as a “protector of the Integral community”, a mission that often meant calling out for criticism those persons who were harming it in some way.
Over many years of doing this, the individuals who I singled out for criticism and their friends took a dislike to me. A few left the Integral community alone, but many of them stayed around its online forums to attack Integral spiritual leaders, criticize Integral philosophy and political theory, and attack anyone who utilized developmental signifiers as committing an outrageous misdeed. They called me an “arrogant know-it-all”, but really their problem isn’t with me, it’s with Integralism.
The mismatch between these pseudo-integralists and our communal values got so bad in the most prominent Integral online forum recently, so “unintegral”, so devolved from any semblance of actual Integral theory and practice, that the forum administrator actually renamed the group. He removed “Integral” from its title, proclaiming that the group was not particularly constructive but heavily deconstructive in its orientation. I tell you this so you will recognize that although in this particular forum I was not a well-liked personality, it was not because authentic Integralists disowned me. Rather, individuals who were not truly Integral singled me out as an enemy because they knew I did not approve of their behavior and generally we rubbed each other the wrong way.
Today I heard harsh words from several people who dislike me, and the words were truly gifts from God. Praise is easier to hear, but attacks are more useful. They said I’m a joke. They said that I’m absurd. They helped me to understand the challenges that I will face in my public mission. People who can’t “see” a spectrum of consciousness invariably believe that individuals who claim a high level of spiritual realization are “inflated” or “egotistical” or just “full of shit”. I’ve heard all the downers before, but still I needed to hear it again. It won’t be the last time.
Here’s what I wrote to some of these folks early yesterday morning:
I’ve known I was a World Teacher since I was 30 when I was psychiatrically hospitalized for telling my family I was either the second coming of Christ or the Anti-Christ or a weird admixture of both. All of this is in my autobiography Soulfully Gay which Ken Wilber [the Integral theorist and author] loved and ensured got published as the second book out of Integral Books, right after his own Integral Spirituality. He risked his whole publishing relationship with Shambhala and Random House to do it, too, if any of you know the story.
So whatever World Teacher means to you, cynical though you may be, I guess you can project that baggage upon me now. I deserve it. I took the label on myself, which is certainly NOT what a lot of people would expect a fifth Buddha or reincarnated Krishna to do! Ha. I won’t downplay the title by saying that I am just acknowledging my intent to speak towards renewal and reform towards a just social order and religious peace and all that from an Integral perspective and worldcentric consciousness. I think you critics/cynics get that and you just want to razz me. Fine, so throw some tomatoes. Not big deal.
Just know I didn’t choose the label lightly or as irony or parody or postmodern whatever. I’m seriously going to do what I can to have a worldcentirc view and speak to that at all levels, all the way up to Clear Light if I can! Shouldn’t we all? Shouldn’t you be too doing your work as World Teachers in your own right? Why not? The people of the world need the “Integral elite”, so bring everything you’ve got, hit the target, defeat the Deathstars and Starkillers in orbit around your own homeworlds. The world needs us all.
So that’s what I’m writing to share with all of you. It is important to me that you recognize that I am not unaware of how a spiritual teacher calling himself a World Teacher may seem to you. Frankly it’s a hard label for me to wear right now while I am just breaking it in, getting myself ready, cleaning my side of the street, and preparing the full presentation of my teachings. But I had to claim the title when I did, skillful or unskillful though it may have been, for reasons that aren’t important for me to explain. I’m a World Teacher, whatever that means we will find out together. And as I’ve said before, judge me not by the labels put on me, but on the truth, goodness, and beauty of the Dharma that I am bringing into the world.
Blessings to all of you. Thank you for reading and if you find yourself cynical, know that I hear you. I want the world to be a place where cynics have no more reasons to be cynical. That’s what a Divinized World looks like.
I want to make cynicism obsolete or at least unnecessary. Pessimism, suspicion, doubt, scorn, disparagement, and skepticism will not disappear entirely, but they do not need to be the leading demeanor, a pernicious default attitude, for so many. Hope, optimism, trust, goodwill, appreciation, and enlightenment can replace them. Are you with me on this vision?
On October 3, 2011, I wrote an open letter to Tami Simon concerning remarks she made to another blogger. In her remarks, she explained her reasons for cancelling the book publishing deal of one of Sounds True’s contracted authors, Marc Gafni. She explained that “[N]ew and incontrovertible information came to light that made me aware that Marc was involved in a sexual relationship with a student and that the relationship was shrouded in secrecy…” and that the other woman “often … witnessed Marc telling lies to cover his tracks.”
At the time, I was just getting to know Dr. Marc Gafni, the former Jewish Orthodox rabbi and one-time Israeli public celebrity turned Oxford University scholar with revolutionary ideas about Kabbalah’s “nondual humanism” among other things. At the time, circa 2011, many people felt that despite a history involving personal controversies, Gafni was one of the Integral scene’s brightest stars and most promising leaders.
Given Tami Simon’s impeccable reputation for integrity, her letter to the blogger seemed likely to end Gafni’s career. It left many reasonable people wondering if she needed to say anything at all. It left many reasonable people wondering if she was handling Gafni’s controveries with even-handedness or if he was being singled out for past misdeeds unfairly. I had heard she was in fact pressured and threated with a boycott and character assassination by individuals who Gafni and his associates claimed were part of a “dishonest smear campaign” to discredit him based on “trial by Internet”.
What the heck was going on between Sounds True and Tami’s decision to cancel Dr. Marc Gafni’s book deal? As a blogger in the Integral community, I tried to get to the bottom of it. But only Marc Gafni and people close to him would speak to me. Tami declined to speak to me, but I did speak to the two women Gafni was involved with simultaneously while being in a relationship with his child’s mother. One woman spoke of atrocious behavior by Marc that made me sick to hear of it including outright lies, infidelity, and telephone stalking. But it seemed to me that there was no smoking gun of physical abuse and the relationship was consensual. The other woman spoke to me and said her relationship with Marc was healthy. Years later, in the spring of 2016, she revealed to me that she secretly felt threatened and psychologically terrorized by Marc and could not speak openly to me of her actual experience with him which was emotionally and spiritually traumatic on many levels. I didn’t know any of this at the time, and I believed her public story that she thought well of Marc.
So in October 2011, I looked for a smoking gun, some evidence to tell me to stay clear from Marc and avoid getting involved with him, despite the brilliance and usefulness and humaneness of his spiritual writings. Tami’s public letter was a warning sign, but Marc had convinced me that there were many misunderstandings between him and Tami that she was unwilling to get past. So I wrote a blog post challenging Tami where I said things like, “Since you don’t mention any specific lies it’s hard for me to determine if there’s any truth to this comment, you know. There’s nothing to investigate, nothing that Marc can say in his defense.” and “How can there be a healing of these fresh wounds between you and Marc? I have heard him say that he loves you and hopes that you will forgive him for mistakes he’s made and that he hopes you can accept his friendship. I know that he is reluctant to make a public apology so long as the stink of the recent toxic blog posts lingers in the air, but he wants healing so very much for everyone. Is there any chance you will forgive him?”
Between 2011 and most of 2015, Marc Gafni and I had a positive relationship and spent over a year in public collaboration. I was on the lookout for signs of duplicity, deception, and potential abuse of myself or any associates. I did not find anything that set off alarm bells, though as I have said before Marc has a strong and domineering personality, a charismatic presence, circles of trust among his associates, and sometimes he isn’t aware of the impact that he has on other people. He is not perfect, but I never saw him as the monster or demon that his opponents put on him.
In the final days of 2015, the New York Times wrote a story on Marc Gafni as a rising political figure within the Integral community who was plagued by scandal. It brought many new developments to the forefront even though Marc was accused of no new misdeeds. At the time, I was not on the board or really very active in the organization he founded, the Center for Integral Wisdom. Nevertheless, it happened that the Board Chair of the CIW back-forwarded me a document which purported to exonerate Marc Gafni of his misdeeds. It seemed likely to me that she was sending this document, with Marc’s permission, to the Board of Directors of the CIW to influence them to stay loyal to Marc in the face of brutal public attacks on him. The author of the exonerating document has since gone on in 2017 to create a blog focused on defending Gafni against his attackers.
When I read the document, called the Integral Institute Report Summary, I soon learned that there was an entire section concerning Marc’s dismissal from Sounds True. Every single sentence of the paragraphs in this section contained falsehoods, lies, and distortions. I knew this because I had spoken not only to Marc but to the two women involved in the Sounds True controversy. I didn’t want to accept the truth that I had learned about my friend Marc. He seemed to be doing his best to prove his enemies correct who say that he is a pathological liar. While the document was not apparently written by Marc, it bore his fingerprints as a ghost writer or single source. He lied to the document’s author about key details, denying for instance that he had been involved with one of his students, even though the fact that she was his student was not in denial at the time. In fact, he made a very public defense of spiritual teachers having relationships with students to the Integrales Forum. Nevertheless, what he previously admitted, he now lied about. Wouldn’t he know he would get caught? Not necessarily, if we think through the mind of a pathological liar. He could make Kate demand that everyone who received the document keep it secret so that the lies within it could not be scrutinized by his attackers. He was perpetrating a brilliant, risky fraud, with the reputations of every one of the Board of Directors of CIW at stake. I couldn’t stand for it. First I leaked the document to the Internet so that it could not be re-written to cover up the lies. Then I wrote what I knew to Ken Wilber and Kate Maloney and Marc Gafni. (Marc wrote me back the next day, explaining that there were “errors” in the report that would be “corrected” and republished.) Finally, at the behest of a commenter on a Facebook forum, I published my letter to Marc disclosing everything (which was soon republished by Robb Smith in the Integral Global forum).
After the incident with the leaked report, I remained distant from Marc and his organization. A few months later, I penned “An Apology as A Former Marc Gafni Defender” for my blog. I met with one of the two women from the Sounds True controversy and apologized personally for having not seen Marc more clearly and defending him for too long. But I never apologized to the other woman, who I deeply regret not having perceived her pain and validated it earlier than today. I am truly sorry. And I never apologized to Tami Simon personally.
She saw Marc Gafni more clearly than I did much sooner than I did, and I cast doubt on her testimony. She said she didn’t trust Marc, and I dismissed her concerns with a trust in him which was built on sand. She exercised sound judgment about Marc’s honesty when I did not, and I (relying on Marc’s account combined with Tami’s refusal to speak with me) insinuated that perhaps she was being less than fully honest. I regret that insinuation very much, though at the time I spoke those words I was in a difficult position. One of the brightest stars and most talented leaders the Integral community had known was being publicly assailed based on evidence outside the public view, and the controversy threatened to derail the publication of an entire body of literature which the world had a right to see. I did what I could in the situation, but I erred in judgment in key respects. I hope all three women I have apologized to will forgive me for failing as I did, and I wish them well.
If spiritual teachers have emphasized enlightenment to the exclusion of other important needs across the entire mandala of stations of life, a lot of other people have misunderstood happiness for a simple reason that I will spell out for you.
Happiness is not, at its deepest core, a mere emotional state of well-being or contentment. It is a profound condition at the root of Humanization in which the peak condition of Wholeness is halved.
Wholeness, not happiness, is the goal most likely to realize fullness and completeness and nonduality. It includes the Yin and the Yang, the light and the dark, heaven and hell, the good and the bad and the ugly. In Lingua-U, it is spelled like this in its first six demarcations: 𝍉𝌅.
Happiness is the station following Wholeness. It is spelled like this to six degrees: 𝍊⚌. Do you see what happened there? After Wholeness, the fourth mark shifted from Yin (Openness to Subjective Experience) to Yung (Integrating Subjective and Objective Experience). And the fifth and sixth energy mark reject the fullness of Yung for the aggressive partiality of Yang.
After Wholeness, the collective self (the third mark is Yin, which refers to the Collective Quadrants) goes in search of Habits and Happiness and Having. It rejects the unwieldiness of Wholeness, the sadness and anger of the Whole, and the embrace of nothing of Wholeness. It wants to have, and by having it becomes happier and happier. But it is hiding the fact that it was once Whole and now it is only Half. It knows what it Had and must be content with what it Has. It dons a new Hat.
This is the story of Happiness according to Lingua-U, but it is not the whole story. It’s all part of the most Human and Humanizing story of the entire Lexicon. Wholeness is not so Human; it is Heavenly and Hellish, and it is what the 𝍊 is transcending-and-including. Having tasted Wholeness including the bitter tastes of Horror and the devil’s Horns, the Human prefers Happiness and Having instead.
The Human begins, for the first time in the Lexicon, to ask a lot of questions. Who? is the biggest, followed by How? It is very Human to question, and these are the first and most primal questions for the person who has encountered Wholeness and moved along to something else.
The core virtues of the Human being are Hospitality 𝍊𝌄 and Humility 𝍊𝌅. The Human knows they weren’t cut out for Wholeness, but somehow they believe they may have found something just as good at the end of the day. The virtue of Humility in particular is the Yung to the Yin of Wholeness and the Yang of the Hierophant’s (or the Addict’s) pursuit of Highness.
Happiness is not many things that have been said about it over thousands of years. It is not the essence of human nature or the goal for human striving or the foundation of ethics. As an organizing principle for collective striving, you could do worse than Happiness, but too often one person is made happy only at the expense of another. Certainly Happiness is not the promise of enlightenment or the sign of a truly spiritual person. At its noblest, Happiness is best seen as the fruit of Wholeness.
Do not strive to be Happy. Strive to be Whole, and so you must fully engage the Collective Quadrants. And then when you no longer are that, you will be more integrated inside. Out of that moreness, a Yung rising within the subjective and objective views of the Collective Quadrants, you find yourself content and possessing well-being.
Don’t forget. If you are Happy, you are only Half. You have lost your Wholeness, and it is appropriate to search for your Humility.
Authentic Self? Unique Self? Some of the most prominent enlightenment teachings in the Integral community in the past decade have been channeling very old ideas which put the Self at the center of the spiritual life. This is not the way that I will go about my own teaching.
The self rises to prominence in postmodernism (station-stage 4.0), a time of life that psychologists have said is the peak of self-actualization and personal authenticity. In Lingua-U, it’s the Letter S (but let’s not get ahead of ourselves). This does not mean that the self is “invented” in postmodernism, or that previous stages did not have a self-sense, of course. But 4.0 brings a radical inward turn at the break from 3.66 to 4.0, from systematic and world-structural awareness with a genuine drive to resolve tensions between individual and community (as in German idealism and Marxism), and a resurgence of attention on the individual and her or his psychological needs.
The self is the Big Thing at 4.0, as it rediscovers its objective dimensions and then its subjective and then the interpenetrating collision of subjective and objective awareness. It is the rise of “soulfulness” and a concern with “sin” and “salvation” in Christianity or “sunyata” and “samsara” in Buddhism. 4.0 feels like it “owns” spirituality and all spirituality has to ever relate back to its central concerns.
Hence the inclination of some spiritual teachers (yes I’m including Marc Gafni and Andrew Cohen in this pot) to treat enlightenment as if the progress from 4.0 to 5.0 and 6.0 and 7.0 and 8.0 and 9.0 and 10.0 is ultimately just a sense of getting more and more real about the self, whether it is by dissolving it to nothingness (the True Self teachings) or discovering its nondual unity with God or the principle of creativity (the Unique Self teachings).
I think it is a big mistake for individual integral adherents to imagine, from this postmodern stage, that all the future stages of the spiritual life will continue to produce more and more “expansive” and “evolved” versions of the philosophy of selfhood. We don’t become self-actualized at 4.0 and see the rest of our spiritual path get better, new, and improved versions of the same set of concerns. What happens instead is that the self is eclipsed as a concern and becomes decentered as new and different challenges arise.
I would compare it quite literally to what happens when one is reading through a dictionary. Imagine that your favorite letter is N because it contains the word Narcissism, but one day you are flipping through the book and you discover S for Self. It becomes your new favorite, especially if you can add adjective to it and spell it with a capital letter which makes it much more important, so you start reading straight through the book to look for more great adjectives. Then comes T and then U and then V and then W … and you keeping ask yourself: where’s the Self? What are all these other letters doing, presenting distractions from my real work on dissolving or discovering my Self? Good thing there are lots of new adjectives to describe your emptiness-seeking (like “True”) or your Self-mysticism (like “Uber-Self!”). Doesn’t T know I want to know more about Me, Me, Me? And what’s the deal with U, V, W, X, and don’t even get me started about Y! So eventually you stop looking at other letters and go back to the word Self to see how perfectly you can erase it or how much you can blow it up so it is so big that it includes every other word in the dictionary!
Let’s not judge past philosophies or theologies which have made valuable contributions to our knowledge harshly, because they were more partial than wrong, more focused than comprehensive. Life is about much more than the self. Reality is about much more than the self. Unitive Consciousness is about much more than the self. The problem with these self-philosophies is that they weren’t focused on Life, Reality, and Unitive Consciousness. They were focused on spirituality.
And the story of spirituality (here I go again with Lingua-U) is fundamentally about the concerns of the S. As we say in Tai Hsuan Integral to connect things that we realize are subtly linked that other people don’t, Spirit 𝌡 and Self 𝌢 are identical in subtle energy demarcations at the three most foundational degrees, the Basis, Functioning, and Direction. Moreover, Spirit and Self are united to five of their first six degrees, shifting only slightly from Yang to Yin at the fourth mark, the indicator which distinguishes between the Subjective (Spirit) and Objective (Self) Quadrants in the Four Quadrants.
So don’t blame spiritual teachers for focusing on the Self as their guiding concern. They were truly focused on the appropriate things given the subject matter of their field of specialization. And they were correct to focus on Enlightenment as the goal of spirituality. After all, in Lingua-U, Enlightenment is the Yung to the Yang of the Circle of Existence and the Yin of the Escher Drawings of Shunting.
My critique is thus really about the nature of spiritual teaching, and the occupation of spiritual teachers. If they have a proper developmental orientation and yet stay focused on the concerns of the Self, they will be tempted to project its dynamics up and up into future levels of consciousness. Instead, allow the self to recede in our attention.* Let us treat every station of life as replete with its own important concerns, its own precious Sacred Words, and its own methodologies for progress.
Yes, the self needs enlightenment to find ultimate peace. But there many other stations of life no less important or worthy of attention. If spiritual teachers will insist on only talking about enlightenment, and have nothing to say about 8/9 of the world’s most pressing problems, then they aren’t very comprehensive or inclusive or integral, are they?
A World Teacher must be concerned with more than the self and its dramas, its need for enlightenment. There is a World crying out for Divinization. Who will heed that call?
Integral theorists will correctly note that analysts have identified a “self line” which in theory goes up and up and up to the highest altitudes as we evolve. Without denying this or implying we ought not look into self-development, let me just say that theorists who want to focus on the self line do so at an opportunity cost. Every spiritual teacher must decide for themselves how much they want to emphasize self-development over the concerns of all the other stations of life.
In 1929 the philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti claimed that Truth is a pathless land, limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, and wholly resistant to organization. Starting from this understanding, he insisted that beliefs must not be organized lest others be coerced into a creed, sect, or religion. He said, “Truth is narrowed down and made a plaything for those who are weak, for those who are only momentarily discontented. Truth cannot be brought down, rather the individual must make the effort to ascend to it.”
On occasion of the same speech, the Indian philosopher disbanded the organization he had established to promote a World Teacher, someone who could raise humanity to a new plane, give encouragement to all, and set free humankind from its delusions.
While I disagree with Krishnamurti about a number of things that he said, I want to acknowledge that his teaching had a brilliant quality and spoke to a relatively deep level of actualized self-awareness and we may even say that he was a leading light of his day, ironically trailblazing a pathless path to Pluralism. But at the day’s end, I must dissent from his core understanding that Truth, which indeed is in degrees ascended and out of sight, cannot be “brought down”. Truth appears in many forms: buried and unconscious, to be raised up; apparent in plain view to all with well-developed capacities for moral and intellectual reasoning; and elevated and superconscious, to be brought down.
It is counterproductive to insist that one of these three aspects of Truth ought to be denied out of hand. It is also wrong to lose faith entirely in the capacity for World Teachers, human organizations, and even whole societies to embody Truth-seekers and Truth-realizers, as Krishnamurti seems to do. The same forces are at work in institutions and collectives as in individuals, including the same Truth-drive. Naturally they are corruptible and fallible, but they are powerful instruments and must be given a respectful role to play in God’s work.
The Truth and The Path have the same end, quite literally: the former is a Ruthlessness that begins on the Tongue and ends in finitude made absolute, and the latter is an Athleticism that begins in Poverty and ends in finitude made absolute. What do I mean by “finitude made absolute”? I mean, the paradox of the Theta: death’s end and the beginning of Theos.
I have come to you to speak the Truth as best I know it, and from God’s perspective as well as my own, to the best of my ability to convey. Truth is not a pathless land on which individuals must make a heroic journey of ascent. Truth is like a land with many paths and many pathless wilds on which individuals and collectives must make the hero’s journey of ascent, the redeemable villain’s journey of descent, and the mystic’s journey of unifying awareness. All three views, and all three objectives, are essential to the process of gaining and keeping and qualifying the Truth.
Over the past thirteen years, I have taken part as a participant and as a citizen-leader in the so-called Integral movement, a loosely related group of authors, scholars, artists, organizational consultants, online discussion forums, academic conferences and journals, and even a few relatively small spiritual organizations. There are many dozens of prominent figures including Ken Wilber, Don Beck, Steve McIntosh, Frank Visser, and Robb Smith (not to mention the controversial gurus Andrew Cohen and Marc Gafni).
This movement has been considered an intellectual school and an interfaith and interspiritual lineage with a focus on the body of teaching of Ken Wilber (b. 1949) called AQAL (Integral Theory) when applied to interdisciplinary research and scholarship and specifically Integral Spirituality for topics related to religion and the evolution of consciousness. Wilber himself has deep credentials as a Buddhist practitioner and pandit (“defender of the dharma”) and has given notable commentary both critically and appreciatively of Adi Da Samraj.
Some attempts to define a spiritual lineage for the Integral philosophy extend back in time to Nagarjuna, Plotinus, Aurobindo, Charles Peirce, Alfred North Whitehead, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Jean Gebser, and Clare Graves. One wonders whether all these figures would agree with being “baptized” Integral after death, but in any case they are representative historical figures with similar interests and proposals.
Wilber’s seminal contributions to the fields of psychology, philosophy, and religious studies are manifold and beyond the scope of these remarks. But if there is one thing Ken has clearly NOT done is to found a spiritual order, organization, sangha, or church. Nor has he ever publicly endorsed a particular religious organization so far as I know.
For these and other reasons, despite its original and groundbreaking approach to matters at the core of human existence, the Integral movement has not yet produced a notable new religion or organized spiritual institution. The movement so far seems content to stay largely meta-theoretical by welcoming a wide plurality of potential philosophical and spiritual orientations and maps for growth while remaining agnostic regarding the particular commitments of its members.
Thus the word “Integral” has been attached to everything from magic to The Matrix, Christianity to Satanism, existentialism to anti-capitalist ideology (to say nothing of over a dozen major academic fields of study). Moreover, within generally orthodox AQAL Integral practice overall, the theoretical model for boots-on-the-ground spirituality is very broad. Attention ought to be paid to developmental levels, but individuals choose from approaches by many different theorists with models ranging from 3 to 16 or more levels (each theorist providing their own distinct names and descriptions for the levels). Similarly, individuals bring their own type model of choice and pick and choose from models of multiple intelligence as well. And if you don’t like quadrants, you can work with the Big Three instead. A variety of theoretical approaches exist as well to the number and definition of states of consciousness.
All this pluralism within the AQAL Framework is by design. It is a meta-theory, not a theory. Ken Wilber wrote: “The word integral means comprehensive, inclusive, non-marginalizing, embracing. Integral approaches to any field attempt to be exactly that: to include as many perspectives, styles, and methodologies as possible within a coherent view of the topic. In a certain sense, integral approaches are “meta-paradigms,” or ways to draw together an already existing number of separate paradigms into an interrelated network of approaches that are mutually enriching.”
The pluralism within the meta-theory allows for individual latitude, creativity, and a nearly unlimited variety of potential ways of customizing an Integral Life Practice (ILP) to fit one’s own preferences and goals for growth. And if you don’t want to grow up, you can join the Integral theorists who focus on “waking down” and practice shadow work using an unsurprising variety of models. It has good and bad qualities. It’s generally very good if you are shopping for a movement that allows you tremendous latitude for individual self-expression. It’s not so good if you are frustrated that the disparate groups under the Integral umbrella have been slow to develop norms, customs, traditions, and distinctly preferred-paths-within-the-meta-paths.
Every integral theorist and author has their own brand, their own preferred schema, and in the marketplace of ideas and attention they compete with each other to find new ways to stand out. As each new Integral leader emerges through their business, organization, or creative work, they in turn establish new silos which help them to attract readers, fans, clients, followers, donors, or supporters. Sometimes they build bridges from one silo to another, but that way can be a path with thorns. It is well known within the movement that many of the prominent leaders (Wilber, Beck, McIntosh, Smith, etc.) are not on the best of terms personally, requiring individuals to navigate political minefields.
All of this is what is, as I see it. I have tried to be neutral and give an uncontroversial account of things. I love the Integral movement, but the time has come for me to separate from it a bit. I cannot be agnostic about Levels, Types, States, Quadrants, Zones, and so on … their essences are now organically embedded in the structure of my Meta-Language and Kalendar and Atlas.
The reasons for my shift do not require a long explanation. My oeuvre as a World Teacher is exploding with creative ideas that have one foot in the Integral movement and one foot at the next level of its evolution. Integral attracts people at certain types and levels of spiritual orientation. My forthcoming Lingua-U and New Kalendar and New Zodiac / Medicine Wheel and New Tarot and Wheel of Wholes and Jiu Gua Zhang and Divine Scripture and still other Tai Hsuan Integral Arts to come are going to appeal to people at a wider berth of levels and orientations.
As marketers would say, they have different target markets. The farther I develop technologies with a “Violet” tint (such as Lingua-U’s capacity to expand language awareness into a seamless whole with a New Map of Subtle Energy), the more people within the mainstream of the Integral fold will find my ideas challenging. They do not simply add to the sort of “Teal/Turquoise” intellectual and ego orientation that many Integralists possess, they transform it. Some will not be ready for it, and they should stay with the old Framework that they know and love. Some will be ready for it, and they won’t be content to just receive wisdom from on high. They will want to deeply co-evolve and integrate their own unique visions, personality, and knowledge into the birth of a holistic organism. So I am endeavoring to create a flexible structure which will allow everyone who is a part of the future Dojo to bring their own Unique Gifts seamlessly and fully as possible.
Meanwhile, I am writing this to say goodbye to the assumption that I would always identify myself as “one of the Integralists”. That term is too vague for me now. In the past year, as my own path as a World Teacher evolved and some of the online communities I enjoyed came to devolve, I’ve realized that I have less in common with folks wearing this label than I realized. The next phase of the Integral movement’s path will include the emergence of more than one “Integral Organism / Wholes”. I don’t know the name others will use. I’m calling my path “Tai Hsuan Integral” for reasons that I am writing about on my new blog.
Words are important, and this is not a time to don or wear them lightly. I’m trying on the suit “Tai Hsuan Integralist”, part of the emergent “Tai Hsuan Integral” spiritual movement, which itself is part of the “Integral movement”. I hope it fits. I don’t mind if sociologists call it a New Religion. In fact I’d be thrilled if actual sociologists started to wake up and notice Integralists for a change.
If “Tai Hsuan Integralist” doesn’t wear well, I’ll find something better down the road. It’s just a label.
Thank you for reading this. God bless you on your Integral journey where ever it may take you.