What is an authentic World Politics?


World Flag

In truth, there is no division between spirituality and politics that can be found in The Way Things Are. If you believe, as I do, that there is only one True Self and that every unique individual is a completely whole and infinitely valuable Unique Self which is one and the same as that Ultimate Identity, then how can there be a separation?

In an Integral view of ethics, care and justice evolve in ever expanding reach from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric to kosmocentric levels. Ultimately, there is a sense of self-identification with responsibility and empathy for all sentient beings in all times and places. Thus, politics — which I define broadly as the expansion of our circle of concern to ever wider levels of embrace — is deeply wedded to our sense of self and our understanding of the nature of reality.

Spirituality and politics are distinct aspects of our human existence, but not separate ways of being. In other words, every spiritual act is also a political act, and every political act is also spiritual. But if spirituality is related as Paul Tillich formulated to our “ultimate concern,” then politics relates to concerns that individuals share with other individuals in their community.

There are family and tribal/organizational politics, there are national and international politics. And as plans in recent decades for human colonization of other worlds has demonstrated, there is even a politics of the relationship between the inhabitants of Earth and everything extraterrestrial. Politics is inescapable, no matter how apolitical one’s views.

If you scan articles written about politics by members of the World Spirituality, Integral Spirituality, or Evolutionary Spirituality communities, you may come away with the impression that most people are progressive. After all, among those in the U.S. you will frequently hear praise of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Barack Obama — all Democrats. You will hear support for remedying income inequality, addressing climate change, and legalizing same-sex marriage.

But read more closely and you will find a more complex picture.

Continue reading “What is an authentic World Politics?”

Andrew Cohen on what’s wrong with “Be Here Now”

Andrew Cohen

From drumming in a jazz band to the existence of evil, Andrew Cohen talks shop with Tam Hunt in “Evolutionary Spirituality,” appearing in today’s Santa Barbara Independent.

Tam Hunt asks:

You gently criticize the notion of “be here now,” advocated by a great many spiritual teachers, in favor of a future-oriented spirituality. But isn’t it true that we only ever exist in the now and if we don’t embrace this truth we can never be happy now? The process philosophy view of the world holds that we do impact the present through our choices in every moment, as well as the future.

Andrew Cohen replies:

Yes, I agree that if we don’t embrace the present moment we won’t be able to be happy. That being said, “Be Here Now” and the “Power of Now” mysticism point us towards the mystery of the eternal present, the timeless, infinite ground of all Being as the source of spiritual freedom. But in the new Evolutionary Enlightenment that I teach, I point towards a different source of spiritual emancipation, which is what I call the Evolutionary Impulse, that miraculous energy and intelligence that took that leap from nothing to something and created and is still creating the entire universe. The evolutionary impulse within each and every one of us is always reaching toward the future. So for one who has awakened to that impulse, embracing the present moment means that the future is existing as an ever-present living potential, right now. With this awareness of the future, your consciousness expands and there’s a sense of being intensely awake. Why? Because your conscious, living relationship with the future begins to enlighten your relationship to the present moment—enlighten it with conscience and purpose. So yes, there is a tremendous care about now, about this moment, because of your awareness of the future. So that means that your active, participatory relationship with the present moment becomes an expression of your care for the future. It’s my conviction that this kind of evolutionary orientation to mysticism is much more culturally relevant to the time and the world we are living in.

Read the rest of the interview. More about Andrew Cohen is available at his website/blog.

Notes on Evolution of Bridge of Light Tradition

There have been several changes to the Bridge of Light holiday since it was first celebrated in 2004 (the first gathering used the name Yuletide). While much of this information is technical of interest to a few, some of you may find the historical details of interest.

I originally derived the meanings of the colors from principles in Integral philosophy (a nonsectarian philosophy based on the principles of spiritual evolution and the mystical thread connecting all the great world’s religions). I still find my inspiration for the holiday as fundamentally “Integral,” but I apply the principles differently.

In the 2004 version of the ritual, the colors represented main stages of evolutionary spiritual development, with each color aligned to a specific vMeme of Spiral Dynamics theory of cultural evolution. In subsequent years, this narrow inspiration proved problematic on several levels: first, I have never really adopted the color scheme of Spiral Dynamics into my spiritual practice; second, I have begun to place more emphasis on the modes or lines of development than stages, and now use the chakra system as a convenient traditional way of describing these modes; third, the ordering and naming of the principles was overly esoteric and this probably hindered more widespread adoption of the ritual.

There is wisdom in favoring simple principles that are easily communicated to others based on traditional associations that are already widely in use and need not be reinvented. The color associations of the charkas are an excellent way of communicating basic principles of evolutionary spirituality without being too heavy handed or rigid.

As a side note, I will add that new color scheme and ordering is compatible (if not a direct match) to the eight-mode developmental model that I have begun to use in my 2009 writings on the Kalendar, my vision of sacred time, so all in all I believe the modifications help to bring the ritual into line with my best and most contemporary insights into the spiritual significance of homophilia.

I fully credit Kittredge Cherry for originally suggesting use of the charkas for defining the principles. Her meditation on the chakra meanings and their specific application for LGBT spirituality have been quite valuable. I have more or less adopted her ordering and descriptions of six of the seven principles with only minor modifications. (Just as I have fully credited Toby Johnson for originally suggesting that the holiday be held on the New Year rather than the winter solistice, an idea that has improved the ritual considerably.)

Kittredge advocated differentiating between the first and second chakras (red and orange) because these principles are of particular importance for the LGBT community and I couldn’t agree more. Also, her color scheme lends itself well to ordering the candle lighting in a more straightforward evolutionary scheme than my original ritual: (1) red, (2) orange, (3) yellow, (4) green, (5) blue, and (6) purple. I think that these are developments for the better.

Kittredge also recommended combining the eye and crown charkas into one in order to fit the six-color scheme of the rainbow flag with the seven-color scheme of the traditional chakra symbolism. Upon further meditation, I have opted instead for a different solution that retains all seven charkas. I achieved this by adding a seventh principle (depicted by two candles, one black and the other white) for New Year’s Day.

By adding a seventh candle on New Year’s Day just for the crown chakra, then we can retain a celebration of the third eye chakra. It’s my conviction that the Third Eye, representing holistic understandings, integral models of development, and “Right Understanding” (to use a Buddhist term) in the service of enlightenment is somewhat neglected in LGBT spirituality. It would be a shame to miss an opportunity to reinforce the principle’s importance.

Kittredge adds, “I see this as a work in progress, and am open to ongoing dialogue about it.” And that is my own opinion as well. I’m publishing these recommendations now, a couple days in advance of Dec. 26, when some individuals will begin their own Bridge of Light rituals, and encourage feedback from the community.

I intend to light seven candles for my own celebration of the Bridge of Light. I expect my celebration will look like this:

Evening of Dec. 26. Light a red candle in honor of the Root of Spirit, the Principle of Community.

Evening of Dec. 27. Light a second candle, orange, in honor of the Passion of Spirit, the Principle of Creativity and Eros.

Evening of Dec. 28. Light a third candle, yellow, in honor of the Core of Spirit, the Principle of Self-Esteem and Self-Actualization.

Evening of Dec. 29. Light a fourth candle, green, in honor of the Heart of Spirit, the Principle of Love and Compassion.

Evening of Dec. 30. Light a fifth candle, blue, in honor of the Voice of Spirit, the Principle of Self-Expression and Justice.

Evening of Dec. 31. Light the sixth candle, violet, in honor of the Eye of Spirit, the principle of Integration and Wisdom.

Morning of Jan. 1. Light the seventh and eighth candles, black and white, in honor of the Crown of Spirit, the principle of Spirituality and Universal Consciousness.

How will you embrace the Bridge of Light?