A window on the experience of “Integral”

Integral Spiritual Experience 2010 is ON. Wishing you were here. If you are, say “hello.” (I’m shy.) If you’re not, check in on this blog over the next three days for glimpses at this seminal community-building event in the contemporary spirituality scene.

Nearly 500 souls arrived on the shores of the Pacific from all corners of the Earth, brought together to give witness to that something we are calling “Integral.” And we are brought together, with all our hopes and fears, to stare into the eyes of Love and discover the Divine’s reflection there.

There are thousands of major spiritual and religious conventions and conferences every year. What makes this event so special? If it is, which I believe, it is because what brings this group together is unique. We are not united by religious tradition or spiritual practice, nor by geography or any other social classification. For the most part we are participating because we have discovered a dimension of human experience within our lives that is more open, evolutionary, comprehensive. visionary and embracing than anything else we have found. We have called that something “Integral.” And we have recognized that Integral is part of a collective global movement that we are already a part of. And ISE 2010 is where the movement is today.

Haven Iverson and Angela Raines, new friends on the volunteer ISE blogging team, have already begun to share what the conference looks like from their points of view. In “ISE: The Three Faces of Love”, Haven lays out the territory:

Over the next three days, participants at the Integral Spiritual Experience conference have an extravaganza of classes and offerings from which to choose. (The word “conference” is used because there are close to 500 attendees. But really, this isn’t a conference. This is a retreat. This is a cozy love gathering by the sea. There are fireplaces and gigantic trees that brush up against the windows when the wind blows. At conferences there are banquet halls in which the rug patterns give migraines. At conferences, there are no windows. At ISE, the windows go from floor to ceiling.)

ISE is divided into three parts which trace the three developmental stages that relationship typically evolves through: submission (the process of falling into love), separation (the stage in which the beloved falls of the pedestal), and sweetness and reintegration (falling to love again, this time from a place of higher awareness). Days begin with a sunrise morning practice, followed by breakfast and a large gathering/ session in which the stage of the day is presented to all the attendees.

And in “Live from ISE: Marc Gafni‘s Fireside Chat,” Angela checks in regarding pre-event conversations and teachings:

There’s something beautiful about serving something greater than ourselves—much as our modern and postmodern emphasis on the autonomous individual is crucial to self-development, our thirst for something greater than our small self-sense seems absolutely hardwired in the human condition. And while we cannot revert to that unconscious type of serving, such a comforting platitude before its deconstruction, we crave a new invitation to serve, hopefully in a more illumined way.

As excited as we all are by how we can personally grow from the teaching and community here, everyone on the staff and volunteer team also has a deep commitment to serving this transitory community. Gafni skillfully addressed our hushed, uneasy desire to serve from a new, self-actualized place. “In Hebrew, ‘love’ and ‘obligation’ are the same word,” he explained. To truly serve in a powerful sense is to open ourselves fully to the divine, intelligent love pulsating through our very core and the fabric of the universe, itself. And once we become aware of the depth of love we’re capable of, it’s no longer a facile option whether we show up, but a grave responsibility.

I’ll be live blogging a few of the events and checking in regularly over the next few days. I hope you’ll take a moment to read along and say hello.

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