Leading Edge of Evolution?
I am reading two books right now: Stephen Levine’s A Year to Live and Ken Wilber’s Integral Meditation. I wonder if these two authors have read each other.
They both talk about the two tracks of growth, emotional and spiritual. We need both. We all know secular, emotionally mature people, people that prove conclusively that one can be good without any belief whatsoever in a transcendent deity. And many of us, including myself, are all too familiar with spiritually advanced people lacking basic emotional maturity (ego-maniacs, sleazy televangelists, child-like monastics, happy-clappy philanderers, etc.).
Wilber says that those of us who spend our time growing into the 7th and 8th level of emotional growth and who pursue an integrated spirituality are the leading edge of evolution.
If I am part of the leading edge of human evolution, humanity is in big trouble.
Perhaps I am just ridiculously cynical. Okay, I know I am. I just have a deep suspicion of trusting emotional states as reflecting anything other than an individual’s personal needs. I’ve had huge spiritual experiences in the past and am now convinced that they were just what I needed at that particular time. That doesn’t make them bad, just individualized and hard to assume that they apply to everyone. One of the more advanced stages is having feelings of profound unity with all things: non-duality, advaita, whatever you want to call it. What makes those feelings any more trustworthy than some of the more Pentecostal, holy-roller, ecstasy on display every Sunday in thousands of churches? Lots of Christians just know that the phony baloney they believe whole-heartedly in is the truth. They know it “in their heart.” I was one of them. Self-deception has no limit.
I’m just glad that various authors are finally agreeing that both are important: growing up and waking up. This is one of those missing pieces humanity has been looking for. As Wilber talks about, every phase includes and transcends the previous phase. Each progressive phase is more whole and comprehensive than its predecessor. People include organs, which include molecules, which include atoms. Nothing is negated. Everything is integrated.
I’ve always been interested in wholeness and healing. What is healing? The integration of the things that have been separated and/or rejected. I’ve learned to not be picky. Healing can come from New-Agey modalities, modern medicine, faith healing, personal experiences, and a gazillion other sources. I want as much healing as possible before I die and I don’t care where it comes from.
Today is very interesting time to live in. We have people from all the different levels fighting each other. And each of them feels they are representing the one and only truth.
The challenge is to accomplish this growth while keeping the boat afloat, so to speak. Meditation has to be scheduled around paying the bills, taking people to the doctor, doing yardwork, etc. People that don’t have to function in the real world can focus on experiencing various states of consciousness, but they may be falsely convinced that they have overcome various emotional issues that they have not actually touched on. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche even had a term for it: spiritual bypassing. It’s when we try to skip normal stages of emotional growth in favor of using spirituality as a way to impress people or ourselves. I know I’ve done it. The big thing I’ve learned over the years is that you don’t get to skip steps! You focus on growth in area A and make progress and go back to area B and find it exactly how you left it. The dishes didn’t do themselves.
Is one lifetime even enough to deal with everything? I know I can make progress, but holy crap, this is hard and time consuming. Use me as a role model at your own risk.