A New World Spirituality, Part Four: Transcending the Perennial Philosophy

Each great tradition has its own radically unique worldview, its own distinct medicine, and its own wondrous particular contribution to the music of spirit. It would be precisely accurate to say that each tradition is an instrument in the symphony of spirit. It is not only true that all the instruments produce music much like all the religions intuit and enact spirit. It is also true that each instrument produces utterly unique music just as each religion enacts utterly distinct forms of spiritual expression.

It would be not only ignorance of the most base kind, but tragic, to reduce all the traditions to their shared truths. And the key opponents of this reductionist dishonoring of the religions would be none other then the religions themselves. This cannot be the goal of an evolutionary World Spirituality.

Second, while it is absolutely true that the distinction between the surface structures of the religion and the shared depth structures of every tradition is a crucial insight in the evolution of consciousness and a key part of World Spirituality, this by itself is woefully insufficient as the core of World Spirituality. Essentially, that would mean that World Spirituality is the shared truths of the pre-modern traditions. World Spirituality itself, then, would be a regressive movement. It would be regressive because it would suggest that we be guided by a spirituality rooted in the common insights of the pre-modern traditions. That would take us back before modernity and before pre-modernity, which is exactly where we do not want to go.

(Ken Wilber and I just recently an awesome and spirited discussion about this precise point as we were engaging in one of a series of regular private dialogues that humbly and tentatively seek to lay the foundation of an emergent World Spirituality. All of the insights that emerge from these dialogues are evolving a vision of a World Spirituality based on Integral Principles. Ken is both a co-catalyst and active leading partner as well as inspiration in the emergence of this movement, and we are currently preparing a book to formally outline the theoretical underpinning of a World Spirituality based on Integral principles.)

Now do not misunderstand this point. The pre-modern traditions of Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and more are wildly deep on many levels. The pre-modern traditions are radically profound at a level of interior understanding that is most likely beyond anything we know today in our interior reaches. The radical inner focus on spirit in the pre-modern age as well as, some would say, the receptivity to the graces of revelation, yielded a depth of interior vision and knowing which is virtually beyond imagination.

At this same time the mainstream of all these traditions remained pre-modern in many essential ways, including ethnocentricity, various forms of the marginalization of the feminine, a lack of historical consciousness, a profound disparity between the elite and the common person, an underdeveloped sense of human rights, and much more. Each system at its core thought that its truth was primary, if not exclusive, and that in time history would validate its truth claim as the only authentic truth claim. And it is precisely that form of pre-modern religion that is once again sweeping the globe with disastrous results, as evidenced in the meteoric rise of fundamentalisms world over.

So to develop a World Spirituality that shares the best of the pre-modern traditions while taking a correct evolutionary step in the right direction, is certainly not the goal of an emergent and evolving World Spirituality. Rather we want a World Spirituality that shares the best of pre-modern, modern, and postmodern insight. That would be an enormous leap in the evolution of consciousness. Let's bring on board in World Spirituality the deepest insights of all the great traditions, including all of the great modern and postmodern traditions.

This would include the best insights of psychology and psychoanalysis, not least of which would recognize and actively engage what Freud called the unconscious and Jung called the shadow. It would also include fantastic advances in family systems, economics, law, the healing arts, negotiation theory, and conflict resolution as well as the best insights of systems and chaos theory. It would naturally embrace all of the best insights of modern science. It would include critical advances in health care, forms of governances, and human rights. It would include the leading edge understandings in the postmodern disciplines of hermeneutics, phenomenology, metrics, and developmental thought.

A World Spirituality of this kind is urgently needed today to heal the fragmentation that lies at the very core of the world's heart. It is only this kind of leading edge evolutionary emergent, which will have a wide enough embrace to catalyze a shared world commons. It is only from the space of shared world commons that we can write a new source code of human culture rooted in ever-higher levels of mutuality, recognition, union, and embrace.

It is only such a World Spirituality, rooted in such a source code, that will be powerful enough to catalyze the evolution of love. It is only through the evolution of love, which is the evolution of God, that we will be able to inspire and write a new Cosmic Scroll. It is only in a new Cosmic Scroll that all the great religions and all the great systems of knowing and doing will have a place and will therefore no longer seek to usurp the place of an other. It is only in the context of such a Cosmic Scroll that every unique human being will have a dignified, honored, and beloved place and peace will ripple across the globe.

5/18/2011 4:00:00 AM