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The impact of the coming medical technologies for children 2010-Jul-04 at 00:55 PDT

Posted by Scott Arbeit in Blog.
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Here’s a 0:50 clip of an 8-month-old deaf baby reacting to having his cochlear implants turned on for the first time, and hearing his mother’s voice:

Cool, right?  Imagine every childhood disease, and every form of birth defect, we have in today’s world.  And imagine that all of them – all of them – are gone in 25-30 years.  Cancer, diabetes, leukemia, deafness, blindness… you name it, it’ll be easily curable.  That’s the power of the nanotechnology and related biotechnology that’s coming.

P.S. Yes, yes, I know, it’s “differently-abled.”  Whatever.  Either way, it won’t be around anymore.


Integral Spirituality and ice cream 2010-Jul-02 at 23:42 PDT

Posted by Scott Arbeit in Blog.
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Let’s start with the obvious: the current forms of Integral Spirituality are skewed towards paths that involve formal teacher/student relationships.  Let’s run down the list:

  • Ken Wilber
  • Genpo Roshi
  • Andrew Cohen
  • Adyashanti
  • Diane Musho Hamilton
  • Terry Patten
  • Sally Kempton
  • Father Thomas Keating
  • Vidyuddeva
  • Lama Surya Das
  • Patrick Sweeney
  • Dan Brown

All of these (I’m sure I’m forgetting a few) have played important parts in defining Integral Spirituality.  And all of them are teachers and/or students within some kind of formal, spiritual relationship.

And… let me hasten to add, just so we’re clear: I celebrate that fact.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong – at all – with pursuing enlightenment through the establishment of a formal teacher/student relationship.  It has been, and remains, an honored and challenging path, and one that, if the teacher is chosen carefully, leads to incredible experiences of liberation.

The problem with this skewed sample comes in when we’re trying to think about a topic as broad and deep as Integral Spirituality.  When we realize that, traditionally, far less than 1% of people on Earth have ever participated in this kind of spiritual practice, one wonders how applicable some of the thinking from people who invest in these kinds of relationships will be to the population at large.  And there’s no reason whatsoever to think that that less-than-1% number is going to change with the growth of the Integral wave of development.

All I’m saying is that we don’t yet know what Integral Spirituality looks like, despite the number of people trying to lead the way into it.  We won’t know what it looks like until we have lots more people applying Integral to mainstream religion, and then seeing what shakes out of that.

I’m privileged to know Olivier BenHaim from the Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue, and to have met Tom Thresher from the Suquamish United Church of Christ, who has written a book about his experiences leading an Integral Church.  Both of them are trying to figure out what it means to do Integral Spirituality in the context of something that looks like a traditional Western congregation.  They are two of only a handful of leaders who are walking that path right now, and I believe that the results of their work will ultimately form the patterns and morphogenic fields around which a mainstream Integral Spirituality – one that can handle an influx of hundreds of millions of people over the coming decades – will arise to provide that incredibly important cultural function for us.

Again, I bow humbly and gratefully to all of the leaders of Integral Spirituality, and my heart opens in love to all those who have found their paths through their work.


With that said, I’m done.

I’m done trying to rate and rank the various forms of Integral Spirituality.  It’s a little game I see so many of us playing (and I used to do it, too).  Who’s more authentic?  Who’s done more shadow work so their teachings are cleaner and clearer?  Who’s got the latest KW Stamp Of Approval?  Who understands their own lineage the best?

Here’s my answer to those questions: I don’t care anymore.

To say that someone has “found her path” is to say, at a fundamental energetic level, that she feels her own energy get more coherent around those teachers and those teachings.  That’s all it means.

I have dozens of friends who are students of Andrew Cohen, for instance.  For them, when they first came into contact with Andrew, either in person or through his teachings, they felt that surge of energy, that straightening of the spine, that sharp in-breath that makes you feel “Yes! This is it!”  In other words, they became more energetically coherent around Andrew.  Typically, these people have incredibly positive and motivational stories to tell about their experiences.

Others come into contact with Andrew or his teachings and have a different energetic reaction: their spines curve back down, the breath becomes shallow, they back away, they get uncomfortable around it.  In other words, they become less energetically coherent around Andrew.  Typically, these people have less-than-flattering things to say about what they’ve experienced.

Others don’t even have a reaction one way or another.

Who’s right?  Are the ones who become more coherent or less coherent right?  What about the ones who become more or less coherent around Adi Da? Or Mahamudra?  Or Sufism?  Or Genpo Roshi?

My answer is: They’re all correct.  If they’re genuinely sensing into their own mind/body wisdom, and noticing the emotional and energetic reactions they’re having to the various teachers and teachings… then we’re good.

There are as many paths to enlightenment as there are beings who wish to be enlightened.  It’s not my job anymore to rate and rank them.  It is my self-appointed job to encourage you to find your path or paths and then remain with those paths.  Bask in the ones that make you feel more coherent.  Live in them and through them.  Radiate their wisdom in your everyday life.  And don’t waste a second of your time criticizing a path that makes you feel less coherent… your criticism is projection, and nothing more.  Instead, celebrate and rejoice that others have found their paths through means that you didn’t.

If you’re not into Big Mind, it doesn’t mean that Genpo Roshi is an idiot.  It just means that you’re not feeling it.  If you don’t like EnlightenNext, hey, no big deal.  Just go find what works for you.

There is still room in this view for discernment, and for legitimate dharma battles, and for debate about what it means to hold a spiritual perspective on the events of the world.  But it’s not about denouncing a path just because it doesn’t feel right for you.

The way I’ve taken to describing this concept is around ice cream.  Everyone likes ice cream, right?  Well… we all have our own favorite flavors.  If you like Mint Chocolate Chip, you’re not wrong (well, I think you’re wrong, but that’s my problem, not yours… see?).  If you like Vanilla, you’re not wrong.  Dulce de Leche… not wrong.  You just have a favorite flavor.  I have my favorite flavors: Cake Batter, followed closely by Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie (And, by the way, go to a B&J Store and order a Chocolate Fudge Brownie shake.  You’re welcome.).

Whatever your favorite flavor is… you’re not wrong.

But the most important part of Integral – the very heart and center of the philosophy – is that we all need to recover our connection with and as Spirit.  That’s the ice cream.

Whatever your favorite flavor is, my most important advice is: make sure you have some ice cream, make sure you have some authentic spirituality.  If you don’t, you’re missing out on the best part of Integral.  Really, don’t miss this part.  It’s what it’s all pointing to.