What does it really mean to live an integral life?
The following text is written I-less as a practice of opening up to the non-ownership of thoughts, feelings, awareness and experiences. Instead of pretending and then clinging to ownership of perspectives and all that is linked to those perspectives, this practice aims at perceiving awareness and thus its perspectives as unattached to a physical entity, a self or an ego. It places awareness in an open space, not bound to the interior space behind the eyes. That which creates sounds (or writes) is certainly a physical entity, but the origin of the awareness of this physical entity and its capabilities to develop a self-sense are thought to be arising in a way that is only partially physical. The self, one could say is a partial or fractured view, created by a limited perspective (which all human perspectives are) of a universal Sentience or Self. The sense of ownership of this small, fractured self could thus be thought of as a great fallacy, and can lead to all kinds of pathologies if clung to, too intensely. While this partial view certainly has its merits and is useful for – for example the survival of the physical entity creating this very perspective, thus perpetuating life and with it the prospect of growth into ever bigger and bigger perspectives – but if growth is really to happen this limited perspective must also be transcended, seen for its smallness and fractured-ness. And practicing speaking, thinking, communicating without using self-references (the word I or any other similar work-around) is one way to loosen the habitual ownership-mentality with reference to awareness. A little more about this here.
In spirituality, especially in evolutionary spirituality that focuses on growth or self-development as a means to reach enlightenment or transcendence, there is this idea of transcending the self. But often it seems that the practitioners, rather than getting less egoic they tend to get more egoic, either neglecting the world around them focusing only on how self is evolving, or becoming domineering and basically full of themselves. No doubt do some of them possess deep insights into spiritual truths, it just seems like the step of truly transcending the self rather than just cleverly hiding or disguising it is a very hard thing to do.
What does it mean transcend the small self? What takes its place? A bigger self? In the integral version of developmental psychology, the lines of development show an ever increasingly complex self transcending and including the previous versions. That self transcends the contracted and self-centered ego, the voice that screams, “me! me! me!” and replaces it with a different song that is now concerned with not just me, but me + many other things. In a way the me has become decentralized… or has it? Or is it still at the center of everything, just with a wider vision?
What are the mechanisms of change?
Do we have to be running around randomly lunging ourselves into the next “transformative experience”, the next “transformative yoga class”, only to find ourselves with yet another powerful memory but the same mind-set as we started out with? Catching glimpses of the future or of our potentials is not enough to release into them, to step into that future, to fully express it. So what is?
I’d like to talk about a topic that doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention. It doesn’t seem to be on many people’s radar: Can energetic or spiritual practices unbalance us to the point where they are counter-productive? Is there such a thing as an overdose of intentional work? And if yes, what does it look and feel like?
I spent the past week participating and teaching at the Ocean Yoga Festival and absolutely loved it. But I was also astonished by the event’s effect on me. Even though I didn’t go so many classes, I felt a definitive energetic quality that after prolonged exposure felt a bit ungrounding. Continue reading →
The one thing that stood out to me the most when I recently read Ken Wilber’s “The Atman Project”, was the way he described the process of growth in terms of Eros and Thanatos and how it was just opposite of what I had imagined. So let’s recap for a moment:
In the following paragraphs I will try to convey to you a meaning of the term spirit (and spirituality) that perhaps is a bit different than the idea you have in mind. My hope is to leave my readers with the sense that spirituality is not a new-age, hippie thing that requires incense, crystals, tie-die shirts or using the word namaste in every second phrase. Instead I believe it is a fundamental characteristic of our existence and thus accessible to everyone and of meaning to everyone.