New Spirituality for New Times

The most important call of the times is to constructively manage the
emerging planetary civilization while honoring the diversity of
cultures and to expand ourselves to embrace the full meaning of
planetary consciousness, the essential interdependence and
interconnectedness of all living beings and the earth. We are being
asked to open our minds and hearts to the possible. Are we able to
transcend our self-interest to find the heart of the global synthesis
of which we are a part? Are we able to find a balance between
egoistic interests and care and concern for the common good? Can we
balance sovereignty of nations and a new world culture? On the outer
levels the process of globalization is happening as we speak, creating
the need for whole systems changes and new ways of thinking about
complexity and diversity. On the inner levels alienation from
ourselves, each other, nature, and a higher power have created the
need for new skills, capacities and understandings to reconnect us to
the source of our true essence. The times are calling each person to
a deeper meaning and truth, to compassion, love, courage, reverence of
the human spirit and belief in our capacity to co-create our emergent
future. Our innate but unrealized capacities awaken when we are
challenged by new life conditions. Each major transition in cultural
evolution from agrarian, to industrial to information ages or from
egocentric, to sociocentric to worldcentric perspectives has awakened
latent skills and capacities unknown before. We are asked now to
develop the skills and capacities necessary to create a new social
planetary order that will embrace and enhance Life.

Expanding the Mind: An Integral Approach to Understanding Complexity

To deal with the complexity of our era requires a multilevel and
multidimensional approach. Leading edge researchers of cultural evolution
have amassed the information we need to begin to expand our approach to
global understanding. The Integral Approach* of Ken Wilber and Spiral
Dynamics* of Don Beck, combined, offer a comprehensive framework of human
behavior and social processes to understand and deal with the diversity,
complexity, and rapid social change characteristic of our times. Don Beck
says that simplistic solutions must be replaced by a rich understanding
and respect for diversities in people, uniqueness in situations, and
inevitable steps and stages in human emergence. Rigid rules, a product of
fixed state ideologies, must be supplanted by fluctuating algorithm that
engage a world full of variables, life cycles, wild cards and other complex
dynamics that lie at the core of life itself. External, top-down solutions
have not worked.

Multidimensional Approach: Reality consists of 4 dimensions or
perspectives all of which must be addressed if we are to avoid
distortion from partiality. We are individuals living in collective
contexts and in two worlds – interior and exterior. Individuals and
cultures consist of both material (body, demographics, systems and
organization) and non-material (cultural values, mind, heart,
intention, spiritual, worldviews) dimensions – objective and
subjective and we are the Witness of it all. Today the emphasis on
the objective, scientific, materialistic and economic aspects of life
are out of balance with the subjective human, social and spiritual
dimensions. United Nations’ programs and policies are generally
lacking in the recognition that in addition to outer changes,
transformation requires inner changes of deep values, attitudes,
meaning and purpose. Don Beck says, external approaches designed
to improve the human condition are faulted unless they also include,
as parallel and simultaneous tracks, the essential steps and stages in
interior development. In short, economic, political and technological
efforts must correlate with the levels of complexity of thinking
within individuals and entire cultures. Unless external efforts
match existing capacities, we will make matters worse rather than
better by imposing our own values rather than what is needed. We must
begin to look at the root of our conflicts at a deeper internal level.

Multilevel Approach: According to evolutionary research, growth of
individuals, cultures, and nations unfolds in stages or steps, none of
which can be skipped. Each stage transcends and includes the previous
one. We evolve through a great spiral of existence driven by internal
dynamics and shifting life conditions. Spiral Dynamics is a way to
think about complexity and diversity through core intelligences and
deep values that flow beneath the surface of what we believe and do
(Beck). As Life Conditions change and old solutions do not work the
neurological system in the brain awakens latent mental capacities to
cope with increasingly complex life conditions. Individuals,
organizations, nations, cultures and civilizations are at different
stages of bio-psycho-social-spiritual emergence of complexity and
therefore require economic and political solutions that correlate with
these levels of complexity. Our deep values determine how we think
and what our responses are to the world around us. Strain between
these systems is the home of all human conflict, understanding, and
mis-understanding. These (deep values) are the sum total of the
invisible, cultural, and spiritual forces that drive our perceptions,
influence all of life’s choices, lifestyles and sense of what is
right, wrong, and appropriate, says Caleb Rosado. Differences
between people and cultures are not merely differences of race,
religion, geography and gender, but are based on deep value
differences and mind sets. We must look below the surface now into
the deeper reaches of the mind and ways of thinking that create
diversity as we enter into deep dialogue with one another to explore
the mindsets that drive our outer behavior

We need integrative thinking to solve the life challenges that we face
in building a planetary civilization According to Beck, while the
eight levels are all legitimate expressions of the human experience,
they are not ‘equal’ in their capacity to deal with complex problems
in society. Stages 7 (process oriented) and 8 (synthesis oriented)
are the first stages where we are not unconsciously embedded in a
particular perspective, and are able to work objectively with diverse
perspectives. All stages of the spiral must be healthy for movement
to occur when life conditions evoke it.

Our Psycho-Social Developmental History

Motivating Drive
Popular Name
Cultural Manifestations and Personal Displays

Level 8
collective individualism; cosmic spirituality; earth changes

Level 7
natural systems; self-principle; multiple realities; knowledge

Level 6
egalitarian; feelings; authentic; sharing; caring; community

Level 5
materialistic; consumerism; success; image; status; growth

Level 4
meaning; discipline; traditions; morality; rules; lives for later

Level 3
gratification; glitz; conquest; action; impulsive; lives for now

Level 2
rites; rituals; taboos; superstitions; tribes; folk ways & lore

Level 1
food; water; procreation; warmth; protection; stays alive

Research indicates that the natural development of humanity is in the
direction of synthesis and the recognition that we are from one
source, are one family, and are ultimately One as all religions have
traditionally taught. This offers us hope that humanity will
successfully meet the challenges of the times.

Expanding the Heart: A New Spirituality for New Times

With emerging globalization and new communications technology advanced
there has been a cross fertilization of all religions, with the
increasing possibility of exposure to many different paths. We may
express our spirituality today through religious traditions or
spiritual exploration and direct experience of the sacred. We are
living our spirituality increasingly in spiritual contemplation and in
responsible social action. Our focus is on the relationship to the
self, to others, to nature, and to the divine. We cannot
compartmentalize religion today. What we truly believe is reflected
in every aspect of our lives.

Relationship to Self. We know that we must prepare ourselves to be
the creators of our new planetary civilization, developing our own
hidden potential to play our part. We are learning how to pay
attention to our reactions, which are habitual and culturally
conditioned. We are working to remove psychological and cultural
obstructions that prevent us from living from our highest selves. We
know we do not see the world as it is but as we are. We are moving
from dualistic thinking of scientific materialism to unitive thinking;
from either/or to both/and thinking, where every perspective has a
place in the whole. We are learning how to exercise our imaginative
faculties to increase our creativity and how to elevate our thinking
by exposure to beauty, truth and goodness. We know that we must
change ourselves to change the world. Our own being becomes an
instrument for change and upliftment when our presence radiates
serenity and love. We are coming to understand that we ourselves
create reality by our selective attention that constantly chooses
between life’s possibilities.

Relationship to Others. We are convening in small groups committed to
social change and learning how to create the conditions and
environments where higher values can emerge and where our capacities
and sensibilities can deepen. We are opening our hearts to forgiveness
and reconciliation. We are networking at International Conferences
and on the Internet, building a strong international civil society
committed to social action. We experiment with circles, hierarchies,
and something in between as we strive to find appropriate structures
to meet each challenge we face together and to include all voices in
the conversation. We are democratizing our skills, which in the past
have belonged only to the few.

Relationship to Nature. We revere nature and all life and are
committed to preserving the health of our planet for future
generations. We study and apply natural organic principles to our
work. We are interested in all revelations of science: biology,
astronomy, brain research etc. as they reveal deep truths about who
we are and our place in the universe. Space explorations of bring a
sense of awe, reverence and perspective for the magnificence of the
boundless cosmos in which our fragile planet spirals around the Sun.

Relationship to the Divine. We seek connection to the divine in ways
learned from different traditions. We find spiritual guidance and
comfort within and at the highest level we seek mystical
identification with the sacred whole to which we all belong. We are
aware of the value of healthy conscience and that still, small voice
within that guides us to the Good. We seek through meditation and
emptying our thoughts to transcend our cultural conditioning. Through
silence we prepare ourselves to be receptive and sensitive to divine
presence and purpose by slowly awakening our spiritual senses.

* Wilber, Ken: A Brief History of Everything Shambhala, 1996.

Beck, Don:
Spiral Dynamics, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford UK 1996