Enlightenment 2.0 as the convergence of the Western and Eastern Enlightenment Traditions

Hi @Sidra. I follow Fr. Richard Rohr. He sorts it out rather nicely, actually. Of course, Christian theology has many contending perspectives, so although Fr. Rohr is very integral-friendly, I think his approach is not really mainstream for the church as a whole. The history of Christianity is big, sloppy, and complicated, so it can all look very good or very evil, depending on what one chooses to highlight.

Some of my favorite spiritual books involve Christian-Buddhist dialog with authors like Thomas Merton and Thich Nhat Hahn. Honestly, these perspectives feel very “both and”.

Thanks, too!

A year ago, it never would have occurred to me to post anything in an online forum related to spirituality, meaning, humanity, or anything really. My whole focus was on IT (“information technology”, not “integral theory”). Then one thing lead to another and I felt the need to start communicating with actual people about things actual people actually care about. One milestone in that process was this introductory passage in an essay I drafted a few months ago. (I’ll use this to circle back to your post in a minute).


The Human Network

One of the very first slides in the Cisco CCNA curriculum includes the content below.

Networking Today: No Boundaries

  • World without boundaries
  • Global communities
  • Human network

That probably felt true and authentic to curriculum writers in the 1990s. They might have held out hope for this vision all the way through 2016. In the current environment, it all just sounds absurd. And yet, in a profound way, I do both believe and embrace this. It appears some explanation is in order. …


The point in relation to your post? We’re all just nodes on the human network. You connect with an assortment of authors, ideas, beliefs, and practices. I connect with a different assortment of authors, ideas, beliefs, and practices. We mutually connect to a few of these in common, but we likely diverge in far more. That’s how networks work. If all of us connected to each other in exactly the same ways about exactly the same content, that would be very rigid and unadaptable. More diverse networks hold more promise for evolution. So in a highly textured, but also absolutely literal way, exchanges like this are all about networking.

I think what people miss is that in every community - even within the self and it’s various parts - there is going to be conflicting interests and the need to confront these conflicts. Failure to accept conflict as necessary in the global community is no more healthy than refusing to confront one’s own inner conflicts in one’s “inner community”.

The problem being - returning back to a key difference between one specific branch of Christianity that seems to have taken root in the American psyche (and is often presented as “Western” when “American” would often be more appropriate) - is the concept of Good vs Evil and the belief that one has to cast out the Evil and defeat it. The problem with that is we tend to project that Evil onto any container that is nearby and now we have culture wars as the latest iteration of that.
This goes to the root of dysfunction in Western (I mean, American) culture. And because the American psyche is massively disproportionally represented on the internet, there may be a tendency to believe this is a global phenomenon and the Global community is broken, when it would probably be more accurate to say the West (I mean, America) just needs to get it’s “stuff” in order and fix it’s own disfunction and blockages to becoming “Integral” first, before trying to present the world (or the East) as superiors or even equals when it concerns “Enlightenment”.

Last night I was listening to some “Eastern” Philosophy. I find it to be a sophisticated philosophy and practice today, to say nothing of the fact that it started far, far before even Greek philosophy and shows a depth of understanding of humanity I don’t find in western philosophy. Even rejecting their own account of history and only accepting the “superior” Western account of History as acceptable [sic] - this philosophy goes back 1,000 years before the Christian Messiah allegedly lived. I say allegedly because of course we give Western history the benefit of the doubt despite lack of actual evidence when it concerns what is legitimate History.

Last summer I felt the need to explore a lot of “meaning of life” questions. So I started adding that type of thing to my YouTube favorites. Eventually, I gravitated to “non-duality”, which was an unfamiliar term to me at the time.

After quite a few hours of listening to an assortment of swamis I’d have to admit that Advaita Vedanta is a clear, sensible philosophy that allows for Western science but also goes beyond Western science. For logistics reasons, a full Advaita Vedanta practice does not seem viable for me right now, but the general framework allows for all kinds of practices and it allows for different types of people to practice in different ways.

In your other post you mentioned some problematic elements of US Christianity. This thread could get very long about all that! I just want to say here, that I appreciate the work of Fr. Richard Rohr who brings a non-dual perspective to Christianity and a Christian perspective to non-duality.

I try not to be Stephen Hawkings, but Christianity is the foundation on which Western civilization was built so it would be highly suspicious if a dialogue about Western Civilization did not include Christianity.

I heard someone say today that “Enlightenment is expanding one’s ability to have joy about more and more things.”
Which makes perfect sense. It makes enlightenment a process rather than an achievement and someone who is able to have joy about everything would be truly enlightened. All the angst in so many philosophers and many religions seems to be a long and unnecessary detour around a very direct and simple path.

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Agreed, The history of Christianity is inseparable from – history. For example, there were all sorts of atrocities committed in the Middle Ages by people who were ostensibly Christian. Is it fair to lay those atrocities on the person of Jesus or on the core teachings of Christianity?

It’s not quite so easy to let Christianity off the hook, though. As Vervaeke does a good job pointing out in one of his videos, the essential spiritual realization of the ancient Hebrew prophets was that theirs was the God of history and that faith was always a journey to get right with where God wanted them to go next. That same sensibility flowed into Christianity, and through the work of Augustine of Hippo, in particular, into the civilization that informed those medieval warriors with all their very rough edges.

Really, any kind of evolutionary system that is teleological in nature (Integral Theory, perhaps?) can likely be traced back to the original realizations of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos, and co. So at the end of the day, anyone who espouses an evolutionary theory guided by some loving presence has a major theodicy problem. Because history itself has been one bloody smackdown after another.

I can see a connection between this definition of enlightenment and the one I explain in my presentation. My conception of enlightenment essentially boils down to peacemaking through sensemaking. And by peacemaking, I’m referring to holonic and developmentally-oriented processes toward greater harmony, both internally and externally, singularly and collectively. And by sensemaking I’m referring not only to the intellectual rationally-oriented processes to better understand reality but also feeling-based and deeply embodied and autopoetic sensemaking. This conception of enlightenment builds upon the work of Wilber, Vervaeke, and several others.


Yes, this is an exciting approach and does seem to be the way to go forward.

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Do you see what you did there?

Made an ambiguous statement that provokes discussion? Anyway, after posting a sort of open-ended question like that, I mulled it over myself quite a bit. A typical Christian theological response is that yes, there is a lot of suffering in the world, but God participates in all of it and takes it upon Himself in the person of Jesus. Then - today being Easter (in the Western Church) - it’s all overcome through the Resurrection.

For many Christians, that sort of theology settles these matters, so discussion over. Another point of view is Book of Job. Namely, puny humans have no business questioning the ways of the Lord. Actually, I see a lot of sense in that - Being in general does not care much what I think of it! Or if does, so far I made been spared plagues, boils, tragic loss and so forth, evidently being able to process subtler hints …

The ambiguity in this case struck me as funny. In Christianity, yes, all the atrocities of everyone is laid on Jesus. Jesus was punished and every time I look at pornography (for example) the Roman’s spear twists another time in Jesus’ side so that I don’t suffer in eternal hell and damnation. At least, that’s how it was explained to me in Sunday School.
Where it gets sticky is “The Church” believes that they and Jesus are the same, whereas I prefer to separate the members from the Church and the Church from Jesus (if I recognize Jesus did exist). Each member of a Church is not responsible for the entire history of that Church, and neither is Jesus “responsible” for what is done in His name by the Church. A Church is responsible for the actions of it’s members to the degree it supports, fosters and harbors such behavior either actively or through inaction.

When it comes to various theisms and The Great Question:

I approach this as where I am now and from this place I am, what makes the most sense for me to move forward?
For example, I recognize the path of Buddhism as a valid path - but not for me in this lifetime and there are other paths. Some are faster, some are slower, some are dead ends and some achieve more than Buddhism. I see similar wisdom in the origins of Judaism, and Taoism. In Hinduism is see equal wisdom along several paths and some Hindu paths are the origin point of later systems like Buddhism, Gnostic Christianity and many others.

For me I’ve never really been concerned with which was the actual Truth that is completely 100% impossible to verify as truth.
I have always myself been more interested in which “makes the most sense” bot in terms of Theology and practice. Some Churches / paths make it literally impossible to practice because of their dogma. For example, if a “lineage” is required and that lineage is broken, then practicing it requires breaking the lineage rules. As and example Tibetan Buddhism is going face this problem within the next few decades. How will they choose a “legitimate” reincarnation?
Other prohibitions or requirements just violate my common sense so completely and profoundly that I - just can’t. This is my issue with 99% of Christian faiths. In order to advance beyond a member to some kind of legitimate Pastor or Priest, you are required to swear a believe in the Literal Mythic views in the Bible. So with Christianity I have the choice to never advance beyond just a member of the congregations because I could never swear to a belief in the Literal Mythic interpretation of the Bible.
All of these and many other mundane matters tend to be more important to my decision making than any feelings of “truth” about Theisms.


To circle back to where this topic started in the first place, Western Enlightenment needs to be understood as the critique of the “philosophes” against the perceived outrages of Christianity in preceding centuries. (Wars, Inquisitions, heresy trials, etc.) Eastern Enlightenment traditions have had their twists and turns along the way, but continuity seems more featured than revolutionary upheaval. (Lots of exceptions, however. It’s never been all bliss in the mysterious Orient.)

If there is such a thing as a pan-species Enlightenment in the offing, I am imagine we must both criticize and re-appreciate a wide range of traditions. My feelings about Christianity are obviously ambiguous, as my laughable post clearly revealed. The theology you learned in Sunday School, is not the only one, I’m glad to say. Is so far as Christianity and Enlightenment are not polar opposites, another turn or two on the Christian Dharma Wheel seems required.

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This goes back to the definition of enlightenment, and I would also add in that there needs to be a language for various degrees or types of enlightenment.

One type of enlightenment is a the spontaneous variety, where people “freak out” in various ways, but usually in a state of bliss.

One Christian group that does this very well is the “Born Again” Christians, and their rites of Baptism and Sacrament could be considered a kind of “Tantra” (an external thing that accelerates a spiritual process). Christian Rock also fascinates me as a means of Channeling devotion to access states of Bliss. Instead of “Indigenous” Drums or other traditional instruments, the electric guitar and snare drums are used to “Praise the Lord”.

Thanks for sharing the Wilber-Combs Lattice. I’ve been bothered by the Wilber III-IV stacking solution, so I’m glad Ken Wilber himself is sensitive to the issues. It seems plausible that cognitive and spiritual development are different “lines” of development that can run parallel, and not at the same pace.

For reasons related to my personal shadow work, I think Pentecostal Christianity has the potential to leap into just about anything. For a non-Christian analogue, Gebser’s Ever-Present Origin may have a similar effect.

Yes. So far so good. But the “altitudes” model is more about some unified, across-the-board sort of development. So the integration of “lines”, the “ups” and the “altitudes” is under-theorized, from my POV.

On the Western spiritual development topic, here is my initial hack at using Integral and fistfull of other metatheories to help people sort out world history, in general. At only 10 pages or so, it’s clearly not a narrative history of everything. Rather, it shows how one can use different frameworks to peer into history, hopefully with good effect. For what it’s worth. Any sensible remarks I might want to make about the ups and downs of Christian spirituality over the the millenia would be against the background of some of these more materialistic (but still very AQAL) ideas.


If we look at @EnlightenedWorldview’s definition of Enlightenment as “peacemaking through sense making” and if we mean “peace” to be a kind of inner peace and sense making to be both emotional "sense and intellectual sense, then …

There are many militant Enlightenment traditions throughout history. There are the Eastern martial arts masters, who are considered to be Enlightened and also wise. Tai Chi, Kung Fu and the Samurai come to mind. South Asia has Kalaripayattu and I’m sure there are many others around the world.

Though I believe these are distinct from the Holy Crusaders of the Judeo-Christian-Islam traditions. The J-C-I Holy warriors seem to be more conquest oriented and looking to find salvation through heroic deeds and conquest. We might add in Viking to this, where salvation and access to Valhalla is found in a heroic death. The Viking, J-C-I seems goal oriented and uses war as a necessity to gain salvation. This is a parasitic relationship where one group must die for the other to benefit.

Contrast this to the first traditions I mention, where salvation comes through inner work and usefulness in warfare is a secondary benefit. The Shogun did not need war for his practice. Japan did not project it’s military outward until the 20th Century and there were centuries at a time of peace during various historical periods.

So what would a Russian soldier’s enlightenment look like today? I guess along either path because he had access to the internet and could have learned a multitude of traditions and philosophies.

Love a good history discussion! Wikipedia backs you up. (See the Edo period) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_history_of_Japan

Now, the interesting question is why … and how does that compare/contrast with the West and other places? Here’s a perspective. The Tokugawa shogun consolidated power, forcing the samurai warriors to become courtiers instead. This is extremely parallel to the state formation process happening in Europe at the same time. The old medieval free-for-all was giving way to organized states with courtiers and bureaucracies to run things on behalf of monarchs. One huge difference though - although the European states were consolidating within themselves, no one state - not England, not France, not Spain - was able to dominate the entire region. So although within states things calmed down (relatively speaking), between states war was periodic and almost perpetual. In Japan, the shogun had no rivals. Between the Mongols on the one hand and Commodore Perry on the other, Japan got to run its own show.

Everything that happened with Japan between 1853 and 1945 shows that the warrior spirit had not gone away however. The shoguns kept warrior culture in a bottle, so to speak, but the genie got out. The whole question of Zen master support for the Japanese Empire needs to be viewed in this light. “Peace” is term that can mean different things in different social and personal contexts.

The funny thing is much of my world history is courtesy of James Clavell and while it could be said he muddles history a bit, so do History Textbooks, lol.

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