Re/Thinking Religion: Integral Postmetaphysical Spirituality

John Vervaeke joins Bruce Alderman and Layman Pascal to explore possible points of contact and confluence between their respective approaches to religion and spirituality.

For this inaugural episode, we feel into some of the commonalities and differences between Integral Postmetaphysical Spirituality and Integral Life Practice, and John’s “religion that is not a religion” and his work around developing an ecology of practices suitable for addressing the meaning crisis. We touch on a number of related themes:

  • the creative deployment of mythic or literary figures, from Cthulhu and zombies, to the Centaur, the Minotaur, and the khora
  • the importance of wrestling with existential and epistemological limit conditions
  • the role of ambiguity in higher forms of rationality
  • the relation of non-theism to classical theism and atheism
  • the history of integrative practices
  • the ‘traps’ in conventional practice that can thwart balanced development
  • …and much more.

John Vervaeke is a professor of psychology at Toronto University and creator of the popular YouTube series “Awakening from the Meaning Crisis.”

This was an interesting and wide conversation; kept me involved.

Besides a follow-up on “how to get beyond absolutisms,” I think a discussion on “God/the sacred in the nadir” (in alienation, absurdity, existential anxiety, etc.) as Vervaeke was talking about (thank you) would be worthwhile for the Integral community. (And perhaps that’s already being addressed in the Integral Vervaeke study group.)

Re: the conversation around the “spiritual ambiguity of the universe”: I thought of my own sense and experiences of Spirit or God or Goddess or supreme spiritual realms or whatever-you-might-want-to-call-it—as Mystery, and with Mystery, ambiguity is the name of the game. There is no expectation of any final or permanent clarity or certainty, no reliable Presence that won’t also be a reliable Withdrawn (thank you, Bruce). And yes, how vulnerable this makes one feel. I think of the story of spunky Saint Teresa overheard in prayer saying “if this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few of them.” Not only did she have an impeccable and potent and intimate 2nd person relationship with God, she “seemed” (thank you, Layman) to understand the inexactness of the supposed Divine Order and of the relationship, and kept loving.

She is but one of I imagine a number of historical and present-day religious/philosopher figures for whom spiritual ambiguity is recognized, where God-as-Mystery can be Christ as well as Cthulhu, the khora as well as the kool-aid, and others and other things as well. Which isn’t to dispute the need for helping others recognize the ambiguousness, both through intellectual reformulation and through direct and personal approaches for those people experiencing a crisis of “faith.”

I ran across this diagram.
I imagine it could ruffle some feathers, but there it is.