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integrative spirituality

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I had a dream.

The symbols of many faiths were spinning in a bright blue sky.

One by one they attached themselves to each other.

When they all connected to one another they turned transparent.

They formed a large multifaceted crystalline structure.

A white light filled the sky and its rays penetrated the crystal.

Suddenly a brilliant rainbow rippled through the crystal

and I saw the image of a face.

I cannot say if the face was male or female,

young or old, black or white . . .

it was a faceless face,

one of pure light

 

Through years of spiritual reading and practice I have come to a place of believing in what I call integral spirituality. The foundation of my faith is the belief that the evolution of consciousness depends on healing the separation (A Course in Miracles, 1975). The separation is a perception that our selves and our world are made up of discreet and separate bodies, objects, thoughts, feelings and phenomena.

I believe this perception extends to the many names and faces of God the world has come to believe in. I have come to ask myself what if all these faces of God are merely parts of God's one true face.

The words of Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, the Bal Shem Tov, Yogananda, Krishnamurti, Rumi and Chief Seattle all ring true for me. I have also found facets of my faith in the physics of Fritjof Capra and David Bohm, and in the psychologies of Rogers, Maslow, Assagioli, Perls, Grof, Wilber and Peck. I have seen a part of God's face in a painting by Rembrandt, a song on the radio and in the images of a motion picture. The wind through the trees; the northern lights caressing a winter sky; a distant storm churning above the vast ocean . . . all these moments have brought me toward my faith.

I have found that for different periods in my life and for different moments and situations in my day, different faiths help me through: The words of the Tao Te Ching help me in group situations; Buddhism helps me to deal with death and dying; Judaism supports me through grieving; A Course in Miracles aids me in my relationships with others; and Shamanism fosters my relationship with nature.

Each tradition has worked on a different aspect of my personality and perceptions: The Christianity of A Course in Miracles has given me the path of love, forgiveness and redemption; Sufi stories have revealed patterns of behavior and limited perceptions; Yoga has deepened my awareness of the union of mind, body and spirit; and Taoism has taught me about the acceptance of the way things are.

Michael Murphy in his book "Future of the Body" proposes a process of Integrated Practice (Murphy, 1992). His theory is that since we are multifaceted creatures, we need to use different disciplines to work on different aspects of our self. These different aspects include: body, mind, heart and spirit. This theory resonates with my personal experience. Yet I see the integration extending to embrace all faiths.

I have heard that it's vital for each seeker to find one path and follow it deeply. The logic of this notion does not escape me, yet something in my heart wonders . . . Is this notion also part of the thought system of separateness? I wonder if our minds are reaching a point in evolution where the need for separate attention and focus is dissolving into something greater. All I can say is what I believe and what works for me in this moment.

I am inspired, opened and healed by many traditions and practices. My understanding blossoms from the many truths I feel emerging from the many faiths. And I am committed above all else to heal the separation and return Home.

Throughout the ebbs and flows of my daily life, I read the Course in Miracles, Tao Te Ching, the Bible, Sufi and Hasidic stories, the I Ching, and the Bhagavad-Gita. I chant Buddhist, Hindu and Jewish Mantras. I beat the Native American drum. I move my hands and body through Yoga, Tai Chi and Aikido. I seek the one in the many and the many in the one. The many faces of the one face...

 

The Tao that can be told

is not the eternal Tao.

The name that can be named

is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.

Naming is the origin of all particular things.

(Tao Te Ching, Mitchell, 1988)

 

Nothing real can be threatened.

Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God.

(Course in Miracles, 1975)

 

Unnamable God, I feel you with me at every moment.

You are my food, my drink, my sunlight, and the air I breathe.

You are the ground I have built on and the beauty that rejoices my heart.

(Book of Psalms, Psalm 16)

 

The clear bead at the center changes everything.

There are no edges to my loving now.

I've heard it said there's a window that opens from one mind to another,

but if there's no wall, there's no need

for fitting the window, or the latch.

(Rumi, Quatrains, 511)

 

The unreal hath no being;

the real never ceaseth to be;

the truth about both hath been perceived by the seers

of the Essence of things.

(Bhagavad-Gita, Second Discourse)

 

Wheresoever are material characteristics there is delusion;

but whoso perceives that all characteristics

are in fact no-characteristics,

perceives the Tathagata (the Buddha).

(The Diamond Sutra)

 

All things are connected

like the blood which unites one family.

All things are connected.

. . . One thing we know,

which the white man may one day discover -

our God is the same God.

(Chief Seattle, 1854)

 

 


 

References

A Course in Miracles. (1975). Tiburon, California: Foundation for Inner Peace.

Besant, Annie (Trans.). (1904). The Bhagavad-Gita. London: Theosophical Publishing House.

Mitchell, Stephen (Trans.). (1988). Tao Te Ching. New York: Harper & Row.

Mitchell, Stephen (Trans.). (1993). A Book of Psalms. New York: HarperCollins.

Moyne, John and Barks, Coleman (Trans.). (1984). Open Secret - Versions of Rumi. Putney, Vermont: Threshold Books.

Murphy, Michael. (1992). The Future of the Body. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc.

Price, A.F. and Mou-Lam, Wong (Trans.). (1969). The Diamond Sutra and The Sutra of Hui Neng. Boulder, Colorado: Shambhala Publications.

 


 

A Spiritual Self- Reflection Paper
Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Palo Alto, California
Winter 1997

 

 

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