Basics of Truly 21st Century Spirituality

An interesting new conversation has started up on a year old blog entry of mine called, “An Amazing Question” and this afternoon I was interviewed around the topic of ‘pluralistic spirituality’ – so I guess it’s worth to look at some of these matters again.

And so I thought that it might be helpful to state some of the basic premises I’m coming from in this regard:

  • The universe (Kosmos) does not have a center (or ground or basis or what-have-you)
  • There is no beginning (Big Bang)
  • The universe (Kosmos) does not have a goal (that we could possibly know about)
  • The universe (Kosmos) does not make sense (we do)
  • Spirit and matter are two (of an unknown number of) ways of interacting
  • Gurus, masters, enlightened beings, etc. are not authorities by reaching the level or state they’re on/in but by the grace of us (you and me) bestowing authority and trust upon them.
  • Consciousness and unconsciousness relate to each other like a tree’s crown and roots (connected by the trunk)

Present day spirituality is mostly (actually almost entirely, but not quite) structured vertically – like a pyramid: at the top are the realized, enlightened, etc. and at the bottom are the (very) unenlightened masses; the goal/aim of a spiritual life is to get as close to the top of the pyramid as possible, and once you ‘made it’ help those below to rise.
Almost all of the vehicles (organisations) of spirituality do have a ‘feudalistic’ organisational structure where the (enlightened) person at the top is both worldly and spiritual leader and decider; usually advised by a ‘court’ of ‘far advanced’ students/disciples.

This is the basic ‘reason’ why real collaboration between the ‘spiritual stars’ (as I called them in some of these comments) will not happen, just as it is hard to imagine Kings and Queens coming to a realistic collaboration – they put their kingdom at risk.

Because of the feudalistic and often authoritarian social structure of spiritiual groups and movements – however benign they flesh out their activities in the world – no real dialogue can happen, and true dialogue is the basis of authentic collaboration. True dialogue is only possible if we reckognize each other as deeply and intrinsically equal; and if it is to become real collaboration in any sense that I can see (I’m not talking about cooperation which can also happen in vertical social relationships) we not only need to trust, honor and be utterly open to each other, we must also be willing to be convinced by the other and change our behaviour according to our (now reformed) convictions.

I know, I’m making this awfully short, but nevertheless I have concluded from seeing matters this way that:

  • The traditional and modern vertical spiritual paths offer no real solutions for the challenges humanity is facing in this Century
  • These paths are our heritage and as such can help in developing a healthy sense of ego (in the sense of “it’s me”; not in the misunderstood new-agey way of ‘repository for everything we can think of as obstacle inside ourselves; obstacle to ascending to the pinnacle of being human)
  • Traditional spiritual paths only reveal what they teach about reality before it is experienced (ask a Buddhist medtitator if ever he has a vision of Virgin Mary; or ask a Christian Mystic if he sees the Buddha or Shiva or some such in his meditation); traditional and modern spiritual paths are really co-creating the “basic, deep truths” that they think to have independent existence.
  • 99% of the spiritual paths are vertical in nature, and vertical paths and structures have helped manouevre us into the state we’re in world-wide; put in a different way: there is no reason to believe, that these paths offer any possibility to have the kind of change we need on a world scale.

All of this together has led me to let go of those paths and move on what I’ve called cooperative spirituality in the beginning to drop that term in favor of pluralistic spirituality, it is similar to what John Heron has named Participatory Spirituality or what can even be called P2P-spirituality.

  • It’s basic governance structure is the circle of equal and unique individuals.
  • It’s teaching structure is ‘mutual apprenticeship’.
  • It’s practise is – when done with others – consentual and ‘we-full’.
  • It’s practise from an individuals perspective is guided by non-judgemental openness and a ‘holding of the space’, an intense presence, so that who and what is can unfold its authentic way of being.
  • It is embracing imperfection.

It seems those are some basic premises that can be mentioned now; over time it might become clearer as more of us are practising and dialogue about that…

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