Integral Evolutionary Spirituality, Spiritual Teachers, Cultism, and Critics — My Response to the Integrales Forum Position Paper

This is my passionate response to a request for comments from Germany’s Integrales Forum, in response to their position paper, “Integral Spirituality and Spiritual Teachers.”


The Integrales Forum “Position Paper” on validating spiritual teachers offers philosophically rich leadership, and is much appreciated. I have articulated similar principles and actively apply them to myself. I work transparently, and entirely non-coercively. But the principles articulated in the paper can be applied well or poorly, with potentially great good or bad consequences. Remember, it takes a nearly superhuman force to break free of the gravity of the ego and common worldly human society and to achieve “escape velocity” to go into the orbit of sustainable higher spiritual realization of transpersonal states and stages of consciousness. “Hard” schools of intense challenge arise for good reasons and should not be legislated out of existence or unduly constrained by the limited understanding of the unenlightened. Experiments at the leading edge can’t be consensually validated by those a half-step behind. We can establish criteria for evaluating spiritual teachers, yes, but let’s hold them humbly. In the process it is no less valid to evaluate the critics, and even students. This discussion is part of how we can birth the kind of sangha that can become the next Buddha, so this is great and honorable work. But let’s proceed humbly, recognizing the tentativeness of our hypotheses. Let the culture of integral evolutionary spirituality be rich and open, fed by some streams of wisdom that run through watersheds fed by thunder, floods and lightning, and not only ones watered by healing rain.

First Excerpt: The Gravity of the Ego and the Big Invisible Cult of the World

Remember, most human beings alive today are not only not-yet-enlightened, they are neurotic and selfish, and in denial of it. Most are also integrally illiterate. And most also have complicating resentments and prejudices, unexamined shadow projections, and seriously limiting structures of meaning-making. Only members of a “community of the adequate” can realistically be expected to be capable of competently performing the consensual validation of a spiritual teacher. But neither your documents nor mine has tackled the sticky problem of defining the “adequacy” of those doing the validating (or of students, which is a whole other matter.) If we did, I suspect our “elitism” would offend some readers — but if our standards were not extremely high, our process of validation would tend to reduce a very profound consideration to something superficial and potentially hurtful to the evolution of consciousness and culture.

This points out that we all come to this discussion out a worldly unenlightened culture, which is distorted by widely-held oversimplified or inaccurate beliefs and unexamined attitudes rooted in (and amplifying) fear, resentment, craving, and unprocessed grief. It’s been called “the consensus trance” with good reason. To word it more vividly (if perhaps also in a more inflammatory way) the common context of modern and postmodern popular culture is itself a great “cult” of unconscious unenlightened defenses, anxiety, greed, and consoling illusions that fiercely and viciously defends its epistemic closure. Any attempt to create an inspired subculture of transformative practice must defy the consensus of that larger consensus cultism, and in the process, it will tend to seem very much like what is derisively called a “cult” in our current popular conversation. It is true that pathological “cultic” brainwashing can be extremely dangerous and is worth guarding against, but we must remember, it is not the only cultism in play today, and the popular cultural alternative (the likely default for those who don’t attempt to create a spiritual culture) is itself so unhealthy that has created a species-wide moral, economic, environmental and political crisis.

Second Excerpt: Gratitude for Enlightened Wildness

I spent fifteen years as a student of Adi Da Samraj, a truly great spiritual teacher who is often publicly denounced as an abuser. My view of him is complex, full of nuances and paradoxes, and impossible to adequately summarize in this short space. One telling phrase I have written about him is that he was “one part Jesus Christ, one part Picasso, one part Nagarjuna, one part Marlon Brando, and one part Genghis Khan. And more…” I am inexpressibly grateful for the incomparable education I received during my time with him. My devotional love affair with him transformed me and set the course of my life. At the same time, I was always a critical student, a practitioner of “defiant devotion.” I was a devotee who objected to his choices and behaviors, criticized him, disobeyed some of his commands, and even ended my membership in his ashram altogether over twenty years ago. It was the nature of my (truly blessed) relationship with him to struggle with him intensely and tenaciously even after I left, for a total of thirty-five years — all in the context of a profound and transcendent spiritual relationship.

This sounds strange, if not utterly incomprehensible, to most people, and I know it’s not realistic to expect my paradoxical experience to be deeply understood very widely in contemporary culture. But I received transformative blessings not just from the aspects of Adi Da that people would regard as legitimate and praiseworthy. I got tremendous value from aspects of my experience that others would regard as preposterous, “abusive” and/or unreasonable. Some of my most profound learnings came after I left; they were printed, as it were, “on the inside of the label” (and visible only upon tearing it apart.) I don’t endorse or excuse all his behaviors. Again, I’ve been a fierce critic (and, viewed conventionally, also a victim, or survivor, of “abuse” — who suffered real injuries and processed a great deal of rage over them) but grew tremendously in the process. And now I hold all of it with gratitude, even though I remain not only devotional but also critical.

Third Excerpt: Both Thunder and Rain

My own teaching work is located firmly in a culture of mutuality. In my opinion, that’s where the creative action is right now — the emergence of a truly relevant evolutionary spiritual culture. If “the next Buddha will be a Sangha” this is how we can work today to participate in serving that important evolutionary emergent. Esoteric “hard” schools of intense challenge should be the rare exception, not the rule. And of course, I would never condone truly criminal or dangerously negligent behavior on the part of a teacher toward his or her students. But I want the culture of integral evolutionary spirituality to be fed by some streams of wisdom that run through watersheds fed by thunder, floods and lightning, and not only ones watered by healing rain.

When I attune myself to a positive evolutionary future, I find that I (and the vast majority of my colleagues) can best serve modestly, by sincerely honoring the dignity, vulnerability, and autonomy of aspirants. But I was transformed in part through a tantric alchemical process that violated my boundaries ruthlessly, and from which I emerged somewhat wounded and much more profoundly and enduringly transformed. Let’s make room for the whole elephant, not just the contours we have been able to grasp so far in a process that is still young, not yet entirely illuminated in all its nooks and crannies, and, thank God, dynamically alive.

You can view the full article here.



Thank you Terry for this well-written, insightfull and balanced contribution to the dialogue emerging from this recent position paper by the Integrales Forum group. As a student of Andrew Cohen (one example of that “wild species” you so passionately defend!) I couldn’t agree more with your nuanced appreciation of the complexities inherent in this kind of inquiry. I look forward to seeing how this rich and important dialogue continues to unfold!


what is the different between cult and cultism???


Latest paper:
See paper on "Foundation of Evolution" on Web-site and the other papers on

Gods Evolution

2/23/2012 Use print margin left 1” right 0.5”
Modifecatio “Imitatus dei” (lat.) --- For the Evolution of Mankind.
This Latin phrase, “imitatus dei”, meaning cooperation with God for evolving Mankind, might have originated way back in the very early Middle Ages. However, only now, in these modern times, do a few of us realize that: Evolution is an integral part of the Universe itself. The Universe IS the process and basically does not need cooperation, but the collateral damage that it causes is extensive, --- because Evolution is still on “Auto-pilot”.
The process is generated by having the Universe constructed (created) with the concept of “Symmetries”, (as our scientists have named it.) The same concept is used for physical evolution of Suns and Planets as well as the “Noetic (cultural) evolution” of mankind, but here it is called “Dualism” (the Tao) by Lao-Tzu and “Logos” by our Western philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus, both 2600 years ago. --- “Symmetries” is actually a much better term, because it is not limited to the 2 of dualism, but allows for “Super Symmetries” for a whole group of forces or qualities to be equal but opposite of each other. --- (Just look at a Snow-flake under a magnifier.)
In my paper “ I am explaining the mechanism of this evolutionary process as much as I understand it myself. The difficulty is that our morals and ethics, as well as compassion are also elements of this evolutionary process. Shakespeare’s line “All the World is a stage and we are merely players” should have continued with: “and the Playwrights,” and author Liz Greene goes so far as to claim that: “Nothing comes into a man’s life that is not a reflection of something within him self”; but that is obviously NOT true; it’s a falsehood. E.g.: Hundreds of thousands of innocent young Jewish children were brutally murdered in German Concentration camps. What could possibly have been “within young children to reflect a massacre?” It was GENESIS of a Culture by a culture, the ugliest form of God’s BLOODY Evolution. ----- Even the tortuous death of Jesus Christ was used to serve Evolution. ----His question: Eli Eli Lama Sabachani? (My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?); is a question asked again and again by Millions of “good people”. --- For me this is a righteous question!
The TOKEN-MORALITY of God’s Angels. --- There is solid evidence that all events on Earth can be predicted month or even years ahead of time. (Only “chaos theory” might limit it.) Previously I told the story of my “psychic friend” being advised by his “Angel-guides” to urge a customer NOT to go to work at 9-11 in the New York Trade-center. Apparently, only a token of ONE out of 2000 casualties is usually saved, because this very small number will not affect evolution. And about innocent, but terminally ill young children, I myself had at one time some of the healing powers of a Jesus Christ or of the Bodhisattvas in India. The few times when I did healing I had help from this “Unmanifest realm”, (not any more). Helping more than a few times must be considered INTERFERENCE with the Free-flow of Evolution. --- EVOLUTION has FIRST PRIORITY in every thing God does or doesn’t do! --- What an irony, here they are, God’s Angel-helpers suppose to act with “love and compassion”, but instead they are being forced to stand by and watch the misery on Earth with enforced indifference. See the famous painting. How do our human Laws and the judicial system look at such a behavior? I only know the response of the “German” legal-system. (Have studied a semester of law there.) For instance, if a person is drowning and another person, who is known as an “expert swimmer”, is only watching without helping; the legal system would find him guilty of “homicide by gross negligence”.
I personally was ‘born” with a “compulsion” to help, (much to my regret). For instants, I saved dozens of “grown-ups” at age 9 from being killed in a massive air attack in 1944 Germany. When I finally managed to open the locked bunker door, the bombs where already falling. They then nearly trampled me to death to get to safety ahead of me. In the winter of 1945 I saved a boy from drowning in a frozen lake while the other kids ran to the shore for safety and just screamed. In 1950 I saved several children during a school outing. I was finally able to give it up, but because I criticized these “Angles” in the heavens, I became a “Persona Non-grata”. --- Just recently (in the Unmanifest realm), I was pushed away twice by an “Angel” and when I ask “Why are you doing this?” The answer was: “You did not ask if I wanted to talk to you!” Am I again being “trampled on”, even at my old age, because I am trying to open another locked door which leads to safety? --- Why can’t these “Angels” at least try to help me find a solution to provide for effective compassion, in this bloody evolution? --- A “solution” which might become acceptable to the Authorities.
Evolution is a “Creative Process” and I have a lot more knowledge about it then the average educated person. I was privileged to take a very rare University course on this subject and have 11 patens of my own. I am no great engineer, but have the ability to see simple solutions where no one else can. I also had the courage to enforce these solutions against the orders of my superiors and had them approved after the deed was done. (The French military has a “medal” for such disobedience.) So why can’t these so called “angels” also be “disobedient” and solve the “collateral damage problem”? The reason is that in the Unmanifest realm there is very little learning and growth for these “angels” to become more creative to think of any solution.

Now, thing must still be done in the thousands of year old tradition, such as erasing all painful memories after death and replacing them with permanent “happy implants”, (heavenly cocaine?), but they have a “committee” for “Education” and when I was introduced to it as a potentially new member one of them said:” Aren’t you too young for this job? And I answered:” Aren’t you kind of too old for it? Apparently, this “Great Chain of Beings” has not reincarnated for a long time and even my guide was using metaphors dating back centuries. For instance, he portrait my workplace as an ancient blacksmith shop when it actual is a very “modern laboratory” and when he showed me his concept of the “great cosmic computer”, of which he was in awe, it was a large rock with a message display. I design computing systems myself and I have never seen a crude rock do it. --- Instead of ignoring this “collateral damage problem”, it should be made the most important task for this COMMITTEE.
The British author Iain M. Banks writes:” The point is: what happens in the [Unmanifest] heaven? Unknowable wonderfulness? --- Nonsense. The answer is nothing. Nothing can happen, in fact if anything can happen, then it doesn’t represent ETERNITY. Our lives are about mutation, development, and the possibility of change; that is almost a definition of what life is: change. [I Ching, the book of change] If you effectively stop time, you disable change, preventing any alteration of an individual’s circumstances.”
A line, supposedly by a 2ndgrader, says: “God created time so that not everything would happen at once”. There cannot be a “Self-Creative Process” in the (Unmanifest) Heaven (and therefore, to be creatively effective for this committee, I might have to become a FIELD-AGENT.) --- Evolution is a process only of the (Manifest) “Space-Time-Continuum” and is created by means of “Symmetries” for the Nuclear Evolution of the physical Universe and the same mechanism is used for the Noetic Evolution of our cultures but called Dualism.
Is our physical World really just an illusion? - Yes, mostly. - See .- “String Theory” tells us there actually is no “matter” and the positive result of Einstein’s “EPR experiment” proved there is no “time and space” either. Einstein called it “spooky”, but in just a few decades your personal Quantum computer will make you accept it. What is VERY REAL is the PROCESS and its RESULTS such as the physical evolution which created all Suns and life giving planets and Noetic evolution creating all progress of mankind, such as our cultures, science, Engineering; our great works of art, our morals our ethics, etc, etc, etc.
---. While evolution cannot happen in the (Unmanifest) , close observation of the is easily accomplished and “changes” can be initiated and directed from the Unmanifest realm via psychic communication. For this I have overwhelming evidence from my psychic friends. Call it “CHANGE BY PROXY”, which is however strictly controlled, because of likely INTERFERENCE with the “Free flow of Evolution!”
Iain M. Banks became famous for his “Culture novels” which deal with humans and their sentient super-computers getting involved in Evolution for all other sentient beings on a Galaxy-wide-scale. (a modification of the ancient “imitator dei” concept) He is the only brilliant mind to day who specifically addresses the moral and ethical issues of the “massive collateral damage” caused by (Gods) Free-flow Noetic Evolution. In his writings on evolution Ian Banks does not use the “Spiritual genre”, but the field of “Science Fiction”; which does not cater to the “blind “faith” of conventional religions with its low level of consciousness, but his writings is readily accessible to higher levels of consciousness, such as “Atheism” and levels above that. (“Level of Consciousness” is closeness to the mind of God.) The “God-force” in Banks novels is provided by vastly superior technology and the wisdom of sentient computers. These highly intelligent machines are the mature children of mankind. The central issues for Banks Culture-novels are the problems generated by Gods fully automated “free flow Evolution”, namely the massive amount of Collateral Damages which it generates. The highly advanced “Culture” tries to reduce or even eliminate these horrible damages. Banks best book on “Evolution” (In my opinion,) is “THE PLAYER OF GAMES”, for which he wrote an excellent introduction about games in general:
All Reality is a Game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our Universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, the most elegant and both intellectually and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, can not be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory, to use an unfashionable word. In this, the future is a game; time is one of the rules. Generally, all the best mechanistic games --- those which can be played in any sense ‘perfectly’, such as ---, ---, --, ---, chess, ---, ---, can be traced to civilizations lacking a relativistic view of the universe (let alone reality). They are also, I might add, invariable pre machine sentience.

The very ‘first rank’ games acknowledge the element of chance, even if they rightly restrict raw luck. To attempt to construct a game on any other lines, no matter how complicated and subtle the rules are, and regardless of the scale and differentiation of the playing volume and the variety of the powers and attributes of the pieces, is inevitable to shackle oneself to a conspectus which is not merely socially but techno-philosophically lagging several ages behind our own. As a historical exercise it might have some value. As a work of the intellect, it’s just a waste of time.
In the above mentioned book, “The Player of Games”, a very large Empire with trillions of sentient beings has been discovered to exist at the rim of our Galaxy. This Empire has created a very complex “Game” called “Azad” which is to represent “General Evolution”, such as “Survival of the fittest” (animals). Millions of their people are studying this Game every year and have been playing it for thousands of years to obtain important Government positions and to establish a “Government of the fittest”. Now they are convinced they have a “meritocracy” as Government, but what they actually have done is brought people to power which are the most merciless and brutal and the best for becoming dominant over others; dominant over their own people and hundreds of other sentient races. The social situation in this Empire is a bloody criminal disaster of unspeakable cruelties.
Question. what is at fault here to let evolution go astray and to self destuction? --- Banks give no direct answer for this at the end of his book, he only states:
The Empire has been ripe to fall for decades; it needed a big push, but it could always go. Coming in ‘all guns blazing’ as you put it is almost never the right approach; Azad --- the game itself --- had to be discredited. It was what held the Empire together all these years --- the linchpin;--- but that made it the most vulnerable point, too.
The ‘game of Azad’ is being described in the book as a nearly perfect simulation for life in this Empire and --- playing it is playing LIFE itself. --- But why did the evolutionary process in this Empire go totally astray? I needed a better answer and what came to me was that the type of concepts for “Evolution” is changing with time and progress throughout our Universe. At the start was the physical evolution of Suns and planets and the rules in use where simple; for the next stage of evolution for germs and microbes there was still simplicity. Only when we get to animals of the vertebrate kind are we close to the sophisticated level of the “Azad” game, but that game is still much too primitive for a society of sentient beings who have evolved morality and ethics. --- Apparently, the appropriate evolutionary system or concept depends on the level of consciousness arrived at by a societies. The “Hindu Kundalini” as shown and somewhat described on page 4 in my main paper lists the different levels of consciousness. --- The Azad game of the Empire is specifically modeled for and strictly limited to the third level of consciousness, the Ego-mind stage. --- That is why the drive to DOMINANCE is so preeminent and its primary goal. --- As Banks says, Azad was their valued common believes which held the Empire together all these years. It might be a shock to you to hear that a similar valued common believe has held our own US Nation together all these years in a similar way. Our “Azad” game is “THE GREAT AMERICAN DREAM!” and I am certain you will totally reject this statement. We too have been playing this game for centuries and it became the linchpin of our society.

The Economic disaster that is now hitting the US (and some part of the World) is a necessary step for mankind's Noetic-evolution. --- Why? --- I just read, at newswine, that 93% of Americans still believe in “The Great American Dream”. If you are one of those believers you must first be convinced by a painful “US Economical Cataclysm” (and great VIOLENCE) that it cannot be realized, because it is an “extreme case” of a duality violation and must turn into “The Great American Nightmare” instead . However, if you are in the other 7% bracket you are “innocent and naive” and will only become “collateral damage” with the same result. --- Sorry about that. Just say after me: Eli Eli Lama Sabachani?----- My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?
--- Don’t know if I can explain this to you in this short post, but let me try. Consider how this “Dream” got started in the first place. Most immigrants from Europe were “poor peasants” and all being subject to the mercy of their powerful Land Barons and the Government suporting those. What lured these peasants to America was a good chance to become land owners themselves and also as rich and powerful as their previous suppressors; basically reversing their status. It’s a complete role reversal (a symetry reversal) and if one side of this duality is considered evil, so is the other. To day, this wishful dream-process has become true for only 1% to 2% of all Americans, namely for the Millionaire stockholders and their CEOs, and the rest of us are again the “suppressed peasants” of old times. We have “recreated” these old times by clinging to our dream-like illusion. ------ And 93% of us still believe in our very own “AZAD” Game, --- Until death do us part.------

Famous words by “Alexis de Tocqueville”, 1835: “As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in”. --- That is GREED by any other name!-

BODHISATTVA (by Dick Suthpen). The silence is broken by the s-s-wish of the Samurai sword severing illusions - and it rolls across the floor leaving a bloody trail of - ~--~~-_~~- ~--~~-_~~ - ~--~~-_~~- ~--~ truth

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