I recently got back from Boulder, Colorado where I co-facilitated The Integral Living Room, a 5-day event with Diane Hamilton, Jeff Salzman, and our special guest Ken Wilber. This year’s event was A Trans-Rational Soul Initiation, and it was attended by almost 100 people.
It was a wonderful event — in so many ways — and I want you to know about it; not just the Living Room itself, which was fabulous, but also the cultural project. For the past three plus years, I’ve been working to establish a truly Integral approach to soul work and subtle spirituality. At this event, with the remarkably talented help of Diane, Jeff, and an amazing team of volunteers, not to mention Ken’s brilliant philosophical framing, I saw Integral Soul Work and ritual ceremony manifest and establish itself in an even fuller and more coherent and consequential way — and I expect it to continue penetrating into the consciousness and experience of the Integral community.
I began teaching Integral Practice in 2004. I was the senior writer of Integral Life Practice, and felt that ILP, especially as I taught it, included soul work in a rich and appropriate way. But then my life and practice took a deep turn. I was challenged, and I was lucky enough to make a powerful existential choice to trust the process of my own life. In that process, I entered into a deeper and more demanding level of soul work.
To truly trust my life, I had to go deep, tuning in not just to the non-dual Suchness, and the causal Self, but also to my subtle Soul. I needed to relate to my key life decisions in a way that allowed them to be guided by its wisdom.
What revealed itself (an ongoing revelation) has drawn me to emphasize subtle soul sadhana as a much more central dimension of practice. I realized that the well known problem of “spiritual bypassing” our ordinary human lives isn’t the only spiritual bypass problem worth addressing. There’s a strong tendency to bypass our subtle soul-level experience. Reclaiming it, in an Integral context, is an enormously powerful — and underemphasized — dimension of Integral practice. It can be done with rational discernment, transcending the magical thinking that so often finds its way into subtle new age spirituality. And yet it is what provides us the resonant power of our deepest resources. The soul’s rich reservoirs of guidance and depth are essential to our fullest excellence and empowerment.
The path of transcendental spirituality can be looked at as analogous to space, in that we continually awaken from limited identities, expanding into our ultimate identity as the universal Self and Suchness, transcending suffering and experiential limitations. It is as if identity ascends into the light.
Soul work gives us a practice path analogous to time, in which we are a traveler, taking a journey, receiving a call, being tested, fighting battles, being transformed, and thus engaging an adventure of deepening wisdom and love and self-actualization. It is as if identity descends into the underworld of the deep psyche and body, the DNA of the sap that rises in us from our depths to our heights.
As I learned, I shared my process with my students, and in that process what I now call Integral Soul Work emerged. I facilitated Integral Soul Work online and at in-person seminars in the US, Europe and Latin America. I wrote a paper about its philosophical foundations that I presented at this year’s Integral Theory Conference. As the executive director of The Integral Living Room this year, I shared my thinking and process relating to Integral Soul Work with Diane, Jeff and Ken.
I am lucky to have such brilliant and open colleagues. Because they joined with me so intelligently, honestly and creatively, this year’s Integral Living Room magnified the work I had done previously. People were able to participate in and observe a powerful “Trans-Rational Soul Initiation” as well as a thorough philosophical framing for Integral Soul Work. And I’m happy to report that Integral Life Practice keeps evolving — and becoming more and more truly Integral.
It’s worth noting that we’re entering the winter cycle — the season for taking a turn inward — what is traditionally called a “soulful” turn. We spend time in the darkness and the cold. We attend to dreams and to the exiled shadow dimensions of our being. Part of the psyche may feel called to hibernate — or to fly south.
It’s a good time to attend to the soul. And the soul has its own organic pace. I encourage you to tune in, and to trust it! This was my last major teaching event during a busy year. I’m happy to now be moving into a period of staying put and entering into solitude while I focus on writing my upcoming book on awakened activism.
In case you’d like to see some soul teachings here’s a short video where I describe the ancient Greek story of what happens between lifetimes, of how our guiding spirit, or daemon is assigned to us on the basis of our character. Enjoy.