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Terry Patten's response to a request for comments from Germany's Integrales Forum, in response to your 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.

The Context of this Appreciative Inquiry: “Yes, And”¦”

Thank you, Integrales Forum and DIA, for tackling these issues, undoubtedly engaging in some deep conversations, and forging a first-draft document that is thoughtful and thorough. . It offers some philosophically rich leadership (perhaps even with dose of Habermasian rigor?) within the Integral movement, and much appreciated. It arrived, synchronistically, the day after I completed a draft of a paper for the 2010 Integral Theory Conference titled “Towards the Emergence of Integral Evolutionary Spiritual Culture.” In it (following a longer 2007 paper in which I discussed some of these themes more extensively) I articulated remarkably similar perspectives.


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  1.  Integrity, Spiritual Teachers, and a School for Integral Spirituality : iEvolve: Center for World Spirituality
  2.  Integrity, Spiritual Teachers, and a School for Integral Spirituality by Integrales Forum | The Official Marc Gafni Website

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