Integral Review

A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis

Vol. 8 No. 1 Jul 2012

Special Issue Introduction

Bahman A. K. Shirazi

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The Need for Interreligious Dialogue in Higher Education

Joseph L. Subbiondo

Abstract: This article highlights the current need for inclusion of courses on religion and spirituality, as well as interreligious dialogue in higher education through an examination of three interrelated dimensions: Interreligious dialogue, religious pluralism and religious literacy. Some initiatives in this direction at the California Institute of Integral Studies are discussed.

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New Religious Movements, Western Esotericism, and Integral Consciousness

Constance A. Jones

Abstract: Sensibilities toward Eastern thought in the West, fostered in large part through the growth of new religious movements, align with the elements of Western esoteric teachings which have appeared in many guises throughout the history of the West and are reemerging in our time. Understanding these sensibilities and their alignment can deepen our appreciation of the foundations of integral consciousness.

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Rethinking the Future of World Religion: An Interview With Jorge N. Ferrer

Bahman A. K. Shirazi

Interview Introduction. When it comes to religious consciousness, the turn of the 21st century presents an unprecedented and challenging time in human history. On the one hand, the long-standing chasm between premodern theocentric religious traditions, and the modern anthropocentric, scientistic, and materialistic worldviews is widening. On the other hand, unlike what some may have anticipated, not only religion and spirituality are not on the decline, they are as strong as they have ever been.

Hundreds of new religions, cults, sects, and spiritual communities have emerged in recent decades. These new religious movements, along with globalization of religion, multiple-religion explorations, ecumenical services, religious syncretism, and secular spiritual orientations are among the many trends that shape today’s religious landscape. Despite the widespread materialism in a technology-dominated world, we live in times of rich spiritual diversity, experimentation, and innovation. Our postmodern world seems to be evolving at an increasingly accelerated rate. While some are very comfortable moving along at such a fast pace, others, unable to cope with this rapid change, have either resorted back to religious fundamentalism, or have become profoundly confused and disenchanted.

Jorge Ferrer is one of few thinkers who have tried to map out the current landscape: He reflects on whether humanity will ultimately converge into one single religion, or will it continue to diversify into numerous forms of spiritual expression? Or perhaps, a middle path capable of reconciling the human longing for spiritual unity, on the one hand, and the developmental and evolutionary gravitation toward spiritual individuation and differentiation, on the other hand, is more likely?

In this interview he discusses four possible scenarios for the future of religion: global religion; mutual transformation of religions; interspiritual wisdom; and spirituality without religion—as well as discussing his own participatory vision.

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Transformative Body Practices and Social Change: The Intersection between Spirituality and Activism

Don H. Johnson

Abstract: This paper examines the intersections of embodied spiritual practices—breathing, sensing, postural awareness, moving, touching—and organizing for social change. The perspectives of two leading revolutionary theorists, Mahatma Gandhi and Wilhelm Reich, provide a basis from which to analyze the importance for body cultivation in addressing social issues. There is an analysis of how traditional practices might be taught in a context which opens the practitioner to the grief of the world and the energy to address it.

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The New Myth: Frederic Spiegelberg and the Rise of a Whole Earth

Ahmed M. Kabil

Abstract: The present article provides, through the life and teachings of a little-known German scholar of religions named Frederic Spiegelberg (1897-1994), a novel account of some of the unique historical and intellectual developments that converged in the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid twentieth century and subsequently informed and enabled many of the defining chapters of recent global history. Separately, these developments are known as the dissemination in the West of Asian religious perspectives and practices, the San Francisco Renaissance, the rise of the counterculture, the widespread blossoming of environmental awareness, and the information age revolution. Together, they comprise The New Myth: synchronous with and in reaction to the planetary spread of technology and the global experiential horizons such technology discloses, a constellation of holistic integral thought emerged in various domains in the West that was characterized above all by a spatiotemporal emphasis on the ‘Here and Now’ and the realization of unity through the recognition and transcendence of polarity. The origins, afterlives, and implications of this constellation of thought are only now being discerned. The story of Professor Frederick Spiegelberg’s life—little known and largely forgotten—functions as the conduit through which the New Myth’s historical and intellectual contours are traced and thereby rendered intelligible.

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The Future History of Consciousness

David Hutchinson

Abstract: Consciousness is the key fact of life, yet the study of it is in its infancy. Spirituality and science both hold valid truths in this field, and they are bound to meet in a practical sense as science is moving rapidly into the subjective areas such as dreams, thought processes, and awareness. We are on the edge of a momentous shift in knowledge and ability with consciousness, driven by exponential change in theory and technology.

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Sri Aurobindo’s Lila: The Nature of Divine Play According to Integral Advaita

Matthew W. Morey

Abstract: This essay addresses the concept of Lila, or Divine Play, in the context of Integral advaita as described by Sri Aurobindo and Haridas Chaudhuri. In order to convey the characteristics of Integral Lila, the first part of the essay examines Integral Advaita. The second part of the essay directly addresses Sri Aurobindo’s description of Lila, a play that is at once a dalliance of the Divine and a teleological drama unfolding toward a denouement that may be at hand. In the context of Lila, the essay examines evolution, the individual poise of Brahman and the participatory nature of Integral Yoga.

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Structure and Process: Integral Philosophy and the Triple Transformation

Debashish Banerji

Abstract: This paper looks at the ongoing debate between perennialism and pluralism in religious studies and considers the category of the integral, as described by Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) in the context of this debate. After exploring the case for perennialism vis-à-vis pluralism, it compares the contemporary taxonomy of a perennial core to mystical experience developed by Robert K. C. Forman with the idea of the “triple transformation” developed by Sri Aurobindo as a way to the realization of an “integral consciousness.” Through this consideration, it indicates the aporetic nature of an integralism which can simultaneously uphold the concerns of perennialism and pluralism non-reductively. Such an aporetic goal challenges the epistemological assumptions of the modern knowledge academy and is shown to make sense only as an ever deferred processual ontology as against the knowledge academy’s telos of a totalistic structuralism.

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United Religions Initiative:- Building a Global Community

Sally Mahé

Abstract: This article provides a brief introduction to United Religions Initiative (URI), a global grassroots interfaith network that promotes peace and justice through intercultural and interreligious dialogue using a process known as ‘appreciative inquiry’. While accomplishments of URI are highlighted, it is emphasized that more cooperation, more compassion, and more commitment to good relationships will be needed across the world for global unity, justice and peace.

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