By Marc Gafni
There is great danger in both in the New Age idolization of state experiences and the excessive premium that much of the Integral community places on complex levels of cognition. As I have pointed out in many teachings, higher levels of cognitive complexity do not a better human being make. It is not by accident that we rarely see posts in the blogs of persons at higher stages of development about kindness.
Kindness is a value that all to often is relegated by writers and thinkers to the lower levels of amber (AQAL) or blue (Spiral Dynamics Integral) consciousness. It rarely appears as a value in many Integral contexts. Or worse still it is given lip service even as it is ignored in practice when the real gods of cognition and power are worshipped.
In New Age contexts “Love” is the buzzword which often means very little. The more practical and actionable kindness gets very little play. At the same time, the most powerful mechanism to assure kindness is fairness. Fairness is a conventional value of law and integrity, but it is also more than that.
A Need for Berur, Clarification
While both Integral and New Age spiritual contexts revel in the appeal of post conventional possibility all to often there is a failure to appreciate the requirement for what my teacher called berur, for the clarification that comes from the due process of law including impartial parties hearing all sides, clarifying ulterior motives and getting the facts straight.
Many New Age spiritual contexts place a high premium on wonderful state experiences of ecstasy brought about through chant and prayer or high structure stages of cognitive complexity, while all to often engaging in spiritual bypass in relation to essential issues of ethics and integrity. Hiding behind the group think which no one dares to question, cloaked in distorted narratives that sometimes have even fooled the unconscious narrator, political fear and small self egoic preservation, all manner of injustice and suffering is inflicted.
The consequences of this failure are substantial. One cannot move beyond the conventional without first honoring the great wisdom of the conventional.
In the Radical Kabbalah of my teacher Mordechai Lainer, it is precisely in this transcending and including of the conventional in post conventional contexts that the Eros of the goddess, the Shekinah is incarnate. As I describe in my writings on Radical Kabbalah (including my forthcoming books from Integral Publishers), the entire Eros of the goddess for Lainer is poured into assuring the correct verdict in what appears to be a petty case in small claims court.
It is in the precision and caring of justice–in the details of justice that the Eros of the goddess lives. Certainly when issues of even greater import are at hand which meta implications on the lives of individuals and entire communities is at stake, the genuine Eros of Shekinah, demands careful fact checking, revealing of complex motivations at play, appropriate deliberation and mechanisms established to assure fairness, decency and healing.
Minimally a fair “court” must be established which truly seeks justice and healing and which is willing to think past self-interest, communal pressure. Group-think and simple ignorance are not options. When issues of gravitas are instead resolved in smoke filled rooms and in the darker corners of blogosphere then the goddess is violated indeed. The Integral community needs to pay heed to this.
Minimally all sides need to be in direct communication, talking and trying to work things out with integrity and love. The failure to put such mechanisms of fairness and integrity in play is tragic and is exactly the kind of violation of the goddess which post-conventional contexts whether of the Integral or New Age variety must passionately and rigorously avoid at all costs.