Introducing the Center for World Spirituality’s new blog with a global vision based on Integral principles

An Enlightenment of Fullness for the rising dawn of the 21st century

Spirit’s Next Move is moving!

Thank you for visiting, a spot which has been the home of the Center for World Spirituality’s new blog for the past several months. As part of our organization’s web presence reorganization, we have moved the contents of this blog and will no longer be posting here.

You can find the new Spirit’s Next Move daily blog, better than ever, on the Center for World Spirituality’s main site at You can find new daily material on the left sidebar of the site. Thanks once again for sticking with us … we look forward to seeing you on the new site!

A Place where everybody knows your Original Face?

Starbucks Olive Way

By Joe Perez

There’s a recently redesigned and expanded Starbucks Coffee within walking distance from my home in Seattle. I used to go in there quite a bit, but gradually the place has become so busy and noisy that it’s impossible to find a good seat (sometimes it’s even been standing room only), so I’ve found alternatives.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Starbucks was ever a “home away from home,” but it was the spot where I first attended a Seattle Integral meet-up, and where I met many business clients for a while. Now I’ve come across an article in Forbes claiming that Starbucks may be making their coffee shops intentionally a bit uncomfortable so that they drive away people who linger too long in one spot and bump up the customer churn rate.

A Starbucks company spokesperson isn’t exactly denying the claim, so it looks like there’s some truth to it. And it ought not surprise anyone. Starbucks is a publicly held company with an obligation to increase profits. But what does it say about Starbucks customers — which is just about everyone in Seattle and hundreds of millions of people throughout the world — that it matters so much to us?

Alice Walton, writing in Forbes:

The new “let’s make it slightly uncomfortable” model has a larger effect on the psyches of the customers – those who come to work or to play – than we might think at first. This is because the coffee house plays the central role of “Third Place” in our lives – home being the first and work being the second – and Starbucks has always been vocal about its desire to be this third place for its customer. What’s interesting is that humans actually really need this place, and we’ve needed if for practically our whole existence, according to some.

About 20 years ago, Ray Oldenburg, PhD, who wrote a book called The Great Good Place, argued that there are a number of attributes that make a third place a third place: It has to be convenient, inviting, serve something, and have some good regulars (which, he says, is actually more important than having a good host). People have had third places throughout history, and they’ve ranged from taverns to coffee houses to barbershops. They’re definitely better than street corners. Third places are different from first or second ones because we go to them in our in-between time – their voluntariness is what makes them so special and unique.

For millions of people who are not regular church attendees, the coffeehouse is increasingly playing a social role similar to that which churches used to play. We go there to meet people who we know and like. We go there to read a book and listen to soft music. We go there to break bread and drink beverages that alter our state of consciousness. Nobody forces us to go, and we can walk out at any time.

With nearly 20,000 Starbucks locations throughout the world (according to Wikipedia), the coffee giant is not in danger of eclipsing organized religion anytime soon (comparing to about 271,000 physical Catholic churches alone). But I wager that in modern countries Starbucks is adding coffee shops much faster than the Roman Catholic Church is adding new churches, and the Roman Church has had a bit of a headstart.

The world is thirsty for spirituality, and for many of us our heart longs to have Third Places that transcend the boundaries of any one particular organized religion. Coffee shops are substituting for churches at a time when religions have floundered at articulating an earthy, embodied, Fullness-loving vision of spirituality that makes them better places to go to hang out.

It’s a pity that it takes the profit-driven behavior of companies like Starbucks — making seats more uncomfortable, pumping up the volume of the music so it becomes more difficult to study and hold a conversation — to remind us that a beverage retail store cannot truly substitute for a House of Worship. Is it too much to ask that one day we might all walk down the street to our favorite neighborhood spiritual center to hang out with friends and meet new people in love with Life and Love, a place where it is not only okay to Be Yourself, but an expectation and obligation?

In defense of the Qur’an (from a World Spirituality perspective)


By Joe Perez

Today on the Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan asks his readers a fair question, crudely stated:

“If there is an argument for why the Quran is so good, please bring it forward. I’ve read the Quran several times and it’s not that good. In fact, it’s conspicuously bad as a moral map, and a spiritual map. You can wander blindfolded into a Barnes & Noble, and the first book you pick off the shelf will have more wisdom than the Quran. The Quran is uniquely barren of wisdom relevant to the 21st century. It’s got a few good lines about patience and generosity, and the rest is just vilification of the infidel,” – Sam Harris. Can any readers counter?

To which I responded today:

Dear Andrew,

The Qur’an is a classic of world spiritual literature far exceeding the disposable drivel that you will pick off the shelf in the vast majority of the books at a Barnes & Noble. I would have thought you know this and could have written a defense yourself. In any event, as non-Muslims, there are many people better qualified than you or I to give a defense of the Qur’an’s merits as a guide to Islamic life and culture.

My own defense as an enthusiast of a world-centric spirituality enthusiastically inclusive of Islam would start with the observation that a classic is to be judged not by reference to its compatibility with the New Atheist mindset of a small minority of people in early 21st century America (i.e., Sam Harris and his readers), but by its enduring influence over well more than a millennium. The claim that the Qur’an is “so good” begins by noting that many millions of people have for many centuries thought it so good, and that in a world of constant cultural evolution it is hermeneutically garbage to assess their aesthetic and spiritual opinions crudely by certain contemporary standards.

You can’t throw the Bible out as barren of wisdom because it sanctions social practices we find offensive today, and you can’t judge spiritual depth simply by how frequently a text enjoins virtues such as patience and generosity. You need to judge the Qur’an more holistically and as a mystical vision, not a self-help tome spouting chicken soup platitudes nearly everyone today will agree with.

At the same time, I want to go beyond saying that the Qur’an is important historically and also claim that the Qur’an is worthy of reading as a spiritual guide for people today … if one does the difficult work of attempting to enter into the prophetic and mystical mindset of Muhammad whose visions and divine communications form the book’s essence. I take into account — as many non-fundamentalists do — Muhammad’s human fallibility and historic/cultural contexts (which leads to many statements that our own cultural worldspace rightfully holds as objectionable), and see it as an ingenious expression of a vision of a completely Integral Universe, one in which there is no secular (i.e., godless) realm, but every facet of existence is harmoniously in sync with every other facet, and the core of that essence is Love. This is a deep and timeless truth that is lost on Sam Harris.

It is also important to note that for Muhammad, every syllable, sound symbol, number, and even the shape of every Arabic letter is a meaningful representation of the Divine, in an aesthetically orderly expression … and the Qur’an’s esoteric nature is one that has inspired Sufi mystics such as Rumi and Hafiz to deep realizations of inner divinity. The Qur’an continues to inspire Muslims and non-Muslims today who are interpreting the scripture not literally (fundamentalists) or merely metaphorically and poetically (progressive religionists) but as a sacred expression of evolving cultural wisdom and mystical realization (integral thinkers) to which everyone in the world is called.

Much love,

Joe Perez

Beauty is the most erotic of gifts, the ecstasy of love

Art Museum

On a discussion of Emerging Integral Art and Aesthetics, a comment by Fareed Artist:

We can also experience states of consciousness where the phenomenal world which forms, truly appears as an illusionistic art-working. We find that Divine Reality is always ever present. Is speaking through all of us, to each of us. Yet for some reason, that presence leaves our consciousness, it passes, and we forget the colors of truth. It is as if we are walking by the most wondrous of all artistic creations, and talking on our cell phones. We don’t recognize the God is right before us.What we find beautiful is that feeling of wholeness, transcendent re-contextualization, that is felt in the heart, and then so in the mind. That is called exquisite beauty, and is transformative. It may speak to us alone, or may be talking to all of us at once, or to each person, one person at a time. It causes us to feel and thereby see, all of life as continually and significantly meaningful. In fact it is always there.

It is experienced. It is the most erotic of gifts. It is the ecstasy of love, being lived, within life and death.

Death then, no longer is a matter of importance, as it is held in that exquisite state of beauty. So it is then, most beautiful, most complete and most whole – as in the end of a song. In this way too, our actions are divinely meaningful, as a worship of all-ness, casting no thing aside.

It is this state of being that is captured, signified in a work of art, or the gesture of a master, for our small minds, so that we can know that big mind, in all her unfathomable, ever changing complexity.

Beauty can be formed from that which we feel is un-harmonius and alienated. Rather, that which is believed to be alienated, can be known in the real. We must learn to turn that pain into life. This is the truth in art.

That it is all of its parts, and is greater even than the sum of all its parts. That it is whole, perfect, even in its separateness, in darkness, in its limitation of delusion. That it is all illusion. It is all art.

(Inspired by Marc Gafni – Spiritual Teacher)

Cognitive fixation: the mind’s obstacle to seeing what is right in front of us

By Joe Perez

Here’s an item in the news today plus a short exercise.

In “Why We Can’t See What’s Right in Front of Us,” Tony McCaffrey of the Harvard Business Review gives us an explanation for why we can’t see the obvious:

The most famous cognitive obstacle to innovation is functional fixedness — an idea first articulated in the 1930s by Karl Duncker — in which people tend to fixate on the common use of an object. For example, the people on the Titanic overlooked the possibility that the iceberg could have been their lifeboat. Newspapers from the time estimated the size of the iceberg to be between 50-100 feet high and 200-400 feet long. Titanic was navigable for awhile and could have pulled aside the iceberg. Many people could have climbed aboard it to find flat places to stay out of the water for the four hours before help arrived. Fixated on the fact that icebergs sink ships, people overlooked the size and shape of the iceberg (plus the fact that it would not sink).

More mundane examples: in a pinch, people have trouble seeing that a plastic lawn chair could be used as a paddle (turn it over, grab two legs, and start rowing) or that a candle wick could be used to tie things together (scrape the wax away to free the string).

The problem is we tend to just see an object’s use, not the object itself. When we see a common object, the motor cortex of our brain activates in anticipation of using the object in the common way. Part of the meaning of an object is getting ready to use it. If a type of feature is not important for its common use, then we are not cognizant of it. The result: our brain’s incredible inertia to move toward the common. Efficient for everyday life, this automatic neural response is the enemy of innovation.

Read the whole thing.

Creativity doesn’t just happen. It works like a muscle that can be trained, stretching the brain’s inertia towards ordinary uses to genuine creativity. As a practice, right now, look at an object in front of you… and contemplate new uses for it.

Hey, I think I’ve just found a new plaything for my cats!

Photo Credit: Rita Willaert

Protest as Prayer (Part 4): Where — is God


This post is continued from Part 3.

By Marc Gafni

R. Nachman of Bratzlav in a profound and daring teaching reveals the light shimmering in Alyosha’s speech. It is a teaching on the word ‘Ayeh’. Ayeh in Hebrew means where, in the sense of ‘where is God?

Ayeh encapsulates in one word Alyosha’s entire oration. I want to share with you R. Nachman’s teaching directly, in my trans-interpretation of the original Hebrew text. The bracketed words are my additions:

‘When one follows the path of intellect – (certainty)
one may encounter
multiple mistakes and pitfalls
There are many who fell
and who caused the world to fall
and all through their intellect (false certainty)

….. when you fall into uncertainty
the fall perse
and the descent
are the ultimate ascent.
For all of creation…
derives sustenance
from the ten revealed utterances of creation(certainty)
but the place of the fall
derives sustenance
from the hidden utterance. (uncertainty)
(which is keter)
…in the place of the fall
certainty can give no nourishment
there only the hidden utterance – uncertainty
gives nourishment.
When a person says ‘Ayeh’- where is the place of his glory
when he realizes how distant he is
how deeply he has fallen into uncertainty
this – itself is his fixing

Nachman teaches that in the depth of uncertainty is certainty- the experience of worth, value and being loved. In the anger at evil is the profound intuition that our rage matters – and that it is holy.

Note: This is part of an ongoing series.

Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney

Protest as Prayer (Part 3): Two 19th Century Russians, Nachman and Dostoyevsky


By Marc Gafni

Note: This post is continued from Part 2.

It is this paradox that Dostoyevsky in Brothers Karamazov does not fully grasp. He does not understand that the rage of Ivan is the rage of ‘heresy that is faith.’ Ivan, responding to Alyosha’s certainty of belief, has just described to him the brutal murder of a child torn apart by dogs for sport. Ivan’s uncertainty burns with the fiery anger of faith:

Although the passage is longer than what one would usually expect in a quoted text, it is so germane to our theme and so compelling that I did not shorten it. Thus I invite my dear reader to experience the truth and power of Ivan’s plea. He needs to be read as a modern echo of Abraham’s cry “Will the judge of the entire world not do justice?”

I must have justice, or I will destroy myself. And not justice in some remote infinite time and space, but here on earth, and that I could see myself. I have believed in it. I want to see it, and if I am dead by then, let me rise again, for if it all happens without me, it will be too unfair. Surely I haven’t suffered, simply that I, my crimes and my sufferings, may manure the soil of the future harmony for somebody else.

I want to see with my own eyes the hind lie down with the lion and the victim rise up and embrace his murderer. I want to be there when everyone suddenly understands what it has all been for. All the religions of the world are built on this longing, and I am a believer.

But then there are the children, and what am I to do about them? That’s a question I can’t answer. For the hundredth time I repeat, there are numbers of questions, but I’ve only taken the children, because in their case what I mean is so answerably clear. Listen! If all must suffer to pay for the eternal harmony, what have children to do with it, tell me, please? It’s beyond all comprehension why they should suffer, and why they should pay for the harmony. Why should they, too, furnish material to enrich the soil for the harmony of the future? I understand solidarity in sin among men. I understand solidarity in retribution too, but there can be no such solidarity with children. And if it is really true that they must share responsibility for all their father’s crimes, such a truth is not of this world and is beyond my comprehension.

Some jester will say, perhaps, that the child would have grown up and have sinned, but you see he didn’t grow up, he was torn to pieces by the dogs, at eight years old. Oh, Alyosha, I am not blaspheming! I understand, of course, what an upheaval of the universe it will be, when everything in heaven and earth blends in one hymn of praise and everything that lives and has lived cries aloud: ‘Thou art just, O Lord, for Thy ways are revealed.’ When the mother embraces the fiend who threw her child to the dogs, and all three cry aloud with tears, ‘Thou art just, O Lord!’ then, of course, the crown of knowledge will be reached and all will be made clear.

But what pulls me up here is that I can’t accept that harmony. And while I am on earth, I make haste to take my own measures. You see, Alyosha, perhaps it really may happen that if I live to that moment, or rise again to see it, I, too, perhaps, may cry aloud with the rest, looking at the mother embracing the child’s torturer, ‘Thou art just, O Lord!’ But I don’t want to cry aloud then. While there is still time, I hasten to protect myself and so I renounce the higher harmony altogether.

It’s not worth the tears of that one tortured child who beat itself on the breast with its little fist and prayed in its stinking outhouse, with its unexpiated tears to ‘dear, kind God’! It’s not worth it, because those tears are unatoned for. They must be atoned for, or there can be no harmony. But how? How are you going to atone for them? Is it possible? By their being avenged? But what do I care for avenging them? What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.

I don’t want the mother to embrace the oppressor who threw her son to the dogs! She dare not forgive him! Let her forgive him for herself, if she will, let her forgive the torturer for the immeasurable suffering of her mother’s heart. But the sufferings of her tortured child she has no right to forgive; she dare not forgive the torturer, even if the child were to forgive him! And if that is so, if they dare not forgive, what becomes of harmony?

Is there in the whole world a being who would have the right to forgive and could forgive? I don’t want harmony. From love for humanity I don’t want it. I would rather be left with the unavenged suffering. I would rather remain with my unavenged suffering and unsatisfied indignation, even if I were wrong. Besides, too high a price is asked for harmony; it’s beyond our means to pay so much to enter it. And so I hasten to give back my entrance ticket, and if I am an honest man I am bound to give it back as soon as possible. And that I am doing. It’s not God that I don’t accept, Alyosha, only I most respectfully return Him the ticket.

A 3,500-year-old text anticipates Ivan. Moses says to God – ‘You have promised to redeem the people in the future — that’s not good enough — for how does that help the babies brutally killed and buried in the mortar of Egyptian brick?’

The outraged existential challenge which Ivan, Moses and Abraham hurl against God is also God’s highest embrace. When we rage like Ivan we affirm the dignity and validity of our rage. We recognize that the rage is holy, welling as it does from the deepest recesses of our being. We refuse to invalidate our core certainty of self and capitulate to the indifference of dogma that denies the uncertainty of evil. We refuse to deny our rage, and in so doing we affirm the holiness of our moral intuitions. In giving voice to our deepest uncertainties, we paradoxically confirm our inner certainty of the divinity in ourselves. Dostoyevsky’s mistake was only that he thought Ivan’s speech to be heresy.

Photo Credit: Bradley Wind

A tethered falcon suddenly unhooded, poem by Hafiz


Sharing a Hafiz poem video with you my friends and a simple practice afterwards…

Please listen and watch and then find a person that you are hating and let your heart melt.

With great love,


Photo Credit: Susan Hall Frazier

Consciousness is power: a lesson from pebbles


By Kristen Ulmer

While a body builder, Schwarzenegger was rumored to say lifting weight 1 rep in a conscious state enhanced results more than lifting the same weight 10 times in an unconscious state.

While we wouldn’t take relationship advice from the guy, perhaps this comment deserves pondering!

Ever hear: Knowledge is power. It was relevant when whomever first said it. Yet the world is evolving so fast knowledge is now available with a click of a button, and this statement is no longer viable.

What is viable today? Consciousness is power. Awareness is power. You want to be the best athlete you can be: become as conscious as you can. That way you can see where you’re stuck (and we’re always stuck) and effortlessly make shifts (second by second).

Problem is, becoming more consciousness is not a natural state for us humans. Lifting weights 10 times like a robot repeating an unquestioned pattern is our norm. Training our bodies, pondering technique, eating right, recovering are all good things, but they can take up your whole training life and turn you to stone.

Add a consciousness practice though, and you will do great things. Sure, it’s scary, perilous and one of the hardest things imaginable, plus it never ends – it’s called practice for a reason. But we all know you have to practice anything to become good and remain good at it.

Consider this: When you’re a kid 2 + 2 = 4 is a big realization. Then in High School you solve algebra x and y problems and that’s a big deal. In college you calculate speed and gravity mind twisters and are blown away. Imagine what you learn getting a Ph.D. in physics? Same with consciousness. If you keep seeking the next level — if you keep your empty cup extended — you will transcend and include each level until eventually, awareness has you flowing like water.

Reminds me of a great story. Three holy men are spending their lives camping in the desert, waiting for an awakening experience. Suddenly one night the sky opens up and a mighty voice booms from above: “Gather together all the pebbles you can in your bags tonight!” Then the sky closes and the moment ends.

What? Pebbles! The men are so disappointed. This is the message they’ve been waiting for? They gather a few pebbles but it’s late and they feel stupid so their efforts end quickly.

The next morning they wake up and see the pebbles have turned to diamonds.

If you’re willing to take your experience with your sport beyond what you’ve already created, by starting a mindset practice, you will have access to infinite power, rather than being limited to the power of only one self.

Gather those Pebbles. You’ll be glad you did.

Photo Credit: Alain Limoges

Our journey as evolutionary artists is a dance of creativity

Dancers in Australia

By Marc Gafni

Do you know that that you are the evolutionary artist of the next stage of your life and the life of the world?

Do you know that personal creativity is your doorway into the creativity of the Kosmos?

Do you know that creativity is your birthright?

Do you know that higher consciousness is naturally more creative and less fearful?

Do you know that what you create through your mind, heart and body transforms all of us and all of life?

This is a truth of dramatic importance: Each of us is participating in a great dance of creativity. Our journey as evolutionary artists involves every aspect of life — from the words we choose to the love we make. And that journey begins when we recognize how our own creativity is actually an expression of the evolutionary love-intelligence of all that is. The Vedic and Tantric traditions of Hinduism, the Sufis sages, and the philosophers of Kabbala reminded us that divinity is creativity. The Buddhist sages have invited us to the liberated free-functioning creativity of the compassionate Bodhisattva. The Judeo-Christian teachers have invited us to imitatio dei to be like God, even to be as God.

Just as the great love-intelligence emanates worlds out of its own being, we are invited to turn into our own center, and find that world-creating source within ourselves. From there, we can become co-creators of a transformed world.

You are creative because consciousness is inherently creative. The mysterious Eros that animates and drives the evolutionary unfolding is at this very moment creating and recreating all of reality anew in every moment. That Eros, which lives in you, as you and through you, acts creatively through you the moment you give your consent to it.

It is our delight and obligation to answer the call to evolutionary creativity — and its fulfillment.

The next great movement of evolutionary love is waiting for you — for each of us — to identify and manifest your unique creativity. It is asking you to recognize yourself as the artist of your life, and then to broaden your artistry until you are creating in the service of All that Is.

Are you ready to respond to the great invitation and obligation to evolutionary creativity, in the service of our own evolution, and the evolution of all that is?

If you are then you have begun to wake up and that is simply fucking awesome!

Photo Credit: Oude School

Ego v. Unique Self: a lesson from Thor, god of thunder


By Joe Perez

Whatever your taste in movies, it’s hard to deny that Hollywood does a brilliant job of selling comic books to the world, illuminated with dazzling computer-powered, imagination-dazzling on-screen effects. Many adults find these action packed movies to be a guilty pleasure, and we ponder whether they have a redeeming educational or morally transcendent worth beyond a day’s entertainment. Given their prominence and durability, let’s hope that they do.

The first thing I want to say about The Avengers, Josh Whedon’s latest superhero summer blockbuster, is that it at times provoked in me surprising delight. The interactions among Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, the Black Widow and Hawkeye were intriguing in unexpected ways. These superheroes each inhabited their own excellence, their own uniqueness, with superb effortlessness … and they frequentlly argued, fought, and learned how to get along.

Superheroes, like all heroes of myth, wear their interior self on their external nature. The spirit of their uniqueness is writ large, thanks to the power of myth. Hulk’s raw, primal, Kali-like power of creative destruction; Thor’s instinctual, impulse-driven, noble brand of heroism; Captain America’s truth-oriented, duty-driven, God-loving brave soldier warrior; Iron Man’s postmodern, quip-slinging, irony-noticing, eco-technologist playboy billionaire, for starters. And all of them coordinated by the mastermind strategist of Nick Fury, the man with the power to deliver Manhattan from a nuclear blast while operating behind a veil of mystery.

The symbols embodied by the heroes fall all along the spectrum of human developmental capacities from pre-modern magical to mythic to rational to integral as spelled out in the Integral Framework, though there’s room for debating precisely how the symbols align. Personally I didn’t find myself identifying strongly with any of the characters, so much as with the feeling of the cosmic drama itself, I think, but I most admired the cunning and chutzpah of Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury. If there is Integral Consciousness on display among these characters, it couldn’t be better embodied than by Fury.

But that doesn’t stand in the way of my gushing over Chris Hemsworth’s hyper-masculine performance as Thor, god of Thunder. I find Whedon’s portrayal of the macho macho god as a being of almost child-like innocence to be an endearing expression of the ego-less, enlightened nature of the authentic power of the Unique Self. If Thor passes muster as divine, it is only because we believe that he is truly being himself — that he simply cannot be any other way — that he is not holding anything back, and that he wields power not for its own sake but only for an ideal greater than himself: the protection of the Earth and realms beyond.

Not at all a horror story: Stephen King and the virtues of patriotism

Stephen King

Stephen King

By Joe Perez

Patriotism is often taken as the virtue of virtue by conservatives (and by politicians posing as conservatives to win right-wing votes). Mitt Romney, for example, has made patriotism the centerpiece of his book No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, his campaign, and his attacks against the president Barack Obama as “apologizer-in-chief” for statements made overseas admitting to the imperfections of the United States.

On the other hand, liberals and progressives have often demonstrated an allergy to patriotism and some of the things associated negatively with it (xenophobia, ethnocentrism, simple-minded acceptance of the ruling party, foreign policy aggression, etc.). It’s almost as if patriotism is a litmus test dividing the ethnocentric from the more worldcentric views of the world.

But this isn’t quite that simple. An Integral approach does not tell us that patriotism is good or bad, more developed or less developed. It tells us to honor all the ways of relating to patriotism that contribute to the greatest good for the greatest number of people. And when talking about patriotism, it is the case that progressives who can honor patriotism often make the best case for its virtues, and conservatives who argue against the downsides of patriotism are often its best critics.

Stephen King, the world famous author of thrillers, horror, science-fiction, and other literature, is also believed to have a net worth of $400 million. Despite being “filthy rich,” as they say, he’s now written an article in The Daily Beast criticizing rich people who don’t want to pay more taxes and the ideologues who reinforce their beliefs and block legislation that would make the rich pay “their fair share” in taxes.

What’s more, in making this courageous and unusual argument, King tells us that it’s patriotism that ought to motivate the rich. He writes:

I guess some of this mad right-wing love comes from the idea that in America, anyone can become a Rich Guy if he just works hard and saves his pennies. Mitt Romney has said, in effect, “I’m rich and I don’t apologize for it.” Nobody wants you to, Mitt. What some of us want—those who aren’t blinded by a lot of bullshit persiflage thrown up to mask the idea that rich folks want to keep their damn money—is for you to acknowledge that you couldn’t have made it in America without America. That you were fortunate enough to be born in a country where upward mobility is possible (a subject upon which Barack Obama can speak with the authority of experience), but where the channels making such upward mobility possible are being increasingly clogged. That it’s not fair to ask the middle class to assume a disproportionate amount of the tax burden. Not fair? It’s un-fucking-American is what it is. I don’t want you to apologize for being rich; I want you to acknowledge that in America, we all should have to pay our fair share. That our civics classes never taught us that being American means that—sorry, kiddies—you’re on your own. That those who have received much must be obligated to pay—not to give, not to “cut a check and shut up,” in Governor Christie’s words, but to pay—in the same proportion. That’s called stepping up and not whining about it. That’s called patriotism, a word the Tea Partiers love to throw around as long as it doesn’t cost their beloved rich folks any money.

This has to happen if America is to remain strong and true to its ideals. It’s a practical necessity and a moral imperative. Last year during the Occupy movement, the conservatives who oppose tax equality saw the first real ripples of discontent. Their response was either Marie Antoinette (“Let them eat cake”) or Ebenezer Scrooge (“Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”). Short-sighted, gentlemen. Very short-sighted. If this situation isn’t fairly addressed, last year’s protests will just be the beginning. Scrooge changed his tune after the ghosts visited him. Marie Antoinette, on the other hand, lost her head.

PatriotWhat I want to highlight here is simply King’s brilliant move of honoring patriotism and making the case that people who say they are patriotic are hypocritical for not being true to its ideals. Although his position might be debatable, it is certainly Integral in the best and widest sense of the term: open to truth wherever it can be found, taking the virtues upheld by “the enemy”  and explaining not how wrong they are, but how the virtues actually demand a more compassionate and loving stance than is being offered. Fairness, King says, is an American virtue, and Americans who are proud of their country ought to stand up for all its ideals, not cherry-pick the ones that make their bank accounts the fattest.

World Spirituality based on Integral principles is not based on dividing people up into “the people who are right” and “the enemy,” which is something that King arguably does in his article, so it isn’t the case that King speaks for a truly authentic World Spirituality. But it is definitely the case, I think, that World Spirituality does not tell people that in order to take a more worldcentric spiritual view they must lose their patriotism. Love your self, love your family, your neighbors, your city, your state, your country, your country’s allies, and ultimately your country’s enemies and the people of every nation on the planet.

Patriotism as a partial identification of the self and the state is not an evil. Like any limited sort of self-identification, it removes us from the True Self, the Ultimate Identity of which of there is truly only one. But it is part of our Unique Self as a station on the way to a wider and ultimately truer identity. Love calls us out of narrow conceptions of self into larger wholes, and it is also love that can lift our nations into larger frameworks that solve global problems.