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Are you happy?  Do you know how to gain happiness? What do ‘experts’ say happiness is?

 

 

10 insights from the planet’s foremost experts on the fabric of happiness in the 21st century:


1 “Feel the real — happiness is not the absence of sadness. I’ve never lost a patient to terminal crying.”


2 “Happiness is the absence of stress-related thoughts and memories, toxic hostility, Type-A responses and a hysterical amygdula.”


3  “We are wired for good, and we can cultivate a good life through things like meditation and boosting our oxytocin levels. Touch and expressions of gratitude boost this neuropetptide that floats through the bloodstream, which spreads trust and compasison.”


4   “Realize, experientially, the absence of self. That’s genuine happiness.”


5  “The wonder of the voice is that it’s the only musical instrument that we carry around with us all the time. If you use your human voice in song, you will be happy. It takes you away from all the troubles of the world.”


6  “Attaining the conditions of happiness in its highest form is to care for the collective soul, our collective life-force.”


7 “When it’s ‘normal’ that every workplace offers massage, meditation, three organic meals a day, and lets you bring your dog to the office, our work will be done. If everyone develops mindfulness from the inside out, we will make world peace.”


8  “Happiness is Platonic, Darwinian hedonism.”


9  “Pursuit, according to Samuel Johnson’s dictionary, means ‘to follow with hostility’. It doesn’t go with happiness.”


10  “Happiness is freedom from excessive self-concern.”

 

 

To see whose definitions these are go HERE

 

To read a very interesting article on happiness by Craig Lambert go HERE

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Coming Home: an Introduction to Spirituality

There are many who yearn for spiritual food who are put off by the antics and corruption of religions. Perennial Philosophy or mystical paths such as Sufism can provide that food. But what are the basics of this core belief that transcends religions?

This is the beginning of an attempt to provide such a n i.ntroduction. Currently I am developing it in a question and answer format.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Home

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Waking up to the Spirit you have always been

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A book for the non religiously spiritual.

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Roger Prentice

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Introduction:

 

This is an attempt, using questions and answers, to present simply and clearly the truth about being spiritual – initially without reference to religions.

 

This is for family, friends and students – and all those who want to realize, i.e. realize the deepest in themselves. I haven’t achieved this to a high order. Many of you can out-do me in many good things. But it seems my task is to collect and re-present these insights. I am painfully aware of my shortcomings. But as Heschel says to be human is to suffer the knowledge of the difference between what we should be and what we are. The only ‘crime’ is to say ‘that’s the way I am and I’m not going to change’. To say that is also very dangerous. We are all designed to struggle toward our own perfection – to become more and realize our gifts more fully in the mutuality of love.

 

This is an action-based account i.e. there are a range of simple ‘To do’ practices that can help you relax into:

To do: Sit quietly as often as you can – and let your breath breathe you. (More to follow)

 

Part 1 is an attempt to present the ‘bare bones’ without reference to the great and the good, or to philosophies or religions.

 

Part 2 goes a stage deeper and introduces ideas from some of the great and the good – people such as Ken Wilber.

 

Part 3 goes deeper.

Coming Home

Part 1- Re-finding our-selves = re-finding the spirit we thought we had lost

 

Q. What is spirit?

A. All that isn’t simply physical.

 

Q. Does that mean mind as well as feelings?

A. Yes if we put mind and heart together we get ‘heart-mind’. Heart-mind = our interior landscape or simply consciousness – the great inner ‘sea’ of feelings and thoughts. Neither heart nor mind in this sense are physical.

 

Q. Is that all spirit is?

A. It a) is the life-force b) the force of attraction that holds all bodies together and c) it is walking on in the right spirit – until all becomes Spirit.

 

Q. Are there other names for the spiritual?

A. Yes many – love, energy, chi etc.

 

Q. So spirit, or love as attraction, holds everything together?

A. Yes. Another definition of being spiritual is ‘to live for others’, to be of service.

 

Q. What else comes from spirit, apart from the warmth of love?

A. The light of the mind, knowing. ‘Warmth and holding together’ and ‘the light of seeing and knowing’ – both flow from love.

 

Q. What about everyday activities? Is walking spiritual?

A. It can be.

 

Q. Is running spiritual?

A. It can be.

 

Q. Is Sky-diving spiritual?

A. It can be.

 

Q. Is sex spiritual?

A. It can be.

 

Q. Is breathing spiritual?

A. It can be. The great yogic teaching is that the breath is that which connects the physical and the spiritual.

 

Q. Why ‘can be’ in all of these?

A. It is ‘yes’ if we a) re-cognize such activities in the context of the spiritual and b) realize the eternal in ourselves.

But it is ‘no’ if we remain tied to the miseries of our own ego.

 

Q. Does that mean that everyone is spiritual?

A. Yes but each needs to plug in and switch on! We all spring from the Whole, just as sunlight emanates from the sun. But we have to allow ourselves to feel, & acknowledge, the awareness that deep down we know was there from the beginning.

 

Q. Is being spiritual a normal state of being?

A. Yes it is simply being more than self-centredness. It is being conscious of the Whole/the Source/the Spirit that is beyond our individual ego. This consciousness gradually widens the circle of its concern and allows us to lessen our attachment to our ego.

 

Q. So loving more widely – like the outflowing circles from a dropped stone in a pond – is freeing?

A. Yes – those who really achieve insight cease to be run by the pleasures and torments of the the ‘small self’ – the ego and tru freedom increases..

 

Q. Isn’t this something that only special people – saints or mystics – can do?

A. No it is part of being human and we all have such experiences. But we fail to realize their closeness and fullness, mainly because they are so simple & there all the time – we’ve failed to notice, for want of quietness and contemplation! In any case we are all mystical just as we are all philosophical its part of the package of being human – just as much as is being social, sexual and creative.

 

Q. How do we make those experiences a stronger part of our lives?

A. Contemplation or meditation – as one source says ‘Be still, and know …’.

 

Q. How do we stop or prevent ourselves being spiritual?

A. Not staying conscious of that Whole from which we spring (emanate). And by staying attached to the pleasures and torments of ego-identification.

 

Q. Is there any other sense that someone might not be, or stop being, spiritual?

A. When they are attached to any thing that prevents her/him from experiencing their true Self.

 

Q. How many kinds of attachment are there?

A. Many – we think of gross ones such as alcohol and drugs but many are subtle – materialism, status etc – some are very subtle, perhaps ultimately even the attachment to not being attached!

 

Q. What do I do if violent or filthy or self-destructive thoughts or ‘demons’ come into my head?

A. Let them pass as though they were moving across a cinema screen and say, ‘Hello good morning/ eve etc, thank you and goodbye.’ Our True Self is not our thoughts. Thoughts come from the ego.

 

Q. Why what good would that do?

A. It will help you understand that you are not your thoughts.

 

Q. If I’m not my thoughts then what am I?

A. You are part of the Whole, in the temporary emanation and form of being uniquely you for 80 or so years.

 

Q. The Whole of what?

A. The Universe and beyond (everything – and all that is beyond that isn’t a thing!)

 

Q. What else am I?

A. You are star-stuff made conscious (SEE the 3 recent BBC physics documentaries called ‘Atom’.)

 

Q. What else am I?

A. You are ‘a hairy bag of sea-soup’. (This is not only a joke but is an accurate statement about our physical make up and evolution!) Science and spirituality are two ways of approaching truth.

 

Q. Do rituals and practices help?

A. Yes providing we don’t allow them to breed complacency, narrowness, and self-satisfaction i.e. a state of attachment. The most important are contemplation/meditation, prayer, and service to others.

 

Q. What really is contemplation or meditation?

A. Being still to experience our True Self, instead of the mind chatter and ‘TV interference’ of the ego.

 

Q. And what is the ultimate secret of the universe?

A. It is pointed to, not described, in these the final sentences of Wilber’s The Eye of Spirit;

When the great Zen master Fa-ch’ang was dying, a squirrel screeched out on the roof. ‘It’s just this’ he said, ‘and nothing more’. SFB P.258

 

Q. I don’t geddit!

A. Here it is again from another master;

The world is illusory

Brahman alone is real;

Brahman is the world. (SFB p19)

 

Q. Still don’t geddit!

A. Here it is again from another master;

There is neither creation nor destruction,

Neither destiny nor free-will;

Neither path nor achievement;

This is the final truth. (One Taste p468)

Q. Still don’t geddit!

A. ‘Walk on‘ (The Buddha). Walk on in the right spirit – lighten up and have forgiving and compassionate fun – until all becomes Spirit.

 

End of Part 1 (To be developed)

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All postings to this site relate to the central SunWALK model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE

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Being human – an American high school principal´s view

Many years ago a copy of this letter came my way – supposedly issued by a high school principal to his/her teachers on the first day of school.

It was seminal in the development of my world-view  – and it is worthy of re-circulation;

Dear Teacher

     I am a survivor of a concentration camp.  My eyes saw what no man should witness:

        Gas chambers built by learned engineers.

        Children poisoned by educated physicians.

        Infants killed by trained nurses.

        Women and babies shot and burned by high school and college graduates.

        So, I am suspicious of education.

My request is: Help your students become human.  Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths, educated Eichmans.

Reading, writing, arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more human. 

SEE ALSO: http://www.hmh.org/ed_faqs.asp

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All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD. Summaries are HERE

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Getting our I, WE & IT voices Balanced – inspired by Ken Wilber

Getting our I, WE & IT Voices Balanced

 

Are your voices in a twist? We each have 3 God-given voices to sing different kinds of songs. Imagine if one voice dominates & consequently the other 2 ‘shrivel’ to almost nothing. Where would we be?

 

Answer – where we and our world are now. This is how Ken Wilber explains our situation.

 

All great wisdom traditions (and Perennial Philosophy) used to believe in the Great Chain of Being which taught that reality was a rich tapestry of levels starting with matter:

spirit

 

soul

mind

body

 

matter

Wilber suggests reality now is best understood as a Great Nest of Being – like a set of ‘Russian Dolls’ – same levels – ‘matter-body-mind-soul-spirit’ but like an onion. (All are forms of spirit?)

 

He speaks of three historical periods: 1) before the Enlightenment = pre-modernism; 2) after the Enlightenment = modernism; 3) recently = post-modernism.

 

What did the good side of modernism give us? The good side of modernism = we were able to develop separately the 3 voices of I. WE & IT – I, (Art) WE (Morality) and IT (Science)

 

I = the subjective voice that we express in the arts (Beauty – and subjective truth)

WE = the moral voice that we express in the Humanities including religion (Goodness)

IT = the objective voice that we express in the Sciences (Objective Truth)

 

In pre-modern times I, WE and IT were not separate voices. Before the Enlightenment the Church decided everything. It forced Galileo to recant the truth of what he saw scientifically through his telescope. The Church insisted the sun went around the earth. It also decided what was and wasn’t good, and what was and wasn’t beautiful in the arts.

 

After the Enlightenment modernism gave us three voices developing separately I, WE and IT which were also three separate ways of knowing which I prefer to express thus:

 

‘I knowing’ = the subjective voice in the Arts (Beauty as pleasing patterns en-formed) -Creativity

‘WE knowing’ = the moral voice in the Humanities inc. religion (Goodness as fellow-feeling) -Caring

‘IT knowing’ = the objective voice in the Sciences (Truth as sorting, measuring, replicating) -Criticality

 

The bad side of modernism = the domination by the IT voice (‘Scientism’) to create ‘Flatland’. That is the ITness of science has become so powerful that it has caused the other two voices, more or less, to become invalid. This has been called the dis-enchantment of the modern world.

 

Therefore:

Pre-modernism = science, the humanities & the arts couldn’t develop separate to ‘Church’

Modernism = all three could develop separately (includes separation of Church and State)

Post-modernism means different things to different people a) a reaction against modernism, b) a counter-balance to (Flatland) modernism or c) a continuation of modernism

 

More narrowly postmodernism = the idea that there is no ‘truth’ only interpretations, and all interpretations are socially constructed (by elites to exploit groups e.g. women or colonies)

 

Important in pm = ‘there is no grand narrative’ that binds – such as the Christian story. My answer = ‘yes there is – being human in the world, with others, seeking truth, beauty, goodness and justice = the perennial grand narrative’.

 

The bad side of modernism = the empiricism of science has like a cuckoo forced out ‘I knowing’ and ‘WE knowing’. Inappropriately applying the scientific way of knowing (empiricism) to other areas of life is called scientism . (Creates ‘Flatland’)

 

Fundamentalism is, in part, derived by rejection of modernism – especially separation of state & religion. Ultimately it = the unwillingness to let the I, WE & IT voices grow separately.

 

The good side of post-modernism – it teaches us that

1 Reality is not always pre-given, but in some significant ways is a construction, an interpretation. The belief that reality is simply given, is referred to as ‘the myth of the given’.

2 Meaning is context-dependent, and contexts are boundless.

3 Cognition must therefore privilege no single perspective. (SEE Wilber p121)

 

Conclusion: We still validate science (the empirical and the rational), though we teach it poorly, but we don’t validate contemplation. Contemplation can also be thought of as heart-knowing – which is inspiration that follows meditation, especially the experience of at-one-ment/egolessness.

 

Our interior self is a flow of ‘heart-mind’. – separating heart and mind has been a disaster that has invalidated, or diminished, the feminine principle in men and women. (Heart-mind is an ancient idea ‘xin’ or ‘hsin’ in Chinese).

 

I, WE and IT ways need each other. If a person gets inspiration from contemplation (as Einstein did) s/he needs to order it or check it with IT knowing and WE knowing. Science needs I knowing and WE knowing as well. The Humanities need I knowing as well as IT knowing. Art needs WE & IT knowing.

 

Organized religion has suffered because it couldn’t stay clear on I, WE and IT knowing. It has made a comeback via the arts and ‘pick and mix’ spirituality. Its special domain, like art is I knowing – + WE knowing as inspired by what it sees as the revealed word of God.

 

Action needed = The world (especially the religions, governments & parents) need to nurture the I, WE and IT voices to achieve balance and concord. Unity, peace & development depend on validating objective truth and knowing, subjective truth and knowing and the moral wisdom that lies at the heart of all of the great traditions. The call is to the balancing of these three ‘voices’ of the human spirit.

 

My educational model towards this end I have called SunWALK = we need to teach our children, and ourselves, to pursue Wise, Action, through Loving and Knowing guided by the Sun of higher-order values SEE www.SunWALK.org.uk Roger Prentice Email; rogerprentice@bigfoot.com Ver 8.7.06

Adapted from and inspired by the work of Ken Wilber in The Marriage of Sense & Soul

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All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD. Summaries are HERE

 

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Wilberian Studies; integral and holistic studies that draw on inspiration from Ken Wilber

 I therefore sought to outline a philosophy of universal integralism. Put differently, I sought a world philosophy—or an integral philosophy—that would believably weave together the many pluralistic contexts of science, morals, aesthetics, Eastern as well as Western philosophy, and the world’s great wisdom traditions. Not on the level of details—that is finitely impossible; but on the level of orienting generalizations . . . a holistic philosophy for a holistic Kosmos, a genuine Theory of Everything.        —Ken Wilber (TOE, p. 38).

For my own work, and for the benefit of those with similar interests, I have decided to keep a list of sources that I come across that fall under the category of ‘Wilberian studies’. That is integral and holistic studies that draw on inspiration from Ken Wilber. These include leadership studies, education, philosophy, psychology etc. I am collecting these interesting variations on, and adaptions and applications of Wilber’s four quadrants and three voices of I, WE and IT. – SEE especially Wilber’s The Marriage of Sense and Soul.

My own diagram/application is at the foot of this posting.

Here are the first few other Wilberian ‘four quadrants’ variations, adaptations and applications ;

5 The Promise of Integralism A Critical Appreciation of Ken Wilber’s Integral Psychology by Christian de Quincey

wilber-grid2-four-quadrants.jpgHERE

4 Intimations of Jung in Integrative Psychology and in Ken Wilber’s Quadrants by John Giannini

four_arch-four-quadrants.gifHERE

3 Integral Spiral Dynamics by Michael Dowd

spiral-integral-spiral-dynamics-by-michael-dowd-four-quadrants.jpg HERE – click to see full size. Click HERE to see the 4 parts of the diagram in detail.

2 Developing Leadership Capacity: Searching for the Integral – by Wood and Hessler-Key

wilber2-wood-and-hessler-key.gifHERE

1 Prof Slaughter’s article

slaughter-3-1-four-quadrants.jpgHERE

My own application;
sunwalk-logothumbnail1.jpgHERE was to suggest that teachers see the raw material of their work as the flow of spirit (the student’s spirit and their own) – that spirit inevitably being socialized in to the three voices of I, WE and IT. Teaching thus becomes the work of nurturing refinement in abilities within the I WE and IT voices. The real concern is the learner and her/his holistic development
The real stuff of education thus is spirit – that uses community and cultural stuff drawn from the Arts, Humanities and Sciences – the Arts being the ‘food’ of the I voice, the Humanities being the food of the WE voice and the Sciences being the ‘food’ of the IT voice. Proceeding like this I have suggested constitutes a) integralization and b) spiritualization i.e. a paradigm shift and one that in my personal experience greatly strengthens the academic concerns of teaching.

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Within the SunWALK model at the heart of this site (summaries are HERE ) I suggest that we all communicate at any one time in one of three voices – the subjective I voice of the Creative (Arts), the moral WE voice of the Caring (Humanities) – and the objective IT voice of Criticality (as in Scientific investigation, practical criticism and philosophical inquiry). I suggest that education, and personal well-being, is a matter of achieving balance between those three voices – because they each energize the others. I also suggest that wisdom is a balance of these three – at least practical, common sense, day-to-day wisdom.

The three ‘voices’ correspond to other triadic forms – Kant’s three inquiries for example. Another three concern how meaning is derived from text. This topic is brilliantly introduced on Daniel Chandler’s website at the University of Wales (Aberystwyth). He says;

The range of theories about where meaning emerges in the relationship between readers and texts can be illustrated as a continuum between two extreme positions respectively, those of determinate meaning and completely ‘open’ interpretation, thus:

* Objectivist: Meaning entirely in text (‘transmitted’);
* Constructivist: Meaning in interplay between text and reader (‘negotiated’);
* Subjectivist: Meaning entirely in its interpretation by readers (‘re-created’).

It may surprise some readers that anyone could adopt either of the extremes as a serious theoretical position. However, there are prominent theorists whose positions are at least close to these poles. For David Olson and other ‘formalists’ the meaning of a text is ‘contained in’ the text, and it must be ‘extracted’ by readers. Such a model of communication is ‘transmissive’: meaning is seen as something which can be ‘transmitted’ from a ‘sender’ to a passive ‘receiver’. As one moves towards the other pole the model of communication becomes more of a process of ‘negotiation’ or ‘construction’ (variously referred to as a ‘constructionist’, ‘constructivist’, ‘social-interactive’ or ‘dialogical’ model). In formalist theories meaning resides in texts ; in dialogical theories meaning is a process of negotiation between writers and readers (Holquist 1983). Those who stress negotiated meaning argue that the meanings of texts are neither completely predetermined nor completely open, but are subject to certain constraints. Some commentators refer to influences on the process of making meaning such as ‘a preferred reading’ – which may be represented in the text as ‘an inscribed reader’ or may emerge in ‘interpretative communities’. Individual readers may either accept, modify, ignore or reject such preferred readings, according to their experience, attitudes and purposes. This whole attitudinal spectrum towards meaning- making with texts parallels that relating to the nature of reality: ranging from objectivism, via intersubjectivity, to subjectivism.

As I have mentioned elsewhere understanding, and upholding, these various triadic approaches is vital to upholding an inclusive, universalist, world view and a balanced understanding of reality. It is also the antidote to fundamentalism and to various other sicknesses that plague us.
To be developed.

The ‘SunWALK PhD’ is HERE

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To read the rest of Daniel Chandler’s introduction – and much more – go HERE

A very interesting article on identity, prepared by Chandler for the OU, is HERE

Other articles by Chandler are HERE

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NB All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE

 

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If you’ve struggled with what people actually mean by postmodernism and its relationship to modernism and pre-modernism you might appreciate these extracts from Ken Wilber’s Integral Psychology – I certainly did.

 

See also my other posting on I, WE & IT and also the posting on Mythos and Logos including Karen Armstrong’s work.

 

Modernism, pre-modernism and post-modernism

In other words, the four quadrants (or the Big Three) are actually the underpinnings of the modern differentiation of the values spheres of art, morals and science. Where premodernity had tended to fuse, or not clearly differentiate, the Big Three, modernity clearly differentiated them and set each free to pursue its own path. This differentiation was part of the dignity of modernity, which, in allowing each domain to pursue its own truths, allowed each to make stunning and far-reaching discoveries , discoveries that, even the harshest critics agree, set modernity apart from premodernity.

 

But something else set modernity apart. The differentiation of the big Three went too far into the dissociation of the Big Three : the dignity drifted into disaster, and this allowed an imperialistic science to dominate the other spheres and claim that they possessed no inherent reality of their own (scientism, scientific materialism, one-dimensional man, the disenchantment of the world). Gone was mind and soul and spirit, and in their place, as far as the eye could see, the unending dreariness of a world of its; ” a dull affair, soundless, scentless, colourless; merely the hurrying a material, endlessly, meaninglessly.”

 

And so it came about that virtually the entire spectrum of consciousness, and certainly its higher levels, (soul and spirit), were reduced to permutations and combinations of matter and bodies. Put bluntly, all ‘Is’ and ‘we’s’ were reduced to ‘its’, to objects of the scientific gaze, which no matter how long or hard it looked, could find nothing resembling the Great Nest of human possibilities, but saw only endless patterns of process ‘its’, scurrying here and there. Integral Psychology P.64

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Thus , it seems that premodernity had at least one great strength that modernity lacked: it recognized the entire Great Nest of Being, which is basically a general map of higher human potentials. But premodernity also had at least one great weakness; it did not fully differentiate the value spheres at any of the levels of the Great Nest. Thus, among other things, objective-scientific investigation of the spectrum was hampered; the specific and often cultural expressions of the Great Nest were taken to be universally valid; and the moral injunctions recommended to all were tied to those limited cultural expressions. Giordano Bruno might have experienced many of he upper levels of the Great Nest, but because the value spheres were not fully differentiated at large and their individual freedoms were not protected by law and custom, the Inquisition cheerfully burned him at the stake.

 

Modernity, on the other hand, did manage to differentiate the Big Three of art, morals and science, on a large scale, so that each began to make phenomenal discoveries. But as the Big Three dissociated, and scientific colonialism began its aggressive career, all ‘Is’ and all ‘we’s’ were reduced to patterns of objective ‘its’, and thus all the interior stages of consciousness – reaching from body to mind to soul to spirit – were summarily dismissed as so much superstitious nonsense. The Great Nest collapsed into scientific materialism – into what we will be calling “flatland” – and there the modern world, by and large, still remains.

 

Our job, it thus appears, is to take the strengths of both premodernity and modernity, and jettison their weaknesses. Pp 64-65

To re-legitimize other ways of knowing, to work clearly with and between all three I, WE & IT ways of knowing (plus community-tradition) brings the possibility of re-enchantment and balanced development of the individual and of societies!

The model at the heart of this site utilizes Wilber’s triadic structure you can read a summary HERE.

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All postings to this site relate to the central model in the PhD.

Summaries are HERE

 

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