Daily Life, Integrative, Contemplative, Transpersonal, Prophetic, and Mystical
Daily Life Spirituality: Obedience to the Call of the Moment
Daily Life Spirituality is obedience to the call of the moment. It differs from circumstance to circumstance. Sometimes it is to laugh, sometimes to cry, sometimes to have courage, sometimes to play, often to be kind and compassionate. The call is the "initial aim" of God as relevant to immediate circumstances in the moment at hand. The spiritual alphabet of Spirituality and Practice offers a list of thirty-seven qualities of heart and mind that can be an important part of Daily Life Spirituality. People who partake of this form of spirituality enjoy an inner freedom to respond differently to different circumstances, without being overly driven by compulsions from the past.
Integrative Spirituality: Journey toward Personal Wholeness
Integrative spirituality is a life-long project. It is journey toward and taste of wholeness, understood as an "integration of all aspects of a person's life, including the conscious and unconscious dimensions of life, into a unified whole, allowing life to marked by an overall spirit of goodwill." Its fruits include "healthy self-critique, self-knowledge, and self-giving, a sense of the transcendent, and a capacity for self-transcendence." Sheri Kling shows how this kind of spirituality can be enriched by the philosophy of Whitehead and the psychology of Carl Jung. The unification in integrative spirituality is not a collapse of many things into sameness, but rather, to use Whitehead's language, a harmonization of things into a complex and evolving unity.
Contemplative Spirituality: Silence and Deep Listening
Contemplative spirituality builds upon the Silence of the Spiritual Alphabet, with silence understood as a quietness of the heart, so that a person can listen deeply to the world and to God. The listening is not just with the ears but also with the eyes and the hands and the heart; it is similar to the mindfulness of which Buddhists speak. Many kinds of listening can be part of the contemplative spirit: listening to other people, listening to the natural world, listening to one's own inner emotions, and listening to God. In a Whiteheadian context, this listening can be understood as sympathetic feeling or empathy. The listening is not quietness alone, it is also a response to what is heard. With respect to God, it is a discerning response to the call of the moment and the lure toward wholeness. In this way it is linked with Daily Life spirituality and Integrative Spirituality.
Transpersonal Spirituality: A Sense of Peace beyond Personality
Transpersonal Spirituality is illustrated in what Whitehead calls Peace in Adventures of Ideas. See Peace in Open Horizons. Peace is the experience of a Harmony of Harmonies within which the world unfolds in a way that surpasses personality and personal acquisitiveness. In the experience of peace, even a concern for personal wholeness drops away. Such Peace includes a sense of beauty, including tragic beauty. For Whitehead, this Peace comes as a gift: a happening within the psyche that emerges when clinging or desire drops away. Some process theologians interpret it as a feeling of what God calls the consequent nature of God: that side of God which weaves the many of the world, including even the wreckage, into a more beautiful and evolving whole. Peace is immersion in this whole. Prophetic Spirituality: Responding to the Needs of the World
Prophetic Spirituality is the kind of spirituality emphasized by the prophets of Israel, Christianity and Islam. It is not so much "wholeness" or "peace beyond personality" or even "moment-by-moment spirituality," much less "contemplative silence," but rather world loyalty, understood as a commitment to the well-being of the larger context of life. It takes the form of passion for just and sustainable communities, and criticism of the status quo. People can partake of this kind of spirituality without partaking of the other four forms, but many who partake of the other four types believe that this fifth type is a natural extension and expression of the other four.
Mystical Spirituality: Non-Ordinary States of Consciousness
Mystical spirituality is entering into states of conscious that are different from ordinary waking consciousness, but brilliant in their meaning and wisdom. One form of mysticism is the Peace described above, in that it carries within it an intuitive or non-verbal dimension, and is sensitive to a world beyond words. One form of mysticism can be an awakening to Beauty as described by Patricia Adams Farmer in the slideshow below. We might call it Beauty mysticism. But in process theology there are, or can be, many kinds of mysticism. See Eight Forms of Mysticism in Open Horizons. These include a mysticism in which one feels "at one" with the whole of the universe, a mysticism in which a person awakens to the "groundless ground" of a creative abyss of which all things are expressions, a mysticism in which one awakens to a realm of pure potentialities in what Whitehead calls the primordial nature of God, and a shamanic mysticism in which one awakens to the archetypes and energies of the collective unconscious. All of these make sense from a process perspective.
- Jay McDaniel
In process theology, spirituality is how we are inwardly animated, enlivened, nourished by life-giving forms of experience and ways of living in the world. Alfred North Whitehead speaks of these qualities of felt beauty: here understood as satisfying forms of harmony and intensity in our relations with other people, the natural world, the heavens, and ourselves. In The Liberation of Life: From Cell to Community, John Cobb, speaks of them as forms of “richness of experience.” Spirituality, then, is the seeking and sustaining of rich experience in community with others and also, as Whitehead emphasized, the solitariness of the heart.
The Cobb Institute affirms and encourages the integration of many forms of rich experience: attention, compassion, faith, forgiveness, hospitality, imagination, listening, meaning-making, openness, peace, playfulness, silence, wonder, and a zest for life, for example. These experiences are available to people of all ages and faiths, relative to the circumstances of their lives. The experiences can be understood and interpreted through many different intellectual lenses, including process philosophy and the cosmology of Whitehead, who, in Process and Reality and other writings, offers a philosophy of experience conducive to their appreciation.
The varieties of rich experience can be fostered and enacted through many different spiritual activities, including rituals, gatherings, and collective actions aimed at supporting local communities that are creative, compassionate, participatory, inclusive, humane to animals, good for the earth, and joyful, with no one left behind. Such communities are the building blocks of ecological civilization. It is our belief that an integral spirituality can provide the nourishment that makes possible and sustains such civilization.
- from the Cobb Institute
What is Helpful about a Process Approach?
It places spirituality within a larger cosmic contest.
It envisions spirituality itself as natural not supernatural.
It does not separate spirituality from everyday life.
It finds value in prayer, offering the idea that there truly is a deep Listening (the consequent nature of God) at the heart of the universe.
It finds value in meditation, offering the idea that we can
It remembers and celebrates the role of community in spiritual life.
It does not equate spirituality with “happiness.”
It is open to many forms of mysticism.
It emphasizes the role of Beauty in the spiritual life..
It can combine prophetic spirituality with contemplative spirituality.
It is available to spiritual independents as well as the religiously affiliated.
It is available to theists, non-theists, and the many are who in-between.
It recognizes that other animals and the Earth have spirituality, too.
It recognizes the role science can play in understanding spirituality.
It does not pretend to be the final word on spirituality.
- Jay McDaniel
Spirituality and Science
Daily Life spirituality is a combination of embodied wisdom and emotional intelligence in ordinary life. Here is a list of some of the qualities of heart and mind that are essential to the embodied wisdom and emotional intelligence we appreciate. They comprise the spiritual alphabet of Spirituality and Practice,
It is noteworthy that many of these qualities are now being studied in universities under the rubric of positive psychology, with help from sociology and neuroscience. See the work of the Greater Good Science Center at the Universty of California, Berkeley; and that of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. We celebrate approaches to these qualities which are evidence-based. We think there is something like "spirituality" in science, too.
We know that qualities such as these do not exist all by themselves. They are alive only as embodied in the hearts and minds of real people in real circumstances in a real world. A world both beautiful and threatened, tragic and precious. Spirituality is a process, a journey, a way of living day-to-day, moment-by-moment, in this world.
- Jay McDaniel
God and Spirituality
Open and Relational Theologies, including Process Theologies, speak of God as essentially kenotic. This means that it is in God's very nature to be self-emptying or self-giving in two senses: God gives himself/herself as a non-coercive lure within creation whose "gift" is the grace of fresh possibilities for responding to the situations we face in life. And God is a companion to all the worlds joys and sufferings. In process theology these fresh possibilities are given in each moment within the depths of our lives. They are called "initial aims." God's sharing in the joys and sufferings of the world is, for process theologians, quite literal. God "feels the feelings" of all living beings in a sympathetic way as a fellow sufferer who understands. This way of thinking about God opens itself to each and all of the six forms of spirituality described below. Various religious traditions can, at their best, offer rituals, stories, and, most importantly, a sense of community in which all six are nurtured.
Slideshows on Process Spirituality offered by the Cobb Institute