John's blog

Surfaces and Depth - Part 2

Again T.S. Eliot:

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope. For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

This passage from Eliot’s “East Coker” is not just pretty poetry but an accurate description of the interior journey, of the inner work. We must be still and wait. There can be great activity both emotional and intellectual as we “Be still,” because being still does not mean freezing the universe, it means holding it in the greater context of emptiness and pure awareness. Imagine a wiggling bug on the surface of a vast, still ocean. From fifty thousand feet looking down on the ocean we would say that the ocean is still indeed, even though our little bug is shaking all over.  Read more »

Pictures from Assisi

In a previous blog post, I described a beautiful experience I had at St. Francis' tomb in Assisi. Well, we just started looking at some of the pictures from our trip, and found some really nice ones.  Read more »

Surfaces and Depth - Part 1

One of the main insights of the great mystics, and one of the essential truths of Integral Recovery, is that all suffering comes from identification with surfaces. This is not a dogma that one has to believe or buy based on what I or anyone else is saying—it is an experiential given that one will discover as one practices and plunges again and again into the depths of one’s own being in daily contemplative and meditative practice. And yes, daily contemplative interior practice is an essential part of Integral Recovery practice.  Read more »

In St. Francis' Tomb

image from Franco Zeffirelli’s Brother Son, Sister MoonSomething really remarkable happened to me last week, and I'd like to unpack it and see where it takes us. I had the chance to be in the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi. We had just arrived in Assisi and were visiting the Basilica. Somehow, I had gotten it in my head that Francis’ tomb was elsewhere, and I wanted to visit it the next day. Well, it wasn’t and there was the entrance of the tomb, and ready or not, I was going in.

Now, Francis (or Francesco) has been a major spiritual hero of mine since I was a kid, and his example and loving spirit had saved my spiritual butt on several occasions over the course of my life. And there I was walking down the steps to where his earthly remains lay.  Read more »

Practice for Practice's Sake

Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb. ~ Sir Winston Churchill

On Service as part of your Integral Recovery Practice

Jesus said, "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."

This is a quotation from one of the "lost gospels." This quotation comes from the Gospel of Thomas that was found near the Egyptian village of Nag Hammadi in 1948. I think this verse deeply reveals the necessity of service for our emotional and spiritual health, and thus for a stable recovery. If we do not access and bring forth our gifts as a response to life and in service to the times in which we find ourselves, that “living water” will grow stagnant and unfit to drink. That which is within will poison us as it putrefies from lack of outward flow.

If there is a healthy self-interest in service, this is it. In the Prayer of St.  Read more »

More on Ethics as part of Integral Recovery

In previous posts, I've discussed how to include ethics and morality in your inner meditative work. But inner moral awareness necessitates outer moral behavior. For our ethics to be Integral, they must include ethical action in all 4 quadrants from our highest current level of development.

An Integral Life Practice without ethics is foundationally weak. To choose to have an ILP is an ethical choice that involves all 4 quadrants. It is a conscious choice, as John Lennon said, to be part of solution rather than the problem. Obviously, the motivations of most people in the first days and weeks of treatment will be more oriented toward basic "survival" needs. But for recovery to stick, one must arrive at a higher moral ground, which takes diligence and practice.  Read more »

Purifying the Shadow and the Prayer of Saint Francis

One way to get at one's shadow motives is to simply look deeply into any emotions, thoughts, or feelings that arise in meditation—or any other time. As we continue to let awareness penetrate the objects of consciousness as they arise, they will reveal themselves to us ever more deeply, until they too are empty or so translucent as to be almost not there, or as light as feathers.

In this method we really seem to be burning off karma (or our previous conditioning) as we identify less and less with the objects in our awareness (body, thoughts, emotions, feelings, etc.) and become the pure space of awareness in which all these "things" arise. In this way, our stuck points are liberated and metabolized into the pure light and energy that fuel our further unfolding and healthy evolution.

Another time-honored method is a simple 2nd-person prayer to your Higher Power, asking for a pure heart and virtuous motives.  Read more »

3-2-1 Shadow-Releasing Practice

Here's another practice to help with your ethical line. I've been working with and adapting the 3-2-1 method developed by Ken Wilber for making sure one is covering all the fundamental perspectives (I, We, and It; or 1st-person, 2nd-person, and 3rd-person) in one's meditative practice. When an issue or emotion arises (and will they ever!) I visualize the emergent shadow aspect as a version of myself, for example, “scared John.” At first I see “scared John” from a 3rd-person perspective (as "him") and try to get an outside view of what this aspect of myself looks like.

As I watch this part of me (which is usually in a fearful, defensive position) I pay attention to any bodily felt sensations that arise. I then start to feel what fear feels like in my body, totally inviting and allowing the sensations to come up.  Read more »

Why Ethics is Central to Integral Recovery

"Being a cynic is so contemptibly easy... you don't have to invest anything in your work. No effort, no pride, no compassion, no sense of excellence, nothing.”
- Molly Ivins

I've been struggling with the idea of adding Ethics as a fifth line of our Integral Recovery Practice. Not because I don't think Integral Ethics is important—quite the contrary. But I wanted to develop a greater sense of how it could fit into our practice model. Then yesterday I was watching a video clip on, in which Dr. Fred Kofman discussed Ethics as a fifth line. That served to kick me off the fence I've been sitting on. So here it is—the what, why, and how of ethics as an core part of Integral Recovery.

First of all, what is ethics? Simply defined for our purposes, ethics describes the moral reasons for why we do what we do.  Read more »

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