Ken Wilber has said in talks that if you want to check the depth of your spiritual realization, go home for the holidays and see how you do. This always evokes nervous laughter from the audience, and I know from my own experience, that it is quite easy to feel at Second Tier during an Integral workshop in the presence of great teachers and other like-minded aspirants. Nothing to it. On the other hand, go home for a week (in my case it was 10 days) and see how you fare.
First of all, let me say that I adore my family, and that I got off the plane with an heroic intention of practicing loving kindness, and avoiding conversations about politics. Much to the credit of my parents, they realized this also, and we experienced only a few slips, from which we quickly recovered.
One thing I have learned is that, at least for me, there is no excuse for not practicing. I think I did miss meditation the first day there, but made up for the slip with meditating two to three hours a day for the rest of my stay. I also managed to get to a gym 6 times while I was home (a big help). One thing that I noticed was that my rigorous practice over these last few years allowed me to be much more aware of my conditioning and old patterns and step out of them and simply observe. The old conditioning was by no means gone, but I was able to observe my stuff from the much greater context of the Witness, a much greater percentage of the time. As Sean Hargens once told me, “I realize that in every situation or occasion, a part of me is always free.”
It was also painful to witness the extreme right wing xenophobic stream of amber/blue consciousness that they have immersed themselves in. “Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ – all the signs say so!” The news source almost always on at the house is Fox News and in the cars, the radios are tuned to right wing talk shows. I had to watch how this propaganda stirred up hatred, anger, and despair, in two of the kindest, most decent, and honest people I have ever known: my beloved parents. This caused my heart to hurt and my anger to rise at the blatant and toxic manipulation of these so-called pundits and “news” organizations. It was, and is, a heck of a practice to hold all of that in an open loving heart. Allow the hurt, feel the pain, access the tears and deepen into Love.
In a recent conversation between KW and Integral Christian Rollie Stanich, Rollie says that Love is to meet everyone where they are at, and at the same time come from the highest level of which you are capable. I find that immensely beautiful and extremely useful and that is where the rubber of Integral Theory meets the road of life.
One, maybe two last points. Where we meditate, where we are located in the space/time continuum, has a powerful effect on practice as an all quadrant context for what arises in our practice, whether it be at your parents’ home, your regular meditation place, the site of a former concentration camp, or in some beautiful, secluded canyon in Utah. As I sat in my bedroom in parents’ home, I began to see that in the first part of the Second Tier journey we become aware of all these stage and value memes etc., and as we move up from there we actually are called to do the inner work of reconciling these different stage and value conflicts within ourselves, not just cognitively, but integrally: body, mind, heart and soul. The dissociations, fractures and fissures left over from first tier development must be healed, metabolized, transmuted. Only then, in the truly deep Loving way referred to by Rollie, can we become instruments of the healing of the developmental spiral and the human family.
I will close with this stunning quote from a Don Beck talk I recently listened to: “No more awards for predicting rain, only awards for building the Arc.” Amen