November 17, 2017

The Nature of Loneliness by Joe Perez

By Joe Perez

“For most people, the move beyond loneliness requires us to share our story with a significant other. For the spiritual elite, the receiving of our own story — and the knowing that it is an integral part of the larger story of All-That-Is — is enough. But for most human beings, loneliness is transcended through contact with another person.”

– Marc Gafni

Your Supreme Identity is calling to you from the essence of all things. It is your own dwelling place, your unique life story not only told but lived and constantly recreated. It is the force which not only remedies loneliness but gives us solace in our solitude.

Paul Tillich once wrote: “Language… has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.”

Researchers tell us that loneliness may be painful, but it also associated with spiritual experiences and creativity. When being alone is freely chosen as an artist’s duty, it becomes a normal part of life. Indeed, being alone is part of the human condition in which we are often at our saddest, full of shame or fear or anger. It does not require us to be physically isolated; we can be desperately lonely in a crowd or amid loved ones if we have been prevented from being our true selves. [Read more…]

Political Spirituality is Not a Politicized Spirituality by Joe Perez

By Joe Perez

At least since the early writings of Karl Marx, many public intellectuals have acknowledged some variant on the phrase “the personal is political”. Not only that, but by implication it is held that “the spiritual is political”. This notion actually is a reversal of the truth and invites a closer look at the connection between politics and spirituality.

Traditional religion is often intertwined with government. And various conservative, liberal and liberation theologies in the twentieth century across a spectrum of religions spelled out new ways in which religious teachings seek to influence the public sphere in secularized societies. [Read more…]

Rethinking Materialism by Joe Perez

By Joe Perez

(c) 2013. Photo courtesy of patpitchaya.

(c) 2013. Photo courtesy of patpitchaya.

Every holiday season the cultural discourse includes an especially heavy dose of anti-materialistic messaging. The excesses of consumerist culture are especially visible in distorted forms, such as the spectacle of shoppers at Black Friday and Boxing Day creating mobs which are so fierce they have resulted in violence and the trampling of shoppers. It appears to be a truism that materialism is bad.

Psychological research into materialistic values is sparse but surprisingly uniform in that the studies by and large find materialism harmful and detrimental to measures of mental health and well-being. It appears quite likely that as people have less materialistic values the happier they get. But it is not clear that researchers have gone far enough in elucidating the connection between wealth and wellness.

Informed by an Integral perspective which considers the level of consciousness at which value combinations occur, it is striking that materialistic values are concentrated at an Achievement-oriented level (orange) which is highly individualistic and acquisitive, and post-materialistic values are concentrated at a Pluralist-level (green). It is likely that existing studies of materialism have not paid attention to the importance of considering distinctions between different levels of consciousness, and therefore have come to inaccurate or at least partially true conclusions. [Read more…]

Vegetarian v. Carnivore: Beyond False Choices to the Rise of the Conscious Omnivore

(c) 2013. Photo used courtesy of KEKO64

(c) 2013. Photo used courtesy of KEKO64.

By Joe Perez

Although I have felt guilty since childhood for eating animals, I have not succeeded in the past at becoming vegetarian and probably will never totally give up meat or dairy products. The moral case against eating meat is strong, but that doesn’t mean I have found the arguments in favor of strict vegetarianism convincing.

I was raised with a stereotypical American diet in which meat is served in nearly every meal. But I have evolved to find for myself a stance which is less absolute than Vegetarian v. Carnivore, and done so by examining my actions from a worldcentric perspective.

The bottom line is that I have gradually found myself eating significantly less meat as a personal matter and choosing meats which are farmed humanely. I have rejected approaches to diet based on mere personal preference or ideology. Instead, I’ve chosen an ethos of meat on a middle path, one which would please neither vegetarians nor carnivores.

As I see it, a dietary philosophy which bans meat and brands opponents as murderers or one which reduces animals to objects for domination are unnecessarily extreme. Instead, an Integral vision asks us to consider animals as worthy of respect as our co-inhabitants of the Earth with intrinsic value, but it stops short of viewing their consumption as an intrinsic evil. We are asked to maximize our compassion for animal life as an integral part of the spiral of evolution and to weigh the costs and benefits of our relationship to animals. [Read more…]

Gay Spirituality’s Next Move: Joe Perez and Marc Gafni in Dialogue

joe-full-headshot-2The worldwide movement for same-sex marriage rights and an end to discrimination against gays and lesbians gets the newspaper headlines, but the deeper truth is that we are in the midst of a seismic shift in consciousness regarding our views of sexual orientation and erotic/emotional relationships. For a decade, author, poet, and integral thinker Joe Perez has made the case that the emerging LGBT movement must be understood in its spiritual dimensions as bringing unique perspectives and gifts of importance for everyone.

In “Homophilia’s Next Move: Gay Spirituality & Unique Self,” Joe and Dr. Marc Gafni will examine the mutually fructifying potential of bringing together insights from the Gay Spirituality movement with the Unique Self teaching. Joe’s teaching on the Two Directions of Love — Heterophilia and Homophilia, Eros and Agape — will be related to Marc’s understanding of Eros and the Unique Self body of work.

Date: Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Time: 6:00 p.m. Pacific, 9:00 pm Eastern
Duration: 1 hour
Host: Joe Perez
Guest: Marc Gafni
Location: To Be Announced

A graduate of Harvard University in comparative religion and philosophy, Joe Perez has pioneeered weblog journalism and autobiography. He has written many experimental weblogs since 2003 and his spiritual memoir, Soulfully Gay, written when he was 34 years old, is considered a pioneering text in Integral Spirituality. He currently is developing GaySpirituality.com, which will provide a much-needed resource for the personal and spiritual development of the worldwide LGBT community.

Follow Joe on Facebook (Main Page and Gay Spirituality).

Houston Integral group in mid-discussion of Unique Self Enlightenment

global_12950747The Houston Integral Consciousness Meet-up Group is meeting on Thursday, March 7, for a discussion of Marc Gafni’s Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment. According to their Meetup.com page:

We had such a lively discussion amongst group members, we decided to continue discussing Marc Gafni’s book, Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment again…

All are welcome…

Cheryl Norris, an organizer of the group, says this meeting is the second on the topic of Unique Self following an “awesome” initial meeting this week in which “fun was had by all (big grin).”

The Houston group had studied different evolutionary teaching on the nature of self including the teaching of Evolutionary Self which are based on the original teaching of Authentic Self. For a number of reasons the learning felt incomplete, she said. One of the group members read Marc Gafni’s Your Unique Self and felt that it addressed some of the key concerns. A lively conversation ensued.

Marc looks forward to talking more deeply with the study group to understand the important distinctions between Unique Self and Authentic Self. Some of these issues were discussed in part in a dialogue between Andrew Cohen and Marc Gafni published in an article in the Journal of Integral Theory & Practice (6:1).

There have been a number of discussions of Unique Self and Authentic Self, and here references to a  a few of them. There is the aforementioned dialogue between Marc Gafni And Andrew Cohen, a related article by Zach Stein, a blog post by Chris Dierkes, and information about a dialogue between Mike Wombacher and Dustin DiPerna on Evolutionary Spirituality and Unique Self. Another important recent conversation is a dialogue between Tom Steininger (representing Authentic Self) and Sonja Student (representing Unique Self), published in the German magazine EnlightenNext Impulse and in a version published in English translation on Spirit’s Next Move, the CWS blog.

Special Evening Salon with Marc Gafni and TBird Luv

tonya ridgley 225The following letter is from a friend of the Center for World Spirituality who is hosting a private gathering on February 24. The evening is already full, so there is no way to attend at this time, but we want to pass it along to keep the larger community aware of the sorts of things that are happening in other communities.

Hello Outrageous Lovers,

I’m thrilled to invite you to The Path of the Outrageous Lover, an intimate evening salon with Marc Gafni.

Marc Gafni – visionary scholar, public intellectual, and spiritual artist – is a teacher of Kabbalah and evolutionary spirituality. He has been called a master of the heart and a trail-blazing visionary in opening up new possibilities for love, eros and relationship. I have rarely experienced a teacher as masterful as Marc at merging the sacred, the sexual, the personal, the universal, the mind and the body all at once and resolutely enlivening and inspiring all who have the privilege of being present.

This is an invitation that you want to be a YES to. It is rare and special and you are receiving it because you are an outrageous lover and your participation is key!

We are delighted also to have TBird a.k.a. Tonya Ridgely provide music. She recently joined the stage at the wildly successful 5-day intensive called “Actualize” in January and stirred hearts and spirits in amazing ways.

Songstress & Soundmaker extraordinaire, Tbird Luv promotes our subjective beauty and strives to make the world a better place from a unique point of view – urging us to take whatever we find beautiful – to stand behind it, support it and proliferate it and make it an important part in the evolution of our species.

Her music is about taking risks and creating beauty. As a contemporary flautist who dared to go beyond the modernist flute player, she combines rhythmical sections of bird calls, wind sounds, growls and metaphorically mimicks nature.

Male eXperience includes CWS among list of 10 Powerful Spiritual Blogs for Men

snm-top-10Graham Phoenix, the UK-based blogger behind the Male eXperience blog, has included the Center for World Spirituality’s daily blog on his list of “10 Powerful Spiritual Blogs for Men.”

He writes, “I started this series on powerful blogs for men with ‘10 Powerful Blogs For Men To Learn and Grow By‘. A man’s spiritual involvement is vitally important to his growth and development so I continue with investigating what spiritual blogs there are for men.”

His list includes publications by Arjuna Ardagh, who is a member of the Wisdom Council of CWS. Other top blogs include Wayne Dyer, Spirituality & Practice, The Change Blog, Tiny Buddha, Leo Babauta, and Jeff Brown.

View from the Top of the World

top-of-worldBy Joe Perez

You climb to the top of a mountain or the roof of a tall building and look around. The feeling that you are on the top of the world is awesome. With such broad views, your feelings are enlarged to encompass much more than your ordinary awareness. But these are changes in feeling and perspective, not in your core sense of Who You Are. For your self-sense to expand, you must have a shift in mental framework (philosophy, theology, or “right view” as Buddha taught), particularly those notions which construct and contextualize the self. In so doing, you may find yourself on the route from finite or partial self to True Self to Unique Self — the unending evolutionary process of self-clarification, or “coming out of the closets” of Your Supreme Identity.

Talking about a shift in mental frameworks isn’t the easiest or sexiest conversation to have, particularly in a culture with intellectual streams as diverse as ours. Pre-modern frameworks have certain strengths and weaknesses. Religious frameworks are already comfortable with looking at the world as a meaningful unity, and if someone is able to move beyond fundamentalistic tendencies, this can be a very powerful station from which to draw wisdom. Modern frameworks can tend towards scientism and reductionist ideology stripping the world of magic and intrinsic meaning, turning it into an object for inspection, manipulation and control. But they also offer strong medicine for healing from the sickness of superstition or naive realism. Postmodern frameworks remind us that no medicine is without its side-effects, so modernity’s excesses are remedied by recognizing an extraordinarily pluralistic set of values and perspectives and its claims to truth questioned with a hermeneutic so suspicious it turns against the act of interpretation itself.  Whether you are conversing in spaces dominated by pre-modern, modern, or postmodern frameworks, the key to Spirit’s next move is to get the conversation turned to the framework.

It’s tough to get people to see the framework that they’re in clearly and, more importantly, work with this insight in order to progress on an integral path of self/world-actualization or enlightenment. But it’s a key part of the task of the present moment. We are asking people to take a climb to the top of the highest mountain in their mental universe and look around. Limbs will get sore. Food and water are scarce. The body’s capacities are stretched to the max. Let us get to that peak together, and return to it with enough regularity that we build our bodily capacity to  integrate its sights and sounds and feelings. Exit your closet, and I leave mine. It’s a deal. You get to your peak and stretch out a hand to me; I will get to my peak and stretch out a hand to you. Come let’s look around together.


Picture: Wonderful Greece

Does it induce shame to advise someone to “lighten up”? Reply to Robert Augustus Masters

Photo © by John Inglis

Is it a bad idea to suggest that “lightening up” could be a good thing for someone suffering?

Some say it can be shame-inducing. Robert Augustus Masters, the passionate psychotherapist, author, and teacher of spiritually deepening practices, has made a terrific contribution to the discussion of an integral psychotherapy. Notwithstanding the many times I find his short writings on Facebook to be insightful, today I want to offer a counterpoint. One of Robert’s major themes is the importance of not escaping the dark, shadowy side to human life in favor of a superficial escapism. He even coined the influential term “spiritual bypassing” for the phenomenon of using spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, and unresolved wounds.

But is this emphasis too partial? Yesterday he wrote on his Facebook page:

Advising others to “lighten up” or be more positive can be shame-inducing, however nicely we might do it. What if they need to stay with their hate or despair or depressiveness for a while? How can we be sure that they’d be better off getting away from such states as soon as possible? Perhaps at such times we are — through our contact with their endarkened condition — starting to feel more in touch with such states in ourselves, and want the other to get away from their “darkness” so that we don’t have to feel our own.

That’s pretty heavy. Hey, Robert, lighten up, buddy! Just kidding!

What he says is true, but it is just as valid to say that advising others to “stay in heaviness” or embrace their negativity can encourage stuckness in useless emotional entanglements, a backhanded way of encouraging *ourselves* to feel such states. The flip side of “spiritual bypassing” is “shadow wallowing.”

[Read more…]

Marc Gafni on the positive and shadow sides of the interfaith movement

Marc Gafni, Director of the Center for World Spirituality, reflects on the article by Rabbi David Rosen, writing in Huffington Post (described in a recent blog post here) which gave his view on the importance of the launch on Monday of the King Abdullah Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue. In this 22-minute audio clip, Spirit’s Next Move Executive Editor Joe Perez invites Marc to reflect on this important moment in the emergence of the global religious interfaith movement.

Listen to the dialogue and read a partial transcript: [Read more…]

Addiction recovery methodologies in search of more comprehensive perspectives

Where are all the four-quadrant, all levels of self (egoic self, True Self, Unique Self) approaches to addiction and recovery? The Center for World Spirituality has taken one of its core projects books and applications of integrally-informed, Unique Self-inclusive approaches to addiction and recovery (for more, see our projects underway by Lori Galperin of Castlewood Treatment Centers). Meanwhile, researchers and thinkers are continuing to advance the cutting edge in recovery from various perspectives that are important parts of the whole.

Writing recently on Huffington Post, Wray Herbert looks at the physiology and psychology of addiction (upper-left and upper-right quadrants), summarizing the findings of Jessica Tracy and Daniel Randles of a new University of British Columbia on the connection between shame and alcoholism. He describes the UBC Emotion & Self Lab’s study methodology in detail, noting that it used videotaped body language of alcoholics over a span of time to measure the connection between shame and propensity to relapse. He writes:

This is the first scientific evidence to bolster what alcoholism counselors and recovering alcoholics have long known: Shame is a core emotion underlying chronic heavy drinking. Shame is what gets people into the rooms of AA — it defines the alcoholic “bottom” — but it’s a lousy motivator for staying in recovery. The power of AA is that it offers something to replace the negative emotions that most alcoholics know all too intimately.

[Read more…]

How does the word “awake” symbolize enlightenment itself?

By Joe Perez

On Integral Thinkers, I post the first in a series of columns on what I am calling integral phonosemantics. The topic of the first column is the significance of the sound symbolism for the English word “awake.” I suggest that the very sound of the word offers us a picture or enactment of the phenomenon of enlightenment.

From “My Philosophy of Life Begins with “Awake-ness”:

Language, I discovered, possesses a wisdom only glimpsed darkly by the New Age books on numerology which promise to tell you how your destiny is determined at birth by your given name. Language is magical, but not in that sort of way. Everything essential about awakeness that I already knew was already available to me simply by listening to the sound of the word broken down into its parts (called phonemes), and then feeling carefully into my body as it pronounced the word. I began to recover lost knowledge of the word by feeling proprioceptively.

The phonosemantics (sound symbolism) of the word “awake” align with the story I will tell you about awake-ness in the English language. The word begins in a neutral /ə/ vowel, in linguistics, schwa, a term meaning that an unobstructed breath is pronounced in the middle of the mouth’s vertical axis and the center of the mouth’s horizontal axis.

From there, out of absolute neutrality, it finds its “way,” a sound symbol that begins with /w/, the labio-velar approximant consonant, meaning that it is made by articulating with the lips and dorsum, the back part of the tongue. In my comparative studies of sound symbolism in conjunction with a wide variety of cross-cultural maps of subtle energy, I concluded that in terms of the traditional Chinese vocabulary for subtle energy, there is no English vowel more yin than /ə/.

Thus, at the outset, the phoneme connotes something which begins in utter neutrality or formlessness and then begins a process. The sounds are labial (articulated with the lips), which my study of sound symbolism suggests that being at the front of the mouth convey the undertone of beginnings to things. For instance, when /b/, the voiced labial fricative, starts a word it symbolizes such things as “Big Bang,” and “Begin” and “Be.”)

[Read more…]

Read Joe Perez’s “Commentary on Unique Self Video No. 1: Gafni’s Trailblazing Theory of Unique Self”

Newly posted on Awake, Alive & Aware, a commentary on Marc’s first video teaching on Unique Self:

In this video, Marc Gafni introduces what he calls the “core teaching” of Unique Self. Stated succinctly:

Unique Self is the understanding that you are at the level of essence – not merely at the level of social, psychological, and cultural conditioning – you are ultimately unique, you are an infinitely unique expression of All-That-Is, an expression that never was, is, or will be ever again. That uniqueness of essence is your Unique Self.

The video continues with exposition highlighting the role of evolution in creating uniqueness, and then it shifts to take the Integral perspective that everything arises at “all quadrants” (or alternatively in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person perspectives). Gafni’s shorthand is to say that “uniqueness lives at the biological, social, cultural, and psychological levels” — essentially Ken Wilber’s quadrants in AQAL.

And then with “it’s your unique perspective on your enlightenment,” we see the key conceptual move central to the whole construct: Unique Self IS “enlightenment” in all four quadrants. So by definition it is the source of illumination, wisdom, and identification with the All, the central qualities associated with “enlightenment” as seen from an individual perspective. So the reason that we are calling Unique Self the “Next Chapter of Integral” is that it develops a practical, useful, new construct on top of the AQAL Integral Framework (one which has the support of Ken Wilber, the chief developer of AQAL, a salient fact).

Read the whole thing…

What about Susupti, deep sleep awareness?

By Joe Perez

The term ‘susupti’ (Hindi), deep sleep awareness, is worth knowing. The 8th century spiritual master Sankara analyzed human sleep states, concluding that there is no real existence of the self. In contrast, Ramanuja’s analysis of sleep implies that there is a Supreme Self which is present even during deep sleep. The latter view is consistent, I would say, with the position of the American philosopher Ken Wilber, whose work is a touchstone of World Spirituality. [Read more…]

Gay enlightenment? A moment for LGBT spiritual revival

By Joe Perez

Posted today on the MyOutSpirit.com Blog:

Every so often I address a column or blog post to my lesbian, bisexual, and gay readers. This one’s for you. And, because your journey is my journey, and ultimately there is only One True Self – this column is really for everybody.

Whereas mainstream pundits and public intellectuals in the U.S. are focused on the next election, and many other folks are focused on the next Saturday night, there is a wider and deeper perspective. Looking as wide as this moment in over 2,000 years of socio-cultural evolution since the beginning of the Common Era, and looking as deep as this moment arising when the cutting edge of individual consciousness is a postmodern mindset, and even this edge has become dull and dismal.

It is an odd time to be gay or bisexual. For American men of my generation – past 40 – our lives have been crises of meaning and meaninglessness. We were born into a world in which the reigning moral, religious, and spiritual authorities condemned how we love and would have forced us into closets, castration, or so-called reparative therapy. We could read the mystics and enlightened sages of centuries past and with only a few exceptions could find no evidence that affirming the spiritual dignity of same-sex love was meriting even a moment’s thought. And we did, and by unprecedented numbers gays, lesbians, and bisexuals rejected organized religion and set out upon paths of individual spiritual seeking. They found their ways into Zen monasteries, radical faerie gatherings, drumming circles, hot yoga classes, and not a few very, very, very liberal churches and synagogues (places where they worried about marginalizing atheists and making sure language was neutered of any hint of white heterosexual patriarchy).

Read the entire article…


Follow Joe Perez’s writings for gay and bisexual men at Gay Spirituality Blog.

Is no one in charge inside our heads?

By Joe Perez

Everyone knows the human individual is autonomous, a separate being in itself. Not so fast, says evolutionary biologist David P. Barash of the University of Washington, writing recently in “Who’s in Charge Inside Your Head?” for the New York Times. Drawing on research into parasites which alter the consciousness of their victims, Barash says:

It may be distressing to those committed to “autonomy,” but such manipulators [as Echinococcus and Dicrocoelium] have inherited the earth. Including us.

Take coughing, or sneezing. It may be beneficial for an infected person to cough up or sneeze out some of her tiny organismic invaders, although it isn’t so healthful for others nearby. But what if coughing and sneezing aren’t merely symptoms but also, even primarily, a manipulation of us, the “host,” by influenza viruses? Shades of zombie bees, fattened mice and grass-blade-besotted ants. [Read more…]

Brain studies add evidence for the existence of “women’s intuition”

By Joe Perez

Making sense of the intuition is a cutting edge frontier of consciousness research. We all obtain knowledge from parts of the self unfiltered by the rational mind, but how do we make sense of that knowledge? And how do we distinguish between authentic intuition and base feeling?

Scientists, offering what we call “third-person perspectives,” (meaning that they are looking at the topic as an “It” rather than an “I” or a “We”), see intuition as a puzzle. In recent years studies have looked at it as a response of the brain to past experience and external stimuli in decision-making processes. [Read more…]

Welcome back to Spirit’s Next Move!

Friends,

Today the Center for World Spirituality re-launches our daily weblog, Spirit’s Next Move. After taking a hiatus over the summer and a little bit longer, we are pleased to resume putting a spotlight on the movings of spirit in the world. If you track this blog, you will be tracking a beacon of spirit which shines upon the latest news, teachings, and insights which we come to our attention.

As you may know, my name is Joe Perez and I wear the hat of Executive Editor of the Spirit’s Next Move. In this role, I have the great fortune to be collaborating with Marc Gafni, Ken Wilber, Sally Kempton, Mariana Caplan, Vidyuddeva, and many other regular and guest contributors to the weblog. As part of our team including Chahat Corten and Lesley Freeman, I also participate in bringing the content of this blog into social media… and actively participating in fostering a growing community of World Spirituality practitioners who meet online.

Marc Gafni, Director and Scholar-in-Residence of the Center for World Spirituality, will helm the publication as Editor-in-Chief. His dynamic and enthusiastic style, married with the heart of a lover, the mind of a scholar, and the spirit of a mystic, provides constant leadership. Our aim is to present a daily glimpse into the workings of spirit in the world’s evolution today. We are not merely linking to information, but linking the context of contemporary thought and news to the perspectives emerging from today’s Integral World Spirituality movement.

One of our first features is an extended series of recorded dialogues between Marc Gafni and Ken Wilber on the role of Unique Self in contributing to the Next Chapter of Integral Spirituality. Don’t miss it! Ken Wilber, of course, is a leading voice in the World Spirituality movement. The AQAL Framework (All Quadrants, All Levels) which he pioneered is a touchstone in our vision, our values, and our vocation. Ours is an emergent vista within the broader Integral landscape, one which also extends beyond the existent culture of the integral movement into new territories.

We live in a world in which at millions of children die of hunger every year, we face a global climate and energy crisis, human rights are in tatters in many dozens of countries, and we must combat other increasingly dire world-centric challenges with what fragmented and selfish consciousness is to be found in tribalistic and ethnocentric cultures too often distorted by fundamentalism in both religious and secular flavors. [Read more…]

Coming Soon: UniqueSelf.com

ComingSoonDear Reader:

I’m excited to announce that the Center for World Spirituality’s long-planned site UniqueSelf.com is nearing completion. The site will provide an educational resource and portal for the Unique Self teaching which is so important to our long-term vision of World Spirituality.

Look for additional details in the near future. Meanwhile, please bear with us while we direct less attention to our current websites, Spirit’s Next Move and the Center for World Spirituality think tank site.

Once the new Unique Self is online, we’ll have more announcements to come about how we will be re-organizing and upgrading our web presence to get the most out of each website.

Best wishes,

Joe Perez
Director of Communications, Center for World Spirituality

“We’re all just walking each other home.”

Walking

Photo Credit: moriza

 

By Joe Perez

“We’re all just walking each other home.” ― Ram Dass

For Ram Dass, the story of the spiritual journey as a walk home among friendly people is an important one.

It’s a story that resonates with me more since I turned 40 than earlier in my life, when I would have been more likely to say, “We’re all choosing our own adventure.”

Journey from the Source to the Unknown Self — the great adventure of Life — is also an important story, no disrespect intended to Ram Dass.

The return journey from the Unknown Self to the Source — homeward-bound — is equally important.

These are also what I call the Two Prime Directions of Love, the outward, other-directed drive of Eros, and the inward, same-directed drive of Agape.

My own story about the spiritual life is it’s hard to make universalizing statements about life such as “We’re all just walking each other home.” We are both coming and going, giving and receiving, reaching outward and falling back. We are generally caught in time, and yet we also can recognize a timelessness to existence.

We’re all just walking each other home?

Maybe.

We’re certainly telling stories to each other about what it means to be a human being and have a life worth living. We are also certainly examining those stories in relationship to one another, you listening to me, I listening to you. And it’s in the telling and re-telling of useful, memorable, and true stories that we find ourselves — stories as paradoxically unique and as universal we all are.