The Seven Types of Spiritual Perspectives

6typesIt’s a new year, and I want to continue our exploration of the nature of an Integral approach to Gay Spirituality for what how it guides us as gay people — and by extension for the light it sheds on bisexual, lesbian, transgender, and hetero/straight spirituality. I write using the term “gay”, as I have said, not to exclude other groups out of meanness, but to put focus on the distinctive gay dimensions of spiritual life which in turn makes more clear the distinctive fruits of other spiritual approaches.

An important step in gaining insight into Gay Spirituality is by situating your own perspective and that of other perspectives you know in terms of a basic typology of spiritual perspectives. By using this typology, you can recognize whether a spiritual perspective is coming from a magical (PURPLE), hero-mythic (RED), traditionalist (BLUE), modernist (ORANGE), postmodernist (GREEN), integral (YELLOW), or super-integral (CLEAR LIGHT).

My last post on this blog described some of these types in a bit of detail from a different perspective, just enough to explain that this blog will be exploring an integral approach to Gay Spirituality. Actually this is only partly true. The intent of this blog must include the exploration of all seven of these types of spiritual expressions including the post-integral expressions which I did not previously mention. Because this typology is a fruit of analysis situated at a post-integral level, by simply learning the typology and beginning to apply it to your own life you can begin to expand your consciousness and evolve your spiritual outlook.

The typology described offers a way of looking at Stages of spiritual growth. There are other important features of an Integral Gay Spirituality that are important to mention at the outset: States, Quadrants, Lines, and Types. These are the principles of the Integral Framework as described by the pioneering writer Ken Wilber as well as in my own previous writings such as Rising Up.

In the months ahead, I will be looking at each of these in detail so that there is a clear foundation for understanding spiritual perspectives and claims, so that this vision of Integral Gay Spirituality begins to become more embodied.

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About The Location Of This Blog In The Gay Spirituality Lineage

By Joe Perez

In Chapter 1 of my eBook Gay Spirituality 101, I have this to say regarding the quest for a definition of Gay Spirituality:

Spirituality is connected to the human need or desire to be in relationship to the unmanifest or unseen or invisible realities which are considered sacred. This is true even when the transcendent nature of the divine is perceived only in immanent ways such as pantheism or in the definition of spirituality issued by a working group of gay spiritual leaders which read in part:

Spirituality pertains to life on this Earth and is measured by the compassion, love, truth, gratitude, growth, give and take that real, live human beings show one another. In the final analysis, spirituality is as spirituality does.

Spirituality may be perceived as being only about virtuous deeds or feelings such as love and kindness in the material world (as this statement sort of implies), but it actually includes the extramundane causal and non-dual realities. This is so if the states of consciousness and stages of development of mystics and esoteric thinkers of the Great Traditions and Indigenous Wisdom are to be taken seriously rather than limited to the visible world.

If you’re gay and your definition of spirituality doesn’t include belief in spirits and Spirit or Emptiness in the Buddhist sense (which is basically included in what I mean by Spirit), then why not be secular and move on?

I submit that Spirit is deeply embedded in human nature. We are made to be and evolve in relationship with realities which are set apart from the ordinary, secular world as sacred because we are meaning-making creatures. To be human is to have concerns about how to live and beliefs about what is valuable given the brokenness and nobility of the human condition.

To be spiritual is to search for or know our ultimate concern; to be secular is to believe that such a thing is non-sensical, pointless, or impossible. It is possible to not believe in God or Goddess or Spirit or Emptiness and yet have a spiritual life, say, in a pantheistic or quasi-Buddhist sense. To respect agnostic and atheist people one does not need to adopt their beliefs, only respect them and come to agreement about the overlapping worldviews and nature mysticism or reverence for silence. Atheists who are pantheists or humanists may very well say they are spiritual people, and we need not question that belief.

There is no one accepted definition of Gay Spirituality, but Gay Spirituality 101 teaches that an approach based on Integral principles is most inclusive, as we will see in the next chapter.  Gay Spiritualities are the ways of being spiritual that are distinct to members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community in general, and especially gay men. It is certainly possible to speak of Lesbian Spirituality, Bisexual Spirituality, Transgender Spirituality, and Questioning/Queer Spirituality, but those conversations are beyond the scope of this Mini-eBook.

To this definition in the eBook I would add that the Gay Spirituality movement consists in a relatively defined body of writings/teachings and practices by gay/bi/queer men over the past few decades (one which can trace its lineage back to Harry Hay and the founders of the gay liberation movement). Within this body of teachings, there is some overlapping agreement and some areas on which folks disagree.

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Greetings To New Readers Of This Blog

welcome1By Joe Perez

Welcome (or welcome back!) to Gay Spirituality. It is November 2014 and I am in the process of re-launching the blog with renewed passion and a New Dharma for the gay community. However, before I begin properly, I have a few preliminary things to say. It is time to turn briefly to the topic of who this blog is written for and the words we choose to use to talk about ourselves.

Gay Spirituality is not connected to the remarkable book of the same title published by Toby Johnson in 2000. It refers to this blog, which I first published in 2013, which follows in the lineage of gay men writing about their spiritual life, called the Gay Spirituality movement. My writings are more closely aligned to the Integral Spirituality movement than any other, with this blog sitting at the crossroads of Integral Spirituality and Gay Spirituality.

Firstly, this is a blog written for men who love other men, and women who love other women, whatever they call themselves: gay, bisexual, or straight. I am talking about the philosophical and spiritual meanings of same-sex love and sexuality, no matter what it is labeled. I identify  myself as gay, a gay person with bisexual tendencies, but definitely, affirmatively, gay.

Secondly, because who we love is deeply connected to who we are, it is impossible to divorce the topic of love from gender. Persons who do not fit neatly into the boxes that our society and culture dictate as normative are, broadly speaking, transgender persons. I am also talking about the philosophical and spiritual meanings of sex and gender, no matter the label, with special attention to topics affecting transgender persons. I am male, cis gender; a man.

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Gay Affirmative

gay-love2By Joe Perez

Today the war between homosexuality and religion rages on in the churches, mosques, and synagogues. Most conservative or orthodox or traditional religionists reject homosexual acts or the orientation itself as incompatible with ethical and righteous living. And worldwide these are the loudest voices and the most powerful and influential forces in society.

But things are changing surprisingly rapidly. In only a few decades gays and lesbians have made enormous strides towards social acceptability and won key rights and liberties. Governments in many nations recognize gay unions or marriages and attitudes have changed such that the sight of two men or two women kissing or holding hands in public does not arouse approbation.

Spiritual individualists (a.k.a. “nones” or the “spiritual, but not religious” types) tend to be more accepting of gay people because they have thrown off religions which they by and large view negatively. They have insisted upon being spiritually independent which gives them the freedom to choose their own attitude towards homosexuality rather than sheepishly obeying the dictates of church officials or fundamentalist doctrines. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on your point-of-view.

But if you ask spiritual individualists for a rationale for their views, they are an incoherent and incohesive chorus. Some will tell you that discrimination against gays is wrong because it just feels uncompassionate or unloving or too judgmental. In other words, they root their disapproval of homophobes on their own individual feelings, whims. notions, and fancies. By and large, they don’t appeal to anything more substantial than their own conscience because they know better possibilities.

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Gay Love Is God’s Love

God-sistine-chapelBy Joe Perez

Don’t tell me you don’t believe in God and therefore you don’t need to care about spirituality. Spirituality, as Paul Tillich tells us, is about our ultimate concerns. And everyone has ultimate concerns. Joseph Campbell once said words to the effect that half the world thinks their religious metaphors are literal truths and totally real and the other half things their religious metaphors are literal falsehoods and therefore totally false.

In fact, Campbell’s postmodern view from the mountaintop which allows him to dismiss the errors of the religious and secular alike is its own kind of illusion:  a pretense that the capacity for tolerance and peace and understanding and the sort of high-level abstract thinking about mythology exists is totally real and universal, whereas in fact it exists only as an artifact of complex developmental systems in which the worldviews of the traditional religionists and atheists each play important and valuable roles in themselves, and not merely as false versions to Campbell’s higher consciousness to be deconstructed or condescendingly embraced merely as means to an end.

Premodern, modern, and postmodern views of God each have ways of understanding the value and dignity of Spirit and Gay Love as playing an important role in the Divine, however it is conceived — as a Tradition-based belief system, as a scientifically-based understanding of the general systems of evolution within Nature, or as a postmodern embrace of virtually irreducible diversity and plurality.

There are ways of embracing the essential truth behind the notion that Gay Love is God’s Love whatever your worldview and in a way that respects the integrity of that worldview as offering a genuine platform for enlightened or awakened consciousness. Maybe you will say Gay is a face of God, or maybe you will prefer to say that Homophilic self-immanence is a fundamental drive of all evolving things, or maybe you will say the same essential truth in a different formulation. Whatever the exact phrasing, Gay Love is God’s Love must be the gay liberation movement’s next great mantra.

Photo: Wikimedia