Thursday, October 16, 2008

Whither Goest Mankind?

Yesterday I wrote about Scott Peck's four stages of spiritual growth and ended by stating that today I would tackle the problem of getting stuck in Stage III and why that could very well spell the end of Homo Sapient.

The problem with Stage III spirituality is that it very frequently results in an almost total left hemispheric approach to life, and does not deal well with paradox or have the ability to be comfortable with both/and thinking. It can be as judgmental as stage II, but in an opposite way by judgmentally rejecting the myth and illogical statements of stage II spirituality.

Although a necessary stage in that it opens up a persons ability to question the status quo and look for better answers, it can get stuck with a particular better answer. In the West, this is demonstrated by a fixation on the scientific method as the best way to determine truth. It's a good way to determine some truths, but not all truths, and taken to it's extreme it has no room what so ever at all for most of the truths of Stage IV spirituality---quantum physics not withstanding.

Stage III spirituality seems to characterize the secular west. The scientific method has resulted in Techno Sapient which to me seems to be a dead end evolutionary stage. The problem with the technological developments of the West is it's not stage III or IV people who control corporations and governments. It's ambitious stage I and stage II people who take leadership positions and advantage of the technology. I don't know how many more examples of how dangerous this is the world can afford. Mindlessly producing technology because we can and then not caring how it's used or what the repercussions of it's use might be, is not enlightened. It's stage I stupidity, and it's killing this planet.

People in stage III are also often leaders of important secular organizations dedicated to important causes because part of the concept of stage III spirituality is the internalization of the ethical and moral identities they have previously learned from stage II. This is a good thing for humanity if not so good for Stage II religious institutions.

What Pope Benedict can't afford to admit is that Stage III is not necessarily a bad thing, that on the contrary, it's a necessary stage from which to find Stage IV spirituality. But Benedict should be attempting to do something else if he's afraid of godless secularism, and that's figure out a way to bring Stage II people to Stage IV people without the need for Stage III. That would be a miracle of the first order. The problem is firmly rooted Stage II people don't like change because Stage II is fear based. One has to overcome the fear before one can talk stage IV spirituality. That's more or less an impossible task for a Church firmly married to atonement theology.

The technological artifacts created by Stage III scientists and theoreticians in many respects mirror the capabilities of what Jesus showed is possible for Homo Transcendent. The difference is in the delivery systems. Technology breeds dependency on others, while Christ taught personal empowerment and self responsibility.

TV is probably a good example of this. Most of us have zero input into programming which limits our personal power in that all we can do is channel surf until we find something that might hold our attention. We are dependent on others for the content of television programming. Turning off the TV does not change the content of programming unless enough of us do it.

Technological artifacts by their nature induce dependence on others, if only for the power to run them. Any form of dependency is by it's nature dis empowering and dis empowerment leads to irresponsibility. I can be quite irresponsibly wasting my time watching someone elses idea of what I might like to watch, while those who really control most of my life are perfectly content to let me waste my time.

This dependence and dis empowering is one of the major reasons I see a Stage III culture as a dead end path for humanity. Failure to break through to Stage IV leaves a person in an impersonal disconnected individualistic state. Group cohesion is lost in favor of personal individuation. The shadow side of this is too frequently manifested in selfish indifference. We in the West can be very good at selfish indifference as we walk around with our plastic water bottles in our Nike athletic shoes on our way to Walmart.

The problem is that our institutional religions are not effectively leading Stage III people into Stage IV experiences any better than they are Stage II. They are dropping the ball because people will not spiritually regress and telling us that Stage III is a regressive state, demanding we conform to Stage II dogma, is not going to work.

In some respects I think Benedict gets this because in his official pronouncements and writings he is taking a stage IV approach to Christology. It not particularly effective because he's doing it from the trappings of a Stage II stage. There is a huge disconnect between the words and the presentation. I suspect this is why he most profoundly effects people in small groups in an informal setting. While he may be well on his way to Stage IV, his church is not, and there for institutionalized Catholicism has less and less relevance for a secularized west.

If Stage III technological culture is an evolutionary dead end, what about Stage IV? Everything any spiritual mentor I've ever had says the same thing, without an experiential understanding of the inner connectedness of all men and all things, and the true Power of Love, one can't move into Homo Transcendent.

Homo Transcendent represents the unleashing of quantum humanity---a human being capable of doing what Christ did and more. It represents a human capable of manifesting from the quantum field, one unrestricted by linear time, totally empowered, totally self responsible, able to tap into the 96% of the knowledge of the universe we don't currently possess, and literally quite capable of leaping tall buildings with a single bound. And best yet, Homo Transcendent can do all this while embodied or just by conscious projection. Home Transcendent represents a truly Brave New World and it's in our grasp if we have the courage and the vision to grab for it.

Tomorrow I'll discuss more about Homo Transcendent.


  1. Thanks again Colleen. I've been busy reading the link from yesterday by M. Scott Peck - The Stages of Spiritual Growth. He really puts things in perspective and it helps to understand, very profoundly, that people in all religions and cultures and countries experience these same stages of spirituality.

    It also helps to explain why the backlash of VII by some people. It presents an interesting problem as well. Since VII and the new Mass, many will not want those changes if they are in Stage 2 or are newly converted to the rituals of VII for any length of time because they will feel threatened. It also explains why Benedict would allow those who want the Latin Mass. I know my parents were really pissed when there was no Latin Mass and they wound up travelling over 20 miles to go to one back in the 80's and and early 90's.

    This is great to know and it demystifies as well as humanizes a universal experience. I wonder if Pope Benedict has read or even heard of M. Scott Peck.

    While online I stumbled upon a book by him and started reading People of the Lie. I love writings like that. I have a book he referenced by Eric Fromm. I love writers / psychoanalyst who dig deep into the unknown and reveal the truth. It's awakening and refreshing.

  2. Colleen, I'm catching up, and find your whole thread from the end of the trip forward fascinating. Brilliant.

    When I think about something in Benedict's approach to church and culture that has baffled me in light of your analysis of Scott Peck's stages, I finally begin to understand.

    I've been perplexed at why he fixates on the problems of modernity and the scientific world view when we're in a cultural world dominated by postmodernity, which no longer deifies science.

    I've wondered if it's just easier to fight the battle of the past than of the present. That way, no one notices (you hope) that you're not addressing the culture in which you really live.

    But I now see: this has to do with stages of evolution of consciousness and spirituality. The big fear, it seems to me, is the unknown. Church leaders may well be aware that their answers, based on stage III consciousness, no longer suffice.

    But like everyone else (me included), they're frightened at the implications of forging a new spirituality to meet the needs of postmodern culture. A stage IV spirituality....

    I truly think this has a lot to do with the rage in our current political life. It's fear-based. It's fear of the unknown. It's fear of letting anyone but the known leaders lead us now, no matter how much the known leaders have disappointed us.

    And it's a very anxious recognition that those leaders don't have the answers and have let us down, but the new ones are so Other, how can we trust them? Ultimately, it's ourselves we have difficulty trusting in this transition process.

    Keep the insights coming! They're profound and really helpful for the time in which we live.

  3. Bill I think I disagree with you to some extent here. It maybe that the academic crowd sees our culture as post modern, but I don't think the average six pack joe plumber does. For the most part these are stage two people living in a secular, individualistic stage three culture.

    In all honesty here, I have to admit to some Stage II attitudes so when I use the stages, I'm not intending to imply that we're consistent in our application across our spiritual and psychological selves. For that matter we all carry vestiges of our stage I child selves. Freud would call this aspect the Id, I call it the Shadow self.

    Back to Benedict, I suspect he really has Joe six pack at heart, but that's the problem. I doubt he sees any aspect of himself as Joe Sixpack so Benedict would have a very difficult time appearing authentic. He sees himself protecting the simple little people from the exploitation of the godless secularists and this isn't a position which indicates any connection with Joe Sixpack or godless secularists.

    The problem I have with this approach is that at it's core it's stereotypical thinking with large doses of elitism.

    Leon taught where people were at and he was authentic precisely because he understood that to be connected with everyone meant you recognized that you had pieces of everyone within yourself. He had his stage I and stage II moments, but rather than control him, they served to connect him. He wasn't beyond sharing a cervesos with his rez buddies, or tea with the Dalai Lhama. Neither was Jesus for that matter. He's too is recorded to have palled around with his drunken fishing buddies.

    Benedict does no such thing, and I believe this allows him to operate from what amounts to fantasy, or a specific form of an ivory tower, rather than reality. So in his world he can approach his teaching from whatever place he wants because his very life keeps him disconnected from the people he is supposed to be sheperding. The same can be said for almost our entire hierarchy. It doesn't matter what the reality of a situation really is, because they don't operate from reality.

    This insulated living situation is the biggest reason most of them will never experience stage IV spirituality, and the reason they can't cope with stage III spirituality. They are completely disconnected.