Re: Spiritual Transformation, Evolution, and Culture


Richard Moore

Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2007 00:20:06 EST
To: •••@••.•••
From: Jim Fadiman
Subject: Re: Spiritual Transformation, Evolution, and Culture

Richard, that was not only beautifully written, but original, 
profound and  wise.

thank you.

I'd like to see that, taken as a short article, published.
thank you for passing it on to your list.


Thanks Jim, I too was pleased with how that piece turned out. As 
usual, I just type, and try to keep up with the train of thought that 
comes from who knows where. I referred to this process as 'soul 
searching', and it might also be called 'listening to the internal 
voice' -- or even 'channelling' (if I wasn't happy taking credit for 
the result). But I will take credit, as that gives my little ego the 
flattery it requires to keep it at the keyboard grindstone.

Do you have any suggestions as to an appropriate journal or 
periodical for that material, edited into article form?

best wishes,

From: "Butler Crittenden, Ph.D." <>
To: "Richard K. Moore" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: Spiritual Transformation, Evolution, and Culture
Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2007 22:13:45 -0800

Nicely put. I still don't think there have been any "wise cultures" 
in any holistic sense, but clearly there have been wiser cultures 
from which we can learn and draw components. As to the Soviets, let 
us not forget that the Whites were firing live bullets at the Reds 
well into the 1930s, and the build-up of paranoia and evil there is 
at least partly due to the US and other fascist nations refusing to 
accept the revolution and support the experiment in any way -- other 
to help build up the Soviet military and industrial state in case we 
wanted to set them in motion against the Germans.

But if minor quarrel aside, your tri-partite division of religion is 
pure genius. And they way you bring the better aspects of the first 
two into line with the gnostics is also powerful. And your final 
point: My story, and I'm sticking to it, is that I don't have a 
spiritual agenda, stands on its own after all the rest.

Regards, Butler


Hi Butler,

Thanks for your observations, which I'm sure you don't mind me 
sharing here. I do share your nuanced view of the Soviet experience, 
even though I made only that one passing negative reference. I'm glad 
that the 'three schools of thought' made sense to you. I was amazed 
at how that thinking crystallized on the screen. The ideas had been 
swirling in my mind for some time, as a cloud of new and disconnected 
observations, and the points Richard Flyer brought up acted somehow 
as a condensing agent, bringing the cloud into coherence.

I do find it hard to understand why you think there have been 'no 
wise cultures in a holistic sense'. Either you have reached 
interpretations that I don't understand, or could you be unfamiliar 
with the literature around hunter-gatherer societies? I say this 
because whenever I've delved into a good treatment of such a society, 
with lots of details about the culture, accompanied perhaps by a 
sensible commentary by a sensitive anthropologist who has lived with 
the society and learned the language, I have seen evidence of a 
culture in which people relate to themselves and their environment 
wisely and holistically. I know you are well read in the social 
sciences, so what am I missing, or where am I going off track?


From: "John Bunzl" <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: Spiritual Transformation, Evolution, and Culture
Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2007 11:33:19 -0000

Hi Richard, Friends,

I agree that the word "spiritual" can cause difficulties.

Nevertheless, I think what Richard Flyer may be pointing to is what 
Ken Wilber (Integral thinking), Don Beck (Spiral Dynamics 
Integral) and others have also been pointing to for some time. 
This is that we are held back by the fact that humanity, for the most 
part, finds itself at a level of consciousness or at a "mode of 
thinking" (or what others might call a level of collective spiritual 
development) which prevents us from solving our problems. This is 
very much in tune with Einstein's famous truism that "we will not 
solve our problems using the same thinking that created them".

Whatever we call this mental, cultural or spiritual stage at which we 
are stuck, my experience in working for global cooperation 
(<>) over the past nearly ten years is that what 
Wilber, Beck (Flyer?) and others are pointing to is true. My version 
of this blockage, as I experience it in my everyday activism, is that 
we are collectively stuck because the vast majority of us still tend 
to think in "either/or" terms instead of in "both/and" terms. Wilber 
would say we still think in "rational" terms rather than in 
"centauric" terms. Spiral Dynamics would say that culturally we are 
stuck predominantly at the "green" (i.e. mean green meme) level and 
need to transcend and include green into a new higher levels or modes 
(i.e. which are called yellow and turquoise). But all of us, it 
seems, are essentially saying the same thing.

Empowerment and liberation are indeed what is needed. But the 
problem, I think, is that the practical tools capable of DELIVERING 
the empowerment and liberation we now need globally are tools which 
can only be readily understood and embraced by people who 
have ALREADY moved to what I call "both/and thinking"; (a 
thinking which others may have different terms for, including 
"spiritual" terms). The problem is that vast majority of us haven't 
yet moved to that level.

When we do, the solutions will become obvious. And then we will find 
that we already ARE empowered and liberated!

best wishes
John Bunzl


Greetings John,

As usual, nice to hear from you. Thanks for joining in.

Being in the 'gnostic' school of thought myself, I am quite 
comfortable with the kind of models Wilber, Beck, et al, develop, and 
I can see how those models have relevance to the kind of 
transformations we are likely to see as more and more of us learn how 
to tap into our own inherent wisdom, our connection to the divine. I 
don't share those folk's enthusiasm for elaborating those kinds of 
models in such great literal detail, but I'm glad to see good minds 
at work making sense of transformation in intellectual terms if 
that's what turns them on.

As for your closing comments, about 'practical tools' that can only 
be used by people who have already moved on to 'both/and thinking', I 
am very curious indeed as to what those practical tools might be, and 
why they are only useful to certain people. Please do tell me more! 
Good tools are hard to find.

curiosity aroused,

Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2007 06:51:41 -0800 (PST)
To: •••@••.•••
From: Diana Skipworth <>
Subject: Re: Spiritual Transformation, Evolution, and Culture

Dear Richard,

In the old Eagle's song: "The saddest thing in life is to live our 
lives in chains; never knowing-- that we've always had the key..."

Or to go back to Kansas: "You've always had the power, my dear."

I believe we have within ourselves the answer; if our awareness could 
only formulate the proper question. To me it is a matter of mind.  Do 
our minds control us, or do we control our mind?

Are you a temporary human being-- hoping for a spiritual after-life 
or, are you an eternal spiritual being-- having a temporary human 

The answer of the above question determines the type of 
life-situation we choose for ourselves to forge or endure.

America was forged by Masons who joined the light from the east 
(spirit) with the darkness of the north (earth) when they laid the NE 
cornerstone in ceremony. Ben Franklin, for example, wrote his own 
epitaph saying he would one day return in a  "new, and improved, 
edition."  The ideals of America today are no longer manifest because 
its leaders are not spiritual in nature, but lower and self-serving.

Diana Skipworth


Hi Diana,

It seems you have resonance with the gnostic school of thought. 
Greetings fellow traveller.

the best,

Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2007 10:12:18 -0800 (GMT-08:00)
From: Howard Ward <>
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: Re: Spiritual Transformation, Evolution, and Culture

Hello Richard - Based on the excerpt you provided regarding Richard 
Flyers suggestion that 'total awakening requires a spiritual change', 
I'm wondering why you are portraying his suggestion as "imposing" 
spirituality and "designing desirable spiritualities?"

Is Mr. Flyer suggesting "imposing" this spiritual change, or is he 
suggesting that the dialogue needs to include the spiritual aspect of 

I'd image that one of the first questions that might arise, if we had 
a dialogue on this, would be: "What do we mean by spirituality?

You have outlined three schools of thought, but I'm skeptical that 
any of these are what Mr. Flyer was referring to when he suggested a 
spiritual change. To my understanding, a spiritual life is one which 
is in sync with the movement of life, as opposed to following an 
ideology. This is a rather subtle shift which involves being aware of 
'what thought is doing', which involves a willingness to question 
ones beliefs and opinions. A shift which gives priority to 'what 
actually is', instead of giving priority to abstract beliefs and 
opinions. Following a "school of thought" is not what I'd call 
spirituality. Following schools of thought tends to make us resistant 
to seeing what is actually going on clearly, which is what enables us 
to respond to life seems to me.

 From what I read, I agree with Mr. Flyer's suggestion.

Regards - Howard Ward


Hi Howard,

We do indeed tread on thin ground when we try to guess what others 
may or may not imply by what they say. In the case of what I wrote, 
for example, I was not suggesting that R Flyer is seeking to impose 
anything on anyone, rather I was exploring one line of thought about 
where things might go if one were to set out to bring about a 
'spiritual transformation'. As we shall see below, your guess as to 
Flyer's interpretation of spirituality is very much on the mark, and 
it turns out my own ideas about spirituality are fairly similar in 
that context.

thanks for your contribution,

Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2007 09:45:05 -0500
From: david creighton <>
To: "Richard K. Moore" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: Spiritual Transformation, Evolution, and Culture

Hi Richard,

I find myself agreeing with Richard Flyer in that any 'secular 
utopia' is highly vulnerable to being 'turned'. I think of Aldous 
Huxley's Island, 'primitive cultures' generally when they encounter 
colonization (except the bwiti cultures of west Africa), and an 
experience with a community school project in Lanark County during 
the 1970s. Here a number of families had started building a 
schoolhouse for their children when a 'Jesuit' arrived and 
fear-mongered people into adopting an hierarchical structure (where 
none had been before). The 'secular utopian' project soon collapsed 
for lack of substantial grounding in anything 'higher.'


Hi David,

Your examples are useful ones, but I question your interpretations of 
them. I'm not familiar with Huxley's 'Island', but I wouldn't 
classify 'primitive cultures' as 'secular utopias'. According to my 
research, these societies always have metaphysical & spiritual 
elements as very strong parts of their culture. Their vulnerability 
to colonization comes not from a lack of spirituality, but from the 
overwhelming influence of an invading culture that can exert 
pressure, in so many ways, on them and their environment and their 
cultural infrastructure.

As regards the Lanark experience, I would attribute their 'priest 
vulnerability' not to a lack of some competing spiritual orientation, 
but rather to the apparent failure of the families to develop a 
coherent sense of themselves as a determined 'We', sure of their 
purpose and their way of working together.

best regards,

From: Richard Flyer <>
Subject: Re: Spiritual Transformation, Evolution, and Culture
To: Richard Moore <•••@••.•••>

Hi Richard:

I had hoped to have a dialoge between us so that I could learn more 
about your vision.  I guess I didn't expect that it would be public :)

Hi fellow Richard,

Please let me explain the posting policy I've developed over the 
years. I do often publish my responses to personal communications, 
because often my best thinking happens when I try to respond to 
thoughtful people who have been able to speak candidly in a private 
exchange. My 'etiquette' in such cases is to either not reveal the 
identify of the other person, or else not to share anything they said 
that they might not want published. I do get in trouble sometimes, 
but generally my correspondents have been comfortable enough with 
this policy, and the value to the cyberjournal list has been I think 
considerable. I hope that your smiley face indicates that you aren't 
too bothered in this case.

If you had addressed this new response to the list, I would post it 
here for everyone to see. As you directed the message again to me, 
and as you once again have caused me to 'soul search', I once again 
want to share my response on the list, while limiting my reference to 
your message to 'small snippets' that I can't imagine you objecting 
to. In case, I'll do my best in that regard.

I very much like your clarification of what you mean by 'spiritual'. 
If you define it by how people actually 'intend and do' toward one 
another and the world, that is very much in harmony with my own 
notion that 'spiritual change' is something that can happen when 
there is a shift of culture, provided that the shift encourages 
people to 'intend and do' in 'spiritually desirable' ways.

I am very impressed that you have been able to explicitly bring up 
spirituality with diverse groups in a way that hasn't been divisive. 
Your focus on the 'outcome of spirituality' and 'common spiritual 
virtues' makes a great deal of sense, and I can see how it serves to 
unify. I haven't seen successes of this kind elsewhere and I'd like 
to learn a lot more about what's happening in Reno. I have seen 
situations where a group of people all move toward some particular 
spiritual focus (as in an intentional community), but moving toward 
explicit shared 'core spiritual virtues', while maintaining 
individual spiritual paradigms, is a very impressive accomplishment. 
I wish I had included Reno in my recent tour of community-activist 

I have watched your film and read your Building Bridges document. 
That is all very clear and it makes good sense. What I can't tell 
from that is the nature and scope of the 'shared virtues' aspect of 
your endeavor. Is it just the 'community weavers' group that has 
'come to agreement' on this concept of spirituality? Is some kind of 
spiritual observance, a moment of silence or whatever, built into the 
various activities that the weavers initiate in the community? Are 
people in the community generally aware of an emerging sense of 
'shared core virtues'? Do they talk about it in their churches?

As regards your assessment of my own initiatives, "setting up a new 
system without any foundation", I can understand why you see things 
that way, particularly as you have found a way to approach community 
empowerment that does include an explicit 'spiritual wisdom' 
component, without being divisive. Nonetheless, there is a 'sound 
foundation' underneath my approach to cultural change, even though it 
may not be immediately apparent. I alluded to it in our previous 
exchange, and I think now is a good time for me to be more explicit.

The kinds of dialog processes I advocate, processes that are able to 
evoke what I call a 'space of harmonization', are not at all like 
Conversation Cafes, World Cafes, or focus groups. We can talk about 
the nature of these processes at a technical level if you have 
interest, but for now I'd like to describe what this 'space of 
harmonization' is about, and the kind of things that tend to happen 
there. This 'space of harmonization' is real, it can be evoked, and 
'what happens there' is something that has been observed repeatedly 
in practice. And 'what happens there' turns out to be the 'sound 
foundation' underneath my initiatives.

In one of these sessions the dialog tends to pass through distinct 
phases, each phase being characterized by different interpersonal 
dynamics. This doesn't happen smoothly or linearly, it jumps around 
and backslides, but the overall gestalt of what happens can be best 
described as a sequence of phases and shifts.

The initial phase can be characterized as 'purging' or 'getting all 
the cards on the table'. There is no attempt here to move toward any 
kind of agreement, nor to 'notice connections' between people's 
ideas. The important thing  here is for everyone to express 
themselves as fully and sincerely as possible, and for each person's 
viewpoints to be 'heard' by the whole group. The 'interpersonal 
dynamics' while in this phase are basically 'one person expressing 
and the rest listening', and the facilitator's role is to support the 
expressing and the listening, and to steer away from debate and 
interpersonal confrontation.

This initial phase tends to be chaotic, with ideas and viewpoints 
coming in from all directions, and people are likely to experience 
frustration and impatience at 'not getting anywhere'. In fact, things 
tend to 'get worse', as it becomes clear that some of the viewpoints 
that have been expressed appear to be quite irreconcilable. This 
'descent' process, toward hopelessness really, turns out to be a good 
thing. It enables an eventual shift into other phases.

The shift begins when people start realizing, "There it is. That's 
how we feel and we don't agree. We simply see things differently." 
That is the 'hopelessness' part. However, out of the process of 
hearing everyone express themselves fully and sincerely, another 
realization also begins to emerge. People begin to realize that they 
are in the company of 'other sincere and caring people', who just 
happen to have different experiences and viewpoints. While in 'idea 
space' no agreement has been forthcoming, in 'interpersonal space' a 
mutual respect and sense of trust begins to emerge.

As this sense of 'mutuality' begins to take hold in the group, people 
begin to see the 'conflicts in their ideas' in a whole new light. 
Instead of thinking in terms of "I disagree with you", people begin 
to think, "I have have a valid concern and you have a valid concern 
as well." People begin to think in terms of "How can we find 
solutions that take all of our concerns into account?" It is at this 
point that the group begins to enter a very creative and 
collaborative phase, the space of harmonization itself.

When people have accepted one another as 'trusted and sincere fellow 
humans', and begin to see themselves as working together on a mutual 
problem (how to deal with our various concerns), the interpersonal 
dynamics shift into what can be characterized as 'open minded 
collaboration' -- with everyone focusing their attention on their 
'mutual problem', and each person bringing their own unique 
experience and insights to bear on it. Rather than conflicts, 
synergies begin to emerge among ideas. Person A sees a practical way 
to deal with person B's concern, etc. In this space of harmonization, 
a kind of temporary 'mind merge' develops, as if all the neurons in 
the room are linked together in one coherent problem-solving network. 
This leads to a tremendous release of creative energy and amazing 
outcomes can be achieved, at the practical level of 'finding 
solutions to community problems and conflicts'.

Impressive as these practical outcomes can sometimes be, the more 
important consequence of these kinds of sessions are the shifts and 
transformations that tend to occur in the participants, by virtue of 
having participated in a space of harmonization. It is in the nature 
of these personal shifts that we can find the 'sound foundation' 
underlying this seemingly secular and agenda-less approach.

The shifts I'm referring to are not particularly surprising, given 
the nature of the harmonization experience. People's eyes are opened, 
for example, to the fact that it is possible for 'ordinary people' 
with 'diverse views' to 'come together' as an 'effective 
collaborating group', and accomplish useful things together. People's 
attitude toward the possibility and value of collaboration and 
cooperation thereby shifts, in the very direction you seek, away from 
wanting to 'exercise power over others' and toward 'valuing 
cooperation'. Depending on how 'dominating' someone was to begin 
with, this shift toward cooperation can turn out to be a major 
personal transformation, something that is perceived as a 
'significant turning point' or even a kind of 'awakening' by the 
person at the time. Such was my own experience, for example, and my 
current 'mission' can be traced back to that initial 'awakening' 

Another shift, closely related to the 'shift toward cooperation', is 
a shift toward an understanding of the 'potential of the collective'. 
That is to say, people's eyes are opened to the possibility of a 'We' 
that respects and includes the individuality of each participant, and 
a 'We' that is able to function as a 'wise mind' -- something greater 
than the sum of its parts. Given the competitive and individualistic 
nature of our dominant cultures, this shift toward understanding 'the 
collective potential', even if it only occurs partially and 
unconsciously, opens the door to some major personal transformations 
around 'the relationship between the individual and society', and the 
possibility of achieving 'real participatory democracy'.  In one 
particular session, this kind of consciousness became explicit in the 
session, and the group emerged with the passionate expression, "We 
the People need to be more directly involved in making the decisions 
that affect our lives!"

These shifts don't happen for everyone in every session, they can be 
partial or unconscious, and when they do occur they may or may not 
have a chance to unfold and manifest themselves as life goes on. But 
these kinds of shifts do tend to happen with enough frequency, and 
enough intensity, that 'harmonization events' can serve as an 
effective way of 'generating transformative consciousness' in a 
community. If such events are accompanied by the kind of 
community-building you do in Reno, for example, then this 
'transformative potential' can find 'resonance' in ongoing community 
life, and the virtues of cooperation -- and the possibility of 
achieving an inclusive sense of a community-wide 'We' -- may have a 
chance to manifest themselves consciously in the community.

I see value in your explicit approach to bringing up spiritual ideas 
in the community, particularly as you are able do so in a spirit of 
unification. And I have found that this harmonization approach tends 
to move in that same direction out of its own dynamics, with the 
realizations coming spontaneously from within the people themselves, 
as they experience the process, and as the experience gels in their 
mind over time. To this extent you and I seem to be going around the 
same barn, but by different paths. I see opportunities here for 
mutual learning more than I see a conflict in our approaches.

In this spirit of 'mutual learning' I would like to suggest that 
'dialog events', of the kind I've been describing, could be very 
complementary to the kinds of programs you are engaged in. At a 
practical level, these processes amount to a 'powerful technology' 
for enabling people to build strong networks and bonds (as they solve 
practical problems together), and it makes sense for this technology 
to be in your repertoire of community-building tools.

At another level, these events can be a way for the community as a 
whole to 'take ownership' of the ongoing community-building process, 
so that it becomes self-sustaining and holographically led. Rather 
than remaining an ongoing leadership cadre, the weavers would blend 
into the community as peers, as people generally begin to behave with 
'weaver consciousness'.

It seems to me that any activist group that is seeking to bring about 
a transformation in society, of whatever kind, should always be 
aiming to 'start something' that then becomes self-sustaining and 
self-propagating. Otherwise, we can get into a situation where the 
activist group begins to see itself as the 'new elite', the new 
clique with 'the answers' for the 'rest of us'. I know that is not 
what you folks are about, and I think conscious attention to this 
'pass it on to the people' concept is a good idea for any person or 
group pursuing a transformative agenda.

once again, warmest regards,


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