Thursday, December 1, 2016

Onion Peels

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. — G.K. Chesterton

Some of us love maps. Sometimes it's a guy thing, because I suppose it feeds our desire to explore. Or maybe we are just not relational enough to ask for good direction. But a decent map can lay out the gist of a heroic journey to get some where we are not.

I am not designed to be a Shackleton, exploring stormy, unknown seas, or an Elon Musk, who is ready to fly off to Mars. I am more an explorer of the interiors. That doesn't mean I've always been good at it. I've gone off the path too many times to count (which is always part of the ultimate path). But the intention never leaves. I am steadfast, so a good map hopefully can only help.

Consider all the map-makers I've been attracted to: Ken Wilber, Daniel P. Brown, A.H. Almaas, the Tibetans. These folks recognize the territory is primary, but if there's a map to address it, I'm sure they would say theirs is the best. My latest favorite map comes from Ric Weinman, who I recently came across in an interview on BatGap. His book takes on the path to awakening, unveiling all the layers of the self (which I liken to onion peeling, and I do love my peels). 

There are some nice tidbits in the book. Let's see what I highlighted...

From an awakening perspective, life is simply the opportunity for the Source of All to experience its own potentiality. [Thank God for that! We need to be liberated toward a telos.]

Awakening does not fulfill the self but rather deletes it from the picture. [Yes, but something remains which is the True Self.]

People live in their heads because the ego uses its mental story about itself as a support for its existence. They also live in their heads as a defense against feeling overwhelmed by their emotions and to defend against the experience of simply being open to life as it is. [Tell me about it! I always thought I wasn't that emotional, but the truth was I used my ruminations to run away from them.]

Yet the general rule is that the more of you that disappears, the more your partner will like it. [See the irony here. Unless your relationship is based on ego-dependency.]

I once heard Wayne Liquorman (an awake teacher) say that awakening was like the relief of taking a pebble out of an old, well-worn shoe. The problem is we all think we’re going to get a new pair of shoes. [Mistakenly so, we often think awakening will make us a new me.]

So, freedom has nothing in it that the ego desires. What the ego wants is transcendence and expansion into a higher state of security and power. That’s why the idea of ascension is so popular. [Ascension is just the expansion of a self that is still a self.]

Yet I have noticed one very consistent initial response to Basic Awakening: the experience simply has nothing to do with whatever was expected. [Yup, best to look into the unknown.]

The awareness that you lost your awakeness is actually the awakeness itself making itself known. [Just remembering is awakening.]

The Map can only describe the levels of awakening, not the degree to which it has been incorporated into one’s life. Someone who has not awakened deeply but is more fully living from their awakening may seem more awake than the person who has gone deeper but allowed it to move more into the background. [I love this excerpt. It made me think of all the people I've come across who have higher attainments, but are still arseholes. It all comes down to intention.]

If you can find where laughter comes from you will find Divinity. [Another quote I love! Humor releases us to Source.]

So, you do have free will, but the person you experience yourself to be doesn’t. [Yup. We're not that free if it's all that conditioning that is reacting.]

Fixating harder on something that is known won’t open the door to the unknown. [Another great quote!]

Here’s an extra little trick: think of the source of the mind as existing in the heart. [Ahh, the cave of the Heart. Makes me smile.]

Consciousness has the quality of emptiness. If you think of light as having a quality of fullness and the shadows it creates as having a quality of emptiness, then this aligns with awareness and consciousness: awareness has a quality of fullness, and consciousness, the ‘shadow’ of awareness, feels empty. [I like this distinction between consciousness and awareness.]

You might think that losing the sense of the personal would make you more emotionally cold and impersonal. It turns out this isn’t true. In general, the deeper your awakening goes, the more ‘real’ you become, the more you become what you really are. So you become more open, more present, more heartful. You will have more detachment as well, but the detachment created from the awakening will have no walls— it is open space. [Some Buddhists get mixed up in this detachment, where they are not truly available. It's just a state of repose and not true awakening.]

Because we want to hold onto our awakening, there will be a tendency to turn our awake space into an image that we can then hold in consciousness. In addition, we want to be that awake space, so we will identify with that image. That turns what you are into an image in consciousness. Be on the alert for this, and remember that whenever you become something, you have moved into illusion. Only in being nothing does the everything you are reveal itself, and it reveals itself to no one. [A good reminder!]

My only guidance for learning to live from this level of awakening is to distinguish what you are from what you keep becoming and what you experience. Then keep dropping into what you are. [A pith instruction we can always use.]


Overall, Ric's book was a delightful read. I don't know why some teachers resonate more than others with me, but I always appreciate a fresh perspective to the path!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Popping Bubbles

This past week, Saturday Night Live, had a quite funny, yet poignant mock advertisement for The Bubble...
After a wild and crazy election season, I know we are all taking inventory of our political fragmentation. I was not as surprised that Trump won the election as many of my peers, but I was surprised as to how surprised they were that he did win.

Several years ago I read Charles Murray's Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010 to better understand the shifting patterns in American working/upper class culture. It was not as obvious to me at the time, as I assumed like everyone else that the general working class was always slanted toward more traditional Democratic values (the one exception being the Reagan years where there was a slight counter shift). But in respects to Murray's work, which compared the two communities of Belmont, MA and Fishtown, PA, there is a different story as to an increasing divergence that begun to emerge for several decades between the college-educated elite living in the super-zips (a la bubble) from those with little education, eking out a meager living in more rural areas. Much of this points to economic shifts, but Murray highlights more the cultural underpinnings that created this mess.

One Amazon reviewer says, in 1960 Fishtown was a very Catholic neighborhood in which the men worked, the women stayed home, and the kids went to Catholic school. My ex-wife was one of them. What they considered to be social problems were excess drinking, quite a bit of it, fistfights and a bit of philandering. Young people, however, knew what was expected of them. They got married, before or after becoming pregnant, and provided families for kids. It was a moral expectation that was generally observed. People had responsibilities and took them seriously. They did not accept welfare, they answered the call when they were drafted, and they participated in church and civic organizations. Fishtown in 2010 is a very different place. People simply don't feel an obligation to either work or get married. There are many never married people, and many out of wedlock children. A lot of the guys are just bums - don't work, don't want to work, don't want to get married, and waste their time watching television. An inordinately large number have figured how to game the system by qualifying for Social Security disability. Their attitude is that work is for chumps. Quite a few of them have drinking and drug problems, but Murray does not consider these disabilities to be nearly as important as the lack of any of the four foundations in their lives. No more religion, no social connections with the community, either no marriage or an unsatisfactory marriage, and no vocation.

Yet in Belmont, the picture is quite different. Murray claims that the state of affairs in Belmont is much better. People work hard, get married, stay married, are resolutely and obsessively concerned with their children, and are involved in community. More than that, counter-intuitively, they are more involved in church than are the people remaining in Fishtown. They may not believe the dogmas, but they understand the social value of belonging. What has changed in Belmont is the conviction that the set of virtues they practice really ought to be preached. Belmont now believes totally in moral relativism. If somebody else doesn't want to remain married to his kids' mother, doesn't want to work, or spends all of his money on drink and drugs and all of his time watching TV, they're not going to be judgmental. That's somebody else's life.

Murray sums it up best when he says, the hollow elite is as dysfunctional in its way as the new lower class is in its way. Personally and as families, its members are successful. But they have abdicated their responsibility to set and promulgate standards. The most powerful and successful members of their class increasingly trade on the perks of their privileged positions without regard to the seemliness of that behavior. The members of the new upper class are active politically, but when it comes to using their positions to help sustain the republic in day-to-day life, they are AWOL. 

Where once there was a time when people of any class admired the upper classes in America, now there is little to admire as having an ideology of non-judgmentalism does little to help a working class with a decaying moral and social fabric. Such frustration could only lead to the desire for a outside statesman with strong convictions that could rattle the current system to its core.

Moreover, the new upper class non-judgmental stance is not without its hypocrisy, as there is a contempt the bleeds from the top-down. Locked into their value-laden bubble, they can't even relate to working class America anymore. Murray showcases this through a quiz in his book... 
  1. Have you ever lived for at least a year in an American neighborhood in which the majority of your fifty nearest neighbors probably did not have college degrees?  
  2. Did you grow up in a family in which the chief breadwinner was not in a managerial job or a high-prestige profession?
  3. Have you ever walked on a factory floor?
  4. Have you ever held a job that caused something to hurt at the end of the day?
  5. Have you ever had a close friend who was an evangelical Christian?
  6. Do you now have a close friend with whom you have strong and wide-ranging political disagreements?
  7. Have you ever had a close friend who could seldom get better than Cs in high school even if he or she tried hard?
  8. During the last month, have you voluntarily hung out with people who were smoking cigarettes?
  9. During the last five years, have you gone fishing?
  10. How many times in the last year have you eaten at one of the following restaurant chains? (Applebee’s, Waffle House, Denny’s, IHOP, Chili’s, Outback Steakhouse, Ruby Tuesday, T.G.I. Friday’s, Ponderosa Steakhouse)
  11. In secondary school, did you letter in anything?
  12. Have you ever participated in a parade not involving global warming, a war protest, or gay rights?
  13. Since leaving school, have you ever worn a uniform?
  14. Have you ever ridden on a long-distance bus (e.g., Greyhound,Trailways) or hitchhiked for a trip of fifty miles or more?
  15. Have you ever watched an Oprah, Dr. Phil, or Judge Judy show all the way through?
So I was able to answer yes most of these only because I grew in a working class town in southern Maine. However, in my current living situation, I would have failed this miserably. And I never cared to fish and I never worn a uniform. C'est la vie, in a bubble.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Hamilton and Elitism

I finally finished the terrific Hamilton biography by Ron Chernow. Since this book inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda and I may never get to see his Broadway musical, I have to get what I can from this delightful read.

So when I read a long biography like this, there are just a couple big takeaways I can absorb beyond some fun facts and dates (which I will eventually forget in most cases). So a theme that came to me as I was reading was this notion of elitism. Why Alexander Hamilton and elitism? From the following excerpt it would seem Hamilton held a somewhat pessimistic view on the citizenry and our fledgling nation. Chernow says, 
The intellectual spoilsport among the founding fathers, Hamilton never believed in the perfectibility of human nature and regularly violated what became the first commandment of American politics: thou shalt always be optimistic when addressing the electorate. He shrank from the campaign rhetoric that flattered Americans as the most wonderful, enlightened people on earth and denied that they had anything to learn from European societies. He was incapable of the resolutely uplifting themes that were to become mandatory in American politics. The first great skeptic of American exceptionalism, he refused to believe that the country was exempt from the sober lessons of history.
Human nature being what it is, Hamilton did not get lost in rose colored glasses. He understood we have two natures, and as such, he valued the need to cultivate the rarity of excellence rather than take if for granted as a given. After all, that's why we fought for freedom from the Redcoats, as freedom is fundamental to our nature and necessary for exceptionalism to flourish. But Hamilton also knew this would not come without industriousness, perseverance, and sacrifice.
   
Hamilton, a poor immigrant from Saint Croix, rose to prominence based on own merit. Ironically, he was villainized in American history textbooks as an apologist of privilege and wealth, when he was a fervent abolitionist unlike many of the slaveholding populists that occupied the presidency those first several decades of our nation's birth. Chernow states, It was no coincidence that the allegedly aristocratic and reactionary Federalists contained the overwhelming majority of active abolitionists of the period. Elitists they might be, but they were an open, fluid elite, based on merit and money, not on birth and breeding— the antithesis of the southern plantation system.

Hamilton lived a mostly dignified (as well as sometimes flawed) existence through his duel with Burr that abruptly brought his life to an end. Taking his life as a whole, he exemplified an excellence that gave elitism a respectful aspiration. 

So what can learn about Hamilton's notion of elitism that we have seem to have lost today? The elitism that Hamilton espoused is not the same elitism that antagonizes today's alt-right. While some of the outrage toward institutional cronyism does have merit, it does not negate the fact that some established experts do bring an excellence to their craft. After all, an elite is simply someone is better at doing the sorts of things within their respective peer category. They are not just better, but deservedly better, and should be respected as such. Hamilton, often labelled a monarchist by his adversaries, did acknowledge the need for elitism in government. This is also one of the reasons the founding fathers set up our governmental structure as a republic (representative democracy) over being a pure democracy. The latter would have brought on too much risk that the rule of majority could overtake the rights of the minority. Having representative elected officials would mitigate governing by mob rule. 

On the other side, the left has been guilty of marginalizing accomplished elitism by giving short shrift to liberty over equality. Equality, emphasized as outcome and not opportunity, can oppress success for the sake of a strict egalitarianism. In the end, this brings down the best in order to raise the "oppressed." The cost to culture is immense, as this creates its own form of state totalitarianism that stifles creativity and innovation. Moreover, institutions that emphasize equality will do little to allow those in power to be held accountable. Ultimately, that undermines any of the benefits brought to bear by elitism and creates a culture where mediocrity prevails.

Both sides of the political divide could learn from Hamilton's pride in true elitism, sans contempt from above and envy from below, so the desire to strive for and support excellence can bring about the best in a nation.

Speaking of a talented elite...

Friday, November 4, 2016

I Vote for God

“Politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs that properly concern them.” — Paul Valery

There is not much I can add to this election season, except for more fodder for the burnout. I have become more adept at avoiding the noise in order to hone in on the signal. My question as to where I want to focus my attention is: will it matter in 10 years? I have probably seen hundreds of newscasts and clickbait stories over the years that have completely left the memory banks and had no lasting impact other making the monkey mind more manic at times. While I have books that I still point to from a decade ago that mean something to me and have left an imprint in my soul. Sure, I can’t remember much detail from some of those reads, but that’s why we highlight the high points.

I suppose politics does matter to a point; but it is always downstream from culture; and that is downstream from metaphysics (which shapes our values and virtues); which is ultimately downstream from Divinity. So that’s why I am going with the flow of this election season, and will only endorse what matters. I do not believe a Clinton or a Trump will matter in the greater scheme of things, even if I do have my unenthusiastic leanings. 

Most people, myself included, can be reductive with their thinking as to how we solve worldly problems. We can’t even agree on the problems: where one side views ISIS as the greatest threat, the other side sees it as climate change. Truthfully, our secular solutions won’t solve our spiritual problems, and I think most of our problems are of a spiritual nature. This doesn’t mean I am not interested in how the world works (I am very interested in that!), but I am not very interested in how it should work. Who am I to say what would be best? Sure, I have some preferences and principles. But I realize that there is danger in concretizing either. Preferences are my own subjective whims. And my principles are an aid to my reasoning, but not a replacement for it. My principles can guide my thinking, but once I believe that they must be rigidly applied in any context without further thought to all circumstances, then all I have done is transformed any redeeming wisdom I may have into an ideology. And most political discourse these days is ideology mixed in with some dog-fighting.

So, what essentially would I like to see happen beyond what policy could offer? A spiritual revival with mystical/metaphysical rigor would be a good start. It seems we have lost the desire for a relationship with the Divine, and therefore man has to do all the heavy lifting himself. But mass culture doesn’t even take responsibility for the lifting these days, but now relies on the state to do it. And once the state screws it up, we then look to the next leader to steer the ship. The currents continue to flow, but we resist hoping to arrive at some utopian end state that will never be. 

As Bob said, “the trouble is, no one looks at things from a cosmic perspective, so trivial things appear huge while massive objects are rendered invisible.” What will it take to render the invisible visible? I’m not sure, but I’d vote for it.

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Dissociation of Knowing and Being

I really enjoy the interviews at Buddha at the Gas Pump by many random spiritual/non-dual teachers. But I do take one issue with what I've observed there, and through my exposure to some of the spiritual communities I have engaged with: realizationism.

As I've come to understand it, realizationism is another reductive phenomena that happens with esoteric seekers. They privilege subjective experience at the expense of Truth. But I've always wondered why would the idea of being itself and knowing something be mutually exclusive?

Yes, you can't read your way to God. I was told this once on the subway as an evangelical believer was looking over my shoulder at the metaphysical book I was reading. My response should have been, “but maybe God can write himself to me.” So while I agree that thinking with the ordinary mind can be an obstacle to true nature, it can also be in service of it.

I recall Ken Wilber wrote about this phenomena in Integral Spirituality...
“Notice individuals who have been practicing one path for a decade or more, and you will often see a gradual closing of their minds, a narrowing of their interests, as they go deeper into spiritual state experiences but don't have an integral Framework to complement their plunge into Emptiness, or Ayin, or Godhead, or Holy Spirit. The result is that they become closed off to more and more parts of the world, which can actually lead to a regression to amber [mythic stage of development] or fundamentalism or absolutism. They become both deep mystics and narrow fundamentalists at the same time.”
Deep and narrow isn't always bad. The Sufi ad-Darqāwī said, “like a man who tries to find water by digging a little here and a little there and who will die of thirst; whereas a man who digs deep in one spot, trusting in the Lord and relying on Him, will find water; he will drink and give others to drink.” But I think Ken's point is that God permeates every part of our being, and to privilege any aspect of the self is a house divided against itself

Western Buddhists are often most guilty of taking non-conceptualism too far. Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche agrees and says, 
“Buddhism states that our normal views inhibit us and chain us to the limited condition of samsara, whereas the correct view can lead us to our ultimate spiritual destination. We should not conclude from this—although modern Western Buddhists often do—that meditation is all about getting rid of views, or that all views will hinder us from attaining our spiritual goal. This assumption is based on the legitimate premise that Buddhist teachings emphatically identify the need to develop a nonconceptual wisdom mind in order to attain liberation and enlightenment. However, many people mistakenly think that this implies that we do not need to believe in anything [nobody tells me what to do] and that all forms of conceptuality must be dispensed with right from the beginning. It is only incorrect views that we need to overcome. The correct and noble view is to be cultivated with great diligence.”
So while some Buddhists confuse no concepts with no intellect, I do believe this is also due to the fact the Buddhism is soteriological (a system for liberation). As such the emphasis in western circles is more psycho-spiritual than metaphysical. So most people coming to Buddhism are looking for happiness over Truth. Where we can recover a more complete picture of deeper inquiry is in some Greco-Roman and Christian circles by reintroducing the concept of nous. I'm currently reading A.H. Almaas' terrific book Inner Journey Home where he states, 
“Here, instead of ordinary knowledge obscuring our basic knowledge, the nous uses it to reveal and unfold the infinite potentials of basic knowledge. The essential nous can also operate in conjunction with reason and logic, applied to spiritual experience in all its dimensions and subtlety. The essential nous is one of the natural secrets of the wisdom teachings; it was mentioned and discussed a great deal, but most contemporary investigators miss it for they do not understand it. They cannot understand it because they are subject to the dissociation of knowing and being. We can mention one more thing about the functioning of the nous: it can combine with ordinary thinking to the extent that thinking becomes the flow of essence and its aspects, in a stream that scintillates with insight and understanding. Thinking becomes objective thinking, intentional, truly rational, steady, focused, and to the point. It is the operation of true nature in the process of discerning wisdom.”
I realize (without realizationism) that some serve Divinity better with their hearts and hands than with their minds. We are not all meant to be metaphysicians or theologians. And yet, understanding the context to any path can only enhance it, for it gives us deeper meaning, purpose, and significance to some of the most pertinent questions to life and existence. So let's think about that, along with our no-thinking. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Loveless Story

I don't write as much about music as I'd like, but there was a period in my life when it meant almost everything to me. (Sadly, internet culture may have changed this by turning music into a highly accessible commodity.) Before I began on my adult spiritual/metaphysical quest, music was my scared experience. Sure, there was the adolescent awaking of sex, drugs (not so much), and rock n' roll, but I was also drawn to music than transcended my shallow states to bring me somewhere higher (even if it just touched some Romantic notions I had around life).

Being a product of early-1980's music, I got interested in the post-punk and new wave movements that started to permeate mainstream radio during that time. There weren't any interesting college radio stations in southern Maine back then, but every so often something cool would emerge on the airwaves. For instance, take the minor hit of the Flock of Seagulls' Space Age Love Song...



I remember being swept up by the ethereal chords and melody that revolved around the song. The lyrics were stark, but this allowed plenty of room for interpretation. Sometimes less is more, and the music itself dominated the experience allowing me to be taken away in reverie to something that felt beautiful and real.

I began to write this post because I ran across Pitchfork's 50 Best Shoegaze Albums of all Time. Shoegaze is a form of music that captured me in the 1990's, as it further elaborated the ethereal sounds that I fell in love with through a song like Space Age Love Song. As wikipedia states, shoegaze is a subgenre of indie rock, alternative rock, or neo-psychedelia that emerged in the United Kingdom in the late 1980s and reached peak popularity in the early 1990s. The style is typified by the blurring of component musical parts—typically significant guitar distortion, feedback, and obscured vocals—into indistinguishable mixture of sound. But what that definition doesn't get at is all that distortion, feedback, and obscurity often created something angelic. It was like a new form of Church music landing in secular, indie world. 

The album that came in Pitchfork's #1 position is no surprise to anyone. My Bloody Valentine's Loveless still stands as one of my favorite albums of all time. When I first heard it, it was literally a spiritual experience for me. Let's see what Pitchfork has to say... 
Loveless is a guided meditation on love and its absence that conjures an emotional reality instead of merely depicting one. At the album’s core is a succession of super-sweet melodies filtered through the softly psychedelic subjectivity of a mind engulfed by thirst. Shields’ bent notes are that introspection made sonic, their familiar guitar sounds so dramatically distorted, you might start to suspect that it’s your ears twisting them. The glide guitar on opening track “Only Shallow” contains the same creeping violence as the onset of passion; “Loomer,” which comes next, speeds into the childhood origins of longing.
The album isn’t just romantic, though. It’s also Romantic in the 19th century sense, a work so grand that it connects us to the limitless universe and reminds us how small we are as individuals within it. Coleridge and Turner used nature to access the infinite, but the internal landscape Shields locates is just as expansive. The radical inclusiveness of these songs even evades the specificity of gender by mixing Shields’ and Belinda Butcher’s vocals into androgynous foam on soaring monuments to the lover's gaze like “When You Sleep.” Just audible beneath the halo of fuzz that surrounds “Sometimes” are lyrics that express a frustration we’ve all felt: “I don’t know how you could not love me now.” Loveless is the defining statement of shoegaze because it discovered, in layered guitar sounds and submerged singing, a language that serenely overwhelms as it distills the universal human experience.  
Yup. What more can I say, except post a couple songs that delight me...

Well, actually I did have something to say. Back in 2007, I read the 33 1/3 book about making the Loveless record and left a review on Amazon. Here's what bombastic Ted had to say back then...
Brilliant overview of my favorite album of all time. So despite my bias toward MBV's effort, my intent was to read this book with an eye toward disinterested formalism. And the result for me was quite pleasing. McGonigal gave several perspectives that overrided some long standing myths, and maybe gave us a couple new ones to ponder. Bottom line, he gets it. He gets the fact that this CD goes beyond the overused ethereal descriptors, and touches the listener in a deep spiritual way. It's not about lyrics, melody, production, sounds...it's about the whole. The poignant philosopher Schopenhauer stated that great art will always dissolve the subject from the object, and he always placed music on top of the hierarchy of art forms. Loveless always had that experience for me, so when I read McGonigal's book I was happy to see that he never swayed from his lofty view, yet remained grounded as well. After all, the process of making great art is never quite as lofty as the outcome. We learn of the painstaking process Shields and others went through to make something that always seemed to be on the brink of demise. McGonigal made this struggle an enjoyable read, and he has given us a perfect literary companion to one of the most perfect musical experiences.
Okay, not my best review and the book was probably more mediocre than I led on back then. Another mediocre thing was seeing My Bloody Valentine live in 2013. I left halfway during the show. It was too loud and musically a let down. Sometimes the mystique should remain a mystery.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Maladies of Evolutionary Spirituality Part 2: Does God Evolve?

In a continuing discussion around the principles behind Evolutionary Enlightenment, we now look into the nature of God and whether or not He evolves along with creation. Now, some would ask why does this matter? I always go back to the Hermetic first principle: as above, so below. Hence, metaphysics do matter, as what we believe God to be will always influence how we live everyday life in relationship to Him. Atheists may argue differently, but by denying God they have to create a new one which has its own metaphysical principles that guides their lives. As Etienne Gilson famously observed: metaphysics will always bury its undertakers.

A couple Process philosophers who gravitated toward an evolutionary framework of the Divine were Alfred North Whitehead and his student Charles Hartshorne. In attempt to create a lineage for his teachings, AC used these thought leaders, along with Sri Aurobindo, Teilhard de Chardin and other Integral thinkers, to add credibility to Evolutionary Enlightenment.  

And most of these Process thinkers did enrich the classical theistic notion of God as omniscient, omnipotent, and static by considering Creative Evolution. The idea here being that the God is transcendent and immanent, and the immanent evolves (a.k.a. Panentheism). If you add into the mix that the transcendent is impersonal, which AC did coming from an Advaita path, and that Becoming should take precedence over Being because it's all Process, then you've got the latest and greatest in evolutionary spirituality. Yet, while culturally relevant and somewhat sexy, one has to question if such a metaphysical notion is logically consistent and internally coherent. It would seem to me that all those cracks that led to fall of AC's community could possibly go beyond AC himself, and be coming from the fact that the teachings themselves are also problematic. But how so?

First, In the case of permanence and flux, if you come down on either side, you are going to privilege a side to God in an unhealthy way. It would be like approaching the Trinity by saying the any of the three Persons of God is higher than the other. When there is no Father in the absence of the Son, and no Son in absence of the Holy Spirit, and vice versa. This is complementarity that can not be compartmentalized. By giving Becoming more credence than Being, AC was able to make God whatever he wanted Him to be according to the flux in culture and science. But what if science got it wrong, or culture is heading in bad place? Is God wrong then? No, but AC sure was. As Chesterton quipped, How is the evolutionist to know which Beyond is the better; unless he accepts from the past and present some standard of the best?” In AC's case, it came down to his vision which was also co-opted by his egoic fallibilities.

Next, a God seen as Process will always be seen as contextual, relational, and impersonal. And there is some Truth to that. But what about the absolute, individualistic, and Personal side to God? Can we truly worship an impersonal God? I would argue most likely not. Love is relational, and in that regard, our relationship to Him is very Personal. And while there may be an impersonal dimension to God, there is most likely a Personal one too (look at it as two sides of a coin). So by making his God an impersonal process, AC became the flawed devotional vessel for his followers. While this what the guru model represents, it is incomplete if done outside of the context of something higher to worship in relationship. Robert Neville claimed that Process theism, based on Whitehead's doctrines, is incoherent, superfluous, and descriptive of an alleged reality that would not be worthy of worship even if it existed. So if you can't worship that God, then AC is all you got.

Moreover, AC was always weak in his metaphysical skills. He could not distinguish between the power of ontological self-creation; in that God creates man and nature; while man has cosmological self-creation, or self-determination. The freedom for us consist of determining our own character relative to the determinate character we bring to decision, but not creating our own determinateness (which can only be done by God). In essence, we are fractals of God that are given freedom to express our idiom. We can worship and align with the Creator both transcendent of us and creatively present in us. But we are not Him. And if we reduce God to a cohort of ours, then we have no sacred Absolutes to measure ourselves against. 

In one respect, AC was right that we influence God, but we can not change Him. As W. Norris Clarke said, God in his eternal NOW is cognitively and actively present to all that goes on in our changing world, his intentional consciousness with respect to us is eternally contingently different because of what he and we do, but not changing  a distinction constantly missed by Process thinkers such as Whitehead and Hartshorne. Different means could have been otherwisechanging means now one way, later another — two quite different concepts. God can rejoice eternally, but contingently, in free responses we make to the gifts and inspirations he has already freely given us  which are all limited participations in his own infinite goodness and power, never rising higher than the original source. For God to rejoice in his own freely given, but eternally decided participations is not to change. Again, this is metaphysically crucial as God remains a mystery above and beyond man to be worshiped in relationship beyond the collective, the holon, and the guru.

Next, by placing any scientific theory (like evolution) as an integral part of theology exposes it to the risk of collapse should the theory prove to be false or is replaced by another theory. Even if valid, AC did not even understand that evolution is not a straight arrow, but comes about in fits and starts and often needs stability prior to another leap in complexity. By pressing on his students to constantly evolve (because the Process demands its), it places too much emphasis on the strive to grasp in place of the allowance for receptivity. Grace has its place, and it may not always require one to evolve. 

Lastly, what if it's not about all this increasing complexification of Process, but more a unification of the Personal? We know from systems theory, the cosmos is a deep movement from simplification to complexity. But this assertion of the increasing 'complexification' through mind necessarily implies its unification around a personal center, for mind is not just an undefined something or other; where it exists in its own specific nature, it subsists as individuality, as person (Ratzinger). Therefore, this implies that the cosmos is moving toward a unification in the personal, and “confirms once again the infinite precedence of the individual over the universal.... The world is in motion toward unity in the person. AC made it all about the sake for the whole, when the whole draws its meaning from the Personal. As such, in AC's world, the Personal is lost to a mere idea when person always takes precedence over the mere idea (Ratzinger).

Peter Kreeft says, God is infinite love, and what is infinite does not increase. This would only assume His Love is not complete. It through His love that we create with God, which changes our relationship to Him but does not change God... But how can there be a relationship between the changing and unchanging. Much like there is with the unchanging sun and changing world. There is also a changing relationship between unchanging moral principles and changing applications of them to changing situations.” While the relationship to the Divine changes, it may not be in the way envisioned by AC or any other utopian notions we can come up with immanently. God's telos is more mysterious than that, and the emphasis should always be on Unity in Person over the mere ideas around the Progress of Process. Otherwise, we may end up selling our souls short of our True Potential.