Social Intimacy & Physical Distancing [#10] – Recorded on 6/11/2020

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[#10] Zoom Chat Transcript:
We had to disable the chat for this hangout because our chat was Zoom-bombed. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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In this time of isolation and stress, it’s helpful to feel connected to others. What we need is social intimacy and physical distancing.

On Thursdays at 1:00 pm Mountain Time, Andrew will be offering free weekly online meetings to share teachings appropriate for this time, and to respond to questions from the community.

We’ll talk about how to work with anxiety, fear, isolation, insomnia, heartbreak, uncertainty, and sickness – for starters. Andrew will continue to offer these weekly gatherings for as long as they are helpful. Practices appropriate to this situation will also be offered.

This is a free event and all are welcome to join and participate!

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Enjoyed Andrew’s riff on states and structures of consciousness, vertical and horizontal development, and waking up to growing up. Can @Andrew please explain what structures of consciousness really means? I understand states of consciousness such as dream, sleep, waking, meditative experiences etc. I don’t follow what is the difference with respect to structures of consciousness, this could be a more western psychological idea that I have never come across. Thanks for the time you take answering questions.


I’d be interested to hear how @Andrew would answer your question, @aprasad. Meanwhile, I think what he is calling “structures of consciousness” is also referred to as “stages of consciousness.” Perhaps this comment by Steve MacIntosh might clarify it a little:

Just as our physical body (UR) passes through various stages of development from the womb to the tomb, so, too, does our interior self grow and develop (UL). Stages, says Wilber, are labels that help us to identify or measure our inner growth and development, both for individuals and for the collective.

While states of consciousness come and go, and perhaps may never return, stages of consciousness are permanent milestones we achieve. More importantly, once we arrive at a stage, it is impossible to go backward. Oliver Wendell Holmes captures this idea in his statement, “A mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions.”

The stages are not permanent, however, in the sense that we never again grow beyond a particular stage. Instead, arrival at a particular stage signals a new kind of awareness that may or may not be only temporary. (SOURCE)

Also, the following article might be helpful in describing some of the stages/structures of consciousness: An Overview of Developmental Stages of Consciousness

Hope that helps a bit.


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My take:

Andrew mentioned Piaget as an example of using stages, which makes sense. Piaget observed cognitive (mental) stages of development in his own children, and later extrapolated principles that humans in general develop mentally and emotionally, progressively and in stages—and these stages of development can be exhibited and “tested” through various external measures. There are other “Western” psychological theories such as those by Maslow, Kohlberg, Vygotsky, etc., that apply, but the key point is that Western psychology often focuses on stages of development that reflect how adults grow and mature over the lifespan including recognizing morality, utilizing meta-cognition, and manifesting a genuine concern for others.

So, as Andrew observes, some highly developed spiritual masters, both Eastern and Western, have not had the emotional maturity or congitive growth to handle the adulation and devotion of people that “follow” them, often women, whose reverential behavior can be mistaken by the less-mature "masters’ as being invitations for inappropriate relationships. This is the trap that some “enlightened ones” fall into! Consequently, Andrew highlights the need for spiritually evolved people to also develop the maturity and wisdom (advanced stages) to avoid many of the Venus Fly Traps of their own making—and that they are likely to face—given their stature, fame, visibility, opportunities and responsibilities. Also, consider this discussion in light of the #metoo movement.

Or to put it another way, this is one explanation for some of the predatory abuse committed by spiritual teachers who should (and often do) know better, and need to be held accountable for their actions. In my opinion “he fell into a trap” (dang!) is not strong enough language for a lot of these cases.


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Or, “it was just one of those things . . .”
“It was totally consensual”
“They’re both over 21 . . .”
"It was a spiritual connection . . "

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I was able to ask @Andrew this question about “structures of consciousness” during the Week #12 Virtual Hangout.

His answer will appear around the 30 minute mark.

@aprasad @ArthurG

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Thank you for your explanations, Barry and Arthur, I’m late to reading these posts. What I don’t follow is: why is emotional and cognitive development at a different pace then spiritual development? And why are they that different. I think of spiritual growth as basically growing up to be a responsible, mature adults, is it not in your experience? I still don’t follow. Would you please clarify the connection when you can?


My experience is that there are distinctly different development levels for spiritual growth and cognitive/emotional growth, particularly as seen through the lens of western psychology. I agree with Andrew and like how he frames the discussion. Too many “Spiritual Masters” are not able to handle the wealth, adulation and power of their positions, yet they have gone far in their study and application of the Dharma. Spiritually advanced, yet can be immature in either cognitive or emotional development or both. They are not the same.

However, the higher you go, the more you are tested and have to be on guard. It doesn’t get easier, it gets harder. Even Buddha, before enlightenment, underwent and passed great tests that would have derailed lesser beings. So emotional and cognitive growth cannot be taken for granted as accompanying spiritual development unless one has developed in those areas as well. Your thoughts?

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Reflecting on what you’re saying as that being your experience. Also thinking about meditation in action. I’m still unable to reconcile that they are on different continuum, perhaps my understanding of spirituality is a bit skewed then. Let’s keep this conversation going, thank you for taking the time to engage with me on this. It’s so important as Andrew says, but I’m unable to relate this with my experience. Can you suggest an book I could read ? Which Ken Wilbur book might help me atleast conceptually understand the nuance here…I’m not trained or educated on western psychology, so that may also be why I don’t have the view.


Smart people intellectually can also be abusive parents, cheating partners, cut-throat bosses, over-charging taxi drivers or harmful “friends.” While having positive mental growth they can nevertheless be emotionally stunted. See the difference? Similarly, spiritual leaders may be developed in their particular dharma with outward kindness and good deeds and yet can also be abusive or worse as human beings behind closed doors. Think of all the abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. Humans are complex, as Andrew points out, growth and human development is a multi-tiered, lifetime endeavor.

This article might shed some light on the subject.

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