Integral Spirituality in Real Life

Ken Wilber shares with Beliefnet.com users a forward he wrote to the not-yet-published volume 'Soulfully Gay.'

I would like to take a slightly different approach to this month's column, and instead of continuing to outline an integral approach to spirituality, give an example of its use in the real world. What I am doing in this column is quite different from the other columns on Beliefnet (namely, give a serialized overview of an integral spirituality, which can get somewhat tedious). So, let's take a break.

What follows is a foreword I wrote for a not-yet-published book called Soulfully Gay, by Joe Perez. Joe is just now seeking a publisher, so you won't yet find his work on Amazon. I won't spoil what he's written by telling you the plot, but I hope you enjoy this note from the heart and see it as an example of integral thinking in action.

"I am in the awkward situation of writing a foreword to a book by a gay person. This is an awkward situation not because Joe Perez is gay, but because I have to point it out. I feel the same damn irritation as having to refer to, say, Edmund White as a "gay writer." Nobody has to point out that I am heterosexual, although now I hear that I am not a heterosexual but a metrosexual, although, in fact, I have never had sex with a metro in my life. But I'm sure it is a wonderful experience.

"Nevertheless, because I have to include that information-culture today demands it, from those both for and against homosexuals-then let me say this. Joe Perez's book is perhaps the most astonishing, brilliant, and courageous look at the interface between individual belief and cultural values that has been written in our times. By a homosexual, or a heterosexual, or any other sexual I am aware of.

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"As it happens, this rather extraordinary chronicle unfolds around several conflict-inducing facts, one of which is that Joe is indeed gay; another of which is that Joe was raised Roman (homophobic) Catholic; another is that he often has authentic mystical states; and yet another is that Joe is, but only occasionally, clinically psychotic. It is the jolting collision of those items, held together by Joe's courage in the face of all of them, that makes this chronicle so extraordinary in so many ways.

"The last item-the occasional trip into realms labeled madness-can mean, especially if you are a writer, that you are given to telling the unvarnished, brutal, searing truth, whether society likes it or not. And not the Sylvia Plath look-at-me kinds of truth, but the spiritual-seer and mad-shaman types of truth, the truths that really hurt, the truths that get into society's craw and stick there, causing festering metaphysical sores indicative of social cancers or worse-but also the types of truth that speak to you deeply, authentically, radiantly, if you have the courage to listen.

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Ken Wilber
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