Which Level of God Do You Believe In?

Your vision of God depends on where you are in your spiritual development.

I began my

previous Beliefnet column

with the line, "Throughout history, religion has been the single greatest source of human-caused wars, suffering, and misery. In the name of God, more suffering has been inflicted than by any other manmade cause." I was, of course, using the word "religion" in its sociological meaning, as any belief invested with "ultimate concern," in which case not only Islam, Christianity, and Shintoism are religions, but Marxism, Nazism, and Eco-terrorism are all versions of religions or religiously held beliefs. Seen as such, the opening sentence is obviously true.

This points up a crucial aspect of an

integral approach

to spirituality, namely, there are several different meanings of the words "religion" and "spirituality," all of which are important. The whole point about an integral or comprehensive approach is that it must find a way to believably include all of those important meanings in a coherent whole.

In my

second Beliefnet column

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, I introduced the idea of perspectives, such as first-person, second-person, and third-person perspectives, and pointed out that those perspectives give rise to such items as the Good, the True, and the Beautiful (or art, science, and morals). As we continue to introduce the ingredients of an integral approach to religion and spirituality, those perspectives are an important part, as we will continue to see. Another important ingredient is levels, which in this case means "levels of religious belief, faith, or spirituality."

Levels of religion? Levels of spirituality? Levels of belief? Yes, indeed, and this topic, which is highly controversial, nonetheless has perhaps the most explanatory power of all of the ingredients in an integral view. It refers specifically to the fact that human beings undergo psychological development. At each level or stage of development, they will see the world in a different way. Hence, each level of development has, as it were, a different religious belief or worldview. This does not make God or Spirit the result of human development; it does, however, make the ways in which humans conceive of God or Spirit the result of development. And this is where it gets really interesting.

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Ken Wilber
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