Those words mean pretty much what you think they mean. Let's accept for the moment that, in a very general sense, those stages might be true. If so, then there is an archaic spirituality, a magic spirituality, a mythic spirituality, a mental spirituality, and an integral spirituality (with possibly higher stages still to come)..

Put bluntly, there is an archaic God, a magic God, a mythic God, a mental God, and an integral God. Which God do you believe in?

An archaic God sees divinity in any strong instinctual force. A magic God locates divine power in the human ego and its magical capacity to change the animistic world with rituals and spells. A mythic God is located not on this earth but in a heavenly paradise not of this world, entrance to which is gained by living according to the covenants and rules given by this God to his peoples. A mental God is a rational God, a demythologized Ground of Being that underlies all forms of existence. And an integral God is one that embraces all of the above.

Which of those Gods is the most important? According to an integral view, all of them, because each "higher" stage actually builds upon and includes the lower, so the lower stages are more fundamental and the higher stages are more significant, but leave out any one of them and you're in trouble. You are, that is, less than integral, less than comprehensive, less than inclusive in your understanding of God.

So which level of God do you believe in? Whatever it is, the central point is that, if human beings do indeed undergo psychological development, then their understanding of God or Goddess or Spirit will likewise undergo development.

Tracing that development-while honoring each and every stage as an equally crucial component of that development-is an important part of any integral approach to religion and spirituality.

Along with perspectives, levels are therefore an important ingredient in the integral approach. In our next column, we will start putting some of these items together into a bigger picture. In the meantime, if you would like to see one version of an integral approach to spirituality, let me suggest "The Simple Feeling of Being," by yours truly, for an introduction to this theme. And see you next time!