As I write this, cities in many countries are being torn apart because the followers of conventional religious practice are at war with one another. Islam versus Judaism in Palestine. Sunni versus Shia in Iraq. Hinduism versus Christianity in India. Atheism versus Buddhism in China.
These stories grab the headlines, because in most cities of the world, conventional religions – from all faith systems – keep alive a storyline that those who follow its dogma are saved and those who do not are damnable. In this way the clash of religions and cultures is kept alive and inflamed. The practice of conventional religions offers faith in the one right way, but no hope for a way that embraces the essential life-giving teachings that lie at the core of each religion.
Dr. Roger Walsh, at IEC drew a picture of religion with a large enough circle of compassion that it transcended and included the best of conventional and post-conventional religions, to create religion that is transconventional.
Transconventional religion does not perpetuate the old story but instead offers what Walsh called a “psycho-technology”. This psycho-spiritual technology transforms the mind and consciousness using the methodologies developed by the saints and sages who created the fundamentals of religious practices everywhere.
At the heart of these technologies are contemplative practices that are expressions of a mature religion that can effectively mature those who practice its disciplines and precepts.
Psycho-technologies like these, tame, transform and transcend practitioners in ways that impact the community psychologically, biologically, culturally and socially (in other words, with an integral intelligence). These transconventional practices liberate practitioners from being “reactors” in the old stories ( that depend on religious hierarchies who command the one right way through power and dogmas) and release them into direct intuitive wisdom.
Cities using an integral framework to understand and embrace its multitude of religions and cultures and create conditions and habitats that attract and promote transconventional religion(s). Examples like the Parliament of World Religions, the Dalai Lama’s Mind and Life Institute and even the democratic practice of separating church and state, show us how powerful transconventional religious practice can impact the quality of life for all citizens. The simplest form of teaching children contemplation, meditation or mindfulness can sow the seeds of tolerance, acceptance of differences and the basis for “essential spiritual practice”.
In his book Essential Spirituality, Walsh sets out 7 essential spiritual practices that can optimize integral impact:
1. Transform our motivation. By shifting what motivates us from egocentric concerns to ethnocentric, then worldcentric to kosmocentric we expand our circles of compassion.
2. Live ethically. Our practices must be filled with the integrity that respects that our practices must not prevent others’ practices must and none must harm the other.
3. Develop concentration. Being able to focus our attention with intention enables us to mature from one stage to the next, progressively growing our capacity.
4. Develop emotional maturity. The studies of EQ (emotional intelligence) over the last 20 years has revealed that it lies at the heart of a spectrum of intelligences that starts with PQ (physical intelligence), leads to IQ (intellectual intelligence) and flowers into SQ (spiritual intelligence).
5. Refine awareness. Waking up to the world around us through all our senses brings us more fully alive and more fully appreciative of Life itself.
6. Seek Wisdom. All religious belief systems hold universal wisdom in their precepts. Understanding that the Wisdom continuously unfolds and teaches us at a deeper level, is the challenge that transconventional religion can help us meet.
7. Be of Service. The Buddhist Bodhisattva vow proposes that the highest path of enlightenment is to be of service to everyone, so all may become enlightened. The vow of service in the Integral City is embedded in the Master Code. Take Care of Self. Take Care of Others. Take Care of this Place.
As Walsh, underlined at IEC in Budapest, we can help our troubled cities (and the world) by making choices that foster transconventional psycho-technologies (aka religions that serve the vitality of life everywhere ).