Sound and Silence

when necessary, use words



Rohr on 9 stages of consciousness

I have heard Father Richard Rohr presenting more than one framework for development (that includes the work of Fowler and Plotkin), but this is the one he presented on 12th June 2010 in Cape Town.

There is much to say in respect to this teaching, and I hope people will comment. For me this type of wisdom perspective is a way forward for those called in to a sense of emergence, who might be growing wary of the word’s overuse.

Here are a few points:

  • He is at pains to present this not as a “race to finish”. At each stage the call is complete it in its own time, with maximum honesty. This removes the inevitable moralising about who is where.
  • I could not get full clarity on stages 6 and 7, so I have grouped them together.
  • Father Richard gives us a mantra, and this was “transcend – include, transcend – include”. This means we fully live a stage, and transcend it when done, rather than rejecting it. The corollary is if you can not include you have not transcended. (As we can see it a feature of Stage 4 to break this very rule). This bears an interesting similarity to Brian McLaren’s metaphor of the tree in “A Generous Orthodoxy”, which builds on the previous seasons growth.
  • The context of these spiral dynamics of emergence is that most of the world (and that includes the church) is in a combination of stages 3 and 4, and is somewhat stuck there.

And now here are Richard Rohr’s stages of Consciousness:

1 – Infant consciousness
Undifferentiated from mother, this is our first experience of the world. It is complete oneness, and the bliss of ignorance. In personal terms includes ages up to 2 years old.

2 – Magical consciousness
Between 2 and 7, as the child realises that it is an individual, it experiences the world directly, unambiguously, and magically. This consciousness, (parts of which Rohr suggests can be seen in the likes of The Amish and everyone’s favourite saint Mother Theresa), is only sustainable by separating from reality (I may be misunderstanding these examples). Its mantra might be “The way I see it is the way it is.” Its negatives include narcissism, pietism, and sentimentality.

3  – Mythic / Tribal consciousness
Innately dualistic, this stage sees deep group conformity regardless of what might be true. Dualisms include us/them and win/lose, and karma – you get what you deserve – totally dominates grace. The bible becomes a totem and the only “wisdom” is the conventional.

4 – Rational consciousness
Here myth becomes the victim of their rational prowess. What they don’t understand, they call wrong. Intolerant of previous levels, this spiritual adolescence results in doctrines like biblical inerrancy and papal infallibility. Because of their inflexible emphasis on belief and not faith, Rohr calls those at rational consciousness “practical atheists”. Most conservatives find themselves at either stage 3 or 4.

5 – Vision Logic
After Ken Wilbur, this is a pluralistic age of “universal scepticism”; everything is true, everyone is right, and we refuse to place our bets. Most liberals are stuck here.

6/7 – Subtle/Psychic consciousness
The separate self starts to fall away; this may or will involve the dark night of the soul. It is about emptying, of which Meister Eckhart said “The spiritual journey is about subtraction, not addition”.

8 – Christ Consciousness
The non-dual mind of Christ. “I and the Father are one.”

9 – “I am”
The fully integrated, divinised self. The “pure contemplative”. Holiness is “doing your thisness”.


Philip Clayton in conversation with Nic Paton

Darwin, Teilhard de Chardin, Sacred Evolution, Hosting the Universe, missional biology, co-evolving, radicalised ecozoic incarnation, and the generation that is asking “brilliant questions”:

Philip Clayton (author of “Transforming Christian Theology“) in conversation with Nic Paton (curator of The Sout Project).

Listen to Philip Clayton in conversation with Nic Paton.

“From wild man to wise man” session 2

Male and Female God created them

We were encouraged to enter small group conversation with the heart and not the head, and reminded that groups very rarely went “deeper” than the ethos with which they began. The idea of “Cell Memory” – the body-wide repository of accumulated feelings, was introduced. Sergio spoke of mourning as a process of owning our own feelings instead of projecting then outwards or suppressing them. The central idea of the “Father Wound” which marks so much of our Western civilasation was futher opened up.

We began exploring the idea that the Genesis account demonstrates that the image of God was expressed in the creation of male and female aspects. We touched on Rohrs idea that “all healthy spirituality will always have a truly ‘sexual’ character to it, a desire for re-union”. (Rohr p 13) Continue reading ““From wild man to wise man” session 2”

“From wild man to wise man” session 1

Sergio Milandri and Richard Rohr

The Wild (Wo)Man

We introduced the idea of wildness, presenting it not a negative and destructive force, but as the path to wisdom. The scriptures and the prophets have been read through the eye of civilisation, but on deeper examination are “a wild bunch” (Rohr p 3).

It was established that the preferred way of masculine communication was control oriented, involving the rational and the egocentric approaches. It was more “feminine” to feel empathy and be compassionate, and this generated the surrender, trust and vulnerability which lead to aliveness. It is imperative we make authentic contact with our “unexplored wildness”, taking this risk in order to be ultimately free to love. Continue reading ““From wild man to wise man” session 1″

Interview: Brendan Smithers

Brendan Smithers is the prime mover and “Drill Sergeant” for the Upsetters, who created The Turbine for Africa Burns 2007 and The Wish for 2008, as well as being involved in the creation of the San Clan (Man) itself. As much as anyone else he has made his mark on the Festival, predominantly in his large scale work. So what thoughts lead to such powerful, iconic pieces?

The Wish : Night

It started with The Turbine in 2007… Continue reading “Interview: Brendan Smithers”


“You pro-test before you can at-test” Paul Ricœur, in conversation at the Taizé community.

“The removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.” Heb 12:27, NIV

“What would Jesus deconstruct?” John Caputo

Those who have been part of a transformation from a culture of protest will know, it’s far easier to oppose something than to create it.

It’s easy to destroy. Destruction takes a measure of anger and a short sharp shot, and it’s “over”.

The card pyramid that took 5 minutes to erect, flattened in a second. The act of courage which took many months to build up, quashed. The trust which gently overcame fear, vanquished. The slight that was cast on a families pride, avenged. Continue reading “protest.attest”

The Ambivangelical

The kind of conversation I like is one in which you are prepared to emerge a slightly different person.
[Theodore Zeldin]

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” [Mark 16:15]

I became an adult under the influence of evangelical Christianity. Quite willingly – it was my idea, or at least my assent to someone else’s idea, and it was based on a primal epiphany. And as I re-evaluate my life and my choices, as we all should do, I see good and bad in what I took on.

The key tenants of the church culture I made mine, were those of the evangelical. To quote Wikipedia,

Evangelicalism is a theological perspective, most closely associated with Protestant Christianity, which identifies with the gospel … most adherents consider belief in the need for personal conversion, some expression of the gospel through evangelism, a high regard for Biblical authority, and an emphasis on the death and resurrection of Jesus to be key characteristics.

Continue reading “The Ambivangelical”

Shamanism, interview 3: Tim Victor

Tim VictorTim Victor has worked as a youth pastor and spiritual consultant in urban missions. His aim has been to teach people how to hear from Godde and exercise spiritual gifts like prophecy and healing, announcing and demonstrating Godde outside of Christian environments and also mentoring Christians to work missionally.

Tim Victor is “a follower of Jesus intentionally growing as an envoy to postmodern spiritual seekers”. He is also trying to figure out how to grow as a husband, a father and a small-business owner. Note: Tim has committed to rendering all references to “God” as “Godde”,  in blithe disregard for patriarchal norms, as an amalgam of the Male and Female aspects of the Divine.

Do you as a Christian find the shamanic metaphor irrelevant, threatening or promising?
Promising, without a doubt. The concept of shamanism lends expression to much Christian practice while offering a framework for understanding and enabling people to enter into the practice of spiritual encounter, including revelation, healing and guidance.

Continue reading “Shamanism, interview 3: Tim Victor”

Shamanism, interview 1: Anthony Paton

Anthony Paton, a “materialist fundamentalist with and interest in alternative perspectives”, works for the Cradle of Humankind world heritage site. Besides being my brother, he in a intrepid bipedal student of all things natural: Birds, Reptiles, Rocks, People, and Natural Selection, and is not known to pass an opportunity to opine. So I asked him for his views on Shamanism.

Where does shamanism fit into the picture we now have of mans social and spiritual evolution?

Chief SeattleShamanism seems to have a long history- tens of thousands of years and is prevalent in many pre-agrarian societies, and is possibly associated with hunter-gatherer culture.  That would make it possibly a 250 000 year old tradition. There is a strong argument to suggest that shamanism is associated with traditional medicine- that since people discovered that plants can be harvested and consumed in various forms- through eating, smoking, steaming etc. and some of these plants contained chemicals which sent people on a mind journey which they interpreted through their own animistic (or other) beliefs.  Seeing that people already had a notion of deities and a spiritual world, it made a lot of sense to them to interpret these trips as informing them of the contents of these worlds, and receiving messages from them.

What is the role of the shaman in the Bushman culture of the Kalahari?

Continue reading “Shamanism, interview 1: Anthony Paton”

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