Welcome, and thank you for taking the time to register for Beyond Awakening: The Future of Spiritual Practice.
I’m Terry Patten, and I’m your host of this teleseries. In this blog, I’ll share my emerging thoughts, questions, stories, and perspectives that grow out of the conversations with my guests over the coming weeks.
Nothing in this teleseries is pre-scripted. My intention is to sustain a living inquiry from moment to moment, as we explore together what it means to live a deeply integrated spiritual life in our times. What ultimately arises will be the result of the shared energy, passion, insight, and openness to the Mystery between me, my guests, and you. I’m excited to get started!
It may help you appreciate some of the content of the series if I share a little of my background.
I have been a student of the world’s spiritual traditions — and a dedicated spiritual practitioner — for over 35 years. For the first 15 of those years, I belonged to a “hard-core” monastic ashram led by a profound, controversial, and radically awakened guru. I’ve described him as “one part Jesus Christ, one part Picasso, one part Nagarjuna, one part Marlon Brando, and one part Genghis Khan. And more…”
Perhaps that gives you an idea of the provocative spirit of my ashram. It was a spiritual “trial by fire” in the best—and worst—possible ways. And I would do it all over again, with deep gratitude….
But at a certain point in my spiritual life, I knew I had to move on. It was not easy. I had been a deeply committed devotee. My darkest doubts struggled with my deepest intuitions of the divine. Time passed…. My struggle continued…. And gradually, my heart clarified.
So one evening, I did the only thing I could do. I took a deep breath, stood up, walked slowly to the door, and turned to face my teacher for what I knew might be the very last time. I opened my heart, breathing thanks and farewell, and bowed deeply. And I turned, pushed open the door, and walked into the cool night air.
I was 37 years old, without a college degree or résumé to speak of, and quite suddenly, I needed to make my way in a difficult world. In the months and years that followed, I threw myself into starting a family, building a business, expanding my social network, and integrating my experiences from the ashram with the challenges of living a “normal” life.
I found myself struggling. I had known so much bliss and gratitude, but I also had to process rage and confusion. I had to emerge from my past identity and forge a whole new way of being, and I had to do so during a recession in an increasingly complex — and dramatically changing — world.
Fast forward 20 years. I successfully built and sold my business. I have a son who in college and a mature, loving marriage. I’ve co-written a book about spiritual practice (Integral Life Practice) with one of the most widely read philosophers of our time. I have taught seminars around the world and am working with high-level leaders interested in integral and evolutionary approaches to organizational and social transformation.
By any measure of success, I am profoundly blessed. And I’m grateful beyond words….
I believe each of us has a story to tell about awakening, struggle, confusion, growth, and integration. The interesting thing is, at a certain point, our personal stories (while remaining utterly unique and irreducible) melt into a bigger story that ties us all together. It’s a story about our shared humanity, our global spiritual inheritance, our world’s most urgent and difficult challenges, and our evolutionary potential to grow as a consciously awakened species..
That’s the bigger story we’ll be investigating over the coming weeks. In fact, I see these teleseries conversations as part of a Bigger Conversation that is beginning to take place across the world. It’s a conversation that goes beyond me, you, or any one spiritual teacher. Yet each of us can act as a kind of “nerve ending” in this global conversation—”firing” as part of an intelligence that transcends us, and yet can inform us individually.
I am so happy that you’ve signed up for the journey…..
Please keep an eye on your inbox as we send you more information on the upcoming conversations in the series. If you can’t participate live, don’t worry, there’ll always be a recording afterwards that you can download and listen to anytime.
After each conversation, we’ll continue the discussion with the community here on this blog. Your comments, thoughts, questions, ideas, stories, and observations will keep this conversation alive and relevant, as we aim to uncover an evolving spirituality that is present, profoundly powerful, and effective in our daily lives.
So once again, welcome! Please take the time to introduce yourself to the community below.
If you wish, feel free to let me know what the biggest challenge you face in your daily, spiritual practice is.
- A) Discipline—or the “nuts and bolts” of practice
- B) Embodying truly enlightened awareness
- C) Applying an awakened perspective in your work/career
- D) Finding and expressing your purpose
- E) Really living your spirituality in your relationships
- F) Making a meaningful contribution to a world in crisis
- G) Other… (Fill in the blank)
I look forward to joining you in these exciting conversations!
In service to our evolutionary future,
UPDATE – 1st September, 2010:
Thank you everyone! I’ve read all your comments, and I feel touched and humbled. The response so far is overwhelming—and the word is just starting to get out! Already, people are participating from all over the world—already from every continent, and from every age group.
I so value this contact with you. It helps me to “tune in” to you and to our online community. I will be holding you in mind as I prepare for the conversations that will be unfolding over the months to come. I will do my best to deepen the larger cultural conversation we’re all a part of, and I intend to move it forward considerably between now and the end of the series.
Our first session will be broadcast live on Sunday, September 12 from 5-6:30 PM California time. (If you can’t join us live, don’t worry; you’ll be able to download the recording and listen later on your computer or mp3 device.)
Most of the dialogs will be broadcast live on Sundays and Thursdays from 5-6:30 PM PDT (apologies, European friends, this is the middle of the night for you; thank goodness you can participate asynchronously!).
Here’s the lineup for the first 3 sessions:
- Sunday, September 12: The story behind the inspiration for Beyond Awakening
- Thursday September 16: Philosopher Ken Wilber and his brilliant insights
- Sunday, September 19: Michael Murphy, co-founder of Esalen Institute
More information and a calendar will soon be posted, so stay tuned!
We are diverse, and yet connected. Many of you are asking similar questions to my own. Here, we’ll include it all, with a special focus on the big questions—the ancient big questions and brand-new big questions that arise from our amazing current evolutionary moment!
I will be asking many of the questions you have raised during these upcoming dialogs. And I’ll be bearing you in mind. I look forward to more comments and questions from you and from new members of our community. I’m grateful to have you here!
Welcome, and thank you,