A friend writes:
There is also the shadow aspect to consider. In our boomeritis [Green postmodern narcissistic] culture, an encounter with the absolute is likely lead to massive ego inflation. With the religious people, the word prophet immediately recalls the opposite- false prophet. And as you know the Green [postmodern pluralist] people among us are opposed to hierarchies and are likely to quibble for superiority. There is also the danger of regressing to Blue red [mean traditionalist or authoritarian]. The approach that works for me now is to stick with more humble ways.
Firstly, I’ve added some explanatory words in brackets when you used Integral Theory jargon, so folks from outside the Integral head space can follow along. Hope that’s okay.
Basically I’m in total agreement with your analysis of the shadow issues involved in religious leadership and how they are perceived by various groups of people. The way I would put it plainly is that someone today who calls themselves a Prophet is spitting in a fierce, tumultuous wind. They’re likely to get blowback from many different directions.
If they speak to a New Ager, they’re likely to be warned against feeling they’re anyone special because everyone is a precious unique snowflake, no one more prophetic than any other. Even a dog can be a prophet, they will say.
If they speak to a Christian fundamentalist, they are likely to be dismissed because they challenge some aspect of their fundamentalist ideology (which is not 2,000 years old, but a few hundred years old, a particular response to modernism which has its pluses and minuses).
So the key to being a Prophet today is that you have to be able to miraculously calm the tumultuous winds so that you can spit (i.e., speak) clearly and cleanly, with minimal shadow. And if the winds don’t calm, you’ve gotta go somewhere else to speak (as Jesus counseled his disciples, shake the dust off your sandals and find someone who is more open-hearted or open-minded).
And every Prophet ought to be able to check their own shadow and get feedback on their own shadow from others. That’s one reason why having a spiritual organization like the Meusio is so important. A message of prophecy coming from one prophet is one thing, but if it’s coming from multiple prophets by someone speaking for the entire Meusio in an official authoritative document, then it’s got a fuller, more communal realization. And the more communal the realization, the less likely it is to be distorted by any one person’s shadow issues, including possible ego-inflation.
Personally, I know there will be blowback from my claim of Muktaihin (prophet) status, some of which will be folks who don’t know me and don’t know my story (documented in hundreds of contemporaneous e-mails with friends over the course of more than a decade) and haven’t read my published autobiography and haven’t read my unpublished autobiography saying (how the heck do they know?) it’s gotta be a result of ego-inflation.
I tell those people there could always be possible egoic shadow involved, but I’ve looked at it, and no, I don’t think it’s a significant issue. And I’ll keep looking if people who actually know me tell me that it’s something I need to look into, and then I’ll address anything that actually affects anything in my work. Someone doesn’t need to be perfect to be a useful prophet of God, you know. I’ve got people like that in my life, and I’ll be listening to everything they have to say, positive or critical.
What I think is worth pointing out is that when someone performs a psychological analysis of a stranger (e.g., the folks who don’t know me who will say that I must be ego-inflated), what they are doing says more about them than about me. Perhaps it says they’re awfully judgmental and they like to attack people who might just have a greater spiritual realization than they do by dragging them down to their level. Really advanced spiritual people don’t need to bring strangers down to make themselves feel better. Just a thought.
I’ll close with words from Ken Wilber’s One Taste, and a prayer that many, many enlightened-to-a-respectable-degree people with Big Divine Egos (“personal plus transpersonal”) find their way into the Meusio, because there’s room for all of them here…
But egoless does not mean less than personal, it means more than personal. Not personal minus, but personal plus all the normal personal qualities, plus some transpersonal ones. Think of the great yogis, saints and sages from Moses to Christ to Padmasambhava. They were not feeble-mannered milquetoasts, but fierce movers and shakers from bullwhips in the Temple to subduing entire countries. They rattled the world on its own terms, not in some pie-in-the-sky piety; many of them instigated massive social revolutions that have continued for thousands of years.