At Integral Agape, the Ongoing Open Group of our organization, a friend writes:
Yeah well I consider myself a Buddhist so I’m not sure I’ll fit in here anymore. I won’t be making any professions of faith in something that I don’t even understand what it is. But cool for you I guess.
Thank you for your comment, it’s really helpful to hear your perspective. I think it could help a lot of people if I answer it publicly.
Let me address a few related topics your comment raises for me. Can you be a Buddhist and a member of the Meusio? Can an atheist fit in at the Meusio? And, can one make a Profession of Faith if one doesn’t understand it?
Can one be a Buddhist and be a member of the Integral Meusio?
I think the answer is definitely Yes for some people, but it does depend on the nature of your Buddhist spirituality. The more “Integral” and “integrated” it is with aspects of the Buddhist tradition which embrace Fullness as much as Emptiness, the more likely you are to be one to say Yes.
Remember the First Tenet of the Twelve Tenets of the Integral Meusio:
Despite the appearance that we live in a world of separate things and beings, All is One. The One is seamless but not featureless. The One goes by many Names, each with their own distinctiveness and dignity, e.g., Spirit, Emptiness, Tao, or Consciousness.
So Buddhists who cannot accept the language around God could still find more resonance with the language around “Spirit” or “Emptiness” or “Consciousness”. The “1-2-3 of God” process of Integral Life Practice (ILP) gives an example of one way that Buddhists can understand God-language in a way that may resonate with them. In this formula, originated by Ken Wilber, God is identified with “I AMness” in the 1st-person perspective, the “Thou” of an “I-Thou” process in the 2nd-person perspective, and “Spirit” in the 3rd-person perspective. I won’t elaborate on this point because I know you’re familiar with ILP.
That said, the Integral Meusio at its inception has a bias towards the language, scriptures, rituals, and practices of the Abrahamic Faiths (and, thanks to the Wheel of Spirit, nature-based spirituality and aspects of indigenous spiritual systems). If this emphasis isn’t your ordinary cup of tea, then you may find the Meusio to be something of an “interfaith” experience. You could engage with the Meusio — as a member (if you can manage an assent to the Profession of Faith) or a guest — in order to learn from the differences, to challenge us respectfully and be challenged respectfully in turn.
Can one be an atheist and a member of the Meusio?
I don’t know if you’re personally an atheist or not. But, well, if you’re strictly an *atheist* Buddhist, then I can understand that the theistic language of the meusio wouldn’t go down easily. The theistic language isn’t accidental to our Faith, it’s essential to it, but it is not identical to the philosophy of theism. I, for one, identify with moreso with the philosophy of panentheism, which finds God in everything (pan) and transcending (en) all that can be distinguished and described.
If you’re open to *panentheism* (or something like it), the sort of apprehension that Wilber calls “Spirit or Emptiness”, then you could allow the theistic language to represent something spiritually useful to you, I think.
Our organization’s Profession of Faith is not ordinary compatible with atheism. Period. But there could be exceptions for certain kinds of atheists and any atheist who is open to cultivating a personal, nature-based spirituality focused on feelings of Awe and Transcendence, especially if they are willing to describe their experiences of Awe and Transcendence with “God” language. The key is whether or not they can, in good conscience, give assent to the Profession of Faith (yes, they’re in; no, they’re out). At the Meusio, we all believe in God, but our theological understanding of God is different, involving, as we say in our Profession of Faith:
In our era, God is uniting the Children of 𝌆𝌂 (Abraham) and the Bosom of 𝌆𝌁 (Buddha) through a plurality of understandings at all the 𝌡𝌄 (Stations) of 𝍒𝌅 (Lila) and a broad range of 𝌧𝌃 (Enactments, Enlightenments), leading us to a more 𝌕⚍ (Integral) future.
Can one make a Profession of Faith if one doesn’t understand it?
You didn’t exactly ask this question, but I take it to be implicit in your comment. The half-joking answer is that THERE IS NO OTHER WAY TO MAKE A PROFESSION OF FAITH!
LOL. What I’m getting at is that Faith always involves an element of letting go and acceptance of what is, being with mystery and not demanding explanations, and allowing for the possibility that one is in need of a source of enlightenment or salvation or illumination.
There’s a reason that our Profession of Faith is also called a GATE. It is the barrier which will prevent many people from entering who are not ready or who are not compatible with our community. Some people will come through easily because they are open-minded or open-hearted in the right way. Some will want to believe, and that is enough for faith. Others will struggle, and that is good. That’s why we offer Faith Formation Classes (FFCs) in order to help address some of the barriers that arise among spiritual seekers.
I don’t know what your story is, but some people who will come to us have been scarred and wounded by organized religion and they will approach the Integral Meusio only with difficulty. We will help them to discern whether this path is a good fit for them. One thing I can say with certainty is that we would love to have them bring all of themselves to this organization with a spirit of openness, but ultimately the responsibility for healing wounds they have received from other organizations lies with themselves, that institution, and God. The Integral Meusio cannot in itself heal them, if they are unwilling to do the work themselves with the source of their hurt.