Book | Exploring Spirituality and Culture in Adult and Higher Education by Elizabeth Tisdell

imageExploring Spirituality and Culture in Adult and Higher Education by Elizabeth Tisdell

My Notes…

Assumptions about Spirituality:

  1. spirituality and religion are not the same, but for many people they are interrelated
  2. spirituality is an awareness and honoring of wholeness and the interconnectedness of all things through the mystery of what many refer to as the Life-force, God, higher power, higher self, cosmic energy, Buddha nature, or Great Spirit
  3. spirituality is fundamentally about meaning making
  4. spirituality is always present (though often unacknowledged) in the learning environment
  5. spiritual development constitutes moving toward greater authenticity or to a more authentic self
  6. spirituality is about how people construct knowledge through largely unconscious and symbolic processes, often made more concrete in art forms such as music, image, symbol, and ritual, all of which are manifested culturally
  7. spiritual experiences most often happen by surprise

Assumptions about Culture:

culture is the shared beliefs, values, behaviors, language, and ways of communicating and making meaning among a particular social group.

The Great Spiral

“A basic premise of this chapter is that spiritual development is a process of standing in the presen moment and spiraling back to explore significant events and spiritual experiences that shaped both one’s spiritual journey and life journey and identity thus far in order to move forward to the future. Part of what spiritual development is about is the ongoing development of identity. This, of course, always happens over time, and takes place in a culture and gendered context. but focusing specifically on change over time raiseds the questions of whether spiritual development unfolds in stages and what its relationship is to other aspects of “lines” of development, such as cognittive development, moral development, or cultrural identity development.” (94)
Robert Kegan – orders of consciousness
Mary Catherine Bateson – spiral learning
Ken Wilber – eight general stages, like waves “with much overlap and interweaving, resulting in a meshwork or dynamic spiral of consciousness unfolding.” (97)

Fowler’s Theory:

  1. intuitive projective faith – childhood
  2. mythic-literal faith – childhood
  3. synthetic-conventional faith – adolescence: pulling things together and synthesizing one’s identity into a coherent whole. developed in light of the approval of significant others and authorities
  4. individuative-reflective faith – dilemmas in life cause young adults to question faith and determine own belief
  5. conjunctive faith – mid-life adults are able to hold the tension of opposites. critically reflective and able to hold as valuable the truths of different traditions and communities.
  6. universalizing faith – undefined for Fowler. Those in this stage move beyond the self to a universalizing concern for all of humanity.

Balancing Inner Reflection and Outer Action

“Many of those I interviewed seemed to be living in the midst of that paradigm shift in thier own lives. They valued inner reflective meditative work in order to find the courage to embrace the shadows and to connect with their center….But this inner work also pulled them out of themselves toward others and helped them do their outer, community work from a more centered perspective.” (109)
Greta Schmidt says, “One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that if you practice a certain way it’s like you become ONE–you don’t have the mind-body split anymore; there’s kind of a sense of oneness; and the sense of oneness for me translates into, or is strongly related to, in the world. Everybody is separated, split, fragmented, except in bits and pieces. [The point is] to try to translate a sense of oneness–to live that out when you’re not in a meditative state.” (109)
“Embracing he inner work of spirituality at midlife seems to have the paradoxical effect of moving many people outward to work in the world. But working with communities around social justice issues grounded in a spiritual perspective an one’s own cultural identity seems also to have the paradoxical effect of calling one back inward and developing more of a global consciousness beyond one’s self.” (110-111)

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