Steve McIntosh is one of the pre-eminent integral philosophers of our time and his third book, The Presence of the Infinite: The Spiritual Experience of Beauty, Truth, and Goodness, was just published by Quest Books this month. Jeff calls this book “a spiritual masterpiece” that helped him take the next step on his spiritual path. Steve and Jeff sat down together in the podcast studio to talk about it.
Presence explores the dialectic between what Steve calls progressive spirituality on one hand and evolutionary spirituality on the other. The former has blossomed into an awareness of nondualism, with the popularity of Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism in the West, while the latter pushes off of this realization to experience the love of God once again—a phenomenon that is fundamentally relational.
“Their dynamic relationship produces an interactive structure that takes the form of an existential polarity,” says Steve. In other words, they strengthen each other, or “true each other up,” as Jeff says.
For those of us that graduated from conventional religion to modern empiricism to postmodern explorations of Eastern philosophy and practice, this is a welcome next step to a post-postconventional relationship with the divine.
To be clear, this is not a moving-to-the-middle. As Steve explains to Jeff, this is an embrace of an irreducible existential polarity—”to practice nonduality with reference to the love of God, and to practice theism with reference to the absolute oneness of all there is.”
The truth of these spiritual teachings, in a sense, creates a spiritual experience in itself; it quickens your purpose, your sense of being at home in the universe. ~Steve McIntosh
In Steve’s vision of an evolutionary spirituality the infinite shines through the finite via the primary, intrinsic values of beauty, truth and goodness. These are not static, Platonic forms, but rather the direction of evolution itself. Turning towards the relational aspect of ultimate reality we tap into the longing to experience the perfection and completion of the universe, which is always emerging, always becoming. Here, we find value, purpose, progress. We are co-creators.
Some themes from Presence that Jeff and Steve touch on in the podcast:
- The nature of spiritual experience
- A cultural analysis of the different kinds of spirituality
- A critique of progressive spirituality and an explanation of its importance
- The spiritual leadership that evolutionary spirituality can provide
- Evolutionary spirituality as a distinct emergent that includes the great scientific truths of our age
Please enjoy the conversation, and pick up a copy of The Presence of the Infinite on Amazon.