Spiritual Literacy

My definitions and usage of various terms in the following essay (e.g. “waking up,” “leap-frogging,” “The Force”) are found in the initial essays in this blog collection. See the entries posted as Front Matter and Introduction, Waking Up and Leap-Frogging.



Spiritual Literacy


            One of the most important abilities for leap-froggers, and a major characteristic of people waking up, is spiritual literacy. “Say what?” is a common response from Western people hearing the phrase for the first time. We tend to think of “literacy” as having to do with words and the verbal skills of reading and writing. To understand the subject of this essay, we need to consider the deeper meanings of “literacy,” before tackling the meaning of spiritual literacy.

Definitions of Literacy

Dictionaries define “literacy” as “the ability to read and write.” The conventional meaning is strictly verbal. A better, more inclusive definition would be “the ability to recognize the meaning in certain shapes, signs or marks.” The intellectual/verbal bias of the Western tradition ignores many valuable forms of literacy, e.g.

_the literacy of the native tracker/hunter, whose “letters” are the animal foot prints, spores, bent grass, wind direction etc. All these the skilled hunter can “read” to get the information he needs to find prey. The San people of the Kalahari are supremely “literate” in this sense, while urbane Westerners plunked down in the middle of the wilderness are in peril of their lives due to their illiteracy.[1]

_the literacy of the animal and infant human being, who are able to pick up the meaning and intentions of adults by tone of voice, facial expression and body language. Pet owners who observe their pets know that domesticated animals like cats and dogs are keenly able to “read” signs that we often are quite unconscious of.

_the literacy of the seer or enlightened master. Tibetan physicians refer intractable cases of illness to such masters, who are able to read deep into the soul of the patient to perceive the spiritual problem at the root of the disease. Likewise, masters who supervise meditators in Buddhist vipassana meditation practice can “read” the psychological state of their pupils.

_the literacy of the mystic or “awake” person. This is the type of literacy we will be focusing on in this essay. What those who are asleep fail to recognize as signs (and then, of course, fail to see as meaningful) the awake can recognize as significant, and can then “read” on many different levels.

Definitions of Spiritual Literacy

            Reflecting the limitations of its materialistic orientation, the Second Wave world has no definition for spiritual literacy. In the last few years, as part of the “melding” of Eastern thought with Western culture, the term “spiritual literacy” has begun to surface in the West. It is not a new concept. As noted above, ancient people and Eastern cultures have been aware of it for millennia. Native American Indians call it “reading sign.” Medieval Catholic monks described it as “reading the book of the world.” Quakers refer to it in their practice of “praying the Ordinary.” And Buddhists speak of it as the 84,000 “dharma doors” that exist all around us for our benefit and learning.[2]

            The root meaning of some of our English words conveys the centrality of spiritual literacy to a life rightly lived. Consider, for example, the word “disaster.” It comes from Latin dis and aster, meaning “to be cut off from the stars.” When we are spiritually illiterate, we are estranged from our cosmic roots or connections. Being able to “read the book of the world” means that we are aware of our connectedness to the rest of life, and can see reality “with the eyes of the Earth.”[3] Being spiritually illiterate is literally a “disaster.”

            Spiritual literacy allows us to recognize “that the whole world is charged with sacred meaning.”[4] There is nothing in our reality that is not meaningful; nothing that cannot offer us something by way of incitement for growth, learning, or expression of gratitude and awe. No matter how mundane, everyday objects can serve as our spiritual facilitators, if we are able to read the signs they present to us. Our bodies speak to us constantly, sometimes loudly (in various forms of illness or discomfort), sometimes in ways so subtle that we can barely perceive the message. Shakespeare spoke of the “sermons in stone” that are available to us,[5] if we can discern them. Morris Berman speaks of our contemporary need to “reenchant the world,” if we are to address successfully the global environmental crisis.[6] As ancient as it is, spiritual literacy is very much a skill for which the modern world has a pressing need.

Elements of Spiritual Literacy

            Verbal literacy requires several things: training, teachers, books, a certain level of intellectual capacity, and usually some form of technique (like phonics). Spiritual literacy is different. We already have what is needed: the webs of life; the physical world; fears, wounds and the host of other human emotions; a body with its range of senses, responses and instinctual rhythms. We don’t have to go buy books, find a teacher, take training or worry that we’re not smart enough (some of the most spiritually literate individuals are the “mentally challenged”). Spiritual literacy is not a “head trip,” in the sense of something requiring cognitive development. It requires other things, like attention, being present, compassion, devotion, enthusiasm, faith, forgiveness, grace, gratitude, hope, hospitality, imagination, kindness, listening, love, nurturing, openness, playfulness, a questing attitude, reverence, silence, vision, wonder, yearning and zeal.[7]  

            By saying that we have all we need, I don’t mean to imply that teachers aren’t helpful. They are. But we don’t have to search for one, because they are all around us. But not usually in the form we think of as verbal literacy teachers (i.e. humans). Teachers of spiritual literacy are just as likely to be animals, plants, life events, or our bodies. Our recognizing these various form of teacher depends on our willingness to rethink some of our basic assumptions about reality.

            Most people in Second Wave society live in a desacralized world, a place of dead matter filled with chance and accident. Learning occurs within the walls of institutions set up specifically for that purpose (i.e. schools, colleges, universities, etc.). Human beings carefully “trained into orthodoxy”[8] transmit what they were taught to those (usually) younger than they, in set curricula, within certain timeframes. Spiritual literacy has nothing to do with set curricula or timeframes and it is knows nothing of orthodoxies or dogmas.

            By this point you might be wondering how you learn it. Each in his or her unique way. No one can predict how another will do it. But there are some general features or components that most people experience. These include :

_encounters with paradox. We’re becoming spiritually literate when we find ourselves appreciating the paradoxical nature of reality, e.g. how the most personal things are the most universal; the most intimate experience is the most communal; the most contemplative lifestyle is the most active. The logical, left-brained Second Wave world hates paradox and tries to reason or analyze it away (thereby displaying spiritual illiteracy). Those awake cherish paradox.

_the transmutation of suffering into healing and renewal. Another essay in this collection addresses this theme.[9] Suffering can come to be seen as a gift, when we are spiritually literate. It is surely not something we relish at the time, but once its meaning and purpose are clear, suffering can be the gateway to precious regeneration.

_creative doubt. Many of the organized religions of the world encourage a “lust for certitude,”[10] regarding doubt as a sign of weak faith. But the spiritually literate know the value of doubt. We live life moment to moment at the interstices of doubt and faith. There would be no faith without doubt. It is impossible to have one without the other. Doubt is “creative” in that it opens us to questioning, and that, in turn, fosters new discoveries and innovative responses to life.

_incorporating the shadow. By “shadow” I mean all the stuff of life that lies in a darkness that makes it hard to be seen. The personal shadow consists of all that we don’t own in ourselves, good and bad: lusts, drives, needs, gifts, talents, powers—whatever we find impossible to recognize as being ours. The collective shadow consists of the negativities of life: natural disasters, monstrous demonstrations of human evil (like the Holocaust, ethnic cleansing, etc.). Being spiritually literate implies getting wise to these neglected and despised aspects of reality and taking them into our consciousness (i.e. giving up repression, denial, and judgmentalism).

_savoring epiphanies. “Epiphany” is a word English borrowed from the Greek verb epiphaino, “to show forth, or come suddenly into view.” An epiphany is an experience of numinosity, usually sudden in nature, that fills us with awe or wonder. For those awake, life is full of epiphanies. The ego disappears and we are swept up in the transporting moment of an extraordinary experience. Epiphanies have been called “mystical moments,” and they can provide an awareness of the unity of all life that mystics often talk about in their writings. Epiphanies also can provide vivid physiological reactions: When I have them, I often feel intense surges of energy, tingling and the sense that my hair is standing on end. Other times epiphanies can feel “sweet” or breathtakingly “holy,” as if blinders on our eyes were suddenly removed, revealing the world in an intensity of colors, sounds and energies never seen before. From my reading of Maslow,[11] I get the sense that the “peak experiences” his subjects described were, in many cases, what I am calling epiphanies.

            I had epiphanies for years before I knew what they were. I recall, for example, washing dishes one evening after a dinner party and suddenly being swept up into a blissful state of intense joy. I stood at the sink holding a pot (a very ordinary, mundane pot, one I used every day) and “seeing” it with new eyes, as a wondrous object of artistry and skill. And I felt incredible gratitude for the gift of friends, food, fellowship, culinary skill, and this pot. That experience was many years ago, back in the mid-1970’s.

            Another epiphany came in 1984, when I was sitting in my favorite spot in the whole world, on the shore at the Seawall part of Acadia National Park. I lived just a few miles from this rocky coast, and I would ride my bike there frequently to enjoy the fresh air, beautiful vistas, and the calming sounds of the pounding surf. One sunny day in August I was in my usual spot, feeling very relaxed, not much interested in the book I had brought to read. I began to watch the seagulls, who were always on the scene. But this time my attention was caught. What I had seen for years I suddenly was “seeing” in some new mode. And then suddenly I was one with the gull. I “became” the gull in some magical way and then one with all of life. The “unity” that mystics had written about for millennia was no longer a mental concept but something I experienced.

            Sometimes epiphanies can result from the practice of “putting out a fleece.” I have had several epiphanies this way. By “putting out a fleece,” I refer to the experience of Gideon,[12] who sought Divine guidance, got it, but then felt unsure and needed to get confirmation. The Force is very patient and loving and understands our weaknesses, and so always comes through when we seek its guidance and then need to be sure about what we get. In my experience, I get guidance through dreams—what I have come to call my “voice-over” dreams—that tell me explicitly what to do, where to move, what work to take up, books to write, etc. Early on, when living by dreams was still new and strange to me, I felt the need to get confirmation of my “marching orders.” So it was, back in 1987, when I had given up my college teaching position, my home in Maine, and all my friends, to move to California (all based on dreams), I was feeling really scared. I had gotten out to Berkeley, and found an apartment and signed a lease, only to discover that my anticipated employment had disappeared in the market crash in October 1987. There I was: no friends, no car, no work. Had I somehow messed up somewhere along the line, to be in such a fix? I needed confirmation: Was I where I was supposed to be? Was I doing the right thing? I “put out a fleece:” I wrote in my journal a plea for guidance. I asked for some clear, unmistakable sign, and I promised to pay close attention over the next 24 hours, trusting in The Force to provide something that would let me know I was still on track. That was in the morning. I went through the day, working at my desk on my resumé, doing other things but always mindful of my fleece. As was my custom, I took a walk in the afternoon, on the footpath at the Watergate apartment complex where I lived. This site was built out into San Francisco Bay, and it afforded a glorious view of both the Golden Gate Bridge to the west and the Berkeley hills to the East. I walked with heavy feet that afternoon as I set out, wondering how I was going to survive. The natural beauty did not seem able to buoy my spirits as it usually did. I walked out to the point, where the path skirted the water, hard against huge boulders. The spray was flying, for the wind was strong after a storm that had passed an hour or so before. I turned back on the last leg of my trip, and it was then that I saw the sign: a full double rainbow filled the eastern sky against the hills. It was so intense, so big and so amazing that it took my breath away, and even now, years later, as I type these words into the computer, my body is filled with the intense energy I felt at that moment. The fleece! There was my sign, the archetypal symbol of Divine promise. I was on track! I would be OK! And for the rest of my walk, my steps were light as my spirit soared with thankfulness.

            Another time, again at a moment of depression and doubt, I put out a fleece, asking for confirmation of my direction, by requesting to see a cardinal at some point during the day. Cardinals—rather large, bright red birds—are my favorite birds. While they are quite prominent in the Eastern United States in winter, spring and summer, they are usually quite elusive in the Fall. And it was October, 1991. My work that day sent me to Baltimore, and I had no idea if cardinals were common there at all. But I had asked to see a cardinal. That would be my sign. I went to my appointment and was walking back to my car when I heard the distinctive cardinal song. My ears perked up. I began to look quite intently. Suddenly, in the tree not three feet from me I saw not one, but three cardinals! They were so close I could have reached out and touched them. But I stood stock still, as if struck by lightning. And I felt like I had been hit by lightning! Every cell in my body felt a surge of energy and I knew everything would be fine. The Force had heard my plea and sent another epiphany.

            And so it has been for me. I have never put out a fleece that went unanswered. Every request comes through, and provides the awesome, sacred blessing that lies at the heart of epiphany.     

            Epiphany, paradox, meaningful suffering, creative doubt, shadow work—these are just some of the ways life supports our becoming spiritually literate. And we will do so naturally, unless we block the process.

Blocks to Spiritual Literacy

            Most of the time, if we block the process, we do so unconsciously, because of beliefs we have picked up from Second Wave culture. The left-brain bias of the Western world tends to close down intuition, which is the faculty we all have that mediates epiphanies and other similar non-rational experiences. Likewise, the idea that spiritual literacy is like verbal literacy—something we have to get from “outside,” to learn consciously as a skill—will block the process. In reality, spiritual literacy is not hard. It does not require special training. We all have what it takes. We need only two things: belief (that we can do it) and desire (wanting to do it). The old adage is true: “None are so blind as those who will not see.” If we refuse the experience, we won’t have it. And no one else can do it for us.

            Another block lies in having a negative worldview. Those for whom the world does not seem like a friendly place understandably have little interest in embracing it, or paying it much attention. People who regard the physical world as the “realm of the Devil” will not have epiphanies or acquire the skills involved in spiritual literacy. Estranged in a basic way from the world, other people and themselves, people with this attitude will not be open enough to become spiritually literate.

            Openness is essential, because we must be able to take in our own experiences. Most of us in the Second Wave world live “elsewhere”—in the past, in the future, in our heads, wherever. We are not here now, present in the NOW moment. Western culture is very effective in keeping us out of the NOW, through its clamor, busy-ness, and host of distractions (e.g. television, radio, computer games, e-mail, etc.), all of them “trivial pursuits” that foster shallowness. “Shallow” living prevents us from getting into our depths, and the result is soul suffering. “Your soul suffers if you live superficially,” Albert Schweitzer cautioned.[13] Caught up in all the inanities of the Second Wave world, most of us do live the superficial life. This makes it difficult or impossible to become spiritually literate.

Why Bother Becoming Spiritually Literate?

            Every essay in this collection considers the question of how the topic at hand relates to waking up and leap-frogging. Spiritual literacy—being able to read the meaning in everyday life and events—is important for several reasons. I’ll consider the general connections first, and then those that pertain to waking up and leap-frogging respectively.

            We need to be spiritually literate because life is constantly speaking to us, trying to give us insights, help and wisdom. The Force actively supports our quest for meaning. It wants to help us perform our service in the world, but we will be blind to this help if we are spiritually illiterate.

            Likewise, The Force is constantly blessing us. These blessings are all around us, everywhere at hand. But if we are not spiritually literate, we won’t be able to recognize them. This recognition is crucial for building our trust in The Force.

            Spiritual literacy also helps us see our true place in the scheme of things. We are god-like in our power and yet interconnected and dependent on the web of life. When we can “read the book of life,” we are better able to maintain a balanced sense of who we are and what our responsibilities are to the Earth and our fellow creatures.

            We also are more likely to have epiphanies when we are spiritual literate. These provide great benefits, e.g. mental clarity, the expansion of consciousness, glimpses of the bigger picture and the “rightness” of things, the experience of transcendence, which provides new perspectives and helps to put the ego in its place. As I noted above, epiphanies linger. We remember them for years afterwards, and recollection of them can bring up calmness, joy, awe, wonder, delight—all gifts of Spirit. Have a few epiphanies and it is impossible not to believe there is a Divine order and plan underway for the world—a plan that we are very much part of. In this way, spiritual literacy conquers alienation and estrangement, and promotes self-esteem.

            It teaches us that the world is sacred, and with this awareness, it becomes very difficult to pollute (either our bodies, or the environment). Spiritual literacy fosters environmental concern. It also makes us aware of the unity of all, and thus promotes peacemaking and peacekeeping. It fosters respect for all—persons, animals, Nature itself. And it opens us to developing the full range of our human potential.

            Spiritual Literacy and Waking Up. A major part of waking up is becoming spiritually literate. The term “waking up” is well chosen, because it is like coming out of a trance. G.I. Gurdjieff, the Russian mystic, described Western culture as a “consensus trance” that everyone participates in without realizing it.[14] As we “wake up,” we come to recognize this trance and how it blinds us to the meaning in life.

            As we wake up, we see the world with “new” eyes, i.e. on a different perceptual level—one that is much more acute and sensitive to the multiple layers of existence and meaning. We begin to pay attention to aspects of reality that we never noticed before, like our fears, wounds and shadow. We begin to listen with both ears and heart, to hear with a resonance we didn’t know existed. We let go of the illusions which the Second Wave world lives in all the time (e.g. that we are in control and can control events, Nature, and other people). We become able to appreciate paradox and to hold the tension of opposites that make up reality. And as we quest for meaning, we begin to cherish the ultimate mystery embedded in life.

            Spiritual Literacy and Leap-Frogging. Being literate in the spiritual sense means acting from the center of our being, and this is a place where it is impossible to go along mindlessly with the crowd. No place for “group think” here! As numerous Biblical verses remind us,[15] The Force is ever taking up the novel, leading us to renewal. When we “read the signs” offered to us by the world, we find ourselves doing new things, moving into uncharted territory—precisely the places where leap-froggers venture.

            Spiritual literacy fosters personal change and transformation, because we can’t “read the book of the world” without being altered in profound ways. As change agents, leap-froggers must rely on their ability to read the messages in daily events. By changing themselves, leap-froggers impact the world in ways that change it.

            And leap-froggers find that they want to effect changes in the world, to work for a world that works for everyone, because spiritual literacy fosters “fellow feeling,” in a host of forms, from civic concern and social responsibility to animal rights and ecological activism. Spiritual literacy prompts engagement with others, while it hones our awareness of the needs of others.

            Much of this comes to us intuitively. Spiritual literacy draws upon and hones our intuition. Using intuition, leap-froggers are guided to be where they are meant to be, guided to do what they are meant to do, guided to fulfill their unique mission in life. By reading the signs in daily living, leap-froggers are protected and assisted in manifold ways, as they show up to be agents for The Force, operating in “allow mode”[16] (not out of ego, but from intuitive guidance).

How to Become Spiritually Literate

            There are several steps in the process of developing spiritual literacy. Before reviewing them, let me reiterate the prerequisite that was mentioned above: We must have both the will (desire) and the belief that we can become spiritually literate. We must consciously set the intention to do this, knowing that no one can do it for us. Since this form of literacy is part of our birthright as humans, we all have what it takes.

            Now, for the steps: The first you have already taken, if you read through this essay up to this point: You have discovered there is such a thing as “spiritual literacy.” Given the materialism of the Second Wave world, this reality is not obvious to most Westerners. You now know about the narrowness of the conventional definition of “literacy,” and you recognize how much more broadly other cultures and civilizations have treated literacy.

            The remaining steps assume you want to become spiritually literate, for they require some effort and conscious attention, on a daily basis. The second step is to slow down. In the face of the insane drivenness of Second Wave life, this step is difficult. But you must give yourself the three essentials for soul work: time, space and patience.[17] Recognize the “hurry sickness” that is pandemic in Western society, and consciously commit to giving it up. Constant self-monitoring will be necessary, for the lure to fall into the old ways, to live at the pace of everyone else, will be very strong. (To see this, just try to drive at or below the speed limit on a highway, and you will immediately recognize the pressure we face to fall in with the crowd).

            The third step depends on your having slowed down enough to engage the world with conscious intent. By this I mean that you live at a pace where you can pay attention to details. The old saw puts this as “stopping to smell the roses.” Allow things to catch your eye, and when this happens, allow yourself to linger with the experience. Get out of your head and into your body, into your senses: smell the air, touch things, listen closely, with heart as well as head. This sort of mindful relating to objects, plants, animals and people will present many surprises and delights.

            Then quest. Pose questions to life, without the need for immediate, clear answers. Give up the tendency (common in adults) to ask only those questions for which we assume there are answers. Most of the interesting aspects of life lie at the borders of unknowing. Allow yourself to go to these nether regions frequently. Go out of your way to explore, e.g. take a new way home from work; try a new hair style; listen to a new genre of music; work with a new artistic medium. Push your boundaries, however these show up for you (and, if you are serious about this questing business, they will show up). By doing this, you give yourself more “space” (in the psychic sense). Dream, vision, and dare to ask “why not?” when people question your visionary approach. Allow yourself to feel (in the marrow of your bones) the promises and potential that are opening for you and the world. And allow your quest to carry you into the deepest levels of your being.

            Then be open to what turns up. Give up the cynicism of the Second Wave world—that attitude of mind that would denigrate anything new or different that challenges the usual ways or patterns. Rather than cynicism, open yourself to joy. Enjoy! Literally: allow yourself to be in joy.

            And finally, go with the flow. This will be transformative. You will change. Your life will change. You will make new friends, develop new interests, take up new values, come to new perspectives, and very possibly undertake news jobs or forms of work. You will gain a clearer sense of your life mission, purpose and destiny. Over time, you will look back and realize that almost nothing of your old way of being remains. This will not be without its pain and difficulty (about which I speak more in the essay on “Pitfalls of the Path.”) but you will be supported by The Force, and will be able to recognize this support in myriad types of signs whose meaning you will recognize.


            Every moment of every day we are surrounded with signs that speak to us of Divine love, nurturance and support. These signs are messages that we are meant to read, in order to fulfill the special purpose we have for being on the physical plane. Each of us is a precious participant in the great game of Creation, and each of us is meant to play a particular role. How do we know what our role is? By reading the book of life that is all around us. We are receiving our marching orders all the time, but the rife confusion and ignorance of Second Wave thinking has led most of us to become illiterate. The result is a serious diminishment of life. In its extreme, it shows up as feelings of worthlessness, despair and a sense that life is meaningless. Much of the pathology of modern reality—the wars, drug use, greed, aggression and hostility—spring from spiritual illiteracy.

            This is particularly unfortunate now, because we are living at a crucial time (just a few years from 2012), when all hands need to be on deck, ready to pitch in and fulfill their role. To do so, we must be awake and literate, in all the senses of that term. To act as responsible people—that is, people able to respond to the call of The Force—we must be spiritually literate, so we can hear the sound of the call. If we can’t read the signs, we won’t even recognize there is something to respond to! And we won’t be able to do our share. Choosing the leap frog option depends on being spiritually literate, and being awake presupposes the ability to read what is going on in the world.

Some Questions for Reflection

How do you think about the things you own? Have you ever personified an object, e.g. by giving it a name? How do you pay respect to the things in your life?

Where is your ideal place, the one place in the physical world that has special meaning or resonance for you, where you feel most at home?

Are you familiar with the Chinese art/science of feng shui, which seeks to foster well-being by aligning our homes, offices, etc. with the forces of nature? If so, have you ever applied it in your life? With what results?

Europeans often name their homes. Have you done so? If not, what would be a good name for your home?

How do you feel connected to Nature? Have you ever hugged a tree or communicated with a cloud? If so, what did you learn?

Have you ever had a dream with an animal in it? What do you think it was trying to tell you? How have animals helped you care for your soul?

If you could incarnate as an animal, which one would you pick? Why?

Do you associate spiritual practices with your daily chores? How do you allow Spirit to inform your daily life?

How do your hobbies enrich your life? Do you attach spiritual meaning to them?

Do you observe a sabbath or set aside a day for rest and renewal on a regular basis? What rituals or practices do you use to deepen your experience of this special time?

Think back on the day just passed. It was a day of creation; what did you give birth to this day? Were you aware of doing so? Does it make you feel different about the day to realize that you were creating many things over those hours?

What impact have creative pursuits—singing, dancing, playing a musical instrument, cooking, sewing, drawing, painting, etc.—had upon your character?

What role has money played in your life? What priority have you given to it?

Think back to a time when someone helped you out just when you needed it. How did you feel?

Hold an interview with your body. What does it tell you about its strengths, weaknesses, wounds, etc.?

If you have ever had a major illness or injury, what do you think the message(s) were in those experiences? Has there been a time when you grew a lot because of an illness?

Do you have friends who have known you for a long time? If so, how might you expect them to react if you were to change a great deal? Would they be surprised? glad for you? uneasy? unhappy?

Projection—unconsciously seeing in others what in fact lies within our own selves—is very common. We all do it. When was the last time you projected feelings of anger, alienation or rejection on to others? What happened as a result?


For Further Reading

Autry, James (1991), Love & Profit. New York: William Morrow.

Berman, Morris (1981), The Reenchantment of the World. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Beston, Henry (1976), Northern Farm: A Chronicle of Maine. New York: Ballantine.

Brussat, Frederic and Mary Ann (1996), Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life. New York: Scribner.

Creation Spirituality magazine

Davis, Charles (1973), Temptations of Religion. New York: Harper & Row.

Eiseley, Loren (1969), The Unexpected Universe. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co.

Estes, Clarissa Pinkola (1995), Women Who Run with the Wolves. New York: Ballantine.

Fox, Matthew (1980), Breakthrough: Meister Eckhart’s Creation Spirituality in New Translation. Garden City: Doubleday.

Kabat-Zinn, Jon (1994), Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. New York: Hyperion.

Maslow, Abraham (1971), The Farther Reaches of Human Nature. New York: Penguin.

________ (1964), Religions, Values and Peak-Experiences. New York: Penguin.

Matthieson, Peter (1978), The Snow Leopard. New York: Bantam Books.

McLaughlin, Corinne & Gordon Davidson (1994), Spiritual Politics. New York: Ballantine Books.

Moore, Thomas (1992), Care of the Soul. New York: HarperCollins.

Sarton, May (1980), Recovering, A Journal. New York: W.W. Norton.

Shah, Idries (1964), The Sufis. New York: Doubleday.

Skolimowski, Henryk (1996), “The Methodology of Participation,” Revisioning Science: Essays Toward a New Knowledge Base for Our Culture, ed. S. Mehrtens. Waterbury VT: The Potlatch Press.

Smith, Huston (1991), The World’s Religions. New York: HarperCollins.

Snyder, Gary (1974), Turtle Island. New York: New Directions Publications.

Sogyal Rinpoche (1993), The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. New York: HarperCollins.

Suzuki, D.T. (1972), What is Zen? New York: Harper & Row.

Tart, Charles (1987), Waking Up: Overcoming the Obstacles to Human Potential. Boston: Shambhala.

Toms, Michael, ed. (1998), Buddhism in the West: Spiritual Wisdom for the 21st Century. Carlsbad CA: Hay House Inc.

van der Post, Laurens (1958), The Lost World of the Kalahari. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Whyte, David (1994), The Heart Aroused. New York: Doubleday.

Wright, Machaelle Small (1995), Dancing in the Shadows of the Moon. Jeffersonton VA: Perelandra.

________ (1988), Flower Essences: Reordering Our Understanding and Approach to Illness and Health. Jeffersonton VA: Perelandra.

________ (1990), MAP: The Co-Creative White Brotherhood Medical Assistance Program. Jeffersonton VA: Perelandra


[1] For two excellent, as well as entertaining examples of the literacy skills of the Bushmen, see the two movies made in South Africa, “The Gods Must Be Crazy, Parts I and II.”

[2] Brussat & Brussat (1996), 15, 108, 131.

[3] Richard Nelson, quoted in Brussat & Brussat (1996), 511.

[4] Brussat & Brussat (1996), 26.

[5] Quoted in ibid., 123.

[6] Berman (1981).

[7] Many of these elements are listed and described in Brussat & Brussat [(1996), 19-25] as the “alphabet of spiritual literacy. I have added others.

[8] The sense of higher education as a form of “training into orthodoxy” I have borrowed from Henryk Skolimwoski; see Skolimowski (1996), 160-169.

[9] I.e. “The Gift of Suffering.”

[10] The “lust for certitude” is one of the “temptations of religion” identified by Charles Davis (formerly the Papal legate to Great Britain); the other 3 temptations are: pride in history, cosmic vanity and the anger of morality. See Davis (1973).

[11] See Maslow (1964) (1971), for descriptions of these experiences and the personality features of those who tend to have them.

[12] Judges 6:36-40. See the essay on leap-frogging for the text of the Gideon story.

[13] Quoted in Brussat & Brussat (1996), 35.

[14] Gurdjieff’s philosophy is described in Tart (1987).

[15] Cf., e.g. Numbers 16:30; Psalm 40:3; Isaiah 42:9; 43:19; 48:6; Jeremiah 31:22; Ezekiel 11:19.

[16] This mode of living is described more fully in the essay in this collection by the same name.

[17] The role and value of these three essentials are discussed in depth in the essay in this collection by the same name.

One Comment

Leave a Reply