The 12 Families of Spiritual Styles
A Brief Summary
Discovering & Harnessing Our Spiritual Styles
Over many millennia, each generation of human beings have pondered many of the same big questions. They have done so through the mental lenses and archetypal predispositions that I am calling “spiritual styles.” The Mandala Process focusses on “12 families of spiritual styles and questions.” I call them “families” because each of them can contain subcategories that are subsumed within each family name.
The names of these styles and questions are not set in concrete. Rather, they are meant to evoke in you an intuitive realization of your own primary styles and questions. Once this happens, you are better equipped to begin your personal journey. You are starting from who you are.
Since our archetypal spiritual styles are generally hidden to our conscious mind, they are often in control of our predispositions for, and our attractions to certain spiritual ideas, practices, traditions, symbols, etc. This “Mandala Process” and the “Spiritual Styles Profile Tools” helps us to become aware of these styles and then consciously to use them in the development of our path. In other words, we “harness” our styles rather than being “harnessed” by them.
Since each of us embodies all twelve styles, to a greater or lesser degree, and since our dominant styles may shift over time, it is important that we recognize, honor and harness all these spiritual styles within us. It is also important that we realize that one style alone may not be sufficient for the creation of a fully developed spiritual path. For example: our Way of the Mystic might need the support of our Way of Reason. Our Way of the Body might need the support of the Way of Nature. Our Way of Meditation might need the support of Prayer. Our Way of Relationships might need the support of our Way of Love and Compassion. Once all our archetypal spiritual styles are working together harmoniously, our personal spiritual path can become mature, satisfying and sustainable. There will be no internal conflicts to impair our progress.
Our classwork together should also be supported by our own independent research on spiritual styles and questions. Remember, the Spiritual Paths Mandala provides a process, not answers. It will be up to each of us to move through each of the twelve families of styles, questions and traditions as an outline to be filled in through our own research, experimentation and discernment. Working independently, as well as with others, we can begin to find the answers and practices that will define our spiritual path. Here are some of the resources to consider.
- Teachers, mentors and authors whose styles of learning and teaching match your own.
- Spiritual traditions and practices developed by and for people with your spiritual styles that can help you find answers to your questions.
- Books and classes on learning styles, personality types, and universal archetypes.
- Stories of mythological and historical figures whose archetypes match yours and whose challenges give you greater insight into your own predispositions.
- Activities, resources and practices that engage your less dominant archetypal styles that will support and balance your primary styles and fill in the gaps in your overall spiritual development.
- The Internet, which provides an amazing resource for our journey, so long as we are focused on our specific styles and questions. Without this focus, it is easy to get lost and sidetracked by a dizzying array of possibilities.
I cannot overstate the importance of keeping a detailed journal during the entirety of this process. Your journal can be divided into the categories of both the Spiritual Paths Mandala and InterSpiritual Meditation. Your journal will provide the baskets into which you will store the knowledge, methods and experiences you are gaining along the way. It will provide a comprehensive record of your spiritual journey. Eventually your journal will provide a fully developed picture of your personal spiritual path and it will help guide you throughout all the stages of your life.
Here are brief summaries of the twelve spiritual styles and questions.
1. The Artist — The Way of the Arts
The Artist finds spiritual inspiration, beauty, as well as personal expression through painting, drawing, sculpture, music, dance, and poetry.
2. The Kinesthete — The Way of the Body
The Kinesthete uses physical movement as a primary mode of learning and somatically experiences subtle emotional and spiritual states of consciousness in various parts of their body.
3. The Devotee — The Way of Devotion
The Devotee is naturally loyal and committed to a job, relationship, a set of principles, a way of life, a ritual daily routine, a religious teacher, a spiritual tradition, or a life goal.
4. The Dreamer — The Way of Imagination
The Dreamer naturally dwells in the imaginary awareness of the possibilities of being and intrigued by images arising from the limitless depths of consciousness.
5. The Lover — The Way of Love and Compassion
The Lover naturally experiences the universality of love and seeks to bring happiness and to relieve the suffering of others.
6. The Meditator — The Way of Contemplation and Meditation
The Meditator Contemplative drawn to quiet and solitary introspection and seeks to discover the truth within or through communion with the numinous.
7. The Mystic — The Way of the Mystic
The Mystic naturally feels, intuits, communes with, or otherwise experiences mysteries of the numinous that lie beyond the boundaries of ordinary human perception.
8. The Naturalist — The Way of Nature
The Naturalist is most at ease when absorbed into the forests, deserts, plains, mountains, streams, and oceans of the natural environment, in harmony with shared elements of existence.
9. The Prayer — The Way of Prayer
The Prayer naturally seeks the guidance, help, strength, healing, or forgiveness from a sacred being or divine source whose capabilities supersede those of ordinary human beings.
10. The Thinker — The Way of Reason
The Thinker needs to figure things out and to create a reasonable foundation for all aspects of spiritual practice.
11. The Mensch — The Way of Relationships
The Mensch naturally learns, expresses and creates a spiritual path through compassionate interaction in community with others.
12. The Sage — The Way of Wisdom
The Sage embodies the wisdom of a long life fully-lived and the realization of truths transmitted by profound wisdom-holders throughout the ages.