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INTRODUCTION TO SPIRITUAL STYLES

Honoring, Harnessing & Harmonizing Your Styles for Learning & Practice

(6-16-20) Each of us have spiritual learning styles that are embedded in the depths of our consciousness. They are the internal lenses through which we perceive, process and practice spirituality and meditation. In our process, we identify twelve families of these spiritual styles.  Our job is to honor, harness and harmonize these styles in order to fulfill our spiritual and meditative potentials.  This will help us to find the teachings and to cultivate practices that are best suited for us. The major religions have developed rituals, myths, deities, metaphysics, aesthetics, meditations, devotional prayers, etc., that match up to the natural archetypal styles residing in human beings everywhere.  Implicitly, they have created big tents and found niches for many types of learners and practitioner.  However, as with modern public educational institutions, religious and spiritual institutions often slip into a one-size-fits-all mode of spiritual education and practice.  This is also true of meditative practices.  Too often, teachers apply a single modality for all students.  This can leave many aspirants ‘out in the cold.’ Therefore, the process of discovering, honoring, harnessing and harmonizing spiritual styles can help a student to learn and a teacher to teach. On the outer ring of the InterSpiritual Mandala there are twelve spiritual styles.  These are the Ways of ….
1. The Arts 4. Devotion 7. Mysticism 10. Reason
2. The Body 5. Imagination 8. Nature 11. Relationships
3. Contemplation 6. Love & Compassion 9. Prayer 12. Wisdom
Since each of us has all these archetypal styles nascent within us, these need to be honored, utilized and brought into harmony in order for each individual to be fully engaged on a spiritual path. Primary archetypal styles differ from one person to the next and often change in the course of a person’s lifetime.  Often unbeknownst to us, they provide a starting point for spiritual belief and practice. They lead us toward our spiritual paths, meditative practices and guide our journeys. Normally, we are not aware of the power that these archetypal styles exert on our lives and the decisions we make.  They provide the foundation for our choices and yet we generally don’t recognize their existence.  But, once we have identified and honored these styles within us we can begin systematically to make conscious, intelligent choices in the formation of our spiritual paths and meditative practices. One of the primary causes for spiritual dysfunctionality in today’s world is that many of us have been unable to match our primary archetypal spiritual styles with the teachings and practices of an authentic source of wisdom.  Therefore, our attempts to create a spiritual path and meditation practice are often unsuccessful or incomplete. To help us do this better, the InterSpiritual Mandala process helps us to engage in the development of our path in a more holistic and systematic manner.  This process helps us to harness and harmonize our own primary spiritual archetypal styles to find personally meaningful  answers and practices.  We integrate and balance all of our styles and apply our answers in the development of our path. Living a life which is harmonious with one’s deepest spiritual being is our life’s most fulfilling opportunity. When done successfully, it is joyful and satisfying beyond any other.  Once a spiritual foundation and meditative practice is secure, it supports, informs and gives purpose to one’s whole life no matter what one’s profession might be. It pervades all aspects and all moments of our personal, professional, family and community life.This spiritual foundation, or lack of it, impacts everything we think, do and feel. So, without taking ourselves too seriously, the pursuit needs to be recognized as a serious one, worthy of our deep and abiding effort. Therefore, it is important to begin by identifying our own natural spiritual archetypal styles.  As we progress down the path, it will be important to begin integrating our other styles so that our understanding, action and experience form an integrated and solid foundation for  our internal spiritual life and external engagement in the world. The profil tools will help you discover your archetypal spiritual styles and harness them to create your spiritual path and meditative practice. Since your styles may shift over the course of your life, the present results of this instrument are informative but not fixed for all time. These results will simply help stimulate a greater inner awareness about how you learn and how you can harness your natural styles for learning and practicing.  If you are a teacher or mentor, this instrument can help you to know your student better and to help them to gain greater self knowledge.  In this way, you are not telling them what to believe and how to practice, but midwifing their personal process of discovery. This profile instrument can be retaken from time to time to see how your primary styles shift thus helping you to make periodic adjustments to your sources and methods for spiritual inquiry and practice. Following is a table is meant to stimulate conversation regarding the possible concordances between the 12 Archetypal Spiritual Styles collected by Ed Bastian, the 4 Yogas of Hinduism, and the 8 Intelligences (Learning Styles) of Prof. Howard Gardner.
  12 SPIRITUAL STYLES 4 YOGAS 8 INTELLIGENCES
1 Arts Bhakti Yoga (1) Musical-rhythmic & Harmonic (1) Visual-  spatial (2)
2 Body Raja Yoga (4) Bodily -Kinesthetic (5)
3 Devotion Bhakti Yoga (1)
4 Imagination Bhakti Yoga (1) Musical-rhythmic & Harmonic (1)
5 Love & Compassion Bhakti Yoga (1) Interpersonal (6)
6 Meditation/Contemplation Raja Yoga (4) Intrapersonal (7)
7 Mystic Raja Yoga (4)
8 Nature Naturalistic (8)
9 Prayer Bhakti Yoga (1) Intrapersonal (7)
10 Reason Jnana Yoga (3) Logical-mathematical (4), Verbal – Linguistic (3)
11 Relationships Karma Yoga (2) Interpersonal (6)
12 Wisdom Raja Yoga (4) Intrapersonal (7)