Fostering Spiritual Vitality
Fostering spiritual vitality encompasses our efforts in spiritual exploration and the arts. Through spiritual integration we explore diverse possibilities for embodied wisdom and emotional intelligence in daily life, as responsive to a healing spirit at work in the world. We seek to learn from and offer resources for multiple faith communities, to honor many different ways of wisdom, and to welcome both traditional and novel expressions of spirituality.
Art comes in many forms. Visual art is just one creative expression. The universe itself, as Whitehead says, is an expression of the "creative advance into novelty." Every moment in a person's life is thus an act of improvisation, a moment in which something new is created out of a settled past.
Our understanding of spirituality and the arts includes the following principles:
- All living beings are subjects of their own lives, with intrinsic value.
- We are relational beings, and compassion is an expression of that knowledge.
- We are in search of meaning about our becoming and the world’s becoming.
- No single faith community or wisdom tradition provides an absolute understanding of truth, or exhaustive guidance toward goodness, or exclusive access to beauty.
- There are diverse possibilities for embodied wisdom and emotional intelligence.
- We honor and value the multiplicity of spirituality expressed throughout the world.
- We strive to recognize and appreciate beauty in its novelty and diverse manifestations.
- Creativity occurs in a variety of forms.
- Nature is alive, and we are interwoven with it in a shared fabric of reality.
- We seek the integration of many forms of rich experience: attention, compassion, faith, forgiveness, hospitality, imagination, listening, meaning-making, openness, peace, playfulness, silence, wonder, and a zest for life
In a process-relational perspective, spirituality is how we are inwardly animated, enlivened, nourished by life-giving forms of experience and ways of living in the world. Alfred North Whitehead speaks of these qualities of felt beauty: here understood as satisfying forms of harmony and intensity in our relations with other people, the natural world, the heavens, and ourselves. In The Liberation of Life: From Cell to Community, John Cobb, speaks of them as forms of “richness of experience.” Spirituality, then, is the seeking and sustaining of rich experience in community with others and also, as Whitehead emphasized, the solitariness of the heart.
The Cobb Institute affirms and encourages the integration of many forms of rich experience: attention, compassion, faith, forgiveness, hospitality, imagination, listening, meaning-making, openness, peace, playfulness, silence, wonder, and a zest for life, for example. These experiences are available to people of all ages and faiths, relative to the circumstances of their lives. The experiences can be understood and interpreted through many different intellectual lenses, including process philosophy and the cosmology of Whitehead, who, in Process and Reality and other writings, offers a philosophy of experience conducive to their appreciation. The varieties of rich experience can be fostered and enacted through many different spiritual activities, including rituals, gatherings, and collective actions aimed at supporting local communities that are creative, compassionate, participatory, inclusive, humane to animals, good for the earth, and joyful, with no one left behind. Such communities are the building blocks of ecological civilization. It is our belief that an integral spirituality can provide the nourishment that makes possible and sustains such civilization.