Why Priests are Happy- Recommendations

From Stephen Rossetti, Why Priests are Happy,chapter 12
AveMaria Press, Notre dame, 2011


As a result of the findings of this study, I offer a few recommendations to vocation/formation personnel, to priests, and to bishops. These are not exhaustive. There is much rich material in this entire study for further reflection and study. Throughout, I have attempted to present as much of the data as I am able. I invite others to dig into this data and to offer their own insights, reflections, and recommendations.

To Vocation and Formation Personnel

  • Get the word out: priesthood is a very fulfilling and happy vocation. The sometimes negative image of priesthood is largely a myth.
  • During the formative years, work intensely with seminarians on their spiritual formation, fostering a direct, personal relationship with God. Seminarians study philosophy and theology; they often engage in a pastoral year and regularly are involved in pastoral work. These are important. But spiritual formation is sometimes left to the seminari­an and his spiritual director as a hidden and perhaps even peripheral part of his preparation for the priesthood. While the relationship to a spiritual director must remain in the internal forum, the survey results suggest that spiritual formation is central and crucial to the well-being and happiness of a priest. The seminarian needs to be directly and intensively formed in the spiritual life. This ought to be a priority.
  • Assist seminarians in their development of good friendships, and screen out seriously isolated men. The presence of good friendships is a key marker in the suitability of a man for the priesthood. An isolated priest is unlikely to do well personally, spiritually, and pastorally, Formation personnel should foster the development of healthy, chaste friendships and not call to orders any who cannot develop such life-giving relationships.
  • Do not underestimate the impact of a dysfunctional childhood and a background of childhood mental problems on the future success and happiness of a priest. It would be unwise to “lower the bar” on taki candidates with a seriously dysfunctional history, even if the n for new priests is great. In fact, these research findings suggest some vocation personnel will want to raise the bar they are currently using.
  • Screening prospective priestly candidates for a history of sexual pro-remains critical. There was likely a period in the recent history the Church when unsuitable candidates with significant sexual flicts were admitted to priesthood. The devastating results speak themselves. Direct screening for a history of sexual problems direct formation in a healthy, chaste psychosexual development essential for the health and integrity of the priesthood.
  • Train the seminarians and young priests to see celibacy as a gift fromGod and as a personal grace. To accept celibacy simply because it is necessary for priesthood in the Roman rite is not enough for a truly fulfilled and happy priesthood. Perceiving celibacy as a gift from, God and a personal grace is important for the happiness and well-being of a celibate priest. These survey results suggest that direct training in celibacy will be one critical element of a seminarian’s spiritual formation.
  • Do not overlook the presence of obesity in a candidate. What d candidate’s or priest’s obesity mean? It is possible that, for their weight problems are a symptom of underlying unr issues that need to be addressed. It is unwise to ignore the presence of obesity.



To Priests


  • Give thanks for your vocation to the priesthood. It is a wonderful life. Most priests are happy in their priesthood, very satisfied with their lives, and would do it all over again. While there are challenges, as in any life, the real happiness of our priests is remarkable, especially given the stresses of these past few years. It is a credit to the com­mitment and faith of our priests.
  • Let people know about the joy of your priesthood It is time to break this secret” of priesthood and to tell people about the true satisfac­tion and happiness of priestly life. This is good for vocations; it is good for the People of God to know; and it is good for priests to tell their story. As one priest wrote on his survey, When we’re happy, we don’t share it.” Sharing their joy is an essential part of priestly ministry and the new evangelization.
  • Give primacy to your relationship to God A priest’s relationship to God is critical for his happiness and priestly life. Without this rock, a priest will find himself in difficulty, the findings suggest. Many priests would likely benefit from even more time and energy directly focused on fostering a deeper personal relationship with God.
  • Foster good friendships. The presence of good friendships for a priest is strongly predictive of having a good relationship to God. Having such friendships with other priests and laity is also important for your psychological well-being and happiness. Friendships, including priestly friendships, are integral to a priest’s life and ought to be a priority.
  • The traditional elements of a priest’s spiritual life are important:

¨  Receive the Sacrament of Penance frequently

¨  Pray privately each day; consider a daily Holy Hour

¨  Pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily

¨  Regularly do theological and spiritual reading

¨  Take an annual retreat

¨  Foster a devotion to Mary

All of these were directly and significantly related to the psychologi­cal and spiritual well-being of a priest. Moreover, a number of priests wrote on their surveys how important their sacramental ministry was to them, especially the Eucharist. Thus, I would add to that list: deepen one’s love of and connection to the Eucharist.

  • Priestly unity needs to be improved. Priestly unity is a big issue for priests. Many are unhappy with it and priestly divisions are harm­ful to the priesthood and to the Church. Priests say this area needs work, and it is only priests themselves who can improve it. It is time to listen to our brothers, especially those with whom we disagree, and to begin to mend the fissures in priestly unity.
  • Mutual priestly support is critical and should be fostered. Attend priest­ly gatherings. Create priest support groups. Support brother priests. Priestly gatherings such as annual convocations and Chrism Masses are important moments for priests and should not be missed. Priest support groups remain a helpful way to promote mutual support. As one priest wrote on his survey, “We need to spend more time together in prayer and fraternity.”
  • Love and support the bishop. The bishop is an important person in a priest’s life. Priests ought to nurture actively this important relation-ship. Priests can attend liturgies and functions led by the bishop. Understanding his hopes and goals for the diocese can be helpful. Praying for him and supporting his leadership are essential. Also valuing the promise of obedience is an integral part of a solid priestly spirituality.
  • Different ordination cohorts need to help each other. Today’s seni pastors need the younger priests. These younger priests are full evangelical fervor and profess a strong adherence to the faith. are the new breed of evangelical Catholics, and these gifts are m needed today. Welcome them and guide them. And these yo evangelical Catholics need to respect and listen to the older pri They need to be guided and mentored by them. These older need to teach the younger priests how to manage their lives prepare for a lifetime of demanding priestly service. As one wrote on his survey, the priesthood “needs more fraternity be younger and older priests.”
  • Be aware of the signs of burnout. If a priest becomes aware of symptoms of burnout in himself or in another priest, ass and pastoral care are needed.
  • When present, depression and anxiety need to be managed. The findings strongly suggest that priests who become depressed and suffer from anxiety are less likely to be happy and are more at risk for having problems or leaving priesthood. Symptoms of anxiety and depres­sion cannot be ignored but ought to be dealt with in a direct and effective fashion.
  • Learn to deal with stress in healthy ways. A significant percentage of priests, nearly one quarter, indicated that they have unhealthy ways of coping with stress, such as excessive food and/or alcohol con­sumption. Learning to deal with stress is important for many priests.
  • Exercise and lose weight. Too many priests are obese and do not exercise enough. If you are obese, ask yourself why. Perhaps there are underlying issues that need attention. But regardless, physical self-care is important for your physical and mental health.
  • Take your weekly day off as well as an annual vacation. A priest will be healthier and happier if he takes regular time away for rest and rejuvenation.



To Bishops

  • Affirm your priests often. Their happiness, commitment, and faith amidst an increasingly secular world is remarkable and a testament to the power of God’s grace and their own greatness. Affirm them.
  • Be encouraged that the majority of your priests love you, support you, and obey you. ‘While there are some important issues that need to be addressed regarding the relationship between bishops and priests in the wake of these last few years, the essential relationship between a bishop and his priests remains solid.
  • Bishops are important to their priests. Bishops are tied together with their priests in a sacramental bond that is critical for their nourish­ment and happiness. The bishop’s first role for his priests is to love them. Do not underestimate how important you are to your priests. A kind word, a remembrance for one’s ordination anniversary, a hospital visit, a call upon the death of a parent, a birthday wish, and other such small acts of kindness are not small to priests.
  • Make supporting priests’ spiritual lives a priority. This study consis­tently demonstrated the centrality of a priest’s spiritual life for his personal happiness and well-being. A bishop and diocese would do well to emphasize, support, and dedicate resources to the spiritual lives of its priests including fostering an authentic diocesan priestly spirituality. Religious superiors and their orders will likewise want to investigate ways of similarly emphasizing the spiritual life. Often-times, we leave the subject of developing a spiritual life to the indi­vidual. However, would not some institutional or group presbyteral effort be advisable? Ongoing formation programs might not just be continuing education efforts but might also include continuing formation in the spiritual life. `There are many possible ways for a diocese and/or a presbyterate to begin to emphasize the spiritual life such as highlighting the annual diocesan retreat, providing and training spiritual directors, focusing some annual convocations on the spiritual life, making the sacrament of penance a part of the annual priest convocation, praying the Liturgy of the Hours togeth­er, and a variety of other supports. These will likely be time, effort, and money well spent for the health of the priests and thus for the diocese or religious order as a whole.


  • Priests need help with their workload. Most priests are not burned out, but a large percentage of them feels overwhelmed. This remains of great concern to priests today and needs to be acknowledged and faced directly.
  • Priests need to know they will be dealt with fairly. In the wake of the crisis, a large percentage of priests is not confident that their human rights will be respected if they are accused of sexual misconduct. While we do not want to reduce our improving efforts to hear and respond to alleged victims, priests also need to know they will be heard and treated fairly.
  • Younger priests today need solid mentoring and support. This includes priests up to twenty years ordained. They are at greater risk for burnout and thinking of leaving priesthood. It is difficult to adjust to a celibate, demanding priesthood today surrounded by a seculars sex-crazed culture. This is especially true for new young pastor* with only a few years of priestly experience. They are placed in these complex and challenging pastoral positions with limited experience and fewer personal resources. They need the special attention of the bishop.
  • Continue to make healing resources readily available. Some priests come from dysfunctional backgrounds and/or suffer from psycho-logical difficulties. Ready access to healing regimens is needed for them. Helping priests in difficulty manage depression and anxiety and other problems is important. The study suggests that priests do avail themselves regularly of such assistance. This is encouraging and ought to be continued.
  • If a priest is considering leaving, first help him to assess his personal and spiritual life. A priest who is considering leaving priesthood may be suffering from burnout, depression, and/or anxiety. The priest him-self may be only slightly aware of these underlying feelings. Before a priest can discern his future, he must first deal with these realities, or else his discernment will be skewed and priesthood may be pre­cipitously abandoned.
  • Have diocesan programs to ensure that priests maintain a proper weight, exercise, eat healthy foods, have regular medical checkups, and take the proper time off. Physical self-care is sometimes overlooked by our priests who often live alone and are engaged in a busy ministry with increasing responsibility and fewer priests. Healthy living and sufficient time away, including sabbatical programs, will ultimately increase the availability of priests, not decrease it. If these healthy living programs come from the “top,” it gives the priest permission to take better care of himself.



The Secret of Their Joy overall findings of this study are clear and, when combined with similar findings in other studies, incontrovertible: Priests, as a group, are very happy with their lives and their vocations. They are among the happiest of any people in the country.

Priests also scored well on standardized psychological tests. They scored modestly better than general samples of the lay population on tests measuring depression, anxiety, somatization, and overall function-, ing. Given that such symptoms comprise the large majority of psych logical complaints in community and residential settings, these are g markers of the overall psychic health of priests.

In the wake of the sexual abuse crisis, the issue of mental health the priesthood has resurfaced. Some would suggest that priests are chologically stunted or less healthy than others. But the results indi otherwise.

Moreover, the scores of priests as a group on standardized b measures were not elevated. In fact, they were markedly below se norms, a positive finding. Despite the challenging if not overwhel workload of our priests, they are bearing up well under the load by all measures, are actually prospering. Why are they not burned given their often excessive workload? Clearly, the great satisfaction their lives and ministry that priests report is important in unders their low burnout rates. In addition, their strong spiritual lives must also be taken into account; they find much nourishment in their relationship to God and in their spiritual lives in general.

This does not mean that there are no challenges or difficulties. Nor does it mean that there are no unhappy, burned out, or psychologically unwell priests. There are, and always will be, some of our number who are struggling. Priests are men not angels. And they are subject to all the frailties and temptations of any human life. Bishops and priests will want to continue to reach out to their wounded brothers and offer them love, support, and healing.

But the modern secular rumor that our celibate priesthood is an unhappy, lonely life is simply not borne out by the facts. The opposite is true. As a group, priests are much happier than their lay counterparts. I suspect the rumor that priests are dissatisfied is a projection of a secular mentality that has difficulty imaging happiness in such a celibate life of self-giving in faith to the Church and to the people. Moreover, the Church has a problem in getting this message out. As one priest wrote regarding morale, it is “good but this is not communicated.” As this priest is implying, it is time to spread the word.

Where does their happiness come from? The findings in this study noted that a combination of psychological and spiritual factors contrib­utes to priestly happiness. However, priestly scores on psychological tests were only modestly better than the general population and could not account for their extraordinarily high rates of happiness. To account for their happiness, one needs to look into the pastoral and spiritual lives of our priests.

Regarding their pastoral and spiritual lives, there were many sources of support and nourishment experienced by priests, such as good friend-ships with other priests and laity and a personal love of their vocations and pastoral ministry, especially their Eucharistic and sacramental min­istry. The centrality and strength of their faith and pastoral commitment were critical to understanding our priests. Often unseen to the public, the spirituality of our priests is integral to their peace, happiness, and, at times, joy.

Their relationship with God is very much alive and a strong source of their inner peace and happiness. Priests reported having a strong nourishing relationship to God, feeling personally loved by God, feel­ing a sense of inner peace and even joy, and being grateful for these blessings.

The impact of their spirituality on the rest of their lives was remark-able. A powerful predictor of priestly happiness was their relationship with God. One could conclude that a priest simply cannot be a happy and effective priest without having a solid relationship to God. And this strong relationship to God is one of the major reasons they are so happy. Priesthood is a human life, it is true, but it is more.

The words of Paul VI, which began this work, seem a fitting sum­mary of so much of what this research found. It is striking to this researcher that a written survey and modern quantitative statistical techniques could cross over into the realm of the spiritual and affirm the insights on the scriptures spoken by one of our pontiffs over thirty-five years ago. While Paul VI’s words were speaking of the life of Jesus, they also directly apply to our priests as well. The life of a priest is simply that of imaging Christ, of being configured to the One who is in a loving relationship with the Father. Paul VI tells us what the secret of Jesus’ joy is and thus the secret joy of the priesthood as well:

But it is necessary here below to understand properly the secret of the unfathomable joy which dwells in Jesus and which is special to Him. It is especially the Gospel of Saint John that lifts the veil . . . if Jesus radiates such peace, such assurance, such happiness, such availabil­ity, it is by reason of the inexpressible love by which He knows that He is loved by His Father. (Gaudete in Domino)




Many religiously oriented persons and organizations until recently paid scant attention to mental and emotional health. The focus was on growing academically or ‘spiritually’. Consequently, many priests and religious remained emotionally and psycho-sexually immature, with great cost to their spiritual development and inter-personal functioning. Perhaps some of the scandals we have been witnessing in the church recently are linked to it.

We, in India, can learn a great deal from the experience of others and learn from their attempts to remedy their mistakes. A study on the psychological health of Catholic priests in the US published in 1972 concluded that a “large number of them are underdeveloped as persons with a consequent lack of freely realized religious and human values… They could be far more effective personally and professionally if they were helped to achieve greater human and religious maturity”[2]

Coming to India, a study by Lourdes, Patel and Paranjpe[3] comparing the personality traits of 300 clergy (priests, sisters and seminarians) and 300 lay persons found that clergy on the whole were far less mature psychologically than lay persons. Of the 11 positive traits measured, lay persons scored more positively on nine. Of the eight negative traits, clergy fared worse on seven. ‘More clergy than lay persons were also characterised as having excessive nervousness, bad temper exhibitionism, excessive conservatism and jealousy, and being easily led away”.

In another study undertaken by Paul Parathazham and colleagues at Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune, most participants rated their peers outside as better than themselves on all eight criteria of psychological and emotional maturity measured – self-reliance, emotional maturity, self-confidence, relationships, capacity to adapt, realism, initiative, and hard work. As many as 36% of them felt that the formation they received was, over all, not worth the time and energy invested in it. [4] Another study expressing the views of the formation personnel concluded: “Human formation, which is the foundation of priestly formation, is arguably the most neglected aspect of formation in India. We seem to be concentrating all our efforts on building a spiritual ‘superstructure’ without the human ‘base structure’, thus rendering the entire enterprise tenuous and futile. Every other aspect of formation, be it intellectual, spiritual, or pastoral, is institutionalized in seminaries with a specific programme, designated personnel, and prescribed activities or exercises. But for human formation there is no such programme in place. It is largely taken for granted!!”[5]

Today fortunately there is an emerging awareness that formation has to be holistic. Our most basic vocation is to be Good Human Beings, and then alone we can be good Christians and consequently good priests and/or religious. Recent Church documents too, stress the importance of the human element. A recent Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood[6] highlighted the need for a formation programme that fosters a solid psychological and affective maturity in the candidates to the priesthood. Nearly fifty years ago Vatican II had declared that only those should be accepted into religious and priestly life who “have the needed degree of psychological and emotional maturity”[7]. The Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis[8] also stated emphatically that the human dimension is the foundation of all formation and listed a series of human virtues and relational abilities required in the priests. Now there is the repeated explicit acknowledgment of the specific role psychology and psychologists play in the human formation of the candidates. For instance, ‘recourse to exports in the psychological sciences can be useful. It can allow a more sure valuation of the candidate’s psychic state; it can help evaluate his/her human dispositions for responding to the divine call; and it can provide some extra assistance to the candidates’ human growth’ (no.5). ‘The guidelines also call for attention to the need of every formator to undergo psychological preparation that will allow him, … to discern barriers that stop (the candidate) integrating human and Christian maturity, and to pick up on any psychopathic disturbances present in the candidate….’(n.4).  






2.1.1. Globalization, Materialism and Consumerism: The globalized market is able to manipulate and arouse needs and desires which it tries to satisfy by the latest, better and faster gadgets and consumer commodities. Speed is the mantra today. What is pragmatic, that gives instant results, success and happiness is valued. And therefore the great pillars of the society: family, religion, church, marriage, etc. that tried to uphold the universal and absolute values are being shaken by post-modernism. Relativism has become the norm of the day.

2.1.2. Job – satisfaction: better jobs, career orientation in families, competition, and success at any cost. Corruption,

2.1.3. Hedonistic culture: pleasure and more and more needs to be satisfied. The media creates needs. Wishes and wants are made into needs.

2.1.4. Technology: the latest and the best.

2.1.5. Efficiency.

2.1.6. Focus on self, need satisfaction, narcissism; in the families: give in to all the needs; Fear saying no, might lead to suicide

2.1.7. Materialistic pragmatic attitude.

2.1.8. Individualism; I –centered view, egoism and selfishness.



Where are they now? Strengths and Blocks

2.2.1. Psychic Blocks:

          Negative Self Perceptions, Self Abasement; Pessimism, Poor Self-Image

          Low Self-esteem, Poor Self-Confidence, Victimhood, Self-rejection.

          Fears: fear of rejection/ of failure/ of authority figures/ of public appearances…..

          Anger, guilt, shame, sadness, pain….

          Traumas: physical, emotional, sexual abuses; Broken & Alcoholic families…

          Affective deprivations; Abandonment, Neglect

          Abject economic deprivations…

          Lack of Affective Maturity

                         2.2.2. Psycho-Sexual Development:

          Sexual Inhibitions, Fears, Obsessions/Addictions, Ignorance; Abuses; Guilt, Shame; Confusion

          Feelings, Desires, Passions, & Behaviours

          Fixations; Delayed Growth

          Adolescence, attractions, deviations?

          Lack of Self-understanding, awareness, acceptance and integration of body and sexuality.

          Choice of Celibacy: Mature Vs Immature?



                1.   Although as Catholics we are numerically a small minority in the country, the quality of our presence among the poor and marginalized is no doubt a powerful witness to God’s Kingdom.

                2. The emergence of vibrant local churches among the indigenous people (Dalits and Tribals) augurs well for the future of the Church in Asia and Africa.

                3.   There is a paradigm shift in the theology of Missions today and as a result the approach to evangelization is becoming more and more inclusive with greater emphasis on promotion of justice, human rights, gender equality, ecology, inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue, etc.

  1. 4.Many attempts are being made all over the country by priests and consecrated persons to join hands with groups of people who are actively involved in the integral liberation of the marginalized and the socio-economically deprived and weaker sections of our society.
  1. 5.A lot of conscientization is continually taking place among priests and consecrated person at the national, regional and local level through regular contacts with secular movements and social activists on current issues affecting the life and ministry of the Church.
  1. 6.The Church in India is still blessed with many vocations both for Priesthood and Consecrated life.
  1. 7.We are really fortunate to have many centers for the ongoing formation and renewal of priests and consecrated person and also for the training of formators.
  1. 8.While recognizing some of the positive aspects of priesthood and consecrated life today, we cannot deny the fact that there is all round malaise which is affecting our life and ministry today. The globalization for example is taking a heavy toll among many priests and consecrated persons in terms of consumerism, careerism and individualism.
  1. 9.The post modern culture propagated by globalization seem to totally undermine and disregard, what for centuries were upheld as foundations of human civilization, like family, the institution of marriage, religious and cultural tradition, etc. The emerging modern culture is in fact in a very subtle way making inroads in all spheres of modern life through a dictatorship of relativism.
  1. 10.As a consequence of relativism life-long commitment and fidelity to a way of life (priesthood, consecrated life, marriage, etc.) which is founded and guided by Gospel Values (Transcendental) is non-acceptable to modern man and woman. As a result we are witnessing high rate of divorce, single parents, living with partners without marriage, gay marriages, abortions, foeticide and infanticide of girl children, euthanasia, etc.
  1. 11.While accepting the tremendous benefits resulting from the modern means of communication like Internet, Cell, etc. one cannot deny the adverse effects of these very tools in poisoning the minds of modern man and woman who isolate themselves more and more into a very impersonal world of virtual reality.
  1. 12.It seems the motivation for priesthood or consecrated life is not strongly founded on religious experience, but is influenced by social security, careerism, ambition for upward social mobility, etc.
  1. 13.It appears that there is a serious lacuna in the human and Christian formation among many priests and consecrated persons due to which the quality of our interpersonal relationship in the community and with people in ministry is at times quite deficient.


  1. 14.Quite a few priests and consecrated persons seem to lack the inner psychological and spiritual stamina to face criticism, opposition, failure, emotional and physical stress, and therefore easily succumb to moods and discouragement.
  1. 15.Many of the young as well as senior religious display serious difficulties in handling their emotional conflicts, and therefore suffer from hostility, fear, envy, inferiority, authority complex and passive aggression.
  1. 16.There seems to a widespread mediocrity in prayer life, community life and ministry
  1. 17.The bureaucratization of leadership has apparently reduced the role of leaders as mere functionaries or administrators thus deviating from the Gospel style of leadership that consists of being Servants, Stewards and Shepherds.
  1. 18.The lack of Role Models among formators, leaders and formed members has led to a sort of disillusionment among the young priests and consecrated persons.
  1. 19.The formation to priesthood and consecrated life in its present form is heavily focused on acquiring information, knowledge and learning of skills and not adequately directed to a dynamic process of self-transformation
  1. 20.Quite a few priests and consecrated persons suffer from either ‘burn out’ or ‘early retirement’ syndrome for lack of an ongoing formation.




  • To be a man/woman of God, prayerful/God-centered, another Christ (alter Christus)
  • Human: compassionate, affectively mature, sensitive, courteous
  • A person of credibility with transparency and moral integrity
  • Agent of Social Justice at the service of the underprivileged and a prophetic voice of the poor.
  • A man/woman of inter-faith dialogue.
  • Promoter of team work and collaboration among laity, religious and priests.
  • A sign of contradiction in the post modern relativistic, secularized and                          consumeristic      culture through a life of simplicity and renunciation.
  • A champion of reconciliation, peace and harmony in a society that is fragmented by          religious fundamentalism, criminalization of politics, corruption, casteism, regionalism, etc.


3.1.      Formation as Personal Growth, Conversion, Transformation

3.1.1.      Is it something one or several people do to others? Is there some model according to which we can mould people as a potter moulds pots from the clay? Is it some kind of indoctrination, or imposition? But formation needs to include growth, development, conversion, seeking meaning choosing values & direction for life. It is a process of transformation, moving towards self-transcending love and religious experience. It is a journey to God, to inner freedom, autonomy and authenticity, to universal love, transcending all barriers. It calls for courage, inner strength and confidence. Formation is always an on-going process.

3.1.2.      Formation is a call to HOLINESS/WHOLENESS, Mt. 5.48; becoming the person God has called us to be. The Goal of priestly formation is to enable the formee to grow …to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”. (Eph.4:13; PDV Nos.43-59, VC No.65).

             3.1.3 .From human developmental perspective, a call to GROWTH, an on-going process.         It is a Process, a continuous work, lasting a life-time.

3.1.4.      From a religious point of view, it’s a call to CONVERSION, also an on-going process. Conversion calls for radical change. Not only behavioural modification or therapy. Conversion is a call to integrity, reality and radicality. Therefore, formation is self- transformation and integration.


                                  –Cognitive: Attitudes, beliefs, thoughts, values, outlook:

                                                                               Rom. 12, 2; Mt 22, 36-40; Mk 12, 29-34

– Integral Conversion –Affective: emotional, at the level of feelings.            

                                   –Behavioural:             Mt 7, 21-27, Lk 6, 43-45

This conversion takes place when I confront myself in my sinfulness and woundedness. We need someone’s help to confront. The pain and the truth of confrontation will make me free. Conversion can occur through resolution of crises. A crisis is an opportunity to reorganise myself and make a new commitment to the future. It is an experience of my faith, a rediscovery of ‘who I am’, my identity. It is a continuous process.

3.1.5.      “Formation is a process which enables us to accept ourselves as we are and feel accepted, and learn to love and be loved, so that we can develop (grow) into the persons we are called to be (to become….).”

3.1.6.      Self-acceptance, knowing who I am (identity): family, cultural, religious, social, personal, developmental, educational… Accept myself with my strength & limits; my shadows and blind spots; my growing edges. Formation to one’s own identity, where one can feel rooted, secure, autonomous, and free. Finally formation leads to self-transcendence. If I have a well defined identity, I can surrender easily. This is the difficulty we find behind resistance. But identity makes me transcend barriers. The kenotic experience, 1 Phil 2, 7; Emptying in order to be filled. Formation should lead us to this.

3.1.7.      Formation takes place in a context of community, an atmosphere of mutual acceptance. Jesus failed to form his apostles. They had their own hidden agenda. When Jesus died their old selves also died. Then a new life started for them. The culture of the institute has an impact on my formation. Therefore, institutional formation has lots of limits[10].


3.2.      Some Basic Principles of Integral Human Formation:


  1. 1.Church Documents on Formation: The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on Pastores Dabo Vobis’ in Ch. V, articles nos. 43 & 44 enumerates at length the various aspects of Human Formation:“Future priests should therefore cultivate a series of human qualities, not only out of proper and due growth and realization of self, but also with a view to the ministry. These qualities are needed for them to be balanced people, strong and free, capable of bearing the weight of pastoral responsibilities. They need to be educated to love the truth, to be loyal, to respect every person, to have a sense of justice, to be true to their word, to be genuinely compassionate, to be men of integrity and, especially, to be balanced in judgment and behaviour.
  2. 2.Of special importance is the capacity to relate to others. This is truly fundamental for a person who is called to be responsible for a community and to be a “man of communion”. This demands that the priest not be arrogant, or quarrelsome, but affable, hospitable, sincere in his words and heart, prudent and discreet, generous and ready to serve, capable of opening himself to clear and brotherly relationships and of encouraging the same in others, and quick to understand, forgive and console(see also 1 Tim 3:1-5; Tit 1:7-9). People today are often trapped in situations of standardization and loneliness, especially in large urban centers, and they become ever more appreciative of the most eloquent signs and one of the most effective ways of transmitting the Gospel message”.
  1. 3.This recognition of the human as the overarching dimension of priestly formation is indeed a remarkable progressive step concerning priestly formation. In doing so, the Church is showing her openness and interest in human sciences like anthropology, sociology and psychology, whose valuable insights on understanding the mystery of human person, shows with clarity the intrinsic relationship between Grace and Human Nature. The healthier the human nature, the greater is the possibility for grace to penetrate the human person and transform him/her from within. Hence the importance of the following parameters to facilitate a psycho-spiritual process that hopefully brings about a self-transformation in the candidates.


  1. 4.Formation has to be Integral Growth (Wholistic): The Integral Formation refers to the process of transformation of the various dimensions of formee’s personality that gradually promote a well defined, secure and stable IDENTITY, namely the Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Social and Spiritual (PDV Nos. 43-60, Charter PFI, No. 3.1.3). And thus the formee is enabled to freely enter into dialogue with God and live his vocation and mission in an effective manner. This life-long process does not take place by itself. Some time or other one has to consciously start this inward journey. And the formator can definitely be a catalyst for the formee in his journey towards wholeness. This process is integral affecting the Physical, Social, Emotional, Rational and Spiritual dimensions of the person of the formee.
  1. Formation has to be Personal: Each one is unique and each one responds to God’s call in his/her unique original way. Formation has to be appropriate to the process of each one, adapt to the rhythm of growth of each person. Personal accompaniment is a must in order to verify the internalization of values and living them. In the past partly due to the homogeneity of the candidates, attention was given to formation of the group. These days the age range and cultural experiences of each one differ. Without neglecting the group, individual has to be given importance. God respects the gift of freedom he has given to each of us. Therefore it is necessary that we respect the freedom of each candidate. The candidate is the principal agent of his own formation and as such all other agents of formation are considered to be facilitators.
  1. 6.Positive Self Image: Behaviour flows from feelings and thought patterns, which in turn are deeply influenced by one’s self image. The work of human formation, therefore, begins with building up of a positive self image.
  1. Formation has to be Experiential: Following of Jesus is not just an ideology but life. Formation must favor concrete experience of the life-style and values proper to the charism. In the past formation was mainly theoretical, assimilation of contents, and was often based on teaching. Formation has to touch four vitals centers of the person: intelligence with its contents, heart in so far as it is the seat of sentiments, the hands, that is, it has to be practical and the feet, that is it has to help the person to walk through life.
  1. Formation has to be Permanent/On-going: Consecration does not happen once and for all. All are on the way to being conformed to Christ. It is a process that never ends but an ongoing process of self-transformation. Initial formation should be closely connected with on-going formation
  1. Formation has to be Progressive and Gradual: It goes by stages, it is developmental and continuous, one stage preparing for the next. The speed may differ from person to person.
  1. Formation has to be Accompanied: More than transmission of a doctrine, formation needs more witnesses than teachers or masters. Need transmitters who will authenticate the word, show the beauty of being a religious, by their life. Hence the need to form and prepare “accompaniers” or formators who are human as well as have profound experience of God and clear experience of paths that lead to God.[11]
  1. Formation and Training[12]: Training: Pertains to imparting skills, making people competent to handle certain responsibilities. You train as teachers, nurses, social workers, pastors, retreat preachers, etc. Formation has to do with transformation, with inculcating attitudes, imparting a vision and a spirit. Vision and spirit – that is what formation is about. The word spirit calls to mind spirituality. Spirituality is not a set of practices but an existential attitude that enables us to live and respond to the concrete situations of life in accord with the dictates of the Spirit.
  1. Method of Teaching Should Be Adult-Centered: The method of teaching in the seminaries is often still pedagogical, child-centered, rather than andragogical. Theological education presupposes fostering adult learning. But too few institutions design their methodology based on an adult model of learning where the student and teacher assess needs and negotiate goals. In adult learning, the learner is encouraged to contribute to the learning process by virtue of his or her life experiences. Evaluations are conducted mutually with a view to their use for setting future goals. This is fostered best in the pastoral field and in smaller groups. Field education should be an essential part of priestly formation.



  1. 1.Self-transformation can take place only in a climate of freedom, responsibility,   accountability, self-discipline and self-motivation at all stages of formation.
  2. 2. In order to facilitate this ongoing process of Self-transformation, there is need for competent formators; men endowed with deep sense of Christian faith, inner freedom, intellectual competence, affective maturity, and men of moralspiritual integrity who can serve as catalysts and role models for the young seminarians.
  3. 3.Keeping in mind the Integral Human Formation of the Seminarians and Consecrated Persons, there isfor a pedagogy with inter-disciplinary approach at all stages of formation.
  4. 4. Given the multi-religious and cultural reality of India as well as the socio-economic disparities affecting vast majority of marginalized groups among whom the priests/consecrated persons are called to exercise their pastoral leadership, the formation should be sufficiently contextualized and inculturated in order to prepare the fomees for the future ministry.
  5. 5.Seminary/convent formation is an institutional formation. Real formation begins from the mother’s womb. The candidates come already formed. Before a candidate comes psycho-social, socio-cultural, socio-religious formation have already taken place. It is important to look at that. Formation has a past, present and future. It involves conscious and unconscious processes and a lot of formation work involves de-forming (not deforming),
  1. Do we want to form pliable, obedient, apparently celibate, moralizing, and authoritarian clergy/religious who will perform an essentially sacramental/institution centered function? This may delight the Bishops/Major Superiors and some people too, but it may not satisfy the educated laity whose world is growing in expectations.
  2. The laity is becoming more and more educated. What should be the training needed for spiritual leadership of such people. Do we want to produce cultic functionaries or spiritual leaders? Formation should enable a person for “professional ministry” as a spiritual leader. There is no contradiction between being a professional and answering the Vocation. Being a professional means that the priest/religious should be provided with specific skills which give him/her the confidence and sense of identity among his/her peers and help confirm him/her in his/her calling. These skills include integrated studies in different subjects, with preparation for expertise in such performance based disciplines as teaching, preaching, counseling, administration, pastoral ministry, social apostolate, etc. They must possess good managerial skills, conflict resolution skills and skills in interpersonal relationships.


4.1. Agent of Formation

  1. In the context of Christian Vocation, the principal agent of formation is the Holy Spirit and the next in the order of priority is the formee himself/herself, “the necessary and irreplaceable agent in his/her own formation: all formation …is ultimately a self-formation” (PDV No. 69). “With freedom, personal choice, responsibility and inner conviction, he must open himself to the guidance of the Holy Spirit” (Charter PFI 4:1). Only then comes the formator who plays a role mainly as a facilitator or a catalyst in the ongoing process of transformation. As a formator one is a co-discerner, accompanying, or walking with the formee, enabling him/her to be open and autonomous.

This process follows the dialectics of intrinsic relationship of Grace and Nature, the Divine and Human, contemplation and action. Formation simultaneously involves the mystery of God and the mystery of the person. It is a dialogue between God and the person. And in this dialogue the formator’s role as the mediator between these two mysteries is a very delicate as well as important one. The formator can be a help for growth, a challenge, or a hindrance and a block in the growth of the person. Think back on your own life during formation. Who influenced you most and had the most impact on you? Which formator? Why? Who helped you bring out the best in you?

4.2. Need for Challenges

Maslow says that 99% of people don’t begin to develop fully. Human potential is not fully used. Only 1% reaches their full potential. We can ask, why do youngsters lose their enthusiasm and zeal and get stagnated? Why? Two main reasons:

4.2.1. Secluded from Reality, Formation Houses do not cater to Adult Development: Many are not challenged to grow; they just adjust and stagnate. Many join with youthful enthusiasm but lose it through many years of formation. Get used to living on a plateau. Look at their peers in the outside world. They become CEOs between 25 –35. With us many still want more degrees and more skills before they venture out and produce. There is no challenge to change, at times. Our candidates are secluded from reality, over protected from all insecurities, concerns and struggles of ordinary people. They move along with groups, become part of a crowd and lack individuality and autonomy, lacking in initiative, creativity and personal responsibility. Atmosphere in the formation houses are not conducive to the autonomous development adult individuals.

4.2.2 Role Models: The other reason, there are not many models to live up to. Many in formation don’t like the word model. They are fed up of giving good example. This is where it is difficult to find formators today. They don’t mind being lecturers or professors. But to be formator implies living a lifestyle which is exemplary as religious. The formator has to live with the formees and accompany them. While s/he does not have to be a saint, s/he has to live a life that is consistent or integrated with not too many contradictions between what s/he teaches and lives. This can be quite taxing. We are not giving training in skills alone. We are forming persons whose lifestyle is intimately connected with their mission or work. And for this even the so called teachers and even the community members are also formators. Formation work is intimately connected with the personality of the formator, his/her emotional maturity and spiritual solidity in particular.

4. 3. Formators

Many formators are not trained at all but learn by trial and error. And the formees can be the victims of this. While a mere degree may not equip you to be a formator, if you have the aptitude, it is very important to have some training in the behavioral sciences and spirituality, besides practical life experience to be able to do one’s work fruitfully. The formator needs to have some clarity in his/her own mind in order not be affected by all the comments and criticism around him/her. For this s/he must know what s/he is doing. S/he must have clear ideas on his/her role and what s/he is trying to achieve, how much s/he can achieve and be realistic in his/her view of himself/herself and the formees.

  • Some formators talk about rules and exhort what to do.
  • Some observe and watch and sit in judgment on whether they’ll manage or not.
  • Some are like police – watching to apprehend.
  • Some are like Santa Claus or a Grandmother wanting to be nice to all unable to  confront and correct.
  • Some are model for imitation. Others should watch and follow.
  • Many are not clear about what they are trying to do.
  • Some reduce formation to psychological counselling, reduce the role of prayer,    faith and spirituality.
  • Others reduce everything to the spiritual with no attention to the person’s individual history, past, needs, emotions, growing process, etc.
  • Many are trying to accomplish the task without clarity on what their role is.

Formators require practical skills, a good understanding of the human personality and a theory of the Christian vocation and personality which acts as a frame of reference, to understand what is happening with the person, with oneself and the situation.

4.4. The Five Relationships at Work in Formation[13]

  • Working Alliance
  • Transferential Relationship
  • Reparative Relationship
  • ‘I-Thou’ or Adult to Adult Relationship
  • Transpersonal Relationship


5.1.Man is motivated by two forces: Values, Ideals, and Attitudes on the one hand & Needs and Emotions, on the other. Formation should take into consideration both the forces and motivation should be offered to both. How?


A) Presentation of Ideals: by conferences, instruction, and especially through good example, clear unambiguous messages. And

B) Increasing the capacity to internalize the ideals presented so that one can live them.

A person must have the capacity to assimilate what is presented. Even the best food is useless if the person has stomach trouble.

  • To drive a car , one must use both the accelerator (ideals) as well provide the petrol (needs)
  • There should be a smooth co-ordination between the two
  • Too much of anything is a problem: e.g., a formator who presents ideals which cannot be internalized will only produce expectations leading to frustration.
  • If the formator stresses only the human and psychological aspects and uncovers `unconscious motivation, he may uncover too many questions which are very painful and hurtful if done rapidly without the necessary help to integrate these with one’s values. Mere uncovering needs will confront the person with too many questions which cannot be answered. Present the person with values which will provide motivation to renounce dissonant needs and outgrow inconsistencies. Pure clinical psychology has the danger of stressing the purely human aspect of the personality.

5.2.The right question that should be asked regarding perseverance is not only why people leave but why they joined in the first place. When they enter there are often present structures which will cause them to leave unless they are dealt with and overcome.

5.3.Regarding growth in vocation, in religious values, note that a candidate can change out of compliance, conformity, non-internalizing identification, internalizing identification, or internalization. Hence, ask why the person has changed. (e.g., meticulously regular for prayer after a warning).

5.4.Beware of the limitations in our personality: as to how our spiritual life is conditioned by the limitations of our freedom. We are divided between what we would like to be and what we actually are. Because we are divided, we are not fully free. If a person is not fully free, s/he will have great difficulty in loving selflessly. Only a free person can give herself/himself totally to God, lose oneself for God. Only Christ could love totally and lose himself totally n love of others because he was totally free.

5.5.Fr. Rulla’s research shows that in about 15- 20% of people consistencies prevail over inconsistencies; in about 60% inconsistencies prevail and in about 15-20% there is pathology. It is better if pathological cases are taken care of before entry. The formator’s task is not to take care of the sick persons. If screening discloses psychopathology, better to ask the person to seek help from a psychiatrist. Even from this group, some (10%) can be salvaged. Screening should take into consideration both the human (needs, emotions, conflicts) and the spiritual aspects (ideals, values, prayer life.).






THE CONTEXT (VISION): The Point of Arrival                     W

  1. A.THE KINGDOM OF GOD and its BasicH                  

Risen Son in the Religio-Socio-Cultural Time

  1. C.THE PROPHETIC MISSION as Spelt out by the Church, Congregation



  1. 1.POVERTY is a vow for stewardship, to be a voice for the poor, a divine call for an authentic living of the GIFT ECONOMY as opposed to ‘commodity economy’; Sharing of Resources.
  2. 2.OBEDIENCE is a vow for partnership with Christ in pursuit of the Will of God and a divine call to form a DISCIPLSHIP OF EQUALS where power and authority are exercised in a spirit of service in solidarity with the poor and the marginalized in opposition to relationships characterized by hierarchy, status, power and privileges; Shared Responsibility by the Community.
  3. 3.CHASTITY is a vow for relatedness to be passionate lovers of Christ and a divine call to embrace universally with God’s COMPASSIONATE LOVE, the poor and the marginalized empowering them to realize their God-given dignity and honour as opposed to a relationship where human persons are treated and reduced to commodities whose usefulness is measured by his or her productivity in terms of beauty, wealth, pleasure, etc. Growing in an ever Widening Network of Relationships and Availability to the Other.
  4. 4.Consecrated life is meant to keep alive the memory of Jesus who:
  5. 5.Redefined the People of God by Challenging Social Boundaries
    1. i.Enacted the Reign of God through Table-Fellowship and
    2. ii.Accomplished the Reign of God through the Way of the Cross.
    3. 6.Refounding of Consecrated Life Today.
    4. 7.Conclusion: the Relevance of Consecrated Life Consists in being a ‘Fire in the Ashes’.



7.1.The Dialectics of Christian Vocation: The recognition and nourishment of any Christian Vocation takes place in a climate of the Divine and Human consciousness where grace and nature interact. The sign to distinguish this ongoing interaction between grace and nature is one’s inner freedom which enables the candidate to discern the Call of God.


7.2.Integration Fosters Freedom: Freedom to respond to God’s Call is the result of the    process called Integration where the different dimensions in human person: The Physical, Socio-Cultural, Emotional, Rational and Spiritual act in a harmonious and unified manner.


7.3.Integration Leads to Self Discovery: The discovery of one’s authentic and true self is a gradual process of self-emptying of the EGO, the false self (the masks) and coming      to terms with one’s True Self with all its strengths and weaknesses, qualities and   limitations. In other words, the Self emerges with all its beauty and richness when the person is able to celebrate the wonder of one’s Being stripped of all illusions caused by     the perennial temptation to identify one’s worth with Doing, Having and Feeling.

7.4.The Domains of Transformation: The integrative model views spiritual growth as transformation of the whole person in various domains of life. Following the schema of Sperry, the following domains of transformation with the addition of those aspects proper to consecrated life. (Sperry, 2002).

  1. oSomatic: Refers to body and its wellness despite of a disability or disease.
  2. oAffective/Community: Refers to emotional wellbeing, healing of past hurts, healthy integration of all emotions and achieving capacity for team work and community life.
  3. oReligious/Spiritual: Spirituality based on the biblical image of God, replacing the false idols such as reputation, wealth and power and seeking God’s will and Kingdom values.
  4. oMoral: Moving from simple gratifications of immediate needs to principled living based on objective values.
  5. oIntellectual: Pursuit of truth amidst ideologies and personal prejudices. Developing a critical grasp of theological issues and to critique false value systems that corrupt Christian conscience and developing a Personal Vision of Life.
  6. oSocio-Political/Inter-Cultural: Moving beyond self-transformation to bring about the reign of God in one’s community and the society. Growing in the capacity for universal communion and the pastoral dimension of the vocation
  7. oCharismatic/Vocational: Discovering and growing in one’s unique call to conform to Christ within the Charism of the Institute.
  1. oBesides the above areas we could include the following:
    • Belief Systems
    • Attitudes
    • Spirituality                                                                                
    • Affectivity        
    • Sexuality                                                                                    
    • Relationships                                                                              
    • Mindset
    • Communication
  1. oTransformation in one domain influences the transformation of other domains. For example, affective transformation favours religious and moral transformation. Intellectual trans- formation reinforces the transformation in socio-political domain. This is why an integral approach is necessary for a holistic vocational growth. Once the domains of growth are delineated, the necessary virtues, spiritual practices and self-capacities necessary for growth in each of the domains are identified and described in order to make it operational. This is necessary for moving from mere desire to concrete action. Transformation in each of the domains requires that the formees cultivate corresponding virtues, spiritual practices and self-capacities. The following table illustrates the whole


7.5.Profile of Transformation in a Vocational Journey. (Sperry, 2002).



DOMAIN OF                                      SPIRITUAL   




           Somatic            Temperance                 Transforming               Self-activation

                                    Physical fitness                        craving                         Self-mastery



          Affective/        Trust,                           Healing the heart,         Spontaneity, Intimacy,

           Community      Compassion,                Learning to love           Frustration Tolerance,

                                                                                                            Creativity, Autonomy


                                                                      Awakening spiritual    

           Religious/         Charity, Holiness         Vision                          Self-surrender

           Spiritual                                               Meditation


          Moral               Trust worthiness          Living ethically                        Commitment



           Intellectual      Prudence                     Developing Wisdom     Critical Reflection

                                                                       and Understanding


           Socio-Political  Justice, Fortitude          Expressing Spirit          Social Consciousness

           Intercultural                                         in Service                     Empathy


This outline can be a helpful guide to view different domains of growth in a formee. It becomes operative when a realistic action plan adapted to the personal and socio-cultural context of each formee is drawn within the ambit of personal accompaniment.










1. Stage

Infant/ Child



2. Impulse Control

Little control. Often acting out on the level of basic needs as well psychological needs such as dependency, insecurity and aggression

Control in the case of basic needs. Mixture of acting out of sexual needs, aggression, and dependency and growing confidence in mastering them through autonomy, counteraction, etc.

Sense of control over psychological needs and capacity to integrate needs in the service of one’s vision and values.

3. Motivation

Fear and self-gratification

Pleasing and giving in order to get. Defensive

Ideals and values. Personal vision of life.

4. Personal Responsibility

Minimal. Responsible neither for actions nor consequences

Responsible for actions but not to consequences. Autonomy is stressed more than responsibility

Freedom with responsibility to one’s vision of life as well as to society. Responsibility to actions and consequences.

5. Sense of Morality

What is bad? What brings punishment

What is bad? What society does not approve

What is bad? What goes against universal principles like “love” “greater good of all” etc.

6.Social Stance



Interdependent, cooperative

7. Response to Social Control

Through mere outer compliance

Through identification with and imitation.

Through internalized vision and values.

8. Quality of Maturity

Psychological and vocational immaturity or disturbance

Psychological and vocational immaturity and maturity present at the same time

Psychological and vocational maturity




  • Authenticity, Honesty to God, Self and Others, Openness and Transparency.
  • Self Awareness and Acceptance, Self Confidence and Assertiveness, Optimism and Realism, Sense of Humour and Joy.
  • Sensitivity, Understanding, Empathy, Compassion and Caring
  • Adaptability and Flexibility, Spirit of Forgiveness and Reconciliation.
  • Responsibility, Accountability and Willingness to Accept one’s Mistakes.
  • Interiority and Prayerfulness, Being Comfortable with Solitude, Respect for the Integrity of Creation.
  • Sense of Belonging, Being Comfortable in Relationships, Capacity for Meaningful Friendships and Intimacy.
  • Respect for All Persons: Elders, Women, Children, and especially the Poor.
  • Ability to Dialogue: Care-Fronting, Offering Constructive Criticism
  • Initiative, Creativity, Pro-Activeness, Commitment, Hard Work, Team Spirit, Sacrifice and Resilience.
  • Concern, Involvement and Action for Peace and Social Justice.


  • Lack of Proper Motivation: Our efforts at formation meet with a major block in as much as the candidate comes with misplaced motives.
  • Peer Group Pressure: The candidate’s ability to take decisions for himself is often influenced by the need to belong to the peer group, and the peer group is itself frequently controlled by a dominant few.
  • Large Numbers: The large number of candidates in formation houses makes it difficult to provide the personalized care and attention so necessary for integral human formation.
  • Cut off from Realities: The structure and geographic location of formation houses isolate/shield the candidate from real life experiences. This retards the process of integral human formation.
  • Lack of Adequate Training of Formators. The personal accompaniment which is a pre-requisite for integral human formation suffers when formators are not equipped with the necessary skills.
  • Fear of Reports: The existing system of reporting to the superiors on the evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate tends to lead to fear complex and masked behaviour.
  • Unhealed Woundedness. Some of the unconscious wounds of earlier experiences of the candidate remain unhealed and render the personal accompaniment of the candidate difficult and ineffective.
  • Outside Influences: The programmes towards integral human formation sometimes fail to bring about desired growth in the candidate since the climate in outside society (family, friends, parish, diocese, media, etc.) counter the positive influence of formation programmes.
  • Lack of Adequate Language Skills: The lack of comprehension and expression skills of the candidate limits the effectiveness of formation structures or personal accompaniment.




  • Participatory Processes in Decision Making and Assessments
  • Personal Accompaniment
  • Healing of Inner Woundedness.


The integrative approach applied in Pastoral Counselling and Spiritual Direction is a useful strategy for an integral formation. This model emerged from the field of counselling and psycho-therapy in the context of a healthy rapprochement between the disciplines of moral theology, psychology and spirituality. When a formator has a fair idea of the dynamics involved in the vocational journey of a young person whom s/he accompanies, s/he will have to look for effective strategies to accompany the growth process in different spheres of life.


Journeying with the formee as a fellow-traveler, a pilgrim, as someone who is genuinely searching, at the same time struggling in her/his efforts to live an authentic life. From this lived experience s/he is able to assist the formees in discerning and interpreting God’s will revealed through persons, events, joys and sorrows, success and failure, etc. S/he serves like a mirror wherein the formees can with openness and trust see themselves freely their strengths and limitations and with the help of the formator journey towards wholeness and holiness.

  • To facilitate the Self-DiscoverySelf-Awareness, Self Worth and a Positive Attide to Life.
  • To discern God’s will in daily life
  • Helping the formees to verbalize their thoughts, beliefs and emotions critically; to be freed from irrational beliefs and to cultivate rational beliefs. Help them think positively and constructively.
  • Help them to take charge of their lives.
  • Help them to realize that there are no quick solutions to their problems
  • Help them to understand better their own psychological and physiological reactions to their problems.
  • Facilitate better communication between formee and formators, between  formee and his/her companions.
  • Reinforce accepted social and cultural patterns of behaviour and thus inhibit      certain regressed forms of behaviour.
  • To evolve alternate solutions for one’s problems
  • To work out an action plan to bring about a change
  • To integrate various dimensions of personality
  • To be healed from past hurts, woundedness and traumas.



      1.         Provide sufficient scope to grow in freedom with responsibility.

      2.         Provide opportunities to exercise leadership attitudes and skills.

      3.         Provide facilities to develop one’s talents and skills.

      4.         Spell out clearly the parameters for accountability.

      5.         Involve the community in decision making.

      6.         Provide opportunities for ministries on a regular basis.

      7.         Maintain contacts with groups, movements, etc. whose inputs could be      challenging.

      8.         Have regular faith sharing sessions.

      9.         Have regular meetings to reflect over various experiences in relation to personal                       growth.

      10.       Have periodic community dialogues to evaluate life and mission.



8.5.1. Process of Integration:


                        1. Self-fulfillment for Self-transcendence

                        2. Personal Growth for Apostolic Efficacy

                        3. Balance between Freedom, Responsibility and Accountability

                        4. Harmony between Values, Needs and Attitudes

                        5. Exposure and role plays for interiorisation of Vocational Ideals

                        6. Balance between the affective-rational and spiritual

                        7. Harmony between ideologies and spirituality

                        8. Integration between Contemplation and Action

            8.5.2. The Content:

  • 1. Experience
  • 2. Reflection
  • 3. Interiorization
  • 4. Action-decision




The Old Paradigm

The New Paradigm


  • Secluded from the External World
  • Protected from Insecurity, Struggles
  • Authoritarian/Directive
  • Large Groups
  • Emphasis: Intellectual/Academic- IQ



  • Content Oriented
  • Spirituality- Piety, Devotions, Ritualism, Saying Prayers Church, Attendance


  • Uniformity of Structures, Rules
  • Compliance, Conformity, …
  • Secluded from the Complimentary Sex


  • Monastic
  • Juridical
  • Dogmatic
  • Rigid
  • Alienated
  • Relief works  
  • Institutionalized
  • Church
  • Formation for Mission  
  • Clericalised


  • In the Midst of People/Reality
  • Sharing the Struggles & Concerns
  • Participatory
  • Small Groups
  • Emphasis: Affective: Emotional, Sexual, Social, Relational, Experiential – EQ
  • Process Oriented
  • Spirituality – Values, Inner Freedom, Universal Love, Self-Transcendance, Self-Giving, Responsibility, Involvement in the World…
  • Personal Accompaniment
  • Transformational
  • Interaction with the Complementary Sex


  • Apostolic
  • Charismatic
  • Prophetic
  • Human
  • Contextualized and Inculturated
  • Empowering ministries
  • Formation in Mission
  • Laity
  • Frontier Ministries
  • Kingdom




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David, G., The Gift of Being Yourself, St Pauls, Mumbai, 2007.

John, Monbourquette, Self-Esteem and the Soul, Better Yourself Books, Mumbai, 2006.

Joseph K.S., Empower Yourself, Better Yourself Books, Mumbai, 2007.

Kuriakose, P. & Thomas, M., Dynamics of Human Formation, Oriens Publications, Shilong, 2007.


Anice & Pinto, Lawrence. “A Motivation for Priesthood and Religious Life – A Process of Human and Spiritual Integration”, Asian Journal of Vocation and Formation, Vol. XXIV, NVSC Publication, Pune, 1998.

Azevedo, Marcello. “Vocation for Mission”, Asian Journal of Vocation and Formation, Vol. XXIV, NVSC Publication, Pune, 1998.

Carroll, John. “The Future of Religious Life –Challenge to Leadership and Formation” Human Development, New York, 1981.

D’sa, Roque. “Relationship and Self Transcendence in Christian Vocation”, Asian Journal of Vocation and Formation, Vol. XXIX, No. 2, NVSC Publication, Pune, July- December, 2005.

Malickal, Louis. “Human Formation in the light of Pastor Dabo Vobis”, Asian Journal of Vocation and Formation, NVSC Publication, Pune, January-June, 1998.

Scrampickal, Thomas. “The Significance and Dimensions of Human Formation” Asian Journal of Vocation and Formation, NVSC Publication, Pune, July-December, 1998.

Varyamattom, Mathew. “Religious Life: a Prophetic Movement”, Asian Journal of Vocation and Formation, Vol. XXV, NVSC Publication, Pune, 2001.






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4.      Bradshaw, J.HOME COMING, Bantam Books, NY, 1990.

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6.      Cencini, A.VOCATION ANIMATION, A SIGN OF RENEWAL, Edizione Dehoniane,  Bolongna, 1989.


         Manenti, A.   St. Paul’s Publication, 1991, Mumbai.

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9.      Conrad, W. Baars          FEELING AND HEALING YOUR EMOTIONS,

         Logos International Plainfield, New Jersey, 1979.

10.    Danes, H. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SPIRITUALITY FROM DIVIDED SELF TO                    INTEGRATED SELF, Sterling Publisher, New Delhi, 1997.

11.    Erik H. Erikson     CHILDHOOD AND SOCIETY,

         W.S. Nortona Company, INC. 1963.

12.    Fowler, W.            BECOMING ADULT, BECOMING CHRISTIAN,

         Adult Development & Christian Faith Publication, San Francisco 1984.

13.    Fowler, W.            STAGES OF FAITH, Publ. 1981

14.    Goleman, D.          EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE,             Bantam Books, Ny. 1995.

15.    Gomes, J.              BEFRIENDING YOUR EMOTIONS, Insight Books, Bombay, 2004.

18.    Kuriakose, P. &     DYNAMICS OF HUMAN FORMATION, Oriens Publications, Shillong, Manjaly, T. (Eds.)                          2007.

19.    Lourdes, P. et al    THE HUMAN FACE OF THE CLERGY, NVSC, Pune, 1991.

22.    O’Murchu, D.       RELIGIOUS LIFE: A PROPHETIC VISION: HOPE AND PROMISE FOR TOMORROW, Ave Maria, Press, Notre Dame, 1991.

23.    Padovani, M.H.     HEALING WOUNDED EMOTIONS: OVERCOMING LIFE’S HURTS, Pauline Publications, Mumbai, 2001.

26.    Ridick, J.               TREASURES IN EARTHEN VESSELS: THE VOWS, Alba House, NY,         1984.



         Vol. 1, Interdisciplining Approach, Gregorian University Press, Rome, 1986.


         Imoda, F., SJ.,       Vol. II, Existential Confirmation, Gregorian University Press, Rome, 1986.

32.    Vallipalam, M.      PRIESTLY FORMATION IN THE CHANGING SOCIETY OF INDIA, St. Paul’s Publication, Mumbai, 1989.


                                       St. Paul’s Publication, 2000.



1       Anice & Pinto, L.     “Motivation for Priestly & Religious Life – A Process of Human &       Spiritual Integration, AJVF, Vol. XXIV, No.2, July – Dec. 2000.

2       Antony, M.“The Role of Affective Relationship in Seminary Formation”, AJVF, Vol. XXV, No.2, July-Dec. 2001.

3       Cavanagh, M.E.“The Impact of Psychosexual Growth on Marriage and Religious Life”,

         Human Development, Vol. 4, No.3, Fall 1983.

4       Coleman, G.D. &     “Assessing Seminary Candidates”, AJVF, Vol. XXIV, No.1, 2000.

5       D’Lima, E., S.J.       “Training of Priests in the 21st Century”, Jnanadeepa, Vol.3, No.2, July, 2000.

6       D’Sa, R.“Relationships and Self-Transcendence in Christian Vocation”, AJVF, Vol.             XXIX, No.2, Pune, 2005.

7       D’Souza, J.“Challenges to Human Formation of Priests”, AJVF, Vol. XXXII, No.2,            July-Dec. 2007

8       Erasto, F.“Emotional Quotient in Seminary Formation”, AJVF, Vol. XXVIII, No.2,                         2004.

9       Futrell, S.C., S.J.“The Dynamics of Religious Formation”, Human Development, Vol.2,       No.4, Winter 1981.

11     Greer, J.M.               “Vocational Assessment”, Human Development, Vol.XX, No.2, Summer,1999.

12     Gray, H.J.“Integrating Human Needs in Religious Formation”, Review for Religious, Vol. 53, St. Louis, Missouri, 1994.

14     Malieckal, L.“Human Formation in the Light of Pastores Dabo Vobis:”, AJVF, Vol.             XXXII, No.1, Jan.-June 1988, pp. 5-13.

15     Mathias, G.“Formation for Internalization”, AJVF, Vol. XXV, No.2, July-Dec. 2001.

16     Psycho-Spiritual Foundations of the Christian Vocation”, AJVF, Vol.          XXVI, No.2, July-Dec. 2002, pp. 63-77.

17     Mathias, J.“The Changing Patterns in the Recruitment and Formation of Candidates             for Priesthood and Consecrated Life in India Today”, AJVF, Vol. XXXIV, No.2, July-   Dec. 2009.

18     ————- “Has Religious Life a Future?”, AJVF, Vol. XXVIII, No.2, July-Dec.                             2004.

19     ————-   “Environment for Integral human Formation to Facilitate Self-Transformation”, AJVF, Vol. XXVIII, No.1, Jan.-June, 2004.

20.—————-“Passive-Aggressive Personality Style – A Major Block for Pastora                        Leadership Among Priests and Religious”, AJVF, Voil. XXIX, No.1, Jan.-                               June, 2005.

21     —————–     “The Mystery of Human Suffering – A Psycho-Spiritual Perspective”,        AJVF, Vol. XXIX, No.2, July – Dec. 2005.

22     —————–    “Wanted: Wounded Healers for a Broken World”, AJVF, Vol. XXXII,      No.2, July-Dec., 2007.

23     ——————-         “A New Pedagogy for integral Human Formation of Candidates t         Priesthood & Religious Life”, AJVF, Vol. XXXIII, No.1, Jan.-June, 2008

24     ——————- “The Importance and Necessity for Psychological Assessment of Candidate to Priesthood and Consecrated Life”, AJVF, Vol. XXXIII, No.2, July-Dec., 2008.

25     —————–   “The Identity of a Priest as an Icon in the Modern World”, AJVF, XXXV, No.1, Jan.-June 2010.

26     Lourdes, P.“Pedagogy or Andragogy in Seminary Education?, AJVF, Vol. XXXI,               No.2, July – Dec. 2006.

27     Andragogical Study Circle”, AJVF, Vol. XXXII, No.1, Jan. – June, 2007.

28     Monteiro, C.“Importance of Self-Awareness in Religious Formation”, AJVF, Vol.                         XXVIII, No.2, July – Dec. 2004.

29     O’Kelly, G. “Re-imaging Priesthood”, AJVF, Vol. XXXIV, No.1, Jan.-June 2009.

30     Parappally, J., The Challenges of Religious Formation: A Theological Reflection on Human Unfolding”, AJVF, Vol. XXVIII, No.1, 2004.

31        —————   “Toward a Mature Spirituality for Today; Declining and Emerging              Paradigms”, Vidyajyoti, Vol. 68, No.1, 2004.

32     ——————-         “Human Formation of Priests: Challenges and Psycho-Spiritual             Interventions”, AJVF, Vol. XXXI, No,1, Jan. – June, 2007.

33     Parathazham, P.       “Vocation and Formation of Priests and Religious in India: An Empirical Study, Jnanadeepa, Vol.3, No.2, 2000.

34     Pinto, L.“Humanity – The Basis of Spirituality in the Context of Priestly and            Religious Formation and Life, AJVF, Vol. XXIX, No.1, Pune, 2000.

35     ———— “The Ongoing Formation of the Diocesan Clergy”, AJVF, Vol.. XXIX,     No.1, Pune 2000.

36     ———— “Psychological Assessment of Candidates to the Catholic Priesthood, a   Controversial lIssue”, AJVF, Vol. XXVII, No.2, 2003.

37     ————- “Counselling/Psycho-Spiritual Orientation for an Integrated Formation”, AJVF, Vol. XXXVIII, No.1, Pune, 2004.

38     ————–“The ongoing Formation of the Diocesan Clergy”, AJVF, Vol. XXXIV, No.1, Jan.-June, 2009.

39     “Human Issues Challenging the Priestly Life and Ministry in the Modern       World”, AJVF, Vol. XXXIV, No.1, Jan.-June, 2009.

40     Saldanha, W.“Ongoing Formation for Priests and Religious – An Urgent Need”, AJVF,       XXXIII, No.1, Jan. – June 2008.

41     Srampickal, T.    “The Significance and Dimensions of Human Formation”, AJVF, Vol.        XXV, No.2, July-Dec. 2001, pp. 16 – 24.


[1] Most of the material in the Introduction is adapted from J Parappully & J Mannath, “Religious and Priestly Formation and Mental Health”, in VJTR, Vl.73.4, April 2009, pp.34-53.

[2] Cozzens, 1992, p.16.

[3] 1991, p.131.

[4] Parathazham, 2006a, pp. 35-38.

[5] Parathazham, 2006b, p.7.

[6] L’Osservatore Romano, 26 November, 2008, pp10-13.

[7] Perfectae Caritatis, 1966, n.12.

[8] John Paul II, 1992/2005

[9] Cf. Joe Mathias,

[10] Cf., Selvaratnam OMI.

[11] Jose R. Carballo at the International Congress of Union of Superior Generals. 26. 5. 2005 from Acta Ordinis May-August 2005 ( Summary)

[12]Lisbert D’souza SJ at 44th CRI National assembly. 24-29th April, 2003, Bangalore, On Seminary formation

[13] Petruska Clarksaon, Therapeutic Relationships, London, Wuhr,

[14] Cf. Joe Mathias, ….; Selvaratnam,

[15] Joe Mathias,

The Integral vision

A very short introduction to the Revolutionary integral approach to Life, God, the Universe, and Everything

By Ken Wilber

How can I navigate the 21st Century?

How can we make sense of our own Life and awareness?

What if I had a comprehensive map of myself and the brave new world I find myself in?

Do we have something to profit from this vision for Claretian formation?
Chapter I


During the last 30 years, we have witnessed a historical first: all of the world’s cultures are now available to us. In thepast, if you were born, say, a Chinese, you likely spent yourentire life in one culture, often in one province, sometimes in one house, living and loving and dying on one small plot of land. But today, not only are people geographically mobile, but we can study, and have studied, virtually every known culture on the planet. In the global village, all cultures are ex-posed to each other.

Knowledge itself is now global. This means that, also for the first time, the sum total of human knowledge is available to us—the knowledge, experience, wisdom, and reflection of all major human civilizations—pre-modern, modern, and postmodern—are open to study by anyone.

What if we took literally everything that all the various cultures have to tell us about human potential—about spiri­tual growth, psychological growth, social growth—and put it all on the table? What if we attempted to find the critically essential keys to human growth, based on the sum total of human knowledge now open to us? What if we attempted, based on extensive cross-cultural study, to use all of the world’s great traditions to create a composite map, a com­prehensive map, an all-inclusive orintegral map that included the best elements from all of them?

Sound complicated, complex, daunting? In a sense, it is. But in another sense, the results turn out to be surprisingly simple and elegant. Over the last several decades, there has indeed been an extensive search for a comprehensive map ofhuman potentials. This map uses all the known systems and models of human growth—from the ancient shamans and sages to today’s breakthroughs in cognitive science—and distills their major components into 5 simple factors, factors that are the essential elements or keys to unlocking and facilitating human evolution.

Welcome to the Integral Approach!

An Integral or Comprehensive Map

What are these 5 elements? We call them quadrants, levels, lines, states, andtypes.

As you will see, all of these elements are, right now, available in your own awareness. These 5 elements are not merely theoretical concepts; theyare aspects of your own experience, contours of your ownconsciousness, as you can easily verify for yourself as we proceed.

What is the point of using this Integral Map? First, whetheryou are working in business, medicine, psychotherapy, law,ecology, or simply everyday living and learning, the IntegralMap helps make sure that you are “touching all the bases.” Ifyou are trying to fly over the Rocky Mountains, the more accu­rate a map you have, the less likely you will crash. An Integral Approach ensures that you are utilizing the full range of resources for any situation, with the greater likelihood of success.

Second, if you learn to spot these 5 elements in your ownawareness—and because they are there in any event—thenyou can more easily appreciate them, exercise them, usethem . . . and thereby vastly accelerate your own growth anddevelopment to higher, wider, deeper ways of being, not tomention greater excellence and achievement in work andprofessional life. A simple familiarity with the 5 elements inthe Integral Model will help you orient yourself more easilyand fully in this exciting journey of discovery and awakening.

In short, the Integral Approach helps you see both your-self and the world around you in more comprehensive andeffectiveways. But one thing is important to realize from thestart. The Integral Map is just a map. It is not the territory. Wecertainly don’t want to confuse the map with the territory—but neither do we want to be working with an inaccurate orfaulty map. Do you want to fly over the Rockies with a badmap? The Integral Map is just a map, but it is the most com­plete and accurate map we have at this time.

What is an IOS?

IOS simply means integral operating System. In an information network, an operating system is the infrastructure that allows various software programs to operate. We use integral operating system or IOS as another phrase for the integral Map. The point is simply that, if you are running any “software” in your life – such as your business, work, play, or relationships – you want the best operating system you can find, and IOS fits that bill. In touching all the bases, it allows the most effective programs to be used. This is just another way of talking about the comprehensive and inclusive nature of the Integral Model.

We will also be exploring what is perhaps the most impor­tant use of the Integral Map or Operating System. Because an IOS can be used to help index any activity—from art to dance to business to psychology to politics to ecology to spirituality—it allows each of those domains to talk to the others. Using I0S, business has the terminology with whichto communicate fully with ecology, which can communicate with art, which can communicate with law, which can com­municate with poetry and education and medicine and spiri­tuality. In the history of humankind, this has never really happened before.

By using the Integral Approach—by using an Integral Map or Integral Operating System—we are able to facilitate and dramatically accelerate cross-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary knowledge, thus creating the world’s first truly integral learning community: Integral University. And when itcomes to religion and spirituality, using the Integral Approachhas allowed the creation of Integral Spiritual Center, wheresome of the world’s leading spiritual teachers from all majorreligions have come together not only to listen to each otherbut to “teach the teachers,” resulting in one of the most ex­traordinary learning events imaginable. We will return to this important gathering, and ways you can join in this commu­nity if you wish.

But it all starts with these simple 5 elements in the con-tours of your own consciousness.

Chapter 2

The Main Ingredients

What are the essential Aspects of my own awareness, right now?

We can experience these main ingredients through a simple guided tour.

In the introduction, we said that all of the 5 elements of the Integral Map are available, right now, in your own awareness. What follows is therefore, in a sense a guided tour of your own experience. So why don’t you come along and see if you can spot some of these features arising in your own awareness right now.

Some of the features of the integral map refer to subjective realities in you, some refer to objective realities out there in the world, and others refer to collective or com­munal realities shared with others. Let’s start with states of consciousness, which refer to subjective realities.

States of Consciousness

Everybody is familiar with major states of conscious­ness, such as waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. Right now,you are in a waking state of consciousness (or, if you are tired,perhaps a daydream state of consciousness). There are allsorts of different states of consciousness, includingmedita­tive states (induced by yoga, contemplative prayer, medita­tion, and so on),altered states (such as drug-induced), and avariety ofpeak experiences, many of which can be triggeredby intense experiences like making love, walking in nature, or listening to exquisite music.

The great wisdom traditions (such as Christian mysticism,Vedanta Hinduism, Vajrayana Buddhism, and Jewish Kabbalah)maintain that the3 natural states of consciousness—waking,dreaming, and deep formless sleep—actually contain a trea­sure trove of spiritual wisdom and spiritual awakening …if we know how to use them correctly. We usually think of the dream state as less real, but what if you could enter it whileawake? And the same with deep sleep? Might you learn some-thing extraordinary in those awakened states? In a special sense, which we will explore as we go along, the 3 great natu­ral states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep might containan entire spectrum of spiritual enlightenment. You’ve probablyheard of satori, yes?, which is a Zen term for a profound expe­rience of spiritual awakening, which is said to contain the ulti­mate secrets—or secret—of the universe itself.

But on a much simpler, more mundane level, everybody experiences various states of consciousness, and these states often provide profound motivation, meaning, and drives, in both yourself and others. Think of the many “aha!” experiences of brilliantly creative insight: what if we could tap into those whenever needed for intense problem solv­ing? In any particular situation, states of consciousness maynot be a very important factor, or they may be the determin­ing factor, but no integral approach can afford to ignore them. Whenever you are using10S, you will automatically be prompted to check and see if you are touching bases with these important subjective realities. This is an example of how a map—in this case, the 10S or Integral Map—can helpyou look for territory you might not have even suspected was there, and then give you tools to navigate it…

Stages or Levels of Development

There’s an interesting thing about states of conscious­ness: they come and they go. Even great peak experiences oraltered states, no matter how profound, will come, stay a bit, then pass. No matter how wonderful their capacities, they are temporary.


Where states of consciousness are temporary, stages of consciousness are permanent. Stages represent the actual milestones of growth and development. Once you are at a stage, it is an enduring acquisition. For example, once a child develops through the linguistic stages of development, the Child has permanent access to language. Language isn’t a peak experience, present one minute and gone the next. The same thing happens with other types of growth. Once you stably reach a stage of growth and development, you can access the capacities of that stage—such as greater con­sciousness, more embracing love, higher ethical callings, greater intelligence and awareness—virtually any time you want. Passing states have become permanent traits.

How many stages of development are there? Well, re-member that in any map, the way you divide and representthe actual territory is somewhat arbitrary. For example, howmany degrees are there between freezing and boiling water?If you use a Centigrade scale or “map,” there are 100 degrees between freezing and boiling. But if you use a Fahrenheit scale, freezing is at 32 and boiling is at 212, so there are 180degrees between them. Which is right? Both of them. It just depends upon how you want to slice that pie.

The same is true of stages. There are all sorts of ways toslice and dice development, and therefore there are all sortsofstage conceptions. All of them can be useful. In the chakrasystem of Yoga philosophy, for example, there are 7 majorstages or levels of consciousness. Jean Gebser, a famous an­thropologist, gave 5: archaic, magic, mythic, rational, and in­tegral. Certain Western psychological models have 8, 12, ormore levels of development. Which is right? All of them; it just depends on what you want to keep track of in growth and development.

“Stages of development” are also referred to as”levels of development,” the idea being that each stage represents a level of organization or a level of complexity. For example, in the sequence from atoms to molecules to cells to organ-isms, each of those stages of evolution involves a greater level of complexity. The word “level” is not meant in a judg­mental or exclusionary fashion, but simply to indicate that there are important emergent qualities that tend to come into being in a discrete or quantum-like fashion, and these developmental jumps or levels are important aspects of many natural phenomena.

And, most importantly, to emphasize the fluid and flow­ing nature of stages, we often refer to them aswaves. Stagesor waves of development are an important ingredient of 105.Generally, in the Integral Model, we work with around 8 to 10levels, stages, or waves of consciousness development. Wehave found, after years of field work, that more stages than that are too cumbersome, and less than that, too vague. Some of the stage conceptions we often use include those ofself development pioneered by Jane Loevinger and SusannCook-Greuter; Spiral Dynamics, by Don Beck and ChristopherCowan; and orders of consciousness, researched by Robert Kegan. But there are many other useful stage conceptions available with the Integral Approach, and you can adopt any of them that are appropriate to your situation.

As we get into the specifics later in this book, you will seehow incredibly important stages can be. But let’s take a sim­ple example now to show what is involved.

Egocentric, Ethnocentric, and Worldcentric

To grasp what is involved with levels or stages, let’s use a very simple model possessing only 3 of them. If we look at moral development, for example, we find that an infant at birth has not yet been socialized into the culture’s ethics and conventions; this is called the preconventional stage. It is also called egocentric, in that the infant’s awareness is largely self-absorbed. But as the young child begins to learnits culture’s rules and norms, it grows into theconventional stage of morals. This stage is also calledethnocentric, in that it centers on the child’s particular group, tribe, clan, or na­tion, and it therefore tends to exclude those not of its group. But at the next major stage of moral development, the post-conventional stage, the individual’s identity expands once again, this time to include a care and concern for all peoples,regardless of race, color, sex, or creed, which is why this stage is also called worldcentric.

Thus, moral development tends to move from “me” (ego-centric) to “us” (ethnocentric) to “all of us” (worldcentric)—a good example of the unfolding waves of consciousness.

Another way to picture these 3 stages is as body, mind, and spirit. Those words all have many different and valid meanings, but when used specifically to refer to stages, they mean:

Stage 1, which is dominated by my gross physical reality,is the “body” stage (using body in its typical meaning of phys­ical body). Since you are identified merely with the separatebodily organism and its survival drives, this is also the “me” or egocentric stage.

Stage 2 is the “mind” stage, where identity expands fromthe isolated gross body and starts to share relationships withmany others, based perhaps on shared values, mutual inter­ests, common ideals, or shared dreams. Because I can use themind to take the role of others—to put myself in their shoesand feel what it is like to be them—my identity expands from “me” to “us” (the move from egocentric to ethnocentric).

With stage 3, my identity expands once again, this time from an identity with “us” to an identity with “all of us” (the move from ethnocentric to worldcentric). Here I begin to understand that, in addition to the wonderful diversity of humans and cultures, there are also similarities and sharedcommonalities. Discovering the commonwealth of all beings is the move from ethnocentric to worldcentric, and is “spiri­tual” in the sense of things common to all sentient beings.

That is one way to view the unfolding from body to mindto spirit, where each of them is considered as a stage, wave, or level of unfolding care and consciousness, moving from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric.

We will be returning to stages of evolution and development, each time exploring them from a new angle. For now,allthat is required is to understandthat by “stages” we meanprogressive and permanent milestones along the evolution­ary path of your own unfolding. Whether we talk stages ofconsciousness, stages of energy, stages of culture, stages ofspiritual realization, stages of moral development, and so on,we are talking of theseimportant andfundamental rungs inthe unfolding of your higher, deeper, wider potentials.

Whenever you use 10S, you will automatically be promptedto check and see if you have included the important stage as­pects of any situation, which will dramatically increase yourlikelihood of success,whetherthat success be measured interms of personaltransformation, social change, excellencein business, care for others, or simple satisfaction in life.

Lines of Development: I’m Good at Some Things, Not-So-Good at Others…

Have you ever noticed how unevenly developed virtuallyall of us are? Some people are highly developed in, say, logicalthinking, but poorly developed in emotional feelings. Somepeople have highly advanced cognitive development (they’re very smart) but poor moral development (they’re mean andruthless). Some people excel in emotional intelligence, but can’t add 2 plus 2.

Howard Gardner made this concept fairly well known us­ing the idea ofmultiple intelligences. Human beings have avariety of intelligences, such as cognitive intelligence, emo­tional intelligence, musical intelligence, kinesthetic intelli­gence, and so on. Most people excel in one or two of those,but do poorly in the others. This is not necessarily or evenusually a bad thing; part of integral wisdom is finding where we excel and thus where we can best offer the world our deepest gifts.

But this does mean that we need to be aware of our strengths (or the intelligences with which we can shine) aswell as our weaknesses (where we do poorly or even patho­logically). And this brings us to another of our S essential elements: our multiple intelligences or developmental lines.So far we have looked atstates andstages; what arelines or multiple intelligences?

Various multiple intelligences include: cognitive, inter-personal, moral, emotional, and aesthetic. Why are these alsocalleddevelopmental lines? Because those intelligencesshow growth and development. They unfold in progressivestages. What are those progressive stages? The stages we just outlined.

In other words, each multiple intelligence grows—or can grow—through the 3 major stages (or through any of the stages of any of the developmental models, whether3stages,5 stages, 7 or more; remember, these are all like Centigrade and Fahrenheit). You can have cognitive development to stage 1, to stage 2, and to stage 3, for example.

Likewise with the other intelligences. Emotional devel­opment to stage 1 means that you have developed the capacity for emotions centering on “me,” especially the emo­tions and drives of hunger, survival, and self-protection. Ifyou continue to grow emotionally from stage 1 to stage 2—or from egocentric to ethnocentric—you will expand from “me” to “us,” and begin to develop emotional commitments and attachments to loved ones, members of your family, close friends, perhaps your whole tribe or whole nation. Ifyou grow into stage-3 emotions, you will develop the further capacity for a care and compassion that reaches beyond your own tribe or nation and attempts to include all humanbeings and even all sentient beings in a worldcentric care and compassion.

And remember, because these are stages, you have at­tained them in a permanent fashion. Before that happens,any of these capacities will be merely passing states: youwill plug into some of them, if at all, in a temporary fashion—great peak experiences of expanded knowing and being, won­drous “ahal” experiences, profound altered glimpses into your own higher possibilities. But with practice, you will con­vert those states into stages, or permanent traits in the ter­ritory of you.

The Integral Psychograph

There is a fairly easy way to represent these intelligencesor multiple lines. In figure 3 (p. 42), we have drawn a simplegraph showing the 3 major stages (orlevels of development)and 5 of the most important intelligences (or lines of devel­opment).Through the major stages or levels of develop­ment, the various lines unfold. The 3 levels or stages canapply to any developmental line—sexual, cognitive, spiritual,emotional, moral, and so on. The level of a particular line sim­ply means the “altitude” ofthat line in terms of itsgrowthand consciousness. This is why peopleoften say, “That per-son is highly developed morally,” or “That person is really ad­vanced spiritually.”

In figure 3, we have shown somebody who excels in cogni­tive development and is good at interpersonal development,but does poorly in moral and really poorly in emotional intel­ligence. Other individuals would, of course, have adifferent “psychograph.”

Thepsychograph helps to spot where yourgreatest po­tentials are. You very likely already know what you excel inand what you don’t. Butpart of the Integral Approach is learn­ing to refine considerably this knowledge of your own con-tours, sothat you can more confidently dealwith your own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of others.

The psychograph also helps us spot the ways that virtu-ally all of us are unevenly developed, and this helps preventus from thinking that just because we are terrific in one areawe must be terrific in all the others. In fact, usually the oppo­site. More than one leader, spiritual teacher, or politician hasspectacularly crashed through lack of an understanding of these simple realities.

To be “integrally developed” does not mean that you haveto excel in all the known intelligences, or that all of your lineshave to be at level 3. But it does mean that you develop a verygood sense of what your own psychograph is actually like, sothat with a much more integral self-image you can plan yourfuture development. For some people, this will indeed meanstrengthening certain intelligences that are so weak they are causing problems. For others, it will mean clearing up a seri­ous problem or pathology in one line (such as the psycho-sexual). And for others, simply recognizing where theirstrengths and weaknesses lie, and planning accordingly. Us­ing an integral map, we can scope out our own psychographs with more assurance.

Thus, to be”integrally informed” does not mean you haveto master all lines of development,just be aware of them. Ifyou then choose to remedy any unbalances,that ispart ofIntegral Life Practice (ILP), which actually helps to increaselevels of consciousness and development using a remarkablyeffective “spiritual cross-training” approach. (We will be dis­cussing ILP in detail in chap. 6.)

Notice another veryimportant point. In certain types ofpsychological and spiritual training, you can be introduced toa full spectrum ofstates of consciousness and bodily experi­encesright from the start—as a peak experience,meditativestate, shamanic vision, altered state, and so on. The reasonthese peak experiences are possible isthat many of the ma­jor states of consciousness (such as waking-gross, dreaming-subtle, and formless-causal) are ever-present possibilities.So you can very quickly be introduced to manyhigher states of consciousness.

You cannot, however, be introduced to all the qualities ofhigher stages without actualgrowth and practice. You canhave a peak experience of higherstates (like seeing an inte­rior subtle light or having a feeling of oneness with all of nature), because many states are ever-present, and so theycan be “peek”-experienced right now. But you cannot have apeak experience of a higherstage (like being a concert-levelpianist), because stages unfold sequentially and take consid­erable time to develop. Stages build upon their predecessorsin very concrete ways, so they cannot be skipped: like atomsto molecules to cells to organisms, you can’t go from atomsto cells and skip molecules. This is one of the many important differences between states and stages.

However, with repeated practice of contacting higher states, your own stages of development will tend to unfoldin a much faster and easier way. There is, in fact, consider-able experimental evidence demonstrating exactly that. The more you are plunged into authentic higher states of consciousness—such as meditative states—thefaster youwill grow and develop through any of thestages of conscious­ness. It is as if higher-states training acts as a lubricant on thespiral of development, helping you to disidentify with a lowerstage so that the next higher stage can emerge, until you canstably remain at higher levels of awareness on an ongoingbasis, whereupon a passing state has become a permanenttrait. These types of higher-states training, such as medita­tion, are a part of any integral approach to transformation.

In short, you cannot skip actualstages, but you can accel­erate your growth through them by using various types of state-practices, such as meditation, and these transforma­tive practices are an important part of the Integral Approach.

What Type: Boy or Girl?

The next component of the “Comprehensive Map of the Territory of You” is easy: each of the previous components has a masculine and feminine type.

Types simply refers to items that can be present at virtu-ally any stage or state. One common typology, for example, is the Myers-Briggs (whose main types are feeling, thinking, sensing, and intuiting).You can be any of those types at vir­tually any stage of development. These kind of “horizontal typologies” can be very useful, especially when combined with levels, lines, and states. To show what is involved, we can use “masculine” and “feminine” as one example of types.

Carol Gilligan, in her enormously influential bookIn a Dif­ferent Voice, pointed out that both men and women tend to develop through 3 or 4 major levels or stages of moral devel­opment. Pointing to a great deal of research evidence, Gilligannoted that these 3 or 4 moral stages can be calledpreconven­tional, conventional, postconventional, andintegrated. Theseare actually quite similar to the 3 simple developmental stages we are using, this time applied to moral intelligence.

Gilligan found that stage 1 is a morality centered entirely on “me” (hence this preconventional stage or level is also calledegocentric). Stage-2 moral development is centered on”us,” so that my identity has expanded from just me to include other human beings of my group (hence this conventional stage is often calledethnocentric, traditional, or conformist).With stage-3 moral development, my identity expands onceagain, this time from “us” to “all of us,” or all human beings (oreven all sentient beings)—and hence this stage is often calledworldcentric. I now have care and compassion, not just for me (egocentric), and not just for my family, my tribe, or my nation (ethnocentric), but for all of humanity, for all men andwomen everywhere, regardless of race, color, sex, or creed(worldcentric). And if I develop even further, at stage-4 moral development, which Gilligan calls integrated, then .. .

Well, before we look at the important conclusion of Gilli­gan’s work, let’s first note her major contribution. Gilligan strongly agreed that women, like men, develop through those 3 or 4 major hierarchical stages of growth. Gilligan herself correctly refers to these stages ashierarchical because eachstagehas ahigher capacity for care and compassion. But she said that women progress through those stages using a dif­ferent type of logic—they develop “in a different voice.”

Male logic, or a man’s voice, tends to be based on terms ofautonomy, justice, and rights; whereas women’s logic or voicetends to be based on terms of relationship, care, and responsi­bility. Men tend toward agency; women tend toward commu­nion. Men follow rules; women follow connections. Men look;women touch. Men tend toward individualism, women towardrelationship. One of Gilligan’s favorite stories: A little boy andgirl are playing. The boy says, “Let’s play pirates!” The girl says,”Let’s play like we live next door to each other.” Boy: “No, I wantto play pirates!” “Okay, you play the pirate who lives next door.”

Little boys don’t like girls around when they are playing games like baseball, because the two voices clash badly, andoften hilariously. Some boys are playing baseball, a kid takeshis third strike and is out, so he starts to cry. The other boys stand unmoved until the kid stops crying; after all, a rule is a rule, and the rule is: three strikes and you’re out. Gilligan points out that if a girl is around, she will usually say, “Ah, come on, give him another try!” The girl sees him crying and wants to help, wants to connect, wants to heal. This, how-ever, drives the boys nuts, who are doing this game as an ini­tiation into the world of rules and male logic. Gilligan says that the boys will hurt feelings in order to save the rules; the girls will break the rules in order to save the feelings.

In a different voice. Both the girls and boys will developthrough the 3 or 4 developmental stages of moral growth (egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric to integrated), but they will do so in a different voice, using a different logic.Gilligan specifically calls these hierarchical stages in womenselfish (which is egocentric),care (which is ethnocentric),universal care (which is worldcentric), andintegrated. Again,why did Gilligan (who has been badly misunderstood on thistopic) say that these stages are hierarchical? Because eachstage has a higher capacity for care and compassion. (Not allhierarchies are bad, and this is a good example of why.)

So, integrated or stage 4—what is that? At the 4th and highest wave of moral development, according to Gilligan, the masculine and feminine voices in each of us tend to be-come integrated. This does not mean that a person at this stage starts to lose the distinctions between masculine andfeminine, and hence become a kind of bland, androgynous,asexual being. In fact, masculine and feminine dimensionsmight become more intensified. But it does mean the individ­uals start to befriend both the masculine and feminine modes in themselves, even if they characteristically act predomi­nantly from one or the other.

Have you ever seena caduceus (the symbol of the medi­cal profession)? It’s a staff with two serpents crisscrossingit, and wings at the top of the staff (see p. 49). The staff itself represents the central spinal column; where the serpents cross the staff represents the individual chakras moving up the spine from the lowest to the highest; and the two ser­pents themselves represent solar and lunar (or masculine and feminine) energies at each of the chakras.

That’s the crucial point. The 7 chakras, which are simply amore complex version of the 3 simple levels or stages, repre­sent 7 levels of consciousness and energy available to all human beings. (The firstthreechakras—food, sex, and power—are roughly stage 1; chakras 4 and 5—relational heartandcommunication—are basically stage 2; and chakras 6and 7—psychic andspiritual—are the epitome of stage 3).Theimportant point here isthat, according to the traditions,each of those 7 levels has a masculine and feminine mode (aspect, type, or “voice”). Neither masculine nor feminine ishigher or better; they are two equivalent types at each of the levels of consciousness.

This means, for example, that with chakra 3 (the egocen­tric power chakra), there is a masculine and feminine versionof the same chakra: at that chakra-level, males tend towardpower exercised autonomously (“My way or the highway!”),women tend toward power exercised communally or socially (“Do it this way or I won’t talk to you”). And so on with the other major chakras, each of them having a solar and lunar, or masculine and feminine, dimension. Neither is more funda­mental; neither can be ignored.

At the 7th chakra, however, notice that the masculine and feminine serpents both disappear into their ground or source. Masculine and feminine meet and unite at the crown—they literally become one. And that is what Gilliganfound with her stage-4 moral development: the two voices ineach person become integrated, so that there is a paradoxi­cal union of autonomy and relationship, rights and responsi­bilities, agency and communion, wisdom and compassion, justice and mercy, masculine and feminine.

The important point is that whenever you use 10S, you are automatically checking any situation—in yourself, in others, in an organization, in a culture—and making sure that you include both the masculine and feminine types so asto be as comprehensive and inclusive as possible. If you be­lieve that there are no major differences between masculineand feminine—or if you are suspicious of such differences—then that is fine, too, and you can treat them the same if you want. We are simply saying that, in either case, make sure you touch bases with both the masculine and feminine, how-ever you view them.

But more than that, there are numerousother’ horizon­tal typologies that can be very helpful when part of a com­prehensive 105 (Myers-Briggs, enneagram, etc.), and the Integral Approach draws on any or all of those typologies asappropriate. “Types” are as important as quadrants, levels, lines, and states.

Sick Boy, Sick Girl

There’s an interesting thing about types. You can have healthy and unhealthy versions of them. To say that some-body is caught in an unhealthy type is not a way to judge them but a way to understand and communicate more clearly and effectively with them.

For example, if each stage of development has a mascu­line and feminine dimension, each of those can be healthy orunhealthy, which we sometimes call “sick boy, sick girl.” Thisis simply another kind of horizontal typing, but one that can be extremely useful.

If the healthy masculine principle tends toward autonomy, strength, independence, and freedom, when that principle becomes unhealthy or pathological, all of those positive virtues either over- or underfire. There is not just autonomy,but alienation; not just strength, but domination; not justindependence, but morbid fear of relationship and commit­ment; not just a drive toward freedom, but a drive to destroy.The unhealthy masculine principle does not transcend in freedom, but dominates in fear.

If the healthy feminine principle tends toward flowing, relationship, care, and compassion, the unhealthy feminineflounders in each of those. Instead of being in relationship,she becomes lost in relationship. Instead of a healthy self in communion with others, she loses her self altogether and is dominated by the relationships she is in. Not a con­nection, but a fusion; not a flow state, but a panic state; not a communion, but a meltdown. The unhealthy feminineprinciple does not find fullness in connection, but chaos in fusion.

Using 10S, you will find ways to identify both the healthyand unhealthy masculine and feminine dimensions operat­ing in yourself and in others. But the important point aboutthis section is simple: various typologies have their useful­ness in helping us to understand and communicate with others. And with any typology, there are healthy and un­healthy versions of a type. Pointing to an unhealthy type isnot a way to judge people, but a way to understand and com­municate with them more clearly and effectively.

There’s Even Room for Many Bodies

Let’s return now to states of consciousness in order tomake a final point before bringing this all together in an inte­gral conclusion.

States of consciousness do not hover in the air, danglingand disembodied. On the contrary, every mind has its body. For every state of consciousness, there is a felt energetic component, an embodied feeling, a concrete vehicle that pro­vides the actual support for any state of awareness.

Let’s use a simple example from the wisdom traditions.Because each of us has the 3 great states of consciousness—waking, dreaming, and formless sleep—the wisdom tradi­tions maintain that each of us likewise has3 bodies, whichare often called thegross body, thesubtle body, and the causal body.

http://integrallife.com/files/image/editorial/States:Body%20Graph.jpg” height=”271″ width=”488″>

I have 3 bodies? Are you kidding me? Isn’t one body enough? But keep in mind a few things. For the wisdom traditions, a “body” simply means a mode of experience or energetic feeling. So there is coarse or gross experience, subtle or refined experience, and very subtle or causal expe­rience. These are what philosophers would call “phenome­nological realities,” or realities as they present themselvesto our immediate awareness. Right now, you have access toa gross body and its gross energy, a subtle body and its sub­tle energy, and a causal body and its causal energy.

What’s an example of these 3 bodies? Notice that, rightnow, you are in awaking state of awareness; as such, youare aware of yourgross body—the physical, material, sen­sorimotor body. But when you dream at night, there is no gross physical body; it seems to have vanished. You are aware in the dream state, yet you don’t have a gross body ofdense matter but asubtle body of light, energy, emotional feelings, fluid and flowing images. In the dream state, the mind and soul are set free to create as they please, to imag­ine vast worlds not tied to gross sensory realities but reach­ing out, almost magically, to touch other souls, other peopleand far-off places, wild and radiant images cascading to the rhythm of the heart’s desire. So what kind of body do you have in the dream? Well, asubtle body of feelings, images,even light. That’s whatyou feel like in the dream. And dreams are not “just illusion.” When somebody like Martin Luther King, Jr., says, “I have a dream,” that is a good example of tapping into the great potential of visionary dreaming, where the subtle body and mind are set free to soar to their highest possibilities.

As you pass from thedream state with its subtle body intothe deep-sleep orformless state, even thoughts and imagesdrop away, and there is only a vast emptiness, a formless ex­panse beyond any individual “I” or ego or self. The great wis­dom traditions maintain that in this state—which might seemlike merely a blank or nothingness—we are actually plungedinto a vast formless realm, a great Emptiness or Ground of Be­ing, an expanse of consciousness that seems almost infinite.Along with this almost infinite expanse of consciousness thereis an almost infinite body or energy—thecausal body, the bodyof the finest, most subtle experience possible, a great form­lessness out of which creative possibilities can arise.

Of course, many people do not experience that deep statein such a full fashion. But again, the traditions are unanimousthat thisformless state and itscausal body can be enteredin full awareness, whereupon they, too, yield their extraordi­nary potentials for growth and awareness.

The point, once again, is simply that whenever 10S is beingutilized, it reminds us to check in with our waking-state reali­ties, oursubtle-state dreams and visions and innovative ideas,as well as our own open, formless ground of possibilities thatis the source of so much creativity. The important point aboutthe Integral Approach is that we want to touch bases with asmany potentials as possible so as to miss nothing in terms of possible solutions, growth, and transformation.

Consciousness and Complexity

Perhaps 3 bodies are just too “far out”? Well, remember that these are phenomenological realities, or experiential re­alities, but there is a simpler, less far-out way to look at them, this time grounded in hard-headed science. It is this: every level of interior consciousness is accompanied by a level of exterior physical complexity. The greater the consciousness, he more complex the system housing it.

http://www.integralhealthresources.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/brain_structure_2.jpg” height=”278″ hspace=”12″ width=”345″ align=”left”>For example, in living organisms, thereptilian brain stem is accompanied by a rudimentary interior consciousness of basic drives such as food and hunger, physiological sensa­ions, and sensorimotor actions (everything that we earlier called “gross,” centered on the “me”). By the time we get to the more complexmammalian limbic system, basic sensations have expanded and evolved to include quite sophisticated feelings, desires, emotional-sexual impulses, and needs (hence e beginning of what we called subtle experience or the subtle body, which can expand from “me” to “us”). As evolution proceeds to even more complex physical structures, such s thetriune brain with itsneocortex, consciousness onceagain expands to a worldcentric awareness of “all of us” (andus even begins to tap into what we called the causal body).

That is a very simple example of the fact that increasing interior consciousness is accompanied by increasing exterior complexity of the systems housing it. When using IOS, we often look at both theinterior levels of consciousness and the correspondingexterior levels of physical complexity, since includingboth of them results in a much more balanced and inclusive approach.

We will see exactly what this means in the next chapter

Chapter 3

And Now: How do they all fit together?

What are the patterns that connect?

Let’s Start with the four profound dimensions or perspectives that hold your universe together.

IOS – and the Integral Model – would be not a “whole” but a “heap” if it did into suggest a way that all of these various components are related. How do they all fit together? It’s one thing to simply lay all the pieces of the cross-cultural survey on the table and say, “They’re all important!,” and quite another to sport the patterns that actually connect all the pieces. Discovering the profound patterns that connect is a major accomplishment of the integral approach.

In this section, we will briefly outline these patterns, all of which together are sometimes referred to as A-Q-A-L (pronouncedah-qwul), which is shorthand for “all quadrants,all levels, all lines, all states, all types”—and those are simply the components that we have already outlined (except the quadrants, which we will get to momentarily). AQAL is just another term for IOS or the Integral Map, but one that is often used to specifically designate this particular approach.

At the beginning of this introduction, we said that all 5 components of the Integral Model were items that are available to your awareness right now, and this is true of the quadrants as well.

Did you ever notice that major languages have what arecalled 1st-person, 2nd-person, and 3rd-person pronouns? The 1St-person perspective refers to “the person who is speak­ing,” which includes pronouns like /,me, mine (in the singular) and we, us, ours (in the plural). The 2“d-person perspective refers to “the person who is spoken to,” which includes pro-nouns likeyou andyours. The3rd-person perspective refersto “the person or thing being spoken about,” such ashe, him, she, her, they, them, it, and its.

Thus, if I am speaking to you about my new car, “I” am 1st person, “you” are 2nd person, and the new car (or “it”) is 3rd per-son. Now, if you and I are talking and communicating, we willindicate this by using, for example, the word “we,” as in, “Weunderstand each other.” “We” is technically 1st-person plural, but if you and I are communicating, then your 2nd person and my 1″ person are part of this extraordinary “we.” Thus, 2nd person is sometimes indicated as “you/we,” or “thou/ we,” or sometimes just “we.”

So we can therefore simplify 1st 2ndand 3rd person as “I””weandit.

That all seems trivial, doesn’t it? Boring, maybe? So let’stry this. Instead of saying “I,” “we,” and “it,” what if we said theBeautiful, theGood, and theTrue? And what if we said thatthe Beautiful, the Good, and the True are dimensions of yourvery own being at each and every moment, including each andevery level of growth and development? And that through anintegral practice, you can discover deeper and deeper dimen­sions of your own Goodness, your own Truth, and your own Beauty?

Hmm, definitely more interesting. The Beautiful, the Good, and the True are simply variations on 1St-2nd-and 3rd-person pronouns found in all major languages, and they are found in all major languages because Beauty, Truth, and Goodness are very real dimensions of reality to which lan­guage has adapted. The 3rd person (or “it”) refers to objec­tive Truth, which is best investigated by science. The 2nd person (or “you/we”) refers to Goodness, or the ways that we—that you and I—treat each other, and whether we do so with decency, honesty, and respect. In other words, basic morality. And 1st person deals with the “I,” with self and self-expression, art and aesthetics, and the Beauty that is in the eye (or the “I”) of the beholder.

http://www.crossingthethreshold.net/Crossing_The_Threshold/Ken_Wilber_files/TBT%20data.jpg” height=”282″ hspace=”12″ width=”313″ align=”left”>So the “I,” “we,” and “it” dimensions of experience reallyrefer toart, morals, andscience. Orself, culture, andnature. Or theBeautiful, theGood, and theTrue. (For some reason, philosophers always refer to those in this order: the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. Which order do you prefer? Any order is fine.)

The point is thatevery event in the manifest worldhas all 3 of those dimensions. You can look at any event from the point of view of the “I” (or how I personally see and feel about the event); from the point of view of the “we” (how not just I but others see the event); and as an “it” (or the objective facts of the event). Thus, an integrally informed path will take all of those dimensions into account, and thus arrive at amore comprehensive and effective approach—in the “I” and the “we” and the “it”—or in self and culture and nature.

If you leave out science, or leave out art, or leave out mor­als, something is going to be missing, something will get bro­ken. Self and culture and nature are liberated together or notat all. So fundamental are these dimensions of “I,” “we,” and “it” that we call them the 4 quadrants, and we make them a foundation of the integral framework or 10S. (We arrive at”4″ quadrants by subdividing”it” into singular”it” and plural “its.”) A few diagrams will help clarify the basic points.

Figure 5 is a schematic of the 4 quadrants. It shows the “I” (the inside of the individual), the “it” (the outside of theindividual), the”we” (theinside of thecollective), and the “its” (the outside of the collective). In other words, the 4 quadrants—which are the 4 fundamental perspectives on any occasion (or the 4 basic ways of looking at anything)—turn out to be fairly simple: they are theinside and theout-side of the individual and the collective.

Figures 6 and 7 show a few of the details of the 4 quadrants. (Some of these are technical terms that needn’t be bothered with for this basic introduction; simply peruse the diagrams and get a sense of the different types of items you might find in each of the quadrants.)

For example, in theUpper-Left quadrant (the interior ofthe individual), you find your own immediate thoughts, feel­ings, sensations, and so on (all described inlst—person terms).But if you look at your individual beingfrom the outside, in theterms not of subjective awareness but objective science, youfind neurotransmitters, a limbic system, the neocortex, complex molecular structures, cells, organ systems, DNA, and so on—all described in 3rd-person objective terms (“it” and “its”). The Upper-Right quadrant is therefore what any individual event looks like from the outside. This especially includes its physical behavior; its material components; its matter and energy; and its concrete body – for all those are items that can be referred to in some sort of objective, 3rd person, or “it” fashion.

That is what you or your organism looks like from the outside, in an objective-it stance, made of matter and en­ergy and objects; whereas from the inside, you find not neurotransmitters but feelings, not limbic systems but intense desires, not a neocortex but inward visions, not matter-energy but consciousness, all described in 1stperson immediateness. Which of those views is right? Bothof them, according to the integral approach. They are twodifferent views of the same occasion, namely you. The prob­lems start when you try to deny or dismiss either of those perspectives. All 4 quadrants need to be included in any in­tegral view.

http://nextnowcollab.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/picture-214.png?w=569&;h=419″ height=”379″ width=”515″>The connections continue. Notice that every “I is in rela­tionship with other I’s, which means that every “I” is a mem­ber of numerous we’s. These “we’s” represent not just individual but group (or collective) consciousness, not just subjective but intersubjective awareness—or culture in the broadest sense. This is represented in theLower-Left quadrant. Likewise, every “we” has an exterior, or what itlooks like from the outside, and this is theLower-Right quad-rant. The Lower Left is often called thecultural dimension (or the inside awareness of the group—its worldview, its shared values, shared feelings, and so forth), and the LowerRight thesocial dimension (or the exterior forms and behav­iors of the group, which are studied by 3rd-person sciences such as systems theory).

Again, the quadrants are simply theinside and theout-side of theindividual and thecollective, and the point is thatall 4 quadrants need to be included if we want to be as inte­gral as possible.

A Tour through the Quadrants

We are now at a point where we can start to put all the integral pieces together: quadrants, levels, lines, states, andtypes. So let’s take a tour through the quadrants, tying all 5elements together into an integral whole. And let’s start with levels or stages.

http://www.innernet.it/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/evoluzione-lluminazione-4-quadranti.jpg” height=”256″ hspace=”12″ width=”246″ align=”left”>All 4 quadrants show growth, development, or evolution. That is, they all show some sort of stages or levels of devel­opment, not as rigid rungs in a ladder but as fluid and flowing waves of unfolding. of unfolding. This happens everywhere in the naturalworld, just as an oak unfolds from an acorn through stages ofgrowth and development, or a Siberian tiger grows from afertilized egg to an adult organism in exquisitely patterned stages of growth and development.

Likewise with humans in certain important ways. We havealready seen several of these stages as they apply to humans.In the Upper Left or “I,” for example, the self unfolds from ego-centric to ethnocentric to worldcentric, or body to mind to spirit. In the Upper Right, felt energy phenomenologically ex­pands fromgross tosubtle tocausal. In the Lower Left, the”we expands fromegocentric (“me”) toethnocentric (“us”) toworldcentric (“all of us”). This expansion of group awarenessallows social systems—in the Lower Right—to expand fromsimple groups to more complex systems like nations and even­tually even to global systems. These 3 simple stages in eachof the quadrants are represented in figure 8 (p. 76).

Let’s move fromlevels tolines. Developmental lines orstreams occur in all 4 quadrants, but because we are focus­ing on personal development, we can look at how some ofthese lines appear in the Upper-Left quadrant. As we saw,there are over a dozen different multiple intelligences or de­velopmental lines. Some of the more important include:

  • the cognitive line (or awareness of what is)
  • the moral line (awareness of what should be)
  • emotional or affective line (the full spectrum of emotions)
  • the interpersonal line (how I socially relate to others)
  • the needs line (such as Maslow’s needs hierarchy)
  • the self-identity line (or “who am i?” such as Loevinger’s ego development)
  • the aesthetic line (or the line of self-expression, beauty, art, and felt meaning)
  • the psychosexual line, which in its broadest sense means the entire spectrum of Eros (gross to subtle to causal)
  • the spiritual line (where “spirit” is viewed not just as Ground, and not just as the highest stage, but as its own line of unfolding)
  • the values line (or what a person considers most important, a line studied by Clare Graves and made popular by Spiral Dynamics)

All of those developmental lines or streams can move through the basic levels or stages. All of them can be in­cluded in the psychograph. If we use maps such as RobertKegan’s, Jane Loevinger’s, or Dare Graves’s, then we wouldhave 5, 8, or even more levels or waves of development withwhich we could follow the natural unfolding of developmen­tal lines or streams. Again,it is not a matter of which of themis right or wrong; it is a matter of how much “granularity” or “complexity” you need to more adequately understand a given situation.

We already gave one diagram of a psychograph (fig. 3).Figure 9 is another, taken from a Notre Dame business schoolpresentation that uses the AQAL model in teaching integral leadership.


As noted, all of the quadrants have developmental lines. We just focused on those in the Upper Left. In the Upper-Right quadrant, when it comes to humans, one of the most important is the bodily matter-energy line, which runs, as wesaw, from gross energy to subtle energy to causal energy. As a developmental sequence, this refers to the permanent acquisition of a capacity to consciously master these ener­getic components of your being (otherwise, they appear merely as temporary states). The Upper-Right quadrant also refers to all of the exteriorbehavior, actions, and movements of my objective body (gross, subtle, or causal).

In the Lower-Left quadrant, cultural development itself often unfolds in waves, moving from what the pioneering ge­nius Jean Gebser calledarchaic tomagic tomythic tomental tointegral and higher. In the Lower-Right quadrant, systemstheory investigates the collective social systems that evolve (and that, in humans, include stages such as foraging to agrarian toindustrial toinformational systems). In figure 8,we simplified this to “group, nation, and global,” but the gen­eral idea is simply that of unfolding levels of greater social complexity that are integrated into wider systems.

Again, for this simple overview, details are not as impor­tant as a general grasp of the unfolding orflowering nature of all 4 quadrants, which can include expanding spheres ofconsciousness, care, culture, and nature. In short, the “I” andthe “we” and the “it” can evolve. Self and culture and naturecan all develop and evolve, in an almost infinite number of waves and streams, reaching from atoms to supernovas, cells to Gaia, dust to Divinity.

If we understand their limitations, diagrams can often help here, and we already have seen perhaps the simplest di­agram of AQAL (or 10S), which is figure 8, depicting just quad-rants and levels. Figure 10 is a somewhat fuller version of figure 8, showing quadrants, levels, and lines. (Figure 10, bythe way, is from one that is used by UNICEF to analyze world-wide patterns of children’s hunger.)

A variation on the UNICEF mandala is shown in figure 11,where the “lines” are depicted as “spirals,” which indicates the spiraling nature of many developmental lines. But how-ever depicted—lines, spirals, or streams—all 4 quadrants are overflowing with them.

If you have a general understanding of these simple dia­grams, the rest is fairly easy, and we can now quickly finish with the other components. States occur in all quadrants (from weather states to states of consciousness). We focusedonstates of consciousness in the Upper Left (waking, dream­ing, sleeping), and on energetic states in the Upper Right (gross, subtle, causal). Of course, if any of those become per­manent acquisitions, they have become stages, not states.

There aretypes in all of the quadrants, too, but we fo­cused onmasculine andfeminine types as they appear inindividuals. The masculine principle identifies morewithagency and the feminine identifies morewith communion,but the point is that every person has both of these compo­nents. Finally, as was saw, there is an unhealthy type ofmasculine and feminine at all available stages—sick boy and sick girl at all waves.

Seem complicated? In a sense it is. But in another sense the extraordinary complexity of humans and their relation to the universe can be simplified enormously by touching bases with the quadrants (the fact that every event can be looked at as an I, we, or it);developmental lines (or multiple intelli­gences), all of which move through developmental levels (from body to mind to spirit); withstates andtypes at each of those levels.

ThatIntegral Model—”all quadrants, all levels, all lines, allstates, all types”—is the simplest model that can handle all ofthe truly essential items. We sometimes shorten all of that to simply “all quadrants, all levels”—or AQAL—where the quad-rants are, for example, self, culture, and nature, and the levels are body, mind, and spirit, so we say that the Integral Ap­proach involvesthe cultivation of body, mind, and spirit in self, culture, and nature.

Let’s conclude what might be called this “Introduction to 10S Basic” by giving a few quick examples of its applications, or “apps”—in medicine, business, spirituality, ecology, and your individual life. This is where, I hope, you will start to see the Integral Model really come alive.

Chapter 4

Here’s How It Works: IOS apps

But what does the Integral Vision look like on the ground in action?

Around the world, thousands of people are applying the Integral Vision in dozens of different fields, from art to ecology, medicine to criminology, business to personal transformation. Because an integral framework explicitly harnesses and includes more truth, and more potentials, than any other approach, it makes one’s work in any area radically more effective and fulfilling.

Integral Medicine

Nowhere is the Integral Model more immediately applica­ble than in medicine, and it is being increasingly adopted by health-care practitioners around the world. A quick trip through the quadrants will show why the Integral Model can be helpful. (See figure below:

Alternative Care





Orthodox Medicine




Behavioural modification

Cultural Views

Group values

Cultural judgments

Meaning of an illness

Support groups

Social system

Economic factors


Healthcare policies

Social delivery system

Orthodox or conventional medicine is a classic Upper-Right quadrant approach. It deals almost entirely with the physical organism using physical interventions: surgery, drugs, medication, and behavioral modification. Orthodox medicine believes essentially in the physical causes of physi­cal illness, and therefore prescribes mostly physical interven­tions. But the Integral Model claims that every physical event(UR) has at least 4 dimensions (the quadrants), and thus evenphysical illness must be looked at from all 4 quadrants (not to mention levels, which we will address later). The integral model does not claim the Upper-Right quadrant is not impor­tant, only that it is, as it were, only one-fourth of the story.

The recent explosion of interest in alternative care—notto mention such disciplines as psychoneuroimmunology­has made it quite clear that the person’sinterior states (theiremotions, psychological attitude, imagery, and intentions)play a crucial role in both thecause and thecure of even phys­ical illness. In other words, theUpper-Left quadrant is a key ingredient in any comprehensive medical care. Visualization, affirmation, and conscious use of imagery have empiricallybeen shown to play a significant role in the management ofmost illnesses, and outcomes have been shown to depend on emotional states and mental outlook.

But as important as those subjective factors are, individ­ual consciousness does not exist in a vacuum; it exists inextricably embedded in shared cultural values, beliefs, and worldviews. How a culture (LL) views a particular illness—with care and compassion or derision and scorn—can have aprofound impact on how an individual copes with that illness (UL), which can directly affect the course of the physical illness itself (UR). TheLower-Left quadrant includes all of those enormous number of intersubjective factors that are crucial in any human interaction—such as the shared com­munication between doctor and patient; the attitudes of family and friends and how they are conveyed to the patient;the cultural acceptance (or derogation) of the particular ill­ness (e.g., AIDS); and the very values of the culture that theillness itself threatens. All of those factors are to some de­gree causative in any physical illness and cure (simply be-cause every occasion has 4 quadrants).

Of course, in practice, this quadrant needs to be limitedto those factors that can be effectively engaged—perhapsdoctor and patient communication skills, family and friendssupport groups, and a general understanding of cultural judg­ments and their effects on illness. Studies consistently show,

Alternative Care





Orthodox Medicine




Behavioral modification

Cultural views

Group values

Cultural judgments

Meaning of an illness

Support groups

Social system

Economic factors


Healthcare policies

Social delivery system

for example, that cancer patients in support groups live lon­ger than those without similar cultural support. Some of the more relevant factors from the Lower-Left quadrant are thus crucial in any comprehensive medical care.

TheLower-Right quadrant concerns all those material,economic, and social factors that are almost never countedas part of the disease entity, but in fact—like every other quadrant—arecausative in both disease and cure. A socialsystemthatcannotdeliverfood will kill you (asfamine-wrackedcountries demonstrate daily, alas). In the real world, where every entity has all 4 quadrants, a virus in the UR quadrant might be the focal issue, but without a social system (LR) that can deliver treatment, you will die. That is not a separate is-sue; it is central to the issue, because all occasions have 4 quadrants. The Lower-Right quadrant includes factors such as economics, insurance, social delivery systems, and eventhings as simple as how a hospital room is physically laid out (does it allow ease of movement, access to visitors, etc.?)—not to mention items like environmental toxins. The foregoingitems refer to the “all-quadrant” aspect of the cause and man­agement of illness. The “all-level” part refers to the fact thatindividuals have—at least—physical, emotional, mental, andspirituallevels in each of those quadrants (see fig. 8). Someillnesses have largely physical causes and physical cures (gethit by a bus, break your leg). But most illnesses have causesand cures that includeemotional, mental, andspiritual compo­nents. Literally hundreds of researchers from around the world have added immeasurably to our understanding of the”multi-level” nature of disease and cure (including invaluable additions from the great wisdom traditions, shamanic to Ti­betan Buddhist). The point is simply that by adding these levels to the quadrants, a much more comprehensive—and effective—medical model begins to emerge.

In short, a truly effective and comprehensive medical plan would be all-quadrant, all-level: the idea is simply that each quadrant or dimension (fig. 5, p. 70)—I, we, and it—has physi­cal, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels or waves (fig. 8, p. 76), and a truly integral treatment would take all of theserealities into account. Not only is this type of integral treat­ment moreeffective, it is for that reason morecost-efficient—which is why even organizational medicine is looking at it more closely.

(If you’re interested in learning more about this approach,see the Integral Medicine Center at www.IntegralUniversity .org.)

Relational and Socially Engaged Spirituality

The major innplication of an AQAL approach to spirituality is that physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels of being should be simultaneously exercised in self, culture, and nature (i.e., in the I, we, and it domains). There are many variations on this theme, ranging from socially engaged spirituality to relationships as spiritual path, and we include all of those important contributions in Integral Life Practice (see chap. 6). The implications of an integral Spirituality are profound and widespread, and just beginning to have an impact.

But before we can fully understand what “integral spiri­tuality” means, we mustunderstand themeaning of”spiritu­ality” itself. And here werun into a thicket of problems.But the integral approach claims to have made sense of all of them. Does?

Shall we see?

Chapter 5

Is this you?

“Spiritual But Not Religious”

Why is it that religion is such a complex, confusing, and polarizing force in the world?

How could something that, on the one hand, teaches so much love and life be, on the other hand, the cause of so much death and destruction?

Glib answers won’t work here. This is perhaps the most serious issue any person –or the world itself, for tht matter – will ever face. The integral Approach is known for “making sense of everything.” Can it help make sense of this? Definitely. But I’ll warn you right now, it’s tricky because what people call “spirituality” has at least 5 very different meanings, referring variously to quadrants, levels, lines, states, and types. But if you take that into account – if you take an AQAL view – there is a place for virtually all of the different approaches to this topic, and the entire thing starts to make sense. If you don’t, the overall topic of spirituality makes virtually no sense whatsoever. But put it al together, and you can indeed begin to “make sense of everything.” Shall we give it a go?

Rainbow Waves and Shimmering Streams

Let’s start with the Upper-Left quadrant, or the interior of an individual, and look more closely at this fascinating phe­nomenon of multiple intelligences (or developmental lines).We already saw that each of us possesses at least a dozen major developmental lines, including needs, values, cogni­tion, morals, and self. Each of these has been investigated by numerous developmentalists. Figure 14 is a psychographsummarizing the results of a few of the best known and most highly respected of these researchers.

To begin with, you might notice that the levels or wavesof consciousness are represented with colors of the rainbow.This is a common practice in the wisdom traditions, and it al-lows us to discuss levels in a very general and, well, colorfulway. The rainbow simply represents verticalaltitude—orthedegree of development (the degree of consciousness or com­plexity) of any line. This also allows us easily to compare thevarious levels in numerous different developmental lines, byseeing which are at the same rainbow altitude. This is whatfigure 14 does, for example. (Don’t worry about some of theintermediary colors, like amber or teal—they were selectedso as to fit with several models that also use colors. The basic idea is as simple as a rainbow of colors representing a spec­trum of consciousness….)

To the far left of the diagram is one of the better-knowndevelopmental lines, that of Maslow’s needs hierarchy, which means .. .

Well, perhaps we should stop right here and deal first with the enormous misconceptions surrounding the word “hier­archy.” For so many people, this has become a very dirty word,and for understandable reasons. But there are at least two very different types of hierarchy, which researchers call oppressive hierarchies (or dominator hierarchies) and growth hierarchies (or actualization hierarchies). A dominator hier­archy is just that, a ranking system that dominates, exploits,and represses people. The most notorious of these are thecaste systems East and West. Any hierarchy is a dominator hierarchy if it subverts individual or collective growth.

Actualization hierarchies, on the other hand, are the ac­tual means of growth itself. Far from causing oppression, they are how you end it. Growth or developmental hierar­chies classically move, in humans, from egocentric to eth­nocentric to worldcentric to Kosmocentric*(Kosmocentric means third-tier oriented. It’s from the beautiful Greek word Kosmos, which means the total universe of matter, body, mind, and spirit (and not just its piti­fully lowest level of matter, which is what “cosmos” has sadly come to mean) waves. In the natural world, growth hierarchies are everywhere, the mostcommon being the unfolding from atoms to molecules to cells to organisms. Growth hierarchies are always nested hierar­chies, which means that each higher leveltranscends and in­cludes its predecessors. Organisms transcend and include cells, which transcend and include molecules, which tran­scend and include atoms, which transcend and include quarks, and so on. In a growth hierarchy, higher levels don’t oppress lower levels, they embrace them! They literally in­clude them, they envelop them. Each level in a growth hierar­chy is indeed ranked in a higher-archy, because it represents an increase in the capacity for care, consciousness, cogni­tion, morals, and so on. Growth is a development that is envelopment—egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric to Kosmocentric. All of the hierarchies shown in figure 14 are growth hierarchies, or various streams flowing through waves of increasing embrace.

In short, dominator hierarchies cause oppression, growthhierarchies end it. (Can you see why it is such a disaster whenall hierarchies are condemned?)

So let’s return to Maslow’s needs hierarchy (fig. 15). Abra­ham Maslow’s meticulous research showed that individualstend to move through a growth sequence ofneeds. As eachlower need is met or fulfilled, a higher need tends to emerge.Physiological needs are the simplest—those for food, shel­ter, and basic biological necessities. If those needs are met, then an individual sense of self begins to emerge with its self-protection and safety needs. If those are met, the indi­vidual seeks not just safety butbelongingness. Once a sense of belongingness is secured, individuals tend to be motivated by the newly emerging self-esteem needs. If those are ful­filled, even higher needs of the self begin to emerge, whichMaslow calledself-actualization needs. And if those are met, individuals tend to be motivated by self-transcendence needs, or the needs not just to fulfill the self but move be­yond it altogether into higher, deeper, and wider circles and waves of care and consciousness, some of which start to look decidedly transpersonal or spiritual.

Probably the most famous of the developmental se­quences is that of Jean Gebser, which moves fromarchaic tomagic tomythic torational topluralistic tointegral. The great thing about Gebser’s stages is that they mean pretty much exactly what they sound like they mean. (I’ve dividedhis highest stage into two, which helps.) And as Gebser him-self pointed out, his “integral stage” is actually just the open­ing to higher (or “super-integral” and transpersonal) stages.

We can especially see this if we look at the developmentalstream ofcognition, or the capacity for awareness and per­spectives. The cognitive line shown in figure 14 is an amal­gam of the important research of Michael Commons & FrancisRichards, Jean Piaget, and Sri Aurobindo, indicating that cog­nition unfolds from thesensory mind to theconcrete mind to theformal mind to thehigher mind to theillumined mind to theintuitive mind to theovermind andsupermind. Noticeagain how the very highest stagesstartto looktranspersonal or spiritual.

Next we can look at the work of Clare Graves, on what he calledvalue systems, and its popularization in a modelcalled Spiral Dynamics (created by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan). At the magic-animistic stage, values are indeed “magical” and “animistic,” with elemental forces magically ruling the world. At the egocentric stage, the power drives come front and center; one’s values are those centered on “me” and “my power.” Withabsolutistic values, one’s valuesmove from “me” to “us,” or from egocentric to ethnocentric,and are believed to be given by an eternal source that is ab­solutely and rigidly true for everybody (whether the Bible, the Koran, or Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book); violating themwill result in temporal and possibly eternal damnation. This isoften referred to as “mythic membership,” because if you don’t believe the ethnocentric myths, you are in deep trouble.

As development moves from mythic conformist to the next stage, one’s values switch from ethnocentric to the be-ginning of worldcentric, which Graves called the switch from absolutistic to mu/tip/istic, meaning that there are multiple ways to view reality, not just one rigidly correct way. This re­sults in a switch fromtraditional values tomodern values. This differentiation continues into the next stage, which Graves called relativistic, because not only is there a multi­tude of different beliefs, they are all relative, which results ina typicallypostmodern andpluralistic worldview. This view is so pluralistic, in fact, that it often ends up completely frag­mented and alienated, drenched in nihilism, irony, and mean­inglessness (sound familiar?). It is only at the next stage, thesystem/c, that a truly integrated and cohesive worldview can finally begin to emerge, which allows the start of what one sociologist called theIntegral Age. Dare Graves called it the switch from first-tier values (marked by their partiality) to second-tier values (marked by their integrated nature).

Dare Graves was one of the researchers who first dis­covered the incredibly important difference between the first tier and second tier of development. What is this ex­traordinary difference? All of the stages in first tier believe firmly that their values are the only true and correct values;everybody else’s are deeply confused. But starting with the leap to second tier—or the beginning of the truly integral levels—it is understood that all of the other values and stages are correct in their own ways, or are appropriate for their own levels. Second tier makes room for all of the other values, and begins to pull them all together and integrate them into larger tapestries of care and inclusivity.

In many ways, this is the same thing that Abe Maslow pre­viously found in the leap from thedeficiency needs (of lack and scarcity) to the being needs (of self-actualization and self-transcendence), and, in fact, Graves was attempting tomake sense of this finding of Maslow’s. The developmental leap from first tier to second tier is a leap from fragmenta­tion and alienation to wholeness and integration, from nihil­ism and irony to deep meaning and value.

This integral development continues into the third tier (or “super-integral” and suprapersonal) waves, two of which Jenny Wade, in her extension of the Graves system, calls transpersonal and then unitive.

All told, one’s values grow and develop from tribal to traditional to modern to postmodern to integral and super-integral, on the way to even higher unfoldings in the evolutionary future. Today, in our culture as a whole, we stand right on the brink of the extraordinary leap from first to second tier, from postmodern to integral …a leap we will come back to shortly.

Robert Kegan’s work onorders of consciousness is prob­ably some of the most widely respected anywhere. As is thesophisticated theory and research of Jane Loevinger on thestages of self development.

One of Loevinger’s main students and successors, Su­sann Cook-Greuter, has done significant research on the highest or third-tier levels of self development, which are also listed in figure 14. (By the way, Robert Kegan, Don Beck,and Susann Cook-Greuter are all founding members of Inte­gral Institute.) Don’tworry if allthe labels on this figure don’tmake sense; all of our points can be made very simply using the information you already have.

For now, you might simply notice, looking at all the streams in figures 9 and 10,that, in general, the first tier ofgrowth involves moving from prepersonal topersonal devel­opment; the second tier involves integrated personal devel­opment (and the beginning of the “integral” stages); and thethird tier involves transpersonal development (or the begin­ning of “super-integral” stages).

Thus, overall evolution and development moves from pre-personal to personal to transpersonal, from subconscious to self-conscious to superconscious, from pre-rational to rational to trans-rational, from preconventional to conven­tional to postconventional, from id to ego to Spirit. With third-tier or transpersonal development, one’s self begins toexpand beyond the personal realm andinto a realm of vastspaciousness, luminous clarity, and unitive experiences, all of which have a decidedly spiritual flavor. But unlike the magic and mythic levels, which are mere concepts and dog­matic beliefs, these are levels of direct experience and im­mediate awareness.

The Pre/Post Fallacy

So let’s stop and note that fact: researchers have found that the very highest stages of cognitive, moral, and self growth all take on a transpersonal or spiritual tone. Let’s callthis”highest-level spirituality,” and put that down as one ofthe important meanings of “spiritual.” (We will also refer to this aspect of spirituality as trans-rational and transpersonal spirituality.)

But let’s also note a strange, fascinating item: some of the trans-rational and transpersonal stages superficially resemble some of the pre-rational and prepersonal stages.

Because pre-conventional stages and post-conventional stages are both non-conventional, they are confused and even equated by the untutored eye. Pre-rational stages areconfused with trans-rational stages simply because both arenonrational; pre-egoic stages are confused with trans-egoicsimply because both are non-egoic; transverbal is confused with preverbal because both are nonverbal, and so on.

This confusion is known as the pre/trans fallacy (or the pre/post fallacy). Once it occurs, people make one of two big mistakes. They either reduce all trans-rational realities to pre-rational childish twaddle (think Freud), or they elevate pre-rational childish images and myths to trans-rational glory (think Jung). Both reductionism and elevationism haveplagued the discussion of spirituality from the beginning, and so one of the first things that a truly Integral approach con-tributes is a way out of that particular nightmare.

A Pre-Rational Mythic God and a Trans-Rational Unitive Spirit.

At the very least,it behooves us to recognize that thereare, based upon significant scientific and empirical research, stages of development that involve prerational, childish, preconventional, narcissistic fantasy, and those that involve postconventional, trans-rational, ego-aware, post-autonomous, transpersonal awareness. In the former (e.g., magical-animistic, mythic membership), ultimate reality is in-deed pictured as a white-haired, grey-bearded gentleman inthe sky, or somebody who walks on water and is born from abiological virgin, or an elderly sage who was 900 years old atbirth, and soon. All of these pre-rational myths are taken to be literally and concretely true. But in the latter or post conventional stages, ultimate reality is pictured as a nondual groundof being, a state of timeless presence, or a post rational (not pre-rational and not anti-rational) state of unity conscious­ness. The difference between the two is indeed night and day, with the dawn of reason separating them.

If we put all of the scientific research on human develop­ment together, it appears that there are indeed at least thesethree broad arcs of human psychological growth: prepersonal to personal to transpersonal, or pre-rational to rational to trans-rational, or subconscious to self-conscious to super-conscious. Each of the stages in those arcs continues to transcend and include its predecessor(s). As each new level unfolds, it enfolds its predecessor—a development that is envelopment—so that the cumulative effect is integral in-deed, just as with atoms to molecules to cells to organisms.Nothing is lost, all is retained, in the extraordinary unfolding andenfolding, developing and enveloping, transcending and includ­ing, negating and preserving, that is consciousness evolution.

We are not, at this point, talking about whether there isor is not a “real” Spirit or an actual Ground of Being. We aretalking about whether there are these three great arcs (or, sliced a slightly different way, three great tiers) of human development, and the answer is that any empirical study that has looked carefully at the entire sweep of human de­velopment has concludedyes. Those who deny the stages of superconscious and transpersonal awareness are simply and absolutely denying the scientific evidence. And frankly,we are no more obliged to take their views into account thanwe are to take seriously the churchmen who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope because they already “knew” what they would see.

So, if we now move to that most fascinating of all ques­tions and do indeed ask if there is, or is not, an actual Groundof Being, a genuine Spirit, a real Godhead underlying all phe­nomena, who better to ask than those individuals who are atthe higher or highest levels—the transpersonal levels—of development? And if we do ask them, what do they say?

Well, let’s start by repeating that each of these three great arcs has its idea of what ultimate reality is. We saw that in the first arc, leading up to rationality, ultimate realityis viewed asmagic andmythic in nature. Here, to be honest,perhaps 80% of the tenets of the world’s major religions canbe found, Shinto to Christian to Islamic to Hebraic to Hindu to Buddhist to Taoist. This includes much New Age magic.

Then human development enters a period that appears to be non-religious and even anti-religious, namely, all of the stages of the second major arc, the arc of Person and Reason. Rational science here comes to the fore, bringing with it an extraordinary boon for humankind in terms of reduction of suffering and increase in longevity. Counting disease, hunger, illness, and infant mortality, rational science has alleviated more actual human suffering than all of the prerational mythicreligions combined. That science can be misused is not the is-sue; its positive gains are staggering and undeniable.

Then, right when it looked like all things religious and spiritual were in our past, relics of archaic history, comes thethird major arc. Building on the gains of rational awareness, development begins to transcend and include rationality in even larger circles of care and consciousness. Here, ultimatereality is seen not in anthropomorphic terms, which color the first arc, and not in rational terms, which color the second, but rather in terms of Being, Emptiness, Consciousness, andSuchness—terms such as a Ground of All Being; a universalConsciousness; a nondual Suchness or Is-ness; a vast, open,empty Luminous Clarity; a mirror-like Witnessing Awareness; a Godhead prior to any Trinity; a pure, infinite, transcen­dental, selfless Self; an unbounded, spacious, radiant, unob­structed and unqualifiable Consciousness as Such; a timeless,endless, eternal Presence or Now; a Thusness or Suchness or Is-ness of each and every moment, beyond any conceptual­izations at all, but as simple and obvious as the person who isreading this page, or the sound of a robin singing, or the cool quench of the first swallow from a glass of iced tea on a hot summer’s day.

This is not your father’s religion, and not your mother’s,and certainly not your grandparent’s. And yet the vast major­ity of individuals who reach the stages of the third arc/tier report that reality is some version of an infinite/eternal Ground of All Being. But this transpersonal reality isat the op­posite end of the spectrum of human development from the magic and mythic conceptions of the prepersonal and pre-rational arc. They are, indeed, as different as night and day, and we absolutely must, at the least, stop confusing them.

But the media, to give only the most obvious example, completely confuse pre and trans. Any transpersonal non-dual spirituality is unceremoniously lumped with, and dumpedinto, the prepersonal garbage pail. The only kinds of spiritual­ity the media recognizes are all pre-rational.

(To make matters worse at that end, the press seems to recognize only two types of religion: fundamentalist nut-cases and New Age nutcases. Both of those, of course, are pre-rational, with the fundamentalist believing in amber dogma and myth, the New Ager believing in magenta magic. Any transrational orientation, such as transpersonal psy­chology, is lumped in with the New-Age nutcases. But heck,the New Agers aren’t taken seriously enough to think about.The only two people that the press knows who are “spiritual”are George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden. And the press can’t figure out which is the more dangerous.)

The fact is, conservatives tend to support the first arcand liberals tend to support the second arc, with neither oneof them even vaguely aware of the third arc. So the third arcis either dismissed entirely, or, as we said, subjected to a pre/trans fallacy and completely confused with the first arc.

Night and day indeed. So it’s worth repeating that, at thevery least, these two diametrically different kinds of “non-rational spirituality” (pre and trans) simply must be acknowl­edged, by the press, or at least by anybody who can read without moving their lips.

It looks very much as if the phrase “spiritual butnot religious” often applies to this third arc. And even if people who describe themselves that way are not permanently at these higher, transpersonal waves, many of them seem to be intuiting these higher realities. They do not want ego-centric magic or ethnocentric mythic religion, drenched in dogma and creed and conceptual beliefs. They want direct experience beyond words and concepts, a supramental, transrational, postconventional spirituality, with its imme­diate awareness and radiant consciousness. They are in-deed spiritual but not religious. And they do claim to be directly aware of a nondual, empty, open, spacious, infinite,unqualifiable Thusness, by whatever name you care to call that particular rose

Again with the Pre/Post Fallacy

Excuse my French, but the ultimate bitch when it comes to “God” or “Spirit” or “Absolute Reality” is that the whole thing is caught in a staggeringly huge pre/post fallacy. The pre-rational and the trans-rational versions of spirituality sound similar or even identical to the untutored eye, simplybecause both are “nonrational,” and hence they are treatedas basically the same by anyone caught in this pre/trans fal­lacy, even though they are actually poles apart. And when night and day are confused, the trans-rational stages of Nondual Consciousness—which are, wherever they appear,said to disclose an ultimate Freedom and Fullness, a Great Liberation from alienation, fragmentation, and suffering—are thoroughly confused with the pre-rational stages of a mythic God—stages that have arguably caused more human-made suffering that any other factor in history. Themeans of our Liberation are confused with the cause of mostof our misery. Then, in running from what appears to be the cause of suffering, we are running from our salvation.

This is, urn, very bad. And this confusion is everywhere,not only in the press, but in the religions themselves and theculture at large. Yet it is stopped in its tracks by an 105. Sim-ply by looking at the “levels” aspect of AQAL, these incredi­bly important differences can be first, spotted, and second, utilized.

At the same time, let’s be honest about the numbers in­volved here. Studies consistently show that around70% of the world’s population is at ethnocentric (or lower) levels of development. That is, at or below mythic, amber, con­formist.* Put yet another way, about 70% of the world’s pop­ulation are fundamentalists (or lower) in their spiritual orientation. About 30% are at the second arc (orange to tur­quoise). And less than 1% are stably at the transpersonal stages. But those transpersonal stages do exist, they are there, and they are open to any who want to take up a trans-formative practice, such as Integral Life Practice (ILP), in order to engage them. (For the details of an ILP, please see chap. 6.)

So that is the first meaning of “spirituality”: the highest (or third-tier) levels in any of the lines. Now let’s check in with lines themselves.

Spiritual Intelligence: Let’s Check in with lines

Less than 1% are stably at the third arc or tier? (The third arc and the thirdtierrefer to essentially the same stages, those that are transpersonal. Second tier and second arc are slightly different, in that “second tier” refers to levels that are the first to be integrative (namely, teal and turquoise), while “second arc” is broader and refers to levels that are personal (roughly, orange to tur­quoise). These are just different ways to group the same developmental levels) Yup. Anyway you slice it, not very many people, at this time in history, have grown and evolved into the transpersonal stages or waves of consciousness.

Does that mean that less than 1% of humanity are genu­inely spiritual? Or, to say the same thing from a different angle, does that mean that you have to be at indigo or higher in order to have any genuine spiritual awareness at all? Surely that isn’t correct. Something seems wrong here.

And indeed, something is. What’s wrong is that we haven’tcompleted our AQAL sweep. We haven’t finished looking atspirituality from all of the quadrants, levels, lines, states, andtypes. So let’s look next at “lines.” Is there aspiritual line of development? Is there a spiritual intelligence?

The answer is, almost certainly. In a ground-breaking se­ries of research studies, James Fowler has mapped out some of the basic stages of the spiritual stream or line. So let’s pause and look more carefully at this line. And while we are doing so, you might keep asking yourself: at what stage or wave am I in this important stream?

Here (below and in fig. 16) are Fowler’s stages of spiritual intelligence, and notice right off that theyare—no surprise—a variation on the general levels of archaic, magic, mythic, rational, pluralistic, integral (and super-integral). Those aresimply some of the more common names for the rainbow or altitude of consciousness, and they naturally show a great similarity with the specific names of Fowler’s stages.

Fowler’s stages are:

0. preverbal, predifferentiated

  1. 1.projective-magical, 1st-person dominated
  2. 2.mythic literal, concrete myths and stories
  3. 3.conventional, conformist, 2″d-person dominated
  4. 4.individual reflexive, beginning of 3rd-person
  5. 5.conjunctive, pluralistic, dialectical, multiculturally sensitive
  6. 6.postconventional, universal commonwealth
  7. 7.transpersonal or nondual commonwealth

I believe that the meanings of most of those are obvious,and we will define any new terms we need as we go along. Thepoint is simply that, from the available evidence, it appearsthat you do NOT have to be at the very highest levels in any ofthe lines in order to possess some sort of spirituality. Not only are there altered states or peak experiences of authentic spirituality (which we will cover in a moment), spirituality it-self grows and develops through every level of conscious­ness, not just the highest. In other words, not only is there a highest-level spirituality (and, see below, analtered-states spirituality), there is adevelopmental-line spirituality, aspiri­tual intelligence.

This line, like most of the multiple intelligences, appearsto begin somewhere in the earliest years. Even as an adult,you still might only be at stage 1 in your spiritual intelligence, but you are NEVER without some form of spiritual intelli­gence or spiritual awareness.

So what aspect or dimension of spirituality does spiritual intelligence refer to? How is that aspect of spirituality defined?

Different researchers have defined spiritual intelligencein different ways, based on the type of research and resultsthey are dealing with. But perhaps the simplest and easiestinvolves the following. Paul Tillich said that “spiritual” refersto that which indicates a person’sultimate concern. At year one, your ultimate concern may be where to get food, but you are never without some sort of that awareness and meaning-investment. The human organism seems to have evolved, as one of its inherited multiple intelligences, the capacity or smarts for handling ultimate concern.

When it comes to this aspect or dimension of spirituality,everybody has religion. If you are at an orange level of thespiritual line—the individual-reflexive—you may have a veryformal, rational version of ultimate concern, as when we say,”Logic is Spock’s religion.” But it is not something you are ever simply without. You can have:

  • an archaic spirituality (food/sex fetish),
  • a magic spirituality (voodoo, Santeria),
  • a mythic spirituality (fundamentalism, mythic membership God/Goddess),
  • a rational spirituality (scientific materialism, logo-centrism),
  • a pluralistic spirituality (postmodernism as the answer to everything, pluralitis),
  • a systems spirituality (deep ecology, Gaiasophy),
  • an integral and super-integral spirituality (AQAL),

and so on. Remember, in any of the multiple intelligences, thecontents of any level in the line oftenvary dramatically from person to person and culture to culture

The “level” part doesn’t determine the specific content of one’s ultimate concern, but simply the degree of develop­ment, complexity, and consciousness that goes into one’s ul­timate concern, whatever it is, at that level.

So:what level of God do you believe in? Is the food of yourultimate concern, the stuff of your ultimate reality, physicalfood, emotional food, mental food, transpersonal food? What is the altitude of your reality? How high is your God?

In short, What do you worship? Because it’s definitely something…

States and Stages

At this point, perhaps we can start to see how useful theAQAL model (or 10S) is for making sense of spirituality. Notice that even the two aspects of spirituality we have discussed thus far—highest-level spirituality and developmental-line spirituality—seem almost contradictory at points. For exam­ple, highest-level spirituality claims that children do not pos­sess any authentic spirituality, whereas developmental-line spirituality claims that they do. (You would not believe the academic food fights that have been generated by that abso­lutely fruitless debate.)

Put that debate another way: We have seen that virtually 100% of people have a spiritual intelligence, and yet less than1% are at the highest levels of that, or any, line. If by “spiri­tual” you mean “the highest levels of any line,” then only the highest levels of the spiritual line are spiritual.

Get it? The identical word “spiritual” is used in two com­pletely different ways. If we didn’t explicitly spot this usingan AQAL model (or something similar), we’d be completely contradictory and lost, or at least darned confused.

And the confusion would just be starting. There are otheraspects of spirituality, or other ways that people commonlyuse the term “spirituality,” other than levels and lines. For onething, there are states of consciousness that appear spiritual,such as somepeak experiences, altered states, religious ex­periences, andmeditative states. And, indeed, this appears tobe one of the most common ways that people think of spiritu­ality. It is certainly something thatwe wouldnotwantto leaveout of any inventory of religious or spiritual phenomena.

We have seen that virtually 100% of people have a spiri­tual intelligence and less than 1% of them are at the highest levels of that line. But what about states? How often do states occur? Well, when was the last time you got high?

Okay, sorry. Let’s put it this way: research consistentlyshows that you can be at virtually any level or stage of growthand have profound and authentic religious experiences, peakexperiences, or altered states. The way we put this in chap-ter 2 was: “The reason these peak experiences are possible isthat many of the major states of consciousness (such as waking-gross, dreaming-subtle, and formless-causal) are ever-present possibilities.” Like those natural states, certain religious or spiritual states seem to be ever-present, or at least ever-available.

What are some typical spiritual states or peak experi­ences in the waking state? A quite typical one is that you are walking in nature and you have a peak experience of being one with all of nature. Call thatnature mysticism. What is a type of spiritual state or spiritual experience in the dream state? You might be dreaming of a great cloud of luminous, radiant love, and you might even feel that you are becoming one with that infinite love. Call that deity mysticism. With reference to the deep dreamless-formless state, is it possi­ble to have a spiritual experience focused on that? It appears so, because some spiritual or religious experiences are de-scribed as empty, formless, unmanifest—the Void, Abyss, Ur­grund, Ayin, and so on. Call thisformless mysticism. (We also call it causal mysticism, after the causal or formless state it-self.) Finally, there are quite common experiences of flow states, where an individual feels one with everything that is arising in any state. Call that nondual mysticism.

Now, the point is that you can have any of these spiritual state experiences at virtually any stage of development, sim­ply because at every stage you happen to wake, dream, andsleep. You can be at, say, orange altitude in any of the devel­opmental lines and have a gross, subtle, causal, or nondual peak experience.

One of the things that researchers have learned over the past three decades about the relationship between states and stages is extraordinarily important: you will interpret any spiritual (meditative, altered)state of consciousness ac-cording to yourstage of consciousness. That is, according to your altitude of development. (Actually, of course, one will interpret one’s experience according to one’s entire AQAL matrix, but levels/stages are a particularly important compo­nent of that overall interpretation, and the one we are em­phasizing here.)

To give an example of this, let’s use a simple 7-level schemeofstages of consciousness (archaic, magic, mythic, rational, pluralistic, integral, super-integral) and 4 types of states of consciousness (gross, subtle, causal, nondual), which gives us4 x7 or 28 types of spiritual or religious experience. And we have found evidence for every single one of them… .

This grid or lattice of state/stage combinations is called the Wilber-Combs Lattice, after its two founders (and af­ter months of my explaining to Allan Combs how silly “The Combs-Wilber Lattice” sounded). Figure 17 gives one exam­ple of the W-C Lattice.

Let me give a quick example of how this Lattice works.Let’s say a person has a peak experience of seeing a cloud ofradiant white luminosity, which at times appears to be a per-son or being of light, and then has a sense of merging intothat light, feeling a sense of infinite love and unbounded bliss.Let’s say that this person is a Protestant, whose Lower-Left quadrant has predisposed his interpretations to see and clothe this experience in Christian terms. What will this person see?

If he’s atred altitude, he might see this as a magical Je­sus who can walk on water, resurrect the dead, turn waterinto wine, multiply loaves and fishes, and so on. Atamber, hemight see Jesus as the eternal lawgiver, the bringer of com­plete salvation if one believes the myths and dogmas andfollows the codes, commandments, and covenants given tothe chosen people and found in the one and only true Book (the Bible). At orange, this person might see Jesus as a universal humanist, yet also divine, teaching worldcentric love and morality, and who can bring salvation not just in heaven but to some degree on this earth, in this life. At green, this person might see Jesus as one of many, equallyvalid spiritual teachers, and hence embracing Jesus mightgive complete salvation for me, which is why I passionately do so, but other individuals and cultures might find other spiritual paths to be better for them, knowing that all genu­ine spiritual paths, if they go deep enough, can offer an equal salvation or liberation. If this person is flying at tur­quoise, he might see Jesus as a manifestation of the sameChrist-consciousness that everybody, including you and me,can have complete access to, and thus Jesus is emblematicof a transformative consciousness that shows each person to be part of a vast system of dynamic, flowing, and mu­tually interpenetrating processes that includes all of us in its radiant sweep. Atviolet andultraviolet, Christ-conscious­ness might be seen as emblematic of the transcendental, in-finite, selfless Self, the divine consciousness that was in Jesus and is in you and in me, a radically all-inclusive con­sciousness of Light, Love, and Life that is resurrected from the stream of time upon the death of the loveless and self-contracting ego, revealing a destiny beyond death, beyondsuffering, beyond space and time and tears and terror, andhence found to be right here, right now, in the timeless mo­ment in which all reality comes to be.

In other words, the altered-state experience will be inter­preted, in part, according to the stage that one is at. There isa magic Christ, a mythic Christ, a rational Christ, a pluralisticChrist, an integral and super-integral Christ, and so on. This,of course, is true of any experience, but it becomes particu­larly important with spiritual and religious experiences. A person can be at a fairly low-level stage of development, such as red or amber, and yet have a fully authentic subtle- or causal-state experience.

The reborn fundamentalist and evangelical is a very common example. This personknows that they have experi­enced Christ (or Allah, or Mary, or Brahman) personally, andnothing you can say will even begin to convince them other-wise. And it’s half true: they have had an authentic, vivid, real, and immediate experience of a subtle-state reality. But they are interpreting that state through stages that are egocentric or ethnocentric: Jesus, and only Jesus, has the one true way. Worse, their real or authentic state experi­ence of love will actuallyreinforce their ethnocentrism. Only those who accept Jesus as their personal savior can find salvation; everybody else is consigned to eternal damnationand hellfire by an all-loving and all-forgiving God. Does that intense contradiction make any sense? Well, it does if you use the W-C Lattice.

The existence of states of consciousness allows us to see why people can have experiences that are very spiritual and very authentic, in some ways, even if they are at rela­tively low levels of development. This is also why they can be so commonplace. While the percentage of the population that is at the very highest (third-tier) levels of development inany of the lines appears to be less than 1%, those who report having had some sort of spiritual or religious experience is well over 75%, according to many polls. Using 105, all of thisotherwise completely conflicting data begins to make sense: 1% have had higher-stage spiritual experiences; 75% have had altered-state spiritual experiences.

Of course, the ideal situation for a person is to be at thehigher stages of development as well as have a broad rangeof significant state experiences, such as meditative and con­templative states. As it is now, some spiritual practitioners focus only on meditative states, unaware or disdainful of de­velopmental stages, which is unfortunate. Combining both is one of the main aims of an Integral Life Practice, which we will return to in the next chapter.

Quadrants: Where is Ultimate Reality?

We have seen that what people are referring to asspiritu­ality” can be something that is occurring in the highest levelsor stages of any line, or it can be a developmental line itself,or it can refer to various altered states of consciousness: levels,lines, and states. What about types and quadrants?

We can do this part very quickly, since the basic idea isnow apparent, I think. “Types” is an important aspect or defi­nition of spirituality, in that many people equate spiritual” with some type of quality, such as love, kindness, equanim­ity, wisdom, and so on.

While this is true, if you look at each of those qualities,itbecomes obvious that they show development. We saw this with Carol Gilligan and the quality of care or compassion, which develops from selfish to care to universal care to inte­grated. So although we definitely include types, it usually reverts very quickly to one of the previous definitions involv­ing levels and/or lines. For example, we might say that spiri­tuality involves love, and that to be spiritual is to be loving. But love itself develops from egocentric love to ethnocen­tric love to worldcentric love to Kosmocentric love, and only the higher of those levels are truly spiritual. Narcissistic or egocentric love is not usually thought of as terribly spiritual.5o those who say, “All we need is love,” haven’t fully thought through their position very well.

Quadrants come into play when various theorists are try­ing to explain what they think is the “really real” makeup ofthe world (fig. 18). Where is ultimate reality in your concep­tion? Not just what level is your God, but what quadrant is your God?

Is matter the primary reality? Or are spirit and conscious­ness the primary ingredients? Or perhaps you think that all of those “superstructures” of religion can be reduced to the “base” of economic realities? Or perhaps that all our knowl­edge is just a social construction?

Extreme Idealism

“Mind is reality”

Extreme Scientism

“Mind is reality”

Extreme Postmodernism

“Culturally- constructed meaning is reality.”

Extreme Systems Theory

“The web of life is reality.”

If you think matter is the ultimate reality (i.e., the Upper-Right quadrant is the only real quadrant), then any spiritualexperience or belief will be nothing but an illusion, an epiphe­nomena of brain states and their physiological fireworks. God is just an imaginary friend for grown-ups. All such spiri­tual beliefs are “nothing but” physical fireworks in the mate­rial brain.

If you think spirit and consciousness (Upper-Left quadrant) are the ultimate realities, then you will believe just theopposite: the entire world of material form is the fallen realmof illusion, and those who believe in it are lost in ignorance, sin, maya, samsara.

If you think the systems view of reality (the Lower-Rightquadrant) is the ultimate view, then all religious and spiritualbeliefs are nothing but manifest structure-functions that are determined by the “real” realities of social system, thetechno-economic base, and interwoven webs of dynamic pro­cesses, all as 3rd-personits and nothing but 3rd-personits.

And if you think the Lower-Left quadrant is the only realquadrant, then all aspects of knowledge—including all of our ideas about systems themselves, not to mention God and Spirit—are nothing but social constructions. Not “I” nor “it”nor “its” are finally real, but rather the almighty “we” creates literally all reality.

Doesn’t this kind ofquadrant absolutism bore the day-lights out of you? It does me, I must confess. For AQAL, all ofthe quadrants are equi-primordial; none are more real or pri­mary than the others; they all tetra-arise and tetra-evolve together. Ultimate reality, if it is to be found anywhere, is found in their simultaneous arising and radiant display, mu­tually creating and mutually sustaining each other.

Is Spirit Real or Not?

With all of this research on higher states and stages of awareness, can we finally say with any sort of confidence whether there is or is not a real Spirit, a real Godhead, a real Ground of All Being?

I’ll repeat that if we are going to try to decide that ulti­mate question, it would certainly help if we checked with the answers given by those at the highest stages of develop­ment, don’t you think? Not that we have to believe everythingthey say, but simply check on whether they give some sort of consistent response here.

As you might expect, they do. And it is as previously sug­gested, namely, the ultimate Ground of Being is not pictured inmagic terms or mythic terms, nor is it seen as something out-side of or merely transcendent to this world, but rather the Suchness or Thusness of this world, or even the Emptiness of aII of      all that is arising (with “Emptiness” meaning the unqualifiable     openness or transparency of each moment). Sometimes it is described in terms that imply an ultimate Intelligence or present Awareness or infinite Consciousness. We are not talking about a mythic, dualistic intelligence that designs things delib­erately the way a watchmaker creates watches. It is an intelli­gence that knows a thing by being it and simultaneously bringing it forth. It is the Self of all that exists, so that knowing and being, or subject and object, are one in a nondual pres­ence. If it is described as a subject, it is a subject so free of ob­jects that no descriptions whatsoever can capture it—a vast,open Witness, an Absolute Subjectivity, a Mirror Mind, which is one with its reflections and reflects them all impartially, equally, effortlessly, spontaneously, a Big Mind that endlessly embraces all, yet is fully here and now. If it is described in termsof Being, is it not an ontological substance but the Suchness or is-ness of things, prior to concepts and feelings and thoughts and images, but easily touched right here and now as the simple feeling of Being. If it is described in personal terms, it is a Godhead beyond any God and Goddess, an Intelligence-Abyss       from which all things issue in this moment. It is “eternal,” not as something that is everlasting, but something that is ever present, since the timeless Now is without time. (Didn’t even       Wittgenstein—the influential modern philosopher known for           his insistence on facts and logic—say: “If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present”?) In other words, not something that goes on in time forever but a mo­ment without time at all. An endless moment, it turns out, a timeless Now and pure Present that holds all time in the palm of its hand, if you but know where to find it.

There are as many “descriptions” of this Spirit as there are those at the ultraviolet waves of consciousness unfold­ing. Yet they all agree that Spirit—by whatever name and beyond all multiculturalism—is the Ground and Goal of all existence, an infinite Reality existing behind, beyond, above, within, and as the entire manifest universe*.

(*Let’s clarify a point for advanced students. What’s the difference between, let’s say,the overmindstructure and the causal state, since they sound similar? Both have ac­cess to the Witness, but the overmind is a stage instructural development—and alldevelopment is envelopment, or a series ofwhole/parts or holonsthat transcend andinclude all previous development, and thus stages are inclusionary; whereas statesare not inclusionary but exclusionary (e.g., you cannot be drunk and sober at the sametime, nor awake and dreaming at the same time, nor in dreamless sleep and dreamingat the same time, etc.). Thus, the overmind structure-stage is a pure witnessingawarenessthat is also a unitive knowledge and awarenessthat includes all previousobjects as they continue to arise (not excludes them); the overmind is thus a capacityto be aware of all previousstructures, a7″ chakrathat operates on the previous 6chakras (which are now all fully present and conscious as “operands”). The causalstate is a consciousness without objects, the same witnessing awareness but with nothing as its “object,” a vast opennessthat is its own blissful operand. The former isan inclusivestructure; the latter, an exclusive state. Even Buddhas continue to wake,dream, and sleep, which showsthat even in Buddhas, states continue to be exclusion­ary in themselves, even though the Witness is now free of all of them and thus, in theovermind, all of their capacities can be and are integrated.)

Is there a proof for that God? Yes, absolutely, and here it is: develop to the ultraviolet waves of your own awareness and then look. And taste, touch, feel, breathe, and tell us what you see.

But one thing is for sure: it is not a mythic God, it is not scientific materialism, it is not pluralism. All three of those have failed to give satisfactory answers to the riddle of existence, and that is exactly why. They were not yet whole enough to see the Big Picture of your own Being, your own Becoming, and your own Awakening.


The many faces of Spirit, indeed… .

Using the AQAL matrix, we realize that “spirituality” can be used, and has been used, to refer to quadrants, levels/ stages, lines, states, and types. Each of these usages is valid, but we must state which aspect of spirituality we are refer-ring to, because otherwise our conclusions are all diametri­cally opposed to each other and end up deeply contradictory.No wonder the field of spirituality remains perhaps the single most confused topic that any human can discuss.

But begin using 10S, and suddenly it all starts to make sense, at least enough to climb out of the nightmare of fundamentalism (amber), the depressing emptiness of scientific modernity (orange), or the wasteland of whatever (green). Moving in the direction of the supramental, transpersonal, and superconscious waves of evolution, Spirit itself seems tosmile, announce its presence, and awaken to the umpteenth game of “hide and seek” with its own being and becoming.

There is a Spirit for each and every wave of awareness,since Spiritis that very Awareness appearing in the different levels of its own development, the same Awareness that slumbers in the mineral, stirs in the plant, moves in the ani­mal, revives in the human, and returns to itself in the awak­ened sage. Most extraordinarily, all of us—including me and you—are invited to become an awakened sage ourselves.

Shall we see?

Chapter 6

Integral Life Practice: Get A life!

The purpose of an integral life practice is to realize the full spectrum of your unique and special capacities

Through daily practice in a variety of areas or modules, you can experience greater freedom and fullness in your life

The awakened sage is not merely a rare oddity, living alone in a cave in India or perched on a mountain top in Tibet. The awakened Sage – or simply awakened Human – is actually the nature of our very own consciousness, even here and now, in the deepest forms and highest waves. Realizing that is the goal of integral life practice.

MOST OF THE IOS APPS WE HAVE LOOKED AT TEND TO FOCUS on some of the practical applications of the Integral Approach,in medicine, business, and ecology, and its use in helping to make sense of spirituality. What about the experiential and practical aspects of my own awareness, growth, transforma­tion, and awakening?

The practical, 15t-person, experiential dimension of the Integral Approach is called Integral Life Practice, or ILP.

The basic nature of ILP is simple. If you take body, mind,and spirit (as levels), and self, culture, and nature (as quad-rants), and then you combine them, you get 9 possible areas of growth and awakening. Integral Life Practice is the first approach to cross-combine all of those for the most effec­tive personal transformation possible.

To give a slightly more expanded example: if you look at figure 8 (p. 76), you will notice that 3 levels in 4 quadrants gives you 12 zones. Integral Life Practice has created practi­cal exercises for growth in all 12 zones, a radically unique and historically unprecedented approach to growth, develop­ment, and awakening.

Let’s focus on the Upper quadrants—the individual quadrants—to see what is involved. These zones are so im­portant that we refer to them as the core modules—body, mind, spirit, and shadow. To give an example of what is in­volved, I will give the “1-Minute Modules” that have been de­veloped for each of them. These are considerably shortened versions of the extended modules, but these brief versions manage to capture the essentials of each module in a verycondensed and distilled fashion. Of course, we recommendthat you do the fuller versions of the various modules and practices, but the 1-Minute Modules are remarkably effec­tive if you only have a short amount of time, or if you want to capture the flavor and some of the effects of the fuller versions.

Let me emphasize that you do not have to do the ILP version of an integral practice. You can create your own in­tegral practice and have it be very effective. Simply use thegeneral guidelines in this chapter and as summarized in theILP Matrix (pp. 170-171). As you can see in that table, any number of practices can be used in the various modules. The idea is simply to pick one practice from the each of thebasic modules and then engage them concurrently. You canadd auxiliary modules if you wish, and then go! If you wantto use the ILP Starter Kit designed by IntegralInstitute—or the Integral Life Practice Handbook (forthcoming from Inte­gral Books)—thats fine, too, since the researchers at I-I have done most of the work for you and created in-depth instructional materials which considerably expand upon those given here (www.MylLP.com). But believe me, either way is just fine.

Body, Mind, Spirit, and Shadow—these are the core modules. But if you think that this is the standard “NewAge”or “holistic” or “spiritual” approach, that would be your first mistake.

Body Module

To begin with, “body” doesn’t mean merely the typicalfeeling body of New-Age spirituality, nor is it the standardphysical body of Western medicine. It’s both of them, plusmore. It refers to the gross physical body, the subtle energy body, and the causaltranscendent body. ILP involves exer­cising all of them, or what we call the 3-Body Workout.

The 3-Body Workout includes exercisesfor the physicalbody, such asweightlifting and aerobics. It also incorporatesexercises for the subtle body of emotion, imagination, andfelt meaning, including variations on tai chi and qigong. And itincludes exercises for the causal body, such as feeling to in­finity and the circle of light and life.

Here are some of the 1-Minute Modules for the 3-Body Workout.

1 – minute module

Strength Workout

This is a simplified form of any basic weightliftingexercise. It is theshortest and easiest way to keep muscles toned and strong. In this exercise, we strengthen our muscles by quickly challenging themto failure and thenletting them recover. Our body re-grows the muscle tissue in order to meet the same challenge the next time. By taking this principle of challenge, failure, and recovery into account, work-outs can be extremely simple, quick, andeffective.

To increase muscle strength, choose one muscle group to work on (e.g., biceps, chest, abs, legs). You can use a barbell, dumbbells, a machine, or your ownbody weight (e.g., squats, push-ups, sit-ups). Warm up.Then do the exercise until you bring the muscle groupto full exhaustion. If you’re using weights, this shouldtake somewhere between 8 to 12 repetitions. That’s it—you’re done!

One day, one set, one muscle group. For your nextstrength training session, simply choose adifferent muscle group … and repeat. A minute or two each day. You’ll be shocked at the improvement injust one month. Try it!

Research showsthat increasing your aerobic capacitydoes not necessarily require extended runs or condi­tioning exercises. You can derive incredible benefitsjustwith a few quick cycles ofgetting your heart rate up and then resting—also called interval training.

To improve cardiovascular health, pick any aerobicexercisethat will raise yourheartrate—it could berunning, biking, or even jump-roping. Warm up, andthenperform the activity until yourheart-rate rises to about 80% of its maximum ( about just when you start to get short of breath). Once there, stop the activity and completely rest for a brief period. Repeat 2 or 3 times.

Note: Due to the risk of injury, we recommend that beginners seek experienced guidance before performing this exercise.

  1. 1.Causal Body

Standing and breathing naturally…

Notice the suchness, the is-ness of this and every moment. I am this suchness. I am the openness in which all things arise.

Inhale, exhale, and inhale. Palms together at heart and then hands crossed over chest, and then, on last exhale, opening up both hands along either side….

I breathe out and release to infinity.

  1. 2.Subtle Body

Inhaling, hands gather energy, coming to fingers loosely interlaced…..

I breathe into the fullness of life.

Exhaling, ha nds move up the front, palms facing the sky…..

I breathe out and return to light..

Inhaling, hands come down along the sides, returning to fingers loosely interlaced…

Completing the circle, I am free and full.

Continue for a total of 8 arm circles, tongue on palate (completing the “microcosmic orbit”). Exhaling, hands move up the front to the sky; hands circles back out and down.

  1. 3.Physcial Body

Touch belly with hands, inhaling and exhaling…

Infinite freedom and fullness appear as this precious human body.

Inhaling and exhaling, squat gently, touching the ground….

Touching the earth, I am connected to all beings….

  1. 4.Dedication

Bow in Four Directions (turning right, clockwise).

May my consciousness/and my behavior/ be of service to all beings/ in all worlds/ liberating all/ into the suchness/ of this and every moment.

Mind Module: The AQAL Frame work

The module that is perhaps the most important in all of Integral Life Practice is the Mind module, simply because it is the missing link between body and spirit. Spiritual practitio­ners around the world commonly say that we need to include and honor “body, mind, and spirit,” but, in fact, during the past two decades, mind has been left out of the equation al-most entirely, and the feelings of the body have taken centerstage, so much so that immediate feelings and experiences have often been equated with spiritual awareness itself. Mind or intellect has not only been left out, it has been called”non-spiritual” and even “anti-spiritual,” the idea apparentlybeing that you should “come from your heart,” bypassing theobstruction known as your brain. “Don’t intellectualize, don’t conceptualize, but instead just feel, just be experiential”—those words rang out across the country as spiritual practi­tioners everywhere believed that, in order to find spirit, you must “lose your mind and come to your senses.”

Well, try it. And after a decade or so of you losing yourmind, you might decide to turn in the other direction. Mind isactually the link between body and spirit. Mind or intellect, inSanskrit, isbuddhi, from which allBuddhas are born. Mind is what holds body and spirit together. Mind issues straight from spirit, and is both the first expression of spirit and the highest level on the return to spirit. As the dimension be­tween body and spirit, mind anchors spirit in the body andraises the body up to spirit, giving spirit its groundings, andgiving the body its spiritual direction, which otherwise wouldbe lost in its own sensations, sights, and sentiments. Spiri­tual growth itself moves from egocentric bodily feelings, which can only feel themselves, to mind, which can take therole of others and thus begin to expand beyond the ego, and from there into the worldcentric embrace of spirit. To put yourself in somebody else’s shoes is a mental operation, acognitive operation, and thus to feel feelingsother than your own requires the mind, the intellect. It is mind that allows awareness to rise above the prison of its egocentric feelings and begin to radically expand beyond itself on the way to embracing the entire Kosmos—of feelings and thoughts and luminous awareness: body and mind and spirit, with mind the missing link.

Without a cohesive and comprehensive mental frame-work, things fall apart faster than you can sing “Feelings.”Over the past three decades, one fact has surfaced time andtime again: without a mental framework to actually hold spir­itual experiences, those experiences just don’t stick.

In Integral Life Practice, we use the AQAL View or Frame-work, simply because it is the only genuinely integral view that we are aware of at this time. AQAL is not a “mere abstraction” but a living, luminous, experiential reality. In fact, most people report that it ispsychoactive. Once you learn AQAL—or once you download 10S into your biocomputer—then it acts as an internal checklist, auto­matically alerting you to areas of your own capacities thatyou might not be utilizing as fully as you could. It imposes nothing from the outside, but lights up the insides of your own possibilities. It is also psychoactive in the sense of changing the very nature of what you thought was availablein your own being. And, finally, it is fun: if you actually get it, it’s not hard, it’s thrilling.

Making Sense of Everything

Many people use a simple phrase to explain the excite­ment of working with the AQAL module—”Making sense ofeverything”—which is what the AQAL Framework helps to do.In fact, it was first designed as a way to index all of the varioustypes of human activity. The result of over 30 years of re-search by myself and many other scholars, it delivered a wayfor us to classify and index all the major forms of knowledgeand experience. (We used it thatway in this book when we in­dexed the various meanings of “spirituality,” for example.)

But it soon became obvious that it was useful in many other areas, including as a rather extraordinary map of ourown awareness (or otherwise it wouldn’t work as an indexingsystem). We then compared it with over 100 maps of the hu­man bodymind from around the world—premodern, modern,and postmodern—and used all of them to fill in the gaps leftby the others. That “composite map” had 5 simple elements, and that’s how AQAL was born.

If you start using AQAL, you can check for yourself and see if it starts to help you “make sense of everything.” Take,for example, the conflict between religion and science. Bar­bara Walters recently had a TV special called “Heaven.” In it,she first interviewed many of the most popular of today’s spiritual teachers, such as the Dalai Lama, and each of themexplained how deeply meaningful and significant spiritual lifeis to them. Then, in the second half of the show, she inter-viewed well-known scientists, every one of whom explained,in so many words, that spiritual experiences are nothing butphysical fireworks in the material brain. There is no spirit, onlymatter, they explained, and people who believe in the formerare obviously hooked on infantile illusions and whatnot.

It was so weird watching this, because you soon realizethat the way everybody on this show was thinking, if eitherhalf of them is right, the other half is dead wrong. If the sci­entists are right, the spiritual authorities are all caught in illusions—and vice versa! Either way, half of all humans are spending their lives on nothing but illusions! It makes no sense at all.

What does make sense is that they are both right. Thespiritual folks are talking about the Upper-Left quadrant, and the scientists are talking about the Upper-Right quadrant.

Or take theculture wars. If the above example relatesparticularly to quadrants, the culture wars relate especiallyto levels. Although there are many different aspects to the culture wars, they focus on an intense battle between traditional values,modern values, andpostmodern values. These are almost exactly amber, orange, and green alti­tudes, respectively. Remember that all first-tier levels be­lieve that their values are the only real values anywhere in existence, with all the others caught in deep confusion at best, total illusion at worst. Well, welcome to the culture wars! It’s literally almost that simple.

What we are awaiting, of course, is the great leap to sec­ond tier, where the first genuine integration of the variouslevels starts to take place, and where one’s awareness risesabove the crossfire of the culture wars and into the spa­cious openness of integral awareness, on the way to its ownsuprapersonal realization and enlightenment. In this and somany other areas, using an Integral or AQAL Framework, suddenly things make sense. Suddenly there is a place foreverything in your life. A great depth of peace and certaintydescends on your being, as the mind makes room for all ofthe Kosmos, and not just a little simpering slice of it here and there. Joy returns to thought; the intellect actually lights up—and lightens up—as it’s supposed to; and lumi­nous clarity defines each moment in the world of all things integral.

Most importantly, there is indeed a place for everythingin your life. Everything has meaning, because everything fits.Meaning returns to one’s life. This is perhaps the single mostimportant and quickly noticeable item about the Integral Approach: everything fits, and thus meaning returns.

On the other side of irony, there is meaning. On the otherside of a fractured and fragmented world, there is meaning.On the other side of despair, there is meaning. Try the Inte­gral Framework out for just a while, give it a test drive, and see what you think. But whatever framework or view you use, please make it as large and encompassing as you can,because the meaningfulness of your life almost certainly de­pends on it.

Here is the 1-Minute Module for the Mind, or Integral (AQAL) Framework, focusing on three levels (body, mind,spirit) and four quadrants (the “big three” of I, we, and it). It’scalled “Get a Feel for AQAL,” because this Framework is not amere abstraction but a map of a felt and living reality.

1 – Minute Module

Get a Feel for AQAL

The cornerstone of the AQAL Framework is an un­derstanding of perspectives. In any moment, you can feel these basic dimensions of your being, sim­ply by noticing what is already present.

  • Feel your present I-space or individual awareness. What does it feel like to be an “1” right now?Feel that I-ness.
  • Feel your present We-space or intersubjective aware­ness. What does it feel like to be in relationship to oth­ers right now? (If no other people are present, you can imagine a significant other, your family, or your co-workers. You can even try to feel what connects youto someone on the other side of the world.)Feel that We-ness.
  • Feel your present It-space or objective world. What is physically surrounding you? What does the ground feel like beneath your feet? Feel that It-ness.
  • Now, feel your body—your feelings and sensations.
  • Feel your mind—your thoughts and images
  • Finally, feel the witness or Spirit of this and every moment—that which is aware of your 1, we, it, body, and mind, right now.
  • Silently remind yourself “These are all dimensions of my being and becoming, all of which I will include, none of which l will reject.

You have just felt a very brief version of AQAL—all quadrants (I, We, It), and all levels (Body, Mind, and Spirit). This is exercisingbody, mind, andspirit inself, culture, and nature.

Shadow Module

If I said I thought the Mind module was the most impor­tant module, I’ve changed my mind: the Shadow module is.(Well, they’re all important, yes?) Another one of the lessonsthat we learned the very hard way over the last few decadesis that if you don’t do shadow work, virtually every other mod­ule can get sabotaged, and worst of all, by your own uncon­scious motives.

The “shadow” is a term representing the personal uncon­scious, or the psychological material that we repress, deny, dissociate, or disown. Unfortunately, denying this material doesn’t make it go away; on the contrary, it returns to plague us with painful neurotic symptoms, obsessions, fears, and anxieties. Uncovering, befriending, and re-owning this mate­rial is necessary not only for removing the painful symptoms, but for forming an accurate and healthy self-image.

Take, for example, somebody who is uncomfortable withtheir own feelings of anger or aggression. Whenever placed incircumstances where the average person might get angry, orat least damned irritated, this individual won’t feel his own anger because he represses it. The anger doesn’t thereby dis­appear, but is simply displaced or projected onto somebodyelse. Since he knows somebody is angry as hell, and since it can’t possibly be him, it must be somebody else—anybody else. Come to think of it, his boss seems to be really angry athim! And this makes him incredibly depressed. His own feel­ings of anger have been repressed, alienated, and disowned,only toreturn as feelings of alienation and depression. M-A-Dhas become S-A-D, as this individual shadow-boxes his way through a rather unhappy life.

It used to bethoughtthat meditation alone would uncoveror “de-repress” most types of unconscious shadow material.Butafter several decades of people doing meditation, millionsof shadows remained intact. The reasons for this were sought,and the bottom line seems to be that unless you know exactlywhat you are looking for, the panoramic awareness of medita­tion is too much of a shotgun approach to get at specific shadow elements. For this, laser psychotherapy is required.

In the above example, because meditation increases yourcapacity for sensitivity and feeling-awareness, then medita­tion might help this person get more in touch with his feelingsof sadness and depression. He might be able to bring an enor­mous amount of awareness to flood the contours of his feel­ings of depression!—but this individual will not necessarilydiscover the anger and rage hidden and secreted in his feelingsof depression unless he knows exactly where and how to look.This psychological detective work is the province of the great depth psychologies, which was largely a discovery of the modern West. Meditation can help, but not replace, psychotherapy.
There are many effective forms of shadow psychotherapy, from Gestalttherapyto psychoanalytic therapy to Transactional Analysis. Other forms of psychotherapy, although they don’t deal directly with the shadow, can also be very ef­fective in correcting neurotic disorders. The helpfulness of cognitive and interpersonal approaches is particularly well documented. Even inner journaling and voice dialoguing can help. We refer to all of these as “shadow work.”

But whichever form you may choose, no integral life prac­tice is complete without some sort of shadow work. The simple suggestion is, don’t learn this lesson the hard way, be-cause your shadow can accompany you all the way to Enlight­enment and back. The shadow is just one tricky little son of abitch, which I suppose is how you get to be the shadow in the first place.

Here is the 1-Minute Shadow Module, which we call “The 3-2-1 of Shadow Work” because it helps take “it” symptoms and convert them to re-owned aspects of the self by facing the shadow as a 3’d person, talking to it as a 2nd person, then being it as a 15‘ person. FACE-TALK-BE.

1 – Minute Module

3-2-1 Process

You can do the 3-2-1 Process anytime you need it. Two particularly useful times are right when you wake up in the morning and just before going to bed at night. Once you know 3-2-1, it only takes a minute to do for anything that might be disturbing you.

First thing in the morning (before getting out of bed)review your dreams and find someone who showed upwith an emotional charge, positive or negative. FACEthat person, holding them in mind. Then TALK to thatperson, or simply resonate with them. Finally, BE thatperson by taking their perspective. For the sake of thisexercise, there is no need to write anything out—you can go through the whole process right in your own mind.

Before going to bed, choose a person who either dis­turbed or attracted you during the day. FACE them, TALK to them, and then BE them (as described above). Again, you can do the 3-2-1 process quietly by your-self, any time you need it, day or night.

Auxiliary (or Supplementary) Modules

The Body, Mind, Spirit, and Shadow modules are consid­ered to be thecore modules because: one, they are so essen­tial; and two, they can be done by working on yourself, mostly.Theauxiliary modules are those that start to address yourrelationships, your job or work in the world, your family, mar­riage life, and intimate partnerships—as well as advanced aspects of individual work.

Foremost among these is theEthics Module. In a recentIntegral Institute poll, which was sent out to some 8,000 mem­bers of www.lntegralNaked.org, an online radio program, weasked those taking the poll, “What modules would you mostlike to include in your own Integral Life Practice?” Choices in­cluded items such as meditation, work, relationships, diet, and sexuality. The #1 choice was meditation; the #2 choicewas ethics. Over food, relationships, and sex, people choseethics. Apparently our culture is so bereft of moral compass,individuals are absolutely starved for some sort of guidance in this area

The Ethics Module focuses on two basic orienting gener­alizations. The first is that an action is moral or ethical the more perspectives it takes into account. Actions that take only a 15Y-person perspective into account areegocentric. Actions that take a 2nd-person perspective into account areethnocentric. Actions that take a 3rd-person perspective intoaccount areworldcentric. And actions that take a 4th-and 5th-person perspective are Kosmocentric.

Given that understanding, it’s not hard to see, is it?, that worldcentric actions are better than ethnocentric actions. Worldcentric is better (or more moral) than ethnocentric, which is better than egocentric, because it takes more per­spectives into account. As with Carol Gilligan’s sequence (selfish tocare touniversal care tointegral), each higherlevel is capable of being more ethical because it is capable oftaking more perspectives into account before reaching a de­cision. Who would you want making decisions that affectedyou, somebody who is egocentric or somebody who is world-centric?

So perhaps we can already see that there is a path thattranscends the moral absolutism of amber and the moral rel­ativism of green. With Integral Ethics, meaning returns, along with a moral compass that transcends and includes lesser perspectives.

The second orienting generalization is that ethical action is action that seeks to protect and promote the greatest depth for the greatest span. This maxim is known as the Basic Moral Intuition, or BMI.Depth is defined as the numberof levels in a holon, andspan is the number of holons on alevel. If we number the labeled levels in figure 14, then infra-red has a (relative) depth of 1, red has 3, orange has 5, tur­quoise has 8, violet has 10, and so on.

But it is not enough to know that 8 is better than 5, whichis better than 3. We also have to know how that fits in withother holons, human and nonhuman alike. A human has moredepth than a cow, which has more depth than a carrot, whichhas more depth than a bacterium, which has more depth thana quark. So if we were forced to choose which to kill—a cowor a bacterium—we choose the bacterium. But because ev­erything is interconnected, we don’t act simply to promote more depth, but the most depth across the most span. Eco­logical awareness—and ecological ethics—involves this in-credible balancing act between saving the most depth across the most span. Choosing just depth is anthropocentric; choosing just span is bacteria-centric. We act instead to pro­tect and promote the greatest depth for the greatest span, or our Basic Moral Intuition.

Other auxiliary modules include Transmuting Emotions,Karma Yoga (or Work in the World), Sexual Yoga, Relationships,Family and Parenting. Please see www.IntegralTraining.org for updates on these and other modules.

We now have one core module left to discuss, and I’ve changed my mind again. I think this is the most important module of all.

Spirit Module: The Vast Openness of Your Own Big Mind and Big Heart

We have seen that it’s common nowadays for people to say that they are “spiritual but not religious.” The general idea is that “religious” means institutional forms of religion—its dogma, myths, mandatory beliefs, its old and faded rituals; whereas “spiritual” means personal values, present awareness, interior realities, and immediate experi­ence. Of course, some aspects of religion are spiritual, butmuch of institutional religion does indeed seem old and wornout, a relic of premodern times, or at least prerational stagesof development.

Spirit can mean direct experience of a Ground of Being.It can mean anything that expresses one’s ultimate concern.It can mean whatever gives life a sense of oneness or tran­scendence. It can mean one’s own deepest nature and condition. We explored many of these in chapter 5. But thefact is, you either believe in a spiritual dimension of being oryou don’t. Because the core spiritual module focuses on the practice of meditation or contemplation, it is designed to accommodate the widest possible range of orientations, from the more “scientific” (meditation is a relaxation re­sponse) to the more “spiritual” (meditation gives access to an ultimate Ground of Being, or God by whatever name). Use whichever of those, or any others, that are comfortable for you.

A fairly unique feature of Integral Life Practice is what iscalled “The Three Faces of Spirit,” or sometimes “The One-Two-Three (or 1-2-3) of God.” The idea is that Spirit, as it man­ifests, has 4 quadrants, just like the rest of manifestation,and so, to the extent we think about Spirit, we can do so usingthe 4 quadrants (or simply the15t– 2nd-,and 3rd-person per­spectives of Spirit).

Spirit in 3rd-person appears as a Great Web of Life, theentire Totality of Existence conceived as a Great It, a GreatSystem of All Beings, or Nature with a capital N. Spinoza made this conception of God famous.

Spirit in 2“d-person is a Great You or Great Thou, a LivingIntelligence and Love that is the ground and reason of all ex­istence. The theistic traditions of the West especially focus on this face of Spirit.

Spirit in 15t-person is a Great I or I-I, the I that Witnessesthe I, the pure infinite Self, the Atman that is Brahman, theBig Mind that is your real mind or awareness in this and everymoment. The Eastern contemplative traditions especially fo­cus on this face of Spirit.

Which of those faces is right? All of them, of course. They are the 4 quadrants—or three Faces—of manifest Spirit. You can use whichever of those perspectives feels right to you, but there is a special type of integral spiritual awareness that comes from using all of them, which is the approach we take.

Here is the 1-Minute Module for Spirit, focusing on all three faces.

1-Minute Module

The 1-2-3 of God

At any moment, you can experience God as a 3rd-person”It,” a 2nd-person “Thou,” or a1St-person “I.” Simply re-peat the following sentences quietly to yourself, let­ting each perspective arise gently and naturally within your awareness.

  • l contemplate God as all that is arising—the Great Perfection of this and every moment.
  • I behold and commune with God as an infinite Thou,who bestows all blessings and complete forgivenesson me, and before whom I offer infinite gratitude and devotion.
  • I rest in God as my own Witness and primordial Self the Big Mind that is one with all, and in this ever-present, easy, and natural state, I go on about my day.

If you wish, you can replace the word “God” with any word of your choice that evokes an Ultimate Being. It could be “Spirit,” “Jehovah,” “Allah,” “Brahman,” “The Lord,” or “The One.”

Here is the same meditationwith a more 1St-person orientation.

Notice your present awareness. Notice the objects arising in your awareness—the images and thoughtsarising in your mind, the feelings and sensations aris­ing in your body, the myriad objects arising around you in the room or environment. All of these are objects arising in your awareness.

Now think about what was in your awareness 5 min­utes ago. Most of the thoughts have changed, mostof the bodily sensations have changed, and probably most of the environment has changed. But some-thing has not changed. Something in you is the same now as it was 5 minutes ago. What is present now that was present 5 minutes ago?

I AMness. The feeling-awareness of I AMness is still present. I am that ever-present I AMness. That I AMness is present now, it was present a moment ago, it was present a minute ago, it was present 5 minutes ago.

What was present 5 hours ago?

I AMness. That sense of I AMness is an ongoing, self-knowing, self-recognizing, self-validating I AMness.It is present now, it was present 5 hours ago. All my thoughts have changed, all my bodily sensations have changed, my environment has changed, but I AM is ever-present, radiant, open, empty, clear, spa­cious, transparent, free. Objects have changed, butnot this formless l AMness. This obvious and present I AMness is present now as it was present 5 hours ago.

I AMness. So many objects have come and gone, somany feelings have come and gone, so many thoughtshave come and gone, so many dramas and terrors andloves and hates have come, and stayed awhile, andgone. But one thing has not come, and one thing hasnot gone. What is that? What is the only thing presentin your awareness right now that you can rememberwas present 5 years ago? This timeless, ever-presentfeeling of I AMness is present now as it was 5 years ago.

What was present 5 centuries ago?

All that is ever-present is I AMness. Every person feels this same I AMness—because it is not a body, itis not a thought, it is not an object, it is not the envi­ronment, it is not anything that can be seen, but rather is the ever-present Seer, the ongoing open and empty Witness of all that is arising, in any per-son, in any world, in any place, at any time, in all theworlds until the end of time, there is only and always this obvious and immediate I AMness. What else could you possibly know? What else does anybody ever know? There is only and always this radiant, self-knowing, self-feeling, self-transcending I AM-ness, whether present now, 5 minutes ago, 5 hours ago, 5 centuries ago.

5 millennia ago?

Before Abraham was, I AM. Before the universe was, IAM. This is my original Face, the face I had before myparents were born, the face I had before the universewas born, the Face 1 had for all eternity until I decidedto play this round of hide and seek, and get lost in the objects of my own creation.

I will NEVER again pretend that I do not know or feel my own 1 AMness.

And with that, the game is undone. A million thoughtshave come and gone, a million feelings have come andgone, a million objects have come and gone. But onething has not come, and one thing has not gone: thegreat Unborn and the great Undying, which never en­ters or leaves the stream of time, a pure Presence above time, floating in eternity. I am this great, ob­vious, self-knowing, self-validating, self-liberating I AMness.

Before Abraham was, I AM.

I AM is none other than Spirit in 1St-person, the ulti­mate, the sublime, the radiant all-creating Self of theentire Kosmos, present in me and you and him and herand them—as the l AMness that each and every one of us feels.

Because in all the known universes, the overall num­ber of l AMs is but one.

Rest as l AMness always, the exact l AMness you feelright now, which is Unborn Spirit itself shining in and as you. Assume your personal identity as well—as this or that object, or this or that self or this and that thing—resting always in the Ground of it All, asthis great and completely obvious I AMness, and get up and go on about your day, in the universe I AM created.

Chapter 7

Not the End, But the Beginning

Look! Look! What do you see?

If you but rest as the witness of this and all the worlds that arise in your own awareness…

AQAL or IOS itself is just a map, nothing more. It is not the territory. But, as far as we can tell, it is the most comprehensive map that we possess at this time. Moreover – and this is important – the integral Map itself insists that we got to the real territory and not get caught in mere words, ideas, or concepts. Remember that the quadrants are just a version of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person realities? Well, the Integral Map and AQAL and IOS are just 3rd person words themselves insist that we also include 1st person direct feelings, experiences, and consciousness as well as 2nd person dialogue, contact, and interpersonal care. The integral Map itself says: this map is just a 3rd person map, so don’t forget those other important realities, all of which should be included in any comprehensive approach. WEVE SEEN A FEW OF THE APPLICATIONS OR APPS OF THE

Integral Model. We can now conclude with a brief summary of the main points of the model itself.

AQAL is short for”all quadrants, all levels”—which itselfis short for “all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, alltypes,” which are simply 5 of the most basic elements thatneed to be included in any truly integral or comprehensive approach.

When AQAL is used as a guiding framework to organize orunderstand any activity, we also call it anIntegral Operating System, or simply105. More advanced forms of 10S are avail-able, but105 Basic, which this book introduced, has all of theessential elements (quadrants, levels, lines, states, types) to get anybody started toward a more comprehensive, inclu­sive, and effective approach.

When AQAL or 10S is used for real-life personal growthand development, we speak ofIntegral Life Practice, whichappears to be the most comprehensive and therefore effec­tive path of transformation available. The researchers at In­tegral Institute have attempted to create a simple, easy, introductory version of this, called theILP Starter Kit, whichyou may be interested in checking out. I hate sales pitches,but I don’t know any other way to get across the fact that anILP Starter Kit is available, and at least a few people think it’s pretty cool. Check it out: www.MylLP.com.

Here’s one other important conclusion. 10S is aneutral framework; it does not tell you what to think, or force any particular ideologies on you, or coerce your awareness in anyfashion. For example, to say that human beings have waking,dreaming, and deep sleep states is not to say what you shouldthink while awake or what you should see while dreaming. Itsimply says, if you want to be comprehensive, be sure and in­clude waking and dreaming and formless states.

Likewise, to say that all occasions have 4 quadrants—orsimply “I,” “we,” and “it” dimensions—is not to say what the”I” should do, or the “we” should do, or the”it” should do. Itsimply says, if you are trying to include all the important pos­sibilities, be sure to include 15Y-and 2“d-and 3rd-person per­spectives, because they are present in all major languages the world over.

Precisely because IOS is a neutral framework, it can beused to bring more clarity, care, and comprehensiveness to virtually any situation, making success much more likely, whether that success be measured in terms of personal transformation, social change, excellence in business, care for others, or simple happiness in life.

But perhaps most important of all, because IOS can beused by any discipline—from medicine to art to business tospirituality to politics to ecology—then we can, for the firsttime in history, begin an extensive andfruitful dialogue be­tween all of these disciplines. A person using 10S in business can talk easily and effectively with a person using 10S in poetry, dance, or the arts, simply because they now have a common language—or a common operating system—with which to communicate. When you are using IOS, not only canyou run hundreds of different “software” programs on it, all of those programs can now communicate with each other and learn from each other, thus advancing an evolutionary unfolding to even greater dimensions of being and knowing and doing.

This is why thousands of scholars and teachers the world over came together and started Integral University, the world’s first integral learning community. Because all of thevarious human activities, previously separated by incommen­surate jargon and terminologies, can in fact begin to effec­tively communicate with each other by running an Integral Operating System, each of those disciplines can begin to con-verse with, and learn from, the others. This has never effec­tively happened anywhere in history, which is why, indeed, the Integral adventure is about to begin.

However we look at it,it all comes down to a few simple points. In your own growth and development, you have the capacity to take self, culture, and nature to increasingly higher, wider, and deeper modes of being, expanding from an isolated identity of “me” to a fuller identity of “us” to an even deeper identity with “all of us”—with all sentient beingseverywhere—as your own capacity for Truth and Goodness and Beauty deepens and expands. Ever-greater conscious­ness with an ever-wider embrace, which is realized in self, embodied in nature, and expressed in culture.

Thus,to cultivate body, mind, and spirit in self, culture, and nature. This is the extraordinary aim and goal of the Integral Approach, and we would love to have you join us in this exciting endeavor.

There is a new adventure here, and a new politics here,and even a new revolution, waiting on the horizon. You sense it, yes?

New work to be done, new glories to be told, new groundto be revealed, and secrets of the heart yet to unfold when itis too full to speak, too radiant to see, too infinite to hold, tooeternal to touch, but only because it is right here and now, closer to you than your own breath, more inside you than your own thoughts, and closer to Spirit than all of them, thisinside of You that is now reading this page, looking out at the world and wondering what it all means, when what-it-all­means isyou. Not the you that can be seen, but the You that is doing the seeing.

The Seer in you, the Witness of this page and the entireworld around it:it shimmers and scintillates with a thrilling bliss laced into the freedom of each and every moment, a searing soaring freedom that releases into infinity with ev­ery out-breath, tickling your spine with its radiant intensityas it razors from your body and into the great beyond, carry­ing gifts of infinite compassion and radical perfection and radiant care, gifts so outrageously huge your entire body would burst if it tried to contain them. You can feel it now, this Fullness that is yours pushing against you, trying to ex­pand, this Freedom that is yours if you but stepped aside and letit all come crashing through. And so it does, if you rest asthe Witness of this and all the worlds that easily arise in yourown awareness, worlds of your own making in each sunriseand each sunset, as the luminous orb transverses the vast sky of your own transparent emptiness. The great radiant open that is you, moment to moment, isall that ever is. Look!Look! Look! What do you see? Whatcan you see? Exceptthesetextures of your own Self, this great One Taste of your ownprimordial Presence, everywhere appearing as the world. Is that world “out there” anything but the feeling of you right now? Listen to me:

Everything is you.

You are empty.

Empty is freely manifesting.

Freely manifesting is self liberating.

Join me, please, my friends, and let’s do this one last time

Notice your present awareness. Notice the objects arising in your awareness—theimages andthoughts arising in your mind, the feel­ings and sensations arising in your body, the myriadobjects arising around you in the room or environ­ment. All of these are objects arising in your aware­ness.

Now think about what was in your awareness 5 minutes ago. Most of the thoughts have changed,most of the bodily sensations have changed, and probably most of the environment has changed. But something has not changed. Something in youis the same now as it was 5 minutes ago. What is present now that was present 5 minutes ago?

I AMness. The feeling-awareness of I AMness is still present. I am that ever-present I AMness. ThatI AMness is present now, it was present a momentago, it was present a minute ago, it was present 5 minutes ago.

What was present 5 hours ago? 

I AMness. That sense of I AMness is an ongoing, self-knowing, self-recognizing, self-validating I AMness, it is present now, , it was present 5 hoursago. All mythoughts have changed, all my bodily sensations have changed, my environment has changed, but I AM is ever-present, radiant, open,empty, clear, spacious, transparent, free. Objectshave changed, but not this formless I AMness. Thisobvious and present I AMness is present now as it was present 5 hours ago.

What was present 5 years ago?

I AMness. So many objects have come and gone, so many feelings have come and gone, so many thoughts have come and gone, so many dramas and terrors and loves and hates have come, and stayed awhile, and gone. But one thing has not come, and one thing has not gone. What is that? What is the only thing present in your awareness right now that you can remember was present 5 years ago? This timeless, ever-present feeling of I AMness is present now as it was 5 years ago.

What was present 5 centrues ago?

Al that is ever-preent is IAMness. Every person feels this same I AMness – because it is not a body, it is not a thought, it is not an object, it is not the environment, it is not anything that can be seen, but rather is the ever-present Seer, the ongoing open and empty Witness of allthat is arising, in anyperson, in any world, in any place, at any time, in allthe worlds until the end of time, there is only andalways this obvious and immediate I AMness. Whatelse could you possibly know? What else does any-body ever know? There is only and always this ra­diant, self-knowing, self-feeling, self-transcendingI AMness, whether present now, 5 minutes ago, 5 hours ago, 5 centuries ago.

5 millennia ago?

Before Abraham was, I AM. Before the universe was, I AM. This is my original Face, the face I hadbefore my parents were born, the face I had beforethe universe was born, the Face I had for alleternityuntil I decided to play this round of hide and seek, and get lost in the objects of my own creation.

I will NEVER again pretend that I do not know or feel my own I AMness.

And with that, the game is undone. A million thoughts have come and gone, a million feelings have come and gone, a million objects have come and gone. But one thing has not come, and one thing has not gone: the great Unborn and the greatUndying, which never enters or leaves the stream of time, a pure Presence above time, floating in eternity. I am this great, obvious, self-knowing, self-validating, self-liberating I AMness.

Before Abraham was, I AM.

I AM is none other than Spirit in 1st-person, the ul­timate, the sublime, the radiant all-creating Self of the entire Kosmos, present in me and you and him and her and them—as the I AMnessthat each and every one of us feels.

Because in all the known universes, the overall number of I AMs is but one.

Rest as I AMness always, the exact I AMness youfeel right now, which is Unborn Spirit itself shining in and as you. Assume your personal identity as well—as this orthat object, or this orthat self, orthis andthatthing—resting always in the Groundof it All, as this great and completely obvious I AMness and get up and go on about your day, in the universe I AM created.

It’s a new day, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new man, it’s a new woman. The new human is integral, and so is the new world.

Books by Ken Wilber

The Spectrum of Consciousness (1977). An introduction to the full-spectrum model, the first to show, in a systematic way, how the great psychological systems of the West can beintegrated with the great contemplative traditions of the East.

No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth (1979). A simple and popular guide to psychologies and therapiesavailable from both Western and Eastern sources; designated by Wilber as reflecting the “Romantic” phase of his early work.

The Atman Project: A Transpersonal View of Human Development (1980). Thefirst psychological system to suggest a way of unitingEastern and Western, conventional and contemplative, orthodox and mystical approaches into a single, coherent framework.

Up from Eden: A Transpersonal View of Human Evolution (1981). Drawing ontheorists from Joseph Campbell to Jean Gebser, Wilber outlines humankind’s evolutionary journey—and “dialectic of process”—from its primal past to its integral future.

The Holographic Paradigm and Other Paradoxes: Exploring the Lead­ing Edge of Science (1982). An anthology ofcontributions by promi­nent scientists and thinkers on the dialogue between science and religion.

A Sociable God: Toward a New Understanding of Religion (1983). Ascholarlyintroduction to a system of reliable methods by which to adjudicate the legitimacy andauthenticity of any religious move­ment.

Eye to Eye: The Quest for the New Paradigm (1983). An examination ofthree realms of knowledge: the empirical realm of the senses, therational realm of the mind, and the contemplative realm of the spirit.

Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World’s Great Physi­cists (1984). An anthology of nontechnical excerpts selectedfromthe work of great physicists, including Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Einstein, de Broglie, Jeans, Planck, Pauli, and Eddington.

Transformations of Consciousness: Conventional and Contemplative Perspectives on Development, by Ken Wilber, Jack Engler, and DanielP. Brown (1986). Nine essays exploring thefull-spectrum model ofhumangrowth and development,from prepersonal to personal to transpersonal.

Spiritual Choices: The Problem of Recognizing Authentic Paths to Inner Transformation, edited by Dick Anthony, Bruce Ecker, and Ken Wilber(1987). Psychologists and spiritual teacherscontribute to this studyof religious movements, aimed at answering the dilemma of how to distinguish spiritual tyrannyfrom legitimate spiritual authority.

Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber (1991). The moving story of Ken’s marriage to Treyaand the five-year journeythat took themthrough her illness, treat­ment, and eventual death from breast cancer.

Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution (1995). The first volume of the Kosmos Trilogy and the book thatintroduced the 4-quadrant model. This tour de force of scholarship and vision traces the course of evolution from matter to life to mind (and possible higher future levels), and describes the common patterns that evolution takes in all three domains.

A Brief History of Everything (1996). A short, highly readable versionofSex, Ecology, Spirituality, written in an accessible, conversationalstyle, without all the technical arguments and endnotes; the place to begin if new to his work.

The Eye of Spirit: An Integral Vision for a World Gone Slightly Mad (1997). Essays explore the Integral Approach to such fields as psy­chology, spirituality, anthropology, cultural studies, art and literary theory, ecology, feminism, and planetary transformation.

The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion (1998). After surveying the world’s great wisdom traditions and ex­tracting features they all share, Wilber offers compelling argu­ments that not only are these compatible with scientifictruth, they also share a similar scientific method.

The Essential Ken Wilber: An Introductory Reader (1998). Brief pas-sages from Wilber’s most popular books, imparting the essence and flavor of his writings for newcomers to his work.

One Taste: The Journals of Ken Wilber (1999). A lively and entertain­ing glimpse into a year in the life of Ken Wilber.

The Collected Works of Ken Wilber, vols. 1-8 (1999-2000). An ongo­ing series.

Integral Psychology: Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy (2000). A landmark study introducing the first truly integral psychology, this model includes waves of development, streamsof development,states of consciousness, and the self, andfollowsthe course of each from subconscious to self-conscious to super-conscious.

A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Sci­ence, and Spirituality (2001). A compact summary of the Integral Approach as a genuine”world philosophy,” noteworthy because itincludes many real-world applications in various fields. A popular choice for introductory reading.

Boomeritis: A Novel That Will Set You Free (2002). A combination ofbrilliant scholarship and wicked parody, the noveltargets one ofthe most stubborn obstacles to realizing the integral vision: a dis­ease of pluralism plus narcissismthat Wilber calls “boomeritis.”

The Simple Feeling of Being: Embracing Your True Nature (2004). A collection of inspirational, mystical, and instructional passages drawn from Wilber’s publications, compiled and edited by some of his senior students.

Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World (2006). A theory of spiritualitythat honorsthetruths of premodernity, modernity, and postmodernity—includ­ing the revolutions in science and culture—while incorporating theessential insights of the great religions. This is a truly revolutionarybook, hailed by critics as fundamentally changing the nature and role of religion and spirituality.

Teaching Techniques

Teaching Techniques




By Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson
From The American Association for Higher Education Bulletin, March 1987
Reprinted with permission.


Apathetic students, illiterate graduates, incompetent teaching, impersonal campuses — so rolls the drumfire of criticism of higher education. More than two years of reports have spelled out the problems. States have been quick to respond by holding out carrots and beating with sticks.

There are neither enough carrots nor enough sticks to improve undergraduate education without the commitment and action of students and faculty members. They are the precious resources on whom the improvement of undergraduate education depends.

But how can students and faculty members improve undergraduate education? Many campuses around the country are asking this question. To provide a focus for their work, we offer seven principles based on research on good teaching and learning in colleges and universities.

Good practice in undergraduate education:

  1. encourages contact between students and faculty,
  2. develops reciprocity and cooperation among students,
  3. encourages active learning,
  4. gives prompt feedback,
  5. emphasizes time on task,
  6. communicates high expectations, and
  7. respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

We can do it ourselves – with a little bit of help…

These seven principles are not ten commandments shrunk to a 20th century attention span. They are intended as guidelines for faculty members, students, and administrators — with support from state agencies and trustees — to improve teaching and learning. These principles seem like good common sense, and they are — because many teachers and students have experienced them and because research supports them. They rest on 50 years of research on the way teachers teach and students learn, how students work and play with one another, and how students and faculty talk to each other.

While each practice can stand alone on its own, when all are present their effects multiply. Together they employ six powerful forces in education:

  • activity,
  • expectations,
  • cooperation,
  • interaction,
  • diversity, and
  • responsibility.

Good practices hold as much meaning for professional programs as for the liberal arts. They work for many different kinds of students — white, black, Hispanic, Asian, rich, poor, older, younger, male, female, well-prepared, underprepared.

But the ways different institutions implement good practice depend very much on their students and their circumstances. In what follows, we describe several different approaches to good practice that have been used in different kinds of settings in the last few years. In addition, the powerful implications of these principles for the way states fund and govern higher education and for the way institutions are run are discussed briefly at the end.

As faculty members, academic administrators, and student personnel staff, we have spent most of our working lives trying to understand our students, our colleagues, our institutions and ourselves. We have conducted research on higher education with dedicated colleagues in a wide range of schools in this country. With the implications of this research for practice, we hope to help us all do better.

We address the teacher’s how, not the subject-matter what, of good practice in undergraduate education. We recognize that content and pedagogy interact in complex ways. We are also aware that there is much healthy ferment within and among the disciplines. What is taught, after all, is at least as important as how it is taught. In contrast to the long history of research in teaching and learning, there is little research on the college curriculum. We cannot, therefore, make responsible recommendations about the content of good undergraduate education. That work is yet to be done. This much we can say: An undergraduate education should prepare students to understand and deal intelligently with modern life. What better place to start but in the classroom and on our campuses? What better time than now?

Seven Principles of Good Practice.

1. Encourages Contact Between Students and Faculty

Frequent student-faculty contact in and out of classes is the most important factor in student motivation and involvement. Faculty concern helps students get through rough times and keep on working. Knowing a few faculty members well enhances students’ intellectual commitment and encourages them to think about their own values and future plans.

2. Develops Reciprocity and Cooperation Among Students

Learning is enhanced when it is more like a team effort that a solo race. Good learning, like good work, is collaborative and social, not competitive and isolated. Working with others often increases involvement in learning. Sharing one’s own ideas and responding to others’ reactions sharpens thinking and deepens understanding.

3. Encourages Active Learning

Learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much just by sitting in classes listening to teachers, memorizing pre-packaged assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences and apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves.

4. Gives Prompt Feedback

Knowing what you know and don’t know focuses learning. Students need appropriate feedback on performance to benefit from courses. When getting started, students need help in assessing existing knowledge and competence. In classes, students need frequent opportunities to perform and receive suggestions for improvement. At various points during college, and at the end, students need chances to reflect on what they have learned, what they still need to know, and how to assess themselves.

5. Emphasizes Time on Task

Time plus energy equals learning. There is no substitute for time on task. Learning to use one’s time well is critical for students and professionals alike. Students need help in learning effective time management. Allocating realistic amounts of time means effective learning for students and effective teaching for faculty. How an institution defines time expectations for students, faculty, administrators, and other professional staff can establish the basis of high performance for all.

6. Communicates High Expectations

Expect more and you will get more. High expectations are important for everyone — for the poorly prepared, for those unwilling to exert themselves, and for the bright and well motivated. Expecting students to perform well becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when teachers and institutions hold high expectations for themselves and make extra efforts.

7. Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning

There are many roads to learning. People bring different talents and styles of learning to college. Brilliant students in the seminar room may be all thumbs in the lab or art studio. Students rich in hands-on experience may not do so well with theory. Students need the opportunity to show their talents and learn in ways that work for them. Then they can be pushed to learn in new ways that do not come so easily.

Teachers and students hold the main responsibility for improving undergraduate education. But they need a lot of help. College and university leaders, state and federal officials, and accrediting associations have the power to shape an environment that is favorable to good practice in higher education.

What qualities must this environment have?

  • A strong sense of shared purposes.
  • Concrete support from administrators and faculty leaders for those purposes.
  • Adequate funding appropriate for the purposes.
  • Policies and procedures consistent with the purposes.
  • Continuing examination of how well the purposes are being achieved.

There is good evidence that such an environment can be created. When this happens, faculty members and administrators think of themselves as educators. Adequate resources are put into creating opportunities for faculty members, administrators, and students to celebrate and reflect on their shared purposes. Faculty members receive support and release time for appropriate professional development activities. Criteria for hiring and promoting faculty members, administrators, and staff support the institution’s purposes. Advising is considered important. Departments, programs, and classes are small enough to allow faculty members and students to have a sense of community, to experience the value of their contributions, and to confront the consequences of their failures.

States, the federal government and accrediting associations affect the kind of environment that can develop on campuses in a variety of ways. The most important is through the allocation of financial support. States also influence good practice by encouraging sound planning, setting priorities, mandating standards, and reviewing and approving programs. Regional and professional accrediting associations require self-study and peer review in making judgments about programs and institutions.

These sources of support and influence can encourage environments for good practice in undergraduate education by:

  • setting policies that are consistent with good practice in undergraduate education,
  • holding high expectations for institutional performance,
  • keeping bureaucratic regulations to a minimum that is compatible with public accountability,
  • allocating adequate funds for new undergraduate programs and the professional development of faculty members, administrators, and staff,
  • encouraging employment of under-represented groups among administrators, faculty members, and student services professionals, and
  • providing the support for programs, facilities, and financial aid necessary for good practice in undergraduate education.


From “Getting the Most out of Your AIDS/HIV Trainings”
East Bay AIDS Education Training Center
Revised from 1989 addition by Pat McCarthy, RN, MSN, 1992




– presents factual material in direct, logical manner

– contains experience which inspires

– stimulates thinking to open discussion

– useful for large groups


– experts are not always good teachers

– audience is passive

– learning is difficult to gauge

– communication in one way


– needs clear introduction and summary

– needs time and content limit to be effective

– should include examples, anecdotes

Lecture With Discussion



– involves audience at least after the lecture

– audience can question, clarify & challenge


– time may limit discussion period

– quality is limited to quality of questions and discussion


– requires that questions be prepared prior to discussion

Panel of Experts



– allows experts to present different opinions

– can provoke better discussion than a one person discussion

– frequent change of speaker keeps attention from lagging


– experts may not be good speakers

– personalities may overshadow content

– subject may not be in logical order


– facilitator coordinates focus of panel, introduces and summarizes

– briefs panel




– listening exercise that allows creative thinking for new ideas

– encourages full participation because all ideas equally recorded

– draws on group’s knowledge and experience

– spirit of congeniality is created

– one idea can spark off other other ideas


– can be unfocused

– needs to be limited to 5 – 7 minutes

– people may have difficulty getting away from known reality

– if not facilitated well, criticism and evaluation may occur


– facilitator selects issue

– must have some ideas if group needs to be stimulated




– entertaining way of teaching content and raising issues

– keep group’s attention

– looks professional

– stimulates discussion


– can raise too many issues to have a focused discussion

– discussion may not have full participation

– only as effective as following discussion


– need to set up equipment

– effective only if facilitator prepares questions to discuss after the show

Class Discussion



– pools ideas and experiences from group

– effective after a presentation, film or experience that needs to be analyzed

– allows everyone to participate in an active process


– not practical with more that 20 people

– few people can dominate

– others may not participate

– is time consuming

– can get off the track


– requires careful planning by facilitator to guide discussion

– requires question outline

Small Group Discussion



– allows participation of everyone

– people often more comfortable in small groups

– can reach group consensus


– needs careful thought as to purpose of group

– groups may get side tracked


– needs to prepare specific tasks or questions for group to answer

Case Studies



– develops analytic and problem solving skills

– allows for exploration of solutions for complex issues

– allows student to apply new knowledge and skills


– people may not see relevance to own situation

– insufficient information can lead to inappropriate results


– case must be clearly defined in some cases

– case study must be prepared

Role Playing



– introduces problem situation dramatically

– provides opportunity for people to assume roles of others and thus appreciate another point of view

– allows for exploration of solutions

– provides opportunity to practice skills


– people may be too self-conscious

– not appropriate for large groups

– people may feel threatened


– trainer has to define problem situation and roles clearly

– trainer must give very clear instructions

Report-Back Sessions



– allows for large group discussion of role plays, case studies, and small group exercise

– gives people a chance to reflect on experience

– each group takes responsibility for its operation


– can be repetitive if each small group says the same thing


– trainer has to prepare questions for groups to discuss




– allows people to thing for themselves without being influences by others

– individual thoughts can then be shared in large group


– can be used only for short period of time


– facilitator has to prepare handouts

Index Card Exercise



– opportunity to explore difficult and complex issues


– people may not do exercise


– facilitator must prepare questions

Guest Speaker



– personalizes topic

– breaks down audience’s stereotypes


– may not be a good speaker


– contact speakers and coordinate

– introduce speaker appropriately

Values Clarification Exercise



– opportunity to explore values and beliefs

– allows people to discuss values in a safe environment

– gives structure to discussion


– people may not be honest

– people may be too self-conscious


– facilitator must carefully prepare exercise

– must give clear instructions

– facilitator must prepare discussion questions


From “Getting the Most out of Your AIDS/HIV Trainings”
East Bay AIDS Education Training Center
Revised from 1989 addition by Pat McCarthy, RN, MSN, 1992

Flip Charts/Posters



– easy and inexpensive to make and update

– portable and transportable

– left in view of the audience

– good for interaction with the audience


– unsuitable for large groups

– anxiety-provoking for facilitator with poor handwriting or poor spelling




– professional in appearance

– good for large groups


– formal and impersonal

– shown in the dark

– not good for discussion and interaction

– more difficult to update than other visual aids

– require special equipment




– professional in appearance

– good for large or small groups


– more expansive than other visual aids

– requires special equipment

– not good for discussion and interaction

– require accurate cueing

Overhead Transparencies



– good for large gropus

– easy to create

– easy to transport

– provide an informal atmosphere

– open to interaction with groups

– easy to update


– impermanent; they yellow with age

– require less common equipment

Computer Projections (e.g., PowerPoint™)



– professional in appearance

– evidence of preparation

– good for large or small group

– easy to integrate with classroom discussion

– animated

– up-to-date technology

– easy to update


– require special equipment/facilities

– require initial training to create

– require significant time to create

– require basic graphics/composition skills

Samples, Examples, and Mock-Ups



– real-world/authentic

– three dimensional

– sometimes inexpensive and readily available

– experience may be tactile/auditory as well as visual


– sometimes difficult or impossible to acquire

– often difficult to handle or distribute

– require storage space

– usually out of natural environment



The following ideas are a product of a faculty seminar at Jefferson Community College, Kentucky. Sixty-three ideas are presented for faculty use in dealing with retention/attrition. The 63 ideas are subdivided into four general categories.

Faculty/Student Interaction

This category contains elements directly related to the affective domain of student growth brought about by faculty/student interaction. Psych, ego, individual worth are all intricately bound within this framework.

  1. Learn the name of each student as quickly as possible and use the student’s name in class. Based upon the atmosphere you want to create:
    1. Call on students by their first names.
    2. Call on students by using Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms.
  2. Tell the students by what name and title you prefer to be called (Prof., Dr., Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms, First Name).
  3. At the end of each class period, ask one student to stay for a minute to chat (compliment on something: tell student you missed him/her if absent, etc.).
  4. Instead of returning tests, quizzed, themes in class, ask students to stop by your office to pick them up. This presents an opportunity to talk informally with students.
  5. Call students on the telephone if they are absent. Make an appointment with them to discuss attendance, make-up work, etc.
  6. Get feedback periodically from students (perhaps a select few) on their perceptions of your attitudes toward them, your personal involvement, etc.
  7. Socialize with students as your “style” permits by attending their clubs or social activities, by having lunch with them, by walking with them between classes, etc.
  8. Conduct a personal interview with all students sometime during the semester.
  9. Provide positive reinforcement whenever possible; give students a respectful answer to any question they might ask.
  10. Listen intently to students’ comments and opinions. By using a “lateral thinking technique” (adding to ideas rather than dismissing them), students feel that their ideas, comments, and opinions are worthwhile.
  11. Be aware of the difference between students’ classroom mistakes and their personal successes/failures.
  12. Be honest about your feelings, opinions, and attitudes toward students and toward the subject matter. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know all the answers. If a student tells you something in confidence, respect that confidence. Avoid making value judgments (verbally or non-verbally) about these confidences.
  13. Lend some of your books (reference) to students and borrow some of theirs in return. You can initiate the process by saying, “I’ve just read a great book on _______, would anyone like to borrow it?”
  14. Give your telephone number to students and the location of your office.
  15. A first class meeting, pair up the students and have them get acquainted with one another. Switch partners every five (5) minutes.
  16. Have the students establish a “buddy” system for absences, work missed, assignments, tutoring, etc. Exchange telephone numbers; pair them by majors or geographical proximity.

General Classroom Management

This section focuses literally on the day-to-day operations of your classes. The items as a group emphasize planning, orderliness, and general good sense.

  1. Circulate around the class as you talk or ask questions. This movement creates a physical closeness to the students. Avoid standing behind the lectern or sitting behind the desk for the entire period. Do not allow the classroom to set up artificial barriers between you and the students.
  2. Give each student a mid-term grade and indicate what each student must do to improve.
  3. Tell the students (orally and in writing) what your attendance policy is. Make them aware of your deep concern for attendance and remind them periodically of the policy and the concern.
  4. Conduct a full instructional period on the first day of classes. This activity sets a positive tone for the learning environment you want to set. Engage in some of the interpersonal activities listed elsewhere.
  5. List and discuss your course objectives on the first day. Let students know how your course can fit in with their personal/career goals. Discuss some of the fears, apprehensions that both you and the students have. Tell them what they should expect of you and how you will contribute to their learning.
  6. Let students know that the learning resources you use in class (slides, tapes, films) are available to them outside of class. Explain the procedures to secure the material, and take them to the area.
  7. Have students fill out an index card with name, address, telephone number, goals, and other personal information you think is important.
  8. If the subject matter is appropriate, use a pre-test to determine their knowledge, background, expertise, etc.
  9. Return tests, quizzes, and papers as soon as possible. Write comments (+ and -) when appropriate.
  10. Vary your instructional techniques (lecture, discussion, debate, small groups, films, etc.).
  11. When you answer a student’s question, be sure he/she understands your answer. Make the student repeat the answer in his/her own words.
  12. Get to class before the students arrive; be the last one to leave.
  13. Use familiar examples in presenting materials. If you teach rules, principles, definitions, and theorems, explicate these with concrete examples that students can understand.
  14. If you had to miss a class, explain why and what you will do to make up the time and/or materials.
  15. Clarify and have students understand what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior in a classroom. Be consistent in enforcing your rules.
  16. Good eye contact with students is extremely important both in and out of class.
  17. Allow students to switch classes if work schedules changes or other salient reasons develop. Cooperate with colleague if he/she makes such a request.
  18. Be prepared to use an alternate approach if the one you’ve chosen seems to bog down. You should be confident enough with your own material so that student interests and concerns, not lecture notes, determine the format of instruction.
  19. Throughout the course, but particularly during the crucial first class sessions:
    1. stress a positive “you can handle it” attitude
    2. emphasize your willingness to give individual help
    3. point out the relevancy of your subject matter to the concerns and goals of your students
    4. capitalize on opportunities to praise the abilities and contributions of students whose status in the course is in doubt; well-timed encouragement could mean the difference between retention and attrition
    5. utilize a variety of instructional methods, drawing on appropriate audio-visual aids as much as possible
    6. urge students to talk to you about problems, such as changes in work schedule, before dropping your course. Alternate arrangements can often be made.
  20. Distribute an outline of your lecture notes before class starts. This approach assists students in organizing the material you are presenting.
  21. If you require a term paper or research paper, you should take the responsibility of arranging a library orientation. Librarians would be happy to cooperate.
  22. Have the counselors visit your classes to foster an awareness of counseling.

Student-Initiated Activities

This category is based on the premise that peer influence can play a substantial role in student success. Age differences, personality differences, and skill differences can be utilized to produce positive results if you can get the students to work with one another.

  1. Have students read one another’s papers before they turn them in. This activity could help them locate one another’s errors before being graded.
  2. If the class lends itself to a field trip, have the students plan it and make some or all of the arrangements.
  3. Ask students to submit sample test questions (objective or subjective) prior to a test. The class itself can compose a test or quiz based on your objectives.
  4. Create opportunities for student leaders to emerge in class. Use their leadership skills to improve student performance.
  5. If students are receiving tutoring help, ask them to report the content and results of their tutoring.
  6. Have students set specific goals for themselves throughout the semester in terms of their learning and what responsibilities they will undertake.

Faculty-Initiated Activities

This section presents the greatest challenge to the ability and creativity of each faculty member. You must take the initiative to implement these suggestions, to test them, and to device them.

  1. Utilize small group discussions in class whenever feasible.
  2. Take the initiative to contact and meet with students who are doing poor work. Be especially cognizant of the “passive” student, one who comes to class, sits quietly, does not participate, but does poorly on tests, quizzes, etc.
  3. Encourage students who had the first part of a course to be in the second part together. Try to schedule the same time slot for the second course.
  4. Ask the Reading faculty to do a “readability study” of the texts you use in your classroom.
  5. Develop library/supplementary reading lists which complement course content. Select books at various reading levels.
  6. Use your background, experience, and knowledge to inter-relate your subject matter with other academic disciplines.
  7. Throughout the semester, have students submit topics that they would like to cover or discuss.
  8. Take students on a mini-tour of the learning resources center, reading/study skills area, counseling center, etc. If a particular student needs reading/study skills help, don’t send him/her, TAKE him/her.
  9. Work with your division counselor to discuss procedures to follow-up absentees, failing students, etc.
  10. Use your imagination to devise ways to reinforce positively student accomplishments. Try to avoid placing students in embarrassing situations, particularly in class.
  11. Create situations in which students can help you (get a book for you from library, look up some reference material, conduct a class research project).
  12. Set up special tutoring sessions and extra classes. Make these activities mandatory, especially for students who are doing poorly.
  13. Confer with other faculty members who have the same students in class. Help reinforce one another.
  14. Look at your record book periodically to determine student progress (inform them) and determine if you know anything about that student other than his/her grades.
  15. Team teach a class with a colleague or switch classes for a period or two. Invite a guest lecturer to class.
  16. Use the library reference shelf for some of your old tests and quizzes. Tell the students that you will use some questions from the old tests in their next test.
  17. Engage in periodic (weekly) self-evaluation of each class. What was accomplished this past week? How did students react?
  18. At mid-term and at final exam, your last test question should ask if a student is going to continue at the college or drop out at the end of the semester. If a potential drop-out is identified, you can advise the student to work with the division counselor.


Source Unknown


Accurately assessing your students’ developmental state can direct your planning and impel your teaching. For instance, recognizing a 16-year-old’s concern about his appearance and his standing among his peers may promote your rapport with him and eliminate learning barriers.

Keep in mind that chronologic age and developmental stage are not always related. Throughout life, people move sequentially through developmental stages, but most people also fluctuate somewhat among stages, often in response to outside stressors. These stressors can cause a person to regress temporarily to an earlier stage. Sometimes a person may not achieve the task expected of his chronologic age. So you will need to address your students at their current developmental stages, not at the stages at which you would expect them to be because of their chronological ages.

In some situations, hopefully most, you will have time to sit down and develop a formal teaching plan. In others, you will be confronted with a “teachable moment” when the student is ready to learn and is asking pointed questions. Invariably, these moments seem to come at the most inopportune times. At times like these, you face the dilemma: to teach or not to teach. Having a knowledge of basic learning principles will help you take best advantage of these moments. Here are some principles proven to enhance teaching and learning.

Seize the moment

Teaching is most effective when it occurs in quick response to a need the learner feels. So even though you are elbow deep in something else, you should make every effort to teach the student when he or she asks. The student is ready to learn. Satisfy that immediate need for information now, and augment your teaching with more information later.

Involve the student in planning

Just presenting information to the student does not ensure learning. For learning to occur, you will need to get the student involved in identifying his learning needs and outcomes. Help him to develop attainable objectives. As the teaching process continues, you can further engage him or her by selecting teaching strategies and materials that require the student’s direct involvement, such as role playing and return demonstration. Regardless of the teaching strategy you choose, giving the student the chance to test his or her ideas, to take risks, and to be creative will promote learning.

Begin with what the student knows

You will find that learning moves faster when it builds on what the student already knows. Teaching that begins by comparing the old, known information or process and the new, unknown one allows the student to grasp new information more quickly.

Move from simple to complex

The student will find learning more rewarding if he has the opportunity to master simple concepts first and then apply these concepts to more complex ones. Remember, however, that what one student finds simple, another may find complex. A careful assessment takes these differences into account and helps you plan the teaching starting point.

Accommodate the student’s preferred learning style

How quickly and well a student learns depends not only on his or her intelligence and prior education, but also on the student’s learning style preference. Visual learners gain knowledge best by seeing or reading what you are trying to teach; auditory learners, by listening;and tactile or psychomotor learners, by doing.

You can improve your chances for teaching success if you assess your patient’s preferred learning style, then plan teaching activities and use teaching tools appropriate to that style. To assess a student’s learning style, observe the student, administer a learning style inventory, or simply ask the student how he or she learns best.

You can also experiment with different teaching tools, such as printed material, illustrations, videotapes, and actual equipment, to assess learning style. Never assume, though, that your student can read well — or even read at all.

Sort goals by learning domain

You can combine your knowledge of the student’s preferred learning style with your knowledge of learning domains. Categorizing what the students need to learn into proper domains helps identify and evaluate the behaviors you expect them to show.

Learning behaviors fall in three domains: cognitive, psychomotor, and affective. The cognitive domain deals with intellectual abilities. The psychomotor domain includes physical or motor skills. The affective domain involves expression of feeling about attitudes, interests, and values. Most learning involves all three domains.

Make material meaningful

Another way to facilitate learning is to relate material to the student’s lifestyle — and to recognize incompatibilities. The more meaningful material is to a student, the quicker and easier it will be learned.

Allow immediate application of knowledge

Giving the student the opportunity to apply his or her new knowledge and skills reinforces learning and builds confidence. This immediate application translates learning to the “real world” and provides an opportunity for problem solving, feedback, and emotional support.

Plan for periodic rests

While you may want the students to push ahead until they have learned everything on the teaching plan, remember that periodic plateaus occur normally in learning. When your instructions are especially complex or lengthy, your students may feel overwhelmed and appear unreceptive to your teaching. Be sure to recognize these signs of mental fatigue and let the students relax. (You too can use these periods – to review your teaching plan and make any necessary adjustments.)

Tell your students how they are progressing

Learning is made easier when the students are aware of their progress. Positive feedback can motivate them to greater effort because it makes their goal seem attainable. Also, ask your students how they feel they are doing. They probably want to take part in assessing their own progress toward learning goals, and their input can guide your feedback. You will find their reactions are usually based on what “feels right.”

Reward desired learning with praise

Praising desired learning outcomes or behavior improves the chances that the students will retain the material or repeat the behavior. Praising your students’ successes associates the desired learning goal with a sense of growing and accepted competence. Reassuring them that they have learned the desired material or technique can help them retain and refine it.


By L. Dee Fink
Published in Improving College Teaching by Peter Seldin (ed.).
Reprinted here with permission of the University of Oklahoma Instructional Development Program, July 20, 1999.



Each year faculty members in institutions of higher education take on the task of teaching others. For most of these people, this is a recurring task. In fact, for the majority, this is the central task of a life-long career.

Assuming that no one is perfect and therefore everyone has room for improvement, evaluation is the means by which we try to identify which aspects of our teaching are good and which need to be changed. The question then arises as to who should take responsibility for doing this evaluation. My belief is that evaluation is an inherent part of good teaching. Therefore it is the teacher himself or herself who should take primary responsibility for doing the evaluation.

In this chapter, I will offer a basic definition of evaluation, state a few reasons why one should invest time and effort into evaluation, describe five techniques for evaluation, and identify resources for helping us evaluate and improve our teaching.

A Definition of “Evaluation”

Doing good evaluation is like doing good research. In both cases, you are trying to answer some important questions about an important topic. The key to doing both activities well is (a) identifying the right questions to ask and (b) figuring out how to answer them.

What are the key questions in the evaluation of teaching? Basically they are: “How well am I teaching? Which aspects of my teaching are good and which need to be improved?” The first question attempts to provide a global assessment, while the second is analytical and diagnostic in character.

Before moving to the task of figuring out how to answer these questions, we should look at the reasons for taking time to evaluate.

Why Evaluate?

It takes a certain amount of time and effort to effectively evaluate our own teaching. Is this a wise use of time? I would argue that it is, for three reasons.

  1. First, consider the following diagram:

Figure 1

The Effect of Evaluation on Our Teaching

http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/oureval.gif” height=”185″ width=”457″ border=”0″>

Regardless of how good or how poor we are as teachers, we all have the potential to get better over time (see the arrow in Figure 1). Yet some teachers continually improve and approach their potential (see arrow) while others experience a modest improvement early in their career and then seem to level off in quality or sometimes even decline (see arrow). Why? I would argue that the primary difference between those who do and those who do not improve, is that only the former gather information about their teaching and make an effort to improve some aspect of it — every time they teach.

  1. A second reason to evaluate is to document the quality of one’s teaching for others. All career professionals have other people who need to know about the quality of their teaching. It may be the person’s current department or institution head, or it may be a potential employer. But once people teach, they have a track record, and others need and want to know how well they taught. The only way a teacher can provide them with that information is to gather it, and that means evaluation. Teaching portfolios are becoming a common way of communicating this information to others. As it turns out, putting a portfolio together also helps the teacher understand his or her own teaching better. (See Zubizarreta, this volume.)
  2. Third, there is a very personal and human need to evaluate. This is for our own mental and psychological satisfaction. It is one thing to do a good job and think that it went well; it is quite another, and a far more enjoyable experience, to have solid information and thereby know we did a good job. That knowledge, that certainty, is possible only if we do a thorough job of evaluation.

If evaluation is worth doing then, how do we do it?

Five Sources of Information

There are five basic sources of information that teachers can use to evaluate their teaching. All evaluation efforts use one or more of these basic sources. Each of these five sources has a unique value as well as an inherent limitation.

In the following portion of this chapter, I will discuss the unique value, recommended frequency, limitation, and appropriate response to that limitation, for each of the five sources of information.

Figure 2



Unique Value and
Recommended Frequency


Response to






Information from students

  1. Questionnaires

(1) Beginning of year

(2) Mid-year

(3) End-of-year

  1. Interviews


Students’ test results


Outside observers

  1. Fellow faculty member

  2. Admin./Senior Fac. Member

  3. OU Instruc. Devel. Prog.
    Dee Fink & Arlene Knight
    Phone: 5-2323

  1. Self-monitoring

Self-monitoring is what people do semi-automatically and semi-consciously whenever they teach. Most of their mental activity is concerned with making the presentation or leading the discussion. But one portion of their mental attention is concerned with “How is it going?” “Are they with me?” “Am I losing them?” “Are they interested or bored?”

Unique Value. The first value of this is that it is immediate and constant. You do not have to wait a week or a day or even an hour to get the results. It happens right away. Hence adjustments are possible right away.

The second value is that this information is automatically created in terms that are meaningful to the teacher because it is the teacher who creates the information. It is the teacher, not someone else, who looks at the situation and says “This is what is happening.” This does not mean that we always know why it is happening, or what to do about it if it is something we do not like. But we do have our own sense of what is happening.

Frequency. This does and should happen all the time. We may only take a mental pause every few minutes to size up the situation. But by comparison with the other sources of information discussed below, this takes place continuously.

Limitation. The very strength of this source is also its weakness. Because this information is created by us for us, it is also subject to our own biases and misinterpretations. I thought they were understanding the material. I thought they looked interested –when in fact they weren’t. We all have our own blind spots and lack complete objectivity. This means that, at times, we are going to misread the responses of students to our teaching.

Appropriate Response. What can be done about the subjectivity of self-monitoring? Turn to an objective source of information, one without subjective bias.

  1. Audiotape and Videotape Recordings

Modern technology has given us relatively inexpensive and easy access to audio and video recordings of what we do as teachers. We can put a small audio recorder on the teachers desk or put a video recorder on the side of the classroom and let it run during a class session. Then later we can listen to or view it.

Special value. The value of this kind of information is that it gives us totally objective information. It tells us exactly what we really said, what we really did, not what we thought we said or did. How much time did I spend on this topic? How many times did I ask questions? How often did I move around? These are questions the audio and video recordings can answer with complete accuracy and objectivity.

Frequency. I had the experience of giving a workshop once that was recorded. Listening to the recording later, I discovered to my surprise that I had some disruptive speech patterns of which I was completely unaware. And I am an experienced observer of teachers! The lesson from this was that, no matter how good we are at monitoring others, we can only devote a certain amount of our mental attention to monitoring our own teaching; hence we miss things.

As a result of that experience, I now try to do an audio recording at least once or preferably twice in each full-semester course I teach. This gives me a chance to see if any speech problems are still there or if new ones have cropped up. If they have, the second recording tells me if I have gotten them under control.

Video recordings are probably useful once every year or two. What do we look like to others? As we grow older, we change, and we need to know what the continuously anew me looks like to others.

Limitation. What could be more valuable than the objective truth of audio and video recordings? Unfortunately the unavoidable problem with this information is that it is true but meaningless — by itself. The recordings can tell me if I spoke at the rate of 20 words per minute, or 60 words, but they can’t tell me whether that was too slow or too fast for the students. They can tell me whether I moved and gestured and smiled, but it can’t tell me if those movements and facial expressions helped or hindered student learning.

Appropriate response. To determine the effect of my teaching behavior, rather than the behavior itself, I need to find another source of information. (Are you starting to see the pattern here?)

  1. Information from Students

As the intended beneficiaries of all teaching, students are in a unique position to help their teachers in the evaluation process.

Special value. If we want to know whether students find our explanations of a topic clear, or whether students find our teaching exciting or dull, who else could possibly answer these kinds of questions better than the students themselves? Of the five sources of information described here, students are the best source for understanding the immediate effects of our teaching, i.e., the process of teaching and learning.

This information can be obtained in two distinct ways: questionnaires and interviews, each with its own relative values.

    1. Questionnaires. The most common method of obtaining student reactions to our teaching is to use a questionnaire. Lots of different questionnaires exist but most in fact ask similar kinds of questions: student characteristics (e.g., major, GPA, reasons for taking the course), the students characterization of the teaching (e.g., clear, organized, interesting), amount learned, overall assessment of the course and/or the teacher (e.g., compared to other courses or other teachers, this one is …), and sometimes, anticipated grade.

The special value of questionnaires, compared to interviews, is that they obtain responses from the whole class and they allow for an anonymous (and therefore probably more candid) response. The limitation of questionnaires is that they can only ask a question once, i.e., that cannot probe for further clarification, and they can only ask questions that the writer anticipates as possibly important.

Questionnaires can be given at three different times: the beginning, middle and end of a course. Some teachers use questionnaires at the beginning of a course to get information about the students, e.g., prior course work or experience with the subject, preferred modes of teaching and learning, and special problems a student might have (e.g., dyslexia). Many use mid-term questionnaires to get an early warning of any existing problems so that changes can be made in time to benefit this set of students. The advantage of end-of-term questionnaires is that all the learning activities have been completed. Consequently, students can respond meaningfully to questions about the overall effectiveness of the course.

    1. Interviews. The other well-established way of finding out about student reactions is to talk to them. Either the teacher(if sufficient trust and rapport exist) or an outside person (if more anonymity and objectivity are desired) can talk with students for 15-30 minutes about the course and the teacher. As an instructional consultant, I have often done this for other teachers, but I have also done it in some of my own courses. I try to get 6-8 students, preferably a random sample, and visit with them in a focused interview format immediately after class. I have some general topics I want to discuss, such as the quality of the learning thus far, reactions to the lectures, labs, tests, and so forth. But within these topics, I will probe for clarification and examples of perceived strength and weakness. I also note when there is divergence of reactions and when most students seem to agree.

The special value of interviews is that students often identify unanticipated strengths and weaknesses, and the interviewer can probe and follow-up on topics that need clarification. The limitation of course is that a professor can usually only interview a sub-set of the class, not the whole class. This leaves some uncertainty as to whether their reactions represent the whole class or not.

As for the frequency of interviews, I would probably only use a formal interview once or at most twice during a term. Of course, a teacher can informally visit with students about the course many times, and directly or indirectly obtain a sense of their reaction to the course.

General limitation. Returning to the general issue of information from students, regardless of how such information is collected, one needs to remember that this is information from students. Although they know better than anyone what their own reactions are, they can also be biased and limited in their own perspectives. They occasionally have negative feelings, often unconsciously, about women, people who are ethnically different from themselves, and international teachers. Perhaps more significantly, students usually do not have a full understanding of how a course might be taught, either in terms of pedagogy or content. Hence they can effectively address what is, but not what might be.

Appropriate response. As with the other limitations, the appropriate response here is to seek another kind of information. In this case, we need information from someone with a professional understanding of the possibilities of good teaching.

  1. Students’ test results.

Teachers almost always give students some form of graded exercise, whether it is an in-class test or an out-of-class project. Usually, though, the intent of the test is to assess the quality of student learning. We can also use this same information to assess the quality of our teaching.

Special value. The whole reason for teaching is to help someone else learn. Assuming we can devise a test or graded exercise that effectively measures whether or not students are learning what we want them to learn, the test results basically tell us whether or not we are succeeding in our whole teaching effort. This is critical information for all teachers. Although the other sources of information identified here can partially address this question (I think they are learning, The students think they are learning.), none address it so directly as test results: I know they are learning because they responded with a high level of sophisticated knowledge and thinking to a challenging test.

Frequency. How often should we give tests? Many teachers follow the tradition of two mid-terms and a final. In my view this is inadequate feedback, both for the students and for the teacher. Weekly or even daily feedback is much more effective in letting students and the teacher know whether they are learning what they need to learn as the course goes along. If the teacher’s goal is to help the students learn, this is important information for both parties. And remember, not all tests need to be graded and recorded!

Limitation. It might be hard to imagine that this information has a limitation. After all, this is what it’s all about, right? Did they learn it or not?

The problem with this information is its lack of a causal connection: we don’t know why they did or did not learn. Did they learn because of, or in spite of, our teaching? Some students work very hard in a course, not because the teacher inspires or motivates them but because their major requires a good grade in the course and the teacher is NOT effective. Therefore they work hard to learn it on their own.

Appropriate response. If we need to know whether one’s actions as a teacher are helpful or useless in promoting student learning, we need a different source of information, such as the students themselves.

  1. Outside observer

In addition to the two parties directly involved in a course, the teacher and the students, valuable information can be obtained from the observations of a third party, someone who brings both an outsider’s perspective and professional expertise to the task.

Special value. Part of the value of an outside observer is that they do not have a personal stake in the particular course, hence they are free to reach positive and negative conclusions without any cost to themselves. Also, as a professional, they can bring an expertise either in content and/or in pedagogy that is likely to supplement that of both the teacher and the students.

A variety of kinds of observers exist: a peer colleague, a senior colleague, or an instructional specialist.

    1. Peer colleagues, e.g., two TA’s or two junior professors, can visit each others classes and share observations. Here the political risk is low and each one can empathize with the situation and challenges facing the other. Interestingly, the person doing the observing in these exchanges often finds that they learn as much as the person who gets the feedback.
    2. Senior colleagues can be of value because of their accumulated experience. Although one has to be selective and choose someone who is respected and with whom the political risk is low, experienced colleagues can offer ideas on alternative ways of dealing with particular topics, additional examples to illustrate the material, etc.
    3. A third kind of outside observer, an instructional consultant, is available on many campuses. They may or may not be able to give feedback on the clarity and significance of the content material, but their expertise in teaching allows them to comment on presentation techniques, discussion procedures, and ideas for more active learning.

Frequency. Beginning TA’s and beginning faculty members should consider inviting one or more outside observers to their classes at least once a semester for two or three years. They need to get as many new perspectives on teaching as soon as possible. After that, more experienced teachers would probably benefit from such feedback at least once every year or two. We change as teachers; as we do, we need all the feedback and fresh ideas we can find.

Limitations. Again, the strength of being an outsider is also its weakness. Outside observers can usually only visit one or two class sessions and therefore do not know what happens in the rest of the course.

Apart from this general problem, each kind of observer has its own limitation. The peer colleague may also have limited experience and perspectives; the senior colleague may be someone who makes departmental decisions about annual evaluations and tenure; and the instructional consultant may have limited knowledge of the subject matter.

Appropriate response. As with the other sources, the response to these limitations is to use a different source, either a different kind of outside observer or one of the other sources described above.

A Comprehensive Evaluation Scenario

The thesis of this chapter is that a comprehensive plan of evaluation for improvement requires all five sources of information. Each one offers a special kind of information that none of the others do. How would this work out in action?

To answer this question, I will describe a hypothetical professor who is not a perfect teacher and therefore has some yet-to-be identified weaknesses in his teaching, but he also wants to improve his teaching. What steps should he take to evaluate his teaching as a way of identifying those aspects that need changing?

The Case of Professor X

Professor X is a relatively young person, only two years into his tenure track position at University Would Be Good. This fall he will be teaching a junior level course on International Trade. He once attended a workshop on Evaluating Your Own Teaching, so he knows what he should do.

On the first day of class, he keeps his eyes and ears open (self-monitoring) to see what sort of personality this year’s class has. In addition, he asks students to fill out a short questionnaire about business or international experience they have had, prior course work in related areas, and what they hope to get out of the course. From this he discovers a wide range of backgrounds. Some students have extensive international experience and others have none at all. Perhaps he can use the former as a resource for the latter.

A few weeks into the course, he brings a small cassette recorder into class and makes an audio recording. After listening to it, he feels reasonably good about his presentation but notes there is little student participation. Class time consists mainly of “teacher-talk.”

The weekly quizzes are turning out okay, but he had hoped that, since they were upper division students, the class would be getting into it a bit more.

After thinking about this awhile and talking to one of his departmental colleagues, he decides to call the university instructional development program and request a class review. His colleague said these people actually make some good suggestions once in awhile.

The consultant, who was recently hired into the program because of her doctorate in instructional communication, meets with the professor, visits his class twice, and then shares her observations with him. Her reaction is that the lectures seem good enough, but there is just too much of the same thing day after day: lecture, lecture, lecture. She suggests using some active learning strategies.

After hearing the reaction of the consultant, Professor X decides to use a mid-term questionnaire available from the instructional development program to see if the students feel the same way. The consultant helps him interpret the results, which indicate a degree of boredom with the steady diet of lectures. The consultant gives him a handout on “enhanced lectures” that shows how to intersperse some active learning activities in between shorter lecture segments. They also discuss some possible larger modifications for next semester.

On the end-of-semester course evaluation, Professor X adds some special questions about the changes he has made. The responses indicate that students like the changes, and the overall results, while not yet outstanding, are appreciably higher than in previous terms.

The point of this scenario is to illustrate that a thorough evaluation of teaching can be effective in identifying important changes that can be made, and that such evaluation is much more extensive than simply looking at one comparative statistic on an end-of-semester questionnaire.

But how costly is a comprehensive evaluation plan in terms of the time required? The case study above is a composite of actual cases. Based on these cases, I would make the following estimate of the time required beyond what happens anyway in normal teaching:


Additional Time (hrs)


0 (did automatically anyway)

Initial questionnaire

1 (writing, interpreting)


1 (reviewing afterwards)

Weekly quizzes

0 (did this anyway)

Visit with consultant

3 (three times)

Mid-term questionnaire

1 (constructing, interpreting)

End-of-term questionnaire

1 (for added questions)


7 hours

The seven hours required for a comprehensive evaluation is an addition of about 5% to the total time required for teaching one three-credit hour course in one semester. This amounts to less than 1/2 hour per week for the whole term. This is a small but wise investment that informed Professor X of an important area of his teaching that needed improving. This investment will pay big dividends in effectiveness and satisfaction in a major area of his professional life for many years.

Sources of Assistance

Professors should not think that they have to do it alone when it comes to evaluating their teaching. I will describe some sources of assistance that are available for two important activities: constructing or selecting a questionnaire and figuring out how to make needed improvements.

Student questionnaires.
The first option for getting a questionnaire to use in class is to write it yourself. At institutions with instructional development programs, consultants can help in this process. Custom-made questionnaires can focus on specific questions the professor has about his or her teaching. Or they can be open-ended, asking questions like: How satisfied are you with what you are learning? What do you like most about the course? If you could change one thing about the course, what would it be?

A second source is often the institution itself. Many institutions have questionnaires that are available, or required, for end-of-term use. These have the advantage of being ready-made, but they also frequently allow the professor to add his own questions.

The third option is to use a nationally available questionnaire. The two I recommend on our campus are the TABS for mid-term use and the IDEA system for end-of-term use. The TABS questionnaire was developed at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and is based on 20 common problems in teaching. The recommended use is for the professor to assess the course in terms of these characteristics, and then to compare his/her assessment with student reactions. The IDEA system is available from the Center for Faculty Evaluation and Development at Kansas State University. Its central criterion for assessing effectiveness is whether or not students learned what the professor was trying to teach. It also includes a diagnostic section and national norms that incorporate class size and initial student interest.

Ideas for improving.
The primary thrust of this chapter is on how to find out what one’s strengths and weaknesses are as a teacher. But having identified them, a professor still needs ideas and assistance on how to make needed improvements. Four resources can be helpful with this: selected colleagues, books and journals, institutionally-based instructional development programs, and off-campus workshops.

The handiest resource is undoubtedly colleagues who are creative and effective in their own teaching. They are usually flattered by requests to visit their classes, review their course materials, and discuss their teaching strategies and philosophy. (See the chapters by (a) Sorcinelli, (b) Millis and Kaplan, and (c) Gmelch, this volume).

A wide variety of reading material is available on teaching and ways to improve it. Several disciplines have journals with articles on teaching a specific subject matter. Some are focused specifically on college-level teaching. One journal, College Teaching, is not subject-specific but contains high quality articles that are relevant to essentially all subjects. As for books, three that I often recommend to teachers are Teaching Tips by Wilbert McKeachie, Mastering the Techniques of Teaching by Joseph Lowman, and Active Learning by Eison and Bonwell.

A third resource, which is available on many campuses, is an instructional development program. During the last two decades more and more institutions have seen fit to sponsor such a program as an appropriate investment in the single most costly and important factor in a university’s quality: the faculty. The professional staff in these programs can offer selected reading material, share their own ideas, and provide classroom observations and feedback to faculty members. (See the chapters by (a) Simpson and Jackson and (b) Wadsworth, this volume.)

Finally, a number of disciplinary associations, regional consortia, and entrepreneurial persons at various universities now offer workshops, often in the summer, for regional and national audiences of faculty members wanting to learn how to become better teachers. These range from a few days to a few weeks in length. They give participants a chance to hear new ideas, systematically study a wide range of issues and topics, and practice new possibilities in a low-risk setting with feedback from understanding and sympathetic peers.


People who have chosen careers as teachers in higher education owe it to themselves, to their students, and to their institutions to fulfill their responsibilities as effectively as possible. The thesis of this chapter is that the only way to improve one’s teaching over time is to continuously monitor and evaluate that teaching, and then to use the information obtained to make needed changes. The various techniques described in this chapter, especially when used together, can give us the deep personal and professional satisfaction of being able to say, after a single course or after a career of teaching, “I did my best, and it was good!”


Bonwell, C.C. and Eison, J.A. Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 1, 1991. Washington, D.C.: George Washington University, 1991.

IDEA Evaluation System. Information about it can be obtained from the Center for Faculty Evaluation and Development, 1615 Anderson Avenue, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66502-1604. Phone: 800-255-2757.

Lowman, J. Mastering the Techniques of Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1984.

McKeachie, W.J. Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers. 9th edition. Lexington, Massachusetts: Heath, 1994.

TABS Evaluation System. Information about it can be obtained from the Center for Teaching, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 239 Whitmore, Amherst, MA 01003. Phone: 413-545-1225.


By Theodore R. Sizer, Former Dean, Harvard University College of Education.
Reprinted with permission.


I’d like to talk briefly about good teaching. I fear doing this,knowing well how fine teachers differ as their characters and styles differ. Idiosyncrasy is a virtue to the extent that successful teaching rests on character – and I believe it heavily rests there. By describing a generalized view of good teaching, I may unintentionally signal to you an intolerance of idiosyncrasy. I do not wish to do so.

I am also concerned that I may give the impression that I think teaching per se is important. Of course, it isn’t; what is only important is what the students learn. By speaking of teaching, I hope I won’t muddy the truism that our actions as instructors are a means to an end — a pupil’s knowledge — rather than an end in themselves.

However, with these reservations expressed, let me proceed. Brilliant teaching, in my view, at its heart reflects scholarship, personal integrity and the ability to communicate with the young.

Scholarship is both the grasp of a realm of knowledge and a habit of mind. An effective teacher provokes both from his students. But particularly the latter, as it is a habit of mind, rather than facts, which endure in a person over a lifetime. Scholarship is not only an affair of the classroom, but, at its best, is a way of life, one which is marked by respect for evidence and for logic, by inquisitiveness and the genius to find new meaning in familiar data, and by the ability to see things in context, to relate specificities to generalities, facts to theories, and theories to facts.

The second characteristic of great teaching is integrity, in at least two of its separate meanings. First there is probity: characteristics of honesty, principle and decent candor. These qualities are fundamental, of course, to the good life for anyone, but they play a special role in the behavior of those of us who inevitably, as we live together with them, influence younger people by our example.

Another, but equally important, kind of integrity is completeness or unity of character, the sense of self-confidence and personal identity a fine teacher exhibits. There is much pop jargon around to describe this, some of it useful: “knowing who you are,” “getting it together,” “not losing one’s cool.” Because they are teenagers, most of our students’ most painful trials are in finding their own selves, in gaining proper self-confidence, and they look to us as people who have learned to control the ambiguities, pressures and restrictions of life rather than having them control us. A fine teacher is not particularly one who exudes self-confidence from every pore — a superperson (more likely, a hypocrite!). Far from it. A fine teacher does have confidence, but the honest confidence that flows from a fair recognition of one’s own frailties as well as talents and which accommodates both joyfully. The lack of assurance that typically marks adolescence and that takes observable form in pettiness, distortion, scapegoating, over-reacting, or withdrawl ideally is balanced in a school by the presence of adults who have grown to channel and control these sturdily persistent human traits. A teenager leans little from older folk, of whatever scholarly brilliance, who as people are themselves yet teenagers.

The ability to communicate with the young is the third basic characteristic of good teaching. It means, obviously, liking young people, enjoying their noisy exuberance and intense questioning, which is their process of growing up. It means the ability to empathize, to see a situation as the student sees it. A good teacher must be, obviously, a compulsive listener. It means the skill of provoking more out of a student than he believed possible, of knowing the tests to which to put a young scholar in order that he be convinced of his own learning and to lure him into further learning. It means a belief in the dignity of young people and in the stage of life at which they now find themselves. Great teachers neither mock nor underestimate the young.

I am intensely aware that the foregoing description sounds pretentious and begs specificity. I won’t apologize for the pretension. I believe these goals are both achievable and proper for each of us as professional teachers to hold. Lesser goals, or more pragmatic goals demean us, I believe, and would suggest that the teacher’s craft is less human and more mechanical than it properly should be. But I do recognize that lack of specificity, and respond to it by recounting some little incidents and practices I’ve observed among members of this assembled company. Acts which may appear trivial in themselves, but which, when added to the hundreds of similar acts, create a standard and a style from which young people can learn.

For example, here are some apparent minutiae:

  • knowing student’s names, and calling them by name
  • greeting students and colleagues pleasantly
  • going to see student friends on varied occasions (i.e., the House Counselor or teacher, attending a game or play because of a youngster who’s playing)
  • remembering something that had earlier worried a student, and asking about it (“Is your mother recovering from her operation?”)
  • resisting the sarcastic, if funny, bon mot that could be an amusing but hurtful rejoinder to a foolish comment a student has just made in class
  • never tolerating ad hominem remarks among students and colleagues, such as apparently benign but really insulting jokes arising from one’s sex or ethnic origin
  • scrupulously following the dictum which all our parents taught us: “If you can’t say anything good about someone, don’t say anything at all.”
  • telling a student the unvarnished truth, privately (i.e., “Susan, I honestly suspect you…”, “George, you’re not working hard enough.”, “Sam, you are an insult to the olfactory nerves; go take a shower.”, “Joan, you’re a bully.”)

I could go on, but I trust the point is clear; such actions signal the importance a teacher feels for an individual, for his dignity and for his growth.

Some others; minutiae, of a different sort:

  • always insisting on the reasons for things — in class and out — and always taking time, one’s self, to give reasons. This takes patience, indeed stretches it often to Biblical extremes
  • knowing the difference between asking students to listen to you and to hear you – and acting upon it
  • “hearing” students, and questioning them thoroughly enough to know just how they see or are confused by an issue
  • showing that you can change your mind, when evidence and logic suggest it
  • being on the edge of your subject and interests; exhibiting the same questing in your field that you would have your students feel

The point here is obvious, the need to help students develop rational habits of mind and a sense of the joy of inquiry.

Some others, apparent trivia:

  • never being late to class or cutting it for some personal convenience
  • returning papers to students within twenty-four hours
  • insisting on neat written work, delivered on schedule
  • insisting on a formality of conduct in a classroom comparable to the formality of thought implicit in the subject being studied
  • clearly signalling the imperative of scrupulous intellectual honesty
  • insisting on clear thinking and fair-mindedness in the dormitory, on the playing field and elsewhere, as expected in the classroom
  • perceiving the results of a class as “My students know XYZ,” rather than “I covered XYZ in class” – and knowing the difference between the two

The message here unequivocally is the deep seriousness we have for intellectual values and for learning.

Some other minutiae; ones that help students to grow:

  • always expect a bit more of a student than he expects of himself
  • accentuate the positive; be careful always to praise good work. No one learns anything faster than when he feels he is successful
  • exhibit the greatest possible friendliness that one can honestly exhibit to a student one doesn’t like, and try to repress personal annoyances
  • be friends with students, but not buddies; the obligations of the latter relationship limit one’s freedom to teach well
  • never give up on a student, or categorize or ‘brand’ him permanently

One can go on, and we should go on among ourselves all year. I admit that this definition of teaching — a mix of scholarship, integrity and the gift of communicating with the young — is in its generality often as difficult to categorize as it is to describe. It turns on a person’s style, character. We mustn’t be afraid to confront this fact, and deal with it.

I take heart in this situation by recalling the consternation of some university colleagues of mine when they discovered a persistently inconsistent hiccup in their masses of research data on students’ school performance, a hiccup of excellence that could be explained by the fact that the teachers in a particular school gave a damn. The students in my colleagues’ study shouldn’t have performed well in this — but they did. It’s so much easier for social scientists to explain realities in terms of income level, or ethnic origin, or average ages. But “giving a damn”? Caring about kids? It made a difference, they — but they were embarrassed to admit it. We shouldn’t be embarrassed!


By Richard Leblanc, York University, Ontario

This article appeared in The Teaching Professor after Professor Leblanc won a Seymous Schulich Award for Teaching Excellence including a $10,000 cash award. Reprinted here with permission of Professor Leblanc, October 8, 1998.


One. Good teaching is as much about passion as it is about reason. It’s about not only motivating students to learn, but teaching them how to learn, and doing so in a manner that is relevant, meaningful, and memorable. It’s about caring for your craft, having a passion for it, and conveying that passion to everyone, most importantly to your students.

Two. Good teaching is about substance and treating students as consumers of knowledge. It’s about doing your best to keep on top of your field, reading sources, inside and outside of your areas of expertise, and being at the leading edge as often as possible. But knowledge is not confined to scholarly journals. Good teaching is also about bridging the gap between theory and practice. It’s about leaving the ivory tower and immersing oneself in the field, talking to, consulting with, and assisting practitioners, and liaisoning with their communities.

Three. Good teaching is about listening, questioning, being responsive, and remembering that each student and class is different. It’s about eliciting responses and developing the oral communication skills of the quiet students. It’s about pushing students to excel; at the same time, it’s about being human, respecting others, and being professional at all times.

Four. Good teaching is about not always having a fixed agenda and being rigid, but being flexible, fluid, experimenting, and having the confidence to react and adjust to changing circumstances. It’s about getting only 10 percent of what you wanted to do in a class done and still feeling good. It’s about deviating from the course syllabus or lecture schedule easily when there is more and better learning elsewhere. Good teaching is about the creative balance between being an authoritarian dictator on the one hand and a pushover on the other.

Five. Good teaching is also about style. Should good teaching be entertaining? You bet! Does this mean that it lacks in substance? Not a chance! Effective teaching is not about being locked with both hands glued to a podium or having your eyes fixated on a slide projector while you drone on. Good teachers work the room and every student in it. They realize that they are the conductors and the class is the orchestra. All students play different instruments and at varying proficiencies.

Six. This is very important — good teaching is about humor. It’s about being self-deprecating and not taking yourself too seriously. It’s often about making innocuous jokes, mostly at your own expense, so that the ice breaks and students learn in a more relaxed atmosphere where you, like them, are human with your own share of faults and shortcomings.

Seven. Good teaching is about caring, nurturing, and developing minds and talents. It’s about devoting time, often invisible, to every student. It’s also about the thankless hours of grading, designing or redesigning courses, and preparing materials to still further enhance instruction.

Eight. Good teaching is supported by strong and visionary leadership, and very tangible institutional support — resources, personnel, and funds. Good teaching is continually reinforced by an overarching vision that transcends the entire organization — from full professors to part-time instructors — and is reflected in what is said, but more importantly by what is done.

Nine. Good teaching is about mentoring between senior and junior faculty, teamwork, and being recognized and promoted by one’s peers. Effective teaching should also be rewarded, and poor teaching needs to be remediated through training and development programs.

Ten. At the end of the day, good teaching is about having fun, experiencing pleasure and intrinsic rewards … like locking eyes with a student in the back row and seeing the synapses and neurons connecting, thoughts being formed, the person becoming better, and a smile cracking across a face as learning all of a sudden happens. Good teachers practice their craft not for the money or because they have to, but because they truly enjoy it and because they want to. Good teachers couldn’t imagine doing anything else.


By Piper Fogg
From The Chronicle of Higher Education – Community Colleges
http://chronicle.com, October 26, 2007, Volume 54, Issue 9, Page B12

For the majority of community-college professors, teaching is the most important part of their jobs. And it’s not easy. Community-college students are a diverse bunch but often face a particular set of challenges. Many entering students are not prepared for college-level work. And while some students plan to transfer to competitive four-year colleges, others struggle to complete remedial courses. Some students commute long distances, and many have jobs or families. In one class, a teacher may face an 18-year-old who is fresh out of high school, a single mother who works part time, and a first-generation college student who doesn’t speak English well.

Community-college students require teachers who are engaging, creative, responsive, and energetic – and who understand their students’ needs. Professors have to be up on the latest teaching methods, know which of them work for their students, and be flexible enough to change when something isn’t working. Here are a dozen tips – many from seasoned professors – for those just starting out, or for veterans who want fresh ideas.

  1. Remember that your students are freshmen and sophomores. One trap new faculty members fall into in their first jobs out of graduate school is to harbor inflated expectations, says Robin D. Jenkins, director of the Writers Institute at Georgia Perimeter College. “One new instructor in my department, for instance, asked students to write four lengthy essays during one 75-minute period,” he says, “because that’s the sort of thing she’d been expected to do in her graduate courses.” Mr. Jenkins advises new teachers to look at what their more-experienced colleagues are assigning, and to check out their syllabi. Even better, take them to lunch, he says, and pick their brains. “We all want to have the appropriate amount of rigor in our classes,” he says, but that doesn’t mean piling on the work when students aren’t ready for it.
  2. While setting realistic expectations is important, you must also share them with your students. If you are a stickler for grammar, let it be known on Day 1, advises Delaney J. Kirk, a professor of management at the University of South Florida at Sarasota-Manatee. Tell students if you give grace periods for assignments or if you will not tolerate tardiness. “Have a rationale so the policy is seen as reasonable,” says Ms. Kirk, the author of Taking Back the Classroom: Tips for the College Professor on Becoming a More Effective Teacher (Ti-berius Publications, 2005). After explaining your philosophy, take time to learn what students expect of you as well: Teaching is a two-way street.
  3. Take advantage of the technology-training courses your college offers, but don’t feel pressured to use technology for its own sake. Sample everything that interests you, find the applications that best fit your teaching style, and try to incorporate them into your teaching. Just because your college offers fancy technology with a big “wow” factor doesn’t always mean it will help you. “Experiment with what works for you,” says Georgia Perimeter’s Mr. Jenkins. “Feel free to ignore the rest.”
  4. Look at the whole experience – including the syllabus, the textbook, and the classroomfrom your students’ perspective. Are the books affordable or easy to find in the library? Is the classroom comfortable? Are assignments well spaced? It pays to think like your students, says Ellen J. Olmstead, an English professor at Montgomery College, in Rockville, Md., who was the 1999 Carnegie Foundation Community College Professor of the Year.
  5. Consider keeping a teaching journal. Verna B. Robinson, a professor of English at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland, says it’s a great way to keep track of your experiences, including successes and failures, challenges, aspirations, inspirations, expectations, and, yes, complaints.
  6. Be mindful of the pressures on students, some of whom have families, jobs, or long commutes. Use the Internet, for example, to make course material, assignments, and feedback available online, so students can log in any time from home.
  7. Know what services are available at your college to help struggling students. It’s great if your college offers tutoring, English-language help, or career counseling, but they’re useful only if students actually use them. Distribute a handout at the start of the term and approach individual students if they seem to need a hand. Have a counselor come and introduce himself or herself to the class.
  8. Make sure students understand why the subject matter of the course is worth learning, and how it relates to the real world. If you get students invested, they will put in more work, says Richard L. Faircloth, a biology professor at Anne Arundel. Mr. Faircloth, who teaches anatomy, asks students to find a topic in current events that relates to the week’s assignment and write a short essay on why the topic is relevant in everyday life. “I’ve always found these aha’s that occur outside of class, when we’ve learned something in class, help to reinforce it,” says Mr. Faircloth. Expanding students’ media diets, he says, helps them find those everyday connections. It also gives them fresh perspectives and “gets them out of their little circle of e-mail and their circle of cellphones and text messaging.”
  9. Encourage your students to give you feedback on your teaching. Anne Arundel’s Ms. Robinson suggests passing out index cards midway through the semester and asking students what they would like to see more of and less of. Or ask students to grade you in one or two areas of your teaching. “Students appreciate being asked,” she says. Listen to what they have to say and try to incorporate their reasonable responses.
  10. If you are concerned about plagiarism, consider increasing the load of in-class work, such as problem sets and essays. You will learn quickly who is struggling, and it helps procrastinators and those who might otherwise turn work in late, says Tiina Lombard, an associate professor of English at Miami Dade College. It also teaches students to work better under pressure.
  11. Develop at least one assignment that requires each student to meet with you, one on one, in your office. The meeting could be devoted to reviewing an essay or homework assignment. Then use that time to discuss the student’s progress and answer any questions. “You will be amazed at how beneficial even a brief face-to-face meeting can be for you and the student,” says Ms. Robinson.
  12. Identify at least one quality you appreciate in each student, and keep it in mind every time you come in to class. “It’ll make you smile when you walk in to the classroom and look around at everyone,” says Ms. Olmstead, of the English department at Montgomery College.


By Barbara Gross Davis, University of California, Berkeley.
Tools for Teaching, copyright by Jossey-Bass. For purchase or reprint information,
Jossey-Bass. Reprinted here with permission, September 1, 1999.


There are no hard-and-fast rules about the best ways to grade. In fact, as Erickson and Strommer (1991) point out, how you grade depends a great deal on your values, assumptions, and educational philosophy: if you view introductory courses as “weeder” classes — to separate out students who lack potential for future success in the field — you are likely to take a different grading approach than someone who views introductory courses as teaching important skills that all students need to master.

All faculty agree, however, that grades provide information on how well students are learning (Erickson and Strommer, 1991). But grades also serve other purposes. Scriven (1974) has identified at least six functions of grading:

  • To describe unambiguously the worth, merit, or value of the work accomplished
  • To improve the capacity of students to identify good work, that is, to improve their self-evaluation or discrimination skills with respect to work submitted
  • To stimulate and encourage good work by students
  • To communicate the teacher’s judgment of the student’s progress
  • To inform the teacher about what students have and haven’t learned
  • To select people for rewards or continued education

For some students, grades are also a sign of approval or disapproval; they take them very personally. Because of the importance of grades, faculty need to communicate to students a clear rationale and policy on grading.

If you devise clear guidelines from which to assess performance, you will find the grading process more efficient, and the essential function of grades — communicating the student’s level of knowledge — will be easier. Further, if you grade carefully and consistently, you can reduce the number of students who complain and ask you to defend a grade. The suggestions below are designed to help you develop clear and fair grading policies. For tips on calculating final grades, see “Calculating and Assigning Grades.”

General Strategies

Grade on the basis of students’ mastery of knowledge and skills. Restrict your evaluations to academic performance. Eliminate other considerations, such as classroom behavior, effort, classroom participation, attendance, punctuality, attitude, personality traits, or student interest in the course material, as the basis of course grades. If you count these non-academic factors, you obscure the primary meaning of the grade, as an indicator of what students have learned. For a discussion on why not to count class participation, see “Encouraging Student Participation in Discussion.” (Source: Jacobs and Chase, 1992)

Avoid grading systems that put students in competition with their classmates and limit the number of high grades. These normative systems, such as grading on the curve, work against collaborative learning strategies that have been shown to be effective in promoting student learning. Normative grading produces undesirable consequences for many students, such as reduced motivation to learn, debilitating evaluation anxiety, decreased ability to use feedback to improve learning, and poor social relationships. (Sources: Crooks, 1988; McKeachie, 1986)

Try not to overemphasize grades. Explain to your class the meaning of and basis for grades and the procedures you use in grading. At the beginning of the term, inform students, in writing (see “The Course Syllabus”) how much tests, papers, homework, and the final exam will count toward their final grade. Once you have explained your policies, avoid stressing grades or excessive talk about grades, which only increases students’ anxieties and decreases their motivation to do something for its own sake rather than to obtain an external reward such as a grade. (Sources: Allen and Rueter, 1990; Fuhrmann and Grasha, 1983)

Keep students informed of their progress throughout the term. For each paper, assignment, midterm, or project that you grade, give students a sense of what their score means. Try to give a point total rather than a letter grade. Letter grades tend to have emotional associations that point totals lack. Do show the range and distribution of point scores, and indicate what level of performance is satisfactory. Such information can motivate students to improve if they are doing poorly or to maintain their performance if they are doing well. By keeping students informed throughout the term, you also prevent unpleasant surprises at the end. (Sources: Lowman, 1984; Shea, 1990)

Minimizing Students’ Complaints About Grading

Clearly state grading procedures in your course syllabus, and go over this information in class. Students want to know how their grades will be determined, the weights of various tests and assignments, and the model of grading you will be using to calculate their grades: will the class be graded on a curve or by absolute standards? If you intend to make allowances for extra credit, late assignments, or revision of papers, clearly state your policies.

Set policies on late work. Will you refuse to accept any late work? Deduct points according to how late the work is submitted? Handle late work on a case-by-case basis? Offer a grace period? See “Preparing or Revising a Course.”

Avoid modifying your grading policies during the term. Midcourse changes may erode students’ confidence in your fairness, consistency, objectivity, and organizational skills. If you must make a change, give your students a complete explanation. (Source: Frisbie, Diamond, and Ory, 1979)

Provide enough opportunities for students to show you what they know. By giving students many opportunities to show you what they know, you will have a more accurate picture of their abilities and will avoid penalizing a student who has an off day at the time of a test. So in addition to a final exam, give one or two midterms and one or two short papers. For lower-division courses, Erickson and Strommer (1991) recommend giving shorter tests or written assignments and scheduling some form of evaluation every two or three weeks.

Consider allowing students to choose among alternative assignments. One instructor presents a list of activities with assigned points for each that take into account the assignments’ educational and motivational value, difficulty, and probable amount of effort required. Students are told how many points are needed for an A, a B, or a C, and they choose a combination of assignments that meets the grade they desire for that portion of the course. Here are some possible activities:

  • Writing a case study
  • Engaging in and reporting on a fieldwork experience
  • Leading a discussion panel
  • Serving on a discussion panel
  • Keeping a journal or log of course-related ideas
  • Writing up thoughtful evaluations of several lectures
  • Creating instructional materials for the course (study guides, exam questions, or audiovisual materials) on a particular concept or theme
  • Undertaking an original research project or research paper
  • Reviewing the current research literature on a course-related topic
  • Keeping a reading log that includes brief abstracts of the readings and comments, applications, and critiques
  • Completing problem-solving assignments (such as designing an experiment to test a hypothesis or creating a test to measure something)

(Source: Davis, Wood, and Wilson, 1983)

Stress to students that grades reflect work on a specific task and are not judgments about people. Remind students that a teacher grades only a piece of paper. You might also let students know, if appropriate, that research shows that grades bear little or no relationship to measures of adult accomplishment (Eble, 1988, p. 156).

Give encouragement to students who are performing poorly. If students are having difficulty, do what you can to help them improve on the next assignment or exam. If they do perform well, take this into account when averaging the early low score with the later higher one. (Source: Lowman, 1984)

Deal directly with students who are angry or upset about their grade. Ask an upset student to take a day or more to cool off. It is also helpful to ask the student to prepare in writing the complaint or justification for a grade change. When you meet with the student in your office, have all the relevant materials at hand: the test questions, answer key or criteria, and examples of good answers. Listen to the student’s concerns or read the memo with an open mind and respond in a calm manner. Don’t allow yourself to become antagonized, and don’t antagonize the student. Describe the key elements of a good answer, and point out how the student’s response was incomplete or incorrect. Help the student understand your reasons for assigning the grade that you did. Take time to think about the student’s request or to reread the exam if you need to, but resist pressures to change a grade because of a student’s personal needs (to get into graduate school or maintain status on the dean’s list). If appropriate, for final course grades, offer to write a letter to the student’s adviser or to others, describing the student’s work in detail and indicating any extenuating circumstances that may have hurt the grade. (Sources: Allen and Rueter, 1990; McKeachie, 1986)

Keep accurate records of students’ grades. Your department may keep copies of final grade reports, but it is important for you to keep a record of all grades assigned throughout the semester, in case a student wishes to contest a grade, finish an incomplete, or ask for a letter of recommendation.

Making Effective Use of Grading Tactics

Return the first graded assignment or test before the add/drop deadline. Early assignments help students decide whether they are prepared to take the class (Shea, 1990). Some faculty members give students the option of throwing out this first test (Johnson, 1988). Students may receive a low score because they did not know what the instructor required or because they underestimated the level of preparation needed to succeed.

Record results numerically rather than as letter grades, whenever possible. Tests, problem sets, homework, and so on are best recorded by their point value to assure greater accuracy when calculating final grades. (Source: Jacobs and Chase, 1992)

Give students a chance to improve their grades by rewriting their papers. Many faculty encourage rewriting but do not count the grades on rewritten papers as equivalent to those of papers that have not been rewritten. See “Helping Students Write Better in All Courses.”

If many students do poorly on an exam, schedule another one on the same material a week or so later. Devote one or more classes to reviewing the troublesome material. Provide in-class exercises, homework problems or questions, practice quizzes, study group opportunities, and extra office hours before you administer the new exam. Though reviewing and retesting may seem burdensome and time-consuming, there is usually little point in proceeding to new topics when many of your students are still struggling. (Source: Erickson and Strommer, 1991)

Evaluating Your Grading Policies

Compare your grade distributions with those for similar courses in your department. Differences between your grade distributions and those of your colleagues do not necessarily mean that your methods are faulty. But glaring discrepancies should prompt you to reexamine your practices. (Source: Frisbie, Diamond, and Ory, 1979)

Ask students about your grading policies on end-of-course questionnaires. Here are some sample questions (adapted from Frisbie, Diamond, and Ory, 1979, p. 22):

To what extent:

  • Were the grading procedures for the course fair?
  • Were the grading procedures for the course clearly explained?
  • Did you receive adequate feedback on your performance?
  • Were requests for regrading or review handled fairly?
  • Did the instructor evaluate your work in a meaningful and conscientious manner?


Allen, R. R., and Rueter, T. Teaching Assistant Strategies. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt, 1990.

Crooks, T. J. “The Impact of Classroom Evaluation Practices on Students.” Review of Educational Research, 1988, 58(4), 438-48 1.

Davis, B. G., Wood, L., and Wilson, R. The ABCs of Teaching Excellence. Berkeley: Office of Educational Development, University of California, 1983.

Eble, K. E. The Craft of Teaching. (2nd ed.) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass,1988.

Erickson, B. L., and Strommer, D. W. Teaching College Freshmen. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1991.

Frisbie, D. A., Diamond, N. A., and Ory, J. C. Assigning Course Grades. Urbana: Office of Instructional Resources, University of Illinois, 1979.

Fuhrmann, B. S., and Grasha, A. F. A Practical Handbook for College Teachers. Boston: Little, Brown, 1983.

Jacobs, L. C., and Chase, C. I.. Developing and Using Tests Effectively: A Guide for Faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1992.

Johnson, G. R. Taking Teaching Seriously. College Station: Center for Teaching Excellence, Texas A & M University, 1988.

Lowman, J. Mastering the Techniques of Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1984.

McKeachie, W. J. Teaching Tips. (8th ed.) Lexington, Mass.: Heath, 1986.

Scriven, M. “Evaluation of Students.” Unpublished manuscript, 1974.

Shea, M. A. Compendium of Good Ideas on Teaching and Learning. Boulder: Faculty Teaching Excellence Program, University of Colorado, 1990.




The term “delivery strategy” is overused and often misunderstood. Books have been written about it and often equate it to the term “method.” Most undergraduate teaching-training programs even require a course in methods. For the purpose of this article, choosing a delivery strategy will be presented as a choice among the lecture, demonstrations, or discussion. The common nature of these choices do not answer the question How?, but focus on the question, Why ? A series of questions is presented to help you make a decision on which delivery method to use.

Choosing a Lecture

The purpose of a lecture is to clarify information to a large group in a short period of time. It is not to convey information! Lectures require a great deal of preparation time and need to be supported by various audio-visuals. The lecture is a great opportunity for instructors to feed their egos! It is instructor-centered. Handouts, programmed instruction, information handouts, modules, student presentations, guest speakers, films, film strips, and reading assignments are adaptations of lectures.

The following questions should assist you in determining the appropriateness of a lecture.

  1. What knowledge, skill, or attitude needs to be learned?
  2. How many students need the content?
  3. Do all or most of the students need the content now?
  4. How much preparation time is available?
  5. Are you in command of your nonverbal cues?
  6. Can you develop interest in the lecture?
  7. Are there appropriate audio-visual support systems?
  8. Would a handout work just as well?
  9. Can you devise means to ensure that more than one sense is used by students?
  10. Are there natural divisions that equate to 20 minutes or less?
  11. Would a videotape work just as well?
  12. Do your impromptu lectures last 5 minutes or less?
  13. Could you provide an outline of important parts of the lecture?
  14. What portion of your teaching time do you spend lecturing?
  15. Would a text assignment work just as well?
  16. Do you summarize regularly in the lecture?
  17. Do you pose questions in your lectures?
  18. Have you ever listened to or watched one of your lectures?

Choosing a Demonstration

The purpose of the demonstration is to transmit the big picture to a relatively small group of students in a short period of time. Demonstrations usually require a lot of preparation time and must be supported with various audio-visuals. Demonstrations are particularly useful in teaching skills and are more teacher-centered than student-centered. There are several variations of demonstrations. Projects, peer tutoring, research papers, practice, field trips, on-the-job training, simulated experiences, and videotapes are adaptations of demonstrations. The following questions should assist you in determining the appropriateness of a demonstration:

  1. Does the learner need to see the process?
  2. How many students need the content?
  3. How many students need the content now?
  4. How much preparation time is available?
  5. Can you tell and show the content?
  6. Can you appeal to other senses?
  7. Do you want the students to imitate you?
  8. Is there a-v support available?
  9. Will the demonstration last more that 20 minutes?
  10. Could you use a videotape just as well?
  11. Can you ask questions during the demonstration?
  12. Can the students take notes?
  13. Will there be practice time for the students?
  14. Can the student easily identify the steps?
  15. Will you permit the students to ask questions?
  16. Is there only one right way?
  17. Will you support the demonstration with handouts?
  18. Have you ever listened to or watched one of your demonstrations?

Choosing a Discussion

The purpose of a discussion is to solicit and involve the student in content transmittal. Discussions are limited to small groups and require considerable time. The discussion method does not require much audio-visual support. This method is particularly useful in an affective area. It promotes understanding and clarification of concepts, ideas, and feelings. There are numerous variations, and the discussion method can vary from teacher-centered to student-centered. Role playing, debate, panel discussion, reviews, supervised study, brainstorming, buzz groups, idea incubation, tests, show-and-tell, worksheets, conferences, and interviews are examples. The following questions should assist you in determining the appropriateness of a discussion:

  1. Do you need active involvement from the student?
  2. How many students need to be involved?
  3. Must you hear everything being said?
  4. How much time is available?
  5. Is divergent thinking a desirable end?
  6. Could you just as well tell them?
  7. Can there be more than one right answer?
  8. Is there time to clarify differences?
  9. How much control do you need?
  10. Can you accept the students’ views?
  11. Can interest be aroused and maintained?
  12. Is there time to draw conclusions?
  13. Is there time to follow up?
  14. What needs to be tested?
  15. Is two-way communication necessary?
  16. Are checks and balances available to prevent certain students from dominating?
  17. Are there means to keep on the topic?
  18. Have you ever listened to or watched yourself in a discussion?

Seminary Formation – 1998


Volume 4

Number 3

Winter 1998


International Consultation on Priestly
Formation For Rectors of Major Seminaries

American College
Leuven, Belgium

Rev. James J. Walsh
NECA Seminary Dept.


Godfried Cardinal Danneels

Training Candidates for the Priesthood

Rev. Michael Paul Gallagher, SJ

Faith Development of Seminarians

Rev. Gustavo Gutiérrez

The Seminary As a Context for Teaching

Rev. John F. Canary

The Seminary As a Context for Modeling the Integrated Life

Rev. James J. Walsh

Summary Statements on Seminary Life and Formation for Priesthood

Rev. Peter J. Schineler, S.J.

Report on Africa

Rev. Asandas D. Balchand, S.J.

Report on Asia

Rev. Stanislaw Obirek, S.J.

Report on Eastern Europe

Rev. Carlos Rodriguez

Report on Latin America

Rev. Paul Cashen

Report on Australasia and Oceania

Sr. Katarina Schuth

Report on Theology-Level Seminaries
in the United States

Bishop Walter Kasper

Report on Western Europe


Programme of Formation



The programme of formation for seminarians is built on the principles enunciated by the Second Vatican Council and the Post-Conciliar documents. In particular, it is anchored on the four elements of formation outlined in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Pastores Dabo Vobis.


Human Development.

The call to maturity is a lifelong task. Discerning a special vocation to achieve this in priesthood or religious life, some offer themselves to Christ and his Church in a particular way and enter seminary. In so doing, they undertake to follow a programme of formation which, with God’s help, will lead them towards full human maturity and a deep spiritual awareness, as well as provide an intellectual and professional preparation suitable for the work of evangelisation in a new millennium.

Maturity is a complex reality which cannot be easily or fully defined. One can, however, recognise a mature man. He is a person who, having accepted his personal history, explores and recognises the truth of his identity. He constantly attempts to imbue his human development with Christian values and, in particular, with the practice and habit of living the Christian virtues. He consistently tries to acquire and preserve the capacity to act freely. He is a man who has an obvious emotional self-control, one who enjoys community living because of his willingness to give himself in service of others and a person who devotes himself in a steady, consistent and calm way to his vocation and his duties. His conduct is clearly influenced by an informed conscience and he uses his freedom to explore and fully develop his human potential.

“Human maturity and in particular affective maturity requires a clear and strong training in freedom” (PDV, 44). Fostering human development must challenge the seminarian to achieve a convinced and heartfelt obedience to the “truth” of his own being. True freedom asks him to be master of himself and to be ready to open out to others in generous, dedicated service. On his educational journey, the community life of the seminary, the dedicated service of the College staff and their professional collaborators, together with the seminarian’s own family, provide the ambience in which growth and human development take place. The seminary formation programme invests much time and energy in each seminarian and asks of him that he respond to this with total generosity.

The priest of the third millennium will continue the work of the priests who, in the preceding generations, have animated the life of the Church. During the third millennium the priestly vocation will continue to be the call to live the unique and permanent priesthood of Christ. A renewed vision for this new era is required so that the timeless and age old mission of Christ and his Church may be fulfilled. Tomorrow’s priest will be ” the living image” of Christ, the Head and Shepherd (PDV, 43). In his person he must strive for that level of human maturity which Christ reached in his Incarnation and reflect this to the people and culture in which he will offer his service.




Spiritual Development.

The spiritual life has as its continuous goal the development of a person’s relationship with God. This faith relationship is based more on an affective experience of divine love than a cognitive understanding of God. In the seminary the student learns to discern the will of God in his life, and grows more generous in embracing that vocation. Personal holiness helps to form a community and in this way the seminary becomes an example of Christian fraternity.

Among the practices that further spiritual development, the life of personal and liturgical prayer is first and foremost. The communal celebration of the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours root the student’s life in Christ and in his Church. A daily time of private meditation is essential to the future priest’s identity with Christ before the Father.

Spiritual Direction facilitates the student’s discernment of God’s will and knowledge of God’s compassion so that he might be free of the obstacles that hinder his faith. In his spiritual director the student finds a trusted anam chara who will accompany him on his inner pilgrimage.

Life in the seminary is characterised by a spirit of reflection. Time for silence and opportunities for solitude form part of the College timetable. Reflection allows the student to be present to the movement of God’s Spirit in his life. The student ought to give time to spiritual reading and acquaint himself with the principles of spiritual theology. In this way he is enabled to understand the meaning of his life and put into practice the faith that he professes.


Intellectual development.

A sound philosophical and theological training is essential for all candidates for the priesthood. Seminarians must study and meditate on the Word of God in the light of the tradition and teaching of the Church and learn to express it in a language that can be readily understood in the social and cultural situation of today. To be an effective preacher, teacher and spiritual guide, deacons and priests need to develop a familiarity with the opportunities and challenges posed to Christian faith not only by science and technology but also by contemporary movements in art and literature. All students at the Irish College are offered the opportunity of obtaining a Baccalaureate in Theology. Some students, with the agreement of their Bishop, undertake further specialisation to licentiate or doctoral level. The College programme reserves the central part of every weekday for attendance at lectures, and for personal study and reading. Students are encouraged to make the most of this opportunity by attending their lectures and meeting the requirements which the university may impose for the particular course of study undertaken. Personal reading is an indispensable part of any academic programme. Students should familiarise themselves with the College and university libraries.

Living in Rome provides many opportunities to deepen one’s appreciation of the universality of the Church and to broaden one’s cultural and intellectual horizons. Every effort will be made to facilitate attendance at extra-curricular lectures and courses within and beyond the Irish College. In this context, students are reminded of the importance of attaining a proficiency in the Italian language.

Students will attend the university and course which has been decided by the Rector and the individual’s Bishop. The precise plan of study is to be agreed between the student and his Director of Formation. It is the responsibility of each student to ensure that he is properly registered for all prescribed courses. Extra tuition can be arranged by the Director of Formation for courses which present a particular difficulty to the student. Examinations are to be taken during the normal sessions. A transcript of all results should be presented to the Rector at the end of each semester. Examinations may only be deferred under extraordinary circumstances and with the prior permission of the Director of Formation. Students may progress from one semester/year to the next when they have fulfilled the requirements of the previous one. If the occasion arises, students must re-sit examinations at the earliest possible opportunity.


Pastoral Development.

Pastoral formation ensures that the human, spiritual and intellectual formation of the candidate for priesthood is focused on his future life and ministry as a priest. While the Irish College prepares men for ministry in the universal Church, the primary attention for the programme of pastoral formation is given to Ireland. The programme is designed to offer to the student good communication skills, strong and effective leadership qualities, the ability to develop an aptitude for collaborative ministry, as well as to relate well to the culture of the modern world.

Through a programme of pastoral work and reflection, the College attempts to create in each student the compassion of a good shepherd, the ability to assume a conscientious and mature responsibility for the care of souls and an interior strength and perception which will allow him to evaluate pastoral difficulties and opportunities and establish priorities in his life and work.



Summary Statements on
Seminary Life and Formation
for Priesthood

(A synthesis of the feedback from the groups
on the last day of the consultation)

Rev. James J. Walsh

A. Important Components Cited:

  • Each seminarian must take responsibility for his own formation and the formation of his brothers.
  • The cultural and ecclesial links between the life of the seminary and the lives of the people of God are important.
  • It is important that there be modeling in the seminary by the rector, faculty, and staff in the areas of authority, joy, listening, vulnerability, a healthy life style, commitment, and faith.
  • The importance of the liturgy as the source and summit of seminary life especially in the sacrificial dimension of the priest’s life and his acting “in persona Christi” should be realized.
  • The importance of human growth and maturity in the seminarian and an appreciation of friendship in the context of celibacy should be noted.
  • Variety and diversity can be enriching within priestly formation.
  • The vision and mission of the Church and priesthood as coming from God should not be lost.
  • The concern for the poor, the insignificant, and the marginalized must be integrated into the formation process.
  • There are marked cultural and ecclesial differences in the various countries in which we are working.
  • There is also a wonderful convergence of blessings and challenges in our various seminaries.
  • It is a good and important work that we have been called to do in and for the Church.
  • Our daily work as rectors enables us to deepen our own priestly service in a way that would not be possible if we were involved in other work. As we are challenged to be models of growth, we are able to grow ourselves.
  • We have learned important values like love for the Church, the use of imagination for the integration of all the components of formation, and moving beyond the practical issues and concerns that can preoccupy us.
  • Formators are essentially catalysts in a conversion experience providing persons with the opportunity and stimulus to deepen their faith.
  • The seminary’s involvement in the local church is facilitated by the seminarian’s personal experience and relationships, like living among the poor and being involved with laity in the formation process.
  • The call and recommendation for ordained priesthood should involve the laity in some way.
  • The spirituality demanded is one that leads us and the seminarians to the generosity of God’s love which provides the enthusiasm and desire for mission.
  • It is important that the formation process be integrated and personalized.
  • The apostolic mission and how it is inculturated in a local church has implications for priestly formation and ministry, for example, the evangelical project of the Latin American church is key for the formation of priests in that region.
  • Ongoing preparation for celibacy is vital, but it is also important to continue discussion of the issue of celibacy in light of the needs of the Church and in light of the needs of the personal development of individuals within formation programs.
  • Discipleship can be the integrating image for intellectual, spiritual, pastoral, and human formation.

B. Major Needs Discerned:

  • Promotion of a sense of belonging and participation within the seminary needs to take place.
  • We need to maintain the standards, have clear criteria, and emphasize quality in the acceptance and promotion of the candidates. There needs to be better coordination of the persons responsible for this.
  • There needs to be training of formation staff and spiritual directors.
  • We need to involve more lay people in the formation of priests.
  • There needs to be a proper discernment of what seminary formation should be today, and what structural and ideological changes need to be made in relation to developments in ecclesiology and the theology of ministry.
  • An exchange of information and theological discussion among the faculty needs to take place. Students need to witness the faculty in dialogue as Christian colleagues.
  • We need to avoid sentimentality in admissions.
  • We need to initiate dialogue with faculty, bishops, students, and the wider Church to help clarify the vision, mission, and needs of the Church and the seminary. The dialogue can reinforce the relational model of formation and can help us discern where we are being called by the Holy Spirit.
  • There needs to be a spirit of dialogue especially in the area of ecclesiology, the theology of priesthood, and the theology of ministry.
  • The consultation and collaboration that goes on within the evaluative and assessment processes needs to be transparent. We need to remove the perceived mysteriousness of the process.
  • There is a need to evaluate the effectiveness of the large free standing model of seminary. We need, perhaps, to look at the apprenticeship model of placing a seminarian with a priest who can be a role model.
  • Structures and processes for post-ordination formation need to be connected with seminary formation.

Reports on Priestly Formation
From the Various Regions of the World

Report on Africa

Peter Schineller, S.J.
Former Dean and Professor of Theology, former Regional
Superior of the Jesuits of Nigeria-Ghana, and future Dean
and Professor of Theology at Hekima College, Nairobi


About 12% of the world’s population reside in Africa, second only to Asia. In Africa we are witnessing the fastest growth ever in the 2000 year history of Christianity. Here are a few statistics to illustrate this point:

















Africa is large, containing 22% of the land of this good earth. Europe, the USA, India, China, and Argentina all fit within Africa. Africa is complex, with over 2000 languages and ethnic groups. For the purpose of this presentation, I am focusing on subSaharan Africa, and thus not speaking of North Africa or Egypt.

What are the significant issues and trends influencing the Church of Africa?

Political: Africa continues to suffer from poor leadership. In many countries there are entrenched leaders, military dictators, or the dangers of military coups. While the desire for democracy suited for Africa is great, the reality is not so present.

Economic: Most of the world’s poorest nations are in Africa. Decline rather than growth is characteristic. International debt robs the children of Africa of their future.

Demographic: The birth rate remains very high, the highest in the world, and at the same time, the epidemic of AIDS ravages the population and leaves homes and villages without parents. In Zambia over the past ten years, life expectancy dropped from 52 to 42 years of age.

Transitions: Modem technology and communications deeply influence Africa. TV presents the western world and its progress and problems to African households, but much of what is seen, such as the material progress, is beyond the reach of most Africans.

Ethnicity: We witness the move and desire to be part of modem, technological culture, yet at the same time, is the increased desire to return to and retain one’s cultural roots, one’s racial identity. Ethnic rivalry, tension, and conflict remain present. As one bishop expressed it at the Assembly of African bishops, “blood is thicker than water” (the water of Baptism).

Religion: Africans are deeply religious. This finds expression in a growing number of indigenous, independent African churches. As Christianity grows, this is matched by the growth of Islam. In many nations there are tensions and conflicts between Christians and Muslims.

Education: The desire for good education is very high, but the quality of education may be decreasing because of population growth, and because of poor political leadership that often resents and fears quality education. When people are converted, they simply add the new faith to what they already believe.

Women: While more women have been receiving education, equal opportunities for women remain distant, in light of the male domination that is present in many of the African traditional cultures.

Urbanization: The move to the cities, the search of the better life, continues, but it all too often results in crowded living, slums, unemployment, increased crime, as well as in weakening of families ties.

What are the challenges in Africa in preparing candidates for priesthood today?

The basic challenge is to prepare young men to meet the immense challenges facing the Church and people of Africa. Under this heading of challenges, I will list “lights and shadows,” positive and negative factors, that present challenges to formation of priests in Africa. In general, each of the positive factors has a negative side to it, as we will see.

Numbers: There are approximately 180 major seminaries in Africa. In Nigeria there are I I major seminaries with an average of 400 students in each. This presents an opportunity, but also the challenge to assure quality in view of the quantity. Vocations for the most part are booming. The challenge is discerning the genuine vocations.

Image of the Priest: Catholics in Africa hold their priests in high regard. Vocations to priesthood are encouraged and supported. On the other hand, the priest can be put on a pedestal and remain above criticism when criticism is due.

Traditional Large Seminaries: The model of seminary for the most part is the large, independent, often rather isolated institutional structure. In general, diocesan seminaries are larger than those for religious. Students may not receive the personal care, guidance, and attention needed. They are not being formed in community living -or in the image of the Church as family, as the Assembly of African Bishops emphasized.

Intellectual Formation: While the academic background of the students may be growing weaker, due to the downturn in the quality of education, the intellectual formation at seminaries remains strong and the students respond well to the challenge of the academic life. A criticism oft repeated is that the seminaries are better at training the head rather than the heart.

Spiritual formation. I believe this is the most serious concern facing seminaries in Africa. While academics may be solid, spiritual formation does not receive the priority it demands. Seminarians have courses in spiritual theology, attend Mass, pray the Rosary, and have common prayer. I have heard that young priests have not developed a prayer life. They are not well prepared to make the transition from the more serene life in the seminary to the active, interrupted life in the parish. Their spirituality has been more monastic than active, apostolic. To improve spiritual formation, many more trained spiritual directors must be present, and this aspect of formation must be seen as a higher priority. There is a great need for trained spiritual directors.

Pastoral Formation: In view of large numbers and the relative isolation of many seminaries, pastoral formation remains inadequate, although it is more and more seen as a serious concern and challenge. Pastoral involvement by the seminarians, such as over the vacation periods, is seen more as a test rather than a supervised apprenticeship.

Interpersonal Relationships: Many comment that seminarians act out of fear rather than love, that is, fear of being dismissed. Their bishops remain distant. In the intensely authoritarian ways of interacting, even faculty and administration can be distant and feared. There is insufficient modeling or training in a more collegial or collaborative model of education or ministry and, thus, after ordination the young priests themselves take on the authoritarian model in exercising leadership. This affects all relationships, especially relationships with women.

Pedagogy: In view of large classes, the lecture method is the norm rather than more creative, involved, library research-oriented pedagogy. Team teaching and interaction among students is minimal.

Clerical Culture: Most of the professors and formation staff are priests. Seminarians rarely are taught and challenged by lay men, and more importantly, by religious or lay women. In a distinction that might be insightful, one person said that in the African seminaries, we are training clerics rather than priests. The cleric is one who falls back upon his privileged position and office. The priest is one who gives his life in service to God’s people.

African or Western Philosophy/Theology: It is questioned whether African seminaries should review, retrieve the history of Western thought and the Western Church or instead launch into the depths of their own culture and tradition and correlate Scripture and tradition with African culture, roots, sources, and riches. For the most part, inculturation remains an ideal, and Western theology and philosophy dominate.

Psycho-sexual Development: Seminarians are young, growing, and maturing. This takes place in the rather isolated milieu of the seminary. More healthy interaction with their peers, including women, would be helpful as well as specific courses or workshops that treat of psycho-sexual development. Celibacy surely will always remain a challenge, in Africa and elsewhere, but ways and means to help face and live it should be available.

Justice and Peace: In the strongly religious culture of Africa, the Christian, hence the priest and the seminarian, most continually strive to see the links between religion and social/political issues, between faith and justice. The social teaching of the Church must not only be studied and known, but also applications to the myriad problems facing Africa must be formulated and tried.

Ecumenism: Seminarians must be given not only theoretical or classroom knowledge of other Christian denominations, African indigenous religions, and Islam, but also the ecumenical attitude and the desire and ability to engage in conversation in order to understand and relate practically to these powerful religious forces in Africa.

Summary Challenge: The existing large, institutional, and often isolated seminary structures must be strongly modified to enable more integrated, personalized, responsible, family-style education and formation. Efforts are being made in this direction, but the structures in place resist radical change. Some would argue that more radical structural changes (rather than program changes, changes within the structure) are needed – new ways, places, and means of forming priests to serve in Africa.

What is the profile of people who are coming to seminary?

Age: For the most part those who enter the major seminaries are aged between 19 and 22. Their experience, especially their experience of work, of earning a living, may be quite limited. They will change and mature greatly during their years of study.

Family Background: Family in Africa refers to the extended, rather than the nuclear family. Most vocations arise from solid Catholic families – perhaps their father was a catechist and the mother is a faithful parish member and member of at least one parish society. Yet some come from polygamous families, or families where one or both of their parents are nonCatholic and adherents to African religion. In general, there is strong family support for vocations to priesthood. On the other hand, the priest is expected to help his extended family in their needs due to his elevated social and economic position.

Religious Background: Many of the major seminarians would have attended minor seminaries which remain prominent in many parts of Africa. Even if they did not attend minor seminary, the spiritual life of most, simple and pious in the good sense, consists of daily Mass/Communion and daily Rosary, sometimes the family Rosary. Many would have been altar servers and a smaller number would have been helpers to their local parish priest, working, and perhaps living in the parish house. They love the Church and being involved in the life of the Church. They have a love of song, dance, and celebration.

Educational Background: All would have completed secondary school. For many, this would have been a minor seminary. In general, they would have the qualifications needed to attend the University in their own country. Education has declined overall rather than improved in many parts of Africa, and, thus too, the educational level of the seminarians, especially those who come from rural areas. Excellent in learning languages, they would know at least one African language and one foreign language.

Motivation: Most candidates are drawn by religious motivation, the desire to serve as priests. At the same time, it is clear that priesthood and even the life of the seminarian results in upward mobility. The priest normally has a car, educational opportunities, ability to travel, including overseas travel and room and board to an extent that the vast majority of Africans do not have.

This brief survey does not do justice to the diversity, the complexity, the riches of formation for priesthood in Africa. My hope is that setting forth these points under general categories may enable us to focus on more salient points, lead to clarification and, indeed, to action proposals that will begin to address the challenges facing the formation of priests in Africa and elsewhere.

Reports on Priestly Formation
From the Various Regions of the World

Report on Asia

Rev. Asandas D. Balchand, S.J.
Loyola House of Studies
Ateneo de Manila University
Quezon City, Philippines

For my presentation I will give a brief introduction on Asia and then some remarks under each of the themes given to us. I will base my remarks on material related to the Bishops’ Synod on Asia last April 19-May 14, 1998, on documents of the FABC, articles in journals, and interviews with some experts on the topics.

Asia is that vast area which extends from Israel and Lebanon in the west to Japan in the East, Mongolia in the north and Indonesia and Papua New Guinea in the south. Seventy-five percent of the world’s population lives in Asia, a large number of whom are young people. Asia is a land of vast multiplicity and conflicts: multiplicity of races, religions, languages and cultures, contrasts in political organizations, social life, the economy and standards of living. There is much plurality of life even within the same urban neighborhood or village.

In general, there is tremendous growth and transformation in Asia. There is an increasing desire for greater freedom on the political, social, economic levels, and advancing industrialization and modernization of life. Education, science and technology are making significant impacts in many places, giving rise to levels of literacy, to specialists, researchers, inventors, skilled workers. There is a growing awareness of human rights, respect for the individual, communal and regional cooperation.

The Church has been planted and is making steady progress in Asia. There is a rise in vocations over the past twenty-five years. New local religious congregations have been organized. The Church has been known for many notable projects, such as improving literacy rates and skills through education and vocational training.

I. The Significant Issues and Trends in Asia

The key issues and challenges I see facing the Church in Asia with all the religious, socio-political and cultural ferment are the following:

1) greater effort at inculturation;

2) inter-religious dialogue and more attention to contemplation and prayer;

3) greater involvement in action for justice, alleviation of poverty and suffering;

4) greater attention to the role and the formation of the laity, the family, women, and the youth;

5) better use of the mass media for evangelization;

6) globalization and the free market; and

7) the Fundamentalism coming from Hinduism and Islam

Let me briefly explain each.

Over the past twenty-five years the Church in Asia has been engaged in a triple dialogue with the Asian cultures, with the poor, and with the other religions. While there has been considerable progress since the 1970s, all the literature I have consulted indicates that much more needs to be done. The first challenge to the Church is that of inculturation of greater interaction between the faith and the local culture. Many writers and documents say that the Gospel must take on an Asian character, that the Church must be incarnated in Asian cultures. There is need to understand the Asian mentality, to appreciate Asian religions with their strength and values, and their influence on the people. There were efforts by Beschi and de Nobili in India, Xavier and Valignano in Japan, Ricci in China in the past but these did not receive continued encouragement. Today many in Asia feel that the Church is still too western, as seen from her theology, architecture, art, association with colonialism, etc.

It is important especially to have inculturation in Christian theology and spirituality. Theologians can use theological expressions from the local culture, and use aspects of the Asian philosophical systems to explain the message of Christ. Christian spirituality can also draw from the vast riches of Asian spiritual traditions to make the mystery of Christ understood. The challenge to inculturate the Faith remains the key issue in Asia today.

A second challenge, intimately related to inculturation, is interreligious dialogue. Asia is the cradle of the main religions of the world, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Taoism, Confucianism. One can add to these a good number of popular religious movements and primal religions. The Spirit of God is present in these religious cultures and they have a salvific role to play in God’s plan. With Vatican 11 the Church has strongly encouraged respect for and dialogue with these religions. The Church is asked to see and appreciate the signs of God’s presence in them and to understand herself better in the light of these religions. The impact of the religions on the life, history and culture of the people has to be appreciated. The religions have given meaning to the lives of Asians for centuries and continue to permeate the individual and communal lives of Asians.

Dialogue with the adherents of these religions must be genuine and open, humble and frank, seeking to learn and share. There is much to learn from the deep religiosity of the people and from their Scriptures, their teachings, their religious and ascetical practices, their philosophies. At the same time there is much to share, such as the values of reconciliation and peace, service of the neighbor, the dignity of persons, the value of suffering, etc. Authors also stress that this dialogue must go beyond discussions on doctrines and belief systems, to being in touch with the persons of other faiths out of a spirit of love and service. The exercise of spiritual and corporal works of mercy is very helpful for dialogue because this creates a sense of community, peace, harmony values very important in Asia.

An important aspect of interreligious dialogue is the need for the Church to give more attention to the life of the spirit, to prayer, meditation, and contemplation. Many Asians value religious experience more than doctrine. Christians in Asia are expected to witness to a deep union with Christ, to be contemplatives in action. Many times this silent witness to a deep God experience will be more convincing than verbal, theoretical explanations about the mysteries of Christianity.

The third part of the triple dialogue needed in Asia is dialogue with the poor. This means preferential option for and solidarity with the poor, recognizing their human dignity, working for social justice for the victims of exploitation and oppression – tribals, children, migrant workers, refugees, women. It means caring for those who are suffering from physical, mental or spiritual ills. Many hold that effective social service and concern by the Church, following the example of Jesus, is the most important contribution of the Church in Asia. The highly positive regard for the work of Mother Teresa is proof of this.

If the life of Jesus was marked by deeds of love and service, the Church can do no better than to imitate this by specific activities of love and service for the poor, the marginalized and suffering, the many victims of injustice and discrimination based on race, religion, culture, gender.

In its efforts towards social justice and preferential love for the poor, the Church can very effectively cooperate with the followers of other religions, a good number of whom are also very concerned about building better and more just societies in Asia, and fighting abuses and injustices.

A fourth important issue in the Church in Asia is the role of the laity in the Church and the Church’s concern for the laity. The Church in Asia is perceived as being too clerical in its administration, liturgy, and needs to involve the laity, especially the youth, much more in its life and activities. The young especially are eager to participate in the mission of the Church. The interest and enthusiasm of the laity is seen in the growth of Basic Ecclesial Communities and charismatic movements. Lay institutes have been established in Japan and the Philippines. Formation for the laity in theology and spirituality is present in many places in Asia.

Special attention needs to be given to the youth, the family, and women. The youth make up a very large number of Asians. While they are idealistic and generous, they are also caught up in tensions arising from rapid changes and modernization in Asia. In several countries, they are effective evangelizers bringing the Gospel message to their peers and families. The apostolate of the family is very important for the future of the Church because the family is the center of Asian culture and society. Family values are highly prized in Asia but are now being threatened by mass migration, working parents, forced resettlement, etc. Good family lives contribute much to vocations in Asia. The Church’s work towards the emancipation of women through education and legislation needs to be commended and continued. The increase in vocation among women has led to noteworthy social change and care for the poor.

A fifth issue that affects the Church in Asia is the mass media. While it brings many benefits, it also has disturbing effects. The individualism, materialism, and violence portrayed in the media is seriously affecting traditional familial and communal religious values. The Church needs to educate people in the use and effects of the media. The Church needs to address the culture that is being formed by the media and other means of social communication. Finally, the Church needs to better use the media and other forms of social communication such as the Internet to proclaim the Gospel message today.

A sixth issue that affects the Church in Asia is the need to respond to globalization and the free market.

Finally, the Church in Asia needs to address the Fundamentalism coming from Hinduism and Islam.

II. Challenges in Asia in Preparing Candidates for the Priesthood Today

Many of the challenges to formation in Asia today flow from the issues and challenges facing the Church in Asia. There is need to train the seminarians to understand these trends, participate in them, and respond to the challenges they present as effectively as they can. Let me briefly indicate a few key challenges presented by formators and Asian bishops in the recent past.

The first challenge is to make the formation inculturated and to train the young men to be inculturated in their life and service as priests. It will mean that the young seminarian is trained to be open to different cultures from his own and to try to adopt himself to these, making himself one with the people. The young seminarian must go beyond knowledge of the local language, history and traditions of the people and get into “the inner genius of a community”. For this it is important that there be considerable exposure and apprenticeship during formation. When the young priest exercises his ministry, it must be contextual because the priest is called to be a man of the people, especially the poor and suffering.

The Instrumentum Laboris of the Bishops’ Synod on Asia last April 19-May 14, 1998, stresses the need for inculturation in theology and theological research, that the formators and seminaries should use elements from the different philosophical systems in Asia to make the message of Christ meaningful for Asians. Seminarians also need to know the spiritual traditions in Asia to incarnate Christian spirituality.

An important part of inculturation involves the liturgy. There is need for liturgical renewal in Asia to make it more suitable to the culture of the people of a particular region so that the people there can really experience the mystery of Christ in their lives.

The second challenge is that the formation process train the seminarians for dialogue with religions and cultures. Rectors of Asian seminaries who met outside Manila in 1988 stressed that interfaith dialogue should have an important part in the formation and spirituality of the priest. At their meeting outside Manila in 1991 the Asian formators pointed out that formators must develop in seminary communities “respect for the genius and genuine spiritual values enshrined in the religio-cultural traditions of the people.” (Hundredfold Harvest, p.28) and that the priest must be a man who can dialogue “with the faiths and cultures of all the people, without any distinction of caste, creed or race.” (Hundredfold Harvest, p. 17)

The Asian Bishops and formators stress that formation in Asia must have a strong missionary and pastoral dimension to it, including formation in missionary spirituality. Seminaries need to provide courses in missiology and in other religions and cultures. Seminarians are to have concrete missionary and apostolic experiences and engage in activities such as teaching, preaching, organizing people for a sharing of their faith. Seminary formation must have a strong pastoral dimension that breaks down divisions of race, social class, and religion.

The third challenge for candidates to the priesthood in Asia is formation in social justice and for a preferential option for the poor. Meetings of the Asian Bishops and of the seminary formators have stressed this. They point out that “seminarians should be helped progressively to develop this love for the poor,” without any condescension. Seminarians must have experience in working with the poor and reflect on that experience. The 1991 Statement of Asian seminary formators says that the priest must be a prophetic leader for human rights, human dignity, peace and justice, and that the seminarians must be made aware of the socio-political and economic situation of the people. As early as 1974, the FABC meeting in Taipei asked that the social teaching of the Church, especially of the 1971 Synod of Bishops, be part of theological and pastoral formation of priests.

A fourth challenge in the formation of seminarians is formation in social communication. The two meetings of Asian seminary formators in 1988 and 1991 outside Manila mention the need to train seminarians to use the media positively, but to use it critically, too. Seminary formators are asked to give the seminarians information and experience so that they can use the media to proclaim God’s message and they can evangelize the media. Since very few people are reached from the pulpit, media education is essential for the seminarians.

A fifth challenge in seminary formation in Asia today is having truly human formation that will produce a priest who is emotionally mature, psychologically well-balanced, well-integrated in personality. This is especially important because a number enter the seminary wounded and in need of healing. An essential part of this integrated formation is formation in celibacy and sexuality. After careful screening of candidates, they must be challenged to grow in celibacy. Researches indicate a significant degree of immaturity among priests and religious. The immaturity is often linked with sexual difficulties.

A sixth challenge to priestly formation in Asia today is spiritual formation. The Asian Bishops and formators insist on the centrality of the God-experience and the primacy of the spiritual formation of seminarians, especially since Asia is so deeply religious. Formation in the spirit and the ability to lead others to God is often neglected at the expense of intellectual, social and psychological formation.

A final need in Asia is good formation and ongoing formation of the formators themselves. If the seminarians are to be well-trained to meet the challenges of the 21st century, intensive and extensive training must be given to formators, especially the spiritual directors. Faculty development programs have to be sought. Teachers have to get specialized training in such areas as missiology, interfaith dialogue, inculturation, the social sciences. The skilled formation of spiritual directors deserves top priority.

III.  The Profile of People Coming to Seminary

It is difficult to make general statements regarding those coming to seminary in the different Asian countries beyond these:

1) They tend to come from the middle class or poorer, rural places.

2) They tend to be highly motivated to and are strongly desirous of serving God and Christ.

3) Intellectually many are above average but not brilliant.

Beyond these I notice considerable variety and diversity.

In Indonesia and Malaysia they tend to come from deeply religious Catholic families that send their children to Catholic schools for a good education. Many come from minor seminaries. Among religious, a good number are brighter intellectually. They also tend to be professionals with work experience before they enter, attracted by vocation promoters and desirous of doing something about the social issues of the country.

In Sri Lanka too they tend to come from poorer and middle class families, some of whom send their boys to the minor seminary to learn English. Some join the seminary to avoid the military conflict between the Tamils and the Singhalese only to find tension between the two groups in the seminary. Many have difficulty in communicating in English.

Seminarians tend to be older in Korea and Singapore. Many enter with a professional background and two years of military service. While vocations are doing well in Korea and Myanmar, they are low in Thailand (where Buddhism is very strong), Taiwan and Hongkong, perhaps because of the increasing secularization in the last two places.

The only information I have about China indicates that they come from traditional Catholic families. Most are recommended by their pastors who expect them to return after four to six years of theological education. The seminarians themselves feel that the training is insufficient and outmoded for their work, that their teachers are too old and strict, and that their textbooks are pre Vatican 11, published in the 1920s and 1930s.

In the Philippines many seminarians come from rural areas and lower income families. Their academic background is weak and they tend to be slightly above average intellectually. They have poor knowledge of the faith, but they are highly motivated, eager to learn more. They are also very generous, sociable and closely attached to the family. Interestingly, although there is an increase in the number of priests, it has not kept up with the growth in population. There is one priest for over ten thousand people.

In India economically, the seminarians tend to come from lower middle class families; academically, they are average to above average; spiritually, many come from devout, traditionally-oriented families; culturally, they come from very diverse backgrounds and very different languages. At the Papal Seminary in Pune, the students come from 15 different states, 51 dioceses, and three rites -Latin, SyroMalabar and Syro-Malankara.

Reports on Priestly Formation
From the Various Regions of the World

Report on Eastern Europe

Rev. Stanislaw Obirek, S.J.
Krakow, Poland

The Significant Issues and Trends Influencing the Church in Eastern Europe

1. One of the most important issues of the Church in Eastern Europe is the rediscovery and return to the   tradition over many centuries of tolerance and peaceful coexistence with different confessions and religions. It was Eastern Europe which accepted the Jews expelled from Spain and other Western countries in the 15th century. It was here that different groups of Protestants expelled from the West found a home in the 16th century. In this part of Europe Christians and Muslims lived in harmony in the Middle Ages.

2. The totalitarianism of communism in Soviet Russia since 1918 and in other parts of Eastern Europe since 1945 destroyed a cultural heritage and fought against religion and the spiritual.

Hitler’s ideology also darkens the past and present of our history. It not only destroyed the rich Jewish heritage but also contributed to the hostility which still exists between neighboring countries.

3. The decrease in the authority of the Catholic Church in Poland after 1989 is proportional to the decrease of direct commitment of priests and bishops to politics. This is an important indication that a certain epoch in the history and significance of the Church in social life is finished.

4.      The new challenge for the Church in society is the increase of impoverished social groups, unemployment, and increased social tension.

Trends in the Seminaries:

1.     In 1987 there were 9038 seminarians. In 1994 there were 7180 seminarians.

2.     The greatest need for seminaries is the formation of professors to do the spiritual, human, and intellectual formation of the seminarians.

3.     There is a new type of seminarian entering the seminary after 1989, the convert from atheism to Catholicism. Prior to 1989 the seminarians came from the rural areas and there was a significant political motivation to be a priest.

4.     The intellectual preparation for seminary is weak.

5.     Entering the seminary in Poland is still a social step upwards.

Reports on Priestly Formation
From the Various Regions of the World

Report on Latin America

Rev. Carlos Rodriguez
Caracas, Venezuela

Negative Influences on the Church in Latin America:

1. Globalization of the economy has had some negative influence on patterns of behaviour. There is racism and nationalism growing in some countries which seek to exclude certain social groups.

2. There is a gradual increase in secularism and individualism.

3. Urbanization is leading to a loss of traditional values and the breakdown of the family. This can make for difficulties in the human formation of the seminarians and challenges the priest to have the maturity to stand up for the traditional values in the face the culture.

4. Corruption in social and political areas is creating a mentality for easy and fast money in drugs from transport to consumption sales.

5. The South American continent is, moreover, no longer an exclusively Catholic continent. There are different religious movements reaching the poor people that the Catholic Church used to reach. Current trends are leading to a polarized world, a polarized Church, and the exclusion of people.

The Seminary Situation

1. We have a lot of young formators. In some cases we see a lack of stability in the educational teams as often the seminary formators do not work full-time in the seminary.

2. Our bishops are often not sufficiently present in our formation programs and seminaries.

3. There has been a drop in the educational level in many countries which has affected the intellectual capacity of the seminarians. We are trying to strategize how to meet this problem.

4. There are movements that have developed their own seminaries and they are not following the standards for priestly formation. This is breaking up the communion of priestly formation around the classical model.

5. Most of the vocations are coming from the rural areas and from the middle and lower middle classes. There has been an increase in the number of seminarians from broken families.

6. In general we see an increase in the number of seminarians and the number that gets ordained is a greater percentage than it was.

7. Most of the seminarians come with a sincere desire to allow themselves to be guided and to accept the challenge of formation.

8. In the seminaries there is dialogue and many seminarians are taking personal responsibilty for their formation.


Reports on Priestly Formation
From the Various Regions of the World

Report on Australasia and Oceania:
The Present Situation
and Future Prospects

Rev. Paul Cashen


I. Consequences for Seminary Formation

a) Increase in seminarians, but lack of qualified formators, particularly nationals.

b) Changes in seminary structures. Change from large central seminary to smaller regional ones. Smaller regional seminaries provide better personal and spiritual assistance, and more in keeping with local customs. Cost in some seminaries are a problem.

c) Changes to seminary programs

  • Each diocese has their own screening and selection policies. Common guidelines are being established.
  • Academic standards not as good as before, reflecting the National Education System.
  • French speaking seminarians find it difficult in Fiji and PNG – lack of lecturers.
  • Tension between the academic and the spiritual and personal formation is a common problem.

II. Consequences for Pastoral Leadership

a) The increase in the number of vocations reflects the faith of the people, accepting their responsibility to take charge of the Church as the number of overseas missionaries declines.

b)For seminarians and priests:

  • Considerable personal and social adjustment is required of seminarians who mostly come from villages without a wide experience of the world around them.
  • The cultural diversity among seminarians is enriching and creates tension.

c) For seminarians:

  • Pressure from families and relatives
  • Constant doubts concerning their vocation
  • Difficulties and failure with celibacy obligations

d) For young priests:

  • serious problems with alcohol and celibacy
  • serious sense of insecurity
  • overwork because of many vacant parishes
  • expectation to be like overseas missionaries

e) One of the major contributing factors to these personal difficulties is a deficient formation system.

III. Conclusion

There is a great need for suitable and adequate formators and theology lecturers. Steps have been taken. Nationals are now going through training to become well-qualified in these areas in the seminaries of Oceania.

The Australasian Seminaries

I. Pressures and Consequences of Fewer Seminaries:

a) Significant adjustment to the life-style and structures of seminaries, e.g., the movement towards formation houses separate from the Theology College.

b) The fewer applicants situation has brought pressure to lower or change entrance standards.

c)     At the same time concern for appropriate professional standards for priests require more personnel and programs to assess and assist the personal integration of all areas of formation.

d)    The document, Pastores Dabo Vobis, gives new directions and standards for the formation and training of seminarians, but fewer priests are available to be prepared as formators.

e)    The pressure on Formation and Professional staff to be of service to the wider church:

  • To staff both the houses of formation and theology colleges.
  • To be involved in the vocation programs of dioceses.
  • To accept responsibility for the ongoing formation of the clergy, especially in early years.
  • To be involved in the formation of lay people for leadership in the Church.

II. Consequences of More Yet Smaller Seminaries

a) Costs increase per seminarian and also with the trend towards localization meaning, more, newer and smaller structures.

b) Smaller seminaries mean less specialization and more generalization for staff.

c)    Replacing the older monastic structures specialized formation houses can replace the separate and controlled environment of the former with a protected and safe house that is as removed and ministry.

d)    The lack of national policies and planning for seminary formation.

III. Consequences for Ordained Leadership

          Consequences of Fewer Seminarians and Priests
      a)       As priests are not being replaced by younger men:

  • There is a lowering of morale causing some to leave the ministry or in others to withdraw into themselves and become impossible to work with in any parish context.
  • Some respond by taking on more work often replacing the opportunity for personal growth and reflection and cause the possibility of alienation from other priests and the people themselves.
  • Few young people are attracted to the life portrayed to them.

b) Unless the future generations are attracted, the Church will lose the enthusiasm and generosity that youth brings to the community.

c)    The ability of older men to resolve the shortage is tempered by the need to spend more time and assets to discern their appropriateness and suitability to serve the Church with creativity and commitment. This pool is also shrinking.

d)    The shortage puts pressure on the traditional appreciation and understanding of the Sacrament of Ordination as the expression of the pastoral leadership of Christ.

e)    The pressure to educate the local church in the pastoral role of the priest, to supplement for the absence of priests and provide the needed pastoral skills.

f)    The personal lapses and immoral conduct of a few priests in their exercise of pastoral care has affected the selection, discernment, and preparation of candidates.

g) The widening gap between priests and people:

  • the numbers of persons per priest,
  • the aging of priests
  • the difficulties of the priest to respond to change

Reports on Priestly Formation
From the Various Regions of the World

Report on Theology-Level Seminaries
in the United States

Sister Katarina Schuth, O.S.F.
The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity
at the University of St. Thomas St. Paul, MN

1. Ownership and Operation of Seminaries and Theologates

        42 theology-level seminaries: 4 or 5 years of study

            18         owned by (Arch)dioceses

              6         owned and conducted by bishops or corporations

              9         owned by (Arch)dioceses and conducted by religious orders mainly for diocesan seminarians

              9         owned and conducted by religious orders for religious order seminarians

                        (Also, 25 of the 42 have two-year pretheology programs.)

II. Governance

Some 885 board members including cardinals, bishops, priests, sisters, and laymen and laywomen participate in the governance of the schools.

III.  Formation Programs – Integration of Four Components

A. Human Formation – focuses on psychological and emotional development and well-being: vocational discernment and commitment, personal and relational growth, and formation for celibacy.

B. Spiritual Formation focuses on development of prayer life centered on Jesus Christ and related to the sacramental life of the Church and the community of believers; involves spiritual direction, conferences, and courses.

C Intellectual Formation focuses on a thorough understanding of the Faith according to the tradition and the Magisterium; attentive to the relationship between faith and reason and to the requirements of the social and cultural situation today.

D. Pastoral Formation focuses on both the theoretical understanding of pastoral theology and the practical application of pastoral principles in supervised internships in parishes and other ministry settings.

IV. Faculty Degrees and Vocational Status

A. 741 faculty members:
        66% priests
        13% women religious
        21% laymen and laywomen
        There has been a 10% decline in the number of priest faculty over the past ten         years.)


B. Sources of academic degrees:
        33% in Europe
        46% in American Catholic Universities
        21 % in American Non-Catholic Universities

C. Level of academic degrees:
        75% doctoral or S.S.L.
        25% masters or licentiate

V. Student Enrollment and Profiles

A. Enrollment:
      3,085 seminarians; 3,100 lay students
        31 % of seminarians are enrolled in programs for seminarians only.
        69% of seminarians are enrolled in programs for both seminarians and lay                  students.

B. Profiles:

                  1. Religious profiles:
                 a. Those deeply rooted in their faith

  • raised in families where they practiced their faith consistently in a local parish;
  • studying for the diocese or religious congregation that was part of their earlier faith experience;
  • highly motivated and have done the discernment necessary to make an informed choice about priesthood;
  • moderately good grasp of the Catholic tradition, some sense of the Church as universal, an adequate religious education, and a longstanding commitment to their Faith.

                       b. Those recently converted or reconverted

  • may be converts from a different Christian denomination, but more typically the phenomenon is one of reconversion; of those baptized Catholics at birth, many have been away from the Church for a number of years; vocational call often came from a significant prayer experience or pilgrimage or relationship with a charismatic person.

                        c. Those with a minimal connection to the Church

  • may have been formally identified as Catholic for a long time but have not practiced their faith consistently; many did not attend Catholic schools, so seminary may represent first formal religious education; lack of regular practice of faith means they may have little sense of liturgy or experience in prayer.

     d. Those with a rigid understanding of their Faith

  • many came of age after Vatican Il concluded and have no lived memory of the Church before 1970; most have had the experience of living to date during one single pontificate, so they have unswerving devotion to the Pope; they have been greatly affected by American cultural forms, especially the media technology, and communications, and they now want to withdraw and condemn this world; enormous fear is involved, fear of change and fear of the world; they regard seminaries as the last bastions of security; often unhappy in appearance, downcast eyes, tight body, and no sense of humor; dissatisfied with the seminary because of lack of devotion/orthodoxy.

2. Intellectual profiles:

      a.  Those highly qualified: have benefitted from a first-rate classical education during which they studied philosophy along with some Scripture and theology over at least three or four years; determined to keep growing intellectually, they understand the relationship between learning and the capacity to minister with integrity.

          b.   Those relatively qualified: typical of most students, they have reasonably good college degrees and adequate intellectual abilities; they want to learn what the Church teaches, and they are also looking for insights into the tradition; yet these students have some deficits in their backgrounds-many come with degrees in business, science, or technology, so they have had less exposure to the humanities. Even the brighter ones tend not to be readers, and they lack the broad cultural foundation afforded by study of the classics.

       c.  Those insufficiently qualified: due to weak educational backgrounds, learning disabilities, lack of English language proficiency, or because of being far-removed from formal study, these students need special tutoring if they are to succeed.

VI. Conclusion

A. Accomplishments: Those shared by most schools

1. improved management, including the presence of more effective board members, more stable and qualified administrators, and more knowledgeable partners in theological associations;

2. programmatic developments, including human formation for seminarians, multicultural programs, and pastoral field education, as well as new programs, in particular in pre-theology;

3. improvements in campus facilities and technological resources.

B. Critical concensus: Those shared by most schools

1.     curricular issues, especially those relating to multicultural studies, ecumenism, and collaboration;

2.     students: need for recruitment of more students with an aptitude for ministry, scholarships to attract lay students, and human and spiritual formation programs for lay students;

3.   faculty development that is designed to help faculty improve their teaching methods and course content on the one hand and to build and maintain faculty unity on the other;

4. planning and evaluation across all aspects of institutional life are critical, especially as these processes relate to personnel and students, and to technology and finances.

5.   Seminaries should not enhance polarization, but should ease it.

Significant Issues and Trends
Influencing the Church in the United States

1. Continuing increase in the number of Catholics: from 49 million in 1975 to 61 million in 1998;recent growth of 700,000 per year

2. Heterogeneity of the Catholic population – cultural, racial, and ethnic, as well as economic, educational, and attitudinal; variations due in large part to recent immigration and also to influences of the secular society religious

3. Extreme ideological diversity and an attitude of intolerance among many Church members, based mainly on differing views of how the teachings of the Second Vatican Council should be implemented and on how the Church should regard the culture – to engage with it or to withdraw from it

4. Acute ministerial needs, especially for evangelization, adult formation, religious education of youth, enhancement of family life, support for the poor, and spiritual development

5. Evolving Church structures brought on by increased involvement of laity and permanent deacons in Church ministry and by fewer priests and, resulting in the need for closecollaboration


Permanent Deacons
Full-time Lay Ministers






       Report on Western Europe

Most Rev. Walter Kasper
, Germany

Europe is characterized by a great cultural variety and great cultural richness, but Europe is not just a varied entity. It is also a cultural unity that is growing closer together. The intellectual situation of this new Europe is still unclear. The present intellectual and spiritual situation “can be compared to a pendulum swinging between Babylon and Pentecost.” (quote from Cardinal Martini of Milan)

This comparison can also be applicable to the situation of the training of priests in seminaries, although it is very difficult to make general statements about the overall situation.

1. In almost all Western European countries the numbers of people coming forward to be ordained as priests are very low, and they decreased dramatically in the recent past. Between 1978 and 1994 in Germany, the number went down 27%. Great Britain was down 16%. Ireland, a Catholic country, was down 41%. In France the figures remained stable during this time period, and the same for the Netherlands and Belgium, but the figures are still very low even in these countries. The situation is quite different in Italy. There is an increase there of 15%. Spain increased 16% and Portugal was up 39% during those years. But if you look at how our clergy are increasing in age, you can see that the situation in many dioceses is critical.

2. Seminarians have very individual paths to the seminary. It sometimes takes them a long time to get there. There is no longer a normal path. Everyone has his own vocation path and system of beliefs. In our dioceses many still come from very Christianoriented families, but in many other situations the seminarians come from families that are not intensely religious. Quite often the seminarians’ families do not understand why anyone would want to enter a seminary or they try to prevent their children from entering a seminary. Many people come into our seminaries with very little church experience. They have little religious knowledge.

In some countries where new church movements are very strong, candidates for the priesthood are very modern in their orientation and quite often they come out of an experience of spiritual community or the religious experience of youth groups.

3. The number of late vocations is increasing. Many have been in other studies or have been in other careers. Many people have to learn the language of the Church before they can start to study theology. This leads to an older average age for ordination.

4. The profile of candidates for priesthood has changed considerably. They are children of their own time. The present generation has little to do with the generation of the ’60s. Fewer are committed to social issues. There is a great emphasis on the individual. They are very concerned with their own feelings and fulfillment. They are fearful of making any final decisions about their lives. This is also the case with the decision to marry. They do not have much of a problem with their faith. They are, sometimes, rather fundamentalist in their belief. They have a problem with obedience and Church authority. They are frightened of being overburdened or taken for granted in the future. They have less psychological capacity for taking risks. The trend toward individual self determination and self fulfillment is often in conflict with their wish for community. This is a generation that has a lot of opportunities and this leads them to be very demanding about what they want out of life. Yet, we should not generalize. It would be wrong to write off today’s young people and conclude that we have no good candidates for priesthood. In many cases we are dealing with extremely promising candidates. They know what they want, are self assured, are ready to get involved and commit themselves to the Church, and their sense of piety is very healthy and joyous.

5. The background to this change in the quantity and quality of candidates can be looked at from many points of view.

There is dramatic change happening in western society and, therefore, a sense of insecurity. There is a postmodem pluralism, relativism and a general trend toward individualism. There is a general decline in the quality of institutions and an increasing secularization of public life. There is a public loss of respect for the Church and a negative demographic development. There are fewer children. Priests in the past came from families where there were many children. Now families only have one or two children. There is also some in-church conflict. Many communities are no longer practicing church traditions properly. There is a lack of joy. There is fundamentalism. People are unsure what the priests should be doing. People are questioning the nature of celibacy and the reason for it. Priests get little support from their environment. Yet, in the midst of all this there is still an interest in religious and spiritual issues.

6. Formation within seminaries has tried to keep up with these new developments. The importance of the seminary setting for priestly formation is increasingly recognized. The Tridentine model of seminary exists only in a few cases. There is a new post-Vatican 11 seminary which gives seminarians room for individual determination within the seminary.

There are three elements within the seminary which have become important: human maturity, spiritual life, and theological study toward the goal of working practically and pastorally.

Human maturity, given the profiles of the candidates, necessitates an individual growth path with accompaniment by formators. This takes a lot of time and dialogue.

The need for priests to be practical and pastoral has led to the introduction of a pastoral year before ordination.

One of the dangers in this new way of training priests is an overemphasis on the professionalism of the priesthood. We cannot forget that we are forming people to be spiritual persons, that is, someone working and living in intimate union with Jesus Christ and the Church. We need to pay particular attention to this.

7. Normally the course of study of theology takes five years. In addition to these five years of studying theology there is one or two years of “pastoral seminars.” In most cases the theological teaching is very solid and church-based. The time of great theological arguments and conflict seems to be past. Most candidates for the priesthood today are interested in being very practical and pastoral. In very few cases are they specifically concerned with theological and intellectual issues. The significance of theology for the priesthood has been reduced. Unfortunately, theology today seems to be learned haphazardly and it is very difficult for candidates to acquire a systematic synthesis of their Faith. Thus, we need to make sure that theology and spirituality are more closely linked and coherent.

8. In view of the present situation, the issue of vocation is becoming more and more urgent. Many dioceses are making great efforts. There are opportunities for individual dialogue about vocation. There are vocation weekends and special days. There are sermons and catechetical aids. We are trying to reach the young people and help them discover whether they have a vocation. We have a vocational year with vocational centers. We have information campaigns in youth groups and schools and we have prayer groups for priestly vocations. Christians need to pass on their Christianity as a gift to others and witness to their own personal vocations. We are trying to provide an atmosphere for our young people that is open to vocations.

The crisis that we are facing with vocations reflects a crisis in the Church and in European society. The problem can not be dealt with in isolation. We need to pray, to be more evangelical, and to renew the life of our Church. Renewal is extremely important. We should not be afraid of the freedom of our modem age. We should use this to our advantage. I am convinced that our many efforts will bear fruit someday. We will see the pendulum swinging more toward Pentecost than toward Babylon.

       Personal and Spiritual Formation Program
Assumptions and Objectives

NES has invested heavily in the development of an innovative and integrative Personal and Spiritual Formation curriculum.  Students are exposed to and involved in a variety of classic models of Christian spiritual disciplines throughout the curriculum.  From its inception the fundamental objectives of NES have included the spiritual as well as the academic preparation of candidates for pastoral and lay ministry in Christ’s Church.  Though not limited to this list, the spiritual formation objectives are implemented in the following concrete ways:

  • A spiritual retreat is held at the entry point of each new cohort;
  • An All Seminary Retreat once each year.
  • Each seminarian is assigned to a Faith-Sharing Group that meets every other week during the Core curriculum.  Each group is assigned a trained non-faculty spiritual facilitator who mentors a group of 6-8 students;
  • Textbooks and Scripture study focus on personal and spiritual development during each evening’s course of study in the Core;
  • Monthly chapel programming;
  • Each seminarian prepares a written Personal Growth Contract;
  • Seminarians take two required courses spanning the second year of study covering spiritual and pastoral formation plus other elective courses;
  • Faith-sharing group experiences are incorporated into the field education curriculum during the second and third year of study; and

Personal and Spiritual Formation is an integral part of everything we do at Northeastern Seminary.

Operating Assumptions:  The spiritual formation program curriculum at NES are developed around these basic assumptions (Adapted from Forster Freeman, Readiness for Ministry through Spiritual Direction. The Alban Institute, 1986.):

  • It is God’s desire to be in intimate relationship with each of God’s children.
  • The basis for all Christian life and ministry is the lived experience of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; a nurtured and continuing experience of direct communication with God is of major importance for those who engage in Christian ministry.
  • There are spiritual practices that help a person notice and respond to God’s overtures for relationship.  These include, but are not limited to, contemplative prayer, meditation on Scripture, worship, sacraments, fasting, retreat, interpersonal relationships, and guided reflection on everyday living.
  • Healthy spiritual formation does not automatically occur in the context of a seminary education.  The seminary that takes responsibility for providing appropriate structures for its students’ spiritual development meets their needs more completely and does a better job of accomplishing its own goal of preparing people for Christian ministry.
  • Healthy spiritual formation best occurs in the context of Christian community.

Objectives:  NES seeks to nurture in each of its students an ongoing personal relationship with the triune God that manifests itself in certain specific behaviors or personal characteristics.  While not limited to any given list,  these personal attribute, or characteristic, include (as adapted from Freeman):

In relationship to God:

  1. A personal awareness of being loved by God,
  2. A deepening acceptance and love of God,
  3. A growing confidence in God’s active presence in the world and one’s own life.

In relationship to others:

  1. A deepening acceptance and love of others,
  2. A capacity and propensity for compassion,
  3. A freedom to receive and give love,
  4. Concern for and ability to relate openly with other people, especially in reference to one’s Christian faith and life.

In relationship to one self:

  1. A capacity to allow God the freedom to be God,
  2. A recognition of how the Bible addresses one’s own life and the lives of other persons and groups,
  3. An ability to be in touch with one’s feelings and to identify and express them appropriately,
  4. A creativity, imagination, humor and freedom of spirit, as characteristics of one’s ministerial style,
  5. A sense of confidence and courage in taking stands for convictions, in both religious and secular communities, and even in the face of opposition,
  6. Progress in the development of a disciplined prayer and worship life that provides personal nourishment and ministry with others.

In relationship to the Christian Ministry:

  1. A sense of conviction of one’s call by God to Christian ministry, and a sense of the arena of one’s specific form of ministry,
  2. An ability to hold things loosely and invest oneself passionately.

The educational programs offered by Northeastern Seminary are based on three underlying convictions.

1.    Graduate studies in theology and ministry should be rooted in classical Christian faith.

This includes a commitment to…

  1. a.The primacy and authority of the Bible for Christian faith and practice;
  2. b.The confessional role of the historic creeds in identifying and affirming the essentials of Christian faith;
  3. c.The global study of “the faith once delivered” in its diverse expressions, not only Western and European but also Eastern and African, across generations and in various communities of faith;
  4. d.The value of historical studies in preserving the theological heritage and perpetuating the spiritual resources of the Christian church;
  5. e.The importance of personal and spiritual formation in the preparation for ministry;
  6. f.The modeling of Christian respect for all persons in a diverse community of faith, as part of the seminary experience.


2.    Christian ministries in the 21st century must be relevant to contemporary culture.

This includes a concern for…

  1. a.The ongoing, continuous application of biblical, historical, and theological studies to ministry in the 21st century;
  2. b.The importance of personal and spiritual formation in the practice of ministry to a postmodern world;
  3. c.The understanding of Scripture, and its application to the church and society in the 21st century;
  4. d.The development of methods for exegeting and engaging diverse cultural situations of ministry;
  5. e.The participation in seminars on topics of particular relevance to contemporary ministries;
  6. f.The development of professional skills for ministerial and public leadership;
  7. g.The offering of significant opportunities, both in local parishes and also in other social settings, for supervised internship experiences in ministry.


3.    Seminary communities will benefit by making creative use of educational methods.

This includes an interest in…

  1. The deployment of a more integrated holistic approach to the traditional core curriculum of seminary studies;
  2. The revival of the classical spiritual disciplines of the Christian church for the personal and pastoral formation of seminarians and ministers;
  3. The creative re-presentation, proclamation, and use of Scripture in contemporary ministry;
  4. The deployment of non-traditional as well as traditional modes of program design and course offerings;
  5. The utilization of multiple patterns of scheduling, in accord with what best fits the course and the convenience of students;
  6. The offering of diverse and expanded opportunities for elective courses intended for ministry enhancement;
  7. The use of technology to enhance and enlarge both the student’s education and professional competence;
  8. The development of competent, godly servant-leaders for the Christian church in the 21st century.

Personal and Spiritual Formation Program
Assumptions and Objectives

NES has invested heavily in the development of an innovative and integrative Personal and Spiritual Formation curriculum.  Students are exposed to and involved in a variety of classic models of Christian spiritual disciplines throughout the curriculum.  From its inception the fundamental objectives of NES have included the spiritual as well as the academic preparation of candidates for pastoral and lay ministry in Christ’s Church.  Though not limited to this list, the spiritual formation objectives are implemented in the following concrete ways:

  • A spiritual retreat is held at the entry point of each new cohort;
  • An All Seminary Retreat once each year.
  • Each seminarian is assigned to a Faith-Sharing Group that meets every other week during the Core curriculum.  Each group is assigned a trained non-faculty spiritual facilitator who mentors a group of 6-8 students;
  • Textbooks and Scripture study focus on personal and spiritual development during each evening’s course of study in the Core;
  • Monthly chapel programming;
  • Each seminarian prepares a written Personal Growth Contract;
  • Seminarians take two required courses spanning the second year of study covering spiritual and pastoral formation plus other elective courses;
  • Faith-sharing group experiences are incorporated into the field education curriculum during the second and third year of study; and

Personal and Spiritual Formation is an integral part of everything we do at Northeastern Seminary.

Operating Assumptions:  The spiritual formation program curriculum at NES are developed around these basic assumptions (Adapted from Forster Freeman, Readiness for Ministry through Spiritual Direction. The Alban Institute, 1986.):

  • It is God’s desire to be in intimate relationship with each of God’s children.
  • The basis for all Christian life and ministry is the lived experience of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; a nurtured and continuing experience of direct communication with God is of major importance for those who engage in Christian ministry.
  • There are spiritual practices that help a person notice and respond to God’s overtures for relationship.  These include, but are not limited to, contemplative prayer, meditation on Scripture, worship, sacraments, fasting, retreat, interpersonal relationships, and guided reflection on everyday living.
  • Healthy spiritual formation does not automatically occur in the context of a seminary education.  The seminary that takes responsibility for providing appropriate structures for its students’ spiritual development meets their needs more completely and does a better job of accomplishing its own goal of preparing people for Christian ministry.
  • Healthy spiritual formation best occurs in the context of Christian community.

Objectives:  NES seeks to nurture in each of its students an ongoing personal relationship with the triune God that manifests itself in certain specific behaviors or personal characteristics.  While not limited to any given list,  these personal attribute, or characteristic, include (as adapted from Freeman):

In relationship to God:

  1. A personal awareness of being loved by God,
  2. A deepening acceptance and love of God,
  3. A growing confidence in God’s active presence in the world and one’s own life.

In relationship to others:

  1. A deepening acceptance and love of others,
  2. A capacity and propensity for compassion,
  3. A freedom to receive and give love,
  4. Concern for and ability to relate openly with other people, especially in reference to one’s Christian faith and life.

In relationship to one self:

  1. A capacity to allow God the freedom to be God,
  2. A recognition of how the Bible addresses one’s own life and the lives of other persons and groups,
  3. An ability to be in touch with one’s feelings and to identify and express them appropriately,
  4. A creativity, imagination, humor and freedom of spirit, as characteristics of one’s ministerial style,
  5. A sense of confidence and courage in taking stands for convictions, in both religious and secular communities, and even in the face of opposition,
  6. Progress in the development of a disciplined prayer and worship life that provides personal nourishment and ministry with others.

In relationship to the Christian Ministry:

  1. A sense of conviction of one’s call by God to Christian ministry, and a sense of the arena of one’s specific form of ministry,
  2. An ability to hold things loosely and invest oneself passionately.


Taken from the following Publication:

DEL CORE Pina, Psicologia e vocazione, Quale rapporto? Possibilità e limiti dell’intervento, in CANTELMI T. – PALUZZI S. – LUPARIA E, (in the care of), Gli dei morti sono diventati malattie. Psichiatria, psicologia e teologia in dialogo, Roma, SODEC, Edizioni Romane di cultura 2002.




Pina DEL CORE*[1]

Some Premises


            In the context of the cultural debate which we are realizing on the relationship between Psychology and Faith my contribution intends to make a concrete choice of the field: from the religious phenomenon I will consider that particular domain of faith which refers to the reality of ‘vocation’, understood as a call from God and a response of man, as a life project which unifies the persons and orientates them toward existential choices around a priority value: God and the cause of His Kingdom.

            We are asked, if and under which conditions the psychological sciences can interact with the theological sciences in the concrete case of the discernment of vocations and of the formative accompaniment of those who choose consecrated life or the priesthood. And also which are the possibilities and the limits of intervention in the face of situations of lack of adaptation and /or of crisis in which consecrated persons can find themselves.

            Aware of the complexity of this problem and of the diversity of models of relationship which at epistemological level try to throw light on the question, my reflection begins from its operative implications more than from theoretical ones.

            The use of Psychology and of its instruments of analysis and of intervention in the field of vocation, in fact, assumes validity and efficacy only if some conditions are assured. And this in order to avoid unpleasant disadvantages and / or ambiguity, undue exploitation or instrumental use,   invasion in the field or dangerous confusion of levels, possible where a correct setting of the relationship between Psychology and Theology, or in a broader way between human sciences and Faith is not permitted.[2]

            The problem of the relationship between human sciences and faith is very complex and acts as a decisive and unavoidable background for every discourse on vocation and on vocation discernment.

            By now the time is ended for reciprocal ‘condemnations’, but also for the dangerous instrumental use, it seems that in these last years the exigency has become mature to ‘go beyond’ the easy temptation to oppose Psychology to spiritual life, Psychology to vocation, a temptation which for years has played on reciprocal suspicion preventing a profitable collaboration and integration. The need to find points of contact and of convergence always emerges more and more, even in the respect of the diversity of knowledge or learning which specify the individual disciplines in a perspective of interdisciplinary dialogue which tends to overcome every subordination or undue invasion of a science in regard to another. But even today, there are not lacking, in spite of the many intents which have led to results of positive collaboration, perplexity and positions which appear to be ambivalent because they are founded on models of a hierarchical type or of a functional use.

            Our horizon of reference in this particular approach to problems of operative order and of application, such as discernment and the vocational psycho diagnosis, has as its central point the conviction that every authentically human experience is substantially ‘open’ to faith and every truly Christian experience is rooted and is incarnated on a genuine human reality. If divergences exist, perhaps, that is linked to the difficulty or incapacity of presenting clearly and openly a correct epistemological framework in which it will be possible, not only to have a ‘peaceful co-existence’ of the theological and psychological disciplines, but also the ‘dialogue’ between them which finds its meeting point on a ‘common ground’: the human person in the face of the call from God with its dynamism, its processes of growth and its difficulties of choice or of response (GROPPO G. 1991, 312 ff). At the basis of all I hold that it is important to start from a dynamic theological model which has as a hermeneutical principle the Incarnation in the line of reciprocal autonomy between the reality of the creature and the action of grace (RAHNER K. 1984 and MOLARI C. 1984 and 1995).



  1. 1.Which Psychology and which vocation?


It is the basic question which accompanies anyone who takes care of discernment of vocations and /or of the growth in vocation of the candidates to the priesthood and to consecrated life.

In fact, the way in which vocational discernment is carried out and its reliability seem to depend on the conception of “vocation” which constitutes the basis. If vocational discernment includes also a series of human attitudes, intended to grasp the reality and the authenticity of a call, it is important to have a balanced conception of “vocation”. Not all vocation theories in fact, are equally valid. Just as not all the anthropologies of reference in Psychology can favour a correct vision of vocation and consequently a discernment and /or a correct vocation psycho diagnoses.[3]

Consider, for example, vocation as an interior or exterior determinism, fruit of pressure and cultural and educational conditioning, or value it as the expression of a liberty purely referred to self and not to a gift /project of God; think of vocation as an impulse to self realization without any reference to transcendency or, more specifically, as the realization of the ideal ‘I’, and not instead, of the real ‘I’ in the totality of the person, these are distorted conceptions under the anthropological and theological aspects.

In these past years we have been able to verify how the acquisition of certain psychological, sociological and theological trends seem to move continuously between psychologism and spiritualism. Nevertheless, whether it is the spiritualistic presumption or be precise about the human through the psycologism, both constitute unilateral solutions. The efforts to establish a balance between these two extreme tendencies through the integration between spirituality and Psychology from the depth,[4] no doubt, present themselves both interesting and praiseworthy, but not completely sufficient. In fact, in the effort to integrate spiritual values and psychological notions in a logical and coherent whole, some times superposition or a mixture is verified, which is not always correct from the theoretical point of view and especially from the epistemological one (VERGOTE A. 1985 – FIZZOTTI E. 1992). It is hoped that the reflection in this field can be continued and deepened taking into account the twofold requirement of scientific correctness and of respect of the various religious values, avoiding, above all, the danger of “spiritualising” Psychology or of “psychologizing” theology, in a sort of reciprocal exploitation.

Besides, it is important to question ourselves on the dimensions and theological and anthropological contents of vocation. Which theological model can be the support to the conception of vocation? Theological reflection beginning with Vatican Council II, has made evident the character of dialogue, relationship and the dynamic of vocation, not only of man with God, but also of man with himself, with others, with the Church, with society and culture (DE PIERI S. 1989, 1136).

It is only possible to speak of “vocation” in terms of an essential reference to God, even if vocation takes into account man’s response. Every vocation is the history of an ineffable dialogue between God and man, between the love of God who calls and the freedom of man who responds to God (PDV 36). The call, in fact, is always a personal and historical response. It is a call and a response, indeed “the personal response is an integrating part of religious consecration” (PI 9).

In this sense it implies the building up of the person, because the response to God who calls is mixed up with that long procedure of growth and of formation which makes us become mature men and women. Vocation, then, can only be understood as development (dynamic aspect) and as a project which is gradually discovered and elaborated, in harmony with one’s own proper identity.

In this perspective the close correlation between the vocation response and sane functioning of the personality is understood, between vocational identity and personal identity. The call of God, in fact, is addressed to a creature who is taken up in the totality of all his/her actual resources and potentiality and in all his/her dynamism. Therefore, the present disassociation of vocation – made by certain theories – which extrapolate part of this totality, as for example the ideal of self, to make it coincide with the heart of the vocation, can be dangerous, whether from the theoretical point of view or from the practical-formative one. To identify the realization of vocation with the realization of the ideal “I” does not seem to me to be coherent with the reality of vocational becoming, which usually develops contemporarily with human growth, in the building up of the mature man and woman.[5]

The vocational becoming demands respect of all the resources of the person. Vocation, on the other hand, is never a fulfilled fact. Every authentic choice introduces the person into an experience which obliges her, every day, to rediscover the reasons of her own choice and to remake anew her option. The development itself of life and the maturing of the person coincide with her path of vocational growth.

Therefore, vocation cannot be considered as an emanation or a development of the ideal of self, because this can be hypertrophy, compensative, inconsistent, but above all, because vocation is a reality which exceeds and transcends the person, even though it is grafted in the human dynamisms present in the person. And it can even coincide with the self realization, in so far as this is, essentially, a call to go out of the schema of an existence closed in the circle of human certainties or of immanence: that is rather self transcendence, that is a being orientated toward something which is far beyond one self, toward Someone to be met and loved (FRANKL V. E. 1977, 16).

If vocation is inserted in the evolutionary process of the person and, therefore, in her path of maturing, the criteria of discernment and of evaluation have to take into account this progressive becoming which is not identical for all. There are evolutionary stages which should be considered, as for example, the indispensable evolutionary ends so that a person can be called an adult (FONTANA U. – CREMA M. G. 1996).

The vocational becoming, in fact, proceeds hand in hand with the formation of personal identity and with all the vicissitudes and the conflicts which such a growth involves. The recent acquisitions of evolutionary and dynamic Psychology make evident that the vocational project is developed in connection with the definition of self and the project of self and depends – especially during the adolescent age – on the identification with persons, community, environment and life proposals which become models of reference up to the time of conscious assuming of a life choice which is coherent with one’s own life project.[6]

The gratuitous and mysterious call of God normally takes place through mediations, whether individual or communitarian and social, thus the vocation remains subject to the diverse personal or socio cultural conditionings and evolves in relation to the challenges or the appeals of the environment of life, of history and of the culture in which one lives. The way to reach the plenitude of vocational identity is always that to be assumed, in a mature way, the possible difficulties or conditionings of a society which changes, without the fear of facing the changes, trusting that the identity consolidates itself, instead of losing itself, if an attitude of openness and of constant search remains.


  1. 2.The contribution of Psychology in the domain of vocation


Given the complexity of the situation and the growing fragility of the new generations, it is always more necessary to carry out a cautious or prudent and deep discernment, even using the support of human sciences, in particular Psychology, for a diagnoses of the personality of the candidates.  

It is then important to clarify well which relationship exists between discernment and vocational psycho diagnoses. Above all, I believe that the contribution of Psychology and of human Sciences cannot coincide simply with vocational discernment, but it gives a correct presupposition from the point of view of the psychological aspects implied in the complexity of vocation (personal identity, psychological freedom, consistency, balance, affective-sexual integration…). The investigation or search of the Psychologist, in fact, cannot have vocation as its “object” , nor is it his competence to give a judgement on the “truth” of the vocation. The question which should accompany the Psychologist should be: Does this person have or could have a dynamic structure of a sane personality, sufficiently autonomous and mature, such as will allow her to assume the tasks and commitments which come from vocation? His intervention, therefore, consists in describing the dynamism of the personality, in foreseeing the line of development, in making a prognosis of some characteristics which can favour or compromise the psychical balance and eventually in accompanying the process of growth and /or of recovery.

True and proper discernment does not concern the psychologist, but the educators or those who have direct responsibility, the spiritual directors, a person rich in wisdom and prudence, capable of understanding the whole in the history, in the adventure of young people, God’s design.

This is why it is good to distinguish vocational discernment from psycho diagnoses, though with the conviction that the psychological analysis can help the person to discover the dispositions and the counter indications in the vocation and also in his/her vocational growth, on the basis of a verification and realistic knowledge of self. Therefore, it is a question of two different realities, even though they are complementary.

In view of a more careful discernment, sometimes it can be necessary to have a diagnoses of the personality of the subject, not only to eventually clarify those points which cause some perplexity or which are not easily solved through a simple confrontation or the informal knowledge, but above all, to offer to the candidates the elements to understand themselves and to distinguish, in an active way, what can constitute an obstacle to the realization of their call (DEL CORE P. 1996, 109 ff).

  1. 3.The vocational psycho diagnoses[7]


Among the contributions which Psychology has offered to the study of vocation, besides that of distinguishing the counter conditions relative to the psychic balance of the candidates, the request to furnish positive indications concerning the dispositions, the interests and the attitudes of the subjects, the analysis of the vocational motivations and the understanding of the cause of “vocational crisis”, but also the help for the restructuring and the recovery of motivations, has always been more and more diffused.

In the past twenty years, in fact, from a prevailing psycho diagnoses phase, aimed at understanding positive indications and counter indications in view of the verification of the suitability to religious life, we have passed to the psycho dynamic and social phase in which we question ourselves concerning the motivations and on the psychological conditions and dispositions of the person (GODIN A. 1975, 13). At present it has been possible to observe the passage from a phase of diffidence / rejection to another of emphasis, from stressing the selective or therapeutic function to the pedagogical and preventive one. These two last dimensions are sufficiently shared at the level of formative practice, but should be better strengthened and qualified. It can no longer be accepted that the function of Psychology can be reduced simply to the curative or amending dimension such as medicine could be. Nor much less to a function of mere selection of the candidates. Psychology touches the deep dimensions of the human person and is considered as an instrument for development and of growth, as a help in education (DEL CORE P. 1998).

There are still some basic questions which must be clarified: Can we speak of “diagnoses of vocation” beginning from the instruments of human sciences and, in particular, of Psychology? And how to place ourselves before those, the many, who do not recognize the positive contribution of human sciences? Perhaps, the question is not well presented in its terms knowing that the use of Psychology, as a positive science, for the study of vocation is rather limited. Therefore, it is necessary to define clearly what is understood by Psychological diagnoses of vocation and above all, define the object better.

Vocational Psycho diagnoses may be defined as the psychological diagnose of the personality of those called. It is placed as a scientific method of knowledge and of intervention on the psychic of the subjects, on the structure and dynamics of the personality, with particular reference to the attitudes and to the motivations requested to realize the religious vocation in a determinate Charism.[8]   The purpose, then, is of cognitive, nosological type, but also pedagogical and therapeutic.

It is a question, in other words, of a contribution of an objective and deep clarification of the person, in the effort to understand the conscious and the unconscious aspects of the personality. It proposes the following objectives:


  • the ascertainment of the basic suitability with the indication of eventual counter indications;
  • the knowledge of the structure and dynamics of the personality for a mature vocational response;
  • the indication of itineraries to be followed for formation, the support, the recovery, the cure.


While discernment is a complex operation, carried out by several (subject, Church-Institute, experts), Psycho diagnosis is like a “concrete moment” in the broadest process of vocational discernment, and cannot be separated from Psycho therapy as an eventual ending moment of support, of restructuring of self or of recovery.

That is considered as a subsidiary help or contribution for a deeper reading of personal reality and of the dispositions of the one called. Vocational psycho diagnoses is not an end in itself. It would have no sense if it was not oriented to formation.

Recourse of Psychology cannot limit itself to sporadic interventions in cases of manifest or apparent pathology, or simply in view of a more or less successful “distraction” of the candidates, but it is used and always inserted more in the formative structure to begin and to support a path of vocational growth in view of an always more mature, convinced and personal response to God’s call.

The psychological evaluation of the personality of the candidates to religious life or to the priesthood, presents itself quite complex and problematic, not only because to discern the vocational becoming which has authentic potentialities is very delicate, but also because it is not always clear which are the psychological premises apt to furnish or provide previsions of a positive or negative result. Frequently, frameworks of adequate theoretical reference are lacking, but also complete and serious studies on consecrated life in its dynamics and historical-psychological implications.

The criteria and the objective parameters of reference, which are generalized, concerning the judgement of personal maturity required are not clear and shared.



  1. 4.A series of problems which are still open


The perspectives which are opened for Psychology in the field of the study of vocation and of vocational discernment are multiple, especially in the direction of a closer connection with formation, but the problems which are still open are not lacking. I mention some among the more essential:


  1. vThe problem of maturity / immaturity is always more frequent for those who have to reflect or who have to carry out the discernment and /or the accompaniment. Which maturity or level of maturation is required from the one who asks to enter religious life?

It is not a question evidently of establishing criteria of maturity a priori, but it is necessary to ask ourselves which are the stages of evolution demanded from the various ages or formative phases and which are the tasks of development of this maturity in becoming. But it is important nevertheless, to establish a “minimum common denominator”, as for example: the absence of pathology, the commitment of openness toward values, the capacity of adaptation and of autonomy, the adherence to self and to what is real. We are also asked which could be the goals of evolution which are congenial to a correct becoming, well adapted and functional for a call to priestly and religious life.

It is necessary above all, to make an analysis of the ‘practicability’, that is to evaluate the capacity of the subject to progress on the journey, in spite of fragility or immaturity. During the way, it is necessary to see if there is a positive prognosis to be submitted to verification. The optimal perspective to place as basis of the process of discernment is not the absence of immaturity, but rather to succeed in understanding the presuppositions of basic sanity, the minimal ones, even if they are affected by immaturity, on which to work in order to favor the evolution and maturing. Thus, it is important to question ourselves on the level of integration that has been reached by the subjects, keeping in mind that it is always a question of an integration in becoming.


  1. vAnother problem concerns the formation of identity. In the face of the present diffused fragility in young people, frequently due to a lacking path of formation of identity, we should ask ourselves: which are the goals and the stages of the path to be proposed so that they may be able to build up a solid personal identity to place as the foundation of vocational or charismatic identity? And which are the formative itineraries to be privileged? Who establishes such goals? The problem is not a simple one, because in the present state of things psychological or psycho sociological studies are lacking, which offer a complete conceptual framework, coherent and adequate, whether to the changing conditions of adolescents and to those of young people of today,[9]   (COSPES 1995 and TONOLO G. 1999) or to the exigencies of the vocational call.


  1. vAnother question which refers closely to the operative implications concerns those who have to handle the psychological or psycho diagnose intervention for the purpose of vocational discernment. Can it be handled by the same person or is an interdisciplinary or team work convenient? Is there a difference or distinction between the intervention of the spiritual guide, of the formator and that of the Psychologist?

Above all, the requirement for a team work cannot be eluded, even for the need of a supervision in order to avoid the influence of suggestive elements. Besides, it is convenient or opportune to distinguish the intervention of the spiritual guide, of the Formator from that of the one who does the psychological accompaniment. To understand the journey of faith that a person does demands a different stand, and cannot be taken or done ahead of the person herself. Psychological accompaniment, instead, verifies the aspect of motivations, the conditioning and the difficulties on the evolutional and dynamic plan of the personality, with the proper instruments which require a certain competence, but especially because of the exigency of deontic or ethical nature: the ethical code of Italian Psychologists, for example, forbids to carry out “evaluation, diagnostic interventions, of psychological support or of psychotherapy addressed to persons with whom they have had or have significant relationships of personal nature” (art. 28).

The educational and formative relationship which is established between the Formator and the candidate is in another level different from that of the psychological or psycho therapeutic type. The coincidence between these two types of relationship – which is verified in the case of “one only formator” – can be at the origin of grave emotional, affective implications of evaluation, because of the ambivalence which can be created in the persons and because of the risk of plagiarism which is not infrequent.




            In conclusion, a new season is opened before us, in regard to the past, for vocational psycho diagnoses, the psychological accompaniment or the psychotherapy, but it is necessary to consider again the modalities with which these have been conducted up until now, in order to adapt them to the exigencies of young people and to the needs or expectations of present day culture. It would be a question of rethinking over the methodologies and the objectives in order to work out in synergy and collaboration between the subject and the formative institutions. Perhaps it is necessary to distinguish a “new way” of including Psychology in formation, so that it will always be more at the service of the growth of persons and institutions.




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VERGOTE A.(1985), Religione, fede, incredulità, Milano, Ed. Paoline.

[1] Psychologist and Psychotherapist, Professor of Psychology of human development in the Pontifical Faculty of Sciences of Education “Auxilium” in Rome and coordinator of the annual Course for Formators – men and women – in the domain of consecrated life organized by the same Faculty, vice President of the National Association COSPES (Centers of Professional and Social School orientation) which works in the field of orientation and member of the Dicastery for Formation of the Institute of the Daughters of Maria Ausiliatrice.

[2] The debate on such a relationship is up until now open and does not seem to be final. Even if Theologians and Psychologists are convinced of the need of an interdisciplinary dialogue in which Psychology and Theology may meet on a common ground: the human person who lives faith and vocation with and in the psychological dimensions, in the historicity of her existence and in the context of a psychological social and cultural history, dialogue is not yet always founded on correct epistemological premises. Thus, for example, all those theories which include within themselves whole metaphysics and ethics in an uncritical way, perhaps with the presumption of wanting to give a ‘foundation’ to their own reflections, are presented as epistemologically erroneous (GROPPO G., 1982, 129 ff).

[3] It suffices to think about the so called ‘anthropologies without vocation’ which are especially centered on the autonomy of the ‘I’ and on egocentrism or Narcissism of the personality and which place in the center of the system of motivation only their own realization without any openness to transcendency. Instead they are valid for the purpose of getting close to the reality of vocation all those anthropologies and those psychological theories which make space for the spiritual dimension of man, to his fundamental openness to transcendency and to those who consider religion as a fundamental component of personality, and who introduce in their scientific statement the categories of seeking of sense, of religiosity and of vocation as a dynamism of development in the direction of a program of life (Cf. PIZZOTTI E. (19969, Rapport cultura-vocazione. Modelli antropologici per un’analisi della crisi, in COSPES (in care of) Difficoltà e crisi nella vita consacrata (coordinamento of P. DEL CORE), Torino, Leumann, LDC 1996, 36-50).

[4] I refer to the example, to the effort proposed by the vocational theory of Rulla (Cf, RULLA L: M:- IMODA F. – RIDICK J:, Psychological Structure and vocation: motivations for entering and for abandoning. Marietti, Torino 1977; ID, Anthropology of the Christian Vocation, I: Interdisciplinary bases, Casale Monferrato, Piemme 1985; RULLA L.M. – IMODA F. – RIDICK J., Anthropology of the Christian Vocation II : Essential confirmations, Casale Monferrato, Piemme 1986. See also: CHAMPOUX R., New Perspectives in Religious formation. An integration of Spirituality and of the Psychology of depth, in La Civiltà Cattolica, III (1976) 3026, 136-152.

[5] This is the conclusion which Rulla reaches in his psychosocial theory of vocation. When he speaks about the ideal I which is in counter position to the actual I he refers to the perception that the person has of the ideals proposed by the institution or by the role and of those that the person chooses for herself, that is, what she would like to be or do. “The choice of a religious vocation – he writes textually – is in relationship not so much with that which a person is or to how the person sees himself/herself, but rather to that which he/she would like to be, and to that which ideally he/she would like to do with God’s help. Thus, religious vocation is referred more closely to the ideal of self and not to the concept of self” (RULLA K. M., Psychology of depth and vocation. Persons, Torino, Marietti 1975, 24; ID Psychology of depth and vocation. Perseverance, pastoral efficacy, celibate, leadership and other aspects of community life, Casale Monferrato, Piemme 1989, 17). In fact, in his most recent publications the author translates his theoretical theory in some propositions of which the first three are as follows: 1) Christian vocation is a process toward the realization of the ideal of self rather than of the concept of self; 2) Christian vocation is a process toward the realization of the ideal of self in the situation or the ideal I; 3) The ideal I through which is expressed the beginning of vocational commitment is characterized more by the instrumental and terminal values than by the attitudes and the content of this ideal I (values and attitudes) is constituted more by the self-transcendent variables than by the natural variables.

[6] From the experience of vocational accompaniment and of the reflection of themes of formation, clearly emerges that identity and vocational project are two coordinates closely united and independent one from the other. In this perspective it is understood why so many vocational projects do not reach maturity, but rather die before being born , and also why one is so skeptic concerning the same possibility of vocational identification on the part of young people. Perhaps, here we find the explanation of the phenomenon of the so called “weak consecration” , that is, of the incapacity of a lasting fidelity in the religious commitment. In fact, it is not rare to find persons in whom the vocational project is built on a “an identity void” and this results extremely problematic for religious perseverance.

[7] To deepen this theme see DEL CORE P., Discernment and vocational psycho diagnoses. Problems and Perspectives, in COSPES (care of), Difficulty and crisis in consecrated life (coordination of P. Del Core), Torino-Leumann, LDC 1996, 109-128).

[8] Psycho diagnoses “is referred to procedures which are directed to the seeking of factors which give the reason of the behavior of individuals or of particular groups of individuals” (DALLA VOLTA A., Psycho diagnoses (item), in the Dictionary of Psychology, III edition, Firenze, Giunti Barbera 1974, 571).

[9] To this purpose see the conclusions which the researches COSPES reached concerning the processes of formation of identity, among which the definition of self and the planning skill which constitute fundamental psychological premises for the building up of vocational identity [Cf. COSPES (in care of), the uncompleted age. research on the formation of identity in Italian adolescents (coordination of TONOLO G. – DE PIERI S.), Torino- Leumann, LDC 1995; in particular see: DEL CORE P., Future Perspective Planning Skill, in Ivi 315-322; TONOLO G. (1999), Adolescence and identity, Bologna, Il Mulino]