The purpose of this brief, psycho-philosophical monograph is to explain one
critical aspect of a new, structural approach in the emerging ﬁeld of philosophy of
psychology. A new concept called “emergent spirituality” is deﬁned and
contrasted to traditional views about the path to personal englightenment. It is
excerpted from a larger essay/book entitled The Way Of The Mangrove Seed.
The Way of the Mangrove Seed reﬂects the journey of the founder of the
Mangrove Seed, Inc. The essay presents his realizations gleaned from a twenty-two
year search for personal meaning and identity. These ﬁndings also form the
theoretical foundation for his creation of the not-for-proﬁt holistic learning center,
the Mangrove Seed, Inc.
Is The Prerequisite For Authentic Living
Emotionally balanced, psychological "wholeness," is the sine qua non of an
authentically expressing S(s)elf, and the essential quality required for harmonious
living. This state of cooperative existence is ultimately demonstrated through
genuine caring and compassionate human relationships, combined with respectful
interactions in the surrounding natural environment.
Spiritual Practice Offers A Complementary And Supportive Role
For Emotional Balance And Harmonious Living
Spiritual practice can complement the development of emotional balance; but, it is
not a substitute for, nor an escape from the "emotional healing" required for
psychological integration. Emotional balance occurs through a conscious
resolution(healing) of developmental issues from one's psychological past.
The above diagram illustrates the inner path to psychological integration and
individuation. The psychological path (from left to right) describes a generalized,
three stage, human developmental path from separate child, mother, and father to
an integrated, singular personal identity.
Stage1 above begins at birth with the child separate from both parents who are
the “formative potential” for its subsequent development. Stage 1 occupies a long
period of time. Stage 2 is essentially the entire “healing process” associated with
the “shadow” persona of each human. Stage 3 implies the integration of all
elements, both internal and external, that have shaped the personal journey for a
lifetime. During this ﬁnal this stage, personal boundaries are formed, personal
truth has been ascertained, and authentic S(s)elf expression is now possible.
There are no clear demarcation points for each of these stages. Chronological
age and levels of schooling are inadequate markers for the progress and results of
each stage of development.
In fact, “modern mainstream education” is not really concerned with this
developmental process as the fundamental raison d’etre for its curriculum and
methodolgy. Perhaps, contemporary “education” might be better described as
“indoctrination in skills necessary for getting, performing, and keeping a job.”
Sadly, true “educare . . . to bring out from within” . . . is not the primary focus of
“industrial age” education.
Finally, during and beyond (through S(s)elf balancing) Stage 3, a person is able to
accept themselves, other people, and life situations, without judgements and
expectations. Through continued S(s)elf balancing of the intuitive and rational
beyond this Stage 3, a person becomes able to achieve a continual state of
authentic expression and harmonious living.
THE OUTER PATH OF SPIRITUALITY
1 2 3
The spiritual path (from left to right) describes the OPTIONAL choice for
someone who has become psychologically integrated along their inner path. On a
spiritual path, a person consciously chooses to relinquish thier “acquired
personality/identity” (stage 3, on page 31) in favor of a more egoless existence and
relationship with their outer world. The spiritual path describes a complementary
OUTER way or attitude of living in daily life, in contrast to the inner path of
psychological transformation into wholeness.
Essentially, at this plateau on the human journey, a person has formed a solid inner
foundation of S(s)elf worth and acceptance. The focus of development now shifts
to the balancing of the inner S(s)elf in the context of everyday living, with its
myriad of relationships.
After a person becomes “psychologically whole” on their “inside,” (see page 31)
they may or may not choose to demonstrate this “wholeness” in the context of
their “outside” world . . . their everyday existence of interpersonal relationships.
During the pursuit of a “spiritually inspired journey,” the tightly prescribed
“boundaries” that deﬁne the integrated psyche (resulting from both integration
and individuation) are consciously allowed to expand (stage1) and to become
permeable (stage 2). A person who has chosen to demonstrate their existence
authentically, and in a “spiritual manner,” no longer needs to be compulsively
anxious toward their outer world (stage 3).
Recent neuroanatomy studies have discovered that the parietal lobe of the brain
may play an important role in this spiritual process of self-transcendence
(Johnstone and Glass, Zygon, 43:4,2008 and Urgesi, Aglioti,Skrap, and Fabbro,
Neuron, 65:3, 2010).
Essentially, the notion of “spirituality” is deﬁned as a consciously chosen
“attitude” or way of relating to one’s outer world. Of course, the actual
process of living both paths is usually intertwined, interdependent, and never fully
mastered in a lifetime.
Sometimes, a motivational basis for spiritual living includes a relationship with an
entity called the Divine. “The pursuit” of a relationship with this external and
often anthropomorhic, mythically deﬁned entiy is not by itself alone the path to
authentic S(e)elf expression in human form.
The traditional philosophical discussion about noumena and phenomena by Kant
and Nietzssche notes the limiting perspective for rational thought and behavior of
this external “reality” called “the divine.” So too, we must ask again the key
question regarding this “God concept” . . . Why is this external “entity” needed at
all by humans to live authentically and in ethical relationships?
In brief, a “spiritual path” is deﬁned only with regard to the outer manifestation of
an inner psychological wholeness. More importantly, the “use of” traditionally
deﬁned egoic identity structures as “social masks” for human relationships
becomes less necessary as fear is more easily balanced with trust. in decision
making. When consciously living a “spiritual life, ” inner and outer balance results
through S(s)elf acceptance and forms the basis for a continued “willingness” to
reduce the use of false, egoic “boundary identities/masks” in daily living.
What Is Emergent Spirituality?
This concept of spiritual “enlightenment,” and the various rituals and procedures
attempting its realization, is commonly misinterpreted by pantheistic, monotheistic,
and non-theistic institutionalized religions.
In many “mystical” aspects of these religious traditions, there is a focus on the
pursuit of an externally induced and inner realized transformation (e.g. a “unitive,” or
“white light” experience) rather than a more essential focus on the pursuit of
becoming a psychologically integrated person . . . who then consciously chooses
to demonstrate this wholeness in everyday living.
Traditional religious “enlightenment experiences” do not require psychological
wholeness as a pre-requisite condition for “experiencing God.” In fact, these
“mystical” experiences may often occur in persons who are not emotionally
balanced (e.g, the Catholic saints St. Faustina (20th century), St. Teresa of Jesus
(16th century), St. Gertrude the Great (13th century), St. Margarent Mary
Alacoque (17th century), St. Catherine of Siena (14th century), St. Francis, St.
Thomas Aquinas, St. John of the Cross).
This monograph postulates that traditional religious notions of “enlightenment”
are not only no longer relevant to modern living, but also may foster psychological
distortions and blockages responsible for many dysfunctional human relationships.
An alternative concept of “religion as an explanatory and guiding system for
human behavior” is warranted in the twenty-ﬁrst century.
By way of perspective, the concept of “emergent spirituality” as an “outer path”
‘reﬂecting an inner wholeness is referenced in the Christian Bible, “Faith without
works is dead. “ James 2: (14-26). Simply stated and without theological
obfuscation, the notion of “living your faith” . . . through your actions in everyday
life . . . is embedded in this ancient Christian message.
Some characteristics of an “emergent spiriuality” are presented here to articulate
this “new way” for authentic living.
• The path of “emergent spirituality” is the continuing, life-long process of
becoming fully human. Maslow explicitly deﬁnes “self-actualization to be
the desire for self-fulﬁllment, namely the tendency for him [the individual]
to become actualized in what he is potentially. This tendency might be
phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become
everything that one is capable of becoming. Self-actualization according to
Maslow is "intrinsic growth” of what is already in the organism, or more
accurately of what is the organism itself. Self-actualization is growth-
motivated rather than deﬁciency-motivated. It is predicated on the
individual having their lower deﬁciency needs met. Once a person has
moved through feeling and believing that they are deﬁcient, they naturally
seek to grow into who they are, that is to self-actualize. Maslow,(1954),
Motivation and Personality.
• The foundational context for spiritual living is the continual attempt to
consciously and respectfully connect with one’s total outer environment,
both human and non-human.
• The process of “emergent spirituality” is to attain and maintain
harmonious external relationships.
• A spiritual lifestyle is based on philosophical and psychological principles of
balance and authentic meaning relevant to an individual, not to any
• Cooperative coexistence is the essential attitude for spiritual living.
• The sine qua non of the way of an “emergent spirituality path” is to discover
the commonality of “the divine” within everything, and to maintain this
“sacred relationship” in daily living.
Conscious Relationships Foster Spiritual Growth
Moreover, if during the “spiritual” phase of life’s journey, a person enters a fully
conscious, interactive and respectful relationship with another similarly “evolved”
person, then both persons can often evolve to a new level of authentic individual
expression. A new understanding and trust of one’s external world can be
solidiﬁed and augmented through these conscious interpersonal relationships.
Following A Misguided Path Of False Spirituality
Special attention must be paid to the often mistaken idea that personal spirituality
precedes the development of psychological wholeness, or is totally independent
from it. This diagram describes a common mistake of avoiding confrontation and
resolution of the “cause” of personal pain.
A person, especially one with a “wounded inner child,” might choose to pursue
two external options to minimize their inner pain, (1) come to rely on religious
beliefs such as in a “God of Salvation,” and/or (2) depend upon other humans,
typically in dysfunctional, co-dependent relationships.
This “softer and easier way” around their pain wall, instead of through it, may
allow a person to claim(and often demonstrate) that they are “behaving” in a
spiritual manner; however, the authenticity of this spirituality is suspect. Without
psychological wholeness, or at least balance, any manifestations of spirituality are
susceptible to corruption and abuse. The lives of many acclaimed “gurus” attest to
Authentic spirituality becomes viable and visible
only after(or during) a person’s conscious integration
into psychological wholeness.
Simply stated, a person must be somebody
before becoming nobody.
Psychological integration and individuation
is INNER S(s)elf Realization.
Spiritual relationships extend the inner fulﬁllment
into the OUTER world.
The total impact upon authentic S(s)elf expression caused by following both paths
is succinctly stated by Stanislav Grof.
“. . . discovering the wise force that guides them from within,
many individuals develop a TRUST in the life process as it unfolds.
They increasingly experience a deep faith that their existence is developing as it should,
perhaps as part of a greater plan.
They often stop trying to struggle against the momentum of life,
ﬁnding that their resistance to its dynamics
usually introduces unnessary pain.
They ﬁnd that life works better if they abandon
their need to control their situation,
allowing the deeper wisdom to guide them.”
Stanislav Grof, (1990 )The Stormy Search For The Self
Conscious Release Of Attachment To Psychological Past And
Future Can Facilitate The Habit Of S(s)elf Acceptance
The freedom from an addiction to control outcomes in life situations derives from
conscious choices. They facilitate the release of emotional attachments to painful
psychological memories (see page 22). Furthermore, fears . . . projections of past
resentment into a future "time frame" . . . can be minimized and/or removed from
one's belief system.
A more clariﬁed perception of inner self worth is dependent upon this cognitive
modiﬁcation of old motivational beliefs created by a fear-biased, rational mind.
Learning to fully accept our authentic S(s)elf, warts and all, is a healthy basis for
releasing our compulsive need to control.
Eventually, a personal non-judgemental acceptance of life situations, as they unfold
in the present moment, will form a new belief system based more on trust. And
then, from a space of inner S(s)elf acceptance can grow a harmonious outer
acceptance of other S(s)elves.
Accepting And Giving GENUINE Caring
Is The Ultimate Catalyst For Peaceful Living
The ultimate reason for successful inner change is the focus on a most basic
human need . . . GENUINE caring. The Way Of The Mangrove Seed facilitates a
psycho-spiritual journey to consciously reconnect with this inner power of S(s)elf
If a person can truly accept GENUINE caring on a daily basis, and give away that
same caring to other humans, and to all physical forms in the universe, then that
person will live in a space of peaceful calm and personally fulﬁlling interaction with
its outer environment.
Present Moment Acceptance
The quintessential process objective is to facilitate a conscious re-connection with
an inner power of S(s)elf acceptance. This goal can be achieved (and maintained)
in the present moment, not at some future point in time.
Empowerment for a balanced lifestyle is possible NOW!
When we dance, the journey itself is the point;
when we play music, the playing itself is the point.
Meditation is the discovery that the point of life
is always arrived at in the immediate moment.
This process of conscious, present moment awareness allows us to be
• Consciously aware of our resentments and fears and those of others
• Fully responsible for accepting ourselves and others just as we are in the
present moment; and,
• Trusting of our inner S(s)elf for clarity and compassion in the caring of our
S(s)elf and other S(s)elves.
Staying in our hearts, when they are open, is where we can learn how to
avoid reacting too quickly to our psychological resentments and fears . . .
our pain. When our trusting hearts are masked by fear, we escape into our
heads. We defend our mentally perceived threats to survival by trying to
control our inner and outer environments.
Avoidance of healing our past emotional pain often results in attitudes and
behaviors that will project blame and guilt upon others. Thus, we escape from our
responsibility to accept all aspects of ourselves, especially the parts of us that feel
unloved and unlovable. By assuming a "victim role" a person fosters neither
personal responsiblity nor accountability for their behavior.
It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain.
Nothing external to your mind can hurt or injure you in any way.
There is no cause beyond yourself
that can reach down and bring oppression.
No one but yourself affects you.
It is you who have the power to dominate all things.
Course In Miracles, Lesson 190
By consciously balancing our rational mind with our intuitive "heart-mind" in the
present moments of daily life, we can allow internal healing through our
compassionate acceptance of our woundedness. Sharing our innermost fears with
others, in a space of genuine caring, allows us to be with our inner fears and to
move through rather than around them.
If we want to open our hearts,
we must be willing to build a consciousness of S(s)elf trust.
We must learn to re-connect
with our innate, but lost, self-worth.
From this connection with
the source of our wholeness,
we can learn to live with fear balanced by trust.
This psycho-philosophical monograph from The Way Of The Mangrove Seed
contains bold assumptions and assertions that may offend the sensibilities of some
people. This provocative result is not the intent, and apologies are hereby offered
to those considering parts of this book as personally disturbing or offensive.
Nevertheless, The Way represents a new, structural approach in the emerging ﬁeld
called the “philosophy of psychology.”
Some other clariﬁcations are necessary. The understanding of how a person
reacts to an inaccurate emotional encoding or rational interpretation of a
memory is not based upon an exact “science.” In spite of our use of functional
MRI, pet scans and other “seeing” technologies, our explanations offer only
“descriptive, not causal” information.
Human feelings are not a tangible, precisely quantiﬁable, nor can we can always
anatomically locate them throughout our human body. And yet, they have such a
powerful inﬂuence in every aspect of our lives . . . whom we like and don’t like,
what we will eat and drink, where we will live, and how we will communicate/
interact with our external world.
The notion of “two minds” in this book may conjure up the existence of two
distinctly different physical brains within the head. The use of two aspects of one
mind, rather than two minds is a more appropriate interpretation, in spite of the
actual existence of the biological left and right hemispheres of the human brain.
Actually, the notion of “two minds” has more to do with conceptual contrasts . . .
factual versus emotional, and subjective versus objective. There is a need for more
recognition, or at least balance, in the way humans interpret information and
consequentially react in their everyday living. We need to understand more about
the process of “intuitively knowing.”
Finally, the concept of authentic S(s)elf expression requires a fuller explanation.
The Way Of The Mangrove Seed supports and promotes the personal freedom
that comes from integration of thoughts and feeling; however, S(s)elf expression
The behaviors of each person are always subject to the consensual realities of
which they are a part. Responsibility for thoughts and actions are always subject,
by mutual consent, to the guidelines of the social group. However, the most
critical ethical imperative for all authentic S(s)elf expression and harmonious living
is that we, individually and collectively, “do no harm.”