Review of the book by Steve McIntosh, subtitled ‘The Spiritual Experience of Beauty, Truth and Goodness’.
This is in some ways a very theoretical and philosophical book about spirituality, a bit dry. In other ways it is frustratingly vague, in setting future directions for the evolution of spirituality but not being very specific.
Yet in other ways it is very practical, pointing a clear direction for the development of human consciousness, exploiting the fundamental attractors of truth, beauty and goodness (see Goodness, Truth and Beauty) as a direction, a sort of ‘gravitational attraction’ for consciousness. It is worth reading just for this, building on the work already published in Steve’s earlier book Evolution’s Purpose, reviewed here.
Steve also explores the role of the dialectical process (see The Dialectic) in the overall process of evolution, whereby positive polarities are transcended rather than being resolved one way or the other. This he sees as the fundamental process through which evolution develops, at all levels including the level of spirit.
Perhaps the ‘highest’ spiritual level of such polarity is that between the different approaches to ‘spirit’ in the world’s major religious traditions – which are characterised by the ‘theistic love’ of the monothestic religions of the west and the ‘nonduality’ coming from Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hindu advaita. (Think, say, Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama.) Even these, he suggests, require a dialectical approach to incorporate and transcend them.
Evolution is the fundamental process underlying Steve’s world view, using the mechanism of dialectic to gradually move towards greater perfection in the direction of truth, beauty and goodness. Evolutionary spirituality is the name he gives to this approach to spirituality itself, as the pinnacle of the process of evolution of consciousness. This is contrasted with the progressive spirituality of postmodernity, that itself transcended earlier religions.
For me the overall effect of this book is inspiring, in providing a ‘big picture’ of the evolution of everything, from the big bang through early humans, the development of traditional religions, the renaissance and enlightenment leading to modernity, evolution of the postmodern and beyond – to a new renaissance and enlightenment of consciousness. Not only a ‘big picture’, but practical ideas to help along the way, and pointers to what is needed.
It’s also a message of hope, that we are all engaged in a positive and progressive evolutionary exercise.
You’ll just have to read it if you got this far.