Joe Perez on Integral Naked - The Power of Integral Reconciliation
November 12, 2007 08:02
Joe Perez - Soulfully Gay. Part 2. The Power of Integral Reconciliation.
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The author of one of the most searing, courageous personal memoirs of our time shares how extraordinarily helpful an Integral Approach can be in reconciling and integrating even the most volatile, difficult, highly-charged aspects of one’s own being—and not only live to tell the tale, but find true meaning, peace, and wholeness.
In the foreword to Soulfully Gay, Ken Wilber writes: "Joe Perez’s book is perhaps the most astonishing, brilliant, and courageous look at the interface between individual belief and cultural values that has been written in our time. By a homosexual, or a heterosexual, or any other sexual I am aware of." Ken wrote this foreword without even having met Joe—probably one of the strongest complements one writer can give to another—and Soulfully Gay is the second offering from our Integral Books imprint at Shambhala Publications.
We pick up this second half of Joe’s incredible story in the year 2000, when Joes launches into a four-year process of trying to reconcile and integrate his identity as a gay man, his relationship to organized religion, his occasional psychotic episodes, and his genuine spiritual experiences—the last year of which is powerfully chronicled in Soulfully Gay. During this year, Joe’s life is often literally hanging by a thread (first because of HIV/AIDS, and second by nearly driving off a cliff). But it’s also during this year that the most significant kind of integration occurs in this beautiful, courageous man. In part by reading Ken’s work on an Integral Approach, Joe is able to find a way to understand and find a place for all the apparently disparate elements of his life—including the homophobic tendencies of mythic-traditional Christianity.
Indeed, one of the most important parts of Joe’s growth and integration is in his spiritual life. Having been raised Roman Catholic—staunchly homophobic—then having religion completely deconstructed by his time at Harvard and the University of Chicago, while also experiencing authentic mystical states, Joe wasn’t quite sure where to turn when he realized that he was in dire need of a spiritual perspective in order to effectively confront his demons. Here, Joe and Ken discuss the fact that religion and spirituality looks and acts differently at different human developmental levels (e.g., from archaic, to magic, to mythic, to rational, to pluralistic, to integral, and so on). In fact, because human beings live at every single one of those levels, religion must find a healthy way to express itself at each level—not try to convert everyone to just one level (usually mythic-traditional).
Joe is pioneering not only how to live an Integral Life as a gay man, but also a uniquely Integral Spirituality for anyone with a same-sex orientation. In fact, Joe and Ken go on to explore how "gayness" can be looked at as a universal feature of human nature, woven into the very fabric of the Kosmos itself….
"When I tried to meditate, I would shake and hyperventilate. I feared that if I got more in touch with my true nature, I would go insane again. That was a real dilemma… and one that Integral helped resolve."
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Integral Naked continues to be an excellent source of stimulating content and provocative conversations with the world's greatest thinkers, leaders, artists, and visionaries. Be sure to stay tuned to the IN Podcast for more weekly audio updates....
Previously on Integral Naked:
Alanis Morissette - Healing the Ruptures
Sally Kempton - Seeing Beyond the Mythic God
Joe Perez: Soulfully Gay - Out of the Closet, Into an Integral Embrace
Dan Millman: The Peaceful Warrior's Way - The Highest Teaching
Alex Grey: Integral Art - Anchoring the Seed of Liberation
Alanis Morissette: From Jagged Little Pill to Flavors of Entanglement
Sharon Stone: Like a Fine Diamond....
Dan Millman: The Peaceful Warrior’s Way - “This Is How to Do It”
Alex Grey: Integral Art - When Psychedelics Reveal the Spirit Within
Deepak Chopra: Buddha - A Story of Enlightenment