Inhabit: Your Wisdom

Ryan Oelke Emotional, Free, Inhabit, Perspectives, Spiritual, Spirituality, Video 2 Comments



ithout wisdom, knowledge becomes dangerous. This is as true for integral knowledge as it is any other. When our knowledge so far outpaces our wisdom, we can fall in all sorts of traps — including know-it-all arrogance, spiritual bypassing, self-aggrandizing mysticism, bad interpersonal hygiene, and possibly even diabetes and tooth decay.

This can be a challenge for all communities, including the integral community. Especially when we are living at a time when information is so overabundant, and perspectives are so polarized. We are drowning in information, and most of it is bad and broken information, totally lacking any real enfoldment mechanism at all — and it takes a fair amount of wisdom just to be able to tell the good from the bad.

Which is why Ryan and I wanted to do this special episode of Inhabit, to take a fuller look at what exactly “integral wisdom” means and what sorts of wisdoms tend to naturally fall out of the integral map itself — quadrant wisdom, stage wisdom, shadow wisdom, type wisdom, polarity wisdom, etc. — all of which help us to enact that integral map in increasingly skilllful, friendly, and effective ways. Watch as we explore a number of practices and perspectives to help you bring your own wisdoms to the surface, allowing you to move through the world with more skill, compassion, insight, and humility.

A Self-Test for Spiritual Bypassing

One of our callers had a question about spiritual bypassing — how to notice when we are doing, and what to do about it when we find ourselves heading in that direction.

Here’s a little test I came up with for myself when I was traveling the waters of “imaginal spirituality” in my twenties, and trying to find the other shore. Because I also remember feeling like I was privy to some sort of “superknowledge” that somehow set me apart from most other people, because I could see something that they couldn’t see. And I really liked that feeling. But it didn’t take me long to figure out that I was headed down some fairly dark alleys.

So, in order to pull myself back out, I simply started asking myself: “Does my ‘spiritual knowledge’ make me feel MORE special, or LESS special?”

If I answered the first way, I knew I was doing something wrong.

And if I was doing something wrong, I would then break it down into a number of other questions:

  • Am I using my spirituality as a way to create meaning, comfort, or importance for a separate self that feels lost without it?
  • Am I using it to try to impress people so they think I am smart/wise/woke?
  • Am I using it to get laid? Is there some unconscious sexual self-selection going on here?
  • Am I using it to prevent people from seeing my faults, failings, and insecurities?
  • Am I using it as a way to insulate myself from the cruel physics of the “real world”?
  • Am I using it as a way to meet my own needs around belonging and self-esteem?
  • Am I using it as a way to elevate myself above people who don’t see the world the same way I do?
  • Am I using it as a way to feel like I belong to some esoteric elite, as opposed to all the rest of the sheeple?
  • Am I thinking about effortless awareness, or am I actually relaxing into it?

I have absolutely answered “yes” to every single one of these at one point or another. I still do at times. And simply acknowledging and owning that “yes” — making that subject into object, shining some a bit more light on the shadow, bringing just a little bit more embodied awareness — helped me discover the next phase of my own spiritual life, where the imaginal occupied a far less important space in my consciousness and was replaced instead by an appeal for ordinary “quiet” awakening, selfless service, and getting back to the marketplace where I can hopefully make some sort of impact. I don’t go around looking for spiritual fireworks any more — give me that good old fashioned “simple feeling of being” any day!
Just some cairns from my own personal path, for whatever its worth.

Written by Corey deVos
Music by Justin Miles and Stuart Davis

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Ryan Oelke

About Ryan Oelke

Ryan Oelke is a co-founder of Buddhist Geeks and founder of Awakening in Life. He has an MSEd in counseling psychology and is contemplative teacher of awakening, healing, and embodiment. He has 18 years experience in meditation, particularly in the Tibetan Buddhist and Dzogchen lineages, he is a Buddhist Geeks teacher, and is a fully certified teacher in Judith Blackstone’s Realization Process. Ryan teaches meditation and a way of living dedicated to revealing natural presence and awakening in each moment of our lives, regardless of how it appears to us. He lives in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, NC with his partner Alyssa and stepdaughter Fiona.

Corey deVos

About Corey deVos

Corey W. deVos is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.

Notable Replies

  1. The topic of ‘wisdom’ is nearly inexhaustible. I do remember one of KW’s concise statements on it: wisdom is what you know of Spirit. So inhabiting or owning or embodying what we know of Spirit at some point becomes necessary in the life path, and failure to do so might be as wisdom- and growth-crippling as spiritual bypassing.

    I too think Corey’s list of questions around spiritual bypassing are fantastic. Some questions on the other side might be: Am I hiding my spirituality as a way to fit in, belong? Am I holding back expressing a spiritual perspective out of the small self’s fear of exhibiting some ignorance, or of being thought wacky? Am I hiding my spiritual knowledge and experience because it’s easier to just blend in rather than stand out? Am I holding back as a way to avoid more responsibility? Am I hiding my spirituality because I’m too attached to the “real world”? Am I holding back because I’m not consistently living up to my own spiritual ‘standards’ or values? Am I hiding my spirituality because what I’ve experienced seems too “sacred” and meaningful, and to expose it would be like placing “pearls before swine”? And many other questions, but you get the point.

    That aside…what I would add to this conversation on inhabiting one’s wisdom draws from the magical-mythic stage There are countless mythological characters and deities, as well as “real” beings, who are associated with wisdom. In reviewing in my mind some of them, and doing a little research, most of them are known not only as ‘gods’ or ‘goddesses’ or beings of wisdom, but also are associated with nature, and with the arts and craft-making.

    The Hindu goddess of wisdom Saraswati, for instance, is also the goddess of speech, learning, music, art/aesthetics, and nature, particularly rivers. (There is a Saraswati river in Indian.) Same with a Japanese goddess of wisdom, Benzaiten (aka Benten), who is supposedly a derivative of Saraswati. Benzaiten is “the goddess of everything that flows”–water, time, words, speech, eloquence, music, knowledge/wisdom. A Japanese wisdom god is Kuebiko, a scarecrow god who “can’t walk but has comprehensive awareness.” He is not only the god of wisdom, but of agriculture. The list goes on and on, such as the Greek god and goddess Apollo and Athena, both also associated with art and music. Then there are the Biblical Magi, seers/prognosticators, “Wise Men,” bearing gifts (from the earth) to the Christ-child. And the philosopher Lao Tzu whose Taoist wisdom teachings derive from observations of nature, and particularly, the flow of nature (and of things, situations, one into the other).

    So nature, the environment we live in, and arts/crafts, our creations, do seem to me vitally connected to wisdom. I was actually thinking this as I listened to the conversation, and found it interesting that Corey exhibited his wood-art during the episode, bringing both nature and art into the conversation. Beautiful pieces, Corey. They seem “alive,” and somehow remind me of sun-bleached bones found in an ancient wilderness, telling the story of birth/creation, life/sustainment, and death/dissolution, all the while suggesting that which moves through it all, the eternal breath of Spirit.

    Inhabit: Your Creativity. That would be a good episode.

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