I happened to see that Tara Springett has a new book out. It's titled The Stairway to Heaven: Nine Steps of Consciousness From Unawareness to Full Enlightenment. I've enjoyed her other books, so I ordered a copy from Amazon. There's also a Kindle version for those who don't want to wait for the paperback to arrive.
Thanks, Derek. Let us know what you think of the book.
And . . . nice reflection you have on your spiritualawakening.ca site
My package started off in Lexington, KY, and is now in Hebron, KY. Isn't Internet tracking great? I hope Amazon intends to fly it from Cincinnati, as it's a long way by road!
The Internet has trained us (me included) to expect instant gratification. When I saw that the paperback had only got as far as Ohio, I went ahead and bought the Kindle version as well. I was keen to read it partly because Tara is an old friend of Shalom Place (it's always more fun to read a book by someone you know), and partly because I always enjoy the clarity of her writing. Her explanations are clear, with not a word wasted, so that her prose has a clean, straightforward quality to it.
Stage theories are always interesting, even if I generally end up not agreeing with them. The stairway of the title refers to ascending levels of consciousness. I wonder if Tara knows that the imagery of a stairway to heaven originates in Genesis 28 rather than with Led Zeppelin. Probably, since I think she mentioned at one point that she had a Catholic childhood.
I was wondering how she managed to write a new book, and such a substantial one, so quickly after her last book. It turns out this book is the distillation of ten years' worth of notes. So I suppose she just had to organize and edit her notes rather than write new material from scratch.
Her motivation for defining the stairway was her observation that different people needed different kinds of help, depending on the quality of their consciousness. This observation came from her work as a therapist and a Buddhist teacher. At first she was puzzled by these differences, since many schools of thought in both psychotherapy and spirituality teach a one-size-fits-all approach. Her explanation for the different needs is the nine-step stairway.
She numbers the nine steps computer-style, from 0 through 8. Not everyone will agree with the way she defines and organizes these steps. While the upper ones are clearly more high-minded than the lower ones, I think the specific details reflect her Mahayana/Vajrayana Buddhist outlook. For example, she puts "merging with a divine being" at the top of the ladder. It's not that I think this is totally off. St. Teresa of Avila's final three mansions are spiritual union, spiritual betrothal, and spiritual marriage. Tara does mention these in a later chapter. But what about Bernadette Roberts, who puts the no-self stage beyond the unitive stage? And what about people like Adyashanti and Eckhart Tolle? These are highly awake people who show no sign of ever having ascended a ladder, and who never mention "merging with a divine being" or anything of that nature.
Once I understood what she wanted to do in the book, I was expecting to see a chapter for each step. It turns out the book is not ordered by step, but by aspect of life. Each aspect gets its own chapter. All nine steps are discussed in that chapter from the point of view of that aspect of life. For example, she has chapters on primary motivation at each stage, character traits at each stage, sense of self, view of the world, beliefs, relationships, money, and so on. I think this is a much better arrangement than just having one chapter per step.
I found the client portraits that illustrate each stage extremely helpful in making the steps real. I would have welcomed having these concrete examples continue throughout the book. While there are some case studies of well-known people here and there, I found myself often reading generalization after generalization in the middle chapters of the book. Reading page after page of assertions without any real-life examples was heavy going.
Toward the end of the book, Tara says that the book is not intended simply to document the steps, but to help people move up the ladder. The last chapter therefore gives spiritual exercises. These are organized so that they are addressed to people at each step, to help them move up to the next step.
Well, that's just a quick overview based on the Kindle. I'm sure I'll want to read parts of it again once the paperback arrives.
Thanks, Derek. From what you share, it sounds like her levels are similar to Wilber's approach, as he has also been deeply influenced by Buddhism and has non-dual consciousness as the highest stage. Any comments on similarities and differences to Wilber's?
Wilber speaks of non-dual consciousness being a "state" that can be experienced at any "stage" but becoming more a permanent situation later. There's probably something to that, although people who testify to more-or-less permanent non-dual (non-reflecting) consciousness aren't always highly advanced when viewed through the lenses of other developmental schemas (e.g., Spiral Dynamics, social development, Jungian individuation, moral development, and others). Then there is the issue of bias that the theorist brings to their schema; can we really expect a Buddhist to put anything other than non-duality at the top of the mountain?
I wish Tara would come back and have let her know she is welcomed here any time. Congratulations to her for her new book.
She mentions being influenced by Ken Wilber, but since I never took to Wilber's books, I can comment on any comparison.
No, the top of the mountain for Tara is this "merging with a divine being." I think a lot of people are going to read that and go, "Huh?" That's a pity, because I think she's going to severely limit her readership to people who are familiar with her particular form of Tibetan Buddhism.
I'll take a closer look at the book once the paperback reaches me. The package from Amazon has crossed into Canada. Only another 2,000 miles to go.
I also wish Tara would return to Shalom Place. She had valuable contributions to make when people came by with kundalini symptoms. I think there was a bit of a punch-up with Shasha at some point.
Yes, Tara was indeed very helpful to people with k issues, and fun to dialogue with as well.
The "punch-up" came after some forum members objected to one of her books being something of a channeled message from "White Tara." Of course, they had already become inactive. That sort of thing really is a stretch for a Christian forum.
Good grief. Tara has written yet another book! She must be working like crazy to produce these. And it's not a short one, either -- 256 pages! here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/Seven-Go...iness/dp/1507858825/
That's promising a lot!!!
Of course, I know that she might not have written that, but the book's marketing department.
Still, it always seems odd to hear a Buddhist speaking of "accessing your divine nature." Seems kind of gnostic, too, from a Christian pov.
It seems odd to me, too. But from Tara's time on Shalom Place, I learned that she follows a Tibetan form of Buddhism. This is quite different from what most people (including me) think of as Buddhism. It includes deity practices. I'm sure Tara believes it is authentic Buddhism; to me, it looks like a medieval development, whereby Buddhism in Tibet incorporated Tantric ideas from India -- ideas that were unknown for the first thousand years after the time of the historical Buddha. But that's just my Western academic way of looking at it.
I remarked in the 4th post of this thread that I do enjoy Tara's writing, even though I disagree with her point of view. So I'll probably download this one, too.
Looks like it's just you and me left on Shalom Place now, Phil! Anyway, I did enjoy Tara's newest book, and I posted a review of the Kindle edition on Amazon Canada. I liked it more than the Stairway to Heaven book, mainly because I have misgivings about the supposed universality of Tara's nine-step model in the Stairway book. As I said in my latest review on Amazon Canada, there is actually a lot of material in this newest one (Seven Golden Keys) that will be of value to Christians. That's especially true if you treat the practices as psychological exercises rather than focusing on their theology.
Thanks, Derek. I did look at the book on Amazon and went into some of the sneak preview pages. Early on, she noted that our essence is divine, which set up the whole book as a kind of gnostic spirituality -- realizing one's innate divinity. I think your approach about disregarding those kinds of statements is admirable, but I don't find it easy to do.
I do recall the exchanges about Tibetan Buddhism and Christianity; she and I had quite a dialogue about it, and she came down hard on you in a couple of exchanges for being wrong about Buddhism's non-theistic perspective. Actually, I thought you were right, and that Tibetan Buddhism is closer to Hinduism in its theology and spirituality than it is to Buddhism. They can call themselves what they want, of course.
A little over a year ago, I posted a topic in the Lounge forum on "The demise of discussion forums."
As you noted there, "we seem to have discussed every possible subject under the sun." That's true, and the emergence of blogs and social media has also opened new venues for sharing and interaction.
There are lots of guests here when I check in -- sometimes well over 100. Monthly page views average close to 200,000, which is quite a few (a small percentage are search robots). Topics and replies are searchable, and often show up in results of topics I'm searching. So we are a presence on the Internet, and apparently a resource for others. Hardly a week goes by that I don't hear from someone who introduces themselves as having been a reader of the forum for a long time. That's always nice to hear.
Mt. still pops in fairly regularly. I wish others would, too. Maybe they will from time to time. Thanks for your continuing engagement with the topics, Derek.
I think that several Christian mystics have gotten into trouble for coming too close to saying that "our essence is divine." Meister Eckhart comes to mind. I remember reading that Eckhart's student, Johannes Tauler, was more careful in his wording.
At that time, I didn't even dream that Buddhism included such a thing as deity worship. After Tara started talking about it, I read up on Vajrayana Buddhism. It's controversial, even within Buddhism (though presumably not among Tibetan Buddhists themselves). On the Internet, you can find conservative Buddhists who doubt that Tibetan Buddhism is really Buddhism, along with disenchanted Tibetan Buddhists who criticize the whole shebang. Anyway, Tara's books seem quite accessible to me. I think she has valuable points to make and worthwhile practices to convey. In fact, I find it instructive to see how the commercial publishing industry would not publish her books, while they continue to put out much less worthwhile offerings which they know they will sell.
Hello Phil and Derek. Yes, I have noticed that you both seem to be the two main contributors to the forum. Please don't stop as I really appreciate all that is shared here, even those posts from the new members are a joy to read. I don't have a lot to say these days living with kundalini syndrome which I am still working through; mainly physical symptoms and which were recently exaggerated again as I had a bad accident in which I fell and injured my back and broke my wrist which necessitated surgery and the insertion of plates and pins. I was alone in an outdoor hotel car park when I tripped and fell and it was several minutes before anybody found me and then finally taken to hospital by ambulance and necessitating staying in accident and emergency for a day followed by surgery the next morning
Hence I am not typing this but dictating it on my phone
I found the discussions on kundalini which included A lot of questions and answers answers fromTara very helpful for me, and as a Catholic I really don't mind what religion anyone practices; for me kundalini is a universal experience and not The monopoly of Hinduism or Buddhism or any religion.
Derek. I read Tara's book last year on Kundalini and I found a couple of the chapters really logically simple and informative and to know that my symptoms are not unique to me. So I have just bought her new book stairway to heaven but haven't got round to reading it yet but should start this week. I'll see what it strikes me in it.
http://youtu.be/LVbc6kE1wNo Here's Tara's introduction to her latest book.
Hey, a few more people posting and sharing deeply of transformative experiences. Glad we can be here for them and others when needed.
Tara's prolific publishing activity has inspired me to collect together all my essays, such as they are, in one place. Amazon allows you to make your Kindle book free for five days a quarter, provided you enroll your book in their exclusive KDP Select program. So until Friday, you can download everything I've ever written (all 24,000 words of it!) at no charge.
In the U.S.: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Y4PYM5G/
In the UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00Y4PYM5G/
Thanks, Derek. Very generous of you!
24,000 well-written words is a nice contribution to the spiritual wisdom of the world.
On my way to download.
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