P2P Foundation

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Discussing the principles of an open spirituality

Lawrence Wollersheim has published a substantial text proposing some general principles for developing and practicing an open source spirituality.

The text is very long and is pubished here at http://www.integralworld.net/wollersheim3.html, and because of its lenght, I propose to discuss them in batches, so here are the first four.


1.) On Its Prime Focus

The most important focus of open source integral spirituality is the common core and essence of all religion. It is one's continually expanding and deepening direct personal experiences with the Ever Present Origin of All Reality, improving one's balanced practice of the virtues, and achieving spiritual completeness. (Spirituality is the innermost and most critical essence of all religion as opposed to religion's outermost characteristics such as its social beliefs, doctrines, rituals and organizational structures, authorities and hierarchies.)

2.) On Diversity

This is an open source movement! It encourages many individuals, organizations and teachers of spiritual wisdom to contribute their wisdom to the open source integral spirituality collaboration.

This diversity is essential to an unending search for additional and broader spiritual truth and is vital for making spiritual wisdom accessible to the great variety of personalities, learning styles, psychological developmental levels and cultures. Though different in abilities, all are equal in spiritual dignity and can act as co-creators of the global spiritual commons. –

3.) On Personal Spiritual Choice and Authority

Every mentally sound person already possesses the internal means to be their own highest spiritual authority for discerning spiritual truth for their own spiritual path. This implies that each individual is their own highest spiritual authority. –

4.) On Organizational Spiritual Authority and Revelation

In the global spiritual commons and in the open source integral spirituality movement it is necessary that there are no highest Popes, Bishops, Avatars, Gurus, Rabbis, Imams, etc. or, any religious hierarchy of final spiritual authority or religious orthodoxy outside the spiritual authority of the individual. No one spiritual source, spiritual teacher, founder, leader or organization has the universal or final spiritual authority on what is authentic or appropriate spiritual wisdom, spiritual truth or spiritual law for anyone other than themselves.

From this date of this original declaration's creation forward, the above paragraph naturally infers that there is also no longer recognition of special, exclusive, ongoing or final spiritual revelation being presented by the Ever Present Origin uniquely or solely to one individual or to one organization that is applicable to or for anyone beyond the specific individual who received it. While we do accept the possibility of unique personal revelation/guidance in terms of the communication quality possible within the relationship of the individual to the Ever Present Origin, we do not hold that this unique personal revelation/guidance can or should be held out as authentic or final religious or spiritual truth, law or authority for anyone or any organization except possible for the individual who received it and, then only if they themselves judge and accept it to be religious or spiritual truth, law or authority for themselves.

Religious revelation intended or decreed as final, authoritative or as religious law for anyone or any group other than for the unique, single individual who received it is an area of religion and spirituality historically fraught with abuse and misuse and the source of much of the current religious strive in the world today. Furthermore, by its very claim to be authentic or final religious/spiritual revelation for a group or mankind there is not only no real objective way to disprove it, there is also no real objective way to prove it either.

Revelation because it cannot be proven or un-proven, has most often been something that not only divides people, but often historically has served as the rational for violence against disbelievers of some particular revelation. Revelation that confers special or exclusive privileges, rights, roles, responsibilities, religious law, authority or property on or over a select few or special group is even further suspect in that the message of the revelation is not inclusive, universal or just and, by its nature congruent with those prime qualities within the Ever Present Origin.

If you do believe that Divinity will in fact, continue to disclose more of its infinite self and aspects to humanity in revelation as time goes on, maybe the Divine when the time was right has always intended to eventually disclose more of itself through a new multi-religious open source, co-creative process where the combination of insights and wisdom from all religions will offer a bigger, broader and, more clear and accurate picture of Divinity than the revelational perspective of any one religion. Maybe, at this time in history we have finally now both become and really are all vital spiritual and moral partners who are equal-opportunity, (open source) co-revealers of the endless and expanding truths about Divinity.

Maybe for our post-postmodern times, the revealing of the endless and expanding truths about Divinity is now better executed by a continuous and collaborative group effort rather than by only a progressive or exclusive single revelatory effort by any one religion. Maybe, continuous group efforts to accelerate the revealing of the expanding new truths about Divinity is the appropriate evolutionary step ladder now needed for these times for our new revelations where later revelations are no longer viewed as either final or even necessarily superior to earlier revelations, but instead new revelations are viewed as a just another beautiful pearl to be added to a string of pearls that can grow into endless strands.

Maybe, from the very beginning of our spiritual history (although we did not know it then,) the endless expanding truth about infinite Divinity has always been far, far too great for any one religion to hold. And just maybe, while the absolute truth of Divinity may always be one, we still may need the many different religious paths to start us out, but then it will be the combined best wisdom from all the religions that will keep us on our way most effectively and efficiently to the greatest spiritual heights possible.

In dealing with all previous spiritual claims by individuals or religious organizations that that they have received a special, exclusive, ongoing, authoritative or final spiritual revelation that does or does not bind or confer special or exclusive privileges, rights, roles, responsibilities, laws, authority or property on or over a select few or special group (other than over only the unique individual receiver of that revelation) the open source movement intentionally does not at this time address the validity of such claims and takes no official position toward such claims of past revelation. The global spiritual commons will provide additional insights on this, but we leave this for each individual to work out as an issue of personal faith for themselves.

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Taking John Heron's ideas into account I would think the purpose of Open Source Spirituality to be "to support an Emerging Spiritual Commons." I moreover envision this ESC to be composed of people practicing their basic beliefs - what John Heron calls Code 1: basic beliefs and practices. The principles that guide the emergence of the spiritual commons, it's Prime Directive can therefor not be about the "content" of some Code 1; it's Prime Directive must be about the ecology that is needed to create enough trust so that people can be open about the content of their Code 1 and share how they practice it.
The Prime Directive is an expression of the insight that all real-life practice of spiritual principles (most of all meaning sense-creating, meaning-guiding principles) is worth sharing and learning from. Since the Prime Directive is about creating the ecology in which good relationship between people implementing their Code 1 is fostered, and since creating an ecology is a process of/in mutuality, most likely the Prime Directive is about encouraging people to find out and live according to what is true and authentic for them and share this in an atmosphere of deep respect for this, for themselves, for their Code 1, and for others equally. I refrain from formulating the Prime Directive so that it is wide enough to take in anybody of 'good will' and I write what it is about to indicate where its boundaries might be.

To 'open source' something means to put it into a language that is shared with a larger group of peers who can than contribute to this 'project' as they please. So certainly any Open Source Spirituality worth this name needs to co-create a "Meta-Code A" in which there is maximum flexibility and 'space' for different Code 1's. Meta-Code A would be an incarnation of the Prime Directive.
And even though there is the Prime Directive it is also clear that, paraphrasing John Heron, "it is neither a prescription, nor even a recommendation, for any other node or person, but a contribution to the commons pool of experiential data, which others may find of interest. Then it is simply up to them whether or not they integrate in any way any part of it or the whole of it, within their own Code 1."
Within the Emerging Spiritual Commons there would be a "library", as you suggested, Simon, that functions as the main "memory" or rather as the DNA of Open Source Spirituality over time.

To conclude, I couldn't agree more with John, when he says, "This allows for varying degrees and kinds of hybridization, cross-fertilization, between different nodes." He seems to be using the terminology of nodes within a network where I would prefer terms coming from the idea of constellations and ecology - all phenomena come in constellations or patterns within an ecology of influences, a landscape and space.

And finally it seems important to realize that even using the terms "Open Source" in connection with "Spirituality" is already a language of concepts influenced by recent developments in 'net-culture'.
As far as I can tell human cosmological perspectives have been and continue to be used as the foundation of our social engineering. To date, appears that most if not all cosmology models are of a linear and strictly non-dynamic universe with both a beginning and an end. Such appears to be in conflict with observable science. You can draw up summarizing vector diagrams for these views of the universe using simple directed vector diagrams or "digraphs" as I've done on this web page http://home.pacbell.net/chipl/CosmologyVectorDiagrams.htm (I stopped paying for that web site years ago though the host has chosen to keep it up). Is it possible that universe has no beginning nor end? Some seem to consider such as commensurable with known science, e. g. http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2008/02/qa_turok

Seems this cosmological model of a totally dynamic universe holds implications of how to engineer a working human social system that fits observable data, i.e. the longevity of human social experiments has decreased at virtually a geometric rate while the population covered by each experiment has in general grown at at least the same if not an exponential rate. This suggests that we are heading towards something that has a total turn-over at a planned for ever increasing rate and essentially covers and serves all of humanity, that is if we are to survive.

There are definite moral implications to science which appears to be the art of sharing with integrity. All of humanity is closely related, one family: Hominidae. Communitarianism fits the facts, sees individuals as part of all therefore basing policies on inherent evilness or innocence is illogical, unfounded and self-destructive. We still need to gage responsibility and even limit the freedoms of some to preserve the greater good but just attempting to kill people because we find them evil only perpetuates misunderstanding and growing violence. The second-order cybernetic nature of society makes the sociopathy of blame seem cogent but it doesn't and hasn't worked. For example the idea that some are terrorists thoroughly disregards that humans raised in environments where death is common lose touch with the sanctity of life. Our media glorifies death and killing as a solution to conflict resolution but it just sustains and feeds a psychosis that leads to such insanity as the relatively obvious "inside job" that was the 9/11/01 war profiteering staged event. Who are the bad guys? I suggest we will find greater utility in seeking a way to organize that does not allow power to corrupt, absolute power to tend to corrupt absolutely with the most powerful being almost always bad as Sir John Acton observed about a century ago. Focus and lend support to building the good and the bad will fade away hopefully before it is too late.

To my limited perspective, appears what has passed for religion has been no more than another exercise in mob psychosis based on an acceptance of anarchy as inescapable and the desire to be a part of a powerful gang with the totally erroneous idea that power decides truth. We will need to find another way. Science and religion need to find a common ground if we are to avoid self-annihilation. As our science grows in power, we need to insure that benevolence for all life is our modus operandi and goal. Otherwise we are lost.
Hi Keith,

I recommend looking for Keith Chandler's Beyond Civilization as a good presenation of at least four very different cosmological/cultural DNA systems, that determine human frameworks on a very deep level, but which are now interpernetrating and leading to a possible 'beyond civilization' synthesis.

Otherwise, though, will we can and are critical of organized religion, I believe your characterization of it as mob pyschosis reduces its richness as a human legacy, and similarly, I think your banking on one scientific interpretation, that the universe has no beginning nor end, which can be right but can also change again in the future, as scienfitic hypothesis do, cannot be the basis of any consensus, nor should it be,

Hi Michel

I suspect you meant this reply to be to my missive and that it was a simple mistake to address it to "Keith."

Thank you for the suggestion of Chandler's "Beyond Civilization." I'll take a look. As far as "organized" religion goes, thank you for putting in that clarifier as it is more accurate and something I should have detailed also. In Buddhism there is Mahayanism which appears as more of a philosophical stance than an organized religion and apparently more embrace it than those who cater to the various sects with temples, priest-hoods, prayers and ritual. Among Christianity there is also a schism where many embrace the churches and the Bible and find it sanctions much gross behavior that many Christians do not accept such as the theologian David Ray Griffin. I find the recent archaeological explorations into Jesus' life shows that he had some strong convictions of an egalitarian moral stance that shows Christian "organized" religion too often uses his name in vain and supports gross immorality. A blanket condemnation is not correct and I admit I may have suggested such and appreciate your pointing that out.

As far as science goes, in many of the organized religions ascription via an unquestioning faith is suggested as wise and I find this to be contrary to reason and intelligence where faith should be derived from knowledge rather than denial or acceptance without investigation. Appears that much of "organized" religion depends on its adherents accepting externally generated authority which I do find is more a manifestation of a gang warfare base world paradigm than any concept of a peer to peer system. The idea that universe is totally dynamic could only be disproved or proved first hand if one could observe the totality and that is and will always be a physical impossibility so it's consideration is always only a guess, no deductive logic can be brought to bear on the question. Unlike unquestioning faith, though, inductive logic does appear to hold some strong support for the hypothesis that universe is 100% dynamic. It would be wrong to adopt or design any organizational model that did not at least allow for this possibility. It does not require complete acceptance or denial to incorporate it into our planning and engineering attempts and does appear to hold promise at facilitating the acquiring of a viable social network.

Thanks for your suggestions and criticisms, Michel.

I am sorry it has taken me a while to reply to John Herron’s comments on our vision of Open Source Spirituality. I have 2 full time jobs and one of them is crisis work at Factnet.org that makes free time very difficult to predict.

First of all I am grateful to John and all the other s that have critiqued the Integrative Spirituality vision of open source spirituality. I have placed my comments under John’s in brackets.


Lawrence Wollersheim

A careful reading of the OSIS (Open Source Integrative Spirituality) website tells me the following:

1. OSIS has a hierarchy of source codes. Source Code 1 at the top of the hierarchy is the Wilberian integral spiral dynamics worldview. This is used to generate and structure Source Code 2 which is the assembled heritage of humankind's spiritual wisdom with data supplied by OSIS and by all participants in the commons. And Source Code 2 in turn is used by each individual to generate Source Code 3 which is the code of their unique spiritual path.

[This is partially correct. OSIS does not use either Wilberian integral spiral dynamics worldview as source code 1. If our old site is misleading I apologize.
It is being clarified on our new site. If you start with just the classic dictionary definitions of integral and integrative and put them next to the word spirituality, that with a few additions would be what we are calling the process of source code 2 (above) which really is our source code 1.

We are constantly increasing the distance between our vision of integral and Wilber’s. We also do not hold any particular place of dominance for the Spiral dynamics model as there are other models and even other Graves interpretations considerably different than Beck and Cohen’s.

The following is from our new website not yet online. It also gives our more clear definitions of our Source code 1 and 2:

__The Definition of Integral and the Integral Worldview that we use in our Open Source Integrative Spirituality

The definition sections covered below include a basic definition of the term integral, why its omni-denominational, open source integrative spirituality could be important to your daily life, the many pioneers and thinkers over time who have contributed to expanding integral worldview concepts and the relationship of the current integral worldview to Integrative Spirituality.

Integral simply means:

1. Everything essential or necessary for completeness
2. Possessing everything essential in its proper position, excluding nothing that is needed from science, philosophy art religion etc.
3. The new integral worldview has emerged in the global Internet information age where the totality of every knowledge discipline and the wisdom of all existing and previous cultures is readily available. Because of this solutions from the integral worldview tend to also, but not always:

a.) provide a deeper and broader map of the evolution of known reality that embraces an inclusive, multiple perspective way of looking at and understanding personal, cultural and biologic evolutionary development. It excludes nothing needed for balanced understanding and/or growth in any area.
b.) anticipate what more appropriate solution comes next in the unfolding of the evolutionary process. These new solutions are shifted away from today’s polarizing and marginalizing, right or wrong, either/or, left or right partial choices toward more inclusive, comprehensive both/and solutions. That’s because its new solutions embrace the entire evolutionary developmental spectrum of life and humanity, allowing the lessons of previously exclusive and competitive worldviews and perspectives to be systematically meshed, layered and harmoniously integrated to serve the well-being of the whole of life.
c.) are based upon the evolutionary method of inclusion, transcendence and synthesis. It includes the most useful perspectives and values from all previous worldviews where contextually appropriate, while simultaneously pruning a
I realized that I had some additional upgraded materials that might further help respond to John Herron's concerns so I am adding the following definition from off our new web site that has not yet gone active.

I hope it add a bit more information to how we see open source spirituality.

Open Source Integral and Integrative Spirituality Definition 2.4

Open Source integral and integrative spirituality is a dynamic new form of evolutionary panentheistic spirituality based upon the integrative method of "transcending yet including" the wisdom of all of the world’s religious traditions. It has neither sacred founders, popes, or personalities, nor sacred revelations that might separate you from your own spiritual discernment and path, the great adventure of discovering for yourself the Divine essence of all authentic religion and spirituality, or your fellow spiritual journeyers.

It is an “open source” spiritual organization that is co-created from the prime and basic source code 1 wisdom from all written and oral spiritual traditions that is also congenial with current science, philosophy and art. It also includes humanity's data base of all the destructive and no longer appropriate aspects of organized or personal spirituality and religion. Nothing quite like it has ever existed before, nor was it even possible before the emergence of the Internet.

For many of the estimated 30% of the population that calls itself spiritual, but not religious the very word religion creates an unpleasant and aversive reaction. One does not have to go far to see the excesses and abuses of religion today or remember the abuses of the past.

But, what if a group of spiritually mature individuals could in fact co-create a new form of open source integral and integrative spirituality that performed many of the vital social functions that healthy religions perform such as promoting service and unselfish fellowship; answering the ultimate questions of life; encouraging human friendship and all types of better relationships, conserving morality; promoting community welfare, promoting family life; providing wise counsel and spiritual guidance; encouraging group meditation and worship; socially demonstrating loyalty to the Divine; fostering attraction to the highest values; delivering tolerant religious education; magnifying the lures of truth, beauty, and goodness and facilitating the spread of the messages of spiritual hope, renewal and at-onement --- without devolving into the social pathologies of many past and current religions or spiritual practices?

In its most essential form, almost all current religion is the organizationally prescribed practice of a single particular path leading to God, the Mystery, the Allness. An integral and integrative spirituality and religion is the integration of what is best from all religious paths leading to God, the Mystery, the Allness.

It even holds the potential to emerge, unveil or evolve completely new views of Divinity based upon the shared new empirical spiritual experiences of the members of all religions. It is a facilitating and integrative channel for all personal spiritual paths with its main purpose being to expand, accelerate and support each individual’s unique spiritual unfolding (personal path) toward the Divine.

If you believe that there are as many unique spiritual paths to the Divine Mystery as there are unique people, and, that every individual has the right to find and choose their own best path from the wisdom of all paths, then humankind's combined spiritual wisdom heritage held within a new form of integral and integrative religion and spirituality offers you unique advantages for enhancing your spiritual growth. If the possibilities above intrigue you, continue reading about the advantages to be gained as well as the religious pathologies to be avoided.

The Natural Goals of an Integral and Integrative Spirituality

"To Enhance Your Personal Spirituality by:"

1.) Providing deeper, broad
Lawrence, thanks for your response to my comments (please note I’m a Heron not a Herron). The old web site is leading rather than “misleading”: it makes an explicit link to a coloured map of Wilberian spiral dynamics, and it talks of “every...consciousness meme level within any level, wave and stage of consciousness development”.

However, let’s move on to your revised version. The trouble with it is that nothing of substance has changed. The revision abandons a particular form of spiral dynamics theory, but has not abandoned its underlying intent. A “group of spiritually mature individuals” co-create the “new solutions” (Code 1) of your revised integral worldview, solutions (a) which “embrace the entire evolutionary developmental spectrum of life and humanity”, and (b) which are used to organize “humankind’s combined spiritual wisdom heritage” (Code 2), from which each individual chooses their own best path (Code 3).

Thus a group of individuals assess themselves as spiritually and intellectually mature enough to co-create Code 1 about full spectrum human evolution, which is the foundation of Codes 2 and 3. This means the individual spiritual inquirer has first to vest authority in this elite group, and in its Codes 1 and 2, and only then can follow his or her own inner authority in choosing a personal path. It seems implicit in this whole structure that Code 1 is not open for development by anyone outside the elite group, and that Code 2 is only open with respect to people providing experiential data, but is not open with respect to organizing data into a combined wisdom heritage.

So the whole thing is really rather a scam: a hierarchical system masquerading as a participatory system. It is the self-appointed group of new solutions authorities which determines the ideological, moral and social framework within which individuals can enjoy “the great adventure of discovering for yourself the Divine essence of all authentic religion and spirituality”.

I think this enterprise misses the whole point of the internet. The point of the internet is not for some self-appointed missionary group to scoop up and sort out all the wisdom and relevant knowledge it contains, and present this to the whole wide world as a smorgasbord from which individuals select their idiosyncratic spiritual diet. The point of the internet is that it makes possible an entirely unfettered democracy of the human spirit in the construction of spiritual belief and practice. It is a free and open spiritual global commons, and it is this very openness which exposes any group that seeks to restrict that unfettered liberty and corral it in an enclosure. The commons is a commons, not a park shaped by a spiritual elite with a human zoo in it.

If this venture goes ahead, then to have any kind of credibility it needs to do at least four things: (a) state the names, careers and credentials of all those in the “group of spiritually mature individuals” involved in developing Codes 1 and 2; (b) lay out the criteria by which they judge themselves spiritually mature enough to do this work; (c) tell us in detail how far they have got in formulating Codes 1 and 2; and (d) be fully and transparently clear about whether individuals joining the venture can participate in developing Codes 1 and 2, and if they can participate, exactly how and to what degree.
Hi John,

thanks for your comments.

is there no way into which spirituality can actually be seen as a skillset, and that therefore, some 'expertise' can be recognized?

I'm interested in your views as how to balance equipotentiality with expertise and excellence.

What about the p2pfoundation, which also presents a smorgasbord, how would you judge your efforts.

My own view is that we are an open internetworking platform, but within that, I have my own views which I'm explicitely stating, but do not claim to be the views of the platform.

I think the conditions that you are posing to Larry are tricky, in the sense indicated in my first question.

I'm curious as to further contributions to this topic,

Michel, thanks for your important questions and views. I reproduce these below followed by my answers and comments.

Michel: Is there no way into which spirituality can actually be seen as a skillset, and that therefore, some 'expertise' can be recognized?

John: Yes I’m very happy with the notion of spiritual expertise as a competence in facilitating the emergence of spiritual autonomy and co-operation in oneself and in others.

Michel: I'm interested in your views as how to balance equipotentiality with expertise and excellence.

John: They are balanced when spiritual expertise is the competence to increase the quantity and quality of spiritual autonomy and co-operation in the world.

Michel: What about the p2pfoundation, which also presents a smorgasbord, how would you judge your efforts.

John: Lawrence’s smorgasbord is organized - “systematically meshed, layered and integrated” - within some grand overarching theory: to partake of the smorgasbord means implicitly absorbing that theory. Your smorgasbord is organized by a simple defining criterion of what p2p means: to partake of it means accepting a simple rule of rational discourse for the purposes of mutual education - and this is the way I judge my own contributions to the p2p smorgasbord.

Michel: My own view is that we are an open internetworking platform, but within that, I have my own views which I'm explicitly stating, but do not claim to be the views of the platform.

John: A platform for airing a diversity of views, including your own, within a defined topic area is just fine. It is very different from airing a diversity of views already processed and organized by (“held within”) the integral worldview of the platform itself.

Michel: I think the conditions that you are posing to Larry are tricky, in the sense indicated in my first question.

John: I don’t see what is tricky about them at all. It is a simple request for OSIS to be fully transparent about its staff, their credentials, their criteria of self-assessment, their findings, the extent of their unilateral control, and the extent of member participation in framing their findings. If OSIS has difficulty with any of this, then their operation is suspect.

A final point about OSIS and expertise. For OSIS to invite people to frame their personal spirituality by a selection from a smorgasbord of humankind’s wisdom heritage organized within the OSIS integral worldview is not, in my opinion, evidence of spiritual expertise. It is evidence of spiritual manipulation. It is a way of promoting spiritual allegiance, not authentic spiritual autonomy.
Thanks for your responses.

I guess that the key problem is therefore indeed: will OSIS keep its stress on pre-establishing a structure for understanding spiritual experience, a hierarchical ranking that does not carry consensus, and represents one particular strand of interpretation. But if they abandon that, would you agree they are moving in the right direction?

Michel, you give a succinct analysis of the OSIS predicament. And yes, I agree that if OSIS could break free of it, they would be moving very much in the right direction.

Inspired by this conversation and inquiry here I have created a blog post attempting to state what I feel the potential of an open source spirituality is, and how it might look. Since it goes beyond this discussion about the OSIS proposal it doesn't feel right to post it here.

Kind regards,




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