The Fourth Turning: Exploring the Future of Buddhism

The Integral Center, Boulder, ColoradoThe Integral Center in Boulder, Colorado is humming tonight. The Fourth Turning conference looks like it will include about 150 people—a couple dozen from Canada, Sweden, Spain, Hungary, Germany, Mexico, and Korea, and the rest from all over the US—north, south, east and west. Interesting looking people, good energy, no suits and ties here tonight. Maybe never.

Fourth Turning Conference posterThe “Fourth Turning” is a postulated-proposed-needed-observed fourth great evolutionary turning—an expansion in consciousness—within the Buddhist tradition that is appearing in our time. The first was the realization of Gautama Buddha himself; there have been two (some say three) others. The conference website has much interesting material on the turning point in history that is occurring at the confluence of the two great streams of teaching and practice: Buddhism and Integral Theory. The conference program notes:

It has been over a thousand years since the last major evolution of Buddhism. Since that time we have witnessed astonishing advancements in science, art, psychology, technology, governance, values, cultural attitudes, and almost every other facet of our lives. These developments have utterly transformed our humanity, redefining our very sense of self in radical ways, and have brought a dramatic increase of freedom and material abundance to the world at large. Buddhism, it would seem, may now be ripe for yet another turning of the wheel.

A phrase that has been going through my mind all evening captures my sense of the moment. “I’ve evolved into an Ecumenical Catholic; the most exciting thing about becoming this kind of Christian is noticing the Buddhists and Jews and others who are walking beside me on their own paths.” Call it the path of integral spirituality, an evolving faith in the presence of wholeness in the here and now, the experience of creation and evolution and Being Itself within our very being. The conference is about exploring this evolution of an understanding of spirituality that includes the insights of human discovery over the last millennium.

Ken Wilbur appeared in a video presentation to provide context. HeIMG_0850‘ll join the conference on Saturday and Sunday. Andrew Holecek (Andrew Holecek – Author, authority on Death and Dying), Diane Hamilton (Everything Is Workable: A Zen Approach to Conflict Resolution), and Doshin Michael Nelson Roshi (Doshin Hannya Michael Nelson, Roshi – Mondo Zen), were on the dais to create further context and welcome. They’re the weekend’s teachers and practice leaders.  David Riordan | Integral Life, one of the founders of The Integral Center, greeted us.

You can stream the conference live. Click this link for more information.

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