The Curriculum of the School
This page offers a very high-level overview of the breadth and depth of the curriculum design. We hope you find it helpful. However, we wouldn't be surprised if what you read generates more questions than answers. Ultimately, with a curriculum that unfolds over a decade or more we can only give the briefest of overviews here.
A Pragmatic Approach to Living a Fulfilling Life
Our primary aim is to teach you how to integrally unfold yourself, your life, and all that includes (e.g., relationships, career, wellness, etc.). The learning is primarily experiential. We start with what is occurring in your life presently and unfold from there. Practicing integral unfoldment is always relevant and timely and you are always working at your current level of development.
One of the fundamental principles of Integral Unfoldment is that everything and everyone is "more" than its current expression. Perhaps the simplest way to describe Integral Unfoldment is that we find the ways that we are blind to the "more" that everything and everyone is, illuminate this "more" and learn how to express it in life.
In practicing Integral Unfoldment we discover that we are more resourceful and creative than we ever knew. We discover that we indeed have the strength and courage to face difficult situations. We have the compassion to heal from overwhelming grief. We have the ingenuity to find a way through a situation that seems hopeless.
The Four Depths of True Nature
The practice of Integral Unfoldment itself unfolds and deepens with development. It is not a matter of learning a simple formula and applying it again and again. To illustrate this deepening consider one of our primary models, The Four Depths of True Nature. In order from shallowest to deepest, they are:
The Outer Depth of Parts - This is the depth of the objectified (Cartesian) world. Everything is a separate and nameable part. We usually experience the world, other people, and ourselves in this way.
The Inner Depth of Process - This is the depth in which everything is in a constant state of flowing and becoming. There is less objectification at this depth and hence less separation.
The Subtle Depth of Presence - This is the depth of holistic awareness in which we realize our innate wholeness and completeness.
The Very Subtle Depth of Nonduality - This is the depth of no duality, no separation, no boundaries. This depth is the realization of the nonduality of awareness and emptiness. This is a very liberating realization.
Each of us has a vantage point located in these depths from which we experience, feel, sense, and understand ourselves, others, and life. With unfoldment, our vantage point deepens and with this our experience of everything undergoes a transformation. With unfoldment, we undergo a change of heart and a change of mind. Everything is the same as it always was and everything is also fresh as if being experienced for the very first time.
We live in an unprecedented age in which we have access to the proven psychologies, philosophies, and spiritual methods of both the West and the East. Using a model such as The Four Depths of True Nature, we can understand how to integrate all this practical wisdom into a unified method for integral unfoldment.
Unfolding requires specific skillful means at each of these depths. Here we name the kind of "work" associated with each depth and name exemplars that center their method at the indicated depth.
Parts Work / Outer Work - exemplars are Internal Family Systems created by Richard Schwartz and Voice Dialogue created by Hal and Sidra Stone
Process Work / Inner Work - exemplars are The Philosophy of the Implicit and Focusing created by Eugene Gendlin and Process Psychology created by Arnold Mindell
Presence Work / Subtle Work - exemplars are the Essence and Personality teachings of Gurdjieffian Fourth Way schools and the work on wholeness by Henri Bortoft
Nondual Work / Very Subtle Work - exemplars are the nondual Buddhist, Daoist, Advaita, and other nondual traditions
The method of Integral Unfoldment incorporates Parts Work, Process Work, Presence Work, and Nondual Work in a unique and comprehensive way.
As an aside, we use the term "work," as this is traditional. However, the aim is always to be more deeply here - not to get or be anywhere else. And so we sometimes also refer to this work as play. Work is usually done in order to generate something not already here. Play, on the other hand, is done for its own sake. In this regard, unfoldment can be more like play than work.
The methods named as exemplars above tend to center themselves in a vantage point at a specific depth. As a method, Integral Unfoldment, seamlessly flows up and down with what is emerging in the present awareness of the client. As such it isn't centered in any one depth but includes them all.
The Four Paths of Realization
The curriculum of Aletheia also deepens through The Four Paths of Realization. Here we can only offer a very brief description of each path.
The Path of Presence (Is) / Absence (Not Is): This is the path of what we call The Enneagram of Individuation in which we realize who we are as the fullness of Presence; the fruits of this path are realization of the many qualities of Presence such as acceptance, autonomy, bliss, care, compassion, contact, equanimity, fulfillment, generosity, gnosis, joy, kindness, love, passion, peace, robustness, will, and others. Some traditions call such qualities "great immeasurables" to indicate their never-ending abundance. Other traditions call such qualities "high virtues."
The Path of Nondual Emptiness (Is Not): This is the path of what we call The Great Syzygy. "Syzygy" is a Greek term meaning a conjunction or union of opposites. Here we work with various conjunctions of the sacred masculine and feminine as they are manifested in the basic and maturational instincts. In this path we work to realize the emptiness of all the instinctual gratifications. This liberates instinctual energies from supporting egoity and makes them available to support deeper spiritual realization. The unfoldment experienced in this path generates a deep change of mind.
The Path of Nondual Presence (Both Is and Is Not): This is the path of what we call The Divine Blessings. The Divine Blessings are moments in which human will is perfectly aligned with Divine Grace. This is a path of bottomless sweetness and continual revelation. We learn through our direct experience that, at a fundamental level, what is needed is always already given. The unfoldment experienced in this path generates a deep change of heart. This leg of the journey is poetry-in-action.
The Path of Nondual Absolute (Neither Is Nor Is Not): This is the path of Absolute Openness and Absolute Translation in which the True Nature of Reality is lived as neither this nor that but is utterly and fully disclosed as this and that. The unfoldment experienced here is radical freedom - a freedom that is beyond any notion of freedom. Such freedom is ineffable yet tangibly real.
An Approximate Map of the Curriculum
Roughly speaking, years 1-5 will focus on developing a healthy and well-balanced ego, healthy relationships, healthy career, and healthy engagement with the world. This is the path of Presence / Absence that employs The Enneagram of Individuation.
Here is a rough outline of the curriculum for the first five years:
Year 1: Learning and practicing Integral Unfoldment through various experiential exercises with the contents of your own life and personality
- Learning the first stages of Integral Meditation and Integral Energy and Breath Work
- Learning The Four Depths of True Nature and the Four Functions of Self-realization
- Learning basic solo Parts Work, Process Work, and Presence Work
- Beginning our work with the Three Poisons of Delusion, Avoidance, and Attachment
- Beginning our work with the Inner Critic
Year 2: Building a more nourishing and well-balanced life
- Each year deeper stages of Integral Meditation and Integral Energy and Breath Work are introduced
- Our practice during this year is from the vantage point of Solid Identities (Parts)
- Discovering and becoming liberated from extreme Parts that generate imbalance, fragmentation, and deficiency
- Introduction to the self-work of individuation through Integral Unfoldment; work on individuation continues through Year 5
- Discovering and working with ways we habitually trade our autonomy for contact or vice versa
Year 3: Building more mutually workable, trusting, and fulfilling relationships
- Our practice this year and in Year 4 is from the vantage point of Fluid Differences (Process); this deepening brings greater sensitivity to important subtleties in a way that makes Integral Unfoldment more powerful
- Exploring and understanding the roots of our relational styles in our early family dynamics
- Deepening interpersonal contact
- Unfolding a more authentic way of building relationships with family, friends, and lovers
- Introducing Integral Creativity practice
Year 4: Building a life in collaboration and cooperation with others
- Expanding our work on relationships to collaboration in all forms of partnership, including work and community
- Deepening authentic autonomy while remaining in contact
- Practicing Integral Creativity in collaboration with others
Year 5: Deepening purpose, passion, virtue, fulfillment, and vocation in all aspects of life
- This year is the culmination of our work on individuation through integrating autonomy and contact
- Our practice this year and in Year 6 is from the vantage point of Living Fullness (Presence)
- During this year we explore and practice the radical shift of living as Presence itself; in what ways does this up-end our usual motivations for acting and engaging; "rebuilding" life from this new grounding of Presence
- Introducing Integral Service to Others practice
Year 5 is a fulcrum in which we pivot our learning from personal development into transpersonal development. Years 6-12 will focus on unfolding deeper and deeper spiritual realizations and expressing these realizations in meaningful and fulfilling ways in all aspects of everyday life.
The work of years 6-7 is focused through the teaching on The Great Syzygy, years 8-9 on The Divine Blessings, and years 10-12 on Absolute Openness and Absolute Translation.
The approach of the school is integral, meaning that the approach is inclusive and integrating. The teaching of the school will foster cognitive, emotional, somatic, relational, spiritual, and integral learning and development. The teaching and the practices leverage the wisdom and understanding available from developmental, transpersonal, and integral psychologies, emotional intelligence, phenomenology, hermeneutics, and existential philosophies, linguistics, cognitive and complexity sciences, leadership and organizational studies, cultural studies, science studies, and various somatic body arts and nondual spiritual traditions.
Is Aletheia a religion?
Simply said, the answer is no. Aletheia is an ongoing inquiry into what it is to be and become. This inquiry is not merely abstract or philosophical. Integral Unfoldment is a pragmatic engagement with your current life that unfolds in a way that is immediately relevant, useful, and valuable.
Participating in Aletheia and practicing Integral Unfoldment doesn't require that you believe or not believe anything. If you are a practicing Christian, practicing Integral Unfoldment will allow you to discover the deeper truths of your own Christianity and learn how to express and integrate that into your life. The same is true if you are Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, or any other religion.
The path of Aletheia and the practice of Integral Unfoldment is spiritual without limiting what is meant by the term "spiritual." You are invited - really required - to put everything offered in Aletheia to the test of direct experience. You are not asked to take anything on faith. In fact, to do so undermines and limits the depth of your unfoldment.
The intention of Aletheia is to inspire you to revitalize all aspects of your life and current traditions, including your spiritual traditions. Based on the experience of previous participants, we expect that practicing Integral Unfoldment will open you in deeper ways to the truths housed in your own traditions.
We hope that the information shared on this page has whet your appetite to learn more and to engage the actual practices of Aletheia. If you have questions, we invite you to attend one of our free Q & A calls.