An Integral View of Spiritual Experience with Steve McIntosh, J.D.

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A spiritual experience has been described by some as an encounter with the presence of the infinite within our finite universe of time and space. It takes on many forms and can be conceived of in a wide variety of ways. Here Steve McIntosh addresses such questions as: How do we gain a deeper understanding of such a spiritual experience and why is it important? What does understanding our spiritual experiences have to do with our evolving consciousness? And what is evolutionary spiritualty? From the materialistic science point of view, spiritual experiences are limited to chemical firings in our brain. However, McIntosh believes that spiritual experience is one of the most direct and powerful pieces of evidence for the reality of spirit. He points out, “Every instance of authentic beauty, truth, and goodness is a spiritual experience. Unpacking how and why those values are authentic expressions of the infinite within the finite can expand our understanding of how spiritual experience can do good work in the world, and how it can evolve our own consciousness and grow us spiritually.” McIntosh challenges us to hold two seemingly paradoxical worldviews: an infinite, nondual universe and a personal God. One of our natural tendencies is to embrace one pole and to try to invalidate the other. However, one of the technologies of integral thinking is the ability to see interdependent polarities. He goes on to posit, “We can begin to work with this polarity of theism and nonduality in a way that both sides can true each other up, both sides can allow each other to be more fully what they are... there’s a procreative tension between the two... we don’t need to … pick a winner, nor do we have to say it’s all true and it’s a paradox and that’s it.” (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Steve McIntosh, J.D. is a leader in the integral philosophy movement. He’s President and Co-Founder of the nonprofit, social policy and think tank organization: The Institute for Cultural Evolution. He founded the consumer products company Now & Zen and practiced law and held an executive position with Celestial Seasonings Tea Company. He is an honors graduate of the University of Virginia Law School and the University of Southern California Business School. Besides these accomplishments, he enjoys Olympic-class bicycle racing.

Steve McIntosh is the author of:

To learn more about the work of Steve McIntosh go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How having a spiritual experience evolves your consciousness
  • What is McIntosh’s own spiritual and religious background
  • What are the strengths and shortcomings of theism
  • What are the strengths and shortcomings of non-duality
  • What is progressive spirituality
  • What is the shadow side of pluralistic spirituality
  • What is evolutionary spirituality
  • How goodness goes beyond simple morality
  • How our personal experience with beauty, truth, and goodness are the most spiritual experiences we can have
  • How goodness is “perfection’s plumb line”
  • Why we don’t want to confuse oneness with wholeness

Host: Justine Willis Toms      Interview Date: 10/22/2015      Program Number: 3559

Music Playlist

From Album: Roots - The Solo Piano Album
Artist: Laurie Z.
1997 Zebra Productions #ZP-0103

Opening Essay: Track 04 For the Love of a Child
Music Break 1: Track 10 Invisibility
Music Break 2: Track 06 From the Ashes
Music Break 3: Track 04 For the Love of a Child