What is Incarnational Spirituality?
When we think of incarnation, we usually think of taking on and having a body. But it is more than that. Incarnation is the means the soul uses to connect with this world in order to create a mutually productive and beneficial relationship of wholeness with it. As such incarnation is more than just embodiment. It is the whole range of interactions and engagements that we create and experience as we go through life. Rather than the event of taking on a body, incarnation is an ongoing process.
To be embodied is to just be part of the environment to which that body belongs. A physical body makes me part of the physical world. A “body” of being an employee of Microsoft makes me part of the Microsoft world. American citizenship and residency is a “body” that makes me part of the United States.
Incarnation, though, is more than just embodiment. It is the dynamic process of connectedness and interaction that not only makes me part of something larger but enables me to be a participant in its unfoldment and wellbeing. I become a co-creator, helping that environment achieve a state of optimal performance and being that I call wholeness.
In essence, incarnation is the art and process of creating wholeness. That process, I call holopoiesis or wholeness-producing.
But what is wholeness?
Wholeness is a state of connectedness that exists between things. If I am whole in myself, it means the various elements and parts that make me up, such as my organs, my thoughts, my feelings, my spiritual qualities, are in an integrated and coherent relationship. If I am whole in a relationship, then a state of integration and coherency exists between me and the other.
One characteristic of wholeness is that energy flows freely within and through and around it; energy is not obstructed or impeded or cut off or diminished in its flow. Thus life is enhanced and the dynamic possibilities and capacities of the whole system are intensified. In particular, the emergence of new potentials can take place; new forms can be born. The system that is whole can function with minimal resistance, with grace, with power, and in a way that benefits itself and all around it. It is a system that is blessed and that blesses.
We would say that wholeness is a boundary condition (that is, it exists in relationship between two or more elements at the point of connection where they meet). It is a boundary condition that fosters flow, connection, integration, coherency, and emergence. From a spiritual standpoint, it creates a condition in which sacredness may manifest.
Both incarnation and wholeness are manifestations of love.
Within this context, incarnation is the art of creating wholeness. This is wholeness between spirit and matter, soul and personality, self and others, the individual and the world, being and sacredness. Incarnation is the art of holopoiesis.
Incarnational Spirituality, then, is the study and practice of this art. It is the skillful means for enhancing the loving and wholeness-making functions of incarnation wherever found: in ourselves, in others, in relationships, in the world, and in partnership with the realms of spirit beyond. It is the practice of holopoiesis in all ways possible wherever life is found, and that is everywhere.