By George A. Boyd ©2023
Q: How does identity affect spiritual community and the sense of purpose that informs that community?
A: A spiritual community is a collective group that that forms when people share the same state of identity. Whatever purpose or addenda they carry out may come from scriptural injunctions or commandments, or from the urging of the leaders and clergy of the spiritual group.
For example, many people who are Christian identify with the Moon Soul nucleus of identity, and they see this essence in those who are Christians. This sense of shared identity—which Hans Kohut called twinship—occurs when someone’s attention is united with a spiritual essence, and they see this same essence in other people.
As for a sense of purpose, for Christians—and this is true for other groups who proselytize for their faith or Path—they are imbued with a drive to convince other people to accept the salvation of their spiritual Master and receive the Grace of the form of the Divine they worship. The scriptural injunction in the Bible to being the gospel to everyone underpins their extensive worldwide missionary work and evangelism.<./p>
The scope of the purpose of spiritual groups varies: while religions like Christianity and Islam want to bring everyone in the world into their shared identity and worldview, other groups are willing to share their state of identification with whoever sincerely wants to join the group and be initiated—but don’t aspire to be a global faith and movement.
We can tease out two aspects of purpose in spiritual groups: extrinsic and intrinsic.
Extrinsic group purpose is the mission of the group in the world—what it strives to achieve. In different spiritual groups, this may take the form of evangelism, social service, political advocacy, fundraising, publication of group teachings and doctrine, establishment of spiritual centers and places of worship, or carrying out religious rites and ceremonies.
Intrinsic group purpose involves the development of the spiritual essence with which members of the group identify. This may express as Light attunements with this spiritual essence, use of a transformational technique to unfold it along its track to its origin, and detailing the stages of potential development of that spiritual essence within its cosmology.
The relative percentage of extrinsic and intrinsic group purpose also differs between groups: some spiritual communities may be entirely focused on their external mission in the world, whereas others emphasize spiritual development and internal transformation in those who are initiated into communion with the spiritual essence with which they identify. Many groups are an admixture of both group purposes: they have a public agenda they are enacting in the world, but they also embrace a meditation tradition that aims to develop the spiritual essence with which they identify.
We detail these different stages of identification found in different spiritual traditions in our book, Religions, Cults, and Terrorism: What the Heck Are We Doing? Articles on this topic may also be found in our web log, and in our online library. Our newest print volume, which will be released in October 2023, entitled The Path Across the Sky, has additional writings on the different types of spiritual identification.
We encourage aspirants to investigate with what spiritual essence do members of different faith or meditation communities identify, and gradually develop the ability to discern that spiritual essence when it is activated through attentional union with it. As you become more familiar with the spiritual essences that dwell within you at different levels of the Continuum of Consciousness, you will come to understand how people see the world—inner and outer—the way they do. Ultimately, you will find the spiritual communities of each faith and spiritual tradition within you, and you will behold where they colonize different bands on the Continuum.