Can art, aesthetics and creativity play a role in how we celebrate all faith and spiritual traditions?

Integrating traditions

Design Credit Clara Echeverria-NG, The Tempest, Inc.


Art Installation / Multifaith Contemplative Spaces


Building a bridge between art gallery spaces and places of spiritual worship, prayer and contemplation.


Painting, sculpture and video inspired by writings on Perennial Wisdom - i.e. a map of consilience across all spiritual traditions. Installations planned for 2021: Forest installation (Gujan, SW France) and art gallery Nov 2021 (Pyla, SW France).

The Role Of Art In The Evolution of Consciouness For Our Future Society

  • Art takes us to the 'edges' of human consciousness but how might it play a role in the evolution of consciousness?

  • Is our generation still in the process of making sense of modern / abstract art - and might abstraction point to the universal structures underlying the human experience and spirituality?

  • Can we map the evolution of art, and where might it point us to next? 


This art installation project aims to catalyse social discourse on the topic of perennial wisdom - the insight that all religious and wisdom traditions point to the same fundamental metaphysical truth, or 'deep' structure of the human experience.

Curating symbols, images and narratives from the spectrum of world cultures, religions and wisdom traditions, a "meta" map of the perennial wisdom idea can be brought to life. 

A key map or landscape chosen to guide this project is from Huston Smith (hierarchies of consciousness across inner and outer realms of reality) to invite a conversation on how might individuals and society evolve across such a concept of wisdom.




Applying scientifiic principles to the macro picture of evolution, spirituality and art (aesthetics and creativity)

My personal interest in these two lenses of art and spirituality is through my great-great grandfather being part of the Pre-Raphaelites Victorian art movement, and what they represented in terms of the evolution of art (breaking away from formulistic, mechanistic approach first adopted by Mannerist artists who succeeded Raphael and Michelangelo).

How art reveals the evolving edge of human thinking: Ref. Leonard Shalin (Art and Physics)

Wilber's critique of Houston Smith - missing the developmental trajectory of consciousness

Inquires and Hypotheses:

  • What is the visual and felt experience when seeing the curation of symbols, images and narratives across such diverse cultures, wisdom traditions and religions in such proximity?

  • Is there an "arrow" of spiritual development or evolution?

  • What happens when such a development becomes conscious of itself?

  • Is there an opportunity to create new types of social / community spaces based on the principles of universal spirituality, supported by the creative / arts lens?

Trajectory of spirituality in art

  • How can scientific principles be applied to art and spirituality?

  • Is the notion of hierachies, trajectories and development the scientific perspective?

Counter Hypotheses

  • Development / evolutionary ideas are value-laden and inherently biased

  • The artist's bias is inherent in the motives and framing of the project (caucasian, middle-class male)

  • Interfaith initiatives such as this are a form of spiritual materialism, cherry picking and skimming each faith/tradition, from an oberserver's vs. practioner's perspective


The dynamics of polarities in development

Taking for example the perennial wisdom map of Huston Smith charting the Outer realms of reality (social, physical universe, gaia) in the upper half and Inner realm (interior consciousness) across the religious traditions, hypothising on the human experience of these two halves of the circle being in unison (i.e. to experience the fundamental unity of the universe, one has to develop a deep, inner consciousness)


And how the creative process is a uniquely powerful avenue to experience the generative cycle of ego death and 're'-connection of body-mind-spirit

The creative experience as a painful, challenging and humbling journey.

  • Getting past the sterotypical image that the creative spirit only comes from people who lead risky, troubled lives, involving for example drugs - trauma and drugs can certainly plunge people into the urge to be creative, but it is certainly not the only route.

  • Contrasting this to the archetypal reading of individual personalities...naturally creative personalities vs. analaytical / pragmatic archetypes


Creating/curating an experience

Abstractions expressing the deep structures of the human experience should be lived or experienced rather than analysed intellectually (quote from the French-American polymath Dane Rudhyar (1895-1985) close to the theosophical movement and forming the Transcendental Painting Group in New Mexico).

Combining the following possible art works by John Oliver:

  • Paintings - black and white studies of portraits and life drawings (i.e. the narratives) 

  • Wood sculptures - representing the sacred geometrical forms, layed out across the floor of the gallery, with a colour sequence for each piece of wood (i.e. a spatial, immersive experience, representing the 'shapes' of the universal structures)

  • Video - video narratives from the InteriorTruth library

  • Layout of the perennial widom map using wooden screens (or partitions), upon which symbols, images and narrative fragments are suspended - an immersive experience, with a directionality of progressing through the hierarchies as you walk through/between the screens.

  • Creating a element of play in the experience of entering the gallery?


Making sense of the perennial wisdom map through an art history lens and narratives lens.


  • Curating narratives of the creative experience and narratives across religious and cultural traditionsInitial concept focus of filming artists from as many religious traditions as possible.

  • Is it possible to evoke the various points on the Perennial Wisdom Map from Huston Smith, through narratives, and especially those of artists/creatives across each of these traditions?

  • Art History: Curating film material (incl. from archives) to evoke the historical / developmental trajectry of art, with an emphasis on the spiritual dimension (see books research)



What's the goal of this project?


Discourse as a developmental practice, essential to the future of our collective systems

Leveraging philosophical visions from Harbermas' Communicative Action to Neo-Piagetian developmental discourse (increasing levels of perspective), the goal of this project is to support and catalyse new levels of social discourse, as a means to raising collective consciousness.

  • Making the case for developmental trajectories (both individual and collective ref. Wilber)

  • Development levels as increasing consciousness

  • Key distinctions between individual and social developmental maps (ref. Integral Psychology)

  • Leveraging social narratives (and even making captures of micro-narraties into forms of discourse)

Driven by a conviction of the power of ideas and narratives (e.g. Robert Schiller in 'narrative economics)' to change attitudes, lives and the world (e.g. is global warming happening 'to us' or 'for us'?).


Discerning perspectives between the arts, sciences and moral (political) spheres

By helping to clarify from which validity claim our discourse is coming from, we can appreciate the creative tensions between them, as compared to the outright wars that tend to take place.

Putting forth the idea that even though initiatives in dialogue between the arts and sciences are bold and important steps, for civic discourse to be effective, all realms of the Arts, Sciences and Morals (culture, politics/justice*) need to be held together.

*"Justice" has been proposed by Integral community researchers as a separate, 4th quadrant domain from the moral quadrant.


Individual and socio-political-economic development have to work hand-in-hand

All art should have a purpose - a position that is often debated, but for the context of this project, art is taken to have a necessary didactic (in a positive sense vs propaganda), apolitical role, exposing our world through fresh, multiple and contrasting lenses.

  • Desribing the contemporary aesthetic crisis (Reclaiming Art - JF Martel)

  • Exploring the role that the arts have in terms of ego development

  • The creative experience as an ego journey (ref. Anton Ehrenzweig)

  • The spiritual journey uniting body, mind and spirit as an ego-death (ref. spoken to across traditions all the way through to the Matrix films)

  • Aesthetics as a developmental line (ref. Howard Gardner)



Those who are supporting the poject as advisors or are significant influencers

JF Martel.jpg
stuart davis photo.jpg


Author, Filmaker and Podcast Host

(confirmed advisor to the project)

JF is the co-host of the Weird Studies podcast (along with Phil Ford) and an author, screenwriter, and film & TV director from Ottawa, Canada. His screen work includes French and English-language documentary series and features focused on culture and the arts. He is the author of Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice, a book about the nature and power of art published by Evolver Editions in 2015, and released in Spanish by Ediciones Atalanta in 2016. J.F.'s writings on art, culture and philosophy have appeared in Reality Sandwich, Metapsychosis, The Finch, Disinfo, and other online magazines.


Musician, filmaker, producer, artist, podcast host, Integral researcher

(confirmed advisor to the project)

How to describe Stuart?! Musician, philosopher, artist, painter, filmaker, performer, comedian, creator of the 'IS' language, occult/non-human intelligence researcher...he's a unique creative force, with close ties to the Integral community.

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Integral Scholar and Author

(confirmed advisor to the project)

Brad Reynolds is the originator of the Great Nest graphic, that he created whilst in regular conversation with Huston Smith. Brad is a production artist and has been a scholar in Integral studies for over 30 years, doing his graduate work at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) before leaving to study under Ken Wilber for a decade. He published two books reviewing Wilber's work: Embracing Reality: The Integral Vision of Ken Wilber (Tarcher, 2004) and Where's Wilber At?: Ken Wilber's Integral Vision in the New Millennium (Paragon House, 2006), and is a contributor to online journals such as Integral World and Integral Leadership Review. He is about to publish a new book relating to the roles of guru-adepts through the lens of Perennial Wisdom . Brad's site is:



An immersive experience in perennial philosophy symbols, images and narratives


Art's Spiritual Significance Translating To A Gallery As Temple

The fascinating synchronicities around Hilma af Klint's record-breaking exhibition at the NY Guggenheim (Oct 2018 to April 2019):

  • An instrumental figure in the founding of the Guggenheim Foundation and Museum, Hilla Rebay, having a deep background in perennial philosophy /  theosophical thought

  • She envisioned of a “museum-temple,” where viewers could commune with abstract art.

  • Hilla Rebay and Solomon Guggenheim's commissioning in 1943 of Frank Lloyd Wright to create an innovative design with open plan and ramp spiraling toward the light serve as a physical manifestation of the utopian ideals of nonobjectivity. 

  • af Kilnt used the image of the spiral to denote progress or appropriate that her first major exhibition should be in such a temple like space speaking directly to development.


Deep structures of the human experience expressed in space (the art gallery), shapes (abstraction through art artefacts) and movement (narratives, juxtapositions, contrasts)

Expressed through:

  • Wood shapes and sculptures with sacred geometry and evoking dynamics / balances



Approx 50m2, with fixed large table. 
Pyla-sur-Mer 33115 France


Art Works Mockups and Prototypes by Tyler


John Oliver's Journey Leading To The Project


This project idea has been simmering for over 5 years and undergoing a number of evolutions in its conceptual form, whilst maintaining the foundational vision of bringing to life an art project that embraces crucial philosophical themes for our society.

Originally called "Philosophy in the Flesh", my idea was to bring together 10 philosophers, who would describe their ideal work of art - as if they had carte blanche as an artist themselves, whatever the media. I would then bring 10 established artists together for the realisation of those works. 

I've brought the scope now to the more immediately accessible approach of working from published key philosophical works, and that I take on the practical realisation of the art/film work.

The chosen conceptual cornerstone is the Perennial Wisdom map by Huston Smith, charting how the major religious and wisdom tradition share the same underlying structures of both interior (individual) and external (nature) worlds.

The seeds for the idea came from discovering the writings of Ken Wilber in 2003, the contrasts in my family's spirituality (deeply catholic mother, aethistic father (with interests in literature and philosophy) and an ordained buddhist darmachari brother), and my professional work in organisational development (working with developmental psychology and complexity sciences).


Having focused heavily on the sciences in my education, a revelation during my engineering studies at university in the UK was reading E F Schumacher's "Small is Beautiful". A fascination of the crossroads of developmental economics, ecology and social justice/equality triggered my organising a conference at the university on climate change (in 1991) with the participation of a leading UK media figure, and leaving the aeronautical sector I was bound for (after 2 years of accelerated management training), to join the overseas developmental charity that E F Schumacher had founded.  

4 years at the charity with projects in Ghana and Nepal however brought me face-to-face with the realities of social change, especially in the context of constrasting cultural value frameworks (e.g. our definition in the West of the "Good Life", development or social progress can't be projected onto other cultures without inherent biases).

I therefore returned to a mainstream careerpath in industry, working in France and the USA, to go onto completing an MBA in 2001. Whilst working in a Start-Up for 4 years, I continued a track of research started at the MBA into a variety of company turnaround case studies, that emphasised self-organisation and democratic principles. My differentiation was intended to be in the longitudinal nature of the case study interviews, which however revealed that my idealistic initial hypothesis of the universal 'good' of democratic principles in organisations, as being highly flawed.

The language and frameworks however of Ken Wilber's Integral Theory provided a powerful approach to interpreting the complexity, tensions and contradictions in my case study researrch findings. In 2008 I went to visit Ken Wilber in Denver to discuss my book project using the developmental lens (5 years before a very similar case study book by Frederick Laloux, "Reinventing Organisations"). It was apprent to me that although I could explore lots of fascinating angles with the Integral Theory lens (All Quadrants, Levels, Lines, States and Types), my book project didn't have a convincing hypothesis or robust approach to the research data validity claims (interviews with visionary turn-around CEOs were more prone to propoganda and biases in contrast to the social research vigour I was trying to aim for). 

I therefore captured the research on the Organisation5point0 website, and moved onto to 'being in action' with regards actually working hands-on with organisations in organisational development and business psychology, founding the boutique consulting company Human-Equity Ltd in 2009.

It was during this time that I qualified as a coach using the Post-Piagetian developmental psychology tool from Lectica USA, based on very robust metrics on how adults' cognitive capacities can develop (for whom Wilber was an advisor, and built on extensive academic research from amongst others Kurt Fischer's Dynamic Skill Theory, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education). 


The journey as a consultant with Human-Equity Ltd was full of deep learning and often times painful lessons in engaging with clients on complex topics, whilst ensuring the commercial viability of the offer. However, it did lead to an incredibly rich intellectual journey in collaborating with thought leaders in complexity sciences for client work.

In particular, and in distinct complement to Integral Theory, was applying Sensemaking principles for change projects, leveraging narratives and anticipating agents' biases. I was delighted to be bringing anthropological and sociological insights to our practices, and challenging the dominant 'engineering' mindset to organisational management.

What became clear however, was in all of my organisational development work I saw dangers in how supposed deeper understanding of employee behaviour and psychology, under the guise of 'making the workplace more humanistic' could lead to greater encroachment of the organisation in "designing" the employee experience for the ultimate its commercial ends.

There seemed to be often a conflation of 'aesthetic' choices for the human experience in organisations that were only justifiable if they improved 'performance'. 


Although a very robust cognitive sciences tool and metric, my experience with Lectica revealed first hand the limitations of the cognitive development dimension (people can reflect in very high-order complex ways about morally corrupt concepts).

More broader 'ego-development' tools (for example Bill Torbert's Leadership Development Framework, Susan Cook-Greuter's extension of Jane Loevinger's research) do seem to incorporate a more integrated whole-person measure (see last section* here, evoking the higher stages of ego and notions of greater breadth/depth of consciouness, towards descriptions that resonate with many writings on spirituality), but still, the aesthetic dimension appears little explored.

Hence my conviction of the opportunity to complement this field of the human potential movement, with a deeper exploration of spirituality and the arts.


Footote to the reference to Jane Loevinger above:

The ego development map proposed by developmental psychologist Jane Loevinger (1918-2008) conceptualizes a theory based on Erik Erikson's psychosocial model and the works of Harry Stack Sullivan (1892-1949) in which "the ego was theorized to mature and evolve through stages across the lifespan as a result of a dynamic interaction between the inner self and the outer environment". Loevinger's theory contributes to the delineation of ego development, which goes beyond the fragmentation of trait psychology and looks at personality as a meaningful whole.

See Ken Wilber's Integral Psychology for an extensive curation and comparison of developmental models



Articles, Books, Figures, Films, Documentaries


Art is more than mere ornament or entertainment; it is a way, one leading to what is most profound in us. Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice places art alongside languages and the biosphere as a thing endangered by the onslaught of predatory capitalism, spectacle culture, and myopic technological progress.


This book demonstrates that numerous prominent artists in every period of the modern era were expressing spiritual interests when they created celebrated works of art. This magisterial overview insightfully reveals the centrality of an often denied and misunderstood element in the cultural history of modern art.


Ehrenzweig wrote The Psychoanalysis of Artistic Vision and Hearing (1953) and The Hidden Order of Art (1967). His ideas can be summarized as the discovery of the organizing role of the unconscious mind in any act of creativity and an analysis of the layered structure of the unconscious mind and of the dynamic mental processes which an artist undergoes in the creative act.


Religion for Atheists: A non-believer's guide to the uses of religion is a book by Alain de Botton published in 2012. It argues that while supernatural claims made by religion are false, some aspects of religion are still useful and can be applied in secular life and society.


Published by Integral World here.



"It is urgent that the museum become a peaceful place of dialogue and exchange. We must therefore reconfigure the relationship that we talk about geography, people, societal injuries, and give ourself time to discuss claims calmly on the modes of governance, the questions of representation and all of these subjects extremely complexes that talk about the schizophrenia of our lives. "
She wishes to strengthen this debate on contact with the thinking of the artists, and go back so up to sensitive experiences works where interiority is intertwined and exteriority. Which implies another approach to the museum: "I would like to transform the large nave which refers to the cathedral, to the sacred, to the solemnity, to make it a more space close to the agora, to public space, because creation has evolved a lot and even more the uses that audiences make of it. I would like to substitute this image of gravity and of majesty to an image that unfolds toward a elsewhere which would be that of open speech, which does not dry up the debate but feeds it and constantly renews."



An online journal dedicated to the interaction between the arts, sciences and consciousness 


Psyche is a new digital magazine from Aeon  that illuminates the human condition through three prisms: mental health; the perennial question of ‘how to live’; and the artistic and transcendent facets of life.

Psyche is organised into three sections. Therapeia provides expert insights and practical help in dealing with emotional and psychological challenges. Eudaimonia focuses on thought-provoking responses to perennial questions about how to live well. Poiesis explores the imaginative, artistic and transcendent facets of life. 


Artangel is a London-based arts organisation founded in 1985 by Roger Took. Directed since 1991 by James Lingwood and Michael Morris, it has commissioned and produced a string of notable site-specific works, plus several projects for TV, film, radio and the web.


A pop-up charity shop in a luxury department store melds art, commerce and justice.

See the video here


  • Claydon, David. Connecting Across Cultures: Sharing the Gospel Across Cultural and Religious Boundaries. Melbourne: Acorn Press Ltd, 2000, 83-94.

  • Dickson, John. A Spectator’s Guide to World Religions: An Introduction to the Big Five. Sydney: Blue Bottle Books, 2004, 17-46.

  • Along with the Hidden Order of Art the three classics of art psychology are Rudolf Arnheim's Art and Visual Perception and Herschel Chipp's Theories of Modern Art.


Through a series of color plates, contextual essays, interviews and interpretations of individual works by artists such as the Dynaton group (Wolfgang Paalen, Gordon Onslow Ford, Lee Mullican), Oskar Fischinger, Emil Bisttram, Lawren Harris, Raymond Jonson, Agnes Pelton, Wolfgang Paalen, Beatrice Wood, Dane Rudhyar and Jess, Enchanted Modernities explores the role of Theosophical thought in redefining the relationship between enchantment and modernism, and fostering lively cultural networks in a region that that has long captured the world’s imagination.


  • Chris Marker, Sans Soleil

  • One Giant Leap is a collaborative video project for the 21st century which fuses music, words, sounds, rhythms and images from over 25 locations in 20 countries around the globe to celebrate diversity of musicians, story-tellers, authors, filmmakers, artists, entrepreneurs, artists, and thinkers from many different cultures. 1 Giant Leap is a title, a philosophy, a leap of faith that sprung from the minds of visionary UK musicians/visual artists Jamie Catto (Faithless) and Duncan Bridgeman. It is the embodiment of the unity in human diversity and a cross-cultural exploration of universal truth that is a global journey unto itself. 1 Giant Leap features: Kurt Vonnegut, Dennis Hopper, Ram Dass, Tom Robbins, Anita Roddick, Brian Eno, Michael Stipe (REM), Robbie Williams, Neneh Cherry, Speech (Arrested Development), Stewart Copeland, Baaba Maal, and many more. 

  • Re-volution The Movie: 65 min feature documentary for The World Servers Foundation. An award giving charity dedicated to educating executives towards better values and serving others. R-Evolution is a documentary observing the collision of beliefs which is bringing into focus a time of revolution and transformation in many parts of the world. The emerging passion of young people alert to the changes and challenges of the current global conditions is given a voice, as they call on their generation to wake up and take responsibility for steering the world in a more stable direction. 

  • Collective:unconscious Indie Film:


Wikipedia Introduction:

Perennial philosophy (Latin: philosophia perennis), also referred to as perennialism and perennial wisdom, is a perspective in spirituality that views all of the world's religious traditions as sharing a single, metaphysical truth or origin from which all esoteric and exoteric knowledge and doctrine has grown.

Perennialism has its roots in the Renaissance interest in neo-Platonism and its idea of the One, from which all existence emanates. Marsilio Ficino (1433–1499) sought to integrate Hermeticism with Greek and Jewish-Christian thought, discerning a Prisca theologia which could be found in all ages. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463–94) suggested that truth could be found in many, rather than just two, traditions. He proposed a harmony between the thought of Plato and Aristotle, and saw aspects of the Prisca theologia in Averroes (Ibn Rushd), the Quran, the Kabbalah and other sources. Agostino Steuco (1497–1548) coined the term philosophia perennis.

A more popular interpretation argues for universalism, the idea that all religions, underneath seeming differences, point to the same Truth. In the early 19th century the Transcendentalists propagated the idea of a metaphysical Truth and universalism, which inspired the Unitarians, who proselytized among Indian elites. Towards the end of the 19th century, the Theosophical Society further popularized universalism, not only in the western world, but also in western colonies. In the 20th century universalism was further popularized in the English-speaking world through the neo-Vedanta inspired Traditionalist School, which argued for a metaphysical, single origin of the orthodox religions, and by Aldous Huxley and his book The Perennial Philosophy (1945), which was inspired by neo-Vedanta and the Traditionalist School.

The Traditionalist School is a group of 20th and 21st century thinkers concerned with what they consider to be the demise of traditional forms of knowledge, both aesthetic and spiritual, within Western society. The principal thinkers in this tradition are René Guénon, Ananda Coomaraswamy and Frithjof Schuon. Other important thinkers in this tradition include Titus Burckhardt, Martin Lings, Jean-Louis Michon, Marco Pallis, Huston Smith, Hossein Nasr, Jean Borella, Elémire Zolla and Julius Evola. According to the Traditionalist School, orthodox religions are based on a singular metaphysical origin. According to the Traditionalist School, the "philosophia perennis" designates a worldview that is opposed to the scientism of modern secular societies and which promotes the rediscovery of the wisdom traditions of the pre-secular developed world. This view is exemplified by Rene Guenon in The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, one of the founding works of the traditionalist school.





From the Liverpool School of Architecture paper  Andrew Crompton (2013) The architecture of multifaith spaces: God leaves the
building, The Journal of Architecture, 18:4, 474-496, DOI: 10.1080/13602365.2013.821149

Key quotes:

  • There are often at least six of traditions represented in multifaith worship locations: Christianity; Islam; Judaism; Hinduism; Sikhism; Buddhism—more often nine: adding
    Jainism; Baha’I; Zoroastrianism. From time to time Taoism and Shinto appear, as do Native American
    religions; Pagans; Druids; Adventists; Humanists—
    not to mention people of no faith who are sometimes represented by a blank space

  • These universal interfaces with God are not, as one might have thought, a sublime expression of a deep unity of which individual religions are merelya particular expression. Here is a building problem
    for which architects seem to have no answer. Are
    these blank white rooms even architecture at all?
    Why is it so difficult to transcend different faiths
    and create places that are sacred for all?