The Spiritual Paths Mandala

Creating Your Spiritual Path
12 Families of Archetypal Styles, Questions & Traditions

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The Spiritual Paths Mandala helps us to create our personal paths based on our archetypal spiritual learning styles and spiritual questions.  The Mandala identifies twelve families of spiritual styles (the outer ring), perennial questions (the middle ring), and spiritual traditions (the inner ring).

The Mandala Process is nonsectarian tool to serve both those who are rooted in a tradition and the Spiritual But Not Religious (SBNR) or Spiritually Independent.  This tool can provide chaplains, ministers and spiritual directors with religion-free methods and resources to help the Spiritually Independent to create their own spiritual path and contemplative practice based on a variety of wisdom traditions.

Our dominant styles will change as we grow and change through life. For example, there might be times when we are more devotional or mystical, more intellectual or artistic, more physical or nature-based. As we go through life’s changes and our primary styles change, we need specific kinds of teachers, resources and practices to help us along our path.

To begin, we ask ourselves: how do I learn and what is my question? Then we seek answers and chart our paths by honoring our dominant spiritual styles or lenses. We harness these styles to find and incorporate the appropriate wisdom and practices from one or more spiritual traditions.  In so doing, we create the spiritual path that is the right fit for us.

Therefore, it is important that we recognize and utilize our dominant styles as beginning points, then include and harmonize our other styles to fully actualize our spiritual potential.

Here is a list of twelve families of spiritual styles and questions. As teachers and students, it is very helpful to recognize and honor these in our process of learning and transformation.

Twelve Styles & Paths Twelve Questions Twelve Families of Traditions
The Arts Consciousness Buddhism
The Body Death Christianity
Contemplation & Meditation Existence Hinduism
Devotion Freedom Islam
Imagination God Judaism
Love Good & Evil African
Mystic Happiness American
Nature Reality Asian
Prayer Soul European
Reason Spirit Beings Middle Eastern
Relationships Suffering Oceanic
Wisdom Transformation & Ultimate Potential Science & Philosophy

Each of us embodies all twelve ways as either major or minor factors in our approach to our religious and spiritual experience. Each of these twelve is a kind of personality trait, or tendency. Most of us have several ways which are dominant with the others descending in importance. The ways are like funnels through which information is channeled for processing and analysis, like sieves that only let certain types of information through to the mind. They are like colored lenses that determine the hue of the world before our eyes. While each way focuses our attention and enables us to begin our quest via devotion, mysticism, intellection, etc., an exclusive emphasis on that way also limits our ability to totally perceive and experience the wholeness of religion and spirituality.

Why twelve? In truth, there could be a greater or a fewer number depending on ones method for defining and categorizing them. Twelve, for many reasons, turns out to be a good number for organizing our method for the study and the integration of spiritual concepts and practices from throughout the world.

The Spiritual Paths “InterSpiritual Mandala” was created by Dr. Ed Bastian to help people develop their own spiritual paths and to integrate their deepest spiritual values and practices into all aspects of their lives.  “The Mandala”  addresses a critical need for inner direction at a time of decline of institutional religious affiliation when cultural diversity, religious pluralism, the Internet, the proliferation of books, and global mobility and have created new opportunities to explore the worlds spiritual traditions as never before.

If we choose to take advantage of these new opportunities, however, we must also accept greater personal responsibilities. We can no longer be comforted by the idea that our spiritual destinies can be guided totally by others and anesthetized by the idea that our spiritual destinies are beyond our ability to know and to control.

Taking personal responsibility also requires us to draw deeply from our own unique experiences and our innate spiritual abilities as well as to draw on the great insights, methods and examples handed down to us from the spiritual leaders who have gone before. Our method might recognize the need for good, reliable teachers who authentically represent and transmit spiritual knowledge and practices.

Consciously or unconsciously, we approach religion and spirituality through the lenses of our own personal spiritual styles and questions. Like personal learning styles, our spiritual styles influence the development of our beliefs, values, and practices. Within each religion there are a variety of approaches and practices that have emerged to serve individuals with varying spiritual styles. Therefore, in developing a spiritual practice, it is helpful for us to recognize and honor our own personal spiritual styles and questions as we embark on study and practice that is compatible with these predominate styles.

If you’d like more information on the InterSpiritual Mentor Training Process, please Click here.   Or mail: