Process Theology or Process Yoga (Part 1 of 3)

Process Theology or Process Yoga (Part 1 of 3)

by  Darren Iammarino

What is the first thing that most people think of when they hear the phrase: Process Theology? My experience has shown that the answers are the following: that sounds too academic, too complex, too intellectual, and, it seems boring. Now go out to some of those same people and tell them that you do or practice Process Yoga and see what their response is. My point here is simple, Process Theologyas amazing as it ishas for the most part failed to transform the theological, religious, spiritual or metaphysical landscape or zeitgeist. There are four reasons that I believe can account for this failure.

  1. First is the issue highlighted above, Process Theology needs an updated “rebranding,” and a “cool factor.”
  2. It is too cerebral and academic! How many people are going to pick up Process and Reality and actually read it? Furthermore, if they do, how many will understand it on a first reading? Zero.
  3. This one may be controversial to some…Process Theology remains too deeply connected with Christianity.
  4. Most importantly, how do I practice it and how is it unique from Christianity or Buddhism etc.?

Point 1 (Rebranding): So, Process Theology can benefit from some rebranding and the simplest way to do this is to shift to speaking of Process Yoga. There is actually a sound reason to make this shift even from inside the writings of Whitehead, Cobb, and Griffin: multiple religious ultimates. Process thought is not merely limited to “theology,” it is really process metaphysics, but if anything is scarier than Process Theology as a label, it is probably process metaphysics! The generic use of the word yoga is both metaphysically accurate and far more appropriate to a new, younger audience. Yoga means to yoke or unite and that is what process-relational philosophy is all about. Process thought and process practice aims to reconnect us with the sacred elements of Reality…and process suggests there is more than one ultimate.

In other words, God is not the whole story. We must talk of God and a World of finite actual entities, as well as primal, but ever present Creativity. We also may want to discuss Forms or Eternal Objects, as Whitehead would call them, and maybe even a Platonic Receptacle or Storehouse. The term yoga is actually far more appropriate to make us think in terms of reuniting and oneness, but oneness of a well functioning system of ultimates that taken together make up Reality itself. By contrast, the word theology is very academic in nature. Theology is head-oriented more than heart-oriented and does not conjure up images of a reciprocal ecosystem or organism, which is what Whitehead’s philosophy was actually called…the philosophy of organism.

For more ideas on how to put process ideas into action check out Darren’s book Religion and Reality available via the following link:


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  1. Philip Clayton

    Darren, fascinating concept. One can see that it has important implications in many areas. I’m interested to see how you — and we– will develop it further. — Philip

  2. Darren Iammarino

    Philip, Thanks for your feedback! The second and third parts will be posted soon, so we should touch base again after they go online.

  3. Jay McDaniel

    Darren, I agree with you for many people the phrase process theology “sounds too academic, too complex, too intellectual, and, it seems boring.” Your proposed remedy is to emphasize (1) process yoga and also (2) process metaphysics, with the idea of multiple ultimates. I’m with you on the yoga side but worry about the metaphysics side. In the world of old school process theology there were multiple strands: empiirical (Bernard Loomer), speculative (Whitehead, Cobb), rationalistic (Hartshorne). At Claremont the speculative strand won the day and the phrase process theology came to aligned with Whitehead-influenced theology, predominantly but not exclusively Christian. Along the way many people made the assumption that ideas precede practice, worldviews shape behavior — but not the other way around. Some saw past this, but the dominant emphasis was “Get the right worldview and all will be better for the world and yourself.” This leaning toward worldview paralleled and was shaped by a Protestant Christian emphasis on the primacy of belief in religious life. Such an emphasis was uniquely Protestant, based on the biblical (word-based) pieties. It would have made little sense to a Catholic for whom deeds were as important as creeds, liturgy as important as beliefs; and even less sense to Jews and Buddhists. Think of the place of “belief” in the eightfold path. It’s one of eight. When those of us in the process tradition wave the flag of metaphysics, it, too, gets boring and, more importantly, religiously and ethically irrelevant. For example,emphases on mindfulness ring much truer to a new generation than emphases on metaphysics. My suggestion, then, is that a process yoga needs to be a bit less focussed on applied metaphysics (with its assumption that beliefs come first) and more focussed on a way of living which includes, but is more than, a metaphysics. This would be a Jewish and Buddhist approach or for that matter a Muslim and Daoist approach. It might also ring true to people who are not interested in affiliations at all, but who have a spiritual side: “spiritual but not religious.” Do you think process theology can come to suggest a way of living and not just a metaphysic? Should it? If so, perhaps it would be a bit more contiinuous with the empirical tradition of the past, with its lessened emphasis on “right belief” and its greater emphasis on “right heartedness.” For an illustration, see Particia Adams Farmer’s writings or, co-authored with me, the Fat Soul Manifesto. We’re interested in Fat Soul yoga and would love your ideas.

  4. Darren Iammarino

    Jay, thank you for the thoughtful and detailed feedback. I will be checking out your site and will leave some feedback there. I think that you will find my most recent post to be interesting, as it begins to sketch an outline of what one spiritually inclined, process way of living could look like. I would love to talk with you further about your thoughts on these and other topics related to process. Please feel free to email me at

  5. Jay McDaniel

    Thanks, Darren…and lets do indeed be in touch. Meanwhile, I hope you might take a look at the Whiteheadian Wheel of Feligious Experience that I developed, after years of teaching world religions. I use it extensively in classes, and it offers students a way of finding their own sources of spiritual nourishment, while appreciating others who find sources elsewhere. Here’s the link: When I think of process yoga, I think of practices that might help a person live into, and learn from, some of these experiences. I look forward to more conversation; you’re onto something very important.

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