Tag Archives: integral

integral theory? ok, i’ll bite: what the heck is it? and what’s up with no photo???? put up something with your nice, clean-shaven face.

When I say integral theory, I’m referring to the theory frameworks of American spiritual writer Ken Wilber.

Wilber has been piecing together a range of ways of integrating science and spirituality, religion and psychology, sexuality, ecology for over twenty years.

In the realm of spirituality, Wilber argues firstly that a fully-rounded path needs to account for individual and collective dimensions, for the reality of both subjective-interior perceptions (for example, visionary experiences) and for objective-exterior information (for example, brain scans of monks having visionary experience).

Secondly, he feels that a system of praxis and its supporting theory needs to include training in different states of consciousness in addition to our normal, waking state, especially visionary, subtle states and the deep, formless darkness of the causal states.

Third, spiritual teaching, in Wilber’s view, needs to be able to accommodate people at different stages of maturity (James Fowler’s “Stages of Faith” delves into this territory quite nicely) and not to restrict itself to just preaching a traditionalist form of belief.

There’s a bunch of other aspects to Wilber’s theory, but one of the other key parts in my view is a notion that he adapts from gestalt psychology’s adaptation of Jung: The Shadow – the denied aspects of the self. Only a spiritual path that acknowledges the Shadow and has practices to work with it can avoid “making a religion of our better moments”, allowing us the possibility of acknowledging, surfacing and integrating our shame and darkness.

There’s lots more. If you’re interested, pick up Wilber’s “Integral Spirituality” or “Integral Psychology”.

I’ll probably delve more into some of this in later blog entries.

new tumblelog

I’m mucking around with [tumblr](http://www.tumblr.com) by creating a tumblelog for my ongoing reading related to my various non-IT interests – particularly an integral take on organisations and on Gnosticism.

It’s called [Resonance](http://resonance.tumblr.com), it’s got a feed. Please feel welcome.

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RIP: Robert Anton Wilson 1932-2007

After a long illness, Robert Anton Wilson, died on January 11.

Various people, [R. U. Sirius](http://www.10zenmonkeys.com/2007/01/11/robert-anton-wilson-1932-2007/), [Fr. Jordan+](http://egina2.blogspot.com/2007/01/remembering-bob-wilson.html), [Bro. Jeremy](http://www.snant.com/fp/archives/rip-robert-anton-wilson-raw/), [Bill Harryman](http://integral-options.blogspot.com/2007/01/speedlinking-11207.html) (from whom I got the news), [lvx23](http://www.lvx23.com/weblog/archives/2007/01/robert_anton_wi_1.html) and I’m certain [many others](http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en&q=robert+anton+wilson&btnG=Search+Blogs) offer tributes both short and long.

I read “The Illuminatus! Trilogy” when I was 18… Bob is almost single-handedly responsible for the odd shapes that remain embedded in the interior of my cranium to this day. Thanks to Bob, I’d read [Leary](http://www.leary.com/) talking about LSD as a sacrament *before* I got drunk for the first time. He led me to [Korzybski](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Korzybski) and to [Crowley](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleister_Crowley), Bob was my first spiritual teacher.

He was an original. The world is a slightly smaller and much sadder place without him.

We’ll miss you, mate.

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Pop-ups on Integral World!?

Screenshot of Integral World showing pop-up I’m pretty sure that Frank Visser’s [Integral World](http://www.integralworld.net) site has pop-up ads. Every time I go there, I get a pop-up – when I go back or reload, I can’t replicate it, but it seems to keep happening. I’m sympathetic for the need for revenue to keep a big project like that going, or even to make it seem worthwhile, but… Pop-ups??

That plus the irritating frames layout are making it less and less pleasant to visit.

I’m just saying.

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Gnostic + Orthodox + Development = Integral Christian?

Forgive me for the following set of mismatched ideas that landed on me while drowsing this morning that I just wanted to get out.

I’ve been reading more (and in a very undisciplined, eclectic way) about Christian theology over the last two millennia without any particular preference for which of the various traditions I focus on. The consequence is that I’m swimming around in a kind of [mash-up](http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=mash-up) of the Eurasian traditions – the outcome you might imagine of mixing an Anglican background with a little [Nag Hammadi](http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/nhl.html) and [Valentinus](http://www.gnosis.org/library/valentinus/Brief_Summary_Theology.htm), a little “Jesus Sutras“, a little + Fr. [Spong](http://www.dioceseofnewark.org/jsspong/) and the kind of odd, five-spice and rosemary concoction that is [AQAL](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AQAL)…

One thing I’ve found myself wondering about is the peculiar lover’s dance that the gnostic and orthodox (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant) traditions have been doing around each other the whole time. The mystic religious ([John of the Cross](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_of_the_Cross), [Teresa of Avila](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teresa_of_%C3%81vila) and so on) seem (in hindsight) to retain a much less hostile air towards the gnostic thread and vice versa – almost as if they’re representing the same thing. But the esoteric and the exoteric, the parish and the monastery, the gnostic and the orthodox, the mystical and hierarchical – like dubious lovers, unwilling to acknowledge the relationship a lot of the time but unable to let go…

It makes me wonder if rather than thinking of gnostic and orthodox as distinct traditions, it makes more sense to see them each as as threads that only make sense in a larger cloth, so that if either takes hold too long, the other bubbles up to match it. The history of orthodoxy and heresy obviously only seems to make sense in reference to each other.

To draw in a bit of framing, the gnostics emphasize the personal relationship with the Divine, the mystic initiation, epiphany to gnosis while the orthodox put greater emphasis on belief, community, family, conformity… agency versus communion. One could look at that polarity as Freedom (acquainting oneself first-hand with the Ground, with the sound of [Bythos](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bythos)) versus Fullness (stepping forward into life and discovering what the meaning of the Gospel is for “the householder” as [Gautama](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tathagata) might have said).

And look, I’m not saying there’s no contemplation in the orthodox traditions (there certainly is) and I’m not saying Gnostics don’t love their families :)… I’m just noticing emphases that are only apparent when you see the dance and you watch the difference in the steps taken.

Gnosticism adds handy stuff to orthodox theologies, it gives us the notion of the [Demiurge](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demiurge#Gnosticism) – the chief Archon who rules over the world he created and who desires that we never notice that we are trapped. The Fullness, the Pleroma, Bythos are all names for the indescribable, unknowable Suchness of the Divine from whom emanated all things, including (via a fairly complex path) the Demiurge and to whom we long to return.

Any of us raised in orthodox traditions are familiar with hearing the G-d is unknowable, yet we spend most of our time in religion hearing all about Him, His various wishes and desires, His laws, His actions. We end up feeling we have a pretty good idea who G-d is – but a Gnostic might argue that what we’ve ended up only making friends with the Demiurge.

If we take the basic developmental sequence popularized by [Spiral Dynamics](http://www.spiraldynamics.com/) and [Wilber’s](http://www.kenwilber.com/) notion (from [Whitehead](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Process_philosophy#Whitehead.27s_Process_and_Reality)) of the “creative advance into novelty” might we notice that what, at one point in history, might manifest as almost unspeakable, ecstatic freedom from the iron prison of the current conditions (the rule of The Law overcoming the horror of endless conflict, for example), might seem later to be itself an iron prison (the stultifying rulebook of The Law holding back individual creativity based in rational ethics)?

Is the Christos a child who grows up to be a grumpy old Demiurge?

And what of [Her](http://egina2.blogspot.com/2006/10/shhhh.html)? It doesn’t seem to matter how much the orthodoxy tries to leave Her out or reduce Her role, She [keeps](http://www.magdalene.org/) [knocking](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0382625/) at the [the door](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nmFg7hZRv4).

What might the Christian tradition look like if we took the orthodox and the gnostic freely as paired gifts of our history and reflected (via scripture if you’d like, via history if you’d rather, via introspection if you’re able) on that very history and the emergence of higher, freer, fuller notions of who we are to be together and of how we are to see and hear G-d?

Why it just might look like something a little less embarrassing than most of what passes for the Christian tradition now. Something useful and gorgeous and true.

But like I said. Just some drowsy ideas borne of undisciplined reading… your mileage may vary, exercise due caution.

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More on recovery

“I think we should be skeptical of wedding the essential building blocks of argument to a value level” – [TuffGhost](http://vomitingconfetti.blogspot.com/2006/10/regression-and-recovery.html)

Hell, yeah. In this discussion, there’s at least the skills and techniques that become available to you as you develop and there’s the aspects of life you get fascinated with (notice me wiggling around trying not say “Levels and Lines!”).

I recall my first real awakening happening when I discovered critical reasoning and formal logic around 15 or 16. I recall a sensation of “waking up” from having been “asleep”. I had the great privilege to go to a high school that offered Logic as a class to seniors – and I scored a great logic teacher (Mrs Jell).

Around the time my mind was really ripe for logic and symbolism (broadly construed) I had a very Platonic education. I stole “[The Republic](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_%28Plato%29)” over the Christmas break to read it (returned it too, I was a good child).

Then later at Uni, I discovered the deconstructionists and post-structuralism and [Korzybski](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korzybski) and woke up again, started to get a lot more strict with how I used language and lot more perspectival.

Come to think of it, prior to all that, I had a gentle but structured upbringing in a compassionate bit of the Anglican church, so I probably lucked out in the traditionalist, rulesNroles stage as well.

But that early territorial stuff? Nope. That I’ve had to recover… and a deal of what’s before that too, I think.

This way of looking at it I’m finding, largely thanks to [you](http://vomitingconfetti.blogspot.com/) [guys](http://until.joe-perez.com/) [in](http://integral-options.blogspot.com) [the](http://www.matthewdallman.com/blog.html) [integral](http://indistinctunion.blogspot.com/) [blogosphere](http://www.c4chaos.com/) – threads of posts weaving together, performed perspectives – makes it satisfyingly hard to call someone else on their altitude (satisfying because it *should* be hard). Between the different lines of development and the fascinations people adopt during this process of recovery, you’ve got no business trying to label anyone with colours.

(an earlier version of this appears at [TuffGhost’s blog as a comment](http://vomitingconfetti.blogspot.com/2006/10/regression-and-recovery.html))

On reintegrating earlier stages…

One of the things that I liked about Tim Leary’s [8-circuit model of consciousness](http://deoxy.org/8circuit.htm) as a developmental theory was the emphasis he placed on the imprinting stage – the idea that the experiences you had when that new mind lit up were formative. Some folks had positive experiences, some had negative and that kind of determined how you dealt with the life issues from that stage thereafter.

In my case, (using Leary’s model) I don’t think I got a very positive imprint on the “emotional-territorial circuit” the stage in which you learn to do basic mammal stuff like win and lose territory, be dominant, be submissive and so on.

Leary had his own kind of [second tier](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiral_dynamics#Second_tier_vMemes) he called the latter four circuits “post-terrestrial” and he implied that as these later minds started to light up, you would develop the ability to return and re-imprint your terrestrial circuits.

Inspired by some recent posts by [Chris](http://indistinctunion.blogspot.com), I’ve found myself thinking about the notion that the felt, phenomenological aspect of the shift to an integral perspective is the gradual process of recovery of those earlier developmental stages. They come swimming back into your awareness and you start to recall what it was to be “at” those earlier stages. The need to deny those aspects of the self starts to drop away.

There’s all sorts of dimensions to that recovery, but one I want to dwell on is that maybe (and I say this as a kind of cocktail party theory, based on my own experience, rather than something for which I have any data) one of the curiosities of this process of recovery is that we become transfixed by the stages which got imprinted most weakly – which might look to onlookers like a kind of regression.

So, in my case, if I’d kind of skimmed lightly over that territorial stuff (which, we might speculate, lines roughly up with red altitude in Wilber-V for the I-I faithful, or the red vMeme, for those of you kickin’ it SDi style) – you might notice that I rather suddenly developed an odd interest in martial arts, watching boxing, even paying attention to football for the first time. I’ll leave it to my friends to embarrass me in the comments forum on that matter.

If someone else had skimmed lightly over that rational, scientific stuff (say on their way to a career in the arts), then their unfolding into integral might be characterized by an insistence on evidence and proof, on rational argumentation, on quality of rhetoric. Reintegrating the orange vMeme, perhaps…

Other folk might suddenly get all misty over rules and traditions, and so on. If this stuff is ringing bells for anyone else, I’d love to hear about it.

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