A very short introduction to the Revolutionary integral approach to Life, God, the Universe, and Everything
By Ken Wilber
How can I navigate the 21st Century?
How can we make sense of our own Life and awareness?
What if I had a comprehensive map of myself and the brave new world I find myself in?
Do we have something to profit from this vision for Claretian formation?
During the last 30 years, we have witnessed a historical first: all of the world’s cultures are now available to us. In thepast, if you were born, say, a Chinese, you likely spent yourentire life in one culture, often in one province, sometimes in one house, living and loving and dying on one small plot of land. But today, not only are people geographically mobile, but we can study, and have studied, virtually every known culture on the planet. In the global village, all cultures are ex-posed to each other.
Knowledge itself is now global. This means that, also for the first time, the sum total of human knowledge is available to us—the knowledge, experience, wisdom, and reflection of all major human civilizations—pre-modern, modern, and postmodern—are open to study by anyone.
What if we took literally everything that all the various cultures have to tell us about human potential—about spiritual growth, psychological growth, social growth—and put it all on the table? What if we attempted to find the critically essential keys to human growth, based on the sum total of human knowledge now open to us? What if we attempted, based on extensive cross-cultural study, to use all of the world’s great traditions to create a composite map, a comprehensive map, an all-inclusive orintegral map that included the best elements from all of them?
Sound complicated, complex, daunting? In a sense, it is. But in another sense, the results turn out to be surprisingly simple and elegant. Over the last several decades, there has indeed been an extensive search for a comprehensive map ofhuman potentials. This map uses all the known systems and models of human growth—from the ancient shamans and sages to today’s breakthroughs in cognitive science—and distills their major components into 5 simple factors, factors that are the essential elements or keys to unlocking and facilitating human evolution.
Welcome to the Integral Approach!
An Integral or Comprehensive Map
What are these 5 elements? We call them quadrants, levels, lines, states, andtypes.
As you will see, all of these elements are, right now, available in your own awareness. These 5 elements are not merely theoretical concepts; theyare aspects of your own experience, contours of your ownconsciousness, as you can easily verify for yourself as we proceed.
What is the point of using this Integral Map? First, whetheryou are working in business, medicine, psychotherapy, law,ecology, or simply everyday living and learning, the IntegralMap helps make sure that you are “touching all the bases.” Ifyou are trying to fly over the Rocky Mountains, the more accurate a map you have, the less likely you will crash. An Integral Approach ensures that you are utilizing the full range of resources for any situation, with the greater likelihood of success.
Second, if you learn to spot these 5 elements in your ownawareness—and because they are there in any event—thenyou can more easily appreciate them, exercise them, usethem . . . and thereby vastly accelerate your own growth anddevelopment to higher, wider, deeper ways of being, not tomention greater excellence and achievement in work andprofessional life. A simple familiarity with the 5 elements inthe Integral Model will help you orient yourself more easilyand fully in this exciting journey of discovery and awakening.
In short, the Integral Approach helps you see both your-self and the world around you in more comprehensive andeffectiveways. But one thing is important to realize from thestart. The Integral Map is just a map. It is not the territory. Wecertainly don’t want to confuse the map with the territory—but neither do we want to be working with an inaccurate orfaulty map. Do you want to fly over the Rockies with a badmap? The Integral Map is just a map, but it is the most complete and accurate map we have at this time.
What is an IOS?
IOS simply means integral operating System. In an information network, an operating system is the infrastructure that allows various software programs to operate. We use integral operating system or IOS as another phrase for the integral Map. The point is simply that, if you are running any “software” in your life – such as your business, work, play, or relationships – you want the best operating system you can find, and IOS fits that bill. In touching all the bases, it allows the most effective programs to be used. This is just another way of talking about the comprehensive and inclusive nature of the Integral Model.
We will also be exploring what is perhaps the most important use of the Integral Map or Operating System. Because an IOS can be used to help index any activity—from art to dance to business to psychology to politics to ecology to spirituality—it allows each of those domains to talk to the others. Using I0S, business has the terminology with whichto communicate fully with ecology, which can communicate with art, which can communicate with law, which can communicate with poetry and education and medicine and spirituality. In the history of humankind, this has never really happened before.
By using the Integral Approach—by using an Integral Map or Integral Operating System—we are able to facilitate and dramatically accelerate cross-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary knowledge, thus creating the world’s first truly integral learning community: Integral University. And when itcomes to religion and spirituality, using the Integral Approachhas allowed the creation of Integral Spiritual Center, wheresome of the world’s leading spiritual teachers from all majorreligions have come together not only to listen to each otherbut to “teach the teachers,” resulting in one of the most extraordinary learning events imaginable. We will return to this important gathering, and ways you can join in this community if you wish.
But it all starts with these simple 5 elements in the con-tours of your own consciousness.
The Main Ingredients
What are the essential Aspects of my own awareness, right now?
We can experience these main ingredients through a simple guided tour.
In the introduction, we said that all of the 5 elements of the Integral Map are available, right now, in your own awareness. What follows is therefore, in a sense a guided tour of your own experience. So why don’t you come along and see if you can spot some of these features arising in your own awareness right now.
Some of the features of the integral map refer to subjective realities in you, some refer to objective realities out there in the world, and others refer to collective or communal realities shared with others. Let’s start with states of consciousness, which refer to subjective realities.
States of Consciousness
Everybody is familiar with major states of consciousness, such as waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. Right now,you are in a waking state of consciousness (or, if you are tired,perhaps a daydream state of consciousness). There are allsorts of different states of consciousness, includingmeditative states (induced by yoga, contemplative prayer, meditation, and so on),altered states (such as drug-induced), and avariety ofpeak experiences, many of which can be triggeredby intense experiences like making love, walking in nature, or listening to exquisite music.
The great wisdom traditions (such as Christian mysticism,Vedanta Hinduism, Vajrayana Buddhism, and Jewish Kabbalah)maintain that the3 natural states of consciousness—waking,dreaming, and deep formless sleep—actually contain a treasure trove of spiritual wisdom and spiritual awakening …if we know how to use them correctly. We usually think of the dream state as less real, but what if you could enter it whileawake? And the same with deep sleep? Might you learn some-thing extraordinary in those awakened states? In a special sense, which we will explore as we go along, the 3 great natural states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep might containan entire spectrum of spiritual enlightenment. You’ve probablyheard of satori, yes?, which is a Zen term for a profound experience of spiritual awakening, which is said to contain the ultimate secrets—or secret—of the universe itself.
But on a much simpler, more mundane level, everybody experiences various states of consciousness, and these states often provide profound motivation, meaning, and drives, in both yourself and others. Think of the many “aha!” experiences of brilliantly creative insight: what if we could tap into those whenever needed for intense problem solving? In any particular situation, states of consciousness maynot be a very important factor, or they may be the determining factor, but no integral approach can afford to ignore them. Whenever you are using10S, you will automatically be prompted to check and see if you are touching bases with these important subjective realities. This is an example of how a map—in this case, the 10S or Integral Map—can helpyou look for territory you might not have even suspected was there, and then give you tools to navigate it…
Stages or Levels of Development
There’s an interesting thing about states of consciousness: they come and they go. Even great peak experiences oraltered states, no matter how profound, will come, stay a bit, then pass. No matter how wonderful their capacities, they are temporary.
Where states of consciousness are temporary, stages of consciousness are permanent. Stages represent the actual milestones of growth and development. Once you are at a stage, it is an enduring acquisition. For example, once a child develops through the linguistic stages of development, the Child has permanent access to language. Language isn’t a peak experience, present one minute and gone the next. The same thing happens with other types of growth. Once you stably reach a stage of growth and development, you can access the capacities of that stage—such as greater consciousness, more embracing love, higher ethical callings, greater intelligence and awareness—virtually any time you want. Passing states have become permanent traits.
How many stages of development are there? Well, re-member that in any map, the way you divide and representthe actual territory is somewhat arbitrary. For example, howmany degrees are there between freezing and boiling water?If you use a Centigrade scale or “map,” there are 100 degrees between freezing and boiling. But if you use a Fahrenheit scale, freezing is at 32 and boiling is at 212, so there are 180degrees between them. Which is right? Both of them. It just depends upon how you want to slice that pie.
The same is true of stages. There are all sorts of ways toslice and dice development, and therefore there are all sortsofstage conceptions. All of them can be useful. In the chakrasystem of Yoga philosophy, for example, there are 7 majorstages or levels of consciousness. Jean Gebser, a famous anthropologist, gave 5: archaic, magic, mythic, rational, and integral. Certain Western psychological models have 8, 12, ormore levels of development. Which is right? All of them; it just depends on what you want to keep track of in growth and development.
“Stages of development” are also referred to as”levels of development,” the idea being that each stage represents a level of organization or a level of complexity. For example, in the sequence from atoms to molecules to cells to organ-isms, each of those stages of evolution involves a greater level of complexity. The word “level” is not meant in a judgmental or exclusionary fashion, but simply to indicate that there are important emergent qualities that tend to come into being in a discrete or quantum-like fashion, and these developmental jumps or levels are important aspects of many natural phenomena.
And, most importantly, to emphasize the fluid and flowing nature of stages, we often refer to them aswaves. Stagesor waves of development are an important ingredient of 105.Generally, in the Integral Model, we work with around 8 to 10levels, stages, or waves of consciousness development. Wehave found, after years of field work, that more stages than that are too cumbersome, and less than that, too vague. Some of the stage conceptions we often use include those ofself development pioneered by Jane Loevinger and SusannCook-Greuter; Spiral Dynamics, by Don Beck and ChristopherCowan; and orders of consciousness, researched by Robert Kegan. But there are many other useful stage conceptions available with the Integral Approach, and you can adopt any of them that are appropriate to your situation.
As we get into the specifics later in this book, you will seehow incredibly important stages can be. But let’s take a simple example now to show what is involved.
Egocentric, Ethnocentric, and Worldcentric
To grasp what is involved with levels or stages, let’s use a very simple model possessing only 3 of them. If we look at moral development, for example, we find that an infant at birth has not yet been socialized into the culture’s ethics and conventions; this is called the preconventional stage. It is also called egocentric, in that the infant’s awareness is largely self-absorbed. But as the young child begins to learnits culture’s rules and norms, it grows into theconventional stage of morals. This stage is also calledethnocentric, in that it centers on the child’s particular group, tribe, clan, or nation, and it therefore tends to exclude those not of its group. But at the next major stage of moral development, the post-conventional stage, the individual’s identity expands once again, this time to include a care and concern for all peoples,regardless of race, color, sex, or creed, which is why this stage is also called worldcentric.
Thus, moral development tends to move from “me” (ego-centric) to “us” (ethnocentric) to “all of us” (worldcentric)—a good example of the unfolding waves of consciousness.
Another way to picture these 3 stages is as body, mind, and spirit. Those words all have many different and valid meanings, but when used specifically to refer to stages, they mean:
Stage 1, which is dominated by my gross physical reality,is the “body” stage (using body in its typical meaning of physical body). Since you are identified merely with the separatebodily organism and its survival drives, this is also the “me” or egocentric stage.
Stage 2 is the “mind” stage, where identity expands fromthe isolated gross body and starts to share relationships withmany others, based perhaps on shared values, mutual interests, common ideals, or shared dreams. Because I can use themind to take the role of others—to put myself in their shoesand feel what it is like to be them—my identity expands from “me” to “us” (the move from egocentric to ethnocentric).
With stage 3, my identity expands once again, this time from an identity with “us” to an identity with “all of us” (the move from ethnocentric to worldcentric). Here I begin to understand that, in addition to the wonderful diversity of humans and cultures, there are also similarities and sharedcommonalities. Discovering the commonwealth of all beings is the move from ethnocentric to worldcentric, and is “spiritual” in the sense of things common to all sentient beings.
That is one way to view the unfolding from body to mindto spirit, where each of them is considered as a stage, wave, or level of unfolding care and consciousness, moving from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric.
We will be returning to stages of evolution and development, each time exploring them from a new angle. For now,allthat is required is to understandthat by “stages” we meanprogressive and permanent milestones along the evolutionary path of your own unfolding. Whether we talk stages ofconsciousness, stages of energy, stages of culture, stages ofspiritual realization, stages of moral development, and so on,we are talking of theseimportant andfundamental rungs inthe unfolding of your higher, deeper, wider potentials.
Whenever you use 10S, you will automatically be promptedto check and see if you have included the important stage aspects of any situation, which will dramatically increase yourlikelihood of success,whetherthat success be measured interms of personaltransformation, social change, excellencein business, care for others, or simple satisfaction in life.
Lines of Development: I’m Good at Some Things, Not-So-Good at Others…
Have you ever noticed how unevenly developed virtuallyall of us are? Some people are highly developed in, say, logicalthinking, but poorly developed in emotional feelings. Somepeople have highly advanced cognitive development (they’re very smart) but poor moral development (they’re mean andruthless). Some people excel in emotional intelligence, but can’t add 2 plus 2.
Howard Gardner made this concept fairly well known using the idea ofmultiple intelligences. Human beings have avariety of intelligences, such as cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence, musical intelligence, kinesthetic intelligence, and so on. Most people excel in one or two of those,but do poorly in the others. This is not necessarily or evenusually a bad thing; part of integral wisdom is finding where we excel and thus where we can best offer the world our deepest gifts.
But this does mean that we need to be aware of our strengths (or the intelligences with which we can shine) aswell as our weaknesses (where we do poorly or even pathologically). And this brings us to another of our S essential elements: our multiple intelligences or developmental lines.So far we have looked atstates andstages; what arelines or multiple intelligences?
Various multiple intelligences include: cognitive, inter-personal, moral, emotional, and aesthetic. Why are these alsocalleddevelopmental lines? Because those intelligencesshow growth and development. They unfold in progressivestages. What are those progressive stages? The stages we just outlined.
In other words, each multiple intelligence grows—or can grow—through the 3 major stages (or through any of the stages of any of the developmental models, whether3stages,5 stages, 7 or more; remember, these are all like Centigrade and Fahrenheit). You can have cognitive development to stage 1, to stage 2, and to stage 3, for example.
Likewise with the other intelligences. Emotional development to stage 1 means that you have developed the capacity for emotions centering on “me,” especially the emotions and drives of hunger, survival, and self-protection. Ifyou continue to grow emotionally from stage 1 to stage 2—or from egocentric to ethnocentric—you will expand from “me” to “us,” and begin to develop emotional commitments and attachments to loved ones, members of your family, close friends, perhaps your whole tribe or whole nation. Ifyou grow into stage-3 emotions, you will develop the further capacity for a care and compassion that reaches beyond your own tribe or nation and attempts to include all humanbeings and even all sentient beings in a worldcentric care and compassion.
And remember, because these are stages, you have attained them in a permanent fashion. Before that happens,any of these capacities will be merely passing states: youwill plug into some of them, if at all, in a temporary fashion—great peak experiences of expanded knowing and being, wondrous “ahal” experiences, profound altered glimpses into your own higher possibilities. But with practice, you will convert those states into stages, or permanent traits in the territory of you.
The Integral Psychograph
There is a fairly easy way to represent these intelligencesor multiple lines. In figure 3 (p. 42), we have drawn a simplegraph showing the 3 major stages (orlevels of development)and 5 of the most important intelligences (or lines of development).Through the major stages or levels of development, the various lines unfold. The 3 levels or stages canapply to any developmental line—sexual, cognitive, spiritual,emotional, moral, and so on. The level of a particular line simply means the “altitude” ofthat line in terms of itsgrowthand consciousness. This is why peopleoften say, “That per-son is highly developed morally,” or “That person is really advanced spiritually.”
In figure 3, we have shown somebody who excels in cognitive development and is good at interpersonal development,but does poorly in moral and really poorly in emotional intelligence. Other individuals would, of course, have adifferent “psychograph.”
Thepsychograph helps to spot where yourgreatest potentials are. You very likely already know what you excel inand what you don’t. Butpart of the Integral Approach is learning to refine considerably this knowledge of your own con-tours, sothat you can more confidently dealwith your own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of others.
The psychograph also helps us spot the ways that virtu-ally all of us are unevenly developed, and this helps preventus from thinking that just because we are terrific in one areawe must be terrific in all the others. In fact, usually the opposite. More than one leader, spiritual teacher, or politician hasspectacularly crashed through lack of an understanding of these simple realities.
To be “integrally developed” does not mean that you haveto excel in all the known intelligences, or that all of your lineshave to be at level 3. But it does mean that you develop a verygood sense of what your own psychograph is actually like, sothat with a much more integral self-image you can plan yourfuture development. For some people, this will indeed meanstrengthening certain intelligences that are so weak they are causing problems. For others, it will mean clearing up a serious problem or pathology in one line (such as the psycho-sexual). And for others, simply recognizing where theirstrengths and weaknesses lie, and planning accordingly. Using an integral map, we can scope out our own psychographs with more assurance.
Thus, to be”integrally informed” does not mean you haveto master all lines of development,just be aware of them. Ifyou then choose to remedy any unbalances,that ispart ofIntegral Life Practice (ILP), which actually helps to increaselevels of consciousness and development using a remarkablyeffective “spiritual cross-training” approach. (We will be discussing ILP in detail in chap. 6.)
Notice another veryimportant point. In certain types ofpsychological and spiritual training, you can be introduced toa full spectrum ofstates of consciousness and bodily experiencesright from the start—as a peak experience,meditativestate, shamanic vision, altered state, and so on. The reasonthese peak experiences are possible isthat many of the major states of consciousness (such as waking-gross, dreaming-subtle, and formless-causal) are ever-present possibilities.So you can very quickly be introduced to manyhigher states of consciousness.
You cannot, however, be introduced to all the qualities ofhigher stages without actualgrowth and practice. You canhave a peak experience of higherstates (like seeing an interior subtle light or having a feeling of oneness with all of nature), because many states are ever-present, and so theycan be “peek”-experienced right now. But you cannot have apeak experience of a higherstage (like being a concert-levelpianist), because stages unfold sequentially and take considerable time to develop. Stages build upon their predecessorsin very concrete ways, so they cannot be skipped: like atomsto molecules to cells to organisms, you can’t go from atomsto cells and skip molecules. This is one of the many important differences between states and stages.
However, with repeated practice of contacting higher states, your own stages of development will tend to unfoldin a much faster and easier way. There is, in fact, consider-able experimental evidence demonstrating exactly that. The more you are plunged into authentic higher states of consciousness—such as meditative states—thefaster youwill grow and develop through any of thestages of consciousness. It is as if higher-states training acts as a lubricant on thespiral of development, helping you to disidentify with a lowerstage so that the next higher stage can emerge, until you canstably remain at higher levels of awareness on an ongoingbasis, whereupon a passing state has become a permanenttrait. These types of higher-states training, such as meditation, are a part of any integral approach to transformation.
In short, you cannot skip actualstages, but you can accelerate your growth through them by using various types of state-practices, such as meditation, and these transformative practices are an important part of the Integral Approach.
What Type: Boy or Girl?
The next component of the “Comprehensive Map of the Territory of You” is easy: each of the previous components has a masculine and feminine type.
Types simply refers to items that can be present at virtu-ally any stage or state. One common typology, for example, is the Myers-Briggs (whose main types are feeling, thinking, sensing, and intuiting).You can be any of those types at virtually any stage of development. These kind of “horizontal typologies” can be very useful, especially when combined with levels, lines, and states. To show what is involved, we can use “masculine” and “feminine” as one example of types.
Carol Gilligan, in her enormously influential bookIn a Different Voice, pointed out that both men and women tend to develop through 3 or 4 major levels or stages of moral development. Pointing to a great deal of research evidence, Gilligannoted that these 3 or 4 moral stages can be calledpreconventional, conventional, postconventional, andintegrated. Theseare actually quite similar to the 3 simple developmental stages we are using, this time applied to moral intelligence.
Gilligan found that stage 1 is a morality centered entirely on “me” (hence this preconventional stage or level is also calledegocentric). Stage-2 moral development is centered on”us,” so that my identity has expanded from just me to include other human beings of my group (hence this conventional stage is often calledethnocentric, traditional, or conformist).With stage-3 moral development, my identity expands onceagain, this time from “us” to “all of us,” or all human beings (oreven all sentient beings)—and hence this stage is often calledworldcentric. I now have care and compassion, not just for me (egocentric), and not just for my family, my tribe, or my nation (ethnocentric), but for all of humanity, for all men andwomen everywhere, regardless of race, color, sex, or creed(worldcentric). And if I develop even further, at stage-4 moral development, which Gilligan calls integrated, then .. .
Well, before we look at the important conclusion of Gilligan’s work, let’s first note her major contribution. Gilligan strongly agreed that women, like men, develop through those 3 or 4 major hierarchical stages of growth. Gilligan herself correctly refers to these stages ashierarchical because eachstagehas ahigher capacity for care and compassion. But she said that women progress through those stages using a different type of logic—they develop “in a different voice.”
Male logic, or a man’s voice, tends to be based on terms ofautonomy, justice, and rights; whereas women’s logic or voicetends to be based on terms of relationship, care, and responsibility. Men tend toward agency; women tend toward communion. Men follow rules; women follow connections. Men look;women touch. Men tend toward individualism, women towardrelationship. One of Gilligan’s favorite stories: A little boy andgirl are playing. The boy says, “Let’s play pirates!” The girl says,”Let’s play like we live next door to each other.” Boy: “No, I wantto play pirates!” “Okay, you play the pirate who lives next door.”
Little boys don’t like girls around when they are playing games like baseball, because the two voices clash badly, andoften hilariously. Some boys are playing baseball, a kid takeshis third strike and is out, so he starts to cry. The other boys stand unmoved until the kid stops crying; after all, a rule is a rule, and the rule is: three strikes and you’re out. Gilligan points out that if a girl is around, she will usually say, “Ah, come on, give him another try!” The girl sees him crying and wants to help, wants to connect, wants to heal. This, how-ever, drives the boys nuts, who are doing this game as an initiation into the world of rules and male logic. Gilligan says that the boys will hurt feelings in order to save the rules; the girls will break the rules in order to save the feelings.
In a different voice. Both the girls and boys will developthrough the 3 or 4 developmental stages of moral growth (egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric to integrated), but they will do so in a different voice, using a different logic.Gilligan specifically calls these hierarchical stages in womenselfish (which is egocentric),care (which is ethnocentric),universal care (which is worldcentric), andintegrated. Again,why did Gilligan (who has been badly misunderstood on thistopic) say that these stages are hierarchical? Because eachstage has a higher capacity for care and compassion. (Not allhierarchies are bad, and this is a good example of why.)
So, integrated or stage 4—what is that? At the 4th and highest wave of moral development, according to Gilligan, the masculine and feminine voices in each of us tend to be-come integrated. This does not mean that a person at this stage starts to lose the distinctions between masculine andfeminine, and hence become a kind of bland, androgynous,asexual being. In fact, masculine and feminine dimensionsmight become more intensified. But it does mean the individuals start to befriend both the masculine and feminine modes in themselves, even if they characteristically act predominantly from one or the other.
Have you ever seena caduceus (the symbol of the medical profession)? It’s a staff with two serpents crisscrossingit, and wings at the top of the staff (see p. 49). The staff itself represents the central spinal column; where the serpents cross the staff represents the individual chakras moving up the spine from the lowest to the highest; and the two serpents themselves represent solar and lunar (or masculine and feminine) energies at each of the chakras.
That’s the crucial point. The 7 chakras, which are simply amore complex version of the 3 simple levels or stages, represent 7 levels of consciousness and energy available to all human beings. (The firstthreechakras—food, sex, and power—are roughly stage 1; chakras 4 and 5—relational heartandcommunication—are basically stage 2; and chakras 6and 7—psychic andspiritual—are the epitome of stage 3).Theimportant point here isthat, according to the traditions,each of those 7 levels has a masculine and feminine mode (aspect, type, or “voice”). Neither masculine nor feminine ishigher or better; they are two equivalent types at each of the levels of consciousness.
This means, for example, that with chakra 3 (the egocentric power chakra), there is a masculine and feminine versionof the same chakra: at that chakra-level, males tend towardpower exercised autonomously (“My way or the highway!”),women tend toward power exercised communally or socially (“Do it this way or I won’t talk to you”). And so on with the other major chakras, each of them having a solar and lunar, or masculine and feminine, dimension. Neither is more fundamental; neither can be ignored.
At the 7th chakra, however, notice that the masculine and feminine serpents both disappear into their ground or source. Masculine and feminine meet and unite at the crown—they literally become one. And that is what Gilliganfound with her stage-4 moral development: the two voices ineach person become integrated, so that there is a paradoxical union of autonomy and relationship, rights and responsibilities, agency and communion, wisdom and compassion, justice and mercy, masculine and feminine.
The important point is that whenever you use 10S, you are automatically checking any situation—in yourself, in others, in an organization, in a culture—and making sure that you include both the masculine and feminine types so asto be as comprehensive and inclusive as possible. If you believe that there are no major differences between masculineand feminine—or if you are suspicious of such differences—then that is fine, too, and you can treat them the same if you want. We are simply saying that, in either case, make sure you touch bases with both the masculine and feminine, how-ever you view them.
But more than that, there are numerousother’ horizontal typologies“ that can be very helpful when part of a comprehensive 105 (Myers-Briggs, enneagram, etc.), and the Integral Approach draws on any or all of those typologies asappropriate. “Types” are as important as quadrants, levels, lines, and states.
Sick Boy, Sick Girl
There’s an interesting thing about types. You can have healthy and unhealthy versions of them. To say that some-body is caught in an unhealthy type is not a way to judge them but a way to understand and communicate more clearly and effectively with them.
For example, if each stage of development has a masculine and feminine dimension, each of those can be healthy orunhealthy, which we sometimes call “sick boy, sick girl.” Thisis simply another kind of horizontal typing, but one that can be extremely useful.
If the healthy masculine principle tends toward autonomy, strength, independence, and freedom, when that principle becomes unhealthy or pathological, all of those positive virtues either over- or underfire. There is not just autonomy,but alienation; not just strength, but domination; not justindependence, but morbid fear of relationship and commitment; not just a drive toward freedom, but a drive to destroy.The unhealthy masculine principle does not transcend in freedom, but dominates in fear.
If the healthy feminine principle tends toward flowing, relationship, care, and compassion, the unhealthy feminineflounders in each of those. Instead of being in relationship,she becomes lost in relationship. Instead of a healthy self in communion with others, she loses her self altogether and is dominated by the relationships she is in. Not a connection, but a fusion; not a flow state, but a panic state; not a communion, but a meltdown. The unhealthy feminineprinciple does not find fullness in connection, but chaos in fusion.
Using 10S, you will find ways to identify both the healthyand unhealthy masculine and feminine dimensions operating in yourself and in others. But the important point aboutthis section is simple: various typologies have their usefulness in helping us to understand and communicate with others. And with any typology, there are healthy and unhealthy versions of a type. Pointing to an unhealthy type isnot a way to judge people, but a way to understand and communicate with them more clearly and effectively.
There’s Even Room for Many Bodies
Let’s return now to states of consciousness in order tomake a final point before bringing this all together in an integral conclusion.
States of consciousness do not hover in the air, danglingand disembodied. On the contrary, every mind has its body. For every state of consciousness, there is a felt energetic component, an embodied feeling, a concrete vehicle that provides the actual support for any state of awareness.
Let’s use a simple example from the wisdom traditions.Because each of us has the 3 great states of consciousness—waking, dreaming, and formless sleep—the wisdom traditions maintain that each of us likewise has3 bodies, whichare often called thegross body, thesubtle body, and the causal body.
http://integrallife.com/files/image/editorial/States:Body%20Graph.jpg” height=”271″ width=”488″>
I have 3 bodies? Are you kidding me? Isn’t one body enough? But keep in mind a few things. For the wisdom traditions, a “body” simply means a mode of experience or energetic feeling. So there is coarse or gross experience, subtle or refined experience, and very subtle or causal experience. These are what philosophers would call “phenomenological realities,” or realities as they present themselvesto our immediate awareness. Right now, you have access toa gross body and its gross energy, a subtle body and its subtle energy, and a causal body and its causal energy.
What’s an example of these 3 bodies? Notice that, rightnow, you are in awaking state of awareness; as such, youare aware of yourgross body—the physical, material, sensorimotor body. But when you dream at night, there is no gross physical body; it seems to have vanished. You are aware in the dream state, yet you don’t have a gross body ofdense matter but asubtle body of light, energy, emotional feelings, fluid and flowing images. In the dream state, the mind and soul are set free to create as they please, to imagine vast worlds not tied to gross sensory realities but reaching out, almost magically, to touch other souls, other peopleand far-off places, wild and radiant images cascading to the rhythm of the heart’s desire. So what kind of body do you have in the dream? Well, asubtle body of feelings, images,even light. That’s whatyou feel like in the dream. And dreams are not “just illusion.” When somebody like Martin Luther King, Jr., says, “I have a dream,” that is a good example of tapping into the great potential of visionary dreaming, where the subtle body and mind are set free to soar to their highest possibilities.
As you pass from thedream state with its subtle body intothe deep-sleep orformless state, even thoughts and imagesdrop away, and there is only a vast emptiness, a formless expanse beyond any individual “I” or ego or self. The great wisdom traditions maintain that in this state—which might seemlike merely a blank or nothingness—we are actually plungedinto a vast formless realm, a great Emptiness or Ground of Being, an expanse of consciousness that seems almost infinite.Along with this almost infinite expanse of consciousness thereis an almost infinite body or energy—thecausal body, the bodyof the finest, most subtle experience possible, a great formlessness out of which creative possibilities can arise.
Of course, many people do not experience that deep statein such a full fashion. But again, the traditions are unanimousthat thisformless state and itscausal body can be enteredin full awareness, whereupon they, too, yield their extraordinary potentials for growth and awareness.
The point, once again, is simply that whenever 10S is beingutilized, it reminds us to check in with our waking-state realities, oursubtle-state dreams and visions and innovative ideas,as well as our own open, formless ground of possibilities thatis the source of so much creativity. The important point aboutthe Integral Approach is that we want to touch bases with asmany potentials as possible so as to miss nothing in terms of possible solutions, growth, and transformation.
Consciousness and Complexity
Perhaps 3 bodies are just too “far out”? Well, remember that these are phenomenological realities, or experiential realities, but there is a simpler, less far-out way to look at them, this time grounded in hard-headed science. It is this: every level of interior consciousness is accompanied by a level of exterior physical complexity. The greater the consciousness, he more complex the system housing it.
http://www.integralhealthresources.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/brain_structure_2.jpg” height=”278″ hspace=”12″ width=”345″ align=”left”>For example, in living organisms, thereptilian brain stem is accompanied by a rudimentary interior consciousness of basic drives such as food and hunger, physiological sensaions, and sensorimotor actions (everything that we earlier called “gross,” centered on the “me”). By the time we get to the more complexmammalian limbic system, basic sensations have expanded and evolved to include quite sophisticated feelings, desires, emotional-sexual impulses, and needs (hence e beginning of what we called subtle experience or the subtle body, which can expand from “me” to “us”). As evolution proceeds to even more complex physical structures, such s thetriune brain with itsneocortex, consciousness onceagain expands to a worldcentric awareness of “all of us” (andus even begins to tap into what we called the causal body).
That is a very simple example of the fact that increasing interior consciousness is accompanied by increasing exterior complexity of the systems housing it. When using IOS, we often look at both theinterior levels of consciousness and the correspondingexterior levels of physical complexity, since includingboth of them results in a much more balanced and inclusive approach.
We will see exactly what this means in the next chapter
And Now: How do they all fit together?
What are the patterns that connect?
Let’s Start with the four profound dimensions or perspectives that hold your universe together.
IOS – and the Integral Model – would be not a “whole” but a “heap” if it did into suggest a way that all of these various components are related. How do they all fit together? It’s one thing to simply lay all the pieces of the cross-cultural survey on the table and say, “They’re all important!,” and quite another to sport the patterns that actually connect all the pieces. Discovering the profound patterns that connect is a major accomplishment of the integral approach.
In this section, we will briefly outline these patterns, all of which together are sometimes referred to as A-Q-A-L (pronouncedah-qwul), which is shorthand for “all quadrants,all levels, all lines, all states, all types”—and those are simply the components that we have already outlined (except the quadrants, which we will get to momentarily). AQAL is just another term for IOS or the Integral Map, but one that is often used to specifically designate this particular approach.
At the beginning of this introduction, we said that all 5 components of the Integral Model were items that are available to your awareness right now, and this is true of the quadrants as well.
Did you ever notice that major languages have what arecalled 1st-person, 2nd-person, and 3rd-person pronouns? The 1St-person perspective refers to “the person who is speaking,” which includes pronouns like /,me, mine (in the singular) and we, us, ours (in the plural). The 2“d-person perspective refers to “the person who is spoken to,” which includes pro-nouns likeyou andyours. The3rd-person perspective refersto “the person or thing being spoken about,” such ashe, him, she, her, they, them, it, and its.
Thus, if I am speaking to you about my new car, “I” am 1st person, “you” are 2nd person, and the new car (or “it”) is 3rd per-son. Now, if you and I are talking and communicating, we willindicate this by using, for example, the word “we,” as in, “Weunderstand each other.” “We” is technically 1st-person plural, but if you and I are communicating, then your 2nd person and my 1″ person are part of this extraordinary “we.” Thus, 2nd person is sometimes indicated as “you/we,” or “thou/ we,” or sometimes just “we.”
So we can therefore simplify 1st 2ndand 3rd person as “I””we“and“it.“
That all seems trivial, doesn’t it? Boring, maybe? So let’stry this. Instead of saying “I,” “we,” and “it,” what if we said theBeautiful, theGood, and theTrue? And what if we said thatthe Beautiful, the Good, and the True are dimensions of yourvery own being at each and every moment, including each andevery level of growth and development? And that through anintegral practice, you can discover deeper and deeper dimensions of your own Goodness, your own Truth, and your own Beauty?
Hmm, definitely more interesting. The Beautiful, the Good, and the True are simply variations on 1St-2nd-and 3rd-person pronouns found in all major languages, and they are found in all major languages because Beauty, Truth, and Goodness are very real dimensions of reality to which language has adapted. The 3rd person (or “it”) refers to objective Truth, which is best investigated by science. The 2nd person (or “you/we”) refers to Goodness, or the ways that we—that you and I—treat each other, and whether we do so with decency, honesty, and respect. In other words, basic morality. And 1st person deals with the “I,” with self and self-expression, art and aesthetics, and the Beauty that is in the eye (or the “I”) of the beholder.
http://www.crossingthethreshold.net/Crossing_The_Threshold/Ken_Wilber_files/TBT%20data.jpg” height=”282″ hspace=”12″ width=”313″ align=”left”>So the “I,” “we,” and “it” dimensions of experience reallyrefer toart, morals, andscience. Orself, culture, andnature. Or theBeautiful, theGood, and theTrue. (For some reason, philosophers always refer to those in this order: the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. Which order do you prefer? Any order is fine.)
The point is thatevery event in the manifest worldhas all 3 of those dimensions. You can look at any event from the point of view of the “I” (or how I personally see and feel about the event); from the point of view of the “we” (how not just I but others see the event); and as an “it” (or the objective facts of the event). Thus, an integrally informed path will take all of those dimensions into account, and thus arrive at amore comprehensive and effective approach—in the “I” and the “we” and the “it”—or in self and culture and nature.
If you leave out science, or leave out art, or leave out morals, something is going to be missing, something will get broken. Self and culture and nature are liberated together or notat all. So fundamental are these dimensions of “I,” “we,” and “it” that we call them the 4 quadrants, and we make them a foundation of the integral framework or 10S. (We arrive at”4″ quadrants by subdividing”it” into singular”it” and plural “its.”) A few diagrams will help clarify the basic points.
Figure 5 is a schematic of the 4 quadrants. It shows the “I” (the inside of the individual), the “it” (the outside of theindividual), the”we” (theinside of thecollective), and the “its” (the outside of the collective). In other words, the 4 quadrants—which are the 4 fundamental perspectives on any occasion (or the 4 basic ways of looking at anything)—turn out to be fairly simple: they are theinside and theout-side of the individual and the collective.
Figures 6 and 7 show a few of the details of the 4 quadrants. (Some of these are technical terms that needn’t be bothered with for this basic introduction; simply peruse the diagrams and get a sense of the different types of items you might find in each of the quadrants.)
For example, in theUpper-Left quadrant (the interior ofthe individual), you find your own immediate thoughts, feelings, sensations, and so on (all described inlst—person terms).But if you look at your individual beingfrom the outside, in theterms not of subjective awareness but objective science, youfind neurotransmitters, a limbic system, the neocortex, complex molecular structures, cells, organ systems, DNA, and so on—all described in 3rd-person objective terms (“it” and “its”). The Upper-Right quadrant is therefore what any individual event looks like from the outside. This especially includes its physical behavior; its material components; its matter and energy; and its concrete body – for all those are items that can be referred to in some sort of objective, 3rd person, or “it” fashion.
That is what you or your organism looks like from the outside, in an objective-it stance, made of matter and energy and objects; whereas from the inside, you find not neurotransmitters but feelings, not limbic systems but intense desires, not a neocortex but inward visions, not matter-energy but consciousness, all described in 1st–person immediateness. Which of those views is right? Bothof them, according to the integral approach. They are twodifferent views of the same occasion, namely you. The problems start when you try to deny or dismiss either of those perspectives. All 4 quadrants need to be included in any integral view.
http://nextnowcollab.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/picture-214.png?w=569&;h=419″ height=”379″ width=”515″>The connections continue. Notice that every “I“ is in relationship with other I’s, which means that every “I” is a member of numerous we’s. These “we’s” represent not just individual but group (or collective) consciousness, not just subjective but intersubjective awareness—or culture in the broadest sense. This is represented in theLower-Left quadrant. Likewise, every “we” has an exterior, or what itlooks like from the outside, and this is theLower-Right quad-rant. The Lower Left is often called thecultural dimension (or the inside awareness of the group—its worldview, its shared values, shared feelings, and so forth), and the LowerRight thesocial dimension (or the exterior forms and behaviors of the group, which are studied by 3rd-person sciences such as systems theory).
Again, the quadrants are simply theinside and theout-side of theindividual and thecollective, and the point is thatall 4 quadrants need to be included if we want to be as integral as possible.
A Tour through the Quadrants
We are now at a point where we can start to put all the integral pieces together: quadrants, levels, lines, states, andtypes. So let’s take a tour through the quadrants, tying all 5elements together into an integral whole. And let’s start with levels or stages.
http://www.innernet.it/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/evoluzione-lluminazione-4-quadranti.jpg” height=”256″ hspace=”12″ width=”246″ align=”left”>All 4 quadrants show growth, development, or evolution. That is, they all show some sort of stages or levels of development, not as rigid rungs in a ladder but as fluid and flowing waves of unfolding. of unfolding. This happens everywhere in the naturalworld, just as an oak unfolds from an acorn through stages ofgrowth and development, or a Siberian tiger grows from afertilized egg to an adult organism in exquisitely patterned stages of growth and development.
Likewise with humans in certain important ways. We havealready seen several of these stages as they apply to humans.In the Upper Left or “I,” for example, the self unfolds from ego-centric to ethnocentric to worldcentric, or body to mind to spirit. In the Upper Right, felt energy phenomenologically expands fromgross tosubtle tocausal. In the Lower Left, the”we“ expands fromegocentric (“me”) toethnocentric (“us”) toworldcentric (“all of us”). This expansion of group awarenessallows social systems—in the Lower Right—to expand fromsimple groups to more complex systems like nations and eventually even to global systems. These 3 simple stages in eachof the quadrants are represented in figure 8 (p. 76).
Let’s move fromlevels tolines. Developmental lines orstreams occur in all 4 quadrants, but because we are focusing on personal development, we can look at how some ofthese lines appear in the Upper-Left quadrant. As we saw,there are over a dozen different multiple intelligences or developmental lines. Some of the more important include:
- the cognitive line (or awareness of what is)
- the moral line (awareness of what should be)
- emotional or affective line (the full spectrum of emotions)
- the interpersonal line (how I socially relate to others)
- the needs line (such as Maslow’s needs hierarchy)
- the self-identity line (or “who am i?” such as Loevinger’s ego development)
- the aesthetic line (or the line of self-expression, beauty, art, and felt meaning)
- the psychosexual line, which in its broadest sense means the entire spectrum of Eros (gross to subtle to causal)
- the spiritual line (where “spirit” is viewed not just as Ground, and not just as the highest stage, but as its own line of unfolding)
- the values line (or what a person considers most important, a line studied by Clare Graves and made popular by Spiral Dynamics)
All of those developmental lines or streams can move through the basic levels or stages. All of them can be included in the psychograph. If we use maps such as RobertKegan’s, Jane Loevinger’s, or Dare Graves’s, then we wouldhave 5, 8, or even more levels or waves of development withwhich we could follow the natural unfolding of developmental lines or streams. Again,it is not a matter of which of themis right or wrong; it is a matter of how much “granularity” or “complexity” you need to more adequately understand a given situation.
We already gave one diagram of a psychograph (fig. 3).Figure 9 is another, taken from a Notre Dame business schoolpresentation that uses the AQAL model in teaching integral leadership.
As noted, all of the quadrants have developmental lines. We just focused on those in the Upper Left. In the Upper-Right quadrant, when it comes to humans, one of the most important is the bodily matter-energy line, which runs, as wesaw, from gross energy to subtle energy to causal energy. As a developmental sequence, this refers to the permanent acquisition of a capacity to consciously master these energetic components of your being (otherwise, they appear merely as temporary states). The Upper-Right quadrant also refers to all of the exteriorbehavior, actions, and movements of my objective body (gross, subtle, or causal).
In the Lower-Left quadrant, cultural development itself often unfolds in waves, moving from what the pioneering genius Jean Gebser calledarchaic tomagic tomythic tomental tointegral and higher. In the Lower-Right quadrant, systemstheory investigates the collective social systems that evolve (and that, in humans, include stages such as foraging to agrarian toindustrial toinformational systems). In figure 8,we simplified this to “group, nation, and global,” but the general idea is simply that of unfolding levels of greater social complexity that are integrated into wider systems.
Again, for this simple overview, details are not as important as a general grasp of the unfolding orflowering nature of all 4 quadrants, which can include expanding spheres ofconsciousness, care, culture, and nature. In short, the “I” andthe “we” and the “it” can evolve. Self and culture and naturecan all develop and evolve, in an almost infinite number of waves and streams, reaching from atoms to supernovas, cells to Gaia, dust to Divinity.
If we understand their limitations, diagrams can often help here, and we already have seen perhaps the simplest diagram of AQAL (or 10S), which is figure 8, depicting just quad-rants and levels. Figure 10 is a somewhat fuller version of figure 8, showing quadrants, levels, and lines. (Figure 10, bythe way, is from one that is used by UNICEF to analyze world-wide patterns of children’s hunger.)
A variation on the UNICEF mandala is shown in figure 11,where the “lines” are depicted as “spirals,” which indicates the spiraling nature of many developmental lines. But how-ever depicted—lines, spirals, or streams—all 4 quadrants are overflowing with them.
If you have a general understanding of these simple diagrams, the rest is fairly easy, and we can now quickly finish with the other components. States occur in all quadrants (from weather states to states of consciousness). We focusedonstates of consciousness in the Upper Left (waking, dreaming, sleeping), and on energetic states in the Upper Right (gross, subtle, causal). Of course, if any of those become permanent acquisitions, they have become stages, not states.
There aretypes in all of the quadrants, too, but we focused onmasculine andfeminine types as they appear inindividuals. The masculine principle identifies morewithagency and the feminine identifies morewith communion,but the point is that every person has both of these components. Finally, as was saw, there is an unhealthy type ofmasculine and feminine at all available stages—sick boy and sick girl at all waves.
Seem complicated? In a sense it is. But in another sense the extraordinary complexity of humans and their relation to the universe can be simplified enormously by touching bases with the quadrants (the fact that every event can be looked at as an I, we, or it);developmental lines (or multiple intelligences), all of which move through developmental levels (from body to mind to spirit); withstates andtypes at each of those levels.
ThatIntegral Model—”all quadrants, all levels, all lines, allstates, all types”—is the simplest model that can handle all ofthe truly essential items. We sometimes shorten all of that to simply “all quadrants, all levels”—or AQAL—where the quad-rants are, for example, self, culture, and nature, and the levels are body, mind, and spirit, so we say that the Integral Approach involvesthe cultivation of body, mind, and spirit in self, culture, and nature.
Let’s conclude what might be called this “Introduction to 10S Basic” by giving a few quick examples of its applications, or “apps”—in medicine, business, spirituality, ecology, and your individual life. This is where, I hope, you will start to see the Integral Model really come alive.
Here’s How It Works: IOS apps
But what does the Integral Vision look like on the ground in action?
Around the world, thousands of people are applying the Integral Vision in dozens of different fields, from art to ecology, medicine to criminology, business to personal transformation. Because an integral framework explicitly harnesses and includes more truth, and more potentials, than any other approach, it makes one’s work in any area radically more effective and fulfilling.
Nowhere is the Integral Model more immediately applicable than in medicine, and it is being increasingly adopted by health-care practitioners around the world. A quick trip through the quadrants will show why the Integral Model can be helpful. (See figure below:
Meaning of an illness
Social delivery system
Orthodox or conventional medicine is a classic Upper-Right quadrant approach. It deals almost entirely with the physical organism using physical interventions: surgery, drugs, medication, and behavioral modification. Orthodox medicine believes essentially in the physical causes of physical illness, and therefore prescribes mostly physical interventions. But the Integral Model claims that every physical event(UR) has at least 4 dimensions (the quadrants), and thus evenphysical illness must be looked at from all 4 quadrants (not to mention levels, which we will address later). The integral model does not claim the Upper-Right quadrant is not important, only that it is, as it were, only one-fourth of the story.
The recent explosion of interest in alternative care—notto mention such disciplines as psychoneuroimmunologyhas made it quite clear that the person’sinterior states (theiremotions, psychological attitude, imagery, and intentions)play a crucial role in both thecause and thecure of even physical illness. In other words, theUpper-Left quadrant is a key ingredient in any comprehensive medical care. Visualization, affirmation, and conscious use of imagery have empiricallybeen shown to play a significant role in the management ofmost illnesses, and outcomes have been shown to depend on emotional states and mental outlook.
But as important as those subjective factors are, individual consciousness does not exist in a vacuum; it exists inextricably embedded in shared cultural values, beliefs, and worldviews. How a culture (LL) views a particular illness—with care and compassion or derision and scorn—can have aprofound impact on how an individual copes with that illness (UL), which can directly affect the course of the physical illness itself (UR). TheLower-Left quadrant includes all of those enormous number of intersubjective factors that are crucial in any human interaction—such as the shared communication between doctor and patient; the attitudes of family and friends and how they are conveyed to the patient;the cultural acceptance (or derogation) of the particular illness (e.g., AIDS); and the very values of the culture that theillness itself threatens. All of those factors are to some degree causative in any physical illness and cure (simply be-cause every occasion has 4 quadrants).
Of course, in practice, this quadrant needs to be limitedto those factors that can be effectively engaged—perhapsdoctor and patient communication skills, family and friendssupport groups, and a general understanding of cultural judgments and their effects on illness. Studies consistently show,
Meaning of an illness
Social delivery system
for example, that cancer patients in support groups live longer than those without similar cultural support. Some of the more relevant factors from the Lower-Left quadrant are thus crucial in any comprehensive medical care.
TheLower-Right quadrant concerns all those material,economic, and social factors that are almost never countedas part of the disease entity, but in fact—like every other quadrant—arecausative in both disease and cure. A socialsystemthatcannotdeliverfood will kill you (asfamine-wrackedcountries demonstrate daily, alas). In the real world, where every entity has all 4 quadrants, a virus in the UR quadrant might be the focal issue, but without a social system (LR) that can deliver treatment, you will die. That is not a separate is-sue; it is central to the issue, because all occasions have 4 quadrants. The Lower-Right quadrant includes factors such as economics, insurance, social delivery systems, and eventhings as simple as how a hospital room is physically laid out (does it allow ease of movement, access to visitors, etc.?)—not to mention items like environmental toxins. The foregoingitems refer to the “all-quadrant” aspect of the cause and management of illness. The “all-level” part refers to the fact thatindividuals have—at least—physical, emotional, mental, andspirituallevels in each of those quadrants (see fig. 8). Someillnesses have largely physical causes and physical cures (gethit by a bus, break your leg). But most illnesses have causesand cures that includeemotional, mental, andspiritual components. Literally hundreds of researchers from around the world have added immeasurably to our understanding of the”multi-level” nature of disease and cure (including invaluable additions from the great wisdom traditions, shamanic to Tibetan Buddhist). The point is simply that by adding these levels to the quadrants, a much more comprehensive—and effective—medical model begins to emerge.
In short, a truly effective and comprehensive medical plan would be all-quadrant, all-level: the idea is simply that each quadrant or dimension (fig. 5, p. 70)—I, we, and it—has physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels or waves (fig. 8, p. 76), and a truly integral treatment would take all of theserealities into account. Not only is this type of integral treatment moreeffective, it is for that reason morecost-efficient—which is why even organizational medicine is looking at it more closely.
(If you’re interested in learning more about this approach,see the Integral Medicine Center at www.IntegralUniversity .org.)
Relational and Socially Engaged Spirituality
The major innplication of an AQAL approach to spirituality is that physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels of being should be simultaneously exercised in self, culture, and nature (i.e., in the I, we, and it domains). There are many variations on this theme, ranging from socially engaged spirituality to relationships as spiritual path, and we include all of those important contributions in Integral Life Practice (see chap. 6). The implications of an integral Spirituality are profound and widespread, and just beginning to have an impact.
But before we can fully understand what “integral spirituality” means, we mustunderstand themeaning of”spirituality” itself. And here werun into a thicket of problems.But the integral approach claims to have made sense of all of them. Does?
Shall we see?
Is this you?
“Spiritual But Not Religious”
Why is it that religion is such a complex, confusing, and polarizing force in the world?
How could something that, on the one hand, teaches so much love and life be, on the other hand, the cause of so much death and destruction?
Glib answers won’t work here. This is perhaps the most serious issue any person –or the world itself, for tht matter – will ever face. The integral Approach is known for “making sense of everything.” Can it help make sense of this? Definitely. But I’ll warn you right now, it’s tricky because what people call “spirituality” has at least 5 very different meanings, referring variously to quadrants, levels, lines, states, and types. But if you take that into account – if you take an AQAL view – there is a place for virtually all of the different approaches to this topic, and the entire thing starts to make sense. If you don’t, the overall topic of spirituality makes virtually no sense whatsoever. But put it al together, and you can indeed begin to “make sense of everything.” Shall we give it a go?
Rainbow Waves and Shimmering Streams
Let’s start with the Upper-Left quadrant, or the interior of an individual, and look more closely at this fascinating phenomenon of multiple intelligences (or developmental lines).We already saw that each of us possesses at least a dozen major developmental lines, including needs, values, cognition, morals, and self. Each of these has been investigated by numerous developmentalists. Figure 14 is a psychographsummarizing the results of a few of the best known and most highly respected of these researchers.
To begin with, you might notice that the levels or wavesof consciousness are represented with colors of the rainbow.This is a common practice in the wisdom traditions, and it al-lows us to discuss levels in a very general and, well, colorfulway. The rainbow simply represents verticalaltitude—orthedegree of development (the degree of consciousness or complexity) of any line. This also allows us easily to compare thevarious levels in numerous different developmental lines, byseeing which are at the same rainbow altitude. This is whatfigure 14 does, for example. (Don’t worry about some of theintermediary colors, like amber or teal—they were selectedso as to fit with several models that also use colors. The basic idea is as simple as a rainbow of colors representing a spectrum of consciousness….)
To the far left of the diagram is one of the better-knowndevelopmental lines, that of Maslow’s needs hierarchy, which means .. .
Well, perhaps we should stop right here and deal first with the enormous misconceptions surrounding the word “hierarchy.” For so many people, this has become a very dirty word,and for understandable reasons. But there are at least two very different types of hierarchy, which researchers call oppressive hierarchies (or dominator hierarchies) and growth hierarchies (or actualization hierarchies). A dominator hierarchy is just that, a ranking system that dominates, exploits,and represses people. The most notorious of these are thecaste systems East and West. Any hierarchy is a dominator hierarchy if it subverts individual or collective growth.
Actualization hierarchies, on the other hand, are the actual means of growth itself. Far from causing oppression, they are how you end it. Growth or developmental hierarchies classically move, in humans, from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric to Kosmocentric*(Kosmocentric means third-tier oriented. It’s from the beautiful Greek word Kosmos, which means the total universe of matter, body, mind, and spirit (and not just its pitifully lowest level of matter, which is what “cosmos” has sadly come to mean) waves. In the natural world, growth hierarchies are everywhere, the mostcommon being the unfolding from atoms to molecules to cells to organisms. Growth hierarchies are always nested hierarchies, which means that each higher leveltranscends and includes its predecessors. Organisms transcend and include cells, which transcend and include molecules, which transcend and include atoms, which transcend and include quarks, and so on. In a growth hierarchy, higher levels don’t oppress lower levels, they embrace them! They literally include them, they envelop them. Each level in a growth hierarchy is indeed ranked in a higher-archy, because it represents an increase in the capacity for care, consciousness, cognition, morals, and so on. Growth is a development that is envelopment—egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric to Kosmocentric. All of the hierarchies shown in figure 14 are growth hierarchies, or various streams flowing through waves of increasing embrace.
In short, dominator hierarchies cause oppression, growthhierarchies end it. (Can you see why it is such a disaster whenall hierarchies are condemned?)
So let’s return to Maslow’s needs hierarchy (fig. 15). Abraham Maslow’s meticulous research showed that individualstend to move through a growth sequence ofneeds. As eachlower need is met or fulfilled, a higher need tends to emerge.Physiological needs are the simplest—those for food, shelter, and basic biological necessities. If those needs are met, then an individual sense of self begins to emerge with its self-protection and safety needs. If those are met, the individual seeks not just safety butbelongingness. Once a sense of belongingness is secured, individuals tend to be motivated by the newly emerging self-esteem needs. If those are fulfilled, even higher needs of the self begin to emerge, whichMaslow calledself-actualization needs. And if those are met, individuals tend to be motivated by self-transcendence needs, or the needs not just to fulfill the self but move beyond it altogether into higher, deeper, and wider circles and waves of care and consciousness, some of which start to look decidedly transpersonal or spiritual.
Probably the most famous of the developmental sequences is that of Jean Gebser, which moves fromarchaic tomagic tomythic torational topluralistic tointegral. The great thing about Gebser’s stages is that they mean pretty much exactly what they sound like they mean. (I’ve dividedhis highest stage into two, which helps.) And as Gebser him-self pointed out, his “integral stage” is actually just the opening to higher (or “super-integral” and transpersonal) stages.
We can especially see this if we look at the developmentalstream ofcognition, or the capacity for awareness and perspectives. The cognitive line shown in figure 14 is an amalgam of the important research of Michael Commons & FrancisRichards, Jean Piaget, and Sri Aurobindo, indicating that cognition unfolds from thesensory mind to theconcrete mind to theformal mind to thehigher mind to theillumined mind to theintuitive mind to theovermind andsupermind. Noticeagain how the very highest stagesstartto looktranspersonal or spiritual.
Next we can look at the work of Clare Graves, on what he calledvalue systems, and its popularization in a modelcalled Spiral Dynamics (created by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan). At the magic-animistic stage, values are indeed “magical” and “animistic,” with elemental forces magically ruling the world. At the egocentric stage, the power drives come front and center; one’s values are those centered on “me” and “my power.” Withabsolutistic values, one’s valuesmove from “me” to “us,” or from egocentric to ethnocentric,and are believed to be given by an eternal source that is absolutely and rigidly true for everybody (whether the Bible, the Koran, or Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book); violating themwill result in temporal and possibly eternal damnation. This isoften referred to as “mythic membership,” because if you don’t believe the ethnocentric myths, you are in deep trouble.
As development moves from mythic conformist to the next stage, one’s values switch from ethnocentric to the be-ginning of worldcentric, which Graves called the switch from absolutistic to mu/tip/istic, meaning that there are multiple ways to view reality, not just one rigidly correct way. This results in a switch fromtraditional values tomodern values. This differentiation continues into the next stage, which Graves called relativistic, because not only is there a multitude of different beliefs, they are all relative, which results ina typicallypostmodern andpluralistic worldview. This view is so pluralistic, in fact, that it often ends up completely fragmented and alienated, drenched in nihilism, irony, and meaninglessness (sound familiar?). It is only at the next stage, thesystem/c, that a truly integrated and cohesive worldview can finally begin to emerge, which allows the start of what one sociologist called theIntegral Age. Dare Graves called it the switch from first-tier values (marked by their partiality) to second-tier values (marked by their integrated nature).
Dare Graves was one of the researchers who first discovered the incredibly important difference between the first tier and second tier of development. What is this extraordinary difference? All of the stages in first tier believe firmly that their values are the only true and correct values;everybody else’s are deeply confused. But starting with the leap to second tier—or the beginning of the truly integral levels—it is understood that all of the other values and stages are correct in their own ways, or are appropriate for their own levels. Second tier makes room for all of the other values, and begins to pull them all together and integrate them into larger tapestries of care and inclusivity.
In many ways, this is the same thing that Abe Maslow previously found in the leap from thedeficiency needs (of lack and scarcity) to the being needs (of self-actualization and self-transcendence), and, in fact, Graves was attempting tomake sense of this finding of Maslow’s. The developmental leap from first tier to second tier is a leap from fragmentation and alienation to wholeness and integration, from nihilism and irony to deep meaning and value.
This integral development continues into the third tier (or “super-integral” and suprapersonal) waves, two of which Jenny Wade, in her extension of the Graves system, calls transpersonal and then unitive.
All told, one’s values grow and develop from tribal to traditional to modern to postmodern to integral and super-integral, on the way to even higher unfoldings in the evolutionary future. Today, in our culture as a whole, we stand right on the brink of the extraordinary leap from first to second tier, from postmodern to integral …a leap we will come back to shortly.
Robert Kegan’s work onorders of consciousness is probably some of the most widely respected anywhere. As is thesophisticated theory and research of Jane Loevinger on thestages of self development.
One of Loevinger’s main students and successors, Susann Cook-Greuter, has done significant research on the highest or third-tier levels of self development, which are also listed in figure 14. (By the way, Robert Kegan, Don Beck,and Susann Cook-Greuter are all founding members of Integral Institute.) Don’tworry if allthe labels on this figure don’tmake sense; all of our points can be made very simply using the information you already have.
For now, you might simply notice, looking at all the streams in figures 9 and 10,that, in general, the first tier ofgrowth involves moving from prepersonal topersonal development; the second tier involves integrated personal development (and the beginning of the “integral” stages); and thethird tier involves transpersonal development (or the beginning of “super-integral” stages).
Thus, overall evolution and development moves from pre-personal to personal to transpersonal, from subconscious to self-conscious to superconscious, from pre-rational to rational to trans-rational, from preconventional to conventional to postconventional, from id to ego to Spirit. With third-tier or transpersonal development, one’s self begins toexpand beyond the personal realm andinto a realm of vastspaciousness, luminous clarity, and unitive experiences, all of which have a decidedly spiritual flavor. But unlike the magic and mythic levels, which are mere concepts and dogmatic beliefs, these are levels of direct experience and immediate awareness.
The Pre/Post Fallacy
So let’s stop and note that fact: researchers have found that the very highest stages of cognitive, moral, and self growth all take on a transpersonal or spiritual tone. Let’s callthis”highest-level spirituality,” and put that down as one ofthe important meanings of “spiritual.” (We will also refer to this aspect of spirituality as trans-rational and transpersonal spirituality.)
But let’s also note a strange, fascinating item: some of the trans-rational and transpersonal stages superficially resemble some of the pre-rational and prepersonal stages.
Because pre-conventional stages and post-conventional stages are both non-conventional, they are confused and even equated by the untutored eye. Pre-rational stages areconfused with trans-rational stages simply because both arenonrational; pre-egoic stages are confused with trans-egoicsimply because both are non-egoic; transverbal is confused with preverbal because both are nonverbal, and so on.
This confusion is known as the pre/trans fallacy (or the pre/post fallacy). Once it occurs, people make one of two big mistakes. They either reduce all trans-rational realities to pre-rational childish twaddle (think Freud), or they elevate pre-rational childish images and myths to trans-rational glory (think Jung). Both reductionism and elevationism haveplagued the discussion of spirituality from the beginning, and so one of the first things that a truly Integral approach con-tributes is a way out of that particular nightmare.
A Pre-Rational Mythic God and a Trans-Rational Unitive Spirit.
At the very least,it behooves us to recognize that thereare, based upon significant scientific and empirical research, stages of development that involve prerational, childish, preconventional, narcissistic fantasy, and those that involve postconventional, trans-rational, ego-aware, post-autonomous, transpersonal awareness. In the former (e.g., magical-animistic, mythic membership), ultimate reality is in-deed pictured as a white-haired, grey-bearded gentleman inthe sky, or somebody who walks on water and is born from abiological virgin, or an elderly sage who was 900 years old atbirth, and soon. All of these pre-rational myths are taken to be literally and concretely true. But in the latter or post conventional stages, ultimate reality is pictured as a nondual groundof being, a state of timeless presence, or a post rational (not pre-rational and not anti-rational) state of unity consciousness. The difference between the two is indeed night and day, with the dawn of reason separating them.
If we put all of the scientific research on human development together, it appears that there are indeed at least thesethree broad arcs of human psychological growth: prepersonal to personal to transpersonal, or pre-rational to rational to trans-rational, or subconscious to self-conscious to super-conscious. Each of the stages in those arcs continues to transcend and include its predecessor(s). As each new level unfolds, it enfolds its predecessor—a development that is envelopment—so that the cumulative effect is integral in-deed, just as with atoms to molecules to cells to organisms.Nothing is lost, all is retained, in the extraordinary unfolding andenfolding, developing and enveloping, transcending and including, negating and preserving, that is consciousness evolution.
We are not, at this point, talking about whether there isor is not a “real” Spirit or an actual Ground of Being. We aretalking about whether there are these three great arcs (or, sliced a slightly different way, three great tiers) of human development, and the answer is that any empirical study that has looked carefully at the entire sweep of human development has concludedyes. Those who deny the stages of superconscious and transpersonal awareness are simply and absolutely denying the scientific evidence. And frankly,we are no more obliged to take their views into account thanwe are to take seriously the churchmen who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope because they already “knew” what they would see.
So, if we now move to that most fascinating of all questions and do indeed ask if there is, or is not, an actual Groundof Being, a genuine Spirit, a real Godhead underlying all phenomena, who better to ask than those individuals who are atthe higher or highest levels—the transpersonal levels—of development? And if we do ask them, what do they say?
Well, let’s start by repeating that each of these three great arcs has its idea of what ultimate reality is. We saw that in the first arc, leading up to rationality, ultimate realityis viewed asmagic andmythic in nature. Here, to be honest,perhaps 80% of the tenets of the world’s major religions canbe found, Shinto to Christian to Islamic to Hebraic to Hindu to Buddhist to Taoist. This includes much New Age magic.
Then human development enters a period that appears to be non-religious and even anti-religious, namely, all of the stages of the second major arc, the arc of Person and Reason. Rational science here comes to the fore, bringing with it an extraordinary boon for humankind in terms of reduction of suffering and increase in longevity. Counting disease, hunger, illness, and infant mortality, rational science has alleviated more actual human suffering than all of the prerational mythicreligions combined. That science can be misused is not the is-sue; its positive gains are staggering and undeniable.
Then, right when it looked like all things religious and spiritual were in our past, relics of archaic history, comes thethird major arc. Building on the gains of rational awareness, development begins to transcend and include rationality in even larger circles of care and consciousness. Here, ultimatereality is seen not in anthropomorphic terms, which color the first arc, and not in rational terms, which color the second, but rather in terms of Being, Emptiness, Consciousness, andSuchness—terms such as a Ground of All Being; a universalConsciousness; a nondual Suchness or Is-ness; a vast, open,empty Luminous Clarity; a mirror-like Witnessing Awareness; a Godhead prior to any Trinity; a pure, infinite, transcendental, selfless Self; an unbounded, spacious, radiant, unobstructed and unqualifiable Consciousness as Such; a timeless,endless, eternal Presence or Now; a Thusness or Suchness or Is-ness of each and every moment, beyond any conceptualizations at all, but as simple and obvious as the person who isreading this page, or the sound of a robin singing, or the cool quench of the first swallow from a glass of iced tea on a hot summer’s day.
This is not your father’s religion, and not your mother’s,and certainly not your grandparent’s. And yet the vast majority of individuals who reach the stages of the third arc/tier report that reality is some version of an infinite/eternal Ground of All Being. But this transpersonal reality isat the opposite end of the spectrum of human development from the magic and mythic conceptions of the prepersonal and pre-rational arc. They are, indeed, as different as night and day, and we absolutely must, at the least, stop confusing them.
But the media, to give only the most obvious example, completely confuse pre and trans. Any transpersonal non-dual spirituality is unceremoniously lumped with, and dumpedinto, the prepersonal garbage pail. The only kinds of spirituality the media recognizes are all pre-rational.
(To make matters worse at that end, the press seems to recognize only two types of religion: fundamentalist nut-cases and New Age nutcases. Both of those, of course, are pre-rational, with the fundamentalist believing in amber dogma and myth, the New Ager believing in magenta magic. Any transrational orientation, such as transpersonal psychology, is lumped in with the New-Age nutcases. But heck,the New Agers aren’t taken seriously enough to think about.The only two people that the press knows who are “spiritual”are George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden. And the press can’t figure out which is the more dangerous.)
The fact is, conservatives tend to support the first arcand liberals tend to support the second arc, with neither oneof them even vaguely aware of the third arc. So the third arcis either dismissed entirely, or, as we said, subjected to a pre/trans fallacy and completely confused with the first arc.
Night and day indeed. So it’s worth repeating that, at thevery least, these two diametrically different kinds of “non-rational spirituality” (pre and trans) simply must be acknowledged, by the press, or at least by anybody who can read without moving their lips.
It looks very much as if the phrase “spiritual butnot religious” often applies to this third arc. And even if people who describe themselves that way are not permanently at these higher, transpersonal waves, many of them seem to be intuiting these higher realities. They do not want ego-centric magic or ethnocentric mythic religion, drenched in dogma and creed and conceptual beliefs. They want direct experience beyond words and concepts, a supramental, transrational, postconventional spirituality, with its immediate awareness and radiant consciousness. They are in-deed spiritual but not religious. And they do claim to be directly aware of a nondual, empty, open, spacious, infinite,unqualifiable Thusness, by whatever name you care to call that particular rose
Again with the Pre/Post Fallacy
Excuse my French, but the ultimate bitch when it comes to “God” or “Spirit” or “Absolute Reality” is that the whole thing is caught in a staggeringly huge pre/post fallacy. The pre-rational and the trans-rational versions of spirituality sound similar or even identical to the untutored eye, simplybecause both are “nonrational,” and hence they are treatedas basically the same by anyone caught in this pre/trans fallacy, even though they are actually poles apart. And when night and day are confused, the trans-rational stages of Nondual Consciousness—which are, wherever they appear,said to disclose an ultimate Freedom and Fullness, a Great Liberation from alienation, fragmentation, and suffering—are thoroughly confused with the pre-rational stages of a mythic God—stages that have arguably caused more human-made suffering that any other factor in history. Themeans of our Liberation are confused with the cause of mostof our misery. Then, in running from what appears to be the cause of suffering, we are running from our salvation.
This is, urn, very bad. And this confusion is everywhere,not only in the press, but in the religions themselves and theculture at large. Yet it is stopped in its tracks by an 105. Sim-ply by looking at the “levels” aspect of AQAL, these incredibly important differences can be first, spotted, and second, utilized.
At the same time, let’s be honest about the numbers involved here. Studies consistently show that around70% of the world’s population is at ethnocentric (or lower) levels of development. That is, at or below mythic, amber, conformist.* Put yet another way, about 70% of the world’s population are fundamentalists (or lower) in their spiritual orientation. About 30% are at the second arc (orange to turquoise). And less than 1% are stably at the transpersonal stages. But those transpersonal stages do exist, they are there, and they are open to any who want to take up a trans-formative practice, such as Integral Life Practice (ILP), in order to engage them. (For the details of an ILP, please see chap. 6.)
So that is the first meaning of “spirituality”: the highest (or third-tier) levels in any of the lines. Now let’s check in with lines themselves.
Spiritual Intelligence: Let’s Check in with lines
Less than 1% are stably at the third arc or tier? (The third arc and the thirdtierrefer to essentially the same stages, those that are transpersonal. Second tier and second arc are slightly different, in that “second tier” refers to levels that are the first to be integrative (namely, teal and turquoise), while “second arc” is broader and refers to levels that are personal (roughly, orange to turquoise). These are just different ways to group the same developmental levels) Yup. Anyway you slice it, not very many people, at this time in history, have grown and evolved into the transpersonal stages or waves of consciousness.
Does that mean that less than 1% of humanity are genuinely spiritual? Or, to say the same thing from a different angle, does that mean that you have to be at indigo or higher in order to have any genuine spiritual awareness at all? Surely that isn’t correct. Something seems wrong here.
And indeed, something is. What’s wrong is that we haven’tcompleted our AQAL sweep. We haven’t finished looking atspirituality from all of the quadrants, levels, lines, states, andtypes. So let’s look next at “lines.” Is there aspiritual line of development? Is there a spiritual intelligence?
The answer is, almost certainly. In a ground-breaking series of research studies, James Fowler has mapped out some of the basic stages of the spiritual stream or line. So let’s pause and look more carefully at this line. And while we are doing so, you might keep asking yourself: at what stage or wave am I in this important stream?
Here (below and in fig. 16) are Fowler’s stages of spiritual intelligence, and notice right off that theyare—no surprise—a variation on the general levels of archaic, magic, mythic, rational, pluralistic, integral (and super-integral). Those aresimply some of the more common names for the rainbow or altitude of consciousness, and they naturally show a great similarity with the specific names of Fowler’s stages.
Fowler’s stages are:
0. preverbal, predifferentiated
- 1.projective-magical, 1st-person dominated
- 2.mythic literal, concrete myths and stories
- 3.conventional, conformist, 2″d-person dominated
- 4.individual reflexive, beginning of 3rd-person
- 5.conjunctive, pluralistic, dialectical, multiculturally sensitive
- 6.postconventional, universal commonwealth
- 7.transpersonal or nondual commonwealth
I believe that the meanings of most of those are obvious,and we will define any new terms we need as we go along. Thepoint is simply that, from the available evidence, it appearsthat you do NOT have to be at the very highest levels in any ofthe lines in order to possess some sort of spirituality. Not only are there altered states or peak experiences of authentic spirituality (which we will cover in a moment), spirituality it-self grows and develops through every level of consciousness, not just the highest. In other words, not only is there a highest-level spirituality (and, see below, analtered-states spirituality), there is adevelopmental-line spirituality, aspiritual intelligence.
This line, like most of the multiple intelligences, appearsto begin somewhere in the earliest years. Even as an adult,you still might only be at stage 1 in your spiritual intelligence, but you are NEVER without some form of spiritual intelligence or spiritual awareness.
So what aspect or dimension of spirituality does spiritual intelligence refer to? How is that aspect of spirituality defined?
Different researchers have defined spiritual intelligencein different ways, based on the type of research and resultsthey are dealing with. But perhaps the simplest and easiestinvolves the following. Paul Tillich said that “spiritual” refersto that which indicates a person’sultimate concern. At year one, your ultimate concern may be where to get food, but you are never without some sort of that awareness and meaning-investment. The human organism seems to have evolved, as one of its inherited multiple intelligences, the capacity or smarts for handling ultimate concern.
When it comes to this aspect or dimension of spirituality,everybody has religion. If you are at an orange level of thespiritual line—the individual-reflexive—you may have a veryformal, rational version of ultimate concern, as when we say,”Logic is Spock’s religion.” But it is not something you are ever simply without. You can have:
- an archaic spirituality (food/sex fetish),
- a magic spirituality (voodoo, Santeria),
- a mythic spirituality (fundamentalism, mythic membership God/Goddess),
- a rational spirituality (scientific materialism, logo-centrism),
- a pluralistic spirituality (postmodernism as the answer to everything, pluralitis),
- a systems spirituality (deep ecology, Gaiasophy),
- an integral and super-integral spirituality (AQAL),
and so on. Remember, in any of the multiple intelligences, thecontents of any level in the line oftenvary dramatically from person to person and culture to culture
The “level” part doesn’t determine the specific content of one’s ultimate concern, but simply the degree of development, complexity, and consciousness that goes into one’s ultimate concern, whatever it is, at that level.
So:what level of God do you believe in? Is the food of yourultimate concern, the stuff of your ultimate reality, physicalfood, emotional food, mental food, transpersonal food? What is the altitude of your reality? How high is your God?
In short, What do you worship? Because it’s definitely something…
States and Stages
At this point, perhaps we can start to see how useful theAQAL model (or 10S) is for making sense of spirituality. Notice that even the two aspects of spirituality we have discussed thus far—highest-level spirituality and developmental-line spirituality—seem almost contradictory at points. For example, highest-level spirituality claims that children do not possess any authentic spirituality, whereas developmental-line spirituality claims that they do. (You would not believe the academic food fights that have been generated by that absolutely fruitless debate.)
Put that debate another way: We have seen that virtually 100% of people have a spiritual intelligence, and yet less than1% are at the highest levels of that, or any, line. If by “spiritual” you mean “the highest levels of any line,” then only the highest levels of the spiritual line are spiritual.
Get it? The identical word “spiritual” is used in two completely different ways. If we didn’t explicitly spot this usingan AQAL model (or something similar), we’d be completely contradictory and lost, or at least darned confused.
And the confusion would just be starting. There are otheraspects of spirituality, or other ways that people commonlyuse the term “spirituality,” other than levels and lines. For onething, there are states of consciousness that appear spiritual,such as somepeak experiences, altered states, religious experiences, andmeditative states. And, indeed, this appears tobe one of the most common ways that people think of spirituality. It is certainly something thatwe wouldnotwantto leaveout of any inventory of religious or spiritual phenomena.
We have seen that virtually 100% of people have a spiritual intelligence and less than 1% of them are at the highest levels of that line. But what about states? How often do states occur? Well, when was the last time you got high?
Okay, sorry. Let’s put it this way: research consistentlyshows that you can be at virtually any level or stage of growthand have profound and authentic religious experiences, peakexperiences, or altered states. The way we put this in chap-ter 2 was: “The reason these peak experiences are possible isthat many of the major states of consciousness (such as waking-gross, dreaming-subtle, and formless-causal) are ever-present possibilities.” Like those natural states, certain religious or spiritual states seem to be ever-present, or at least ever-available.
What are some typical spiritual states or peak experiences in the waking state? A quite typical one is that you are walking in nature and you have a peak experience of being one with all of nature. Call thatnature mysticism. What is a type of spiritual state or spiritual experience in the dream state? You might be dreaming of a great cloud of luminous, radiant love, and you might even feel that you are becoming one with that infinite love. Call that deity mysticism. With reference to the deep dreamless-formless state, is it possible to have a spiritual experience focused on that? It appears so, because some spiritual or religious experiences are de-scribed as empty, formless, unmanifest—the Void, Abyss, Urgrund, Ayin, and so on. Call thisformless mysticism. (We also call it causal mysticism, after the causal or formless state it-self.) Finally, there are quite common experiences of flow states, where an individual feels one with everything that is arising in any state. Call that nondual mysticism.
Now, the point is that you can have any of these spiritual state experiences at virtually any stage of development, simply because at every stage you happen to wake, dream, andsleep. You can be at, say, orange altitude in any of the developmental lines and have a gross, subtle, causal, or nondual peak experience.
One of the things that researchers have learned over the past three decades about the relationship between states and stages is extraordinarily important: you will interpret any spiritual (meditative, altered)state of consciousness ac-cording to yourstage of consciousness. That is, according to your altitude of development. (Actually, of course, one will interpret one’s experience according to one’s entire AQAL matrix, but levels/stages are a particularly important component of that overall interpretation, and the one we are emphasizing here.)
To give an example of this, let’s use a simple 7-level schemeofstages of consciousness (archaic, magic, mythic, rational, pluralistic, integral, super-integral) and 4 types of states of consciousness (gross, subtle, causal, nondual), which gives us4 x7 or 28 types of spiritual or religious experience. And we have found evidence for every single one of them… .
This grid or lattice of state/stage combinations is called the Wilber-Combs Lattice, after its two founders (and after months of my explaining to Allan Combs how silly “The Combs-Wilber Lattice” sounded). Figure 17 gives one example of the W-C Lattice.
Let me give a quick example of how this Lattice works.Let’s say a person has a peak experience of seeing a cloud ofradiant white luminosity, which at times appears to be a per-son or being of light, and then has a sense of merging intothat light, feeling a sense of infinite love and unbounded bliss.Let’s say that this person is a Protestant, whose Lower-Left quadrant has predisposed his interpretations to see and clothe this experience in Christian terms. What will this person see?
If he’s atred altitude, he might see this as a magical Jesus who can walk on water, resurrect the dead, turn waterinto wine, multiply loaves and fishes, and so on. Atamber, hemight see Jesus as the eternal lawgiver, the bringer of complete salvation if one believes the myths and dogmas andfollows the codes, commandments, and covenants given tothe chosen people and found in the one and only true Book (the Bible). At orange, this person might see Jesus as a universal humanist, yet also divine, teaching worldcentric love and morality, and who can bring salvation not just in heaven but to some degree on this earth, in this life. At green, this person might see Jesus as one of many, equallyvalid spiritual teachers, and hence embracing Jesus mightgive complete salvation for me, which is why I passionately do so, but other individuals and cultures might find other spiritual paths to be better for them, knowing that all genuine spiritual paths, if they go deep enough, can offer an equal salvation or liberation. If this person is flying at turquoise, he might see Jesus as a manifestation of the sameChrist-consciousness that everybody, including you and me,can have complete access to, and thus Jesus is emblematicof a transformative consciousness that shows each person to be part of a vast system of dynamic, flowing, and mutually interpenetrating processes that includes all of us in its radiant sweep. Atviolet andultraviolet, Christ-consciousness might be seen as emblematic of the transcendental, in-finite, selfless Self, the divine consciousness that was in Jesus and is in you and in me, a radically all-inclusive consciousness of Light, Love, and Life that is resurrected from the stream of time upon the death of the loveless and self-contracting ego, revealing a destiny beyond death, beyondsuffering, beyond space and time and tears and terror, andhence found to be right here, right now, in the timeless moment in which all reality comes to be.
In other words, the altered-state experience will be interpreted, in part, according to the stage that one is at. There isa magic Christ, a mythic Christ, a rational Christ, a pluralisticChrist, an integral and super-integral Christ, and so on. This,of course, is true of any experience, but it becomes particularly important with spiritual and religious experiences. A person can be at a fairly low-level stage of development, such as red or amber, and yet have a fully authentic subtle- or causal-state experience.
The reborn fundamentalist and evangelical is a very common example. This personknows that they have experienced Christ (or Allah, or Mary, or Brahman) personally, andnothing you can say will even begin to convince them other-wise. And it’s half true: they have had an authentic, vivid, real, and immediate experience of a subtle-state reality. But they are interpreting that state through stages that are egocentric or ethnocentric: Jesus, and only Jesus, has the one true way. Worse, their real or authentic state experience of love will actuallyreinforce their ethnocentrism. Only those who accept Jesus as their personal savior can find salvation; everybody else is consigned to eternal damnationand hellfire by an all-loving and all-forgiving God. Does that intense contradiction make any sense? Well, it does if you use the W-C Lattice.
The existence of states of consciousness allows us to see why people can have experiences that are very spiritual and very authentic, in some ways, even if they are at relatively low levels of development. This is also why they can be so commonplace. While the percentage of the population that is at the very highest (third-tier) levels of development inany of the lines appears to be less than 1%, those who report having had some sort of spiritual or religious experience is well over 75%, according to many polls. Using 105, all of thisotherwise completely conflicting data begins to make sense: 1% have had higher-stage spiritual experiences; 75% have had altered-state spiritual experiences.
Of course, the ideal situation for a person is to be at thehigher stages of development as well as have a broad rangeof significant state experiences, such as meditative and contemplative states. As it is now, some spiritual practitioners focus only on meditative states, unaware or disdainful of developmental stages, which is unfortunate. Combining both is one of the main aims of an Integral Life Practice, which we will return to in the next chapter.
Quadrants: Where is Ultimate Reality?
We have seen that what people are referring to as“spirituality” can be something that is occurring in the highest levelsor stages of any line, or it can be a developmental line itself,or it can refer to various altered states of consciousness: levels,lines, and states. What about types and quadrants?
We can do this part very quickly, since the basic idea isnow apparent, I think. “Types” is an important aspect or definition of spirituality, in that many people equate “spiritual” with some type of quality, such as love, kindness, equanimity, wisdom, and so on.
While this is true, if you look at each of those qualities,itbecomes obvious that they show development. We saw this with Carol Gilligan and the quality of care or compassion, which develops from selfish to care to universal care to integrated. So although we definitely include types, it usually reverts very quickly to one of the previous definitions involving levels and/or lines. For example, we might say that spirituality involves love, and that to be spiritual is to be loving. But love itself develops from egocentric love to ethnocentric love to worldcentric love to Kosmocentric love, and only the higher of those levels are truly spiritual. Narcissistic or egocentric love is not usually thought of as terribly spiritual.5o those who say, “All we need is love,” haven’t fully thought through their position very well.
Quadrants come into play when various theorists are trying to explain what they think is the “really real” makeup ofthe world (fig. 18). Where is ultimate reality in your conception? Not just what level is your God, but what quadrant is your God?
Is matter the primary reality? Or are spirit and consciousness the primary ingredients? Or perhaps you think that all of those “superstructures” of religion can be reduced to the “base” of economic realities? Or perhaps that all our knowledge is just a social construction?
“Mind is reality”
“Mind is reality”
“Culturally- constructed meaning is reality.”
Extreme Systems Theory
“The web of life is reality.”
If you think matter is the ultimate reality (i.e., the Upper-Right quadrant is the only real quadrant), then any spiritualexperience or belief will be nothing but an illusion, an epiphenomena of brain states and their physiological fireworks. God is just an imaginary friend for grown-ups. All such spiritual beliefs are “nothing but” physical fireworks in the material brain.
If you think spirit and consciousness (Upper-Left quadrant) are the ultimate realities, then you will believe just theopposite: the entire world of material form is the fallen realmof illusion, and those who believe in it are lost in ignorance, sin, maya, samsara.
If you think the systems view of reality (the Lower-Rightquadrant) is the ultimate view, then all religious and spiritualbeliefs are nothing but manifest structure-functions that are determined by the “real” realities of social system, thetechno-economic base, and interwoven webs of dynamic processes, all as 3rd-personits and nothing but 3rd-personits.
And if you think the Lower-Left quadrant is the only realquadrant, then all aspects of knowledge—including all of our ideas about systems themselves, not to mention God and Spirit—are nothing but social constructions. Not “I” nor “it”nor “its” are finally real, but rather the almighty “we” creates literally all reality.
Doesn’t this kind ofquadrant absolutism bore the day-lights out of you? It does me, I must confess. For AQAL, all ofthe quadrants are equi-primordial; none are more real or primary than the others; they all tetra-arise and tetra-evolve together. Ultimate reality, if it is to be found anywhere, is found in their simultaneous arising and radiant display, mutually creating and mutually sustaining each other.
Is Spirit Real or Not?
With all of this research on higher states and stages of awareness, can we finally say with any sort of confidence whether there is or is not a real Spirit, a real Godhead, a real Ground of All Being?
I’ll repeat that if we are going to try to decide that ultimate question, it would certainly help if we checked with the answers given by those at the highest stages of development, don’t you think? Not that we have to believe everythingthey say, but simply check on whether they give some sort of consistent response here.
As you might expect, they do. And it is as previously suggested, namely, the ultimate Ground of Being is not pictured inmagic terms or mythic terms, nor is it seen as something out-side of or merely transcendent to this world, but rather the Suchness or Thusness of this world, or even the Emptiness of aII of all that is arising (with “Emptiness” meaning the unqualifiable openness or transparency of each moment). Sometimes it is described in terms that imply an ultimate Intelligence or present Awareness or infinite Consciousness. We are not talking about a mythic, dualistic intelligence that designs things deliberately the way a watchmaker creates watches. It is an intelligence that knows a thing by being it and simultaneously bringing it forth. It is the Self of all that exists, so that knowing and being, or subject and object, are one in a nondual presence. If it is described as a subject, it is a subject so free of objects that no descriptions whatsoever can capture it—a vast,open Witness, an Absolute Subjectivity, a Mirror Mind, which is one with its reflections and reflects them all impartially, equally, effortlessly, spontaneously, a Big Mind that endlessly embraces all, yet is fully here and now. If it is described in termsof Being, is it not an ontological substance but the Suchness or is-ness of things, prior to concepts and feelings and thoughts and images, but easily touched right here and now as the simple feeling of Being. If it is described in personal terms, it is a Godhead beyond any God and Goddess, an Intelligence-Abyss from which all things issue in this moment. It is “eternal,” not as something that is everlasting, but something that is ever present, since the timeless Now is without time. (Didn’t even Wittgenstein—the influential modern philosopher known for his insistence on facts and logic—say: “If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present”?) In other words, not something that goes on in time forever but a moment without time at all. An endless moment, it turns out, a timeless Now and pure Present that holds all time in the palm of its hand, if you but know where to find it.
There are as many “descriptions” of this Spirit as there are those at the ultraviolet waves of consciousness unfolding. Yet they all agree that Spirit—by whatever name and beyond all multiculturalism—is the Ground and Goal of all existence, an infinite Reality existing behind, beyond, above, within, and as the entire manifest universe*.
(*Let’s clarify a point for advanced students. What’s the difference between, let’s say,the overmindstructure and the causal state, since they sound similar? Both have access to the Witness, but the overmind is a stage instructural development—and alldevelopment is envelopment, or a series ofwhole/parts or holonsthat transcend andinclude all previous development, and thus stages are inclusionary; whereas statesare not inclusionary but exclusionary (e.g., you cannot be drunk and sober at the sametime, nor awake and dreaming at the same time, nor in dreamless sleep and dreamingat the same time, etc.). Thus, the overmind structure-stage is a pure witnessingawarenessthat is also a unitive knowledge and awarenessthat includes all previousobjects as they continue to arise (not excludes them); the overmind is thus a capacityto be aware of all previousstructures, a7″ chakrathat operates on the previous 6chakras (which are now all fully present and conscious as “operands”). The causalstate is a consciousness without objects, the same witnessing awareness but with nothing as its “object,” a vast opennessthat is its own blissful operand. The former isan inclusivestructure; the latter, an exclusive state. Even Buddhas continue to wake,dream, and sleep, which showsthat even in Buddhas, states continue to be exclusionary in themselves, even though the Witness is now free of all of them and thus, in theovermind, all of their capacities can be and are integrated.)
Is there a proof for that God? Yes, absolutely, and here it is: develop to the ultraviolet waves of your own awareness and then look. And taste, touch, feel, breathe, and tell us what you see.
But one thing is for sure: it is not a mythic God, it is not scientific materialism, it is not pluralism. All three of those have failed to give satisfactory answers to the riddle of existence, and that is exactly why. They were not yet whole enough to see the Big Picture of your own Being, your own Becoming, and your own Awakening.
The many faces of Spirit, indeed… .
Using the AQAL matrix, we realize that “spirituality” can be used, and has been used, to refer to quadrants, levels/ stages, lines, states, and types. Each of these usages is valid, but we must state which aspect of spirituality we are refer-ring to, because otherwise our conclusions are all diametrically opposed to each other and end up deeply contradictory.No wonder the field of spirituality remains perhaps the single most confused topic that any human can discuss.
But begin using 10S, and suddenly it all starts to make sense, at least enough to climb out of the nightmare of fundamentalism (amber), the depressing emptiness of scientific modernity (orange), or the wasteland of whatever (green). Moving in the direction of the supramental, transpersonal, and superconscious waves of evolution, Spirit itself seems tosmile, announce its presence, and awaken to the umpteenth game of “hide and seek” with its own being and becoming.
There is a Spirit for each and every wave of awareness,since Spiritis that very Awareness appearing in the different levels of its own development, the same Awareness that slumbers in the mineral, stirs in the plant, moves in the animal, revives in the human, and returns to itself in the awakened sage. Most extraordinarily, all of us—including me and you—are invited to become an awakened sage ourselves.
Shall we see?
Integral Life Practice: Get A life!
The purpose of an integral life practice is to realize the full spectrum of your unique and special capacities
Through daily practice in a variety of areas or modules, you can experience greater freedom and fullness in your life
The awakened sage is not merely a rare oddity, living alone in a cave in India or perched on a mountain top in Tibet. The awakened Sage – or simply awakened Human – is actually the nature of our very own consciousness, even here and now, in the deepest forms and highest waves. Realizing that is the goal of integral life practice.
MOST OF THE “IOS APPS“ WE HAVE LOOKED AT TEND TO FOCUS on some of the practical applications of the Integral Approach,in medicine, business, and ecology, and its use in helping to make sense of spirituality. What about the experiential and practical aspects of my own awareness, growth, transformation, and awakening?
The practical, 15t-person, experiential dimension of the Integral Approach is called Integral Life Practice, or ILP.
The basic nature of ILP is simple. If you take body, mind,and spirit (as levels), and self, culture, and nature (as quad-rants), and then you combine them, you get 9 possible areas of growth and awakening. Integral Life Practice is the first approach to cross-combine all of those for the most effective personal transformation possible.
To give a slightly more expanded example: if you look at figure 8 (p. 76), you will notice that 3 levels in 4 quadrants gives you 12 zones. Integral Life Practice has created practical exercises for growth in all 12 zones, a radically unique and historically unprecedented approach to growth, development, and awakening.
Let’s focus on the Upper quadrants—the individual quadrants—to see what is involved. These zones are so important that we refer to them as the core modules—body, mind, spirit, and shadow. To give an example of what is involved, I will give the “1-Minute Modules” that have been developed for each of them. These are considerably shortened versions of the extended modules, but these brief versions manage to capture the essentials of each module in a verycondensed and distilled fashion. Of course, we recommendthat you do the fuller versions of the various modules and practices, but the 1-Minute Modules are remarkably effective if you only have a short amount of time, or if you want to capture the flavor and some of the effects of the fuller versions.
Let me emphasize that you do not have to do the ILP version of an integral practice. You can create your own integral practice and have it be very effective. Simply use thegeneral guidelines in this chapter and as summarized in theILP Matrix (pp. 170-171). As you can see in that table, any number of practices can be used in the various modules. The idea is simply to pick one practice from the each of thebasic modules and then engage them concurrently. You canadd auxiliary modules if you wish, and then go! If you wantto use the ILP Starter Kit designed by IntegralInstitute—or the Integral Life Practice Handbook (forthcoming from Integral Books)—that‘s fine, too, since the researchers at I-I have done most of the work for you and created in-depth instructional materials which considerably expand upon those given here (www.MylLP.com). But believe me, either way is just fine.
Body, Mind, Spirit, and Shadow—these are the core modules. But if you think that this is the standard “NewAge”or “holistic” or “spiritual” approach, that would be your first mistake.
To begin with, “body” doesn’t mean merely the typicalfeeling body of New-Age spirituality, nor is it the standardphysical body of Western medicine. It’s both of them, plusmore. It refers to the gross physical body, the subtle energy body, and the causaltranscendent body. ILP involves exercising all of them, or what we call the 3-Body Workout.
The 3-Body Workout includes exercisesfor the physicalbody, such asweightlifting and aerobics. It also incorporatesexercises for the subtle body of emotion, imagination, andfelt meaning, including variations on tai chi and qigong. And itincludes exercises for the causal body, such as feeling to infinity and the circle of light and life.
Here are some of the 1-Minute Modules for the 3-Body Workout.
1 – minute module
This is a simplified form of any basic weightliftingexercise. It is theshortest and easiest way to keep muscles toned and strong. In this exercise, we strengthen our muscles by quickly challenging themto failure and thenletting them recover. Our body re-grows the muscle tissue in order to meet the same challenge the next time. By taking this principle of challenge, failure, and recovery into account, work-outs can be extremely simple, quick, andeffective.
To increase muscle strength, choose one muscle group to work on (e.g., biceps, chest, abs, legs). You can use a barbell, dumbbells, a machine, or your ownbody weight (e.g., squats, push-ups, sit-ups). Warm up.Then do the exercise until you bring the muscle groupto full exhaustion. If you’re using weights, this shouldtake somewhere between 8 to 12 repetitions. That’s it—you’re done!
One day, one set, one muscle group. For your nextstrength training session, simply choose adifferent muscle group … and repeat. A minute or two each day. You’ll be shocked at the improvement injust one month. Try it!
Research showsthat increasing your aerobic capacitydoes not necessarily require extended runs or conditioning exercises. You can derive incredible benefitsjustwith a few quick cycles ofgetting your heart rate up and then resting—also called interval training.
To improve cardiovascular health, pick any aerobicexercisethat will raise yourheartrate—it could berunning, biking, or even jump-roping. Warm up, andthenperform the activity until yourheart-rate rises to about 80% of its maximum ( about just when you start to get short of breath). Once there, stop the activity and completely rest for a brief period. Repeat 2 or 3 times.
Note: Due to the risk of injury, we recommend that beginners seek experienced guidance before performing this exercise.
- 1.Causal Body
Standing and breathing naturally…
Notice the suchness, the is-ness of this and every moment. I am this suchness. I am the openness in which all things arise.
Inhale, exhale, and inhale. Palms together at heart and then hands crossed over chest, and then, on last exhale, opening up both hands along either side….
I breathe out and release to infinity.
- 2.Subtle Body
Inhaling, hands gather energy, coming to fingers loosely interlaced…..
I breathe into the fullness of life.
Exhaling, ha nds move up the front, palms facing the sky…..
I breathe out and return to light..
Inhaling, hands come down along the sides, returning to fingers loosely interlaced…
Completing the circle, I am free and full.
Continue for a total of 8 arm circles, tongue on palate (completing the “microcosmic orbit”). Exhaling, hands move up the front to the sky; hands circles back out and down.
- 3.Physcial Body
Touch belly with hands, inhaling and exhaling…
Infinite freedom and fullness appear as this precious human body.
Inhaling and exhaling, squat gently, touching the ground….
Touching the earth, I am connected to all beings….
Bow in Four Directions (turning right, clockwise).
May my consciousness/and my behavior/ be of service to all beings/ in all worlds/ liberating all/ into the suchness/ of this and every moment.
Mind Module: The AQAL Frame work
The module that is perhaps the most important in all of Integral Life Practice is the Mind module, simply because it is the missing link between body and spirit. Spiritual practitioners around the world commonly say that we need to include and honor “body, mind, and spirit,” but, in fact, during the past two decades, mind has been left out of the equation al-most entirely, and the feelings of the body have taken centerstage, so much so that immediate feelings and experiences have often been equated with spiritual awareness itself. Mind or intellect has not only been left out, it has been called”non-spiritual” and even “anti-spiritual,” the idea apparentlybeing that you should “come from your heart,” bypassing theobstruction known as your brain. “Don’t intellectualize, don’t conceptualize, but instead just feel, just be experiential”—those words rang out across the country as spiritual practitioners everywhere believed that, in order to find spirit, you must “lose your mind and come to your senses.”
Well, try it. And after a decade or so of you losing yourmind, you might decide to turn in the other direction. Mind isactually the link between body and spirit. Mind or intellect, inSanskrit, isbuddhi, from which allBuddhas are born. Mind is what holds body and spirit together. Mind issues straight from spirit, and is both the first expression of spirit and the highest level on the return to spirit. As the dimension between body and spirit, mind anchors spirit in the body andraises the body up to spirit, giving spirit its groundings, andgiving the body its spiritual direction, which otherwise wouldbe lost in its own sensations, sights, and sentiments. Spiritual growth itself moves from egocentric bodily feelings, which can only feel themselves, to mind, which can take therole of others and thus begin to expand beyond the ego, and from there into the worldcentric embrace of spirit. To put yourself in somebody else’s shoes is a mental operation, acognitive operation, and thus to feel feelingsother than your own requires the mind, the intellect. It is mind that allows awareness to rise above the prison of its egocentric feelings and begin to radically expand beyond itself on the way to embracing the entire Kosmos—of feelings and thoughts and luminous awareness: body and mind and spirit, with mind the missing link.
Without a cohesive and comprehensive mental frame-work, things fall apart faster than you can sing “Feelings.”Over the past three decades, one fact has surfaced time andtime again: without a mental framework to actually hold spiritual experiences, those experiences just don’t stick.
In Integral Life Practice, we use the AQAL View or Frame-work, simply because it is the only genuinely integral view that we are aware of at this time. AQAL is not a “mere abstraction” but a living, luminous, experiential reality. In fact, most people report that it ispsychoactive. Once you learn AQAL—or once you download 10S into your biocomputer—then it acts as an internal checklist, automatically alerting you to areas of your own capacities thatyou might not be utilizing as fully as you could. It imposes nothing from the outside, but lights up the insides of your own possibilities. It is also psychoactive in the sense of changing the very nature of what you thought was availablein your own being. And, finally, it is fun: if you actually get it, it’s not hard, it’s thrilling.
Making Sense of Everything
Many people use a simple phrase to explain the excitement of working with the AQAL module—”Making sense ofeverything”—which is what the AQAL Framework helps to do.In fact, it was first designed as a way to index all of the varioustypes of human activity. The result of over 30 years of re-search by myself and many other scholars, it delivered a wayfor us to classify and index all the major forms of knowledgeand experience. (We used it thatway in this book when we indexed the various meanings of “spirituality,” for example.)
But it soon became obvious that it was useful in many other areas, including as a rather extraordinary map of ourown awareness (or otherwise it wouldn’t work as an indexingsystem). We then compared it with over 100 maps of the human bodymind from around the world—premodern, modern,and postmodern—and used all of them to fill in the gaps leftby the others. That “composite map” had 5 simple elements, and that’s how AQAL was born.
If you start using AQAL, you can check for yourself and see if it starts to help you “make sense of everything.” Take,for example, the conflict between religion and science. Barbara Walters recently had a TV special called “Heaven.” In it,she first interviewed many of the most popular of today’s spiritual teachers, such as the Dalai Lama, and each of themexplained how deeply meaningful and significant spiritual lifeis to them. Then, in the second half of the show, she inter-viewed well-known scientists, every one of whom explained,in so many words, that spiritual experiences are nothing butphysical fireworks in the material brain. There is no spirit, onlymatter, they explained, and people who believe in the formerare obviously hooked on infantile illusions and whatnot.
It was so weird watching this, because you soon realizethat the way everybody on this show was thinking, if eitherhalf of them is right, the other half is dead wrong. If the scientists are right, the spiritual authorities are all caught in illusions—and vice versa! Either way, half of all humans are spending their lives on nothing but illusions! It makes no sense at all.
What does make sense is that they are both right. Thespiritual folks are talking about the Upper-Left quadrant, and the scientists are talking about the Upper-Right quadrant.
Or take theculture wars. If the above example relatesparticularly to quadrants, the culture wars relate especiallyto levels. Although there are many different aspects to the culture wars, they focus on an intense battle between traditional values,modern values, andpostmodern values. These are almost exactly amber, orange, and green altitudes, respectively. Remember that all first-tier levels believe that their values are the only real values anywhere in existence, with all the others caught in deep confusion at best, total illusion at worst. Well, welcome to the culture wars! It’s literally almost that simple.
What we are awaiting, of course, is the great leap to second tier, where the first genuine integration of the variouslevels starts to take place, and where one’s awareness risesabove the crossfire of the culture wars and into the spacious openness of integral awareness, on the way to its ownsuprapersonal realization and enlightenment. In this and somany other areas, using an Integral or AQAL Framework, suddenly things make sense. Suddenly there is a place foreverything in your life. A great depth of peace and certaintydescends on your being, as the mind makes room for all ofthe Kosmos, and not just a little simpering slice of it here and there. Joy returns to thought; the intellect actually lights up—and lightens up—as it’s supposed to; and luminous clarity defines each moment in the world of all things integral.
Most importantly, there is indeed a place for everythingin your life. Everything has meaning, because everything fits.Meaning returns to one’s life. This is perhaps the single mostimportant and quickly noticeable item about the Integral Approach: everything fits, and thus meaning returns.
On the other side of irony, there is meaning. On the otherside of a fractured and fragmented world, there is meaning.On the other side of despair, there is meaning. Try the Integral Framework out for just a while, give it a test drive, and see what you think. But whatever framework or view you use, please make it as large and encompassing as you can,because the meaningfulness of your life almost certainly depends on it.
Here is the 1-Minute Module for the Mind, or Integral (AQAL) Framework, focusing on three levels (body, mind,spirit) and four quadrants (the “big three” of I, we, and it). It’scalled “Get a Feel for AQAL,” because this Framework is not amere abstraction but a map of a felt and living reality.
1 – Minute Module
Get a Feel for AQAL
The cornerstone of the AQAL Framework is an understanding of perspectives. In any moment, you can feel these basic dimensions of your being, simply by noticing what is already present.
- Feel your present I-space or individual awareness. What does it feel like to be an “1” right now?Feel that I-ness.
- Feel your present We-space or intersubjective awareness. What does it feel like to be in relationship to others right now? (If no other people are present, you can imagine a significant other, your family, or your co-workers. You can even try to feel what connects youto someone on the other side of the world.)Feel that We-ness.
- Feel your present It-space or objective world. What is physically surrounding you? What does the ground feel like beneath your feet? Feel that It-ness.
- Now, feel your body—your feelings and sensations.
- Feel your mind—your thoughts and images
- Finally, feel the witness or Spirit of this and every moment—that which is aware of your 1, we, it, body, and mind, right now.
- Silently remind yourself “These are all dimensions of my being and becoming, all of which I will include, none of which l will reject.
You have just felt a very brief version of AQAL—all quadrants (I, We, It), and all levels (Body, Mind, and Spirit). This is exercisingbody, mind, andspirit inself, culture, and nature.
If I said I thought the Mind module was the most important module, I’ve changed my mind: the Shadow module is.(Well, they’re all important, yes?) Another one of the lessonsthat we learned the very hard way over the last few decadesis that if you don’t do shadow work, virtually every other module can get sabotaged, and worst of all, by your own unconscious motives.
The “shadow” is a term representing the personal unconscious, or the psychological material that we repress, deny, dissociate, or disown. Unfortunately, denying this material doesn’t make it go away; on the contrary, it returns to plague us with painful neurotic symptoms, obsessions, fears, and anxieties. Uncovering, befriending, and re-owning this material is necessary not only for removing the painful symptoms, but for forming an accurate and healthy self-image.
Take, for example, somebody who is uncomfortable withtheir own feelings of anger or aggression. Whenever placed incircumstances where the average person might get angry, orat least damned irritated, this individual won’t feel his own anger because he represses it. The anger doesn’t thereby disappear, but is simply displaced or projected onto somebodyelse. Since he knows somebody is angry as hell, and since it can’t possibly be him, it must be somebody else—anybody else. Come to think of it, his boss seems to be really angry athim! And this makes him incredibly depressed. His own feelings of anger have been repressed, alienated, and disowned,only toreturn as feelings of alienation and depression. M-A-Dhas become S-A-D, as this individual shadow-boxes his way through a rather unhappy life.
It used to bethoughtthat meditation alone would uncoveror “de-repress” most types of unconscious shadow material.Butafter several decades of people doing meditation, millionsof shadows remained intact. The reasons for this were sought,and the bottom line seems to be that unless you know exactlywhat you are looking for, the panoramic awareness of meditation is too much of a shotgun approach to get at specific shadow elements. For this, laser psychotherapy is required.
In the above example, because meditation increases yourcapacity for sensitivity and feeling-awareness, then meditation might help this person get more in touch with his feelingsof sadness and depression. He might be able to bring an enormous amount of awareness to flood the contours of his feelings of depression!—but this individual will not necessarilydiscover the anger and rage hidden and secreted in his feelingsof depression unless he knows exactly where and how to look.This psychological detective work is the province of the great depth psychologies, which was largely a discovery of the modern West. Meditation can help, but not replace, psychotherapy.
There are many effective forms of shadow psychotherapy, from Gestalttherapyto psychoanalytic therapy to Transactional Analysis. Other forms of psychotherapy, although they don’t deal directly with the shadow, can also be very effective in correcting neurotic disorders. The helpfulness of cognitive and interpersonal approaches is particularly well documented. Even inner journaling and voice dialoguing can help. We refer to all of these as “shadow work.”
But whichever form you may choose, no integral life practice is complete without some sort of shadow work. The simple suggestion is, don’t learn this lesson the hard way, be-cause your shadow can accompany you all the way to Enlightenment and back. The shadow is just one tricky little son of abitch, which I suppose is how you get to be the shadow in the first place.
Here is the 1-Minute Shadow Module, which we call “The 3-2-1 of Shadow Work” because it helps take “it” symptoms and convert them to re-owned aspects of the self by facing the shadow as a 3’d person, talking to it as a 2nd person, then being it as a 15‘ person. FACE-TALK-BE.
1 – Minute Module
You can do the 3-2-1 Process anytime you need it. Two particularly useful times are right when you wake up in the morning and just before going to bed at night. Once you know 3-2-1, it only takes a minute to do for anything that might be disturbing you.
First thing in the morning (before getting out of bed)review your dreams and find someone who showed upwith an emotional charge, positive or negative. FACEthat person, holding them in mind. Then TALK to thatperson, or simply resonate with them. Finally, BE thatperson by taking their perspective. For the sake of thisexercise, there is no need to write anything out—you can go through the whole process right in your own mind.
Before going to bed, choose a person who either disturbed or attracted you during the day. FACE them, TALK to them, and then BE them (as described above). Again, you can do the 3-2-1 process quietly by your-self, any time you need it, day or night.
Auxiliary (or Supplementary) Modules
The Body, Mind, Spirit, and Shadow modules are considered to be thecore modules because: one, they are so essential; and two, they can be done by working on yourself, mostly.Theauxiliary modules are those that start to address yourrelationships, your job or work in the world, your family, marriage life, and intimate partnerships—as well as advanced aspects of individual work.
Foremost among these is theEthics Module. In a recentIntegral Institute poll, which was sent out to some 8,000 members of www.lntegralNaked.org, an online radio program, weasked those taking the poll, “What modules would you mostlike to include in your own Integral Life Practice?” Choices included items such as meditation, work, relationships, diet, and sexuality. The #1 choice was meditation; the #2 choicewas ethics. Over food, relationships, and sex, people choseethics. Apparently our culture is so bereft of moral compass,individuals are absolutely starved for some sort of guidance in this area
The Ethics Module focuses on two basic orienting generalizations. The first is that an action is moral or ethical the more perspectives it takes into account. Actions that take only a 15Y-person perspective into account areegocentric. Actions that take a 2nd-person perspective into account areethnocentric. Actions that take a 3rd-person perspective intoaccount areworldcentric. And actions that take a 4th-and 5th-person perspective are Kosmocentric.
Given that understanding, it’s not hard to see, is it?, that worldcentric actions are better than ethnocentric actions. Worldcentric is better (or more moral) than ethnocentric, which is better than egocentric, because it takes more perspectives into account. As with Carol Gilligan’s sequence (selfish tocare touniversal care tointegral), each higherlevel is capable of being more ethical because it is capable oftaking more perspectives into account before reaching a decision. Who would you want making decisions that affectedyou, somebody who is egocentric or somebody who is world-centric?
So perhaps we can already see that there is a path thattranscends the moral absolutism of amber and the moral relativism of green. With Integral Ethics, meaning returns, along with a moral compass that transcends and includes lesser perspectives.
The second orienting generalization is that ethical action is action that seeks to protect and promote the greatest depth for the greatest span. This maxim is known as the Basic Moral Intuition, or BMI.Depth is defined as the numberof levels in a holon, andspan is the number of holons on alevel. If we number the labeled levels in figure 14, then infra-red has a (relative) depth of 1, red has 3, orange has 5, turquoise has 8, violet has 10, and so on.
But it is not enough to know that 8 is better than 5, whichis better than 3. We also have to know how that fits in withother holons, human and nonhuman alike. A human has moredepth than a cow, which has more depth than a carrot, whichhas more depth than a bacterium, which has more depth thana quark. So if we were forced to choose which to kill—a cowor a bacterium—we choose the bacterium. But because everything is interconnected, we don’t act simply to promote more depth, but the most depth across the most span. Ecological awareness—and ecological ethics—involves this in-credible balancing act between saving the most depth across the most span. Choosing just depth is anthropocentric; choosing just span is bacteria-centric. We act instead to protect and promote the greatest depth for the greatest span, or our Basic Moral Intuition.
Other auxiliary modules include Transmuting Emotions,Karma Yoga (or Work in the World), Sexual Yoga, Relationships,Family and Parenting. Please see www.IntegralTraining.org for updates on these and other modules.
We now have one core module left to discuss, and I’ve changed my mind again. I think this is the most important module of all.
Spirit Module: The Vast Openness of Your Own Big Mind and Big Heart
We have seen that it’s common nowadays for people to say that they are “spiritual but not religious.” The general idea is that “religious” means institutional forms of religion—its dogma, myths, mandatory beliefs, its old and faded rituals; whereas “spiritual” means personal values, present awareness, interior realities, and immediate experience. Of course, some aspects of religion are spiritual, butmuch of institutional religion does indeed seem old and wornout, a relic of premodern times, or at least prerational stagesof development.
Spirit can mean direct experience of a Ground of Being.It can mean anything that expresses one’s ultimate concern.It can mean whatever gives life a sense of oneness or transcendence. It can mean one’s own deepest nature and condition. We explored many of these in chapter 5. But thefact is, you either believe in a spiritual dimension of being oryou don’t. Because the core spiritual module focuses on the practice of meditation or contemplation, it is designed to accommodate the widest possible range of orientations, from the more “scientific” (meditation is a relaxation response) to the more “spiritual” (meditation gives access to an ultimate Ground of Being, or God by whatever name). Use whichever of those, or any others, that are comfortable for you.
A fairly unique feature of Integral Life Practice is what iscalled “The Three Faces of Spirit,” or sometimes “The One-Two-Three (or 1-2-3) of God.” The idea is that Spirit, as it manifests, has 4 quadrants, just like the rest of manifestation,and so, to the extent we think about Spirit, we can do so usingthe 4 quadrants (or simply the15t– 2nd-,and 3rd-person perspectives of Spirit).
Spirit in 3rd-person appears as a Great Web of Life, theentire Totality of Existence conceived as a Great It, a GreatSystem of All Beings, or Nature with a capital N. Spinoza made this conception of God famous.
Spirit in 2“d-person is a Great You or Great Thou, a LivingIntelligence and Love that is the ground and reason of all existence. The theistic traditions of the West especially focus on this face of Spirit.
Spirit in 15t-person is a Great I or I-I, the I that Witnessesthe I, the pure infinite Self, the Atman that is Brahman, theBig Mind that is your real mind or awareness in this and everymoment. The Eastern contemplative traditions especially focus on this face of Spirit.
Which of those faces is right? All of them, of course. They are the 4 quadrants—or three Faces—of manifest Spirit. You can use whichever of those perspectives feels right to you, but there is a special type of integral spiritual awareness that comes from using all of them, which is the approach we take.
Here is the 1-Minute Module for Spirit, focusing on all three faces.
The 1-2-3 of God
At any moment, you can experience God as a 3rd-person”It,” a 2nd-person “Thou,” or a1St-person “I.” Simply re-peat the following sentences quietly to yourself, letting each perspective arise gently and naturally within your awareness.
- l contemplate God as all that is arising—the Great Perfection of this and every moment.
- I behold and commune with God as an infinite Thou,who bestows all blessings and complete forgivenesson me, and before whom I offer infinite gratitude and devotion.
- I rest in God as my own Witness and primordial Self the Big Mind that is one with all, and in this ever-present, easy, and natural state, I go on about my day.
If you wish, you can replace the word “God” with any word of your choice that evokes an Ultimate Being. It could be “Spirit,” “Jehovah,” “Allah,” “Brahman,” “The Lord,” or “The One.”
Here is the same meditationwith a more 1St-person orientation.
Notice your present awareness. Notice the objects arising in your awareness—the images and thoughtsarising in your mind, the feelings and sensations arising in your body, the myriad objects arising around you in the room or environment. All of these are objects arising in your awareness.
Now think about what was in your awareness 5 minutes ago. Most of the thoughts have changed, mostof the bodily sensations have changed, and probably most of the environment has changed. But some-thing has not changed. Something in you is the same now as it was 5 minutes ago. What is present now that was present 5 minutes ago?
I AMness. The feeling-awareness of I AMness is still present. I am that ever-present I AMness. That I AMness is present now, it was present a moment ago, it was present a minute ago, it was present 5 minutes ago.
What was present 5 hours ago?
I AMness. That sense of I AMness is an ongoing, self-knowing, self-recognizing, self-validating I AMness.It is present now, it was present 5 hours ago. All my thoughts have changed, all my bodily sensations have changed, my environment has changed, but I AM is ever-present, radiant, open, empty, clear, spacious, transparent, free. Objects have changed, butnot this formless l AMness. This obvious and present I AMness is present now as it was present 5 hours ago.
I AMness. So many objects have come and gone, somany feelings have come and gone, so many thoughtshave come and gone, so many dramas and terrors andloves and hates have come, and stayed awhile, andgone. But one thing has not come, and one thing hasnot gone. What is that? What is the only thing presentin your awareness right now that you can rememberwas present 5 years ago? This timeless, ever-presentfeeling of I AMness is present now as it was 5 years ago.
What was present 5 centuries ago?
All that is ever-present is I AMness. Every person feels this same I AMness—because it is not a body, itis not a thought, it is not an object, it is not the environment, it is not anything that can be seen, but rather is the ever-present Seer, the ongoing open and empty Witness of all that is arising, in any per-son, in any world, in any place, at any time, in all theworlds until the end of time, there is only and always this obvious and immediate I AMness. What else could you possibly know? What else does anybody ever know? There is only and always this radiant, self-knowing, self-feeling, self-transcending I AM-ness, whether present now, 5 minutes ago, 5 hours ago, 5 centuries ago.
5 millennia ago?
Before Abraham was, I AM. Before the universe was, IAM. This is my original Face, the face I had before myparents were born, the face I had before the universewas born, the Face 1 had for all eternity until I decidedto play this round of hide and seek, and get lost in the objects of my own creation.
I will NEVER again pretend that I do not know or feel my own 1 AMness.
And with that, the game is undone. A million thoughtshave come and gone, a million feelings have come andgone, a million objects have come and gone. But onething has not come, and one thing has not gone: thegreat Unborn and the great Undying, which never enters or leaves the stream of time, a pure Presence above time, floating in eternity. I am this great, obvious, self-knowing, self-validating, self-liberating I AMness.
Before Abraham was, I AM.
I AM is none other than Spirit in 1St-person, the ultimate, the sublime, the radiant all-creating Self of theentire Kosmos, present in me and you and him and herand them—as the l AMness that each and every one of us feels.
Because in all the known universes, the overall number of l AMs is but one.
Rest as l AMness always, the exact l AMness you feelright now, which is Unborn Spirit itself shining in and as you. Assume your personal identity as well—as this or that object, or this or that self or this and that thing—resting always in the Ground of it All, asthis great and completely obvious I AMness, and get up and go on about your day, in the universe I AM created.
Not the End, But the Beginning
Look! Look! What do you see?
If you but rest as the witness of this and all the worlds that arise in your own awareness…
AQAL or IOS itself is just a map, nothing more. It is not the territory. But, as far as we can tell, it is the most comprehensive map that we possess at this time. Moreover – and this is important – the integral Map itself insists that we got to the real territory and not get caught in mere words, ideas, or concepts. Remember that the quadrants are just a version of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person realities? Well, the Integral Map and AQAL and IOS are just 3rd person words themselves insist that we also include 1st person direct feelings, experiences, and consciousness as well as 2nd person dialogue, contact, and interpersonal care. The integral Map itself says: this map is just a 3rd person map, so don’t forget those other important realities, all of which should be included in any comprehensive approach. WE‘VE SEEN A FEW OF THE APPLICATIONS OR “APPS“ OF THE
Integral Model. We can now conclude with a brief summary of the main points of the model itself.
AQAL is short for”all quadrants, all levels”—which itselfis short for “all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, alltypes,” which are simply 5 of the most basic elements thatneed to be included in any truly integral or comprehensive approach.
When AQAL is used as a guiding framework to organize orunderstand any activity, we also call it anIntegral Operating System, or simply105. More advanced forms of 10S are avail-able, but105 Basic, which this book introduced, has all of theessential elements (quadrants, levels, lines, states, types) to get anybody started toward a more comprehensive, inclusive, and effective approach.
When AQAL or 10S is used for real-life personal growthand development, we speak ofIntegral Life Practice, whichappears to be the most comprehensive and therefore effective path of transformation available. The researchers at Integral Institute have attempted to create a simple, easy, introductory version of this, called theILP Starter Kit, whichyou may be interested in checking out. I hate sales pitches,but I don’t know any other way to get across the fact that anILP Starter Kit is available, and at least a few people think it’s pretty cool. Check it out: www.MylLP.com.
Here’s one other important conclusion. 10S is aneutral framework; it does not tell you what to think, or force any particular ideologies on you, or coerce your awareness in anyfashion. For example, to say that human beings have waking,dreaming, and deep sleep states is not to say what you shouldthink while awake or what you should see while dreaming. Itsimply says, if you want to be comprehensive, be sure and include waking and dreaming and formless states.
Likewise, to say that all occasions have 4 quadrants—orsimply “I,” “we,” and “it” dimensions—is not to say what the”I” should do, or the “we” should do, or the”it” should do. Itsimply says, if you are trying to include all the important possibilities, be sure to include 15Y-and 2“d-and 3rd-person perspectives, because they are present in all major languages the world over.
Precisely because IOS is a neutral framework, it can beused to bring more clarity, care, and comprehensiveness to virtually any situation, making success much more likely, whether that success be measured in terms of personal transformation, social change, excellence in business, care for others, or simple happiness in life.
But perhaps most important of all, because IOS can beused by any discipline—from medicine to art to business tospirituality to politics to ecology—then we can, for the firsttime in history, begin an extensive andfruitful dialogue between all of these disciplines. A person using 10S in business can talk easily and effectively with a person using 10S in poetry, dance, or the arts, simply because they now have a common language—or a common operating system—with which to communicate. When you are using IOS, not only canyou run hundreds of different “software” programs on it, all of those programs can now communicate with each other and learn from each other, thus advancing an evolutionary unfolding to even greater dimensions of being and knowing and doing.
This is why thousands of scholars and teachers the world over came together and started Integral University, the world’s first integral learning community. Because all of thevarious human activities, previously separated by incommensurate jargon and terminologies, can in fact begin to effectively communicate with each other by running an Integral Operating System, each of those disciplines can begin to con-verse with, and learn from, the others. This has never effectively happened anywhere in history, which is why, indeed, the Integral adventure is about to begin.
However we look at it,it all comes down to a few simple points. In your own growth and development, you have the capacity to take self, culture, and nature to increasingly higher, wider, and deeper modes of being, expanding from an isolated identity of “me” to a fuller identity of “us” to an even deeper identity with “all of us”—with all sentient beingseverywhere—as your own capacity for Truth and Goodness and Beauty deepens and expands. Ever-greater consciousness with an ever-wider embrace, which is realized in self, embodied in nature, and expressed in culture.
Thus,to cultivate body, mind, and spirit in self, culture, and nature. This is the extraordinary aim and goal of the Integral Approach, and we would love to have you join us in this exciting endeavor.
There is a new adventure here, and a new politics here,and even a new revolution, waiting on the horizon. You sense it, yes?
New work to be done, new glories to be told, new groundto be revealed, and secrets of the heart yet to unfold when itis too full to speak, too radiant to see, too infinite to hold, tooeternal to touch, but only because it is right here and now, closer to you than your own breath, more inside you than your own thoughts, and closer to Spirit than all of them, thisinside of You that is now reading this page, looking out at the world and wondering what it all means, when what-it-allmeans isyou. Not the you that can be seen, but the You that is doing the seeing.
The Seer in you, the Witness of this page and the entireworld around it:it shimmers and scintillates with a thrilling bliss laced into the freedom of each and every moment, a searing soaring freedom that releases into infinity with every out-breath, tickling your spine with its radiant intensityas it razors from your body and into the great beyond, carrying gifts of infinite compassion and radical perfection and radiant care, gifts so outrageously huge your entire body would burst if it tried to contain them. You can feel it now, this Fullness that is yours pushing against you, trying to expand, this Freedom that is yours if you but stepped aside and letit all come crashing through. And so it does, if you rest asthe Witness of this and all the worlds that easily arise in yourown awareness, worlds of your own making in each sunriseand each sunset, as the luminous orb transverses the vast sky of your own transparent emptiness. The great radiant open that is you, moment to moment, isall that ever is. Look!Look! Look! What do you see? Whatcan you see? Exceptthesetextures of your own Self, this great One Taste of your ownprimordial Presence, everywhere appearing as the world. Is that world “out there” anything but the feeling of you right now? Listen to me:
Everything is you.
You are empty.
Empty is freely manifesting.
Freely manifesting is self liberating.
Join me, please, my friends, and let’s do this one last time
Notice your present awareness. Notice the objects arising in your awareness—theimages andthoughts arising in your mind, the feelings and sensations arising in your body, the myriadobjects arising around you in the room or environment. All of these are objects arising in your awareness.
Now think about what was in your awareness 5 minutes ago. Most of the thoughts have changed,most of the bodily sensations have changed, and probably most of the environment has changed. But something has not changed. Something in youis the same now as it was 5 minutes ago. What is present now that was present 5 minutes ago?
I AMness. The feeling-awareness of I AMness is still present. I am that ever-present I AMness. ThatI AMness is present now, it was present a momentago, it was present a minute ago, it was present 5 minutes ago.
What was present 5 hours ago?
I AMness. That sense of I AMness is an ongoing, self-knowing, self-recognizing, self-validating I AMness, it is present now, , it was present 5 hoursago. All mythoughts have changed, all my bodily sensations have changed, my environment has changed, but I AM is ever-present, radiant, open,empty, clear, spacious, transparent, free. Objectshave changed, but not this formless I AMness. Thisobvious and present I AMness is present now as it was present 5 hours ago.
What was present 5 years ago?
I AMness. So many objects have come and gone, so many feelings have come and gone, so many thoughts have come and gone, so many dramas and terrors and loves and hates have come, and stayed awhile, and gone. But one thing has not come, and one thing has not gone. What is that? What is the only thing present in your awareness right now that you can remember was present 5 years ago? This timeless, ever-present feeling of I AMness is present now as it was 5 years ago.
What was present 5 centrues ago?
Al that is ever-preent is IAMness. Every person feels this same I AMness – because it is not a body, it is not a thought, it is not an object, it is not the environment, it is not anything that can be seen, but rather is the ever-present Seer, the ongoing open and empty Witness of allthat is arising, in anyperson, in any world, in any place, at any time, in allthe worlds until the end of time, there is only andalways this obvious and immediate I AMness. Whatelse could you possibly know? What else does any-body ever know? There is only and always this radiant, self-knowing, self-feeling, self-transcendingI AMness, whether present now, 5 minutes ago, 5 hours ago, 5 centuries ago.
5 millennia ago?
Before Abraham was, I AM. Before the universe was, I AM. This is my original Face, the face I hadbefore my parents were born, the face I had beforethe universe was born, the Face I had for alleternityuntil I decided to play this round of hide and seek, and get lost in the objects of my own creation.
I will NEVER again pretend that I do not know or feel my own I AMness.
And with that, the game is undone. A million thoughts have come and gone, a million feelings have come and gone, a million objects have come and gone. But one thing has not come, and one thing has not gone: the great Unborn and the greatUndying, which never enters or leaves the stream of time, a pure Presence above time, floating in eternity. I am this great, obvious, self-knowing, self-validating, self-liberating I AMness.
Before Abraham was, I AM.
I AM is none other than Spirit in 1st-person, the ultimate, the sublime, the radiant all-creating Self of the entire Kosmos, present in me and you and him and her and them—as the I AMnessthat each and every one of us feels.
Because in all the known universes, the overall number of I AMs is but one.
Rest as I AMness always, the exact I AMness youfeel right now, which is Unborn Spirit itself shining in and as you. Assume your personal identity as well—as this orthat object, or this orthat self, orthis andthatthing—resting always in the Groundof it All, as this great and completely obvious I AMness and get up and go on about your day, in the universe I AM created.
It’s a new day, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new man, it’s a new woman. The new human is integral, and so is the new world.
Books by Ken Wilber
The Spectrum of Consciousness (1977). An introduction to the full-spectrum model, the first to show, in a systematic way, how the great psychological systems of the West can beintegrated with the great contemplative traditions of the East.
No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth (1979). A simple and popular guide to psychologies and therapiesavailable from both Western and Eastern sources; designated by Wilber as reflecting the “Romantic” phase of his early work.
The Atman Project: A Transpersonal View of Human Development (1980). Thefirst psychological system to suggest a way of unitingEastern and Western, conventional and contemplative, orthodox and mystical approaches into a single, coherent framework.
Up from Eden: A Transpersonal View of Human Evolution (1981). Drawing ontheorists from Joseph Campbell to Jean Gebser, Wilber outlines humankind’s evolutionary journey—and “dialectic of process”—from its primal past to its integral future.
The Holographic Paradigm and Other Paradoxes: Exploring the Leading Edge of Science (1982). An anthology ofcontributions by prominent scientists and thinkers on the dialogue between science and religion.
A Sociable God: Toward a New Understanding of Religion (1983). Ascholarlyintroduction to a system of reliable methods by which to adjudicate the legitimacy andauthenticity of any religious movement.
Eye to Eye: The Quest for the New Paradigm (1983). An examination ofthree realms of knowledge: the empirical realm of the senses, therational realm of the mind, and the contemplative realm of the spirit.
Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World’s Great Physicists (1984). An anthology of nontechnical excerpts selectedfromthe work of great physicists, including Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Einstein, de Broglie, Jeans, Planck, Pauli, and Eddington.
Transformations of Consciousness: Conventional and Contemplative Perspectives on Development, by Ken Wilber, Jack Engler, and DanielP. Brown (1986). Nine essays exploring thefull-spectrum model ofhumangrowth and development,from prepersonal to personal to transpersonal.
Spiritual Choices: The Problem of Recognizing Authentic Paths to Inner Transformation, edited by Dick Anthony, Bruce Ecker, and Ken Wilber(1987). Psychologists and spiritual teacherscontribute to this studyof religious movements, aimed at answering the dilemma of how to distinguish spiritual tyrannyfrom legitimate spiritual authority.
Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber (1991). The moving story of Ken’s marriage to Treyaand the five-year journeythat took themthrough her illness, treatment, and eventual death from breast cancer.
Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution (1995). The first volume of the Kosmos Trilogy and the book thatintroduced the 4-quadrant model. This tour de force of scholarship and vision traces the course of evolution from matter to life to mind (and possible higher future levels), and describes the common patterns that evolution takes in all three domains.
A Brief History of Everything (1996). A short, highly readable versionofSex, Ecology, Spirituality, written in an accessible, conversationalstyle, without all the technical arguments and endnotes; the place to begin if new to his work.
The Eye of Spirit: An Integral Vision for a World Gone Slightly Mad (1997). Essays explore the Integral Approach to such fields as psychology, spirituality, anthropology, cultural studies, art and literary theory, ecology, feminism, and planetary transformation.
The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion (1998). After surveying the world’s great wisdom traditions and extracting features they all share, Wilber offers compelling arguments that not only are these compatible with scientifictruth, they also share a similar scientific method.
The Essential Ken Wilber: An Introductory Reader (1998). Brief pas-sages from Wilber’s most popular books, imparting the essence and flavor of his writings for newcomers to his work.
One Taste: The Journals of Ken Wilber (1999). A lively and entertaining glimpse into a year in the life of Ken Wilber.
The Collected Works of Ken Wilber, vols. 1-8 (1999-2000). An ongoing series.
Integral Psychology: Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy (2000). A landmark study introducing the first truly integral psychology, this model includes waves of development, streamsof development,states of consciousness, and the self, andfollowsthe course of each from subconscious to self-conscious to super-conscious.
A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science, and Spirituality (2001). A compact summary of the Integral Approach as a genuine”world philosophy,” noteworthy because itincludes many real-world applications in various fields. A popular choice for introductory reading.
Boomeritis: A Novel That Will Set You Free (2002). A combination ofbrilliant scholarship and wicked parody, the noveltargets one ofthe most stubborn obstacles to realizing the integral vision: a disease of pluralism plus narcissismthat Wilber calls “boomeritis.”
The Simple Feeling of Being: Embracing Your True Nature (2004). A collection of inspirational, mystical, and instructional passages drawn from Wilber’s publications, compiled and edited by some of his senior students.
Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World (2006). A theory of spiritualitythat honorsthetruths of premodernity, modernity, and postmodernity—including the revolutions in science and culture—while incorporating theessential insights of the great religions. This is a truly revolutionarybook, hailed by critics as fundamentally changing the nature and role of religion and spirituality.