Our newsletter has moved, please (re)subscribe yourself at: https://tinyletter.com/IntegralWorld
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber

powered by TinyLetter

Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".

Integral Practice

Integral Esotericism - Part Six

Alan Kazlev

— Advertisement —

You can now get the IEC materials in 7 smaller chunks - Thematic Section Packages:

6-i. Theory and Practice

In the Wilberian Integral Movement, Integral theory (i.e. the Wilberian version) can serve as a framework for a holistic/integral practical approach to lifestyle, society, politics, and business. In practice things don't work out quite as well, because the Wilberian model itself is deeply flawed, both methodologically, through the artificial, simplistic, and abstractionist nature of the AQAL theoretical framework (sect. 4-iii) and morally, through justifying antagonistic behaviour, authoritarian leadership, cultic demonisation of critics, and supporting the activities of abusive gurus and recommending that people follow them (TLDI 2-iv, 2-xi, 2-xii)

I have in this essay proposed an alternative, Esoteric Integral Ethics, which uses the two-fold principle of Freedom of Consciousness and Right Action to base practice upon, and avoid the problems that have bedeviled the Wilberian (mainstream) Integral Movement.

Of course there are many other equally valid forms of Integral, Alternative, and New Age Practice, and all have been incorporated here. It is not the case that the EIE approach is inconsistent with the others; it isn't. And that is the great strength of the true Integral methodology, in that it is not exclusivist, and it does not trumpet one ideology or religion above all others (in this context the Wilberian Integral movement, represented by Integral Institute cultishness, is no more integral than any other exoteric religion). Such an approach can be called the Holistic because it understands things as a harmonious totality and acts accordingly (New Age/New Paradigm, Alternative movement, etc)

The importance of practice and pragmatic application of any teaching cannot be emphasised enough. The simple fact is that theory on its own without action is a mental abstraction. Whereas theory is always in the mental sphere, and the middle mental at that, practice may pertain to the gross or subtle physical, the emotional, the mental, the spiritual, or even the transcendent. (e.g. the method of jnana yoga of Advaita Vedanta,or the method of philosophical inquiry of Madhyamika Buddhism, could be considered as pertaining to the "transcendent"). By transcendent I mean that Reality that is beyond phenomenal existence, that is the essence of everything else. "Transcendent" is actually not a very accurate word, because it is just as much immanent as it is transcendent. It is only with practice, as a means of directing or steering the practice, a framework or guideline, that theory can be applied both in one's individual life and in the larger world as a whole.

The problem with much of the modern integral movement up until now is that it is unbalanced towards the theoretical and the exoteric theoretical at that. This is a problem that does not apply to the Aurobindonian teachings and yoga, or to Michael Murphy and George Leonard's Integral Transformative Practice. It comes about because the integral movement today is for the most part very much based on psychology (e.g. the integral psychology of Haridas Chaudhuri or Ken Wilber), cultural history (Jean Gebser), the unification of science (Edward Haskell, Eric Jantsch), of science and religion (Teilhard[1], Laszlo), of eastern thought with western consciousness research (Transpersonal Psychology), or of mysticism with empiricism (Wilber).

This is not to deny the importance of theory. Every practice depends on some sort of theory (no matter how simple or basic) as an orientating framework or initial starting point, just as every theory requires some sort of practice to be complete. Nor is it to deny the relevance of the exoteric, for not all knowledge can be encapsulated via a transpersonal approach. "System A" is just as important in its own way as "System B", and it is up to the Integral methodology to incorporate both. This is a goal that seems to be rarely achieved; although I would argue that both Sri Aurobindo and Teilhard de Chardin do so.

6-ii. Integral practice on different levels

Integral practice can be on the Egoic level (individual), the Interactive level (empathic and interpersonal level), or the Collective level. It can also pertain to the Physical, Affective, and Mental, the rational ("System A") and the mythic or artistic ("System B"), the exoteric and the esoteric. A possible (but still incomplete) typology might be as follows:

  • The Egoic Sphere - Holistic Lifestyle - which is wholesome and what might be interpreted as spiritual. This incorporates and involves the optimisation of all faculties of the individual being,
  • The Interactive Sphere - Integral Art /Aesthetics and fine arts which expresses, symbolically represents, participates in or allows the audience to participate in narratives and archetypal realities at various levels
  • The Interactive Sphere - Integral Education which addresses the whole child and the whole adult, in a harmonious manner which furthers individual personal and transpersonal/spiritual development
  • The Collective Sphere - Holistic Society / (Applied) Arts and Sciences - application or practice of the above and other categories, especially in society, which is thus pluralistic, diverse, ecological, spiritual, and holistic (includes Holistic Technology which is always appropriate and always sustainable). Also at the rational ("system A") polarity of the collective and social sphere there is what Wilberians might refer to as Integral business management and Integral Politics; the idea being that transformation cannot just be in the self alone, but has to deal with and reform the structures within the larger society as well; especially as these structures, when dysfunctional (as they so often are) are the cause of so much suffering, misery, and stupidity in the world today.
  • Beyond the collective level, the cosmic level involves a larger attainment again, this is of the scale of the Supramental, Omega Point, or Tikkunic transformation. .

For the most part however, the cosmic transformation is at a level that is too vast to be interacted with on the limited current human level. In fact current human attempts at managing the planet at a political or economic level are almost always based on egoic short-sightedness and greed. While there are individuals who speak of the need for a more sane and empathic "caretaker" or "stewardship" attitude, these have made little or no impact at the highest levels of government, business, or international law.

6-iii. The Collective Sphere - Holistic Society

There seems to be developing in the Integral movement a practical aspect, both in the Wilberian and the post-Wilberian aspects of the movement. The former might be represented by various initiatives to apply Wilberian theory in management and other circles, the latter by the Peer to Peer (P2P) movement, presenting a radical alternative to centralised authority structures[2]. All of these various projects, initiatives, and developments however still pertain to the "outer being", because it is not necessary to integrally transform one's consciousness in order to participate, or as the means of participating, although many people involved in these groups also tend to have a positive attitude towards spirituality and holistic or spiritual-lifestyle practice. In this regard, these practical aspects of the Integral Movement could also be defined as "New Age sensu lato" (see sect 2-vii).

In this regard we might consider the Holistic Society as the physical, practical, external, mundane, collective aspect of the Integral movement. A Holistic Society is one that is in harmony with universal truths and principles as much as these can be understood. But more than that it also represents the practical application of these ideas.

Since "Integrative" (or Integral sensu Wilber and post-Wilberian) means including all elements, so a holistic society involves breaking away from authoritarian centralised hierarchies and developing a distributed network or "global brain" by which all people, rather than only "insiders" can contribute. It has only become possible through the rise of Internet networking and the integral information society in the 1990s. Here the goal is global consciousness and collective participation. But this is not all. Everything should fit together in a synergetic way, humans should exist in harmony with the natural world and with each other, rather than in conflict. Here the work of Buckminster Fuller, and the New Age and Environmental movements represent an important, indeed, absolutely essential development. Also art, music, and the senses, being in the body and in the world.

Themes for a Holistic Society might include:

  • Harmonisation of the Cultural, Political, and Economic elements of society
  • A shift from centralised authoritarian hierarchies to a distributed spirituality
  • A synergetic society, technology, ecology, etc

Harmonisation of the Cultural, Political, and Economic elements of society. Sect 4-v refers to the Three Yogas and the Wilberian Big Three. Another form of Big Three, the Three-fold Social Order or Three-fold Commonwealth, was developed by Rudolf Steiner, who referred to three social spheres, the cultural, the political, and the economic. According to Steiner, the French Revolution's slogan, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity", referred to the distinct needs of the three social spheres: Liberty in cultural life (freedom of expression and learning, and spiritual pursuits), Equality in a democratic political life and legally, and Fraternity (brotherhood) in economic life and the use of natural resources[3]. Steiner's ideas of social renewal, on which he lectured widely in the wake of World War I, were taken up by a number of prominent cultural and political leaders, but did not affect the reconstitution of Germany at the time. They did however become the basis for the Social Threefolding movement, a social movement which seeks to reform society by increasing the independence of society's three realms (economy, polity and culture) so that they can harmonise and mutually correct each other in an ongoing process[4]. According to this system, social imbalances and extremism results from one of the three elements dominating or taking over and replacing the other two. So for example, in theocracy, the cultural sphere (religious impulse) dominates, in communism and state socialism it is the political sphere, and in capitalism the economic sphere. The balance of the three would be democracy in political life, freedom in cultural life, and uncoerced cooperation and community in economic life.

A shift from centralised authoritarian hierarchies to a distributed, participatory society and spirituality The rise of global networking and the information society is the greatest threat that authoritarian centralised power structures and social hierarchies face today. In the past, and still to some extent now, power was and is controlled by the Ruler, the State, the Church, the Mass Media, the Commercial World, and so on. It is not so much democracy in the West (which is too often the choice between Tweedledee and Tweedledum) but the sharing of information through the distributed network or "global brain" that is the Internet, that has made this possible.

The reason I include this tendency in the Integral phenomenon is because the Integral has to also include the contributions of society, and ultimately of all sentient beings. Here I am not talking intellectually about Wilber's lower two quadrants, I mean the actual participation of all these elements. This strongly anti-authoritarian trend and participatory spirituality that is very different from the centralised, elitist, authoritarian nature of society in the past and still today, for example in Wilber's Integral movement[5]. Hence we have the development of the participatory spirituality of John Heron and Jorge Ferrer, and the Peer-to-peer networking (using peer-to-peer internet technology) in all elements of society has been suggested by Michel Bauwens as a new emerging integral phenomenon. Bauwens was actually involved in Wilber's Integral Institute, and is still included in the list of the Institute's Founding Members[6] but was concerned about cultic elements and now is in important independent voice (post-Wilberian) in the Integral movement[7]. The alterglobalisation movement and activist reforming of current injustices are also elements involved in the necessary imbalance of the current situation. While not integral in themselves, (because they only constitute a particular point of view) they are a necessary balance and counterweight (antithesis to the centralised "patriarchal" status quo) if a holistic society is to emerge.

Interestingly, the Wilberian Integral Movement has a very different attitude to this sort of pluralism. Both Wilber and his co-worker Don Beck present the egalitarian, ecological, alternative lifestyle movement and New Age sensu lato[8] in terms of what they call the "Mean Green Meme", essentially, an obstacle to higher evolution. Although according to Wilber it is only the green meme's excesses that are an obstacle; not the green meme itself (which is a necessary evolutionary stage), in the process of criticising the extreme Green Meme, Wilber seems (even though this is obviously not his intention) to be attacking Green as a whole; for example his highly critical attitude to ecophilosophy and ecospirituality. With all the best intentions Wilber wrote his postmodern novel Boomeritis in the hope of defeating the "Baby Boomer" way of thinking. This was for the purpose of encouraging all those who still hold to the "lower tier" Green level to progress to his own position, defined as "Turquoise". Unfortunately, such green meme bashing unwittingly plays into the hands of reactionary conservatism[9], the very principles of religious fundamentalism and nationalistic empire building that Wilber correctly sees as detrimental an obsolete in today's world. More troubling is the increasing tendency, within the Wilberian movement, of calling someone "Green" seems to be a blanket rebuke directed at anyone who criticises Wilber's Integral theory, or provides an alternative vision[10]. This is part and parcel of the whole exclusivist cultic attitude that the Wilberian movement and Wilber himself display. Lately this exclusivism has become very public, as indicated by Wilber's narcissistic "Wyatt Earp" blog posts and follow-ups, which constitute a sort of religious and absolute hierarchical approach within the orthodox Wilberian movement that Wilber in his earlier books would have abhored[11]. I cannot but help think that with all this authoritarianism, intolerance (to "green") and inability to cope with criticism, the central Wilberian movement (Integral Institute etc) is even using its own spiral dynamics system of analysis, not so much "upper tier" (inclusive and multi-perspective) as "lower tier" (intolerant and one dimensional), and specifically "blue vMEME" (religious worship and fundamentalism), with traces of development to "orange vMEME" (science and secularism) represented by Wilber's current leaning towards crypto-physicalism.

A synergetic and organic society, technology, and ecology. This requires that humans should exist in harmony with the natural world and with each other, and that technology should also be appropriate and sustainable. Buckminster Fuller was a prophetic figure in this regard, without doubt one of the greatest thinkers and visionaries of the twentieth century. Late in his life he achieved considerable publicity, and his ideas regarding appropriate technology (decades ahead of their time when first formulated) and his concepts of synergy and spaceship Earth, were taken up by and became a fundamental element of the alternative movement and New Age sensu lato thinking.

The environmental or ecological movement stemming form the work of Rachel Carson ( Silent Spring), Paul Ehrlich (The Population Bomb, and other books) and others, challenged previous anthropocentric and exploitative attitudes to the environment and unlimited growth. Pictures of the Earth from space emphasized the fact that the earth is a finite resource that has to be managed in a responsible way; this tied in with Buckminster Fuller's ideas regarding Spaceship Earth.

Today, subjects like sustainable lifestyles, the environmental movement and elements of New Age consciousness, could all be considered as representing progress made towards establishing a more holistic and integral society and lifestyle.

6-iv. Holistic (Spiritual) Lifestyle

Within Culture and Society people follow their own lifestyles. By lifestyle might be meant different hobbies, interests, pastimes, professions, and so on. It might include aspects of (in alphabetical order) Business and Finance, Computers and Internet, Cultures and Community (including Online Communities) , Entertainment and Media (especially the popular or mass-media, but also increasingly online medias and virtual reality games and so on), Family and Home, Fashion, Games, Government and Politics, Health, Fitness, and Wellness, Hobbies and Crafts, Holidays and Travel, Meditation, Music, Recreation and Sports, Religion and Beliefs, Romance and Relationships, Schools and Education, Socialising and Peer-groups, and so on. Obviously there is a lot of overlap between these categories, and with other categories as well.

A Holistic Lifestyle would by its very nature include at least a very preliminary form of spirituality to all levels of their being. Examples cited would be Spiritual Cross-Training, Integral Transformative Practice (ITP), Embodied Spirituality, and David Spangler's Incarnational Spirituality. Esalen and Human Potential Movement co-founder Michael Murphy is both a student Sri Aurobindo and also involved in the Wilberian Integral Movement (thus in a real sense bridging the gap between the two) is, not surprisingly, also involved in ITP. While these practices can be called "spiritual" in the lifestyle sense (as indeed could be the Integral movement as a whole, even the Wilberian integral movement), they are not Spiritual/Yogic in the dedicated sense. For this reason, Integral Spirituality and Yoga is here considered separate from Holistic ("Integral") Lifestyles.

Concerning "Spiritual Cross-Training"[12], it is interesting that what Wilberian Integral movement calls "Spiritual", I would simply consider an ordinary balanced integral lifestyle. Of course, a lot of this is based very much on the highly west coast Americanised nature of the Wilberian movement; the Bay Area Californian healthy lifestyle feel-good approach that is touted in Wilberian Intregralism as spirituality. Wholesome as it may be, this "Spiritual cross-training" cannot be considered true spirituality. Regrading this latter, "Glacier Mom", an Amazon reviewer and I should mention a fan of Wilber's other work, has some pertinent things to say about this latter:

Consider Wilber's concept of the essential modules of integral practice: physical, cognitive, psychodynamic and meditative. First, we're given a hypothetical integral practitioner named Jackie, who takes a daily multivitamin, rides her bike to work, does power yoga, visits a massage therapist, studies the AQAL model, keeps a dream journal and meditates. Can someone please differentiate Jackie from your average nice, socially-conscious, single, self-absorbed San Franciscan, elbow-deep in the descended grid, for me? If Jackie's lucky, she can meet most of these needs at her local health club/spa, then pedal to the ferry building for organic take-out, so maybe Integral Institute should open a line of wellness centers. My main point is that Wilber is advocating the balanced life, and I'm all for that, as some cultures maintain balance as the essential mark of the cultivated or scholarly life; perhaps only in America would we be so atomized that we need "cross-training" spelled out. At the same time, intrinsically integral "peak" experiences-those that potentially fuse mind-body-spirit and dispel ascending or descending impulses-such as childbirth should not be discounted within a larger framework of integrated life experience, and I think an important distinction should be made between, say, smoking pot, and conscious childbirth"[13].

This reference to conscious childbirth as a spiritual experience is something one would be most unlikely to find within the highly masculinist and abstractionist worldview of any of Wilber's books, talks, etc, and shows the necessity for building an integral paradigm on as many different perspectives as possible.

6-v. Integral Business Management and Leadership>

It has been in the world of business and Management and leadership that Wilber's theories in general, or specific aspects such as the AQAL Four Quadrants or the Wilber and Beck Integral Spiral Dynamics, have been applied most successfully[14]. To that one might add International development[15], and even marine ecology management[16] A lot of credit for success here may be due to the skills and experience of Wilber's co-worker in this area, Don Beck, Although the influence of the powerful sales and marketing machine that is Wilber's Integral Institute[17] should not be discounted either. Beck is an American management consultant, who adapted the Spiral Dynamics theory of his teacher Clare Graves into a tool for understanding the transformation of human values and cultures. Beck has applied his version of Spiral Dynamics theory extensively in South Africa, working on the social problems there[18]. On the down side he also appears to be influential in Wilber's more conservative attitude (relative to his early books) and "Mean Green Meme" myth[19], and uses an ad hominem approach in his support of abusive guru Andrew Cohen[20].

A very different approach to business and capitalism, but still within the general compass of the Wilberian (or Wilber-Beck-Cohen) Integral movement, is the Zaadz forum[21] of New Age capitalism, networking, and changing the world established by Brian Johnson. Johnson, who has the very LA/ Californian profession of life coach and personal consultant, is, from what I gather from our few brief email exchanges, and from what I have read of him, a really top guy, full of incredible enthusiasm. With Zaadz he is tapping into the New Age good will to get thing going, but apart from a new and neat networking forum, it is not exactly clear how this community can reform the capitalist system or change the world. The interesting thing is how strongly Zaadz is tied in with the Wilberian New Age movement (as opposed to other forms of New Age). In its interactive list of "most loved teachers"[22] (i.e. most popular in terms of listed most often in member's bio pages) Wilber scores in the highest bracket as equal to that of Jesus, Buddha, and Life. Andrew Cohen features as an important Teacher too, but several notches down, about the level of Deepak Chopra, Gandhi, and Joseph Campbell (the Dalai Lama and Eckhardt Tolle seem to be slightly more popular). Zaadz itself is a partner of Wilber's Integral Institute, but it is not a recruiting front organisation as one critic claimed.

But is Wilber's AQAL and Integral theory the best conceptual map for the business world, or even of any use at all? Or is it only the charismatic force of personalities like Wilber and Beck, and that what they are actually saying is in fact irrelevant? As Andy Smith has pointed out (sect 4-ii), the whole AQAL system is so stylised that it does not fit with what science really reveals the world to be like (and for that matter it does not fit with genuine spirituality either, hence the materialistic apologetics (TLDI 2-a). It is popular because it is based on simplistic dualistic thinking that ignores all the infinite subtleties of reality. Hence to explain higher and altered states of consciousness I have suggested an alternative, an alternative that is more complex, sure, just as real evolutionary science is more complex and difficult for many to understand than simplistic Bible-based Creationism. And even Wilber himself seems to want to replace AQAL with his new Integral Methodological Pluralism (not that that is a good step, because IMP is a lot more complex and no better at explaining things).

Non-Wilberian Integral thought and practice might be able to provide a better solution. Firstly because it doesn't rely on intellectual abstractions and theory-making divorced from the world and from empirical verification or peer review the way that Wilberian Integral theory is. Secondly because it is not based on cultic worship of a particular personality; there is no one person worshipped as a bodhisattva or enlightened guru to lay down the law and tell everyone else what to do, while themselves behaving in the most egotistic manner. So straight away we are free of all that religiosity that plagues the mainstream (Wilberian) Integral movement. And thirdly and most important, because this is based on alternative models of economics and management that are already in practice now, made possible in just the last decade or so through the quantum leap of interconnectivity brought about through the Internet. The following list, from the Peer to Peer newsletter (complied by Michel Bauwens and peer governance researcher George Dafermos) provides a typology of peer governance[23].

Forms of peer governance of open/free communities and peer production groups can include:

  • informal leadership models concerned with questions like what is the nature of leadership and hierarchy in peer production?
  • the use of formal management models, including Chaordic Organizations - Characteristics , Consensus , Consent vs. Consensus , Coordination Format , Council Ceremony , Harmonization Governance , Heterarchy , Holacracy , Horizontal Accountablity , Leaderless Organizations , Open Organization , Sociocracy
  • the use of legal formats such as Foundations to formalize leadership; examples include Burning Man - Governance , Free Software Foundation , FLOSS - Governance , FLOSS Foundations , GNOME Foundation , Mozilla Foundation

Methods of production used in peer production include:

  • the tools used in the production process (ie. Bitkeeper, CVS, etc.)
  • the design of interactions at the level of the product/technological architecture (modularity, encapsulation, information hiding)

Forms of governance, ownership, and income distribution for service and market-oriented production models that derive from commons-related projects might include

  • Modes of capital organization (e.g. Capital Commons Trusts , Cooperatives , Limited Liability Partnership , Mutual Home Ownership , Open Organization)
  • Modes of property organization (e.g. General Public License , Creative Commons)
  • Modes of revenue sharing with commercial partners (such as netarchical and vectoralist partners)

6-vi. Integral Politics?

Business, management, economics, and ownership issues also extend to government and politics on a larger scale.

And if you want to change the world, then exoterically at least you need to work at the level of politics.

Although it is true that political and ex-political figures like Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and, on the other side of the political spectrum, Jeb Bush, have all shown interest in Wilber's work Clinton himself has gone so far as to say "What the world needs now is integral consciousness... as described by Ken Wilber in his book A Theory of Everything."[24].

The question is, where does one go from there? How can Wilber's ideas be applied in a practical context? Certainly his own behaviour is no recommendation as the "Wild West" controversy showed, nor is the behaviour of those gurus he recommends as paragons of enlightenment (TLDI 2-iv).

A far better approach would be through inspired by peer to peer (authentically egalitarian) ideals. If Continuing the list in the Peer to Peer newsletter, Michel Bauwens suggests a number of political governance models inspired by peer to peer models or principles:

Citizen Dialogue and Deliberation , Commons , Community Assets , Coordination Format , Council Ceremony , Delegative Democracy , Deliberative Democracy , Deliberative Development , Democracy 2.1 , Disaggregated Democracy , Extreme Democracy , Gaian Democracies , Global Microstructures , Global Villages , Glocalized Networks , Inclusive Democracy , Megacommunities , Participatory Democracy Networks

Likewise larger scale political philosophies and proposals based on peer to peer ideals.

There is also a third option beyond rule by power-grabbing conservatives elected by a populace goverend by fears and needs of their psychological lowest common denominators, and educated egalitarian networking. That is leadership by an enlightened community of spirituals. And while Plato's strict caste system in the Republic is certainly too simplistic (and was never intended as a literal pragmatic model), the concept of the rule by philosopher-sage - or simply by those who are sensitive to the needs and sufferings of other sentient beings, and have the courage and strength of principles to act accordingly, is the only possible form of political leadership that can lead to a better world.

6-vii. Going beyond monopolar ideology

The problems of the world today, and the failure of the established order, indicate that it is necessary to have an alternative to the on old centralised 19th and 20th century industrial age monopolies, such as characterise Government, Big Business, the Mass Media, and Religion today.

Organsations are bad per se. They are only bad when personal politics, totalitarian egos, and self-seeking jockeying for positions of power takes precedence over the rights of all individuals. Unfortunately this is what consistently happens in politics, religion, and within the New Age sphere in abusive guru organisations in general. Unless the leader has some measure of spiritual receptivity and humility such groups are consistently counterproductive

For these and other reasons, the "P2P" movement provides an authentic and practical option for the Integral Movement within the world of society, business, and politics. Indeed, the centralised and bureaucratic model has shown itself catastrophically unable to deal with the challenge of running a complex system like a global economy or strategic politics. If you doubt this, look at the failure of America's current Iraqi campaign; rather than Islamofascism being weakened, it has actually been strengthened by poor American policy making and endemic cronyism in place of national reconstruction. Or look at the absolute inability of neoconservative ideology to understand environmental catastrophe; instead of working for a solution they are constantly obstructing attempts to rectify things by men and women of good will.

Yet at the same time there is also a danger from going too far in the other direction. Liberty and egalitarianism can too easily give way to oppression and totalitarianism, as everyone from Robespierre to Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot have shown. This problem comes about because inner causes of human stupidity and entity control through lack of spiritual groundedness (sect 4-xxv) have not been addressed.

Even in the world of the internet today, if there is no strong centralised leadership at all then well-meaning but disruptive elements take over and pervert the original intention. This is something that consistently happens with egalitarian on-line communities and forums with weak or light leadership.

Also, any political ideology is likely to be monopolar and hence limited in scope. These two polarities are shown today by the centralised/paternalistic ideology on the one hand, representing the established "status quo", and the distributed/egalitarian/anarchic (in the original context of "self rule") ideology on the other, representing the alternative movement, .

The former, the Centralised "System A", represented by conventional monolithic leadership, such as centralised paternalisitic government, religion, and mass-media in the world, and in the New Age and alternative sphere by authoritarian so-called gurus. This is a general attitude that discourages questioning and independence of thought and emphasises instead worship of a single powerful and charismatic figure as the exemplar for a spiritual or a material life.

On the other hand there is the Egalitarian "System B", represented by the Alternative, Environmental, and activist movement and in the Integral Movement the P2P ideology.

Much as I prefer the latter to the former, logic dictates that I acknowledge that both are equally partial, and hence both are required to arrive at the complete solution. And more than that, both need to be included and transcended to arrive at a higher and enlightened and transenlightened mode of being that can move between either pole with absolute ease and spontaneity, as the situation requires.

6-viii. Esoteric implications of Business and Politics

All this of course still pertains to the Exoteric sphere. Esotericist insights into the world of business and politics are the most radical, because esoteric-occult cosmology reveals that human consciousness does not arise "in our heads"; from the brain or soul or whatever explanation one prefers. Rather it comes about through the effects of the larger collective, cosmic, and universal reality around us. So who is making the decisions in business and in politics? Ultimately, until we "wake up" or become truly self conscious, we are just puppets of these larger (and also smaller and more trivial) forces . This is explained very well in the Fourth Way philosophy of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, which teaches that "man is a machine", and in the teachings of The Mother on the influence of "vital forces" (the affective or astral universe). So to become truly free we have to realise this, develop our will, and attune to the Inner Guide (the Divine Center) and to the Supreme. Which takes us to the practice of the Spiritual Path. Business and politics has to be a spiritual endeavour, not the result of ignorant humans ruled by desire and fear, being manipulated by forces both large and small from the supra-physical realities. This is one of the keys for a truly integral society, and a spiritual integral world.

But is it necessary to work at the exoteric level to make a change at the political level?

If it is the case that unless one is spiritually awake or receptive, one is a puppet to forces at the subtle level, this can work both ways. Influence and control can come from destructive forces, or from constructive ones.

6-ix. Does Integral theory need Academia?

If the Wilberian Integral initiative in business and management is strong, its progress in academia is weak. Wilber's rejection of the ontological insights of traditional spirituality and metaphysics in favour of his own very exoteric and idealistic-physicalistic metaphysics and cosmology (sect 1-vi), is based on the hope that this would be more acceptable to the modern secular world. Such a strategy is, I believe, counterproductive and highly limiting for the Integral movement, as well as being of absolutely no use to genuine academia (and academics themselves can see the latter point, which is why they have no interest in Wilberian thought).

I have earlier suggested that the Integral movement is strongly exoteric (sect. 1-ii), and one big reason for this is that Wilber's own teachings are so exoteric and crypto-materialistic (TLDI 2-ii, 2-iii). What I will say now is that they are like that only because Wilber wants his ideas to be accepted by mainstream academia.

What this means, ironically, is that Wilber's own private perspective and philosophy does not have to be anywhere as limited as the public version in his books and believed by his followers. It may well be that the reason Wilber avoids referencing occultism and other such controversial subjects is for no other reason than, as mentioned, his goal is to make Integral Theory accepted by academia. And he and his close followers believe that this can only be done by avoiding any reference to occultism, psychic phenomena, and even reincarnation.

That this really is Wilber's own take on things is indicated by a quote from one of What is Enlightenment's Guru and the Pandit series of discussions with Andrew Cohen:

"Wilber: You're right. There are three topics I've written very little on. One is psychic phenomena; one is rebirth and reincarnation; and one is God in second-person. Because as soon as you open your mouth and say anything about any of those, nobody takes you seriously in the influential academic world."[25]

Precisely how Wilber's closet occultism fits in with his strongly physicalistic and scientism-based interpretations of all previous spiritual teachings (sect.1-vi) is not clear.

But ultimately, science and academia doesn't need integral theory, whether it be the Wilberian form, or the orthodox Aurobindonian, or the esoteric type that is presented here. This is because they work perfectly fine on their own.

And a Wilberian-based Integral Theory, and the sort of Academia that Wilberians would like to see, would not be academia at all, but a form of religion (i.e. Wilberanity), which would be of no more benefit than Christian Creationism, Theocratic fundamentalism, or any other instances where religion tries to usurp the role of academic and empirical-rational discourse.

6-x The Incompatibility of Integral Theory and Religion

The Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram replied to a disciple who asked whether a religion could be founded on Sri Aurobindo's teachings with these words:

".... Men are such fools that they can change anything at all into a religion, so great is their need for a fixed framework for their narrow thought and limited action. They do not feel secure unless they can affirm, ‘this is true and that is not'. But such an affirmation becomes impossible for anyone who has read and understood what Sri Aurobindo wrote. Religion and yoga are not situated on the same plane of the being, and spiritual life can exist in its purity only if it is free from all mental dogma."[26]

Seeing what religion has done to the current integral movement; how people in the Integral Institute and elsewhere have taken an imperfect human being and worship him as an enlightened bodhisattva (TLDI 2-x) I cannot agree with this more. Religion is not the same as spirituality; religion is an intellectual rigidity that takes one particular revelation, occasionally authentically Divine but more often just some force or attractor of the Intermediate Zone, and makes it into something fixed and inflexible about which it is claimed that this is some Absolute truth. And even where the original revelation was pure, what it becomes very often is not, as is indicated by all the ugliness and intolerance, the bigotry and oppression and wars and killing, done ion the name of religion, and still being done now. Even more benign religions like Wilberanity can still serve as serious obstacles to higher truth and new spiritual revelation, as is evident from the cultic and ossifying nature of much of the Integral movement at present. That is why it is necessary to go beyond a lteralist approach to words, and also why as The Mother indicates here attempts by Wilberians and others to understand Sri Aurobindo on a religious (or on an intellectual - TLDI 3-i) level can only result in failure.

Spirituality may sometimes occur in religion, and even a genuine Divine force may work through religion (or through atheism, or anything else), but literalist, fundamentalist, and dogmatic religion is not - as it claims - the exclusive revelation of the Divine.

This is not to say that one should go to the other extreme, and deny or explain away the real and authentic experiences behind personal faith and belief. The various religious and spiritual states and experiences can be easily mapped and explained using the esoteric metaphysic presented here, without having to rely on reductionist hypotheses or on exclusivistist religious conceptions of deity. New age and holistic healing and other such experiences can be respected and acknowledged, rather than denigrated.

6-xi. Integrative Spirituality

Despite its limitations (see previous section), the Wilberian approach has inspired people to develop further this form of New Age spirituality. The term "Integrative" rather than "Integral" Spirituality is used here, because this is not yet Integral Spirituality, a la the Integral Yoga of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo, but it is perhaps somewhere between the Holistic Lifestyle approach of Wilber's "Spiritual Cross-Training" and authentic Integral Spirituality. Perhaps one should not refer to sharp divisions or categories here, but a sort of continuum. Thus as arbitrary segments, "Spiritual Cross-Training" is lifestyle only, hedonistic in a healthy way, and dilettantish. "Integrative Spirituality" is the eclectic synthesis of many spiritual traditions and teachings and practices, while retaining an egoic and hedonistic freedom and some degree of dilettantism. And "Integral Spirituality" refers to the actual transformation and divinisation of the entire being, which involves going beyond the ego and its limited motivations, in fact going completely beyond the human condition. There are of course other options too, for example one can move from Integrative Spirituality to an authentic but non-integrative traditional spirituality and attain liberation that way.

Integrative Spirituality itself can be seen in taking an eclectic and integrative approach to different religions and spiritual traditions, and breaking free of the encrusted literalism of the past. This positive attitude dates back to the counterculture of the 60s with its exploration of different (usually Eastern) spiritual paths, and was further developed in the New Age movement of the 70s and 80s, where, unfortunately, the whole thing lapsed into commercialism and was denigrated by cynics and critics as "the spiritual supermarket". The New Age nevertheless continued and still continues, and its latest development as already suggested (sect 2-vii) is the Wilberian integral movement and follow-up developments of that. An interesting on-line example of the latter is the vast Integrative Spirituality website, a web portal, encyclopaedia, and internet and real-life (San Franscisco Bay area) community[27]. Coming from the perspective of Wilber-IV (which is not yet as materialistic as Wilber-V) the author or authors of these thousand of pages (who it seems choose to remain anonymous, since none of the essays and pages on these subjects are signed) have written a huge number of pages on the spiritual application of New Paradigm and Wilberian theory to individual, collective, and global spiritual development.

One of the essays on the Integrative Spirituality website includes a quote by Steven Dinan from the introduction to his book Radical Spirit that nicely sums up the positive side of what Integrative Spirituality is about:

"... I have, an image of a future in which a new brand of spirituality has fully emerged, a spirituality that takes the entire world as its starting point, that marries inner and outer work, that cultivates stillness and compassion in the midst of active, engaged lives. This spirituality is a slow dance of evolution, a tender response to the pulsing heartbeat of the universe. It builds upon - but ultimately goes beyond - traditional belief systems to create a unique path, marrying ancient wisdom, scientific and philosophic truth, and personal insight. It is a spirituality that honors periods of withdrawal, of inner contemplation, as equally as it honors the active and passionate life. It recognizes a sublime Ground, ultimately beyond all manifest form, while it also sees the realm of manifest form as the playful and ecstatic dance of that very Ground. Its God is to be found both in prayer and in lovemaking, in meditation and in mountain climbing. It sees every moment as an opportunity: for learning, for giving, for expressing a truer nature. Perhaps more than anything, it is a spirituality built upon adventure, a plunge into the unknown."[28]

This sentiment is very much representative of the freedom of lifestyle, freedom of choice, of the West, and represents a step forward relative to the theocracies and autocracies of the past (and some parts of the world today). which is certainly a positive development over repressive grand ultimately it is hoped the freedom of the entire world. At the same time, while this integrative approach of freedom should be honoured and valued and encouraged, it also has its negative side, which is dilettantism and lack of a living spiritual tradition (sect 8-ii). Ultimately, everyone must find their own balance.

6-xii. Integral Art

Art and imagination represents a holistic, spatial, intuitive or "right brain" (in the pop new age jargon) perspective that balances the rational-linear, "left brain" thinking of the scientific-empirical mind. This is a polarity that has already been referred to in table 2. Although it should not be limited in this way, because art can be holistic and encompass the entire being as well.

With the Wilberian and post-Wilberian emphasis on theory, we tend to forget that Integral Art has often played a very central role in the Integral Movement. And although Wilber and his followers may have been the first to popularise the term "Integral Art", in keeping with their tendency to prefix any trendy noun with the word "integral"[29], .Integral Art goes right back to Sri Aurobindo himself. Although usually thought of as a philosopher and a yogi, Sri Aurobindo considered himself to be primarily a poet by vocation, and encouraged his disciples to take up poetry as well. His greatest written work was not his any of his philosophical or other writings, but his epic poem Savitri, a work in excess of 23,000 lines, which he wrote and re-wrote over many years. At the surface based on a tale from Hindu mythology, Savitri tells of the eponymous heroine's descent into the realm of the Lord of Death in order to free her husband Satyavan and return with him to the world of the living. This theme of descent into the underworld to free a loved one is also a common one in Mesopotamian and Greek mythology, where however some misfortune or hubris inevitably befalls the hero, preventing the success of the mission. In Sri Aurobindo's version, the poem is actually a metaphoric account of his entire teaching and prophetic vision, with the capacity of transforming the reader's inner consciousness. Symbolically, it represents the conquest of ignornace and the attainment of Supramentalisation.

And whilst Sri Aurobindo was a poet, his co-worker The Mother was an artist and musician, who when young was married Henri Morisset, a student of Gustave Moreau. During this time Mirra became a part of the Paris artistic circles, befriending Rodin, Monet, and others. Just as Sri Aurobindo advised his disciples to take up poetry, so did The Mother encourage art and painting in those who came to her; among them Champaklal, Janina Stroka, and Sanjiban Biswa. Another disciple, Sunil Bhattacharya, was asked by The Mother if he could put Savitri to music; this became a life work that he dedicated over thirty years to[30].

Another devotee of The Mother was Michel Montecrossa, a musician, film director, cyberartist, and futurist, who with her help founder of Mirapuri (a New Age community in Northern Italy) has created a dvd movie based on Savitri[31].

Integral Art (music) was also developed by the German composer Johannes Wallmann, who began developing the holistic artistic concept of Integral Art in 1982[32] His works specialise in three-dimensional sound and landscape sound.

William Irwin Thompson is another integral artist, both in the sense of being a poet, his various interests and description of writing and speaking style as "mind-jazz on ancient texts" (ref needed). He also coined a German neologism Wissenskunst (literally, "knowledge-art") to describe his own work, as "the play of knowledge in a world of serious data-processors", in contrast to Wissenschaft, the German word for science.

Larry and Andy Wachowski's Matrix trilogy portrays important spiritual and philosophical insights, drawing from cyberpunk, transhumanism, Christianity, Gnosticism, Buddhism, and philosophical conceptions of the nature of reality. They incorporated a number of Wilberian themes and are fans of Wilber's work[33].

Within the Wilberian movement, the most important artist is Alex Grey (a member of the Integral Institute), whose work includes performance art, installation art, sculpture, and painting, the latter often depicting aspects of the supernatural world superimposed with aspects of the natural world. , he is also on the board of advisors for the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics. His illustration of Wilber as the bodhisattva Manjushri seems to have been instrumental in Wilber's apotheosis (see TLDI 2-x).

Matthew Dallman[34] has developed his own approach to Integral Art. As he relates in a blog post (later an essay), in 2003 he was asked by Wilber to be the original director of Wilber's Integral University's "art domain", a position he was at the time honoured to accept, in view of Wilber's reputation and status (this was before a lot of the cultic unpleasantness became more widely known; Wilber was still highly respected in the alternative scene). But instead of a project of higher learning and revival of the Humanities, Dallman found the Integral University, and its parent body the Integral Institute, to be a marketing and PR organisation to publicise Wilber's own products[35]. After 16 months of involvement, he broke with Wilber and the Integral Institute, and after fending off Wilber's clumsy attempt to gain legal control and co-ownership of his works, Dallman set up his own music distribution company. The essays published on his website constitute a number of manifestos and descriptions of Integral Art and Artistry[36], some dating to his Wilberian and pre-Wilberian days, and inspired by Camille Paglia, Marshall Mcluhan, John Dewey, Norman O. Brown, and W. A. Mathieu. Although his on-line essays show some Wilberian (AQAL) influence, Wilber was never a major influence. Like Bauwens, Dallman shows that Wilber's greatest role in the Integral movement has been much less his own ideas or theoretical vision (which are probably comparable to the insights of other, less well known, integral/integrative theorists like Edward Haskell and Stan Gooch), as being a catalyst to bring together a number of highly talented people, many of which then go their own way following their disillusionment with Wilber's narcissistic personality and quasi-cultic organisation. Several of Dallman's insights have been incorporated in this section; no doubt more could be added as well.

Some themes for an Integral Art might include:

  • the holistic aspect - involves both a hermeneutic and a practice that includes heart as well as head, art and poetry as well as science/philosophy/psychology/etc (Vivekananda, Steiner, Aurobindo, Gebser)
  • the Integrative aspect - incorporates multiple meanings
  • the integral transformative aspect - A practice of personal and cosmic renewal.
  • Art as sadhana

A hermeneutic and a practice that includes heart as well as head, art as well as science, philosophy, psychology and sociology. This represents a healing of the "two cultures"[37] which is the modernist or post-enlightenment result of the psychological or psycho-physical polarity mentioned earlier (table 2 and 3). An Integrative Philosophy cannot be head only, nor can an integral practice be one-sidedly focused on the rational, or even the intuitive-rational. Such an imbalance can only result in lop-sided development. Sri Aurobindo, Goethe, Steiner, and Gebser were each wholistic thinkers with a fine grasp of the arts as well as an understanding of science and philosophy. W.I. Thompson is a contemporary representative.

The Integrative aspect. Dallman uses the term Polysemy ("many signs") to refer to the fact that Integral Art goes beyond specific worldviews and aspects. This represents the integrative nature or approach to art, so that "To approach the task of art creation/production with the knowledge of multiple-meanings/multiple-signs (without necessarily knowing the details of each sign/meaning, which are infinite in nuance) is...to approach artwork's capacity fully informed."[38] This means that knowledge of artwork's potential capacity is an important way for artists to be responsible (in a holonic sense) to their audience's needs of art to entertain, educate, and enlighten.

The integral-unitary aspect. There is the view (see, for example, Jane Harrison[39]) that art, like religion, is inseparable from ritual. Also some people, including (name), (name), and Dallman, prefer to use the definition of "art" as inclusive of all arts. This avoids the need to make a distinction amongst different forms of creativity. Thus, rather than piecing things separately, to say something like - sadhana/intuition + object + ritual/ceremony + cultural response/mimesis = "art" perhaps can be a useful and instructive scheme.

A practice of personal and cosmic renewal and transformation. At the transformative level, art, ritual, dance, and ceremony (which as indicated above can all be considered different aspects of the same thing) evokes and invokes objects, archetypes, and aspects of consciousness, which are rediscovered and re-experienced in each performance or experiencing.

Integral Art is thus transformative, both at the individual and collective level. As Matthew Dallman explains: "At every moment of artistic development, as objects are created by the artists, consciousness can be evoked, illumined, and preserved, for the purposes of cultural and personal renewal."[40] But even more than that, Art can also serve as evolutionary sadhana. In other words, in addition to or as an alternative to cosmic renewal, there is cosmic ascent, the use of the artistic form to help establish a new level of spiritual evolution. This was very much the case with Sri Aurobindo's epic poem Savitri referred to above. In his own words "I used Savitri as a means of ascension. I began with it on a certain mental level, each time I could reach a higher level I rewrote from that level.."[41]

6-xiii. Integral Education

Integral Education is the philosophy and practice of education for the whole child: body, emotions, mind, soul, and spirit. Two versions of Integral Education have been independently developed, Waldorf Education system based on the teachings or Rudolf Steiner, and found in Steiner schools all over the world, and the teachings in education of Sri Aurobindo and especially The Mother, and taught and refined over half a century at the Sri Aurobindo International Center of Education in Pondicherry.

The Aurobindonian initiative is becoming more important in India, especially in Orissa. The work of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo in Orissa began in 1948 when two Study Circles were established. Central in this initiative was Babaji Sri Ramakrishna Das, who had joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram several years earlier, in 1945. The first phase of work included organisation of Study Circles, Student Associations, Women's Study Circle, zonal and state level Study Circle Meetings. In the next phase ,Integral Education Centres, Relics Centres with experiments in collective living were started. Currently the New Life Education Trust oversees a wide chain of Sri Aurobindo Integral Education Centres in Orissa, a state in India. Most of these are secondary schools in rural areas, set up with local initiative. As of August 2006 there were 8970 Sri Aurobindo Study Circles, 429 Integral Education Centres, and 101 Centres with Hostels, 57 Agricultural Farms, and 40 Dairy Farms, all of which represent integral philosophy in action[42].

In 1994, Prapanna Smith, was sent to the Indian State of Orissa by Babaji Sri Ramkrishna Das, and visited the Sri Aurobindo Marg in Cuttack and nine rural Integral Education schools. Profoundly inspired by what he saw and experienced there, Prapanna founded the Center for Integral Education in 1998. Today the Center for Integral Education runs the first two Integral Education Schools in the USA, both located in San Diego, California: the Rainbow Kids Integral Preschool and the Integral Elementary School of La Jolla[43].

The other great branch of Integral education, Waldorf education, is a worldwide system of education based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner and his Anthroposophy movement. As with . The Mother and Sri Aurobindo's education philosophy, the aim of Waldorf education is to educate the "whole child". It does this by incorporating a balance of physical activity, artistic creativity and academic work against the backdrop of stages of development. In Steiner's esoteric system this is interpreted in terms of the progressive process of incarnation of the child's soul and spirit, although Wilber's developmental stages are very similar. As of 2005 there are over 900 established independent Waldorf schools located in about sixty different countries throughout the world, as well as many younger initiatives, making this the largest independent nondenominational school system in the world[44].

As with Art, Education is again one of the spheres where Wilberian thought, with its integral politics, integral ecology, etc, is completely lacking. The reason would seem to be that the highly theoretical, impersonalised, and over-intellectualised Wilberian system would imply no real point of contact with practicalities such as teaching and raising children. And obviously the demographics of Wilber and most of his supporters (who are either baby boomers like Wilber or else in their early to mid twenties) also figure in this[45].

6-ix . The Cosmic Sphere - Physical Evolution and Evolutionary Cosmology

As mentioned in sect 2-vii, an evolutionary perspective is central to both New Age and Integral understanding. This evolutionary perspective provides a complete Holistic and Integrative system of Science and Arts has to integrate all fields of knowledge, and do so in a way that makes sense, rather than an artificial juxtaposition. .

Within Integrative studies and the general worldviews of the integral movement, the concept of An evolutionary, teleological cosmology according to which being evolves through successive progressive states of matter, life, and mind, and will still evolve beyond mind to future and higher states seem to be common denominator. It is found in the writings of Teilhard, Sri Aurobindo, Gebser, Erich Jantsch, Wilber, and many other integral and evolutionary thinkers. This is a theme that goes all the way back to 18th century ideas on the temporialisation of the Great Chain of Being, 18th and 19th century German Idealism represented by Schilling and Hegel; 19th century German Nature Philosophy and English evolutionary thinking, late 19th through to contemporary science fiction, current astrophysics, scientific cosmology, biology, and so on; in 19th and early 20th century Theosophy and Occultism (Blavatsky, Leadbeater, Alice Bailey, etc) and from thence it makes its way to the New Age; and of course in evolutionary philosophers and visionaries such as Sri Aurobindo, Teilhard de Chardin, Alfred North Whitehead (Process Theology), Jean Gebser, Oliver Reiser (Cosmic Humanism), Edward Haskell (Unified Science)[46], Arthur M Young, Erich Jantsch, Clare Graves and the Spiral Dynamics movement, Andrew Cohen, Wilber, and many many others. In many ways this represents the zeitgeist of our age, occurring in both materialistic science, holistic thought, modern esotericism, and the New Age movement. Perhaps for this reason it can also be considered one of the few fundamental and unified doctrines of the integral movement as a whole.[47].

A few examples are shown here, for the sake of comparison. One could create any number of lists of correspondences, the reason being that these are empirically agreed upon levels. Note that only Teilhard and Sri Aurobindo postulated a divinisation stage beyond the spiritual mind or spiritual adept

Stage/ Teaching Spatiosphere (Space-time, particles, atoms) Thermodynics, Chemical etc inanimate matter Biosphere (Organic life) Sociosphere/ Noosphere (Cultural and Social) Spiritual Theosophere (Divinisation / Tikkunic)


(physical body only)

Plant and Animal kingdoms (etheric and astral bodies) Human kingdom (mental body / "Ego") Spiritual adepts, spiritual hierarchies n/a
Teilhard de Chardin Particles, Atoms, Molecules, etc Lithosphere, Hydrosphere, Atmosphere, etc. Biosphere Noosphere n/a Omega Point
Sri Aurobindo


Life Mind Higher levels Supermind
Edward Haskell Particles,




"Geoids" (geology etc)

Plant ecosystems, Animal ecosystems Human / social ecosystems n/a n/a
Erich Jantsch Big Bang, Particles, atoms, etc chemical evolution, dynamic systems Biosphere / ecological / sociobiological evolution sociocultural evolution (future stages) n/a
Werner Schwemmler[48] Cosmogenesis Chemogenesis Biogenesis Sociogenesis n/a n/a
Ken Wilber[49]



3 to 8 9 to 13 14 and above n/a
Ontological levels Physical of the physical

Physical of the physical

Affective of the physical Mental of the physical Spiritual of the physical Absolute in the physical

Table.14: Stages of planetary evolution.

This opens the way for a unifying evolutionary paradigm, as suggested by Haskell in his thesis regarding Unified Science, according to which different branches of knowledge can be understood as pertaining to the different stages or levels of cosmic and planetary evolution. Thus mathematics (in part), physics and astrophysics pertain to the very earliest levels, which constitute the foundation of space-time, the basic nature of the physical universe, elementary particles and the basic laws of physics, then chemistry, geology, astronomy, meteorology, etc to the second level in the table, then biology and paleontology to the third (organic life), then the various social sciences and applied sciences to the socio-cultural level, the various spiritual teachings and traditions to the spiritual level, and finally only a few teachings actually speak about the divinisation of matter, and these pertain to the column on the right. Following the convention of Vernadsky and Teilhard , one might metaphorically posit terms like spatiosphere or physiosphere and chemosphere or (more accurately) thermodynamo-sphere to precede geosphere, biosphere, and sociosphere or noosphere here, even if "sphere" becomes meaningless (and rather inaccurate) when referring to the known universe as a whole.. The final stage of divinisation, Omega Point or supramentalisation, I refer to as the theosphere (God sphere). Following Werner Schwemmler, the appearance or singularity or symmetry break (Jantsch), which constitutes a new quantum leap of evolution in which each new stage appears can be designated by the suffix -genesis after the appropriate term, as in chemogenesis, biogenesis, sociogenesis, etc.

It should however be noted that almost all integral/integrative thinkers have oversimplifying and reducing the evolutionary tree to a single unvarying linear sequence with humanity at the top, leading (in those integral theories that posit states of evolution and development beyond the current human condition) to the new creation. For this reason, and of course the controversial suggestion of teleology, integral thinkers like Teilhard de Chardin have been strongly criticised by mainstream scientists[50].

Integrative evolutionists are thus still basing their ideas on the "great chain of being" linear hierarchy formulated by Plato and Aristotle[51] and still continued by Wilber under names like "Great Nest of Being" and "Neo-perennialism". However evolutionary science long ago showed evolution to be more a tree-like phylogeny, in which the human species is just one among many millions, or tens of millions, species on Earth, and that most of these evolutionary lines have nothing to do with humanity[52].

Another element missing from many traditional integral and esoteric philosophies is the moral element. Comic book maestro Stan Lee forces his protagonist Spider-Man to realise that "with great power comes great responsibility" These words are so true for humanity as a whole, especially with our dealings regarding other sentient beings and the rest of creation. Big-brained, tool making, technological humanity has vast power over the rest of nature, but very little sense of responsibility. It almost seems that as technological and industrial might grows, the sense of responsibility diminishes in inverse relation. Tribal people with simple hunting tools had an appreciation of nature that was and is lacking in superpowers like ancient Rome and the contemporary industrialised world (regardless of whether it is America an dth4e West, Japan, or China). Evolution has to be a moral process too, and as Edward Haskell showed with his coaction compass (4-vii), evolution and ascent to omega is only possible with a mutually beneficial relationship between both (or all) elements. Just as a simpler form of life, say a bacterium in a petri dish, unthinkingly uses all its resources and fouls its nest with waste, and thus perishes, so the same will happen to humanity if it cannot enter into a beneficial, rather than an exploitative, relation with other sentient beings and the inorganic world as well. The current human-caused mass-extinction (the so-called "sixth extinction", because it is equivalent to the five great previous mass extinctions), and if humanity survives this and continues to plunder the Earth that means not only a movement back one major level (from society to biosphere) but two (from ssociety and vbiosphere to primitive Earth populated only by microorganisms). Occulty it could be said that behind the Sixth Extinction is a compulsive, almost obsessional, hatred of life, and a desire that the Earth return to a condition where it is "just rock", just like the rest of the universe. This is because those who are responsible for the sixth extinction and the act of biocide are those who are in positions of political, economic, and financial power, and hence most manipulated by adverse forces (sect xxx)

This is why descriptions of evolution only pertains to physical, outer or mundane reality (the gross level in table 5) do not provide the complete picture. The interaction of and from Inner, occult or esoteric realities and Attractors - including some forces that are positive and many more that are negative - also has to be considered. The Earth is an open system, not just physically (energy from space, e.g. Sunlight and solar and cosmic radiation) but occulty as well. And it is these occult factors that work behind the scenes to determine the apparently (exoterically and empirically) random and chance results of chemical, biological, sociocultural, and noetic evolution on Earth. All of which involves the field of "Cosmecology" (my preferred term) or "Astrognoisis" (Steven Guth's preferred term, although we are still talking about basically the same thing). For more on this, the reader is recommended to our respective online essays "Considering Islam" and "Towards a Cosmogenic Evolutionary Paradigm" [53].

It follows then that a truly integral and integrative transformation should involve all these multitudinal aspects and branches, rather than bias or revolve around one alone. The attitude of compassion, empathy (including telepathic empathy with animals and the rest of nature, including "devic" forces), and stewardship represented by Deep Ecology, Animal Liberation, and Esoteric Integral Ethics has to be applied universally. It is not just the human species, but all life and all creation that contributes to, represents the Divine unfolding of, and proceeds equally towards the eschatological singularity of supramentalistaion. Thus, a totally new approach to teleology is required, as well as an ontology that recognises the subtle physical reality and its interaction with the gross or dense physical.


[1] Perhaps the reason Teilhard is not considered "integral" by Wilberians because of his concept of the Omega Point (see Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, pp.323-5 for Wilber's argument); although in the opinion of the present author, Teilhard is a far more original integral thinker than Wilber.

[2] see Michel Bauwens, Peer to Peer and Human Evolution, http://integralvisioning.org/article.php?story=p2ptheory1

[3] Rudolf Steiner, The Threefold Commonwealth, originally published 1923

[4] see Social Threefolding http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Threefolding; for specific websites see Institute of Social Threefolding http://www.threefolding.org/ , Global Network for Social Threefolding http://www.globenet3.org/ , Threefolding the Social Organism http://www.threefolding.freeuk.com/ etc

[5] On Wilber's own attitude of argument from his own personal authority, rather than encouraging questioning of ideas or independent inquiry, see Mathew Dallman's blog comment "Wilber, Evolution, and Arguments from authority" (Friday, May 27, 2005) at http://www.matthewdallman.com . For cultic tendencies within the Wilberian movement, see Michel Bauwens http://www.kheper.net/topics/Wilber/Cult_of_Ken_Wilber.html . On comments by disillusioned insiders and ex-insiders (along with other, more worshipful comments) see Frank Visser's Wilber Watch blog http://wilberwatch.blogspot.com/

[6] http://www.integralinstitute.org/public/static/abthistory.aspx

[7] Wikipedia biography http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Bauwens Criticism of Wilber and Integral Institute http://www.kheper.net/topics/Wilber/Cult_of_Ken_Wilber.html and related essays and blog posts,

[8] Hanegraaff, New Age Religion and Western Culture, ch.5, and 12

[9] See Ray Harris, Left, Right or just plain wrong? http://www.integralworld.net/harris14.html which includes a critique of the naivety of the current Integral Movement towards the political conservatism (Blue and Orange in Spiral Dynamic lingo) that currently dominates the world stage. This indicates the essentially reactionary nature inherent in current Integral thinking

[10] Thus one Wilberite dismisses Michel Bauwen's essay P2P and Human Evolution as "a typical example of Green vMemetic view." For the background, and a response to these and other claims, including a criticism of the Wilber and Beck Integral Spiral Dynamics, and their Mean Green Meme theme (try saying that really fast twenty times!) see Michel Bauwens, A Critique of Wilber and Beck's SD-Integral, Pluralities/Integration no. 61: March 23, 2005 http://www.kheper.net/topics/Wilber/SDi_critique.html And as Frank Visser observes

"How often does it not happen that critics are discredited, or, for whatever reason disqualified to comment on Wilber's works? ("Misrepresentation" being the most common complaint. Being "green", mean or not, ending as second best...)"

Talking Back To Wilber - A Call for Validation - http://www.integralworld.net/visser9.html

Wilber himself says about critic Jorge Ferrer that, although "Jorge is one of the nicest, dearest souls you could ever meet...the view he is representing is basically a green-meme view of psychology and spirituality." Quoted by Daryl Paulson in "Daryl Paulson on Jorge Ferrer". (book review of Revisioning Transpersonal Theory). http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/watch/ferrer/index.cfm/ Whereas Wilber is at least nice, Paulson on that page presents a very critical review of Ferrer's work. Interestingly, several years later, Paulson would revise his opinion of Ferrer's book. As he says in his Amazon review for the book, dated December 1, 2003

"When I first read this book I hated it, but I have read and studied it for 2 years and find it one of the best books ever written on transpersonal psychology...You may not agree with everything he states, but is a very significant book for those who question their own beliefs. A must read."

More recently, Wilber has labelled Krishnamurti as Green, see discussion on Open Integral regarding this http://www.openintegral.net/blog/?p=71

[11] See quotes from Wilber's earlier writings regarding cultism and narcissism at Chamberlain "Sorry, it's just over your head - Wilber's response to recent criticism" http://www.integralworld.net/overyourhead.html

[12] Website at http://www.itp-life.com/ See also "Spiritual Cross Training" http://gayspirituality.typepad.com/blog/2006/03/spiritual_cross_1.html "In the spiritual realm, consider practicing such things as meditation or contemplative prayer. In the physical realm, consider participating in sports, weight lifting, or yoga. In the mental domain, practices such as visualization and affirmations are constructive. And in the emotional sphere, consider engaging in counseling, psychotherapy, or even in such practices as Qi Gong"

[13] Glacier Mom "Where's Wilber?", February 28, 2006 review of Ken Wilber The Integral Operating System: Version 1.0 (Audio CD) http://www.amazon.com

[14] See for example Ron Cacioppe and Mark Edwards, "Seeking the Holy Grail of organisational development: A synthesis of integral theory, spiral dynamics, corporate transformation and action inquiry", Leadership and Organization Development Journal', Mar 2005 Vol 26, no.2 pp. 86 - 105; Nancy E. Landrum and Carolyn L. Gardner, "Using integral theory to effect strategic change", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Jun 2005, Vol 18, no.3 pp 247 - 258

[15] Gail Hochachka, Developing Sustainability, Developing the Self: An Integral Approach to International and Community Development, Polis Publications, 2005. available online http://www.polisproject.org/polis2/PDFs/Hochachkabook.pdf

[16] Brian N. Tissot, "Integral Marine Ecology: Community-based fishery management in Hawaii", World Futures: the Journal of General Evolution, 2005 vol. 61 pp.79-96 available online http://www.vancouver.wsu.edu/fac/tissot/cl/esrp444/Tissot%202005.pdf

[17] For a critique on which see Matthew Dallman, On Ken Wilber - Hopelessly New Age, Hopeless for the Humanities http://www.matthewdallman.com/essay_object/on_wilber_object.html .

[18] Don Beck and Graham Linscott, The Crucible: Forging South Africa's Future, New Paradigm Press, l991 See also Beck's website Spiral Dynamics Integral http://www.spiraldynamics.net/ There is also a Biography and Resources page on Andrew Cohen's "What is Ebnlightenment?' website http://www.wie.org/bios/don-beck.asp

[19] See Ray Harris essay, Left, Right or just plain wrong? http://www.integralworld.net/harris14.html and Michel Bauwens' blog post "On the logic of cultism at the Integral Institute" 13th June 2006, http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/?p=245

[20] See WHAT enlightenment??! blog post: Don Beck: "You're Bottom Dwellers!" http://whatenlightenment.blogspot.com

[21] Website http://www.zaadz.com/ ; Wikipedia summary http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zaadz - Zaadz is a new and smart online community that I am a member of, with an average age of about 18 to 45. For a similar community portal that is also strongly pro-Wilberian and pro-Cohen, see the Bay Area centered Integrative Spirituality community http://www.integrativespirituality.org/ For criticism of Zaadz, see this post by Tom Armstrong - "Is Zaadz a Den of Rattlesnakes!?" http://zenunbound.com/2006/05/is-zaadz-den-of-rattlesnakes.html There is also a reply/refutation of these arguments by ~C4Chaos http://coolmel.typepad.com/iblog/2006/05/re_is_zaadz_a_d.html

[22] See http://www.zaadz.com/people/teachers The proportions I give are valid at the time of writing (25 October 2006) but may well change as the community grows and evolves.

[23] http://www.p2pfoundation.net/index.php/Category:Governance by Michel Bauwens and George Dafermos, also in P2P News, ISSUE 146, October 25, 2006, P2P (1): The Update Typology on modes of Peer Governance

[24] "Clinton Recommends Wilber at World Economic Forum." Ken Wilber com - March 05, 2006 http://www.kenwilber.com/blog/show/20

[25] What is Enlightenment no.33 online at http://www.wie.org/j33/guru-pandit.asp?page=4 Note that Wilber does refer to "God in second person", i.e. Mysticism in his current book Integral Spirituality

[26] For this and other quotes by The Mother and Sri Aurobindo on the harmful nature of religion when applied to the new Yoga, see Barindranath Chaki The New Vision blog, 9 Oct 2006 - http://thenewvision-barin.blogspot.com or (same text) All choice blog http://allchoice-barin.blogspot.com/2006/10/no-religion.html Note that this criticism of religion applies to the path and the Integral Yoga of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo, it is not intended as a blanket condemnation of religion as such.

[27] http://www.integrativespirituality.org/

[28] Stephen Dinan, Radical Spirit: Spiritual Writings from the Voices of Tomorrow (New World Library, 2002) Dinan is also founder of the Radical Spirit Community Blog: http://www.stephendinan.com/ website: http://www.radicalspirit.com/ The excerpt given here is quoted in "A (R)evolutionary Vision of Open Source Integral Spirituality and Religion for Our Time" http://www.integrativespirituality.org

[29] Hence "integral politics", "integral ecology", "integral psychotherapy", "integral spirituality", etc etc, in each case being nothing but a rewrite of standard Wilberian theory

[30] Sunlil biography at http://www.sriaurobindoashram.org/music/sunil/bio.htm

[31] Website Michel Montecrossa and Mirapuri http://www.mirapuri-enterprises.com/ ; Meditations On Savitri http://www.mirapuri-enterprises.com/Filmaur/Catalog/MeditationsOnSavitri.shtml

[32] Website http://www.integral-art.de/ biography http://www.integral-art.de/english/info/index.html Wikipoedia biography (German) http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Wallmann_(Komponist)

[33] See Larry Wachowski "The Many Meanings of The Matrix" Integral Naked http://in.integralinstitute.org/talk.aspx?id=205, also "Transcripts of the Larry Wachowski/Ken Wilber interviews" http://forums.matrixfans.net/archive/index.php/t-24481.html

[34] website http://www.matthewdallman.com/ wikipedia biography http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Dallman

[35] Originally explained in Let me set the record straight - Dallman's blog post of 6th December, 2005, where he points out various failings of Wilber and his organisation, and explains the reasons for break with Wilber and Integral University, republished as On Ken Wilber - Hopelessly New Age, Hopeless for the Humanities http://www.matthewdallman.com/essay_object/on_wilber_object.html .

[36] See: Integral Art Philosophy - Manifestos about Transdisciplinary Fullness & Mystery in Art http://www.matthewdallman.com/writings.html

[37] "The Two Cultures" being the Arts and Sciences. The expression comes about through the title of an influential 1959 lecture of the same name by British scientist and novelist C.P. Snow.

[38] Matthew Dallman 2003-5 "Polysemy - A Manifesto On The Nature of Artwork" http://www.matthewdallman.com/essay_object/polysemy_object.html

[39] Jane Ellen Harrison, Ancient Art and Ritual, Kessinger Publishing, 1996. online http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/17087

[40] Matthew Dallman 2003-5 "The Artist's Breath - Prone To The Muse" http://www.matthewdallman.com/essay_object/artists_breath_object.html

[41] Sri Aurobindo - On Himself, quoted from http://www.miraura.org/bio/himself.html For more commentary see Ananda Reddy - "Savitri - The Infinite Adventure; Lecture-Notes of Classes held at Pondicherry: Serial 1" http://www.here-now4u.de/eng/savitri__1_.htm See also Jungian Lights on Sri Aurobindo's Savitri: A Myth for our Time intyoga.online.fr/jl.htm

[42] See the blog posts by Tusar N. Mohapatra, Mother's Work in Orissa http://savitrieralearningforum.blogspot.com (November 11, 2005), and Sri Aurobindo's Action in Orissa http://savitrieralearningforum.blogspot.com (August 27, 2006)

[43] Wikipedia - "Integral education" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_education

[44] Wikipedia - "Waldorf education" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldorf_school

[45] As pro-Wilber Amazon reviewer, "Glacier Mom" (reviews here http://www.amazon.com ) write regarding The Integral Operating System: Version 1.0 (Audio CD by Ken Wilber) http://www.amazon.com "I had a minute and did a super-quick scan of the Wilber web-sites, and the question that struck me, as a thirty-something mommy, was this: do children exist in the Wilberian universe? If a theory of integral parenting exists, I'd love to read more, but meanwhile I'm working toward an idea of evolutionary parenting on my own. If you're not a parent, or if you're a Boomer and did that a long time ago, you won't care about what I'm saying, but it is relevant in terms of demographics and integral practice, and the obvious strikes me now, that this product exists for either my mother (though she probably can't run a DVD) or my baby sister, but not for someone at my stage of life; that I'm interested in Wilber's work is probably anomalous."

[46] Edward Haskell, ed. (1972) Full Circle: The Moral Force of Unified Science, Gordon and Breach, New York

[47] A partial list of some philosophers and teachers who have propounded this evolutionary perspective can be found on Andrew Cohen's website; see "A History of Evolutionary Spirituality" http://www.andrewcohen.org/teachings/history-evolutionary-spirituality.asp The list is arranged according to earliest to most recent date of birth, with Wilber listed last although he is only the second youngest; the implicate meaning being that he is the culmination of all the previous philosophers. For a list of Integral thinkers in general, all of whom would accept an evolutionary perspectyive and some of which have written or taught about this at length see the Wikipedia page on Integral thought http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_thought

[48] Schwemmler, Werner (1989), Symbiogenesis : A MacRo-Mechanism of Evolution : Progress Towards a Unified Theory of Evolution Based on Studies in Cell Biology

[49] after the numbers in the AQAL diagram in Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, and A Brief History of Everything

[50] For example American popular science writer Stephen Jay Gould and British zoologist Sir Peter Medawar argued that Teilhard's teleological model of evolution is incompatible with random mutation and natural selection of evolutionary science.. see e.g. Peter Medawar, The Strange Case of the Spotted Mice and Other Classic Essays on Science (with a Foreword by Stephen Jay Gould), 1996, Oxford Paperbacks. Gould in his book The Panda's Thumb also claimed that Teilhard was involved in the Piltdown hoax, but this appears to be certainly incorrect (see e.g. Wilifred McCulloch Some Remarks on Teilhard and the Piltdown Hoax, Teilhard Newsletter July 1981 http://www.clarku.edu/~piltdown/map_prim_suspects/

[51] Arthur Lovejoy The Great Chain of Being

[52] There is an apocryphal story about the English biologist J.B.S. Haldane who was once asked what he has learned about the mind of God from his study of nature. Haldane replied "an inordinate fondness for beetles." See JBS Haldane - Wikiquote http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/J._B._S._Haldane

[53] Steven Guth, "Considering Islam" http://www.kheper.net/ecognosis/Considering_Islam.html 2001. A seminal essay written in the wake of 9/11. "Towards a Cosmogenic Evolutionary Paradigm", my own essay, inspired by Steven's essay, but incorporating paleontological information (a la Teilhard de Chardin) http://www.kheper.net/ecognosis/evolution/Cosmogenic_evolution.html 2001.

Posts with links will be moderated to prevent spam.

Widget is loading comments...