An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
Brad Reynolds did graduate work at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) before leaving to study under Ken Wilber for a decade, and published two books reviewing Wilber's work: Embracing Reality: The Integral Vision of Ken Wilber (Tarcher, 2004) and Where's Wilber At?: Ken Wilber's Integral Vision in the New Millennium (Paragon House, 2006). He is currently working on a book titled Growing In God: Seven Stages of Life from Birth to Enlightenment: An Integral Interpretation (forthcoming from Paragon House) that reviews Adi Da Samraj's “Seven Stages of Life” with Ken Wilber integral psychology and “spectrum of consciousness.”
This essay is posted in response to Bryan O'Doherty's recent essay “What The US Election Was Really About and Why Integrals Should Feel OK,” for this was only going to be “a comment,” but since it went on for a few pages, I decided to publish itthis was written off the top of my head today within less than a week after the United States Presidential election of 2016 that Donald Trump won and Hillary Clinton lost.
I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
-- Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah
(September 21, 1934 - November 7, 2016)
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, from what I see, is a highly evolved woman and integral thinker with a great heart and unity vision.
It is important to remember that Integral Theory is not some intellectual exercise (or video game), but is based on a deep study of the developmental structures (and worldviews) evident in the EVOLUTION of consciousness. In fact, unless a person is an active (and regular) meditatorfor a person must learn to untangle his or her own egoic worldviews and preferred perspectives from the web of truththen Integral Theory will not even make much sense. Indeed, Integral Theory itself was constructed by a profound meditator (Ken Wilber), not dreamed up using an eclectic smorgasbord of ideas, but is based upon volumes of developmental evidence, including one's own interior investigations. Therefore, these COLORS represent developmental “altitudes” or worldviewsi.e., perspectives on how to see the world and politicsnot video game chatter or name-calling. It's a convenient shorthand, if you know the language.
As I stated in my original comment, Bryan O'Doherty's essay does not seem to me (a long-time student and publisher of Integral Theory) to accurately reflect a deep understanding of Integral Theory itself (and I see below that other qualified published integral authors, such as Susanne Cook-Greuter and Mark Forman tend to agree), so please listen to our responses. We do in fact take the other's perspective into account (such as Trump's), but we're also not afraid to pass judgment on them either; being integral doesn't make us impotent to criticize (we're not GREEN pluralists, after all :)).
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton
What struck me the most about Mr. O'Doherty's comments was his totally inaccurate assessment of Ms Clinton, for in no way is she RED (or a Magical-Typhonic Power Player). Let me remind you that being RED is being egocentric (i.e., someone who just thinks about oneself), is intensely vigilant (i.e., watching out for dangers), is overly aggressive, impulsive, and ruthless (for they don't consider the views of others). The level below it, MAGENTA, sees the world as enchanted with magical powers (fusing self and environment), where the individual is subordinate to the group. RED includes determined and powerful leaders, like a tribal Strong Man or demagogue (i.e., a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational arguments). This is NOT Hillary Clinton! But this is Donald Trump (as expressed in his campaign). She certainly does not “seek power for power's sake,” as O'Doherty stated, for her voting record as a New York Senator shows she is mostly concerned about others, especially children, and everybody's healthcare. Nor is she a “pathological liar” as one commenter below said, for her record does not show this; only Republican propaganda suggests that conclusionso what are you going to believe: evidence or propaganda?
However, if someone (such as Hillary Clinton) speaks from a higher developmental level or “stage” (or “state”) in the spectrum of consciousness than a person has personally evolved up to, or can relate to (which is why it's their “center of gravity”), then they will generally fail to adequately understand this higher-order expression. Consequently, certain people have difficulty understanding someone else's higher-order values or where they're coming from. We can call this “altitude sickness,” for what they're saying really doesn't register well in the consciousness of a “lower” worldview. This is not an insult, but an encouragement to continue working on your own evolution of consciousness (which inevitably will mean meditating and doing other ego-transcending practices). We all must do this every day, even integralists.
Ms Clinton's election defeat was an example of this malady of altitude sickness. And remember, ultimately, it is only Enlightenment (or God-Realization)or complete ego-transcendence that provides the wisest and most compassionate perspective by which to judge all others, as Integral Theory has accounted for.
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, from what I see, is a highly evolved woman and integral thinker with a great heart and unity vision. So she is at least ORANGE or worldcentric. Donald John Trump is not. This is what the developmental evidencenot personal opinionadequately and undeniably shows. Ms Clinton deserved to be the President of the United States of America, the most powerful nation on Earth, as nearly 60 million Americans agreed too. Mr. Trump did not deserve to be President, from an integral perspective (though, granted, he won the Electoral College, so legally deserves this high honor). If nearly half of Americans voted for a racist conservative for President, half of us didn't. Less than half AMBER, less than half ORANGE; about 10-20% GREEN or above. America is a divided nation in many ways, and I don't think this election is going to bring us together.
I contend the world's people and all American citizens NEED an integral vision offered by a politician like Hillary Clinton (or Bernie Sanders) NOW more than ever! (For the record, I was initially for Bernie and his “revolution”!) The whole world needs her kind of Integral and Unifying Vision, for our planet is dying and our people are deeply divided. Only integralism, or uniting all factions and worldviews (or altitudes), will heal our wounds and set our global future forward towards peace and unity. Trump comes from lower, more egocentric and isolationist perspectivesor at least he ran his whole campaign on such views (and, really, most people around him admit he generally lives his life like this as well). Granted, many Americans also live at that “center of gravity,” so they voted him into office, thus putting us all in peril, including, ironically, themselves.
In fact, a good argument can be made that Trump only won because too many people were infected by Republican propaganda against Hillary Clinton as an elitist that made them “hate” her with a vengeance, so they sought revenge (and got it). Yet these “Hillary-haters” misunderstood her public record by not taking the time to actually examine her political actions of the past 30 years… which is deeply unfortunate, for now it's too late! Sure, she's not “perfect” (who is?), but she was sincere (and, I contend, honest) and corrected her mistakes (for I've been watching her closely for those entire 30 years, unlike many Millennials and others who only read about her or listened to the distorted news reports and propaganda). As a result, Ms Clinton did not win this all-important election for President of the United States. However, what is still very significant: SHE WON THE POPULAR VOTE!!
(And what role did the FBI play in distorting her trustworthiness eleven days before the election, to only rescind its accusations? It's estimated she possibly lost several million votes by that unprecedented interference with a US election. It's long been obvious the FBI cannot be trusted, which goes all the way back to J. Edgar Hoover, a ruthless violator of privacy laws and other regressive tactics).
But back to Trump. Yes, it is accurate to suggest that he himself and his political campaign is mostly RED, or coming from an egocentric and magical “power god” perspective, since he relentlessly attacks any group who is not white or non-Christian. Let alone his misogynist attitudes, which ended up not preventing his election (53% of white women voted Trump; many like a “strong man,” I guess). Yet, I would say overall he is probably more AMBER, since he reflects mythic-membership, ethno-centric, traditional and populist tendencies, people who like strong hierarchies of power (with wealth at the top). In fact, many Americansparticularly traditional Christians (as well as the premodern historical past)have a center of gravity around AMBER, for even science (which is ORANGE, the next higher level) often evades their embrace (they reject evolution, for instance).
Sure, a case can be made (like O'Doherty did) that personally Donald has some ORANGE or modernist tendencies (other than his hair), since he's exploited those views for increasing his own personal wealth. But this is more a result of him living in a modern world where lower levels often exploit the tools of more highly-developed levels for their own good (e.g., Nazis used modern weapons to promote lower-level ethnocentric ideals). But Trump is NOT, based on his endless tweets and stated evidence, a WORLDCENTRIC leader in any way, shape, or form (e.g., he is thoroughly anti-global and isolationist)… let alone being pluralistic or GREEN (okay, perhaps some of his sexual attitudes are “green” or pluralistic, but, no, wait, only if a woman is the right weight and looks). Donald Trump is NOT a worldcentric ORANGE meme; no way!at least his center of gravity is not. Sure, he's a strong individualist, a characteristic of ORANGE, but it's the “strong man” of RED he identifies with the most, not a liberated individual or “American Scholar” (á la Emerson).
HOWEVERand here is the important point about the EVOLUTION of consciousness: EVERY HUMAN BEING contains the ENTIRE spectrum of consciousness within their interiors, so EVERYONE (even Don Trump) is capable of evolving their consciousness (what Wilber calls “Growing Up” and “Waking Up”). Therefore, we can only hope and pray Mr. Trump will evolve quickly now that he has “the weight of the world” on his shoulders. Indeed, we might have seen some evidence of this possibility when he visited President Obama at the White House this week. Even Oprah noticed a change in his “body language” (as did I), now that he's (possibly) been humbled by what he's gotten himself into. We can only hope (as O'Doherty also suggests). But I doubt it; indeed, I will not be surprised if he gets himself impeached sooner or later (for he is unfit for this important job). By law, and empathy, we'll give him a chance to do right.
The fact is people usually do not evolve so quickly, and therefore tend to drop back down to the level they're most comfortable with (for that's their “center of gravity”). This is why most of us in the United States, and around the world who live at higher levels of development, GREEN and TURQUOISE, are terrified about what might lie ahead for the U.S. and the rest of the world. I cannot overemphasize how many people here in the States are worried sick and deeply fearful, in ways that go beyond just losing a political election. I can hardly imagine how bad it must feel for my Latino and Hispanic friends and Muslim brothers and sisters. Already hate crimes are on the rise! People of color who voted for Trump, thinking his billionaire business ways will help them (or they simply hated Clinton too much), will soon be shocked (and disappointed) to find out he will not help them at all. Even Trump's first tweet complained about people exercising their Constitutional Right to protest in the streets (which he later countered, no doubt encouraged by his staff, not his own impulses).
Nevertheless, may Mr. Donald Trump be blessed to see the Light and change his ways to Grow Up and Wake Up fast!!
But I do not hold out much hope, unlike Mr. O'Doherty's essay suggests. What I do hold out hope for is the galvanized Resistance Movement that is emerging to counter his lower developmental views of the world and the actions that can come from his regressive perspectives (e.g., destroying healthcare, attacking immigrants and religions, dismissing climate change, among others). The people Trump is suggesting for his Cabinet (Ben Carson? Rudi Giuliani? OMG!), already shows we are in for a rough ride, for they are the lowest of the low. Yeah, deal with it.
In my opinion, filmmaker Michael Moore has well-articulated the “To Do” List of what needs to be done in response to this tragedy in American politics. Perhaps there is none more important than passing a Constitutional Amendment banning the undemocratic Electoral College (for every individual's vote should count EQUALLY). Indeed, watch Moore's recent TRUMPLAND, especially all you Hillary-haters, to see an integralist (or integral thinker) in action!
Let me end where I started: countering Mr. O'Doherty's weak and inaccurate assessment of Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is above ORANGE (modernity), even GREEN (pluralism)for she transcends and INCLUDES themso she probably is at least TURQUOISE or an aspiring integral thinker. Just like President Barack Obama is. These are the kind of political visionaries our world NEEDS badly (e.g., people like Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, even if each are imperfect examples). Where are our FUTURE integral leaders? If only Congress had more!! Indeed, integral-leaning or progressive (liberal) thinkers often have to cloak their higher-order visions, since they so far transcend the general public (one of the great achievements of Mr. Obama's career). I will not go into a long defense of Ms Clinton, so let it be suffice to share these comments.
Among Integral thinkers commenting on the recent election, I have found the stated and published opinions of Terry Patten, Diana Hamilton, and Jeff Salzman (of Daily Evolver), and Robb Smith, to accurately state the true developmental level of Hillary Clinton: she is an integralist (TURQUOISE) and pluralist (GREEN), as well as heavily ORANGE (modernist), but certainly not RED! This is why we know it's been such a tragic loss to lose Ms Clinton's guiding vision in this dangerous world order. It is so sad to think she will now never be able to attain the Office of the Presidency to which she is so richly qualified… but we must move on. Grin and bear it, I suppose.
Hillary Clinton: “I Am Sorry That We Did Not Win this Election…”
Listen to her DNC acceptance speech, or her noble concession speech (or her graduation speech), for one, to see and hear how smart, informed, considerate, compassionate, and well-qualified this woman was for the Highest Office in the land. It is a great loss I will moan about for the rest of my life (as I do about losing Gore, but even more so this time, for she's a woman), as will many of us, especially the millions of disappointed women and girls of America. Read these words from the 1969 Commencement speech by a 21-year old college graduate and feminist who could have (and should have) been the next President of the United States:
“We also know that to be educated, the goal of it must be human liberation. A liberation enabling each of us to fulfill our capacity so as to be free to create within and around ourselves. To be educated to freedom must be evidenced in action, and here again is where we ask ourselves, as we have asked our parents and our teachers, questions about integrity, trust, and respect.”
I can guarantee you Donald Trump has never spoken or written (or even thought about?) such noble, integral visions.
We do know that her husband has read, and commented on, integral philosopher Ken Wilber's work, for Bill Clinton read The Marriage of Sense and Soul (1998)as did Al Gore (another person who won the popular vote but lost the election by the out-dated and archaic Electoral College). Hence Hillary has certainly readand understood (at least in part)Wilber's integral views as well. I'm telling you: We have suffered a great loss in the election loss of Hillary Clinton on November 8, 2016.
(And notice too, the author Tony Schwartz, who published an insightful and complimentary chapter on Ken Wilber in his book What Really Matters , and was the co-author, actually ghostwriter, for Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal , came out strongly against Trump by explaining Trump's lack of integral thinking.)
Mostly, not only do I hurt deeply for my countryand our worldat this unjust election result, but I have deep pain for the hurt Ms Clinton must be bearing these days. Her soul must feel shattered. How could God do this? Take heart, my dear sister, God didn't do this; we did. And I'm sadly sorrowful; millions moan with you, dear soul.
This woman had a tolerant and beautiful vision for our countryand the world at largeand now she has been thwarted, even physically threatened, by the ignorance of so many deluded and unevolved people. It is a painful public tragedy. She did not deserve this, and neither did we. We're sorry, Hillary, for so many of us wanted to move forward “stronger together” with youso now we must strongly resist moving backwards, so hopefully, sooner or later, you can find the strength to join us and lead us again in some way.
Yet, please remember, MOST of us Americansfor she WON the popular voteshare in HER INTEGRAL VISION, her higher-order attempt to ease the suffering of so many in this country and around the world. She would not have primarily served the rich and elite, as the Republicans claimed, although it is true she had BALANCED relationships with ALL factions of our society, including Wall Street, but I am certain she would have mostly served the weak and distressed, including those (non-college educated) unemployed middle-class factory workers who did not vote for her in the “Rust Belt” (of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin). They will see soon enough that Donald J. Trump will not save them either, or even help them much. We all have been dealt a dangerous and hurtful blow by this tragic election loss… no doubt about that!
So I stand in solidarity with her PURPLE color (the union of red and blue), which she wore during her concession speech (as did Mr. Clinton standing behind her). I will continue to praise her, to love her (even though she's not perfect, granted), but mostly I will honor Hillary Rodham Clinton for taking the brunt of the blows that have come her wayfor taking the “arrows in the back” dealt to forward-looking visionary pioneers… and yet she still keeps smiling and inspiring everyone not to give up and to “fight for what is right.” She has been the champion of us allyoung and old, poor and rich, men and women, progressives and traditionals, et also now we have all lost an incredible chance to move our world forward.
Now, unfortunately, we may fall backwards, to regress, in order to “make America great again,” i.e., if Trump gets his way. Worse, with the power of an AMBER-oriented Republican-controlled Congress in charge, we're definitely in deep trouble. Let alone the Supreme Court, where those arrogant Republicans have prevented President Obama his constitutional right to appoint one. Bastards. Only a well-organized and motivated Resistance Movementand new elections in 2018 and 2020can begin to right this wrong.
In response, and in conclusion, I encourage EVERYONE to continue to develop his or her integral consciousnessso you MUST MEDITATE! And study the Enlightened Adepts of human history, those who have fulfilled the evolution of the entire spectrum of human possibility. And also become and stay active in world and local politics… and speak to your friends, and STUDY more, and grow more, and wake up more! And HONOR our current (and future) integral political leaders, though there are still only a few, who exhibit higher-order integral values; do not make fun of them or debase and reduce them by listening to, and believing in, propaganda put out by far-right reactionaries and lower-level advocates.
Hillary Clinton deserves our love and compassion after this devastating week, for she sacrificed herself (her life's career) on the altar of our ignorance, so let's somehow allow her loss to be our gain. May her integral lightshining from all of those who supported her (and those who didn't)guide us ever onward to a brighter future where we are “stronger together.” In this sense, I'm still with Her. And may President-elect Donald Trump grow up fast!